Irrigation

Irrigation turned out to be more challenging than we thought. Originally, we had planned a simple drip feed off a header line, but the water wasn’t getting where it needed to go to the baby plants, especially when the tubing flexed in the heat – it can go a couple feet in either direction at times in the sun! So we bought some branch tubing and some watering stakes… an investment for sure, but it places the water exactly where it needs to be. Over time as the plan sizes increase we can cycle them over to the new babies that need more accurate water placement.

Right now, we have Bed #1 open and about 11 rows planted at roughly 80% of capacity. We lost some of the cloned babies, which was anticipated, but still a setback. Overall the majority of plants have done very well, despite slow and incremental progress in planting everything over the summer. At this point we’re starting winter preparation and are ready with low tunnel supplies, frost fabric, and mulch. After that, it’s onto more seedlings and back to the indoor setup and hydroponics! I’ve got some plans to improve watering automation inside. Hopefully we can open up a couple more beds about the size of Bed 1 in the spring.

On Tractors

So you need a tractor…

We started out with “Betty”. Betty is a seasoned Ford 8N from the early 1950s and was a cash bargain. We bought Betty from a local farmer and mechanic – I would call him an artisan, who restores old tractors. It was supposed to be easy to work on and a bomber workhorse. Well, not so much for the latter. Betty ran, but under load (like plowing, discing, even brush mowing) she struggled, would drop power, and then stall out entirely. Being at 6,000 ft. in elevation was also doing her no favors. It seemed when I chased one gremlin down, a new one would pop up. Kind of like whack-a-mole, but with my time and money. I replaced the spark plugs, a lot of the wiring, the entire fuel system, and the battery. I finally got her running more reliably, but she still can’t handle even a single bottom plow without needing a break after an hour or so. And that took several weekends out of my life fixing her, plus the lead time on parts! She’s more of a mower – light work and that’s about it.

That’s when we got super duper serious and decided to go with a more modern piece of equipment to do the majority of the farm and land management work. We also opted for a bucket and backhoe and those tools have been indispensable. Meet our L series Kubota, “Kubert”. It’s diesel, 4×4, all metal, and is the bomber workhorse we were looking for. It lacks the charm of Betty, but Kubert goes HAM when plowing a field and pretty much everything else. Heads up if you’re considering a John Deere – in the same price tier as the Kubota it’s a lot of plastic, has two wheel drive, and is not diesel. Just expect to pay way more for your green paint, which granted, is iconic and amazing.

Kubert striking the “Orange Steel” pose

Kind of like a lot of things, old style seems idealistic and amazing until you actually use it and realize why humans kept innovating new technology in agricultural equipment over the past 70 years. Each has its place, but function over form was a good lesson!