Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The calendar is here!

A few weeks ago Emma came up with the brilliant idea of making a calendar of my work to give to our relatives as Christmas presents.  We also ordered some extras to see if people might want to buy any from my Etsy shop, so if you're interested you can check them out here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/kiyoshimino  The calendar was designed by Emma with photos by myself and Kelty Luber.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What it's all about

This photo more than anything else made me feel like all the hundreds of hours that I've put into my needle felting this year were really worth something.  Thank you Kelty for sharing this with me!

Kelty's dad after receiving his christmas present: portraits of his 4 chihuahuas

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Yesterday our friends and neighbors Terry and Judy Bachtold of Grazin' Acres Farm came by to deliver our cow (technically steer), #13.  #13 is a 4-5 month old black angus steer, or castrated bull.  Terry and Judy have a great farm just a few minutes south of us where they raise 100% grass fed black angus cattle for beef.  Terry works for the Natural Resource Conservation Service of the USDA and is our advisor on government natural resource conservation, and technical assistance programs, and Judy is our mail lady.  I just love small towns! 
So Emma and I spent much of this week putting up an electric fence around the one acre of pasture in front of Mr. Harms' barn.  This is where #13 will be spending the winter, with free access to the barn and he will be joined by our sheep in a couple weeks.  Yesterday our good friend from Farm School,  Lee Smith arrived and she will be staying with us and helping us out for the week.  She helped us move him into his new home and I was glad to have her help because so far #13 seems to be a particularly fiesty little cow (by little I mean 500 lbs).  He tried to charge and head butt all three of us and he seems to like to charge at cars too.  Luckily he knows not to get too close to electric fences so hopefully we will not find him on the road chasing after passing cars tomorrow morning.

Friday, December 16, 2011


This morning our friends Marty and Kris Travis of Spence Farm came over to visit, and drop off our brand new piglets!  The two piglets were our payment for looking after their farm last week while they were away at a farm conference.  The two of them are the driving force behind a recent sustainable farming renaissance in our corner of central Illinois.  They started The Spence Farm Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to educate children and adults in the area about sustainable farming practices and The Stewards of the Land, a group of like-minded local farmers that work together to market their produce mostly to up-scale restaurants in Chicago, Champaign and Bloomington.  They are actually helping to start a new group similar to the Stewards of the Land of which Emma and I will be founding members!  Over the past few weeks we have been attending regular meetings with about a dozen other local, up and coming farmers to get the group up and running for next year.  Most likely we will be jointly marketing through buying clubs or CSAs, and possibly grocery stores in Chicago, Bloomington or Champaign.  Emma and I still plan to sell at the Urbana Farmers Market and run our own meat CSA in Chicago but this new group will be a great way to open up some new markets and build relationships with other area farmers. 
So our new piglets are American Guinea hogs, a rare and endangered breed that Marty and Kris are working to save by breeding a small herd on their own farm.  We on the other hand will be raising them to be eaten... but eventually we plan to breed our own pigs too!  They are going to be spending the winter in a nice big paddock in the pasture behind our house with a nice cozy shelter, also generously provided by Marty and Kris.