A farmer’s perspective 5/2/2013

Dahinda, IL: I have started to write blog posts to The Local Beet. It is a Chicago Area local food blog. http://www.thelocalbeet.com/ You may start see some of what I write over there appear here.
It finally warmed up allowing time for some planting. I have some tomatoes and eggplants planted and will get more in this weekend along with peppers. I also planted some shallot starts. I grew them from seed in a previous year and it did not work out so well due to the weather and other factors. I have a flat of King Arthur bell peppers to plant. They performed tremendously the last two years despite the drought. I will not plant California Wonders again. I think that they are for a California climate or any place with a longer growing season than Illinois since they do not start producing in abundance until September. The peppers themselves are small as well.
I also got several Marglobe tomato plants. I have not grown these in years but remember that they really do well. They are listed as an heirloom tomato now as they are an open pollinated variety. Better Boy tomatoes are a hybrid version of these, I believe.
I will continue to work on getting the hoop house back in shape after the heavy wind damage during the winter. We have 3 Mallard and 2 Pekin ducklings that were given to us by a woman who wanted to give them to her grandchildren for Easter. The children’s mother said no and we have them now.
We have set up an area outside for them since the adult Khaki Campbells that we have do not get along with them. We set them out last weekend and turned our backs for a second. In that time the male Khaki went after them driving the Pekin ducklings away. It took us hours to find where they were hiding and they were obviously roughed up. Lesson learned! The adult ducks were not even in the vicinity when we let the ducklings out but a couple of minutes are all it took!
We put our current litter of piglets back in with their mother now that they are weaned and mom is dried up. They had been out on the same pasture with the llamas and goat but they could not stay. As they grow up they would have plowed the entire pasture up leaving no food for the llamas and the goat. They have an area roughly half the size now to run around in and seem happy. They seem to be growing much faster than the last littler. The last litter was raised during the winter and probably had to fight off the cold as well as put on weight. A tall order! This will probably mean that this litter will require less feed to bring to market weight (250lbs or so).

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