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Time is money, and there is no one quite like the modern farmer who understands this overused cliche best!  No matter the size of the farm or garden, it seems every task on the farm takes a considerably longer amount of time than one could begin to expect. Not to mention, the endless cycle of body aches and pains that persist with full-time farming…  Of course, for those of us who hope to actually make a living via farming (…yes, it can be done!), we need to learn how to maximize our time in the fields and in the office with tools that don’t break our backs in the process. With just these five tools, you can expect to painlessly move about the farm with more efficiency and spend more time where it’s actually needed!

Paperpot Transplanter

One of the most tedious jobs on the farm is the burden of hand-transplanting thousands of baby seedlings into row after row, often done on the hands and knees.  This task, often taking up to 45 minutes for a single farmer, can be cut down to mere minutes with the paperpot transplanter. The paperpot transplanter is a non-mechanized tool that allows you to transplant hundreds, even thousands, of seedlings in record time. You lay the custom paperpot tray onto a small shelf, loosen and stake the first seedling at the start of the row, and walk the paperpot down your smooth and flattened beds in a straight line. It digs the trench, inserts the seedling, and covers each seedling with just one pass.
The biggest plus: no more hands and knees!

Silage Tarps

The dream of a weed-free farm can now be a reality for most farmers with the use of silage tarps.  Silage tarps are large uv-treated ground cloths made of polyethylene that cover full sections on a farm.  Lay these tarps out for as little as a month to clear an area of weeds completely. A combination of high temps and humidity, these tarps create the perfect environment for weed seed to sprout.  Depriving any living or sprouting weeds of sunlight, the tarps completely eradicate all weeds while supplementing your soil with more organic matter. For heavily weeded areas, leave the tarps on for six months to a year.  It’ll be worth the wait when you no longer find yourself spending whole days weeding your beds.

Flame Weeder

Another tool necessary in managing weeds on the farm is the flame weeder. Say goodbye to hand-weeding your densely planted carrots or arugula, and forget the chemicals!  While there are various models of flame weeders today, you can expect that this farm technology will get rid of nearly 100% of weeds in their early growth stages. Simply fire up the flame weeder while you briskly walk up and down your rows, transforming newly sprouted weeds to ash in seconds. (Tip: After you direct seed your beds, cover with a silage tarp until you see weed sprouts, usually a couple of days.  Remove tarp before crop germination, and flame weed!)

Greens Harvester

Densely-planting your greens like spring mix, arugula, and spinach is the only way to go if you want to see your profits soar, but you might find the cost of labor in hand-harvesting is just not worth it.  Enter greens harvester. A greens harvester can cut the width of your bed allowing you to harvest pounds of greens with just a passover. They come in hand-held or push models, and some even have the option to attach a cordless drill to speed up the process faster than you can imagine!  

Online Crop Management

On a diversified market farm, a farmer cannot afford to let beds sit fallow; empty beds, empty pockets. Making use of a crop management tool can ensure that you are propagating, transplanting, direct seeding, and harvesting on time. For years now, many farmers have utilized computerized spreadsheets to manage farm tasks; however, even these technologies are becoming outdated.  There are several farm softwares out there today, such as COG-Pro, AgSquared, and, that allows you to enter your entire crop plan and automatically creates daily task lists for your farm based on your seed varieties and days-to-maturity. The best part?  Most of these softwares offer apps for both iPhones and Androids, so you can pull up your task list in the field! If you find yourself spending too many hours in the office, an online crop management tool might be the key to your most productive season yet!

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How To Fix That Funky “Farmer’s Tan”

When you are out in the sun all day, you might end up with a tan on one arm and not the other, around the neck and shoulders leaving unwanted t-shirt lines, or in any way that looks (quite frankly) unsightly. And you probably think it will stay that way forever. Most people will just get out of the sun and stay indoors, but that isn’t a solution for you. Lucky, there are plenty of ways to get rid of that old farmers’ tan.

Exfoliate Daily

The natural method of removing a tan is to exfoliate on a daily basis. This removes layers of dead skin cells to reveal new skin that isn’t as tanned. There are a number of ways that you can exfoliate your skin. You can choose to do it physically with a loofah or using a gentle wash that scrubs away layers.

However, once you get rid of old layers, you should remember to be more careful when going out in the sun again i.e. protect it with sunblock, long sleeves or cut down on afternoon gardening. This is because your skin is very sensitive at this point, making it highly susceptible to sun damage.

Prepare a Natural Lightening Serum

Using all-natural ingredients like rose water, cucumber, and lemon juice, you can prepare a serum to reduce your tan over time. It will take some time to work, but you’ll be impressed with the results. Mix equal parts of cucumber extract, lemon juice and rose water in a bowl and add to a bottle if you want to prepare a batch.

Apply it generously to the affected area but make sure to keep the remaining mixture in the fridge and not to store it for longer than a few days. Also, apply it once you are indoors but not before you step outside for gardening, since lemon can irritate your skin when you are exposed to sunlight.

Use Aloe

Aloe is an effective remedy for soothing the skin and reducing your tan. Instead of chemical-based aloe vera gels, I recommend using the real thing, which shouldn’t be difficult to do, considering that we’re all farmers here. Aloe plants are easy to keep and maintain at home so it won’t be hard to replenish and hydrate your skin after a day on the farm.

Cut small pieces of aloe and remove the skin to expose the inner gel. Use this gel on the parts of your body that have a tan, and repeat it as part of a self-care routine daily. Not only will you have an evened out skin tone, but your skin will look better, compared to how rough it can get when you’re farming every day.

I know these remedies are pretty basic and while there are plenty of other ways, I rely on the above-mentioned methods because it doesn’t take up a lot of energy or time to do. Once you’ve successfully gotten rid of your tan, remember to lessen sun exposure by wearing breathable sleeves on your arms, a hat, gloves and sun block for your face.

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