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Squirrel Trapping in the Orchard

20 Aug

We have so many squirrels….and you wouldn’t think that those cute, puffy tailed little creatures could really cause that much harm.  Until you’re a farmer who grows nuts.  And as it turns out….do you know what squirrels love to eat?  Nuts.

We have been battling squirrels for years.  It’s sort of part of the territory when you’re raising the food that these guys enjoy most.  But this year for some reason populations have boomed!  I’m not kidding.  So people always ask, do you try to trap them?  And I usually just laugh, because I happened to be married to a very dedicated squirrel trapper.  And this year it’s been so bad that I’m scared to even walk into our orchards afraid I might get hit by the trap line (not really but close!).

Here is just a quick view of the damage that they can do.  Here is an area of our orchards that doesn’t have a lot of activity at the moment. 

The dirt below the tree is very clean and free of debris.  The nuts are all still on the tree where we would like them to stay until harvest this fall.

And here is a tree that has been hit very hard. 

Can you see all that material under the tree??  Can you see all those nuts on the ground, or more accurately all those empty shells where the nuts used to be?

So, “Yes!” is always my answer when folks ask if we have tried trapping, we have about 36 traps out everyday in fact.  And have caught around 43 squirrels this seasons….but who’s counting (haha…it’s us…we are counting!).

If you have any good advice, or even bad advice (we will take anything!)  What has worked, what hasn’t???  Leave you ideas below, I’ll check back in when I’m done checking traps.

Harvesting our Undies!!

20 Jul

The day finally came to harvest our Undies!!!

If you remember back about two months, the kids and I buried some tighty whities in a tall fescue field by our house. The plan was to dig them up and see how much activity was in the soil that would breakdown the underwear.

If I’m being honest, I was nervous. I mean, what if they looked like perfectly white underwear??!!! What if our soil that had been tilled just this past fall had really killed all the microbes?! What if our efforts to keep our soils healthy didn’t matter?! What if, what if, what if….

But there was nothing left to do but dig….

and dig….

and then we finally started to get a glimpse of the dirty waistband. It was an exciting moment as we pulled them out and saw that there was absolutely nothing left. Like nothing!!!!! Holy smokes!

It was a pretty fun experiment to see how much just 60 days in some healthy soil can destroy a pair of tighty whities!

This isn’t the usual way we check on the health of our soil. But it was a cool way to connect with an item that everyone is familiar with to the soil that we as farmers are familiar with.

Our latest crop, Tighty Whities

13 May

We aren’t exactly “growing” the infamous tighty whities on our farm, but we did plant one giant pair!!

Last week the kids and I teamed up with 9 other women and Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District and buried a very large pair of underwear on our respective farms.

The project named the, “Soil Your Undies Challenge” begins with the underwear being buried 3-6″ deep in the soil. In 2 months we will dig them back up to take a look at the condition of the cotton briefs. With the help of microbes, worms, bugs and other creatures who live in healthy soils we hope to have barely recognizable pieces of tighty whities.

Managing our soils is something that we take very seriously on our farm. Like many farmers we realize that our soil has a direct link to our ability to continue growing healthy crops year after year.

The field where we buried the underwear this year was just planted this spring with tall fescue. This crop will not be harvested until the summer of 2020. And hopefully it will stay in the ground, which means we will not till the soil, for another 5 to 7 years. It would be interesting to do this project year after year, to see the change of our soils activity with the years of non-tillage.

Our soil health is something that is very important to us. It is also something that we are continually learning more and more about as our farming practices evolve, regulations change, and markets fluctuate, farmers in Oregon are always looking to improve and do better.

**Photo credit goes to Capital Press & Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District.

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