Common Sense Home Good News Letter 1/21/23

“If you want to make small changes, change the way you do things. If you want to make major changes, change the way you see things.” – Don Campbell, quoted by Gabe Brown in Dirt to Soil

I just finished reading “Dirt to Soil” recently, and I’d recommend it, even for those who are not farmers. Gabe’s a good storyteller, and the world can use some more stories about good things.

On his North Dakota farm, Gabe and his family manage 5000 acres with multiple income streams, including beef, eggs, grain, vegetables, honey, and more. Their soil is improving, and they are building topsoil at a rate that many would say is impossible. But it wasn’t always that way.

When Gabe first starting farming, they followed a conventional farming model. Four years of disasters sent them deep into debt.

Devastating hailstorms took out his entire crop two years in a row in 1995 and 1996, followed the next spring by record cold temperatures and a 3-day blizzard that claimed many calves from his cow-calf herd. That summer brought a heat wave so persistent he didn’t harvest a single acre of cash crop. In 1998, when his crop looked good and he thought his luck was changing, a late June thunderstorm once again brought hail that knocked out 80% of his crop.

This led to Gabe switching how he managed the property, focusing on ways to reduce purchased inputs and increase the resiliency of the farm.

They saved the farm, and created a business model with enough income to support multiple generations on the farm. Along the way he’s shared his methods and inspired many others. He also grows very tasty food.

That got me thinking about how much food has changed since I was a little girl. So much grocery store produce is so bland now, picked underripe, bred for durability, not flavor.

One thing Gabe noted was that the use of synthetic fertilizers interferes with plants forming relationships with soil fungi and bacteria. This means that they are physically unable to absorb certain nutrients. Less nutrients = less nutrition and less flavor.

Reading the book reaffirmed our commitment to growing more of our own food, and supporting local farmers who use regenerative growing practices. It’s time to bring flavor and nutrition back to food.

All our best to you and yours,

Laurie (and August IV, August V, and Duncan)

This week’s featured articles…

After unusually warm weather for much of January, colder temps are moving back in, which means continued use of our masonry stove. Since wood ashes are abundant, I decided to share how to use them in the garden the right way. (Note: More is not better. I came across one guide while researching that suggested using up to a half inch layer of ashes. Do not do this unless you want to kill your plants.)

wood ash in the garden

For calming the sweet tooth without loading up on sugar, try these strawberry banana gummy candies.

strawberry banana gummy candy

Bird flu is making the news again, so it’s a good time to give your flock some extra TLC and be mindful of biosecurity. We’ve put together some tips to boost flock health to help fight the flu.

bird flu busters

Popular on Instagram and Facebook this week: I’m tired of so called “experts” and yummy Ruby Bed apple fruit leather.

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