Roots

There were two trees standing next to the road and a couple of people walked by together. One tree said to the other, “Do you think those people can communicate with each other?” The other said, “I don’t see how as they don’t have roots.”*

Lest I go on ad infinitum about our little chorus, I must share one final vignette for the year. We did have our concert against all odds (serious Covid outbreaks all around, some pneumonia, kidney problems, ailing parents, troubled aunts, cancer scares, a bad fall to name a few) and there were 25 people in attendance. As a friend would say, we knocked it out of the park. In my experience people do have a tremendously difficult time communicating with each other and often jump to conclusions, set up barriers for entry and find occasion to be offended by others’ actions or lack thereof. But then there is music, and joint performance. And when one has the opportunity to bring to life masterful music like the Brahms Requiem, against heavy odds for us this fall, there is a magical connection between the singers that also envelopes the audience, as if we all did have roots whose mycorrhizal fungi were connected and flowing back and forth with information and nourishment. There is so much unseen energy in the world and Friday night I got a full course meal of it, helping me open more fully to the human possibility that exists when folks enter the world of joint creative expression.

*thanks to John Kempf for this little joke

 

Health tip
Green tea – part of my daily regimen, green tea is a life saver for me with just enough caffeine to give me a lift, and a wonderful load of anti-oxidants. I like Frontier’s Gunpowder Green tea and add that into my tea mix each morning, making a quart of tea each day to drink throughout the day.
Check out this Healthline Article on 10 reasons why – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea#10.-May-help-you-live-longer

 

Agricultural Education
Graeme Sait’s monthly podcast came out this week. For inspiration alone, it is always worth a listen. He also had a very thorough Part 2 of sexual health – https://anchor.fm/nutrition-farming The Power of Plant Growth Promotion Part 2

 

Pre-Order your 2022 CSA Share
Thanks for the continual stream of subscriptions for next year. Your commitment to our solvency as a family, and more and more a community farm, inspires us to more agricultural aspirational heights. Only 25 days left until the end of the year.

We are offering pre-orders for 2022 CSA shares now. Put down a full payment, half payment, or a $150 deposit to guarantee your spot in our 2022 CSA. We may raise prices in 2022 for our CSA shares, but we haven’t made a determination of that yet. If you order in this calendar year and put down a down payment you can be assured of this price. Order here: https://mhof.net/csa-order-form/

 

2021 Lard is in
We ran out of our 2020 lard supply early this year, but we are now back in business again. There is a wonderful rhythm to lard production which includes great skin care for the hands as we handle the fat back and leaf lard to skin the fat back and then cut the pieces small so that we can render them in our 4 gallon pot on the stove. The smell is fantastic, and the chickens and dogs and cats love the cracklings. Super high in vitamin D and a marvelous cooking fat that is heart healthy, lard is my favorite cooking fat. We charge $20/quart. It lasts at least 6 months in the refrigerator.

 

Pork Cuts and stock
We have made our first round of sales for our pork and have a few cuts left over – ground pork, pork chops, regular style ribs and roasts. These cuts are $11/lb. and are available until they run out at the farm. We are also making stock from our heads, tails, bones and trim. We boil the parts down for about a day in water with salt and vinegar (from our farm). Then we separate the meat and marrow and puree it with the water it was cooked in. We sell the stock frozen in quart plastic containers for $7. It is a marvelous and flavorful stock for soups.

 

Working Shareholders
Thinking about coming out to the farm to volunteer? If you like cold weather, starting with us in the winter can be fun. We are hosting working shareholders on Wednesdays and Fridays 8-12, with breakfast and lunch included. Your pay also includes a dozen eggs. Coming on an irregular basis in winter is quite fine. We are always involved in a variety of adventures, and there is a lot of soup stock, lard, soap and salve making besides our outside work. Enquire.

 

Farm store hours
M-F – 12-1 pm
Tuesday 5-7
Friday 5-7
Always call ahead to be sure of supply.

Available this week

  1. Free range organic eggs at $8/dozen – we newly added free choice kelp to their now full farm free range lifestyle.
  2. dandelion, holy basil, burdock, yarrow and yellow dock tincture in 2 ounce bottles – $12
  3. frozen certified organic applesauce – just the apples cooked down in water – $7/quart
  4. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $8 each
  5. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each
  6. garlic powder – $10/2 ounce
  7. frozen lard – $20/quart
  8. frozen pork stock – $7/quart
  9. frozen pork cuts – pork chops, regular ribs, ground pork and roasts – $11/lb.

 

Farm Doins
We took it rather easy this week, mostly working half days as we were all getting back on line after Covid. Thanks to the many, many folks who sent best wishes. For those of you who have had it, it is no joke. We were all downing our vitamin D, C, zinc, magnesium, cod liver oil and black seed oil. Taste is returning and coughing has slowed way down.
Clare and Anthony and I finished mulching the garlic and breathed a sigh of relief and finishing that important job.

Anthony spreading hay.

We got all of our field hoses picked up and hung, put away one of our 16 bird houses for the winter along a stone wall and brought two up for minor repairs before parking them.

Parking a house for winter.

The moving process.

We cleaned up all of the dishes and feeders and buckets from the bird houses too and will pick away at the houses. John has offered to come back and work with Anthony to do house repair to ready us for a successful start of the season in April. Clare and I organized all of our fertility liquids.

Inventorying our fertility liquids.

And then had a fun task of carefully measuring all of our fields. It turns out that I have been inflating the numbers on acreage that we manage for vegetables. We are just around 2 acres going into 2022. We cut off some wetter land in the pond field and shortened the back of the north and south fields where it is too cold and shaded on the east side nearer the woods.
We started taking down the two hoop houses that we put up in 2018, realizing that 5 houses is just too much for us to manage well.

Taking down a hoop house.

Friday was pork day, picking up 12 pigs and distributing it to customers, and making our first batch of lard and boiling down our first head. I spent some enjoyable time catching up with pork customers over the weekend. Clare got all of our row cover organized and stored.

Lard prep.

Chickens love cracklings.

The first head on the stove.

Further along in the stock process.

Don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful December sky!

Julie

Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, unlike those for the past 40 years, was spent by Jack and me all by ourselves. Yet I don’t think I have ever felt quite so thankful for all the blessings that have come our way, especially in the past week. Last week Jack and I tested positive for Covid, and Anthony too, closely followed by Clare. Yet on Monday we had to get 80 final CSA shares out the door, and get 120 turkeys to slaughter, back again and then sold to on farm customers. For different reasons and with differing levels of protection for themselves, our farm volunteers pulled together to help us make this final push. Special thanks to Dan, Maya, John, Juan, Forrest, Leslie, Ken, Tom, Jenn, Nikki, and Deb who went over and above to make it possible for us to meet our commitments this past week. As I recuperate I come into a greater understanding of what it means to be connected to other human beings and all life (and perhaps those inanimate objects like rocks too!). And with a little more rest, I will be chomping at the bit to make 2022 a banner year for the farm!

Maya and Ari are now gone. Many thanks to these two young people who started out as working shareholders in May of 2020. After working with them for approximately 2 hours I decided to hire them, and never regretted my decision.

Ari had been a paying shareholder for the three years while a student at Clark. Clearly an organizer even then as a shareholder, Ari organized other students from Clark to get shares and support our farm efforts. Their signature hello in the morning was always, “How can I be of service”, followed by jumping right in to whatever task I put before them. Always patient with our sometimes overwhelming number of volunteers, Ari would always take volunteers in hand and find something useful for them to do if I had become too flustered or busy to be able to properly employ them. Once Ari also took over the job of communications director, I sighed a huge breath of relief as I passed off innumerable administrative responsibilities to this person who was constantly coming up with new and exciting ways to get us out there.

Ari in the bean patch.

 

Equally as engaged, Maya would often show up at the kitchen sink in the morning, washing up the massive amounts of dishes that accumulate every morning as we prepare breakfast for 6 or 8 and lunch for 10 or 12. I actually hold great respect for those who will do the dishes, willingly, quickly and joyfully, as I think it shows a great level of self-confidence in the face of what some might consider grunge work. I always said to Maya that I wished I had that solid sense of self when I was her age. Competent in all things agricultural, and steady and responsible, and ready to step up for the heavier work when needed, Maya was imminently reliable too.  And she upped our game on the herbal front, with a notable addition of 5 new tincture products this year. I often found myself sharing important personal thoughts and feelings with Maya, who has a way of listening without probing, and witnessing without judgment.

Maya with her tinctures.

 

Maya and Ari combined were 1/3 of the 2021 super-staff on the farm. We all will hold them in the highest regard in our memories as they strike out into the unknown life beyond the farm. Blessings to you both and our most humble thanks.

 

The CSA is over for 2021
Starting around May 1 Clare and I, though we have been planning and actualizing for the upcoming 27 weeks of the CSA (half a year), start to lose a little sleep at night wondering if we will have the food that we need to make the CSA successful, especially in the first weeks of June. By July 15 we know that we are proceeding well, despite any snows in May, drought in June, excessive rain in July, or any of the other curve balls that will be thrown our way. The anxiety starts to sneak back in around October 15 with no assurance that we won’t have a huge snow storm or a hard hard frost, despite the fact that we still have 6 weeks to go. But we made it this year, with no need to do a massive picking push in early November, and we are indeed grateful that Mother Nature has allowed us another pass. As we immediately start planning for next year, please take this chance to respond to our CSA surveys (both summer and fall) that we have sent to you. It will help us plan better and hopefully meet your needs for our 2022 season. Look for an email from Jennifer with a last chance to respond to the survey.

 

Winter egg shares
This is a new offering this year. For us to be able to provide eggs for shares during the season, we also need to sell eggs the rest of the year. Though we have a couple of wholesale accounts, we need to keep the direct sales going. Check it out here and sign up for either a Worcester pick up or at the farm. https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/winter-egg-csa/ For those of you who want to buy from the farm and don’t want to be particularly regular about it, just give a call or shoot an email to make sure we have eggs.

 

Health tip
Nettles – I am sorry that for whatever reason we don’t have much of a natural supply of nettles on our farm, though they are commonly found in this region. Nettles is one of the regular constituents in our daily tea. Here is a good article that explains why nettles can be so valuable a constituent in you daily regimen. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/stinging-nettle#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8

 

Health Education
Dr Zach Bush – https://zachbushmd.com/virome-replay/
Virome: A Template For A Regenerative Future
Zach Bush is putting out a lot of education right now about how the virome and the biome work in the human body. Here is another video that I hope you enjoy.

 

Agricultural Education
I have not had the head space until now to go deeper into my Ag education. But for the next 4 months, I hope to share a lot of great resources with you. I heard this thoughtful podcast by John Kempf  (Advancing Eco Agriculture) with Dale Strickler of Green Cover Seed. http://regenerativeagriculturepodcast.com/episode-74-dale-strickler?utm_medium=email&_hsmi=186467723&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9sdW-VLf7BXr0SQBjM0QFf5celxSCIOtksk3rteT6zzi52DeZP8jOPVjo4qL1GvN1wRRh99bobYlVaLA32Lfy47TfnsA&utm_content=186467723&utm_source=hs_email

 

Circle of Song Concert, Friday, December 3 7pm, Barre Congregational Church, 30 Park Street

We will be performing the following pieces in the first portion of the concert.
Long Time Ago by Aaron Copland
Ching-A-Ring Chaw also by Copland
Joy Shall Come in the Morning by Mary Alice Amidon
Sure on the Shining Night by Morten Lauridsen
What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele

The highlight of the concert will be our rendition of A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms. We will be performing movements 1, 4, 5 and 7 from this 7 movement choral masterpiece. Written between 1865 and 1868 this requiem may have been inspired by the death of Brahms’ mother. We will attempt to do justice to this very intricate but also accessible piece of music that is beloved through the ages.

We would all love to see you there to help us enjoy the beginning of the Christmas season in choral song.

 

Pre-Order your 2022 CSA Share
Thanks for the continual stream of subscriptions for next year. Your commitment to our solvency as a family, and more and more a community farm, inspires us to more agricultural aspirational heights.

We are offering pre-orders for 2022 CSA shares now. Put down a full payment, half payment, or a $150 deposit to guarantee your spot in our 2022 CSA. We may raise prices in 2022 for our CSA shares, but we haven’t made a determination of that yet. If you order in this calendar year and put down a down payment you can be assured of this price. Order here: https://mhof.net/csa-order-form/

 

From time to time we will have guest articles from Jennifer. Enjoy.

Building Immunity
by Jennifer Peck
Director of Communications @ MHOF, Ayurveda Health Counselor, Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master

As I reflect over the past couple of weeks, it’s had me thinking a lot about immunity and how now is the time to strengthen it with a lot of sickness going around.  I consider myself pretty healthy.  I haven’t been sick for many years.  Well, it hit me, in the past 2 weeks I have been sick 2 times with 2 different bugs.

A wise woman told me recently told me, “We are in charge of our own immunity.”  I wholeheartedly believe this and Ayurveda teaches us how to build and keep our immune systems running optimally.

Ayurveda, Sanskrit word for Science of Life, knowledge of life, is the Science of self-healing.  It is an ancient holistic healing system that is still the largest healthcare system in the world.   It recognizes that we are each unique, so our lifestyle and diet for great health may look different from person to person.

Ojas is Ayurveda’s word for immunity and healthy tissue.  It refers to our underlying strength and vitality.  Ojas gives our body the ability to endure physical and chemical stress and is a reserve to draw upon during the higher stress times of life.  Ojas is affected by the foods we eat as well as our lifestyle habits.  There are 3 areas to build Ojas; on a physical, mental and spiritual levels.
What and how we eat are critical to the health of immunity.  Ideally all of our meals come from whole, fresh foods that are cooked daily.  We should strive to eliminate processed foods and avoid eating too many leftovers.
Additionally, eating three meals a day at the same time every day with our biggest meal at noontime and avoiding unnecessary snacking is best for optimal health.  I know there’s a lot of debate between eating smaller meals throughout the day verses three meals without snacking.  Our digestive tract needs time to rest and digest before the next meal so that it can properly prepare for the next meal.  If we are constantly eating, we don’t give our bodies the time needed for proper digestion and assimilation. Then Ama (toxins) begin to build in the body, relocate to the weak spot in your body, and over time becomes sickness or disease.  Ama weakens the immune system.

Then there’s how we eat.  Many of us eat mindlessly; while working in the office, in front of the TV, in our cars on the way to work, etc.  This is a dangerous habit as we become completely unaware of what and how much we are eating.  At the same time, we also ingest the stress and emotions that come with whatever it is that we are doing while eating.  We tend to eat at a face pace and don’t chew enough,  which is taxing for the digestive system.  Working towards eating your meals in a quiet undistracted space and immersing yourself in the experience of eating and each taste will do wonders for health.

Our diets should change through the year, with the seasons. This is one of the things I love the most about a CSA share!  Nature provides us what we need, when we need it. If you’ve had the great opportunity to join the MHOF CSA, you may notice that it starts light, with a lot of greens.  As we come into summer, the bounty changes, yes we still have greens, but cucumbers and squashes are cooling vegetables that are prominent this time of year.  As we approach fall, root vegetables, squashes and hearty greens like Brussels sprouts and broccoli are abundant.

Following the cycles of nature is the ideal way to boost our immune system and to have good health. One of the most basic ways to get a start on the road to better health is by eating 3 meals a day at the same time with lunch being your largest meal.  Go to bed before 10 and wake before the sun rises.  Get outside every day regardless the weather, even if just for a moment.  Take time to consciously breathe throughout the day.  Give yourself permission to take a break and find silence and stillness each day.  Learn to slow down and let go.

 

Farm store hours
M-F – 12-1 pm
Tuesday 5-7
Friday 5-7
Always call ahead to be sure of supply.

Available this week

  1. Free range organic eggs at $8/dozen – we newly added free choice kelp to their now full farm free range lifestyle.
  2. dandelion, holy basil, burdock, yarrow and yellow dock tincture in 2 ounce bottles – $12
  3. frozen certified organic applesauce – just the apples cooked down in water – $7/quart
  4. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $8 each
  5. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each
  6. garlic powder – $10/2 ounce

Farm Doins
Besides scurrying to get out the final CSA and managing turkeys and sales this week, we were able to collect carrots and beets for the root cellar before we called it quits for the harvest of vegetables for 2021. We picked up most of the row cover and shut off the water system to the field. Next week we will finish covering the garlic, picking up hoses, putting away sand bags and getting the bird houses prepped for winter. Working shareholders will come on Wednesdays and Fridays and we will go to diminished farm hours.

Well, we got the van stuck in the field on Monday, after we had loaded a bunch of turkeys in the back of it.

Digging, adding lots of sand, using board.

No chance to get a final picture of us getting it out, as we were all quite busy pushing from behind!

A walk in full of turkeys!

Tom below, Anthony on the tractor bucket and Clare receiving banana boxes on the second floor of the barn – we now have enough boxes for egg sales for many months into the future!

Julie

The Life of a Walk in Cooler

Thinking back to the late fall of 1977 when Jack and I walked into the Mission Hill Food Coop and joined with our 3 month son Dan in arms, I think I would have been surprised if fast forwarding 44 years later I would be in and out of our walk in cooler several times per day, acquired from the coop when it disbanded sometime in perhaps 1987. The trip to pick it up in our stake body truck with all six of us in the cab (you could get away with that in those days) was remarkable in its crowdedness! But we took it apart and brought it home and stored it in the back of the garage until 1992 when we built our barn. Jack designed the height of the main floor of the barn around the walk in. We spent most of 1992 building that barn, and though we operated our first CSA year out of our root cellar, we were up and operational with the walk in by 1993. I think that all we had to do was add some fluid to the cooler to make it operational, and only a couple visits from the experts for minor tweaks over the years have been needed to keep it functional. Many thanks to Howard Hastings about 10 years ago who fixed the front door to make it hang better, making it simple to go in and out of the door ever since.

During this turkey week, the walk in is our most important tool on the farm. Right now it is stuffed with produce for our last CSA delivery on Monday to be completely turned over to hold 120 turkeys by late Monday/early Tuesday.

I am not sure how old the walk in was when it arrived at the coop in Boston, but it was probably acquired second hand from a grocery store. This short story is a bit of a tribute to this wonderful walk in cooler which has for us in the past 30 years made it possible for us to deliver to our customers tons of fresh food. Thank you, walk in, and to those who put together this simple but powerful appliance!

CSA Update – Week 5 of 5
Last Week – Monday pick up only on November 22
Week 5 best guess of what we will get
Please remember that the week 5 pickup will be on Monday at all locations. Don’t forget!

  • Celery
  • Turnips
  • rutabagas
  • kohlrabi
  • radishes
  • carrots
  • collards
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Pears
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Arugula
  • Cilantro
  • Celeriac – this is a great root crop that you can use in soups and stews. Sometimes I cook it in stock and then puree.

Thanks for being part of the fall CSA. Hoping to see you again next year.

Week 4 share with eggs.

 

Walk Through Grief with Grace – some links from last week’s post
Here it is on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/walk-through-grief-with-grace/id1594667339
And here it is on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6hYOgoECARbOvNg5LcagL2

And another interview with Ellen and an old college friend on a Kural Conversation on Food and Healing – https://thomaspruiksma.com/food-and-freedom-a-kural-conversation-with-ellen-kittredge/

 

An email from an egg customer
Hi Julie!

Thank you so much! Thank you for all your hard work in providing such wonderful produce. It is very important to us and  truly appreciated. We are so excited to try your turkey also!!

I had a dozen “maintenance eggs“ as I like to call them when I don’t have yours in my fridge. My husband grabbed them by accident not knowing I had got more eggs from you the day before… He was eating them and said there’s no way these are from our CSA.
Andrea

 

Winter egg shares
This is a new offering this year, thanks to more creativity from Ari, our departing communications director. Check it out here and sign up  for either a Worcester pick up or at the farm. https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/winter-egg-csa/

 

Health tip
Juniper Berries – 5 emerging benefits of Juniper berries – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/juniper-berries
These berries are one of the components of our breakfast tea that Jack and I drink.

Health and Biology Education
Dr Zach Bush – A Biological Understanding of our troubled Times – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igJWPa8anbw&t=1458s

I have been following the work of Zach Bush for several years now. He has done a lot of work to spread the word about the dangers of glyphosate in our world. In this past year he has launched what he calls the Global Health Initiative. This is a rich resource that I will be delving into and sharing from time to time. This interview link that I have shared above with the Mantalks podcasts – https://mantalks.com/podcast/ – Connor Beaton, is a broad look at what is going on in our world today and how it connects with diversity, biodiversity and our human health potential. Some interesting history of the chemical agriculture and pharmaceutical industries.  Germ theory versus terrain theory. Much more.

 

Circle of Song Concert, Friday, December 3 7pm, Barre Congregational Church, 30 Park Street
By the way, Minnie is doing well and back singing after her fall.

Come enjoy some beautiful music with our small but mighty chorus. It hasn’t been easy to restart a chorus in Covid times, but we have pulled through and in my and Nancy’s humble opinion, we have a more competent group of singers than ever in our 20 years of singing together. We credit a lot of our success to our phenomenal pianist, Cailan McClure who is there to support us to perform this 4 part harmony music.

We will be performing the following pieces in the first portion of the concert.
Long Time Ago by Aaron Copland
Ching-A-Ring Chaw also by Copland
Joy Shall Come in the Morning by Mary Alice Amidon
Sure on the Shining Night by Morten Lauridsen
What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele

The highlight of the concert will be our rendition of A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms. We will be performing movements 1, 4, 5 and 7 from this 7 movement choral masterpiece. Written between 1865 and 1868 this requiem may have been inspired by the death of Brahms’ mother. We will attempt to do justice to this very intricate but also accessible piece of music that is beloved through the ages.

We would all love to see you there to help us enjoy the beginning of the Christmas season in choral song.

 

Pre-Order your 2022 CSA Share
Thanks for the continual stream of subscriptions for next year. Your commitment to our solvency as a family, and more and more a community farm, inspires us to more agricultural aspirational heights.

We are offering pre-orders for 2022 CSA shares now. Put down a full payment, half payment, or a $150 deposit to guarantee your spot in our 2022 CSA. We may raise prices in 2022 for our CSA shares, but we haven’t made a determination of that yet. If you order in this calendar year and put down a down payment you can be assured of this price. Order here: https://mhof.net/csa-order-form/

 

Farm store hours
M-F – 12-1 pm
Tuesday 5-7
Friday 5-7
Always call ahead to be sure of supply.

Available this week

  1. Free range organic eggs at $8/dozen – we newly added free choice kelp to their now full farm free range lifestyle.
  2. dandelion, holy basil, burdock, yarrow and yellow dock tincture in 2 ounce bottles – $12
  3. frozen certified organic applesauce – just the apples cooked down in water – $7/quart
  4. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $8 each
  5. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each
  6. garlic powder – $10/2 ounce
  7. Lavender soap – $6/5 ounce bar

 

Farm Doins
We are deep into the scaling down process, though just a few more days of intense effort until we can take that Thanksgiving rest. This past week we put together Week 4 CSA and got most of CSA 5 picked ahead of the cold weekend that we have experienced. Clare and Ari and I were on the graveyard shift Friday afternoon as we picked through what was left of the arugula to get those precious 85 bunches. And the morning of Friday was remarkable in that our fingers were frozen as we harvested collards and kale, some of the plants with ice crystals on them. Thanks again to the Friday crew – Stu, Deb and Allison – who were high spirited in yet another Friday with challenging weather.

Backing up to Thursday, Kerri and Laurie helped Clare and me get the pigs corralled and then into Adams’ truck to send them off to meet their maker. This is a hard one for me existentially when we ship the pigs, intelligent and curious personages that they are. Even as I slapped their butts from inside their house and Rick Adams gave them short touches with his prod, they were gentle pigs and were careful not to crush me as they struggled to not get up on the truck.

Wednesday we had a cast of thousands and good thing as we ended up making 61 quarts of sauerkraut. Ari has signed up for monthly updates to them in Mexico about our consumption of said sauerkraut, not believing we can finish it by May. The race is on. Anthony and John set up a nice dog house palace next to our fancy new steps, complete with a new roof.

Tuesday Clare and I got all of our pig orders together for cut sheets and harvested a few things for Wednesday’s CSA. And our stalwart Monday crew picked for both Monday and Wednesday’s CSA, trying to get ahead of the cold nights of last week which slowly take the toll of the vegetables still in the field.

Backing up further to the week end, I need to shout out a real thanks to our Saturday crew, Shantel and Alexandria, and Alicia and Dan, and Katrina on Sundays, who comes all the way from Brattleboro. Together these folks have made weekend chores this year fun and manageable and I will miss them when these chores go away.

By the time you receive this, the turkey slaughter will be in progress and it will soon be very quiet on the farm (luckily we still have some noisy chickens). The ending of another farm year is in sight.

 

Leslie with some beautiful radishes that were raised entirely under row cover.

 

We were at about bunch number 70 when this picture was taken.

Some folks know how to relax.

Cabbage board or food processor? (click on the picture to watch video)

Coring these beautiful cabbages.

Ari mixing the cabbage with the salt to hurry the breakdown process.

Almost done!

You’ve heard of bathtub gin. This is bathtub sauerkraut.

Pigs lining up at the fence before leaving.

Gearing up to load house number two into the truck.

Once it is time to go, there is a mad rush for the truck.

We lay down cardboard in the garlic bed pathways before we cover the whole planting with hay and some cornstalks.

This is Lee, our latest new guy.

Good bye turkeys! (click on link to watch video)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Julie

 

 

A Garlic Story

Garlic is a crop for which we expend a lot of energy. Perhaps because it is so medicinal and so potent and so popular, and grows out of time with the rest of the crops we treat as annuals, it gets special attention. I write this as I am immersed in the smell of garlic drying in our Excalibur food dryer, in preparation for becoming garlic powder. Friday 4 students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute came, and added to Clare, Ari, Stu and Deb and I, we were able to get the garlic planted by 10 am just as the rain was starting to come down fast. But let’s back up for a year, because one thing I have learned over the years is that proper prior planning (I will leave the rest of it blank!)…

Early in 2021 we tarped the large section of the garden that would be sweet corn.  In May we took off the tarps and planted the corn seeds into the “clean” soil. After one quick weeding with a hoe and another hand weeding (I still remember the Friday in the rain when Clare, Stu and I were fast pacing it down the pathways on  hands and knees ripping out weeds after we had harvested lambs quarters and purslane for CSA shares) we planted a multi-species cover crop in amongst the corn plants. While the corn was in the ground we used weekly nutritional sprays to support maximum health (about 15 weeks).

Later, we harvested and ate the tasty corn which had an astoundingly small number of corn ear worms, and mowed down the whole business. Next we ran some turkey tractors through the beds, leaving the birds on any particular piece of ground for one day to eat and defecate. Then we planted a winterkill cover crop mix of oats, field peas and daikon radish and let that grow for about 6 weeks. Last week we came in and mowed the field, did some physical removal of corn stalks, and other detritus and then after hoeing the beds by hand decided to come in with our tractor mounted ripper to make four row beds that were a little deeper and more consistent. For those who care about these kinds of things, this was the only time that we had the tractor or any implement on any of our fields this year. The stubble was significant enough that we thought this intervention wise.

After splitting and planting the garlic at about 6 inch spacing in 12” spaced rows we covered the cloves with soil with Rogue hoes. Next week we will lay a super thick layer of hay on top as mulch (with cardboard and old Natural Farmers in the pathways). In my ever evolving attempts to increase organic matter, build carbon stores and maximize photosynthesis throughout the year, I share this example of how I would like to integrate as much diversity, fertility, and photosynthetic capacity into a field as we are able in a growing season. Not all of our growing areas received this level of attention, but that is our goal moving forward.

Our garlic was phenomenal this year after following a similar procedure in 2020 after peppers using as much in the way of cover crops, mulch, and foliars as possible. This garden location right below the house is blessed with rich organic matter (somewhere around 10-12) and isn’t dogged like so much of our growing space with less than ideal sunlight and excess moisture in rainy times.

The ripper.

Planting garlic.  (click on the picture to see video)

 

CSA Update – Week 4 of 5
Last Week – Monday pick up only on November 22
Week 4 best guess of what we will get
We were barely able to give out one lettuce or endive each last week. The frost took too much of a toll. Jerusalem artichokes –didn’t happen last week. We dug them up to find just a very little harvest. Sorry. The season is winding down and there is less available to pick. We have been reasonably well blessed with the weather for November, but the bounty will have to wait again for 2022– average bag size on week three was 7 lbs. Look forward next week to onions, one last garlic, celeriac (a must for winter soups), and all of the rest of the greens that we can garner from the fields.

  • 3 leeks
  • Celery
  • Turnips
  • Beets
  • radishes
  • Bunch of carrots
  • 1 Asian of one sort or another- bok choi, tatsoi, Chinese cabbage
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • 4 pears

Last week’s share.

Personal Inspiration
Walk Through Grief with Grace

As you may or may not know, our daughter Ellen’s first husband died of cancer (coming up on 14 years ago). She was recently interviewed for a podcast called “Walk Through Grief with Grace” on her experience of healing from this major loss – which was multifaceted, but largely happened through connecting with nature and opening to the Grace that exists all around us at all times.
If you are in a grief process, or know anyone who is, this might be an inspiring conversation to bring hope, perspective and guidance about the very real experience of grief that we all encounter at various junctures in life. How do we heal? How can we live life fully again? Where can we find guidance for how to orient our life after a major loss? All these questions are touched on in this podcast interview.

Here’s how to find the interview.
Search for the Walk Through Grief With Grace podcast on Apple Podcasts on Monday Nov. 15th.

 

Health tip
Autophagy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5xBE1zvwUY

I have been hearing about intermittent fasting for some time from many different sources, and decided to take the plunge last week end. Though the last hour between 9 and 10 am has been a hard one, where I start to run at the mouth and lose a little focus, at a week in I plan to make this a long term commitment in my eating habits. I wonder if there is anyone who doesn’t have food issues of one sort or another. This practice of going for an extended period of time each day without food to allow the body to do its cleanup work uninterrupted by digestion can open us to a lot of new awarenesses about our relationship to food and to life.

 

Pre-Order your 2022 CSA Share
Thanks for the continual stream of subscriptions for next year. Your commitment to our solvency as a family, and more and more a community farm, inspires us to more agricultural aspirational heights.

We are offering pre-orders for 2022 CSA shares now. Put down a full payment, half payment, or a $150 deposit to guarantee your spot in our 2022 CSA. We may raise prices in 2022 for our CSA shares, but we haven’t made a determination of that yet. If you order in this calendar year and put down a down payment you can be assured of this price. Order here: https://mhof.net/csa-order-form/

 

Evaluations for the 2021 Summer CSA
They are coming in well with only a couple of days in your inboxes. Summer shareholders please take a moment to fill this out and let us know your thoughts. I will digest the results and get them back out to you.

 

Turkeys sold out
The turkeys get louder and more excited about their remaining time on this earth as we work with them to move their mobile pens each day. Their last week on this earth will be spent on some of the finest pasture that we have available on the farm.  Call 978-355-2853 to be added to the waiting list.  I will call you by Tuesday night, the 23rd to let you know if we have a bird for you.

 

Farm store hours
M-F – 12-1 pm
Tuesday 5-7
Friday 5-7
Always call ahead to be sure of supply.

Available this week

  1. Free range organic eggs at $8/dozen – we newly added free choice kelp to their now full farm free range lifestyle.
  2. frozen certified organic range raised roaster chickens in the 6-8 lb. range – $7/lb. – Only 10 left.
  3. dandelion, holy basil, burdock, yarrow and yellow dock tincture in 2 ounce bottles – $12
  4. frozen certified organic applesauce – just the apples cooked down in water – $7/quart
  5. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $8 each
  6. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each
  7. garlic powder – $10/2 ounce
  8. Lavender soap – $6/5 ounce bar

 

Farm Doins

We seem to be having larger and more diverse numbers of folks stopping by to help out these days. Sunday Brendan was back to help us slaughter the old layers. This week new and extra folks at the lunch table included Skyler from Stetson, McMillan whose school was back to virtual because of a Covid scare, Ruben from NOFA who was doing research and analysis for a compaction grant, Chuk back finishing up near the front stairs (we had a short birthday celebration for him (he turned 40), Barbara, a new working shareholder from Wilbraham, and David, Liv, Kirsten and Jonathan from WPI who came to work after doing a zoom with me and Jack last week to learn about community farms. Raffi and Doodle had the day off on Thursday and came for lunch too. Old NOFA friend Kay stopped by for some hoeing on Wednesday. Saturday morning, Alicia brought dad Tom to help out with our Saturday chores. When I think about big farm lunches at haying time growing up, I realize that I have truly moved into paradise. This is a state of affairs so vividly and beautifully documented by the farmer poet and author Wendell Berry. Give him a read if you haven’t.

Anthony and John got the dog house reroofed, we had another successful fall CSA distribution, Clare and I easily moved the pigs to their last pasture location before they go to meet their maker this upcoming Wednesday and we burned a bunch of wood and paper bag detritus that was building up. We got the garlic in! And we made two 5 gallon pots of pear sauce and cooked and pureed all the rest of the funky winter squash. Garlic powder rounded out the week along with a large batch of chicken stock.

In other news Skippy didn’t kill a single chicken this week and only spent a short period of time on a chain. Additionally she only terrorized one shareholder who came after dark for pick up!

It dawned on me this week after talking to the WPI kids that we have become a community farm, if not by the usual definition which includes public land, boards of directors, etc. It is kind of nice.

 

Upcoming events –
Decolonizing Environmental Thought – https://bio4climate.org/?s=Decolonizing+Environmental+Thought – Monday at 6
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate always has an interesting speaker series

 

Clare taking a break to help McMillan with her knitting.

Skyler took a break from eating to pet a chicken.

Pigs enjoying their new digs.

Nothing like a bonfire to entertain a couple of pyromaniacs.

John and Anthony cutting a new roof for the dog house.

Barbara helping in the leeks.

Lunch is always fun!

The front entrance facelift continues!

Ruben taking core samples.

Doodle helping water the turkeys.

Raffi rolling up the twine.

It turns out Tom is good with computers and I am good at cutting pairs so we switched!

That was great gingerbread and pears, Clare.  (click on picture to watch video)

Pear sauce and cooked pureed squash for the freezer.

Stu holds court with the students while making garlic powder as Ari looks on.

 

Pushing Oneself

Well, I wish I hadn’t been born that way, sometimes, when I feel this excessive need to strive, to try harder, to be willing (Scott Peck made a wonderful juxtaposition between willfulness and willingness – that statement in his great self-help book titled The Road Less Travelled saved my life) to reach the next rung on the ladder.

I have spent my life sorting out this internal pushiness that I was blessed with, learning how to not push others, but instead lead. And at the same time learning how to lead myself rather than pushing (it takes so much less energy!). When I started thinking of myself as willing rather than willful, it turned what I thought was a deficit into an attribute, and the personal growth was able to really flourish.

Right now I have a deadline to be able to sing a bunch of high G’s, Ab’s, A’s and Bb’s (and do so beautifully and clearly) by December 3 when our chorus, the Circle of Song sings part of the Brahms Requiem among other beautiful numbers. When I think about our small but mighty chorus of truly unique and high performing individuals and how we have always taken on just a few steps more difficulty in our selections than one might think we could reasonably perform well, I am grateful.

Last week Minnie fell down the Town Hall stairs backwards and cracked her head open. As we sat there around her on the cement waiting for the EMT, I pondered the power of this wonderful woman from South Barre, just turned 91, who is really an icon for us with her can do attitude. Nancy noted to me after visiting Minnie on Sunday, just out of the hospital, that she Minnie fully planned to drive herself to the Health Center on Tuesday, which she did.

A long time ago I decided to surround myself with people who have that unique inner drive to accomplish all that they can be. The good news is that those folks are all around us and we can learn from them how to better become totally ourselves. For right now, I will sing more and higher (one Bb at a time) so that I can do right by Brahms on December 3. You can come and hear us at the Barre Congregational Church that night at 7 pm.

 

CSA Update – Week 3 of 5
Last Week – Monday pick up only on November 22
Week 3 best guess of what we will get

The fall share takes place only on Monday and Wednesday, so if you were in the summer share, be sure to read the emails I have been sending so you pick up on the correct day and location. For those of you who had small (red bag) or medium (blue bag) shares, please note that all the fall shares are one size and they might turn up in any color bag. Look for your tag with your name on it.

Though it frosted every night last week, we covered yet more crops with row cover and they seem to be holding firm. This next week proves to be a warmer one with nights soon around 40 and highs of high 50s. Let the bounty continue – average bag size on week two was 11 lbs.

  • 3 leeks
  • Bunch of carrots
  • 1 Asian of one sort or another- bok choi, tatsoi, Chinese cabbage
  • Kale
  • Collards – these are the best looking collards I have seen in some time
  • Arugula
  • Parsley
  • 1 head of garlic
  • Lettuce
  • Endive
  • kohlrabi
  • Cilantro
  • potatoes
  • Jerusalem artichokes – these can be sliced thinly for salad or cooked in a root mash – careful, some call them fartichokes – sorry that we ran out of time last week and didn’t give you these
  • 4 pears

 

The carrots are starring right now.

Last week’s share.

A leek peeling party.

Celery protected under remay.

 

Fan Mail

Hi Julie,

I’m enjoying a cup of your wonderful cider as I type this – really delicious and crisp and refreshing – just about perfect!  Thank you!!  Emily picked it up with our share today – one of us (hopefully me) will come to drop off money for it in the next day or so.
Thank you for this bit of fall perfection in a cup!

Love,
Barrie
————–
Just a quick note to tell you how much I enjoy your missives. A definite high note in my inbox. We are new CSA subscribers and, two weeks in are so happy with the improvements to our kitchen lives. The arugula is always the first to get eaten, doesn’t even make it into the fridge. The carrots are divine. The sage, fennel and eggplant went on a sourdough pizza on Saturday and the kale made an amazing soup with lentils and some beef marrow bones we had in the freezer. The apples and pears got sauced together tonight and immediately.

We are very grateful for the work you do. Having lived the farm life in the past, I know the toil it entails and know the small price we pay for the share doesn’t begin to cover the hours of labor that goes into it. For that we thank you!

Side note, I ran cross country at Quabbin with your kids in the 90s and have always admired your family, not only because of how fast they all were. 

Best wishes!

Erin (Cameron and Grace)
———–
I had the lovely impression yesterday that the lunch we all shared together was an early November Thanksgiving!. The weather was fantastic. And the shared meal, though impromptu as to the mix of people, was glorious.

I was so charmed and as I looked around, of course none of us were in the presence of our families as we would be on Thanksgiving, but I thought there was no rancor and dicey family dynamics and unpopular cranky uncle, that can happen on Thanksgiving.

I am SO blessed this year to have newly met everyone. And meeting another new person, Rocky, was fabulous yesterday too!

My family of origin is a source of beauty and love and of course my family with Joe, and all the extended family of our combined in-laws and our son-in-law David is a source of the utmost joy in my life.

The family at the Farm is of my choosing though and it is another emergent blessing and esteemed associations with my new friends altogether wonderful and fills me with awe. I can’t imagine the height of fortune that this past 7 months has afforded me- well I wouldn’t change a microsecond of it.

Kindness and compassion and extreme happiness that I have been invited in to be a part of the MANY HEARTS ORGANIC FARM on Sheldon St in Barre

In Peace, Veritas Laurie

 

Pre-Order your 2022 CSA Share
Wow, three folks have signed up already, and another is about to. It is not a marketing gimmick that we note that we might raise our prices next year; we just haven’t had enough time to look at our budgetary needs for next year. But finances on a farm in this country in this time are always iffy. I will feel better about getting several loads of wood chips, perhaps some more rock dust, or 20 bales of mulch straw if we can bring in some more money this fall before the turn of the year.

Thus we are offering pre-orders for 2022 CSA shares now. Put down a full payment, half payment, or $150 deposit to guarantee your spot in our 2022 CSA. We may raise prices in 2022 for our CSA shares, but we haven’t made a determination of that yet. If you order in this calendar year and put down a down payment you can be assured of this price. Order here: https://mhof.net/csa-order-form/

 

Only 35 turkeys left
The turkeys are now enjoying the best grass and comfrey and forbes that our very fertile orchard has to offer. This past week we separated them once again and now have 11 mobile pens of birds. And because the water system has frozen every night this past week we have been having lots of fun hauling water from the well! Tis the season of frosty nights.  And on Sunday night last week we had a mini slaughter. I guess the coyotes are getting hungrier this time of year. Our stalwart dogs – Franny, Dingo and Skippy – are taking the situation in hand and are now stationed out by the houses all night. I pay them off with dog cookies and a wonderful walk down the road at around 5 an each morning after they go off duty. They are ecstatic. Our Numbers of available turkeys for your purchase are diminishing fast, so if you have been dawdling, I would suggest you get that order to us right away. Fresh for Thanksgiving, $6/lb. https://mhof.net/organic-meat/

Farm store hours
M-F – 12-1 pm
Tuesday 5-7
Friday 5-7
Always call ahead to be sure of supply.

Available this week

  1. Free range organic eggs at $8/dozen – the chickens are presently enjoying a range diet of crimson red clover to enhance vitamin A content
  2. frozen certified organic range raised roaster chickens in the 6-8 lb. range – $7/lb. – Only 10 left.
  3. dandelion, holy basil, burdock, yarrow and yellow dock tincture in 2 ounce bottles – $12
  4. frozen certified organic applesauce – just the apples cooked down in water – $7/quart
  5. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $8 each
  6. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each
  7. certified organic garlic for seed or eating – $15/lb.
  8. garlic powder – $10/2 ounce
  9. Lavender soap – $6/5 ounce bar
  10. Cider in gallons – $15/gallon – we have 5 more gallons available on a first come first served basis. Fall CSA shareholders can order cider with your share and we can deliver to your pick up site if you are not picking up in Barre. You can send a check or pay with paypal here – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qn0P3aDSsNpOnHJzkKqL_Q-Tjae_M34-l40Y1qTEvCY/edit  This is our last pressing for the year, accomplished on Friday. All trees are shook and we are now moving on to our last fruit tree of pears – the giving tree noted earlier which already has dropped 1000 pears and still counting!

1000 pears harvested and counting. (click on the picture to watch video)

Farm Doins
Chores take a long time to accomplish when the water is frozen until about 10 am, so many buckets of water are hauled to the turkeys and chickens. The old layers went on Sunday to meet their maker, however, so all the young girls are a slam dunk for chores. Alicia brought over 3 beautiful gentlemen to service the hen’s needs. We are hopeful that they won’t kill them as they have the previous 6. The 7th, a beautiful Leghorn was killed by Skippy, who is at the moment trying to come to terms with her German shepherd roots. Under dog house arrest regularly and otherwise on a leash and plied into good behavior with dog cookies, she is trying to learn to overcome that part of her killer nature.

Son Chuk, with help from various of us, started and finished a most beautiful set of front steps for us this week. If this kind of rehab keeps up it may look like the suburbs soon! Always a pleasure to have around, he added his bright nature to lunches all week. Thanks, Chuk, for keeping our house in good structural order. He was riding around in a back pack 39 years ago when we built the house. I hadn’t noticed the clipboard and note paper at the time, but I guess he was taking good notes!

Besides more remaying, picking for the CSA, picking up and finishing our last apples of the year, freezing more parsley, collards, and celery slurp for winter, and drying some pears, we have started splitting the garlic for planting – hopefully to be accomplished this upcoming week.

We brought all of our fertility liquids into the house, met with Nathan from AEA to discuss our soil test, and emptied the barn off all of the onions, garlic and squash ahead of the freeze. We welcomed Tom as a newbie this week, and enjoyed Rocky’s presence who was here to help Chuk with the stairs.

 

Chuk engaged Clare.

John, Maya who I didn’t catch on film.

And Rocky.

What could be more fun than processing pears?

This pig decided to take a stroll on Thursday and stopped for a
pawpaw snack before we “helped” him back into the electric fence.

Our new guy Tom hefting sand bags for holding down the remay.

Do you ever wonder what we talk about at lunch?

This week we started the girls on kelp meal free choice – yet another reason that our eggs are the best.

Stu shaking out the last of the Ben Davises.

Deb at by far her favorite task.