Monday, May 27, 2013


Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

This weekend was indicative of being a resilient farmer. Murphy's law was alive and well.

We finally had some good weather and Donald, wanting to take advantage of the nice weather, went down to the production fields Friday evening to start tilling the 1/2 plot for the tomatoes (2C) and the full plot for the peppers (3A). Plot 2C only needed one tilling as it had already been prepped, so Donald started on this plot Friday evening, as he was short of time. While it was a muddy task (this plot was still very wet), things were going well until two rows from the end, when the tiller started acting up. Thinking that it just needed a good cleaning, he decided to pack up and start early Saturday morning.

Saturday morning, after finishing some work in the office, Donald was back down to the production fields intending on starting the initial tilling of plot 3A. He cleaned the entire tiller, only to find out that the problem was not fixed. As he started to take the tiller apart, he noticed that a bolt holding the wheel onto the axle was missing. Off to Ron's Hardware to get another bolt (fortunately they were very helpful and found exactly the right part in a very short amount of time, Donald bought three, just in case). Back to the farm. The wheel was fixed in a short amount of time and tilling was started ... and then it decided to rain. Donald is not too bright at times, and decided he would keep on tilling, thinking the rain would stop. It didn't, so he quit when he could no longer see the tiller (he only got two or three rows tilled). He packed up and came up to the house for lunch. After lunch, he went back down again but did not take everything with him as he did not want to have to worry about more rain. As a result, he ran out of gas and had to come back up to get gas. He did finally get the first tilling done.

On Sunday afternoon, Donald went back down to the production fields (after church and mowing the front yard) and starting cross-tilling plot 3A. Things were going excellent when, about two-thirds of the way through, the recoil rope broke on the tiller. That ended work in the production fields for the weekend.

Donald hopes to get the recoil rope replaced as soon as possible, but with our current schedule, who knows.

In the meantime, our Standn' Plant tool came in (a great tool, we hope, for planting transplants) and we plan to go ahead and plant tomatoes and peppers as soon as possible where possible. Donald will drag what has been tilled and we will go ahead and start planting, either this coming weekend (depending on weather and schedules) or the following weekend.

The turkeys are growing and doing well. The chickens are also growing and doing very well (and got fresh hay Sunday). We have a couple of escape artists. They like to jump up on the gate, and now are jumping into the back yard rather than their pen, so Donald put up a barrier hoping that it will stop them, at least until we can do something more permanent.

This was a quick update as our time seems to be quickly disappearing. One valuable lesson we learned this weekend (we actually learned several) is that we really need to make the farm more efficient, which means having an equipment shed down in the pasture so that we do not have to make so many trips up and down the hill for tools, equipment, etc.

Until next time,

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

"The Sky is falling!" - Chicken Little

Monday, May 20, 2013


Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Donald and Debbie are back on the farm and trying to catch up, a never ending battle.

While Donald and Debbie were gone, the Turkey's were delivered. Unfortunately, Adam and Danielle were also off the farm when the Turkey's came in this past Friday morning. The great thing about living in a small town is that you learn that you have many friends, and a very dear friend of the family (Mary) was able to pick-up the chicks, transport them to the farm, put them in the brooder, and teach them how to eat and drink (a must for all types of chicks). Mary's help was a blessing.

Turkeys - Day 1 (2 days old)

Turkeys - Day 1 (2 days old)
As we still have pepper and tomato seedlings to get planting, Donald wasted no time in getting back to work. He went down to the pasture yesterday afternoon and mowed around the production fields (if only we were still growing hay, we would already have enough for our first cutting), and this afternoon he went into the production fields with the small tractor to mow plots 3A and 2C. Plot 2C was not a major problem as it was tilled this past winter; however, it was hard to see over the hay in plot 3A. In fact, he almost ran over a young fawn (probably a week or so old). Then the fawn got stuck in the fence trying to get through (the fence has 4" squares) and Donald had to help it get out.

Our chickens are growing and yesterday they had a "hay day". They have demolished the grass in their pen, so Sunday Donald brought up some hay from his mowing and they loved it. They are still playing in it today.
Chickens having a Hay Day!
The chickens are starting to nest, which we hope is a good sign; however, it will still be another 2 - 3 months before they start laying eggs.

Danielle, Adam, Elizabeth, and Logan all helped keep the chickens fed and cared for and watered the seedlings while Donald & Debbie were gone. The children are now out of school and are starting to learn their "chores", taking care of the chickens. They are learning how to feed and water them and are doing a great job.

Donald is working on getting his new schedule adapted to farm life. He plans to spend several hours each evening as well as Friday's and Saturday's working on the farm. This includes maintaining the yards and the property in town.

Until next time,

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

"Do not pollute the land..." Numbers 35:33 "Do not defile the land..." Numbers 35:34

Sunday, May 5, 2013

ReThinking Baker Heritage Farms

The Start of a New Plan

We all know that it is of utmost importance to prepare a farm plan if you are planning to invest your money and time into a commercial farming venture (or even if you are only planning to reduce your household expenses and grow fresh, healthy, and wholesome vegetables). As you prepare your farm plan, be aware of those uncontrollable aspects of your plan that will result in changes, particularly if you are working with virgin soils (those soils that have never been worked before).

If you remember, Baker Heritage Farms has dedicated approximately 6 acres of pasture to the initial farm start-up, of which over 1.5 acres was to be in production fields. All of the pasture is virgin soil, it has not been worked for at least 15 years, and most likely has never been worked. The soil tests conducted in 2012 indicated a severe lack of minerals (with the exception of Magnesium).

With a commercial farming operation that is not restricted to raising heirloom crops organically, virgin soil is not a major drawback; however, if you are planning to raise these healthy and wholesome crops, then you need to be prepared to work "on-demand". This means that you must be prepared to work the fields as soon as weather permits, and may also have to forego some crops during the first year or so.

A commercial, non-organic, farm can till the soil during the winter months, as weather permits. However, due to potential erosion and leeching of minerals, heirloom farmers using organic methods do not have this advantage, and should only till the soil shortly before it is to be planted. Soil should not be left "bare" for any length of time, if it can be avoided. The commercial, non-organic farmer can always supplement the soil with fertilizer and other soil amendments that an organic farmer cannot (or at least should not).

Baker Heritage Farms currently has three plots that have been without cover for five months now. Yes, one plot was planted (and then flooded); however, the other three were not. While the plots were prepared for seeding, extenuating circumstances resulted in two plots not being seeded (yes, the seed may have survived as the seeds to be planted in them were not as temperature sensitive as cabbage). Hydrolyzed Fish Powder (for Nitrogen) was even applied to half of two of the plots and one full plot. Due to there being no ground cover and subsequent run-off and leeching, the Fish Powder will need to be reapplied. While the Farm Plan was being followed, several "emergencies" arose, as well as weather conditions, that resulted in the Plan not being followed to completion. This can only be attributed to being in too much of a hurry to have a producing farm.

The Farm Plan for Baker Heritage Farms included three operations:
  • Production Crops;
  • Poultry; and
  • Livestock

The first year of operation was to be 2012, with the original plan calling for a test garden and raising turkeys. The turkeys were lost due to the failure to consider and address all possible dangers (resulting in domestic dogs getting into the pen). The test garden, however, was an unexpected success.

The second year of operation included fully planted crops and ground cover in the production fields, raising chickens and turkeys, and start using Spanish goats to clear land. Due to fencing needs, the Farm Plan did address potential delays in obtaining the goats.

The Farm Plan called for all crops to be planted in the production fields by April. Planting was to be done in stages, with the first seed to be in the ground by February. Seed was purchased in anticipation of following the Farm Plan without contingency plans.

As with the best laid plans of mice and men, the year started with several family emergencies that resulted in setbacks, as well as uncooperative weather, both of which should have been addressed in contingency plans. We realized in February that we were not going to be able to meet the goals of the Farm Plan and started to work on contingency plans. As we continued to suffer setbacks, we finally took the dramatic step of suspending the existing Farm Plan and start ReThinking Baker Heritage Farms. We knew that there would be more setbacks coming and needed to rethink our plan and to include contingency plans.

As a result, Baker Heritage Farms is now changing the Farm Plan to address immediate concerns and draft and implement a Farm Plan with more attainable goals that include contingency plans.

Baker Heritage Farms still include three areas: Livestock, Crops, and Poultry, but the priorities have changed.

Poultry operations have become the primary objective right now. The chickens and turkeys were already ordered and we were committed to taking delivery. The advantage is that the poultry operations are not as weather dependent as crops.

The next objective will be crop operations. Baker Heritage Farms already has 1,600 pepper seedlings and 200  tomato seedlings, so the first priority is to get the appropriate plots tilled and prepared for planting. The next priority will be to determine what seeds can still be panted this year and what seed will need to be stored for next year.

Seed on hand includes: Onion, Lettuce, Radish, and Carrots. The onion and lettuce seed will need to be stored until next year, the radish seed can be planted in August as a fall crop, and the Carrot seed can be planted in July as a summer crop. This means that our next priority will be to prepare the plots for the carrot and radish seed.

As part of our contingency plan, we need to get at least some of our plots into ground cover. This will allow us to have ground available that is being improved and may even be worked (tilled, which is not required for some cover crop). This will start improving the soil and preparing the ground for subsequent crop planting, so this will become our next step in our new Farm Plan.

Once these steps are achieved, Baker Heritage Farms will be able to draft a new Farm Plan that will be a workable plan and will allow for contingencies, reducing stress and the chance of expensive and time-consuming mistakes.

This is ReThinking Baker Heritage Farms Start of a New Plan, and we hope that you will stay with us and learn from our mistakes.

Blessings to all,

Baker Heritage Farms


Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms:

If April showers bring May flowers ... what does May snow bring?

No, we did not have snow, but we went from beautiful spring weather (70's plus) to breezy, wet, cold weather. Northeast Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas broke all sorts of records this week with snow and abnormally cold weather, and we had rain (though snow was forecast).

Debbie and Donald went down to assess the damage to the production fields from all the rain over the past several months this past Monday, as it was a beautiful day and we had a beautiful weekend. Unfortunately, the few days of sunshine were not enough to dry the pasture out and they almost got stuck, and now there are two tracks that will have to be filled in. Donald walked out to the far corner (Plot 1D) where cabbage seed was planted and was walking ankle deep in water. There is no cabbage, so that will be a write off for this year.

This weekend provided relief from heavy rain (though we did have a light rain Saturday) so Donald was able to clean and sterilize the brooders and equipment and today he prepared one brooder for the arrival of the Turkeys, expected the week of May 13th. The other brooder is ready for when the Turkeys get too big to be together in one brooder.

Sunday, Donald attacked the front yard again, and finally, after slipping and sliding around on the lawn tractor, was able to get the hill mowed. It was starting to look like a hay field.

We are working on ReThinking Baker Heritage Farms and are coming up with plans (as well as taking action) to get back on track. More on that with our post ReThinking Baker Family Farms, the Start of a New Plan.

We will be unable to post the next two weekends (and won't be getting much work done on the farm either), due to business commitments off-farm, but will begin posting again the weekend of May 26th if all goes well.

Until then,

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants." Leviticus 25:6