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.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Filed corn growouts/trials part 1.

University of Kentucky Tuxpeno, sent to me a few years back from a good friend by the name of Jim Culpepper. Silking and Tassling same day is an excellent indicator of drought tollerance and this corn never fails to impress or produce. It's also increadibly "fixed" in type, sometimes resembling a hybrid in it's growth habbit.

A field of Astronomy Domine (still young) surrounded by a mass cross of Cheese Pumpkins of my own stock as well as from Long Island Seed Project

White Blackberries comming along!

In a quick update here are a couple of pics of some of the white blackberry plants growing on the farm. The will not bloom or set fruit this year as they are just getting up and started and storing energy, but they are growing along very well and looking good. The single plant picture is of the infamous "snowbank", quite possibly the most expensive blackberry plant ever purchased by the time I paid for all the inspections and certifications and shipping from California, but I cannot thank my friend enough for sending it to me, she is beautiful, but incredibly thorny, I'm talking thorns on the underneath of the leaf margins even.

The other two plants were bought from an online retailer, interesting backstory. I'll discuss them more in the future, needless to say as is obvious from the photos, they are not "snowbank" and nor do I believe them to likely be "iceberg" but it is possible.

Exploring Mullberry Diversity!

Above are pics of some of the mullbery diversity we are currently exploring on the farm. Castanea of Homegrown Goodness ( was kind enough to share with many of us fruit/seed of Morus Australias, Oscars (nigra), Illinois Everbearing (a reputed hybrid of Morus Alba and Morus Nigra), and Pakistani Mullbery (presumably Alba).

The seedlings in the picture are from various local trees of Nigra, Rubra, Alba, and various mixed progeny including (in the pots) white fruited Morus Alba from our friend Karen and a pink fruited Morus Alba from a neighboring farm.

Here on this farm we love mullberries, they make fantastic pies, jams, wines and more and are great for fresh eating and wonderful forage for the turkeys. I've been yearning for more white fruited germplasm for a couple years to match my 3 accessions of white blackberries and several accessions of white strawberry (and now my single white raspberry plant, not yellow, not orange, white as the driven snow).

I have read that the pakistani mullberry and the australias are catered to growing one zone warmer than what we are rated, but I have found many red and pink alba types growing here, so I'm hedging my bets by growing these. I'm also willing to bet that there are various crosses which will increase hardiness within this germplasm though I might have to select hard for the white and pink colors. I am particularly excited to get ahold of the white fruited Australius variety, not only are Australius types hard to come by, but the white fruited types are particularly hard to find. By the time the berries got here from Castanea the white ones had already oxidized so I didn't bother to taste them, but while extracted the seeds I could tell the fruit was very fragrant and I figure even if the taste is sub par (as most reports of white berries are) I figure they will make a wonderful white mullberry type wine, look excellent as ornamentals, and most likely the turkey and guinea flocks won't descriminate against them.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Planting season is beyond hectic!

The past couple of months have been absolutely hectic. I've always wanted to become involved in more animal agriculture and of course make inroads into a seed cooperative but little did I know just how much time and energy I would expend in doing so.

The weather has been beautiful, but unpredictable, and more recently oppressively hot for this time of year, adding an entirely new dimension of wear and tear to the one/sometimes two person crew that is Bishop's Homegrown.

The turkey flock is really coming along nicely this year, right now there are somewhere around 95 individuals I think, some juveniles, some started, and some still in the brooder box. I've learned a ton about them this year, lots of observations on genetics and behavior and new fronteirs have been discovered, every day I am amazed.

The rabbits are doing well to, we did have a couple scary days when the heat kicked in this year, I had no idea they were so sensitive. It quickly became imperative that we find them some shade, which we did in the form of some scavenged metal poles and some shade cloth, then we took and old metal home fan, put it in a large cage (to protect turkey toes) and made a redneck version of a rabbit air conditioning. They seem to be doing fine now.

Of course we've been building and expanding this year too having scavenged the lumber and metal from a couple of old hog sheds and Kim's dads house and turned them into one sturdy chicken coop to which we added the scavenged lumber and wire as a run which we picked up for free from a customer. Yesterday I put two old galvanized nesting boxes inside in anticipation of adding chickens to the flock again (for home egg purposes). We also got hold of a ton of old galvanized purina chicken tube feeders which have come in handy.

Most of the main season crops are in the ground but there are lots of weeds to contend with, along with the heat and humidity we have been recieving a massive share of percipitation. Years of cold composted manures have aided and abetted this weed problem, but it is just another step in the learning experience. Besides, to some extent the weeds are helpful as shade and mulch as well as for their ability to mine minerals deeper in the ground than what the vegetables can. We are working on a new system for next year which will alieviate many of our weed problems quickly and efficiently.

The breeding projects are most certainly becoming more of an emphasis as we move forward, both in animal agriculture and in vegetable/flower crops as well as perrinial crops. We have a fantastic stand of many types of corn, new crosses, old favorites, and segregating populations, interplanted with grexes of pole beans and lots and lots of winter squash. This past Friday we traded a nice fellow some turkeys and guineas for an old corn crib which will serve us well, both for corn storage as well as seed corn drying and a shelter in which to place our shelling and milling table and equipment, but let me tell you I paid the price for that project. My body had been running on empty for a couple of weeks for all the work around the farm culminating in a sinus infection that Friday night which I'm still fighting to some extent now, but feeling much better than I did.

The orchards/berry blocks/tree strips are doing excellent. All counted this year we have planted over 80 trees and close to 30 berry plants with more to come. As we speak there are seeds for perssimmons popping up as well as white, red, black, and pink mullberries, apple seeds, a grex of handcrossed everbearing strawberries (not alpines), a grex of everybearing and alpine/chiloensis/Virginiana/musk strawberries, pears and more and we just placed an order for some yellow raspberries.

The guttering system hung above the berry trellis is filled with cucumber and strawberry plants as well and the trellis is slowly being filled up with raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, and dewberries. The two varieties of white blackberries are finally producing a few runers and there is also a nursery area out there which contains asian pears, domestic pears, apples, strawberry plants, peach trees, cherry trees and a lot more. There are cherry pits in cold storage as well and several galons of cherries, with pits inside, in the freezer awaiting some semblance of free time for their fateful wine making day.

A friend also recently gave us some peacocks and we recieved an order of 30 guinea keets from the wonderful Winters Guinea Farm. We have also added some English Game chickens which will find a new home in the goat enclosure where they will help aerate bedding and clean up spilt feed.

Watermelons, cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes and more are setting fruit. Acorn squash is blooming and winter squash is growing along nicely. We have entered the part of the season where resources and food will become more and more abundant and a bit more time can be set aside to actually enjoy it all and share it with our CSA customers, our friends, our families, and here on our blog.

We are looking at producing quite a bit of seed this season and more next season. In coming years we will prioritize seed production in two categories, farm/feed seed and human/feed seed. We have over the years developed (as you can tell from reading the blog) a fantastic relationship particularly with corn, watermelons, squash, cantaloupe, sunflowers, cotton and a few others, this is where we will come to specialize, but our other favorites will certainly still be part of the list (tomatoes, peppers, beans, ext). Of course in time we will add perrinials to the list as well. It's my hope that with time we will be able to introduce a lot of bio-regionally adapted seed varieties that are unique to us as well as continue to create new grexes and populations for those who live outside of our bio region. This fall not only will we publish our seed list (here and locally) but we will publish our very first local resources catalouge which will cover our CSA's, Poultry, Meat Products, Vermicompost/redworms, rabbits, seeds, and nursery stock.

Tommorrow I will put the last of the corn squash and beans in the ground for the year. My wonderful friend Owen is sending me some more edamame which will go in the ground as it arrives and I am also awaiting a major shipment of suprise resources from ARS GRINN. I also have to go and pick up some chickens and guineas tommorow and get a title for my well earned Jon Boat I finally bought myself ( I will fish more this year! I will make time for myself!) And then I'll be off to trade some poultry for an awesome yardsweep which I have been desperately searching for (mulch and compost). Sometime next week a delivery of two-three dump truck loads of hog and cow manure will find it's way to my doorstep and in time to the worm herd.

In a couple weeks we will find ourselves slaughtering some roosters, rabbits, and a guinea for one of our wonderful CSA customers.

I love my life here even if it is hectic, I wouldn't trade it for anything....EVER.

Tommorrow I will attempt to take some pictures to share with you all!

If you haven't yet, check out our new seed CSA, seriously, it is an excellent value my friends and you will not regret it.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dear Monsanto PR Lady.

Yesterday I left a post over at He Who Walks Behind The Rows blog (oops, I mean "beyond the rows"), the electronic propaganda arm of Monsanto if you will. The post was in response to Monsanto's recent PR stunt which involved sending tons of unwanted seed to Haiti in order to make itself look less the Kraken-esque, brain eating, hope destroying, environment destroying, zombie monster it really is. They still haven't posted my rant, but here it is in all it's glory via my equally evil facebook page