Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Farm Notes October 9th

Winter prepping is top priority at the farm.  Busy, busy, busy.  We got a few snowflakes last week, enough to warn us that winter is on it's way.  Every day counts right now and there's lots to do.  Dad pulled the irrigation system from the lake and drained the pipes so we don't have to worry about them freezing.  We'll be moving the hens to their winter quarters soon (picture).  The hay bales are being arranged at the barn for winter feeding.  The goats and pigs will soon partitioned in winter shelters.  The turkeys being kept for Christmas butchering have yet to be moved from the pasture.  The list is long, the days few, the work hard, but we know that it will be accomplished in due time.   "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9.

Your farmer,

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Farm Notes October 2nd

It's big, and red, and works hard.  It's a Massey Ferguson model 1135 tractor with a grapple loader!  We put our pennies together and bought the tractor from a neighbor last Monday.  It is going to make bale moving a breeze.  That's the first major job we plan to use it for, then moving compost, cleaning barns, and ripping sod for more crop space.  Amazing what a piece of machinery can do!

Your farmer,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Farm Notes September 25th

Did you know that goats eat brush?  The love it!  At our farm we use goats to clear the brush from hillsides.  We only have a few does (a doe is a mature female goat) and one buck (male goat) and their kids are raised to be sold for meat.  The purpose of clearing brush is to open the ground for grass to dominate.  After a few years, only dead stocks of brush remain and it is time to rotate the cows or horses through the area.  The hooves of the large animals knock down what remains of the brush and it turns into a very nice grassy pasture.  We can enhance the landscape of our farm by carefully stewarding animals and plants.

A goat nibbling on "Buckbrush."  The berries are poisonous to humans, but goats aren't affected.
Your farmer,
(taken from this week's delivery reminder letter to Bartlett Farm customers)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Farm Notes September 18th

My Grandparents from the state of New Hampshire have been visiting the farm this week.  It has been a few years since we showed them around, so many things have changed for us.  The most significant difference has come as a result of having great customers like you.  Our herd of 20 cows is ten times greater than the last time my Grandparents came, the chicken butchering has increased exponentially, the sow with her litter of pigs is a new addition, and the delivery network is outstanding!  Thank you for multiplying the impact of the Bartlett family by patronizing Bartlett Farm!

Left to right:  Jonathan, Grammy Ruby, David, Grandpa Ed, and Andrew Bartlett.
Your farmer,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Farm Notes September 11th

It's a balance between cost and efficiency, creativity and time.  Some things just make life a whole lot easier, and nipple waterers for chickens seem like one of those technological improvements that will make chores a little more productive.  Dad recently added 300 Plymouth Rock laying pullets to the brooder, and to supply them with fresh water, he inserted special nipple valves into a PVC pipe that is gravity fed from a five gallon pail of clean water.  When the chicks peck at the droplet of water hanging on the valve of the nipple, the valve releases more water into their beak.  In no time at all they had figured it out.  Now you can step inside the brooder and hear the clicking of beaks on the valves all day long.

Your farmer,

Farm Notes September 3rd

Meet Alice!  The latest addition to Bartlett Farm.  Alice is Della's new calf, a purebred Jersey heifer with a spot of white on her forehead.  Jersey cow's milk is known for it's richer cream and mineral content, compared to the big old black and white holstein cow's milk.  You might say that Jersey milk is "milkier," and more nutritious.  That's why we specialize in the heritage breed and raise up our young heifers (like Alice) to add to the growing herd.

Your farmer,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Farm Notes August 27th

. . . and on his farm he had a PIG!  Yep, eleven little piglets were born last week to our friendly mamma pig in the barnyard.  This warm weather is perfect for newborn pigs to get started with their little lives.  Outdoors from day one, these pigs will be raised very differently from conventional store bought "factory" pork chops.  They won't be pumped with antibiotics, GMOs, or kept in confinement.  These pigs will get to romp in the sunshine with their siblings, cuddle up with mamma in the straw, dig in the dirt with their snout, and live like a pig should!  We highly respect the unique design of a pig, knowing that their lifestyle makes a difference in the quality of meat they produce. 

Your farmer,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Farm Notes August 20th

More than farming happens at Bartlett Farm.  My brother Andrew is a talented filmmaker, web designer, and media expert.  Today he announced his latest project, "Crash Land: A Mission to Al Kazor" a short mini-adventure drama using stop-motion photography to animate Lego and Mega Blok soldiers.  It is an exciting story.  The full movie will be released Friday evening, but you can watch the trailer and sign up to see the movie on the official website:  Check it out!


Your farmers,
Peter and Andrew

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Farm Notes August 13

Last week we were happy to receive a few loads of high quality organic alfalfa/brome grass hay from a local farmer for the dairy cows.  This hay will be used to make milk through the coming winter.  We are very blessed to have a trustworthy organic farmer that is willing to provide this quality hay for us at a fair price.  This hay didn't get rained on at all before it was baled, so it should stay fresh and nutritious for the cows until spring.

Your farmer,

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Farm Notes August 6th

Our family has been busy butchering chickens this week.  We did 150 birds in two days (yesterday and today).  A relaxed pace, but enjoyable for us all.  In the photo below, Dad (Jim) stands next to the famous "Whizbang" chicken plucker.  Here's how it works:
1) scald three birds in 148 degree water for one minute
2) turn on Whizbang and toss birds into the barrel of spinning rubber fingers for 20 seconds
3) spray with cold water
4) remove plucked chickens 
Plucking takes a grand total of about 7 seconds per chicken this way.  It sure beats hand plucking! 
If you ordered pastured broiler chickens from us, you will be contacted when they are ready.  Some orders will be filled from future batches.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Farm Notes July 30th

Last week the raspberries came into season and we have been busy picking away at the patch.  Once the berries are picked into clean plastic clamshell containers, they are chilled in a cold place to lower their temperature and prolong their shelf life.  The chilling also firms up the berries to reduce crushing as they sit in refrigeration before being delivered to their destination.  Raspberries are a favorite in our family, and raspberry jam is a family tradition around here.  I will always remember the mornings we ate breakfast around the table at Grandpa and Grandma's house, and Grandma served crunchy toast smothered with her very own fresh, deep red, handpicked, homemade raspberry jam!  Those fun memories revive when I think of the delicious smell that fills the house while making raspberry jam.

Apple and cherry trees scattered throughout the raspberry patch contribute to the orchard.

Your farmer,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Garden Salads


A few posts back I wrote about planting the salad garden this spring, and anticipating the harvest of a few different kinds of fresh greens.  Well, the effort paid off because now it is time to harvest and enjoy the blessing of God's increase.  We plant seeds, water, and pray, but God makes it grow.  It is tempting to doubt whether those tiny seeds can actually produce anything, especially since we tend to get busy and neglect the garden quite often.  But God is faithful and we are thankful.  I thought I'd share some pictures of the end results of that simple little lettuce patch I planted not long ago.

Fresh romaine lettuce, full leaf lettuce, spinach, shelled peas, baby carrots, juicy raspberries, sprinkled with a bit of cheese, and dressed with Mom's thick and tasty raw whole milk yogurt.  Dad purchased a hoop bender from Johnny's Seeds to allow us to bend metal electrical conduit into hoops for extending the lettuce growing season into the late fall.  We will be setting up a plot for that purpose soon.  The trick to keeping lettuce on the table throughout the growing season is succession planting (i.e. replant every three weeks).

The garlic is also doing quite well.  We were able to cut off the garlic scapes this year, whereas we hadn't in years past.  The scapes are young flower blossoms on the garlic that form a loop on top like a pig's tail.  They can be used for different cooking purposes, but I found them pleasant to nibble on raw.  They are very garlicy and rather woody. 
Yesterday I picked a variety of garden veggies like sugar snap peas, a few different lettuces, and carrots, and then on my way back from the cows I noticed the cherries are turning red and few were close to ripe.  Nearby, the current berries were also almost ripe.  Yesterday morning Dad, Jonathan, Andrew, David, and I picked the raspberry patch and got about a quart and a half of nice berries.  We will need to watch for bird trouble this year since there seems to be a lot of Cedar Waxwings taking bites from the ripest berries.  They were robbing strawberries earlier too.

See those nice carrots?  I am glad they are doing so well.  We are getting better at progressively thinning the carrots.  The goal is 2 to 3 inches between individual carrots so they can enlarge easily without competition for space and moisture.

Farm Notes July 23

Faithful Samson, the farm dog.  What a wonderful part of our family!  On many occasions Samson has proven his "Shepherding" traits by rounding up runaway kid goats or flighty feathered hard-to-catch chickens.  He listens to our commands and voice tones and seems to know precisely what we are telling him to do.  He's smart, and whether listens perfectly or not, we enjoy having him at our side.  He doesn't kill chickens, or unnecessarily nip at the heels of cattle, and his favorite pastime is chasing rocks.  Yep, he loves rocks – and snowballs.  I thought the photo below that Andrew took of him was too nice to pass by, so I had to share it with you.
Samson is about six years old and a purebred German Shepherd.
Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Farm Notes July 16th

We were pleased with a good turnout for the farm tour last Saturday.  The weather was perfect with a gentle breeze.  Not too hot, but not too cool either.  Demonstrations of chicken tractor usage, daily cattle rotation, hand milking, and horseback riding filled the afternoon with fun activities and learning for all.  A pulled pork sandwich with whole wheat rolls, naturally yellow raw butter on wheat crackers, wedges of juicy watermelon, and glasses of sweet raw Jersey milk capped the day off with refreshing fellowship in the shade.  It is so nice to take the time to make memories that children remember for the rest of their lives.  The day was a highlight of our summer!
Dad (Jim) shows onlookers how to safely test the voltage of an electric fence near the hogs.
Your farmer,

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

This week

On each weekly delivery reminder that is sent out, I include a paragraph or so that has something interesting for our customers.  I wrote this today for this week's reminder:
Farm Notes:
The calves were skipping around the pasture as the cows stuffed their bellies with lush green grass and clovers this week.  Did you know you can tell a cow's attitude by her tail?  A gentle swish is a sign of contentment.  An excited slap shows irritation.  I could tell they were all enjoying the change of scenery since they were happily swishing along across the paddock.  On our farm, we move the cows to new sections of pasture about once a day.  This mimics the wild herds of bison that used to roam the prairie and is important for the nutrient recycling process.  The cows' hooves knock down plant material allowing the soil microbes to decompose the plants and feed the soil.
Your farmer,
1854 107th St NE
Bottineau, ND 58318
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:" 1 Peter 2:2
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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Cows out to grass

Hello there,
Today we did a number of projects together.  Today's "To Do" list that I scratched out at the family gathering this morning says the following:
  • Move cows
  • Plant beans
  • Transplant
  • Empty pig storage cabin
  • Computer duties
  • Office duties
Well, not all of those things were accomplished (yet, it's only 8:30) but the top of the list was.  I set up a large paddock on the slope beyond the garden for the cows to move out this afternoon.  Here's a few pictures:
I love cows!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Garden Planting

Hello there,
Today we went out to the garden and planted the corn patch.  Dad, Jonathan, Andrew and David and I worked together and we seeded about a dozen rows of "Peaches and Cream" sweet corn.  Peaches and cream refers to the mixed colors of the kernels on the cob, some white and some yellow.  If the patch yields well, which we pray it will do, we should get a bountiful harvest and have enough to sell some.  A number of customers have ordered a few dozen ears, so we will need to at least fill those orders when it is ripe.  I hope that it won't all ripen on exactly the same day, since it gets tricky to handle all that volume!  I also planted zucchini plants on the ends of each row and a number of sugar and field pumpkins in the rows.  A map was sketched with the locations of the different seeds for future reference.
This winter I began reading Steve Solomon's book called "Gardening When It Counts" and found it very motivating for me to do a better job with our family's garden.  I highly recommend the book.  His approach is very simple, rather old-fashioned, but reliable (only tools needed are a spade, wheelbarrow, rake, and hoe).
A few weeks ago I planted the beginnings of the lettuce patch and a few rows of chitted peas.  Chitting is pre-germinating the seeds before planting to make them immune to drying out.  Here's a picture of the peas before I planted them:
We also chitted the corn seed before planting it today.  The sprouts should get to be about the same length as the seed before planting.  That way they don't break off as you handle them and the seed can easily wick moisture from the soil around it.  To me, handling seed that has been chitted is like holding a baby chick.  It feels alive and precious. 
The picture above is the peas planted beside the garlic, with the short rows of lettuce in the background.  The peas were planted on two sides of the patch so that the pea fences serve a double purpose; a trellis for the peas and a fence to keep chickens out of the salad garden.
That's what I've been up to!
How about you?

Pigs out to pasture

Hello everyone,
On Monday we set up the electric pig pasture and moved them out to munch on fluffed up turf and roots.  It's amazing what a pig can accomplish with it's snout.  If the ground is soft from the rain, the pigs can plow their nose under the sod and flip it over in no time.  Once the pigs have rooted up a plot of ground, we will broadcast some non-GMO alfalfa seed over the area and rake it in.  Eventually the area will become a lush stand of forage for the cows or pigs or other animals to graze.  Isn't it neat how animals can work together to improve the land?  We give the glory to God since He authored this design (more here).
Dig pig, dig!
Enjoy your day,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April 11th, 2013

Today was long is some ways and short in others.  It was short since David and I spent all day driving to and from Bismarck for another committee meeting.  We had a good trip there and found out there will be at least one more meeting next Tuesday regarding cow-share regulating.

On the way home we stopped and looked at an E-250 Ford panel van south of Minot to see if it would work for deliveries.  It would, except it is a little out of our price range at the moment ($6,400).  While in Bismarck we stopped at a few dairy supply stores and some iodine teat dip and a new brush for the milking equipment.

David is a really big help in navigating the maze of roads in Bismarck/Mandan.  He's also been instrumental in changing the minds of Representative Kiefert and Headland at some of the various committee meetings recently.  Good work David!  It goes to show that no one is too young to make a difference.

What made the day seem short was having so much to think about.  There is a battle of ideas going on out there.  It is important to have an understanding of the teachings in the Bible to be able to decipher the errors in what people say and reconcile it with an understanding of the Truth.  We are thankful that the Lord has all things in His hand and will bring about His will through this legislation.


=Sent from my PPad (paper pad)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

April 8th, 2013


Last night some of us congregated in the living room just before bedtime.  David and I were able to get one round of the Farming game in while Dad cleaned up milk dishes for me.  While we were all sitting there, I noticed Mom's box of old blog posts from around 2005 sitting in the corner.  I grabbed it and we read aloud some of the adventures that Jonathan wrote about on his blog a while back.  We were talking about old times and reminiscing about all the experiences we've had.  I am grateful that we wrote what we did when we did it, because just reading some of those old posts is enough to spark my memory about those exciting times we had. 

But the excitement isn't over!  I am still living an exciting life and I know that what is written now will be useful for future edification and encouragement to others.  I'm sure we will look back and appreciate the time spent jotting a few daily happenings, even if they aren't that unusual. 

So, last night I scribbled down the following blog entry on a spare sheet of paper in my Bible.  It recounts some of yesterday's happenings.  Written with a blunt pencil in sloppy cursive, the sentences may not be as nicely put as they could have been if I had typed them on a keyboard. 

April 8th, 2013

Today was a productive day for me.  I started the day by gulping down a half gallon of water right after I got up.  It is refreshing to drink a bunch of water all at one time as long as it is not ice cold.  I filled a milk bottle up before going to bed last night so it could warm to room temperature. 
Dad and Jonathan are pouring over the egg laying chicken proforma right now, trying to refine the numbers to make it more profitable.
I copied and sent some of the contracts that have been sitting on my desk for too long.  They become a part of the scenery and I forget about them, so it's nice to get some of them taken care of finally.  I had to buy four stamps from Mom since I'm out right now.
After lunch I went upstairs to take a 20 minute nap and had been laying there for about 10 minutes when David burst into the room and called out that Doug Goehring was on the Scott Hennen radio show.  I was immediately alert and flipped my covers off to get out of bed to join David downstairs.  We tried to get the radio program number off the web, but the connection was too slow to get anywhere.  I called a different number and left my message, then we got the radio going online and heard just enough to miss the call number that the host rattled off so quickly.  Andrew went upstairs to see if he could get Dad's computer to find the phone number while Dad was on class, but David finally figured out the number and I called in.  They asked me my name, area, and what I was calling for.  Then the radio began playing and the host came on air.  After a minute or so (my heart beating) Mr. Hennen said something to the effect of, "Let's take another caller here, . . . Peter in Bottineau, what's on your mind?"  I replied that,"I was calling in regard to the discussion on Senate Bill 2072 about cow-sharing, and I just wanted to make it clear to everyone listening that we are not talking about anything to do with the sale of raw milk (which is the most common misconception regarding true cow-sharing).  It's an issue of state regulation of private cow ownership."  Another few seconds of explanation and I said what I needed.  He basically agreed and let me off the line. 
Those kind of experiences are rather fun, if I know I am doing it for the sake of the Truth.  David kept the recorder going to capture any additional comments that may be made, while I went out to do barn chores. 

I hear kittens scratching in the box behind me.  We haven't paid as much attention to them this batch.  Well, I suppose it's time to go.  Peter

  • Doug Goehring is the ND Agriculture Commissioner.  He is responsible for encouraging the state Dairy Director to ban cow-sharing this legislative session.
  • I was interviewed on the Scott Hennen show a few days ago about SB 2072.  The conservatives in ND don't agree with the Commissioner, and we wanted to add some clarification to his take on on cow-sharing in ND.  That's why I called in.
Until next time,


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Twenty-eight Below


A chilly day here today.  I rolled out of bed to a rather cold bedroom this morning.  All of us boys are now sleeping in the almost-completed master bedroom in the main floor of the house.  We don't have the woodstove ductwork installed yet so the only heat is what comes up through the ladder hole and a few vent slots in the floor. 

In the beginning of this week we heard rumor of cold temperatures coming for a short time, so we were prepared mentally for the weather we have experienced today and yesterday.  But it is hard to be physically prepared for temperatures like we had this morning.  Andrew said that he talked to Mrs. M at Metigoshe Ministies this afternoon and she said her thermometer read -28 degrees F!  That is not including the windchill which Mom said was being reported at about minus fifty-five.  I will be thankful when the balmy five degrees above zero arrives as predicted.

Part of the challenge in the cold weather is keeping the cows' teats from freezing.  They say you should protect the cow's udders from the cold whenever the temperatures fall below 10 degrees OR you have a significant windchill.  We had both today.  So, the three currently milking cows were locked up in one side of the barn for overnight and most of today and are there again tonight.  The other half of the barn housed eight other cows which needed the barn for shelter.  After about 2 p.m. I had to let the cows out to fill up on hay since I wasn't able to fork enough to satisfy them in the barn. 

I could tell tonight that just after the short time the cows were out in the cold, Sandy's forward right teat got a little frostbitten and a few others may have as well.  Milking is more difficult once the teat is swollen and then it will blister and eventually recover.  In the mean time it is important to keep it sanitized with the teat dip and clean to avoid infection entering the udder.

Just wanted to let you know what I've been up to. 

Talk to you later,