How we farm at Coyle organic farm.
We grow oil seeds organically to produce vegetable oil and farm spelt for the production of our flour. We also have heritage chickens for eggs and a dexter cow along with cats to keep the mice in order.
Crop rotations, cover crops, minimal plowing and carefully observing the fields are the farming pracytices we follow. We only use sunshine to dry our crops.
We are not certified organic but adhere to organic principles. Anyone can visit us and make their own assessment of our practices.
I use horses as a source of energy in the fields or for logging. I still use tractors to get a head start on some projects with a hope that horses will eventually do everything.
I also use the horses to fertilize the fields. In the fall I plant rye which over winters and yields green plants in late February for the horses to eat. After the horses start eating this I plant white clover to supplement their diet and provide nitrogen to the soil for the next crop. To cut down on the weeds I continually clip the field with a horse drawn sickle mower so that no weed seeds form.
White clover is a legume that produces nitrogen in its roots. I was amazed at how quickly the clover spread into all of our fields. The horses are fenced off with an electric fence and moved every day down the field. At first I just thought that moving the horses every day just avoided over grazing but after a year I noticed that the soils where greatly improved with their manure, urine and their clipping of the plants. Also the soil disturbance with their hoofs seems to help.
After hearing a talk by Allan Savory it occurred to me that I should bring the horses in for a couple of weeks to an area that would be a garden in the future. They could trample things down leave manure and urine and once they have been in this area for a couple of weeks I could then plant alfalfa hay or white clover for nitrogen in preparation for a garden. Alfalfa has deep roots and it too gives me nitrogen being a legume. Unfortunately I will have to plow it under at some point for the garden vegetables but that will be a year away. Alfalfa does seem to encourage the worm population too.
A recent experiment in September of 2019 was to plow under the white clover that the horses had been eating all summer . I then planted oats to make use of that nitrogen left by the plowed under white clover. By late October 2019 the oats have grown well. These oats will be killed by the winter frost which is good because I will be able to seed a crop directly into the killed oats ground cover, eliminating the plowing that would normally be done in the spring. If in the spring there are too many weeds I may do some light discing before any planting.
In the last year we have started to mill spelt flour from the spelt we grow on the farm. Spelt has a hull and must be taken off to get the seeds that we will then mill for flour. Spelt is planted in the fall and is harvested in August of the following year. We recently automated the flour making by adding an auger to take the milled grain to our sifter. The mill rotates at a slow speed to keep the flour temperature between 80 and 90 degrees F. Like our pressing of the oils we only press once a month to order. All bottles and bags of flour are marked with the date of pressing or grinding.