Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rewind to Summer

Alas, a whole darn summer has slipped through my blogging fingers! Do you want to know why?
Or maybe you didn't notice the silent VF bloggity blog blog. That is fine, too!
I will tell you.
One part technological frustration (weird assortment of cranky cameras), one part old fashioned busy, and one part giving myself a break. The first two you get, the last one is, of course, the story of our business and life here. 'Giving myself a break' stems from the crazy winter of hospitals we had last winter and the promise to myself somewhere in one of those corridors that I would, well, give myself a break whenever and however I could for the next year. So I let the 'you should write a blog entry' voices go right out of my brain. All summer!
Here are a few summer shots I did manage to capture.  The above one is Joseph walking Lucky, our spring born steer, in the Freedom Bicentennial Parade. It was a highlight of my summer. That boy walked and talked to that calf all spring to ready themselves for the parade. Good to have a goal. And a pal.

And this is farmer Prentice, driving our Allis Chalmers G cultivating tractor in the same parade. I think that is an American flag stuck in the back toolbar there.

And below, Brownie, who seemed to be in this state quite a bit this summer. A few weeks ago, Prentice had the boys rolling in laughter as he sang to the tune of any-old-tune, "Someone has busted brownie's door. It won't shut. The poor old door." Prentice thought there was a barnyard collision, perhaps--a tractor back-up into the door or something like that. But, no.
No collision. No errant motorist.
Just sag.
The frame is so rusted, the driver side door just won't shut anymore.
This will not make Brownie weather-tight.
This is yet another of Brownie's many problems.

The To Do List as of July 10 or so. You see all the gaps where things done got erased? The crew and Prentice make a To Do List every Monday morning together as they think about the week. Any one of us can make an addition as new jobs are noted.

We grew some beautiful ginger in Hoophouse 1 this summer. This is about half sized, I would say. It was a trial for us. We have sold all of it to our wholesale accounts. We did not give any to the CSA members but plan to next year. Much more to come next year, for sure. What a delight! The hoophouse smelled like warm ginger tea all summer.

The flower and pepper house--Hoophouse 2.

The newly expanded Hoophouse 3. This year it was full of tomatoes. Next year we will expand hoophouse 2 to 100ft long and fill that space with tomatoes. The winter brings the laying hens to the barnyard and they get moved into one of the hoophouses.  This year they will inhabit Hoophouse 2 for the deep winter months, feast on dropped peppers, bugs, worms and grubs and soak in the sunlight. We love that our animals are part of our farm system. As with any interconnectedness we allow or cultivate, mutual benefits abound.
One last summer shot before we fast forward to Fall with the next post. Travel safely, be well and our very best to one and all,
Polly and co.

Friday, May 31, 2013

6 a.m. May 31st, 2013

The photos above record an hour or so of this morning's adventure. The crew and Prentice have been erecting the ribs of this hoop house all week. This morning's weather was warm and still, so we all got to it bright and early. The boys trickled out one by one as they woke, with Big Brother Joseph shepherding them from pillow to worksite.

Seems that many people ask us "Do your kids help out on the farm?"
And we answer, "Yes and no."

We seldom ask them to show up while we hustle through a project or double-check an order heading to town. . . That approach has proved very difficult for all. But a nice and easy "many hands on deck" job like this one, good weather, no bugs.  . .Yes. Harvesting pumpkins? Washing many cases of cucumbers? Yes. These are all good jobs to involve the children.

We want our children to enjoy the farm. It is about all we do from March to November!! So at their ages, we encourage but do not demand participation in the work around the place. We don't expect any of them to grow up and take VF over but if one, two or all three of them like this farming life enough to continue it . . . great,. They will have a good piece of land and a bunch of infrastructure like the hoophouse "skinned" this morning to work with.

Top of the mornin' to you.
Polly and co.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cowboys, Cowgirls and Sheriffs

Warm greetings from Village Farm!
"Field and Forest Report": (To quote our beloved WERU commentator Rob McCall's Awanadjo Almanac) Apple blossom season is right before and overlaps with lilac season. Apple blossoms follow plum blossoms. Dandelions' blooms are waning. Getting ready to pop with their floaty seeds. The cows are finally and gleefully out to pasture. Hannah is hoping to get a hive of bees going this summer. We are hoping she does!

Barnyard Report: Abe and Ben have caught the entrepreneurial bug and have both opened barnyard "stores." Ben sells "Seaglass, Rocks and Things" and as you can see here, Abe sells whatever I will let him take from the kitchen. Most often apples and raisins. Come on by, pardners, if you need some grub.
(Note to Kathy and Aunt Ewe: Excuse my misspelling of SHERIFF. . .you can see by the scratch-out that I did struggle to find the right letters!)
And you can see the splatters on the wall from a long ago art project? The patina of this house is definitely growing with these three boys and their non-stop exuberance!

Garden Report: All the rain of late has slowed down the planting fury and has afforded the crew the time to start erecting a new hoophouse that will make a 100 footer out of a formerly 50 footer.
We watch the weeds grow in rainy weather but do not tread in the gardens for fear of compacting (damaging) the soil structure. It looks like later this week is going to heat right up in time for our June 1st Seedling Sale (10 am to 2 pm--come on by!!!) and in time for a lot of weeding and cultivating.

The summer CSA begins in 3 weeks! We are going to have gorgeous kale, bok choi, salad greens, herbs and lettuce heads for you members. And we will not forget the micro greens for that first pick up.

We send our best and many thanks for supporting our Village Farm.
Polly and co.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Looking around

Warm greetings from Village Farm!

With the CSA beginning in a month, I figured I best be getting in blogging shape again.
Actually, blogging and jogging have a bit more than "ogging" in common. Best to start slow. Take deep breaths. Look around.

With so much going on here,  I find it a challenge to narrow the story to something coherent.
Pictures help.
We have had a lovely and talented photographer here from time to time over the past month or so. Collin Powell is a student at the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport and is doing her final project on farm apprentices. She has captured some wonderful images. Here are a few of my favorites.

These capture small moments of farm life at Village Farm. . .and thousands of such moments/visions make up every day and every week. Seeing these photos does help us pause the next time as we take in the mat of green babies in the greenhouse, the big sky, the brown earth and morning mist, and the good company of a calm dairy cow.

We have the first of our two on-farm Seedling Sales this Saturday, May 18 from 10am-2pm. June 1st is the next one: same time, same place. Should be fun and festive and we have everything you need for a very prolific garden this summer. I say make a day of it--get your garden seedlings, stop by the most awesome general store, Freedom General, walk around and peep in the Mill's windows and take a walk through our woodlot down to Freedom Pond. The loons are busy these days. We hear them all day and all night long!

So much planting going on. Seeds going in, tubers going in, trees going in, transplants going in. 
Planting gets all the glory but of course, it is preceded by hours of plowing, spreading compost and amendments, tilling and bed-forming. . .and followed by watering, weeding, mulching and thinning. The crops are going into some well cared for soil, that is for sure. They will be well cared for, that is for sure. They will be delicious and nutritious. We can count on that, as well.

From all of us at Village Farm, 
We are grateful for your support for the work we are engaged in, 
Polly and co.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

November post interrupted by Life.

Our parting gifts to John, Ryan, Emma and Willie.

Ryan's Guinea hog (pork) sausage and signage.
[February 28, 2013. Just found this post in the queue as "unpublished". It was written in November 2012 and somehow never got finished or published. . . until now.]

Tonight we are hosting a goodbye potluck for our farm crew. Willie leaves tomorrow, Emma and John and Ryan all move on in the next week.

Much of what Prentice and I do here--
One of Willie's goats, before he sold them.
have fun, grow vegetables, milk a cow, raise chickens, collect eggs, form a community, learn, work hard, sweat, get dirty, build things, fix things, wash things, pack things--is made possible and better by the help of interns/apprentices. 2012 brought four amazing humans to Village Farm from May-November. As we reflect on our season, financially, production-wise, inter-personally, we pretty much start and end "our gratefuls" with the crew.

We take the apprenticeship model pretty seriously.
We both began our farming careers as apprentices and we met on an oh-so-romantic sea side in farm downeast Maine. We work to create a healthy working, learning and living environment here at Village Farm. I say working AND learning AND living because we do all three in community. And the word, "healthy," of course, is relative. What I mean by healthy is honest, communicative, challenging, easy-going, flexible and accountable. The apprenticeship model, as we see it is a way for us to share our home, land, food and expertise with aspiring farmers.
Emma and John's garden.
Emma and Polly working on the earthen oven.

It is a model of working and learning that is not so much about master-apprentice but much more about immersion, working with, day in and day out and literally and figuratively "breathing in" the new information.

And we certainly learn, too. We never cease to be inspired and amazed by the people who sign on to this farm and family business as apprentices. 

The pictures with this post give you only the tiniest look into some of the projects that Emma, John, Willie and Ryan took on independently this year.

With all best wishes for your futures, we are gratefully yours,

Polly and Prentice, Joseph, Ben and Abe

Fall 2012 photos

Escarole and shallot stir fry.
The first fire in the earthen oven.
Saying good bye and thank you to John and Emma, Ryan and Willie, 2012 apprentices as we light the first fire in the new earthen oven.
Look what was left in the Village Farm driveway? Meet Findus, aka Mr. Lucky and Mr. Cuteness.
Paddling some shapes into the wet last layer of mud.
Posted by Picasa

News bits

Hello out there! It has been a looong time since I have been here to the Village Farm blog. I almost forgot how to log onto Blogger, in fact. But here I am, getting back into shape, so to speak, as our farming season gets underway.
How about some news:

. . . .We have a gaggle of CSA members signed up already. Yay! And thank you faithful supporters and new members! We are looking forward to another wonderful year of growing and eating ahead.

. . . We have leeks and some herbs sprouting in the basement and will start up the heat in the greenhouse this weekend so that the onions can get their early start, too. We will hang a curtain down the length of the house so as only to heat 1/2 the space for a few weeks. A heated greenhouse will mean that micro greens will be in the Coop and on Crown of Maine's availability list soon.

. . .We have three apprentices signed on for the season with a fourth in the works. 2013 will be the 6th year we have engaged students of agriculture here in our version of a labor for learning exchange. And we continue to enjoy the camaraderie, intelligence and hard work that each of those fine people have brought to the Village Farm. 

. . . The laying hens are upping production. These things happen in late February. I collected the most gorgeous basket of eggs this evening. Blues, greens, browns. . .

. . .The cows are eating hay and resting. They are such phlegmatic creatures.

. . .We have tapped some maples! 34 was the count I last heard. Boiling to come!

. . . We have met with all of our wholesale accounts and are planning great things. Mostly great things very similar to 2012's great things but it is always fun to try a few new varieties, new packaging ideas, tweaks to the planting schedules and the like. If you do not wish to be a CSA member, you can find our produce at the Belfast Coop, through Crown o' Maine, on the elegant plates of Swan's Way and Trillium caterers and at The Lost Kitchen. And if you are a child in the Belfast or Mount View school system, you may eat our vegetables in the lunchroom. 

. . .We will be at the CSA Fair at the Belfast boathouse this Sunday. Do stop in to say hello if you are in town that day. We will have eggs for sale and of course will be peddling and pushing our CSA shares.

. . .We have enjoyed reading some great articles in the press lately. This one in the NYT cites the advantages of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as protective against heart disease and strokes. And Germs R Us in the New Yorker made us downright giddy as it elucidated a whole new branch of science for us. . .the study of the human biome. It, too, has much to say about the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown nutrient-dense and microbe slathered vegetables. (We wash all of our vegetables, of course, in fresh, cold well water but because of and thanks to the magnificent flora and fauna found in our soils, our vegetables will indeed be slathered with healthy, desirable and natural microbes despite the dunking.)

. . .We are so excited that the renovation of The Mill at Freedom Falls is nearing completion. The straighter and brighter building is just so proud looking on its granite foundation. And, it looks like Prentice's sister, Laurie, will be educating a class of young fry there this fall as her venture The Mill School takes form. 

. . . We are continually grateful for our community of friends and family and farm supporters. It is a great joy to be growing food for many of you.

Best wishes from Village Farm,