Good Friday

As Maria said it so succinctly on Friday when she breezed in to buy eggs and reconfirm as a working shareholder in 2022, “Happy Good Friday, Easter, Passover, Patriot’s Day, or whatever works for you.” It was such a good Friday here.

Sadie gave birth to 5 kittens* on our bedroom rug at 4 am. Then our old friend Mike Lombard showed up with 4 totes of potting soil (Ideal Compost) and stayed for breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs and vegetables and various sides of sauerkraut, apple and pear sauce. Mike was barely out the door and Laurie came back from vacation and Kerri brought her latest batch of volunteers – Christine, CJ and Aidan, followed by Stu.

Finally, Cindy came to do some learning about organic gardening. Off we went to various and sundry tasks through the morning and then sat down to a lunch for 12, when Maria showed up. After lunch Jack gave me another grape pruning tutorial (I have always been shy to prune grapes) and as soon as Jonathan and Clare had left for the day, our neighbor girls showed up to jump on the trampoline. After a zoom meeting with Christy, Jack and I sat down to our leftovers and enjoyed the movie The Age of Adaline.

I am grateful for the life of abundant human interaction that surrounds us.

Kittens two hours old

Unloading the potting soil – that is Jonathan on the tractor

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Our Western Mass Contingent – Laurie, Kerri, Christine, CJ, Aidan

Cindy, Paula and Aidan stacking wood

This got old after the 3rd tote of wet leaves

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So Clare got out the tractor

The brooder house boys

Personal Health Tips

We did a couple of videos of cooking this week

Scrambled eggs with chives and dandelion greens

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Chili for a crowd

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Quote of the Week

“Whether you think you can or think that you can’t, you are right.” -Henry Ford

Agricultural Education from MHOF

Jack and Clare on grape pruning

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Removing tarps and getting ready for planting

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Wild harvesting yellow dock root for processing into teas and tinctures.

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Preparing beds and planting peas

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Preparing the garden beds and planting onion sets this week

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Transplanting stinging nettles

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More Education

Seeds of Solidarity Farm and Education Center in Orange offers both popular and new workshops this season!

Women Healing Women Healing Earth is their series of gardening, arts, and healing workshops for women. Amazing presenters! Free or by donation, Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Half the spots in each reserved for women who live in the North Quabbin/Central MA region. Here is a beautiful flyer of these wonderful workshops

New! For Ages 20-30:  Building Immersion, Life Tools. Saturday and Sunday July 9 and 10. Are you seeking basic building and tool use, be it as farmer, artist, or to increase your own skill set, be it for a tool shed, tiny house, or simply more self-reliance? Along with plenty of hands-on experience, this weekend workshop includes conversation to envision a bountiful life forward, in a beautiful setting and in community with others. Sliding scale $75- $175. ($250 value). Lunches included, rustic on-site overnight camping possible. Pre-registration required, capped at 15. Email [email protected] to learn more.

Rich and Healthy: No-till for Successful Farms. Sunday Oct 30, 10am to 5PM. Are you a farmer or market gardener seeking to start or transition to no-till methods that use simple tools, build healthy soil, reduce labor and cost inputs, promote climate resilience and increase your connection to the land? You’ll learn several no-till, climate resilience techniques in this experiential, day-long workshop with seasoned farmer Ricky Baruc and no-till soil science researchers. Sliding scale $60-$90. Space limited, email [email protected] to register. Lunch included

Learn more about these and other workshops: https://seedsofsolidarity.org/workshops-and-events/

Ricky and Deb came over for supper and left us some wonderful popcorn that we enjoyed Tuesday night!

Opportunities from MHOF

Consider joining the MHOF CSA to change the way you eat!

6 weeks and counting until the CSA starts.

If the subscriptions keep up like they came in this week, we will sell out. Don’t be caught without your food!

October 6, 2021

Join the CSA here

Meat Available for Pre-Order

Now is a good time to get your meat orders in to be sure of availability. Thanks to the three folks who sent in orders last week!

Our pigs move around the woods, 2 weeks in one spot until they are off to another area. Once they are free they quickly get those snouts busy plowing up the soil and finding what there is to eat.

Here the pigs on September 23, 2021 are patiently awaiting being let out after their move.

Purchase MHOF meat here

*New Kitten Protocol

Last year we homed 30 kittens, so now the word is out. But this year we don’t have as many kittens, and I don’t want to keep waiting lists, then to find that at least half of the folks on the list have found a kitten elsewhere. So, here is the new plan to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum.

On Monday, May 30 I will open up kitten sales for Sadie’s batch. At that time feel free to contact me on a first come first served basis to place an order. I don’t take orders for specific cats, but ask all interested to show up at the same time and work it out among themselves. Our moms eat organic cat food, then eggs, liver and other organ meats, cod liver oil, pork stock, ground pumpkin seeds (to help with worms), and of course they do a lot of hunting. We don’t do shots and we don’t neuter the kittens. They cost $50 each. They are as tame as we can make them with lots of handling. Thanks.

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

We hosted 4 volunteers this past week, Maria signed up for another year, and Scott is back. Additionally Tonya signed on as a working shareholder. Keep connecting. Shantel and Alexandria are back, and last Sunday Katrina came down from Brattleboro to help with chicken chores.

Scott showing off his big rock!

Alexandria and Shantel planting a sour cherry tree

Breakfast at 7 if you want to come that early, otherwise 8-12 with peanut butter balls at 10 and lunch at the end. Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings are all open to more volunteers who will receive a large share in exchange for your work, or a dozen eggs off-season.

Volunteer at MHOF – more info here

Farm Store Hours

Monday-Friday: 12-1 pm
plus
Tuesday: 5-7pm
Friday: 5-7pm

Always call ahead to be sure of supply
(978) 355-2853; (978) 257-1192

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. Tinctures (Holy basil, burdock, yellow dock) – 2 ounce bottles – $12 each

  3. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $10 each

  4. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each

  5. 2 ounce jars of calendula salve – $10 each

  6. Garlic powder – $10/2 ounce

  7. Frozen pork stock – $7.50/quart

  8. Frozen chicken stock – $7.50/quart

  9. Frozen pork cuts –regular ribs, ground pork and roasts – $12/lb.

  10. Ham and bacon – $18/lb.

Free Stuff this Week

We are going to rip out a couple of red raspberry rows. Come by this week 8-3 Monday – Friday to take home some of Mom’s Latham summer berries.

Raspberry canes

Other Opportunities

From a friend regarding diabetes

“I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in late November 2021 with a fasting glucose of 346. I am not sure how long my glucose had been this high, though I had been feeling fatigued for many months. I was already aware of the work of Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist who founded the Toronto Metabolic Clinic, and so wanted to learn more about his take on how to reverse type 2 diabetes. While my primary physician initially suggested that I consider taking metformin, a common pharmaceutical to help lower blood sugar, we agreed that I would try working exclusively with dietary and lifestyle changes first.

Starting in Dec. 2021, I cut out all sugar, and started on a LCHF (low-carb-high-fat) diet eating a balanced diet with a limited number of carbs, good fats, and lots of organic greens. I did intermittent fasting (16:8) every day, with an occasional lengthier fasting period (24-48 hours). In addition, I started to walk more, do exercises with an online fitness trainer, and used some homeopathic and herbal supplements to help support my journey. I also measured my fasting glucose each morning with a glucometer.

I found that two of Dr. Fung’s books – The Diabetes Code and The Complete Guide to Fasting – were invaluable. I also found his videos on reversing diabetes, on understanding metabolic syndrome, and on weight loss very helpful: https://www.youtube.com/user/drjasonfung

In only a couple of weeks of following this protocol, my fasting glucose went down from 346 to 198. Since that time – in only 4 months – I have reached a low of 126, have lost weight (down two sizes of clothing), and feel like I have much more energy. While my fasting glucose is still a little up and down and I’m not completely out of the woods yet, I have learned a lot more about what works for my body and what doesn’t. As Dr. Fung suggests, diabetes is not a “sugar issue”. It’s a metabolic issue. The body needs to learn how to reset itself.

My primary physician is amazed at the results. She has stated that she feels that I’m at last “safer” now, and she no longer feels that pharmaceuticals are necessary at this point, provided I just keep on going with what I’ve been doing so far until my fasting glucose can be more in the normal range consistently.

I would definitely recommend looking into the work of Dr. Jason Fung to anyone who wants to reverse diabetes without taking pharmaceuticals. While each of us is different – and I cannot say for certain what will work for you – what he has to say on the subject has made a great deal of sense to me. It has also helped countless others.

Also, here is a link to the website of Lucy Wyndham-Read, a wonderful online fitness trainer: https://www.lwrfitness.com/ whose workouts I’ve really enjoyed! Her videos are free, and her exercises can be modified for anyone’s fitness level.”

Farm Doin’s

Work continues on the brooder house with the siding on the back after Jonathan re-sized some window openings to keep our off-site construction boss (yes, that is Chuk) happy.

We did a lot of grape pruning but will have to be content with finishing it this next week – each plant takes a lot of time! We un-tarped the onion field and moved the tarps over to the west field, making hand hoeing less of a priority this week.

We are chipping away at wood stacking, 5 cartloads per day until all 5 cords are safely tucked away in the wood shed.

Friday we were able to finish setting up the drip tape in the houses and we also used up all the rest of our leaves heavily mulching chard and kale in the blue and orange house.

We harvested our first salad from the yellow house on Friday.

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We did a swift business in yellow dock and dandelion harvest, handing out fresh dandelions on Friday and drying both root and leaves for later use.

Peas got planted on Wednesday and 4 of our 12 onion set beds were planted on Thursday. We hoed the chives and started a bunch more lettuce. We also planted some trees that arrived in the mail.

Already we are into the second half of April!

-Julie

I love mulch – Julie Rawson

Yes, folks, there ain’t nothing like it. And this week we were in receipt of 40 bales of beautiful golden straw from Gary Shepherd, a friend of former working shareholder Maria Leo (thank you Maria for the hook up!)

We really need to go back to Ruth Stout, the queen of mulch – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Stout (1894-1980) – read up on her. Well, my mom followed her and was a bit of a mulch queen herself. I always tried to mulch when I was finally on my own, but didn’t give it the priority that I should have until son Dan came along and showed me how to do it big time with lots of round bales of whatever you can get. He often could get old bales for free. I was rejuvenated and am now an acolyte.

This high quality straw (we have never used straw before) added to our own hay and leaves will have our farm looking like a show garden for sure this year! Mulch is magical, in large part because it keeps the earthworms happy, and feeds that underground workforce consistently, while keeping it dark for them, hydrated, and just like they like it. If you haven’t yet, try it. You will notice marked improvement in your crop production. Slugs? Yes, sometimes they will come when a system is in transition. Save your egg shells, be judicious with the use of wood ash, or utilize diatomaceous earth until your farming system has regularized and the slugs go away.

Personal Health Tips

Gluten-Free Pancakes

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I love pancakes, but I don’t do well with wheat anymore so I started to get creative. Saturday morning I made the following pancake batter.

  • 2 cups of oat groats ground in a coffee grinder
  • 1 cup of almonds, also ground
  • 1 T of astragalus powder
  • 1 T of cinnamon
  • 2 T chia
  • 2 T flax
  • ½ cup coconut
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • About 2 cups of coconut milk (you could use water)

Mix it all up and fry it in some kind of oil – I use lard or bacon fat. Serve with some of Travis’ maple syrup after putting butter between the stack of pancakes.

Here are some good quotes that I liked this week

“The world is a place for soul making.” -John Keats


“Sanctity is no more than becoming ourselves.” -Peter Kreeft

More Education

A great book that I am just finishing is another Stephen Bruhner book, this one, “Transformational Fasting.” His books seem to fit almost better in a category of religion or spirituality. This one takes you through the whole process of food and its meaning to us, what happens when we fast, how we connect better to our hearts and then the how to of the fast. Fascinating, as is all of his stuff.

Opportunities from MHOF

Large Share on September 8, 2021

Consider joining the MHOF CSA to change the way you eat!

For real, after 22-26 weeks of all of this good food you may well be on a new schedule of producing your own healthcare with abundant and highly nutritious vegetables, herbs and fruits. We will support you with recipes and tips for how to use your food.

Did you know that the CSA starts in a short 7 weeks? Truth be told, this is when Clare and I start biting our fingernails wondering if we will have enough food for the first couple of weeks. But we are scurrying, with chard and kale and beets planted in the houses this week, and this week upcoming we will be planting 96 lbs. of onion sets and 3 100’ beds of peas.

Join now while the joining is good!

Join the CSA

Meat Available for Pre-Order

Now is a good time to get your meat orders in to be sure of availability. Thanks to the three folks who sent in orders last week!

I would like to talk about chicken this week. If you have watched Food Inc. or any of the many documentaries and docudramas that are now available for the watching, you will realize that by buying commercially raised meat you are not only supporting the destruction of the planet, but also of your own body. Yes, our meat is significantly more expensive than the alternative, but there is a reason.

July 16, 2021

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We use only certified organic grains (twice as expensive as conventional), and also move our chickens every day of their lives (after their 3-4 weeks in the brooder house that Jonathan is presently renovating). They live on pasture and get fresh air and sunshine every day along with the greens at their feet. There is no way to beat the flavor of these birds.

This weekend we enjoyed a fried chicken (Chuk’s favorite) after watching Clare and Cathleen compete in the River Rat Race. We have one slaughter date this year – August 28. If you pick up your birds that day or the next, you can take them home and cut them up into smaller pieces should you so wish. You get a cleaned bird in a bag with the neck and the giblets.

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Working Shareholders Always Welcome

We are definitely getting into the hard work portion of the year (winter is the cold portion, spring is where we work really hard, summer is where we work really fast, and fall is the time when we carry heavy loads).

Breakfast at 7 if you want to come that early, otherwise 8-12 with peanut butter balls at 10 and lunch at the end. Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings are all open to more volunteers who will receive a large share in exchange for your work, or a dozen eggs off-season.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Store Hours

Monday-Friday: 12-1 pm
plus
Tuesday: 5-7pm
Friday: 5-7pm

Always call ahead to be sure of supply
(978) 355-2853; (978) 257-1192

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. Tinctures (Holy basil, burdock, yellow dock)- 2 ounce bottles – $12 each

  3. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $10 each

  4. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each

  5. 2 ounce jars of calendula salve – $10 each

  6. Garlic powder – $10/2 ounce

  7. Frozen pork stock – $7.50/quart

  8. Frozen chicken stock – $7.50/quart

  9.  Frozen pork cuts –regular ribs, ground pork and roasts – $12/lb

  10.  Ham and bacon – $18/lb

Free Stuff This Week

Kale Seedlings & Chard Seedlings
Ready to transplant.

A Free Old Dell Computer
It actually works, but was getting old and I was afraid it might crash. Nice starter computer for a kid perhaps. Tower, monitor and keyboard.

Other Opportunities

Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse

Final call for Ellen’s 21 Day Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse! Details from Ellen:

“Not sure what to expect on this Cleanse?

Here are the BRAND NEW features for this Cleanse:

1. 30 new recipes that I’ve never shared before on a Cleanse or in my email newsletter. These are generally-speaking more simple/easy recipes with fewer ingredients, and are all themed perfectly for these spring months. They are a combo of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and more.

2. The focus on the weekly Zoom calls for this Cleanse will be Advanced Detox Strategies given that the springtime is when the body is more naturally detoxing, and it’s more appropriate to support a deeper detox.

3. I’ve decided to do an extra focus on the liver, with sharing in my daily emails 1 tip for supporting the liver each of the 21 days of the Cleanse. I’ve never done this before, and I’m excited for how these simple recommendations will build up over time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed, but by the end of the Cleanse will have a wealth of new simple things you are doing that will support your health (the liver is the main detox organ and is central to the body being able to function optimally) not just during these spring cleansing months, but for the long-term!

4. All Cleanse participants will have the most recent Winter Cleanse gut health biome support, teleclasses etc. made available to them, so that you can review this info if you already received it on the 2022 Winter Cleanse, and any new friends you bring with you to this Cleanse will also be able to access all that wisdom, at their own pace and timing.

This is of course in addition to all the standard support I offer during the Cleanse!

Please join me in beginning the Spring on a healthy foot, and please bring your friends and family along who may want to join in as well! I won’t be offering another 21 day Cleanse until January 2023…

With blessings of abundant good health to you this Spring!

Ellen”

Good Local Maple Syrup

From Travis Knechtel

“Our syrup is a small family operation. We primarily tap in West Orange along the Millers River Valley.  We currently have syrup in tins, quart mason jars, plastic, and 1/2 liter glass jugs.

Tins and quarts – 20 each

1/2 liter jugs – $10 each

We have all grades in stock from fancy to dark.

Folks can call or text me to make arrangements to purchase syrup:
978-660-8137
[email protected]

Farm Doin’s

We started the week with Clare and I, Debbie, Kamarin, Candido and Gary busting out 4 hours of hoeing in the south field to take out the grass, dandelions, yellow dock, chickweed, etc. right before we sprayed it and planted it to oats and peas.

Hoeing in the south field.

Meanwhile, Jonathan was playing his tech role and spent the whole morning getting my new computer set up.

Jonathan setting up the new computer.

All week long we picked away at the grape pruning. Clare, Jack and I, and later, Jonathan, got about 6 grapes pruned – about 1/3 of the job done.

Jack and Clare assessing the grapevines.

Jack and Clare pruning the grapes.

On Wednesday we received 40 bales of straw. The truck got stuck, of course, and at one point our seemingly tinker toy-sized Ford 2120 did help a little bit in getting Kenny out of the mud, but mostly it was the straw itself that did the job. We had a really fun time on Thursday rolling bales into place on the stone wall.

The MHOF tractor helped to pull the stuck delivery truck out of the mud.

Straw delivery, unloaded.

Johnathan rolling straw bales down the hill.

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Wednesday we did a lot of house cleaning in the hoop houses – weeding our lettuce and spinach in the yellow, weeding and replanting beets in the blue and taking out the oat and pea cover crop.

Hoop house clean up crew.

Damn, this house seems awfully long.

On Thursday and Friday we planted kale and chard in the cover crop residue in the blue house, did another clean up of the orange house (some grass and yellow dock grow back) and then planted kale, chard and more beets. We started mulching the chard with stored leaves. They are good to use in a hoop house because they don’t blow away in there.

Moving seedlings from the greenhouse to the hoop house to get more sunlight.

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Transplanting kale.

Squeezing some beet seeds in between the chard and kale transplants.

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Clare was particularly impressed by the quality of the chard plants – thick and well branched – and chocks it up to the use of the seed soak this year. We referenced this earlier in the year, but here is the recipe again.

The beautiful chard plants that Clare referenced.

Seed soak recipe to enhance germination and get seeds off to a strong start
From Advancing EcoAgriculture’s Nathan Harmann

  • 10 parts water
  • 1 part seacrop
  • 1 part rejuvenate
  • 3 parts seastim
  • a wee dash of mycogenesis or biocoat gold (at least 1 gram per pound of seed) – add this only at soaking time

And soak seeds in that for, yeah, about 4 hours. If it’s a seed that desires a much longer soaking time, I would start with plain water, or with just the seacrop added, and then finish with the more robust seed soak.

After we soak the seeds we strain them over our aloe plant (so it can catch any extra good juices) and then lay them out on a paper towel to dry before planting.

Jonathan and John are plugging away at the brooder house portion of the garage. The framing is done!

Framing completed in this section.

Next week more grapes, more brooder house, one more field to hoe and cover crop, and pea and onion planting!

-Julie

Two people kneeling near a chicken coop

Everybody wins when we ask for help

“Everybody wins when we ask for help”

– Rob Wergin

I really enjoyed this very simple but elegant piece of advice this week. In this case Mr. Wergin was speaking of asking for help from our spiritual guides, but even if we are merely speaking of the physical plane, it is a sound practice. I know that sometimes I will defer asking because I don’t want to “bother” someone. But then I remember that when someone asks me for help or advice, it provides me with a sense of connection and allows me to be of service and to use my gifts.

Personal Health Tips

How to Make Beet Salad at Home

Daring Classrooms

An interesting talk that I happened upon regarding shame, blame and empowerment.Brene Brown – “Daring Classrooms”

Agricultural Education from MHOF

Early Season Cover Cropping

This year we are making a concerted effort to get in some early cover crops of peas and oats, and sometimes daikon, ahead of crops that will be going in the ground late May or early June like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, tomatoes, etc. We tarped the areas that will be accepting early crops, but for these later crops, there is a real opportunity to build biomass, keep the soil covered in green growing plants, and keep the microbiology at the kitchen table, rather than starving.

The worms are happy too, and these fast growing crops will provide a lot of good tilth to the soil so that our transplants can hop right into a good growing situation. When it is time to make the switch over from covers to vegetables, we will mow the crops down, make holes for transplants, pop them in and then mulch the soil.

Two people hoeing a garden bed

Prepping the garden for oats and peas

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So we started this week hoeing up green residue (mostly grass and overwintered clover), and then immediately doing a fertility soil drench and broadcasting these cover crop seeds. We are running against the clock however, because every day the grass (which is not such a friend in annual systems) greens up and more fully roots. Our goal is to have the 8 beds in the south field, 5 trellises in the north, and 9 beds in the west, hoed, sprayed and cover cropped by week’s end. We actually couldn’t start the process this week until midday on Wednesday as the ground was still frozen. But we completed the garden’s 7 beds and got a start on the south.
Oat and pea seeds in a white bucket

Planting the oats and peas

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I can speak to your group about organic gardening

I had a great time speaking at an organic gardening workshop at the North Brookfield library last Monday. This is a wonderful time of year to get the juices going to have the “best garden ever.” If you would like me to talk to your group or library, I can bring a PowerPoint presentation and charge $100. You will need to provide the laptop and a wall or screen and make all the arrangements for attendance and site.

More Farming Education

NOFA Podcast

This was a fascinating and well-run podcast in the NOFA series that taught me everything I know about farming sugar kelp (previously my knowledge base was at zero). I was reminded why I like being with farmers who share knowledge, resources and technique.
A person in orange rain gear on a boat pulling in seaweed

NOFA Podcast with Suzie Flores

Season 5 Ep. 1 Tools and Practices of Ocean Farming Kelp

Opportunities from MHOF

Now is the Time to Join the CSA

We had a good bite from the College of the Holy Cross this week. They might sponsor a CSA pick up site for their staff and students. And a number of small shares came in too. We are still in an uphill climb for memberships. With $13,700 in the kitty, we still need to attract another $54,000 in CSA sales to make budget for 2022.   Now is a good time to invest in our farm and in your good health – a win-win. Expenses run high this time of year. This week we dropped $2,000 for fertility. See Below for a helpful link for signing up for the CSA.

A basket of greens, tomatoes and peaches poured onto a table

August 30 Large Share, 2021

 

Working Shareholders

We had a rash of outreach from folks wanting to help out on weekends. Chantel and Alexandria are coming back for season 2. Sam signed on Saturday to be a regular am chore person. Welcome Sam. And it looks like we might have Sundays covered too. We may be close to all set for weekend chores by publication. However, we are still looking for working shareholders during the week. Be in touch. Lots of exercise possibilities right now! Check the link below.

A person snuggling kittens

Sam enjoying a moment with our kittens after chores and good breakfast.

Farm Store Hours

Monday-Friday: 12-1 pm
plus
Tuesday: 5-7pm
Friday: 5-7pm

Always call ahead to be sure of supply
(978) 355-2853; (978) 257-1192

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. Tinctures (Holy basil, burdock, yellow dock)- 2 ounce bottles – $12 each

  3. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $10 each

  4. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each

  5. 2 ounce jars of calendula salve – $10 each

  6. Garlic powder – $10/2 ounce

  7. Frozen pork stock – $7.50/quart

  8. Frozen chicken stock – $7.50/quart

  9.  Frozen pork cuts –regular ribs, ground pork and roasts – $12/lb

  10.  Ham and bacon – $18/lb

How About an Easter Ham?

Let me tell you how tasty they are! We have a few left.
A hand holding a cooked ham, slicing it with a knife

Sign Up Now for MHOF 2022 Meat

Some folks mentioned that we have not yet announced that our meat offerings for 2022 are available. Well, they are.

You can pre-order meat birds for August 28, pork for late November and turkeys for the week of Thanksgiving.

Two red pigs laying in the shade

Pigs resting on August 27, 2021

All of our meat is certified organic, which out of the starting gate means that they are eating GMO-free feed. But we also carefully range them with daily moves for all of the poultry, on hay pastures or end of season garden beds. For the pigs, they move through the woods and woods edges with a biweekly move to a new location. Our meat is of the highest quality, and taste. See the link below to read more and to place an order.

Close up of turkey poults

Little turkeys on pasture August 18, 2021

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Purchase MHOF Meat

Jobs at MHOF

We hired Christy Bassett this week. Christy and I first met back in 2017 when she interviewed for the NOFA/Mass membership coordinator position. I was impressed during her interview that she very nicely pointed out how we could be doing a better job of membership outreach. We hired her and then she rose through the NOFA hierarchy into the role of communications director. She has really smartened up all of NOFA communications.

Two people sitting at a table in front of laptop computers

Jennifer and Christy going over the transition

When I left NOFA in 2020 Christy was one of those folks who I was unhappy to lose in a close collegial relationship. But when Jennifer found it necessary to focus more on her own business, I reached back out to Christy, and she was game for this gig. She is hard at it already and will soon have us dressed up like nobody’s business. Welcome Christy, who, handily, lives across town and has been a shareholder for several years.

Other Opportunities

Good Local Maple Syrup

From Travis Knechtel

“Our syrup is a small family operation. We primarily tap in West Orange along the Millers River Valley.  We currently have syrup in tins, quart mason jars, plastic, and 1/2 liter glass jugs.

Tins and quarts – 20 each

1/2 liter jugs – $10 each.

We have all grades in stock from fancy to dark.

Folks can call or text me to make arrangements to purchase syrup:
978-660-8137
[email protected]

Farm Doin’s

This week we finished the pruning of all of our fruit trees.

Monday afternoon we took a moment to strain and bottle our yellow dock tincture and now have it back in supply.

We had to straighten out the tarps again this week due to the high winds.

On Wednesday we moved all the seedlings back out to the hoop house after the severe cold snap. Some of the youngsters had come up and were lying flat reaching for the sun, but hopefully they are righted now that they get full sun.

On Friday we started about 60 more flats of seedlings and refilled our attached greenhouse with flats of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, fennel and endive.

We started the great pre-season hoeing on Wednesday which will probably go on for another week or two.

Jonathan and John made good progress on the brooder house.

Many of us took some time to weed spinach and lettuce in the yellow house that is growing in ground.

We move quickly from one job to the next now and spring has definitely sprung and we are starting the race with the sun clock.

Two people moving 50 lb bags of fertilizer

After hoeing for a couple of hours we thought it would be fun to unload 1 ½ tons of fertilizer that Brandon from Horse and Buggy brought to us on Thursday.

Bags of fertilizer in a tractor bucket

Clare guides the fertilizer up to the second floor of the barn for us to unload and store.

A person moving flats of seedlings inside

Seedlings in, seedlings out!

A person pouring liquid into a jar

Debbie pouring off the yellow dock tincture.

Two people kneeling near a chicken coop

Paula and Kerri doing chicken chores.

Two people inside a chicken coop

This week Jonathan and Clare installed another egg laying box in each chicken tractor to enhance the ladies’ experience.

A man stands in front of a newly framed wall

Jonathan at the end of the work week in front of the framed in brooder house wall.

Moving into busy time!

-Julie

Are you a customer or fellow farmer who has something to let folks know about? Especially if your goods or service are not what we offer, we are quite happy to “advertise” (for free of course) your wares for you. Enquire.

Ho’oponopono

This week I happened upon Joe Vitale (“Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More”), who is a strong proponent for Ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono means ‘to make things right‘. It is a prayer and a Hawaiian practice for forgiveness. It is a powerful mantra for giving you a clean slate. According to Ho’oponopono, everything that is your reality is something perceived by your mind. Your connections, the people you know are affected by your inner-self.
I was reminded of all the best things that I have taken from Christianity when reading this book. I started out on my spiritual journey there, specifically in the Methodist Church, known for social activism. There are four statements that one can make, over and over (addressing the divine).

  1. I love you
  2. I am sorry
  3. Please forgive me
  4. Thank you

These are great as a generic mantra, but are particularly of value when one comes upon something or someone who is irritating, or is suffering. Using this mantra as a way to look at your inner feelings with respect to this situation helps you resolve your issues around it and it often helps the other person too. Try it 1000 times this week and see what happens. It can be all said in your mind, by the way.

 

Chicken Tidbits
Chicken eyes have four cones that let them see red, blue, green and ultraviolet light, whereas humans only have three cones to see red, blue and green light, with only around 25 % of humans having a fourth cone to enable them to see colors more accurately. This interesting tidbit was sent to me by Kathy Landry, who also sent an article about how to make a saddle apron for hens – https://hellosewing.com/chicken-apron-hen-saddle-pattern/

 

Keep those CSA Shares Coming
I received a very heartwarming phone call on Friday evening. Last year, due to the efforts of Ari Nicholson, we started donating shares to the Worcester Community Fridges. Many of you donated financially so that we could donate 10 shares each week to this very grassroots organization that keeps refrigerators stocked in 3-4 locations in Worcester for anyone who wants food to come by and take it. One of the organizers called me to say that they were so grateful for our donations that this year they are going to fundraise from businesses to buy shares from participating farmers, and they will also come out and pick them up!
Individual subscriptions took a bit of a dip this week. We are still actively selling our shares. You can sign up here – https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/  Remember that we now have pick up sites in Barre, the Barre Health Center, Holden twice, Worcester, Princeton, Gardner, Shrewsbury, and Sutton.

One of our customers at the Community Fridges – September 3, 2021

August 16 share, 2021

 

A quote from one of our shareholders last season: 
It may be hyperbolic to say that a CSA share can be life changing, but I may say it anyway. Knowing that each week a bag full of fresh produce was coming my way has completely changed the way I eat and shop. My cooking changed to accommodate what I had on hand – expanding our palates and habits. I find myself searching out other local ingredients to compliment the wonderful produce. We have gone from ordering out at least once a week to ordering out once a month. Also, have you ever tried a really fresh radish? Worth a share for that experience alone. 

 

Food Corner:  Lettuce
A well-known bitter green that shareholders received last season for 21 of the 22 weeks.  We grow several varieties of lettuce.

Lettuce is mostly recognized as the main part of salads, goes with any sandwich or wrap.  But did you know you can cook with it?  It goes well in soups and can be grilled.  It is a good source of Vitamin K, which helps to strengthen bones.  It contains Vitamin A known to protect eye health.  We eat salads everyday using our lettuce during lunch at the farm.

 

 

Ellen’s Spring Cleanse
Ellen’s Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse begins in April. Join now for the early bird discount. All details here: https://ellenkittredge.com/cleanse.php

 

Working Shareholders
We had three new volunteers this week. Jhoanne came on Wednesday and Cathy and Mike worked on Friday. Thanks to Leslie and Kerri for these hook ups. Starting in April Clare and I are looking to add some Thursday working shareholders who are particularly into heavy work – like hoeing and bed prep. By May we will have openings for Tuesdays also. These are slots for high performers. Enquire.
– https://mhof.net/volunteer-at-mhof/ .

 

Cathy

Mike, and I quote, “I love chicken shit”

Jhoanne

 

Good Local Maple Syrup
Our syrup is a small family operation. We primarily tap in West Orange along the Millers River Valley.  We currently have syrup in tins, quart mason jars, plastic, and 1/2 liter glass jugs.
Tins and quarts are 20 each
1/2 liter jugs are 10 each.
We have all grades in stock from fancy to dark.
Folks can call or text me to make arrangements to purchase syrup.
978-660-8137.
Thank you
Travis Knechtel
[email protected]

 

On Farm videos on this and that

Re-tarping

Franny and Skippy discussing ownership of the rat they found.

Finishing up stacking the load of 5 cords of wood.

Franny burying the rat for later consumption.

Chickens now on pasture.

 

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 girls are now back on pasture
  2. holy basil, burdock, in 2 ounce bottles – $12
  3. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $10 each
  4. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each
  5. 2 ounce jars of calendula salve – $10 each
  6. garlic powder – $10/2 ounce
  7. frozen pork stock – $7.50/quart
  8. frozen chicken stock – $7.50/quart
  9.  frozen pork cuts –regular ribs, ground pork and roasts – $12/lb.
  10.  ham and bacon – $18/lb.

 

Opening for Director of Communications at Many Hands Organic Farm – https://mhof.net/

Jennifer has graduated to having a very successful business of her own and can no longer give our job the time it needs. This move is in the same category as folks who once belonged to the CSA transitioning to raising their own food. A victory all around. Best wishes to you Jennifer, and thanks for sticking around as our Athol delivery site.

As a director of communications at Many Hands Organic Farm you will be the support person for logistics of a 100 person CSA, organic pork & poultry operation, and the Many Hands Sustainability Center – the farm’s sister non-profit. Your weekly tasks might include editing and sending our weekly newsletter, promoting our products on social media, managing the farm database and dealing with customers, and delivery details. The position includes management and updating of the website and supporting Julie in various office tasks for the farm, along with tech support. Creativity in our marketing is encouraged, and we love new ideas for how to promote our products as well as our farming and homesteading education.

Necessary job skills and tasks:
– Data management – Microsoft Access, Excel, Mailchimp, Gmail, Google Contacts, Google Photos
– Excellent written and verbal communication skills
– Collaborate with farm staff to update social media and photograph our farming operation (Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor).
– Marketing plan creation and execution – self-starters that are always looking ahead are encouraged to apply.
– WordPress website upkeep
– Basic PC proficiency so as to support farm staff with technical troubleshooting

Salary: negotiable + 26 week vegetable share
Hours: 7 – 10 hours per week, based on season
Most hours can be completed remotely, but the ability to come to the farm as needed for meetings and technical support (once every 1-2 weeks) is preferred. Please send your resume to Julie Rawson at  [email protected]. Feel free to call 978-257-1192 if you would like to talk about the job.

 

Farm Doins
On the garage this week we mostly reconnoitered, received siding and construction wood for the brooder house and did a little demo.

Monday we made the long slog up to the NW corner of our property with 4 chicken tractors which we then filled with our almost 100 layers. That was preceded by offing the roosters, who had proved to be dangerous to the human beings on the farm. Sorry guys. The layers were bent out of shape for a couple of days, but are now pretty much back up to pre-pasture production. And they are no longer taking apart our front lawn and blueberry patch.

Then there was the cleaning out of the winter chicken house which proceeded over 3 days. Jonathan gets a few gold stars for being the major architect of this job.

And we received a 5 cord load of wood on Wednesday and through the efforts of many had it stacked by the end of the morning on Friday.

Chuk started out by replacing a broken slider in the basement and ended up reframing all of our basement windows. Stu helped him on Friday. The place is showing threatening aspects of suburbanization!

The tarps blew off last week and we spent some time on Wednesday getting them back in place.

Clare, Jonathan and I did the final 2 hour hoeing push to get the orange house in shape for planting chard and kale next week. And Friday we moved all of our seedlings back into the greenhouse in preparation for very cold nights coming up early week.

We almost finished the pond orchard pruning – 3 trees to go

If you are a local you can catch my gardening talk tonight, at the Haston Free Library in North Brookfield at 6:30 pm.
🙂
Julie

If you are still breathing, your purpose on earth has not yet been fulfilled – Andy Andrews

I have really been enjoying my books on tape since I signed up to Audible a couple of years ago. Thanks to brother Tom for that wonderful tip. Andy Andrews wrote “The Seven Decisions”, and if you like the Norman Vincent Peale approach to life as laid out in “the Power of Positive Thinking,” you will enjoy his book. Something about the quote above really resonated for me. I have never been a proponent of “retirement” and I think this statement encapsulates a lot about why. Here is another tip that I picked up. I have always been one to smile at every person I meet when I am out, but adding more smile time to one’s day, actually makes you happier. Try it. Andy’s approach to self-improvement started and seems to continue with an insatiable interest in the biographies of folks who have risen to the top in one way or another – not always to the “traditional top.”
Recently I also enjoyed “Unlock Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Dispenza. After reading this book, I finally understood the relationship between the conscious (5-10 %), subconscious (40%) and unconscious ((50% or so) mind. This is more of a review than an in depth book, but gets one started who has an interest in delving more deeply.
I am also in the middle of “Make it Stick” by Peter C Brown, which is a very scientific exploration of how we best retain what we learn.
These books on tape have created an opportunity for me to learn while housecleaning, an endeavor which in the accomplishment of same, I have  received a solid C minus thus far!


Never too early to join the CSA
We continue to do a fast business in CSA shares. A welcome outpouring of support for our high quality food.
You can sign up here – https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/
And if you are already a member and can help us with outreach, contact me at [email protected]. We can discuss ways to reach out to your friends and relatives. We now have pick up sites in Barre, the Barre Health Center, Holden twice, Worcester, Princeton, Gardner, Shrewsbury, and Sutton.
In other produce news we are happy that the Insight Meditation Society is back in business. They are one of our oldest accounts. We started selling to them in 1985.

CSA share August 9, 2021


Food Corner:  Green onions, chives, and onions
Starting early in the CSA season and throughout, you will receive one or more of our green onions, chives and onions.  Chives generally are milder than green onions, and onions.  All have the pungent taste that aids in the digestion of food due to its heating quality.  They can be eaten raw in salads or on top of other cooked dishes or cooked right into just about any dish.  When cooked they take on a sweeter taste.


Agriculture Education
I want to talk about seedlings and fire blight.
Seedlings – A long time ago when we first started growing food here I made up my own potting soil, started seeds too early, spent way too much time transplanting, and ended up with leggy seedlings which I diligently (with the help of the rest of the family) moved in and out of the house before planting. Over the years, we started using commercial potting soil. I really prefer the product that Mike Lombard of Ideal Compost in Peterborough, NH makes that is high quality and laced with minerals and microbes that give things a good start. We have had our wonderful attached greenhouse since 1982. In 2007 we upgraded our system for seedlings by adding the yellow and blue houses (which you have heard about incessantly this winter! And then I studied under John Kempf who educates us that seedlings need to be small when planted, grow constantly, with no arresting while in the seedling stage, not be fed with N or K, but instead supported with adequate Ca and P for short stocky growth. For most of our seedlings, we try to have a policy of cradle to planting of between 3-5 weeks. That is easier with summer started seedlings to reach the 3 week goal, but most spring started seedlings can be ready in 5 weeks. Another suggestion of John’s that we follow is to not harden off seedlings, but start them late enough that you can plant them “in their time” (i.e. first week in June for tomatoes here, for example). So we start everyone up in the attached greenhouse, and as soon as they germinate they go out to the yellow house, on the ground. We cover them with row cover if the temperature is going down below freezing, and open the doors of the house when it is sunny on a week like this past one. Besides the great potting soil, we use the following recipe for transplant drench at planting, and then spray the seedlings weekly with the same mix. They go from the hoophouse into the ground, unless it gets too hot in there, in which case they live out in front of it until they are ready. No transplanting, no potting up, no dragging plants here and there, and no cell paks either. With our 10” x 20” open trays we can pack in thousands more seedlings in our very small 10’ x 14’ greenhouse. They never dry out, and their roots are never too tight. Son Dan has a great metaphorical question. “Would you leave your three year old in a crib?” We save hours and hours of time over our old system of 40 years ago.
Transplant Drench and foliar –  2 Quart Rejuvenate, 2 Quart SeaShield, 2 Quart PhotoMag, 2 Quart SeaStim,  1 Quart HoloCal,  1 Quart SeaCrop,  Mix into a 2 ½ gallon jug and use ½ – 1 cup per 2 gallon watering can. Add a pinch of mycogenesis to each watering can.

March 14, seedlings ready to move outside to hoop house.

And here they are, where they will live until they are planted – the ground holds the heat well at night and they get full sun.


Fire blight – I am not sure why we got fire blight on some of our apple trees last year. It was a new occurrence for us. We quickly asked Nathan from AEA about an appropriate spray (recipe here), and this spring we are doing serious pruning 18” below any visual damage on affected trees. As it turns out his advice was to do that pruning right away, which we didn’t accomplish. But we will prophylactically spray the 2021 affected trees and hope we can bring our trees back from this nasty disease.
Fire Blight Foliar
1 gallon sea crop
1 gallon sea stim
1 quart rebound copper
1 quart rebound boron
——————–
Add 1 Tablespoon Micro 5000 to tank

Jonathan cut out a lot of fire blight infested branches from our beloved 1987 Baldwin tree.


Health Education
This Week I have been catching parts of the DrSummits Energy Healing Summit – https://drsummits.com/. These are free for 24 hours, so if you are cagey you can get a plethora of information on a particular topic without paying anything. Their last one was on Lyme disease. Speakers of note this week for me were Tony Robbins, who has a new book coming out titled “Life Force”, Mark Divine who authored “The Unbeatable Mind”, Keesha Evers, who authored “Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle,” and Robby Besner, owner of TheraSage. He focuses on infrared and got his start healing his daughter’s Lyme. In the end he suggests that we walk barefoot (which I did all day on Friday and it was fantastic). Check out Ho-oponopono with Joe Vitale and his book “Zero Limits” and Chunyi Lin on qigong.  There is a lot of cool stuff out there and much food for thought.


Ellen’s Spring Cleanse
Ellen’s Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse begins in April. Join now for the early bird discount. All details here: https://ellenkittredge.com/cleanse.php


Working Shareholders
No one new came this week but next week we look forward to Jhoanne. Keep em coming!
Staff Spotlight:
Jonathan is an experienced farmer who worked in farming for 10 years in his teens and twenties.  He loved the work but wasn’t sure it was sustainable income for his family so he decided to go on to college and enter the corporate world.  He started his own small farm at his home raising chickens and vegetables for his family and friends.  He left the corporate world about a year ago when he made the decision to homeschool his children.  He has decided to take on farming again as his profession at Many Hands Organic Farm with the thoughts of maybe some consulting on the side.  He is a tall, strong and soft spoken man who is highly competent and positive spirited.  He is at present farming part of the day and managing the garage upgrade part of the day.  Additionally, he will be a site coordinator for our CSA in Sutton MA.
Good Local Maple Syrup
Our syrup is a small family operation. We primarily tap in West Orange along the Millers River Valley.  We currently have syrup in tins, quart mason jars, plastic, and 1/2 liter glass jugs.
Tins and quarts are 20 each
1/2 liter jugs are 10 each.
We have all grades in stock from fancy to dark.
Folks can call or text me to make arrangements to purchase syrup.
978-660-8137.
Thank you
Travis Knechtel
[email protected]
Jobs At MHOF
Well, we don’t have any at the moment. We may be looking around for summer help when things get really intense. So reach out if that might be a situation that fits your schedule
On Farm videos on this and that
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. holy basil, burdock, in 2 ounce bottles – $12
  3. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $10 each
  4. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each
  5. 2 ounce jars of calendula salve – $10 each
  6. garlic powder – $10/2 ounce
  7. frozen pork stock – $7.50/quart
  8. frozen chicken stock – $7.50/quart
  9.  frozen pork cuts –regular ribs, ground pork and roasts – $12/lb.
  10.  ham and bacon – $18/lb.

 

Farm Doins
This week Jonathan hoped to get the entire roof re-shingled on the garage, and by gosh he did it (with a little help from his friends). Chuk came over on Monday am and they shingled the hard west side with the steeper slope. And then later in the week with help from Ian, Clare and me and then a final push with Stu, Danny and John and a final push until 4 pm on Friday, Jonathan completed the roof before the rain came on Saturday. Next is a redesign of the brooder house on the back of the garage. This project is proceeding nicely with tech support and sometimes on site support by Chuk, and lots of helpers that arrive here and there.
We did the big move outside of our first batch of seedlings into the yellow house, another first for the season, a true sign that things are heating up. We worked some more on the orange house, to eradicate all of the greenery, but did not complete that task. That is in line for completion next week. We did accomplish the laying of all of the rest of the 100’ x 30’ tarps – 13 in all, and lots of heavy sand bags. Thanks to Ian, Laurie, Paula, Leslie, and Deb who helped Clare and me pull that big job off.
We had to remove all the sturdy brassica stalks in advance of the tarps.
6 tarps in place in the pond field – we covered the entire growing area.
On the pruning front we accomplished 1 row in the pond orchard – 2 rows to go.
Friday we started our chard for the season and our first round of lettuce. Celery was planted last Monday. Clare completed our planting schedule this week. If you want a copy, reach out.
I finished Chuk and Cathleen’s wedding quilt – just 6 ½ years late!
Our first lunch outside on March 18.
Spring officially arrives this week – yippee!
Julie