Archive for March, 2009

goats and chickens. chickens and goats.

March 31, 2009

goats and chickens


Second week, mid-March.   

Goats and chickens.  Chickens and goats. 

Gradually, I’m getting to know these animals, thanks to morning chores. 

I’m finding I’m enjoying this simple routine.  For the most part, it’s an incredibly easeful way to start the day.  (Emphasis on ‘for the most part.’) 

Let out the chickens.  Slide open the goat door.  (They’re not going out right now because we’re waiting for the pasture to get more established.)  Grain and pregnancy herbs for Mavis.  Check on the chicken feed.  Grain for Flannery.  A little bit less, cause she’s not pregnant.  Change the water for goats and chickens.  Replenish the hay.  Two different kinds- first cut and second cut which is more protein rich, their summer hay.  Grain and pregnancy herbs for Lucy.  Sweep up the goat barn and load the compost into a wheel barrow.  Handful of grain for Nettle- she doesn’t need it, but it’s good practice for when she will someday milk.  It also keeps her from running up the walls the whole time you’re sweeping.  Check on the baking soda and minerals. 

The first day I did chores the goats escaped. 


When Ben was showing me the break down, we forgot to put the clip on the compost door, so they busted out.  Danya and I were working on shelves when Dylan comes in and says, the goats are running around all over.  So Danya and I run out and start herding them back into the barn.  Danya was all over it.  There’s not too much damage to be done right now because there’re not a lot of plants up.  They did demolish the fruit trees that Ben planted last year, but I guess it wasn’t the first time. 

Like I said, oops. 

One of the many realities of farming is that you often learn through making mistakes. 

Also on the radar- there are lots of seeds germinating in the greenhouse. 

All of the onions and lettuces and spinach from last week, and now some early brassicas (kale, and cabbage), a few herbs, and some fennel.  It’s always so beautiful to experience the first glimpses of new growth in the greenhouse in early spring.  Because we’ve been surrounded by the white, blacks, grays, and browns of New England winter, the first chartreuse green shoots look like they’re glowing.  Magic in the making. 

This next week has a lot in store.  Just to give a foreshadowing glimpse to keep you reading, let’s just say, baby chicks, baby ducks and potentially plowing.  What could be better?





spring brings shelves and white house garden

March 26, 2009

imperfectly custom built shelves

Spring is here.  

Friday, March 20th to be exact.  

Equal light and dark.  

It’s still freezing cold out though.  

I’m waiting for the red maples to explode.  

They seem to be taking their time.  

Anyhow, week one at the farm and we’ve planted onions, lettuces, parsley, chard, and spinach.  All in flats in the greenhouse.  To get ready to be transplanted into the ground for when it’s not frozen.  Thaw ground, thaw.  

My lovely co-worker Danya and I have had the grand pleasure of learning how to build shelves.  Shelves for the greenhouse, shelves for the pantry, shelves for my room to be in the barn house, shelves for the farm storage room, etc etc.  

Building shelves = taking measurements, cutting wood on the chop saw, fitting the pieces together using a square and a screw gun, re-measuring the diagonal once the frame is built, and filling in the shelves.  So simple, and yet somehow a bit frustrating.  I think it’s because wood is organic and fairly non-linear and our mind-centered designs and measurements are very straight and square.  Anyhow, the idea of custom built shelving is way less daunting now.  Are you in need of some imperfect custom built shelves?  Give me a call.  

By the way, on the first day of Spring, Michelle Obama broke ground for a new food garden at the White House.  A-Mazing. 

Earlier this winter, when there was a lot of buzz that a White House farm might happen, Danya and I got really excited about applying for the farmer position.  We even began to write an application. 

Well, winter happened, and we didn’t apply, and she and I are farming in Northampton and not in Washington D.C., but the food growing is happening regardless at the White House and I love it. 

Check out the New York Times article at:

An 1100 square foot garden with 55 varieties of vegetables, grown organically. 

The Obama family, weeding their vegetable garden. 



March 24, 2009


the last of winter reserves

the last of winter reserves

Hip hip hooray for the 2009 growing season.  


My name is Laura and I love to grow things, particularly vegetables.  I don’t have a favorite vegetable that I like to grow because really, I like the thrilling experience of growing a wide range of edible leaves, roots, flowers, stems, seeds, and fruits.  Yes, I said thrilling. 

I also really love to eat vegetables.  I suppose that’s part of why I love to grow vegetables.  I also don’t have a favorite vegetable that I like to eat, because part of my enjoyment comes from the mix of sweet, sour, crunchy, bitter, crisp, chewy, tart, I could go on but won’t, that make up the experience of eating lots of different kinds of vegetables. 

I have been growing vegetables for a number of years, now.  About four years in a more serious manner since vegetable growing is serious, serious business), and by serious I guess I really mean allowing my life to be consumed by growing vegetables for a whole season. 

During this time, I grew vegetables at an eco-village in a meadow, a community garden in a medium-sized town, a homestead in the woods on top of a hill, a very large 80-acre CSA (community supported agriculture) farm in a valley, and now, an urban CSA/market farm in a small city.  As you can see, I also don’t have a favorite place to grow vegetables.  Cause really, I support the practice of growing food everywhere (watch out for random acts of guerilla gardening that may include a tomato plant in your front yard). 

This year’s growing season is going to rock.  I am working at a new farm in Northampton, Massachusetts, called Town Farm.  It was started by a young couple (Ben and Oona) who are into “ecologically-grown vegetables and meat from a farm dedicated to building community and producing food as locally as possible.”  The farm is a CSA for about 75 members, a farmer’s market farm (a Tuesday market, which the couple started), and an urban homestead. 

I’m super excited about working at this farm.  It’s such an amazing combination of vegetables (have you noticed the theme yet?), bicycles, goats, converted barns, nail guns, Danya, highway 91, perennial visions, five-minute walks to the best coffee shop in town, happy people, organic land reclamation, cute little boys who love animals, old-timer neighbors, and and and, once again, I could go on, and actually, this time I will because that is the point of this blog, to go on and on about my experience working at this farm in hopes that it might be of some interest to you and all of your cool friends…


Read on as the weeks unfold in all their glory.  

Sit on the edge of your seat with anticipation as we wait with fingers crossed for the first seedlings to sprout. 

Take a deep breath when it rains, rains again, rains some more, then pours.  

Gaze in awe at the splendor of the first ripe heirloom tomato…

Most importantly, eat vegetables.  Lots of them.