Thursday, February 28, 2013

On-Farm Pick Up Share- New!

So, you live close by and want to join our CSA but aren't sure you can commit to an every week pick up, or you're new to CSA farms, or some other reason....we've got your solution!!


For $930 (only about 200 more than a conventional CSA) you can get our NEW Local Bi-Weekly Share!

What this includes:

1 Heritage Chicken each month
1 Rabbit every other month
Seasonal Veggies (picked up every other Saturday)
Farm Jams and Specialty Items
Huge Discounts on your holiday turkey order! (last year, we sold turkeys at $4.75 a lb, for members of this program, we will work out a discount once we have a realistic picture of how feed costs increase. But it will be at least 15-20%)

This is only for people willing to pick up on farm!

This is a much lower commitment then our usual offers, and it's ideal for people who aren't sure they are ready to eat fully seasonally, or can't make a weekly pick up. If you're interested, send us an email for the full membership contract and details. We'll only be selling about 8 of these shares- so if you want in- let us know  SOON!

Interested? Use this form to Sign Up!




Wednesday, February 27, 2013

4 Veggie Latkas

Today is one of those days where I feel a little lack luster. It's probably a craving for early spring sun, even on a very cold day. So rather then dwell, here's a recipe to try while we all wait for March to arrive in her lioness ways. Listening to the wind here today, I can here her roaring.

4 Veggie Latkas

2 Carrots
1 onion
1 potato
1 small turnip
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup grated sharp cheese
salt, pepper
vegetable oil
greek yogurt
fresh dill


Use a food processor or grater to shred all of the vegetables. You can really change any of the veggies, just use ones that have a good starch content or hold form well. Put them in a strainer, pressing out all of the water you can. Once you've finished, add one egg, the cheese, flour and salt and pepper. Mix the batch thoroughly. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a medium size skillet. Form small patties from you mix, and add to the pan once it's hot. Fry until golden brown on each side.

Mix about enough yogurt for dipping with more salt and pepper, and fresh dill to taste.

This is a great dish to serve with ham, or on it's own with a hearty salad. I make it when it's time to go grocery shopping and I need a quick dinner. Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oatmeal

I just came in from the woods behind the farm house. I've got a coffee mug full of my afternoon snack, oatmeal with maple syrup and milk. I've got another coffee cup filled with... coffee. It's not too cold out, but there is a good wind and the air is a bit damp.ITo'm in need of a good warm up treat. I was out there with a chainsaw and a sturdy cart that I use for just about everything. The wood pile was low, and there are some fairly easily accessible downed trees out back.

I'm eager for next winter, when I fell confident enough with the team that I can utilize them in our wood cutting operation. They can haul a much bigger wagon then I can, and pull huge trees down to easier locations. For right now, I wear knee high muck boots and climb through brush, cutting up small trees. Once I had them into small enough pieces, I fired up the splitter to break up the tree bases. There's a modest stack on the porch now. The weather has been warmer, so we aren't going through too much firewood- but it's not time to hang up the ax just yet. I'll need to cut more later in the week.

It's spring hectic around here, I was in the greenhouse most of the morning starting some early spring crops. I'm trying to grow some spring peas, turnip greens, lettuces, kale, radishes and scallions. I will be starting a bunch of crops in about a week's time, transplants for the season. I've ordered hay, placed an offer on a new to us cargo van and paid for two newspapers ads.

Tonight, I have a meeting of the Copake Farm land preservation committee. I was asked to apply, and recently was appointed. Before I go, I need to review the 20 pages of documents online, make dinner, do the dishes, lock up the hens, shower, hang a load of laundry....but first- this cup of coffee.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Standing up

So, here are a few photos from our visit to Wells last week (thanks to the college for providing them!)






It was a really amazing experience. The campus welcomed us there, and it was a packed house. The audience was engaged and interested (or least they seemed to be). But it also really helped us solidify the way in which we want to present our farm.

We see our farm as a radical act, not just a business. We see that there are many people in our current society that are denied access to good, clean food due to socio-economic status, race, and a variety of Othered categories. We've worked with folks and have lived experiences of receiving government benefits and the limitations that places on access to whole food. So our choice to farm is more than just a commitment to caring for the planet, it's a commitment to caring for people.

There many successful organically minded farms who will absolutely have better profit margins then we will. But that's okay- it's not our mission to charge the highest prices. The nature of the products that we grow (not subsidized by huge government allowances) automatically means that our CSA is priced higher than some can afford. Having been in a position for many years to not be able to afford to eat well, it's really upsetting to know that the quality food you provide is automatically out of reach for a vast majority of your county and state. We're constantly trying to figure out ways to make our food more accessible.

So we see our role to help bring people to an understanding about the ways in which food and institutionalized oppression are related. It seems so simplistic to say, everyone deserves to eat. But in a state with enormous food deserts, and a county with a huge population receiving SNAP benefits (FKA food stamps), people aren't eating. Or, they're not eating food that's nutritionally valuable enough to help them succeed. If you ran your car on gasoline that was tainted or watered down- it would break. People don't run right on processed food from the gas station, but that's the option for many- because that's the only store within reach.

And we know the folks at the bottom of the food production totem pole, I've worked with many migrant workers- and I've discussed it on this blog. So we see our farm as a resistance to a culture that tosses people aside as disposable, and encourages the abuses of human lives in favor of profit.

We talked about this and a lot more last week. Our farm is a lot of things, and on most days, the list of tasks seems menial. And we have to have a good strong business plan to succeed. With a quality product. It's shoveling horse pens, and wrestling baby goats. It's washing canning jars and seed orders and plow reviews.

But we also measure our success in our ability to help people realize that what they put in their mouths is just as important as what comes out of their mouths. The way that we as a culture view food production and view the rights of all people to live a healthy life, matters. So even if our farm fails (and we will do everything so that doesn't happen), we want that to be a part of the legacy. We want our narrative to include that our farm doesn't rely on big bank loans, fossil fuels, chemicals, hormones or keeping another person down. Because it's an act of resistance to the way things are now- and the future we envision.

The morning after our presentation, we walked in a cold snow spray to tour the campus. I held my wife's hand as I pointed to my favorite spots among the old brick building, thick carpets and framed photos.The Minerva statue, the balcony where Ember sunned himself. The view of the lake and the haunted GP bridge (the haunted every where). While we walked, I told stories of antics, failures, triumphs. But my mind was also tied up in our fortune.

I really believe I was always meant to be a farmer. I would have ended up farming no matter where I went to school or didn't go to school. But the way that I farm, and the way that we have worked so hard to structure our farm- that's where Wells' influence lies. I'm thankful. And I'm thankful to have shared that with Kim, and have a wife and partner who shares my passion. She didn't got to Wells, but through her own pathways had similar revelations about food, society. And we've had to opportunity to build on that, together.

We're the lucky ones, I think even luckier for having had the opportunity to share our journey with others.

And now, on to spring!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

chilly

So last night, we slept downstairs by the wood stove. I washed our flannel sheets and they had hung dry, but by the time we slowed down from the hectic day- we were too exhausted to make the bed. A little sad, but true. We're about to hit the time of the year where sometimes I forget to eat because I'm so busy. I'm going to try and fix that this year.

Anyway, back to the story. Curled up, I could feel the intense heat of the wood stove against the top of my head. But for some reason, my face felt really, really cold. I got up, loaded the stove and dove back under the covers. I kept feeling a breeze on my face. I figured it was the wind creating a draft, sometimes that happens in the farm house. But this was more like sleeping under the stars.

When I got up, it felt really cold in here for the weather outside. I stumbled into the kitchen, and the door to the greenhouse was wide open. So essentially, the outside was inside on the farm. It must of blown open after the wind ripped the plastic off the door.

mystery solved, and thank goodness it wasn't a colder night!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Horizon

More winter weather on the horizon....

We are officially tired of winter.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sheep on Roller Skates, and other musings


Below is a post that Kim wrote specifically for our roller derby community, introducing everyone to our farm and her thoughts about the relationship between the two! Enjoy!


How is Farming related to Roller Derby?

It’s not.

Ok, that’s not entirely true. I actually believe that they are very similar, though I might be biased.I love roller derby. I used to play for the Albany All Stars!


I’ve been in retirement for a while, starting a small sustainable farm. (R’Eisen Shine Farm! Sign up for our CSA!) 

So, how do the two endeavors meet? – it’s in the sweat.

With derby, you’re sweating constantly. Sweating literally at practice and at bouts. Sweating the competition, getting amped up to get on that track. Sweating the business, making sure you’re able to continue to play and give back to the community.

 And for those of you who’ve never experienced a day of farm labor (so lucky!), it’s All Sweat. And some blood. And some tears. Sweating in the field on a July day. Sweating that decision to plant those particular heirloom tomatoes. Sweating the books that are not going to manage themselves.

It’s in the team.
With derby, you’re a part of a team. Those folks who take the track with you two, three, four maybe even FIVE times a week are your family. They have your back, even on your off days. You have a responsibility to those folks who are giving their time and energy, the same way you are. Let’s be honest, no one else cares that you’re tired, hungry, sore, etc. but you. Your bad day is really a “you” problem. 

At least from my derby experience, the whole is more important than the individual.

Farming is the EXACT SAME WAY! Our chickens do not care that you pulled a muscle hauling water. They want their grain! The horses do not care that you are tired and hungry. So are they. The IRS does not give a f*** about how much time you need to do your taxes. The farm team is different than your derby team, but only in the sense that sheep don’t wear roller skates. 

Maybell the sheep, minus skates

It’s in the rewards.

With derby, the rewards are so many. Friends, teammates, drinking buddies. Personal accomplishments, new goals to try to attain. Pushing yourself to your absolute limit, and then surpassing that limit. Not to mention FUN. I mean, for something that you’re paying to do and pushing (and sometimes  punishing) yourself to do every single week, it should be FUNNNNNNN!! 

Being a farmer is also super rewarding, but in a lot of different ways. Growing food for people is an incredible responsibility and an incredible honor. Getting to see an animal from birth to death to dinner plate and knowing that you provided the best possible life for that creature. Stewarding a tiny seed to a giant pumpkin or leaf of kale.  There is nothing else like that. It is a huge responsibility. It is also FUN.

Early heirloom tomato harvest

So yea, I’m biased in thinking that derby and farming are similar. But they’re not totally unrelated. Now I will shamelessly plug our business, R’Eisen Shine Farm.

We are a small, diversified CSA model farm that provides vegetables, poultry, rabbit and (new this year) pork to our members. The farm is run by my husband and business partner Ejay (aka derby referee Mean Acres) and myself (Dottie Damage) and our cast of animal characters. This year, we’re working with horsepower, literally, with a team of haflinger drafts to plow our field. Interested in what we do? Interested in letting us grow your food? Check out our Facebook or the link on the right hand side!



We’ll see you at the February 23rd bout, where we will be tabling with information about the farm and doing CSA sign ups, so stop by and say hi!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fair Wells

Today is the first time in the entire year we've lived on the farm that we are both going somewhere, overnight, and leaving the care of the wood stove and livestock to someone else.

This is a big deal. Taking care of this place is something we take very seriously, and we tend to be control freaks about it. Plus, we know it's a lot of work and not something everyone wants to do.

But we got this great offer- my college is hosting us to speak to students about the relationship between social justice and farming. If you've followed along on our blog, you know that we see access to fresh food, land stewardship and injustices as a very important part of our mission. So we are going to speak to students about the ways in which advocacy can overlap many career paths, not just the ones folks usually think of (like organizing, social work, etc). We are also going to discuss our journey as activists, and how it lead us to R'Eisen Shine.

Wells College is my Hogwarts. I'm not sure that when I went to college, I was prepared for the college experience and expense. I'm not sure it was the right choice for me, but I never regret the experience I had there. My professors and fellow students inspired me to think critically, take action, and stand on my own. I remember getting dropped off, that first day- by my high school guidance counselor, who I lived with the summer after high school. I wasn't quite sure how I had managed to get to college, but here I was. Wells is on a big beautiful lake, and I could see it from my dorm room window. My hands shook, and I looked around at all of the boxes. I didn't have a place to go back to on break, I would have to find friends to stay with, or call in another favor with that guidance counselor. So it was either make Wells my home, or remain homeless.

So I did. I dug my heels in, and the place absorbed me. My classes engaged me, pushed me and forced me to rethink everything I had ever known in my abusive, conservative, catholic upbringing (not that all conservative catholic upbringings are bad or abusive- but mine was clearly). But more importantly, it was the first place that I felt secure in who I was. It was the first place that valued the voice I had, and forced me to defend my positions. It was where I met the friends I hold dear today, nearly ten years later. It was college, but it was more than that. And when I left only two years in, I grieved like I had lost a loved one- and in many ways I had. But Wells taught me how to love, how to fight, and how to learn.

Now we return, and I will share the old brick buildings and view of the lake with my wife. There is no place I hold more dear than our farm here, but without Wells- I wouldn't have known what to look for in a home.

I just hope that my experiences, and our story, and our work can inspire another student the way that so many other teachers inspired me.

The Wells College Motto is "To have and to share"- so we will go share. Because what I have, the fibers I'm built of, comes more from my time there then nearly any other place or experience I've had.

We go.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fumbling Farmers

As planned yesterday, we harnessed up Nataya. Well, we kind of did.

After cleaning the rabbitry and goat pen, we grabbed the tangled mess of leather that sat in our garage. While I had cleaned and oiled it, I had yet to sort it into any sort of usable shape. We set up saw horses and ran a fence post in between them. From there, we could hang the gear over it like it would be on the horse. It took  a couple minutes for us to figure out what was twisted, connected wrong etc. It also took us breaking out the text book given to us in our draft horse class. Once we had done that, we headed into the pasture to retrieve our horse.

Nataya is a saint. No, she's more than that. She's a patient teacher and gentle beast. She wasn't wild about being hitched down by the rabbit/chicken barn. We decided not to try and harness both horses since it was clear we were confused, and Sunny isn't as patient with new hands. Plus, it was cold, 11 degrees with the wind, and we were sure it would take four times as long as it needed to. We wanted to take Nataya out of the pasture because Sunny is curious, and jealous, and the second she sees working gear she can barely contain her excitement. Yesterday was no exception.

When the girls heard the rattle of equipment they stood at the gate looking at us, as if to say, "Finally, these people are going to do something. Let's hope they know what that 'something' is". Once Nataya was tied though, she was more antsy then usual. Part of this was a break in her routine, part of it was the wind. It's much more windy down by the house then up in the horse pasture. She had every right to be concerned. She settled in though, once we were grooming her and chatting. Sunny stood at the gate and whinnied, jealous and hopeful that she was next in line. 

For the most part, we managed to set up the harness with little fan fare, though many head scratches and frozen fingers. It wasn't pretty, or quick, but that will come with time. There are no pictures, because it would have been a lot of shots of us in puffy winter coats staring at a book while a very good pony attempted to find some stray pieces of hay. The only real hiccup was the bridle/bit. My delivery was horrid. All three times. I managed not to click her teeth with the cold metal, which was good- but I handled her ears a bit rough and overall couldn't get it to sit properly. I got some tips from the experts though, and watched a few videos online. I'm eager to try again, maybe with help from our neighbor. 

We didn't drive her, even on the ground- mostly due to our messy bridle handling. But, it was still a good step. I'm not afraid to hitch her- and it will go smoother next round. Soon it will become like so many of the farm skills that seemed foreign at first. I learned to butcher chickens and rabbits through watching videos online initially, and now I can cleanly, safely, and skillfully handle those tasks without batting an eye. I've learned so many skills like this. So the handling of the equipment, I know will come- and seem simple so soon. Then it will be learning the team, and building a working relationship that will help us haul, plow, disk, spread... and ride along. It all starts with a wind burnt day, two fumbling farmers- and a patient pony. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Trial Run

Today is the big day. We are going to hitch up Nataya (maybe Sunny, still haven't decided) and ground drive them ourselves. It's cold, so we're waiting a bit for the sun to take the edge off and cleaning up the farm house from a few frantic days of deliveries and meetings. There are various misplaced items scattered around, and quite the stack of laundry. Kim's office is closed today, so it's a good opportunity to catch up. The barn (as always) needs a good shoveling. We won't be doing much once we have Nataya hitched, just a bit of ground driving and familiarizing ourselves with the equipment. We've only got a few more months before we are in work mode, so we need to really start practicing.

Today is also a big day for Noel and Lucia, our little dairy kids- it's the last day of being bottle fed! We're going away later this week to speak at my alma mater, so we need to get them weaned for our house sitters (Kim's mom). They are certainly old enough, and sturdy enough. We dropped them down to just a supplemental one bottle a day about a week ago. They're noisy about the change, screaming at the injustice of being fed a lifetime's supply of hay and water only. But, them's the breaks. Time to grow up a little bit, little goats. Hopefully they will have been reduced to a dull roar by the time Wednesday rolls around and we're headed out of town.

This past week has been all of the management side of running a small business  the things that don't make for a very majestic blog post, but keep the trains running instead. I drafted an ad to be placed in a local paper for our year long shares. We would really like to get more folks from our community locally involved in the farm. We also started our paper work that will hopefully allow us to accept food stamps as payments. We're pursuing the possibility of providing a collaborative meat share with some other farmers to a customer base that we don't serve ourselves. We're still working out all of the details, but it would be really great to create a group product that helps us get more product out there and share the work of making that happen. It's the kind of thing we've long wanted to participate in, but there are a lot of 'ifs' involved. So we are just be cautiously optimistic and planning the best we can.

Speaking of business- if you still plan on buying a share for next year, the time is NOW. We need to get folks in as soon as possible. So please, please let us know if you're still planning on joining us next year. And in case you've forgotten, the reasons are many to join us: farm fresh chicken, turkey, rabbit, eggs, pork and vegetables are all available. We try to use the best, most sustainable methods in all of our endeavors  and you get to read along with our successes and mishaps here. We try to be transparent farmers, so you really can know where your food is coming from. And it tastes good too!

I'm sure that our first run with Nataya will be an experience worth reading about, so we will update (hopefully with pictures if we can multitask) about our first time hitching, probably tomorrow.






Saturday, February 16, 2013

non-stop

A longer blog post is coming. But we're in the busiest part of pre-season, which involves long meetings with tax experts and business partners. It means running around to a million venues shopping prices on new equipment. It means phone calls and emails. It means by the time I sit down my brain is so fried that any post  I might write wouldn't be worth reading. So! In the meantime, let's enjoy some music, shall we?


Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 14th

Just for funsies, these puritans sure have a lot in common with radical, liberal, agnostic farmers I know.



Zucchini relish

How I spent much of the day yesterday- using frozen heirlooms from last summer!





Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bracing for Spring

Now is the time of the year on the farm where things feel like a stuffed up dam. The weather is nutty-- wet and warm-ish one minute, frozen the next. In just a couple weeks we will be in the greenhouse, planting away for some early spring crops and getting seedlings ready for the early summer too. It's the time where I am so fed up with winter. I'm not fed up because I don't like the cold, or snow- I do. I'm fed up because I want to move without slogging, I want my knuckles buried deep in soil. I want the arrival of baby chicks, I want clean barns. I want sun burn. I want to order our supplies- something that is weighing on me every day and waking me up in the middle of the night. Wanting, it's good for you- it keeps you working. You can't let it overtake the now, so I'm trying to remind myself that exhaustion is only a few weeks away. Heartbreak of fickle weather, dealing with hundreds of chickens- now is still the time to store up the energy for what's to come. But I'm notoriously terrible at waiting and resting.

I've not been sleeping well. I'm looking at a lot of loose ends, and trying to figure out how to make it all happen. I won't lie to you folks, small farm budgeting is enough to keep anyone up at night. We also had hoped to get more done in the house over the winter, but things just didn't pan out. It's ok, but it's all contributing to this unease and unrest I'm feeling. This is just what it is right now, it will change again. It's not an unhappy place to be, just a little uncomfortable. But this is place is always the place I get right before the dam bursts and the next steps unfold before us- whatever they may be. It's the place where just when I think things won't come together- and then they do. Often not the way I thought it would- but together none the less.

So here we are. Inches of snow, buried under are logs to be cut into yet more firewood. 50 degrees in the greenhouse. Lettuces on the precipice of fullness, garlic resting under blankets of mulch,draft horses anxious to burn off winter stores (farmers anxious to burn off winter stores too). It's just around the corner, let's see how it all unfolds.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Draft Class #2

Yesterday we spent most of the day about an hour and a half away from R'Eisen Shine attending the Hudson Valley Draft Associations second teamster training class. We signed up for 5 sessions, one Sunday a month from 1-5. So we left here about 11:30 yesterday after getting the animals set for the day and got back about 6:30 after picking up a pizza en route home. That's a long time for us to be off farm in the winter. It gives me jitters to be away from the animals that long, it's enough time for the goats to break out, the sheep to get stuck in the fence and a predator to attack the chickens. Luckily, this wasn't the case yesterday, everyone seemed to weather our absence just fine.

I think the big take-away from yesterday's class is that it's time for us to harness up the girls and start ground driving. We've been relationship building with them over the last month, working them through grooming and hoof tending. We've paraded them around on lead ropes, there's not more shuffling. We've read the books. We've cleaned the gear. We've read blogs. We've practiced. There is no magic secret, now it's just time to start working them. So when the weather clears up a bit, that's what we'll do. And I'm certain it will be an adventure, more for us then our well trained horses. They know a lot more about this horse farming business then we do.

The snow storm here dropped a decent amount and the winds certainly were fierce. But, we were spared the worst of it. My parents in Connecticut got nearly 30 inches, that's a lot of snow. We live on the Connecticut/Mass/NY border, so we did end up with more weather then our Albany CSA members. Today we're getting a slick coating of ice.

It's getting down to the wire with our CSA deposits. In order for us to have an on-time season, we really need to push through and get the rest of them in for the year. This is the less fun part of farming, for me at least. The marketing. I like the part where I post pictures of all of the beautiful products we grow, I just don't like the part where I negotiate ad prices, make sponsorship deals, post 100 times about signing up on facebook. But, that's what allows us to keep farming. Without customers, it's a hobby, not a business. And in order for us to be successful, we've got to get those sales nailed down now. We're working on a partnership with some other farms that may end up giving us a good bump, more details to follow when we have them. And there's been a lot of interest in pork too, which is very exciting. We really love to grow good food for people. Now let's just hope people really love to eat that good food.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Show

The wind has been blowing through full steam, especially during our morning chores today. It's a cold wind, not the kind in spring that's heavy with rain and pollen- but the kind that feels like ice crystals are embedded in every blow. When it hits your face or hands fiddling with a chicken waterer, it burns a little, reminding you how fragile human skin is. We didn't let the hens out, it's too windy and the worst of the storm was supposed to arrive much earlier then it actually will. They're happier to spend the day inside with extra grain and fresh bedding anyway. Even Nataya and Sunny have made it up into their stall in the barn- which is how I know the weather is serious.

A lot folks get really upset and post on facebook when the weather is milder then expected, or later then predicted. I guess on a farm, it just matters in a different way. Survival isn't guaranteed for everyone who lives here. So we don't mind if things get cancelled, or delayed so that we can focus on the on goings. Sometimes those extra few hours gives a chance to do something we missed, store up a little more water or get out some extra grain. We're not alarmists, but we are very cautious. We'd rather have the weather reports err on the side of being prepared.

But then, it seems like we aren't quite out of the woods yet- the bulk of snow is supposed come tonight into tomorrow. Let it fall. A good ground cover will help planting in the spring- no matter the hardship now. In the morning we'll trudge through whatever heights we're dealt and get everyone freshened up for another day likely inside. The hens won't be able to wade through more than 3 or 4 inches, and even the sheep can't stand the wind.

Kim is dozing on the futon, and I just got dinner in the oven. Roasted chicken over some nice homemade stuffing. A good hot meal, on a good cold night. Two curled up dogs, and a couple of lazy cats. The barn animals tended. A cup of tea later and some freshly made cupcakes (god I love when Kim is home and baking). I think I'll work on turning some rabbit leather into warm mittens for ice fishing. I'm still hoping to get a trip in before the next thaw.

I wish you an evening just as sweet and simple.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Living Rural

Well, the weather is calling for some serious snow. The amount of snow seems to increase by the hour. So as I mentioned yesterday, I had to cut a bunch of firewood. While I was finishing up cutting what was left of the pile, our neighbor stopped by. I've said it before, our neighbors are amazing. They're the kind of people you read about in idealized versions of the country- only they're real live human beings. That makes them all the more fantastic. Jon was concerned about our dwindling pile and has some downed trees in his yard. He also stopped by another neighbor's house and asked about some downed trees in their yard. They're all up for grabs. He knows we don't have a truck- so he went a step further. He asked our other neighbor (Wayne, who helps us with the goats) to help us at noon today loading up all the wood and bringing it back here.

When I say we don't live this life alone, I mean it. I often feel like there is a different kind of living in the country. We watch the weather, and check in on each other when there are storms brewing. We rely on each other a little more for survival- overlook things we may not agree with- because there aren't many people, you don't write folks off automatically. If Jon hadn't stopped by, we would have gotten wood another way. But he did stop by, and that's what makes this place special.

I intend on repaying their kindness with some chicken, and a solid thank you. It's the least I can do, and I like to give back as much as I get. The city, for me, always felt like so many individuals living individual lives- together, but separate. I know it's not like that for everyone. And I'm not going to make sweeping generalizations about living anywhere. But experiences like this remind me of why I prefer to living in a more country setting. Rather than the stereotypes of there being no one out here, and of isolation- I've found the opposite. The community here has absorbed us, fostered us and helped us. There are only a few houses on the road, and we help each other- because if we don't- who will? We may not always stop to chat, but we know the doors are always open and we notice each other's woodpiles.

When it fits, it fits.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February

March to me, is when spring starts. There's still a chance of snow but it's plenty of decent weather to clean up all of the wind storm damage and leaves from the fall. There's the hen house to clean, and we'll be acquiring piglets to help start the first till of the vegetable bed. It's cold and windy and wet in March. But February, even with her shortened number of days is the longest month of the year.

It's too cold to start most of the seedlings in the greenhouse, still. They're calling for snow this Friday, enough that it may hold us up from making our delivery Saturday morning. The water bottles for the rabbits are still half frozen in the morning (though nothing like during that deep freeze). February is the month of worry, the month of waiting. We're marketing aggressively to fill up the CSA shares and trying to get all of our supply orders together.

Yesterday, we opened our pork ordering for the year! It's a new enterprise for us, but I've raised pigs at several other farms. We really love to eat pork, and are excited about offering it to. I feel good about our planned theories for raising pig also. We intend to plant gardens as part of their pasture rotation. These gardens will be full of pig favorites, cucumbers, turnips- stuff that grows easily without much tending. The gardens will provide extra feed to the pigs where the pasture isn't as lush. Plus, it will help us keep the horses working more than just our regular market gardens. If you want more info on our pork offerings for the year, email us at reisenshinefarm@gmail.com. We'll be happy to send all of the info your way.

Today, I'm working really hard on not letting the flu take over me full time. I've felt off since yesterday, and I can not afford to get all-out sick. I'm not feeling too terrible, but just a little off. So I'll force myself to work on some of the tasks February demands indoors, and then cut wood this afternoon. February still requires a good amount of wood to keep warm.

So that's today- marketing, setting up orders, making follow up phone calls, eating soup, fending off flu, and cutting firewood. February.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Context and Critical Thinking

I too, am moved by the Dodge Commercial "God Made a Farmer" (see above). The images of hard working people, with visions of farms in mainstream media. An ode to agriculture. But then, that's what good advertising does. It makes you feel something, trying to connect you to a product. It makes a statement that tries to make you feel part of something. In this case, good, hard working, americana farming.

And, I did a little research. In partnership with the FFA, Dodge is donating money, up to 1,000,00 to the FFA (Future Farmers of America) based on reviews of the ad. It's part of this FFA Campaign, working towards ending hunger. So that, I think is interesting and fairly positive.

But, it's just not all there is to this. First, let's look at the full text of the speech from "God Made a Farmer":


And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a farmer.
God said, "I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board." So God made a farmer.
"I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it." So God made a farmer.
God said, "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.' I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours." So God made a farmer.
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer.
God said, "I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.
"Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'" So God made a farmer.

Well, it was made famous by Mr. Paul Harvey. Paul Harvey, who I'm no stranger to- but maybe you are. He was a fairly right-wing radio host, who had sponsorship deals that would rival any major league sports teams. He had a great voice, and the man knew how to tell a story. But I'm not sure he stood for the best interests of American farming. In fact, I'm not sure this ad does, either. And should it? The goal is to sell big, brand new trucks. But it's being hailed as a giant thank you to this ambiguous heroic idea of American Farmers.
I love any time there is a national dialog around farming. But I think maybe we need to be really critical about any time a company uses an out-dated idea of farming as a method to sell more fossil fuel based vehicles to people who probably don't need that kind of heavy duty equipment. Truth is, there isn't a farmer in all of us. There isn't even a person who supports the kind of farming this poem describes in all of us. 
"who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps" This quote is about horse farming and ranching. A practice that let's be honest, is not main stream farming today. It's considered a fringe endeavor, maybe too nostalgic and non-practical. One does not not harness a tractor. Those big tractors in the ad? Those are mainstream farming. The average acreage of an american farm today is 441 acres, up from 147 acres in the 1900's. According to the 2002 census, the average age of the american farmer is 55 years old. Sources for both of these facts can be found here. The latest numbers I've seen from the USDA is that the average age of the american farmer is now 65. With farms that big, and farm owners being in that age range, the American farm runs on enormous, expensive, elaborate tractors and machinery. And they're not splinting meadow larks, I assure you. The bread and butter of these huge agribusiness are cash crops- corn, soy, wheat... and done with huge amounts of pesticides and with GMO seeds as fast as possible. Damn the meadow larks in the way.  
While the quote about 'waiting for lunch' isn't included in the ad, the ad is dominated by images of older white men. This perpetuates this notion that the american farmer is still run and worked by older white men. Folks, this is not the case- though it certainly is owned by them. And my wife works just as hard in the hot sun as I do, for as many hours. And the majority of the tasks listed in that ad? The milk straining, pig weaning, etc? Unless you're talking about those small family farms, the CSA businesses, the start-ups (and even sometimes then)- you're likely talking about the hard working, self sacrificing migrant and immigrant farm workers. Folks who I've worked with for years, who are brown and often latina/o, work for less, and have no rights here. Those are often the people who taught me to sex an egg, mill flour, tend a sick lamb. They don't often drive new trucks, I can tell you that. But those are the American farmers I've met. And the younger farmers I've met, be they immigrants or not, they can't afford those new trucks. Many of them can't afford land. Many of the most knowledgeable farmers I've interacted with can't buy land- aren't here legally- though they often have more patriotic pride for this country then I do. That nags at me, when I watch this ad. The state of immigrant farm workers, the state of all young farmers- born here or otherwise. 
I guess what really gnaws at me, is that this ad is getting so much attention, but the farm bill didn't. That our culture  mythologizes a way of farming that we don't financially back. There are many farmers I know (and met through NOFA too) that do live life by the code of that poem. Though many of them are not tied to a religion either. And I resent the idea that all farmers much go to a church, a Christian church. I respect those who choose to include religion in their lives and those who do not but tend the earth as their spiritual practice.
Let's be honest and real for a moment. CSA and other small farm models spend much time marketing and begging folks to meet them half way. To commit to drive to pick up locations for their goods they they did work 80 hours a week for when grocery stores are open 24/7. To pay the prices that it costs to farm sustainably and keep the lights on in the farm house, too. 
So you know what? Do watch the ad, do help the FFA get money. We need new farmers, we need less hunger in this country. But don't be fooled. Don't forget that Paul Harvey was a complicated man, with a whole history of works. And for "God"'s sake, support the farmers and farms who know the pain that losing 'one colt', one chick, one lamb-- makes. Because they don't have thousands worked by Others. They've got that one, those twenty, those couple hundred- that's it. And it's their year finances they're going to break when it died anyway. It's their hands that are busted. Look into the the plight and struggle of groups like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Yes, I'm treading dangerous political ground here, and I know it.  But you've got to stand for something. I support anyone who lives and breathes agriculture. 
But what I don't support is telling a false story for the sake of selling more trucks. Buy local, know your farmer. Consider spending your money to support new farmers- and take a bike to work if you're able, over parking a brand new truck in your city lot. 

CSA Membership Sign-Up Form




2013-2014 CSA Share Agreement

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) connects people to their local food source. By joining R’Eisen Shine Farm’s CSA, you are entering into a partnership with the farm in which you share in the risk and bounty of each season. Your membership helps us pay for the early season costs of farming: seeds, labor, materials etc.

At R’Eisen Shine Farm Inc we take the idea of community supported agriculture beyond the vegetable growing season. Our year-round model harkens to a time when families received most of their food from local growers. In that vein, we offer seasonal produce and meat year round (primarily poultry and rabbit). As we expand, there will be opportunities to buy into dairy, sugars (honey/maple syrup), and a greater variety of meat.

We also differ from traditional models of CSA farms in that we do not specify which of any of our products constitute a weekly share. Our members can take what they need or prefer. Each week, you will receive a survey with our available products. We will pack your share according to your survey.

Our growing methods focus on sustainability and the ethical care of people, plants and animals. We believe that the animals we raise for meat should have respect and lives that mimic what nature has built them to do. We reduce our dependency on fossil fuels by minimizing the amount of tractors or other heavy equipment involved in our production. We are always open for questions and conversations regarding our methods- so don’t be afraid to ask!

Pricing

The 2012-2013 year long CSA will run from June 2013 to June 2014, specific start and end dates to be announced according to the season.

Individuals: $1860 annually
This includes: An average of 2 chickens per month, delivered in halves or whole birds. Rabbit as it is available, about every 5-6 weeks. 1 holiday turkey, less than 15lbs (larger turkeys will be available for a small extra charge, a fraction of the price per lb). Seasonal produce and specialty items (ie: jam, dried products, frozen items etc). Please contact us for a full crop list if you’re interested. Discounted eggs when available--our sustainable eggs cost about $4.50 to grow, you can buy a dozen at $3.50 during pick-ups when they are available.


Couples: $3,060 annually
This includes: An average of 3 chickens per month, delivered in halves or whole birds. Rabbit as it is available, about every 5-6 weeks. 1 holiday turkey at any weight. A second holiday turkey will be available to couples at a 25% discount per lb of market price. (i.e.: 2012 turkeys were $4.75/lb- members would pay $3.55/lb) An average of ½ dozen eggs per week. Seasonal produce and specialty items (i.e.: jam, dried products, frozen items etc). Please contact us for a full crop list if you’re interested.

Sample shares based on last season are available upon request. Up to 2 children under the age of 10 are free. Contact us for pricing for older children or family plans.

Payment schedules and options

Individual Deposit: $200 if you sign-up by January 30th, $225 after that date
Couple Deposit: $375 if you sign up by January 30th, $400 after that date

Please select a payment option:

Weekly Payments:

Individuals: $33/50 weeks                                 Couples: $54/50 weeks

Monthly Payments: Choose this option and Save $30 annually with our monthly payment discount!

                                  Individuals: $136/12 months                              Couples: $221/12 months

Full Payments: Choose this option and Save $60 annually with our Paid in Full Discount, plus receive a farm-goodies gift basket full of our specialty items!

Individuals: $1800                                                               Couples: $3,000


We do offer work-discounts on a case by case basis. If you are interested, please contact us to make an arrangement.


Notice of Payment Schedule vs. Share Quantity:
Please understand that we break-up the cost of your share only for your convenience. It does not reflect the amount of product you will receive each week. Due to the nature of agriculture, you will sometimes receive much more in product than the weekly or monthly payment, and sometimes less. Over the course of the year, the value will even out.
Please initial that you have read this notice: _______

Add-Ons (Extras not included in our base pricing)

Extra Chickens: Love to eat chicken and can’t get enough? Members can buy extra birds at a discount. We retail chicken at $5/lb, member price is $4.50/lb.

5 extra chickens - $15 deposit Mark box for 5 extra chickens

10 extra chickens- $25 deposit Mark box for 10 extra chickens

Custom orders for special events or specific number of chickens are available; please contact us with your request.


Summer Turkey: Who says turkey is just for once a year? We love turkey all year long, and are offering a special summer-time batch this year. They will be ready between late-July and August (date announced later in the year). The price per lb of our premium, sustainably raised turkey will range between $4.75 and $5.10. The final price will be available about two weeks before delivery, which is determined by the variable cost of feed. We will be doing our best to keep the cost on the lower end of the range.

Summer Turkey Deposit- $25 per bird Mark box for turkey
Quantity of Whole Turkeys: _________

Rabbit: Rabbit is hard to come by, and we are pleased to include it in our shares on a regular basis. But, we do have some available for retail to spread around the opportunity for all to get some goodness.

Mark this box if you would like us to contact you when extra rabbit is
available:

Pasture Raised Pork:
This is our first year offering pork!! There is a lot of information that comes with deciding to order pork from us, so for right now- just mark the box if you need the details.

Contact me with details about pork

Delivery Information:
Members will be responsible for picking up their weekly shares at the farm. Albany members will be able to pick up their shares in downtown Albany on Saturday mornings. There will be some deliveries throughout the year that will be on-farm only. We will give everyone at least 3 weeks of notice if this is the case. We only have mandatory on-farm delivery for especially large pick-ups- like stocking up on extra chickens before the winter.

During the holidays and winter-season, our delivery schedule will change based on the holidays and weather. Deliveries will be bi-weekly starting in November and running through May. Any changes to our delivery schedule will be posted on our Facebook, our blog and via email. If we have inclement weather concerns, we will notify you as soon as possible and do our best to increase your order or reschedule the delivery.

If you fail to pick up your share or give less than 48 hours notice that you will not be available to pick up, we will not be responsible for packing you extra items. If you provide notice, we will do our best to increase the amount of your share the week before or the week after the missed date.
Please initial that you have read the delivery notices _____



Contact Information and Signature Agreement


Name ______________________________________________________________________



Address


Phone/ email ______________________________________________________________________

We will not share your contact info with anyone else or use it for any non-farm reason.

I agree to the full payment of the 2013-2014 share. If I pay under a payment-plan, I understand that if I decide to cancel before 6 weeks into my plan-year, I will owe for an entire month but not for the remainder of the season (deposit is not refundable). If I cancel after the first 6 weeks, I understand that I owe the balance of the year. If I have paid in full, it may take up to 60 days for me to receive a refund for the balance of the season as outlined above should I cancel before 6 weeks into my plan year. I understand that the contents of my weekly share will be different each week depending on the season, availability, and unforeseen occurrences. I understand that my weekly share will be filled with fresh high quality food.

Signature: Date:



Total Amount of Deposit Included:


Thank you for supporting local food and small farmers.
We look forward to feeding you!
Kim and Ejay Eisen
Reisenshinefarm.blogspot.com
Reisenshinefarm@gmail.com


Please remit form and payment to:
R’Eisen Shine Farm
133 Under Mountain Rd
Copake, NY 12516



Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Not Wish List

If there is anything I've learned over the past year, it's that you need to put your needs out into the universe and then wait to see what happens. You work towards your goal, but make your intentions very known. Last year, written in blue magic marker was our wish list of projects and/or tools/supplies. As we got through them (and we did, though slowly), it was with great satisfaction that they got crossed out. So, here is a list of things the farm needs and is working towards acquiring. If you have leads on any of these, please email us at reisenshinefarm@gmail.com. Later in the year, we'll re-assess where we are.

We're selling our 2001 Chevy S10 truck. It's not running, needs work. We don't want to fix it because it doesn't make sense for us to invest money in a truck that can't do what we need it to. (It's too small for our farm needs now). It does have a cap, and a bed liner and not a ton of miles (I think less than 150,000) for a farm truck. It would be a great tooling around the city-steader truck, or small farm truck. $1500

We're looking for a cargo van. As long as it runs solid, we're not too concerned about looks. We need it for deliveries. Ideally, it would have towing capacity so we can use it to move our horses if need be, bring pigs to slaughter etc.

In reference to the above, we're looking for a very small livestock trailer. This is more of a long-term need, but we need to start looking now.

We're also looking for larger water storage tanks. We need them for our drip irrigation set up. Ideally, we need a total of 300 gallons worth of storage. But it doesn't need to be all one tank. We're also looking for drip tape, if anyone has some that they are looking to unload.

Our chainsaw kicked the bucket, and it's a very valuable tool on farm. So it's on the list.

Rabbit cages, lots of them. We're expanding the rabbitry and will need more cages. Wire would be fine also. We are also always looking for hog panels, combo fencing, T-posts, and chain link panels. Always.

Draft horse equipment: we need a small plow, disc, and manure spreader. All for a small team (13.2/13.5 hands)

Shop Lights. We use them in our greenhouse.

That's the short list for now. We are always watching craigslist and the other sites too, but figured it couldn't hurt to put it up here. At least, it helps us stay organized at the very least. I wonder how you all out there are doing, are you making your budgets and materials lists?

Bi-Weekly Sign-Up Form




2013 Local Bi-weekly CSA Share Agreement

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) connects people to their local food source. By
joining R’Eisen Shine Farm’s CSA, you are entering into a partnership with the farm in
which you share in the risk and bounty of each season. Your membership helps us pay
for the early season costs of farming: seeds, labor, materials etc.

At R’Eisen Shine Farm Inc we take the idea of community supported agriculture
beyond the vegetable growing season. Our year-round model harkens to a time when
families received most of their food from local growers. In that vein, we offer seasonal
produce and meat year round (primarily poultry and rabbit). As we expand, there will be
opportunities to buy into dairy, sugars (honey/maple syrup), and a greater variety of
meat.

We also differ from traditional models of CSA farms in that we do not specify which of
any of our products constitute a weekly share. Our members can take what they need
or prefer. Each week, you will receive a survey with our available products. We will pack
your share according to your survey.

Our growing methods focus on sustainability and the ethical care of people, plants
and animals. We believe that the animals we raise for meat should have respect and
lives that mimic what nature has built them to do. We reduce our dependency on
fossil fuels by minimizing the amount of tractors or other heavy equipment involved in
our production. We are always open for questions and conversations regarding our
methods- so don’t be afraid to ask!

Bi-Weekly Local Pick Up Share
This is a smaller sized share, good for folks who live close by and either have a very busy schedule, or just want to try some of the products for the year. This share is ONLY offered to those people who pick-up on farm.
Pricing: $930/annually
Deposit Required: $200
Balance Owed: $150 on the first delivery, balance by August 15th unless other arrangements made. **We are open to all forms of payment, including monthly/weekly options.
What this includes:
1 chicken per month, 1 rabbit every other month, seasonal veggies, farm specialities and discount pricing on thanksgiving turkeys. Eggs can be bought when there is surplus for $4.00/dozen (regular pricing is $4.50/dozen).

We do offer work-discounts on a case by case basis. If you are interested, please contact us
to make an arrangement.

Notice of Payment Schedule vs. Share Quantity:
Please understand that we break-up the cost of your share only for your convenience. It does
not reflect the amount of product you will receive each week. Due to the nature of agriculture,
you will sometimes receive much more than the weekly or monthly payment, and sometimes less.Over the course of the year, the value will even out.

Please initial that you have read this notice: _______

Add-Ons (Extras not included in our base pricing)

Extra Chickens: Love to eat chicken and can’t get enough? Members can buy extra
birds at a discount. We retail chicken at $5/lb, member price is $4.50/lb.

5 extra chickens - $5 deposit

10 extra chickens- $10 deposit

Circle for 5 extra chickens

Circle for 10 extra chickens

Delivery Information:
Members will be responsible for picking up their bi-weekly shares at the farm on Saturdays, during the day.

During the holidays and winter-season, our delivery schedule will change based on the
holidays and weather. Deliveries will be once a month starting in November and running
through May. Any changes to our delivery schedule will be posted on our Facebook, our
blog and via email. If we have inclement weather concerns, we will notify you as soon
as possible and do our best to increase your order or reschedule the delivery.

If you fail to pick up your share or give less than 48 hours notice that you will not be
available to pick up, we will not be responsible for packing you extra items. If you
provide notice, we will do our best to increase the amount of your share the week before
or the week after the missed date.
Please initial that you have read the delivery notices _____

Contact Information and Signature Agreement


Name ________________________________________________________________________

Address
________________________________________________________________________

Phone/ email
________________________________________________________________________

We will not share your contact info with anyone else or use it for any non-farm reason.

I agree to the full payment of the 2013-2014 share. If I pay under a payment-plan, I
understand that if I decide to cancel before 6 weeks into my plan-year, I will owe for
an entire month but not for the remainder of the season (deposit is not refundable).
If I cancel after the first 6 weeks, I understand that I owe the balance of the year. I
understand that the contents of my weekly share will be different each week depending
on the season, availability, and unforeseen occurrences. I understand that my weekly
share will be filled with fresh high quality food.

Signature:

Date:

Total Amount of Deposit Included:



Thank you for supporting local food and small farmers.
We look forward to feeding you!
Kim and Ejay Eisen
Reisenshinefarm.blogspot.com
Reisenshinefarm@gmail.com

Please remit form and payment to:
R’Eisen Shine Farm
133 Under Mountain Rd
Copake, NY 12516

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A very long delivery day deserves...

This. All of it. Plus French fries that were still cooking when I took the photo. On the spoon there is our own farm-made ketchup. It's going to be really hard to go back to store bought after such an indulgence. Next summer- we need to grow even more tomatoes!!!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Signs

It's cold and spitting snow here. But spring is on her way. Know how I know? It's almost five thirty and when I went to go lock up the barn and coop- all the hens came rushing out and are still out pecking. Sure sign that the weather is shifting to the end of winter.