Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

Search This Blog

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tracking the origin of Maize

A short and not very revealing, yet interesting, paper on Maize domestication.

Yet more evidence of our ingenuity in selecting food crops and a tribute to our agricultural forefathers, without which civilization would never have existed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

So many experiments!

Got a lot of stuff in the ground today. Still having a few germination problems from the rapid changes in the weather this season. Funny thing is 96% of the seed with issues is seed I bought or traded for that has not yet been saved and selected for use on the farm yet; evolution, even if man assisted, takes a few years I suppose.

Planted some beans (mostly dry soup pole types) in the acre and a half of "Amanda Palmer" corn today, for nitrogen and those much needed winter "pick me up"meals.

Lots and lots of turkeys running around the farm. Today I put 20 more out in the smaller turkey coop (former Rion Greenhouse/Former humanure compost hut). Tons of diversity in the poultry flock this year, but after seeing a mature Rio Grande tom in captivity yesterday it is the potential that lay in wait in their specific genome that excites me the most.

We have seriously been thinking about our ability to host or create a Kenturky derby racing event on Oaks day next year to bring attention to heritage breeds, new breeding efforts, and to make a few dollars for the farm, it is most certainly a possibility.

While I've been mulling over the seed company/seed CSA ideas I've come to realize just what a base I've created here in 6 years, I'm well on my way to becoming a facility that could host some farm tours and publish research materials. We are slowly become a miniature and independent agricultural research station.

-more soon

Alan Reed Bishop

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Source....

I haven't blogged much lately, mainly due to the time constraints placed on me by the management of an absurdley large turkey flock as well as the rigors of planting season and the management of the many seed and produce crops which is an ongoing and never ending process, but I wanted to take a moment (prior to posting some farm related articles shortly) and address the oil spill, theres no need to name it, you know the one I'm talking about.

Since the dawn of all humanity, long before the first human discovered seeds germinating in midden heaps and developed agriculture, the sea/ocean was a MAJOR source of our survival and subsequent culture. By way of food, natural goods, and later overwater trade, the sea was in many ways our mother. Of course she could be tempermental, but it wasn't due to our own tampering that she might throw a tidal wave or hurricane our way. We owe our very existence here in Eden, nay the existence of every living thing to those beautiful blue and green waters, for without them earth would not have sustained carbon based life (regardless of where life came from).

I haven't said anything on here about the oil spill even though I have been intensley aware of it since it was first reported, only because it saddens and ANGERS me to such and extent that it is best I not put it in too many words to avoid the offence that might come to my friends (such was the case when I expressed my anger and MY WAY of dealing with the rape of a handicaped girl a few weeks ago). Besides I couldn't say much that hadn't already been said.

I've read many articles and a lot of research into this issue. At this point in time if you can honestly believe that both BP and American Politicians weren't covering up this massive disaster then I have nothing to sell or tell you now or ever and it is best you just leave now as your ignorance is in no way desired in my life.

I don't know how to fix it, god, in all his/it's/their various forms, knows I wish I did. What I can say is this;

The US economy has been sank for months, millions set without jobs as we speak, and amongst those millions are a ton of engineers. Some with deep water experience I'm sure, many without, but I be you, that out there, somewhere in the US (probably the least expected areas) there are 3 or 4 guys who could have and probably already have developed a realistic and feasible solution beyond anything that the fat cat beurocrats and rich oil tycoons could think of......and yet it continues to drench the source of our very life in toxic goo.

I've been preparing for sometime for what is happening in our world, knowing that many things are deliberate (not saying the oil spill is), this year I've invested in a ton of fishing gear, now more than ever I'm glad I am teaching myself to fish those inland waters for nourishment instead of relying on the ocean. The ocean which has provided us for millenia but now is being pumped full of toxins and human egotism.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A hard lesson learned....Evolution is neither quick nor painless.

What is the deal with the weather here in the Ohio Valley the past couple months? Hot and Dry, Cold and Wet, Cold and Dry, Hot and Wet, and on and on and on.

Anyhow, sorry for the lack of updates lately to all my friends here and over at Homegrown Goodness (I miss you guys and I'll be back soon I promise) but the farm, record keeping, and some switchups in the business has kept me more than busy.

First of all the animals are keeping us very busy. For the first time in many years a farm in Indiana is actively ranging 85 turkeys on family land again. It's a lot to keep up with, particularly on the days when a new batch of young turkeys is either hatched, arrives in the post, or when they are first let out from their coops to explore the world, trust me, explore they do.

This year we are really exploring the biodiversity of the turkeys with a number of "Standard" heritage types as well as new crossess and some wild birds. From the top of my head I know we have Naragansette, Blue Slate, Black Spanish, Royal Palm, Bourban Red, Midget White, Red Slate, Chocolate, Bronze, Red Bronze, Phoenix, Rio Grande, Eastern Wild, Regal Red, and probably a few more running around at the moment, with more on the way in the post (more wilds for that Kiva turkey I previously wrote a priori proof on) and some eggs about to go in the incubator later this week. Of course we are hatching guineas as well, lots of interesting colors this year.

The rabbits are also becoming priority, given their propensity for reproduction and the rate at which we are currently selling them. Lots of good homegrown and healthy food to go around this year that's for sure.

The second reason for a lack of updates is the constant record keeping we are doing this year. We have been recording every last detail that we can think to record for future research and eventual publications (I will be making time this fall to start writing a few agriculturally based theory papers again), every chance I get to set down (which isn't often) is hampered by the fact that everything must be written down in the book.

Third of all the rapidly changing weather patterns have really put a hamper on some projects this year, lots of rain and cold weather caused seed to rot and to wash out of the ground on the slopes which we farm here (we are slowly terracing but this is a years long process). The stress that accompanied the failure of some of these crops this early in the year, coupled with the fact that some of these projects were very limited in the form of seed, and a few were in fact from varieties that we have been selecting from and breeding with for the past couple years, luckily nothing was completely lost, but for about two days nature nearly brought me to my knees, it humbled me, and made me thankful for what success I have had.

That said, something definitely snaped in my head, you could say I had a revelation about the future of my business and that just a tiny bit of alchemical evolution happened due to those unfortunate circumstances. Every year I fight the elements to get market to produce early and every year I cut my nose off to spite my face by being both a market gardener and a plant breeder. Anyone who has spent time doing both or one or the other knows how impossible a proposition such a posistion is. You will always wind up short selling yourself in the long run, no matter how careful you are.

As I was at my witts end (coupled with the even that transpired here detailed in the previous post and the stress which came with it) for a few days, I began to finally understand that it's time to move the business in the direction I have been yearning for in years past, that of a seed production oriented business.

I've spent six years building up the audience in Southern Indiana for "eco-logically" grown heirloom and hybrid- heirloom produce, an accomplishment I am quite proud of particularly when I recall that another market vendor once told me that what I was doing would never work. I have wathced as the audience of folks looking for something different and "real" has expanded fantastically, and I've also watched as others have pirated my ideas (I have no problem with this, in fact I anticipated it and have stayed one foot ahead) over the past couple years, theres not much more I could do within these basic premisis, other than expanding into the areas in which I have; plant breeding, poultry, vermicomposting, ginseng, grafting/nursery, and so on, other than to continue to stretch myself thin (you gotta remember most of the people who are my competition have some help on farm, with the way Kim works and my parents health I do 95% or more of the farm work) and stress myself out (and trust me, I excell at both), other than to find a way to evolve.

Nowdays I've got an economic back up, what with the skills and traits I have learned or taught myself regarding nursery stock, plant breeding, raising turkeys eco-logically ext. that I feel that I am ready to move Bishop's Homegrown/Face of The Earth into the realm of a full on Breeders Seed company. It will be nice not to have to choose between taking that nice melon to market or saving it for seed, it will be fantastic not to have to debate if it is still to early in the year to "risk" planting this rare green muskmelon seed, and it will be fantastic not to have to deal with the local competition who claim (via false advertising quite often) that they are "Eco-Grown" (as they, like the asshats they are, call it). Why compete with them when I can sell these very seeds to them, the ones they want and beg me for everyyear because I bred them and got people to like them and the ones that up to now I had failed to monetize (because despite the fact that I own a business I hate "selling" anything using the currently accepted system of commerce in the US, even touching a "Federal" Reserve note makes me feel, idunno, Icky) because I wanted to share them far and wide around the world with the people who need them (which I will still do, both via the seed company and via trades at homegrown goodness) as they are the people I really had in mind when I bred them. But, I've got to look at both my personal sanity and my ability to continue to run a business, work for myself, and deal with the "Bottom Line" (at least until the dollar can't deal with it's "bottom line" anymore, oh, and it is coming soon) at the same time.

I'll still run a small CSA, and I'll still go to the farmers markets to sell worms, rabbits, turkeys, guineas, seeds, plants, and nursery stock, but the priorities will have changed, at least until my orchards start bearing fruit anyhow.

I also this week took a look at what has and hasn't been successful here on the farm, the conclusion was actually quite startling, but the greenhouse portion of the business (annual plants here, not perrinials which make a ton of money) has made relatively little money, meanwhile the red worm business as well as the poultry and the nursery stock have suprising always allowed us to make ends meet. So, the big greenhouse is going through a transformation, I'll cover it with a hay tarp, throw up a couple of slaughter tables, raise some rabbits in the mid section, and add an additional 8 boxes of red worms to the end of the house. Later this year I'll put up a small greenhouse (12 x 12) in which to grow plants for the farm, the general public and the CSA folks and all will work out well I believe.

I suppose I should stop rambling now. Anyhow, I just wanted to say hello basically and let everyone know I haven't dissapeared off of the face of the earth. Hope you are all doing well and many updates will be coming your way soon. Just waiting for everything to get up and growing so we can start publishing some pictures and rambling on about what we are up to.

Off to make some wine for the night.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Dear 1% of fucked up census workers/rapists who would take advantage of a hadicaped woman!

Look, the census is constitutionally mandated, I get it, I understand and I don't have a problem with it, at least not the basic idea of the census anyhow, the simple one question "how many people live here?" part of it that is.

By now, I'm sure you've heard of this or the 8,000 variations of video from different networks by now.

But, after the events that transpired in my hometown, no fuck that, scratch it, on MY PROPERTY, in a house where I have many childhood memories, a place I consider sacred, a place where my grandmother and grandfather shared the secrets of nature with me that set me on the path that has led me to Bishop's Homegrown and Face Of The Earth, I feel I have a few things that not only do I want to say, but that I need to say, and these are things that I'm sure many of my readers/friends/enemies/customers and aquantainces are thinking as well.

What you may not know, if you don't live locally, is the house mentioned belongs to my family and is rented to Connie and her mentally and physically handicaped daughter by my father and uncle and is at the entrance to Bishops Homegrown. What you might not also know is that the woman named Debbie Bishop in all those videos is my mother.

Anyhow, I'll let you do some google research and learn about what happened yourself, I don't even really want to think about it anymore but I want to get this off of my chest, as the mainstream media isn't or at least hasn't yet picked up this story other than ABC news.

My goal here is to simply express what I feel about this so called "man", this rapists piece of trash who has forever soiled the sanctity of what in my mind amounts to a child as well as the sacredness of the place I called home for years of my life.

I don't know Connie or her daughter very well as I don't deal with the renting of the house, I have met and spoken with them only a handful of times, mostly because my part in dealing with the family land pertains to the farm and I have no interest in renting or selling anything here, that said, I know their family has had a very hard time of things, you could say they have had a hard time with life in general. I'm not here to judge the reasons why things in their life are the way they are, just stating the facts, and having a cousin that is a bit mentally handicaped allows me to look at things from a different angle, at least feeling like we've helped provide a roof over the head of someone who desperately needed one.

What gets at me, what's been eating me since Saturday morning when Kim came up the drive so we could get everything loaded for the farmers market is that a US census worker raped a handicaped (mentally and physically) woman in what essentially is my front fucking yard, and though I can't be everywhere at once, I could do nothing to stop it.

The second thing that gets me is that this previous Tuesday this same "man" came to my house and spoke to my mother (that sweet lady in those videos) while I and my father weren't at home, it pains me to think of what could have happened.

The third thing is, this could have just as easily have been Kim or the neighbors teenage daughters coming or going to or from the farm late on a Friday night.

The fourth thing, the one that really drives me crazy is that this shit is not hitting the fucking news NATIONALLY in the way that it should. Don't get me wrong, this could have happened under any administration in presidential history but had it happened underneath BUSH you liberals would have been all over it, every network would have picked it up and ran with it, but the same thing goes for you conservatives, if it werent for the fact that it happened under a liberal president you idiots would never say anything. The point I'm getting at is, don't use this as a political fucking tool, not everything in this world is yours to manipulate, particularly when it comes to the destruction of an innocent victim by a person the public has been told to trust.

As I said, I don't know the victim well, what I do know is that the girl is now and will essentially always be stuck with the mind of a 10 year old girl, in my mind, baring all the sensationalism of her handicaps, this is tantamount to a 39 year old man raping a 10 year old girl. I can not even put into words what I'd love to see done to this waste of human flesh, there is no punishment great enough. What's more, he took soviners, underwear and pajamas. When you put together the facts here you come up with a startling conclusion (and many speculations, by myself and my neighbors which I won't go into now until more comes out on this story) you don't start the process of raping and collecting sovineers at the age of 39, it's unprecedented and yet this guy has a clean record, nothing ever reported, not even once. What are the chances hes done this before and never been caught? Pretty good I think. Disgusting when you think that he has two young daughters of his own and lived accross the road from the High School I attended.

Now, let me say this, not just rhetorically either, but as a warning to the other 1% out of 99% of census workers who might commit a crime such as this. The talk after the event, the talk around town, amongst the good ol boy crowd if you will has been interesting to say the least, many things have and can be said, none of which I will post on my blog, but you better watch your backs if your going to go looking for trouble in "the heart of the hoosier hills", this is the kind of place where breaking an entering can and will get you shot and raping a woman will get you dissapeared.

I'll put it to you this way, there is a reason he chose Connie and his daughter, both were home alone and lived alone both have many medical conditions and both live far enough from their neighbors (a half mile drive down a gravel road) that the chances of getting caught were slim to none. The reasons he likely didn't act on my mother are many and include probably the fact that we fly the Culpepper flag as though it is the US flag and that he knew that two men could be present at any time, the pressence of several shooting range targets and abundance of ammo shells on the ground probably told him to steer clear as well. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say a couple things here. 1. had he dared come to this house in the middle of the night there are more than enough loaded guns and ammunition in this house, along with the fact I can hear someone coming up this drive from half way up, that I'd have blown a hole clean through him before he ever got the door open. 2. had Connie made it to the phone and gotten ahold of me or one of the other 4 closest neighbors as soon as she found what had happened, this piece of shit wouldn't be setting in jail right now, he would be in the ground, he never would have had a chance of making it out of the driveway of Bishop's Homegrown!

So dear trustworthy census takers (not the good ones guys, the other 1%), you remember that the next time one of you think about attempting something like this, you remember that in this world there are motherfuckers like me who will not hessitate to assassinate you for attempting to destroy a life and the sacred things in it, you remember to watch just who's door your knocking or kicking in and the fact that there might be a loaded .12 gauge, M44, or SKS just on the other side and remember to watch just what questions you ask, 'cause if they aint on the list of "10 official bullshit questions, 9 of which are irrelevent" it might just be your ass. This, other than the fact my mother came face to face with this fucking creature, is the reason that despite being asked I didn't speak to the media, suffice it to say that I and many neighbors let them know that this sort of thing will not fly in our county, in our homes, on our land, and in our town. My mother handled herself with grace, had I spoken most of it wouldn't have aired, but the message would have been clear; "Fuck with the wrong people and we will kill you" and "The mainstream media has a responsibility to pick this up and run with it as it is a testiment to the absolutely shitty screening methods the US census is using to hire on it's workers as well as to let people know to watch their backs around what often times amounts to a complete stranger" (pekin doesn't even have a stoplight and yet no one I've spoken to knows this idiot). I kept my tounge tied on tv though, and I'm happy with that, I'm also proud of my awesome mom for trying to get the word out there about how easy it is to feel trustworthy around "officials" without questioning.

Now I know this is long and rambling and maybe not so coherant, theres more, much more I'd like to say but for legal reasons will not. What I will say is that 150,000 bond is a fucking joke, this guy doesn't even desserve bond. With that said, just what kind of punishment do you think this "just" legal system is going to give this guy? Will it be enough. I doubt it. Maybe 48 months? lol, that's a slap in the face to the victim, to my family, to my neighbors, to my community. Just what do you consider "just" punishment? I can promise you, nothing the legal system will give him will be "just" in my eyes.

Sorry for the grammatical mistakes, it's late and I've got a ton of work to do on the farm tommorow. Rant over.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Contemplating soil fertility and plant breeding.

So the hail marry of planting time has come, and though we are in the midst of a massive rainstorm which has dropped nearly six inches of much needed rain, quite steadily, since late Friday night and I got many of the crops in the ground prior to the sky opening up, I know that come tommorow I will be wading through the mud with my reliable pair of muck boots planting more, spreading compost around others, and generally making the rounds required of a life lived on a small sustainable farm. It's overwhelming sometimes.

I had considered using todays rain day as an opporotunity to blog about a lot of "possibilities" for our farm in the coming years or even posting some more of my politically motivated posts but blogging about what I could do or what I am considering doing or what is going on on the farm at the moment is somewhat useless without pictures to accompany the excersize and since it's raining and muddy and the birds and plants don't look at their best covered with mud and seedlings in and of themselves aren't particularly the best expressions of what a plant is capable of doing and since facebook has given me the opporotunity to do a bit of political rambling on the fly I decided I'd just wait until the season progresses a wee bit to get into the depths of all of those crosses or describing all the cool things I'm growing this year, or how I am growing.

Instead I was just thinking earlier today about observations I have made this planting season regarding soil fertility. Five years ago I started raising red worms and adding massive amounts of worm castings and organic matter to the soil along with foliar feeding and soil feeding via compost tea as well as rotatins legumes into and out of fields, on their own and along with various other crops (most often corn in a three sisters combination).

This year the soil is looking better than ever and a soil test revealed that everything is remarkably balanced, I am noticing improved tilth the farm over and improved germination (both due to fertility/drainage as well as seed selection) and I've also noticed a lot of colinization of plant roots by beneficial fungi as well as fungi blooms (mushrooms) through the fields. The earthworm population has increased amazingly and now that we have a relatively large flock of turkeys and guineas ranging there is a constant cycle of fertility and a cyclical movement of feeding of plant to animal to manure to worm to soil to plant. It is a beautiful thing to see that my ideas and my research are slowly paying off. In coming years we will continue to add compost residues to our soil and not much else other than cover crops and a bit of dolomitic (powdered) limestone to the soil or sulpher where needed and depending on crops.

This year as opposed to spreading massive amounts of compost accross the fields we chose instead to use only smaller amounts, but more concentrated on/around the plants themselves, potting up all of our seedlings in a mixture (La Bonne Terre) of garden soil, worm castings, thermophilic compost, and sand. The mixture upon potting up containd a high amount of unfinished bits and pieces and was a bit rough but full of composting worms, upon planting out I made the observation that the La Bonne Terre had broken down quite nicely into a thick rich humous with lots and lots of fungal colonization around the plant roots. In the garden this is very helpful but now that we are planting an orchard as we go along we are also improving bits of ground which are not used for annual cultivation. We have been working in this mixtures and variations of it around our perrinial crops as of late as well and also rabbit manure and ocassionally a bit of turkey manure. The growth and the health of our plants is outstanding.

A lot of folks are having issues with bagworms on their trees this year, we have had no problem thus far, likely due to the free ranging nature of our turkeys and guineas, I can only imagine how much fertility has been provided our farm from these sources, fertility provided particularly to trees which would normally have been harmed by the very pressence of these worms but now which benefit from them. Of course there is also the added benefit of a cut in the feed bill for feeding the birds from this and the gain in human food that it creates as well as profit for the farm in the way of eggs for eating and hatching, new birds for selling, and or meet for family or for sale from the farm.

I've been thinking a lot about a few experiments I'm keen to work on in the coming years regarding some of the perrinial crops we are working with.

We of course now have on hand two seperate accessions of white blackberries which we plan on making crosses between and selecting from to introduce even more diversity into these snowberries in the coming years, including thornless varieties.

I've also been trying to search out and find the old Carolina White/White Carolina/Pineberry strawberry. One of the earliest known true garden strawberries, white fruited and larger than an alpine on everbearing plants. Recently this variety was re-introduced into supermarkets in Europe as the pineberry, but the companies that reintroduced it are not being very honest in their marketing of this berry. I know of one commercial source in the US, The Strawberry Store, but everytime I check on availability they are sold out. The pineberry was once a favored variety of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and is spoken of highly in both his correspondence with other agriculturalists as well as in his garden book. It is the offspring of the very earliest crosses in a French Garden between Fragaria Virginia (wild alpine) and Fragaria Chiloensis (chiloneese/sand strawberry).

We have been tracking down some of the better flavored, more locally adapted, more productive, and larger type everbearing red strawberries to make some controlled as well as potentially uncontrolled crosses back and forth to our collection of about 7 white fruited alpine varieties. Selecting back for white fruited varieties that are everbearing, of amazing flavor, productive, day neutral, and of good size.

This week we will be recieving a shipment of Rio Grande and Eastern Wild turkeys as well for future selection towards our "Kiva" turkey which we spoke of in a previous blog post here. The kind of nice thing about this as well though is that we personally witnessed in the past two days a wild Eastern tom mounting a bronze hen of ours and there is at current count a flock of about 8 wild Eastern toms roaming the Southern flowing valley in our woodlot, meaning the possibility of obtaining some potential wild to domestic crosses this year is relatively high.

Anyhow, I feel better now that I've got a bit of phillosophy and some of my ideas down in digital format, hope you enjoy my ramblings, you'll just have to deal with the grammer and the spelling mistakes today as it is a lazy day and I don't want to spend to much time overthinking the basic ideas that are floating around in my head at the moment as there are so many things going on this time of year which must be done and or taken care of.

Well, Blogger won't let me copy and paste so I decided to be lazy and post a link to our message board for my general update. Lot's and lots going on this time of year!