Tuesday, April 12, 2011

 Welcome!  Following are notes, pictures and musings that tell the story of Round Valley Farms, located near Challis, Idaho.  Our intent is to keep our friends and other interested folks informed on the happenings "down on the farm." Let me introduce you to our operation.

 This is our home.  Surrounded by the towering Challis volcanics and diverse high desert flora, the yurt is currently our primary dwelling.  We are working on a house, though as the weather warms and we find ourselves focused on farm chores, the renovation and rehabilitation of the strawbale house on our property takes a backseat.  Often referred to as "living in the round"  (also the title of a great book), the relatively thin walls of the yurt keep the wind off and heat in, also allowing us winter serenades from our coyote and owl neighbors. In spring, the meadowlarks of the neighborhood let us know when it's time to get up, while the sandhill cranes sing us to sleep. While the open floor plan sometimes feels cluttered, there are no corners for hiding dirty laundry, or, as one fellow put it, how do you corner your wife? (Being the wife, I didn't think he was very funny!)  Luckily, our spread here in the Round Valley, bordered by  public land and open space, provides plenty of room to roam. 

We are currently operating off the grid.  Though an errant easement allows a powerline to transect our land, we are in the process of designing our own electrical system.  As of now, that amounts to a propane-powered Subaru motor that charges our batteries.  One of our primary tasks this season will be purchasing and installing solar panels and possibly a small wind generator.  Luckily, we have family in the business.  Otherwise, I've heard the task can be quite daunting. 

Our primary goal while we hold the title to this land is to increase the availability of locally grown vegetables here in central Idaho.  Though the climate is quite dry, we have access to plenty of water courtesy of the upper Salmon River and it's many tributaries during the growing season.  The sun shines quite a lot, and soil fertility is attainable through diligent work.  Having these qualities, there is absolutely no reason why our neighbors should have to rely on vegetables shipped in from Mexico or garlic from California, for example.  While our farm is quite young, our methods are old.  We do most everything by hand, using only organic inputs.  We hope to increase health and food security in our community by sharing what the sun, soil, water and a tiny little seed can provide.

Currently, we are working on building up our seed stock of garlic.  This miracle vegetable is one of our priorities for production, perhaps having been responsible for the whole idea in the first place.  Last fall's planting has finally yielded above-ground results!  Peeling back the mulch a week or two ago, we found our first babies.  We recently installed drip tape for them which saves us lots of time with watering.  (Pictures of the new arrivals were not available at press time.)  We also plan to offer a plethora of other vegetables by summertime.  This will be the first year we have enough to share, (we hope)! 

 This is our first draft of a moveable greenhouse.  The design is quite simple, with all the hoops being attached to wheels that run along a track like a big train.  We are wrapping up some loose ends with the skeleton and we are planning to have some friends come by to help with the plastic this coming weekend if the winds will be calm...  This plastic bubble should help us extend our season, which can be shortened considerably by outlier frosts (such as last season's late June and early September surprises).  The feature of mobility will allow us to give some things an early season boost; then moving over another plot, the shelter will provide warmer nights and additional humidity to mid-season sensitive plants.  Late season, we hope to have the first plot sown again, moving the bubble back to it's early season spot to extend the life of cold hardy crops well into the fall.  Sounds good on paper, right?  We'll get back to you. 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!