Don’t Forget to Look at the Sky at Dawn and Dusk – News From The Farm, December 14th

The Sunrise at Many Hands Organic Farm this December

 

Dear Friends and Customers of Many Hands Organic Farm,

Communications Director(s) Hired
Thanks for many candidates applying for our communications position. We are happy to welcome two of our present staff members – Ari Nicholson and Maya Egan. Ari has been a shareholder of ours for three seasons and started the 2020 season as a working shareholder. I quickly hired Ari as they are good (and fast) at almost everything. They brought Maya along who also excels at a variety of farm tasks. They are both students at Clark, and among other things, deliver shares. We all feel very blessed to have them on our staff in this increased capacity.

Sign up for the 2021 CSA
Expenses stay swift on the farm. Our hardworking staff members are scurrying each week to put the farm to bed, and plan for next year, including organizing our barns and sheds, bringing in wood, processing lard and soup stocks and developing more supplies of soaps and salves. Seeds and tubers and supplies need to be bought, fertility materials, pork, chicken and turkey deposits to suppliers – the list goes on. Your early commitment to the CSA with money up front helps us keep our income more consistent with our outgo. Thanks!
https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/

Products available now – Do your Christmas shopping with us as a few folks did last week!

  • Spinach- $10/1 lb. bag
  • Lettuce Mix- $10/1 lb. bag
  • Arugula- $10/1 lb. bag
  • Mustard greens- $10/1 lb. bag

Deadline for ordering the 4 aforementioned vegetables is by Wednesday at 8 am.

  • Ground pork in 1 lb. packages – $10/lb.
  • Lard – $20/quart
  • Pork stock – $7.50/quart
  • Eggs – $8/dozen
  • Comfrey salve – $8/2 oz.
  • Hemp salve – $10/2 oz.
  • Garlic powder – $10/2 oz.
  • Lavender soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Peppermint soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Dandelion tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Yellow dock tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Frozen applesauce – $6/quart

Make arrangements to pick up at the farm or we can ship some things to you. Call at 978-355-3853 or email Julie@mhof.net


Julie explains the process of making lard. Check out the video on our Instagram.

Accomplishments on the farm last week
We spread about 12 tons of rock dust. We had a moment of truth with a particularly large load when the tractor went up on one of its back tires. Anthony quickly lowered the tractor bucket and Dave Petrovick came over quickly and helped us realize that the lug nuts on that tire were loose! Whew. Anyway, all of the veg and fruit areas are well mineralized. We will probably put the remaining 10 tons on the hay fields.

Every day we spend a little time cleaning and organizing the barn. It is looking spiffy, but not done yet. And we cleaned the loft of the tool shed too.

Cutting and splitting of the wood supply for the farm proceeds every afternoon. Wood sheds are filling up.

Weeding in the hoop houses is slow, but proceeding.

Clare and I met with our AEA fertility consultant this week and placed our order for 2021’s liquid mineral mixes.

Ari and Maya have left for two months and will return in February. Lindsy drove back to Wisconsin on Sunday. She may return next summer. And Cathleen is taking off through January.


Anthony, Julie, Claire, Ari, and Lindsy after a particularly dusty session of rock dust spreading.

Looking Ahead
Starting this week we go down to 3 days per week – M, Th, F. It is me, Anthony and Clare, with Stu still hanging in there as a working shareholder on Friday mornings. After we went around the table and told Lindsy all the nice things we feel about her at lunch Friday, Stu remarked that he won’t be quitting, because he wouldn’t be able to accept all that praise at his farewell lunch!
This week we hope to get the strawberries covered for winter and also spread mulch on the veg beds that are sparse of cover. That along with some more pork stock, barn cleaning, seed ordering and website updates, and wood splitting should round out the week.

What we can use here
We are especially looking for clean brown cardboard right now, to put under our trees before mulching them with wood chips. Thanks to whomever dropped some off on our front porch on Saturday!

What I learned this week
2019 Rodale Organic Pioneer Awards speech by Zach Bush – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXIketg-NHk
Gabe Brown Keynote for Farming for the Future 2020, Michigan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExXwGkJ1oGI
Soul and Soil – Farming While Black with Leah Penniman – https://avivaromm.com/leah-penniman/
Biological Pathways to Carbon Rich Soil with Dr. Christine Jones (she is my hero and a good friend) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4uVKIGBk2s
Lots more time to listen while doing exercises this time of year!

Good Quotes
“Seek first to understand and then seek to be understood” – a nice quote I heard this week

Today’s Health Tip
I can’t say enough for the power of mushrooms and how they seem to support the immune system, clean out the smudge generally in the system and provide more energy all day long. This may seem coming up like a long term advertisement for Fungi Perfecti – and owner Paul Stamets (we had him as our keynoter for the 2007 NOFA Summer Conference), but we have been doing a lot of cool things to help Jack with his health issues this year, and I think these mushrooms are among the top candidates, plus I have lost significant weight and gained significant mental clarity. Let’s start with Chaga – according to Stamets it is good for antioxidant and DNA support, Blood sugar support, breathing, digestion and microbiome, energy and stamina, immune response, liver and detox support, performance and recovery.

News From The Farm, December 7th

December 7, 2020

Dear Friends and Customers of Many Hands Organic Farm,

Sign up for the 2021 CSA
Expenses stay swift on the farm. Our hardworking staff members are scurrying each week to put the farm to bed, and plan for next year, including organizing our barns and sheds, bringing in wood, processing lard and soup stocks and developing more supplies of soaps and salves. Seeds and tubers and supplies need to be bought, fertility materials, pork, chicken and turkey deposits to suppliers – the list goes on. Your early commitment to the CSA with money up front helps us keep our income more consistent with our outgo. Thanks!
https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/

Products available now

  • Spinach- $10/1 lb. bag
  • Lettuce Mix- $10/1 lb. bag
  • Arugula- $10/1 lb. bag
  • Mustard greens- $10/1 lb. bag
  • Ground pork in 1 lb. packages – $10/lb.
  • Lard – $20/quart
  • Pork stock – $7.50/quart
  • Eggs at the farm – $8/dozen
  • Comfrey salve – $8/2 oz.
  • Hemp salve – $10/2 oz.
  • Garlic powder – $10/2 oz.
  • Lavender soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Peppermint soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Dandelion tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Yellow dock tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Frozen applesauce – $6/quart

Make arrangements to pick up at the farm or we can ship some things to you. Call at 978-355-3853 or email Julie@mhof.net

Accomplishments on the farm last week
One of the most common questions I get this time of year is, “What do you do in the winter, anyway?” Our attempt here will be to give you a blow by blow of what we are up to so you can really enjoy the farm experience with us.
Last week with the help of Clare, Anthony, Ari, Maya, Lindsy, Dustin, Logan, Kaden and Stu we finished up hoeing, and mulching two large beds at the back of the south field where we will continue to build our perennial herb collection next spring. We also spread carefully calculated minerals for next year’s crops on about 5 acres of land – carbonatite – https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=carbonatite, greensand, manganese sulfate, elemental sulfur, sodium borate, and zinc sulfate. We also cleaned up the hose area on the chicken house, cleaned out the brooder house and garage and the back cubby behind the barn along with the north side of the barn. Just in time for the snow!

Looking Ahead
This week we will make progress on weeding our hoop houses – the chickweed has moved in – and will start the spreading of the basalt rock dust on all of our fields. These 22 tons of material will significantly improve our trace mineral stores on the farm, which should be available for the microbes to digest all winter as they have the time and motivation. Maybe we will get to reorganizing the inside of the barn too.

What we can use here
We are especially looking for clean brown cardboard right now, to put under our trees before mulching them with wood chips.

What I learned this week
I paid for son Dan’s Principles of Biological Systems two day course that he ran in October and found it inspirational and educational. His talks are available here – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI99ERb9iBmwgrJPbv3iKdA

Today’s Health Tip
I recently was introduced to this great website that sells a number of great herb blends for human ingestion. http://cherokeevalley.com/medicinalherbalteas.html. I ordered some of their tea blends and also got some great ideas for what to add to our perennial herb section next year.

– Julie

Put some lard in the larder this holiday season!

Are you looking for a gift for the chef in your life? Hoping to up the ante on your pie crusts this holiday season? Resolving to ring in the new year with food that supports the good health of yourself and the people you love? If any of those resonate with you – or if you simply just appreciate a versatile cooking fat, raised and produced in New England – consider purchasing some of our lard!

Lard is a good-for-you cooking fat which contains less saturated fat than butter and a good amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (1). It’s also one of the best dietary sources of Vitamin D, a nutrient in which about 42% of US adults are deficient (2). It also makes things taste delicious! Lard is versatile, and can be used for baking, frying, roasting.

Our lard is made with the fat back and leaf lard from our Certified Organic pigs, rendered on Jack and Julie’s wood cook stove. Lard will keep for around a year in a sealed container in the refrigerator (3). You can also freeze it for longer term storage.

Our cost is $20/quart. Pick up at the farm in Barre, or have us ship it to you for an additional fee. Order by email or phone: julie@mhof.net or 978-355-2853 (cell).

References (1) and (2) are from Prevention’s article “Should You Be Eating Lard“.
Reference (3) is from the Weston A. Price Foundation article “Rendering Animal Fats, Made Easy“.

News from the Farm, Monday November 23rd

Our fall CSA concluded this week. Of our experience, Julie says “This year was the most pleasurable Fall CSA we have ever had. Eighty shareholders felt like a lot at the start – we usually have around 30 members – but we were excited that we pulled it off and provided larger shares than we’d hoped (an average of 10-11 lbs., vs. our target weight of 7 lbs). Moving the first three pickups to Tuesday and Wednesday gave us more flexibility to work the harvest schedule around the weather. We had both the worst weather (extreme cold that pushed us to harvest in advance) and the best weather (that kept giving the crops a little push to keep growing). Because we were able to cover more crops with row cover and sandbags, we were able to extend the season on a few crops. Some things were burnt by the cold anyway, but still ended up decent and quite edible. Our root cellar is full to bursting, and the walk in has been too. It’s been fun to see how much we can fit in both of those places!”

One of the highlights of this week’s work was digging the big, beautiful parsnips that shareholders got to enjoy in this week’s shares. Julie says “they were so big, and so fun to harvest”! This is the first crop of parsnips that have made it to the CSA – they often suffer from poor germination, take forever to grow, and weeding them doesn’t always make the top ten items on the to-do list. Julie notes that she has prioritized the root crops more this season, something that son Dan has been urging her to do for some time. This year saw some great payoff for the extra effort in the form of beautiful rutabagas, carrots, turnips, celeriac and now parsnips – and a greater variety in the root soup and “monster mash” enjoyed by Jack, Julie and the crew.

Also this week, the seasonal leaf harvest came to a close with the filling of the last of our one-ton tote bags. Aric put his leaf blower into service again to great effect, and our volunteers from Trader Joe’s in Hadley put in great work (and had a lot of fun while doing it). We have a bounty of local leaves for next year’s mulch – 22 totes in all.

The coming week on the farm is full to the brim. The turkeys are heading to slaughter and the final CSA shares must be packed and delivered. Then the turkeys will come back from our processor and customers are coming to pick up their birds on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Friday the pigs will come back, packaged into chops and roasts. On the other side though, is the prospect of a slower, less packed schedule. Julie is looking forward to finishing the quilt for her daughter Ellen’s wedding, which took place more than a year ago. There are things to fix, and some house cleaning to do. Starting in the third week of December the farm work schedule will dwindle to three days a week and the work will be held by a handful of paid staff and likely our group of fun and committed Trader Joe’s volunteers, who will pitch in on the bigger farm projects.

As we leave the greatest part of the season’s work behind us, Julie sends a huge, heartfelt “thank you” to the working shareholders who have seen the farm through the entire season, summer to fall – Stu, Ann, Morgan, Cindy and Norma. Working shareholders are so critical to making the farm work! As you think about whether you’d like to join us for next year’s CSA – consider also whether you’d like to join the ranks of our working shareholders. We welcome all ages, levels of experience, physical strength and ability and would love to welcome you into the work on the farm. Look to hear from us again about this opportunity in the new year.

News from the Farm, Monday November 16th

This week brought a run of fantastic weather. The crew wore shorts, short sleeves and no shoes as they went about their work – as Julie said, “life is beautiful”.

A highlight of the week’s work was gathering in a large harvest of dry leaves to use for next year’s mulch. All in all, the crew rounded up 16 totes worth of leaves from the farm fields and the road between, working together in satisfying synchrony, an experience made sweeter by the fine weather. Aric got his leaf blower in on the action, blowing leaves from the edges of West field onto the beds and mulching the rhubarb. Julie was exceedingly grateful that Aric thought to bring the leaf blower in, and says watching Aric work was “the most fun of the week”.

The cold weather returned on Friday. Ann, Maya Clare and Stu hung in there to help get ahead of the harvest for this week, bringing in a nice crop of carrots (among other things). Managing the supply for the CSA is tricky this time of year, with the weather swinging between cold, warmth (which gives the crops a little kick), and cold once more. This week, your produce will be assembled from what’s in the field, walk-in cooler and root cellar. At the end of the week, Julie plans to bring in a last harvest from the fields to store in the walk-in for our final share. The greens from the hoophouse will also make a strong showing in our final week.

Tis’ the season to stock up on lard – we have a bunch! Lard is a versatile, good-for-you cooking fat which contains less saturated fat than butter and a good amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (1). It’s also one of the best dietary sources of Vitamin D, a nutrient in which about 42% of US adults are deficient (2). It also makes things taste delicious, whether you’re cooking beans, making a pie crust, frying chicken, sauteing up some veggies or popping some popcorn. Our lard is made with the fat back and leaf lard from our Certified Organic pigs, rendered on Jack and Julie’s wood cook stove and can be purchased for $20/qt.