Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Streams

Well, it was a beautiful day yesterday. The sun was shining, we had our favorite little farm helpers on farm for spring break, and a to-do list a mile long. First on that list was expanding the meat-duck pen. We have them in an a-frame hut, situated across a spring stream. The pasture floods for 3-4 months during this time of year, creating a vibrant above ground stream where an underground spring runs yearly. We are raising some meat ducks for our use, and as a test-batch for future enterprises. We've had ducks for a year, first keeping them for eggs and entertainment. We like them, though they sure are messy.

The set up we have now is fairly ideal. We've fenced in a section of pasture directly through the stream, so the ducks have free access to water all the time, with space to waddle about. They're growing like weeds. We've been keeping them locked in a fence we used last season for small batches of chickens, but since they've gotten so big we took time yesterday to bump out their space. This video is the result.. pardon the sound of the blustery wind.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Why the hiatus?

It's been awhile since we have had a minute to sit down and write about the farm. This certainly not because it's been so boring around here.

Spring is finally here. We won't lie, the farmers trudged through the end of winter, weary, chilled and remarkably grouchy. We slogged through cutting wood, stoking the stove and breaking ice. Finally, spring has begun to shyly peek around winter's corners, brushing us with more light, the sound of peepers and (slightly) warmer temperatures.

Around the time of winter's last gasps, we fell sick again. We had more flus/cold etc this season then usual and the last round was substantial. It was the kind of thing that had us dragging ourselves through chores, only to pour ourselves back into bed for the rest of the day. For 5 days we laid in a haze, in between hacking and nose blowing. Thankfully, in the midst of our mountains of tissues, relatives stopped by with food to make sure we had quick and easy meals. That simple act of kindness really made a world of difference. Who would of thought a package of roast beef could feel like a life preserver.

All of this set us behind, with the spring to-do list usually well on it's way by now, we're just starting to get through it. With the cold early spring, there is still much to do. Broken limbs and debris are still scattered about, fences need repairing- and infrastructure changes for our season of livestock abound. In the midst of playing catch up, we sent our 5 winter pigs to the butcher. As always, the outfit we use was professional and remarkably efficient. And, the pork is delicious. 

Which reminds us- meat shares are still available- check the links on the right!

So here we are, well into our spring madness. We've been constructing new moveable pens out of recycled pallets, tired of last season's wind destruction of our previous pens built with pvc pipe. We're weaning our lambs, who struggled a bit through the winter and reminded us that the long term goal of our own breeding flock is crucial. Our tiny bottle babies are well cared for, but lambs raised by sturdy ewes are much less effort for farmers. Care for the mothers, keep the babies close to them, and your work is halved.

So here we are, and we will get back on track with sharing our little world for those of you who need a little sliver of farm view in your life. We're so grateful that it's time to begin the work of longer days, and certainly aren't sad to see our wood stove get a rest. She's certainly earned the right to cool off for a bit.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hot Chicks on a Saturday night

No seriously, they need to be kept at close to 100 degrees, and it's Saturday night.

Think Spring!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Things just got a little easier...

This week, we were the grateful recipients of a VERY generous gift from my great Uncle Charlie....

this Farmall A. 

If you want to "nerd out" a little about the tractor, it was made from 1939 - 1947. My Uncle Charlie has an incredible collection of useful farm equipment, given that at 80 he still runs his own farm and his own contracting business. 

He sent this up to us yesterday, along with the wagon on the back. Last season, we had the help of our pickup truck to haul heavy loads of grain and water, but as of November the truck died. This amazing gift will allow us to keep the farm running, and save our backs from pain and suffering. 
Also, with the addition of the tractor, we're moving up on the timeline of our farming implements....from the 19th to the 20th century! It's like time travelling! 

Some days here it feels like we can't catch a break, but then you are offered a helping hand and it restores your spirit and gets you through the never ending winter that has returned today. 
Come on Spring, we've got new toys to play with! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

When the weather shifts

When the weather makes big leaps, as in- below zero to a balmy 45 the entire farm, and farmers shift with it.

When the weather shifts warmer, the buckets feel lighter as we slosh through the mud to the hen house. The hens, tap dancing in temporary streams, resume their patrols across the farm. They march through remaining snow, no longer hopping on each foot to avoid the cold, but strutting and pausing to stretch each wing and prune weathered feathers.

The goats lay in discarded hay, faces turned upwards, chewing cud with expressions of sublime relief. Their front legs tucked in, like cats on a windowsill, they close their eyes and emit audible sighs. From the barn, we hear the recently relocated lambs, now big enough to handle the temperature in the barn (rather than the greenhouse). Despite the other barnyard resident's change in mood, they remain convinced that if a bottle is not in their mouths, life will not go on. Despite their pleas, the near by rabbit pen is full of growers, laying on top of fresh beddomg. They recently moved to the spacious grow-out pen and are learning the joys of running full speed, hopping and kicking their heels in the air. If we can't pasture them in the winter, we can get darn close.

When the weather shifts, we don't move as quickly. The rabbit's water bottles aren't ice blocks, and getting the new ones on before they freeze is not a concern. I watch a new litter of kits practice jumping, like kindergartners learning hopscotch. Their mother watches, non-pulsed, blinking slowly. A smile creeps on my lips, and the weeks of hackle raising cold fade with each palm-sized hop.

Out in the pasture, our companion sheep bleat and cut new paths through the remaining snow. Despite ample rations in the morning, they protest being the only livestock on farm with once a day feeding schedule. Feeling indulgent, we toss another leaf of green hay over top of the fence and they greedily dig in. The pigs have created a mud pit worthy of late-spring, or a smellier version of a more tawdry event. Each is smeared with movie style warrior-paint mud. Small eyes on big bodies stare at us through fencing, ankle deep in mud. A quick glance in their stall says they have carried their mud celebration right into their sleeping quarters. Nothing but that a pitch fork and a full bale of shavings can't fix. Each forkful of old bedding weighs about 50lbs and stinks just as you think it would. But as I lift each load, Kim tosses the beasts their food and distracts them with full bellies and water. Soon I'm down to the still frozen base, and we layer fresh bedding on top and give a good scratch in between muddy ears.

The walk back shows visions of rushing springs, and shrinking the layers of winter's cloak. The sun is mid-high. When the weather shifts, the air is warmer and my asthmatic lungs don't shudder with sharpness of biting air. The ground is slick, but not with ice. The sky seems brighter. Inside, the joy of our life wells up to my eyelids. I feel silly for the amount of happiness a clean pig pens brings me. And then, in my glorious reveling of the weather, my boots slide out from under neath me and I land, hard, directly on my ass.

As it turns out, all the relief of warmer weather does not change the laws of gravity. Ah...spring.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 Reasons to Join Our CSA

1. Taste! Our meat really is that good. We don't mean to brag...much- but the quality of our products can enhance any recipe. Chicken isn't bland, it's tender, sweet and earthy. Pork isn't just the 'other white meat', it's versatile, decadent, and flavorful. Turkey isn't just for thanksgiving- this turkey is juicy, savory and complex. Our lamb is rich, dark and succulent. And rabbit?! Not just a game meat, rabbit is such a treat, braising down to become this creamy, fall-off the bone, flavor bomb in your mouth.

2. Ethics! We are very focused on the life of all of our livestock. We do our best to mimic natural behaviors. All of our meat animals are raised on pasture, with regular rotational grazing. We do not transport our livestock off-farm for butchering, instead preferring to keep their stress levels minimal and using on-site practices. We source our feed from a local feed mill, who prioritizes freshness, quality, and supporting local grain farmers.

3.  Options and Convenience! Not only can you get 4 different share types from us, but you can add on eggs, beef and veggies from our partner farmers. Plus, it allows you to customize your share based on your needs. Love chicken and beef? Go with those two shares! Eat mostly veggies, but like a little meat? Get a Lineage Farm share and add on a monthly mixed-meat from us! With pick-ups collaboratively in Albany, Copake, Brooklyn, and Poughkeepsie- so many people have the opportunity to join in the fun.

4. Your Dollars Matter! By buying through us, you can support 3 local farms! Each of the operations is run by young farmers, seeking to bring back agriculture on a small scale, using smart healthy growing practices. We can't express enough how important our CSA support is. We are able to make sure that we don't drop our high standards through your deposits, and show just how much support there really is for sustainable agriculture. Did you know, the average age of a US farmer is over 55? Young farmers need to build their businesses, to ensure there is food for generations to come! Keep your money locally, and see how that improves your community!

5. Knowing Your Food! In an age where we constantly see news reports of misleading ingredients- even mislabeled meats, cancer-causing additives, overuse of antibiotics... you can ask us ANYTHING! We are here for you, to answer questions, give you the information you need to make informed decisions- and you can visit the source! We try to be transparent and informative. And we're always seeking to improve! We're not just focused on the bottom line, we're focused on quality, sustainability and community.

Convinced? Fill out your forms and get your deposit in today- and feel free to email us anytime with questions!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A farmer's valentine

Kim and I do not celebrate Valentine's day, we never have. It's not really a political statement, just a choice we have made. For a partnership like ours to work, we have to shower each other with kind thoughts and sweet sentiments all year. It makes the hard days easier not to save up your romantic gestures once a year. Of course, romance to us may be a little different, there is nothing like your partner offering to scrape rabbit cages or lock up the hens at dusk in my book. No judgement on those who do celebrate, its just a choice for us.

Truly though, the best gift either of us could recieve at this point would be from the love of the universe, an ease in the winter weather. We respect the seasons, and know the value of snowfall and cold. But boy, have our shovels and wood bins been heavy. We are ready for the thaw and mud, for seed and chicks.

The greenhouse is a tiny window into seasons changing. So far, despite wind, sub zero temps, feet of snow and low light- we have salad greens hanging on. They arent growing tall, granted...but the slightest shift of weather may bring that. Amonst the rubble of pots and summer storage is a small pen, with 4 tender lambs. They have taken residence there under our watchful eyes and for bottle feeding convenience. The greenhouse, attached to our kitchen has windows that overlook the lambs, who bleet the second they hear you, hungry or not. Few things say spring much like lambs, I picture them bounding them through that bright, lime green early grass. In that fantasy the farm is free from its storm debris and the hen house has been cleaned. The rabbit cages are spotless, the goats' pasture is restrung. New chicken coops are built and painted and new piglets are lounging in the sun, winter pigs now residing in the freezer.

There is wisdom in not rushing seasons, finding the beauty even in your exhaustion and exasperation.  All things are temporary. But tonight I'm day dreaming for the changes of spring, for winter's demise. I love the cold and snow but feel like a child who has had too much dessert... sick with the sweet confines of winter's work.