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I suppose that for many, the end of November is not that much different from the beginning of December. But here at the farm the turkeys are dead, the veggies are almost all dead, the chickens are now in their winter house, and the pigs are only with us for 2 ½ more short weeks. Life has lightened up a lot. With it comes more time for me. For about 8 months, every minute of my life has been scheduled. And that is not a bad thing, but to all of a sudden have some space can be scary, at least at first. I suppose it is like this for school teachers who work like the dickens and then have no job responsibilities for 2 ½ months each year.

For me the challenge is to make the most of this lighter schedule to take care of things that got pushed aside or were dealt with only sketchily. I like lots of people around, so spending more time with myself can be a bit of a jolt. It has been all of two days so far! Luckily for my extrovert, folks will be here 3 days out of 7, and for the rest of the time I am starting to look forward to more quality time with Jack, with my sewing machine, the couch, self-education, grandchildren, walks with Skippy and Dingo, phone calls to friends and family, my French horn, and dreaming about next year’s perfect farm. And then there is the book. I have exactly 2 months to write my half of the book for Chelsea Green. Jack has already almost completed his share of it. I am sure that right around March 1 I am going to be wondering where all the time went. I suspect that by the end of next week – our last full week of work, I will be hungrily anticipating that time alone.

Farm Videos From Last Week

The big move for the pigs across the farm on Wednesday

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Well, perhaps all of that distress was worth it after all!

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CSA Updates This Week

Fall CSA Now Over

I hope you enjoyed it. I was elated by the amount and quality of the produce we were able to distribute. Things were a bit sketchy last week, but we were able to save most of the remaining field crops before the temperature hit its low of 19 degrees. Soon I will write an evaluation and send it out to you for your response. Thanks again for eating with us in November.

Packing the final CSA

“What do you guys do in the winter, anyway?”

That is the big question that we always get this time of year. For sure, life is easier, but we have just the right amount of work to do as we go down to three days per week. We will finish getting the rock dust spread on the fields and orchard, collect as many more large totes of leaves as possible before the weather turns, and start spreading our 5 big loads of wood chips, mostly on perennials. We will cut and split and stack some more wood, continue with shed repairs and repairs to the electric shock system, clean up the barn, cut down dead fruit trees and get them all mulched, take down some old trellises, and prepare our small fruit for winter. We will also order all of our seeds, update our website, arrange for all of our animals for 2023, complete our certification application, buy fertilizer, and make plans for some enhanced biological homemade teas. Jonathan promises us a new rain catchment system design with actualization in the spring. As the winter moves into its later phase, we will prune all of our fruit trees and berries and start planting seedlings. Hopefully all the above will be accomplished by April 1 so we can hit the ground running in the early spring. 

Join the 2023 Summer and Fall CSA Early

Actually, we will be raising prices for 2023 for both the summer and the fall share, but between now and December 31 you can pay 2022 prices. This provides savings for you and helps us hopefully squeak by with our break-even budget. You can follow this link:

Reserve a 2023 CSA Share

Educational Resources

Winter Cover Crop Killing Strategies

I found this a useful one for those of us who are trying to make the best use out of cover crops in the late fall and winter. NOFA Podcast: https://nofamasspodcast.libsyn.com/

MHOF Meat

Meat Birds Available for Sale

We only have about 6 left for sale. Get them while supplies last. We also have a few packages of chicken feet, but the old layers are all sold out.  https://mhof.net/organic-meat/

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

Yes, you can still add yourself to the MHOF workforce. Starting the first full week of December we are hosting working shareholders on M and F mornings with a modest pay check of 1 dozen eggs, a quart of frozen apple or pear sauce and greens from the hoop houses while they last.

Volunteer at MHOF

Community Opportunities

Circle of Song Concert, December 17, 7 pm, Barre Town Hall

(corner of Exchange and Mechanic). Don’t use GPS as it will take you to the Town offices on West St (122)

We are actually pretty good, and if you come to the concert, you can enjoy Jack’s famous deviled eggs at the end of the concert. Here is our line-up.

  • Esto Les Digo
  • Go Lovely Rose
  • Homage to Ward
  • Mzi Wase Afrika
  • Mary Had a Baby
  • O Magnum Mysterium
  • Regina Coelli

Then we will do 5 sing-along Christmas Carolss accompanied by our house band of 2 flutes, clarinet, 2 French horns, tuba and piano. And finally, we will end with the Hallelujah Chorus. Audience members are invited to go up front and sing with us. Don’t miss it!

Farm Doin’s

It was a short farm week. In 4 days, we made three trips to deliver the turkeys to the slaughter house, got them home and weighed them and returned them to the walk-in, all while juggling the distribution of 77 fall shares which we had picked last week. Then we sold birds and had a special farm stand with vegetables, meat, lard, tinctures, soap, salve and eggs. We slipped a pig move in, collected some leaves, and some of us cleaned the house for Thanksgiving. Special thanks to Luke, John, Melissa, Yojairo, Asher, Jason, Jill, Laurie, Danny, Alex, Paula, Scott, Kerri, Tom, Leslie and Kenny who made it possible to pull off.

The last turkeys on their way out

CSA shares and turkeys in our walk in

John and Melissa boarded up our pig house as they were freezing to death early this week. We also filled it full of a full tote of leaves

Prepping for the big sale

Paula was our Cinderella on Tuesday

Kerri and Paula with their store

Our first Thanksgiving lunch on Tuesday with Bob, an old NOFA friend

Jack, Leslie and Kenny managed the cash register

I hope your Thanksgiving met all your goals. We had a blast!

Julie

Quick Links

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CSA pick up information
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Products available right now at the farm
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The Thanksgiving Tradition

In my observation, Thanksgiving is the most practiced tradition in the country. For instance, the heaviest travel day of the year is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, the day right after Thanksgiving. It is a big day, and the lead up to it, at Many Hands, because we have raised turkeys for almost 4 decades. Thus, we are a large part of many people’s Thanksgiving tradition. On a personal level, we have been hosting the Kittredge family for Thanksgiving for almost 45 years. That has included crowds as large as forty.

Along came Covid, and one could go on for hours about all the ways that Covid has changed us, our work, our social lives, our health, our socio-economic status, for example. It certainly had a striking impact on the Thanksgiving holiday. Although our sales of turkeys remained strong in 2020 and 2021, so many of our customers were anguished over diminished numbers of guests or no guests at all these years. Our whole farm family went down with Covid right in time for Thanksgiving last year, so we had no guests and instead slept most of the day.

This year it seems that much of the world is coming out of Covid consciousness as Thanksgiving comes in 3 short days. Yet there are many who are taking the more conservative, “better safe than sorry” approach and keeping to much smaller groups of people. I have struggled for a couple of months over the fact that most of the Kittredges won’t be here this year, some because of other opportunities, and some because of Covid. My idea of a good time includes putting on yet one more spread for lots of people, and it was clear by September that our long-held and almost sacred tradition was still not returning in 2022. And now it will be three years that this tradition has been broken. It may never return in its old format. And such is life, with reality as we know it ever changing. We of course have the option of cursing our fate, or moving on in creative ways. There will be some Kittredges coming, however, and we also reached out to three foreign students from WPI to join us this year. We are enthusiastic about having representation from Brazil and Rwanda at our table.

I want to talk about the downside, which is sometimes ugly, of traditions, where most people have family or somewhere to go – notably Thanksgiving and Christmas – but there are many who have no one. We are all aware of the stories of suicides, and of the forgotten who suffer on these holidays. My Christian guilt pains me at these times, as I know that I am not doing as much as I could to reach out to the isolated or lonely in my sphere. I have high regard for those of us who intentionally care for the lonely elders, the folks who are institutionalized, the folks on the streets, to let them know that they are valued human beings. This outreach and support are particularly needed around holidays and we as a society are fortunate to have such conscientious and loving individuals in our midst.

Maybe next year I will find a way to be more inclusive of those without a place to go for Thanksgiving. It is a good goal to set.

In whatever manner you spend this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope it is a blessed one.

Educational Resources

Energy and Equity by Ivan Illich

“Participatory democracy demands low-energy technology, and free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle.”
-Ivan Illich

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/11/energy-and-equity-by-ivan-illich.html

Thank you, Laurie, for this thought-provoking article.

Health Resources

Root Causes, Rapid Results

This free series might be gone by the time that you see it. It is 7 days of expert interviews on brain health, diabetes, asthma, cancer, fibromyalgia, EMF, and other interesting topics. I have found it valuable to sign up for these free courses to garner interesting tidbits about improved health management. Though you might miss this one, you can get on email lists to receive the next series that will invariably come your way. I learned this week that building strong legs goes a long way toward strengthening your brain function.

https://rootcauses.byhealthmeans.com/daily-event/

Here are some folks you might want to check into from this seminar – Rodger Murphee, Heather Sandison, Beverly Rates, Robin Ray Green, Nathan Crane, Ryan Sternagel, Evan H. Hirsch, Sinclair  Kennally.

Farm Videos From Last Week

We keep the girls in until 11 am because the alternative is finding eggs all over the farm. Being let out each morning is the highlight of our chickens’ days. Then they can focus completely on harassing us and “helping” us with whatever task we are about.

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Time is getting short for the turkeys

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CSA Updates This Week

CSA Crops This Week

This is the fourth and final week of the fall CSA

All pick ups are happening on Monday, November 21 at all sites

  • Leek – just 1!
  • Parsley
  • Chard
  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Lacinato kale or collards
  • Celeriac

These are great in stews or soups. They have the most amazing root system

  • Carrots

  • Lettuce
  • 2 Asians – Tatsoi and mizuna
  • Turnips

  • Cauliflower
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions

Please bring your bags back to your sites, and take your last share home in your own bag so that you can drop off your final share bag. If you forget to do this, you can bring your bags back over the next week to your site. Thanks for taking care of this. We will be sending a final evaluation out in the next couple of weeks.

Join the 2023 Summer Share Early

Not sure if we will raise the price for the shares next year, but between now and December 31 you can pay 2022 prices. This keeps us in good cash flow as we go into the winter. You can follow this link – https://mhof.net/csa-share-options/

Reserve a 2023 Summer CSA Share

MHOF Meat

Meat Birds Available for Sale

The chickens are now in the freezer, so call or email to come buy some.

MHOF Meat

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

Yes, you can still add yourself to the MHOF workforce. Starting the first full week of December we are hosting working shareholders on M and F mornings with a modest pay check of 1 dozen eggs, a quart of frozen apple or pear sauce and greens from the hoop houses while they last.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

I was elated on Sunday when the Barre DPW’s Jason Pimental dropped off four loads of wood chips for our winter mulching enjoyment!

Focus this week was on getting last week’s fall share picked and then moving on to picking today’s share. The temperature plummeted finally, to where it should be in late November with lows at night in the lower 20’s. We are still able to keep healthy the greens that are in the hoop houses, under two layers of row cover, but field crops have pretty much ground to a halt. Thanks to Wednesday’s crew who picked the rest of the share that we couldn’t get to on Monday and Tuesday. It was raining lightly the entire time, though spirits were high.

Clare washing chard on the back of the truck as our underground water system is now shut down and we do everything from the hydrant

We used up all of our storage containers and moved to garbage bags for packing the kale

Mucking around in the celeriac patch

Some of our proud crew members after completing the picking on Wednesday

The pigs received another move after only 5 days in their new location. They completely plowed up their rather large paddock. Thursday we went through and smoothed out the soil and put down some rye as a cover crop.

We took a few hours on Thursday and Friday to put away a 5-cord load of firewood, and then on the cleaning up the barn for the big turkey sale this week.

Jonathan and John put the last nails in the garage on Monday and Jonathan moved full force into the shed renovation project which he and Jack have been working on. While Clare and I, with the help of Paula and Leslie, are doing fall house cleaning, then Jonathan, Jack, Stu and Luke made great progress on the shed. Luke is here this weekend, and then after a 3-month stint in CA, will be back and on staff in March.

Jonathan and Luke finishing up replacing the rotting back wall of the shed at the top of the driveway.

Our focus this week is getting turkeys slaughtered and sold, and running our big end of season sale on Tuesday from 1-6. Here are items that we will be selling. Even if you didn’t order a turkey, you are welcome to stop by. Come early as we will run out of most everything sometime on Tuesday. Turkey sales continue on Wednesday from 8-noon. Sorry, no reservations. First come, first served.

Items for Sale Tuesday, November 22,
1-6 pm

Eggs – $8/dozen

Fruit

  • Frozen sliced peaches – $6/lb. sold in variable size packages
  • Dried peaches – $12/8 oz.
  • Grape Juice – $12/quart
  • Apple juice – $10/quart

Vegetables

  • Garlic powder – $10/2 oz.
  • Kale – $3/bunch
  • Arugula – $3/bunch
  • Parsley – $3/bunch
  • Lettuce – $3/head
  • Beets – $3/lb.
  • Asian greens – $3/head
  • Cauliflower – $3/head
  • Carrots – $3/bunch
  • Canned tomatoes – $8/quart

Frozen Meat

  • Roaster chickens at around 7- 8 lbs. – $7.50/lb.
  • Old layers – $15/bird
  • Lard – $20/quart
  • Pork stock – $7.50/quart

Personal Care Products (not certified organic)

  • Comfrey salve – $10/2 oz.
  • Hemp salve – $10/2 oz.
  • Calendula salve – $10/2 oz.
  • Lavender soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Peppermint soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Tincture of yellow dock – $12/2 oz.
  • Tincture of dandelion – $12/2 oz.
  • Tincture of burdock – $12/2 oz.
  • Tincture of holy basil – $12/2 oz.
  • Tincture of Japanese Knotweed – $12/2 oz.- (from the Farm School in Athol)

Julie

Quick Links

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CSA pick up information
Contact Julie
Products available right now at the farm
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The Know It All

Yes, that might be me. I have spent my life feeling strongly about many things, and for most of it I have been working on how to get those strong feelings imparted without turning folks off! I interviewed Jack last night to find out how it is to be married to such a person. He was kind. “Well, when you deliver your advice with the right amount of well-considered adjectives, I can usually determine that your advice is intended for my own good, and I welcome it. It is when you go off the deep end and start talking about “energy medicine” or something in that realm, I just don’t listen. Basically, it is, as with all things, in the delivery.” His words put me at some ease that I have been on the right track all these years to have spent so much energy on my ‘delivery’.

I wonder what the impetus is that causes us to want to share our truths with others, sometimes with a sledge hammer, when we feel most strongly about a topic. I have submitted to the knowledge that “Nonviolent Communication” in the words of Marshall Rosenberg, is the means by which I am going to be the most effective in getting my point across. It sure takes a lot of work, especially for a girl who grew up in a family where no one bothered with any pretense when opening their mouths to speak. But maybe one day when I have further improved my skills, I will be able to sit down with Jack and discuss energy medicine peacefully and productively. The possibilities are endless!

Health Resources

Dr. Eric Balcavage with Ari Whitten on Thyroid Health

I really liked this one. I have a 35-year-old goiter and lifelong thyroid problems which I have been working with my entire life.

Recipes

Potato Leek Soup

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Ingredients:

  1. 1 ½ Tbs butter
  2. 1 small onion, chopped
  3. 2 large leeks, chopped
  4. 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  5. 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
  6. 1 quart stock or broth of choice
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 1 tsp dried thyme
  9. Powdered kelp for serving, if desired

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a medium stock pot and add onions, garlic and leeks. Cook over medium heat until softened, but not browned, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, potatoes, thyme and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth.
  4. Serve immediately and garnish with kelp.

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Farm Videos From the Past Two Weeks

Harvesting and moving carrots and beets into the root cellar

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Moving pigs

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Mulching garlic with leaves

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Arugula and pigs

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Spreading basalt rock dust

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Moving pigs again

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On Friday the laying hens moved into the chicken house and before they moved in we set it up with leaf bedding

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Making sauerkraut

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CSA Updates This Week

CSA Crops This Week

This is the third week of the fall CSA

  • Parsley
  • Chard
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Cilantro
  • Purple top turnips
  • Arugula
  • Garlic
  • Bok choi or Chinese cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Leeks
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Broccoli greens

We have been elated on our end with all of the produce that we have been able to provide to our 77 fall CSA shares. We have had a wonderful assortment of fresh green things from the field, and despite numerous frosts, with the help of row covers and also diligent weekly foliar feeding, the crops are still coming on.

We may have reached the end of our luck, however, as this upcoming week looks pretty cold, maybe with some snow, and temperatures as low as 24 degrees by week’s end. We will hustle to get the 4th and final CSA share picked for Monday, November 21 early in the week so that we can have a strong finish.

Leek prep

I hope you enjoyed the lutz beets; we have smaller ones this week with the same fine flavor

That was one glorious week of spinach on week one

We finally handed out the last of our 937 winter squashes last week

Lettuce and Chinese cabbage ready for distribution

Friday morning, we tried to get a jump on Week Three picking as the temperature is poised to plummet. That is Maggie hiding behind Clare.

Paula, Danny and Melissa taking a break on the way back to the washing table

The last of the hakurei turnips and radishes, week one

Better late than never, the carrots are coming in strong for all four weeks of the fall CSA – John and Pete wash them and leeks

Bring Back Your Summer Share Bags

Please save us lots of money and bring back your share bags. You can drop them at your pick-up site over the next two weeks or so. We will collect them, launder them, fix them, and reuse them next year. Thanks for attending to this.

Join the 2023 Summer Share Early

Not sure if we will raise the price for the shares next year, but between now and December 31 you can pay 2022 prices. This keeps us in good cash flow as we go into the winter. You can follow this link – https://mhof.net/csa-share-options/

Reserve a 2023 Summer CSA Share

MHOF Meat

Meat Birds Available for Sale

The chickens are now in the freezer, so call or email to come buy some.

Old Layers Almost All Sold Out

These old gals make a phenomenal chicken stock and the price is right – just $15. We slaughtered on October 30 and now have them available in the freezer.

MHOF Meat

Turkeys All Sold Out

Pick up for those who have reserved a turkey will be Tuesday, November 22 from 1-6 and Wednesday, the 23rd from 8-noon.

Photo credit: Alexandre Chiacchio

Limited supply of lard available now

We have some of our 2022 lard available. It won’t be ready again until early 2023. Still $20/quart. Stop by after checking in for a time, or order it online and we will ship.

MHOF Pork & Lard

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

Yes, you can still add yourself to the MHOF workforce. Starting the first full week of December we are hosting working shareholders on M and F mornings with a modest pay check of 1 dozen eggs, a quart of frozen apple or pear sauce and greens from the hoop houses while they last.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

We had a very fun two weeks. Highlights were visits by three groups – first Renee Ciulla’s organic farming students who helped us plant our garlic. Next came 4 UMass 2nd year medical students who worked for an entire day. We harvested for the root cellar, moved the pigs, harvested leaves and mulched garlic. Third, a group of Politics of Food students came from Clark to help us pick up and deliver more leaves to the garlic. We finished the task and covered the leaves with hay to keep them from blowing away.

Meanwhile we have been picking very large and beautiful shares for the fall share. And we received 22 tons of rock dust which we were diligently spreading on the pond, north, south and garden fields until the tractor died. We subsequently covered the pile until the tractor can receive a new necessary part. Jonathan and company finished the garage project and he and Jack moved to the shed, which had some rot in back. They are busily rebuilding the bottom portion of the shed and building more shelves inside.

We made sauerkraut just in the nick of time and also froze a late gift of some really nice cauliflower. Thursday, we moved the layers off the field and into the permanent chicken house. They now have free range of the farm and are hopefully going to learn completely how to return to the house at night (a few camped out in the rain Friday night!)

Right now, we are gearing up to end the CSA and manage turkey slaughter and the big Thanksgiving sale on Tuesday, November 22 from 1-6 and Wednesday, the 23rd from 8-noon.

Jill and Laurie help with rock dust spreading on Wednesday last

Julie and Skippy take a rock dust break while we wait for Clare to return with another load

Jonathan and Stu finishing up the garage

Our spinach harvest crew

Clark students enjoying the pigs

Julie

Quick Links

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CSA pick up information
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Products available right now at the farm
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Big Dog

Halloween

No Newsletter next week. Jack and I are attending a Celebration of Life in MD over the week end. Julie

Big Dog

That is what Chuk calls him. I prefer to think of him as a gentle giant. Either way, Jonathan Anderson has been a wonderful addition to the MHOF staff. We met years ago when Jonathan became a meat bird customer and we also stayed in touch through NOFA. When Jonathan baled from corporate America, we started seeing him a lot at our winter/spring workshops we ran in 2020 and in February I received a short email. “Is that job still open?” “Yes, I said, are you interested?” He gave us a call and Jack and I hired him on the spot.

Jonathan’s magnum opus at the farm this year has been the garage project. For 40 years I averted my eyes from the brown stained oriented strand board siding, and over the past 2-3 years the side door started to hang on its hinges and the roof was in bad need of a refreshing. Under Chuk’s careful eye (“you can only have a credit card’s width between the boards of the siding”) and with weekly help from Stu and John, Jonathan has transformed the garage into a spiffy-looking building that could only be described as a major attraction these days. 5 more boards on the exterior still remain, but the rehab, complete with a fancy pull down door to the attic, a new side door, and some fancy windows, not to mention the state-of-the-art brooder house in the back, has turned the first building that Jack and I put up in the summer of 1982 into a fine part of the ambiance here.

So, he is a careful and thorough carpenter, but he fixes everything that breaks, and in record time. And systems, he is a systems guy! Both of our back pack sprayers were running all summer because Jonathan stayed on top of their maintenance, only calling Dave when needed for repairs. And now Jonathan and Jack are organizing the shed, a project which got started in 2002 when Leo was here, but never got finished.

Jonathan and I often have thoughtful conversations early in the morning before the others arrive, and share our latest findings in physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Jonathan is always calm. He has taken on management of the Stetson kids on Mondays and they love doing ‘He-Man’ stuff like moving pigs and splitting wood with him as their quiet but attentive boss for the morning.

And he is so reliable and of high moral fiber – a great teammate for me and Clare as we work our way through our intricate list of tasks each week in order to make the farm highly functional. We are blessed. Thank you, Jonathan!

Jonathan with the Stetson Staff

Always smiling

Health Resources

Podcasts

I really enjoyed this podcast regarding resources for transforming autism. Worth a listen.

And here is a good one regarding parasites.

Recipes

Stuffed Carnival Squash with Sausage and Apples

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Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized carnival squash (or other winter squash)
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 lbs ground pork sausage
  • 2 small apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups kale, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 Tbs fresh (or 2 tsp dried) sage, chopped
  • Salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut squash in half vertically with a serrated knife and remove the stem area. Scoop seeds and pulp from each half with a spoon. Reserve seeds for another use.
  3. Place squash halved open side up on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you work on the next step.
  4. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until about halfway cooked. Add onions and garlic. Continue to cook until fully browned. Add apples, kale and herbs. Continue to cook until apples soften and kale is wilted, about 2 more minutes. Taste and add salt if desired.
  5. Add cooked sausage mixture to cooked squash halves, heaping the mixture a bit but not overflowing the cavities. Bake for 10 minutes, or until top is slightly browned. (You could also broil them at this stage if your like an extra crispy layer.)
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. The skin of the carnival squash is tougher than many other winter squashes, so it can be composted after the inside of the meal has been devoured.

Download Recipe

CSA Updates This Week

CSA Crops This Week

This is the first week of the fall CSA

  • Parsley – beautiful frost one morning last week
  • Chard – despite several frosts, this chard looks stellar!
  • Carrots
  • Beet(s)
  • Cilantro
  • Hakurei turnips
  • Arugula
  • Garlic
  • Bok choi or Chinese cabbage or tatsoi
  • Bartlett pears
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Leeks
  • Butternut squash

Bring Back Your Share Bags

Please save us lots of money and bring back your share bags. You can drop them at your pick-up site over the next two weeks or so. We will collect them, launder them, fix them, and reuse them next year. Thanks for attending to this.

Join the 2023 Summer Share Early

Not sure if we will raise the price for the shares next year, but between now and December 31 you can pay 2022 prices. This keeps us in good cash flow as we go into the winter. You can follow this link – https://mhof.net/csa-share-options/

Reserve a 2023 Summer CSA Share

MHOF Meat

Meat birds available for sale

Photo credit: Alexandre Chiacchio

The chickens are now in the freezer, so call or email to come buy some – https://mhof.net/organic-meat/.

Old layers available October 30 (sorry about last week’s typo)

These old gals make a phenomenal chicken stock and the price is right – just $15. We slaughtered on October 30 and now have them available in the freezer.

MHOF Meat

Now is a good time to order your Thanksgiving turkey

They are going fast! There are now only 14 birds left. The birds are out there growing like weeds on our luscious pasture, certified organic feed and a regular treat of comfrey. Our turkeys are renowned as the tastiest and juiciest birds that will ever grace your Thanksgiving table. Birds are slaughtered the Monday before Thanksgiving (November 21) and are available for pick up on Tuesday, the 22nd from 1-6 pm and Wednesday, the 23rd from 8am – noon.

Zoey, Danny and Paula’s granddaughter, was over helping with turkey chores this past weekend

Limited supply of lard available now


We have some of our 2022 lard available. It won’t be ready again until early 2023. Still $20/quart. Stop by after checking in for a time, or order it online and we will ship.

MHOF Pork and Lard

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

Yes, you can still add yourself to the MHOF workforce. Come any M, W or F from 8-12 and stay for lunch. We always have a great time. Solange from Rwanda was our guest last Thursday. What a treat!

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

October has been a beautiful month. It might be my most favorite time of year. We still have plenty to do, but we can stop to “smell the roses” a bit. There is so much beautiful produce growing, the trees are unburdening themselves daily, and the increasing frosts let us know that soon our work in the fields will slow down significantly.

This week we moved the pigs again, to another part of the west field to add their rooting skills and manure to the garden beds that are finished. Jonathan and crew got so close on the garage siding, we gathered and dried some mugwort to make tincture, made a final harvest of apples, finished up our pear sauce, cleaned out the seed freezer and organized it, made some repairs to the tractor and the sprayers, continued foliar feeding the remaining field crops, made real progress on the shed organization, harvested and distributed the final week of the summer CSA and got right onto the fall share prep with labels, bags, letters to shareholders, etc.

Luke MacLean stopped by to audition for a job next spring (and we hired him). On Thursday, Renee brought her UMASS vegetable class to the farm to learn and work and we accomplished the planting of the garlic in 45 minutes!

Luke

Jonathan and Leslie with Wednesday’s CSA pick

UMass students helping plant garlic

Stetson kids doing some wood splitting

Julie

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Farm Dog

Not too long ago every farm had a farm dog, if not two or three. They, like a barnful of cats, were assumed to be a critical part of the farm workforce. Call us old fashioned, but we still hold by this tenet that we need to have these farmworkers/pets in order to be successful raising not only birds on pasture, but fruit trees, and vegetables.

Skippy is the spotlight of this story today. Alex, our incredible working shareholder from Brazil, happens to be a most amazing photographer, and he is happiest when he is taking pictures. He is also very good with a knife when we are preserving lots of greens!

Skippy came to us from farm dog parents. I remember the day in the pond field in February of 2021 when Clare offhandedly noted that her friend Abby was going to have some puppies available. “What?! Will you put me in touch with her immediately so we can get one?” I reminded her three times that day that I wanted that introduction, which she made. And Skippy came to us on April 5 last year, having been raised by her dog mother and her human mother just like I would have dreamed for our soon to replace Franny dream dog.

Franny did train her up to always be with us, to help move birds and pigs, and to dig for mice and voles at all times in the field. Franny was good about not barking at folks, which Skippy has not yet worked out, but Franny did like to take off, and thankfully Skippy stays right here on the farm all the time. When she is in the house, she steals a little couch time after wolfing down her organic dog food, egg, cod liver oil, pork stock and chicken head breakfast, but soon she is back outside. And at night, she and Dingo bark more or less, depending on how many carnivorous predators are lurking around the birds.

We are so lucky to have Skippy (as is Dingo, our timid rescue guy). Here she is fresh from her photo shoot this past Thursday.

Keeping the turkeys moving as we do our part
Photo credit: Alexandre Chiacchio

Attentive as we move some birds into another house to spread them out
Photo credit: Alexandre Chiacchio

At rest after the work is done
Photo credit: Alexandre Chiacchio

And thanks again, Alex!

Farm Videos

Planting in the greenhouse

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Marathon food preservation

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Freezing some peppers

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Here we are putting on remay – the crops made it through fine, by the way

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Book Review

All Creatures Great and Small

James Herriot

I grew up on a hog farm in Illinois and my dad was a country vet. He was 5 years younger than Herriot and was living a somewhat parallel life with this famous Scottish vet who spent his entire adult life in the Dales in England. So, this book and the many that followed have very special meaning to me, because I know what a retained placenta is, and remember having to answer all phone calls and get important messages to my dad. And I went along on a few calf pullings, and looked in awe when my dad would put his entire arm in the cow’s rectum.

You may not have such a visceral response to this incredible writing, but you will be drawn in by Herriot’s ability to tell a story, take you to a place, help you get to know people, and warm your heart while making you laugh out loud. There is a reason why these books are worldwide best sellers. If you haven’t partaken, I suggest that you do. And if you read them 30 years ago like I did, it is worth picking them up again.

CSA Updates This Week

CSA Crops This Week

This is the final week of the summer CSA!

Tomatoes and other farm gleanings may appear in your share this week. Plus:

  • Parsley
  • Chard
  • Carrots
  • Beet(s)
  • Kale
  • Cilantro
  • Arugula
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Bok choi or Chinese cabbage
  • Bartlett pears

Eight of those crates later, this ‘giving tree’ only produced around 1000 pears this year due to the drought, but she still did an amazing job

End of Season Survey

Watch for this and fill it out please. We value your feedback.

Bring Back Your Share Bags

Please save us lots of money and bring back your share bags. You can drop them at your pick-up site over the next two weeks or so. We will collect them, launder them, fix them, and reuse them next year. You can plan ahead and bring your bags to your site this week for your last pick up. And when you get there to pick up your share, bring another bag to transfer the produce into. Leave your share bag behind and it will then be off your mind and into our hands. Thanks for attending to this.

Join the 2023 Summer Share Early

You can join the summer CSA for 2023 from now until December 31 and pay 2022 prices. We get a needed cash flush as we are paying dearly for turkey, pig and chicken feed right now. Soon we will be purchasing fertility liquids from AEA, a 22 -ton load of rock dust and hopefully some tractor trailer loads of wood chips from the town.  You can join here.

Reserve a 2023 Summer CSA Share

Letters From Subscribers

Hi Julie

I have to introduce myself – my name is Cari. I am a friend of Jonathon’s and I live in Adelaide South Australia. I met Jonathon through Farmers Footprint and we stayed chatting over the last year or more. I have loved hearing his journey with you and when I subscribed to your newsletter I just had to respond today – theres not many I read through but I ADORE your humour and pics and knowledge and it’s just such a great read.

Your subscribers and CSA members just get so nourished by your food and words and love.

Today’s highlight was your chilling out over picking the hemp and ‘still’ chilling out as it dried.

Gosh I giggled, anyway much love to you all for the amazing work you do and for the joy and hearty goodness you bring my heart walks with yours,

CARI

Gosh, Cari, 

This is so kind, and all the way from Australia! I am humbled that our newsletter strikes a chord with you. It seems to just regurgitate all over the page after just hanging out inside somewhere all these years. Best to you in your life journey. 🙂Julie

Dear Julie,

As a woman of similar vintage, I so resonated with your thoughts about cleaning!

Wish we were still closer and able to feast on all your wonderful foods.

Warmly,

Sue

Thanks, Sue, I cleaned the main floor of the house that week, and then slipped back into my slovenly ways, although we have been averaging one thorough sweep of the kitchen each day. Small steps! 

Of course, you can always stop down and load up on our meat for the year. We would love to see you and Tom again. 

Here’s to just the right attitude toward house cleaning!

Be well, Julie

Dear Julie and Jack,

I share your enthusiasm about eating with your loved ones and even a few who are borderline. It’s good for them.

I have always tried to do that, although it has not always been possible when family members were away for many varied reasons.

I read about tulsi tea in your latest email and it sounds quite beneficial. I’ll see if it’s available here. I’d like to try it.

Love, Ella

Thanks as always, Ella, for your regular missives. Yes, find that tea. I think you will enjoy it immensely. 

We certainly come from a culture of feeding others – the rich farm tradition of putting on an extra plate. I am so glad to have all our Western Wyoming blood running in my veins. And then add it to the Iowa Rawson traditions and you could say that I am just following my deep-seated instincts. 

Love, Julie

Julie,

This is a great explanation of stages of plant health. It made me think of what you have modeled. I thought you would like the piece if not already in their orbit.

http://www.theconsciousfarmer.com/plant-health-sugar-levels/

Thanks for pointing us toward the light!

R

Hi Renee, 

Thanks for sending this. I enjoyed the article. As we are right now in the frost realm, we are still spraying our remaining crops each week to see how we can dodge the frost as long as possible. We were happy to make it through last night with no damage to the Swiss chard, which we thought was for sure a goner. I think it is important to keep the management protocols going until the very end. We certainly have seen a lot more frost resistance improvement as the years have gone by. 

Julie

For Sale

French door refrigerator ( LMX25964**)

In good condition
Bottom freezer drawer is stuck otherwise works great
Up pick up $500 at Warwick/orange line
For more details call Shawnee at 978-355-2731

Fall CSA Share

Fall Share – sign up now

We still have room! We can take up to 100 fall shares and we have 76 in hand as we speak, so there is still room. We will be picking on Mondays for Gardner, Athol, Princeton, Holden and Barre. Wednesday pick up for Barre, Sutton, Worcester and Shrewsbury.  Our start on October 31. For the last week, all pick-ups will be on Monday, November 21. You can join here:

Reserve a Fall Share

Here are some of the beautiful greens you can expect with the fall share:

MHOF Meat

Meat birds available for sale

Photo credit: Alexandre Chiacchio

The chickens are now in the freezer, so call or email to come buy some – https://mhof.net/organic-meat/.

Old Layers Available November 30

These old gals make a phenomenal chicken stock and the price is right – just $15. We slaughter on November 30 and will have them available for sale that day from 1-4 pm. No giblets. You can order them here:

MHOF Meat

Now is a good time to order your Thanksgiving turkey

They are going fast! There are now only 24 birds left. The birds are out there growing like weeds on our luscious pasture, certified organic feed and a regular treat of comfrey. Our turkeys are renowned as the tastiest and juiciest birds that will ever grace your Thanksgiving table. Birds are slaughtered the Monday before Thanksgiving (November 21) and are available for pick up on Tuesday, the 22nd from 1-6 pm and Wednesday, the 23rd from 8am – noon.

Photo credit: Alexandre Chiacchio

Limited supply of lard available now


We have some of our 2022 lard available. It won’t be ready again until early 2023. Still $20/quart. Stop by after checking in for a time, or order it online and we will ship.

MHOF Pork

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

Yes, you can still add yourself to the MHOF workforce. Come any M, W or F from 8-12 and stay for lunch. We always have a great time. Solange from Rwanda was our guest last Thursday. What a treat!

Making rows for garlic planting this upcoming Tuesday

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

It has been a busy, but increasingly chilled out two weeks since we spoke last. The frost came and came and came and came, but no new crops have been lost after the initial killing of tulsi, squash and tomatoes. We have been preserving, working on the garage, prepping for garlic planting, cleaning up our fertility supplies and storing, moving all of our stored produce from the barn to the root cellar and basement living room. October is a beautiful month. The leaves are really falling now and soon we will be putting those aside…

Skippy and Dingo hunting for voles (they have been taking out parsley roots) under the mulch

Julie

Quick Links

Buy CSA
Buy meat
CSA pick up information
Contact Julie
Products available right now at the farm
Become a working shareholder