Category Archives: farming

missed Mississippi


When we originally planned our winter journey, we did not plan on returning to any of the same farms we WWOOFed at last year – we’d enjoyed all three, but thought we’d get more from the trip if we did all-new places – meeting all new people, learning entirely new ways of farming, etc.


However, when we looked at a map of the planned route, we realized that Yokna Bottoms Farm in Oxford, Mississippi, was right in the middle of the long stretch of road between my sister’s in northern Illinois, and a farm that had agreed to host us in New Orleans.


It turned out they were accepting WWOOFers again at the time we would be coming through – so we wound up returning this year – once again, we’d kick the trip off as members of the Yokna dog pack.



So, we took turns driving south for 5 hours apiece, stopping twice for gas, watching the sun rise and fall and the vans thermometer creep steadily upward, until it was about 30 degrees  warmer than when we’d left that morning and we were pulling into the familiar gravel driveway of Farmer Doug’s house.

full moon over Yokna Bottoms Farm
full moon over Yokna Bottoms Farm

We arrived just days after the season’s last farmer’s market, and the final CSA boxes had been delivered. IMG_4630

We were here two months earlier in the year than we had been last time through, so there was still a lot of cold-hardy produce growing in the fields – herbs, kale, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, collards, brussel sprouts, and more,  in amounts well beyond what we grow back home in our acre or so of cultivated field.

the beds we weeded of bermuda grass rhizomes last year did great this year, and are still bowing up with herbs like cliantro
the beds we weeded of bermuda grass rhizomes last year did great this year, and are still bowing up with herbs like cliantro

Although the markets and CSA were finished, the farm was selling produce to several local restaurants, which we harvested with Farm Manager Jeff whenever necessary.


When not harvesting, we worked on other projects – which wound up giving us deja vu.


The farm was running a couple months ahead of schedule this year, so our labor was often the exact same tasks we’d worked on back in January – cutting down and piling up pine trees in the future field, cleaning out and organizing the tool shed, pruning the elderberry bushes, and potting up plants in the greenhouse.

cleaning the shed redux - again with intense mouse allergy trigger action!
cleaning the shed redux – again with intense mouse allergy trigger action!




We also helped prepare the house for a party again – this time, including the decoration of a Christmas tree in our duties.


Finally, we raised a sunken corner of the chicken coop, and patched up gaps that could let predators in.

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Widget did the Rat Terrier Thing and caught mice and rats as they scattered out of the shed while we cleaned.
In our downtime, we even got Farmer Doug out on a longboard again! He still doesn’t feel safe on one, but he pushed around carefully a bit until Kristin and I got our fill of zooming around a parking lot, turning gyrations into momentum and basking in the sunshine.
In one of the final Yokna posts from last winter, I said that ” it seems impossible that I may not see (Yokna Bottoms Farm) again” – and it turned out I was right  It is great to be back – we’d missed the dogs (Merton, Shivas, Missy, WhatDog), the cats (Faith, Hoobilly, Jack), and the people (Doug, Jeff, Betsey), and it felt like home immediately.
It’s been both educational and interesting to see the restaurant sales side of Yokna’s operations – we just started to do so for the first time last year, on a small scale, and both feel we have much to learn. And like learning a language, it’s ideal to learn by immersion, where all the many complexities and how they interrelated are experienecd directly, not translated up and down through lossy words. Working with people, you pick up so much more than you even realize – not just facts, but processes, ways of thinking about and seeing and solving things,  general principles, handy shortcuts, things to avoid, sparks that trigger new ideas … not things you can plan for, organize, or predict – things you get by embracing the “que sera, sera” and simply being open and grateful for what does come into life, surfing from day to day, season to season, always more in the Now than in thoughts of any future plan. Valuable things that come in abundance with WWOOFing!



Flight of the Snowbirds


We were busy for the first couple weeks of November, preparing the farm for winter, preserving food, and packing to flow southward.

Kristin & her dad patching leaks atop the semi trailer barn
sweet pumpkin pickles
the new firewood shed about to get filled up
peppers drying over the woodstove
#2 – the back door of the composting outhouse
2014 final harvest – mere hours before 16″ of snowfall began


potato salad senposai wraps w/ bok choi, arugula, pea tips, spinach, mizuna, carrots, beets, & dill


November 13th was one year to the day from my last day at my internet marketing job in downtown Minneapolis. Coincidentally, it was also the day that the four of us rolled out from the farm, for 4 months of travel and working on other farms down south – WWOOFing as we did last winter.

packing up the electric fence – and opening up the remnant buffet for the deer (who leave us all kinds of free-range grass-fed fertilizer in exchange)

Why leave? For one thing, the farm is not yet ready for us to overwinter – the well would freeze, the firewood pile is too small and uncured, the trailer is drafty. These things could certainly be overcome, but we prefer to travel anyway – escape the worst of winter’s cold, meet new people, see new places, learn new things – and spend some well-earned time away from the farm, where we have spent almost every day working fro sunup to sundown for the entire season. Winter’s frigid spell gives us an opportunity to leave the field behind for a while, and get out of well-worn ruts of routine and responsibility.


Over the two days before we planned to leave, a storm buried the farm beneath 16 inches of snow  – and nearly trapped us there.

in the bullseye

The snowplow took 2 and a half days to clear the road, just in time for us to leave – and our amazing neighbors Dave & Marcie helped us escape – plowing us out, and then pulling us up and out of their driveway when we got stuck there while trying to drop off some veggies as we departed.

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To start the journey off, we picked up my mom and drove with her out to Illinois, to my sister’s house – where I’m writing from now. My mom flew back to the Twin Cities after a few days – we’re staying here for two weeks, enjoying the company and beautiful home of my sister and her husband and their two whippets.


We leave for Yokna Bottoms Farm in Oxford, Mississippi in Saturday. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for … and look forward to leaving on our journey filled with good food and fortified by two weeks of family relaxation!

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2014 CSA Wrap-up & 2015 Preview

We want to start by thanking everyone for a beautiful year – a transitional, magical year we will remember forever.




The leap of faith we took – away from career, from life and home as we’d known them – was truly the best thing we could have done. Our days have never felt more fulfilling, our work never so meaningful, our hearts never so calm and in love with all we see and do. This has been a life-sized proof of concept for being guided by intuition and letting “que sera, sera” replace fear when faced with the unknown. It’s indubitably been the best year of our lives – we’re so grateful that you joined us and helped make this possible.


The Year in Review
Looking around us and smiling in wonder, I’ve often exclaimed to Kristin, “Look! This is our life!! Aaaaaa!!!”
We’ve made the place feel like home, and improved our processes and systems in countless ways. We built a greenhouse, a chicken coop, a hugelkultur mound, and composting outhouse, planted several dozen raspberry bushes, began doing salad mix, sold at market and wholesale for the first time, did late season planting for fall, got to know the locals and explored the ‘hood, hosted our first WWOOFers … it’s been an amazing first year here, and we’re excited to start next year with all the progress we made as a foundation.


We’d love to hear any feedback you have for us – good or bad, it will help us continue to grow and improve.


Looking Ahead


We have just a few weeks before we hit the road for warmer climes. Until then, we’re keeping busy removing and composting dead crops, cleaning and storing away equipment and materials, taking down trellises, planting and mulching garlic, preserving food, finishing the pallet fort/guest shack, and packing up.
scavenging lichen-crusted old sheet metal from a collapsed 60-year old hunting shack in the woods
Then we load up the dogs and roll out for a long journey south – meeting up with family at the beginning and end, some friends in the middle, but mostly working on four other organic farms – learning new things, meeting new people, experiencing new places. (We did this last winter too, and it was incredibly rewarding.)


Come March, we’re coming back and hitting the ground plantin’ – starting seeds and preparing the field for a new year. We’ll be planting different varieties, new greens, more spinach, starting the fall crops sooner, experimenting more with compost tea, and expanding to new markets.




The biggest change we’re planning is transitioning to “no till” farming – rather than plowing the field in spring, we’ll be leaving the existing mulch and delicate soil structure intact, and working more organic material into the rows as we plant. (We reckon that this is the best way to address the sandy soil we have to work with here in the Sand Barrens – where nutrient leaching and moisture loss are major pitfalls.)


2015 CSA


We will be keeping the CSA about the same size, so spots will be limited – but returning members get priority.


Let us know now if you’d would like to be on board next year, so that we can reserve a spot!



Whether you’re joining us next year or not, please stay in touch! We’ll be continuing to update this blog throughout the winter – let us know if you want us to keep emailing you a link when we update the site.

It’s been amazing; thanks again. Have a wonderful winter – hope to see you soon!

– the Sehrs


CSA Week 18 – The Final Box

the weekly News


The cold has arrived; we were ready for it. We did a ton of preserving this week, capturing the food that needed to be brought in from the freezing nights, and maintaining it for enjoyment this winter or next year.  Huckleberries, ground cherries, green tomatoes, peppers, and salsas were canned and pickled and jarred and dried.

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We took advantage of All Wheel Drive and a lot of exploring the crazy dead end network of narrow two-track logging “roads” that surround us out in the Barrens.

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the waxy mystery stump found in the woods off a dead-end logging road. A piece of plywood is cut to shape and nailed to the bottom of the hollow log, the thick slab is covered in some kind of black wax. WHAT


the hollowed out log may or may not have been some kind of secret cache, but the slab was definitely used by one – we found this cache of acorns beneath it


yes, a bear does this in the woods


This morning, the field was covered in sparking white beneath the lunar eclipse – frozen again. Most vulnerable crops were already dead, but even some cold-hardy plants took damage.


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We finished the upgrade of the old pit outhouse, adding a window and some art as we transformed it into a raised composter.


the Weekly Box

(Well, it’s a bag this week – we didn’t have enough boxes to give out and figured this was best for everyone.)

Kristin, Mark, & Florian washing veggies & packing the boxes


  • Salad mix – with arugula, red and green lettuce, baby spinach,  green and Ruby Streaks Mizuna, pea tips, baby kale, sheep sorrel, and baby Bok Choi
  • Potatoes
  • a Gourd or three
  • Peppers
  • Parsnips – best roasted. Most people don’t love them on their own, but they are a great component in a soup or roasted vegetable mix. We cut the greens off not only to maintain fresh crisp texture, but because they are toxic – they make any skin that they contact prone to being burned by the sun. So we didn’t include those in the box.
  • Broccoli – from the fall planting


  • Green onions
  • Kale (Dino, Red Russian, & Dwarf Curly Blue)
  • Parsley – dries well if you want to save it or later – simply tie the bundle and hang it somewhere dry and out of direct sunlight, leaves down/stems up.
  • Carrots
  • Daikon Radish – we left the greens on these so you could easily tell them apart from the Parsnips – cut them off when you get home though, to keep the radish from getting soft prematurely.


the Weekly Pics


bi-color tri-globe potato


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accidentally-matching outfits yet again


CSA Week 17 – Wasps & Wet

the Weekly News

Well, the beautiful Indian Summer faded away this week, but we didn’t get frosted again – the days have been pretty nice still, with nighttime temps falling into the woodstove range. The crops that survived the early frost are happy. revitalized by the previous week of sunshine, and quenched by the occasional rainfalls we’ve had this week.

This was the week of lady beetles and wasps all over the trailers, inside and out. The wasps look scary but are not aggressive at all. The lady beetles look cute but bite and stink, especially if you mess with them.


The two old shiitake logs sprouted from the bath we gave them, after all – we’re excited for next year, when the 20 or so logs we inoculated this spring will be ready to start producing.


The buried hole Gabe found a week or two ago was transformed into a potato root cellar, with stacked baskets on cords, capped with an insulated and vented lid.

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The outhouse was moved off of its partially-buried waste barrel, and moved onto a new platform, for a new incarnation as a composting toilet … and we only ALMOST lost control of it and crushed someone.


In the woodlot, we marked big maples and standing dead oaks so we could tell which ones were eligible for Maple syrup tapping or firewood, once winter robbed the living of their leaves.

We explored the strange logging roads that meander and dead end all throughout the Barrens, and Kristin canned tomato juice.

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We found a good home for our three hens, since we’ll be gone over the winter months.

final evening in the yard


Today we took a break from the endlessly rainy and hypothermic harvest to regain sensation in our fingertips with the help of the woodstove.

It was certainly a memorable and interesting harvest day, if difficult and not all that pleasurable. We were happy to see how capable we were of adapting and dealing with it, with the semi truck trailer turned into the packing house.


the Weekly Box

Weatherman sez: Winter is coming to kill the plants. Lows for the coming week may hit the 20s – so enjoy your peppers, your eggplants, and your tomatoes, because they’re done for after this!

  • Fall Salad mix (with Arugula, two types of lettuce, pea tips, a bit of spinach, red and green Mizuna, baby kale, sheep sorrel, and sunflower greens)
  • a new Gourd for your collection
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant (White or Purple)
  • Tomato Mix
  • Pepper Mix
  • Radishes (Black Spanish & China Rose varieties)
  • Rutabaga
  • Beets & Beet Greens

Speaking of boxes – if you want to drop yours off during the week (if it’s hard to arrange to have them with when you pick up next week), feel free to do so at the drop location whenever it’s convenient.

We’re nearing the end now … looks like next week will be the final box of 2014!


the Weekly Pics

(we visited a 40-acre hoarder’s private junkyard)

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Kristin making a delivery into corporate box land