Bite off more than you can chew every day and then chew it

“Bite off more than you can chew every day and then chew it.”

-Camilla Ella Williams

Well now, that is a tall order! I love to rub shoulders with folks who operate in their lives with this kind of perspective. Lately I have been intrigued by the writing of Michael Singer who guides us to actualize this kind of lifestyle each day through letting go of all of the little hurts, annoyances, affronts, etc. that actually sap our energy. How, you might ask? It is as simple, or as difficult, as watching yourself when one of these aforementioned feelings comes up, and then going to the next step of sitting with it, observing it, and letting it go. As I am reminded again of these practices and refocus on watching myself and my feelings, I realize that I have a lot of unproductive feelings to dissolve! But there is no time like an early spring on the farm to be motivated to marshal all of the energy that I have available to me. This week I am enamored with his book, The Unfettered Soul.

Expressing Gratitude this Week

Not gratitude per se, but admiration for a couple of living beings that have worked extra hard to pull through. Hop A Long is a laying hen who lost a leg last summer while on pasture. Someone from the wild world dug into our outdoor chicken tractors and chewed off her leg. She has been managing without that leg for several months now. When the chickens were free range, she was able to stay away from the other chickens and not be targeted for pecking by these birds that have a natural instinct for killing off the weaker specimens. But when we went back out on pasture, she was locked into a house with 25 other birds and had less opportunities to keep out of the line of fire. The first couple of days out, she got beat up pretty bad. But soon she learned to reside under the hanging feeder or one of the egg boxes that are attached to the side of the house. The other day I saw her hanging out under the feeder, reaching up quickly to get some grain and ducking back under to avoid attack. There is usually an egg on the ground in that house each day, and I assume that it is hers.

Hop A Long

Then there is the Baldwin apple tree that took it in the chin with fireblight back in 2021. We did some serious pruning (think cancer) and are now trying to reshape the tree with a new leader since we essentially topped the tree to get the fireblight. You gotta love how living things will doggedly strive for life, even under the most difficult conditions.

We planted both of these trees in 1987. The one on the right was struck by fireblight, but is fighting back.

Join the 2023 Summer and Fall CSA

We have 90 shareholders signed up for 2023 and are looking for about 150 in order to meet budget. Now is a good time to take the leap to upgrade how you eat and how you feel. Sign up today. Information is below. Thanks for keeping that CSA application investment coming!

Reason Number 4
When you join the MHOF CSA you are supporting excellent environmental management. Our vegetables are grown in a no till, carbon sequestering, water recycling fashion that improves the soil structure and supports biodiversity in plant, animal and insect life.

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Reason Number 5
At MHOF we pay very fair wages that start at $15/hour, and our employees and volunteers receive our “health insurance” that includes a weekly share, breakfast and lunch – true health insurance.

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Reserve a 2023 CSA Share


Kittens Going on Sale Monday, April 17 at 6 am
These little kids will be 8 weeks old by pick up day – Saturday, April 22 from 1-3 pm. Email me at (no facebook, no calls or texts) to order one. They will cost $50 each – cash or check. No shots. All organic diet. First come, first served.

Farm Videos From Last Week

We are in the process of trying to sign up 1,000 subscribers to our YouTube channel. With that in hand, and with 4,000 hours of viewing, we can then apply to start monetizing our site, which could become a viable income stream for the farm. Right now, we’re at 450 subscribers. Subscribe here.

MHOF on YouTube

Pete, spreading fertilizer

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Chives management

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Bed prep and planting of onion sets

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Working Shareholders Always Welcome

We are able to make the finances work here by working with volunteers who “sing for their supper” so to speak, receiving a large share of produce for their efforts, and undying appreciation and pats on the back. Right now we are taking working shareholders on M, T, Th and F from 8-12  (we have expanded days) with lunch, eggs, and applesauce or hoophouse greens. Come and join us.

David came all the way from Boxford this week to help us out all day on Friday

Joey came for the day on Tuesday, from Rattleroot Farm in Princeton

Ways to Donate to MHSC

Many Hands Sustainability Center – our farm non-profit

Community Fridges

We have been donating food to this elegantly simple project in Worcester whereby four refrigerators are stocked with fresh produce from volunteers, and those in need shop for free at these locations.

We have received some generous Community Fridges donations this year. We have raised $1,600 so far.  To provide 14 summer shares and 14 fall shares there will be a total need of $7840. The Community Fridge folks have committed $3500 as of this week. And with our donations from you all, the amount committed is now $5,100. If we can raise another $2740, we will be able to provide these shares. If you would like to donate for shares you can make a check out to the Many Hands Sustainability Center or make a donation online here:


Thanks in advance for your generosity.

For Sale

Spinach and Arugula Asian Green mix for sale this week

You can order spinach or the arugula mix on Monday for pick up on Tuesday. These crops are for sale at $12/lb. Call or text to Julie at 978-257-1192 to order, or email at First come first served.

Workshops at MHOF

Building and Using a Chicken Tractor

Saturday, April 22, 2023
10 am – noon followed by potluck lunch
Many Hands Sustainability Center
411 Sheldon Road, Barre, MA

Pasturing poultry gives your birds access to the extra nutrients only Nature can supply best. Yet how do you protect them from predators out on grass? A well-designed range-house “tractor” offers security from hawks, owls and four-footed varmints.

Each year we raise 500-600 birds in these “tractors” on pasture. Two people feed and water the animals and move their range houses by hand every day to fresh grass. We will be moving some for this workshop presentation, as well as building one so you can get up close and learn how it is done.

Price for workshop – $25-$75. Register here.

Other Upcoming Workshops

  • Growing Shiitakes Mushrooms on Logs – Saturday May 13; 10-12 with potluck lunch; $25-$75; Jonathan and Clare to lead
  • MHOF vegetable production intensive (all day) – June 10; 10-3 with pot luck lunch; $50-$100; Clare and Julie to lead
  • The Permaculture Farm and Agroforestry hedgerows – June 24; 10-3 with pot luck lunch: $50-$100; Jono Neiger to lead
  • Cooking with your CSA share – July 22; Clare and Julie to do this one. 10-noon with complimentary lunch; $25-$75
  • Food preservation – September 16, Julie, Clare and Jack; 10-2 with pot luck; $50-$100

Register here

Farm Doin’s

It was a week of much activity. We spent some time putting tarps back in place after the heavy winds early in the week. With the addition of a total of 100 sand bags we hope we have tricked Old Mother West Wind!

Retarping the rye bales

Those tarps look well behaved…

Onions were big on the agenda all week. We prepared and planted about 1800 linear feet of onion sets throughout the week. We also took some time to weed and reorganize our chives and planted full beds of radishes and salad turnips.

Look at that beautiful soil

Clare and Tim enjoying row making

The carpenters got one of our new chicken tractors all framed up. Holes were dug for 12 new fruit trees, an investment in the future.

1 down, 11 to go

We spread a lot of fertilizer, finished pruning and reorganizing our red raspberries and made progress on our black raspberry beds. On Friday we did a little bit of yard clean up to gussy the place up a bit. And Jonathan finished the bathroom project.

Concerned about our hoophouse crops, we talked to our AEA consultants and added a little bit of fish to our foliar sprays to help with yellowing of leaves on spinach and kale, and dealt with some purpling in the arugula with the addition of sea stim, sea shield and rejuvenate, to spark more biology in the soil.
It was super hot on Thursday and Friday. I so appreciate that we are back in the 60’s!

Many thanks to Joey, Pete, Tim and David. We can use all the help we can get these busy days as we pivot between annual planting, seed starting, perennial management and tree planting. The tractor is still down, so that adds a little challenge to the operation, but we have our functioning pickup truck (at the moment) and our stellar Subaru farm car!


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