Dunton Family Farm News

What's Happening Around the Farm as well as a Soapbox for head farmer, Mike Dunton

Middle of August? Already?

Hello everyone.  Thank you for all of you who have recently “Liked” us on Facebook and are following us on Twitter.  Things are busy around here so I apologize for not staying in touch with updates.  I will try and do better.  This will  be just a quick update.

Where is the time going?  Summer is winding down fast!  It really hit home when we started talking about schedules here on the farm yesterday.  Some of our summer helpers are preparing to head off on family vacations and shortly after that heading back to school.  I am starting to stress a bit thinking about all of the harvest work that lies ahead plus I still have a pile of unfinished projects that need to be finished (or started).  It will all work out :)

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are having one of the mildest summers that I can remember.  Whereas many folks in the country are suffering 100F+ temperatures, we have had cool nights and pleasant days.  This weekend the highs are forecast to reach the high-80s or possibly even hit the first 90 degree day of the year.  Not only has this weather meant that we have had great working conditions outside, the garden is growing great.

Stupice tomaotes on the Vine

Stupice tomatoes on the Vine

We have even gotten enough ripe fruit on one variety of tomato, ‘Stupice‘, to start harvesting seed.  Stupice, pronounced “stu-peek-a,” is always a good and early producer here on the farm.

That is the latest from the farm.  I hope that all is well in your garden.



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Nice Weather = Busy Mike

Here in Oregon, when the weather is nice, we have to take advantage of it.  I apologize for the lack of tweeting and blogging but with working outside as much as I can, it is all that I can do to keep up with necessary paperwork, CRMs, and email.  And here I sit, midday, in the office, blogging :)

Not for long though.  It is still nice outside – actually beautiful and sunny – and so I am heading back out into it.  This stretch of nice weather is forecast to end on Friday so I will catch up with office work then.

Yesterday I got about an acre of ground tilled up.  It was the second pass.  About 1/3 of the area I did as been in hay since 1961.  That is, it has been lying fallow my whole life and should be a nice, fertile area.  The only issue is that it is well established sod so will take another couple of passes with the tiller before planting.

This afternoon I am back out to the tree planting project.  I have 210 more Austrian Pines that I need to get either in the ground of potted up.  They are bare root and I have them banked in using potting mix.

I did get all of the tomato seedlings potted.  I finished up on Saturday.  I am about two weeks behind on that task so they are a bit on the small and scraggly side.  However,  just in the few days they have have room to stretch  their roots in pots and have been in the warmth of the greenhouse, they look a lot better and are growing.  I don’t yet have a final count on the number of plants or number of varieties.

Sunday I spent the whole afternoon and into the last bit of dusk, mowing.  My Dad usually keeps up with that ( I am sure not something he planned doing in his retirement).  But he is on vacation with my Mom visiting my sister in Illinois.  So, I mowed.  Like tilling, mowing is one of those jobs that requires two hands and just the littlest amount of brain power.  That leaves a lot of capacity in the noggin for planning, day dreaming, etc.  I actually look forward to those times as they are relatively rare for me.  Anyway, things looked pretty nice around here for a day or so.  Probably should mow again tomorrow before the rain starts in again.

Out in the seedhouse, the crew is cranking out orders pretty much within a day of receiving them.  So now is the time to order if you need something relatively fast.  Don’t forget that we also have a pretty good line of old-time, nostalgic candies and gum.  The quickest way to find them is to go to www.victorysweets.com.

That’s it from the farm.  I hope that all is well in your neck of the woods.

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Spring Has Sprung?

The calendar tells us that spring started about two weeks ago.  I wish someone would tell that to the guy in charge of the weather!  It is just so wet here that is the continual rain stopped here, it would take a few weeks to dry out enough to work the soil.  I take daily walks out to our growing are and there is really no point.  The ground is so wet that there is standing water all over.  Not just in our bottom fields.  And looking at the extended forecast, it appears that we have another very wet week in front of us.

In spite of the weather, we have to move along and keep preparing for the inevitable season change.  As mentioned in a post last week, we got the majority of our tomato seeds sown last weekend when John was on Spring Break from college.  They are doing well which means that later this week, I need to clean out a year’s worth of “stuff” that has accumulated in the potting shed, get the greenhouse all set up and order potting material.  I expect that I will need to start potting up plants early next week.

The other night I blogged about our old hens.  Although we have never been big meat eaters, more than a decade ago when we stopped eating meat, we still kept our flock.  We have never raised them as meat birds since they pretty much become pets.  (We do eat chicken but not ones we raise – goofy, I know.) Our hens are kept for their eggs and for the enjoyment they bring just watching them.  I personally find them fascinating to watch.  I just cannot imagine a farm without chickens.

Anyway, another spring related event took place yesterday.  We got the poultry accoutrements dug out from the shed and got them setup.  Denise went and picked up a batch of chicks and they are peeping and cheaping, contently snuggling under the heat lamp and doing what chickens all do best . . .

New Chicks - Spring 2011

New Chicks - Spring 2011

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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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