Chism Heritage Farm searches for better ways to steward our resources and to enable our readers to capitalize on our experiences.
Join us as we chronicle our efforts to retain a portion of the farm that has been in my family since the 1840’s (1830’s?). Not only do we want to hold on to the land, which we could do with city jobs, we want to enhance the land. Pasture renovation takes time, hooves, claws, snouts, beaks, teeth and time. It also takes worms, manure, insects, mice, voles, coyotes, rabbits, hedge trees, piles of dead hedge trees, sawdust, acorns and more time. It’s the coordination, planning and unexpected nature of …erm…nature… that keep us hopping. We are not a part of the government’s Organic Certification program. We are not GMO-Free…yet. We do our very best to bring a high-quality, healthy product to market with local resources.
Honestly, my job has taken over my life in a good way and the farm is just in the background. The following is edited to fit.
Currently we sell eggs, chickens, turkeys and hogs but these are just tools. They are not an end, they are a means. Though we love to hear from satisfied customers we must remember the real goal is not financial. I want to make sure the next owners take possession of more fertile land than I bought but the increased fertility is a result of good management, not a purpose. I treasure my marriage, my children, my dog, my job. I enjoy reading and working. I like food. A lot. But these things, on their own, are not satisfying. There must be more.
Why do I call myself a steward? Because I don’t really own it. I’m just in charge of it for a while (See 1 Chronicles 29:11-12). The real goal is to glorify God.
I love how you look at being the steward of your family farm. You are taking care of it just as the generations before you did. What a wonderful thing to be able to carry on. The land and life will go on, even after we are gone. ~Franny
It was really great meeting you here at Life Skills/TouchPoint, Chris. What a breath of fresh air you bring with you. Please let me know the next time you are bringing an order. I would like eggs, chicken, bacon, ham-whatever you have at the time to bring.
Laura Emerson-TouchPoint Autism Svcs/Life Skills
Hey Chris & Julie–I just love reading this! My dad (Jack Chism) sent it to me and I am hooked. It is delightful reading but especially meaningful b/c that farm is so special! Thanks for your stewardship. ~~your cousin Liz
Come visit us. Buy a chicken…lol.
We r in Texas now. But we r heading to Illinois tmro. I wd luv for my kids to see what u r doing! Can we psbly come see u next week? We may go up to carlinville on Monday. Wd luv to come out if u happen to be available
Any time is fine. Give us a call.
We just watched yr video and really enjoyed it! Like the stuff about “one day you’ll wake up and be old. ” I’ll let u know if we get to come up monday.
My kids wd luv to see something not in the suburbs:-)
I had some questions on the Featherman equipment you’re using, but unfortunately I see no email address for getting in touch with you!
Sorry for the delay. I just realized my spam filter is a little …well…overzealous. I added the email address to the about page. Fire away.
we have a old running gear it is orange and the tie rods are in front of the spindles,, the r.gear is a 6 ton but the bolt hole pattern for the hubs is a 5 hole we don’t know the brand we have so we are trying to ask around to see if anyone knows so we can order a hub we tried Kory and had no luck there 6 ton has 6 bolt holes not 5 . can you help?
This was trapped in a spam filter. Sorry. I see the same problem when I search for the hub.
Great blog! I think I will follow!
Congradulations! I have just nominated your blog for the Shine On Award. Here is a link to my post where you have been nominated: http://thebelmontrooster.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/my-shine-on-award-2/.
Do voles and moles help the land by eating the grubs and aerating or is there something else? I find them a nuisance in our yard and I’ve blamed them for killing a lot of my vegetables…but maybe I’m wrong in trying to keep killing them. Please inform (not that I can keep my cat off them, but she only does so much) Thanks! Ann
I wouldn’t worry about your cat. It doesn’t worry about you. If moles are getting somewhere you don’t want them it can be a real problem. You might try planting a barrier of daffodils around your garden space.
Beyond aeration they open up the soil for water infiltration. But that’s why we don’t till our garden anymore. We want to retain, not disrupt, that soil structure. We want the space between the grains of soil. We want soil organic matter to build up over time, not burn off quickly each time we till. Some amount of disruption is beneficial in our soil just as some amount of E. Coli is beneficial in our gut…lol. Moles probably do an excellent job of opening things up but they are not welcome in our garden. And, for the most part, they seem to know that.
I work to keep mice out of the house but I want them in my pastures to feed coyotes, foxes, minks, owls and hawks and to help feed the cats that city people dump out here. I don’t particularly like mice, foxes or minks but I desire a broad diversity of life on my farm. So I leave room for moles too.
Ok! Thanks! When I read about you having them around in what sounded positive, I wanted to know the story. We’ve tried all manner of things to kill them all off. It’s been great our declawed cat manages to get some (we didn’t declaw her, she needed a home so we took her in and she insisted on going outside, so does whenever she wants). Anyway, good info on tilling and the burn off of the organic matter and space b/t the layers. We have terrible soil here (high clay content, little organic on top) so have struggled to grow anything. Thanks for replying!
Growing things is the key to growing things. I know that’s a little silly. You might try a mix of deep-rooted cover crops in rotation over sections of your garden. Turnips, beets, annual rye…stuff like that. Maybe do several crops in a season all chop and drop. Those plants will work their roots into the clay and begin to break it up, leaving organic matter behind them. I am also a huge fan of mulching with composted wood chips. We try to keep a 6″ layer on top of our garden at all times. This builds new soil, cools the earth below, retains moisture and feeds the worms.
Thank you for the ideas–very appreciated!!
Thank you so much!!
Your thoughts on stewardship over ownership are lovely. While I’m not a Christian, you seem to express a value that I share. I love the way novelist Barbara Kingsolver puts a similar idea. “I consider myself lucky beyond words to be able to go to work every morning with something like a wilderness at my elbow. In the way of so-called worldly things, I can’t seem to muster a desire for cellular phones or cable TV or to drive anything flashier than a dirt-colored sedan older than the combined ages of my children. My tastes are much more extreme: I want wood-thrush poetry. I want mountains. It would not be quite right to say I have these things. The places. . . aren’t actually mine. In some file drawer we do have mortgages and deeds, pieces of paper, which satisfy me in the same way that the wren yammering his territorial song from my rain gutter has satisfied himself that all is right in his world. I have my ostensible claim, but the truth is, these places own me: They hold my history, my passions, and my capacity for honest work.”
Anyway, I just stumbled across you blog today and found your story beautiful. Peace be with you.