Sunday, April 29, 2012


Tomorrow our turkeys will be two weeks old. There are still 9 of them and they are all doing well. We will start acclimating them to their pen next week if the weather stays good. We have to keep their brooding pen covered as they are trying to become escape artists.

Turkeys at 13 days old

While rain was predicted on and off throughout the week, we got very little and David and Donald were finally able to complete tilling the test garden. They went out Thursday and ran the tiller at a 3" depth and finished just as it was starting to thunder (got very little rain a little later in the evening) and today completed the tilling at a 5" depth.

Test Garden

If you remember from a couple of posts earlier, when we were talking about equipment, we recommended that, unless you are doing a large area, that you should probably not buy a high end tiller. Donald admits that a smaller tiller would not have worked on this test garden. However, if you are going to be going to a no-till or minimum-till operation, it will still be more cost effective to rent a unit that buy one. After the first time the plot is tilled, it should only need one pass until you can more to minimum-till or no-till. Remember, we have four 1/2 acre plots we will be preparing for cover crops once the test garden is planted.

The next step is to fence it (we have a lot of deer and other critters running around) and then we can start planting. We were afraid that we were too late to plant, but Donald found out yesterday that Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture (just up the street) has had some of the same issues with drainage and are at the same stage as we are with their planting.

We are still unsure of what we will be planting as we have been leery of purchasing seed until we were ready. As we need to plant certified organic seed to maintain the integrity of the soil on the farm, it will depend on what seed we can get and how soon.

Donald attended an all-day seminar on The Resilient Farmer, Organic Market-Farming for Uncertain Times at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture (a homework assignment for his Beginning Farmer and Rancher classes) yesterday. He had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Jim Horne, President and CEO of Kerr Center, as well as hear from other experts such as Steve Driver, Agri-Horticulture Consulting ( and George Kuepper, Horticulture Program Manager, The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Inc. (and one of the main instructors for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher classes, During this seminar they provided a tour of the Cannon Horticulture Project at Kerr Center (and Donald got an advance peek at what his class will be covering next month), as well as lectures and demonstrations on Organic Matter Management for On-Farm Fertility, Vermicompost (worm composting) and Compost Tea unit demonstrations, Composting Systems, Compost Quality and Usage, Compost Teas and Liquid Compost Extracts, and Using a Soil Test to Develop a Soil Fertility Program.

Information on Vermicompost

Vermicompost Worm Farm

Compost Tea

Interestingly enough, the final recommendation was - if you need compost, it is usually more economical and practical to buy it then make it on the farm. One of the primary advantages of making compost on the farm is to remain as independent from commercial products as possible, a goal of Baker Heritage Farms.

For years, the buzz word in farming has been "sustainable". meaning a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged. Dr. Horne explained that maybe we need to update the term to "resilient", meaning capable of withstanding shock without permanent damage and tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change, all of which apply to farming in todays world. Oklahoma and surrounding states have had their share of "damage" over the past several years, with ice storms, floods, tornados, and drought, and, to be a farmer in this area (as well as many others) one must be resilient. So, our new goal is to be "Resilient Farmers".

Baker Heritage Farms will be preparing for soil testing of the actual garden plots over the next few weeks and hope to have the tests submitted and the results back prior to Donald's class in May, where he will be able to compare them to the plots at the Kerr Center as well as receive guidance on what will need to be done to improve the soil, both short and long-term.

Work is continuing on the Hen house and we still hope to have this project completed in the next week so that we can get the fence up. As soon as the Turkeys are out of the brooder, it will need to be cleaned, sanitized, and prepared for the chickens.

We are building a vendor list and will be adding it to the blog in the near future. While most of the vendors are local, we have used vendors out of the area and will be doing more of this in the near future, so hopefully the list will be useful for everyone. Additionally, we will be providing better cost estimates and time lines, as well as keeping you informed of what we have done right (not sure of this yet) and what we have done wrong (an earlier post will tell you what we did wrong with the Turkey shelter and a future post will tell you what we did wrong with the Hen house).

Until next week,

The Baker Family

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Turkey's Have Arrived

On Wednesday, April 18th, David & Debbie went to the Post Office and picked up ten 2-day old turkey chicks and brought them to the farm. Unfortunately, one died after arriving home but the other nine seem to be thriving.

One-Week Old Turkey Chicks

It will be approximately three weeks total (two weeks from tomorrow) before they can be let loose in their run. Prior to being let loose, David plans to acclimate them to the outdoors and to the shelter.

Unfortunately the weather is still not cooperating as it is still raining off and on, and tilling still cannot be accomplished.

All "farms" have a variety of "junk" sitting around, farmers tend not to throw anything away and the Baker's seem to be excelling in this practice. As a result, Debbie has been able to start a (sometimes unique) container garden so that we can at least have some tomatoes and other vegetables.

The Old Gas Grill - Our herb garden, which includes chives, cilantro, parsley, dill, and sweet basil. On the sides are bell peppers.

The Old Bar-B-Que - The kitchen garden, which includes radishes and green onions. In the pots on the left are bell peppers, and on the right is spearmint.

Standard Pots on the Bench - Red containers are heirloom Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, the cucumbers in the long container did not make it (something will be planted in their place), on the far left of the back row is a Mr. Stripey tomato, in the large container next to the cucumbers that did not make it are heirloom Johnson tomatoes, and at the far left in the front row is zucchini (every garden needs some). In the container on the deck to the left of the bench are regular tomatoes.

In addition, there are geraniums to plant (a fund raiser for Elizabeth's school) and wild flower seeds have been sowed in the bulb containers.

Work has started on the hen house. Hopefully Donald and David will have that complete in the next two - three weeks. Once the Turkey chicks have been transferred to the Turkey run, the chickens will be ordered.

We continue to hope that we can get the test garden tilled and planted by mid-May, if so, we can still have a good initial crop. Once the pasture dries out we will start preparing the 1/2 acre plots for development. We hope to have the crop plots in cover crops by the end of summer and all necessary fencing up. The front four plots will not need cross fencing; however, we will be cross-fencing the back plots and hope to have that started by fall. We will need to cut/trim trees along the eastern edge of the pasture to allow for a road.

Until next week,

The Baker Family

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Storms - Rain - Storms - not much work being done on the farm at the moment. A string of nasty storms went through central Oklahoma this weekend, leaving wind and rain in our area.

Debbie and Danielle preserved five quarts of dill pickles this week. So far, they appear to have been successful. They are getting a head start on learning to preserve food products.

David, Debbie, and Danielle have started working on the family garden between the houses, though even that did not get too far.

Materials List For Turkey Shelter

The materials list for the Turkey shelter included:

5 - 8' 2X4's
2 - 10' 4X4's
1 - 4'X8' Sheet of 1/4" Plywood
Chicken wire (16'X48") for back and two sides
Deck screws

Cut List

Cut 2 - 8' 2X4's in half (2 - 4' 2X4's per side)
Cut 2 - 10' 4X4's in half (1 - 5' 4X4 per corner)

Essentially, you will have two 4 foot 2X4's on each side, two 8 foot 2X4's in back, and one 8 foot 2X4 in front on top.

Watch out - we thought we needed 8' 2X4's. We purchased 2X4 "stud's" and were disappointed that they were only 93' long. We cut 2X4's we had from constructing our barn into 4 foot 2X4's to make up for this "error". It did not take long for us to figure out why they are called "stud's" and why they were shorter than 8'. We had to use an extra one in front to hold up the plywood for the roof. Guess it is good we are not contractors - but we learned and will hopefully do better with the hen house.

Donald will be in Washington state this next week and has a class at OCU next Saturday, so progress will be minimal. We should have a report on the Turkey chicks next week but not much else.

Until next week ...

The Baker Family

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday 12APR10

This is a late posting, but better late then never.

The Turkey pen is completed (picture next week) and includes a shelter. A material list and construction plans for the shelter will be provided in next week's post.

The Turkey chicks have been ordered (10) and are due to arrive on the 17th or 18th. All of the supplies have been purchased and David will have their temporary home ready for them when they arrive. We did not realize how complicated the process can be. Debbie and David had to go to the post office to warn them of the anticipated arrival date and provide them with a phone number so that they can inform us of when the chicks arrive. Then we need to go to the post office and count how many arrived live before taking delivery. We will need to do this again when the hens are ordered.

The test garden plot is still too wet to work. Donald took the 5103 down and used the box blade prongs to rip the ground, hoping to help it dry out some. We are running into planting season and may have trouble getting some of the plants we need (we are already having trouble getting seed). We cannot do any work on preparing the regular plots for next year yet as the pasture still has standing water in areas. Hopefully we can get the test plot tilled this next weekend and prepare for planting. Other then tillage, we do not plan to prep the land prior to planting as we want to see what will happen naturally before we start getting fancy.

Initial measurements indicate that we will be able to work 8 one-half acre plots next year. Most likely 4 will be crops and 4 will be livestock. We hope to be ready to plant cover crops by the end of summer to prepare for next years planting season. Livestock has not yet been determined, but cost will be a factor.

Debbie, David, and Danielle worked on the family garden by the houses on Monday. David and Donald attempted to till the garden area but were unsuccessful due to the number of rocks. The first few years will require a lot of manual labor and hand work to dig up the rocks and remove them. They were able to get two strips done and hopefully will be able to start planting by this weekend.

Donald drove to Alabama this week to visit a large client there. He will return late Friday. The next two weekends will be busy due to a class and a seminar.

Baker Heritage Farms will return next week.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday 12APR01

Beautiful week in eastern Oklahoma. Weather was warm and March ended as the hottest March on record. We are not sure how this will translate into summer weather, though it is not a good sign. Last year Oklahoma had the hottest July on record, for any state. The good news is that this week we were officially declared to be out of the drought.

We are finally making progress. An expensive week but at least we are on our way. Wood was purchased for the Hen house as well as the Turkey shelter. The Turkey shelter is on the fast-track as the birds need to be ordered by mid-April so that they are old enough (big enough?) for Thanksgiving. We have adjusted our order from 15 Turkeys to 10 Turkeys for the first year. We are still planning on getting Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys this year, but if the turkeys are successful, we will be looking at other breeds rather than the Broad Breasted Bronze. We want our turkeys to be all natural (the only difference with the Broad Breasted turkeys are that they need to be artificially inseminated as they have been breed for size).

We have the turkey shelter almost completed, just need to get the right fabric for the sides and we will be done. Next weekend we hope to get all of the chick supplies and then we can place our order the following week.

Debbie has started the family garden by getting the containers ready for container vegetables. Donald scraped Danielle's front yard this past week with the 5103 so that we can start planting vegetables  there. That garden will not be a "planned" garden, we will just plant what we can get when we can get it. It will be for family consumption and not really a part of BHF.

Donald and David took the L118, mower, and trimmer down to town and mowed that property for the first time this year. If we keep getting the rain, that property will have to be mowed at least every two weeks.

After they mowed the property in town they went on down to the pasture and mowed the test garden. The test garden is still way to wet to try to till, in fact, more water came to the surface after each pass of the L118. We are expecting storms Monday night but hope that the rain fall will be light and allow us to start tilling next Saturday. Donald will be in Arizona this week so he will not be here to till anyway. It will be a push to get anything done on the test garden next weekend as Donald will travel to Alabama the following week (on the road for 4 of the next 5 weeks, which means he will have to do his paperwork on Saturdays, if he can find the time). In addition, he has a Seminary Lite class at OCU (Oklahoma City University) on Saturday, April 21st and an all-day seminar (homework assignment for his Beginning Farmers and Ranchers class) on composting on April 28th, so he only has the next two Saturdays to get anything done. It will be up to David to follow-through on a number of projects.

Once the turkey shelter and hen house are complete, we will provide a complete materials list (including cost) for those of you that would like to build your own. We will even tell you what mistakes we made (can't say "if any" because we already made at least one whopper) as well as any other things we may have learned.

Until next week ...

The Baker Family at Baker Heritage Farms