Jump for Joy

This is an invasives Christmas message today.  I do hope all of us are celebrating the joyousness of life today, whatever our traditions. Jumping is a wonderful activity. Have you ever tried it with a two-year-old? I advise it!

I was on the phone with my friend Noah the other day, and he suggested that if I want to stir up some trouble, I should write about Asian jumping worms. And frankly, I do like to stir up trouble from time to time. They are all the rage these days. Labelled as invasives, or Invasive Asian jumping worms, some folks are concerned that they eat organic matter so quickly that they can be a danger to particularly forest ecosystems. And then comes the invariable question, “Well, how do we get rid of them?” More than one person has turned to me in the past year under great stress over this concern.

Here is my take. We have them on our farm, by the way, and you can tell if you have them when you pull back the mulch and they start to wriggle seemingly uncontrollably. The kinds of worms we are used to are statelier in their behavior. I have noticed them, and in great quantities, particularly where we have a deep mulch and where the crops are growing to almost perfection. This to me is a clue that we are very lucky to have these folks on our property. “But”, people say, “they eat up all the mulch” to which I return, “Then put on more mulch.” What I notice also is that there is a thick layer of highly plant bioavailable worm castings on the soil where they reside – a farmer’s fertilizer gold.

Now I don’t know why they have shown up here, and I don’t really care, because I don’t think I have much power over their presence. I do know, from decades of experience, that more life on the farm, under and on the soil means for higher fertility, better tasting and more bounteous crops, and a diverse ecosystem that attracts all sorts of wildlife – yes, even deer. Hurray, we are a part of nature!

Expressing Gratitude this Week for the Many Hands Farm Staff

We had so much fun at our MHOF Christmas party last Wednesday, despite the fact that we couldn’t all be present. I was standing aside at one point conversing with Dave Petrovick, long time machine guy, MHSC board member and friend, and we marveled at all of the human capital we have invested in this place at this very moment – from Kenny Stambler who helps sell turkeys each Tuesday before Thanksgiving, to Clare Caldwell, who will have completed 16 years of fullish time employment in May.
Thank you, thank you, everyone!

Videos from this Week

Making pork stock

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James regales us after lunch on Monday on the piano

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Scott explains what happened to the chicken house door

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Jonathan receives his chicken house dedication sign

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Stu on Jonathan

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Meat for Sale at MHOF

Watch the website. We will have it all up there by January 1, 2024.

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! We’ll ship one to you also. Enquire. Finally, we will be having a local book signing party on January 14.

Email Julie at julie@mhof.net to buy directly from us or see the link at the bottom of the newsletter to buy online.

We have a great line up of music. Circle of Song will feature 2-3 pieces from our last concert, some of my French horn buddies will be performing in a horn quartet and playing some cool tunes, and Jack and Julie will be putting some of Jack’s famous doggerel to Sunrise Sunset.

We need a new (old) truck

We have been using beaters for many, many years and are looking to upgrade a tad. For under $10,000 we are looking for the following characteristics –

  • An 8-foot bed
  • 4-wheel drive
  • With a cap or a truck that we can fit our existing one on
  • Mechanically reliable
  • Common enough so that parts are available
  • We don’t care about cosmetics

Does anyone have any leads?

Join Next Year’s CSA now and insure our solvency!

You can still get a check to us, or sign up on PayPal before December 31, if you have any extra money lying around. I think we will break even as hoped by the end of the year, but a little cushion can’t hurt. We are already looking forward to bringing you good food starting June.

Come Sing with us

Circle of Song starts up again on Thursday, January 11. We meet on Thursdays from 7:00 – 8:30pm at the Barre Town Hall, 2 Exchange Street. We sing in 4-part harmony and we sing good stuff. Our next concert is Saturday, May 18. Contact Julie at julie@mhof.net.

Ellen’s January Cleanse

Ellen’s 21 Day Gentle Cleansing Program – begins Jan 8th. All details here: https://ellenkittredge.com/cleanse.php
Would you like to:

  • Lose some weight, say goodbye to your cravings, have more energy, and feel fit?
  • Clear up long-standing sinus issues, and chronic congestion?
  • Have a peaceful and refreshing night of sleep?
  • Gain clearer thinking throughout the day?
  • Have glowing, soft skin that makes you look years younger?
  • Identify hidden food allergies that are impacting your health?
  • See actual results of lower cholesterol, lessened markers of inflammation, and other clear results of your body’s physiological changes on blood work (as many past cleansers getting blood work pre- and post-Cleanse have shared with me)
  • Or, have you always wanted to do a cleanse but feel you need the support of others to be successful?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, The Gentle Winter Healing Cleanse is a great fit!
This Cleanse offers detoxification for the body and renewal for the soul! Plus, it’s a great way to reset in the New Year.
Please read here for all the details, and send any questions to Ellen directly. https://ellenkittredge.com/cleanse.php

Warming, delicious, low inflammatory food is the best! When you feel better after eating something at this time of year, which is often filled with so many inflammatory foods that leave you feeling icky and low (after an initial sugar high), that’s a huge win in my book!
Here’s one of my favorite recipes in this category.

The ingredients are nourishing for the kidneys and spleen, and support exactly what we need to balance and heal this time of year. Please Email Ellen (ellen_kittredge@yahoo.com) if you’d like a copy of this recipe, and if you join the Cleanse you can except a multitude of recipes like this! https://ellenkittredge.com/cleanse.php

Volunteering at MHOF

Be in touch, we love volunteers – M, T, F – 8-noon with lunch. Things are a little erratic until the end of the year. We are hosting volunteers Friday, December 29. We will start up normally again on January 2.

Worcester Community Fridges

Here is their annual report – https://opencollective.com/worcestercommunityfridges/updates/2023-annual-update. Thanks to so many of you who made 7 shares possible from MHOF (they fundraised for the remaining 7 shares.

Emails from Subscribers

Good Morning Julie,

The farm I grew up on in Leicester, a mile past the Worcester line, was between the power lines that ran up Rt 122 and Rt 56 and was to great a distance to “bother” stringing electric wires for 1 house. Maple Hill Farm didn’t get electricity until the late 30ties.  You may remember my Uncle Albert Southwick’s weekly articles in the Sunday Telegram “Down on the Farm” that captured the feeling of living without electricity before the turn of the century, but written years later. I’m surprised a West Texas farm wouldn’t have had a windmill like Maple Hill.

It pumped to a wooden tank in the attic in the old farm house and than gravity feed to the faucets. Water pressure was minimal. The tank had to be monitored, to much wind and the windmill vanes had to be turned and locked out of the wind to keep from overflowing and spilling down from the attic. Not enough wind, or a dry season, and the tank was monitored to keep enough water for bare necessities. Still, it was heads and shoulders above carrying buckets. By my time at Maple Hill, we had an electric well pump, but the wooden tank was still in use.

As my little sister was about to be born, my Mom called out in the middle of the night “I think my water broke”. From a sound sleep, Dad’s instinctive reaction was to head to the attic to check the overflowing tank.

In our early days in Manchaug, I built a small windmill that sat atop a telephone pole in our wetland. A 4″ X 10 foot plastic drain pipe was our well. It only pump, on a windy day, a gallons an hour up the hill into a 200 gallon plastic water tank you would find in a field to water cattle. Slow and steady pumping reliably supplied most of the water for our “way in back” garden.

Denny and Jane LaForce

Nice, Jane, I can see it in my mind’s eye, and great story about your dad and mom. Caro noted that many farmers couldn’t afford to buy a windmill, and that summers were punctuated by almost no wind for months at a time. I also remember a windmill, though not active, on our farm when we moved to it in 1956. I used to enjoy climbing to the top of it. Julie
I wish I was younger and able to help you on the farm
A lot of work but such connection with nature and others.
I am always so impressed with your snippets on all of the people who work together to help

Enjoy the holidays.



Well, Joan, when a friend who was considering working but thought it would be too hard to bend over all of the time, I asked her if she could crawl! You could stop over from time to time and do a little something if you would like. We are an equal opportunity employer. 🙂Thanks for your kind words. We do have a wonderful time here. Love, Julie

Health Stuff

There is a lot today. I got behind on my email.

Fasting and Longevity Summit – free event by Dr. Talks – https://drtalks.com/fasting-longevity-summit/?oid=61&ref=2327&uid=637&utm_source=campaign&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eliaz_dec23_nl_fastsummit_promo2&_kx=VHHjDK2XwIHehL2cydis51jg0Z7GwAqMO0uiUaYlYI0%3D.Syeesf These are always fascinating

Ari Whitten interviews Jason Hawrelak on gut health – I think this is a very good one – https://theenergyblueprint.com/optimize-your-gut/?inf_contact_key=3f5c5cdc1f41b4e61c745c049500577df378a691fa2de2618ccb1c27deca348f

Ari Whitten again – on hydrogen with Alex Tarnava

Farm Doin’s

We had a short work week with just Monday and Tuesday here. Monday the storm raged outside while the Stetson folks did a double fill on the porch, setting us up with wood for two weeks. They then turned to some deconstruction work and knocked that off with no problem.

James and Candido posing

Matt and Danny turned their attention to the shed, Matt tackling the downstairs and Danny the attic. They made amazing headway on this job which gets sidelined during the heat of the season.

Paula, Elenore, Marcia and I worked on pig heads, putting by 28 quarts of stock. Once the rain stopped (almost) we were able to do more work on the blueberry hoeing and mulching.

The soup ladies

A quick rainbow on Monday after lunch

I had the fun opportunity to interview each staff member to find their thoughts about the farm and their plans for next year. I continued this on Tuesday and finished it by week’s end with Clare and Jennifer off-line.

Marcia and Julie at the staff interview

On Tuesday morning I was unable to get the chicken house door open because of warm wet weather and swelling. Scott planed it down and we were back in business. The rest of us did another pig head and produced 25 more quarts of stock before returning to our leaf harvest. We gathered 4 more totes and Elenore put them all away with the tractor. In the afternoon with Elenore’s ace tractor unloading of 7 big loads of chips, we were able to almost complete the blueberry mulching job for the winter. To be continued.

Jennifer came over on Thursday and hooked up my new computer to replace the lemon that I have been using for almost 2 years. Thank you, Jennifer. I cannot get over how much time I am saving every day!

And Stu, not getting the memo, showed up on Friday and put up Jonathan’s new sign and we did our last staff interview. Do we have an amazing line up for 2024!

Merry Christmas!

Thank you, Jonathan, for two marvelous years with us. We will miss you.

Quick Links

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Link to buy J and J’s book – Many Hands Make a Farm-