Full and By Farm: Summer Heat

Draft horses working the fields at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Draft horses working the fields at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

The work load has felt like full on summer for a few weeks now. The heat however just caught up—the kind of miserable, sticky heat that makes even the easiest projects feel unbearable. The kind of heat that makes the swim after work feels like the only thing keeping you going. The rush of work only feels good when you look behind you and realize how much you have gotten done in a short amount of time. We are one field away from having all of our first cut hay put up, a quick season for such a large project, rewarding us with a nice long break before second cut begins.

The fall brassicas are all started in the greenhouse, the first round will go into the field in the next few days. The last of the winter storage roots will also be seeded any day now. Harvest has just heated up too, The strawberries have taken all we’ve got to keep up with, the peas are just starting in now and green beans are right around the corner. The broccoli is in full swing this week, make sure to take at least a double helping tonight. Beautiful heads of green cabbage are just in time for fourth of July cole slaw, topped with grated carrots for color.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: Broccoli, green cabbage, peas, carrots, beets with greens, garlic scapes, strawberries, kale, chard, bunching onions, head lettuce, mesclun mix, lettuce mix, basil, napa cabbage, potatoes, celeriac, fresh cut herbs, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans. Summer squash coming up!

In the meat share: Fresh beef—ground, stew beef and organ meats. Broiler chickens and pork in the freezer. Fresh chicken next week.

Sara Kurak
Full and By Farm

Full and By Farm: Haymaking Farmers

Bringing in hay at Full and By Farm. (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Bringing in hay at Full and By Farm. (Credit: Sara Kurak)

After six days of mowing, raking, baling and moving hay bales from dawn till past dusk we all looked like the walking dead moving around the farm. The gusty, shower-filled day Tuesday and non-stop pouring rain Wednesday provided a much-needed reprieve. If we weren’t so far behind on the farm work we were putting off to make hay I think we all would have happily spent the entire two days in bed. We did sneak a few naps in, and definitely some seven o’clock bedtimes, despite the eternal to-do list.

Conservation and Preservation

Bicknell's Thrush

Bicknell’s Thrush (Photo credit: Aaron Maizlish)

On Wednesday we had a group of farmers and landowners from the Dominican Republic on the farm for a tour and lunch. The group, hosted by chocolate maker Charles Kerchner, is interested in land conservation measures to protect the winter home of the migratory Bicknell’s Thrush, a bird that breeds in the Adirondack and Green Mountains during the summer months.

In addition to preserving the overlapping habitat of the bird and cacao beans, Charles trades directly with the cacao farmers for the beans that he imports to Vermont where they become some of the most incredibly flavored, hand-crafted chocolate bars that you can imagine tasting. The merging of commercially productive agriculture with ecological sensitivity was at issue, with lots of questions concerning the terms of our own conservation easement with the Eddy Foundation. Lightning and Rosa really stole the show though, everyone was interested in the working horse equipment and mostly with having their photo taken with Lightning.

Next week a continuation of Full and By first hand. We’ll be looking in on the vegetable fields during the tour next Thursday at 5pm.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: Baby carrots, beets with greens, garlic scapes, strawberries, kale, chard, bunching onions, head lettuce, mesclun mix, napa cabbage, radishes, potatoes, celeriac, fresh cut herbs, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans. It was a cold spring for pea planting, everything was late and the soil still a bit cold for seeding. As a result the germination was not great and the sparse plantings are just getting ready to produce. We hope to have peas next week. Please return your strawberry containers for refills!

In the meat share: Broiler chickens, pork and beef. Fresh beef to come.

Sara Kurak
Full and By Farm

Full and By Farm: Magical Year in the Fields (So Far)

Draft horses working the fields at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Draft horses working the fields at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

This has been a magical year in the fields so far—a near perfect mix of sun, rain, warm and cool weather. Across the vegetable field the plants are happy and growing well. The dry spells have been dry enough and regular enough to keep a good handle on cultivating and hoeing, making the weeds easy to maintain. Just when you start to worry that the soil is too dry we’ve had a good, long, soaking rain. The field crops have been just as content. We have a beautifully germinated stand of feed corn, the cover crop on the fallow fields filled in nicely, and we are just getting going on a healthy looking haying window. Sweetest of all is the bountiful season of strawberries ahead of us. The first harvest of giant, dripping with sweet, fruits are ready to go out in the share tonight. Each plant supporting many more drooping clusters of growing berries waiting in the wings.

We finished up painting and siding the barn last Saturday. A huge joy, five years in the making. There is inside work to do and the list of odds and ends is plenty long, but the relief of a clean, well-enclosed, solid structure is palpable. New this week: the big walk-in cooler in the cellar is up and running, and the hay mow is ready to accept bales.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: Strawberries, rhubarb, kale, bunching onions, asparagus, head lettuce, mesclun mix, napa cabbage, radishes, potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans. We have a limited supply of broccoli today for the broccoli lovers, much much more to come. Green cabbage is softball size already. The garlic scapes are finally scaping. Baby beets and carrots next week. Napa cabbage is versatile—braise, stir-fry, grate it for slaw or fill the leaves with savory goodies, roll up and bake in sauce.

In the meat share: Broiler chickens, pork and beef. We are finishing up the last of the beef from the freezer and will butcher fresh as soon as this beautiful hay making window closes up. Lard and leaf lard are available for your strawberry-rhubarb pie crust.

Sara Kurak
Full and By Farm

Full and By Farm: Leek Moth Larva

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) o...

Garlic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early Monday I went out to the vegetable field to make up a work list for the week. This year’s garlic crop is set directly across from the field entrance and the first thing that I come upon. Every day I expect to see scapes shooting up and starting their curly cue. With the bunching onions behind schedule, and the winter alliums soft beyond palatability, I’ve been extra eager for the tasty scapes to arrive. The first 20 or so feet of garlic was so heavily damaged that I could see a problem just walking across the headlands. It looked at first like sawdust from some soft, green wood had been sprinkled liberally over the plants, then the tender, inside leaves came into focus, with their chewed up edges and gnarled tops.

I dug around long enough to find a pale yellowish larva snacking away deep in the fold of the inside-most leaves. I assumed that this was the leek moth that we were warned about all last year, a relatively new but spreading invasive in the US. There’s not much you can do, other than carefully digging out the larva from the leaves of the garlic, onions and leeks. A time-sucking project that had three of us working most of the day, examining each plant individually and trying to extricate the sneaky larva without causing too much additional damage to the tender leaves.

I’m not certain yet how this will affect the scape or bulb formation, we will know soon though. The onions have been less effected than the garlic so far and the leeks appear to be completely free of the pest at this point. We will keep monitoring to stay ahead of the larva eating, and checking for the lacey-mesh cocoons that new moths will emerge from to lay a fresh round of eggs mid-summer.

The Bank Barn

Bank barn at Full and By Farm: pick up shares inside. (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Bank Barn at Full and By Farm. (Credit: Sara Kurak)

In brighter news we put in two sunny, dry days on the bank barn this week, siding and getting two coats of paint on the northern face. Work is ongoing today, between passing showers, putting siding on the south side. Rainy spells mean work on the inside though. The hay mow floor is half-way in. We are planning on storing hay in this barn finally, taking a lot of stress and pressure off of the cow barn across the road. A structure than can barely manage to hold itself up, let along thousands of pounds in additional weight.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: Kale, chard, bunching onions, spinach, asparagus, head lettuce, mesclun mix, lettuce mix, asian cabbages, radishes, arugula, beet greens, potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans.

In the meat share: Fresh broiler chickens this week, pork and beef in the freezer. Lard and leaf lard are available. James will be demonstrating how to part a whole chicken at the share tonight, have your chicken prepped and get some good tips on how to make the job easy.

 

Full and By Farm: Monthly Farm Tours

Full and By Farm logo

Full and By Farm Logo

James has been dreaming and scheming about a monthly farm program that he is calling Full and By First Hand. On the first Thursday of the month he will be leading a mini-farm tour starting at 5. This week, the piglets. See where they live, how they root, help out with feeding and water chores, ask the questions you’ve been wondering about. Each month will showcase a different part of the farm or animal group. Plan a little extra time in your farm visit tonight to join him on his walk!

Farm to Fridge

Susie Smith of Dak Bar will be at the farm tonight giving samples, answering questions and signing people up for her brand-new Farm to Fridge Venture. Each week you can pick up fully cooked, ready to bake meals, right here during your farm share pick up. Ingredients are from Full and By, deliciously prepared by Susie. Take them home for a convenient Thursday evening meal, or stow in your fridge or freezer for a later day. Visit www.flyingpancakescatering.com for more info, bring your questions and appetites tonight.

The vegetable fields are filling out. Tomatoes, squash and cucumbers went into the field last Friday. The potatoes are just surfacing and the broccoli and cabbage plants are growing beautifully. We planted our field corn this week as well as 7 varieties of heirloom dry beans. The first planting of sweet corn has germinated and is looking good. And, our final calf of the season was born on Sunday, another healthy bull calf. We have a lot of extra tomato plants. If you are interested in putting one or two outside of your kitchen door ask at the share tonight for details on the varieties.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: Asparagus, head lettuce, mesclun mix, leaf lettuce, prize choi asian cabbage, radishes, arugula, rhubarb, beet greens, potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, dried sage, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans. Next week: kale, chard and more spinach. Very soon: strawberries, bunching onions and garlic scapes.

In the meat share: All cuts of pork and beef, half and whole broiler chickens in the freezer. Lard and leaf lard are available.

Sara Kurak
Full and By Farm

Full and By Farm: Spring Greens

Bull at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Bull grazing at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Spring greens have arrived in abundance. The leaves that were much too small to even think about cutting last Thursday are pushing too big. In the rush of warm sun and foggy rain we skipped right over baby greens stage. The strawberry plants look beautiful. They are full, lushly colored and crowded with blossoms. This afternoon the plan is to make up 50 more ridges with the horses, enough to put all of the warm weather nightshades, cucurbits, sweet corn and dry beans into the ground. A busy week of planting to come.

Spring Calves on the Farm

Two more calves were born this week, with one more expected any day. All of the calves born so far are within a narrow three week window—great news that our bull is doing his job well and the cows are all good and healthy, ready to conceive on their first heat cycle after the bull was put in with the herd. We’re still looking for names, two bull calves— one that starts with an A (who incidentally has the most comically long toothpick legs I’ve ever seen on a calf) the other name starts with an R. Bring your suggestions tonight. The grass has been growing so quickly the cows are falling behind on their work. Haymaking won’t be too far off!

This is the final week of the winter share. Next week starts up the regular season.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: Spinach, mesclun mix, leaf lettuce, chinese cabbage, radishes, arugula, rhubarb, asparagus, potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, dried sage, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans. Coming up: head lettuce, kale, chard and garlic scapes.

In the meat share: All cuts of pork and beef, half and whole broiler chickens in the freezer. Ground beef is back. Lard and leaf lard are available.

Sara Kurak
Full and By Farm

Full and By Farm: Grateful Spring Showers

Rooster at Full and By Farm

Rooster at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

It is nice to sit inside typing as gentle rain runs down the windows. We were grateful for last week’s shower, though it disappeared into the dry, dry ground all too quickly. Most of the transplants have still managed to put on a lot of growth and color, promising good things to come. The onions are the only exception, other than looking tired and pale they haven’t changed much since they went into the field, bunching onions will still be awhile yet. Potatoes and leeks were planted this week, and the strawberry plants are big and green, and putting out their first blossoms. The greenhouse is overrun now with tomatoes, melons, winter squash and zucchini. They will be moving to the field shortly.

Animal Updates

All of the animals are enjoying good spring pasture now, if you stand still enough I think you can see the grass growing out there. The transition from hay to grass makes everything richer. The butter and eggs are bright yellow-orange again and the milk has its strongest flavor of the year. No new calves this week, though two of the girls look ready to go at any minute. The long winter created much havoc for pig farrowing, the piglets that we get every spring from Steve Schaefer over in Lewis have been small and behind schedule. James is just going to pick them up this afternoon. Plan to come on the later side of the share if you want to see the little guys.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: baby arugula, rhubarb, tat soi, asparagus, ramps, potatoes, garlic, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, dried sage, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans. Next week: leaf lettuce, spinach and radishes. Tat soi is a mild mustard green, use it raw in salad, throw it into soup at the end of the cooking time, add it to stir-fry or wilt it in a little sesame oil and toss with sesame seeds for a tasty side dish.

In the meat share: All cuts of pork and beef, half and whole broiler chickens in the freezer. Lard and leaf lard are available.

Sara Kurak
Full and By Farm

Full and By Farm: Fully Green Hillsides

Full and By Farm, October 10, 2013 (Photo: virtualDavis)

Full and By Farm, Essex, NY (Photo: virtualDavis)

The hillsides have filled in with green finally, the bright spring greens of new leaves set against the dark needles of the evergreen trees. These dry spring days have given us plenty of opportunity to clean up fields from last fall’s harvests and to prep for this summer’s crops. The soil in the vegetable field has baked itself dry in the heat and sun, making planting and weed control easy but not giving the new transplants and tiny seeds much to grow on. We’re excited now for tomorrow’s promised rain.

The vegetables are way behind schedule this year. The garlic is small, the peas newly germinated. The asparagus is up though and plentiful. Lettuce and arugula should be ready for harvest next week. We’ve collected ramps, also called wild leeks, for the share tonight. Though much smaller, you can treat them similarly to cultivated leeks in the kitchen. They are more pungent and have a stronger flavor, so keep them wrapped up tight in your fridge until you use them.

New Calves on the Farm

We had the first two calves of the season last Thursday. A bull calf named Grant and a tiny heifer named Giselle. Our Jersey, Walnut, had her calf on Sunday, another heifer we named Winona.

Calves at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Calves at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Walnut was directly out back of the bank barn that day. I went downstairs to do some work in the basement, opening the back door up for fresh air. I could see Walnut alone at the bottom of the field pacing the fence and turning circles in the grass, looking as if she wanted to get out of the field, away from the other animals. She had been bagged up for days, a sign that the birth was near, it looked painful for her to walk her udder was so big. I told James and he came down with his binoculars, which we traded back and forth the entire birth to see up close.

We’ve always maintained a hands off approach to our cows when they are birthing. We check on them often when we think they are getting close. After the calf is born we watch to make sure they have had a good drink of colostrum, the salty, protein-rich, immune-boosting milk that is first produced by the cow. And make sure that the mom is up and cleaning her baby, that she passes the afterbirth. The cows are healthy, and strong animals, luck and good genetics have been on our side so far. It was fun to watch the entire birth, about 25 minutes from when the first shockingly white hooves were visible until the legs were most of the way out. Then in an instant a huge gush of water shot the calf tumbling into the grass. Two huge black eyes stared up at the binoculars, a bit dazed at what had just happened. Walnut stood immediately and turned back to begin cleaning her baby. Winona was up on shaky legs within eight minutes of her birth, and was walking within ten, already looking for milk.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: Asparagus, ramps, potatoes, garlic, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, dried sage, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans.

In the meat share: All cuts of pork and beef, half and whole broiler chickens in the freezer. Lard and leaf lard are available.

Sara Kurak
Full and By Farm

Full and By Farm: Seeds and Seedlings

Cattle at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Cattle at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

The lush, green, humid atmosphere that the greenhouse has been working up to over the last few months has dissipated as the first round of seedlings moved out to the field. Once again the blacks and grays of the floor and metal benches dominate. Round two will be taking over soon though. The tomatoes are ready to be potted on to larger containers to grow out their roots, stem and leaves. Peppers, eggplants and melons are up but still small, the flats still mostly potting soil brown. Winter and summer squash have just been seeded and are waiting to germinate in tall stacks in the corner of the greenhouse. All of the summer brassicas and onions are in the field now, as well as spinach, lettuce, arugula and peas that have been directly sown. The cold and cloudy weather over the weekend and early week did not make us joyful, but the transplants love it. It is the perfect transition for the little seedlings to be introduced, stress-free to a big, exposed field and sky.

Draft-for-Hire

We took our first draft-for-hire job yesterday, discing a small field for members, Kelly and Dillon, over on Middle Road. The horses helped us load the disc onto a trailer, pulled the trailer to the site and disced the field, before reversing it all and coming back to the farm in the evening for a good roll in the pasture and dinner. They are up for more jobs in the area, within walking distance.

Full and By Farm Dry Goods (Credit: virtualdavis)

Full and By Farm Dry Goods (Credit: virtualDavis)

In the Pantry

Now that we have our farm logo ready, we have packaged up some of our bountiful crops from this spring and last fall for sale. We have wheat berries, whole wheat flour and maple syrup ready. They make great gifts for friends and family, and are a delicious addition to the non-veggie members pantry. Plus, they help the farm by bringing in extra income. Grab us at pick-up if you are interested.

Downsizing the Herd

We sold four steers and a heifer yesterday to downsize our herd and were rewarded with our first calf of the season early this morning. A nice, healthy bull calf.

Our sweet horse Abby is moving on today too. We’ve had Abby on loan for several years, doing great work for us on the farm. She has been waiting patiently for retirement since last summer, and will be returning to her real home now. I suspect she will be giving a lot of horseback rides to the kids in her family, but happily not pulling mowers, discs and cultivators around the fields in the hot, summer sun anymore. We will miss her calm, narcoleptic disposition. Abby was famous for falling asleep while stopping at the end of a row or while standing on three legs having a hoof trimmed. She could often be seen fast asleep with her head laying heavily on the hitching post, fat lip out and drooling.

We Need Egg Cartons

We’re still looking for egg cartons. If you have a stockpile on the top of your fridge or next to the mudroom door please bring them with you tonight.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: Nettles, potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, kohlrabi, dried sage, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans. The first asparagus shoots are just up, we should have plenty for the share next week.

In the meat share: All cuts of pork and beef, half and whole broiler chickens in the freezer. Lard and leaf lard are available.

Sara Kurak
Full and By Farm

Full and By Farm: Preparing Fields

Chickens at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

Chickens at Full and By Farm (Credit: Sara Kurak)

We’ve made use of drier than expected weather this week—spending days in the fields preparing for vegetable seeding and transplanting. James disced the winter cover crop debris under and harrowed out the winter hearty weeds that have greened up in the past week. The soil is still a touch cold for planting, but the ridges have been prepared—a big help for drying out the soil and warming it up under the spring sun. The greenhouse is overflowing with onions, chard, kale, cabbage, broccoli and head lettuce that are hungry for ground to spread their roots in. The garlic sprouted beautifully this year, nice even growth that is several inches tall now.

With the laying hens drowsy from sleep Tuesday night we moved them from their indoor perches to the mobile coop. The following morning they ran from the coop to scratch around in the muddy ground, excited to explore the world of plants, dirt and bugs again.

We’re making a big push to get equipment ready for the season to start in earnest. The disc needs a new tongue, the grain wagon, new tires and the hay wagon has a damaged wheel. We’re also building a drag to spread manure evenly on the fields the horses and cattle spent their winter in. This will help distribute the fertility more evenly and give all of the grass access to sunshine, rather than being hidden under heavy piles of manure.

In the Farm Shares

In the veggie share: Onion shoots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, garlic, shallots, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, kohlrabi, radish, dried sage, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans.

In the meat share: All cuts of pork and beef, half and whole broiler chickens in the freezer. Lard and leaf lard are available.

Sara Kurak
Full and By Farm