Victory Seed Company News

What's Happening Around the Farm as well as a Soapbox for Victory Seed Co. founder, Mike Dunton

Archive for March, 2011

Chicken Herding


As busy as life is these days, the hens have been cooped up as long as I have so when I went down after supper this evening to water them, it was clear that I needed to let them out.  The problem is, we have a couple of species of hawks that live in the woods and take chickens (kill and eat them) so if I let them out, I have to keep them company until they are ready to go back to the coop.  Basically I am become a shepherd with no control over my flock.  [Chickens are as easy to herd as a bunch of cats!]

One of the projects on my list this spring is to build two new yards so that I can rotate them every few days.  Those of you who are not familiar with chickens, if they have a restricted area in which to roam, they will remove every living thing – plants, insects, seeds – and what is left is reminiscent of the farming practices during the Dust Bowl.  They are eating and pooping machines.

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Odds and Ends

BORING POST ALERT: What follows is one of those “day in the life” entries that is primarily intended so that I can look up information in the future.  If you are easily bored with reading about the tedium from the life of a seedsman, skip this post.


Since I got to bed so late (early?) this morning, I didn’t get up and out to the office until 9 a.m.  And as soon as I got started, I had that feeling like I was behind.  I started in with the routine tasks of listening and responding to voice messages, emails, CRM posts, printing out orders, dealing with faxes and the postal mail.

I was just coming up for air and trying to figure out what I was suppose to be working on when Denise called and needed a pile of seed packets printed.  That took about 20 minutes and I ran them across the farm to the seedhouse so they could get filled and a pile of orders could get shipped out.  While I was over there, I packed up Canned Victory Gardens for a couple of folks.

It was not raining when I was running back to my office and I have been cooped up so long, I needed to do something, anything, out of doors.  The webcam has been dead for a couple of weeks so I dug through my X10 spare parts box and found a camera that worked.  Well, it was not that easy.  I had to head up a ladder, pull down the cam, and then troubleshoot to see if it was the receiver, the USB converter, the camera or software.  As you already know, it was the camera.  After about an hour, I was back online.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on web related tasks – about half the time going back and forth with tech support.  Nothing major.  Just inventory work and chipping away at a list of little odds and ends that have been outstanding since switching to the new system.   In between, I called the greenhouse company to see if they were planning to respond to my request for proposal.  I got their answering machine.  It is that time of year.  I imagine that they are as busy as we are.

Denise called me in for supper . . . I was running so much today, I skipped eating.  Tonight’s fare was black beans and brown rice which was a great choice for a cool, damp, gray evening.

After supper I headed out to the cabin to tend to the tomatoes.  Whoa!  It was like an episode of Wild Kingdom.  Between the heater and the sunny day, there was a major hatch of ladybugs.  I spent an hour catching and releasing but since the ceilings in there are about ten feet, and that is where they are mainly hanging out, I only captured a fraction of them.

I swapped out one of the light fixtures on the rack, got the peat pellet trays filled with water, and noticed that seedlings are already emerging.  They were sown four and five days ago.

It is now 10 p.m. and time to enter a pile of faxed and mailed in orders into the system and prepare for another round tomorrow.

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Busy and Tired and Tired of Rain

The goal this season, by adding additional staff, was to not only get your orders to you faster, but also so that we could also have some time to sleep.  It was kind of a New Year’s resolution.  The plan started off well, but here I sit, 2 o’clock in the morning with another hour of work before I can call it a day.  Another resolution that gradually slides by the wayside :)   The good news is, we are still cranking orders out quickly.

Not a lot of other news to report.  I really would like to get outside to start working in the gardens, the tiller is hooked up to the tractor and I would love to start getting dirty.  But it is still cold and rainy here on a daily basis.  I believe that we have set records for both measurements for the month of March.  Needless to say, the ground is saturated and it will be a while before I can start getting the ground prepared for this spring’s planting.

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Spring Tomato Sowing Begins

I am just trying to get a feel for how much (or how little) to blog about.   I don’t want to be underwhelming or the opposite.  With many decades of experience under my belt, I know that I cannot make everyone happy all of the time, but it is am my nature to try.  I am continually looking for balance in all things.

I suppose I will just write this as if it were a personal journal of the events and occurrences happening here on the farm and at the Victory Seed Company.  I suppose a little personal life is bound to creep in . . . since our seed preservation, historical research, farming and family are all completely intertwined and inseparable, it is unavoidable.  So, if the post happens to hit some chord within you, keep reading.  If it seems boring or irrelevant to your interests, hit the back button on your browser. No harm, no foul.


John has been home from college this week for Spring Break.  It has been nice to see him and to get his help on various little projects around the place.  Today he and little sis worked on getting our tomato seeds sown.  This is about two weeks earlier than I like to get started but it is the only chance I will have the help.

Earlier this week, he and I decided that we (well I will since he will be back at school) would open up about 1/3 as much land, converting it from hay production to growing space.  This will allow us space to increase both the quantity and number of varieties we can grow this year.  Like ever decision we make in life, there are consequences.  In this particular case, it means that I am over capacity in our current greenhouse and need a bigger space.

Last night I was chatting with a buddy of mine, David Pendergrass (owner of New Hope Seed), describing the situation, and he sent me a link to a greenhouse company in my backyard.  So I will contact them next week and see if there is a chance of getting a new structure installed here in the next couple of weeks.  If it works out, this may be the stepping stone necessary to fulfill we are always getting from our local customers – a place to come and purchase tomato and other plant starts.  Don’t get too excited, this won’t happen in time for this spring’s planting, but perhaps we will be ready for next year.

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Click for Heirloom Tomato Seed Selection Save Seeds - Victory Horticultural Library - online tomato resources