In the early days—before the arrival of the horses—lifting, pulling, dragging, and cultivating were all done by hand, and shoulder, back, and leg. James coined our first farm motto then “putting the arm back in farming.” Lightning and Thunder arrived just in time, as our shoulders were killing us from raking an acre of ridges in the vegetable field, painstakingly measured out to be perfectly straight as well as equidistant from one another. Just a couple of years later, in the first stages of barn reconstruction, Jeff Scott hit on the next maxim “If it goes, it will go slowly” as in “Don’t worry the whole barn won’t fall down, and we can get out in time if it does.”
In two years time this sentence has probably been uttered more than any other on this farm. Sometimes in reassurance, occasionally with irony (as when a barn has actually fallen down, and it’s not that slow), but most often in humor. If you haven’t noticed yet everything around here seems to go at a snails pace. A little work on the bank barn this week, shore up the roof on the cow barn another. Take a day out to to keep the granary from leaning further down the hill….
“A jostled hen lays a bumpy egg.”
Animals and plants aren’t so patient, they get first dibs on our attention. Everyday the laying hen’s coop is moved forward by hand one length, spreading their nighttime fertilization nicely across the fields. For the hen’s safety there is an electric fence around their mobile yard, keeping them out of the claws and jaws of predators. Three times a week this entire fence is taken down and re-erected, for fresh grass, weeds and bugs to forage on, and to give the hens a new world to explore. Hens, like people, get very bored if they have nothing to do all day. When they need to move to an entirely new field, or if they are near the vegetable gardens, we wait until nightfall, close the hens up inside the coop and hitch it to the horses. This tends to result in a jostling, clanging ride for the hens—as the old coop moves across divots, onto and back off of the road.
Racey has been doing a little research on an eggshell malformation we see occasionally, a thin shell with lumpy ridges, we’ve always referred to it as “the dinosaur gene” and assumed there were a handful of chickens in each flock who lay eggs that way. It turns out that in the evening, as hens are putting the hard shell on their egg for laying in the morning, quick movements can cause the egg to bump into internal body parts or other young eggs in the egg-forming track…and what comes out is a lumpy egg. Hence the newest farm adage and fortune cookie fortune “A jostled hen lays a bumpy egg.” We’ll see if it has legs around here.
This Week’s Food Shares
In the veggie share: green cabbage, zucchini, beets with greens, celery, broccoli, lettuce heads, mesclun mix, chard, bunching onions, basil, red and white dry beans. One more week to let the carrots size up. Coming soon: sweet corn and sweet onions.
In the meat share: whole and half chickens, chicken organ meats, chicken feet for making stock, pork and the last cuts of beef. We have freshly ground Bourbon Fennel Sausage and ground beef tonight.
Full and By Farm