Sunday, June 27, 2010

Up, Up and Away!

We had some unannounced visitors "drop by" Saturday morning. Actually, they didn't quite land, but they sure came close! It's not unusual to see a few hot air balloons early in the morning--there is a place nearby that runs a business. One of these days, we'll go for a ride ourselves. In the meantime, they are beautiful to watch from the ground!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Old Turtle

There have been quite a few of these large turtles saved around here recently.  They seem to be seen often on roadsides...teetering on the brink of a fatal crossing.  They end up in the back of the truck...and end up near the stream or pond.

This one Chris spotted as he was headed into the field the other morning and so the kids and I went to have a look.  I have told our children many times about the plight of the giant sea turtles.  Chris and I were able to witness them lumbering up the shores of western Costa Rica to lay their eggs 11 years ago on our honeymoon.  They know that the turtles may not make it as they swim the ocean, they understand that many animals including humans relish turtle eggs, and then those tiny little turtles trying to make it back to sea...predators just waiting for those eggs to hatch.

Now...this is not a giant sea turtle, but it is a s close as Lael has ever gotten to one.  The thought of us stressing this mother snapping turtle out as she lays her eggs was very upsetting to Lael.  She would only let us get this close with the camera...we do not have a great zoom lens as you can see.

So here she is (from behind where she could not see us) laying her eggs in the middle of the hay field above the stream.  We hope her little ones make it!!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beef and all that goes with it

It was a beautiful Spring Day and the kids and I went up to Pam's (our neighbor who has our cows on her pasture for parts of the season) to watch Daddy catch cows for market.

We also had to castrate two bull calves before they got too big and unruly to catch.

Connelly has always been a ca;f whisperer, so he had a go with this little guy.

Close, but he never did touch or pet this one.

Everyone else was waiting for the big moment.  Lael has the elasticator and rubber bands in her hands in the photo above.

Christopher John and Pam are watching all the men trying to catch the calves...not an easy job.
OK Lael hand over the tools.
The elastic bands are tight...I mean really tight,  and as they give the bull calves a pinch, they cut off the blood supply to the animals testicles and they fall off within a few weeks.  Though this is surely unpleasant for the calf, it is better than an unruly testosterone laden 2500 lb bull within the year.  We spend too much time with the herd to want to risk the unpredictable behavior of a bull.
The children all understand this, they have been with these animals from birth, they understand where all their food comes from and that eating meat means taking a life.  Unlike some adults, the kids have no baggage about this issue, they love the cows, and recognize their importance to our farm..

Finally the calves are on their way to castration and the two animals that were going to the butcher were loaded.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ice Cream's little Sundae

Our pony was really so so so good...she did not mind being dressed up like this, she did not mind a four year old wrapping her from head to toe in purple fleece polo wraps, she came when we called regardless of treats.

But Ice Cream had Sundae...and that changed everything.  I am unsure if you can train hormones, but it would seem that our new Mama needs to go back to school.
Time will tell, but somehow we had envisioned snuggling, petting and working with this lovely filly all day everyday.
That has not happened yet.

Week 3

From the Farmers…

The past week has brought back memories of 2009—rain, rain, and more rain!

While we did need a good soaking, we got a lot more, so we’re hoping the weather pattern changes in the coming week
Into the Rye!!!

This past week we just about finished our big plantings for 2010. Our sweet potato plants finally arrived from Tennessee, and they were immediately planted into the ground. Sweet potato “slips” as they are called are just leaves of the plants that are planted into the ground. Once the stem of the leaf roots, the sweet potato begins to from on the roots


Sweet Potato Slips planted

Our storage cabbage, cauliflower, fall carrots and beets were all planted as the drops of rain began on Saturday morning.

We hope to finish mulching our peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes this week, and then we’ll just wait for the sun to come out again!

Our tomato crop (knock on wood) looks great, and we will begin the tedious job of staking and trellising this week as well.

While the veggies do need the water, they also need the heat, and so do we. We are hoping that the fields dry up enough so we can cultivate the crops with our tractors, and then get in there with hoes, knives, and hands, and kill those weeds!
Plenty of work to do….Enjoy the veggies, Chris

Beautiful Rows of Potatoes

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mower Breakdowns

Equipment Breaks...that is a fact of life.  Buying new equipment helps defer those breakdowns for a time.  Our beef operation is not our biggest moneymaker and as we slowly capitalize with higher quality balers, barns and fencing, we still have to put up with the used equipment that has not been upgraded yet. 

Slow and steady wins the race...unless you are always breaking down!

But having a little helper in the barnyard makes the breakdowns better....definitely more fun, and a great learning experience for our Little Apprentice!!!
He gets right in there, wrenches and all
Of course it is hard to know if what you are doing is getting you anywhere...even Daddy knows that.
But you keep at it, knowing that when the budget provides a new disc mower will be in order. much to look forward to.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Easy Dinners

Dinner this week seemed so much easier than just a month ago when I
 was still scrounging carrots, beets and celeriac from the root cellar...lets see

Sauteed turnips and their greens

Roasted garlic scapes

Red Leaf lettuce w/blue cheese and a maple vinaigrette

Berkshire Mountain Bakery olive Loaf

A close up of those garlic scapes, it is such a shame they come for such a brief time...we just love to eat them stem to (almost) tip (the tip is a little on the tough side).

Hope you are all eating well!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Week 2

From the Farmers…
Our first CSA pickup here at the farm last Tuesday went off without a hitch--Little did we know what was in store for our first run to Long Island City and Flatbush Brooklyn on Wednesday. Our partner in the city Just Food was waiting for our truck at our first drop, and therefore went through this ordeal with us. Below is a letter sent out to board members of Just Food describing what happened…..
Wednesday of this week was the first day of distribution for The Farm at Millers Crossing. They loaded a truck with produce for 2 CSA sites and 2 Local Produce Link sites (our farm to food pantry partners). There were literally thousands of pounds of produce in the truck...and then, the truck broke down.

Abby [the Local Produce Link coordinator] went to Long Island City so that she could be there to greet the truck for the Local Produce Link drop-off. When they got the news, they began to relay the message to the food pantries and CSAs to let them know about the delays. Three hours after getting the truck to the garage they learned that the garage didn't have the right part and couldn't fix the truck that day.

Chris Cashen, the farmer, refused to allow the broken vehicle to stop him from delivering the produce - he didn't want the food to go to waste and he didn't wanted the families who were counting on him to be disappointed. He rented a truck, they moved all the boxes, and hours later, they were back on the road to NYC.

Here's the amazing part. The pantries and their volunteer staff hung in there. They stayed open late to receive the produce, they worked late to transport the produce from one pantry to another, they made sure that none of the food would be rotten or would go to waste. These are outstanding and dedicated individuals who serve their community every week, and this past Wednesday many of them worked long past 9pm to make this program work.

Abby rode with the truck to their final drop-off: a CSA in Brooklyn. Long past the end of their official distribution time, the members had stayed anyway. They greeted the truck as they arrived. Someone shouted "form a chain" and they helped these weary folks unload their truck - down to the very last vegetable.

This is why we do what we do. Our work is not just about building a food system, it's about building a community, it's about forging relationships in which people go out of their way for each other. I hope I've told this story well enough for you to see why I'm so deeply moved by it. I feel like this is the proof that that better world we're working toward is in fact coming to life.

In the heat of the moment, we only thought about all of our hard work being lost on a broken down truck. We were struggling with managing details of the crisis and a grumpy mechanic. After reading this note from Just Food, we were completely moved by the third party observation of what ultimately happened that day, and what the folks in the city had contributed to save the day.

We feel so incredibly supported by our members, the staff of Just Food, and the volunteers at all of the food pantries that we serve; their commitment to getting the food to people is truly inspiring.

While we do not hope for another harrowing story like this for awhile, we are thankful for the light it shed upon all of you who help us make this system of food distribution possible.

Thank you, Katie & Chris

Friday, June 4, 2010

New "Life" on the Farm!

Meet Sundae--Ice Cream's baby girl foal, born on Sunday, May 30. She shares a birthday with Christopher John, who turned two that day. All are doing well, although Ice Cream's "mother" instincts have literally kicked into high gear and she is very protective of her little one. As you can imagine, we are all very excited about this new arrival--even the dogs! Gideon, the Jack Russell, has been trying to nibble her hoofs to get her to play, and good old Heddy is standing for hours outside the pen, ready to round her up!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Week 1

So here we go again…another season is here! For the CSA, June marks the beginning, but here at the farm we have been going strong since the 1st of March.

Our greenhouse has been brimming full with transplants for the fields, and bedding plants for the markets.

As of now, most of our full season crops are in the ground, and we hope to get our sweet potatoes in sometime this week.

The heat has really brought the crops along quickly, and has forced us to do quite a bit of irrigating.

Besides the usual hiccups of broken equipment and shifting weather patterns, it has been an excellent spring for growing, and we are looking forward to bringing in the harvest.

June is about as busy as it gets on the farm—Between planting the summer and fall crops, irrigating, weeding, and harvesting the spring crops, and then the deliveries and the markets begin. It feels like there should be a couple of extra days built into the week to accommodate the work load.

Add to the mix 50 acres of hay and 10 acres of straw to cut, and before you know it the days just fly by…

We’re looking forward to a great year, and hope it is the best yet!

New Arrival

Our pony Ice Cream delivered a beautiful long legged filly on Sunday morning around 9:30. It was a short birth and all are doing well right here in the barnyard pastures.

Our once very calm and approachable pony has become a very protective and quick footed mother. Hopefully her hormones will calm a bit and we can get our hands on her little girl.
After many discussions about various frozen desert related names. We seem to have settled on Sundae, probably that will morph into Sunny (as it already has) but time will tell what names we will come up with as we get to know this little wonder.