October 2012 -Market on the Farm

Small Farmer’s Journal

Eeeeeeeeeee!!! I got published! My article arrived today, inside the newest issue of the Small Farmer’s Journal – Summer 2012 issue. This magnificent publication is HUGE, simple and artistic, and totally focused on small scale sustainable farming. In particular, they focus on horse-powered farming, but cover a huge range of topics relating to homesteading and farmsteading. Oh I am SOOOO thrilled to have an article I wrote in THIS journal!

Look at the cover- “Small Farms Feed the World”- awww. I am so in love! I wrote about our experience with raising turkeys.

OMG I am just so honored to be contributing to the information out there, especially in such an esteemed audience. Good Farmers doing a good job.

Right after I was absorbing this excitement, it was chore time. I headed down to our turkeys’ paddock and noticed one guy deep in the brush. He looked like he was dust bathing, but my sensors said something was off. I went in there to check him out, and there was something not right. I’d noticed him standing a bit strangely lately- one hock at an odd angle. He was not doing well. He was big. I carefully gathered him in my arms and brought him out of the paddock. At the joint of his ankle, there was some discoloration, no swelling, but the coloring under the skin was tell-tale. I think he must have gotten knocked over at some point recently, and had a twisted leg joint. This did not look good for him, as he did not want to walk or even stand up. He was suffering and was not going to improve. We decided to harvest him, instead of doing the fluffy “I hope he’ll get better” while he suffers more as we waited. I have learned that over the years- you can tell whether an animal has it in them to pull through, and you have to acknowledge what they are telling you. Do you let them die of natural causes (in pain) and waste all the potential food you’ve grown? Or do you say to the animal- your life is a blessing, you are not going to be able to pull through this, and we’ll end your suffering. I think it is most respectful to put a meat animal to use in this situation. Put it out of it’s pain, and not waste the flesh it has grown to provide.

What a strange way to end the day. But small scale farmers must be responsible for their charges, and that can mean making ethical decisions you aren’t ready to make. His life was great here until this thing happened to him, and now he suffers no more. We gave thanks to this wonderful turkey as his life ended, and we will again tomorrow when we have our early Thanksgiving dinner. I so love turkeys so much, this was a hard and weird mixed emotions day.

Canning up the last round of pickled beets for the year. The late seeding (July?) worked pretty well, but the ones left in the garden weren’t going to grow much more due to the dryness and soon-to-be hard freezes. I gave the scraggly tops to the delighted ducks, and into the bucket the plump beauties went today. Learned that a 5 gallon bucket full of beets equals about 23 pints of pickled beets. I cooked them first outside on the turkey-fryer burner, very convenient to cook outdoors instead of lugging that big ole’ pot inside and up onto the stove. I made a special recipe variant with secret spices and it’s been getting rave reviews. Made without sugar- just honey, and not a lot of sweetness. Pickling beets is putzy work, but I love it and look forward to seeding WAY more beets next year so I can pickle them up like crazy, so we can give our members more of these nutrient rich roots for their own useage, and so we can enjoy them fresh too- not just as pickles. Last year we could not grow a nice beet, but our improved garden soil this year really made a huge difference.

The aroma of roasting turkey is coming from the oven, and my husband just told me he doesn’t know how to make stuffing- WHAT!? He’s a chef! I’ll do that, he’ll make the mashed potatoes. Oh I am excited for dinner. We have so much to be grateful for on this early Thanksgiving eve.

whirlwind

What a week we’ve experienced. We held our first “Market on the Farm” day and it was perfect- the colors had gotten so fall-vibrant, and the weather was warm and lovely. It’s very dry out, but otherwise I’d say it was a rather picturesque day. We brought in some much needed funds for getting through the winter, and all my canning mania paid off with lots of product from our farm going to other people’s pantries, all nicely sealed up in glass jars.

The day before our event, we harvested chickens. 66 of them. That might have been too many to handle sanely in one day, and it might have been crazy to be doing that intense of an activity the day before our big day, but it had to be done. It was scheduled. Each Bubster went peacefully and we are so grateful and astounded by our customers who came to help with this experience.

Pass out Sunday night. Then we had shares to prepare on Monday, eggs to pack and deliver to town on Tuesday. I felt like I was going to keel over with so much activity. The rest of the week involved goats being not interested in coming for milking, the new compost toilet system needing finishing work, and panic-stricken midnight tomato picking. We were casually chatting with a dear friend one night, when Andrew checked the weather. The overnight lows were predicted at 23, which the hoophouse tomatoes can’t handle. I donned Andrew’s headlamp, bundled up and picked probably 200 or more pounds of beautiful green tomatoes. Last year this type of hard cold didn’t come til the end of October- learning every year not to ever expect the same as the year previous. I will not delay plant starting for hoophouse tomatoes next year. What a sad situation as the plants were just getting loaded and would have produced probably 3 times that weight in ripe tomatoes. Gawwww.

Then suddenly it was time to get ready for the Saturday Farmer’s market. I did a dry-run of our new and improved display in the front yard. I thought it was looking good. Saturday AM was really really cold. The market was bare, even though St. Croix Falls was holding their Autumn Fest. It was COLD and windy. But people came to see us and support us there, and it was an amazing feeling!!

It’s a physically/financially/emotionally hard time of year, but as a farmer you have to see the season through until you are done. We have CSA and egg deliveries for the rest of the month, and then we are actually taking a weekend mini-vacation. I can’t even believe it! My sister is coming to tend the animals for us, and we’ll get a little time away to rest thoroughly. No chores, no milking, no canning, no fermenting, no cheesemaking, no hauling, no worrying (ok, we’ll be worried while we’re gone, that I can be sure of) But we’ll be returning refreshed for our next push, which will be assembling winter shares and finally harvesting our turkeys the weekend before Thanksgiving. Wheeew! It’s quite a life out here.

mammoth grey stripe sunflower heads, laid out to dry in the hoophouse before the chickadees get them all

mammoth grey stripe sunflower heads, laid out to dry in the hoophouse before the chickadees get them all

 

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