When the Pigs Get Out!

First, I try to get them in by myself. Then I ask Jack to come help, and then I call in the big guns and ask Dan to make the ½ hour trip over to help me get them back in. At this writing, he hasn’t come yet, but I am quite confident that the 3 rogues will reunite with the 5 good dobees before the day (Saturday) is out.
Which brings me to my point today. Farming should be done with friends and family (as of course life should also). We all know at least in our gut, that we cannot do this life alone, but it is beautifully obvious every day on our farm that so many folks with so many talents are essential to make this place run.
Let me list some responsibilities and some of the folks who accomplished those in the past week alone.

  • Foliar spraying of the vegetables and fruits – the back pack sprayer is heavy when full – probably 40-50 lbs. I count on Luke, Marissa, Clare, and Nick for this, not to mention Dave and Matt, who keep them running.
  • Tractor driving, and this week I counted on Clare, Luke, Matt, Dave (our repair guy), Danny, Jim and Marissa for this. This week we will be training up Declan too. I just can’t see well enough to manage that big machine.
  • Carpentry and repairs – Danny and Stu are our head team members, along with Matt. And Jack is there as an advisor. This week he and I took apart a failed ground fault wall plug that caused us to lose our electricity to our heat lamps for the young meat birds.
  • Hoeing, weeding, tarping and detarping, planting, mulching, picking – all things that I do a lot of, but to raise the quantity of food we raise we need lots of hands. This week we counted on Nick, Bryan, Luke, Clare, Marissa, Alex, Paula, Leslie, Becca, Matt, Declan, Marcia, Stu, and Jennifer.
  • Back-end work – marketing, data management, taxes, insurance, customer management – and thanks here go to Jennifer, Leslie, and Jack
  • Wood management and odd jobs – Gary, Yohairo and the kids from Stetson do so much to help support us with our wood supply, and often help putting on and taking off tarps and sand bags, and sometimes mulching.
  • Peanut butter balls, tinctures, food preservation, help with cooking – to keep all of these folks well-nourished, there is a lot of “back end management” on the food scene. Thanks to past support folks – Clare, Jennifer, Paula, Leslie, Jack, Marcia, Stu, Matt, Becca – and to the others who will be coming along.
  • Thanks again to Dan and his friends Megan and Shawna who were instrumental in getting those pigs out of the truck and into their house.

Shawna enjoying removing the pig from the truck

Dan accepts pig handoff while Megan manages the door to the house

At this writing I am still biting my fingernails over the pig outage. These little “emergencies” come up from time to time, and often I have to call for extra help. I have learned over and over again to be comfortable asking for help, and for offering it and responding to requests for it that come my way. Isn’t it wonderful to be part of the human family!

Note that these pigs are outside the fence rather than inside it

Expressing Gratitude this Week 

It is to Brendan and Katia Holmes, Katia’s mom Lin, and Allister, Johnny and William, their sons, who Jack and I visited in Albion, ME Wednesday and Thursday to pick up our 8 certified organic piglets. They raise the best piglets and we are happy to travel the 4 hours to get there. Brendan and Katia used to live in Hardwick and used to keep their cows and pigs all over Hardwick (17 different farms) before they were able to buy a farm in Albion.

They represent the next wave (after ours) of farmers who have kept the back to the land movement viable, and are now beacons for the younger farmers who in their 20’s and 30’s are in need of good examples and mentors. It was such a pleasure to see their success, their family-centered business, and their hard-working approach to life that makes Jack and me proud to live in the same tradition. Good friends and good farmers. We left their farm Thursday morning with big smiles on our faces.

Brendan hauling pig to truck

Jack, Katia and Brendan catching up

What is in your CSA Share this week?

The share on week 1

Often, we are nervous about the first weeks of the CSA, but the weather has been almost perfect this year with heat, rain, cool, etc. We got off to a good start last week and plan to have the following items this week

  • Chard – modest amounts as we transition from hoophouse to field
  • Chives – all one size
  • Lettuce – larges get three, 2 for mediums and one for smalls
  • Chinese cabbage – large medium small
  • Kale – finishing the hoophouse supply on Monday and moving to the field for Wednesday and Friday
  • Arugula– new crop this week – enjoy it in salads – one of those super foods
  • Beet greens – we are thinning the beds and you get the results, fresh and tasty greens to use lightly cooked better than raw. Use the whole thing
  • Green onions – They are getting bigger – still use the entire plant
  • Oregano – just this week before it takes a break to grow back
  • Radishes – there are only a few left – you will get a portion
  • Strawberries – these will be available maybe on Wednesday and Friday, not for Monday
  • Spinach – we picked it all last week to avoid bolting. There will be small portions for everyone.

Need some help? Give me a call. 978-257-1192

We can use rubber bands, recycled cardboard egg cartons, recycled grocery style plastic bags, pint, ½ pint, or quart plastic or cardboard containers (please no off sizes), and grocery size paper bags. You can return these items in your share bag. Don’t forget to take you share bag back to your pick-up site this week.

Education this week

A great podcast with Ari Whitten on the 5 best things you can do to help your brain be more healthy – https://theenergyblueprint.com/how-to-optimize-your-brain-health/?inf_contact_key=5e4c28e5d2ac8827300c121ae76576d9dcd43eaff8ca03dc1d15424b3c75c21d

Volunteering at MHOF

This week Declan started volunteering with us, and did it in style with 3 full days of committed work. By the end of the week he had picked up some major skills and next week will be learning how to drive and manage the tractor. Thank you, Declan.

Specific Opportunities this week

We are looking for a specific volunteer/working shareholder. We have an increased need for help with Saturday chores. Now we have old layers, young layers, meat birds and pigs to do chores for. When those chores are done, we will either prep drench and foliar materials for the next week, or do some weeding and most particularly perennial management. Come for breakfast at 7:00 and we will be out of the house by 7:20, do the chores and go onto another manageable task. Stick around until 9:30 am and in exchange, I will provide you with a large produce share. One needn’t sign up for every Saturday, but 2 Saturdays per month would be appreciated. Be in touch – julie@mhof.net, or 978-257-1192.

We are also looking for a very specific volunteer or paid position to help with foliar feeding. This job needs to be accomplished between 5:00 and 7:00 am. You must be good with 2 cycle machines, be strong of back – about 40-45 lbs. of weight on your back. This can probably be accomplished in 2 mornings once you get the hang of it, but might take three mornings at first. We can pay $17/hour plus a large produce share. All of our sprays are certified organic and non-toxic, and it is a brilliant opportunity to learn about our intricate fertility program. Enquire.


Washing our spinach
Harriet keeping up with the truck as we head to the pond field

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Don’t forget the Party on June 29

Here is the other half of the invite that went out via email.

Beginning of Summer Gala Party and Pot luck at Many. Please RSVP

Many Hands Organic Farm
Saturday, June 29 from 2:00 pm until the end

Jack Kittredge and Clare Caldwell are two very essential remarkable members of the Many Hands community. We are celebrating them for a few reasons
Clare arrived at MHOF 16 years ago in a cloud of dust (yes, she was speeding), and has been

  • A major partner in all things farm
  • Surrogate mother to a long line of former prisoners and troubled youth who raised her own three children in large part at MHOF
  • A constantly positive spirited member of the farm team who always sees the best in any situation
  • Incredible masseuse to overworked farm members
  • The best driver of tractors, trucks, you name it – and highly physically competent and strong
  • Problem solver extraordinaire – how to get it done faster and more efficiently
  • One of the best friends and colleagues a person could ever have
  • Clare is moving on to another chapter in her life and this is a loving send off

Please RSVP, and don’t forget a potluck contribution. Come anytime after 2:00 as fits your schedule.

2024 Workshop Series

Here listed is our last workshop for the spring. Register here. – https://mhof.net/events-workshops/

Homestead Carpentry

  • Saturday, June 15, 2024
  • 9am-12 with pot luck lunch
  • Price: $50-$100 – sliding scale
  • Presenter: John Wilson, with some help from Jack Kittredge and Danny LeBlanc

There’s a time in every homesteader’s life when some carpentry is needed to build or repair something made of wood.  This workshop will provide a solid grounding in getting started. Very basic questions will be explored in a setting that requires no knowledge of woodworking.

Topics will include: how to select the right lumber for your task, how to measure it and cut it to size, the options for fastening it together, and making a good assembly.  Each topic will cover the tools needed, with a demonstration of technique, and how to avoid some common pitfalls.  Emphasis will be on hand tools where feasible.

While in his 20s, John Wilson was a carpenter for 10 years.  He worked on framing apartments, finish work in condos, a cabinet shop, and built two houses.  He’s kept active in carpentry remodeling work in the intervening years, and was part of the MHOF garage and chicken coop renovations the past two years.  He has always had an appreciation for tools and techniques.

Register for Workshops

Jennifer’s Recipe of the Week

My favorite week of the year was last week, when the CSA began.  I become very excited to prepare and cook with the most amazing produce.  This is when I start to get creative with food.  Instead of a specific recipe this week, I’d like to leave you with ideas on how to use your vegetables in a variety of ways.

My first meal I cooked with the share was roasted radishes with Chinese cabbage and green onions, served alongside baked tilapia covered in oregano, quinoa, and all sprinkled with green onions.  Raw radishes have a bitter and pungent taste whereas cooking them, they take on a little sweetness and are very juicy when biting into them.  I roast them in coconut oil, salt and pepper at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Add the green onions and cabbage about 7 minutes before the radishes are done.

I also grilled the radishes and green onions served with steamed chard, basmati rice, and a NY sirloin strip with tons of oregano, salt and pepper.

We ate lots of salads as our meals with various toppings. We had soft boiled eggs over greens and made a green onion, spinach and chard frittata with cheddar cheese on top.

Please feel free to share your recipes with me to be entered into the newsletter.  You can email directly to me at jennifer@jenzenliving.com.


Farm Doins

On Monday, construction-wise, Danny, Stu and Jim got the 2nd pig house up to in front of the barn and did diagnostics on how to proceed with needed repairs.

Making plans for the pig house

Dragging up the pig house

Jim cut some more hay – the home orchard and the back of the south and the north, and Matt raked that and we got last week’s hay picked up in the west field over Wednesday and Friday. Luke and Nick mowed everything, and the rest of made short work of the CSA. Jennifer has taken on front room management of the CSA for all three days, which has proceeded without flaw. We enjoy our new walk in cooler with lots of space and good lighting. The CSA went without a hitch on Wednesday and Friday too.

Washing onions for the CSA

Marcia, by far one of our most photogenic staff members – happy the CSA is packed away.

While we were visiting Katia, Brendan and Lin on Thursday we were discussing how farmers talk about their accomplishment. Chores don’t figure in accomplishments, we agreed. For them that is milking the cows, returning them to pasture and managing the other myriad chores. For us it is taking care of the three kinds of birds we have and the “vegetable” chore of picking and packing the CSA. And of course, keeping the machinery and buildings in repair. Bragging rights are only good for weeding, mulching, planting, getting in hay, etc. How fun it is to kibbitz with other farmers in this intense time of year.

Tuesday we were able to turn our yellow hoophouse over from winter/spring lettuce, chard and kale to tomatoes.

and then made progress on potato hilling and mulching, planted tulsi and basil, tied most of the peas,

thinned some more peaches, and weeded and mulched two more beds of collards.

Wednesday saw us finishing the pea tying (we had to extricate a bunch of nasty bindweed), weeding and mulching sunflowers and some of the broccoli. We started on hay pick up for the week which we finished on Friday.

Jack and I left for Albion, ME to pick up the pigs on Wednesday afternoon and spent the night with Lin, returning home on Thursday afternoon with the pigs that Dan, Shawna and Megan helped unload. Thanks to Marissa who did chores on Thursday morning.

Friday Luke cleaned up the fence around the pigs so the shock would be strong enough, and at day’s end I let them out of their house, which they had completed defoliated (pig snouts are amazing.

Friday we finally completed a planting series in the pond field that has been on our list for a while – more lettuce, finished planting the flowers, more radishes, dill and turnips.

We also finished weeding and mulching the 4th bed of collards.

Foliar feeding has been a challenge as our two sprayers are breaking down under the pressure, despite Dave’s best efforts to keep them fixed.

Saturday, I worried all day until Dan and Megan helped me get the pigs corralled at the end of the day. I found them Sunday morning, all snuggled in the woods sleeping peacefully.

I haven’t succumbed to the solstice speed up yet this year, with only 11 days to go until peak. I will be able to rest easier when our summer onions, carrots and leeks are weeded and nicely mulched, however.


Success – thank you Dan and Megan.

Quick Links

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