Work/Life Balance

I was sure that the worst of the heat was past us, but then the last few days have been pretty oppressive. Perhaps the wonderful pass that we got on heat up until July 15 was just pushing off the heat until a little later in the season. Regardless, it has been difficult to stay centered, focused and happy while working outside, just to come in and feel the heat up through the night. Normally there is a time between about 5-7 am where I can run around to check the meat birds, let the dogs off their night shift, give the seedlings a spritz and bathe my feet in the dewy grass, and that is my recharge time. Friday morning was dew-less and sticky and I found myself behind the eight ball before I even got started on the day.

Friday Hannah and Joey were over, farming partners of Peter, who works here two days per week. We were discussing work/life balance, a challenging topic for farmers who must follow the sun, but also must rejuvenate and recharge. The mere act of discussing strategies for how to joyfully manage this reality is of great help, if only because misery loves company. But as we ponder this issue, especially in the unrelenting heat, we start to come up with balancing strategies, so that Clare and Jonathan and I and all of the wonderful less than full-time people who focus effort on this farm, can continue lovingly to steward the work here. Now is the time where we try on different scenarios – less land more carefully tended with more animal and cover crop rotations, perhaps less animals, and more diligent management of our off season prioritizing perennial management and tool organization, repairs both mechanical and of a carpentering nature. My goal is to continue farming well into my 70s and 80s, while factoring in some vacation time, real down time every day to play and learn, time to continue to strengthen my relationship with Jack and my family, see friends, play and sing music, and all with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Oppressive heat has a way of requiring attention to one’s functionality while under stress. In that way it is a blessing.

Hannah is on the left


More on Breathing

Lots of response on this one over the past week. Dave stopped me after band practice to speak delightfully about George Catlin’s work in the 1830’s studying and painting native Americans on the plains of the American west. Catlin noted that mothers would carefully close babies’ mouths after breastfeeding to encourage nose breathing. He wrote “Shut Your Mouth to Save Your Life” in 1862. His work is definitely worth checking out.

Daughter Ellen sent a link to a breathing program organized by Ari Whitten of the Energy Blue Print. I signed up for this course – Breathing for Energy, and will see where it takes me. Meanwhile, my mouth is shut!

From Laurie:

Julie, I have read and enjoyed both breathing books you mention. Patrick McKeown is amazing, and I recently read James Nestor.

About 6 years ago, (after a yoga teacher mentioned I must breathe through my mouth to stimulate the parasympathetic system- rest, digest and build) I got online to learn how to nose breathe. I came across videos of McKeown teaching Buteyko nasal breathing. It really only took me about 10 minutes to learn to do it. He helped save my sanity. I had been a long time mouth breather as I had some awful, low-oxygen childhood experiences in my dad’s unpressurized small plane. I have been trying to correct the PTSD (or learn to live with it) since then. Patrick M  4 minutes… changed my life…

Unblock your Nose in 3 minutes – stop snoring -,

Snoring significantly reduces when the nose is unblocked. Patrick McKeown, author of 7 books including ‘The Oxygen Advantage’ ‘Close Your Mouth’, and ‘Sleep with Buteyko’ (the book for snoring and sleep apnea) shows how to unblock your nose in a few minutes.

Videos from MHOF this week

Weeding beets and carrots

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Freezing beans

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Making applesauce

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Transitioning from peas to green beans and cucumbers

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How to preserve summer squash

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How to preserve chard

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CSA Updates This Week

Coming up this Week

  • Lettuce is back – a new crop attempting to beat the heat

  • Kale
  • Chard

  • Cabbage, broccoli or collards
  • Basil – this crop is struggling in the heat. Friday Peter and Joey and I went through and seriously trimmed it hoping that it will rejuvenate without all of the black spots.
  • Tulsi – Holy basil, will also be on the docket this week. Enjoy this as a tea, or as an addition to salads and stir fries
  • Summer squash and/or zucchini – with the heat the cucumbers have gone down hill, but this past Friday’s squashes were healthier than ever. We have been focusing on soil drenches and specific foliars to keep the plants out of stress; check out the sheen

  • Cucumbers – still coming
  • Green beans – we had a flush on Monday and on Friday from some plants that are challenged by Mexican bean beetles. The purple striped rattlesnakes are in this week

  • Beets – we are nearing the end of these four beds that have been supporting our needs for about 8 weeks
  • Peppermint – a nicely established bed now right next to the yellow hoop house

  • Garlic – enjoy a bulb from our storage this week
  • Carrots – I know they didn’t materialize last week – we will dig some this week for you
  • Tomatoes – they are starting and there will be a few this week – not sure for how many folks

Bulk Sale Items

Right now, we have extra zucchini and summer squash. It is $3/lb., but if you buy 25 lbs. or more, we will sell it to you for $2/lb. Give me a call if you would like some for putting by as dried squash or squash puree. (978) 257-1192

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch.

Volunteer at MHOF

Jonathan has Muscovy ducks for sale

4-6 week old Muscovy Ducklings for Sale in Sutton. Pastured with their mothers and fed organic grain from Green Mountain Feeds. Hens are great mothers, raising 2-3 clutches a year. Quiet, great foragers and excellent meat ducks. Perfect for small farms and homesteads.

Asking $15 per duckling. Text Jonathan at 774-222-3531.

Farm Doin’s

The week started on Saturday last week with Raffi and Doodle here all week end and eager to make some money. Besides fixing hoses, making up foliars and drenches, doing chores, preserving food, mowing and blueberry picking, we had some great time to go swimming and play ball too, and cards before bed!

Fixing hoses with dad

I have noticed that boys who help chop vegetables are more likely to eat them also!

Our days were organized around the heat last week. One early morning Kamarin and I were sure we were going to expire after making some long moves with the layers. The layers and meat birds are right now on some “straight runs” which means just one house length per day.


Jake and Kamarin moving layers

The turkeys are doing a little fertilizing in the front yard and also we can keep a close eye on them while they are still quite young. Soon they will head to the home orchard.

We were able to get the west field all weeded – good crop of beets coming, but the carrots did not germinate well. And we replanted several beds in the west to late beets, rutabaga, dill and arugula.

Kalina, Scott and Jake making rows for dill in beds previously planted to lettuce.

We also finished mulching peppers and celeriac, a task left undone from the previous week.

In the north we ripped out the peas and replanted the trellises to pole beans and cucumbers. We also tied the tomatoes and mowed between them. Kamarin has taken on the task of annihilating every tomato hornworm that he comes upon, except those that are already infested with parasitic wasp larvae.

He left on Friday with the commitment to check each and every tomato this week!

Pretty attractive little fellows! One bit me while I was ripping it in half…

In the south field we finished weeding the tulsi while Jonathan did some stirrup hoeing of our new crop of lettuce and brassicas planted the previous week, and at week’s end we were able to a reasonable handle on the corn weeding. This week we will finish that job and thin the corn some before throwing the peas vines in and doing a multi-species cover cropping in the pathways.

In the pond field we removed a tarp and planted 6 beds of carrots and 1 bed of purple top turnips. All this past week we have been soaking the planting rows with water before seeding as precipitation is scarce in this time period.

Here is our melon house (yellow house). We sprayed our heat stress foliar early in the week and then there was a flush of flowers.

Spraying is an integral part of each morning. Some double combination of Clare, Jonathan, Kamarin and Peter spend almost an hour each day with foliars and soil drenches to keep production high and support plant health.

We are constantly moving tarps off and on various parts of the fields.

And hauling sand bags around

Thursday 10 folks from the Bionutrient Food Association from Chicago and Acton came for lunch and 17 of us shared food out on the driveway at picnic tables in the best shade we could find on that hot day.

Friday was highlighted with a visit of two guys, Lee and Dan from NCAT who were interviewing farmers about barriers to organic growing. Nice visit.

Hopefully we can ponder work/life balance with lower temperatures this upcoming week.


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