Happy Birthday Ellen, and, let’s talk about rock dust

Happy Birthday, Ellen, and while we are at it, let’s talk about rock dust

Ellen arrived 10 days after her due date, right after my dad and mom arrived to help with the homebirth and my dad noted that it was time to get on with the show. So labor I did, and Ellen was met by her brothers Dan and Paul, mom and dad, me and Jack and a number of birthing friends. It was an easy birth and the last 42 years with Ellen have been a joy indeed. Every woman should have such a daughter! That night we went out to the Blarney Stone for supper and Jack and dad finished putting in a new linoleum floor in the kitchen that weekend.

Crushed basalt rock, or rock dust, is plentiful around here. We got 22 tons from Rock Dust Local in the fall of 2020. Beautiful and green and satiny soft it was, and we spread it with abandon on the farm over the winter of 20-21. But it was this year that we noticed the incredible difference in the soil structure as we started making beds – rich in texture and almost greasy. Check out Graeme Sait’s most recent podcast in which he frontlines with a discussion of this marvelous material which you can get relatively cheap (ours cost $1000). Full of almost every known mineral, this stuff, when worked on by the weathering forces and the microbial forces can change your agricultural enterprise into a paradise.


Personal Health Tips

Homemade Pea Soup

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  • 16 oz dried split peas
  • 1 pork hock or meaty bone
  • 2 quarts pork stock
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6 medium carrots
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Chives (optional)


  1. Soak peas in water for at least 1 hour, up to 8 hours.
  2. Drain water and place soaked peas in a stock pot.
  3. Add pork hock and pork stock.
  4. Simmer on medium low for 4 hours. The peas should have fully broken down by this point. If not, continue simmering until they do.
  5. Remove meaty bone and allow to cool.
  6. Chop onions and carrots, sauté in butter until tender.
  7. Remove meat from bone and shred.
  8. Add shredded pork and vegetables to soup. Simmer a bit longer (20 minutes or so) to allow seasonings to disperse and vegetables to soften.
  9. Serve while hot. Top with chopped chives if desired.

Download recipe here.

Agricultural Education from MHOF

Prepping beds in the west field


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Harvesting burdock

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Tarp removal – better to let them wait at least two more weeks – but the spring calls

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Tip layering with black raspberries

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Chinese Cabbage

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Opportunities from MHOF

Consider joining the MHOF CSA to change the way you eat!

As we enter May we have only 4 weeks left until the beginning of the CSA. We have 93 members at the moment. SNAP customers get free delivery. We can set up payment plans for those who have a challenge paying the freight.

November 1, 2021

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

Our guest this week was Karen, friend of the ever resourceful Kerri. We still have slots open for those who would like to come regularly or irregularly. Enquire.

Volunteer at MHOF

New Staff Member

Sam graduates from Clark this month. She has shown herself to be a real asset here as a Saturday working shareholder, and as she doesn’t start her full-time job with NRCS until July 5, I asked her this week end if she would like to spend the intervening 7 weeks with us. We sealed the deal and she starts May 16.

Farm Store Hours – we actually had some visitors last Tuesday night – what a treat!

Monday-Friday: 12-1 pm
Tuesday: 5-7pm
Friday: 5-7pm

Always call ahead to be sure of supply
(978) 355-2853; (978) 257-1192

Available This Week

  1. Free range organic eggs at $8/dozen – we newly added free choice kelp to their now full-farm free range lifestyle

  2. Tinctures (Holy basil, burdock, yellow dock) – 2 ounce bottles – $12 each

  3. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $10 each

  4. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each

  5. 2 ounce jars of calendula salve – $10 each

  6. Garlic powder – $10/2 ounce

  7. Frozen pork stock – $7.50/quart

  8. Frozen chicken stock – $7.50/quart

  9. Frozen pork cuts –regular ribs, ground pork and roasts – $12/lb.

  10. Ham and bacon – $18/lb.

Purchase MHOF products

Free Stuff this Week

We will probably have some extra onion seedlings this week. Check in after Tuesday when we have them all planted.

Better Late than Never Department

I forgot that Clare and Cathleen worked hard for a few weeks to prepare for the River Rat Canoe Race that happened back on April 9. They walked away with two prizes in the “girls” and “Leisure canoe” departments and won $75 each. Next year it is first place for sure.

We were too busy cheering and throwing them fried chicken as they canoed by to get a shot of them in the water!

Emails from Subscribers

Hi Julie, 

Nice newsletter, as always.  If I wasn’t so busy over here with umpteen things, I’d go over to MH to volunteer myself, such a source of everything healthy and good. 

Here’s a thought, from a Buddhist perspective:   Buddha said that perpetrators and victims just reverse themselves over time.   When you see perpetrators of any kind of cruelty or abuse, you are also looking at eventual victims because: “The function of human beings is to act.  The function of feeling is to experience the effect of your action.”   

I wonder, if all the people in the world now praying (mental action, actually very powerful according to Buddha, in fact the most powerful action one can take if constant, sincere, and free of attachment) for Ukraine also prayed for Vladimir Putin, if that would have a faster effect and much more comprehensive.  Prayers for millions of people are good important, but what if every person praying also prayed sincerely for Putin, for a change of heart, for a ceasing of the actions he is now taking which will all “ripen” sooner or later in the form of almost unimaginable suffering, to protect him and keep him also safe?   If perpetrators and victims circle, and we’ve all been both many times, then it makes sense to have compassion for everyone equally.  This, Buddha said, is “beneficial view,” meaning whether or not it is true doesn’t even matter.  Sincere compassion and prayer for victims and perpetrators equally only serves to create compassionate energy in the space we all occupy.   Can’t lose. 


Thanks as always for your Buddhist perspective, Lloyd, and do pop over to volunteer someday – feel free to come through the woods if it is shorter! Julie

Good morning, Julie!  I love reading your newsletter. You pack great info each issue.

What is amazing is that lots of stuff you write about I’ve studied, read or am partially familiar with, and this week is no exception.

Four summers ago EHS teachers and staff read Growth Mindset over the summer and had a pool party book club to discuss takeaways. Great book, so I’m excited to read the one you discuss in your latest newsletter. I’m going to reserve it at the library today.

The Hawaiian prayer you reference a few weeks back is something my ND acquainted me with four years ago. Such cool stuff. Love how everything comes full circle.

Thanks for all you impart. I enjoy it all. Have a sparkling day, Julie!


Thanks, as always, Barbara, for your upbeat and supportive presence in my life. ❤Julie

Hi Julie,

I see from your newsletter that things are moving along nicely at Many Hands. I really enjoy following along!

I wanted to thank you for sharing the Noam

Chomsky interview; he continues to be such a marvelous, clear and honest thinker.

We have been noting the pre invasion choices made by the US in my household and the way we have forced the situation since just before the war began. We (U.S.) do love war, chemicals, concrete, etc. 

Anyway, I always love when my ideas are confirmed by Chomsky.

Glad you are all well. Nice to see Kameron highlighted! I’ve been working at lindentree a few days a week. Only a few miles away… 

Miss you all. My best to Clare and Jonathon and Leslie.


Thanks for checking in, Liz, and thanks for mentioning the US activities of last fall which may point to why this war got started in the first place. I do believe that we need to honestly look at our own dirty hands in these world events. Good advice for us as individuals, or as a wise person once put it, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Best to you, Julie

Happy Spring! I really enjoy your emails–thank you for all the time you put into them.

I had a question for you about the straw mulch on my 60# of garlic. In spots it’s quite thick so I’ve had to hunt for the sprouting garlic and assist it to light. My question is whether I should be completely removing the mulch this time of year in order to air the ground out and maximize sunshine, or should I take advantage of the moisture holding and weed barrier it provides and leave it be. 

And do you water and fertilize yours in upcoming weeks or already now?

Thank you!!!

Hi Renee,

Happy Spring to you too! I hope things are going well at UMass. Glad the newsletter works for you. It is fun to have a mouthpiece.

Here is our protocol with garlic. We definitely go through each row of each bed and assist anyone who got stuck in the mulch. That is what we did last week. But then we gave it a spring fertilization with our mix listed here. This is our mix based on our history and our Logan Labs soil test as to what we need on our farm. Of this mix below we spread 2 gallons on each 600 square feet bed.

  • 4 lbs. Solubor
  • 5 lbs. Redman salt
  • 30 lbs. Potassium sulfate
  • 15 lbs. Manganese sulfate
  • 4 lbs. Zinc sulfate
  • 25 lbs. Gypsum
  • 2 lbs. Elemental sulfur
  • 100 lbs. Pro Gro

Additionally we spray our garlic each week with our vegetative spray which is the following recipe. Of course we only spray a small amount of this recipe that is mixed with 3 1/2 gallons of water (1 quart of the mix per tank).

  • 2 quarts holocal
  • 2 quarts photomag
  • 1 quart sea stim
  • 1 pint rebound Manganese
  • 1 pint rebound copper
  • 1 cup rebound iron
  • 25 grams micro 5000
  • 1 pint rejuvenate
  • 1 quart of saturated epsom salts

I am all in favor of leaving the mulch on, and even enhancing it with more mulch (which we did last week) after harvesting all the dandelions that came up. I have found that with this management strategy I can almost entirely ignore the garlic until we go in to harvest the scapes in late June. The thick mulch encourages many earthworms and a rich microbial plentiful soil.

Best, Julie

Hi Julie, 

I had just one other garlic question. When I apply the spring fertilization, I’m assuming I need to remove all of the straw mulch so that it’s applied directly to the soil. Is that true? I have 60 pounds of garlic so if that’s the case it will be quite tedious…!

And as far as applying the fish emulsion, is it just as effective to use a watering can and add that on top of the mulch (or directly to the soil if that’s better)?

Thank you!!!

Top of mulch, Renee, it will get there as it needs to. Save time!

Musical  Opportunities

Circle of Song Concert, May 14

You are cordially invited to our spring concert of the Circle of Song on this May 14 at 7 pm at the Barre Town Hall, corner of Exchange Street and Mechanic (the big white box on the east side of the Common). We will be performing the following pieces – Silver Rain, African Psalm, Can’t Buy Me Love, Lullaby, Alma Llanera, Locus Iste guest conducted by the composer, Tom Martin, Isle of Hope, Last Words of David, Sounds of Silence, Down by the Riverside, Celtic Blessing and a horn and piano duet. There will be great refreshments at the end, including Jack’s famous deviled eggs.

Play with the Quabbin Community Band this summer

This ensemble and its predecessors are over 100 years old. Truly a community band, QCB is made up of professionals all the way down to beginners. We read each concert on a Monday night and play it the next Sunday for 10 concerts. All are welcome to drop in and to take off as vacation or other plans conflict. We start rehearsals on Monday, May 9 at the Barre Town Hall, 6:30 – 8:30 pm and our first concert is Sunday, June 19, Father’s Day. Contact me if you are needing a nudge to pull out the instrument. Margaret Reidy is our conductor this summer, a consummate musician, director and very fun to work with.

Farm Doin’s

Big changes to the brooder house this week. Jonathan, Stu and John are mostly responsible for this great restructuring, along with regular morning calls from Chuk to check in with “Big Dog” on all the minutia of turning this once shabby brooding area into a chicken palace.



We did accomplish the planting of our chard, parsley, spinach, a bed of Chinese cabbage and two of the four beds of onion seedlings. This was amidst excessive wind, cold, some hail and rain, blowing tarps (they just love to take off on these super windy days). In the greenhouse we started our tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and broccoli over the course of 3 days.

We moved some black raspberries into a new location, almost bought a “new truck” (it still needs a little work to make this beater our beater), chopped up some Clare donated Japanese knotweed for tincture, and harvested another round of burdock, yellow dock and dandelions.

Christy put me on a picture budget as I have been a bit extravagant of late.

I surely hope that the week of May 2 isn’t as cold or windy as the week of April 25 was!

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