Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reminder

Self Reminder I'm sharing with you all after this morning's grumps:

If you are grumpy, tired, and don't want to do your farm chores- go do them. Even when you return inside cold, tired and soaked through- you will feel better. Having purpose and stretching your muscles is much better for you then staring at your computer. Get up, get out, and get working.

Windstorms and other miscellaneous topics

I put off cutting wood for too many days, so as punishment, I now have to cut in the on-again, off-again rain while finding time to butcher rabbits for this week's delivery. My own fault, so I've no right to grump about it. But there it is!

CSA sign ups are going well, so if you're still debating please email us so we at least have you in our radar. We will sell out, hopefully soon, and we don't want you to miss your chance. We definitely aren't full yet, though!

As always, the weather is our major topic of conversation. It's like a sea side out there today, heavy winds and spray. The wind howled so loud last night it woke me up. I stumbled down stairs to make sure nothing was blowing clear away, the plastic on the greenhouse is torn, again. I think we need to invest in new windows next year. The wind here just isn't suited to typical greenhouse plastic. I'm really glad that we decided to double up the panels on the roof too, so that they overlap and are pretty secure. I need to check the sealant though, looks like it is taking on a little water in the gaps to the house.

The horses' pasture is pretty drenched, but their stall in the barn is dry. It's a reminder that we need to build a bigger pasture as soon as the ground thaws enough to set a bunch of posts. Everyone else is ok, but muddy. The laying hens are huddled in the coop- they hate the wind ruffling their feathers. It's warm enough to turn off most of the lights in the barn. While we are processing several kits today, it looks like one of our does, Kiddy is due to have her litter any moment. That doe is so reliable, you can set your watch to her. I'm grateful that she didn't go last week, we may have lost the litter in the cold. I'm hopeful we have a nice size doe in one of the two litters that are butchering size now, we'd like to expand the rabbit operation next year. The cost of poultry grain is getting prohibitive, so we're shifting a bit to a meat that is born on farm and can be fed on farm too. We'll still supplement with organic feed of course, but I'm looking into building 'rabbit tractors'- moveable pens we can use for the feeder kits the same way we do the chickens. It's a little tricky, but I think it's worth a shot. I'll be posting pictures and tips as we go along. I feel like rabbits are an even better starter livestock then chickens for small farmers or homesteaders out there- so anything we can do to help you all along we will!

We're also going to be hopefully adding some new sponsors to the blog here, you've probably already noticed that we use google adsense on the right hand side. We LOVE writing the blog, and we think you all love reading it, too. It takes a good amount of time though, to write, take/post pictures etc. When the season kicks into full gear, we want to be able to continue the same quality and amount of posts. So if you'd like to buy an ad on our side bar, please send us an email for full details. It just helps us keep the internet and lights on to keep the blog going. Prices are very, very reasonable since our little blog is just really taking off- and we're totally open to bartering for goods or services we need.

Alright, the wood isn't going to split itself, no matter how much I whine about it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mud

As predicted, the farm is mud. everywhere. thick, messy, spring like mud. But I think that winter is just taking a break, and not near done for good. Still, the warmer temperatures has me sorting through seeds, planning to start some new good treats in the greenhouse. We are still relying pretty heavily on our canned stores, but I'm looking forward to a good crisp salad. There are greens that survived the very cold weather, but it will take a week for them to look their luscious selves again. Even with heaters, and plastic, and lights- the nearly full grown greens froze solid. Luckily, they are resistant to that kind of weather, but they certainly didn't keep growing through it.

Today, I tried my hand at pony pedicures. Our girl Nataya, has slightly softer hooves then Sunny so we were painting her hooves with a hardener and general maintenance coating. We noticed yesterday she had a slight surface crack after the cold snap, so I sent an email to Joshua, the fantastic farmer we bought them from. And here is the amazing thing about a small farming community- he didn't just send me a quick email back. He took the time to call me last night with step by step instructions on how to treat Nataya, and which products to buy. He then further offered to come down in the next couple weeks to help us work the girls a little. So today I rounded up Taya in the barn and cleaned her hooves. I took a file and wore down the crack a bit, putting a notch at the top of where it ended to kind of seal it there. Then I painted all of her hooves with the hoof care stuff. We also put both girls on a biotin supplement which we mixed in with a little grain. That will help with strong healthy hooves. Taya, as always was a perfect lady and patiently let me work on her feet for 20 minutes with no complaints. She really is a saint. So along with country sheep vet, we can add pony pedicurist to my list of titles. Happy to have it!

**Note- Today is the LAST day for the $25 cheaper price for our CSA deposits!! We can send you a pay pal invoice if you are still hoping to get in at the lesser price, but I'll need an email before midnight tonight. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

CSA sign-up

Don't forget!! We are signing folks up now for our CSA- and the deposit is $25 cheaper before the end of January 30th. Check out the link to the basic info on the right and then email us for details! Sign up now for a year of horse-powered, sustainable, delicious, farm food!

Pressure and Relief

I can't explain what it was like to walk in to the barn this morning and not find a dozen frozen rabbit water bottles, chickens too miserable to come out of the coop, horses with frozen nostrils or sheep with a solid block of ice instead of fresh water. After the brutal weather of last week, it felt like a warm summer evening as my boots crunched along the snow. All of the animals looked relaxed and calm. Though they certainly don't mind the cold as much as we do- they still feel the effects of below zeros temperatures for days at a time. I didn't find our special need rabbit Nemo buried under 6 inches of hay-- he sat on top munching on a piece instead.

Of course, they're calling for rain today after yesterday's snow and ice (just enough to make for terrible travel conditions), which means winter mud- a sludge that will paste itself to every surface on the farm and create near quick sand in front of the coop. The mud and the date on the calendar reminds me that spring is not too far off. So while the push of the winter cold is easing (at least momentarily), springs needs are becoming known quickly. We have so, so much to do- and I'm spending hours organizing the season. You wouldn't believe the amount of spread sheets that are involved in farming. Cash flow analysis, expense reports, purchase orders, and planting schedules- to start. But I'm hopeful by doing these things now, we will hit the ground running once it's thawed. I'm starting to get jitters about marketing too, we're placing a couple ads to hit our sales goals for the year. We're expanding the CSA quite a bit, so that means higher pre-season costs in seeds, chicks etc- and the need for more organization.

The pre-spring season always feels both promising and nerve wracking. You do so much work to lay out what your year will look like- but the truth is it will all change as soon as the actual planting begins. The weather, our effectiveness in plowing, equipment breakdowns, sales- there is no way to accurately predict the season. And that's the trick, you have to make peace with the lack of control and do your best to prepare for as many of the potentials as possible. Pressure, and relief. Pressure, and relief.

Monday, January 28, 2013

One Year Anniversary

So with all of the visitors and travel lately, I didn't have a chance to mention that we have now passed our 1 year on the farm. On January 15th, 2012 we moved into R'Eisen Shine. We didn't get in here without the help of so many friends and family. From words of encouragement, to helping hands, to customers buying our goods, we didn't get here alone.

We started looking for a farm thinking it was going to take us well over a year to find a place that would work. We partnered with the Columbia County Land Conservancy and started touring places available for lease. We looked at a lot of duds, including folks who had large backyards but were not prepared for intensive farming operations. But then we got the chance to tour this place, and meet with the landowner. I tried so hard not to immediately fall in love, to become intoxicated with the potential here. I was so scared it wouldn't work out.

But it did. We took over a farm house that hadn't been lived in for years, and was kind of a disaster. But it was a place to start. All we need is a foothold, and we will take off running. So we did. We painted, cleaned, stripped wall paper, fixed pipes, installed heat, patched the roof... and that was just the start. We've run fences, bought a new barn, fixed the old barn, put up a crazy looking hen house, plowed the fields by hand, grazed sheep on leads, built chicken tractors and raised 60 holiday turkeys. We've worked until our hands bleed, watered plants using a 40 gallon tank in the back of a pick up and a five gallon bucket. We've crash coursed in irrigation, converted a porch into a greenhouse and built a root cellar out of up-cycled post consumer materials. We've fought predators, drought, toxic fires, hail storms, deep freezes, huge boulders. We've dug out springs, given vaccinations, processed hundreds of chickens by hand.

We bought draft horses.

There have been tears (even from me), injuries, heart break, near budget disasters, actual budget disasters- broken trucks and heat exhaustion. There have been crop failures.

We did it because we love it--because we were determined to make it happen. We don't want to go to an office, work ourselves to death for someone else. We want to build something here, we want to make this farm a place of good food run by good people. We want every customer who partners with us to taste the difference in our work. We want to do right by the land and by ourselves.

So many times people look around at their lives, and think about what they'd rather be doing. I know that it's complicated, I know that it's messy- but no one is going to make your dreams happen for you. People often comment that they'd love to farm, that they'd love to change their lives. So after a year I can tell you this- there will be suffering. There will be days that feel impossible and hopeless. But it's worth it. If you want it- if you want a life filled with that farm purpose, the knowledge that you are part of this natural world- it's worth it. If you want dinners filled with food by your own hand and a life so full of intention and care that it rises up through your body- it's worth it. And it's possible. We don't have money. We've never had money. But if you want it, if it matters to you- get it. No one is going to do it for you, but your intentions and your hard work will help you find hands to raise you up. We couldn't have gotten here without the help we've had. But we also would have never gotten here without shear will power and hardened nerves.

After listening to the key note speaker at the NOFA conference this weekend I had a realization.We're not the the kind of farmers who are gently tethered to the planet with airiness, sweetness and good vibes. I admire those people, the ones who find flowery poetry in everything they do, are about the beauty in a butterfly's wings and write a song about it. It's not us.

We're the fighter breed, the earthy people. We're grit and blood. We're crass and rough. We see the beauty in the mess and drama and it makes us whole. We are cynical and shrewd and sometimes quite dark. We seek for a life full of purpose after years of chaos. We desire to be needed by the world we create here. Everything we do is with intention and that's where we find peace and beauty.

So whatever you want, whatever you desire- I hope you go get it. I hope you sacrifice and suffer and find solace in your efforts. But mostly, I hope you do it. Don't let your caution get the best of you. Be smart, sure, but don't put your passions aside for the sake of convention. Get messy and sometimes miserable and often wonderful and find your purpose.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

Today

Today is:

Apple cider
Napping by the wood stove
Leading horses and giving treats
Dogs on the tread mill
Fried chicken dinner
Farm budget meetings
Conference recapping

Saturday, January 26, 2013

NOFA-NY winter conference: live blog!

I'm currently sitting in the bustling lobby of the Saratoga Hilton at the organic farming conference. I was here all day yesterday too, but I have an hour break before my volunteer hours.

So what do farmers confer about?
Integrated Pest Management
Hosting Apprenticeships
Hog Enterprises
Intensive Grazing
And so much more!

What's cool about the conference:
Socializing with other farmers
Finding new resources
Sharing skills
Stretching my mind

But, of course the quality of every workshop varies slightly and sometimes the focus I think it will have turns out not to be the case and then the information isn't applicable. I've been to a lot of conferences in my various career iterations and this is always the case.

Also a major bummer is that Kim had to stay home. With the winter chill not quite unyielding, we couldn't leave the farm all day. I had a scholarship, so I was voted to attend- even though we paid for Kim today too. I always get more out if these events when she is here to discuss and process with me. Plus, it really hurts to blow a good chunk of change (even for a decent organization like NOFA) and not get the benefit. We aren't certified organic, and have no intentions of going that route (for elaboration another day). But the consolidation of information is pretty helpful and interesting.

As part of receiving a scholarship, I have to volunteer two hours. I was supposed to last night, but snow was plotting a landing and I needed to leave. Which means I'm here until 9 tonight and then driving the two hours home. Big time kids! It's a late night after a long day- but I certainly appreciate the scholarship so I'll just plan for coffee on the drive home.

Two days off farm are plenty, I'm ready to bring materials back home and retreat after a week of visitors too. Tomorrow it's all going to be catching up with my wife and re cooperating. Plus, I actually miss the animals. I forget how tied I am to our little world. It really is the place I feel best. It's great to go out and seek ways to grow and improve, especially when it makes me appreciate our efforts all the more.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Action and Results

Spent the morning and early afternoon running our friend Amy to Albany this morning to meet another friend headed to her next destination. It's always sad to see her go, she lives across the country and it will be years before I see her again most likely. Amy is the kind of friend everyone wants but few are lucky enough to have. Loyal, easy going, genuine and hilarious. We don't talk often on the phone or in emails but three days on the farm together and it's easy and laughter and wordless hanging out. We always know where each other stands --that's rare and lucky.

On the way home I stopped to pick up some cold fighting supplies. The bitter freeze continues here, and I'm tired. I'm tired of loading the wood stove every two hours even in the middle of the night. I'm tired of frozen rabbit water bottles, of wind burnt hands and ice in buckets. I know it's part of the deal, but after so many days in a row of miserable cold I'm just tired. I picked up extra water bottles for the rabbits, so we can just switch them out instead of fighting to thaw them each time. I also got an electric water defroster for the horses. All unplanned expenses but this arctic blast plans on staying for another few days and we are losing the battle.

By the time I got home though, the wood stove was a pale flicker. I'm still playing catch up with the temperature indoors. I knew it would be the case, but the cold creeping into every corner of the farm was dramatic. Inside it was cold, outside every animal and bird was frosted and in need of care. Five hours is too long in this weather. Even wrapped up in several layers I barely trudged through the hours it took to get the livestock settled. As a reward I'm sitting in a still chilly living room with a glass if wine. Hey, if the wood stove won't warm me- something has to.

Sleep well friends, I'll be stoking our fires and catching some rest as I can.

Speaking Requests

Over the past year we've been asked to speak at a few events. We like doing it, and wanted to put out there into the world that we are open to doing more of this going forward. Right now, we have most of our experience on college campuses and other youth-based settings. So, if you're interested in having us speak we've prepared a little description of what we are best prepared to talk about. We don't charge, but do appreciate whatever honorarium is available (if there is one) and ask that our travel costs and a meal be covered (for distances over 20 miles from the farm). We will be booking events during the months of February and March each year. After that, farm life gets too hectic!

Some workshop/talk possibilities:


  • The intersectionality of social justice work and food advocacy
  • Food choices as a method of resistance
  • Living rurally as alternative community members
  • Building a non-profit with limited capital
  • Farming with hand tools
  • Sustainable agriculture focusing on heritage/heirlooms
  • Using social justice backgrounds in a-typical fields
  • Small livestock basics
  • Food preservation for the homesteader and small farmer
  • Introduction to whole foods cooking and baking


We're open to discussing topics not listed, if there is something you've noticed from our blog or otherwise you'd like us to present on please contact us.

We generally present as a team, but can also be available as individuals if the need is there.

For all speakers requests, please contact us at reisenshinefarm@gmail.com with the topic and the date! We will try to respond within 72 hours, and it's best to contact us at least two weeks in advance of your event. For events where overnight travel may be required, we need at least 3 weeks notice, more is better.





Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yep, it's a cold one

This weather, as we've talked about before, adds a brutal element to the chores and long nights. The wood stove has to be tended all night long, so we camp out in our living room so all I have to do is roll over every two hours rather than dragging myself from under the covers upstairs. After a night of battling the cold, then it's time to bundle up and see how the rest of the living beings fared. Everyone this morning was in good spirits, but thirsty. It took a good hour and a half to get everyone settled with their rations and defrosted water- I even had to fill five gallon buckets in the bathtub of hot water for the horses.We need a de-icer for the horses, asap. The hoses in the greenhouse are frozen solid, even with the additional heat in there. Usually morning chores take about 30 minutes, so by the time I was done the coffee on the stove looked divine. I'm thawing out now, with some breakfast and a strong cup.

Our house guest and good friend, Amy took some really beautiful farm photos yesterday in the cold clear sun. I thought I'd share!

!







Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Good reason

There is very, very good reason why this farmer does not stay up past 10pm, especially where adult beverages are involved. We had a farm-full last night of many of my college friends and their respective partners. It was a blast, we chatted, enjoyed a farm-raised turkey and sides and a few beers. Not enough to be rowdy, of course- but enough where when I slunk up the stairs at 12:30, warm from the company, wood stove and my share of beverages I was content but exhausted. I still had to keep the home fires burning here, especially with a good friend's baby sleeping soundly in the next room. I was definitely hazy during the middle of the night wood stove load, and this mornings chores didn't come easy. It's well worth the late night visits with friends I don't see often- but when the 6 degree hit my face- it made me curse and open my eyes a bit wider.

With the cold snap, it's important that we keep enough wood on hand to keep the place comfortable. Which means despite my exhaustion from too much play- I'm headed up to get the wood splitter running. Hopefully it won't be too cold to get it started.

Things with the horses are progressing. Admittedly, one of the girls has a bit of sass- so we've been working to establish respectful dominance over her to ensure safety and a positive working relationship. It's hard to believe it's only been a week since they arrived. It feels like much longer in some ways, adding the chores was only a minor adjustment. But building a relationship- that feels like a much bigger task. I'm realizing how much there is to learn as far as horse behavior is concerned. We both know basic, but horses have a really intricate psychology. I'm really grateful that we have several months to work with the team before the farm work really kicks in. As much as I would like to say we have hit the ground running- it's more like we've hit the ground... slowly inching. And that's a good thing. We want to do this right.

For now, I'll leave you with my alma mater's motto: Habere et Dispertire, which means "To Have and To Share"- if ever there was a motto to describe a farmer- that's it. We grow, we have but we mostly share. It's not much- what we have but it is good and honest. And it's made all the better by those we share it with.



Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weddings and reunions

Today we are headed out of town for a wedding. It's an occasion to scrub off the farm dirt and polish up. It will be a good chance to spend time with old friends and celebrate. It's a formal affair so I'm dusting off a suit jacket to try and keep up with the glamour that is my wife. I'll be unsuccessful, but the effort will be appreciated.

A friend is traveling all the way from Seattle to attend, and then spending the week on our farm. She is a self proclaimed soft city slicker, but I hope to help her love the farm at least a little. I'm thinking Nataya and Sunny along with Lucia and Noelle can assist there. There is a magic here nestled at the bottom of the hill, I think even a girl from Seattle can appreciate.

I've got a turkey defrosting to mark the arrival of some college friends reuniting tomorrow after the wedding. We will have a farm full of friends. The quiet here will be permeated for a bit, a nice break in our much loved solitude. It's possible to love the peace and value a bit of chosen isolation and still welcome guests. When you build a more self sufficient contained world, one of the great joys is opening it up a bit. And there are few better ways to share it then over a delicious farm grown turkey.

Be-fore

This is a fore cart. It's what goes before your farming implement. And it's all ours. Beauty!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Guest Blogger- Suzanne!

While the bulk of our canning is done mid-summer we do freeze some summer berries and continue making specialty stuff throughout the winter when we have the time. We're not the only ones. Below, Suzanne tells a great story of her jam making career, complete with a tasty recipe. *Notes* Suzanne prefers pectin, we do not. I dislike the consistency that pectin gives jam, so we always err on the side of sugar only. It's really a matter of preference. If you like more jellied jams- pectin is great. If you're looking for more a preserve consistency, find a recipe that does without it. We also recommend strongly that you a tested recipe for any canning- the acid levels in any boiling canner project is critical to keeping dangerous bacteria at bay. A good place to start is here at the Ball canning guide. 

Now, let's hand it off to Suzanne!


I love to make jam.  There is sometime primitive about it; storing and preserving food feels like going back to our hunting&gathering roots from our ancestry.  Gathering your own food from nature makes it feel that much more primitive and innate.  The first batch of jam I ever made was from tart lingonberries that I picked out on the tundra in the heart of Denali National Park under the watchful eye of Mount Denali ie (McKinley). The summer I graduated from college, I banded birds as an intern for the Alaska Bird Observatory in the heart of Denali at a very small rustic lodge in the least accessible part of the national park. I banded birds in the morning and roamed the tundra in the afternoons. denaliNP.jpg

I observed Brown Bears and Caribou almost daily with the occasional sighting of a pack of wolves or a Moose. The tundra in the fall is the most breath-taking place I have ever had the pleasure to witness. The low growing tundra plants turn vibrant shades of reds, oranges, and yellows, punctuated with the evergreen from the spruce forests. Picture the vibrancy of a hardwood forest in the fall of New York or New England, all at knee height, with the tallest mountains in the United States looming in the background. I digress, back to jam. (I wish I could share a picture, but, alas digital photography was still a few years off and all of my pictures are still slides!)  In the Alaskan tundra grows a gorgeous little plant called lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) a close relative of the cranberry. In the fall, the tundra is covered with lingonberries and blueberries, the perfect jam making fruit!  I had befriended some of the chefs from the lodge and they took me out to gather these gorgeous little berries to teach me how to make jam. We gathered lingonberries and blueberries and made a few batches of jam. I was hooked after that, and although I couldn’t recreate the beauty of the tundra in the fall or pick berries directly from the wild, I could make cranberry jam and remember the wonderful time I spent in Denali National Park. Even when I was living in a tiny trailer on a National Wildlife Refuge in the middle of the desert, I still managed to make jam that year and most years after that. Now, my kids and husband help me berry pick every year at local fruit farms- we make jam and always have many bags of frozen fruit at the ready!

Jam making is fairly simple. You need fruit, pectin (you can get natural pectin from the fruit itself), sugar (not necessary for all recipes), canning equipment and time, approximately 2 hours or so.  Making jam with powdered pectin is the simplest way to make jam and definitely the way I would start if you haven’t made jam before. Pectin is the thing that will turn your fruit into the gel-like consistency.   I love making long-boil jams that are all fruit (no sugar of any kind) and have naturally derived pectin, but, they take a long time to make and it can be tricky if you haven’t seen it done before. This recipe is a great starting point into jam making!

Before you get started you will need a big pot to boil water, a biggish pot to hold the jam, and jars, lids, and rims.  During the summer most hardware stores sell a preserving kit that come with a huge pot, a jar lifter, a funnel, and a magnet for the lids.  But, you can certainly try it before buying any of these extra tools. When purchasing jam jars just make sure to buy the ½ cup (4 oz) or smaller jam jars. With bigger jars you need to have a really big pot to process the jam.

Faux Alaskan Lingonberry Jam (ie Cranberry Jam)
12  four-oz  jam jars, lids,  rims or 6- eight ounce, jam jars, lids, rims
4 ½ cups sugar
1 box of low sugar Sure Jell powdered pectin (look for the pink box!) (it may so “no” sugar. But what they mean is a sugar substitute!)
 
4 cups of cranberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
¾ c water
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Preparation: wash all jars, lids, & rims in hot soapy water. You might want to have an extra jam jar at the ready just in case. Depending on how full your fill your jars you might need an extra one.  Start boiling water in your biggest pot to process your jam once you are done. Once it starts boiling turn the heat to simmer. After you have washed your jars, you will need to keep them warm until you need to use them. I recommend cleaning your sink and fill it with very warm water to keep everything warm. **I recommend pouring boiling water in your canning jars or using your dishwasher to ensure they are sterile. (Ejay)

Fruit:  Cranberries are not always easy to find in the grocery store, so, I usually grab a very big bag of them when they arrive fresh in the late fall.  They freeze wonderfully as well. For this recipe, I used all frozen fruit and did not thaw any of it.  Using my food processor, I chopped up all the fruit, one cup at a time. (chopped! Do not purée- I like chunks in my jam!)  I threw the chopped fruit into a large cast iron pot. If you do not have a food processor, you can use a big ol’ potato masher and mash them as you cook them.
Make sure to throw on some of your favorite music, too, you can’t make jam without a little JAM! (I was rockin’ out to Martin Sexton’s new live album while making this batch! But, Greg Brown’s live album that contains a song about canning is always a favorite, too!)
Sugar and pectin: Measure out the 4 ½ cups of sugar exactly into a bowl. Being that I’m prone to mommy brain, I actually use a piece of paper and pen and mark every cup I pour into a bowl. (I do the same thing with the fruit as well!)(was that 1 cup or 2? 2 or 3?) Then, take ¼ cup of sugar from your measured out amount and mix it with the bag of pectin in a smaller bowl.

Time to start Jammin’! Put your pot of fruit on the stove and mix in the pectin/sugar mixture.  (Leave the 4 cups of sugar for later!) I start my pot on medium and turn it up after it’s been cooking for a little bit. Add in the water and bring your fruit to a full rolling boil- one that doesn’t stop boiling when you turn down the heat.  Make sure to be vigilant about stirring the boiling fruit to prevent it from burning.
-Stir in that remaining sugar once you’ve reached that full boil. Then, you will bring the heat back up and make the fruit boil again.  Add in the cinnamon and nutmeg to taste about 1 teaspoon each or so. It will start to darken up as it boils! Once you’ve hit that full rolling boil, let it boil for ONE minute, stir constantly.  You’ll notice that if you take a spoon and dip it into the jam and let it fall off, that it will start looking thick and come off as a big sheet. (When making jam without powdered pectin this is what you call the gel stage and this is what you are looking for when doing a long boil recipe!) Take it off the heat. Cranberries have lots of natural pectin, so this ends being a very thick jam!
fillingjamjars.jpg

Jam into the jars! Using some oven mits, ladle the jam into the warm empty jars. Fill the jars leaving about 1/8 of an inch of head space. Or, just fill it to right below where the rim screws on!  Make sure to wipe off any jam that gets on the rim of the jar. Having some towels at the ready is always helpful!!!  Place the two piece lids on the jars.  Screw on bands.  Work quickly! (If you find that you have extra but can’t fill a jar, just fill the jar and then let it cool a bit on the counter and put that jar straight into your fridge!) Place the filled jars into your prepared huge pan of boiling water- do this carefully. You want to make sure that you have at least a full inch of water above your jars. You can add water as needed. Bring the big pot to a gentle boil and let them boil for 10 minutes.  Remove jars from the water and let them sit on your counter for 24 hours. Make sure to test the seals once they’ve cooled and tighten the rims! If it springs back, it hasn’t sealed and make sure to refrigerator immediately.

Store in a cool dry place! Use within a year!

toddlerapproved.jpg

Once you've done this recipe, try other jam recipes and enjoy the harvest all year round!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cages and animals

A lot of people look at the life we lead here and say "I could never do that" or "why do you bother". This strikes me as a little strange, since the things we do we're common place a few generations ago. I really believe that everyone is capable of living a little closer to the earth, though not everyone wants to be a farmer.

I believe in a lot of modernities. I adore gadgets, particularly computers and my iphone is never more than an arm's reach away. It's not that I want to go back in time. But I do think that our modern culture comes at a price. A disconnect from the natural world caused distress in my life. Before I started even basic gardening and hiking- I was constantly restless, often depressed and tired. Sitting indoors daily drained me. It wore me thin. And sometimes I see those symptoms in those around me.

People laugh when I tell them farming saved me, brought me back my health. My hands are scarred and I am never without bruises or aches. In the summer, i work 14 hours each day. I get how it can be confusing. But I sleep well now. I'm balanced, and I know the limits and strength of my body. I feel fully present in my daily life.

We are animals. We are mammals, part of the natural world. There is nothing wrong with enjoying modern conveniences. But we have to also allow the bit of wildness at our core to stretch out too. We need sunshine, dirt, and fresh air. Our bodies are built to accept vitamin d from the sun. There are actual spores in the earth that act like anti depressants. When you cage an animal permanently and deny their very nature- they become unstable. Sometimes they become violent, sometimes listless. We are not all that different.

The life we lead is not for everyone, but we are all critters who shouldn't just be caged. Try it- got outside and be a little animalistic. Get to the woods- feel a bit cold, push your muscles through the snow or dirt. Warm up in the sun. Not on a sidewalk- but in a park or trail. Not in a tanning booth. All of these things have their places, but their still a part of the contrived reality we've created. See the hairs on your arms prickle. Stretch and open your eyes. Notice the texture of tree bark. Hear the wind rustle. Let the walls down. Be alive. Be human.

Tell me if it feels a little better, I can almost promise it will.

"Horses are like humans. Too much confinement in an unnatural environment followed by freedom makes them act bonkers."- Farming with Horses written by Steve Bowers and Marlen Steward

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Clean Leather



Leather work

I apologize for the missed day yesterday, it was a busy one on the farm. I woke up early, and did the regular chores. Kim helped out since she had to be to work a little later and closer to home. Then, while she got ready I raced over to the feed store for bedding for the chickens, rabbits and horses. With snow on the way, I wanted to make sure everyone was dry and warm.

I cleaned up the farm house because we had guest arriving in the afternoon! One of my college friends was coming to visit with her new (7 month old) baby and husband. The farm is never a picture of neatness, but I took some time to at least get the wood stove dust and dog hair down to a minimum. Next on the list was cleaning the barn, a regular chore but one I like to do especially when visitors with non-farm shoes will be trouncing in to snuggle goat kids and baby rabbits.

After a quick lunch and some wood splitting, Mary and her family pulled up the farm drive. I lost all track of time, visiting, eating and touring the old place. It's a treat to watch a baby open her eyes as wide as the moon when faced with a flock of 50 chickens. She was vaguely amused by the rest of the animals, but the chickens were the real treat. I mean, I get it- dinosaurs with feathers.

The visitors ended up lodging over night, by the time we had finished dinner (braised rabbit, salad, and potato pancakes) it was dark with snow on the way. They chose to settle in and get a good farm breakfast in before heading out this morning, during a break in the weather (and with all wheel drive). It's always nice to have folks who appreciate good cooking around, and to get to share our work here. Plus, adorable babies are always welcome. Our dogs were less than charming, but that's nothing usual. We are often solitary here and the hustle of visitors makes them a bit noisy and restless. The plight of introverts I suppose.

With our friends gone and Kim working from home, I'll set to cleaning the horse gear. The leather needs some care and I bought oil at the feed store yesterday. While I'm at it I will finish the rabbit hides. I love the smell of horse leather- earthy and salty. It will be nice to get the harnesses good and clean, even if we aren't ready to use them just yet. These will never be show pieces, but good care of equipment makes it last and that's crucial.

The plow trucks will keep the dogs on edge all day, they hate the sound of those trucks going by. But I like it- it means that the winter rest is still here. The warmth earlier this week felt like spring rush- my heart was in my throat worrying about plowing and seeds. It's good to see those on the horizon and plan accordingly. But it's also good to let it be winter. To prepare ourselves for the next season with careful planning and plenty of rest. The light tending of the greenhouse and a day spent working leather sounds just fine for this January day.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Wait.

It's warm enough to plow out. This is more of the upsetting weather patterns. But it has made the horses all spring nuts, they spent the morning skipping and kicking across the field like giddy children.

Yesterday's driving class was interesting, though a little slow going. It was 4 hours of lecture and Q&A. It may be because we have been out of a classroom for so long, or because of the high of the horse's delivery- but it felt a little heavy. Still, it was fantastic to meet other teamsters and future teamsters. The next class is in a month. I'm still looking forward to it.

I am going to put up new tie stalls in the run in today and lead the girls up there to be groomed. Yesterday they were very responsive to affection and our approaches. Though I'm not entirely comfortable harnessing them up yet, I want to start to work with them in the ways I do feel confident with. So I'll attach lead ropes and spend time brushing them, cleaning hooves and getting to know them.

CSA deposits are trickling in, though many folks have stated their intent to sign up. It's a tight rope walk this time of year, you need the cash flow from deposits to prepare your season- seeds, equipment, everything must be purchased now. There are chick orders to place, feed bills to pay and re-order. But folks who want to support the farm are working to fit the deposits into their budgets and still deciding on which farm to choose. You don't want to pressure anyone, but with a small farm taking limited people, we need the responses to figure out if we need to do more marketing, and where. It will all come together, but in the meantime I hallucinate spread sheets and fret deadlines. I check seed availability online and source cheaper but good quality tools. In some ways, it's more stressful then peak season. Especially for people who do- if there is something we need, or a goal, or a problem-- we are tireless. Relentless. But in January we can be proactive and informative but the action comes from customers. So we wait, we plan, and we hope our work speaks for itself. We place ads that scratch the surface of our life here- turning earth and blood and the smell of a farm into two dimensional graphics that catch one's eye. I answer emails, explaining the truths of the season the best we can, and our plans for next year. And we wait.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Driving class!

Today is the first day of the driving class we signed up for through the Hudson Valley Draft association. For a mere 50 bucks per person we get 5 classes of 4 hours each to go over draft basics and speak with experts. How cool is that? It's a good drive away, over an hour- but we hope well worth the effort.

The girls are amazing. They are so smart and earnest and willing to trust us. I can't wait to start our working relationship. We have to build a strong partnership as these girls will be our life blood on the farm. Logging, plowing, tilling, mowing and hauling- we will rely on the team to streamline much of our field work. But first, we need to learn the basics.

We are coming up on our year anniversary on the farm, and so much has happened. It's really incredible to think of where we are now. It didn't come easy, and we still have a long way to go. But this life is worth it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The day before

Running to Tractor Supply to get some last minute supplies before the horses arrive tomorrow! Supposedly, the bank will have put the money that was stolen into the account while they continue their investigation. We are headed down there first thing to see what the details are.

Then we need to grab a few bales of hay until we can arrange for Kim's dad to being us a large load. Hay is for horses, you know.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Design by dogs

"Gee, we can't see when the nice one gets home from work if this curtain is up. We took it down. You don't mind, do you?"

Hillside

The picture is taken from the middle of the horse pasture. The fencing is part of the sheep's winter paddock and you can see the vegetable field just beyond. We sit at the base of a mountain trail tucked into the valley. It's a beautiful view, eh?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ps

Yesterday, when I went out to the garage to retrieve Ember for his final resting place, one of the barn cats had laid a mouse directly at the base of the box I tucked him in.

Like I said, I respect cats.

Horse fencing and tanning hides

Despite the sadness of yesterday, the farm sees death as part of the deal and requires we keep moving to preserve the living. In some ways this is positive, it helps your mind shift and remind you of the healing power of good work. So I threw on my insulated coveralls and packed a five gallon bucket with electric fencing supplies.

The horses are due to arrive this weekend so it's time to run line and get the stall finished up. I'm running three line electric to be safe, though the team is trained on single line- we live close to a road and I feel better with the three. The top line is polytape- it's a thicker white electric line that's more visible for horses. I set it just above hip high, based on what the guy who has the girls now recommended.

The bottom two lines are yellow ployrope, a little more affordable option but not the highest visibility. But as long as the top line is visible, the horses should mind the whole fence.

After clipping the insulators in the T-posts, I attached the line to the wooden posts at the base of the pasture and strung it along. Using ratchet in- line tighteners the tape was set level, but hopefully not tight enough where it could snap with pressure. I worked steadily until the sun started drooping in the sky. It's not quite finished yet, I plan to go out today and run one more side of the bottom strand. I still need to what's called a jump line- connecting all of the strands to each other so that a single line to the electric box powers the entire fence.

It's hard to believe that our dream team are on their way, though I would feel a lot better if the bank had come through to fix the theft from December. We're still down all of the money we lost, making the budget uncomfortably tight. We will make it work though.

The first batch of rabbit hides have started to be dry enough to work the leather- and they are a modest success. I think with this round I fleshed them a little thin, and I am eager to try again. But these first ones should still be great for some mittens or boot liners for Kim and me.

I'm not remotely religious, but I was raised strict Catholic. Still, even my mildly agnostic self finds truth in some of the old lessons. I was always told that "idle hands make the devil's work". It is true for me that keeping busy is the best cure for what ails me- whatever that may be. I don't know about devils, but the demons of the rough start to this year are best quieted by the labor of this place. If I were to sit and think, I may sink down to a dark place, as we all are capable of doing. But there are too many lives and mouths dependent on the farm- we are still part of a whole. That's part if why we chose this life, it gives purpose and routine in ways that office work never could for us. Defeat and hardship are common, it's what we do with all of it that makes the difference.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cats

Cats aren't everyone's favorite. And don't get me wrong- I'm not an over the top enthusiast. But I like them, I think they're useful for pest control, good for company during a movie and I like their haughty style. They're not apologetic, not beholden to our whims, and mostly very self assured. I respect cats.

But Ember, I loved that cat. He passed away early this morning, in my arms. I got up to load the wood stove and decided to peak in on him. We had set up a little sick ward, with his meds and a warm bed etc. When I went in, I knew I had caught the last few moments. So I sat down with him and reminded him that he was good, and loyal, and my friend. And I thanked him for the years we spent together.

He was 9, which for a cat isn't too old, but he was long haired and prone to some health issues. I got him still in college, my roommates and I decided to have an illegal dorm cat. We had a large 2 room suite with a balcony and the tiny orange and white fluff ball bounced between the rooms and sunned himself on the porch. He rode home with me during breaks, often times not even needing a carrier, sitting in the seat like a dog would. He grew to be a very large guy- almost the entire length of my torso with a lion's face.

In my first apartment with an ex, he helped us raise another kitten, and actually genuinely enjoyed the company of other felines. He had less appreciation for the dogs though. He was bold, and still enjoyed car rides- even going to get ice cream with me on a few nights when he was younger.

He certainly wasn't the cat that everyone loved though. With me, he was a giant baby, riding draped across my shoulders like a flamboyant shawl purring like a mad man. But you never knew if he was going to like other men, especially boy children. In fact, he was known to stalk them. I often pictured him as a fierce drag queen, all claws and glitter on the surface.

His purr was unique, he chirped and squeaked which scared me to death when we first brought him home. I thought he was sick, but after vet tests he was fine- just noisy. It was like a squeaky door and more than once he woke me up from a dead slumber with the sounds of his delight at finding himself in a warm bed.

He chased his tail on a regular basis, and who could blame him with a tail so huge it looked like a second pet. Like most cats, he folded himself into small boxes, spilling out the sides but apparently very comfortable. He talked back, if I addressed him he would meow in response each time.

On a regular basis I provide care for animals I know are going to be food. And I make peace with the act of taking their lives so that we may thrive. But it still feels so sad, and like such a loss to know that this animal that I shared my life with has gone.

He wasn't the cat for everyone, but he was the cat for me.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pasture walk in pictures

The goats were feeling too wiggly for great pictures but everyone else hammed it up!















Sunday, January 6, 2013

Visitors

Today our neighbor and the family who used to own the farm dropped by with old pictures of the farm (from the 40's, 60's ext). How cool is that?

Then later, new friends and agricultural enthusiasts came by just to say hello.

It's hard to be gloomy when this place is magic and the people who surround us are constantly surprising me with their goodness. Not a bad problem to have, that.

Under cover

Well, we woke in the middle of the night to a howl that sounded like it came from the bowels of hell. I leapt out of bed into the kitchen, convinced that a predator had broken into the hen house. But the chickens and the regular barn were locked up tight. But then we heard the scream sound again and discovered it was our house cat. He is a long haired cat, prone to bladder issues that were apparently
flaring up. Poor guy is rather miserable today, though we have given him the appropriate treatment. The vet is closed today, so hopefully what we have done enough for him. His breed has a rather short life span, and could develop tumors in his system. We'll do what we can, but won't subject him to unreasonable suffering or thousands in medical care for mediocre results. We'll see what the next few days bring.

Coffee is brewing, the livestock rounds are done. Maybell was head butting with the others this morning, and eating well. She's not out of the woods yet, but seems like maybe we are on track.

I'm worn a little thin. It's time to retreat a bit, be ok with feeling down about the recent events. So we're snuggled up under blankets watching some t.v. I've got to cut some more firewood in a bit, and clean up the kitchen. But that's kind of it. There is fencing to finish for the horses ( horray!) and the routine rabbit cleaning. But it has to wait. The week has taken its toll, and if we don't take a minute to breathe it could become overwhelming. Take it as it comes, do what we can and keep the coffee brewing.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sheep doctoring and kids with kids

Maybell got another dose of medicine today, but her appetite was noticeably better. I'm hoping its not just wishful thinking, but it looked to me like the swelling in her jaw has subsided a bit also. We'll see how she does over tomorrow. It may take 2-4 full days to really be sure.

Kim's cousin came by today with his two little kids to give Noel and Lucia their afternoon bottles and run wild a bit around the farm. There are few things cuter then two kids (children) sitting in a goat pen declaring they will never leave and that they'd like to have a slumber party in the barn. And frankly, I think that the other two kids (goat variety) had just as much fun climbing them.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Maybell

Our beloved sheep (and icon) Maybell has come down with what we think is an abscess near her jaw. We drained a large lump this afternoon and gave a strong dose of antibiotics. We rarely use antibiotics on the farm, but in cases where an animal appears to be in distress directly from bacterial infection, it's the most humane and correct choice.

As an ethical, sustainable farmer- one does not use antibiotics without reason, or on animals to be butchered for food
within a short time period. But for animals in distress with symptoms that specifically need antibiotic treatment- it's not humane in my opinion (despite organic standards which say Never to use antibiotics even in warranted cases in response to abuse by industrial agriculture) to withhold the miracles of modern medicine. I don't take antibiotics for every scrape or sniffle, in fact I haven't taken any in years. So it's not something we take lightly- but it is an option we consider when it makes sense.

Hopefully we will see improvement in Maybell over the next day or so, it's troubling for her to have developed a growth that quickly. While we were playing vet we also wormed all the sheep and trimmed hooves. And vaccinated the baby goats. All around it was a livestock care kind of day.

There are few things more stressful on a farm then a sick animal. Even when you've done all you can it's a nagging pain- to know the animal you've promised to care for is not thriving. You try not to get emotionally invested, but that's not the same as not caring deeply for the well being of the living critters on your farm.

Add this to the list if recent happenings and we are just about ready to to hide away under the covers. But that never solves anything, especially on a farm. You've got to push through, do your best, and watch for a change in the weather. So that's what we'll do. Push aside the weary and keep working. The clouds will pass, I know it.

Guest blogger!

One of our CSA members, Suzanne shares her family recipe for enchiladas! Thanks Suzanne!



My husband and I are R’eisen Shine CSA members. We help out at the farm as much as we can and when it is convenient for our favorite farmers. Digging in the dirt and checking out the farm is always time well spent. And with two young’uns at home they love visiting the farm and chasing chickens and petting the sheep. Our 2.5 year old could sit and watch the meat chickens for hours! With little ones at home, we have our hands full all the time so we are always looking for meals that are healthy and quick and super tasty to finicky palates! This one is always a hit with both our kids.
Farm Enchiladas
½ finely chopped onion (optional)
1 clove garlic
½ cup frozen R’eisen shine corn
½ cup frozen R’eisen shine broccoli
2 (approximate) cups chicken, turkey or rabbit (pre-cooked) and cut into small pieces

¼ cup sour cream
1 cup of shredded cheese- sharp cheddar or mozzarella
10ish tortillas
Medium sized can or bottle of your favorite enchilada sauce
A bunch of kale (optional)

· Preheat oven to 350.
· If you like onions then start by sautéing your onion in a little bit of olive oil- around a tbsp until soft and add in garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. (My 5 year-old refuses anything with onions, so we skip this. But, nothing makes your kitchen smells better than a little bit of olive oil and onion! Yum!) If you want to add in some greens- kale or other leafy green ones this is the time. Sauté for 5 min more.
· Add in your corn and broccoli. Cook until it’s warm about 3-5 min. Typically I will chop up the frozen broccoli nice and small so my kids won’t notice that are eating it.
· Time to add in your meat. We love to take our leftovers from our weekly chicken and use it for this recipe. Leftover turkey or fresh rabbit work great, too. (boil the rabbit until cooked then use meat from the rabbit). Last week we did this with our leftover farm turkey from Christmas and they tasted fantastic! Cook until warm.
· Add in the sour cream and about a ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce until you’ve got a little sauce in your pan. We are huge fans of Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce- nice and spicy! Yum!
· Grease your 9x11 pan. Put a small amount of enchilada sauce on the bottom of pan. Fill your tortillas with a few spoonfuls of your meat mixture and a bit of cheese if desired. Wrap ‘em up and put the seam side down.
· Pour the rest of your enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle some extra cheese on top. I think I use a little less than a ¼ cup.
· Bake for about 20-25 minutes.
· Other additions- frozen cherry tomatoes or some chopped up cooked carrots taste great, too. To save time, I will make the enchiladas ahead of time and put them in the fridge for a few hours and then bake. I just save the enchilada sauce and extra cheese until it’s time for them to go in the oven.
Enjoy,
Suzanne





Thursday, January 3, 2013

More than one way to heat a farm

As we all know its very very cold. -3 this morning while I was doing the chores. So while we search for another stove, it's pretty chilly in the drafty 1850's farm house. With less to do outside, I'm content to stay indoors. Though the mini string of bad luck is still in hot pursuit. Our computer caught a nasty case of malware, and won't be fixed at least until tonight when I get my hands on a recovery disk. I have a back up with the iPhone, but it's no good for the supply ordering or research that needs to be done. And we are still working on the bank, so though I could set up all of my orders, I can't actually do the purchasing. So pardon if this post has more typos, I'm working from a very tiny keyboard.

There are some high points though, we got the confirmation for the draft class! And, I kept the farm house warmer last night with a great new quick bread recipe I modified. It's below for your enjoyment- I hope it helps you take the edge of this weather too!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk*
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes chopped and soaking in warm water
3 tablespoons dried herb mix
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Set aside.
3.Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, butter, and egg whites, stirring with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in onion, garlic, drained tomatoes and spices.
4. Spread batter into an 8 x 4–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

*you can make buttermilk by adding vinegar to milk, about a tblspn per cup. Let it sit for a minute and you can see it change. If I only have skim milk, I usually add a bit of 1/2 and 1/2 to up to fat content.

Original recipe can be found here:
http://www.myrecipes.com/m/recipe/kalamata-olive-bread-with-oregano-10000001867556/
Sorry for no hyperlink, again it's an iPhone post!

Stay warm all.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Frozen

This morning was by far the coldest this winter. I was wearing thick pants under insulated coveralls, a flannel shirt, sweat shirt, my heavy carhart and thick wool socks. It was still the kind of cold that makes your eyes tear up when the wind hits. The tips of my rubber coated gloves (which I strongly recommend, cheap, pretty durable and keep the water off your hands) were frozen stiff after starting work on the chicken waterers.

The chores change in this weather as one might expect. I was up in the middle of the night loading the sole source of heat on the farm, our trusty wood stove. She's a good stove, but now that we're trying to heat the upstairs too, it's time to try and find a second stove to help keep the temperature up. I'll keep my eyes out on craigslist for a good deal, there is already a working second chimney on the farm, so it's just a matter of purchasing some connector pipes. It'll happen, and in the meantime you put on your slippers and wear a sweatshirt. And bake a lot of bread. 

The rabbit water bottles usually don't freeze in the barn, with all of the heat lamps in there and doors shut, it generally stays above freezing. But on mornings like this one, I load them all up in a five gallon bucket and bring them indoors. I set the bucket by the wood stove while I'm getting everyone some grain, to thaw enough to get the caps off without busting the bottles. I usually fill them with hot water and spend several minutes thawing out the nipples which freeze up so that no water comes out. It's slow. It's a similar process with the chicken waterers. A good kick and a short 2X4 break the ice off the top of the sheep water bucket. I check it a couple times a day to make sure that it stays open for them. We need a heated water bucket, probably sooner rather than later. I want to look into something that we could use for both the horses and sheep. It's not getting any warmer any time soon.

2013 has brought a few unpleasant moments so far. We discovered yesterday that someone had hacked into our farm bank account, and stole several hundred dollars. By now you know that the farm budget runs tight, and this is an unwelcome surprise. We have seeds to order, a grain bill to pay, and horse supplies to purchase. This is the time of the year when I buy most of the things we will need, and though we are still working to get deposits in for next year's CSA to cover some of those costs, every penny really counts. Kim is headed to the bank this morning to try and straighten it out. The purchases that set of our alarms were out in Texas, and unfortunately clearly for Christmas (gamestop, walmart). I try not to imagine what drives a person to use a card that's not their own. I hope things get better for them. But it still sucks for us. 

Overnight the heater in the greenhouse kind of failed. I found a bunch of frozen lettuce this morning. I'm hopefully that when the sun comes up, the plants will defrost and pull through. Won't know until later if this is the case, and it would be a real shame if they fail. A bit catastrophic actually. 

This type of thing seems to happen all together, you hit a little patch of bad luck or mishaps and things get messy. We try not to get to worked up, things level out eventually. But it often takes time and some resourcefulness. 2013 tossed us an early curve ball, but I'm going to reserve my hope for the year for the moment. Yesterday though the bank news was rough, we ordered a pizza and wings (rare treat) and sat down with a beer an the seed catalog. I'm feeling much better about our seed order this year versus last year. Just having a year's experience with the field here had made a huge difference in picking varieties and planning for a season. We'll see if it pays off, but at the very least I'm looking forward to receiving the greenhouse specific seeds for a bunch of new greens and early tomatoes. Just the word 'tomatoes' makes my mouth water and we're a long way off. 

For today, I'll wait to hear from Kim on the bank situation and be cutting a good amount of wood. With these temperatures, we're going to need it. 


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Portlandia CSA humor

If we're relaxing, maybe you should too- have a laugh with Portlandia's take on CSA shares and Durian fruit.


New Year

I have many thoughts I'd like to share about the next year, but we were out very, very late last night (spending time with friends and family) and today we are rather sloth like. It's Kim's last day of vacation. We are ordering seeds. I hope you all have a wonderful day.