Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Doodle's Piglets

Yes, it may seem as if we are only pig farmers if you read this blog lately. We promise to share other farm stories, but it is true that with 3 sows farrowing in November and December, the pigs are quite prominent. Santa came early and Doodle delivered her piglets on Monday, Dec 21st, right on schedule. The birthing hours are exciting and a bit nerve-racking. Laura was home with the crew while the Omland's celebrated an early Christmas, leading to recommendations of skipping the game theme for names and going right to Santa's reindeer.

She had 8 strong piglets by 11 pm, but one didn't survive the night. A misstep by Doodle seemed to have been the cause. Those 4 lb piglets have to be careful and lucky to not get stepped on by their 750 lb mama. Another, since named Tiny Tim, had his leg broken and cut probably by her hoof. He, however, is growing nicely, in his bathroom suite in the house, though still not using his leg.

Now they are nursing and growing and exploring their surroundings. After just one week, they no longer seem so fragile. And as we glance over at the older piglets, only 5 & 7 weeks old, we can hardly believe that soon they will be that big. [Photo is piglets at 1 -4 hours old; video is them at 1 week old]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter has Arrived!

It was slow in coming (lucky for us 'just in time' farmers), but winter has arrived in full force. In the span of 10 days we will have 10 inches of snow, wind, sleet and sub-zero temperatures.

When it first arrived 10 days ago, we weren't really ready, but now Winter can come. All of the animals staying with us for the winter are in the barn or hoop house, the outside fencing is finished, and most of the tools and such have been rescued from the snow. Phew! Now we can breathe a sigh of relief, start enjoying the snow and holiday season and wait for the arrival of Doodle's piglets. We think Santa will come a bit early with them, but hopefully after this cold snap.

Winter's arrival also means, a new slideshow! Do note fall, summer and spring photos are always available in the albums at our picasa site: http://picasaweb.google.com/greenmtngirls

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Piglet Update

We have 11 happy piglets from 2 litters (Fife Nov 9 & Madison Nov 22). Most notable characteristics -- their rapid growth and fast speed. They all are getting to be quite substantial. No more worries about them being too cold as they are growing well, have moved into the hoop house, and now sleep in an 11 piglet pile. When the run and play, they are fast. They also love to dig in the dirt, wrestle with each other, and imitate the sows. Overall, they bring much joy. Here are some photos and videos for the curious.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

We try to hold gratitude as part of our daily life, but certainly holidays in general and especially Thanksgiving, remind us to take a step back and consider how fortunate we are. This Thanksgiving, we find ourselves thankful for many new things in addition to good health, lovely friends and supportive family. We get to celebrate and express appreciation for a successful farming year.

As part of that we are so very thankful to everyone who is making it possible:
  • Our farm share members, who are also contributors of time, products and most of all encouragement;
  • Liva and Katie who have kept us sane and make it possible to produce such great food;
  • All those (and they are many) who have helped us create spaces for growing vegetables, housing animals and various other projects to make us effective and efficient;
  • The farmers, neighbors and other folks who have and continue to mentor us and answer all of our various questions;
  • Certainly to our diverse and mostly lovely set of livestock for their general willingness to work with our system; thrive here in Vermont and produce tasty milk, meat, and eggs;
  • And of course to Uno, Hop & Scotch for doing what they can to herd, hunt and spread joy.
We feel very fortunate to have landed in this community and continue to be delighted that our small farm can provide not only local, healthy food, but also a source of learning, community and joy for people.

As we sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, know that in addition to expressing thanks for the food, which will have been mostly grown here on our farm; we will be expressing thanks for all of you who are not only making this possible, but also making our work joyful.

With much gratitude and wishes for a wonderful holiday,

Laura & Mari
Green Mountain Girls Farm

Friday, November 20, 2009

Here's to Risks

This evening Laura and I had a somber and somewhat soggy toast with dinner. "Here's to Risks". We were honoring little Risk-the-Runt who didn't beat the 50/50 odds the books gave him. We were also celebrating risk-taking. Not the kind of risk that invites danger. We don't think we caused the little guy acute suffering and we were not trying to be heroic. It just looked like he had a shot at living on even though he failed to thrive amongst his 6 siblings. We are glad we invested in him. Amazed at how quickly heart strings entangle. Heartened by the interest others took in the little guy. And rekindled in our appreciation for life and its fragility.

Scotch the kitten reminds us it is worthwhile to take risks and gain new perspective.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanks to the Turkeys

People warned us that turkeys are mean and unpleasant, but ours have been a joy. In fact, they are some of the lowest maintenance animals on our farm. They do love to eat, but mostly they wait patiently for their turn, though they do mob you for food some days. And they didn't even complain when their shelter was inundated with water the day we got 4 inches of rain in just a few hours. (Thanks to star visitors, we got that shelter moved in a flash.) Their happiness is quite evident when we move them to a new pasture. They gobble up the fresh grasses and make happy turkey noises.

We have enjoyed their displays and various chirps, barks and gobbles, but their time on our farm has come to an end. No turkeys will be pardoned, but we do take a moment to thank them for the joy and nutrition they will bring to many this holiday season.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Risk, the Runt

Risk seemed like an appropriate name for our littlest, runty piglet as we took him away from his six rambunctious siblings and Fife this morning. Risk is 1/3 the size of the others, if that, and now that Fife's other 6 piglets are scampering about, wrestling and chewing on each other, the runt was getting roughed up and abused. This morning, the humane choices were to euthanize the runt or see it we could nurse him.

We made the decision to pull him out, try bottle feeding him with some goat's milk and see if he could get a bit stronger. This is generally against our better judgment -- figuring they are better off with their kind and available milk 24/7. Which is what we had been deciding for the past few days. He was strong and tenacious enough to make it through some cold nights and negotiating 6 sibling piglets and a 500 pound Mama - maybe he'll make it.

"God, I can't believe we are doing this," Mari said several times today. We are bottle feeding a 5 day old piglet. At just 2 pounds, he is very precarious. I am glad to report he is taking the bottle, but only time will tell. And how we are to fit in 16 feedings a day, we are not so sure. Nor do we know how much a 2 lb piglet should be drinking. I am sure many farmers would think we are crazy and wasting our time. But clearly, we have a soft spot for the underdogs and decided to give him a chance.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fife and Her Piglets Bring Joy

It is amazing how quickly the piglets grow. Don't get me wrong, they are still very small, but it is amazing that in less than 5 days we can really see a difference. They seem less fragile now, which lets us farmers sleep a little easier on a 20 degree night and they are very cute. Already, they are coming out of their shelter to dig around in the dirt, putting those noses to work at a young age. Fife is doing a great job in her new role as a mama pig and we have 6 strong piglets (4 boys & 2 girls) and 1 runt that seems tough, but she does worry us.

We have already been asked about names for the piglets -- yes, they need names. It is still 2009 so we need game names - do feel free to send your nominations. Hopefully we need a lot, because Madison, Fife's sister, is due next week. Words don't really due justice to the piglets, so I'll stop here and just add some images. (Check out the slide show to the right for additional photos!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mis en Place*

Fife, just 24 hours into motherhood, grunted to urge back the wandering piglet. Simultaneously she used her snout to toss some straw into the corner of her farrowing hut, where the pile of straw combined with heat lamps keep the squiggly bunch of eight piglets warm. We farmers worry if it is warm enough but otherwise are thrilled. We’ll sleep well tonight with all this in place. Fife seems to be doing a great job figuring it all out. Without immunity and with the 2 to 500 pound ratio not in the piglets' favor uncertainty lingers. And we are sobered since the ninth piglet didn’t make it. Luckily the compost pile reached the optimal 140 degrees F earlier in the week, the temperature required to ensure a clean outcome. So the ninth piglet too is covered and warm, in its place.

As November advances winter readiness projects proceed at a snappy pace. Mark has used patience, 2x4s, trigonometry and scrap wood to finesse snug sides for the second hut. Collin, Forrest and Mari assembled 100 cedar posts and associated lumber to install a new fence around the winter loafing areas. Laura and Liva sorted and topped copious crates of lovely carrots and turnips. These will be stored with other delicious storage veggies in Kati’s root cellar.

Our friend MJ introduced us to the concept of Mis en place. MJ, taking some days off from her work at the Food Network to prepare for Greek exams (she does Classics on the side), generously coached us on our home catering exploits and cooked turnip champ. We learned a ton and ate well.

Mising en placing seems endless to Mari and Laura! It seems inevitable that snow and cold will seize in place some tools and plants that haven’t gotten prioritized on our mega-spreadsheet of projects! Soon after that we’ll be able to see less and less that is out of place, if we are lucky enough to get a blanket of snow anything like the last two winters! Snow or no snow we know we’ve landed in a wonderful place for us right now. It is because of all of you and your tomato pies, blog feedback, hands-on-help and overall encouragement. Thanks.

*Mise en place (pronounced [miz ɑ̃ plas]) is a French phrase defined as "everything in place", as in set up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mise_en_place

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Marbles..goat or is he Tigger?

Marbles, our 5 week old kid goat, makes me think of Winnie the Pooh's friend Tigger so very often. I even get the Tigger song in my head, "They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. But the most wonderful things about Tiggers, is I'm the only one."

Marbles bounces and jumps, on whatever is around. On his mother, Martha, on the wall, me, hay bales. He has a zest for life. Most of our animals have a great zest for life, but Marbles tops them at the moment. You can't help but laugh as you watch him. He even has a habit of hurdling over Martha when they are outside. I think just because he can. Why not? It is good to embrace what we can do when we can do it, right? I don't think he'll be able to bounce that high forever. But if he can, we'll think about a circus act.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Snow...on Oct 13th?!

Now, we love snow...just not in early or even mid-October. The forecast said it was coming, but it was still a shock to awake to 3 inches of snow on the ground and it still coming down. Makes a farmer think they are way behind, then you remember that it is only early October. We should have some warm fall days for growing and getting ready for winter.

Fortunately, for most of our fall crops the snow is much easier to handle than hail. And the animals have gotten over it...for the most part. Pigs don't mind, but the chickens had a very quiet morning, trying to avoid stepping in the snow at all costs. The rest of us are looking forward to some sunny fall days and THEN a very snowy winter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A New Kid on the Farm!

Yesterday morning around 10:00 we welcomed Martha's new kid to the world! When I arrived at the farm a few hours earlier, Laura warned me that it would happen soon, so to keep an eye on the goat while she and Mari headed to an appointment. As I was getting ready to bring food to the pigs and chicks, I looked over at Martha and saw another tiny head peeking up from the grass! So much excitement and wonder bubbled up inside me, and I immediately called Laura and Mari with the good news.

Needless to say, the birth trumped everything else on the to-do list that day, and we spent hours observing the new duo, making sure he was nursing and she was getting water and grain. Martha did a fantastic job, and she is doing well post-birth. The new kid is a boy, with gangly legs and light brown hair. As our vet Allison said, baby goats have an unfair amount of charm! (Katie)

Katie's call came with the good news and I rushed home. What a delight to see this little buff bundle. Martha stepping right into her mama role, licking him dry. Katie briefed me on what she had observed. Over time it became a concern that he hadn't yet milked. We took shifts watching and stepped in to try to orient the little guy but the right things weren't happening. Ultimately we milked Martha and Katie calmly held baby buckling while we tubed the vital colostrum (special milk of the first hours) into his tummy. Phew! A short while later we placed him on her teat and he got it right. (Mari)

I was the last to meet our cute bundle of fluff. He is all legs! I am in awe that Martha managed to smoothly give birth to all of those legs. She gets major points for having a simple, uncomplicated birth. We can only hope most of our animals follow her footsteps. He is still working on mastering feeding..but eventually he finds the right spot. Not bad for his first 12 hours. And we are all so excited to have a new little one on the farm and to add Martha (in a few weeks) to our milking team. (Laura)

The Name: Marbles, because game names are the 2009 theme and Marbles was a favorite game at Mount Vernon during the Washington's era, apparently especially for the young slave boys. So Martha's (after Martha Washington) new kid is to be Marbles, a favorite game of her era.

Stay tuned for more stories, photos and videos of Marbles!

Here is a video of the kid's first steps!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kale Cake Anyone?

I know what you're thinking: it looks like an angel food cake, but it can't be...it's green! Well, perhaps angels do eat kale. After all, it is good for you. This leafy green is a hearty crop that can grow in the early spring and into early winter. It is packed with vitamins A, C, K, and E (an antioxidant), and it contains calcium and iron. But the most amazing thing about this vegetable is it's sulforaphanes and indoles, which may help protect against cancer! Besides the amazing nutritional value of kale, it is incredibly versatile. You can cook it like spinach, put it in eggs, casseroles, salads, stir-frys, on pizzas, and anything else your imagination comes up with! Maybe even cake...

All of this excitement over kale comes after a long afternoon of blanching and freezing it for the winter. After months of growing and harvesting the crops to eat fresh, we are now in the processing, canning and freezing mode. I have to admit, it is so fun to play in the kitchen after a hot morning of chores, fencing and weeding. And when we find ourselves in the middle of winter pining for green, all we'll have to do is open the freezer, turn on the stove, and heat up the kale!

here's a good website for more information on kale: http://health.learninginfo.org/kale.htm

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top 5 Things Kids Love at the Farm

Yesterday there were 5 kids at Green Mountain Girls Farm--the human kind, that is. Here is a compendium of their favorite things to do:

1) Riley: Likes to "pick up chicks" and is very proud of her accomplishment, "I catched the black and white one with my hands."

2) Thessalie: Enjoys playing with the piglets, especially Tac. She spent time petting them (their hair is "not very soft") and watching them eat the apples she collected by the pond.

3) Lou: Prefers above all else to go see Ingrid, his adopted goat. He likes to pet and hug her, and slip her the apple and poplar leaves he's gathered.

4) Ella: Loves giving the piglets a mud bath (and harvesting kale--couldn't decide which was better).

5) Jack: Likes giving clover to the goats (which Grandma Liz picked for them).

The big news of the day? Ella has adopted Myst (seen here with Mahjong and Thessalie behind them), which ensures that she'll be back up at Green Mountain Girls Farm very soon to visit!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Life, Death, and Roosters

I caught my first rooster this morning as Mari, Laura, and I rounded up 25 of our birds that were on their way to slaughter. It sounds so awful, I know- slaughter. It brings up this gruesome image of a fearful and messy death, an image that does not match with the love and care that we have given the roosters since they first came to us this spring. Death is a delicate thing on a farm; you can spend months doing nothing but nurture an animal and it may still get a diseased hoof or a high parasite load. Plants, too, may get decimated by a hailstorm or drowned out by a rainy summer. If something unexpected doesn’t happen, the day will still come when the chickens or pigs are ready to go, and the vegetables are begging to be picked.

So how does a farmer find balance? For one to live, another must always die. For the peas to prosper, the weeds that crowd them must be torn out of the soil (though I must admit there are days when I get tired of weeding and want to shout: stop pulling it out! Stop this uprooting, stop this wearisome chore that hurts my back and dries my hands).

A farmer puts all of her energy into creating food, which allows people to live. She joyfully watches vegetables grow, she comes to love the animals she raises, and she must recognize that the only way to say goodbye is to integrate herself into the cycle. Kale is cut and eaten and provides the body with iron; pigs turn to pork which turns to protein; strawberries are plucked and their sweetness brings sugar to bodies. There is always an end and a beginning, and on the farm we have the blessing to be present for both: the birth of piglets, the raising of chicks to chickens, the planting and harvesting of crops—it is a miraculous thing to watch it all grow and to intimately know the energy it takes to make it happen.

I played a part in this cycle today when I said goodbye to the roosters this morning and ate one for dinner tonight. It is the freshest chicken I have ever eaten, and though some people say they couldn’t eat an animal they knew, I find that it brings greater appreciation for the meal. When I sat down to dinner with my mom after roasting the chicken in a maple glaze for an hour, I thanked the bird once again for its life and for the nourishment it was bringing me. Maybe it was the glaze, maybe the company, maybe the countless days of feeding the roosters, or maybe it was all of this, but whatever went into this bird, it was delicious!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday Chores

Farming, like many other jobs, is hard work. Like my previous job, I love it, but some days I am tired and wish that substitute would arrive. Yesterday was one of those days -- a rainy Sunday after some busy, busy weeks. After an afternoon of lunch out (Skinny Pancake, a great crepe restaurant in Montpelier using lots of local food - sorry for the sidebar) and errands, we returned home to pouring rain, wondering...do our animals really need to be fed and milked tonight? Ok, that was just a rhetorical question. Maybe the real question was, where is the Sunday evening chore elf, so we could be lazy?

But no chore elf, so off to the fields we went. Mari, so kind, slogged to the fields in the pouring rain, while I milked. But as I sat there with Scrabble on the milking stand, I looked out to see an amazing rainbow. I thought to myself, really, this is quite lovely. A rainy evening, the sound of milk hitting the pail, a happy goat next to me and an amazing rainbow. So peaceful. As I walked her back to the barn, I looked north towards Paine Mountain. The clouds were just like a painting. In that moment, there were few better places to be than walking on our farm with Mari and our animals.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Time heals all wounds

Time heals all wounds, is how the saying goes and two weeks has healed many of the hail wounds in the garden. In some ways it is miraculous. I thought many of our brassicas (Broccoli, cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, etc.) were going to be a loss, and I was sure all of the lettuce was on its way to the pigs and chickens. But most are moving on, growing strong and producing bounty for us to eat. There have been some losses—the snap peas were a casualty, so no more peas until the end of the season when a fall round matures. The melons, already unhappy with the cool rainy summer, just didn’t hold up to the hail nor did the tomatoes or peppers we had outside. (Fortunately most were in the hoop house) Many things have been set back a bit, but they will come.
Again, I can go out into the garden with amazement and pride, though the reminders of the power of hail remain. We are quite lucky.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hail Humbles

In just a half hour yesterday evening, our field crops went from beautiful to decapitated and shredded. Hail. Powerful hail. Not only were the pieces big, ranging from dime size to 1/2 dollar size, but it was pelting down. I think we and the pigs have some bruises from getting hit by the hail. And you can start to imagine what happens to lettuce, chard, tomatillos, onions, etc when they are pelted with ice balls. It isn't pretty. Our beautiful lettuce heads, Optima green bib went from gorgeous to flattened. Chard..a bit shredded. It looks like some crops will be a loss and others will survive, but maybe be set back a bit and certainly they won't look near as pretty. But our neighbors Mark, Donna & Magen came and cleared the ice balls away from the tomatillo stalks, and we will assess more today.

We are thankful for the hoop house - the majority of our tomatoes were nicely protected; for our friends and neighbors for helping out; and for having a diversified farm.
Ok, time to see what can be salvaged from the garden and to plant some more seeds!

Want to see more photos of the Hail? Check them out.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Craig's List has Everything!

Garlic Scapes, Yum! I love garlic and I love garlic scapes, and it turns out, I love Craig's List too - and they do go together. Garlic scapes, for the unintiated, are the flower stalk of the plant. They are curvy, tall and beautiful in flower bouquets and they are the first taste of garlic for the year after we have run out from the previous season.

Last fall, sadly, we didn't get our garlic crop in the ground due to construction of the hoop house and other start up projects. No worries, Craig's List to the rescue. Mari hit the jackpot trolling Craig's List one night and we bought a garlic crop from a farmer who relocated from Vermont to Michigan last month, leaving his garlic behind. As some of you probably know, you can buy anything on Craig's List, gotta love it!

So last Saturday, we headed to South Hero, VT (on the islands in Lake Champlain) to visit our garlic. We weeded the garlic, cut the scapes and enjoyed the day. Now we have garlic scapes which you can chop up and use like garlic and we made garlic scape pesto! This is one for garlic lovers - who needs basil. It is great on bread, as a base for pizza, tossed with pasta or as a starter for any number of other dishes. Hmm...what will we next find on Craig's List?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Morning Milking

An old friend asked me what I was up to now that I’ve graduated and when I told her I’m working on a farm, her response was, “Working on a farm eh? Where is this farm? And what do you get to do??? Do you like wake up at the crack of dawn and help with the pigs?”

I wake up at 5:30 in the morning, but it is to the breath of dawn. For dawn doesn’t open the day with a sudden crack, but rather it slowly creeps up from the horizon, stretching and subtly shifting the navy sky to periwinkle and pale yellow. I take my time in the morning, moving slowly like the sky as I wake up, and many days I ride my bike the 13 miles from my house to the farm.

When I arrive in Northfield, I do help with the pigs, but my first morning chore is milking the goats. Jenga, Scrabble, and Owari climb up on the fence to greet me as I enter the barn, and they are always anxious to be milked and then put on pasture. I take them out one by one, Scrabble first and Jenga last, and lead them to the milking station in the barn garage.

Even though there are many things to get done each day, this time in the morning is usually calm, and a contentedness slips over me as I look out at the pasture and the forest at the edge of the farm while the goats stand next to me and eat their grain.

When all the milking is done and the goats are out on pasture, the other daily tasks begin: feeding the pigs, chickens and non-milking goats, setting new fences for the animals, weeding, harvesting, bug patrol, transplanting and seeding, and anything else that may pop up on the to-do list. Even when the list is long, we make sure to take some time to simply look at the animals; it’s important to observe their actions but it’s also gratifying—the goats always look so happy out in a fresh field!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Much Green Can I Eat In a Week?

The snap peas stole the show at our little farm stand at the Northfield Farmers Market this week. We all laughed when a woman approached us waxing poetically about early peas but then probed deeply with a question many of us are asking ourselves as summer crescendos... "How much green CAN I eat in a week"?!

Earlier in the week we had stayed up late painting signs in the barn, hoping to convince folks to press that very edge! And to also consider bringing home THE bacon. Our delicious bacon made so by the combination of being from a heritage breed (Tamworth), locally pastured and organically managed. The Green Mountain Girls had recently picked up the bacon having first taken two pigs to Royal Butcher in Randolph, then rushing the hams and bacon to Vermont Smoke and Cure in Barre. How fun is this... the maple syrup Vermont Smoke and Cure uses is from our friends and neighbors Hannah and Ray Morvan who run Sweet Retreat!

We are thrilled Vern DuClos and others have worked to create a Farmers Market in Northfield. Folks have welcomed us to the green and we are thrilled to be adding to the vibrancy of our community even while we are humbled by the all-out efforts of peers. Chip and Sarah Natvig of Pebble Brook Farm have an especially inspired stand seen here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

"Your garden is kickin'!" "Your brassicas look great!" Recent comments from friends have the Green Mountain Girls feeling pleased with progress in the garden.

Mind you, we aren't getting cocky, there are still frequent trips out for bug control and gratitude that after multiple forecasts of possible hail, none has come our way. We are also appreciative of our well drained soils -- as I write another deluge drenches us.

The above photo shows chard, kale, lettuce, onions, broccoli and cabbage coming into their prime. More distant rows host beans, beets and carrots. And this week we are planting lots of seeds for winter storage crops -- huh, with all this green around winter, (a true love in its own right), is hard to even conjure up! Anyway, while I'm excited about the piglets and Mamma Doodle getting in the newspaper, looking around the garden today I thought... hey you plants ought to also be admired!

I flash back to seeding sessions with our neighbor Kati as early as February and smile as I think about the mega-spreadsheet that keeps us on track toward enabling these plants to thrive... seeding them in the right regime and amending the soil to meet the requirements of each, all the while attending to organic standards. Not to mention planting an adequate yet reasonable amount of each... otherwise the Green Mountain Girls will be tossing zucchinis rather than tootsie rolls from the Labor Day parade float! Anyone interested in the behind the blog view of the farm might want to glimpse this tool that keeps us on track inch by inch and row by row.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Wet, but Fun Open House

Despite the ongoing rain, about 100 people took the opportunity to tour our farm last week. The piglets were a star attraction (of course), receiving plenty of attention for their playfulness. Visitors' encouragement and their media debut on the front page of the Montpelier Times-Argus may be going to their heads though.

Dozens of names were suggested for the new lambs, including Blackjack, Clue and even Eeny, Meeny, Miny and Moe. There are so many good names, we haven't been able to make final choices. And our goats didn't seem to mind (too much) having a large audience for the evening's milking session.

We had a grand time making food and talking with folks. Much thanks to friends, family and neighbors who helped make the event a success. From spit roasting a goat to making cheese and giving tours, several other people helped us "host" the event. We were able to serve food almost entirely from our farm, with the exception of those handy grains (chips, bread, rice, etc.). The Barbecue Pork was a particular favorite. Mari noted that for someone coming off two decades as a vegetarian, I made a mean barbecue.

One reason for the open house is that we love sharing our farm and offering people an opportunity to see how food can be raised humanely and sustainably. And it sure was fun having 100 people join us! So much fun, we are already thinking about how and when to do it again.

Thanks to those who joined us and we look forward to seeing more of you at the farm in the future. We added some photos from the event to the Blog's summer slide show (top of the page on the right) and stay tuned for more piglet and other farm updates.

Meat, vegetables, eggs and milk are available directly from the farm, at the Northfield Farmers' Market and we have a few shares left for our Omnivore's Farm Share. Contact us with any questions.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Open House / Farm Tour - Rain or not

We have already lit the fire and the spit is ready to roll , so please drop in (Rain or no Rain - doesn't seem like we will have shine) and celebrate summer at the Green Mountain Girls Farm Thursday, July 2nd from 4-8pm. (More details & directions here)
We have great indoor spaces to sample food and the new lambs in the barn need your help with names.

This "open house" style gathering will feature games, farm tours and of course, sampling tasty farm food. Meet Tic, Tac and Toe the new piglets, Jenga and the rest of our milking goats and chicks galore. They all adore attention!

And peek in at our, (work in progress), barn event space and guest house. The cozy finished space will provide beds for 6 with a private relaxation space, kitchen and bath. The event space comfortably seats 40.

Also note there are still shares available for our Omnivores Farm Share
Call or email us with any questions
802-505-1767 or 802-505-1768

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Act of Eating

This past Tuesday Mari and I went to a Rural Vermont raw milk processing workshop at Earthwise Farm and Forest in Bethel, and we learned how to make butter, fromage blanc, ricotta cheese, and yogurt. It was amazing how simple these things are to make!

That night for dinner I had a muffin with butter on it and yogurt with fruit, and as I took my first bite I realized that everything I was eating (aside from the fruit, which was from the coop) I had made myself. It felt so satisfying to intimately know the time and care put into nourishing myself, and I realized that the preparation and eating of these foods brings more than just physical nourishment. The practices of planting, picking, milking, mixing, pouring, baking, cooking, and eating bring a clarity to food that is so often forgotten when we fail to think about where our food comes from. When the act of eating becomes a meditation, it allows me to not only connect with the immediate sense of taste, but also to understand the efforts that allowed me to have this meal.

After working on the farm for a month now, I am convinced that food tastes better when you know the care and time that went into it. As the summer season progresses, the gardens are filling in more each day; the tomatoes are flowering and I'm excitedly looking forward to the first fruit. Tell me, what will be better than that first juicy bite of a brandywine after helping it grow?

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Dusk advanced. Yet I still hoped to till our main veggie garden prior to rains predicted to start at midnight and continue for a few days. Lights on, a self-coaching voice prompting me to “stay alert”, “look for big rocks”, I startled and backed off on the throttle. My mind took in a bright white chest barred with two black bands. Next I saw her orange-buff rump, as the adult Killdeer did her broken wing display trying to distract me from her nest of 4 beautiful speckled eggs.

Sandwiched between two ecologist brothers, one an ornithologist, and having done some of my own birding I often can come up with a guess at a bird. But I get insecure, the calls and names blend together. Outside the most common ones, I have to relearn calls each year. This one I knew from youth. I remember learning it from my Dad on evening walks around Mr. Connor’s fields. The name stuck with me where others didn’t. For the last 28 days the frequent “Killdeer” call has linked my past and present.

How fitting it was that today when we discovered 3 tiny replicas of Mama and Papa Kill Deer that my Dad was visiting! I wish we could share photos of their bright white chests with black bands… but these guys are born running. Like chickens, ducks and other precocial birds, they hatch from a larger than average egg eyes wide open, fluffy of feather and ready to run. As we planted successions of bush beans today the 3 little ones scooted around with both parents close at hand, demonstrating their (fake) broken wing whenever we got too close to the day-old birds. One egg remains on the nest which can be found in an island of weeds and cover crops which will be tilled in and planted over as soon as these little guys find their wings. For this precocious species it will only be a few days.