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

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