Spring has arrived at our farm in Hartsburg! The Elderberries are weeded and growing well, the chickens are healthy and happy, and Bennett has made great progress with fencing in several different pasture areas so we can begin rotational grazing with the horses. Rodger and Bennett will be working on amending the soils over the next few weeks, and creating a composting center on the farm too. The soils on the farm are in a depleted state so taking care of them is a top priority. We’ve received several tons of Azomite and that will be going on the fields in May too.
Jasper, one of Bennett’s awesome dogs, is seen here next to a pile of Asian Carp pulled from the Missouri River by a group of local fisherman who are working to restore the river Eco-system. The term Asian Carp includes the species named Silver Carp, Grass Carp, Big Head Carp, Common Carp, and Black Carp. The catch pictured above includes a Long Nose Gar, which is native to and widely distributed in Missouri streams, and of no conservation concern, although fisherman do their best to not include them in their Carp removal efforts. Asian Carp have invaded the Missouri river and it’s tributaries and are causing all kinds of havoc. They are out-competing the indigenous fish, and Silver Carp are especially problematic because of their habit of leaping into the air when frightened. Silver Carp can grow to 50 pounds and can leap 10 feet out of the water, injuring many a boatman on the river. The numbers of Asian Carp in the river are truly overwhelming, as seen here in this video featuring Edwin Nichols. Mr. Nichols is one of the fishermen who volunteer their time on weekends to remove as many of these fish as they can, and they frequently take huge hauls. The fisherman need a place to bring their fish, and because we can soil compost them, some of the fish are coming to our farm. Bennett is burying them in trenches where we will allow them to compost for a year or so. We can come back after a year and either dig the soil up to use as compost elsewhere, or plant directly on top of the trench. We’re thinking about planting asparagus on top of one of the trenches next year.
Late May, early June is elderflower season at the farm. Elderflowers are a well known and popular food/medicine in Europe and are just starting to gain traction here in the US. Full Steam Brewery of Durham, NC made an incredible Berliner Weisse with elderflowers from our farm last year, and elderflowers are now being used to make syrups, liqueurs, and as flavoring in desserts, preserves, etc…Medicinally, elderflower is thought to help break up lung congestion and break fevers when steeped in hot water for tea. We’ve got several great recipes using elderflower on our website if you want to find out what this amazing flower tastes like. (Think vanilla, butter, lemon, and a bit of pepper). We are hopeful for a good elderflower harvest this year!