Thursday, April 30, 2009

Enough already

Rain, that is.  It's almost flooding over the island in the pond with the goose nest on it!  We had 3+ inches last week, and 1.4 inches today.  

I got out early before the rain and transplanted 2 flats of Red and White Russian Kale and Winterbor Kale ~ about 125 plants.  That makes about 200 ft planted so far.  The Tuscan Kale had poor germination, so I'll have to plant more seed.

When the ground is this wet, it is bad for it to plant or walk or do anything but stay off it!  

I transplanted purple scallions and Paris Island Romaine lettuce yesterday.  

Catie, Arie and I edged the long path from the house to the barn yesterday.  The chickens loved picking through all the sod clumps.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


 Most veggies planted by seed will need to be thinned.  This means you pull out 1/2 to  2/3rds of the plants when they have sprouted and grown about 4 leaves.  All veggies need to be a specific distance apart in order to have room to grow, so you are making sure they have that space all to themselves. Yesterday I thinned turnips (2 inches apart) and radishes (1 inch apart).  Since they are both grown under row cover, I had to lift one edge and crawl half under in order to reach all the rows.  It's quite tedious.  Overcrowding means spindly, small plants that compete for water, light, fertility and can't grow to their potential easily.  Thinning new plants is one of those chores that doesn't make sense until you see the results.  

I also finished planting pak choi transplants and put in about 50 ft of seed.  

We never got any rain yesterday and it turned into a lovely day!

Monday, April 27, 2009


Lisa, Viki and Joe came to work on the farm yesterday but it was too rainy to do anything outside.  We did work in the greenhouse - planted seeds: 2 kinds of head lettuce, broccoli, cilantro, basil, celery.  

You might notice many of these seeds have been planted before, and will be planted again this season.  We do multiple plantings and multiple varieties in order to have longer harvest seasons for most veggies.

We also loaded them up with composted manure for Lisa's new raised veggie beds.  She has the hinged and foldable frames for sale for $5 each.  They are great!  7" deep, and stackable for deeper-rooted plants.  They are recycled from Sweden - I'll have to get more info.


Tree swallows returned
To dive the sharp shinned hawk
On its morning hunt

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Great Article by an OB who promotes local food and normal birth

The industrialization of food production is, perhaps, a harbinger of the industrialization of childbirth. Food production was once local, varied and small-scale, but farms have been taken over by huge conglomerates, and monoculture of a small number of genetically uniform crops has replaced variety. The disappearance of cultivars—that is, the loss of deviants—means that random natural events could wipe out large swaths of the food supply. To draw an even more pointed parallel, meat in America is cheap and widely available because of industrialized animal production. These animals lead narrowly confined lives from conception to death. Reliance on a small number of breeds, confined animal feeding operations, and the production line essentially turn animals into factory products. Industrial animal production has exacted a price in ways that until recently were invisible to the average consumer: the pollution of air and groundwater, the increasing potential for foodborne illness, the escalation of antibiotic resistance which begins in industrial herds but moves into human populations, even the quality of those animals’ lives. Clearly, industrialization has a downside, although we may not notice the drawbacks until all competing models have vanished. While some would object to drawing an analogy between industrial food production and industrial childbirth, I submit that in both cases we see a conversion of a living creature to a commodity, with an emphasis on the end product and a marked disinterest in the natural process over time. Women can be processed through the childbirth machine and handed a baby at the other end, stripping them of their central role at the heart of things, and turning them instead into objects that someone else operates upon.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What Do You Get in a CSA Box?

At the very end of this blog, I posted the veggies that our 2008 members got each week!  Yes, it was a lot of typing - good thing I did it and not 2-finger typer Bill.

Let your mouth water as you read over the list.

Foods You Should Always Buy Organic

The Environmental Working Group ( is a nonprofit organization that advocates in Washington D.C., for policies that protect global and individual health. Among the many valuable services they provide is a Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce. It is based on the results of nearly 43,000 pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies between 2000 and 2004. Nearly all of the data used took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce - for example, apples were washed and bananas peeled before testing.

Of the 43 different fruit and vegetable categories tested, these had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic versions - or to grow organically yourself:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Pears
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
Why should you care about pesticides? The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood.

A few other notes from the EWG: Nectarines had the highest percentage of samples that tested positive for pesticides (97.3 percent) followed by peaches (96.6 percent) and apples (93.6 percent). Peaches had the highest likelihood for multiple pesticides on a single sample: 86.6 percent had two or more pesticide residues.

Also keep in mind that maintaining your family's health is not the only reason to choose organic food. Pesticide and herbicide use contaminates groundwater, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion, and may be a contributor to "colony collapse disorder," the sudden and mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees that threatens the American food supply. Buying or growing organic food is good for the health of the planet.


On the forest floor
A carpet of Spring Beauties
Wafting deep fragrance

Friday, April 24, 2009

Transplanting, etc

Pak Chois and Chinese Cabbage plants were put in the garden and covered with row cover to prevent flea beetle damage.  Arugula and mustard seed and transplants were also planted, a row of each.
The carrots and chard seeds are finally sprouting!
I picked 3# of mixed lettuces from the hoophouse!  That seemed like a lot till Mike and I were remembering over lunch the weeks last summer when we would pick 10-15# in a day 3 times a week!  I also picked some lovely bunches of chives for Sweetwater Market tomorrow.

Bill planted another field of oats. The smell of the Spring Beauties in the woods next to that field was so powerful it overwhelmed the dirt, diesel, and manure of the tillage. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Parsnips and leeks

Planted in the Putney field: We finished planting the leeks.  The last variety planted was Bleu de Solaize, an heirloom leek from France.
We also planted about 460 ft of potato seed, mostly Red Norland.  Some is seed we saved from last year's potatoes, some is new certified seed.  Long trenches are made, the little potatoes are placed a foot apart and covered with a little dirt.  Once they sprout and grow to about a foot high, they are covered with more dirt, even the green growing leaves.  Then they will get mulched with about a foot of straw on top.
We also went down the 3 long rows of garlic making sure the plants were finding their way out of the thick straw on top of them.  Garlic was planted last October.  We should have green garlic for harvest the first few weeks of CSA.
Gardens here at the house: Planted about 160 feet of parnips today.  These will be harvested 1 time for the last week of CSA. The rest are mulched and dug over the winter, with the final harvest in April 2010.  
We dug the last of the wintered-over carrots - got maybe 3 gallons of them.  They are so sweet!
I planted about another 200 tomato plants in the greenhouse.  The germination on the last 2 batches planted is spotty - possibly because of the cold weather recently.  Hopefully this latest batch will appreciate the warmer days coming up.
Beet seeds are sprouting.  A few asparagus spears are coming up!  
We prepared the ground for the pak choi transplants.
We planted kohlrabi seeds - a 70 ft row in between the 2 rows of transplants.
Bill turned compost piles.  I took some great steamy pics.  It smells so good, too!


Mike and I have been constructing new fence lately. Fencing is a continuous activity around here and the explanation is lengthy. Probably, for many, too much information but I actually will try and edit for length.
I believe the poet Robert Frost is credited with the quote "Good fences make good neighbors."
The increased appreciation for naturally grown, pasture-fed animal protein should modify the quote to "Good fences make good farmers."
For the past few decades nearly all farmers were busy pulling out fences and plowing up the fence rows. Reasons being - good land going to waste, the larger tractors and equipment needing more room, and Extension promoting the efficiency of mechanical harvesting over pasturing. Of course, fuel was 35 cents a gallon, labor was $2.00 an hour and a new tractor was similarly a quarter of today's cost. Important also to remember that manure was considered a waste product barely worth the cost of spreading.
By the time we got to Loop Rd. in 1971 the fences here, many constructed after the timber was cut off, were gone. Some wire remained in the trees along the boundary lines and a few lonely posts were standing, but the fences were worse than gone - all the wire remained. Rusted, fallen, still stapled to rotted posts, overgrown and grown into brush and sod. Fence karma seemed to be that for every roll of wire put up, we pulled out two. But fencing has always been a part of the program around here. It is essential to land utilization and protection and necessary for proper rotation, both long term and short term.
Fence is a regular part of the outlay, like buildings, equipment and land improvement. Even when we worked all winter to save a thousand dollars for spring start up money, a hundred dollars would be set aside for fence materials. We mostly bought wire. Posts were cut from the Putney's cedar swamp and used to fence both our property and 60 acres of their farmland east of us. Rod by rod wire was pulled and fence was built: property lines, roadsides, fields, paddocks, barnyards, and chicken yards. Critters were fenced in and critters were fenced out.
We now have about 6 miles of permanent fence, 160 acres 'under wire' with over 3 miles of that being woven wire mostly around our perimeter and the winter cattle paddocks. The remaining fence is mostly 2 and 3 strand barbed hot wire - the perimeter of the Putney's, and the cross- fencing that divides those larger acreages into smaller fields. If the average distance between posts is one rod(16 1/2') and the average life of a cedar post is 12-15 years it takes about 150 posts a year just to stay even. Recently we have begun using some steel posts. Costly but quicker and longer lasting. In some idling moment (probably driving), I once counted the number of gates we had and came up with 75 in various forms and styles. 
  In addition to 4 barnyards and three chicken yards, there are now 19 fenced fields ranging in size from 1 to 35 acres. The 3 largest fenced fields are usually divided by temporary hot wire depending on what crop is growing and the time of year. Most of the fields are about four acres-a size big enough to rotate crops and cattle through with reasonable efficiency. A whole chapter could and will be written on  soils and rotation, but for now it will suffice to say that the goal is to grow good grass. When land comes out of sod, it spends 3 or 4 years growing feed crops and green manure, then is planted back to hay, usually alfalfa and grass. This will ultimately give way to the finer, shorter, more rapidly growing grass that is then maintained as pasture. On the better ground it takes about 20 years to get through the rotation. The sandier soils have been managed differently in an attempt to rebuild humus levels on some land that was burned out by bad stewardship and tenancy practices.
So our latest fencing project was to square off an existing hayfield and build a large paddock next to the existing winter paddock at the Ervin place. This has been in sod since the early 90's and is about 4 1/2 acres. We have moved the new mothers and calves into this area and plowed up the adjoining paddock for oats. After most of the calves are born and everyone has moved out to pasture for the summer we will plow up this paddock and plant it to field corn. Then in the fall after the corn is picked we will move them back on the corn stalks for the winter. Both paddocks are adjacent to the barns and water.
As fencing goes, this construction was very uncomplicated - a straight run of 42" woven wire, about 1000', gates at both ends. Put in big old power poles at the end to stretch and hang the gates from. Brace and stretch the wire to other poles at 20 rods, and heavy cedar posts on the knoll tops and down in the dips, pound steel posts every 6 paces, attach with stays and staples. Done - for now. Stretched with the loader tractor it twangs like piano wire. "Horse high, hog tight and bull strong."  The cattle are in it munching a little new grass along with dry hay. The calves of course treat it like a new playground. We also turned out 17 steers born last spring so the playground has kindergardeners tagging after adolescents. 
This is one more reason why we farm.       

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Today we started planting the leeks.  We dig a trench and then use a tool called a dibble to punch holes another 5-6" deep inside the trenches about 5-7" apart.  Then the leeks, which have been growing since February in channel trays, are separated into individual plants and dropped in the holes.  They are watered to set them and wash a little dirt on them.  As they grow, the holes, and then the trench fills in and that's what makes the tender white part of the leek.  I would guess we got in about 250 feet or so this afternoon.  

We also planted 3# of onion sets.  These look like tiny onion bulbs, and will grow into onions quicker than any planted by seed.  We put some in to give you all earlier large onions.  We have about 1500 ft of onions planted so far, plus about 160 ft of scallions.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another calf born ~ needed some help

Catie called to say a cow had been laboring with the calf hooves out for quite a while so Bill and I went to check it out.  She was a heifer having her first calf and looked tired.  It took just a little pulling and the calf came right out, looking a little stunned and bug-eyed from the squeeze.  She's just fine this morning.

Birth ~ any birth ~  is such a miracle!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quite cool today

Quite cool out today, with a few more cool/cold days in the forecast so I didn't plant anything outside.  Seeded 250 more tomatoes, more head lettuces, savoy cabbages, some marigolds, more sweet peppers all in the greenhouse.

I made a large pot of soup yesterday with homegrown sausage, the last of the wintered-over curly kale, onions from the root cellar, home-canned tomatoes, rosemary from the potted plants, homemade chicken stock, and dried organic garbanzo beans from the co-op.  It's delicious!  The salad had wintered-over pak choi with the lettuces, and organic cucumber, celery and sweet pepper from Meijers :-).  I make a famous salad dressing:  Good organic olive oil, organic cider vinegar, home made maple syrup, organic tamari sauce, paprika, garlic and basil, and sometimes a little dijon mustard or parmesan cheese.


Kale and Broccoli plants ready to transplant into the garden

The celery and celeriac forest on an upper shelf of the greenhouse.  Tomato plants underneath.

Little eggplant plants. We have 5 kinds growing.

A view of many different things growing.  We utilize the floor, 3 lower shelves and the upper shelf, rotating things according to heat and sun needs.

Tomato blossoms!

Photos from today

This is a view looking across the garden by the house.  In the foreground is asparagus covered with straw mulch.  Then there is a space for parsnips to be planted.  Next: early spinach and cutting lettuces, carrots, head lettuces, beets, kohlrabis, more spinach and lettuces.  It the distance under the row cover are turnips and radishes which can't be grown without root worm damage unless they are covered.  There's also scallions over there, the early salad mixing greens, and carrots yet to be dug under the straw mulch.

Inside the hoophouse, a nice variety of lettuces that we have been eating.

In the distant corner are flats of plants ready to transplant out into the gardens.

CSA Veggies

I'm going to try to post the weekly veggies in a column on the right side of the blog - you can see I tried out posting the headline - and think it will work.  That will hopefully cut down on my emailing time, and also let others who want to know "what's in a share" have a place to look without me repeating myself for the umpteenth time.  If this won't work for you, please let me know and we'll work out something different.

I also want a recipe column to share good recipes for the veggies we provide. Speaking of recipes, are you interested in purchasing a book on Seasonal Vegetables?  It's a collection of CSA veggies recipes, plus information on each vegetable.  I bought 15 of them, have them here for resale.  They are $18 each to CSA members.

The perfect gift for the conscientious chef: From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh, Seasonal Produce 3rd Edition 

Make the most of your local and seasonal produce! All proceeds support MACSAC and the Partner Shares Program.  (MACSAC is Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beautiful Spring weather!

I transplanted red curly kale, 3 kinds of mustard greens, beet greens, sensopai (an Asian green), and spinach in mixed rows to add to our lettuce mix.  They are all fluffy-type greens which lettuce mixes need so they don't compact.  Fluffy greens last longer in your refrigerator. Planted more scallions, too, finishing out 4 rows (probably 120 ft).  I also transplanted about 200 kohlrabi plants. Bill finally admitted he liked kohlrabi last summer.  It's been one of those veggies he's made fun of for years "If you want to eat a cabbage stem, just eat a cabbage stem." I like them, so I plant them.  I hope you like them, too!

Transplanted some early tomatoes into larger pots.  They have blooms!  Wish I had a large hoophouse and greenhouse - we'd be eating tomatoes earlier than June!

Most of the peppers have sprouted and are getting their first true leaves.  Tomato seeds are just popping out of the ground.  Eggplant plants have about 4 true leaves.  

We had 2 new calves yesterday.  Bill will add more later about moving cows, fixing fence, etc.

Friday, April 17, 2009


...and t-shirt, no socks, yippee!
Haven't gotten to the computer to write an update, but rest assured we are working!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Snow on the roadsides
On the north slopes in the woods
Residue remains.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cold day again

We planted outside: white and purple and red scallions, Italian torpedo onions, small onions, large onions, red onions, yellow onions.  Picked a large salad with raddichio for it, too.  Planted 140 more feet each of spinach and cutting lettuces.  No rain here, so we watered.  Dug a row of overwintered carrots.
Bill and a couple of neighbor boys did foundation work on the new tractor shed. Digging outside it to add foam insulation, they found frozen clay and chunks of ice about 2 feet down. That explains the condensation on the inside.   
Lunch was stewed chicken with cauliflower and green beans, salad, homemade bread, hard-boiled eggs.  Supper was roasted parsnips, roasted tomatoes, eggplant and squashes from the freezer, couscous, wild-caught salmon.  YUM!  And all but salmon and couscous were homegrown!

Sugar maples bud
Turning old gray to new pink
In evening's low light

Beef Quarters for Sale

We have quarters for sale in the next few weeks for $360 cut,wrapped and frozen picked up at the butcher's in Falmouth, or picked up here at the Farm for $370.  I can also deliver to Sweetwater Market for an additional charge.  3 quarters are available.
Call or email today or tomorrow and we can give you the number to call to have it specially cut according to your needs.  Otherwise it will be processed our standard way.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Lovely day.  We have hustled all afternoon planting and will go to a family dinner tonight.
Planted outside: more carrots, beets, head lettuces (anuenue for those of you who remember this variety from past years), endive, escarole.  Planted in the Greenhouse:  about 250 tomato seeds (many heirlooms!), more escarole, more onion seed - Yellow of Parma and Red of Florence.  Must be Italian onions??!
The ground is really dry.  We are watering almost every day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Onions, onions and more onions.

I spent most of the day at Sweetwater Market selling parsnips, organic olive oil, organic fair trade coffee, and beef.  We had great music there!  

From about 3:30 till after 6pm we planted onions at the Putney farm east of our place.  The soil was prepared by spreading lime and well-composted manure, tilling, and making furrows.  The rows are 230 ft long, and 4 furrows wide.  The onion plants were started from seed in early February and look like tiny scallions now.  We separate them into individual plants and put them into the ground about 5 inches apart. We planted about the first 400 ft with Copra, a great storage onion.  The next 300 ft is Redwing, large and red, also a good storage onion.  They were then watered by hand as the well pump there isn't yet hooked up.
We only got about 1/4 of the onions in.  It's a huge job every Spring.  We also have trays and trays of leek plants and about a full tray of scallions.

The hands protected 
by Winter's gloves are gone now
Made rough by Spring's work

Friday, April 10, 2009

More into the garden Thursday and Friday!

I was at a long birth for 2 nights and all day Thursday.  Bill and Mike planted peas - about 750 ft of shelling peas, snow peas and snap peas.  The pea fence is up, with 2 rows on each side of the 3 lengths of it.  We will plant additional rows on some of it in about 2 weeks in order to stagger plantings and have a longer picking season.  We tried 2 fencerows on white plastic this year - it warms the soil early, but then reflects heat when it starts to get summer-hot.  Peas are a cool weather crop.  We are hoping this also prolongs the season.

They also set out early broccoli, cabbage and kale, though the plants weren't hardened off and look pretty sad after the cold night last night.  Hardening off plants means they get exposed to cooler weather for about 4 days or so, rather than going right from the greenhouse (always warm) to the unpredictable wind and weather.  We usually harden off our plants by putting them in the hoophouse.  

We have had a lot of calves this week!  I think our total to date is 15 now.  All moms and babies are doing well.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Out of the Woods

We are done cutting wood for now unless there is a prolonged cold snap.
Much of the farm here is forested. About a hundred acres is in mostly northern hardwoods. "Our" side of the road, which is the north side, has 80 acres and is our original homestead.  Owned by us for most of the time we have lived here, it is about half wooded. Some of it is low - soft maple, white pine, tamarack. Most of the remainder is hard maple/beech climax forest with hemlock underneath, and bitternut hickory, ash, basswood and cherry mixed in on the higher clay, with yellow birch and red maple on the lower edges. The very northern-most boundary rises to sandy ground with red oak and aspen. It is a very diverse, mature mix that we have been managing since the early 70's. We have hunted, mushroomed, sugared, cut firewood, and logged  for our own building materials and timber sales. It looks better and is much healthier than when we started.
The other side of Loop road or "the Ervin place" was sold to us by Roy and Yvonne Ervin in 1987.  They owned the 120 acres for 42 years, built the house and farmstead and took very good care of the land.  It is half tillable and half wooded, the woods being on lighter soil and more level than our home place.  Good stewardship of this forest with many decades of select cutting has left a beautiful stand of hard maple and black cherry timber with some good white ash, beech, basswood, red maple and a smattering of red oak.  It has almost no conifers except what has been planted on the edges in the last 15 years.
  We have been thinning and culling firewood on the back forty of this property for the last two years. In years past we have worked in the woods cutting timber and firewood throughout the winter.  This year, because of the severity of the winter, we had a very late start.  Mike and I were able to cut on and off for most of March since we were not making maple syrup this Spring.  We finished up this week, not that there isn't more to cut up.  The trees marked for thinning that needed to come down are on the ground  and the brush is cut off it and under it.  For the health of the remaining trees it is important to drop these thinnings and do any skidding before "slippage", when the trees are actively growing and the bark is soft.  Much of the firewood is cut up and quite a bit is split.
  Our woodshed is nearly full of dry wood cut in previous years. An outdoor 'boiler' heats our house, domestic hot water year-round, and our small greenhouse. After the weather warms, we will be burning brief fires of light, junk wood and kindling to heat our hot water. The Ervin house is rented to the Fritcher family who utilize a smaller 'boiler' for heat. Last year two other families heated their homes from these woods. There isn't that much wood cut yet but combined with the standing deadwood I think we are done for now. There is too much planting, fencing and building to do. But the wood work rhythm has been established and with these cool mornings it is tempting to pick up the chainsaw and ignore the other work. Soon the bugs will be out and we will be glad for work in the open. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Here It Comes

What a difference a day makes! It was 25 degrees this morning but still and clear.  Mike and I worked in the woods to start the day but by after lunch it felt so warm we were all anxious to plant something. The forecast, though not much above 50, looks good enough for early stuff. So we planted carrots and Patrice transplanted lettuce and at the end of the day we tilled for peas. Beets, radishes and onions will follow soon. 
At the end of the day we also did a big mechanical transition. Wood splitter off one tractor and rototiller on. Wood rack off the loader tractor, post hole digger on. Back blade off the little tractor, bed maker/mulch layer on.
 Looks like tomorrow will bring a whole new set of projects.
Evening haiku
When it once was dark
Twilight now brightens the trees
Frogs croak, days lengthen

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Cold Spring

Br-r-r-r! We did not get the snow that went south of us. Still, the north wind blew all day and toward evening a few flakes fell. This morning there was a skiff on everything. It just won't warm up. According to our garden log 2007 looked a lot like this. Some quotes -  Apr. 5  "20's - snow flurries, cold, windy"   Apr.6 "20 to 28 - snow flurries", Apr.7 "awoke to 6 inches of snow" Apr.11 "blowing snow, sleet  Yuk".  On Apr. 14th we transplanted our started onions outside so I guess there is hope. Patrice continues her greenhouse and hoophouse work. Both are looking very full. And yesterday, the clay ground in the top garden had crusted nicely. The row that had been tilled two weeks ago was ready so I seeded a couple hundred feet of chard. We'll see how long it takes that to come up! Of course there is always plenty to do~ when it's cold like this we cut wood, which I'm going to do right now  - so more on that topic later.  

Monday, April 6, 2009

Compost piles, barn, swamp in bloom

This is the barn on the south side of Loop Road with the roof gone.  It collapsed under the weight of snow in December. Twelve foot  2"x4"s on 2' centers lasted about 50 years but 2" of rain on top of 20" of snow was too much to bear. What a mess!  Steel, nails, wood all on top of hay and straw.  Mike and Bill spent days cleaning it up. We have the rafters and roofing ordered for the final repair.

2 pictures of beginning compost piles.  Bill composts on a large scale :-).  He adds already finished compost, rock phosphate, wood ashes, dirt, etc. and mixes the manure from multiple animals layered with straw and hay.  It decomposes to a really nice black dirt.  It gets spread on the fields and gardens.

We had an algae bloom on a small swamp pothole.  It's a beautiful green to see in the still-brown woods.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


We quit early last evening to watch the game, and the evening before to do a home visit in Ludington and have dinner with Meagan and her family and friends.  Most summer nights we are working till dark.

Garden work the past few days~
  • Planted many more flats of seeds: Kales, chards, head lettuce, mustards, arugula, more scallions, cutting lettuces.
  • Moved flats of onions, lettuces, kales and chards to the hoophouse to harden them off a bit before transplanting them into the garden as soon as the weather straightens out a bit.
  • Raked leaves.  We normally have everything raked in the Fall, but when winter came early  last year, it stayed, and we weren't able to do the normal cleanup.
  • Picked more lettuces and other greens for a big yummy salad.
  • Transplanted the early pepper and tomato plants to bigger pots
  • Mixed up new potting soil.
  • Ordered more seeds
  • Bought seed potatoes.  We have the unusual varieties coming by truck from Maine, but got the common varieties from Rothbury Hardware.
  • Checked the garlic - it's coming up through its' mulch!
Maybe Bill will get to a farm update.  He's been busy making huge compost piles with the front end loader.


Saturday, April 4, 2009


A bitter north wind
Calves laying low in new straw
Cut-chewing cows rest

Friday, April 3, 2009

Some Farm pics this morning

These are the new moms - 9 calves here including the orphan who was adopted.

There's 1 calf in this herd - and the rest are due to calve in the next couple of months.

Our new shop, replacing the building that burned last May.

Raddichio, wintered over.  They are very hardy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


 Debbie cooked a roast and parsnips from your farm. She cooked it in a crock pot, I got to smell it cooking all day too. I have been a vegetarian for over forty years, but after trying your pot roast from pastured cows, I am thinking of crossing over, back to meat eating- pastured meat that is. I'm planting parsnips next fall too. I am now sure parsnips oughta be over wintered. Thank you.

Haiku from a CSA member:

Vegetables yum
Eating Bobieresk is fun

Transplanting, etc.

Transplanted Chinese Cabbage and Pak Choi plants.  These plants have to be covered with row cover in order to prevent flea beetle damage.
Put in a row of arugula transplants and seed, and a row of mustard greens. 
The carrots and chard seeds are finally sprouting!  I expect the warm night tonight will really help other seeds sprout.
I picked 3# of salad greens from the hoophouse!  That seemed like a lot till Mike and I were talking about many weeks last year we picked 10-15# a day 2-3 times in a week!  I also got some great bunches of chives picked for Sweetwater Market tomorrow.

Bill planted another field of oats.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Cow Talk"

With apologies to Frick and Frack . This hour of "Cow Talk" with your hosts Slick and Slack.

   Slick -Neat, string tie, clean shirt wants you to know what a good manager he is and to sell  you some Porterhouse steaks.
   Slack - dirtier cowboy look, stringy hair. Is likely to say "Aw, we can get to that tomorrow."  More attuned to the nature of cattle and inclined to sing to them.
At this time of year it seems like life is dominated by cows. Much of the year they are there and we work with them and for them, but daily contact is brief and routine . When they are on pasture, there are days on end that we view them from afar. Opening gates and rotating them through pastures takes minutes per week instead of hours per day. Certainly there is much more work involved throughout the year - fencing, planting, harvesting hay - but calving season is when we are in close daily contact.  We turn the bull in with the brood cow herd the first of June and expect calving to begin the second week of March. We used to turn him in on the 4th of July, giving us April calves, but in recent years April weather has been as unpredictable as March. We figure an extra month of milk and grass before weaning in November is worth the effort.
 So now we are in the thick of it. A calf was born last night in the barn when we weren't looking and another calf plopped out in the paddock this morning when we were. It was snowing. A vulture was roosting on yesterday's placenta nearby. Remember those old westerns with the vultures circling, usually some cowboy or Indian dead or dying in the desert? Well, we have them here. Resident vultures actually, though they head south in the winter. Their nightly roost tree is on the adjoining camp property. They return to the neighborhood every March right on time for fresh road kill and placenta. It's not as good as Hinkley, Ohio, but it beats circling the landfill in Coopersville.

So now you see how it is - Slick was talking about calves and Slack interrupts and starts talking about vultures. 

Anyway, today we had another mini roundup. Last night I shut the barnyard gate and this morning we moved the cows out, trimmed and tagged the calves, let them back out with their hay-eating mothers, and then cornered an unbred heifer. We attempted to load her but after she lifted the gate and ran back with the herd, we left her for another day. The new mother was now up and cleaned off the calf. Time for lunch.

 We had four others in the north barn to load for the butcher and they loaded very easily. Before driving to the butcher the newborn needed to be checked. Mom was now laying down but the calf was up and bumping around so I climbed the fence and rousted the cow and within minutes the calf was nursing. That's good. We like to make sure they find the right end of the cow within a couple hours of being born, especially when the weather is bad. 

Time to hit the road.  It is a 100 mile drive to Ebel's Meats in Falmouth. The service is great and they have the required USDA stamp. That is still a long way to go, and  because picking it up requires another round trip, it's 400 miles total. Ah, the ironies of local food.  More petrol spent to insure your "safety".  At least it didn't come from Kansas. 

Enough "Cow Talk". Time for bed.    

Eggs for Sale $2 per dozen

for the rest of this week!  We are overloaded...