A Look at the Amish Farm and Their Sustainable Methods

In some cases, simplicity is best, and in farming no one demonstrates this better then the Amish. For centuries they have successfully reaped from the land, without harming the environment or their health. While we are unable to practice the same methods, we do have a deep respect for the Amish and the way they have kept farming a natural process for generations.

One of the largest Amish populations in North America occupy a small portion of Pennsylvania known as Lancaster County. The rolling hills of this area are dotted with small Amish farms that have been producing crops like corn, tobacco, alfalfa and grains for 300 years. Known to be the best farmers in the world, this comes from a fierce discipline, willingness to work hard and a love for the land that sustains them.

A typical Amish farm of 40 acres can produce a bigger harvest while consuming less energy than any typical farm, even ours. The less energy comes from deep rooted beliefs that gas powered machinery is a step away from their religious beliefs, which are strongly rooted in agriculture. For the Amish family, farming is not a job but a sacred lifestyle that comes straight from scripture. All of their meals come from what they harvest, completing a growing cycle in the most natural of ways.

Simplicity in the Amish lifestyle is not limited to farming. They shun most of the modern world’s luxuries, even simple ones like electricity. They dress in plain clothes with no adornments, and the men are distinguished by impressive beards. Of course to maintain those beards they cannot use an electronic beard trimmer, but must rely on shears and straight razors. Although with the size of many of the Amish men beards, I wouldn’t doubt that some would appreciate the convenience that a beard trimmer could provide.

One of the biggest fears in the Amish community is the automobile. Since its introduction in the beginning of the 20th century, Amish religious leaders have strongly fought to keep any automobiles, or farm equipment that ran like one, off of their farms. This was important to them for a number of reasons. For one, a tractor would eliminate some jobs and force Amish men into the rest of the world to find work. There was also the fear that tractors would allow a farmer to till more than his 40 acres. This could cause him to buy more land, thus creating inequality in the community.

horse

Instead, you will see horse drawn buggies driving alongside cars in Lancaster County. While this may be a startling site for some, the non-Amish neighbors are used to it, and have developed a deep respect for the culture.

While it may not be feasible for commercial farming to resort to the Amish all natural methods, smaller farms could learn a few things about being productive, without harming the land that feeds us. Try to cut back on the machine assisted labor, and encourage the hands on approach to farming. Even these small concessions made by a large number of farms would go a long way in preserving our planet.

 

Great Ways For Farmers to Earn Extra Money

Being a farmer is tough, mainly because land is expensive, and if you live in an area with a poor climate, you are unable to use your main asset for a portion of the year. Some farmers are able to grow crops all year long, but not everyone has that luxury so many farmers and their families seek out extra sources of income. There is a common saying that goes something like this:

The secret to a successful farmer is a wife who works in town

The joke is that most farmers cant make enough money from the goods that they farm to survive, so one of the members of the family has to get a job in town. Of course, this is not always true but typically can be.

Trap Range is an Option too

 

Even though famers who live in poor climates have some of their land unable to produce crops during the winter, that does not mean they can not make any money off of it. There are plenty of other things that farmers can do during the growing off season to earn a bit of cash from their land and build up a bit of savings. Here are some good ones. (We have many favorites, but as the landowner you need to look at what will work for you. For instance, our neighbors have a private trap range and allow shooting and shotguns and all of that jazz – we do not.)

1) Hunting – Many farms have what a lot of hunters need (and want) –  a sizeable amount of land! Many hunters need to get access to public land through private land, or if there is no access, they need permission to hunt on private land from the land owner so that they will be able to fill their freezer for the winter. Often times, land owners can cash in on this deal many different ways – they get a stipend from the state game and fish or natural resources office if a game animal is harvested on their place (usually 15-20% of the total cost of the tag). Not only can the landowner make a bit of extra cash off of the tag fee, but they can also make a bit of money from the hunters – either in the form of leasing their land to an outfitter or by charging hunters a small fee to access. Many hunters gladly will pay if a farmer has good wildlife resources on their property. You do need to be careful about this though, because if you over sell one year you will end up with nothing the next year. There are plenty of different hunting websites to find hunters in your area that you can look at, and one of my favorite hunting websites is hunterinsight.com.

2) Tours/Events – There are many people that have not been on a farm before, and always are curious about how farms work and what people do on a farm (shocking, right?). If you are interested, you can offer your farm for tours to locals or a local school and take the kids around when production has halted in the fall. You can tell them about what you do and how you do it, the equipment that you use and everything else you do on a day to day basis as a farmer. There are also events that you can hold at your farm. Some of the more popular ones are obviously concerts, but also corn mazes and other holiday themed activities. These events have been growing in popularity, and since farmers have lots of land at their disposal they can create a good environment for these types of things. Even better if you can get a good concert series to your place every year – a sure thing dose of extra cash!

3) Passion Events - This is another one of the many things available to farmers because of the large amount of land they own. You can read more about side hustles for farming at the modern farmer, but an amusement park is one of the better ideas. There are also opportunities if you are willing to host weddings or do something with your farm that you are passionate about. There are many different things that you could do to bring in a bit of extra revenue during the down season, and it is up to you to go out and find it. One thing that we recommend is that you find something that you enjoy doing – that way it wont feel like work when you’re doing it. Make sure it makes a bit of money, but dont pick a project because you think it will make a lot of money. Pick one you enjoy and see if that will make a lot of money – like go cart racing or something similar.

Living on a farm can be tough, and cash can get tight. There are a lot of ways for farmers to generate extra revenue in just a bit of time using the assets they already have. If this is the difference between saving and losing your farm, you should always try something. Even if you end up failing, at least you can say that you tried.

Image Flickr User Egan Snow.

Financial Benefits of Leasing Land to Famers

If you currently have a large amount of land, you might want to think about the financial benefits of leasing part of your property to farmers. Often times, this can rake in income for farmers who want to make sure your land is carefully managed based on specific sustainability standards. By allowing farmers to work on your land through an agreeable contract, you can reduce the worry and create a long lasting relationship that will benefit both parties.

Prior to having your land rented, it’s ideal to find sustainability priorities so you can create a clear and open communication with the farmers. Having clear communication is essential to building strong relationships with neighboring farmers in terms of land-leasing agreements and profits.

pumpkintruck

Saving Money through Land Leasing

A lot of landowners opt to lease their land for farming as opposed to doing it themselves. One primary benefit of leasing a farmland is that it offers a predictable income for both you and the farmers. When leasing land, your financial success is never dependent on the success or failure of crops and/or livestock. Another advantage of leasing farmland is that the farmer handles all costs related with the farm. This is a good thing since farmers can benefit financially from the crops and/or livestock they possess as well as equipment they purchase or rent. When leasing land to farmers, you have no responsibility of planting, harvesting, and raising crops and/or livestock. You also have no responsibility over what they do – for instance, many farmers lease out their land for things like mud races, corn mazes (at Halloween) or for other extreme sports like paintball and airsoft.

Farming: A Rewarding income

Getting farmers to manage your land can be a profitable business for farmers. If you already possess farming equipment and the farmers renting your land have extensive farming knowledge, they can easily profit. While income generated through farming your land will always depend on the present pricing of crops and livestock including the yield of harvest, profits that farmers bring in will be larger than what you would get from a land lease agreement.

Bottom Line

Farming is a risky business, but in a good year, the profits far outweigh any farming issues. If you require a steady source of income, or if you want to avoid dealing with losses, then leasing your farmland is your ideal option. If you happen to have the desire, possess farming equipment, and have the money to farm the land on your own, this can be a profitable solution for many years to come.

Favorite Recipes from the Farm

There are a number of benefits to be noted when it comes to eating farm dishes. With farm or organically grown foods becoming more popular, it’s a lot simpler and affordable to go for farm dishes. We think of dishes from our farm as everything, from the food we grow here, to the fish we catch and the meat that we harvest.

farm food

Farm crops mean foods are naturally grown in safe soil, without the use of synthetic alterations or additives. Farm livestock means that meat you’re ingesting have been safely fed with organic ally and allowed to naturally roam outdoors. While a majority of farm dishes today have been labelled as “organic,” only those that meet the criteria are officially approved by the USDA. In addition to the organic foods we grow, our meats are also all organic and natural. We have a lot of our own recipes, but we take a lot of our venison recipes from http://bestvenisonrecipes.com

Whether or not farm dishes have more nutrients than commercially treated foods is a hotly debated issue. However, most treated farm foods have a nutritious appearance since they appear a lot bigger. Never be deceived by size alone. A majority of commercially treated fruits and vegetables are bigger as a result of high water content. While farm foods are smaller, they’re still packed with nutrients without the unnecessary water content.

Farm dishes are becoming popular due to their organic nature and a number of health benefits. Here are several popular farm dishes worth diving into:

Spicy “Southern” Fried Chicken
Most farm cooks know that buttermilk marinade, along with seasoned flour, makes for a good tender and crispy fried chicken.

Cheese Grits with Corn Pudding
This farm staple in a soufflé bowl makes it a great side dish.

Buttermilk Biscuits
These biscuits have higher buttermilk content, which describes their delicious flavor and fluffiness.

Barbecue Beef Brisket
Tender and most, this dish should be well-cooked on an open fire.

Collar Slaw
Smoked bacon strips mixed with sautéed collard greens are mixed with vinaigrette that make this a tasty farm dish.

Celery Root with Apple Slaw
This sure shot dish is simple to make and can be eaten at home or taken anywhere.

Spicy Pork Tenderloin
This peppery pork tenderloin can be served with the all fixings: collard greens and cornbread.

Corn on the Cob
A farm favorite can be made even better when drizzled with herb butter.

Louisville Hot Brown
Bacon crumbles and white Cheddar sauce is added in this sandwich, which is then layered with slices of tomato and turkey.

Pimento-Cheese Potato Gratin
This dish involves crushed flakes of chili and roasted red pepper that packs a spicy taste in this creamy potato gratin mixed with pimento cheese.

Smoked Turkey Cobbler
Biscuits top this dish, which owes its smoky taste to adobo sauce and chipotle peppers.

Corn Sticks
This is basically cornbread taking in the form for sticks made for dipping.

Sweet Potato Pie
This potato pie relies heavily on buttermilk and lemon juice for its tangy and savory flavor.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
This pie features two favorites: the gooey pecan pie texture and irresistible chocolate sweetness.

Butterscotch Pie
This pie is sprinkled with grated chocolate or roasted nuts. To give pie its winning edge, slice a well-chilled pie or cream while wiping the knife in between cuts.

Peach Huckleberry Lattice Pie
The crust of the lattice gives a combination of texture and colors which reveal a nice pattern of fruit under the pastry strips.

These farm dishes will definitely make your mouth water. These dishes have a richer taste compared to today’s commercial foods. A majority of farm foods are fresh since they’re grown locally. Most people agree that farm foods are more lush, rich, and tasty than commercially prepared dishes. In addition, since farm foods do not possess all additives and are safely grown as they were originally intended, they taste a lot better.

Using Tactical Floodlights to Keep Away Looters at Night

Looters and thieves usually lurk at night. And during those hours, it would be hard for you to keep your farm safe and protected. Obviously, these looters are just watching nothing but your back and will attack during the times that you are sleeping.

Guarding your farm from looters may be hard, especially if you don’t have the luxury of money to hire a night guard to look after the area every night. There are also other ways for you to be able to keep your farm protected. With the latest gadgets and technologies, installing security equipment around the area is also one good option.

Security Devices

With the advance technology that we have these days, there are just a lot of professional tech devices that you can use to safeguard your farm and keep away looters during the night. Installing hidden cameras all over the place will help you monitor all the activities even when you’re sleeping. And definitely, if looters are aware about the cameras, then they surely will hesitate to even come close.

You can also other devices such as the tactical floodlights. Since the enemy come and visit at night, you need to counter them by using lights. When using tactical floodlights you will have an immediate and uniform lighting in the surrounding area. Most floodlights are portable enough that you can carry wherever you are and its brightness can alarm the looters around.

Whether you do the guarding, or you hire someone to do it for you, make sure that you carry a portable floodlight for security. These tactical floodlights are originally designed and made for security and strategic uses. Thus, it will come handy if you use it to protect your farm.

floodlights

Be Aware

The main reason why some farm owners are becoming the target of looters is that they don’t give much attention to security. They don’t have the kind of awareness which can protect them against those who would only want to get the things that they have worked hard for.

It is even more important that you think one step ahead than the looters. Before they will have the opportunity to penetrate the farm, make your move in protecting the area. Check out some of the latest tactical devices that you can use.

Be Ready

Getting ready all the time is easy being said than done. Since most unfortunate events happen during the times that we expected the least, you need to be completely ready. Imagine that you woke up in the middle of the night, knowing that someone is trying to rob you? What’s the first thing to do?

Well, that all depends on how prepared and capable you are to take them down. You might need all the reliable tactical and security equipment ready. Or better yet, call the right people to help you.  Keep in mind that your safety is more important than anything else.

So keep your farm safe and away from looters that prowl around. Get more security ideas from the right people and implement them as soon as possible.

Pellet Guns for Pest Control –Preventing Pests from Eating the Crops

Pellet guns are not just for gun wars at a local park or a friend’spest-alert-swdf12 back yard. Believe it or not there are a lot more uses for it. You may ask pellet gun enthusiasts why they got into it, and for sure you will get different answers.  Some will say there are into a particular model such as the ones found at Pellet Gun Pro that they had to buy it because of the incredible style and features. Others may simply purchase one to add to their collection and for some they use it for target practice. But there are a few whose answers may surprise you. Some people get a pellet gun for practical method such as pest control to protect their crops.

Pest Control

Pest control is commonly associated with the protection of crops. It is the regulation or management of pest. Pests on the other hand are described as any species perceived to be detrimental to human health, ecology and economy. On the country side, different species of animals destroy the crops and farmers are actively controlling these animals to prevent damage to their assets. While there are numerous methods to control these pests the use of pellet guns are proven effective in keeping these pests from eating the crops.

The Controversy

You may not agree whunting-squirrels-with-a-pellet-gun-targetith the use of pellet guns in controlling pests. But many farmers and land owners use this method. Before you start thinking of animal cruelty, the use of pellet guns is the only way to go compared to other high powered firearms and other pest control methods. Utilizing pellets guns is more humane than setting up traps which can cause serious injuries to these animals. More often than not, pellet guns are used to scare animals and drive them away but if it accidentally hit one, a pellet gun is not strong enough to cause a fatal injury. The point here is you are trying to train these animals that it is not okay for them to eat your crops.

Pests control using a pellet gun doesn’t necessarily need to aim to hit and hurt these species, but instead to scare them away. You can see how a Best Pellet Gun can be a great tool to control these animals without fatally eradicating them. You don’t need any high powered firearms and hazardous methods to keep pests from eating your crops; a simple yet efficient pellet gun is all it takes.

How to Use Photography to Capture the Essence of Fresh Fruit

We have been approached numerous times by photographers who want to use our fruits as a muse for their photographic artwork. This is only natural as ours is all natural and as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat. Over the years we have picked up a few tips from these experts on the best way to capture fruit in pictures.

Start by Selecting the Right Raw Material

This is not difficult on a farm filled with perfect fruit. You want to find the brightest in color with no flaws. If you will be slicing it for the shot, make sure that it is ripe to show the best inner color.

Choosing a Background

You want to use a solid color that contrasts with the fruit so that it stands out. White is a favorite with most photographers, especially with red and dark blue fruits like strawberries and blueberries. Some, like wedding photographers in Calgary who came by once, use a striped pattern that has one band the same color as the fruit. The Calgary wedding and engagement photographers wanted to shoot a pineapple that had been sliced open, and placed it against a print that had one bright yellow stripe running through it. The effect was incredibly beautiful.

fresh_fruit_by_schatzfoto-d52bskf

Choosing the Right Lighting

In our case, most of the fruit “photo shoots” that we have seen have been done with natural sunlight. But some of our fruit has been transported to a studio where halogen lighting was used from behind to create a dramatic effect. The wedding photographers explained to use that they use a light tent with these shots to create a more realistic image with little shadowing. This can be done with a simple cardboard box and paper on the sides.

Developing the Photos

This topic is way out of our league, but with fruit photos, there should be no need for photo shopping. If the right fruit was chosen, then the pictures should all be just as you wanted. The exception is if you do use any props in the pictures. One of our photography guests made fruit “fly” using sliced pieces and toothpicks. During development she only had to wipe out the toothpicks to give the effect that the fruit pieces were suspended in mid air.

Our conversations with these photographers just shows how appreciated a bounty like ours is. If something natural that can be found in any supermarket is beautiful enough to want to take a picture of, then you know it has to taste as good as it looks.

6 Lesser Known Benefits of Eating Fresh Fruit

While you probably have heard the old saying that apple a day keeping the doctor away, too many times to count, there are a variety of other benefits which come from eating fruit with which you may not be as familiar. People who eat fruit are much more likely to be healthy than those who are eating processed foods, and there are many reasons why. One of the healthiest superfood available on the planet, and it comes pre-packaged in its natural state. What could be better or more convenient?

Fruit is Mostly Water

What? Yes, most fruit is made up of more than 75% water (similar to the human body), which means that it helps to keep us hydrated and healthy, even if we don’t get to drink those eight glasses of water every day. Hydration not only helps with healthy looking skin and vibrancy, it also promotes better brain function and flushes toxins from the body. Don’t substitute drinking water for eating fruit, but doing both can only benefit your body with this food that has the highest percentage of water content of any food on the earth.

Fruit Helps with Fertility

Knowing how to increase fertility by what you eat is one important aspect to consider when trying to get pregnant. Although not specifically only from fruit, a healthy diet consisting of high concentrations of fruits and vegetables is vital for a woman who is trying to get pregnant. In fact, a man’s fertility can be increased by eating a healthy diet as well. So if you want to increase your chances of conceiving a baby, be sure to exercise regularly, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, gets the right amount of sleep, and live a generally healthy lifestyle. Continue reading

Roadside Fruit and Jam Sales

Running a U-Pick farm, or really any type of farm for that matter, brings with it the need for a certain amount of flexibility and ingenuity. Sometimes the fruit gets over-extended and runs out, but other times there is an overabundance. While some people still buy or grow their own fresh fruit in order to make their own jellies and jams, this is becoming a dying art and so we here at Chatham Berry Farm make an effort of providing a large range of it for our customers. We know you don’t always have time (or the desire) to do it yourself.

roadside fruit stand

Our old roadside fruit stand

So many people have become accustomed to enjoying the benefits of the labor we put into our fruit by enjoying it fresh as well as in jams and jellies. And in order to provide the most convenience possible, we offer the roadside fruit stand. This way people can stop by and pick up fruit on their way to and from work or other places, without having to drive all the way into the territory of the actual berry farm. Even with the slower pace of farm life that we try to have around here, we understand that we need to make things as quick and easy as possible to accommodate people’s busy lives.

Most people drive by roadside fruit and jam stands fairly regularly, sometimes every day, often without giving a second thought to the structure of the actual stand itself. Of course this is because they all come to look at the fruit–not the stand–and that’s exactly what we want! But a lot of work goes into not only growing the fruit, but making sure that the roadside stand where it is sold from is sound enough to hold everything. This way we can provide the best location for our customers to buy their jams and fruit.

Typically, fruit stands need to be sturdy and protective, while also remaining somewhat portable and convenient for moving when seasons change, and in Canada they sure do change! Stands which are made out of wood can get heavy to move around, but anything lighter weight can be easily blown away during a storm or other inclement weather. So when my husband and I started looking at designs for our roadside stand, we knew that we wanted high quality wood with a small roof to protect the produce from sun as well as the occasional rain shower.

Honestly, I know very little about building things, I just know what I want the finished product to be. Good homemade shelves were a must for my roadside stand, as I wanted them to look good as well as be quite functional. My husband did a great job with these as he proudly used his brand new miter saw! (Apparently this miter saw was a very important purchase as he did hours of research online. He said he read tons and tons of miter saw reviews prior to deciding exactly which saw he wanted to purchase.)

It seems that he made the right decision because he did a fabulous job and was able to make them quickly and easily.)

In addition to sturdy shelves, I also wanted some boxes or crates, but instead of using new wood I wanted to use the wood from some old pallets which were still in really good shape. Not only did I want to recycle the wood and save some money, but I liked the worn look of the wood for the boxes, versus the new wood that he used for the shelves. My husband was able to reclaim the wood from the pallets and re-create them into functional crates which look really great as well.

Although berry season eventually comes to an end, I am always still excited about the roadside stand which brings with it such a grand feeling of summer. And with the quality craftsmanship of my husband, combined with my eye for design, I think we made a pretty good team on this project. I wonder what other kinds of projects I’ll come up with for my husband next? I know he’ll be excited to use his new saw!

Image from Flickr by Eric Chan

You’ve seen the dogs, but how do we keep them out of our award winning fruit?

How many of you have gone through the troubles of keeping your pets out of the garden, bushes, or crop? If you’ve had a dog before, odds are you know what I’m talking about. With so much going on all the time, it’s tough to keep tabs on all our dogs here at the berry farm at all points in time, and I imagine you can relate.

strawberry and raspberry on the farm

Some of our delicious strawberries and raspberries!

Well, this was actually an issue quite a few years ago now. We’ve always had dogs on the farm for as long as I can remember, and it’s a tradition we’ve kept to very well. Not to mention all the litters of puppies we’ve been surprised with that have made it a little too easy to have dogs here! They used to get into the berries and would often eat a fair amount of them, and generally squish or soil most of the rest of them. When we had a big litter and some adult dogs running around, the issue was at it’s worst. The berries that we spent all spring growing was now ruined, eaten, and useless. We lost some money as a side effect, and this was when we knew it was time to do something to keep the dogs away from the berries at all times. No one really blamed the dogs, though many of us were angry about the situation. But dogs will be dogs, and it was our fault for not keeping them away!

None of us here at the farm are believers in caging up pets or tying them to a post. For a while we had to keep them in the fenced back yard so that they did not disturb customers while they were picking, and so they didn’t destroy the berries.

Not long after this however, we discovered that wireless fences were a thing. This is what changed our lives and the dogs’ lives for the better. We did our research on tons of sites like k9fencereviews.com and stores looking for the right brand and model (there’s more than you’d think!), and even throughout the years we’ve upgraded a few times to accommodate more dogs and a larger area. Setting up the fence was way cheaper than anyone here thought! It just took a bit of time and patience, and we had set up the wire-perimeter (and little flags) all around the berries. We knew that the collars they came with wouldn’t hurt the dogs, so we were all very pleased with that. Once we let the dogs out into the front area again, they were as happy as can be!

It took no more than a few days for them to get used to the little noise and static correction that the collars make to realize that they should turn back and stay away from the flagged areas. Dogs are smarter than you’d think! Ever since then we’ve had absolutely no problems with our berries getting eaten, soiled, or smashed by our pups! Every once in a while you’ll see a cat strolling through the berry bushes, but they’re mainly just trying to get from one end to the other.

1 2