Our last Bootstrap! post.

The very last Bootstrap! post by County Rail Farm is up! It was actually posted Feb 20, so the information is a little back-dated, but still accurate.

It’s been an awesome year and I’ve so very much enjoyed blogging with NYFC. It has helped me put the year into perspective and explore some of the topics that might otherwise have been left unarticulated in my head.

If you’re a first year farmer, they’re looking for a 2012 Bootstrap! blogger. I highly recommend it. Both for your own sanity and for exposure to a fantastic and widespread group of young farmers.

A huge thanks to Lindsey at NYFC for letting us be your blogger for 2011. I can’t wait to read Bootstrap! 2012!

New Bootstrap Post!

Check it out!

The first frost of the year has come and gone. It came really late for us this year, waiting until October 18th to freeze our row cover into crispy sheets. We were able to get our cukes, squash, onions, peppers, kale, and collards out of the field before it hit. The tomatoes, arugula, and some greens are still good to go under fabric. We’ll have fresh salad for a little longer if nothing else…MORE

Organic Certification

New post up on Bootstrap! Check it out.

Here’s an excerpt:
Organic Certification. Those words are pretty powerful in the farming business these days. Not only do people look for “organic” on labels, but farmers get a higher price—per pound or per item—for wholesale and retail organic produce. Margaret and I have never worked on a certified farm before, much less been in charge of one. Our current farm has been certified for almost 10 years, and this week we had our 2011 certification inspection.

Barn Fixin’

The story of how I punched a hole in the barn is up on Bootstrap! – check it out.

The bucket of the tractor went straight through three panels of the barn door. I replaced those panels before I started taking photos, but here you can see the three panels I replaced… gives the barn some character, right?

Here is the damage to the side of the barn. Same type of panels, but not as easily removed as the door.

The panels are all tongue and groove, fitted perfectly and tightly together. To fix the door I had to take off the end of the door and unscrew the broken panels and anything right of them. I was able to slide them out of the door without completely disassembling it, and slide new panels in without too much trouble. The new panels came from the other side of the barn, where we’re putting up a new greenhouse. They had to be cut down to size, but other than that they fit like a glove.

The section of the side of the barn that I’d damaged had to be cut out. Because the panels are nailed to supports on the inside, sliding them in and out would have been impossible. Instead, I used this fancy tool (lent to me by Dane, the guy building the greenhouse) to surgically remove the upper part of those three panels.

Ready for replacements, the side of the barn now that I’ve taken the broken panels out. I had to cut the replacements to EXACTLY the correct length. It took a lot of back and forth to the chop saw, sanding, and checking the fit of each panel individually. That big tank inside is actually a grain mill. No joke.

The tongue and groove I mentioned earlier. Because of this style of paneling, replacing the upper part of the panels was a bit tricky. I could have just cut off the tongues, or the inside part of the groove so that they fit in the hole smoothly … But I wanted to restore the barn as much as possible to its original condition, so I didn’t cut either the tongue or groove.

Once the panels were cut to the correct length, I put them in the hole so that they bowed out from the barn. Kind of like an accordion or a slinky, I was able to fit the tongue and grooves together and then push the panels into the hole. One of the tongues was slightly broken, which made all of this a little easier because the form was more pliable than it would have been otherwise.

Taking this photo was so satisfying. Panels on both the door and the barn snug in their spot and sealed with shiny screws. What you can’t see is that I reinforced the partial replacement panels on the inside with a bock of wood that’s attached to the original supports and then screwed into the panels to hold them in place.


Margaret and I are writing for Bootstrap!, a new series written by farmers in their first season of farming. Our first post is up – and more to come!

Bootstrap! is hosted by the National Young Farmer’s Coalition, an organization that does all kinds of awesome farming stuff: the Farm Hack page is a great resource for any creative and inspired farmer, their daily blogs include farming news from around the country, and they profile young farmers and their experiences. Know more! Check it out.