Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring's Here, So is the work, So are the workers!

Hello, Hello out there! 

Spring is here. The fields are green. Trees are budding and gardens are being planted. Every thing is set in motion again. Birds sing. Flies, bees, and wasps go buzzing by. 

The farm is in full swing. Now we are beginning to transplant out our spring vegetables and we're starting our summer seedlings in the green house. This is the beginning of the busiest part of the season. We are so lucky to have had the help of many volunteers, family, friends, and visitors. 

Faith Formation Conference of the ECCC
In a creative Sunday service, this group sang a camp song for the Coop Mitchell ladies. 



Amber Carswell spent a few days of reflective service. She assisted in building a deer fence around our wheat field. 



Dave Daily, a professor of religion at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, brought his God and Nature class out to tour the Camp Mitchell Agricultural Project. They helped us make some beds on the garden plot we've been preparing across the highway from camp. 


Dave and his class.

Some good friends of mine that I grew up with in Heber Springs, Arkansas, came to visit us. They worked hard to build a deer fence around our spring vegetable garden plot. Now we can put out transplants without having to worry about the deer mowing them down. 


Our official work day held on March 22, went very well. We were able to make several beds by hand and plant out several cabbages, broccoli, and kale. Several people also worked to sow our first round of summer seedlings in the green house.

Photo courtesy of Carol Eden, also a big help at the work day!
The Coop Mitchell Hens have begun laying their first few eggs! We are so proud of them.


We taste tested a few of the first eggs against a store-bought egg. Our hens' yolks were much yellower. 



They youth group at St. Luke's, North Little Rock, came up for a Camp Mitchell work day. In addition to helping clear some leaves from around the camp property, they helped us make beds and transplant onions!


Planting blue berries in between the rows of wheat. 


We also had a good visit from our family in South Arkansas. They broke bread with us and worked to help us remove roots from our newly cleared field. 


This month was a beautiful example of how it takes a generous and involved community to support full tummies!

It feels good to have been able to accomplish so much so far, there's a lot more to come so grab a shovel and friend and come join us!

Doug and Jenny

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spring Work Day!

Announcing an Upcoming Spring Work Day!

March 22. Saturday.

Tentative schedule: 
9:00 Arrive for coffee and chatting
9:30 Work begins on several projects - (sowing in the green house, transplanting into the field, and preparing soil for summer time vegetables, and more)
12:00 Lunch Provided Free
1:00 - Work continues
4:30 - Call it a day

If you would like to stay for dinner you may ($10 per plate). 
Seibert Cabin will be available for volunteers to sleep in Saturday night if you wish to stay. 

Interested in attending?   Email us at dougofhs@gmail.com  or jennyknight924@gmail.com
Must be signed up by March 17. 

I would like to congratulate everyone who has helped Camp Mitchell get its Agricultural Project off the ground. Thanks to all the incredible work you all have done this winter, the Camp Mitchell Agricultural Project (CMAP) is almost ready for its first planting season. 

The chickens have been ranging in the garden, safely contained by the fence built with St. Michael's Youth. 



The old barn (cleaned out with the help of several work weekenders) is place for us to store compost, tractors, and other goodies. 



Our Coop Mitchell is home to 25 chickens (3 of which are laying blue/green eggs) 


Our seedlings are sprouting well. 





Thanks to Barn Yard Friends petting zoo and a chicken farmer just down the road, our first new veggie field is fertilized. And thanks to our tractor mentor, Harold Hedges, we were able to get it all plowed in and disc on time. 





With Spring on the way and summer close behind, we have our work cut out for us. Before you know it we'll be growing tomato seedlings! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What's Growin' On?

^Title of the newsletter we are thinking about starting. Catchy, neh?

Well it has been a good minute since our last post. We've been to California and back for the annual Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers Conference. Doug says he's done with airports for good (until something else comes up, I'm sure). The Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas also had its annual Diocesan Convention. We were able to share a little about our year in Japan and also about our current ministry with the farm at Camp Mitchell.

The Barnyard Friends down the road gave us three of their hens, they are half Americauna and we got our first egg from one of them this morning! It is tinted blue, can you see it?

But with new life comes loss. We had to say goodbye to one of our polish chickens last week. She had been sick for about a week and was only getting worse so we put her down. Another polish chicken was showing similar symptoms but after separation, TLC, and little vitamin B, she's seems to be doing much better. We're keeping a close watch these days. 


With our new chickens settled in and our flock pretty much full-grown, we decided to let our chickens out "free range." I was hesitant to do this for fear of predatory birds swooping in and flying off with our members of our congregation. But when we're outside with them, things seem to be okay. I'm learning to "let go."

With Spring quickly approaching, Doug has been hard at work planning our growing season. We've ordered seeds and already got our first round of seeds growing in the greenhouse. So far, we've planted green cabbage, red cabbage, chinese cabbage (aka napa cabbage), arugula, spinach, asparagus, kale, romaine lettuce, onion, and broccoli! Doug is building coldframe boxes as I write this here blog!


While Doug has been busy working with our crop and vegetable plan, I've been buried in counselor and counselor-in-training (CIT) applications. Happily buried, I should add. Summer is approaching as quickly as spring and we're going to be ready! Our summer camp theme is "Grow with God." Please come or send your child to summer camp to hear more about this :)

Doug and I are pledging to update the blog more often. You guys deserve to know what's growin' on up here and we want to share all about it! We'll be back soon with more pictures of eggs and big healthy seedlings!

Doug and Jenny

Enjoying the snow, what a treat!
Sowing asaparagus

These polish chickens look better and better every day
Spaghetti squash? Yum!
Doug sifting free compost from Conway!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Winter Work

We are well into winter work up here at the Camp Mitchell Agricultural Project, which we may refer to from time to time as CMAP. The mustard greens in our raised beds have withered away from frosting. So instead of trying to hard to keep stuff growing in the cold of winter, we are doing lots of work preparing for the spring and summer seasons. While we did other work the chickens tried out the chicken tractor built by last summer's sustainability coordinator, Tray.






They ate up all the wilted mustard greens, added their manure, and scratched it into the soil of the bed.

Thanks to the help of many of our friends and family, we have managed to get a lot of work done in just two work weekends.

splitting a cedar log for a fence post brace


We spent a rainy work day cleaning indoors. 

St. Michael's youth putting the wire on the fence posts

St. Michael's youth helping us paint the coop






Our chickens are now enjoying their spacious new coop. Jenny has flipped an old, wasp-filled shed and turned it into a wonderful home for these birds, complete with a roost, laying boxes, windows, and mesh wire protection around the whole thing! She even made a waterer and feeder out of five gallon buckets!


Marna and her three sons helped us clear some space for new garden areas, and cut a pine tree for a Christmas tree.




We pulled a lot of rotten lumber out from inside our old barn. It was a chilly day so we made a huge bonfire. 
getting some sun at the end of a rainy work day


We now have a 6 foot fence around our greenhouse, chicken coop, and garden area. This should keep deer, rabbits, coyotes, and any other animals from eating up all our produce this summer.

This is the time of year when counselor and CIT applications start rolling in. If you know of someone who might be interested in being a summer camp counselor at Camp Mitchell this summer, you can find the application here.

Next week we will be going to the annual ECCC (Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers) conference. This year it is held in California. It will be our first time traveling to that state. We will return on the first day of February to being the earliest of sowing for the spring season.

Happy Winter and God's Peace everyone,

Doug and Jenny Knight

Monday, December 16, 2013

Season's Greetings!


It's Monday which means our chicks are yet another week old, 6 to be exact! Here's what's been going on since our last post.

Thanksgiving

After missing an entire year of holidays at home, it was really nice to jump back into the traditions. We spent Thanksgiving Day in Little Rock with the England family and friends, enjoying a large bird and other delicious foods. We made the Friday morning trek to Camden and spent the weekend with the Knight family, enjoying more large bird and other delicious foods. I think most of all we were thankful for being home and spending time with family, and for large birds and other delicious foods.


This holiday also inspired us to consider growing—you guessed it—large birds! Be on the look out next November for your very own, farm fresh, free range, turkey! All proceeds will benefit the Camp Mitchell Farming Project.

Winter

The early visit from Father Winter encouraged us to stay inside and do paper work. We finished a grant application for a hoop house and are currently working on two other opportunities 1) that will enable us to support volunteers and 2) that will support us on a individual/personnel basis. We avoided B-cabin fever by escaping to take pictures and bake bread.





Chickens

A Hamburg on my head..
As I mentioned, our birds are 6 weeks old today. They have consumed over 65lbs (the weight of a small child, circa first grade?) of feed so far and a few of them are getting personal. Which is what I call their desire to be close to me/in my way when I clean their brooder. One Little Miss likes to fly/jump on me and explore the specks on my shirt and hat. Also, since more of their feathers and combs have developed, I was able to identify one of the “hamburgs” as a Sicilian Buttercup. I believe she is the only one of her kind and the other seven are in fact Hamburgs.

Work Weekend

We had our first official work group this past weekend. The Knight and Lapicz family worked with us on Saturday. It was pretty miserable and cold but we were able to put up all our fence posts, finish sifting potting soil for the greenhouse, weed and thin all our garden beds, and clear limbs on the north side/farm side. On Sunday, we made lots of progress with Coop Mitchell: the floor is complete, laying boxes are installed, windows are cut and covered, and the roost is finished. All that lacks for the coop is a screen door on the front and a paint job! Doug and Kathryn turned our compost pile. Our friend Kevin also joined us and did an awesome job fixing up our hoops for row cover. Our beds are no longer dependent on the bottle...










Work Weekend, to come!

We will have another work group this coming weekend to clean up the north side/farm side land. A dumpster will be on site, as well as a thermos of hot chocolate. We still have room for a few more people, if you are interested in joining. We will begin work by 9am Saturday morning and work through the day. If you are willing and able, you can stay the night and continue work with us on Sunday. Lodging and meals provided! Just comment here or email me, jennyknight924@gmail.com if you'd like!


If we don't post until then,