I am not sure how many holes we have dug here at MHOF over the past 41 years. From fence posts (these have to be very deep), to making rows for row cropped seeds, or holes for potatoes, fruit trees, berries, graves for dogs and cats that have passed, or holes dug in order to extricate large rocks, we have surely made them in the thousands. Thursday, during our weekly “play date” when it is just us on the farm, Clare and I dug 62 holes for rhubarb plants that we are transferring from the high real estate area close to the house to the back of the north field. Cognizant that the deer might just come back again next year, we are planning all of our growing maps for 2024 with those beautiful and hungry animals in mind.
Perhaps it was the beauty of the late fall day with the sun and the breeze, or the knowledge that our time together does have a finite end in sight, or the beautiful feel of the chocolate cake texture of the soil that we were digging in that made the whole experience rise to the top of my week’s memory of good times on the farm. As I thought back on how many holes we have made on the farm, mostly Jack and I at first and then a long stream of other shovelers, I gloried in this simple practice that I can share with many generations of farmers the world over.
Expressing Gratitude this Week
Matt is definitely the winner this week. With Jonathan leaving at the end of December, I am scurrying to find some folks to take over and manage his responsibilities with equal care, diligence and aptitude. Matt agreed on Friday to take over as our “machine guy” and is starting his training on Monday. Matt will be doing this while he holds down a full-time job as a Worcester firefighter. Matt, we love you.
Videos from this Week
Danny and James’ birthdays
Jonathan explains the chickenhouse progress
Meat for Sale at MHOF
At this writing we have 7 tom turkeys unspoken for and the last 5 of those will go on “provisional” status until we deliver them to the slaughterhouse on Sunday, November 19 and we are sure that we have the magic 97 number.
Many Hands Make a Farm
We now have copies available for sale of, Many Hands Make a Farm. The price is $25 each and if you buy one from us, the $12.50 that we clear will go directly to the Many Hands Sustainability Center. And if you would like us to sign your copy, we can do that too!
“When Julie and I told each other years aga that our children were our most important work, I don’t think we had a clear idea of what that meant. I know I was unprepared for the quite unique characters who emerged from our union. Yes, they are your children, but often, particularly as they grow older, you wonder where they could possibly have come from. This means that to be a good parent you need not only to love but more and more listen and to adapt, even when it is uncomfortable. My best advice is the recognize that and get used to how little your thoughts and words will matter, compared to your example. – pages 86 & 87
From Lucian Kim, our first apprentice, who is now a well-known journalist –
“A quintessential American story of pioneering, innovating, and bucking conventional wisdom. It is also a testimony to the simple, good life, with practical tips on everything from how to build a farm to how to raise a family.”
Summer CSA wrap up
Julie and I asked what you thought, we got an earful.
Of our 150 CSA families, we heard from 27, or 18%. 8 picked up at the farm in Barre, 5 in Holden, 4 in Worcester, 3 in Gardner, the rest in Shrewsbury, Warwick, Gardner or Athol. Asked for an overall evaluation on a scale of 1 to 10, the CSA was rated at 9.0. Quality of produce, on the same scale, earned 9.2%. Among the respondents 68% felt their share size was just right, 24% felt it was too much, and 8% (one each with small and medium shares) wanted more. Slightly more than half the respondents were first year shareholders.
General comments were mostly favorable, such as:
“I loved the diversity of veggies! And so delicious too!”
“MHOF veggies are the key to my health, in body, mind, and spirit. The flavors, colors, and textures are a sensual delight! The flavors are strong, surprising, and real! Store bought veggies are so boring and bland in comparison.
“I can’t find produce as fresh or varied in Worcester compared to MHOF!”
“Lush, green green, vibrant, healthy,”
Dropped in with the compliments, however, were occasional comments about our mention of Robert F Kennedy Jr. 3 members expressed mild disagreement with us: “[He is] harmless, and you are entitled to your opinions in your newsletter”, “We don’t all have to agree to do good work together”, and “Disliked the veer into politics, i.e. RFK Jr, though I appreciated the open discourse.” 3 were stronger, however: “I was VERY disappointed to see the promotion of an antivaxxer”, “I don’t want to read about your misguided politics in the newsletter”, and “I want to hear about the farm and I want to support your efforts. I’m happy to hear about local legislation that will help you…[But] I don’t want to know your views about political candidates.”
We are sorry that some members feel this way. It seems to us that one of the problems with public life in America right now is the ‘echo chamber’ – that so many of us listen only to those who already share our views. I guess it is easier to discredit someone whom you haven’t heard. We focus this newsletter on topics related to our farm. We mostly talk about food quality, farming practices, and local people and happenings. When we veer into larger issues, as will undoubtedly happen occasionally, we will try to keep it related to our work. If this is too uncomfortable for you, it is certainly your right to unsubscribe or not belong.
If, however, you want to engage us with questions or alternative ideas we are happy to do that. We’ll publish emails and respond respectfully to what you write. We certainly don’t think we have all the answers and do believe that time invested exploring public policies is well spent.
If you haven’t yet filled out the survey, please take a minute to fill out the survey linked here. https://forms.gle/bfGAkiyUPEWbtcVP8. We will hold open the survey until the end of the month. –Julie
Fall CSA News – Week 2
Remember, everyone, that this CSA runs for 4 weeks. The fourth and final week will all be picked and distributed on Monday, November 20, even for the folks who will be picking up on Wednesday and Friday on the three previous weeks.
We hope to have a great selection for our first week –
- Spinach – it is growing nicely under row cover
- Cilantro/dill – the cold wasn’t as deep as promised last week and it looks like we can do some nice bunches of these herbs
- Lettuce or Asian from hoophouses – I am really enthusiastic about these plants
- Turnips – big purple tops from the field
- Arugula – large but extremely tasty leaves
- Carrots – we started into our last crop of these on Wednesday. Though the deer have trimmed a lot of the tops, the roots below were able to grow enough before the deer came in. I am super excited about these.
- Leeks – our second and perhaps final week of this scarce vegetable in 2024 – I will blame this insufficiency mostly on the excess rain this year
- Potatoes – still strong, holding in the root cellar
- Garlic – winding down, maybe one more week after this
- Squash – many of these squashes are starting to go in spots, so we just keep cutting them up and processing them for the freezer. Be sure to eat your squashes sooner rather than later. If any rotten spots show up, just cut them out.
- Onions – in good shape in the basement
Volunteering at MHOF
Two folks came to volunteer this past week. Petra is a now and again volunteer who excelled in cabbage cutting this week.
And Doug, a friend of Scott’s, just retired and is checking us out for some sort of commitment to the farm. His claim to fame this week was fence construction for our newly moved black raspberry trellis.
Good Health Info
Daughter Ellen and her collaborator, Sheila Guarnagia do a zoom about the gut biome and explicitly about bitters. Enjoy this talk and if you want to reach out to either of them, here they are
Ellen – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheila – email@example.com
If once you have listened to this and you feel you can’t live without bitters in your life, remember that you can buy them from us. $20/4oz. bottle, plus shipping. Enquire.
Jennifer’s recipe for the week
Vegetable Frittata with Bok Choi and Spinach
- 1-2 cups chopped Bok Choi
- 3 cups Spinach
- 1 small Onion, sliced
- 4-5 Eggs
- 1/3 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes (fresh could be used too)
- 1/4 cup Goat Cheese
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a cast iron skillet, melt butter on stovetop.
- Add onions, cooking for 3 minutes.
- Add bok choi and cook another 4 minutes.
- Lay spinach on top of the onion/bok choi mixture and pour eggs over the vegetables.
- Top with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese.
- Put in oven and cook for 5 minutes.
- Change oven from bake to high broil for about 2-4 minutes, checking frequently to make sure it does not burn.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
- Sliced Avocado would be a nice addition here.
Son Dan has potatoes
$3/lb. – North Brookfield – contact him at 978-257-2627; firstname.lastname@example.org
Food preservation – We made 40 quarts of sauerkraut this week, which is presently sitting in the bathtub, and two more big pots of winter squash
Cooler update – The folks who are installing our new walk in will be here on Tuesday. Hopefully we will be back on line for Wednesday’s CSA. Exciting.
Chicken house update – windows are in and 1 ½ sides are sided!
First Fall share – we picked everything on Monday because the forecast was pretty dire and then stored the leftovers in the root cellar against the cold
Maggie impressed by the size of the Brussels sprouts
Finishing up moving blueberries and black raspberries –
Black raspberries all moved into their new home. And we moved over another 7 blueberries from the annex too. The hill below the house is now 100% full of its residents – a trellis each of blackberries and black raspberries, and 49 blueberries.
Jackson negotiating with Doug about who will be wearing the ear protectors when pounding posts!
Tractor school – we are working slowly to pass on Clare’s tractor skills to next year’s crew. Leslie was the student this week – and although short and having a hard time reaching the peddles, Clare says she is good!
Hoop house management – we weeded all three hoophouses this week, then spread ashes around them to help with the slugs that particularly enjoy the Asian greens, and then covered them with remay. As you can see, they are beautiful!
We did cover a bunch of stuff with remay, but the promised super cold temperatures didn’t materialize.
Life can be challenging if you are a pig
Link to buy J and J’s book – Many Hands Make a Farm-