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The Back 40 from St. Louis, MO
The Back 40

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Farm Name: The Back 40

Year Farm Established: 2000

Location: Union, MO

Years I’ve been farming: 14 years

Animals I raise: We have raised Chickens and guineas

Crops I grow: Debatable. We attempt to grow tomatoes, corn, peppers, asparagus, and many others.

Hobbies I enjoy: I am the author of the YA family saga, The von Strassenberg Saga. Aside from writing I enjoy tending the garden, foraging off the land, watching our boys enjoy our quasi-country life. Reading, photography, filming, video editing. My husband is a chef. He enjoys cooking and chopping wood and thinks he would very much enjoy raising goats and making cheeses and sausages.

The proudest moment on my farm: So far? The compost pile. We have terrible clay soil. Compost is important.

Pets: Dog, Zeus. Cats: Laertes, Hermes, Lucy. Various fish. 12 ducks and 21 chickens.

Farm Motto: It's not odd, it's God.

Farm Blog
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  In an effort to improve our website for our visitors, we will be changing some of our service providers. We do not expect to experience any technical difficulties. However, if you are unable to access our website, please be assured it will be temporary as we transition to the new service. 10/19/2013 12:00.00 AM  
  Hello also from Missouri. Yes the ground is not the best yet we make the best of it. So far garden of rocks we have has produced this year onions,tomatoes,green beans,cucumbers,green peppers... Use what we can. We have goats that got loose today and went straight to garden... Bless their hoofs... Ben hot and no rain. Getting ready to let out chicken in pasture with goats..And water rock garden Good luck Patty

Come visit me, Pattys Pampered Pets.

06/21/2012 04:08.44 PM Report This Comment  
  A new dog
We recently suffered a coyote attack. We lost 10 chickens and two ducks. Our dog, who is ten, was sleeping inside, 15 feet away from the attack. Because the coyote came right up on the back porch. This prompted my husband and I to purchase a new dog, one with a little more energy! So we researched breeds and we found a couple dogs listed as Australian Cattle or Australian Shepherd Dogs at the Humane Society. Obviously not full-blooded. We chose one that seemed intelligent and obedient and kind and brought her home. It became clear, very quickly, that she is NOT an Australian anything. This dog is a sniffer. We looked it up and apparently she is part coonhound. Excellent....she is very interested in the chickens. I'm wondering if over time she will become use to them and leave them be or if it will be a permanent problem.

Come visit me, The Back 40.

07/17/2011 06:57.44 AM Report This Comment  
  Busy, busy
Wow, I haven't been on here in forever! It's my husband's fault. lol He finally got the chicken coop fixed....ish. It was fixed enough. He's a perfectionist. So I went to buy chickens one day and made the mistake of bringing him with me. Well, ducks were on clearance. Ducks for a Buck. And the man cannot pass up a good sale. So, of course, we left with four Chinese Pekins. This started my obsession with ducks. They are, in my opinion, so much more enjoyable than chickens. They are playful and funny and so much fun to watch as they move as one fluid object. They are also incredibly filthy. My days are mostly spent mucking out the nastiness in the coop and refilling pools and waterers. There is no such thing as sleeping in anymore. I let them out at 6 every morning because, through trial and error, I have learned that leaving them in the coop any longer than necessary creates an awful mess. The pools, which they foul up within a day or two, have proved useful means of providing the garden with "liquid fertilizer." It isn't the best-smelling thing I ever did but it seems to be working.
It has been difficult, keeping up with the ducks and garden and children and working on the marketing of my first book and the writing of my second. (You can look me up on Amazon, Gwenn Wright, or on Facebook "The von Strassenberg Saga") Most nights I pass out before ever getting a word typed and that's a problem. I've told everyone Book 2 will be out in October. But ducks won't wait and the garden won't tend itself. Hopefully the book sells favorably. One day we want to open our own farmhouse restaurant (the man's a chef).
On the days when I'm tired of the ducks and the weeds and the poo-water, I remember it's all in support of my husband's dream. And that seems to help. For now! :)

Come visit me, The Back 40.

06/07/2011 12:59.04 PM Report This Comment  
  If you’re not already getting your bimonthly issues of Hobby Farms, you’re missing out on articles including livestock husbandry, sustainable agriculture and crop growth, equipment purchasing, successful small farms and agricultural events. Whether you are a newcomer or an experienced hobby farmer articles address the core information needed to succeed, but also delves into advanced how-to information. Every issue informs, educates and inspires readers to farm for pleasure or profit. Subscribe today -- 1 year (6 issues) as low as $15.00. 06/01/2011 01:07.18 PM  
  Pretty picture

Maria, Woodsfield, OH.

11/29/2010 11:41.10 AM Report This Comment  
  Business Major
Hey, I did the BS Bus Admin and the AA Small Business, additional in Purchasing and Finance. I can relate on all the business classes!

But it has been years and I'm sure it has all changed up.

My kale was still edible over the winter, it kept growing and got sweeter, I was so surprised to have kale in winter.

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

11/19/2010 05:51.01 AM Report This Comment  
  Questions for you composting
What kind of trees do you have? maples and nuts (walnuts, butternuts, here, etc) have stuff in the leaves to prevent germination and things growing near them. They are not good for a garden compost, but i use mine where I don't want things growing, like a mulch system.

Digging a ditch along one side of the garden and working your way through it a shovelful deep is a good way to 'in ground compost'. Dad would dig out a row and heap the soil along the side of his ditch. Then as the colander of food scraps from the day got filled up with eggshells, coffee grounds, veggie trimmings, we even rinse the dressing off of uneaten salads!, and it would all go into the ditch and toss a shovelfull of dirt on top.

I do the same thing when adding manures to the garden. If I really want to get things going, I'll go buy a few bales of straw and put that down, it will rot and help add to your compost pile. That neighbor's horse poo is pure gold. He'd probably love someone else to come over and muck his stalls out!! It would need to rest a couple of weeks before planting in that area as it is a 'hot' manure, great to help compost the sawdust and straw bedding materials faster.

keep writing us about your compost adventures. I use worms to eat my garbage, they actually love wet cardboard and shredded up newspaper (60% carbons, 40% nitrogens) and wet straw for bedding materials (and peat moss). They like it well soaked for about 24 hours in water, then wring it out and put it in the worm box, or pits where you keep them. you can learn more about it at redwormcomposting dot com. Bentley writes good articles, and a couple outdoor methods. Great for a 4-H project, too! Cheers and keep in touch. Bonnie from Clyde Ohio Zone 5 gardener and alpaca shepardess!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

11/17/2010 03:21.22 AM Report This Comment  
  Crunch time
It's that part of the semester when I start cracking and this semester is worse than any other. It's one thing to be overloaded with work you're competent at dealing with. It's another to be overloaded with work that is completely foreign to you. Music recording and I are not getting along. Add to that my ridiculous math class and a hard-nosed theater professor (it's required, needed a fine art credit) and I've about had it.
In the meantime everything else seems to be suffering. My room is overrun with seasonal changes (heavier coats and clothes coming in and no time to pack up the summer stuff). Not to mention hidden Christmas and birthday gifts. Money is tight with the holidays and my hours being cut on campus. Apparently the powers that be don't think our studio needs to be staffed all day. Makes sense.
Right now I am stealing a moment before plunging into my homework. The pile is so deep I would need scuba gear to touch bottom.
The one highlight of this semester is my business class. O how I love my business class. It comes naturally to me. Speaking of which, we had to take personality assessments. I am an INTJ and I should be a lawyer, is what it said. No kidding.
I've turned over the garden bed, trying to work in some leaves. We have also been researching crops for next year. So much to do.

Come visit me, The Back 40.

11/13/2010 08:18.15 AM Report This Comment  
  Hopefully you'll be able to get your hands on the gold from the stables.

Well did you guys get to vote today? I got there early and bou that was a mistake, there was a line of people trying to vote, just like me..LOL

Come visit me, The Homestead.

11/02/2010 01:27.54 PM Report This Comment  
  Pigs in the garden
I've been warned, not to plant the garden where you've raised pigs. People can get diseases from them. Although you're right about them being good cultivators everywhere else!

Come visit me, Larkshire Farm.

10/31/2010 12:11.34 AM Report This Comment  
After you start raising goats, you can skip part of the composting. Their manure can go straight into the garden. We've used the old saying, "Where a goat walks, grass grows" to our advantage! Put a pen up where you want your future garden.

Come visit me, Larkshire Farm.

10/28/2010 10:02.55 PM Report This Comment  
  Know how you feel about the dirt difference. Back in 1999 when we planted azeals in front of the yard every 5 feet the dirt was something different. Now it's 2010, you can tell which azeals had clay, because they are not growing like the others.

Come visit me, The Homestead.

10/26/2010 08:06.42 AM Report This Comment  
  Composting IN the garden
We have serious soil issues. At least, in the area of our garden we do. We recently planted some plum trees in an area separate from our garden. And guess what? Fine black dirt. Figures. I am taking drastic measures and have sectioned off a small portion of the garden and dug it out. My son (the compost bucket dumper) has been instructed to dump the compost there from now on. It will take time but it seems like the only that that might work.

Come visit me, The Back 40.

10/25/2010 05:54.23 PM Report This Comment  
  4H isn't just about animals anymore. Have a talk with your 4H leader and see what they offer.

P2's winnings are posted on our blog. Just rolled in.

Come visit me, The Homestead.

10/23/2010 07:00.27 PM Report This Comment  
  Ya my goats are something else!!!! Well we have a busy weekend planned. A neighbor of ours has to move due to the landlord selling the house and I couldn't let them part with their animals. Sooooo I told them we would house their 4 horses, 2 goats, a goose, a duck, and 20 some rabbits until they find somewhere else....and in return they gave me their 14 laying hens and a rooster!!!! Totally excited about that!!!! This weekend we are putting up more fence and building them a lean-to of some sort....Now would be a good time for me to write Santa about that barn I have been asking for!!! LOL

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

10/22/2010 04:59.48 AM Report This Comment  
  Good Morning!
Goats can help clear out brush and small trees. They will stand on their back legs and prune the lower branches of taller trees. And they will spend a lot of time figuring a way through your garden fence, so be sure it's tight! Last year's kids have been the worst about jumping on the car and truck. Goats are supposed to be smart, but I havn't been able to teach them anything. Which goes to show which of us is the smartest!

Come visit me, Larkshire Farm.

10/21/2010 08:45.15 AM Report This Comment  
  Ya know thats one thing my goats don't do....They will go under the car but not walk on it....And they cant even get up pn the truck its way to big!! LOL however if you do have small trees they will try to climb them to get some leaves, apples, pears....whatever is on them! One day Daisey tried climbing the house to get some apples off our apple tree...its about 3 ft from the house. I kept hearing this knocking on the side of the house and so I went to look and here she is trying her damndest to get up there! She's a goof ball!!!

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

10/20/2010 04:08.44 AM Report This Comment  
  Missing Mama Cleaver
Today I was channeling June Cleaver.
We had chicken cacciatore, corn bread and mini-pumpkin pies. Tomorrow I will post some pics, but tonight..tonight I am worn out. And I still have homework to do. Boo!

Come visit me, The Back 40.

10/19/2010 08:55.42 PM Report This Comment  
  If only he had a cow....
Or a goat. The goat would make more sense but a little cow for milk would just make his day. Problem is: we're all trees! The neighbors have pastureland. But not us. Maybe we could just let the cow loose. "Dang! My cow got out again."

Come visit me, The Back 40.

10/18/2010 02:54.10 PM Report This Comment  
  Well hopefully in time you will get the land. My boys are a huge help as well! And as far as the goats we have 3 pygmy goats and they just have a giant plastic dog house for a shelter....I tried putting them in the shed but they don't like it. They like being close together. When we first got them we tied em up like dogs until we got the electric fence up....We also let them run free when we are outside. But I only suggest doing that if your animals come when called or follow you around...It's never pretty to chase animals lol

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

10/18/2010 03:58.53 AM Report This Comment  
  Thanks! I bought my Farm a year ago and I just happened to get really lucky finding my animals. Someone wanted to part with all 3 goats for $50, the ducks I got from my wonderful mother in law, and the chickens my hunny bought for me but they go in the freezer soon. There are sites around here you can post things for free and I check them daily! Maybe there is something like that where you live. Just be patient and the animals will come!

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

10/17/2010 06:06.48 AM Report This Comment  
  The Man's Goat Fixation
If my husband is not reading the constitution of Switzerland and recapping the most entertaining parts for my benefit or chewing on plants that may or may not be edible, he is most likely immersed in a book about goats. He has turned that steel-trap mind of his over to goats for the sake of future artisan cheeses and potentially just straight up milk.
This is what happens when you marry a chef.
They're a bit of an odd breed. They'll eat anything which can make a girl a little nervous during long walks through the woods, but he hasn't died yet. That's favorable. It also means that he wants access to foods you can't find at the Mart. The solution? Grow it and raise it ourselves, because chefs like their food as fresh as can be.
I have pointed out that someone will have to milk this goat and the potential cow and watch over the sheep and gather the eggs. The pointed stare he gives in reply tells me that my degree in Broadcast Media will prove useless on the path he wants to take us down. That's an overstatement because eventually we will have a farmhouse restaurant and someone will have to film and edit advertisements.
.....He has come home from work now. I must away so that I can listen to him read from a Swiss cookbook.
At least I married a passionate man.

Come visit me, The Back 40.

10/16/2010 09:38.18 PM Report This Comment  
  The Kale Still Lives
This August, after pulling some potatoes out, I decided to plant the kale I had never gotten around to planting. We use a kind of free-floating planting calendar. In other words, I'm a little flighty and just like to try things. It's actually working out quite well. Now that the heat of summer has mostly passed (sometimes we still have 90 degree days) the kale has sprung back into action. The cabbage has also made a reappearance after being decimated by snails and slugs and rot. I love cabbage. You can kill it and kill it again and it still comes back. This was quite comforting to my son last year. He brought home a cabbage seedling they had planted at school. The plant was growing beautifully until....a caterpillar sneaked in and laid some eggs. He became more than just a little angry at that caterpillar and nearly cried over the loss of the cabbage he would never have eaten anyway. Ignorant and desperate to comfort him, I said, "It's all right. It might grow back." And it did, again and again and again. This I used as a lesson in diligence. We can't just walk away from our garden and not check it or the next thing you know, poof! The caterpillars have laid eggs in the cabbages.
So. It may be October but we still have a few things growing. It makes me feel a little successful after the failure that was this summer.

Come visit me, The Back 40.

10/16/2010 04:28.52 PM Report This Comment  
I think your husband will enjoy raising goats!

Come visit me, Larkshire Farm.

10/16/2010 07:37.21 AM Report This Comment  
  Welcome to the community!

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

10/15/2010 06:36.11 PM Report This Comment  


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