January 8, 2024
Not Growing Old
Of course, we are all growing older, each minute. But I realized that I don’t need to grow old. I have always watched those folks who make it into their 90’s and sometimes 100’s and study them for clues about how best to grow older. I think so much of it has to do with attitude and perspective. Am I doing what I was put here for? Am I treating each person with whom I interact with the greatest of care, consideration and thoughtfulness? Am I constantly challenging my limits physically, psychically, vocationally, relationship-wise and in my music? Am I surrounding myself with people who are challenging their limits, etc.? Am I learning from others who are strong where I am weak? That’s my plan for 2024, to grow older without growing old. Care to join me? Happy New Year.
Expressing Gratitude this Week
Holly and Randy are back in town. We knew Randy since he was in fourth grade and one of Charlie’s best friends. Since then, he met Holly while working on organic farms and they got married here in 2015, since have had 4 children, and come work here for a couple weeks in early January each year. They have their own homestead in Missouri and make the trek back to visit Randy’s family over Christmas.
It is always such a treat when they arrive with Mira, Quinn, Cassidy and Malvina and right after entering the door say, “How can I help?” Friday was a blast. We are blessed to have such good next generation friends!
Randy digging a hole – he says it is one of his most favorite things to do
Holly gathering chips for mulching the blueberries
Book Signing Event – Sunday, January 14; 2-5 pm, Barre Players Theater
We would be honored if you attend
Meat for Sale at MHOF
We have some bacon – 6 lbs., and 5 hams – around 5- lbs. each, available for sale from our pigs, whose smoked meat just arrived back at the farm. First come, first served for these items that have been cured naturally with celery juice at the VT Packing House. The smoked meat costs $20/lb.
We have prices up on the website for pork, chicken and turkey for 2024.
Young layers on the hoof were quite popular last year. We sell 8-week-old young Novogen brown layers https://www.freedomrangerhatchery.com/shop/product/novogen-layer/ at $25 each. They will be ready for pick up on July 1. They spend their first month in the brooder house and the second one on pasture. They eat certified organic grain as their base feed with pasture as a supplement once they move outside. Place your order with Julie.
Jack and Julie public speaking
Jack and I will be doing a workshop and then book signing at the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference at Worcester State next Saturday, January 13. Hope to see you there. https://www.nofamass.org/home/nofa-events/winter-conference/ – 10:30 am – Food Preservation, one of our favorite topics.
Join Next Year’s CSA
We have set prices for 2024 and are ready to receive your subscriptions for our summer CSA – running 22 weeks from June 3 – November 1. The fall CSA runs from November 4 – November 25.
- Large – $775 – $875; SNAP – $725
- Medium – $575-$675; SNAP – $525
- Small – $450 – $550; SNAP – $425
- Large only, $170; SNAP $160
We have a $161,000 budget for 2024. Half of the in part of the budget – $80,191- comes in through the CSA. Interestingly, the staff budget comes to $81,059. So half of our farm revolves around raising the CSA income and spending it back out on the staff. I would like to involve you intimately in our drive to raise the money for the CSA this year. So, I think I will give you a weekly update on CSA sales so you can experience the filling out of it with us.
On January 6 we have raised $2085 for the CSA (this does not include the $$ we brought in for the 2024 CSA in 2023 – that went into the 2023 budget. Equally, next fall we will raise $5540 for the 2025 budget. And thanks to the folks who signed up early last year. Their investment totaled $5708).
Okay, so all we need to raise is $78,106! I think we should make a thermometer to track this. Vote for your favorite thermometer icon (carrot, potato, pig, turkey, hoe, etc. – it has to be a farm thing), by next Friday, January 12, and I will ask Jennifer to make one for us, chosen from your suggestions.
Mexico and GMO Corn update
Corn Dispute with Mexico adopts “Alice in Wonderland” Conditions
excerpted by Jack Kittredge
For those who have been following the trade dispute between Mexico and the US, there is a development. To remind you, the US subsidizes corn which is genetically engineered to tolerate being sprayed with the cancer-producing herbicide glyphosate (sold as Roundup) and to exude the pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Mexico, the homeland of corn, is refusing to allow sales of engineered US white corn for Mexican tortillas. They are concerned that the imported corn could cross-fertilize Mexican GE-free corn, as well as about its health impact on consumers eating it.
A 3-judge panel is empowered to decide the dispute. A number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have volunteered to support Mexico’s objections. But the panel has stipulated that the groups’ comments
must “exclude any discussion of ‘glyphosate-based herbicides and Bt endotoxins,’ which is a factual issue not before this Panel…;”
It seems that the NGOs will be allowed to talk about anything except the most important issue at hand. For the whole story, go to: https://foodtank.com/news/2024/01/genetically-modified-corn-tribunal-raises-
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week I will publish the list of songs that we will be working on.
Volunteering at MHOF
Be in touch, we love volunteers – M, T, F – 8-noon with lunch. Breakfast at 7:00 if you come early.
Emails from Subscribers
I saw your discussion about jumping worms in your latest newsletter and unfortunately can’t celebrate these critters with you. Although they might be OK for your farm, there really is no glass-half-full regarding these worms in forested ecosystems. Forests can’t “just add more organic matter.” The herbaceous strata of the forest is often adversely affected by jumping worms because plants that have evolved to germinate in leaf litter are unable to germinate in worm castings. Without herbaceous annuals, and new sprouts of perennials, shrubs, and trees, the plant diversity of the forest is diminished. A less diverse plant community leads to fewer animals, birds, and pollinators supported by the forest.
During the heavy rains this summer I observed heaps of worm castings at the bottom of slopes in a forest populated by jumping worms. Without herbaceous plants, leaf matter, and decomposing organic material the forest floor was more easily swept away by the rain.
The birds in my yard did benefit from these worms earlier this month, though. One frosty morning there were many types of birds happily feasting on frozen jumping worms from the lawn!
Happy 2024 and see you in the new year!
Thanks for writing in, Judy. Do you know if there is a plan in the environmental community for how to deal with jumping worms in forested areas? I certainly have heard this concern that you are articulating here and don’t want to dismiss it. I just hope that environmental agencies use sound ecological practices (which don’t include use of toxic chemicals) to address these concerns.
What concerns me is that many land trusts use glyphosate to kill “invasive” plant species in forests feeling that what they are doing is a case of less harm than the so called invasives. I will never be able to be okay with use of glyphosate. I think that “invasive” species are often alerting the ecosystem that things are out of balance.
How Do Mitochondria Respond to Health and Disease? Dr. Eric Gordon with Ari Whitten – this is a fun one.
Jennifer’s Recipe of the Week
Stewed Apples with Cranberries & Walnuts
Julie and I have talked many times about how each person’s metabolic needs are so different. Some need a bigger meal in the morning to get going, others need something a little lighter and others may not need breakfast at all.
This past week I’ve been lightening up my breakfasts and I feel much more energized and less weighed down. This recipes gives a punch a protein, easy to digest and high quality fat, ghee, a touch of sweet and sour with a little bit of salt and spice. A balanced meal incorporates all 6 tastes. Each taste has an important role in digestion. If one is missing in a meal, the digestive process malfunctions in some way leading to a host of digestive orders.
Do you ever have a meal that you finished but just wasn’t quite satisfying? You may be searching for a snack, often chocolate to satiate the body. Chocolate is bitter is the taste missing from most American’s diets. This is because a taste was missing from your meal.
Food for thought! Enjoy!
Although we only had two joint work days this week with New Year’s Day on Monday, we accomplished great things.
The carpenters put in another post to extend the wood shed and roof, and started the intricate task of notching the rafters just right so that they all fit squarely. This has been a very convivial process with Jonathan now gone and Danny, Stu, Matt, and now Randy involved in the process of building out the roof, the west wall, and re-sheathing the side of the barn.
Matt served double duty delivering numerous loads of wood chips to the orchard, followed by Clare and Elenore in turn. In the world of chipping this week we were able to finish chipping the blueberries, mulching thus the grapes (with a lot of help from the chickens), and spreading chips around about 2/3 of the home orchard. I have felt the pressure of impending snow to get as much of this chipping done as possible. Thanks also to Leslie and Holly for pulling off this big chip spread this week.
The chickens, our constant companions when we are working, always love to help spread the chips.
Matt also got about half of the big gravel piles spread, finishing the road between the north and south fields and making good progress on the pond orchard holes.
Hopefully this gravel will help with our chronic water issue on this road
Tuesday, Scott, Paula, Clare and I were able to get 6 more totes of leaves off the road and called it done at 30 totes stored on the edge of the west field. We harvested a total of 37 totes this fall. We already spread 7 totes on the strawberries for their winter cover.
Our 6 final totes of leaves for the end of 2023 season.
In between all this glorious outside work, we sandwiched a lot of office work. Clare got us out of certification non-compliance with a new label for our bitters and an improved write up on our process for making the bitters. Additionally, we did an inventory of certified stuff on hand January 1 and set up a spreadsheet so we can inventory every month. The cert. folks love data! We cleaned out the file drawer and set it up for 2024, Leslie and I set up a staff labor tracking document, Jack and Leslie and I met on our payroll taxes, and we settled on the overall farm budget for 2024. We bottled some more bitters and put on the beautiful new labels (that have asterisks now instead of commas!) that Jack fashioned. Our cover crop seeds and bagged fertility products are now also inventoried, making it easier for us to start the ordering process.
Now we wait for the first big snow (I write this Saturday morning).
Clare and Julie clearly working assiduously in the office
Link to buy J and J’s book – Many Hands Make a Farm-