Just stay at the center of the circle

“Just stay at the center of the circle and let all things take their course.”

— Taoist Saying

I was always taught that the humble thing to do was to not stick out, not be the center of attention, but make sure others’ needs were met. Great 50’s and 60’s advice for girls, for sure. When I came upon this saying today, however, I realized that staying at the center of the circle isn’t a value judgment, but good advice about how to stay “centered’ in our own individual life experience. Indeed, when we daily come back to who we really are, our lives unfold with amazing ease. Removing all the shoulds and coulds and what we think others expect of us gives us the freedom to fully express our essence. And then people and experiences arrive that resonate with who and what we are. Very simple and also very elegant.

Farm Videos From Last Week

Making pork stock

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Lard production

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Turning over hoophouses

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Fresh greens for the chickens

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Inspiring people in my life this week

On New Year’s Day, son Dan took Raffi and Doodle out to do a hydrology project. The west field has a river running down the middle of it due to the lay of the land and the flow of water off of the hills. With a short two hours of work they had all of the water flow running down the side of the hill, making more available a half-acre of land for better agricultural use. I do believe he knows and loves our land much more deeply than I ever could.

Raffi and Doodle putting final touches on the swale

A few years ago, Dave Petrovick agreed to take on our machine repair and consultation work. And this week he tightened up our wood stove leaks and fixed our ash pan which had a gaping hole in it. He is a master at whatever job he takes on and we are so very lucky.

Dave with the new ashpan

Son Chuk has taken on the shepherding of Jack’s and my book project. Wednesday night he came over and gave us a long list of tips for making our book more readable and attractive to our audience. His investment in our success touches both of us deeply.

Chuk deep in conversation with Jack about our book

Mira Evans Buck is only 8, but is clearly an animal whisperer. In her short time here, she has made it clear that she understands animals in a way that few others do.

Mira handfeeding vegetable scraps to the chickens

Don Elmer was my first boss when I was a community organizer in Chicago. He called this week and we spent 1 ½ hours having a deep conversation about life and all of its miracles. It was as if the 51 intervening years just melted away. Early mentors impact our future lives in more ways than we can ever know at the time.

Peg Frost died recently at 95 and Saturday Jack and I attended her celebration of life. Since I met her 40 years ago, I have studied how to pattern my life more after hers. I was not surprised by the innumerable people at the event who had the same response to her inspiring lifestyle of deep community involvement, commitment to family, healthy lifestyle, and energetic and kind engagement with all around her.

CSA Updates This Week

I am elated that folks are joining the 2023 CSA in swift order. January is such a heavy expense month, that if we can keep the borrowing from home finances to nil, we can be off on a good footing. Never too early to sign up!

The prices are in place for 2023 now. In order to keep up with rapidly rising costs of supplies, fertility, machine parts, etc. we did raise our share prices. And we made a couple of changes –

Sliding scale – For those of you who want to support a more affordable share for others, you can pay the top of the range. And for those who are of more limited finances, feel free to choose a lower number.

Delivery/handling fee – Trying to make our PayPal options as manageable as possible, we have decided to fold delivery/handling into the share price.

Here are the rates for 2023
Summer large – $750-$850
Summer medium – $550-$650
Summer small – $425-$525
Fall – $170

SNAP pricing
Summer large – $700
Summer medium – $500
Summer small – $400
Fall – $160
SNAP customers reach out to Julie to set up a payment plan.

Reserve a 2023 CSA Share

Meat for Sale

We have some cuts for sale. All we have left is roasts and regular style ribs. Come on by soon to avoid disappointment. Lard is sold out for the year, by the way.

2022 Meat Chickens
We also have 3 or so chickens from our August batch.

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NOFA/Mass Winter Conference

Julie to Speak at NOFA/Mass Winter Conference

Saturday January 14th, 2023

Raise the Highest Quality Food while Supporting Environmental Diversity
11:00am – 12:30pm

At Many Hands Organic Farm the goal is to raise the most nutritional food possible while improving the ecosystem in which they farm. They employ no-till, cover crops, animals in rotation, heavy mulches, nutritional sprays, rock powders, diverse overlapping systems and tarping strategies on their 40-year old farm. Farmer Julie Rawson will explain how they integrate these strategies and discuss the positive outcomes as well as areas for improvement in technique and management.

Growing, Preparing, Preserving and Eating from the Land

At Many Hands Organic Farm, growers prepare over 4,500 meals per year – quick, from the land, nutritious and packed with vegetables, fruit and farm meat and animal products. Their seven freezers are packed, as are their root cellar and storage shelves. Farmer Julie Rawson will talk about a life centered on food production and will discuss strategies for how to get the food on the table amidst a busy work and life schedule. In-person participants will start the session by chopping vegetables from the cellar to simmer before moving on to the presentation. At the end, soup is served.

More information and registration here.

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

Though we have always counted on our working shareholders to meet the labor needs around here, they have become more essential to accomplishing our work each week. Joining this team assures you a warm place in the MHOF community while also giving you a weekly excuse to stretch your muscles. Working shareholders in January and February are welcome Monday and Friday mornings from 8-12. Come at 7 for breakfast and stay afterward for lunch.

Volunteer at MHOF

Other Resources

Videos from the Outside World

I always find Zach Bush educational and inspirational

Ellen’s Inspirational Newsletter

Sovereign Bellies: Becoming a “Healthy Deviant”

“I love the idea of NOT giving over the reins of power/control of this most essential gift that we have (a body – in which we live out the many joys, trials and experiences of a lifetime) to anyone else, but learning how to wo/man our own ship as it were (with, of course, the guidance and support of trusted practitioners we choose to work with).”

Read the full newsletter here

I liked this one particularly well and want to share with you the means to sign up for daughter Ellen’s monthly newsletter. If you like mine, you might like hers.

Join Ellen’s email list here

Seed Keeping Opportunity

In order to increase the number of growers able to produce high quality, regionally adapted seed in the northeast, a group of educators, experienced seed producers, and regional seed companies will be working together to offer training in seed production and a guaranteed market for specific seed crops during 2023 and 2024. The effort to help 65 commercial growers produce a marketable seed crop will begin in January of 2023. We will start by hosting a virtual intensive at the Northeast Community Seed Conference (part of the NOFA-NY winter conference), scheduled for February 2nd-5th, followed by five weeks of online course work developed and led by experienced seed producers and hosted by the Organic Seed Alliance. This work is funded through generous support of a Northeast SARE Research and Education grant.

If you are interested in taking part in this seed production training and mentorship series, please fill out the quick intake form by visiting this link https://cornell.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eVE6pUlHbQSellc. If you have any questions about the project, or need help accessing the form, please reach out to Crystal Stewart Courtens at cls263@cornell.edu.

Farm Doin’s

Monday, we tackled the haybarn, a shed that we put up 40 years ago. Under Clare and Jonathan’s direction we found a solid space for our metal roofing sheets, sorted our metal fencing, and moved our metal posts from inside the haybarn where they were taking down the west wall to a nice stack on a pallet. We cleared all the brush and small trees and had a monstrous bonfire of old pallets and brush.

Before that project we cut up the rest of the fatback and over the course of the week made up all of our lard for the year.

My gosh, we have a lot of fenceposts

Roofing neatly stashed behind the haybarn

Storage area all clipped, cleaned and stacked

Cassie takes a moment with Eloise

Thursday, we started on pig heads which we make into stock. Only 7 to go. Clare and Holly turned over the basement greenhouse from head lettuce that was all harvested to now a planting of mesclun. We hope to get a few more fresh greens before we have to turn the house greenhouse into a seedling house.

Friday, we cut the rest of our greens from our 3 hoophouses and were able to replant the orange house before we ran out of time. We also cut down 4 dead trees in the west field and finished up cleaning up the barways that we had started on Monday. This kind of progress on brush and tree work makes me very excited as we sometimes let it go for years at a time.

Jill, Clare and Paula deep into a pig head

A big overdue project is unfolding as we work on a system for keeping our flowerboxes out of reach of the somewhat lazy cats who like to use them as cat boxes. Randy and Jonathan are in process on this one.

Malvina after a hard day on the farm

I stumbled into this photo of our “refrigerator tree” on Saturday morning. We found this tree growing out of a discarded refrigerator that we found in our woods in the 80’s. We planted it in this prominent place outside our back door – celebrating its ability to thrive under adverse conditions.


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