Here in the middle of July we are right smack in the middle of the growing season. As much of New England, notably VT and western Mass are struggling with the excess rain with sometimes disastrous results, we suffer only from rampant weed growth, and a little bit of sogginess in our wetter areas. With rain, some of it torrential, every 36 hours or so, there is not much hope of harvesting any hay from our fields any time soon, and we will probably just cut it and leave it, when we can safely take a tractor on our hayfield. Thursday night I went out to stay with the young layers (only three weeks old and huddling in their chicken tractor during the wild thunderstorm) twice – once at 11 and again at 3. Luckily, they clustered close to one another and made it through the night and were hopping around their pen by sunrise. I sometimes wonder what motivates a farmer to jump out of his or her bed at any hour to address the sometimes-immediate needs that arise on the farm with regularity. I know that a large part of what keeps me able to willingly be on call 24/7 is the dedicated farm staff members who daily operate at top performance, even when it is pouring rain, as it was this past Monday. The kind emails from shareholders and customers also goes a long way. It will be another 4 ½ months until we can call this season completed and I suspect there will be a lot more rough weather ahead. Thanks for being out there and for appreciating those of us who feed you 3 times per day – it means a lot.
Expressing Gratitude this Week
Some personal gratitude to Jonathan who figured out why my computer has been insanely slow for 18 months when he realized that my internet cable was plugged into a defective port on the router. And to Dan and Scott who hooked me up with 2 weeks of kindling from old chicken house boards. Now when I get up in the morning, I can do my important computer tasks and get the fire started and the food cooking with ease, just in time for Kamarin to show up at 6 am.
And a little bit larger, community impact gratitude to Margaret Reidy, the now second year director of the Quabbin Community Band. This band that has roots that go back about 164 years in our Hardwick/Barre Community has been operating continually (I think) under different auspices during that time period. We have been QCB for 50 years this summer, and amongst all of the other qualities that Margaret brings to the band – humor, superb talent as a director, strong organizing skills, compassion, inclusiveness, public relations – she is organizing an alumni concert on Sunday, August 6 at the Barre Common at 6 pm. Under her leadership our numbers have swelled such that we are having a hard time fitting on the bandstand. Not daunted, Margaret just notes that we will move to the lawn if necessary. I am grateful to this person who grew up in the band and has retuned to lead us after a few decades, for her shining example about how to inspire a diverse group (age and experience-wise) of musicians to show up and give it our all each week. 4 more concerts – every Sunday night at 6 pm with a new line up through August 13 on the Barre Common or the Town Hall in case of rain. Thank you, Margaret.
Videos this week
Come to our Cooking with your CSA share workshop – July 22
Happy Birthday, Jonathan
Finishing the tomato mulching
CSA News Week 8
Here is the line up for this week.
Best guess on what will be in your share bags this week
- Basil or Tulsi – you know what to do with the basil; the tulsi is great in tea, or chopped fine in a stir fry or soup – super nutritious
- Summer squash
- Peas – you might get either sugar snaps or shell peas. With sugar snaps, just pop the top off and eat the whole thing, shell and all (they look like crescents). With shell peas they tend to be straighter, and if you bit into the shell you would know to spit it out. Turn these peas over and pop them open from the bottom end and scoop the peas out.
- Green beans
Working Shareholders Always Welcome
It is not too late to join us. Reach out if you would like to help.
I want to give a special shout out to our Saturday crew – Shantel, Alexandria and Sam. As we seem to run short on time to do anything that is not directly animal or vegetable, they helped me this past week make peanut butter balls (sans peanut butter) and fill the porch with wood. And I am looking forward to Kamarin and a couple nieces to help on Sunday.
Alexandria collecting eggs
Sam and Shantel heading out to do meat bird chores
Now is a good time to order broilers for our August 27 slaughter date
They are in the peak of health, devouring fresh grass, comfrey and their organic grain from Green Mountain Feeds. We offer hens at around 5 lbs. and cockerels at around 7 lbs. This is a one-time per year purchase. The birds are whole. We have one per week here at the farm. First, we roast it, then make chicken stock, have another major meal with that, and have a few meals that include chicken salad. It is the best chicken you will ever taste – guaranteed. Order via the link below.
Ways to Donate to MHSC
We are now providing 14 summer shares to these folks and only need $1000 more to provide 14 fall shares to the Worcester Community Fridges.
If you would like to donate for shares you can make a check out to the Many Hands Sustainability Center and send to 411 Sheldon Road, Bare, MA 01005 or make a donation on line here –
Workshops at MHOF
Cooking with your CSA share
Saturday, July 22, 2023
10 am – noon followed by farm lunch
Many Hands Sustainability Center
411 Sheldon Road, Barre, MA
Taking the large step to buy a CSA share is sometimes followed by overwhelm, especially for those who may not center their eating around vegetables. Clare Caldwell and Julie Rawson, farmers at Many Hands Organic Farm will take the share from the week of July 17 and turn it into a delicious lunch for us all to eat. Last year the CSA received these items during that week – chard, parsley, lettuce, chives, kale, summer squash, cucumbers, beets, sugar snap peas, radishes.
Limit – 12 participants. Price for workshop: $25-$75. Register here:
4 folks are signed up at this moment. We would love to host 8 more.
Other Upcoming workshops:
- Food preservation– September 16, Julie, Clare and Jack; 10-2 with pot luck; $50-$100
- Hedgerows for Food and Diversity; Agroforestry on Farms and Homesteads October 7, Jono Neiger to lead; 10-3 with pot luck; $50-$100
Rain, rain and more rain, followed by periods of heavy, thick heat – it must be July. We picked away at the tomato mulching job and completed it by Thursday, and are slogging through the collards and basil/tulsi beds. In both cases we are not done yet. We made significant progress weeding our two new beet beds and the lettuce and flowers are presently under control.
Hoeing in the pouring rain
2 beds of carrots are almost completely weeded. We finally moved the pigs to a new location in the annex woods on Friday after a mis-attempt on Wednesday.
Sam posing with the pigs in their new yard – thanks Jonathan for masterminding this move
the little layer chicks moved out onto the front lawn
and the turkeys arrived on Thursday.
The sprayers are up and running again, and good thing because we need lots of nutritional support right now with the excessive rain. As I write this on Saturday afternoon there are laying hens cackling outside my window – another break out – seems to be a Saturday thing!
We bought 10 round bales of hay from Neil Johnson in North Brookfield and already used one up on the tomatoes.
On Thursday we planted 2 beds each of fall broccoli and cauliflower
and got started on prepping for 3 beds of cabbage – hopefully to be completed on Monday.
Alexandria enjoying a moment with our new baby turkeys