Since Dan introduced Clare and me to T and J enterprises and their “bubbly” product, as we called it, we have been tinkering with making brews and weed soaks to enhance our foliar vegetable and fruit feeding program. Graeme Sait, one of my favorite Australian ag consultants (Christine Jones is the other one), ran a podcast this past week with a great recipe. Here is the link to the 2:47 minute podcast for your enjoyment.

Small Beginnings: The Dynamics of DIY Living Fertilisers

Here is the recipe as I took it down. We are going to make it priority to produce this recipe and use it in 2023.

Lactobacillus Tea 200-liter brew

  • Add 1 Kg of rice to 2-liter jar topped with water and screw on the lid only modestly. Shake well.
  • Leave the jar for 7-10 days, during which time the CO2 will escape
  • Discard the curd on the top.
  • Add this serum to 18 liters of milk in a 20-liter bucket with a lid that has a one-way valve that one would use in brewing wine.
  • After 10 days there will be a 3 cm very probiotic-rich curd which you now remove and feed it to the chickens or dogs or cats or pigs . . ..
  • Add the bucket of lactobacillus serum and add it to 200-liter container, add in 10 liters of molasses, and top it off with water and cover. Again, you need to put an airlock in the lid.
  • In 10 days, it should be completed. You can test the pH with a meter and if it is around 3.5 you are good to go. It will stay stable for up to 2 years
  • When spraying on soil, use 20 liters/hectare with 5 liters of molasses
  • When spraying as a foliar on leaves, use 2-5 liters of foliar per hectare along with 2 liters of molasses

What does a lactobacillus tea do for us, anyway? According to Graeme, it

  1. Fast tracks compost production in either aerobic or anerobic situations
  2. Rapidly converts crop residue to humus
  3. Improves soil structure
  4. Promotes growth promotion and seed germination
  5. Improves phosphate release
  6. Enhances disease control
  7. Promotes fermentation vs. putrefaction. Say for instance that you have a smelly pig pen. Spraying this tea on the manure will remove the foul smell

Farm Videos From Last Week

Leaf collection

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Working in the annex

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Pig management

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Rock dusting

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CSA Updates This Week

Fall CSA Now Over

Christy sent out a nice survey this week. Please fill it out and submit to give us needed feedback. And if you were a summer shareholder and haven’t yet filled out a survey, please do so. Here are both links for your convenience -thanks!

Summer CSA Shareholder Survey

Fall CSA Shareholder Survey

Join the 2023 Summer and Fall CSA Early

Actually, we will be raising prices for 2023 for both the summer and the fall share, but between now and December 31 you can pay 2022 prices. This provides savings for you and helps us hopefully squeak by with our break-even budget. Financial solvency for farmers is elusive at best. You can follow this link – https://mhof.net/csa-share-options/

Been thinking about joining our CSA but not yet made the commitment?

Reason number 1 to join the MHOF CSA before December 31

If you eat all the numptious foods in our CSA, you will see improvements in your health, especially if you remove all processed foods from your diet at the same time. One of the first things that people who eat our vegetables notice is improved bowel function. And a healthy bowel means that there is none of that putrefaction mentioned above in your system. We don’t do well carrying around our own personal sewers!

More support planned for CSA members

One of the concerns that new CSA members expressed in their surveys was a complaint of over-abundance of Swiss chard, parsley and sometimes kale. This is not uncommon with first-timers, many of whom never come back. Another time I will talk about the reasons where there is so much of the aforementioned vegetables, but this week I wanted to announce a new feature that we are planning for CSA launch next year, 26 Swiss chard recipes (a new one for each week of the CSA). This will be vetted by our best MHOF chefs and will reside on our website. Thus, I am officially calling all Swiss chard recipes. 

Here are my parameters.

  • No processed foods
  • Must contain at least 75% of its ingredients available to be purchased at local organic farms
  • Please, deceptively simple and nutritious and easy to prepare by the person who is on the run.

Okay, send them in and Christy and Clare and I (the aforesaid “best MHOF chefs”) will test them for inclusion!

Health Issues

Yes, Vaccines Can and Do Cause Autism
by Jennifer Margulis and Zoey O’Toole

Thanks to Laurie for sending this one along. Jennifer Margulis is the daughter of famous scientists Lynn Margulis and Carl Sagan and has not fallen far from either tree.


Pork for Sale

The pigs go to slaughter on Wednesday, December 14. If you would like to put in a specific order for any of our cuts of pork, please do so by Friday, December 9. After that, you are welcome to buy any pork that we have left over once we get it back from the butcher circa December 23.


Working Shareholders Always Welcome

Yes, you can still add yourself to the MHOF workforce. Starting the first full week of December we are hosting working shareholders on M and F mornings with a modest pay check of 1 dozen eggs, a quart of frozen apple or pear sauce and greens from the hoop houses while they last.

Last week I sent a letter to the 2022 working shareholders and received this reply –

Hi Julie,

Thanks for the great summary. I cannot even explain how much being a working shareholder has meant to me personally and to my family. So much gratitude to you and Jack for what you’ve created and continue to build there on the farm. The energetics to me has been as important as the work…sitting around the table for meals, working side by side with fellow humans, putting down the cares and concerns of our over-complicated existences, and remembering the essences of what truly matters in the time we have in physicality on the planet 🙂 Jill

Volunteer at MHOF

Community Opportunities

Workshops in 2023

Yes, Clare, Jonathan and I are jazzed to run a number of on farm workshops in 2023. Watch for details, and please submit ideas for shops that you would like to attend – at julie@mhof.net.

Circle of Song Concert, December 17, 7 pm, Barre Town Hall

Circle of Song will perform a holiday concert on Saturday, December 17 at 7 pm at the Barre Town Hall (corner of Exchange and Mechanic Streets). As usual, the performance will be an eclectic one which will feature Christmas Carols and audience participation.

Esto Les Digo by Kinley Lange is an a cappella setting of Matthew 18 in Spanish. The English translation of the text is “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there will I be also.” Karen Guertin will solo.

Mzi Wase Afrika by BB Myataza is a South African freedom song, and is a Circle of Song favorite. Mark Doyle will be the featured soloist.

Morten Lauridsen is renowned for his slowly moving and intricately beautiful music. O Magnum Mysterium mimics classic Gregorian choral pieces in its style but with some modern influence as well. Lauridsen recounts that his inspiration for the piece came from a painting he saw titled “Still Life with Lemons, Oranges, and a Rose” (1633) by Spanish Baroque artist Francisco de Zurbaran which Lauridsen said was symbolism for the Virgin Mary. Lauridsen said he worked on the piece over a period of six months and put considerable thinking into a certain dissonant note to comment on the sorrow that the Virgin Mary would later face as her son was killed.

Tom Martin, former music director and Quabbin Regional in the 90’s has written and given to Circle of Song 2 pieces over the past year to feature. At the upcoming concert, the chorus will perform Homage to Ward, a scat piece to honor Ward Swingle of the Swingle Singers.

Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) is another Circle of Song favorite. Running about 6 – 7  minutes, it is Mozart at his best with lots of wonderful runs and weavings of the four parts. It is triumphal and sonorous, fast paced and engaging.

Mary Had a Baby arranged by Robert Shaw is a 19th century a Capella Christmas carol, with rich tonal harmonies. Julie Rawson will solo.

The audience will be asked to participate with 5 standard Christmas carols, Joy to the WorldThe First NoelLo, How a Rose E’er BloomingO Come All ye Faithful, and Angels we Have Heard on High. The Circle of Song house band populated by Danny LeBlanc on piano, Melissa Brown and Nancy Afonso on flute, Christina Thompson on clarinet, Abe Brown on tuba and Cailan McClure and Julie Rawson on French horn will accompany.

As a concert finale, the chorus will ask members of the audience to come up and join them in performing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. This was a long-held tradition at Quabbin Regional High School in the past and Circle of Song is happy to reinstate this event that leaves all members of the chorus and the audience in a state of great energy and enthusiasm.

Circle of Song is a multi-generational chorus that sings in 4-part harmony with and without piano accompaniment. Though the music is often demanding, all singers are supported by strong section leaders and good choral practices that build a beautiful and very fulfilling ensemble experience. Contact Julie Rawson, co-director with Nancy Afonso, for more information – 978-257-1192, julie@mhof.net, or show up at the next rehearsal which will take place on January 19, at 411 Sheldon Road, Barre, MA.

Farm Doin’s

Oh, let me tell you how much I enjoy not picking vegetables. Well, we did harvest a few heads of beautiful lettuce, bok choi and tatsoi from the hoophouses on Monday morning, but that was it. Instead, with our freed-up vegetable time we were able to:

  • Finish putting away 5 cords of wood we bought
  • Gather 7 more totes of leaves – 21 totes left to fill this week
  • Finish spreading our rock dust on all veg areas, fruit trees and small fruit
  • Finish getting our annex fruits – blueberries and grapes, and aronia, weeded and ready for winter. They just need some wood chips
  • Clean up our tool area
  • Take down a trellis of black raspberries that has been floundering
  • Move the pigs into the trellised area of the north field where they are doing some nice weeding under the trellises
  • Clean up the area at the end of the driveway that collects things like totes of potting soil, pallets, ladders, sand, gravel, etc.
  • Redesign the most recent pig yard with the tractor (Jonathan scrapes out the bumps and fills the caverns that they make, spreads the manure around with the bucket of the tractor and then plants rye for the winter).
  • Huge progress on the shed repair and rejuvenation
  • Much progress on the second and third floor of the barn clean up
  • Made some mugwort tincture
  • Collected and sent off a total mineral assay soil test – this test tells you what is available in your parent soil which is different from a normal soil test which tells you what is available in your upper levels for plant utilization

It was so much fun! This week we must get those totes filled with leaves and start making progress on spreading wood chips. The winter and snow clock is ticking!

We have some nice greens in the hoophouses

Skippy and Dingo are quite tolerant of their chicken friends

Weeding the blueberries in the annex

Hauling the full totes of leaves to the edge of the field

Stacking wood

Almost done with the rock dust


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