Rock & Roll Farm

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Friday! Dec 17 2004 // 7:10 pm // permalink

cow day!


We got a cow and her calf today!

Cows rock!

I’ll post lots of pictures tomorrow.

For now I need to take a shower because I smell like cow.

*shower, shower, shower*

Today we drove a few counties over to Hudson, MI to pick up a beautiful Guernsey cow and her three-week old calf.

The cow came with a name, Fawn. We think we’re going to keep that name. There’s still the issue of a name for the calf. I put up some sheets of paper in the kitchen for people to write ideas. As soon as the votes are in I’ll let you know. Here are some of the choices: Jezebel, Pumpkin, Petunia, Kwansayum, Florida, Bonnie, Adelheid, Smartypants, Junior, TRON, Crumpet, Milky II, Aran, Pulsa, Sorrell, Butter, Pansy, Violet, Harriet, Peanut, Poopers, Dweezil, Clementine, Ace…

Last week we cleaned out the basement of our new (to us) barn (across the street on our newly acquired land) in preparation. The stalls hadn’t been mucked in ten years. We made a lot of jokes about the manure being pure gold after ten years to sit and cure.

We already have several round bales of straw for bedding, but yesterday we picked up a load of square bale hay for feed. We’re looking for a round bale feeder (a huge metal frame that holds the round bales during feeding) but haven’t found one yet.

In other news: the timber frame project was put on hold on account of the cow. Richard and I may do a little work on it next week but we’ll be the only ones here so I’m not sure how far we’ll get. We harvested a few bins of carrots and parsnips yesterday morning. I hope that was the last harvest till spring - it was the kind of windy cold morning that makes you want to sit in front of the fire and drink cocoa.






Sunday! Dec 12 2004 // 1:45 pm // permalink

Archival updates

I was surprised to find that my archives are in a little bit of a demand. More like three people asked in passing when I’m putting them back up. But still…that’s enough positive reenforcement for me to get motivated. So in response I’m slowly making the archives accessible. With limitations, of course.


Thursday! Dec 09 2004 // 8:43 pm // permalink

Today’s sky

There are also new photos of the timber frame project on the farm_photos page.


Wednesday! Dec 08 2004 // 9:03 pm // permalink

Starting the timber frame.

I may have failed High School Geometry, but I can now add timber framing to my resume. The wood came in last week, and of course we dropped the longest, heaviest, most green timber we could find right on Reid’s leg. He’s okay, but it was scary for a minute there. And then funny. And now legendary.

Monday and Tuesday we worked on the layout of the timbers. Each piece of the frame is designated well in advance, and all cuts are drawn directly on the wood. I learned to lay out mortises, tenons, dovetails, braces, and floor joists. Accuracy and precision has never been a strong point of mine so this was a challenging task for me. Spending time quietly measuring and marking was a nice contrast to the sometimes-violent work of the farm this time of year. Tomorrow we will begin cutting, chiseling and drilling. The thought of power tools makes me more excited than I probably should be. The thought of chisels makes me even more excited.

The structure will be a distribution shed for the CSA. One of the challenges has been what to do with the produce that doesn’t fit in the share boxes. Simply trying to keep it in the shade didn’t work. Now we can have everything in the shed, out of the elements. This will also provide some continuity to the distribution process, and lots of storage space.


Thursday! Dec 02 2004 // 10:11 pm // permalink

new photos

check out the link over on the right there, under the heading navigation, called farm_photos.

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Tuesday! Nov 23 2004 // 9:20 am // permalink


This post is terrifically overdue. I’ve decided to scrap my commentary, since all I came up with was a snapshot of me in the auditorium alternating between tears and fist-raising. Needless to say, I left the conference with renewed hope and energy to continue fighting for environmental and social justice. The end.

The Bioneers conference is held every year in San Rafael, California; however I attended one of many ‘satellite” conferences held across the country. Each satellite conference had their own workshops and keynote speakers, and a then a part of the day was spent in an auditorium watching a transmission of the plenary speakers in California.

Great Lakes Bioneers 2004

The Third GLB conference was organized by The Neahtawanta Center and SEEDS. Here’s a small article about the GLB conference at Michigan IMC.

Grace Lee Boggs was one of the GLB keynotes. She spoke to us about Building a Movement to Grow Our Souls, and it was incredible.

Bioneers Plenary Sessions 2004

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! spoke, and I bought her book, Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them.

Terry Tempest Williams incorporated some readings from her new book The Open Space of Democracy, published by Orion (this book is on my wish list, hint-hint). Her speech was part of a tour promoting the book, and as part of her tour diary she wrote a little about her experience at Bioneers (and, thankfully, talks about some of the speakers I’m not mentioning in this post). You should also check out Williams’ article from the March/April issue of Orion. I am currently reading Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert by Williams, whose portrait is featured in the Americans Who Tell the Truth series.

Read WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM NATIVE AMERICA ABOUT WAR AND PEACE? The Progressive Pragmatism of the Iroquois Confederacy an article by the quietly inspiring John Mohawk.

The daughter of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai spoke about her mother’s work with Kenya’s Green Belt Movement. Here is an interview with Wangari at the Nobel website.

Thomas Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund spoke about his involvement with Pennsylvania farmers fighting corporations. Read his editorial on the subject at CELDF, “Factory Farms, Corporations and Democracy”

Aqeela Sherrills closed the conference with his talk about the death of his son and the Reverence Movement. There is a decent bio on the Green Festivals site, and an interview from Satya Magazine in November ‘02.


Sunday! Nov 21 2004 // 9:29 pm // permalink

Season’s end

The signs of the change are everywhere now. The persimmons are ripe, the chickens are molting, the great oak in the north field is bare, and yesterday the Thanksgiving shares were distributed. A special share was offered at $60 for nearly 90 lbs. of produce, and 24 people stepped up. We’ve been talking about this distribution as a target for a few months now, and it’s hard to believe it’s happened.

During the week of the 15th, there was a great push to get all the potatoes out of the ground before they froze. It seemed like there was a perpetual “ten more rows” to be dug. Thank goodness for the digger we used on the large varietes (but nearly all the fingerlings were still dug by hand).

Last weekend I attended a CSA conference up in Tustin. I’ll write more about that (and the Bioneers!) tomorrow.

This week between discussing what would be in the share and how much, we worked on some winterizing projects. Tuesday morning we mulched the carrots. We unrolled giant straw bales like carpet over a few rows. These carrots will “overwinter” and be harvested in spring.

Soon we will mulch the parsnips and possibly the garlic. We still haven’t planted anything in the hoop houses. They’ve been tilled, but we have to water them and wait for the weeds to sprout before moving on.

The rye we sowed on the old squash fields looks like a lush carpet now. Sowing seeds has been one of my favorite activities so far on the farm. We used bag sowers, one of which still had an old price tag of $5.35. The whole time I walked slowly up and down the rows turning the crank I was grasping to remember the Parable of the Sower. I remembered it being one of my favorite bedtime stories as a child but I could not remember the whole thing. Looking at the biblical text, I think we must have had a storybook with an extended version or something because it was way more exciting.

There are only two interns left on the farm and I’m taking this week off to visit my family. When I return there are any number of projects to be started. We might begin repairs on the barn at the new property (more on this story soon), or if the lumber comes we will start construction of a few small timber frame cottages to be used as intern housing. I’m looking forward to having my own little cottage with woodstove and loft. The space heater in the pumphouse is effective, but a woodstove would be much better.

I got to try a Pawpaw this week. It was the best piece of fruit I’ve ever tasted in my life. I think we’re going to plant some. Fruit won’t come for 6 years, but I can wait.




Sunday! Oct 31 2004 // 1:32 pm // permalink

Garlic, garlic, garlic

We’ve been planting the garlic all week, between harvesting for our wholesale clients and making trips to market. Monday, compost from our chickens was turned into the earth. The rows are plowed one-by-one, and the garlic is pressed into the soil by hand. We have seed garlic from a few different places across the country - I’m not sure exactly where. I do know that we have Brown German and Purple Italian, the former being much, much larger.

We still have literally tons of squash in the barn, many of which are beautiful heirlooms. The other day I tried the Pike’s Peak for the first time, and I think I’ve found my new favorite food. The Pike’s Peak is elongated and somewhat ribbed, with coloring like a Blue Hubbard. Its orange flesh is moist and sweet - perfect for pies, cookies, or just eating fresh from the oven. I’m so into it.

Once again, I’m going to put off my conference update and answers to Holly’s questions until later this week or something. Thanks for the questions and comments!


Friday! Oct 22 2004 // 10:01 pm // permalink


I don’t know if any of you readers know what it’s like on a farm, but holy crow there is a lot of work to be done. Even though our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) ended last week, we will continue working at high speed through till Thanksgiving. There’s garlic to plant, potatoes to dig, rye to sow, and compost to spread.

Yesterday was the most exhausted I’ve been since arriving. The day’s project was ripping tomato plants and their cages from the ground in our hoop houses. Next the soil will be prepared for spinach and mache. This means cultivating, watering, and waiting for the weed seed to sprout. Then the weeds will be torched - an activity I’m looking forward to with great anticipation. Weeds make my life harder on a daily basis and setting fire to the buggers will be fun.

Now that the first (and second…) frost has come, the landscape of the farm has changed significantly. Undoubtedly, it is the same where you live. Unless you live in like, Hawaii or something. The leaves are changing color, the pepper plants are dead, and the sunflowers are hanging their heavy brown heads. Some crops flourish at this time of year, like broccoli and brussels sprouts. Brussels remain my favorite crop to harvest. It’s a very satisfying feeling when you click the sprout from the stem. I like eating them, as well. There’s a standing challenge between myself and the other remaining intern, Reid, to eat a quart of brussels sprouts. One of these days we’re going to cook them up and bring in an impartial third party.

The deer are doing a real number on the greens and carrot tops. They’ve been pulling the carrots every once in a while, and soon they will start eating the carrots themselves. Our carrots are very tasty right now, as they’ve been sweetened by the frost. The other root vegetables like parsnips and salsify are coming up beautiful. Salsify is this really neat looking root (kind of like a skinny carrot with bark) and is sometimes called German asparagus. We made some today for lunch and it was spectacular. If you find some, peel it, dip it in vinegar (to keep it from turning black), sautee it with leeks and a lot of butter, add chicken stock, and viola! Salsify!

Earlier this week I moved into the pumphouse. The pumphouse is that smaller white building in the photo I posted earlier this month. It is 12x12, with two windows and some serious insulation. It was nice in the barn, but having private space is going to be really nice. I spent three or four hours rearranging, cleaning and decorating my new space. I’m planning to take some photos soon.

Living communally continues to be a joy and a challenge. I’ve never lived with a 3-year-old person before. It would definitely be harder if I lived in the same building as the kid, and this makes me all the more thankful that I have my own space. The joy of spending time with a child is amazing, and my capacity for patience has grown tenfold. Another plus is the reinforcement of my decision to not have kids for a while, even if that decision was subconscious.

Anything anyone wants to know about farm life? Next week I hope to write about my experience at the Bioneers conference last weekend. Beyond that, you’ll be learning a lot about fingerling potatoes and manure until Thanksgiving.

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Friday! Oct 01 2004 // 7:31 pm // permalink

Where I live.

I live on the second floor of that there red building. For the past week I’ve had the place to myself, due to an alleged spider problem. Christine, another intern, and my roommate, has been stricken with what seems to be the ugliest spider bites any of us have seen. There is still much skepticism over what the bites actually are, and where she could have picked them up. For the time being, she’s sleeping in a tent to avoid any spiders that may be hanging around. I’m not so sure that there’s anything to be afraid of, so I’m sticking it out.

Later this weekend, I should have more photos of the farm and some of the veggies and more stories and whatnot for y’all.

p.s. There are three ‘lost’ atlas songs up on the atlas site for people to listen to.

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