farm was a small part of a large Adams County, Ohio farm that has been
owned by the same family for generations. Alot of the family members stop
to say hello, to hunt or run the fence line.
The homestead consists of several relocated and restored late 1700’s
log cabins. The main house consists of 2 cabins attached together with
a large native stone fireplace with a working iron cookarm. The barn has
a brick 1st floor and a massive hand hewn log staircase leading to the
large wooden loft. As no homestead would be complete without plumbing,
we have an antique hand crank water pump and a 2 hole outhouse. Rounding
out the homestead is a woodshed made from split red cedar logs from the
pioneer; there is no electricity and no running water. We have had to
rely on imagination, creativity and a pond for a lot of what we are doing!
Spending weekends in the winter have been a challenge, though there is
an awesome fireplace, we have come to understand and appreciate the struggles
of Ohio pioneers in winter!
clearing a field for red raspberry production. We determined we
needed 1 acre of our 10 acres for raspberry production. We accomplished
this by removing a band of invasive red cedars on the hill side.
The field is terraced and uphill from the pond. We also cleared
several areas for herb production.
the fields were cleared we installed red raspberry canes and relocated
many of the herb plants I had growing in the city and introduced
many more plants. Beacause of the abundance of shagbark hickories
present, we named the farm Shagbark Farm.
addition to the farm operation, we corrected the flow of the stream
which runs through our acerage and returned it to the original water
path. We also did additional grading around the cabins to improve
heating in the main cabin and decreased the ability for cold air
and animals to enter the cabin. We also replaced a leaky roof on
the front porch.
increased the number of herb gardens and currently we are utilizing
approximately 1/2 - 3/4 acre for herb production.
the drought in 2011 and the planned increases in our crop production,
we enlarged our existing pond. We also improved our water pumping system
for crop irrigation.
also removed a poor performing raspberry variety in order to add 2 additional
varieties to extend our raspberry season. We are also installing bird
netting structures to support netting to protect all of the berries from
bird theft and damage.
removed our row of lavender and chamomile in the berry field in order
to install blackberries. The lavender was moved to several gardens near
the cabins and pond. The chamomile continues to thrive as a ground cover
in the berry field.
We finally added the bird netting to the raspberry field. It was a huge
project and it was successful. We also added some additional drainage
in the raspberry field. We added 2 new varieties of raspberry and some
beautiful blackberry plants as well both for harvesting in 2014.
installed the orchard which includes apple, pear and plum trees and also
if the raspberries weren't enough for the bees, we installed a butterfly
garden which has mostly edible flowers, and an added plus, the bees love
the garden too! We began experimenting with vertical growing and learned
some lessons there. We had the largest raspberry harvest to date, in spite
of the fact we had only 3 of the terraces producing! We increased our
production of hot peppers and began making a hot pepper sauce. We also
discovered wild ginger and began stewardship of the area with the hope
to bring fresh harvests in the future.
We added a new structure to house all of the herbs we produce. We
call it the "herb shack". We began producing hickory smoked
salt to add to our lineup of hickory products. The winter months
were pretty harsh and many farmers lost lavender plants, ours survived
as did the raspberry and blackberry plants. Our rhubarb crop was
pretty phenomenal in the Spring.
blackberries we installed produced beautifully. We took blackberries
to market a couple of weeks. We look forward to 2015 harvest as
the variety we chose was awesome and will be even better as the
mushrooms were slim this year, in spite of the harsh wet inter,
the Summer months were dry and did not yield the mushrooms we usually
can collect. However. Autumn produced some pretty amazing Maitake.
30 pounds to be precise!
We had a lot of Spring rain and it was the year where we twice almost
lost the pond. We found out what a crawdad collar was and installed
one of those at the drain pipe.(If you want to know what crawdad
collar is, just ask. We didn't know either.) Our rhubarb crop was
again pretty phenomenal in the Spring and we were able to begin
offering rhubarb at markets.
harvest was good but thin, Spring rains caused most of the fruit
to mold. However our blackberry harvest was great. We also started
growing and offering melons. Ever since I tried charentais melons
in France I have been interested in growing good melons here. You
just can't get a good melon around here anymore, so we started growing
them. Adams County seems to have a great climate for melons. Who
knew? Wild mushrooms were also pretty plentiful - all varieties
We moved to the farm house in January! Strange time of year to move,
but when you're a farmer, winter is the best time to do "big"
things - that you have control over! The farm house isn't exactly
as we want it, but what house isn't an ongoing project?
raspberry harvest was good as were the blackberries. We're still
having problems with the birds getting through the netting. Last
year they hadn't quite figured out how to defeat what we we did,
but we're guessing the winter physics classes they all took paid
off, we again had significant bird damage, so it's back to the drawing
board for 2017!
melon crop was phenomenal, we are so happy with the heirloom varieties
we chose! We look forward to even better melons in 2017!
mushroom harvest was good and with everything we've learned about
mushrooms, we're looking forward to cultivating mushrooms in 2017.
An exciting and new endeavor! Pawpaws were also strong this year
in spite of an early frost that damaged many of the blossoms. This
was also the first year our pear trees really produced, but the
squirrels got most of the fruit before they matured. Plans are in
place to remedy this issue for 2017!
of the lessons learned on the farm are hard ones, but farmers are
the eternal optimists - there's always next year!
We have a new face at Shagbark Farm. Someone dumped an older kitten
who managed to find his way to us. He was pretty beat up when he
arrived, weighing in at just 9 pounds as what we guess to be a 18
month old cat. We got him to the vet and he survived and is living
as another one of our farm cats. Sweet guy, we're glad he's here!
was not good for the raspberries, so we didn't get to test our bird
netting as we would have liked. The strawberry plants produced enough
for us to produce some pretty spectacular jam and as always our
blackberries did great. Melon season was strong and we took many
melons to markets. With what we are learning about melon growing,
we plan to increase our specialty varieties in 2018.
bees are thriving. We were able to take a small quantity of honey
to market which was pretty exciting for us. The bees really are
extraordinary critters. With what we learned this year, we plan
to increase the number of hives we have in 2018 in order to increase
"wild" crops also did well this year - Pawpaws once again
were plentiful as were the wild mushrooms we harvest, in particular
chanterelles. It was the first time persimmons were early enough
to take to markets, they were well received! The mushroom varieties
we cultivated still have yet to appear in full force. Wincaps appeared
earlier thane we would have liked so we got eat them! We're hoping
the other 2 varieties show up as per their fruiting cycle in 2018.
further to learn about our farm
practices, how we use the land