Friday, August 15, 2014

Grow with God

Well folks,

It's been a minute since our last post. Actually it's been over four months...sorry about that. We've been a little busy.

Summer has just about come and gone. In May we shifted gears from farm production to summer camp and farm programming. Summer camp started with staff training which included everything from giant slides, oreos, and seminars, to discovering our spiritual types, mexican food, and karaoke. These essentials prepared us for a summer of incredible love and growth. Here are a few pictures to tell that story.

Photo from staff training, the gang! 
We got baby turkeys in June! 
We harvested our wheat with the senior high camp! 
And offered "wheat threshing" as a free choice, youth loved it! 
Our summer farm intern, Claire, harvesting potatoes! 
Our turkeys in their new yard. Unfortunately, they were all killed in the night by wild animals. This was a hard blow for us. Our first major reality check of farm life. We learned and grew a lot in the 8 weeks that we had the turkeys.
We will try again next year. 
Pumpkins and watermelons we harvested with some of the McLellan Clan during Family Camp! 
Canning has been a major job this season: cucumber pickles, tomato puree, pickled peppers, and sauerkraut! 
Doug got us a bunny, Maisy, for my birthday in May. 
She's done some growing this summer as well :)
Camp ended last week and we realized we have been home from our adventures abroad exactly one year. Wow. And so here we are in our cabin on top of this beautiful mountain living and working at Camp Mitchell. We are preparing for the fall once again, dreaming of pickled beets and turnip greens. Just today we ordered another round of chicks. We will be brooding 18 new members of Coop Mitchell come October, only this time it won't be in our house!

Mark your calendars for Camp Mitchell's first annual Celebrate the Harvest event. It will be held on Sunday, November 9th. We will have an afternoon of family friendly games and activities and will share a meal sourced from our very own Camp Mitchell Agricultural Project (CMAP) and other mountain-top farms! CMAP would have been growing for over a year and we'd love to show folks what we've been up to and share in the celebration of all our bountiful harvests!

Speaking of bountiful harvests, Doug and I have been growing our very own Knight fruit for over seven months now and it is due for harvest November 1st! We are taking bets on Baby Knight's sex, so get your wagers in before November! ;)

Growing on the mountain,

Doug and Jenny

Check out the latest CMAP news at the new blog: http://campmitchellagriculturalproject.blogspot.com/

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