NEWS AND UPDATES
June 2, 2021: SWEET POTATO SLIPS START SHIPPING MONDAY JUNE 7
May was a trying month weatherwise and time wise. The first week in May was hot and summer like only to be followed by the next 2 weeks of 20-30 degrees below normal temperatures and frost nearly every night. Not the ideal weather for starting the sweet potatoes. The last Friday in May it only got to 46 for a high and then after an all day drizzle cleared off at sunset and temperatures plummeted, fortunately the moisture in the air kept the plants from freezing.The next night was just as cold and we slipped by again. The majority of varieties will be ready to go by next week if the weather stays as warm as is promised.
Hatches have been a little disappointing chiefly from my having to use backup incubators while we remodeled and moved to a new building the old Petersime incubator that my friend Mark Fox helped me restore back in the last 1990's. It had been in flood and we had to guess as to how to put it together and now 25 years later my student helper Gavin tackled the job. We took it apart piece by piece an moved and rebuilt it replacing some of the nearly 100 year old wood. It took a long time and it just became operational this week so unfortunately the June 1 hatch was a disaster from the eggs that were placed in an old Jamesway that I know remember why I quit using 25 years ago. The eggs placed in it hatched at about 20% totally goofing up combinations for orders.
The first of the seed crops gets planted tomorrow and it will be crazy to get everything planted by early July. It takes huge amount of coordination and planning to get all 2000+ varieties planted for pollination etc.
April 4, 2021
Knew it would happen that there would be so much to do that a weekly update would not be possible. Currently the seed order situation is we are on our regular policy of order is received one day, filled the next day and then checked by me and sent the following day. Poultry is now updated as of all orders received by April 3. There will be no waterfowl( ducks or geese on April 6 as it was so cold the birds either did not lay or eggs froze. April 20 is first waterfowl hatch and some breeds are just starting to lay as of April 3 (many runner ducks, Pomeranian geese to name a few. Some fertility issues in certain chicken breeds left over from the super cold so we will be a bit behind at first but we hope to get caught up by May. Hatches will be low at first but we hope to get back to normal by May.
It finally warmed up, enough to melt the snow down to about 6 inches deep . Our monthly average temperature thanks to the last 5 days being warm showed an average high of 22 and low of 0.8. If it hadn't been so warm last night we would have had monthly night time average below zero. We are caught up to what should be about a 3 day turn round on seed orders now. I will update poultry sold outs through orders received by 2/27. Just a couple of hold ups on seed we purchased or we would be totally on top of things. Rhonda and Phyllis have been filling packets like crazy. Tomorrow we start on seed orders received February 24. Lots of frozen combs and still very few eggs but the birds should bounce back soon. Still no duck eggs and I am glad I hate frozen eggs.
February 21, 2021
Another cold week but there is hope for a warmup but it will be slow. Still as of writing this we have not been above freezing this month and many nights well below zero. We are currently working on seed orders received February 12 and are making steady progress to get caught up.
FEBRUARY 14, 2021
Okay, I am tired of winter. The average temperature so far this month has been 5.5 ˚F for a day time high and - 9.4˚F for a night time low. It has been -24 one night and today after a morning low of -18˚F never got above -5˚F all day. The poultry are starting to tire of this and so am I. Windchills -30˚F are becoming the norm. We are so grateful for all of the better poultry buildings and the birds are fairing much better so far. This of course means eggs freeze on impact and there will be no March hatches. Tough for our seed order helpers to get here some days as roads drift shut on occasion. We have well over a foot of snow everywhere and many drifts very high. Our sheep have been lambing and all the babies are surviving. We have over 27 so far. Amazing they can be born at -20˚F and their mom cleans them off and they take off and go. We have no heat lamps and such our sheep are just super hardy.
Poultry orders are all in the schedule if they have been received by yesterday. Confirmations will be mailed this week.
We are filling orders for seed received as of February 1. Website is updated for all sold out items as of today and will be updated weekly .
February 7, 2021
A rough week weather wise as a major storm with snow, heavy wind and cold made it impossible for our workers to get to work on Thursday and Friday. Therefore we are currently working on seed orders received on January 25. We have confirmed sweet potato orders through February 5. I am currently holding on confirming poultry orders as with the long range forecast we are not supposed to have high temperatures above 5 or 10 degrees for at least 7 more days with night time lows -10 or colder. The low this morning was -24 with a high today of -1 so all eggs are freezing and this means no March 9 hatch and March 23 will be in jeopardy if the weather does not break by next week.
January 31, 2021
Two snowstorms, some ice and one of our office workers had a surgery so our progress this week was a little bet less than expected. Current seed orders that we received prior to and including January 21 are being mailed February 1.
All poultry orders received through January 30 are confirmed and the website is updated with sold outs.
January 24, 2021
We are making progress on returning to normal operations. Currently all seed orders received as of January 14 have been processed and will be mailed tomorrow. Poultry orders received by January 7 have been confirmed. Sweet potato confirmations for orders received through January 19 have been sent. We hope to pick up the pace this week as more seed was cleaned and processed and the back log of work that did not get completed over my winter break is getting done.
January 19, 2021
It has been crazy trying to get everything done. We received notice that our format for the website would no longer be able to be updated after December 1 so it took alot of time to change the format and still working on it.Trying to set everything up so as we get photos taken we can upload them instantly. I tore down too many old poultry buildings last Fall and had to make a made dash to finish up some new buildings before winter hit. We finished up the last of the critical buildings on December 28 at 12:30 and at 2 our first big snow of over 11 inches started. Talk about cutting it close. Last two breeder buildings need a roof and pens and we will finish when snow melts. Linda's mother passed away the week before Christmas and we had lots to do with cleaning up her apartment. Therefore I got a real late start on seed cleaning and Phyllis and Rhonda were anxiously waiting to start filling orders. So it is all my fault we did not get started on time. We should progress faster now. As of today we are processing seed orders received on January 7.
November 18, 2020
The sweet potato section is now updated with some new photos to be added soon. We are deeply grateful to Sue Heilig for all the time and work she took to try to find a new format that woks for our "bizarre and tough" website. The new order blank will up updated soon. Please bear with us as we make these transformations and the poultry section is up next for the redo. We may get it done as promised by November 30.
November 12, 2020
Please expect some delays as last night we discovered as we began to update the sweet potato pages that the format we were using with WIX ( our website host) will be discontinued as of December 1. This means parts of our website may become nonfunctioning ( temporarily) if we cannot find a new format and transfer all information by that date. This should only impact the sections where we have pictures. We will update you as things progress.
NOVEMBER 3, 2020
It has been a bit crazy trying to harvest all the seed crops, care for the fowl and get as much work done on the new poultry buildings as is possible before the snow flies. We are now at the point where all seed is harvested and in the drying stage and will soon be cleaned and germination tested and then we start to work on the seed sections of the website and update them. We are so different than the average place that buys all of the seed, as we grow over 80% of what we sell here on the farm. This is the reason we cannot update our site as quickly as others. Here is the current plan which I will work as hard as possible to stick to.
Sweet potato section to be updated by November 15.
Poultry section to be updated by November 30.
Seed section to be updated by December 30.
As we get the above three updated we will announce it here. As we go through the seed section we will indicate vegetable type by type as we updated each of those.
Thank you for your patience we will work as fast as we can.
AUGUST 14, 2020
Wow! what a difference a few days can make to change your whole plans and outlook. We had been in need of a good soaking rain and it was promised on Friday night, then Saturday night, then Sunday night and well when I watched the news at 4:30 am Monday morning it showed a small cluster of storms near Yankton, South Dakota. The weatherman indicated it would die out before it reached us and being a long time weather observer I agreed. I also told my student help when they arrived at 8 that we would probably have to make plans to fix and start up the irrigation system on Tuesday as our rain chances were slim. I had a chance to explain how when a front goes through in the mid morning it doesn't have enough power to deliver much rain and the prime time is about 2-3 pm after a sunny morning. We worked awhile and it was unbelievably humid and very hot and sunny. I checked the radar on my cellphone about 9:30 am was surprised to see the small storms that were in South Dakota at 4 AM had expanded and slowed down. Instead of coming through around 11 am like it was predicted it looked more favorable for rain now. When I checked again about 11:30 I told the workers to go home and not get too far from home as the storm was expanding and developing a distinct bow with the arch of the bow headed straight for us. I told them it could get ugly. I did not know at the time how ugly it could get. About 1:30 it got very dark and the wind went from calm to over 50 mph in a few seconds and then well over 70 mph and trees started crashing everywhere. We ran to the basement and things started shaking and I know we had to have gusts in excess of over 90 mph. The storm lasted for over an hour and when it slowed down some and I surfaced I could see trees in our yard in a mess. The garden areas near the house looked like a flat pancake. I was fearful to walk to the farm building end of the farm where our old home (now seed storage and office area) were as there are 3 huge soft maple trees to the west and north of the office. I feared they would be on top of the office and also feared the barn would be down and also all of our new poultry buildings. We had no power as I could see our neighbors down the road (who were building a new house ) and the house was wrapped around the power poles. A quick survey revealed all livestock: poultry, sheep, cow and pigs were fine and then I took a walk over the hill to see the backfield with the 5 one acre isolation plots. We have a driveway from the backfield to the top of the hill to get hay to the hay shed and it had multiple large trees across it. It will be days before that is cleared. After crawling over trees and such I reached the back field to see the best looking corn crop we ever had flat to the ground. It didn't even look like corn. Highest plants looked about 5 inches and some of the varieties were over 12 feet tall the day prior. Bush bean plants were nearly pulled out of the ground and squash and melons were in some cases nearly twisted out of the ground. The vine crops were in better shape as they were to the east of the corn rows and the storm came from the west so it gave some protection as the rows run south to north. It looked like there would be nothing on many things. I had several long rows of sorghum that in some cases the plants were already 8 feet tall and they were pounded to the ground. That was Monday about 5 pm. Austin ( my student helper) and I walked back there this morning only to discover that 90 % of the corn had resurrected itself with some bending and was looking decent. What appeared to be a total loss will be a reasonable crop. We hand pick each ear anyhow so the only problem now is we can not till between the rows and the weeds will take over some. Melons, squash, zinnias and okra all will recover. Bush beans will be a challenge but have some potential. In our front 10 acres it appears the strongest winds came diagonal across the property from the northwest corner over the hill skipping over the top of our house and diagonal across the front garden areas. We will be missing some sweet potatoes( ironically the most popular varieties ) for 2021 as they were ripped out of the ground and thrown everywhere. Many peppers and tomatoes were also ripped out and destroyed. The corn patches in the front field in many cases were not planted until July 4, 15 and 25 so they were small and as of today look great and will make a good crop if the season is long enough.
We will not have an August 25 hatch as we did not get power back until Wednesday at 3 pm so we were off for about 49 hours. It was a challenge to get enough water for the animals. In winter I need about 70 5 gallon buckets each day in summers heat with all of the young stock it was far in excess of 90 . The Calamus Volunteer Fire Department graciously brought out a tanker truck twice to let us fill containers to get things cared for. We are praising God for the protection we had and minimal damage and inconvenience. We are praying for so many in the area that lost so much. Many lost buildings, silos, and entire crops. Our hatch Tuesday was challenge first the chicks had to be packed by flashlight Monday night and then we had to pack the computer and printer up and we found a friend from church about 5 miles away that still had power and went there to print postage and paper work and then find a post office that had power and was open. It was an eventful day.
We will be filling seed orders on Monday as the post office should have power by then. We are working as fast as possible to get refunds to those who did not get poultry. I hope to get 2 to 3 blogs posted this week before I go back to teaching on August 18. I cannot imagine those who live in hurricane prone areas how they deal with storms like that. I hope this is a once in a lifetime experience for me.
AUGUST 11, 2020
An unprecedented, very large-scale storm moved through Iowa on Monday August 10th. Winds were probably in excess of 100 miles per hour and a great deal of damage was done. We were fortunate that none of our buildings were destroyed or damaged but we have many trees down and much of our corn seed crop will be lost. We are still hopeful for the beans and sweet potatoes and other crops. We will however be without power for an extended length of time which means we will have no phone or email service for some time. We will also not have an August 25th hatch as those eggs were lost to the storm. Once power is restored, a new update will be posted as to what we will be able to do and when things will reoccur on a normal basis. We cannot even process seed orders at this point in time because we cannot get postage on them. Please be patient during this very trying time. We are fortunate that Sue is able to post this for us as we have no access to the website phone or email at this time.
JUNE 14, 2020
We had a very productive first week sending out sweet potatoe slips and got through almost half of the orders. There are still some problem varieties that do not respond well to cool soil and conditions and are either not sprouting or just taking off. We had some nice weather for slip production last week followed by the last 3 days being on the rather chilly side which slows down growth considerably. We will try to push through as many as we can the first part of this week and those of you who indicated subs are okay we may have to do that as it appears some like Delaware Purple may not come back after the mid May cold spell with the 24 degree low temperature. It has always been very susceptible to cool soils and this was perhaps unfortunately a final test . Surprisingly many orders are getting to their destination rather quickly so we will also ship on Wednesday this week as well. For those who can take them late it appears we will have an abundance during season closeout time.
June 3, 2020
The many cloudy and cold days in May slowed the sweet potato sprouting considerably, with no sun for so many days even those under plastic were slow to start. We have now reached the point where they are exploding with the growth after the past few days of sun and heat. We will start shipments with force on Monday June 8. We are sorry as this is later than expected but when you are dealing with living material and nature you have to deal with what happens. Again, I remind people it is not too late. We plant ours here around June 25 and harvest around September 25. Our normal trend is to ship on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday each week to allow for the quickest arrival of plants to people. This year the USPS is taking much longer with package delivery so we will only ship on Monday, Tuesday and Friday to allow for the shortest time in transit.
As for poultry shipments, with the lack of many flights it is taking many shipments longer than expected. We are trying to send many extras to allow for these longer than usual shipment times and the hope you will end up with at least as many as you ordered and hopeful all will go well and you will get a bonus. The sending of many extras has put us a bit behind on some items, so please be patient we hope to get caught up soon.
MAY 25, 2020
Record cold on May 9 dropped to 24 , was below freezing from about 8 pm until 9 the next morning. Mulberry trees froze all buds and flowers and we had dead looking twigs until a few days ago. I was fearful even though we covered up the sweet potato beds we may have lost them but a few are just now starting to peak above the soil line. We had about 10 days of cold temperatures with highs in the fifties and low sixties and no sun which wasn't great so we don't anticipate start shipping slips until at least June 1. We will try to keep you posted and are hopeful the weather stays nice and warm. Most of May I had to wear a sweatshirt all day long and still was cold at times.
MAY 2, 2020
AS OF THIS DATE WE WILL ONLY BE ACCEPTING ORDERS FOR SWEET POTATO ASSORTMENTS FOR THE REST OF THIS SEASON
April 29, 2020
I would love to say I am getting a ton of things done since I do not have to go to my teaching job away from the farm each day. However, it seems to take more time doing education online. Big reason is typing is my weakest link, so I spend much more time than with the face to face education that I dearly miss. We have accomplished getting another poultry building done and have been working very hard to keep up with the seed orders as fast they come in so we are on about a 2-3 day turn around from receipt of order to it being sent out. I apologize for some of the brown unmarked packets as with the surge in interest we went through our pre printed packets with the logo rather fast and even though we ordered in plenty of time the printer was way behind because of the virus situation. We are back in stock now so things are progressing. You know the year is goofy when the first thing I planted in the garden was the cannas. They are usually the last thing that I end up forgetting until mid July. The hummingbirds will be thrilled to have more than a few weeks of blooms to visit. I successfully moved all of the garlic and winter onions to a hopefully better location and will update the website for those categories as summer goes and bulblet supply becomes a reality.
It was 15 a week a go Thursday and the next day we had 3.5 inches of snow. I try to wait until the fruit trees are blooming to bed the sweet potatoes and the apricots are in full bloom peaches started yesterday and pears today so this weekend we will start the beds. Being home everyday this year I will cover with plastic ( so I can take it off if we get a 90 degree day) and the season will start soon.
We are sold out now of the tomato special.
April 1, 2020
We have an experienced an increase in seed and poultry orders and are doing very well at keeping up with processing seed orders and are currently having about a 3 day turn around from receipt of order to mailing the order out. The seed listings have been updated as of today for any item that we are sold out of. Poultry will be updated this weekend after we see how the fertility on this hatch is going. The super cold spell in mid February, though very short lived trashed the fertility on several breeds.
March 22, 2020
We are hopeful all are well and surviving the Covid-19 experience. It has definitely changed things. With school closed I hope to devote sometime to get things caught up around the farm. I was excited today to find that garlic varieties I thought had been destroyed by varmints had survivors so I plan on moving them to a new bed in a few weeks when it warms a bit . As I write this it snowing and reminds me how much I love Spring when it finally gets here. 2019 Year in Review is finally published. We are running at about a 3 day turn around on seed orders. The following is our current book sale.
To make sure we still have a copy of these email firstname.lastname@example.org prior to ordering and we will save the book for one week until we receive payment.
All book orders must include $7.00 postage and handling as the minimum shipping will be $7.75 . You can order as many as you want for one shipping charge.
Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys by Mercia ( old edition ) sold for $18.95 now $5.00 ( 1 copy)
Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Damerow ( 3rd edition) sold for $19..95 now $10.00 ( 3 copies)
Compleat Squash by Goldman. Sold for $40.00 now $35.00 ( 1 copy)
Heirloom Tomato by Goldman. Sold for $35.00 now $30.00 ( 2 copies)
Chicken Encyclopedia Sold for $19.95. now $11.00 (4 copies)
Chicken Health Handbook ( 1st edition) sold for $19.95. Now $12.00. ( 3 copies)
Garden Project for Kids. Sold for $19.95. Now $10.00 ( 1 copy)
Peaches and other Fruits Sold for $10.95 . Now $6.00 ( 1 copy)
Practical Guide to Container Gardens Sold for $19.95. Now $12.00 ( 1 copy)
Catch the wind Harvest the Sun. Sold for $16.95. Now $10.00 ( 1 copy)
Veggie Gardeners Answer Book. Sold for $14.95. Now $8.00 ( 1 copy)
Gourd Crafts Sold for $14.95. . Now $10.00 ( 1 copy)
Clean Plate Club Sold for $16.95. Now $8.50. ( 1 copy)
Chick Days Sold for $14.95 Now $8.00 ( 1 copy)
Free Range Chicken Gardens. Sold for $19.95. Now $12.00 ( 1 copy)
We still have the 2019 tomato special
February 9, 2020
It has been crazy to say the least and trying to get the website updated and learn all the technology to go with it, keep up with seed orders and poultry chores has been a challenge. My Christmas break was such nice weather I didn't get my usual seed cleaning and processing done as I spent the time constructing a new poultry building. We are replacing all of our poultry buildings as time and cash allow. When the poultry crisis occurred in the late 1980's and many breeds were slipping into extinction funds were very short but desire to save was great so I put up structures as simply and cheaply as I could. I figured at the time some sort off house and a saved breed was better than a nice house with a lost breed. I also did not know the first thing about building and made lots of mistakes. I used landscape timbers for supports and old lumber from late 1800 age built buildings I was able to tear down for free and lots of old used metal. Well I can say I got almost 30 years out of the material but the time has come to make something a tad better and easier for my aging body to care for, as well as make things more predator proof. The winter of 2018/2019 was brutal and I spent more time chopping ice trying to get into the more than 150 pen doors that opened outside than I care to realize. I knew I would not be able to do that 20 years from now so had to come up with a plan . The plan now is to have 10-16 pens within 1 building and have 10-12 buildings and reduce the outside door openings to less than 15 . Less chance for predators and less ice for my aging body to deal with. The building constructed over break has been a blessing. 16 pens inside one structure and only fitting the Dorkings and some others took up residence there. I can now stand up doing chores and may regain my height. When you stoop to do chores 4 hours a day( old buildings were 6 feet at the front 4.5 feet at the back ) it takes its toll. Reality set in in January I still had a mountain of seed to clean and a building of squash to seed out. Seed is now all processed and life is slowly creeping back into schedule.
Blog returns next week and I am offering a $5 order credit to anyone submitting a suggestion for a topic that I choose to write on. $10 if I choose it and you can supply a photo for the blog of the topic. Send suggestions to sandhillglenn@fbcomnet.
CORN AND BEAN LEFT OVER SPECIALS WERE A BIG HIT AND WE ARE SOLD OUT.
SOLD OUT POULTRY UPDATED AS OF ORDERS RECEIVED BY FEBRUARY 8
TOMATO SPECIAL. LEFT OVER 2019 TOMATO SEED 15 PACKETS FOR $5.00. WILL BE A MIX OF ANY WE HAVE.
January 12, 2020
We are nearly done updating for 2020, just a few sections to go, mainly tomatoes. Progress will be slow but steady as we eventually get every variety pictured. We will also be adding as much historical data as we can. Always remember our pictures are not designed to woo and coo you into buying something with photo shopping and enhanced color etc. They will be actual photos untouched taken by a non professional photographer. As time is available weekly changes and such will occur to the website. Check this page for sales and specials. We will soon be announcing a book sale on some older editions of some books we have.
Currently while supplies last we have a special on leftover 2019 packaged bean and corn seed. There is no variety choice here, we put the varieties in groups and bagged them in to groups of 20.
20 packets of different varieties of beans for $5.00. While supply lasts. An inexpensive way to sample unique stuff. SOLD OUT AS OF JANUARY 21
20 packets of different varieties of corn for $7.50. While supply lasts. SOLD OUT AS OF FEBRUARY 5
December 5, 2019
Sweet potato section is now updated for 2020. Poultry will hopefully be updated by December 15 and seeds by December 30. We are currently doing germination tests so from now until the end of the month as we transition to 2020 there will be delays in seed orders.
August 25, 2019
As I begin another school year tomorrow it seemed like a good time to get back into a routine and keep a weekly news and updates again. It was a rough summer and plans to get things done seemed to evaporate. I erased all of the last years notes so to give a new reader a chance to catchup. The following is a brief summary.
We switched to a Wix site in January of 2018 and I started the news and updates in March. Linda was fighting gall bladder issues and getting sicker each day. The day after her birthday on April 19 she had emergency gall bladder surgery and it was a failure and had a repair job the next day also a failure and slipped into a coma and was transferred to U of Iowa hospital where she remained in intensive care until May 15 in a coma most of the time. She was then transferred to Davenport Select hospital to try and recover but remained in intensive care there until mid June and made slow steps to recovery before the internal abscesses from the intestinal pokes that were made in April caused reoccurring abscesses and back to U of I for 2 weeks in July . She then returned to Davenport Select until August 14 when she got to go to Wheatland Manor( 7 miles from home) for skilled care to learn how to walk and eat again. She had no food or water by mouth from April 19 until August 5. She got home November 23 . We are very thankful for the staff at both Davenport Select and Wheatland Manor for all of the time and care they took to get her better. All of the issues and such and many hours on the road to hospitals meant the garden season in 2018 was not the greatest. I was very fortunate to have Ethan be able to do chores and gather eggs when I was stuck in the hospital so we got through 2018 . We had a mink problem and also a raccoon problem as well so poultry suffered and finally we got the family of raccoons and the mink ironically disappeared with us chasing him down the ditch the day Linda got home. I hope to never see him again. Linda has had several reoccurring bouts with the internal abscesses and the latest was in July then she had a 3 day hospital stay in August so we had some tense moments again and lots of lost garden time.
We had a long rough winter and long cold spring that ended very wet so the sweet potatoes were late to sprout and some never broke dormancy until early July and missed the entire shipping season. We gave up on greenhouse started sweet potato slips a few years ago as they were too weak and spindly and did not survive shipping or transplant well. Our long very wet time ended on July 2 and we finally got a bunch of stuff planted on July 4, 5 and 6 . Late but it is growing and we hope to get some decent return on many items. We then entered a very dry spell until August 18. It was either feast or famine with rain this year.
Much of the reason we have had no News and Updates and blog this summer as since June 25 we have been dealing with daily issues with a man who has set a goal of saying as many false things and awful things as he can in as many places as he can to try to end our operation. He has indicated he will not quit until we are done. It has taken much of our time and resources to deal with the daily threats and ugliness. I do not have time to scan the internet but know of places where he has posted bad and non truthful stuff. We hope our regular customers and friends know this is false information and we hope any new potential supporters will give us a chance to show he is wrong. Our operation is not set up to make money as all is returned to further genetic preservation. We are deeply grateful for all our friends and supporters and hope we are able to continue on with our work here for as many years as we are physically able.
We will have many assorted chicks available in September and October. We are not planning on hatching any ducks in October. Blog returns tomorrow.