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Stoney Creek Farm

Learn How To Live a Simple, Sustainable Life

What the purpose of the Sustainable Living Farm Conference?

To show people how to live with Less Stress and More Joy.  Freedom from the “rat race” can be achieved by learning the benefits of sustainable living, growing your own healthy food,
and creating a simpler life while saving thousand$. 

The 2017 Sustainable Farm Conference will include topics on:
sustainable housing
homesteading
sources of farm income
growing natural, healthy food (without pesticides)
preserving and fermenting food
farm animals (their purpose)
helping pollinators and beneficial insects thrive on your farm
composting and soil testing
marketing your farm
agricultural green belt
networking opportunities
working with a debt free operation
temporary greenhouse production

The Funderburk’s have spent 12 years developing their dream, a small sustainable farm, that produces six different income streams. Their mission revolves around teaching individuals and families to grow their own healthy food, by renting garden plots and offering a summer U-Pick Garden to the community. They also host Educational Seminars, farm tours, and have a venue for local events/parties.

Formerly in corporate sales for a multimillion dollar company, Leigh spends her days managing their 15 acre farm in beautiful Franklin, TN. Olin has been in the construction business for over 30+ years and working toward his eventual retirement.

The One Day Conference schedule is as follows:
9:30 am – arrival and introductions
10:00 am to 12 noon – farm tour with exhibits on greenhouse/garden production, and farm animals
12:00 noon to 1:00 pm – Farm to Table Lunch and networking
1:00 to 2:30 pm – income sources and marketing your dream
2:30 to 4 pm – booth round table discussions on bees, herbs, farm equipment and more

In addition to the conference, each attendee/couple will receive a  free copy of “Dirt Rich“, the Funderburk’s  book on Sustainable Farm Living, and a free download of their online course “Dirt Rich, Sustainable Farm Living“.  

   
Cost $97 per person or $147 per couple which includes lunch and all conference materials. Call/text 615-591-0015 or e-mail stoneycreekfarmtennessee@gmail.com for more information.

To register, choose individual or couple and click the “add to cart” button below:

Individual or couple

 



 

How to Plant Seeds for the Garden

It’s not rocket science, but you do have to follow the directions on the seed packet…for instance: Depth to sow = 1/2″  which means to put the seed about a half an inch under the top of the soil.  The easiest way to make sure you are getting the correct depth is to use a ruler the first few times you plant the seeds.  Place the seed on top of the soil and use the top of the ruler to push it down into the soil to the correct depth.

In general, you will find that the larger the seed is, the deeper it will go in the soil and the smaller the seed is, the reverse is true.  Herb seeds are famous for being extremely small and most of the time, I sow them by sprinkling the tiny seeds on top of the soil and then watering them.  The seeds are so tiny that they will settle into the soil from watering.  If a seed is sown too deep, it may not germinate properly and then deteriorate before it has a chance to thrive above ground.

Seeds will need somewhere between 65-80 degrees temperature to germinate (depending on the seed), so starting them indoors near a window sill will work.  We build a temporary greenhouse each year that house hundreds of plants for our U-Pick Garden until the April 15th (last) frost date and then we transplant them into the ground. In the picture below we have over 1,000 seeds planted just on the left hand side of the greenhouse.  The green trays have 108 cells and the black trays have 72 cells.  We planted 5 varieties of tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and marigolds.  On the other side of the greenhouse (not pictured) are peppers and many varieties of herbs. Special thanks go to our volunteer interns Sarah Cho and Kendall Pinkston for all their help this week!!!

Plants need three things to survive:  nutrient rich soil, water and air.  Using a good potting soil will get your seeds off to a good start.  I like to use very small cells to plant my seeds and then transplant to larger containers  after they have germinated and grow to about 1-2 inches tall (depending on the plant).

You want to keep your cells/trays moist but not wet and let them dry out in between.  If your soil is too moist it can create mildew and mold which is a terrible environment for your new plants.  If your soil is too dry, your seeds will not germinate…a fine line indeed!

Here are Broccoli seedlings that have  popped up after 3 days.  Seeds have different germination times, so check your packet for all the info.

Olin and Alaina Knott (MTSU Intern) after they built our temporary greenhouse this year.  We reuse materials for several years which saves on cost.

Happy Planting!

 

    How to Test Your Garden Soil

    Yes, it’s almost gardening time and with all this warm weather, we are all getting very impatient!  But before you test your garden soil, remember to look at a reliable website for the last frost date for your area before you plant!  I personally like the Old Farmer’s Almanac Site, but there are several others:

    http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states

    Soil testing:

    Your state’s Ag extension document will tell you how to collect the proper soil samples from your soil, as well as what tests they will do for a standard fee.  For more detailed information see the following site for UT Agriculture Extension Service for soil testing:

    https://ag.tennessee.edu/spp/Pages/soiltesting.aspx

    There are two ways to test the soil in TN: by acreage or per 100 feet of garden space for a garden an acre or less. We recommend that you test by 100 feet, unless you have many acres and multiple large crops.   In Tennessee, the UT Ag Extension tells us to take ten samples six inches deep around your garden. Place in a five gallon bucket, mix it really well, then take a subsample after its mixed up, take it to your lab, and they will test it for you.

    Standard soil tests provide information on the levels of phosphorus and potassium/potash in your soil. The report will typically include recommendations for improving soil fertility, and you can ask to have the recommendations focus on organic solutions.

    The UT Ag Extension soil-testing document says: “The Basic soil test includes soil pH, buffer value, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium all for the price of $7.00 per sample. The Basic Plus soil test is all the above with zinc, manganese, iron, copper, sodium and boron for $15.00. Pre-side dress nitrate (PSNT), Sulfate Sulfur (NH4OAc), organic matter and soluble salts is also offered.  Soil test nutrients (Basic and Basic Plus) are extracted using Mehlich 1 and are designed for mineral, inorganic soils thus not suitable for bark or peat-based mixes.

    If your growing material is highly organic, a container media analysis is recommended.  The Container Media Test is mainly useful to greenhouse growers in determining fertility of soil-less mixtures. Turnaround is typically 1 to 2 business days (for routine Basic or Plus) and results are routinely mailed but can be e-mailed or faxed.   Test results are used to formulate research-based, cost effective lime and fertilizer recommendations specific to the type of crop or plant and yield desired. To assist growers with their soil fertility needs, Extension county agents are available statewide to help with any management decisions related to soil test recommendations.”

    Side note:  On the top right hand side of your soil test report is the person in charge of the Department of Testing and their contact information.  They are VERY HELPFUL and will explain the report to you.  When you receive your first report, it may seem a little like a foreign language…so don’t hesitate to call.  

    When to Test Your Soil

    For perennial crops – orchards, pasture, Christmas trees, alfalfa, grass seed, and so on, you should test your soil before planting (preferably at least several months before), so that you have time to lime the soil and have it mix with the existing soil before planting your crop.   Limestone reacts slowly with the soil, so it’s important when adding lime to your oil to leave enough lead-time before planting.   For annual crops, such as vegetables, test your soil every spring before planting for the season.

    Happy Gardening!!!

    For more tips on gardening follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stoneycreekfarmtennessee/
    and Pinterest (‘For the Garden’) https://www.pinterest.com/leighfunderburk/

     

     

     

      “Chickens have Teenagers Too…

      Thank Goodness They Grow Up!”

      Baby Chickens are so cute and sweet and loveable…and then…they start looking gangly, getting too big for their small coop, start wrestling and fighting for dominance, stop behaving, eating you out of house and home….sound familiar? Yes, they are now teenagers. You have to find a bigger space for them and switch their food from chick food to grower/finisher food. They don’t need heat lamps because they are making their own heat and have lots of feathers to keep them warm.

      Chicken Teenagers

      As your Chicken Teens begin to age they love to check out grassy spaces, so we us like to use a chicken tractor. Chicken tractors are small coops with wheels, which make it easy to move around once they eat the grass underneath the coop.

      Chicken Tractor

      Its only 4-5 months from hatchlings to egg laying…so a proper coop should be researched during the teenage weeks. How big a coop depends on how many chickens you want to house. You will need one nest for every 4 hens. In our coop, we have 8 nests, so technically, we could house 32 hens, but we only have about 18-20.

      Our Stoney Creek Chicken Coop

      Chickens also need free range area or a fenced in yard to roam around in that is safe from predators. We have hawks which nest on our property, so we have a 6 ft. high fenced enclosure of 300 square feet with netting on top to prevent hawks or other predators (raccoons, mink, etc.) from entering.

      Nest boxes can be filled with hay, straw, indoor, outdoor carpet, and pine shavings, but my personal favorite is the plastic mats bought from any farm store or hatchery catalog (Murray McMurray is the one we use) that you simply spray off to clean. The mats last us about 5 years….very durable. The mats will keep eggs from breaking when multiple hens go in and out of the box laying and tends to keep the eggs somewhat cleaner too.

      Chicken Nesting Mat

      Now the Chickens Can Lay Eggs!

      So now you are ready for egg laying! Be sure to upgrade their food to layer feed, because it has extra ingredients to help with producing better egg shells. It also does not hurt to add some oyster shell to their diet, since that will make stronger egg shells. Some people put a fake egg in the box to encourage production at first…they swear it works. Some of their first eggs may be very small…that usually means there is no yolk…don’t worry that is normal. Some of the beginning eggs may be EXTRA LARGE…don’t worry, those are twin yolks.

      Now that you are an old hand at raising chickens and gathering all the eggs, you have to start thinking about the future… These hens will lay continuously for 50-60 weeks at full speed (260 – 280 eggs annually per chicken) and then they will go through what’s called “The Molt”. Molting begins at about 60 weeks of laying and the chickens will start losing their feathers (not all, just quite a few). Their bodies will start to make new pin feathers and will use all of their body energy to do that instead of laying eggs…so egg production goes down to about half speed. The Molt lasts about 4-6 weeks and by the end of it they will start laying better, but never at top speed again. This is usually the time period that are planning for by ordering new chicks which should be about ready to lay eggs by the time the molt happens. We then humanely slaughter the molting hens and rooster for the freezer. Since these are mainly egg laying chickens, they do not have a lot of meat, so we consider them stewing chickens for chicken and dumplings, soups and pot pies.

      So goes the sustainable circle of life for our chickens.

      If you would like to learn more about Farm Animals and Sustainable Farm Living, check out our book, “Dirt Rich” available on Amazon, Kindle and www.stoneycreek.farm

      Essential Oils – My Experience

      When we moved to the Stoney Creek Farm 12 Years ago, I have to admit, we had not heard anything about essential oils except for use in candles or potpourri. Now, it appears that most Americans have heard about them and a huge following of people are using oils for natural medicinal and alternative therapy uses such as:

      1. Cold and Flu symptoms
      2. Skin Rashes
      3. Relaxation and Sleep
      4. Hormone Balance
      5. Improving Digestion
      6. Pest Control
      7. Managing Pain, and much more….

      I want to say, up front, that I do not want to use this post to solicit business for any particular type of essential oil brand. I just want to share with you what we have discovered over the past 5 years about essential oils, the specific ones we have tried that have been beneficial, and why. I am also not a doctor, nor do I have any special training in oils…just sharing my experience with them.  Also, I have multiple friends and family who sell different brands and do not want to get in “hot water” with any of them…love them all!

      So I’ll start off by saying …I HATE taking medication! That is probably the number one reason I started looking into essential oils as an alternative to traditional medicine.  Some drugs are necessary, but I avoid any that I absolutely don’t have to take.  Ibuprofen is one that I like to avoid because too much of it, is so hard on the liver.  Unfortunately, I have sinus issues whenever the weather changes and headaches behind my eyes are a regular occurrence.  I had a friend suggest that I rub Peppermint Oil on three spots on the back of my neck to get rid of my headache…and it worked.  I didn’t need an energy drink either…it wakes you up!  It lasted about 3 hours and then I would repeat.  Knowing that it’s a natural alternative and loving the smell, hooked me for life!  This oil is also great to help prevent coughing…just put a drop on your finger and rub on the back of your tongue.

      Homemade Peppermint Oil

      I have a good friend whose granddaughter had a horrible diaper rash for months that just wouldn’t go away and the poor child was miserable. She had starting using oils and asked her consultant for some help.  The consultant told her to try using one drop of Frankincense Oil mixed with a carrier oil (like almond or coconut oil) on the diaper rash for a few days.  To her surprise, the diaper rash cleared up in 3 days! I have used Frankincense Oil for rashes and to help a wound heal after it has initially healed (not on an open wound) and have had wonderful results.

      Every decade of life has its benefits and challenges. My 50’s  hot flashes and sleepless nights for a more than a few years.  I refused to take synthetic hormones and finally gave in to taking Tylenol PM when I went several nights without sleep in a row.  As  I mentioned, I HATE taking medication, so I tried using Lavender Oil, which helped me to relax and fall asleep…but not stay asleep.  I absolutely love the smell of lavender, so its easy for me to use as a natural perfume and it relieves itchy insect bites.

      Homemade Lavender Oil

      Since the sleep problem was still an issue, I sought the advice of Registered Nurse who used and sold Essential Oils who suggested I try Clary Sage Oil, which might help with the hormone balance and help me sleep.  The first night I tried Clary Sage Oil drops on bottom of my big toes and feet, I slept all night.  Now this was not a perfect situation, because there are always other variables affecting sleep, but this oil helped me sleep much better for years until this season of my life changed…thank goodness!

      Since we are serious gardeners, I invariably get lots of cuts and non-life-threatening wounds throughout the season. My number one “go to” antiseptic is Melaleuca Oil which helps to speed the healing process in lightning quick time (at least in my estimation).  This oil is also call Tea Tree Oil and many people use it to treat Cold Sores, acne, congestion and respiratory tract infections, and fungal infections among other things.  An entire all-natural household products company (called co-incidentally, Melaleuca) is based off this oil…it must be pretty powerful!

      There are a lot of Oil Blends on the market which target certain health issues.  The blends contain multiple oils blended with a particular concentration.  One blend that our family has really enjoyed and helps us survive the allergy season in Spring and Fall contains Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, and Lemon.  We use it in a diffuser (combines the oil in a mist into the air) to relieve our congestion and other symptoms.

      diffuser

      One of these days I want to learn how to make my own oils and tinctures from these wonderful plants. My friend, local TV celebrity and Herbal  Author, Cindy Shapton, has classes on the process of making oils and tinctures from herbs and flowers at her farm in Fernvale, TN.  If you have this same urge to learn how to make your own…check out her website www.cindyshapton.com. I might just see you at her next class!

      Cindy Shapton (left) on Talk of the Town TV Show

       

      Start 2017 with a Simple, Sustainable Life

      Over the past 11 years, Olin and I have changed our lives a little at a time by pairing down our “stuff” and being content with less.  We have found that this practice has created an incredible amount of joy and reduced a massive amount of stress from our lives.  We would like to share some of our successes (and things to avoid) in our 2017 weekly newsletters to help you discover new and different ways to live this year simply and sustainably.

      We welcome any suggestions, comments and advice from any of our readers to share with others, so that everyone can benefit from your personal experience!  So please reply back to any of the newsletters this year with your input!  Thank you!

      So here are a couple of tips that we began about 10 years ago for Holiday decorations:
      If it takes more than 2-3 hours to decorate for Christmas, we don’t do it!

      I know…it sounds ridiculous…it did to us too.  But we began by pairing down our decorations to the ones we really loved;  then we only put out the tree ornaments that have memories associated with them;  and we pack everything away in an organized fashion in large plastic bins, so that it’s easy to find and put up the next year (key to success).  And YES, whatever you are not using (after a couple of years), you can give away, donate, or use some things for wrapping gifts (like ornaments, ribbon, etc).  Think about all the people you can bless with your beautiful decorations that you don’t use anymore…

      Another tip we started many years ago which saves money and keeps the wrapping station organized:
      Use ONE Container for wrapping supplies; including all holiday celebrations (with birthday, anniversary, etc.)

      clear-storage-box-for-gift-wrapI know…sounds ridiculous…but it can be done.  You will be amazed how it will simplify the amount of gift wrap you need in your home.  You will not feel the need to go buy oodles and oodles of 50% off gift wrap after the holiday to store for the next holiday, because you will have a manageable wrap station that holds an easy to view inventory.  The only additional bag we have outside the wrap station is a recycle bag full of gift bags that we reuse for the next holiday.  We also save bows and tissue paper (if they are not damaged) to help decrease the landfill for at least another year.

      The lesson we learned about simplifying our decorations and wrapping supplies is this:  Simple and organized makes life easier and less stressful.  Simple living leads to sustainable living…

      Happy New Year from Leigh and Olin!

      olin-and-leigh-norris-dam2