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.
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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