Seed potatoes arrive
Posted 3/25/2011 12:45pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Our seed potatoes came in on Wednesday afternoon. This may not sound too exciting but it is becoming an annual event for us. Doug and Leslie, friends of ours, coordinate the seed order every January from a potato grower in Colorado. This grower supplies lots of seed companies and outlets in the East. Doug has arranged for them to make a potato drop for us when the semi truck is heading to Vermont. This year they were delivered to the Feed Barn in West Chester, all 7000 pounds. Yes, 7000 pounds,that is a lot of future tators. Jim and Linda, owners of Gravel Knolls Farm, where the Feed Barn is located, used there fork lift to unload the three and half tons of spuds. Than about ten of us organic growers from southwest Ohio and Indiana started dividing up the pre-ordered potatoes under the direction of Leslie. It was threatening rain and hail but the weather held long enough to get everyones orders loaded in their vehicles. It was great to see all the fellow farmers and talk for a spell about the upcoming season. Now if only the weather will cooperate a little more so we can get our 500 pounds planted.
Posted 3/3/2011 5:56am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
The weekend of February 19th we went to the annual Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Conference (OEFFEA) held in Granville, Ohio. This is one conference we try our best not to miss. We have been OEFFA members for the past 25 years and have been to at least 20 of the annual conferences. They have really grown over the years, this year over 900 farmers and foodies were in attendance. The amount of young people came close to that of the gray hairs! We always come home energized, educated, renewed and reconnected to organic farming. Thank you OEFFA for continuing to inspire us!
Last week we went to the one day conference of Innovative Farmers of Ohio (IFO). It was held in Hiram. Ohio and well worth the drive. We have also been members for a long time and have been to several of their conferences as well. The keynote was Dr. Susan Beal a true holistic veterinarian from Pa. and a breath of fresh air in her field.
Happy Independence Day!
Posted 7/2/2010 8:56am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
We have been out picking early this morning for our Saturday Farmers Market located in Deerfield Township. We had on light jackets when we started. Quite a difference from the very hot and humid weather we have been having the last few weeks, how refreshing.
We really felt in the Holiday mood picking flowers. They have exploded in color, just like fireworks. We were in a sea of red, white, blue, and about every other color and shade you can imagine, but not as noisy.
Farmers Markets Begin
Posted 5/12/2010 6:30am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
We started our market season last Tuesday in Wyoming, Ohio and went back again yesterday for the second market. We will start picking this morning for the the Lebanon Market which begins tomorrow. Deerfield begins next week and Madeira will soon follow.
Seeing all the familiar faces and renewing acquaintances, especially at the first few markets, is a wonderful feeling. Although we only see our customers for a few minutes (if that), it feels like seeing an old friend or family member and really energizes us. It helps carry us forward in the months to come.
It is a very busy time of year and the days start to blur together. It is both exuberayting and exhausting, and we love it.
Conard's got pigs
Posted 4/9/2010 6:10am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Conard bought 6 pigs the last of March and brought them home and put them straight out in pasture, in our biggest bottom field that we call Betty's bottom. This field is named after a wonderful lady that attended our Meeting (church) and whose family owned a neighboring farm for almost two hundred years.
If you are not familiar with farm slang and wonder what a bottom is, it is the farm ground that surrounds a creek, river, or stream and it seems everyone has a story about a bottom field, if you ever farmed one. They range from floods to quicksand. When Betty found out that we had bought this property that adjoined us, she had to tell us her stories, of this bottom field and woods. She finally stated that she had worked and played in that field so much her name was written all over it. So we named it Betty's bottom. She has since passed away but was a terrific lady and neighbor.
Sorry I got side tracked, this blog is about Conard and his pigs. Well Conard has always enjoyed raising pigs for the fair and always wanted more. He likes pigs better than the fair. Last year he started his own enterprise of raising organic sweet corn. So this year he has started another enterprise of raising pasture raised pork. They are living high on the hog (pun intended) in this field, doing their best to root it all upside down. They have free access to pasture, and Conard's feed ration he is getting is costumed blended.
It really feels good to have hogs back on the farm. We raised hogs in the 1980's and 90's with Guy's brother. They are a great joy to watch and work with. He is planning on getting more next month.
Posted 3/15/2010 6:53pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
We pleasantly surprised ourselves last Wednesday evening when we checked the boiling sugar sap and the hydrometer (fancy name for a floating tube that tells you when the syrup makes) read 32. Success, it's maple syrup. Over one and half gallons total.
Our fun and syrup adventure involved a lot of time and help from friends and family. We tapped the trees on Sunday evening, Conard collected the sap on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Guy went to our neighbor Phil's to get his propane syrup finisher that Phil and his dad used in the 1970,s when their sugar camp was in full operation. Phil was pleased to see it being used again, and he was a major resource drawing from years of experience.
Sandy was getting the boiling pan and all the other equipment together when she realized the boiling pans were wanting to leak. Sandy took the pans to her dad to seal. Which he did in a fine fashion. On her trip over she spyied that a friends of our's sugar house had smoke coming out of the chimney, we decided we should go and get some advice from him. Jeff had his sugar house in full swing and the sweet smell was just overwhelming. We left with encouragement and a nice sample of finished syrup to try.
We started boiling Wednesday morning, and thanks to Phil stopping by a few times to check on us sap rookies it went pretty smooth. Success was achieved about 7:30 that evening. We tasted way to much and put the wonderful syrup in canning jars with a triumphed look in our eyes.
The next morning we just had to have pancakes.
March thaw and farm news
Posted 3/8/2010 6:22am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
The last time we wrote we talked about how we were glad that the cold weather and snow had returned in early February as compared to the mud we had in January. Well probably a lot of you must have wondered how we were liking it when we kept getting snow and more snow.
We liked it just fine. The livestock did use more feed and it was a bigger chore keeping fresh water unfrozen to them, but the farm being blanketed in snow was just beautiful. Now we are in the spring thaw and more mud, but we are mentally prepared for it. Spring is here and bringing its wonders, sights, sounds and new challenges.
We have gotten our existing two hoop houses planted. Also we have started many seed trays with a variety of crops. Yes, we are eager to get our hands in the soil.
While we are waiting for the soil to dry out for major field work and projects we are trying something new. We tapped fifteen of our sugar maple trees and going to try our hand at making some maple syrup. This is a project we have wanted to do for several years. We were blessed a few years back to receive sugar maple making equipment when Guy's Aunt Estella Jo sold her farm and shut down her sugar camp. We never have seemed to have enough time to try making some until this year. We have a lofty goal (for us) to make a whole gallon this year. Wish us luck, it should be fun.
Cold and snow on the farm
Posted 2/7/2010 11:50am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Cold weather came back about a week ago and the last two days brought us about 6 inches of snow. Cold, snowy weather can add more work and time to daily chores. It makes us haul more feed and contend with frozen water for livestock. Haul more wood to keep the house warm, work harder to keep equipment starting and running. It might seem odd but we enjoy it.
We feel cold weather is much better than the alternative-MUD. The mild two weeks we had in January was nice for a lot of people but we had our feel of mud, mud, mud. Now don't misunderstand us, we will be happy when spring gets here and the mud it brings along with it, but that is short lived because the days are getting longer, warmer and planting season will be coming soon. But a gray wet winter seems to drag on forever. So let it be cold and snowy when it is supposed to be. Get out and enjoy the freshness of it. Take a winter walk and see what critters are leaving their foot prints in your yard or park. And when your better half or friend isn't looking, hit them with a snow ball. That is guaranteed to warm you both up.
January on the farm
Posted 1/20/2010 12:35pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
It has been a long time since we have blogged and we thought it was time to let everyone know what we are up to. The girls are back at college and Conard is back in the swing at high school. Here at the farm most of the work consist of getting firewood, taking care of the livestock, and doing small projects as the weather cooperates. All of us did get a chance to do some ice skating on the creek and some sledding during the nice cold snowy period we had after Christmas.
Sandy and I are catching up on paper work, finishing seed orders, planning chicken and turkey logistics for the coming year, doing taxes, doing inventory. Lots of good inside work. We are looking forward to some great conferences coming up. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farms (OEFFA) annual Conference in February is always great. Also we hope to attend the Innovative Farmer of Ohio (IFO) conference in March. We are attending lots of local meetings concerning local food and farm market issues. It is always good to get reconnected with folks we haven't seen for some time, share ideas, and get our personal batteries recharged..
Hopefully you are able to get some items caught up and do some relaxing on these January days.
Help on Issue 2
Posted 10/31/2009 9:43am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Hi Everyone ,
Our family is asking for your help in defeating Issue two. We generally do not mix politics, friendship, and business but we feel this issue will effect us all, growers and consumers.
Below is and editorial we sent to several newspapers.
We hope you are having a great fall.
Guy, Sandy Ashmore and Family
Editor, News journal
We are small, independent livestock producers who direct market all of our livestock products directly to our consumers and we urge everyone to vote NO on Issue 2.
Issue 2 is nothing more than an attempted power grab by special interests and large agribusinesses. This proposed Issue 2 will be a state constitutional amendment based on fear. The fear that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) or the People for Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) will come into Ohio and try to eliminate animal agriculture, especially large scale operations. In order to fight off this fear, they propose to give thirteen political appointees complete control over how farm animals are raised in Ohio, and by a constitutional amendment no less.
We already have a state Department of Agriculture that oversees the livestock industry. It is already doing a fine job of over regulating us. Look up their website and see all the rules we have to follow now (www.agri.ohio.gov). Why do we now need a political appointed Livestock Board? This Board will have total jurisdiction. They will be judge, jury, and executioner. No appeal, no public input, no transparencies. If HSUS or PETA do present ballot initiatives in the future we will have an opportunity to vote no on this initiative as well.
Our farm, as well as hundreds of others that sell direct to consumers, is in the safe, local food business everyday. We are transparent, and we welcome public input and interaction.
Do not let this perceived fear limit livestock producers animal husbandry options, and do not let this perceived fear limit you as a consumer on your options for safe, local food.
Help stop this special interest corruption of our state constitution. Vote NO on Issue 2.
Guy and Sandy Ashmore
That Guy’s Family Farm
394 St Rt 380
Clarksville, Ohio 45113
Vote No on Issue 2
Posted 10/14/2009 1:16pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Our family urges everyone to vote no on issue 2, the constitutional amendment that will create a Livestock Care Standards Board on November 3rd.
This constitutional amendment is for more control by Agribusiness and has nothing to do with safe, local, or affordable food as the misleading advertisements claim. This board will be made up of ten political appointees who will have control over how livestock is raised in this state. No public input, no debate. If they feel free range chickens are not safe, for example, then free range chickens will not be raised in this state.
We already have a Department of Agriculture that has rules, regulations, and enforcement. These regulations can be viewed on their web site www.agri.ohio.gov . Why do we need another board that has no oversight or public input. It will only put more control over consumer and sustainable farmers options.
Please see www.ohioact.org for more information, and please tell your friends and families.
Why are we certified Organic?
Posted 9/30/2009 9:25am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Last Friday we had our farm inspected by an independent professional organic inspector, contracted by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). The inspector that came was very pleasant and thorough. The inspection lasted about three hours and consisted of walking the farm, looking in the buildings, storage areas and prep areas, looking at equipment, water sources, buffer areas, and going over paper work.
The paperwork consists of documenting all purchased inputs, such as seeds sources, fertilizers, crop protection products, etc. But, also going over planting dates, harvesting dates, yield records, receipts, sales records, and crop rotations to name a few.
So after the inspector left and all paper work was put back, we sat and talked about the inspection. The question came up (again), why have we been certified for the past 11 years? Why do we pay $600.00 dollars for an annual application fee? Spend countless hours on applications and paper work? Why do we search for products that are organically approved? Is it for prestige? Bigger market share? Perceived premium on price? To save the planet? And it seems this question is on our minds with the market season just ending.
Since beginning the market season in May, we have been asked this question by new and interested customers and potential new farmers. Why be certified? We have heard a similar question asked and answered repeatedly by other farmers selling at markets over the past 13 years. And that question is: Are you organic.?
We can answer that question almost as well as the farmer who was asked the question " Are you organic? The answers are many: I only spray when needed, I was/or would be but the government got involved, I only grow using organic methods, I only use a little bit of..., I don't want to do the paper work, My customers know how I farm so I don't need to, et. etc. etc.. Now there is an upscale newer market in Cincinnati where market managers claim their farmers use organic methods. What does that mean? If you plant a fungicidal treated GMO seed in soil is that considered an organic method?
Please don't get us wrong, we know of friends and neighbors that are dedicated to growing organically and are not certified for their own reasons and we commend them for growing organically. But why are we certified organic?
We were organically growing for years before we became certified. One day a certified organic friend of ours from Greene county asked us why don't you get certified? Before we could answer he stated that he didn't make anymore money being certified, his customers already knew how he farmed and he felt it was the right thing to do.
We feel it is the right thing to do also. We feel it has made us better farmers. We feel it encourages and supports other certified farmers to be it and not just claim it. It let's are children, neighbors, customers, and friends know that these are the standards we agree to follow and hopefully surpass. The rules are not perfect, but we feel only by being involved can we make them better..
We enjoy answering the question "Why are you certified organic", better than the question "Are you organic"?
Field trip to the farm
Posted 4/14/2009 10:39am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
We hosted a sustainable ag class from Wilmington College recently. What a great experience to have students studying agriculture visit our farm. They shared with us some of the ways other farms are becoming more sustainable. This kind of interaction is important for young people deciding to make farming their future. We believe they inspired us more that day than we might have inspired them. After all, they are the future of farming.
Let's Begin Again
Posted 3/22/2009 5:21pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Hurricane Ike took our hoophouses down in September. We are determined to try again with a little elbow grease and some help from Conard's friend Eric, they are back up.
We are using unheated hoophouses to extend the seasons. We are able to plant earlier in the spring and protect crops from frost in the fall. What a delight to play in the soil while the days are still chilly. We feel these structures are a sustainable way to extend the season in our region. Our low tech hoophouses are inexpensive, reusable, movable, and rely on passive solar heat to provide organic food with little effort. We can't wait to share the first harvest!
Hens are happy again
Posted 2/24/2009 10:39am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Did you know that day length effects egg laying? Also, a hen can't lay an egg until her basic need of food, water, and shelter are met. Now that the days are getting longer, we are collecting eggs again. Actually, this winter was the first time in years we had to buy eggs for ourselves. What we noticed the most was the lack of flavor in grocery store eggs. It had been so long, we had forgotten. This was an example of circumstance reminding us about real food.
Local farming conference
Posted 2/18/2009 2:14pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association will host its 30th annual conference February 21 & 22 2009 in Granville, Ohio. The theme this year is "The Changing Climate of Agriculture". The beauty of OEFFA is the membership is a mix of farmers and consumers all learning and working together for sustainable food and farms. The conference is filled with workshops and keynote speakers that bring us inspiration and knowledge that deepens our connections to the land and each other.We are looking forward to the conference, maybe we will see you there.
An Inside Job
Posted 1/14/2009 6:05pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Now is the time we can catch up on inside jobs. We have determined through several family members recollections that we painted our living room 13 to 15 years ago. Our children remembered being shipped off to Grandmas and it was summertime. This time they did most of the work and wished they were at Grandmas.
We wanted to use an eco-friendly paint from a local store. We are here to say that "zero VOC" is the catch phrase for this paint. We found a selection a the Sherwin Williams store and it is great! No smell, and rolled on easily and covered well. We could chose from all the colors they offered and the price was the same as their premium paint. We would recommend this paint to anyone considering an inside job this winter.
Hurricane Ike and Jethro
Posted 10/24/2008 12:32pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
A lot has happened since the last time we journalized. The dry weather has stopped us from going to the different markets now for some time. The Girls are both at college and Conard is a good piece into his sophmore year at high school. We are finished with raising meat chickens for the year and the turkeys are looking nice and getting big for Thanksgiving. Cover crops are sown and fall projects are under way. But the big items we wanted to journal about is Hurricane Ike and Jethro.
In September Hurricane Ike hit Texas and continued north and east across a big part of the US. We were in no way damaged like the folks in Texas and in that area. Our hearts go out to them and pray that the situation is getting better for them.
It seems everyone around here lost at least their electricity if not more. We were fortunate our power was only out for a couple of days, but the neighbors across the road were out for eight days. We did loose our two hoop houses (unheated greenhouses) and a fall crop of heirloom tomatoes that was in them. We lost quite a few trees and our portable chicken tractors were beat up some. All in all, we were very fortunate and are thankful for no more damage.
I'm sure you all did hear and experience Hurricane Ike but we have an on going Hurricane happening here. We call him Hurricane Jethro. In July, Conard asked if he could get a goat. Sounded harmless enough. He bought a young pigmy goat and named him Jethro. Jethro is little, he can get through a regular fence. At first no problems, he would get out play, follow you around, bother the dog Toby, and the cats. Then he decided to eat our fall lettuce crop. He decided he likes tomatoes, and he started loving to eat the sunflowers and flower bouquets the girls made for market. Now he thinks jumping on top of the vans to hang out is what it is all about.
Hurricane Ike lasted about four hours. Hurricane Jethro has lasted about four months. Anyone need a goat?
SUNFLOWERS ARE HERE!
Posted 9/4/2008 1:57pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
They are so cheerful, golden heads turning with the sun. A whole bed blooming at the same time adds to the enjoyment of these flowers. Since our flower field is by the road, all passersby may catch a glimpse of them during their travels. Also, many other creatures are attracted to the sunflowers. Honey bees and bees of all kinds join me as I harvest bouquets, along with bugs of all shapes and colors. It makes me realize that sometimes you must look closely to see everything a bloom has to show us.
Posted 5/27/2008 8:52pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
May has come and almost gone. It always seems to be the fastest month of the year to us. We are still planting, planning, picking and enjoying all the sights, sounds and smells of fresh turned soils, blooming wild flowers, trees and watching all of are small seedlings spring to life. It truly is a wonderful time of year!
We have now been to all three of the markets we participate in: Wyoming Avenue, Lebanon, and Landen-Deerfield Farmers Market. It is so rewarding to see so many familiar faces. It really feels like seeing old friends we have grown up with. For our children (now young adults) they have grown up with so many of you over the last 11 years. It is so rewarding to our family to reconnect with all of you! Thank you for sharing a few hours out of your busy week with us.
A Heart for Romance
Posted 4/24/2008 2:47pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
Romance just happens to be the name of this potato variety. How fitting! It is a perfect heart shape. As we sat at the picnic table cutting the seed potatoes into pieces, we found this one. We had the same conversation we have every year about how many eyes to leave for good growth. We all seem to have a different opinion, one eye should work, but leave two for good measure? Also, have you heard the rule if the potato is smaller than an egg don't cut it? This is a new variety for us this year, it has beautiful yellow flesh. We will venture to be the romantic at heart and hope for a lovely crop.
We can't remember a March like this.
Posted 4/2/2008 11:03am by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
We can't remember a March without planting something outside. There's always a first for everything. We have managed to plant lettuce and peas in our unheated hoop house, so lettuce should be only a month away. The fall planted crops are looking good. We have beautiful garlic, some spinach, larkspur and tulips well on their way. When the outside is so wet, it nice to see the seedlings growing inside. We have started head lettuces in flats along with some tomatoes and flowers. The first day we can till the soil we will plant many cool season crops, including lettuces, greens, radishes, potatoes, onions, and spinach. Happy gardening.
Getting ready for chicks
Posted 3/2/2008 5:36pm by Guy & Sandy Ashmore.
We are readying the brooder for our new baby chicks on March 26, 2008. The roof needed replaced. Guy and Conard worked all afternoon to tear off the old roof and Uncle Glenn was called in for technical assistance. We acquired our brooder from the Wilson farm about 3 miles away. It was quite an undertaking to move a building. It was well built on the original site which helped the process. It was loaded on a trailer we borrowed from another neighbor. I guess it to be 25 years old when we moved it here. We have used it for 8 or 9 years, and it has served us well. It is always exciting to get the first batch of chicks each year. Those day old chicks are one of the first signs of spring on our farm.