Posts Tagged ‘Homegrown’

Shop work on the farm, Come Monday it’ll B alright! :-)

Monday, March 7th, 2011
1952 Ford F5 Farmers' Market Truck in the shop for winter repairs

1952 Ford F5 Farmers' Market Truck in the shop for winter repairs

At Maize Valley We Make Great Wine…FUN, that is just “how we roll”! And these trucks are a big part of how we do actually “roll”. I found this truck in warehouse about eight years ago with 3,343 original miles on it. We used it here or there around the farm and parades etc. for a while till we really “put it back to work”. You see this truck travel thousands of miles a year again now in the summer attending area farmers’ markets and wine festivals.

Last summer when coming back down I-77 from the Cleveland Garlic Festival I just heard something “not-right”. More just a feeling I had in my gut. I couldn’t find anything but a few weeks later it gave my brother some starting trouble then one day on the back from a market in Akron it just about quit. He limped it home and there it sat.

Old School simple

Old School simple

We were only running on five out of six cylinders, and figured we broke a valve. It was near the end of the season so we got by but were not looking forward to the work or expense of fixing this. So today I got after it in the shop to try and start to get a idea of what we needed to do.

Well this was a Monday and I pulled the valve cover off to find that only a push rod had come out of adjustment and slipped out of its seat….SWeeeeTt! I popped it back in, tightened it down and she ran great! Even a blind nut can find a Squirl some daz!

Oh, yea more winter??? Well take THIS we R planting @Maize Valley!

Friday, March 4th, 2011
Mater's movin' on!

Mater's movin' on!

At Maize Valley yes we say “We Make Great Wine…FUN!!” But we also still grow a whole bunch of stuff besides just grapes and make wine. There are five family members currently involved in our farm. Todd makes the wine, Michelle runs the store, Bill is the “Fun TSAR” and does stuff like this blog, Donna handles the banking and running and all “that” kind of stuff and Kay grows the vegi’s.

Tomatoes waiting for a new home

Tomatoes waiting for a new home

These tomatoes should hit be ready end of May or so we are planning on and have flavor like a field rippened fruit should have growing in the soil. It is really tough competing with the imported tomatoes from the South. We try and grow a great local product early that we can sell at farmers’ markets and sell in our market and also serve in our entree’s in our Winery Cafe’.

Come on little guy, U can do it!

Come on little guy, U can do it!

There are also Asian Greens, Spinach, Lettuce and Radishes in this greenhouse.

We have tried a variety of early growing techniques over the years. Some have worked better than others. One year we tried to cover melons with a “row cover” that covered the beds in the field. That worked great till two years of back to back wind storms pretty much gave us the counties largest kite.

Wordless Wednesday, Got ARK?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
Sweet Corn Fields

Sweet Corn Fields

The house my wife’s Grandfather was born in and a Red Neck Sauna

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
Country Roads

Country Roads

Back in the day when my wife of now over 25 years and I were first married a couple of years after we were married we had the opportuntity to purchase the house her grandfather was born in. Nobody knows how old it is as his parents were not the first to live there.

Our home

Our home

You see he died over 15 years ago now and was in his late 80’s, this is an old house. For indoor plumbing it had a kitchen sink downstairs and upstairs a commode and a sink. The shower was in the block building about 50 feet out behind the house. If you look in the picture above it is slightly to right of center of the pic. The building was built for when they drilled the well and built a cinder block building above and around it. It had a sink and a shower

The farm has a “gas allotment”, meaning there are natural gas wells and we get a certain amount of gas for “free”. It’s a good thing too because when we moved in the house it has ZERO insulation. But the block house had one awesome little natural gas heater. You could turn it up to about 90 degrees in there if you wanted and make our own little redneck sauna. We were young just barely out of college then and it was sort of fun I guess, it was real. It was real warm till you had to make the dash back to the house on a cold winter night after coming home from the dairy barn that is.

They say “you don’t own an old house…It owns you”!

Someday I suppose I might tell this story to someone’s grand children too, I suppose…

But the wash house was still warmer than the barn!

But the wash house was still warmer than the barn!

Winter Work, Wordless Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Got Wood?! The Ohio LEAD program, pioneers and the economy; thanks Dave Longaberger

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
My Dad's 30+ year old Stihl Farm Boss

My Dad's 30+ year old Stihl Farm Boss

A few year back I was in a Leadership program called the Ohio LEAD program. The letters stood for “Leadership, Education and Development”. About 30 of us from around the state were put on a whirlwind program to expose us to a variety of situmulus, situations and experiences.

One of the stops was at the Longaberger basket facility in Dresden Ohio. We got to sit down with Dave Longaberger the patriarch. We sat in the school room he failed in, I think it was 3rd grade maybe more than once? We were sitting there because he now owned the entire school as he did with many other significant places around the town. Dave failed and succeded at many things in his life in spectacular fashion was the message I took away from our meeting.

Dave with his work boots and “greenies” (green cover-alls) was a hands on “doer” of a person, owner, manager. LEAD gave me many experiences however this one sticks in my mind in the top three. Dave taught me not to fear life as a business person, to “just do it” before it was popular. But this was not something so trivial as sports, what he was talking about it was life, business and family.

Today we just need more people trying to be “Dave’s”. You see failure is a necessary part of success, you can’t soar with Eagles until you push your way threw some slimey egg shells. Untill you understand the cost of failure can you appreciate the rewards of success.

After Dave the company has not been so well able to adapt to the times. Dave was unique, Dave was “Hungry”.

The logs I am cutting in the videos came are the last to come from the local Longaberger facility that produced the slats for the famous baskets. These were the rejects from the lathe they spun down in search of the perfect piece to make those one time collectable baskets. But even as rejects they serve a purpose to me. I will use them to remember Dave, and remember to take chances.

Wineries in the winter what’s going on?

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
LaCrescent vines sleeping

LaCrescent vines sleeping

What goes on in the vineyard in January, well not too much. These vines are very winter hardy and can handle temps. down to 30 degrees below zero farenheit. They had a good growing season last year with lot of heat and sunshine and not too much or too little rain.

July vs. January

July vs. January

We had a early harvest due to the good growing season. This allowed for the leaves to hang on a long time since we had a late “killing frost” also. The vines were able to load lots of energy via the fall sunshine and hopefully store some good energy in the root systems before they went dormant. This helps on these long cold days.

We prune these grapes later than most to see what and if any late frosts take away buds we may be counting on.

Reisling "on the bubble"

These reisling vines pictured above are not as winter hardy as the LaCrescent and we will see, this might be their last year on the farm. We may replace these with another French American Hybrid called Traminette.

So while the grapes are outside enduring the winter, our guests are inside enjoying the fruits of their labor from seasons past!

Scott Alan "The Island Dr."

At Maize Valley We Make Great Wine…FUN! Last weekend we had the Island Dr. aka Scott Alan in. We have live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night and this past weekend the Dr. brought the house down! Great guests desended to form a massive conga line, limbo and just a whole bunch of other Island style fun.

How low can you GO?

How low can you GO?

Takin’ what life throws at me part 3, Let’s get this party started

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Pre-opening ceremonies

Pre-opening ceremonies

Maize Valley Farm Market and Winery will be sending a team to the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk for the cure in Cleveland Ohio in 2011. This is part 3 of the story of how this family farm business came to “adopt” this as “official cause”. Both from a personal standpoint but also from an event and business perspetive how we try and raise awereness and funds. That’s why it is part of the Ohio wine and more blog, this part of the “more”.

Now that is a real bad cliche’! We often say when we lose someone to breast cancer something like, she “lost her battle” with breast cancer. What the f**k does that mean? A battle is a subset of a war are those men and women who get breast cancer warriors? Well you’re not till it punches you in the gut as it did us.

At least for us, even when it came very close to us we had sympathy for those affected but sort of covered our ears and went “Laaa, Laaa, Laaa, Laaa” when the discussion really tried to get “focused”. You don’t really take up arms and Lock n Load till it takes a shot at you, then baby, “it’s on”.

Who's da bad ass?

Who's da bad ass?

Gonna “Rewind” now a bit from dropping Chelle off day of the walk to one of “My Darkest Days”, and I ain’t talkin’ about the band from Canada either! You see in order for you to understand why I began to understand why the SGK walk was important enough to tell others, I need to tell you how breast cancer has reached into our lives beyond my wife Chelle.

When I heard “those words” on the dock I was dropped to my knees, a blackness shadowed over me, I felt powerless to help “my girl”. Maybe I overreacted? I am a data guy I needed data what did this mean? All of a sudden I was in a fog, my reference points unknowable, my objectives and options unclear.

Tim Mary Ellen and Anne

Mary Ellen Cole Bakan

Overreacted? I did not know, THAT was the problem! The fog, the blackness of my heart and soul was maybe a result of the “war” I was sucked into. My sight was obstructed. I feared this battle, you see this was not the first time I saw a one. Pictured above is not just a tractor and a wagon but my Brother Tim returning from the pumpkin patch with a load of guests, pumpkins and memories.

Sitting on the wagon was his wife Mary Ellen Cole Bakan with their daughter Anne. A daughter they were not even supposed to even be able to have, today the biggest living memory we have of Mary Ellen.

Orange, my favorite color!

Orange, my favorite color!

Mary Ellen was our un-official “pumpkin lady”, nobody out of ignorance nor mallace ever left our pumpkin patch without paying for the time, labor and toil it took to raise the crop. With a smile and comforting tone as big and beautiful as the blazing color of the fall folliage around you, that only a 4th grade teacher could deliver, she could walk up to anybody and be sure she did her part to help keep this farm “sustainable”.

The change of season brings certain well “certainties” if you will. Just as those colorful fall leaves decay to give us aromas we only ascribe to fall, or that the models on the L.L. Bean cataloge are having a great time! I was certain EVERYONE leaving the pumpkin patch had PAID for their pumpkin!

Tim and Mary Ellen “worked” for FREE for us on the weekends, I’d pay a King’s ransom if I could to bring her back for my brother. They had our back, I’ve done the best I could the almost past three years to have Tim’s. I feared that someone would have to have mine. That’s how this party got started for us. More to come.

Maize Valley Farm Market and Winery will be fielding a team for the 2011 Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk. If you would like to join us please get in touch. Because everyone deserves a lifetime!

Trying to “close the loop”

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
As the saying goes "like one hog waits on another"!

As the saying goes "like one hog waits on another"!

We are working at ya might say “closing the loop” as much as possible when it comes to food. Saying that is one thing doing it is another. Not only do you have to be a savy marketer, you need to be a low cost producer to win it in the long haul.

This particular group of pigs entertained thousands of folks during the fall corn maze and pumpkin picking season running for Oreo’s, but now they are back on the home farm being the “Biggers Gainers”!

NASHOG race pigs at Maize Valley

NASHOG race pigs at Maize Valley

We are trying to raise a great tasting product in an efficient and responsible way. We give these pigs lots of space, good food, and fresh air and sunshine. I hope to bale the crop in the picture about and the video below that we would normally just waste. I plan on using the sorghum/corn mix that was once a haunted corn maze for winter bedding and feed for hogs too.

Waiting on the "killing freeze"

Haunted Maze, Waiting on the "killing freeze"

In the summer time we raise 52 different crops on about 700 acres. Everyday during the growing season we have crops both harvested and left in the field that we cannot make use of that make great pig feed.

Concord grapes for jam and Red Neck Red!

Concord grapes for jam and Red Neck Red!

From Grapes to Garlic, from Swiss Chard to Sweet Corn, ya never know what is coming up down on the farm.

Garlic Festival at Shaker Sq.

Garlic Festival at Shaker Sq.

That is the efficient part, that is where you make your profit. Because “profit” is what makes a farmer, “sustainable”! Well this batch of “little piggies” has “gone to market” but we will be having more on the way fed right here on our farm where you can buy direct from this grower so give us a look! Take care.

Takin’ what life throws at me part 2, Trying to “C” the “Big Picture”

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
The "ears" have it!

Ya know when Michelle wanted to do the 3 day walk I “hesitated” to help when she asked. I must confess, my bad. Not so much doing the “Walk” but rather telling everyone and asking for their support.

You see I’m a guy I just do stuff myself. I told Chelle, “It will be hard for us but, let’s just write a check, and you walk”. That is NOT the point she said! This is about awareness, of the big picture. My “training” for the SGK walk had begun before I helped her take her first steps.

As with most “arguments” we have had over 25 years she just waits till I see she’s right and I apologize. That is where I started to grasp what this is really all about. And if you know me, once I get ahold of an idea, I tend to “ride it hard“, I hate missed opportunities and under used resources. Forgive me for “chronologically jumping around a bit” here getting this story started.

Whooo Haaaa, we are just getting warmed up!

Whooo Haaaa, we are just getting warmed up!

Fast forward to the day of the walk. when I dropped Chelle off it hit me. After months and hunderds of miles of training and fundraising, I had to let go now. Now was her time to step into something really big! And coming from a dairy farm backround that was usually not a good thing!!! But in this case she was about to enter an experience bigger than either of us had ever seen.

Now listen, we are Buckeye Alumni, that is where we met and we have seen “big games” but these 900 souls plus 300 crew members dwarfed anything we had ever been a part of at “The Shoe”. This was about life and death, I’ll put my money on a cancer survivor anyday after seeing this .

Cheer a lot

Cheer a lot

I am not a writer, I am a farmer, but my self imposed title is the “Fun TSAR”, I wear many hats. Part of my struggle to help with this at the start was I had to overcome my feelings that we were special. Not so much because we had a “situation” (no Jersey Shore pun intended) but rather EVERYBODY has a “cause”!

We have a son that has “many” “Autistic” behaviors, Hati had an earthquake, St. Jude’s needs help, I lost a cousin on 9/11 there are tons of places and people asking for your help. Why should anybody care about us and our cause more than anybody elses, I hated the idea that our cause is “better” than anybody elses.

I wonder where we go? Let's follow the guys in pink...

I wonder where we go? Let's follow the guys in pink...

But this one punched me in the gut and I was PISss’T OFF. Where do we go from here? That started months earlier. When I began to see how we fit into the big picture. I will try not to use too many cliches’ and analogies to describe things.

I’ll try not to minimize what other’s have suffered through by my shortcomings in telling our story, I’ll try and show how we fit into the big picture and how everyone deserves a lifetime!