Dear Friends and Customers of Many Hands Organic Farm,

This week culminated in a lot of corn. But first I must go back 6+ decades. I grew up in Illinois on a corn and hog farm. From my earliest memories I can still hear my dad boasting with our Iowa relatives during the years that Illinois ended up with a higher average bushel per acre than the Hawkeyes. I spent my younger years with my brothers and sisters playing hide and go seek in the corn fields, being careful not to get a corn cut from careless brushing against the mighty leaves of the corn plant. As I got old enough to work with a knife I was enlisted along with the rest of the family to pick, husk, cut and freeze corn for the winter. I still remember the little bags that mom would fit inside the waxed boxes for putting into our Amana freezer. During corn season we could eat as much as we wanted at a meal, and sometimes we would go for 4-6 ears each, all doused in butter and salt. But wait, did you know that according to John Kempf, corn can do more carbon sequestering than any other vegetable? That is if you return that wonderful mass of photosynthesizing plant material back to the soil it came from (rather than turning it into corn silage, for example). We had a short 2 week season for the CSA this year and I hope you enjoyed it. On Friday, Dustin, Chris, Cam, Stu, Anthony and I went through and harvested all of the secondary smaller ears and systematically knocked down the sometimes 8-9 foot stalks for future mowing and then cover cropping. All that wonderful mass of green growing plant material will eventually die over the winter, and in the early spring we will tarp it to kill it and provide a rich seed bed for a next year crop of something else. We had so much fun Friday. For a period, all but Chris were harvesting and lobbing the ears to Chris who caught and contained them. Then we sat out on the grass and shucked the corn, separating it into freezable ears and husks for the pigs, running husking races and basking in the early September perfect weather. After lunch Clare and I, then Ann and finally Jack cut, blanched and froze the corn for our winter meals – probably 70 lbs. or so in total – enough to support the large lunches that we serve most days of the year. I finished it all by 6 pm, the clean up being horrendous because of all of the corn sugar that ends up on glasses, in hair, on the floor, stuck to the table and plastered on the dishes used to prepare it for freezing. The entire process on Friday brought me back with a flood of memories through those 6 decades of corn and my relationship to it. I fell out of a corn crib when I was 4 and when I wandered to the house it was noted that I had corn stuck in my forehead, climbed our 50 foot tall International Harvester Silo throughout my youth, and listened to corn dryers and smelled the field corn drying every fall. I shared the nostalgia of the years of preserving the corn each fall through all of those decades, with my growing up family, our family and now our farm staff, and of course savored all of those ears of corn on the cob (son Paul used to call it corn of the cob). Corn was so important to not only our family, but also our Iowa cousins and grandparents. Funny how a plant can have such an important cultural significance for the very recent Euro-American, a plant that has its origins in Mexico from 9,000 years ago (an important story for another day). As in most things, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Let us give thanks for the noble corn plant.

Chris receiving corn (top left), grandson with corn (top right), husking corn (bottom left), freezing corn (click to watch on Instagram, bottom right)

Chicken house workshop
We are busy getting ready for our upcoming workshop on raising poultry and building nest boxes for our new layers. Watch Anthony chat about the workshop in this video below.

Interested in raising healthy chickens? Why not consider pasturing them by building a range house that can be moved to fresh grass every day and let them gorge on the soil critters they love to eat. We will talk about how to use such a house, and present designs for several styles – ones which can be moved by one person and ones which accommodate more birds but requires two people to move. Egg collection, feeding and watering, and security from roaming dogs and wildlife will be discussed. The second half of the workshop will be a hands-on experience helping build such a house.

The workshop will be on Saturday, September 18th from 10:00 to 12:00, at the farm. We will be both outside and inside, rain or shine. Come with or without a mask, whichever is most comfortable for you. Stick around for a potluck lunch if you like right at the end of the workshop.

Register here!

CSA Update

Week 17 best guess at what you will get (last week of CSA is the week of October 18)

  • Summer squash and zucchini – we were able to squeeze out one squash each last week)
  • Peppers – going strong
  • Tomatoes – still coming
  • Kale –
  • Chard – will take a break this week
  • Lettuce – some of this crop is threatening to go to seed so not as bountiful as I would have hoped
  • Peaches – I know they didn’t happen last week – sorry about that, and none this week either; now slowing down
  • Apples
  • Onions – all sorted and in the top of the barn
  • Lemon balm
  • Beets or carrots
  • Parsley
  • Arugula – in the peak of health
  • Radishes
  • Peppermint probably
  • Turnip greens
  • Husk cherries – just pop them out of their little jackets and eat them!

Please, please, please, bring back your bags to your pick up site! Here are Stu and Cathleen demonstrating the challenge it is for us. And sorry to the folks who do bring them back and get paper bags. That happens when we have a pick up snafu on our end.

Garlic for Sale
You can use this for seed garlic or fresh eating, and it costs $15/lb. If you need to have it shipped, we will send you a bill for shipping. Inquire here –, 978-257-1192. This is high quality stuff, the best we have raised in recent memory – sound and solid and strong – music.


The Low Down on Vitamin D from analysis of 100+ studies!! Post by Ellen Kittredge
As a follow-up to the post I made a couple days ago that cited the most up-to-date research on Vitamin D for COVID-19 prevention or to help to mitigate symptoms if infected, the below is from Chris Masterjohn, who has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences. This is his analysis of the data. It’s a bit quicker than watching his video…but if interested in all the details, a longer article that also has a link to his video as is in the comments. The good news? Keeping vitamin D levels in the range of 50-60 can make a big difference!! (Its probably wise to get checked on current blood levels and then determine dosing based on that)

“Overall Conclusions Synthesizing all of the data, we can conclude as follows:
While the threat of COVID-19 persists, actively maintaining 25(OH)D in the 30-60 ng/mL range is likely to protect against getting infected, with the best protection offered in the 50-60 ng/mL range.
Whether a supplement is needed to maintain this and how much depends on one’s environment, lifestyle, diet, and other factors, so it is best to measure the blood level. Many people living in temperate regions would require 5,000 IU per day during the coldest half of the year.

Maintaining D in this range will also prevent a 5-or-more-day delay in the ability to quickly raise 25(OH)D with vitamin D supplements upon getting sick.

If the Entrenas-Castillo protocol is adjusted for the relative bioavailability of 25(OH)D and vitamin D and converted into the equivalent of oral vitamin D3 supplements, it translates to 106,400 IU on day 1, 53,200 IU on days 3 and 7, and 53,200 IU per week thereafter until symptoms resolve. If this is in turn translated into daily dosing, it would be the equivalent of 30,400 IU per day for the first week, followed by a maintenance dose of 7,600 IU per day until symptoms resolve. This could be simplified to a loading dose of 200,000 IU once, followed by a 10,000 IU per day maintenance dose until symptoms resolve.

This protocol should be started at the first sign of any possible symptom and should not be delayed until COVID-19 is confirmed. This is needed to raise biological vitamin D activity at the beginning of the infection, rather than waiting until it is a) too late and b) too difficult to raise 25(OH)D in an environment of excessive inflammation.
For someone who is maintaining 25(OH)D in the 50-60 ng/mL range, the loading dose might be unnecessary. However, for anyone with 25(OH)D lower than this, the loading dose is critical. For someone who is likely deficient at the time of infection and waits until diagnosed or hospitalized before starting vitamin D, it is imperative for a physician to prescribe calcifediol (that is, oral 25(OH)D) at a dose of 0.532 milligrams on day 1, followed by 0.266 milligrams on days 3 and 7, and weekly thereafter until symptoms resolve.“

Graeme Sait on Magnesium- Chlorophyll, Carbohydrates and Climate Change – I listened to this one twice because it was so packed full of info. Afterward I ran upstairs and took an Epsom salts bath. Lots here for human and soil health.

What – 16 kittens!
Well, at the beginning of the week it seemed reasonable with Stripes’ 3, but then Eloise had 9! And Sadie, who had surreptitiously had 4 kittens in the attic of the garage, started sneaking kittens away from the other ladies. We found her kids in a roll of insulation, brought them in, closed the screen that allowed free access to the house, and all is well with the 16 little ones being co-mothered in our bedroom closet. Yes, they will be available on Halloween, and no, you can’t ask for a specific one. $50 each. Contact me to be put on the list. Thanks, Clare, for all the beef heart and organ meat from the Farm School!

Farm Doins
Thanks to Jen and Greta, new working shareholders, and Clare and Anthony, for coming in for a half day on Labor Day. This week we preserved lots of grapes into grape juice – 75 quarts and counting. And Dan and Doodle and Raphi and I made 46 quarts of apple juice after pressing it last Sunday.  I have come to the realization that we can’t do an excellent job with so much land in vegetable production and am starting to take out more marginal areas. This week we mowed down 5 beds in the back of the south and are running the turkeys through that area to eventually return it to grass. Other more marginal areas will follow as we take a more realistic look at shade and wetness that are constant challenges for this farm carved from the woods. We did some mowing of potato beds and squash beds in the west and planted a nice perennial cover crop mix for fall growth. No planting this week, but we are in process on retiring the corn field and spent several hours in the barn organizing the onions (which we finished harvesting this week) and garlic in the barn. We made room for the winter squash harvest that will begin this upcoming week. We weeded 3 fall broccoli beds, and mulched until the hay ran out. We will finish with a clover undersow on that crop. Thanks to daughter Ellen, here for a few days from England, who picked and bunched 10 bouquets of flowers on Tuesday and to son Chuk who fixed our sign on the road. Take a look at it now!

Ellen with flowers (top left), Greta and Jen (top right), some of our onions (middle left), Maria’s last day – how sad for all of us (middle right),  Clare harvesting grapes (bottom left), Harvesting carrots (bottom right), share this week (very bottom).

I would be remiss to not mention 9/11, the 20th anniversary, a death-causing event that rocked the sense of safety for the United States, and went on to have negative shock waves for Islamic looking people of color in this country, had serious impacts in Afghanistan for that culture and a generation of soldiers from here who lost their stability as human beings and sometimes their lives.  A lose-lose experience all around, in my opinion. I wonder how we human beings can ever evolve away from organized intra-species violence. I just don’t see that on the farm.