Weekly newsletters

To Love and to Cherish

Jack and I passed our 44th wedding anniversary this past Friday. Daughter Ellen called us up at 3:30 and asked what we were up to. We were cutting up cherry tomatoes to dry and pulling grapes off of their stems for making into juice. She commented that it seemed like we must be pretty happy with each other and we agreed that food preservation is near the top of the list for activities that we love to do together.

When I woke up Friday morning feeling overwhelmed by the many 5- gallon buckets of grapes that would be in our near future, Jack comforted me by reminding me that we could do them slowly over the next ten days or so. I was instantly relieved and was able to hop out of bed and get on to my day. And such are the little ways in which long term partners can lighten each other’s way through life. As a child, besides somehow changing the world, I wished for a forever mate. And here 4 ½ decades later, it seems I got my wish (at least the second half of it!).

Only 50 gallons to go.

Further on that topic, Cathleen and Chuk were over for dinner on Wednesday night and graciously offered to help us dry the day’s bounty of cherry tomatoes. We all took our trays and got started. When I looked down to see how I was laying mine out and how Jack was laying his out, I realized for the umpteenth time that opposites do often attract. It came clear to me that our brains are organized in highly different ways!

That’s me in the foreground and Jack to my right

Videos and articles from the outside world

The 5 keys to disease prevention w/ Thomas Hemingway, MD

I liked his sentiment that one should consider what to add to the diet, rather than what to take away.

Videos from MHOF this week

From the chard bed
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Making garlic powder
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Goodbye meat chickens
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Catching chickens in the dark
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Pig arrival
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The pigs checking out their new pasture
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Moving Turkeys
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Paula’s Birthday
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Our corn has been very busy this past week

August 26 right after the hail and wind storm

September 3.  Isn’t nature miraculous!

Other News

Friend and colleague Barrie Anderson is selling his house, right on the Barre/Petersham line. Here is the listing – https://www.quabbingate.com/petersham

CSA Updates This Week

NO CSA on Labor Day – Monday shares will move to Tuesday. Wednesday and Friday will run as normal.

CSA crops this week

  • Brand new crop of beets – we are quite proud
  • Jurassic chard grown in ideal carbon sequestering conditions – check out not only the size, but the color and brightness, and of course taste
  • Kale
  • Green beans – these plants are still looking very healthy; healthy beans is a challenge for us, so we are stoked
  • Some broccoli here and there
  • Lettuce
  • Soybeans – take these off the stalk, place them in boiling water and boil for about 3 minutes until you can pop them out of the shells. You can eat them just like that, or shell them all, and warm them up and of course add butter
  • Parsley – we are in the curly patch right now
  • Tulsi – I have been making the most wonderful tea at night with this – boil the bunch (or part of it) in water for 5 minutes or so, strain it and drink it before bed. What an amazing calming feeling it brings
  • Tomatoes – this is by far our best tomato year yet – enjoy, enjoy
  • Squash – the crop is finally waning, weeks after its usual expiration date – quantities will be a bit smaller this week
  • Celery

Fall Share – sign up now

We will be picking for the fall share, starting October 31 and running for 4 weeks, on Mondays and Wednesdays. But on the last week we are picking all of the shares on Monday. Keep the good food flowing for one more month.

Reserve a Fall Share

Meat birds available for sale

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

MHOF Meat

Bulk Sale Items

We have extra tomatoes now and are happy to sell them to you for $2/lb. for seconds for canning.

Circle of Song starting up September 8

Circle of Song is a community chorus that I co-direct with my friend Nancy Afonso. We are starting up our fall session on September 8 – Barre Congregational church – enter at left side door – from 7-8:30. We are always looking for singers who are a little on the irrepressible side and who like to sing in four-part harmony. Here is our lineup for the fall

Regina Coelli, Go Lovely Rose, Mary had a Baby, Hallelujah Chorus, Esto les Digo, Mzi Wase Afrika, O Magnum Mysterium, and Homage to Ward. And our house band will play for Christmas carols at the concert for audience participation.

Give me a call – 978-257-1192, or email – julie@mhof.net to find out more. We charge $40 – $70 sliding scale for annual membership. Can’t read that well? We will help you with that. A good ear is appreciated. We meet every Thursday night and are planning our concert for December 17 at the Barre Town Hall.

We also like to eat together.

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch. We really need help on Wednesdays, if you can make it.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

The early part of the week was focused on getting our meat birds to slaughter and back for sales. Here is a picture of part of the crew before we got started. Dan, Raffi and Doodle showed up as a surprise a little later in the morning.

Jonathan, Clare and Cathleen

Monday was the big pig day and as Jack predicted, we let them out after just one day of being locked up. They have been behaving famously well, regardless, and have not yet staged a break into our west field garden.

Doodle contemplating the pigs

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, around the CSA and food preservation, were spent detarping and preparing 6 garden beds for lettuce, spinach and Asian greens.

We did manage to finish mulching our new beet plantation and a poorly germinated carrot bed, using up the last of our 40 round bales of straw. Clare and I are now dreaming of a bale chopper to make mulching easier and faster.

Friday was back to food preservation again, broccoli, peaches, grape juice, cherry tomatoes. My goal at the end of each day is to have a porch that only houses not quite ripe food. We lost a pear branch in last week’s storm, so there are some nice yet unripe pears awaiting our attention.

The rain last Friday and then Monday really served to perk up the crops that have been sitting waiting for some hydration. We are grateful for the rain that we get these days and are doing everything we can to capture each drop.

Julie

Quick Links

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Fragility

We have been hoping and wishing for rain for a long time now, and it was quite exciting when Friday’s thunderstorm came tearing through. We were all happily processing tomatoes, cabbage, garlic and peaches in the kitchen when Christy called to say that we were locked in on both ends of Sheldon Road with downed trees. We went to investigate with chainsaws in hand, and found not only trees, but numerous power lines and power poles, and then returned to the farm and decided to leave the clean up to the professionals!

An hour after the usual end of work, Kamarin, Jonathan and Peter were able to get out, due to incredible clean up by the fire department and the electric company. Meanwhile, however, they cut the power so that they could make the repairs necessary. There were Jack and I at the table with a huge pile of cut up cabbage and tomatoes to jar up and process. But with us, no power means no water. And then I looked out the window and saw that half of our corn crop was lying flat on the ground. I am not sure if it was the hail or the heavy winds, but regardless, there it was. We tried to clean up as best as possible, ate our supper and went to bed in the dark, wondering about all the water that would be needed in the morning for all of the birds – about 450 – 500 all told, and also wondering how melted all of the food in our freezers would be. Thankfully, the amazing crews had the power back on by 12:17 am, about 9 hours later, and the anxiety receded into a deep sleep with the fan back on!

The storm was a wake-up call, which comes with some regularity (our last power outage was in July of 2020 and that year we baled water out of our slimy pond to water the animals and wash the produce for the CSA in that mid-week storm. Of course, the big December storm of 2008 where we lost power for 10 days, will also be burned into our memories for the rest of our lives.

Bottom line, humans live in a very fragile balance with nature. Most of us have moved significantly away from direct connection with it, however. Self-sufficiency is a laudable approach to somewhat address this issue, but we are also clearly part of the larger society and these, in this case, mini-crises should give us pause as we consider how connected we are with the larger community in the joint project of our continued existence. I for one am very grateful today for the folks who bring us electricity and provide our emergency services! And I hope our corn can stand itself up and continue to maturity, but am not sure that will happen.

Photo taken Friday at 4:30 pm

Videos and articles from the outside world

Over the past two weeks a lot of interesting videos came across my desk. Here is a sampling for you to enjoy.

Polyvagal theory – Dr. Stephen Porges

Everybody is talking about the vagus nerve these days. This is a very intriguing podcast sent to me by son Dan. Check out reference to bands and choruses at 1 hour:15 minutes!

From Ari Whitten podcast

Primary Cause of Bone Loss

The Top 5 Keys to Successful Fat Loss, Optimizing Performance, Sleep and More

The quickest way to get rid of cravings

A nice piece from daughter Ellen, I thought – https://conta.cc/3Kev8HW

Videos from MHOF this week

I shot a bunch over the past two weeks and did a few food preservation ones. Enjoy

Preparing cabbage for freezing
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Getting all set up for the pigs
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Freezing peaches
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Drying cherry tomatoes
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Harvesting elderberries
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Mowing down perennials
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CSA Updates This Week

CSA crops this week

  • Parsley
  • Chard
  • Cabbage or broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts tops – we top them so that they will make bigger sprouts and you can eat the greens similar to collards
  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Tulsi
  • Chives
  • Lettuce
  • Green beans may be on the docket by Friday

Picking Brussels sprouts tops

Yeah, we like yellow tomatoes!

With the excessive heat we have to prophylactically harvest all the lettuce in the west field before it bolts, so most of you got stored lettuce last week. We are back to fresh picking this week and are still trying to stay ahead of bolting.

Fall Share – sign up now

We will be picking for the fall share, starting October 31 and running for 4 weeks, on Mondays and Wednesdays. But on the last week we are picking all of the shares on Monday. Keep the good food flowing for one more month.

Reserve a Fall Share

Meat birds available for sale

MHOF Meat

Letters from subscribers

My new Chair lift will be installed soon. I have been using an Acorn Chair Lift which I purchased about 7 yrs ago. It works fine, never has broken down. I initially had it installed to a landing not thinking of my future condition.  I would give it to anyone in need of a good ride. If you know of any one please let me know. They would have to pick it up when my new one arrives. Thank you for all the beautiful gifts of the earth.

-Coleen Coder

Dear Julie:
I’m thoroughly enjoying being a member of your CSA. The newsletters are informative and entertaining. I enjoy the different topics you include and the videos, recipes, and connections you link to the larger world. I would love to have your applesauce recipe in a future newsletter.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your earth conscious family!

Hi Charlene, 

I am so glad that you are enjoying the CSA. It is wonderful to know that all of our hard work is being enjoyed by real people. 

Here is how we make our applesauce. We use all of the apples, except if they have some clear disease, but rotten spots are fine. We chop them up and cover them with water and boil them down until they are soft. They we run the whole business through a foley food mill and voila, we have applesauce – nothing added except the water. 

Julie

Aging… what?… not yet, I wish…”backing into the surroundings” perfect phrasing of how I’m feeling these days,,, though still running my business,,, a realty check as to whether this is my “Third Act” or my 3rd Season, the Fall of my life… Winter yet to come…

Dying wise/well seems though a reasonable vision…

STEPHEN JENKINSON – DIE WISE: How to Understand the Meaning of Death

Thanks, Terry, good food for thought. I particularly liked the part where he said that we non-indigenous Americans have no long-term history of our own. That our ancestors all fled their homeland and their culture. 

Julie

Hi!

I was hoping you could share ways to use the tulsi besides tea? I’ve looked online and most recipes seem to suggest tea. Are there other uses you’ve enjoyed or have had others share?

Thank you and really enjoying this csa season!

Sam Piazza

Hi Sam, 

I actually like it in salad, stir fries, soups, etc. I have never made tea of it. It has a delicious flavor and particularly perks up a salad in my opinion. 

Julie

Bulk Sale Items

We have extra tomatoes now and are happy to sell them to you for $2/lb. for seconds for canning. See the canning video I put together this past week.

Canning tomatoes
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Circle of Song starting up September 8

Circle of Song is a community chorus that I co-direct with my friend Nancy Afonso. We are starting up our fall session on September 8 – Barre Congregational church – enter at the left side door – from 7-8:30. We are always looking for singers who are a little on the irrepressible side and who like to sing in four-part harmony. Here is our line up for the fall:

Regina Coelli, Go Lovely Rose, Mary had a Baby, Hallelujah Chorus, Esto les Digo, Mzi Wase Afrika, O Magnum Mysterium, and Homage to Ward. And our house band will play for Christmas carols at the concert for audience participation.

Give me a call – 978-257-1192, or email – julie@mhof.net to find out more. We charge $40 – $70 sliding scale for annual membership. Can’t read that well? We will help you with that. A good ear is appreciated. We meet every Thursday night and are planning our concert for December 17 at the Barre Town Hall.

We also like to eat together.

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch. We really need help on Wednesdays, if you can make it.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

Over the past two weeks we were challenged again by very hot weather, though as we reach the end of August, it usually at least gets cool at night. We continue to try to be diligent about weeding and mulching the crops that will see us through to the fall. And we continue to plant – late brassicas, fennel, lettuce, radishes, turnips, cilantro. We got all set up for the pigs and had to figure out how to get shock back across the street. Jonathan and John diligently worked out that system and we are up and ready. The pigs were supposed to arrive on Friday, but alas, our new beater, was not quite up for the trip, so their pick up is postponed until today. The meat chickens will be all gone by Sunday. The turkeys are heading into the potato patch to prepare it for cover crops. And the layers will head back across the street to the pond field by week’s end.

We preserved lots of food, and were especially happy to sort our garlic for the half rotten ones which we turned into garlic powder. We are keeping up with peaches, tomatoes, and the rest of the cabbage that didn’t make the CSA cut. Those beds are now being fertilized by the layers and will next go to cover crops.

Kamarin will be gone after today, so we are sad to lose him and also wondering how we will manage all of our affairs. Summer is quickly turning to fall.

Our beater is home

Julie

Quick Links

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

Aging

As August moves into its second half and the early crops in the field start to wane, it is an easy jump to consider our own aging. I was able to put those thoughts at bay for several decades, but as Jack and I attend more funerals of our friends, thoughts of our own deaths and transition enter the consciousness.

Gracefully aging while living a full and meaningful life, albeit perhaps a bit slower, staying relevant while slowly backing into the surroundings are all considerations of the “Third Act” that Jane Fonda so aptly wrote about in her book Prime Time: Creating a Great Third ACT and spoke about in her Ted Talk. I like her reference to the spirit and how it becomes central to our growth and development as full human beings as we age. Soon school will start for some, an end to vacationing for some, but generally a return to a fresh start in the crisp fall. I look forward to really digging in to my Third Act this fall and winter as I climb ever upward on the staircase of life.

More on Breathing – Nitric Oxide

Quoting from Ari Whitten in Breathing for Energy Program – https://theenergyblueprint.com/breathing-for-energy-program-sp/

Nitric Oxide production is significantly increased with nose breathing (6 times better than mouth breathing, and 15 times better if you breathe through your nose while humming). And here is a short explanation of what nitric oxide does in your system:

  • Dilates blood vessels
  • Acts as an anti-oxidant or oxidant as appropriate
  • Boosts vascular and lung health
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Is anti-inflammatory, viral and bacterial
  • Supports homeostasis, neurotransmission, respiration
  • Prevents high blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Creates more flexible arteries

Videos from MHOF this week

Finally got the corn weeded and thinned and then later spread a nice multi-species cover crop mix

On Thursday two groups came to work with us

Anna brought the kids from Home City Housing in Springfield and Allison brought a group from the Somers, CT summer program. It was old home week as both Anna and Allison were colleagues of mine in NOFA back in the day.

CSA Updates This Week

CSA crops this week

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Beet greens from our new beds
  • Beet wrap up from our amazing 8 week run on our first beet crop
  • Tulsi
  • Summer squash and/or zucchini
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  • Parsley
  • Tomatoes
  • Lemon balm

After 11 weeks (halfway), here are the weight numbers for shares so far – large – 9 lbs. average, medium – 7 lbs. average, smalls – 4.5 lbs. average

Fall Share – sign up now

A fall share

We will be picking for the fall share, starting October 31 and running for 4 weeks, on Mondays and Wednesdays. But on the last week we are picking all of the shares on Monday. Keep the good food flowing for one more month.

Reserve a Fall Share

Bulk Sale items

Right now, we have extra zucchini and summer squash. It is $3/lb., but if you buy 25 lbs. or more, we will sell it to you for $2/lb. Give me a call if you would like some for putting by as dried squash or squash puree.

Recipe Ideas

Roasted Fennel, Chickpeas and Kale

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 Tbs fresh sage, chopped
  • ½ fresh lemon, juiced
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp powdered turmeric
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove fennel fronds from bulb and save for another use. Coarsely chop fennel bulb and add to a medium bowl.
  3. Add ½ tsp turmeric, 1 Tbs olive oil and ½ tsp salt. Toss to coat and lay on a baking sheet.
  4. Place rinsed chickpeas in a medium bowl. Add garlic, ½ tsp turmeric, 1 Tbs olive oil and ½ tsp salt. Toss to coat and lay on the baking sheet next to the fennel.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, remove stems from kale and chop the leaves.
  7. Place chopped kale in a medium bowl and add ginger, sage, lemon juice, remaining olive oil and salt.
  8. Remove fennel and chickpeas from the oven and add kale mixture on top. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and toss everything together. Allow to cool and enjoy! (Great served in a soft tortilla as a taco base, or as a side dish.)

Download Recipe

Meat Birds Available on August 28

Chicken slaughter is coming up very soon. You can get chickens for your freezer for the entire year. Read more about these fantastic birds here and place your order.

MHOF Meat

Other News

Some interesting Podcasts that I listened to this week

Son Dan on inoculants

Gerald Pollack on Structured Water. I hope I am so vibrant when I am 82.

An old friend and colleague, Ridge Shinn, is starting this initiative:

Dear friends,

Because you know me, you probably know how long I’ve advocated for regenerative cattle grazing—which has multiple benefits for health and the environment—to replace conventional, corn-based cattle beef production, which has degraded farmland and driven climate change. I founded a meat company and most recently have co-authored a book about grass-fed beef production, which will be released in November. But this is such a complex and critically important issue, there is much more to be done—much more that must be done.

So, I’m excited to tell you about my newest project: the Northeast Grass-Fed Beef Initiative (NGBI).

NGBI is a not-for-profit organization that will partner with farmers in the region to facilitate on-farm transitions from conventional to regenerative systems. Widespread adoption of this methodology has the power to restore ecosystem health, fight climate change, and revitalize rural economies.

We see a future in which our Northeast communities reclaim vibrant stewardship of soil health, water quality, and economic opportunity. To get there, we’re building a strong regional network of cattle producers, suppliers, farm services, and community members.

Please visit this page to learn more and to join NGBI’s mailing list.

Then, help us spread the word by forwarding this email to 10 people who would be interested in our vision. If you see pathways for collaboration, please be in touch.

This is just an introduction to the new entity, the Northeast Grass-Fed Beef Initiative (NGBI). We hope you will sign on to learn more. Thanks for your support. We’ll get there together.

See you on the farm,
Ridge and the NGBI team

Letters from subscribers

“Hi Julie,

I love your newsletter and read every word and watch your informative videos. In the past I have grated my zucchini for use during the colder months. (I have a vacuum sealer and use it for everything going into my freezers.)

This past Friday I received the fennel and celery with which to make one of my very favorite salads and I make fennel frond pesto with the tops. Actually, I make pesto with quite a few things – young carrot tops and garlic scapes are two of my favorites. They are delicious as Bruchetta with crumbled goat cheese.

I’ve included a few of my favorite recipes for you to share or try if you see fit.

Have a great week.

Take care

Beth

Thanks, Beth, 

Sounds like you are a real cook. I will pass these on to Christy, who also is a sketch more gourmet than I am, to test and share in the newsletter throughout the season. We are always looking for ways to enjoy fennel to pass along to folks, and I also love using carrot tops. 

Julie

Circle of Song starting up September 8

Circle of Song is a community chorus that I co-direct with my friend Nancy Afonso. We are starting up our fall session on September 8 – Barre Congregational church – enter at left side door – from 7-8:30pm. We are always looking for singers who are a little on the irrepressible side and who like to sing in four-part harmony. We will be doing one movement from Faure’s Requiem along with some modestly challenging pieces, some of which might be in a foreign language. Minnie likes peppy, Jack likes beautiful, Karen likes challenging, all us of like to laugh and not take life too seriously (except for musical diligence, of course). Give me a call – 978-257-1192, or email – julie@mhof.net to find out more. We charge $40 – $70 sliding scale for annual membership.

Can’t read that well? We will help you with that. A good ear is appreciated. We meet every Thursday night and are planning our concert for December 17 at the Barre Town Hall.

We also like to eat together

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farewell to Deb. It was with great sadness that I accepted Deb’s resignation last week end. She started as a half-day working shareholder in the spring and then quickly moved to three days per week. Out of the starting gate she was fast, had a strong sense of quality, and was a very convivial member of our farm team – quickly making herself indispensable. Life circumstances changed and she had to leave us. We hope she will return sooner rather than later.

Deb, June 22, 2022

No Newsletter next week

Christy is going on vacation. See you again on the 29th!

Farm Doin’s

The week started hot and got hotter, but then things broke a bit and we truly enjoyed Thursday and Friday on the farm (except for the fact that we are concerned about the ever- drier conditions!)

Highlights were getting the corn weeded, thinned and cover-cropped, weeding and mulching one of our lettuce successions and our new brassicas, mulching those new brassicas and the tulsi and the ground cherries. We finally picked up all of the hay that we have down on the field and Kamarin got all of the fruit trees mowed. We started picking peaches, and sadly the crop is very small this year. Another early apple tree provided us with 14 quarts of applesauce and the eating apples (for CSA shares) are just around the corner.

With the Home City Housing folks we were able to do some significant cover cropping under many different crops. Now we need a little rain to help them germinate.

Jonathan and Stu did some more work on the garage and cut down our lilacs to side the south side (we are banking on them growing back over time). John, Jonathan and Jack puzzled out our pig shock system problems and then started the repair in advance of their arrival on August 26.

The tomato hornworm collection has continued and Maria took some awesome pictures of hornworms infested with wasps.

And Eloise had her tenth? litter on Wednesday and eluded our attempts at finding them for a couple of days.

While the rest of us were out slaving in the hot sun, these guys were reconnoitering about pig shock

Turns out watering chickens is a great entry level job for 5 year-olds. Alexandria took care of Saturday and Raffi did Sunday

Amazing that these big boys and girls were all gone by Saturday morning

Maria took this amazing picture of a tomato hornworm being taken out by wasp larvae

Kamarin with one of the kittens

Agnes feeding the turkeys on Thursday

Eloise contemplating her last moments of freedom

Dear Clare in the corn

Making applesauce

Julie

Quick Links

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

Work/Life Balance

I was sure that the worst of the heat was past us, but then the last few days have been pretty oppressive. Perhaps the wonderful pass that we got on heat up until July 15 was just pushing off the heat until a little later in the season. Regardless, it has been difficult to stay centered, focused and happy while working outside, just to come in and feel the heat up through the night. Normally there is a time between about 5-7 am where I can run around to check the meat birds, let the dogs off their night shift, give the seedlings a spritz and bathe my feet in the dewy grass, and that is my recharge time. Friday morning was dew-less and sticky and I found myself behind the eight ball before I even got started on the day.

Friday Hannah and Joey were over, farming partners of Peter, who works here two days per week. We were discussing work/life balance, a challenging topic for farmers who must follow the sun, but also must rejuvenate and recharge. The mere act of discussing strategies for how to joyfully manage this reality is of great help, if only because misery loves company. But as we ponder this issue, especially in the unrelenting heat, we start to come up with balancing strategies, so that Clare and Jonathan and I and all of the wonderful less than full-time people who focus effort on this farm, can continue lovingly to steward the work here. Now is the time where we try on different scenarios – less land more carefully tended with more animal and cover crop rotations, perhaps less animals, and more diligent management of our off season prioritizing perennial management and tool organization, repairs both mechanical and of a carpentering nature. My goal is to continue farming well into my 70s and 80s, while factoring in some vacation time, real down time every day to play and learn, time to continue to strengthen my relationship with Jack and my family, see friends, play and sing music, and all with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Oppressive heat has a way of requiring attention to one’s functionality while under stress. In that way it is a blessing.

Hannah is on the left

Joey

More on Breathing

Lots of response on this one over the past week. Dave stopped me after band practice to speak delightfully about George Catlin’s work in the 1830’s studying and painting native Americans on the plains of the American west. Catlin noted that mothers would carefully close babies’ mouths after breastfeeding to encourage nose breathing. He wrote “Shut Your Mouth to Save Your Life” in 1862. His work is definitely worth checking out.

Daughter Ellen sent a link to a breathing program organized by Ari Whitten of the Energy Blue Print. I signed up for this course – Breathing for Energy, and will see where it takes me. Meanwhile, my mouth is shut!

From Laurie:

Julie, I have read and enjoyed both breathing books you mention. Patrick McKeown is amazing, and I recently read James Nestor.

About 6 years ago, (after a yoga teacher mentioned I must breathe through my mouth to stimulate the parasympathetic system- rest, digest and build) I got online to learn how to nose breathe. I came across videos of McKeown teaching Buteyko nasal breathing. It really only took me about 10 minutes to learn to do it. He helped save my sanity. I had been a long time mouth breather as I had some awful, low-oxygen childhood experiences in my dad’s unpressurized small plane. I have been trying to correct the PTSD (or learn to live with it) since then. Patrick M  4 minutes… changed my life…

Unblock your Nose in 3 minutes – stop snoring -, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAf8Elez6bg&t=9s

Snoring significantly reduces when the nose is unblocked. Patrick McKeown, author of 7 books including ‘The Oxygen Advantage’ ‘Close Your Mouth’, and ‘Sleep with Buteyko’ (the book for snoring and sleep apnea) shows how to unblock your nose in a few minutes.

Videos from MHOF this week

Weeding beets and carrots

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Freezing beans

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Making applesauce

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Transitioning from peas to green beans and cucumbers

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How to preserve summer squash

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How to preserve chard

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CSA Updates This Week

Coming up this Week

  • Lettuce is back – a new crop attempting to beat the heat

  • Kale
  • Chard

  • Cabbage, broccoli or collards
  • Basil – this crop is struggling in the heat. Friday Peter and Joey and I went through and seriously trimmed it hoping that it will rejuvenate without all of the black spots.
  • Tulsi – Holy basil, will also be on the docket this week. Enjoy this as a tea, or as an addition to salads and stir fries
  • Summer squash and/or zucchini – with the heat the cucumbers have gone down hill, but this past Friday’s squashes were healthier than ever. We have been focusing on soil drenches and specific foliars to keep the plants out of stress; check out the sheen

  • Cucumbers – still coming
  • Green beans – we had a flush on Monday and on Friday from some plants that are challenged by Mexican bean beetles. The purple striped rattlesnakes are in this week

  • Beets – we are nearing the end of these four beds that have been supporting our needs for about 8 weeks
  • Peppermint – a nicely established bed now right next to the yellow hoop house

  • Garlic – enjoy a bulb from our storage this week
  • Carrots – I know they didn’t materialize last week – we will dig some this week for you
  • Tomatoes – they are starting and there will be a few this week – not sure for how many folks

Bulk Sale Items

Right now, we have extra zucchini and summer squash. It is $3/lb., but if you buy 25 lbs. or more, we will sell it to you for $2/lb. Give me a call if you would like some for putting by as dried squash or squash puree. (978) 257-1192

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch.

Volunteer at MHOF

Jonathan has Muscovy ducks for sale

4-6 week old Muscovy Ducklings for Sale in Sutton. Pastured with their mothers and fed organic grain from Green Mountain Feeds. Hens are great mothers, raising 2-3 clutches a year. Quiet, great foragers and excellent meat ducks. Perfect for small farms and homesteads.

Asking $15 per duckling. Text Jonathan at 774-222-3531.

Farm Doin’s

The week started on Saturday last week with Raffi and Doodle here all week end and eager to make some money. Besides fixing hoses, making up foliars and drenches, doing chores, preserving food, mowing and blueberry picking, we had some great time to go swimming and play ball too, and cards before bed!

Fixing hoses with dad

I have noticed that boys who help chop vegetables are more likely to eat them also!

Our days were organized around the heat last week. One early morning Kamarin and I were sure we were going to expire after making some long moves with the layers. The layers and meat birds are right now on some “straight runs” which means just one house length per day.

 

Jake and Kamarin moving layers

The turkeys are doing a little fertilizing in the front yard and also we can keep a close eye on them while they are still quite young. Soon they will head to the home orchard.

We were able to get the west field all weeded – good crop of beets coming, but the carrots did not germinate well. And we replanted several beds in the west to late beets, rutabaga, dill and arugula.

Kalina, Scott and Jake making rows for dill in beds previously planted to lettuce.

We also finished mulching peppers and celeriac, a task left undone from the previous week.

In the north we ripped out the peas and replanted the trellises to pole beans and cucumbers. We also tied the tomatoes and mowed between them. Kamarin has taken on the task of annihilating every tomato hornworm that he comes upon, except those that are already infested with parasitic wasp larvae. https://ugaurbanag.com/tomato-hornworms-and-parasitic-wasps/

He left on Friday with the commitment to check each and every tomato this week!

Pretty attractive little fellows! One bit me while I was ripping it in half…

In the south field we finished weeding the tulsi while Jonathan did some stirrup hoeing of our new crop of lettuce and brassicas planted the previous week, and at week’s end we were able to a reasonable handle on the corn weeding. This week we will finish that job and thin the corn some before throwing the peas vines in and doing a multi-species cover cropping in the pathways.

In the pond field we removed a tarp and planted 6 beds of carrots and 1 bed of purple top turnips. All this past week we have been soaking the planting rows with water before seeding as precipitation is scarce in this time period.

Here is our melon house (yellow house). We sprayed our heat stress foliar early in the week and then there was a flush of flowers.

Spraying is an integral part of each morning. Some double combination of Clare, Jonathan, Kamarin and Peter spend almost an hour each day with foliars and soil drenches to keep production high and support plant health.

We are constantly moving tarps off and on various parts of the fields.

And hauling sand bags around

Thursday 10 folks from the Bionutrient Food Association from Chicago and Acton came for lunch and 17 of us shared food out on the driveway at picnic tables in the best shade we could find on that hot day.

Friday was highlighted with a visit of two guys, Lee and Dan from NCAT who were interviewing farmers about barriers to organic growing. Nice visit.

Hopefully we can ponder work/life balance with lower temperatures this upcoming week.

Julie

Quick Links

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Breathing

Breathing

Videos from MHOF this week

At some point this week, everyone on staff was gone at least one if not 3 ½ days, so I didn’t do as many movies.

Mulching late chard

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Turkeys onto pasture

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Showing off the squash

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Letters to the Editor

“I had to reply to say that I am sorry you feel there are only two paths to finding life‘s meaning and purpose. You left out a major consideration that there is a being larger than us who can help find meaning and purpose. That being can also bring comfort in those hot July times when you are at the end of yourself. Maybe He is the meaning and purpose you seek.

I find that the Holy Spirit can bring comfort and help to find God’s plan for my life. I hope and pray you find that too.”

Thanks, Chris, for your thoughtful response. Just to be clear, I don’t believe that there are only two paths to anything. I was just juxtaposing meditation vs. action.  I call on my Protestant Christian upbringing all the time, especially when times get tough. Sometimes I think that it is a question of terminology and that many folks draw on the same inner strength, and outer strength, but give it different names. What I feel I need to do is to drop judgment of others as they follow their paths to their meaning. I do believe that we are all on a journey, for sure. 

Julie

Ed. Note – Chris is a CSA shareholder

“loved this letter Julie. I read every one of your letters and your work astounds me.

Keep doing it! I find July is hardest for our farmers too!

Thank you for keeping us so informed on what is in your mind and going on each week on the farm.

In gratitude,

Linley”

Thank you, Linley, 

I appreciate that you enjoy our newsletter. Though it seems to take more time than I think I have some weeks, it serves my soul in a way. I am glad that it is useful for folks. 

July is a funny one. I ponder why it seems so hard every year, and try to prepare for it by being more organized each year. There will always be more work to accomplish than it seems possible to manage, and there will always be weeds and lost crops, it seems, when we are pumping out so much food and keeping successions running all spring, summer and fall. And I noticed this year that we were better organized and have been managing successions better than usual, with the real outcome of that meaning more work than usual with all of the mix of older, younger and baby crops all needing attention. The sun is still driving things so unrelentingly in July, so it will never be easy. Regardless, August is here now and we can all leave behind the thoughts of getting out of farming for sure next year and just enjoy the shorter days and cooler nights. 

Julie

Ed. Note – Linley is Associate Director of the Real Organic Project and farms in Durango, CO

“Hi Julie

August 27th is fine for us to partake in a MHOF supper. We appreciate the invite and look forward to seeing you and Jack and sampling your fresh organic farm fare.

I enjoy receiving your newsletter and particularly delight in your ruminations on health, nutrition, nature, community, energy, truth to power issues, one’s purpose in life and life in general with its routines, surprises, rewards, disappointments, moments of crystal clarity and love in its many configurations; seasoned with a dose of whimsy and serendipity.

Your own “life of ACTION” leaves me breathless (and out of breath!) Maybe you can’t meditate for more than 30 minutes but what you accomplish in the course of a day, through your form of “working meditation”, warrants the blessing of the Buddha and Mother Nature herself.

Frank”

Gosh, Frank, thanks, and you are in the calendar. With the newsletter and our videos that various people remark on weekly, it seems that we are farming in a fish bowl here with so many people egging us on and supporting the day in and day out interface with nature that we actualize almost every day of the year. I used to feel more lonely, especially in the summer when it seemed that all of our customers were taking restful vacations and we usually weren’t. Now it feels that we have this large cheering section that allows us to grow more high quality food every year, and have more fun with it. I know that when it is over 90 degrees out or 50 degrees and raining (or 33 degrees and snowing) on a CSA picking day that many of our readers are thinking of us. That is very powerful support. Looking forward to seeing you and Denise. 

Love, Julie

Ed. Note- Frank was the manager at the Living Earth before we started selling to them in 1985 up until they closed in 2019.

 

CSA Updates This Week

Coming up this Week

  • No lettuce this week – a small hiatus and you can count on it back next week
  • Kale – I think we will serve up Red Russian kale this week – check out the beautiful purple stems

  • Chard
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage, broccoli or collards
  • Fennel – that is the frilly stuff – I like it best in salads, but it can be lightly steamed with other vegetables in a stir fry also
  • Basil
  • Summer squash and/or zucchini – check out the food preservation video coming out this week that Christy and I did on this crop if you are feeling overwhelmed
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Beets
  • Celery – I am super proud of this celery this year. Enjoy this highly nutritious vegetable
  • Carrots – nothing to write home about yet this year, but after we clean out this early bed, we are still crossing our fingers for later carrots in October and November

Recipe Ideas

Zucchini Fritters

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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 4-5 chard stems, chopped
  • ½ cup cooked corn
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup arrowroot powder
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup oil of choice for frying (lard, bacon grease, olive oil, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Shred zucchini with a hand grater or food processor. Place shredded zucchini between 2 layers of clean kitchen towels or paper towels to absorb some of the moisture. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Remove shreds from towels.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet on the stovetop until it sizzles when a drop of water hits it, but not so hot that it is smoking. (350 degrees F.)
  3. Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder and salt. Mix. (The mixture will be thick like heavy batter at this stage, but will water down when vegetables are added.)
  4. Add zucchini, chard, corn and garlic. Mix just until combined.
  5. Scoop ¼ cup of mixture and place gently into hot oil. Press down gently with a fork to spread vegetables evenly. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side, flipping with a spatula once golden brown.
  6. Remove fritter from oil and place on a plate to cool. Enjoy!

Download Recipe

Bulk Sale Items

Right now, we have extra zucchini and summer squash. It is $3/lb., but if you buy 25 lbs. or more, we will sell it to you for $2/lb. Give me a call if you would like some for putting by as dried squash or squash puree. (978) 257-1192

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

With a short staff we moved a little slower this week. But on Friday, with Stetson here for a second day, and Clare, Paula and Peter back from vacation, we finished the CSA in record time and had time to prepare 5 beds for planting out a fall crop of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.

The guys prepped all those beds while the dolls picked green beans

Kamarin and Jonathan and I finished weeding the peppers and celeriac, and Kalina and Jake helped us weed a leek bed

and weed and mulch our second crop of new green beans. On the second shift Dan, Raffi, Doodle and Jack and I finished up 5 gallons of blueberry picking on Tuesday.

Thursday’s crew that includes Stu and Scott was able to weed the yellow house melons, weed and mulch the blue house melons, weed and mulch the new chard beds

and almost get the tulsi weeded. We did skip that last week as it seemed too young. Probably it will show up in share bags in another week.

Check out the horse radish in the lower left

Maria and Clare and I stopped to weed our little flower bed on Friday

We moved the turkeys out, turned the meat birds around to head back closer to the farm, and edged the layers up the hill in the west field finishing our 2nd time around the outside of that field. The birds are now in 13 movable pens and take a real chunk of time each day to move.

We upgraded our spraying this week with more in season correction foliars and drenches to help the crops pull through these times when they are growing quickly and needing lots of nutrition.

Julie

Quick Links

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