Sunday, October 28, 2012


Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

It was a slow week on the farm.

We ordered the Brinly-Hardy drop spreader we discussed in last week's post. Ended up ordering it from Home Depot, as it is an internet special item only. Hopefully it will be delivered this next week and we can get the rest of the lime down on the production fields next weekend.

David has started work on the chicken coop again, getting the fence posts up. After looking at the turkey run for the last several months, we think we finally came up with an inexpensive, but hopefully effective, way to keep ground animals out. We will be stringing a fence wire around the base approximately 4 inches above the ground. We were having problems trying to figure out how to secure the wire to the fence. The salesperson suggested using hog nose rings, so we purchased a box, as well as 200 feet of fence wire. We also purchased several tension fasteners we hope will help keep tension on the wire. We will be using this method on both the chicken coop and the turkey run, and will be placing rock around the base of the fence as an additional safety measure (we have enough rock around here to build several low walls).

Donald spent the weekend working on the planting schedule for the production fields. Data has been compiled on the vegetables we hope to plant, as well as cover crops (both summer and winter). The data includes the crop and family it belongs to (for rotation purposes), method of planting (seed or transplant), dates for planting (as well as starting seedlings), germination range, temperatures required during germination, and average harvest period, as well as additional information. He will be using this to establish a planting calendar for next year so that we can plan our crops to take advantage of as much of the year as possible. Once the calendar has been completed, we will start assigning crops to each plot. Several of the plots will be planted in cover crops to start improving the soil, which will reduce the amount of production crops we will be able to grow. As we improve our rotations and start seeing improvement in the soil, we will be able to plant more production crops and less cover crop.

We have not yet determined if we will be able to plant winter cover crops this year or not. We had our first frost this weekend so we may be behind schedule. We want to be sure of what we are doing so we are taking our time and performing the necessary research before we jump in feet first and waste money. Cover crops are necessary in our operation, as they will help breakup the soil, add nitrogen, control weeds, and provide beneficial insects. Cover crops will be used in place of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, and will eventually reduce or eliminate the need to till, in keeping with our goal of being good stewards of the land.

After we complete the planting calendar, we will start working on the irrigation issues. While most backyard farmers will not normally face the same irrigation issues (we have no access to water in our back pasture, except the pond), small-acreage farmers may very well face the same issues we do. We will be researching the use of drip irrigation versus the use of soaker hoses. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or experience with either of these two methods, we would be glad to hear them. We need to find out which system will be the most effective while containing initial purchase costs as well as the cost of water.

Next week we will most likely mow the test garden down and start work on preparing it for next year. We will till in the residue as green mulch as everything we planted was organic. We will be expanding the test garden in 2013 and plan to use most of the space.

Until next week,

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Yesterday David and Donald went down back and tried to apply lime to the production fields. "Tried" is the defining word - as they were not very successful.

In keeping with our goal of maintaining costs in the operation of the farm, they attempted to apply the lime with a broadcast spreader. They can attest that this is not the way to apply lime. It is too powdery and they probably lost as much in the air (and on them) as they actually got on the ground.

David applying lime.
They finally got 150 pounds spread. David helped for a couple of hours and Donald finished up at about 3 in the afternoon, and was white from head to toe (yes, he was using personal protective equipment). Not worth the time, effort, and fuel (even though it was the little tractor). As we still need to get over 1 ton of lime down, we needed to look at alternatives (even using a shovel seems like a better idea that a broadcast spreader).

The consensus is that we will need to invest in a drop spreader. We were able to find a Brinly-Hardy 40-inch Aerator Spreader at Home Depot for $200.00 (Sears has the same model for just under $300.00). The aerator will help get the lime into the soil. In addition, the spreader will come in handy when seeding cover crop, though it will not be useful for production crops due to the need for more precise seeding.

Brinly-Hardy 40 in. Aerator Spreader
David will be checking to see if any local stores stock the Brinly, if not, we will be ordering one on-line.

David went down to the test garden earlier this week and harvested the pumpkins and remaining watermelon. While the pumpkins appear to still be growing, we will be mowing the garden down in the next couple of weeks.

We will need to start working on a drip irrigation system for watering the production fields next year, as we already know that we have problems with water delivery. The water for the test garden uses 300 feet of flex line from the main house down the hill to the test garden. For the production fields, we will need most likely need more water pressure, though it is possible that, if we design the drip irrigation system properly, we will be able to use the existing system. The worse case scenario may involve installing a well (probably just as expensive as putting in piping and using rural water). Another alternative is to pump water from the main pond, though this would probably not have worked this year with the drought.

Until next week ...

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Meal in a Skillet

The following recipe for "Meal in a Skillet" was provided by Faye Smith and cooked by Deborah Baker:


1 lb. fully cooked chunked ham
2 large tomatoes
1 small green pepper
1 small red pepper
1 medium onion
1 medium yellow squash
2 medium zucchini (1 lb.)
3 tablespoons of salad oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup of water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 teaspoons of sweet basil
1/2 teaspoons o of salt


Cut the meat into 1/4' slices, cut peppers into 1/2 strips, cut onion, squash in 1/4" wide slices, cut tomatoes into 8 wedges.

Cooking Instructions:

In 12" skillet over high heat, in hot salad oil, cook peppers, onions, squash and ham about 5 minutes stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium, add water, bouillon, basil, salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are heated through. Serves 4 as main dish.

Thank you Faye - a great meal.

12OCT13 Part Two

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farm;

Hopefully we are back on track. With our harvest of summer crops essentially complete (with the exception of the pumpkins and a few more watermelon) and rainy weather, work on the farm has temporarily slowed down. We will be changing our blog from weekly farm updates to writing of our plans for the 2013 season, as well as sharing what we have learned over the past 6 months from our test garden and the past year from the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. We hope you will add your comments, providing suggestions and ideas for farm operations, as well as let us know about your gardening and small farm adventures.

Today was Donald's last Beginning Farmer and Rancher classes at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. We would all like to thank Kerr Center, USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture, Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative, Oklahoma Farmers & Ranchers Association, and Oklahoma State University Extension for supporting this program and the excellent resources that were provided throughout the training. We would also like to extend a special thanks to George Kuepper, Kerr Center Horticulture Manager, David Redhage, Kerr Center Ranch Operations Director, Ann Welles, Kerr Center Program Director, and the great staff at Kerr Center for the work that they put into the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. An extensive amount of information was provided during the past year, and we have yet to absorb most of it. Over the winter months all of us here at Baker Heritage Farms will be studying the material and including it in our planning for 2013 and beyond. As we review and digest the information, we will be sharing as much as we can on this blog.

Today, the Horticulture class learned about hoop houses and actually built a 50' by 24' hoop house - these are great tools for extending the growing season on either end (starting earlier in the spring or going later into the fall). And, they are cheap and easy to build. The estimated cost of a 100' by 17' hoop house with a height of 7.5' is $1,200, and it can easily be built in a weekend by two people (including cutting and prep work).

The BF&R class building a hoop house:

This is what we started with
Pounding in rebar for hoop supports
Bending square metal tubing
Putting up hoops
Hoops installed
Putting on shade cover
We installed shade cover rather than plastic in the interest of time; however, it does not take much longer to install plastic covering, though it would have been a problem this day as there was a brisk wind.
Stretching the ends of the hoop house
Completed hoop house
As there were several people,the prep work had already been completed (ropes cut to size and in place, rebar cut to size, end hoops with wiggle wire channels installed already up), and the use of shade cover instead of plastic, it took less than 90 minutes to install the entire hoop house. Obviously, building a 100' hoop house will take a little longer, but surprisingly enough, once you get going, it is fairly easy and uncomplicated (after all, Donald even helped).

After building the hoop house, the class went to Kiamichi Vo-Tech in Poteau for lunch and graduation ceremonies. Debbie joined Donald for the ceremonies and everyone had a great lunch and received even more materials for study.

A great class and a lot was learned. With all of the material provided, learning will be continuing here at Baker Heritage Farms for months and years to come.

Best wishes to all;

Baker Heritage Farms

12OCT13 Part One

Oops - No posting for last week. For some reason, we neglected to provide a post for last week.

To bring everyone up-to-date, the week of October 1st (post would have been the weekend of October 7th) David went down and did a semi-final harvest, bringing in squash and a handful of beans. He also disconnected and drained the water lines as we were supposed to get a frost.

We also purchased 500 pounds of lime the week of October 1st; however, we have been unable to till or spread the lime due to rain. We have decided to spread the lime on top of the mowed hay in all production fields to save time. As we have been all year, we are behind in our work, primarily due to weather. We hope to get down and do a trial run with the small tractor using a pull behind spreader. If it works, we will experiment for the proper settings and David will be able to go down during decent weather. We will need to apply over a ton of lime to the three main production fields, not including the test garden (we will need to buy another 600 pounds or more to get the job done). The lime will help our cover crops build nitrogen.

And that, our friends, brings you up-to-date to last weekend.

Baker Heritage Farms