Breaking Ground

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Today I am bringing you the first Chapter of Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman.  As I mentioned last week the entire book is full of beautiful and useful illustrations (or infographics) to help explain the basics – and not so basics – of farming.

The first chapter in Julia’s book is titled “Breaking Ground.”  This chapter includes:

  • layers of the soil
  • topsoil chart
  • the texture triangle
  • mineral nutrients
  • crop rotation
  • contour farming and terracing
  • windbreaks
  • predicting weather
  • composting
  • an acre is….

Basically, this chapter is all about the soil used to grow crops and raise livestock.  I learned all sorts of useful things in this chapter, like the proper percentages of ingredients to make a good compost.

For those of you who are interested, that’s 6 inches of green followed by 2 inches of browns, then repeat.

Of course, I did learn some slightly useless information too – like that an acre is 160 perches.

I didn’t know what a perch was, so I asked my husband what a perch was…. he said it’s what a bird sets on.  I’m going to have to start qualifying my questions.

Next stop – Google.  Google sent me to Wikipedia, which gave me the following answer:

A perch is as a unit of measurement used for length, area, and volume in a number of systems of measurement. Its name derives from the Ancient Roman unit, the pertica. … The perch as a lineal measure in Rome, was 10 feet (3.05 m), and in France varied from 10 feet (perche romanie) to 22 feet (perche d’arpent – apparently 1/10 of “the range of an arrow”. – about 220 feet). To confuse matters further, by ancient Roman definition, an arpent equalled 120 Roman feet. … In England, the perch was officially discouraged in favour of the rod as early as the 15th century, however local customs maintained its use.

Hmm…. that still doesn’t give us a straight answer, now does it?  Oh well! 1/ 640th of a square mile is a good estimate for me.

If you’ve picked up this book, what did you find more intriguing about this chapter?

Come back next week for Raised in a Barn.

Read all of the Chapter Reviews

Ch. 2: Raised in a Barn

Ch. 3: Tools of the Trade

Ch. 4: Plant a Seed

Ch. 5: Separating the Sheep from the Goats

Ch. 6: Country Wining and Dining


  1. Glen Young on January 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Ok, I read it Andrea and heres your post but I’m not exactly sure I understood it but I feel slightly smarter.

    • Andrea on January 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks Glen! See… it wasn’t so hard to leave a comment. And I have to ask… what did you not understand? If it’s what a perch is… don’t feel bad. I’m still not sure I quite get that.

  2. Dave Kunkel on January 11, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Click! I read it. Can I borrow the book when you’re done with it? 🙂

    • Andrea on January 11, 2012 at 8:27 am

      I’ll loan it to you as soon as I’m done writing all of the posts. I’m actually done thru Chapter #4 already! It’s a great book. And I KNOW you would love all of the illustrations.

  3. Dorethea Maria on February 5, 2012 at 11:21 am

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