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.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Introducing Tic, Tac & Toe

The first piglets were born last week. (June 2nd for those counting) It is very exciting, now that the nervous stage is over. While the litter was surprisingly small, Mama Doodle seems to be doing well at rearing these little piglets thus far. It is her (and our) first litter of piglets.

They are so very small when they are born (and still). Especially when you compare the 3 lb piglets with their 500 lb mama. Fortunately, she is being careful around them and they are learning to keep clear of her big hooves. Already at just over a week old, they are trying to dig in the dirt, chewing on grass and tumbling over each other. That is when they aren't nursing or burrowed in the straw for a nap.

More pictures and stories to come as they get bigger, but here are the littlest ones on the farm.

And their names - Tic, Tac and Toe because the naming theme for 2009 is Games. So all animals we acquire in 2009 will have a game name. Feel free to submit your favorites. Two new doelings to be named this week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Piglets, Plants, and Lattes on the Hoof

A lot has happened on GMG Farm in the past two weeks!

After many days of anticipation, Doodle gave birth to her first litter of piglets. It was a small litter, and we are excited to welcome the three piglets, Tic, Tac, and Toe, to the farm! Doodle is doing a great job nursing and taking care of them, and we are often compelled to simply stand and watch them burrow through hay or nuzzle up to their mom for milk.

The hoop house is now full with tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, and eggplants. The recent wind storm ripped the south side of the hoop house out of the ground, but Buzz, Will and DJ successfully put the poles back down in the ground where they belong the next day.

We have been busy transplanting into the main garden, and though we are currently working around a killdeer nest--a ground nesting bird that lays speckled eggs--kale, chard, cumin, parsley, brussels sprouts, lettuce, broccoli, onions, and more are digging their roots down deeper into the soil and growing each day.

As always, the goats are milked twice a day: in the morning and at night. And what better way to start the day than with a latte? Mari brewed some fresh coffee and we added the milk right from the source for the freshest lattes you can get! Thanks to Jenga the goat for the delicious milk!

Want to be involved in the fun? Check out the Green Mountain Girls Farm CSA, beginning in July, and make connections with the farm while adding delicious local food to your home.