Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tiller and farm pix

Hi Javamama!

Do I have an opinion about tillers? Honey.. that's like asking do I have a bowl of ice cream in my hand... why yes, yes I do!

This pic will tell the story of what happens to tillers in our extra bad clay:

Yep. Pretty much this is all that's left of the shattered remains of our tiller. We thought we had a good one. It was expensive....and it lasted exactly ONE season here. The Big Man said something about the transmission or the flux capacitor wasn't strong enough. Now we'll be puttin' what's left of it in the back of our crappy truck and takin' it on down to the scrap yard. With any luck we'll leave the truck there too and get $5 for the whole shootin' match, if we're lucky.

So, if your man is a tractor guy yell into him that we took the easy start motor off this thing and put it on a 1952 David Bradley single plow.... more then likely his eyes will spin around and he'll come running out asking to see the pictures. (Men love that stuff). I'll get some pix of that monster but suffice it to say we needed to go old school for the clay soil here.   More on that in a second....

I'd say the garden area combined is less than half an acre..but that's over a couple of beds spread out around the property. Its not big enough for us to use the neighbor's full sized tractor, but its too big to do by hand...and well, it killed our old tiller. We also are working on a "grain only" area which will also be about half an acre.

For any new areas we are using the David Bradley to bust up the clay and hard pan and plant what we can to improve the soil...and then we are pouring on the poop... I mean...compost. The existing garden areas are improved enough to use our little Honda mini-tiller for the initial pass.. and then me using the hoe.This is working well enough but if I ever did win that $5000 survey prize from TSC I'd get the most heavy duty tiller they had and use it just a couple times a year.

If you are starting from nothing my advice is to buy or rent the best tiller you can.... or get a farmer to chisel plow what you have and pasture some pigs out there to really do it up right. Then get a chain gang to come in and use pick axes, and then possibly an Amish guy with a team of 12 horses pulling an extra heavy plow.  Working with clay is not for sissies I can tell you that.

I really like our little Honda mini-tiller but, wow ,its been around the block a time or two and frankly needs to be replaced. It wasn't done in by the clay because it can't even dig into it and just kinda scratches around. But it does a find job on the improved soil and digs right in. I did not like the Mantis that we borrowed.  I found it to be kinda squirrely and it really beat up my arms trying to hold onto it.

But seriously.... the clay is really tough and assume it will take a couple of years to get it up to speed.  So for new beds buy or rent the biggest, baddest, most heavy duty tiller you can find.. for existing our little Honda mini-tiller is perfect. For new areas - chain gang...definitely.  Let me know if you have specific questions and we can walk you thru them.

Just for kicks here are a few pix from around the farm - everyone is really active right now as the weather is heavenly.

Vita being silly... we love her spotted nose.
Guinea hens being quiet.... aren't they weird looking? That's the male in the front, Roy, and his mate who is still unnamed. Mostly we call her, Hey Crazy Screaming Guinea!
Mollee, one of our young duck hens getting a sip and reminding me that I have a lot of fruit trees to plant..

Our man, Shine, the laziest barn cat in the world

Hope everyone had a great day! If you're in the path of the storms, good luck and hope to see you online tomorrow!


Chai Chai said...

Guineas are in our future, let the ticks beware.

We are going to expand the garden a bit this year, but we first have to remove the sod. Our tiller is small but powerful - and so are the rocks!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

We really like the guineas when they are quiet..and since we figured out to separate the males at nite.. they have been great. They are weird little birds for sure.

Since you have time you might want to kill the sod with black plastic where you'll start the garden. Or you can do a couple of raised beds which would be quick and easy to do.

Starting new beds is tough, but the hard work really pays off the following years.

Great job!

Vicki said...

Hmm, well that's good info, something to tuck away for the future. Unfortunately my man thinks things are fine as they are. Sigh. Can you believe he grew up on a dairy farm and loved it? One would think he'd be all over this kind of stuff. I guess I'll be having him fill up more raised bed alongside me...

basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

That Shine is one gorgeous cat! *swoon* I SO understand the clay gardening. It can certainly be a challenge. But tilling in poop in the fall, along with raked leaves, compost, and anything else you can find, really does help. It takes time. We're basically starting over out here and have a long way to go - we lived "in town" for 20 years, and I bet it took a good 5 years of MUCH work to get our garden half way decent there. I'm praying it doesn't take quite that long since we can dedicate more time and more poop to it - now that we have poop generating chickens and goats. LOVE the pictures of your farm - and, as always, your fun writing style :)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Javamama - dont forget to till up or at least break up the soil under the raised bed.. we didnt... and when we watered it just ran out from under the sides!

Hi B2B! Our Shine is the king of the barncats... We love him and he's worth his weight in gold. We don't have any problems with rodents...at all. We just leave our feedbags open. That Shine sits on them like The Grand PooBah and gets all them mice!

Anonymous said...

Ohio red clay - I'd nearly forgotten about this. We used to play in the fields between plowing and tilling with this stuff. It makes great forts (like snow forts) and great 'war paint' when mixed with a little spit. I think we tried making pots and plates for our dolls once if I remember right.

I'm sure my uncle & neighbors weren't quite so thrilled with the thick heavy sludge any more than your tiller is (was), but for 9 yr olds, it was pretty useful stuff.

Thanks for a great blog.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks for visiting! I keep thinking I should just start making bricks with this stuff..... hum...

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