Monday, October 25, 2010

The Work Party

Between running around New England attending weddings, working full time, and the seasonal work piling up, Meg and I found ourselves trying to keep our heads above the workload water level. The tried and true Symphony cure for drowning in your own work load is to throw a work party. Sometimes the internet works like a wand from Harry Potter, a few post here and there and the event is launched. Thanks Facebook, thanks Email.
Mother nature graced us with sun and good friends showing up around noon. We learned that: Kids are good at harvesting. No carrot or daikon went un-dug. Dogs love you up even while you work. Beer makes work easier. Burgers taste good after hauling compost, tiling up weeds, and mulching walkways.
All said and done: Put up eighty pounds of purple-nurpple kim chi( purple cabbage, carrots, daikons, red onions), turned over 400 feet of garden space, hauled a 1/2 ton of compost, failed at fixing a shovel, pulled all hoses, laughed, 20 people came together and connected over the spirit of stewardship.
The taste of community savored sweetly as the sun went down. It was just a bit too cold to flop over in a hammock and let out a breath of accomplishment, but sun pouring on a couch worked as a solid substitute. The day is a thumbnail sketch of how food, farming and families will be. It stands one of our favorite sayings upright: "Farming; its not poverty, its a party"

We have put away enough gratitude for the winter, and hope to provide the taste of some of it this winter to all that showed up and helped. We are counting down the weeks to the winter solstice, and dreaming to the sweet smells of fermenting kim chi of next years growing season.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Having Family at the Farm

Uncle Joe and Aunt Rosemary visited for the night. How wonderful to have them embrace the farm with open arms. Dinner plans were quickly abandoned for bliss on the front porch. Sun. Music. Drink. And thawed burger. To top things off, our friend Glen stopped by for some drinks and food. Bed time called and the Red Sox game escorted us to bed.  Joe and Rosemary awoke and came to milking. The appreciation of horses carried over enough to enjoy the cows. They were treated to a feeding fest on a new salt block.

Sunday wouldn't be complete with out going out to breakfast. Dixie's II in Chelsea kicked their cooking up a notch. Our sleep bank is all filled up and ready for the week. Thanks Joe and Rosemary.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Calves of 2010

Captain Sigg and Maggie enthralled by something...probably food!

I know this post is long overdue...but let me tell you, it has been quite a busy summer!  The birth of 5 new calves was pretty much the easiest part, and took little to no work from us.  As Jonathan says, "prenatal care is the most important thing we can do, as the mama usually takes care of the rest herself."

The Barre Farmers market has been wonderful to be part of on Wednesdays, and has certainly solidified my love for baking breads, pickling, and processing pestos.  The two of us have really done a 180* in terms of schedules.  Here I am doing morning chores, after Jonathan finishes milking, puttering around finding this and that to keep me occupied while he heads off to Barre City School to teach kiddos how to garden, harvest and cook up some sweet meals.  It's these slow mornings, where a third cup of coffee is a must, some yoga outside on the porch is an option and eating breakfast doesn't really have to happen until 11, that I will miss dearly once "back to school" graces us.

Here are some photos of our newest additions to the family.  We have successfully halter-trained Captain Sigg and are in the process of working with Greta.  Our most recent calf, Camille is enjoying a few weeks with mama Cafe in the pasture.  
L-->R Maggie, Camille, Gretta, Captain Sigg
The Admiral and Camille
A bull calf with a lot of love to give!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thank You Note

Dear All who made it out to our farm for the opening,
24 hrs has elapsed since you guys left. Leaving us in a vacuum. Such an energy build up, and all of your presence was cherished for the time that it was here.
The open invitation stands. Its all of your energy and presence we really would like to purchase from you, and sell you our labor, love and nutrition to keep you as part of our community. Our farm store is open to you and all your needs. If there is something from the farm you wish to have please request it.
The hammocks are here for anyone who needs one. A chicken show happens daily, and the cows keep the routine, even in your absence.
Some of these photos savor the taste of the day we had. Its like a good after taste, and a full belly. Pacha Junta is what is said in Quetchua, the feeling of being full and satisfied.
Thank you.
Meg and Jonathan

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

GRAND OPENING this Saturday!!

I'm not sure if Jonathan has already posted our Grand Opening here...but it doesn't hurt to send out a reminder.  Here are the details:

Where: Symphony Farm 1157 Woodchuck Hollow Rd. Washington, Vermont
When: Saturday, July 17th starting at noon til 12 until milking time on July 18th (plenty of space to camp --so bring your tents)
Festivities: Farm touring, raw milk drinking(and other beverages of your choice), potlucking, local burger grilling, hula hooping, bonfiring, fire spinning, guitar, mandolin and other forms of picking and music playing...and of course relaxing!
What to bring: A lawn chair, a dish to share, beverages, music making materials and jars if you'd like to take home some milk!

Hope to see you all there.

Give a call if you have any questions or are in need of directions -- 883-2269

Thought I'd end this post with some shots I took on nudist gardener, our newest additions to the farm family...Henrietta and her crew, our blissed out porch, garden treasur and our beautiful new bird houses (thanks Joanne!)

Be well and we hope to see you Saturday.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Reversing the Psychological Lense

Meg and I attended the Unitarian service on Sunday.  The preacher spoke about the contemporary psychological model and how it shapes our culture. She spoke about how normally something happening in your childhood explains your adulthood. And how quickly we jump and blame our parents for any problems that we have as adults must be a direct result of some short coming we had in our childhood.
She asked us to reverse the paradigm.  Have adulthood explain childhood.
Interesting for me. I remember walking up to some barking dogs in my childhood and using sign language to say f#%k you. They were obviously too loud and need to be told to shut up. Or as a child while we were on vacation in Tortola, I chose to play with the donkey and the mule, rather than being at the beach. I was certain we needed one in our back yard when we got home. I think the convincing arguments were quite humorous but I cannot remember what they were. The first cows I saw were at Sunny Field farm on the way to Kinder garden. I also remember running out of gas.
I know that often times the animal population in our house growing up was comparable to the human population. ( blueberry the parakeet, two gerbils, a guinea pig, a dog and a cat.) Not to mention Newton the floppy eared rabbit that roamed freely in our house and the attempt to have rabbits live outside in a fenced in area.
     Getting bit in the face by a golden retriever wasn't enough to force any animal love out of me. Ducking Aunt judys fence to go pet Beth's horse, which resulted in a swift nip or knock in the face, did not result in a terror of horses but rather a drive to understand how it is that people work with horses and keep their faces intact.
One of the most distinct memories is bacon at Judy's house. I knew that bacon came from the pigs out back. And it was different. It smelled whole, round, complete and delicious. Explaining my current mantra that everything is better with bacon.
     I know I rode a horse at happy valley, and sang to it, and I can remember the smell of every barn I played in as a kid visiting Aunts and Uncles in Vermont.
     We attended many animal funerals as kids, and even went to our close family friends dogs funerals. The fish went down the toilet bowl, and I am not sure where the gerbils went.  Thats the way it is. And of course it is all normal for some one who is going to grow up, and get bit by the farm bug along the way, and then life a life dependent on cows, veggies, birds, and the occasional black bear the lives on the back forty. Happy be lated fathers day, and happy mothers day.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wheels turning

My entire body was sore the other day. For one, it was raining so for after school programs I thought it would be a good idea to play the Pine Island favorite sport. Dustball. That deteriorated and a game of basketball was launched. I ran up and down that court without out a care in the world.
For two, my neighbors wife was headed into surgery and they needed a bunch of farm work done before they left. It was the schleping, and piling variety of work that requires your brain to shut off. Two hours of moving pallets, fence posts, picking things up, putting them down, digging garden beds. 
My entire body hurt! For three, I am not 23 years old any more.
Given that I had a free day on the farm I decided to make the most of it. Did I mention my entire body hurt.
I ended up seated at the potters wheel. I turned it on and the wheel started turning. Like a belt drive connect to my memory bank,  the fly wheel in my brain kicked on. The wheel was purchased when I was working at the Meeting School. I had used it in the unearthed pottery studio that I found there. Kick wheels under piles of stuff. More stuff. The staples that the wheel was shipped in where stout. I could picture the copper. It sat in the corner of that room. 9/11/2001 happened in that room over a small studio radio.
The wheel traveled to the upstairs of the Putney Summer programs pottery studio. There was a view out over the green grass court yard of the campus. I dangled my legs out there and sat for what seemed like hours watching life take shape. 5:45am farm chores started at the farm. I usually went. Attending breakfast in my sweet smelling barn clothes and rubber boots made me feel like I was part of the rat pack or in with the wise guys.
The wheel parked in my parents basement during my total immersion of cow farming and grazing. It sat patiently like old furniture with no new apartment to move into.
 I can picture the wheel sitting in the downstairs of Sylvia Jensens barn. How it got there I am not sure. It never occupied space at Spranos.
It was loaded and un loaded so many times in and out of the back of the various pick up trucks I have owned. Some times I loaded it by myself, sometimes I uttered the words, " you have the heavy end, its all there."
Weather pelted the wheel while exerting my soul to the breaking point at Covi's. Waiting patiently for me to return, as faithful as a dog.
I sat at the potters wheel with 25lbs of clay to throw. And I did. It is a hell of a wheel. Nothing turns like a Brent, much like nothing runs like  a Deere. Throwing pots is a skill once you master it, it never goes away. The voice of you teaches come back to you. The faces of your friends, that spent as much time with you in the studio as you yourself dedicated, pass in front of your imaginations movie screen. The breath comes, the touch softens, and the pots emerge. One after the next.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Holistic Grazing Workshop May 29, 2010 9am to 4pm

Along time ago, people lived in harmony with herds of animals. Herds of animals lived in harmony with their predators. The herds developed behaviors to protect themselves and their young. They moved in patterns across the land and the land responded positively. These herds and their relationships are responsible for the great planes and the rich deep topsoil of the mid west.
Since that time we have broken the natural relationships which dictated that natural world. Deserts have advanced, agricultural land has depleted, humans have populated areas, and the health of both human, domestic animal, and wild animals have drastically declined.
Holistic grazing examines the first of the two scenarios. It is a system that helps those of us with domestic animals to mimic the old herds relationships and behaviors. It is a system that gets land to INCREASE in fertility! Rather than a state of marginal sustaibablity.
We are providing a workshop that looks at animals, humans and grass and how they all respond to each other. The workshop is about food systems that will host loads and loads of biodiversity on an increasing basis, rather than limiting it to a sustainable level.  We will look at how grass forms topsoil, and can remove carbon from our atmosphere, heal deserts and provide a way to make food and stabilize our atmosphere.  Your animals will become tools to shape and create a landscape that will provide for you now and 1000 years from now.
This workshop is open to 10 farms/people/couples.We will meet at 9am, break for lunch around 12noon, and run the afternoon session until 3:30 -4pm
Please contact us to preregister. 802-883-2269
Farmer Bio
Jonathan Falby: Graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelors of Fine Art. Rodeos, and free range ranches planted a seed in Jonathan's mind. After a brief 9 month tour of  South America he moved back to New England to take a job at the Putney School in southern Vermont. There he found his way into the dairy barn and life was never the same after that. He continued to volunteer at the barn and soaked up as much as he could mucking stalls and covering chore shifts for the five summers as a member of the Art Faculty. A winter job was taken at the Meeting School in Rindge NH. Dan and Ruth Holmes of Sunny Field Farm in Peterborough NH were the current farm managers. Jonathan studied, learn and absorbed all he could while working with Dan and Ruth. He was exposed to the mystical side of agriculture, the works of Rudolf Steiner, Viktor Schauberger, Bill Mollison,  and Dr. Albrrect all became important. Jonathan studied the works of the agrarian authors such as Steinbeck, Berry, and Schneider.
After two years of farm schools and a brief 6 month stay in Ireland.  Jonathan decided to take on farming full time and join up with Abe Collins, Certified Holistic Management Educator, and founder of Carbon Farmers of America. Jonathan work for two years studying Holistic Management, Planned grazing, Keyline Landscape design, and Organic Herd management and herd health. After another two years as an understudy, Jonathan decided to branch out on his own and took his savings and bought a herd of cows and grazed and managed leased farm. Most of his efforts surrounded the task of rehabilitating abused land, and re working old systems. In the spring of 2009 the Dairy crisis hit, and Jonathan met his partner Meaghan Kane. They moved to Central Vermont and signed a lease on a 10 acre plot. They are in their first year of establishing a vertically integrated raw milk, and diversified farm operation. Jonathan has spoken at the NOFA conferences, and hosted UVM field studies. He is a holder of a 2006 milk quality award. Along with the farming he has established a garden program at the Enosburg Middle and High School, and hosted students for independent learning session. He is an accomplished guitarist, fiddle player, and a hobby potter.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mid April

Snow. Filed a tax extension yesterday in beautiful sunshine. Snow. April 16th. Snow. In my funny little human head, I mulled over what I could do the change the weather. Snow. Maybe checking the internet forecast will change what is going to happen outside. Snow. Or maybe listening to Rodger Hill on WDEV can convince the weather that it really doesn't want to do what it is going to do. Snow. Like a wrecking ball hitting swung from a crane, my little April 10th last snow weather paradigm was smashed like a wine glass at the mercy of that wrecking ball. Snow. Six days after.......
In an effort to protest the snow I have parked my ass on the couch to blog about it. HA! That'ill show old man weather who's boss! I ll just go ahead and keep the bathrobe on until 8 am and sip coffee all the while! Put that in old man weathers pipe and have em smoke it. Snow.
It is some what concerning that my happiness 100% contingent on the temperature being above 50 degrees, and mostly sunny. I guess I could have a worse affliction. Like happiness contingent upon the Red Sox winning,(what a sorry performance against the Twins- put Lowell back in the line up) or the results from march madness college basketball games.( sure wanted Butler to kick Dukes ass!) But I don't have those afflictions do I?
Rodger had something to say about a Montreal cold front, Josh Beckett is on the mound for the Sox against the Rays, the chores need to be done, and there is a tax return lacking any excuses for incompletion.  And old man weather can kiss my ass!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pile that wood before diggin the garden

Thank you Gene Ziskie for the chainsaw. As I march out each day to work through a tank of chainsaw gas cutting wood in an effort to pile up enough wood to get us through next winter, gratitude radiates from the orange Huskavarna. I am not sure where I read the saying "stack next years wood before diggin this years garden." But when we ran low on firewood in the rainy days of March, that were not all that cold, I felt the saying spewing through my gut like the spewing unseasoned fire wood that hardly burned, and it sure as hell didn't heat the house.
I remember cursing at Covi when in April, John was out cutting the wood instead of working on the haying equipment. Isn't it funny that what you curse  yesterday will be what you live the next day?
Sounds like the neighbors are doing the same as I. Chainsaws singing in across the valley.
So many distractions to take your focus away from cutting wood for weather that is six months away. The green grass is coming up and we are cheering it along like over bearing parents sideline coaching their kids at a pee wee soccer game. The hoop house is like a tropical paradise when the sun is out. I go in there shedding clothing and hoping to find something to do.
Outside up the hill, there is still dead wood standing, waiting for me to put priorities straight. It could frost in the next couple days, but one thing is for sure winter will come in December, if the firewood is seasoned or not.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Art (Factory) Farm

I cant help but think about some of the similarities between the plight of the small farm and the plight of the studio artist. Both have been institutionalized, and isolated from the majority of the masses. I find it funny that museums are these giant building in a selected location, where only the elite attend and actually know what is going on. They carry on a discourse foreign to the masses, and progress, if you can call it that, moves in ways that are non sensical to the rest of us. A vacuum cleaner in a glass case counts as one of the most valuable items a millionaire could have in their home!
Like wise the factory farm is also tucked away in large building where only a few of the elite, if you can call them that, are allowed to enter. There they carry on discourse that also seems like a foreign language, and progress, if you can call it that, is the next way to sell some ridiculous dairy-esque product to the masses. One of the most valuable items could have is a smoothie-dairy-cubie snack!
In both fields the typical consumer has no idea who the person is that is producing the food media, or the art media that is being offered to them. There is little differentiation between products. The franken food looks all the same with blaring lables, and most of the art on the wall looks about the same maybe there is an all purple canvas next to an all blue canvas. Thanks Yves!
The majority of people have never met their artist and never met their farmer. The masses carry a romantic conception of artist working away at their paintings in their Greenwich Village apartment, just like their conception of a farmer is a blond haired milk maid plunking away at a few cows with chickens and pigs running around the farm yard, and a frikin rooster crowing in the morning. yeah right.
Both institutions dictate down to the masses what beautiful is, and also what food will make us beautiful. Our link to the idea of a beautiful human and the foods that are produced to have that beautiful body are dictate by the same conglomerate. Wendell Barry said " our bodies were physically beautiful when they were physically useful." I don't see the use in running on a treadmill like a frikin gerbil all that useful.
The artist use to decide what was beautiful and the farmer use to decide on their own, what made good food. None of this was dictated to either of them. And we as humans had the ability on our own to decided what was beautiful and was good for us.  There is nothing more beautiful than watching your woman decide she is going out before the sun comes up, in a snow storm, with a busted foot, a hammer in one hand, to rip apart a frozen round bale because that is what needed to be done.  Or halter training a calf in the middle of a pasture with summer sun. Beauty has a purpose, and it is for artist and farmers to connect the dots to make a picture any of us would like to look at.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Art that lives on the land

My good friend Joan O'Hanrahan over in Lisdoovarna Ireland teaches at the Burren College of Art. She recently took her students out to draw in the forest. That lit a fire under my ass to say the least. I became inspired thinking about art, land, and everyday life on the farm, and what the function of art has on our rural landscapes. I am pretty sure Picasso said that "art brushes away the dust from everyday life."
The art that is generated on the farm is always sourced from the bi products of any given farm project, or daily activity. The bi products become your medium( bailing twine, cut up fence wire, plastic tubes, scrap wood, old house paint.) Your subject task is really simple, incorporate design into a space that you occupy everyday. Brush away some of the dust. Secondly,  get your art to accomplish something for your farm: A hay manger has a design that enhances it, or a feeding area has its structure enhance by a wire line, the stock tank that has copper tubing emulating a whirlpool. Its function can represent a set of beliefs that govern your farm, your underlying stewardship philosophies.
Symbols are consistently present in this world of work, rest, eat, sleep, work. They are simple.  The time and energy that it takes to conceive of a symbol, and apply it in a given space is minimal. They represent the most fundamental elements of your life that you worship. (flowers, sun, grass, leaves) All images become symbols representing the parts of life and farming that keeps you getting out of bed in the morning, and doing it all again. They are the images that carry through spring, summer cropping, harvest, storage, winter survival, and spring rebirth.

At some point in Art history, artistic objects transformed from an object that you interacted with in your life to an object that was representational of cerebral processing. Art objects became thinking rather than objects.  A subtler point than just utility, and allows farm art to circumnavigates the Art vs. Craft debate. 
Creating art on the landscape has aided in alleviating some of the feelings of contempt that seep into life as a farmer. The feelings that,"some one else should do this" or " I am too high and mighty to be doing lowly task of shoveling shit" Contempt has been a driving force separating people from the act of growing food, and keeping animals. Art is a healer, working at the root of the feelings of contempt that have divorced us from the land.  It helps make us feel that we are absolutely unique in our decision to be connected to the land. There are images and designs all over our door yard and landscape that help to state our uniqueness in the loudest voice possible.

            Lucky for the artisan farmer that people/consumers are deciding to reconnect with land and food. The people and place are taking a front seat ahead of brand, label and ingredient. A farm offers a place and a person. A super market offers brands and competition in a mostly chaotic overstressed environment that has a tendency to beat humans into a dulled down state of consumer compliance.  "Place" and experience are becoming important to consumers because they want to know that the "place" where their food comes from is being cared for. And in a small sense that then, they the consumer, are also contributing to the care of that place. The sense of place is reinforced by the experience that the consumer has at the farm.  The experience is a visual, audio, and best of all the wonderful smells of mowed grass, fresh compost, aerated soils, and running bubbling brooks and sweet cows. Art functions as the most effective catalyst for creating a sensory experience when it is generated by the person/farmer who lives in the most intimate relationship with the land. The consumer gets to share in that intimacy when he/she eats. It is said that eating is one of the most intimate things we do.

      I have dusted off the oil paints, laid my tools in a line, and accessed the materials that are around. Ten acres are going to be the paper, canvas, and piece of clay, metal, ect.... let the games begin.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Apple Trees

Pruning the apple trees has been my chore for the last three days. One because it needs to be done, two because we like apples, and three a groovy bio-dynamic calendar told me that, according to the stars, these last three days have been advantageous to plants of the fruit realm. The moon seems to be traveling in front of a constellation that correlates to fire element, which enhances fruit growth.
After tackling four trees with my trusty $2.99 bargin bin hand saw, some surfing on line and chatting with people of apple tree knowledge, I think I have learned a thing or two about pruning super over grown, wild apple trees.
1st lesson- open the center of the tree. Easy enough. I charged in there and stared hacking away the dead and broken branches, as well as the "suckers". Suckers are these oprotunistic shoots that usually align themselves vertically. They are no good for fruit because the will bend over and break. Opening the center allows for air and light to get in to the trunk of the tree. I have noticed on some of the trees quite a bit of lichen. Lichen loves shade and water. I remember from my field trips in elementary school that lichen will eventually wear away at rocks. I can't imagine that stuff is really good for trees. So I decided that cutting away horizontal branches that entangle and compete with each other is a really good thing. It allows for more sunlight to get in and fry-a-late the lichen.
2nd lesson.- Keep the horizontal branches, and the branches that are angled 15 degrees outward. Apparently these will hold the fruit the best. I cut away the branches headed down. More than likely these branches will have fruit that will weigh down and hit the ground. It is the trees way of dropping its fruit and spreading itself. Interesting creatures these apple trees.

3nd lesson- Only cut 1/3 of  your tree away. I devised a rule of thumb; make three big cuts, and if there is another large cut that can be made, it can always be done next year. How to decide the "big cuts" is another matter. I used some of the knowledge from 1st lesson. "Open the center, cut away suckers." By looking at the tree it is pretty easy to tell which large branches were at one time in their life a "sucker" that just matured.  They make prime candidates for a "big cut".  Even better if you can find a "big sucker" that is "shooting vertical" or is "horizontally entangled" - let er frikin have it!
     After spending five years in art school drawing nude women, I couldn't help but notice that apple trees have their own figure gesture. So I made up another little mantra to follow: Decide where the gesture and life force is going, and decide where you want the life force gesture to go,  and anything that is headed in the other direction can be lopped off. 
There are plenty of wild apple trees out there, I am sure anyone can find one, prune it up, and have themselves a little one tree orchard. That is the news from Symphony Farm where the basil is germinated, the hands are scratched up from pruning trees, and the chores are usually finished.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The 2010 Moron awards go to...

The Symphony Farm moron award recognizes outstanding acts of the goonish nature. The award is given to the nominee who best exemplifies the best of intentions, yet lacks any sort of pre meditation, intelligent thought, rationale, logic, common sense, or any glimmer of an IQ. 
This month the Academy would like to nominate two acts that stand out in our minds.
The First nomination is: Jonathan Falby!!!! For his well intentioned method for dealing with a frozen round bale. Rather than being patient and breaking down the bale by hand; Or being smart and getting a neighbor to move it with a tractor; Or logical and setting up some bomber fence, so the cows wont get out while eating the bale, and they can walk to the bale. No, No.....our man decided in to jump in his pick up and try to dismantle the bale by backing into it.  With this brilliant method Mr. Falby got his truck stuck!!! Wedged up on the bale and unable to get the truck off (even in 4wd) until the cows ate the hay our from underneath it!! "Id jus t'oughd id smass id wid duh bumpah!"
The Academy would also like to nominate Meaghan Kane for her brilliant attempts for dealing with escaped cows from the prior nominees crappy dumb dumb wire fence job! Only on the day when the farmer with two functional legs leaves town for the day; Only on this day when Miss Kane is freshly out of surgery for a fractured foot; Only on this day will the cows break out!!! Rather than being logical, and realizing the cows will not cross the brook bridge and get to the road. Or being intelligent and realizing there is no other feed out there and that the cows will eventually come back to where the round bale is. Or being smart and calling any friend with two good legs. No No....she decides that she is going to go out there with a busted  foot on crutches, with a bag of cat food to mimic cow grain. However, on her way from retrieving the cat food is some how bails off of the upstairs railing and smashes all over the down stairs floor!!!! " I jus t'ought I'd git em to come fur some cat fuud!!"
And the winner of the Febuary 2010 Moron award is...................

Friday, January 29, 2010

Febuary Milk

Dear All Raw Milk Fans,
Just a reminder that next week is the beginning of February and pre-payments for milk are due. The cows are on their way to their new home today. Lord bless them and keep them safe. The moving truck is on its way this weekend, and we are moving into the house. That is the news from symphony farm where all the farmers rule at pub trivia, the animals are 100% pregnant, and all the children are a glimmer in our eye!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Beef Shares Explanandum

For people who are new to beef shares, this is your crash course. Essentially a beef share is an animal sales transaction. Customers are buying a live animal off of us( the farmers). Animals can be rather expensive, hard to handle and not everyone is cut out for raising their own food, nor does everyone have land and acreage to do it. We sell a live animal certificate of ownership to four parties, constituting four shares. We (the farmers) take the money and manage the grazing, and care of the animal.  The owners of the animals are able to decide when and how to have their animal processed. Control over the timing of slaughter, the slaughter environment and meat custom cutting creates the highest possible quality product for the owners. It allows the owners to specify cuts they would like to receive, and access to all the products a cows has to offer: organ meats, bones, tails ect..
 There is an economic benefit for the farmer. Owners are asked to place deposits on animals early in the season to help cover the cost of operating. This is a wonderful injection of money into the cash flow of the farm, especially in the spring when the farm isn't grossing a whole lot of sales. Farmer has just shilled out an entire winters worth of feed, which ain't cheep, and gardens are not turning off product!The deposits are a welcome site.

     Pre-payment also allows farmer to purchase what is referred to as feeder stock for the owners. These are animals that are raised to a year in age and will be ready to slaughter with in eight months. Purchasing feeder stock in the spring alleviates the need to produce winter feed for an entire herd of cows. Summer time is spent focusing on grazing,  not on hay making and mechanical harvest. Eliminating winter feed as an expense drops the total gross expenses, and therefore drops the overall cost. This allows us to make a healthy profit per head, and provide excellent quality product, and charge reasonable price for the owners. In early fall, the animals are usually at optimum weight and they can be harvested and distributed to the owners. After the slaughter cutting and wrapping, we charge a shipping and handling fee to the owners and collect the rest of the value of the animal. Owners get product that has been running around all summer, eating as much grass as that little bovine could, breathing fresh air, fertilizing the earth, sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere, and becoming juicy steaks, roast, and burger. We welcome the participation of making "Food: by the farmer, for the people"

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Tour through Milking.

I thought it would be nice to provide this online tour of milking and give people better idea with what goes on with the cows at milking time.
     As you can see in the provided photos we dip our cows teats with a cleaning and sanitizing solution. The solution is a hydrogen peroxide based product available from any commercial dairy supplier. The solution leaves little residue and eliminates any bacteria on the milking teat itself.
The second step uses an electric vacuum driven stainless steel milking pail to do the milking for us! This comes complete with a machine or claw that is attached to the teats by suction. Back in the day of our great grandparents, farmers milked with open pails by hand. This allowed for flakes of manure, hair, dirt, hay or anything else from the milking environment to get into the milk. The closed systems provide us with an easy way to make clean milk. When the machine is removed we dip the teats again with the sanitizing solution to insure no bacteria invade the teats post milking.
     After the milking is complete we take it outside and run it through a filter strainer. This filters out any micro particles in the milk. Finally, the stainless steel caldron is pack in snow and ice to facilitate crash cooling, dropping the milk to below 40 degrees with in the hour. Prior to industrial cooling, freon and bulk tanks, our great grandparents cooled the milk with clean spring water that was piped into a small house with a concrete trough.
     We then pack up all the equipment and head to Gary's milk house to wash and sanitize all the equipment with water that approaches 200 degrees, and some good old fashioned FS 100 chlorox sanitizer.