Wrong Direction Farm

Of Origins and Aspirations

In 2009 a friend read to us a passage from a work by Wendell Berry.

We were intrigued by its quiet beauty and began to soak up book after book. During that time and as a result of research initiated by our concern for our food allergic children, we began to remember the importance of growing our own food, caring for our soil, supporting our community and producing for ourselves and others.

our suburban garden
our suburban garden

I say remember because in each of us there has always been a desire to farm. Our circumstances were not ideal for self-supportive farming, but we made a start. Our small garden plot flourished, our bunnies multiplied and our hens laid beautiful eggs.

Soon after we received the citation, we harvested our meat.
Soon after we received the citation, we harvested our meat.
holding his favorite hen
holding his favorite hen

Even though we lived at the edge of a wooded area on a dead end street, we were given a citation for these activities. 

It came too late. We had tasted the pastoral life and found it too promising to give up our efforts.

the home we built in NJ
the home we built in NJ

In 2011 we left the house we built in suburban New Jersey and pitched our tent behind a neglected 1860’s farmhouse, making another start on 97 acres of a long unused dairy farm.

2 years ago, we pitched our tent on Seebers Lane and set about renewing a farm.
2 years ago, we pitched our tent on Seebers Lane and set about renewing a farm.
the farm house
the farm house we now call home

Of the two years that have followed, we could tell many humorous stories.

We are growing down into this good land full of promise.  Our children are growing up into healthy, hardy and productive persons. 

We join Hannah Coulter in saying, “This is our story. This is our giving of thanks.”

Dave, Harry, Allie and AJ
Dave, Harry, Allie and AJ

From My Garden

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Grilled Ribs

ribs

With a simple overnight marinade of sage, garlic, orange, cumin, s&p,

and a couple of hours on the grill,

this rack of ribs given by

Princess Girl

Allie feeding the piglets. Princess Girl is the pink one, of course.

Allie feeding the piglets. Princess Girl is the pink one, of course.

brought a lot of satisfaction

as we celebrated a couple of birthdays this week.

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The Cows Are Turned Out

Through the winter, the cattle enjoyed bale grazing.

Bale grazing benefits everybody.

Bale grazing benefits everybody–it disperses manure and is easy on the land.

The new calves stayed in a pen closer to the house where they drank milk and got the best hay, minerals and alfalfa.

This shelter for the newest calves included a covered shed as well as an enclosed hut made from an old tank.

This shelter for the newest calves included a covered shed as well as an enclosed hut made from an old tank.

We moved both groups to a holding pen so they could get to know each other and start making the transition to grass.

Boba Fat broke ropes, tore through fences and generally made a nuisance of himself during the introduction.

Boba Fat broke ropes, tore through fences and generally made a nuisance of himself during the introduction.

The kids helped us move them to the pasture.

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They were happy to be on green grass.

running and bucking

running and bucking

In fact, this is what they had to say about it:

funnyfaces

Chocolate Cake For Breakfast?

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This morning I served cake for breakfast!

Leftover cake.

Usually I’m a mean mommy when it comes to food and strictly limit unnourishing food.

Even candy has to meet a high standard.

However, when DP’s mom brought this cake for AJ’s birthday, I gladly sliced off a large piece for them.

And the icing?  I’ve misplaced the recipe but it is similar to this.

No worries! There is nothing unhealthy about it!

The Main Garden Plot

DP breaks ground

DP breaks ground

In April of 2011, our family came up to work a bit on the property we were going to buy. We dug up a garden space and planted a few early things, longing for the June day we would take possession of the property.

We enjoyed a pretty nice garden.

Thanks to a generous friend, I had some interesting plants.

Thanks to a generous friend, I had some interesting plants.

When winter came we boarded the pigs on the area.

lots of hay added to the garden spot

lots of hay added to the garden spot

By Spring, we knew we wouldn’t be using the spot for much since all the hay had not composted by garden planting time.  A huge amount of squash and other volunteer food came up, and we got in some corn and climbing beans.

volunteer squash we harvested for the pigs

volunteer squash we harvested for the pigs

fairly bare

fairly bare

In the Fall we had a few piglets on the area for about a month to root around a bit and be weaned.

Here is the area now.  I can’t wait to get to work on it and see what the rich ground will give back this year.

before

before

Putting the Pigs Out to Pasture

new hay bales every week meant the pigs had plenty to eat and plenty of bedding

new hay bales every week meant the pigs had plenty to eat and plenty of bedding

All winter the pigs’ home has been a large area with a dugout. Each week, we gave them a round bale to eat and use for bedding. As you see in the first picture, they were quite content. April brings its showers and even with hay, the pen has turned into a mud pit–not so terrible from a pig’s perspective, but it signals the end of the pen and the beginning of the pasture rotations.

good thing pigs love mud

good thing pigs love mud

We moved the pigs into temporary paddocks made with electric fencing.  Usually, one low wire will keep them in, but we like to give them two wires for the first paddock–cuts down significantly on pig chasing while they get used to their new fence.

merely the first of many fences this season

merely the first of many fences this season

Here they are on brand new pasture. They were feeling their freedom yesterday and thoroughly enjoying their new digs. The chickens and guineas followed them yesterday.  I’m interested to see if they stay with the pigs all through the pasture.

thrilled pigs eager to use their snouts

thrilled pigs eager to use their snouts

Beauty

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a part of the beauty that surrounds me

Kombucha Time

My two favorite ferments? Kombucha and Sauerkraut.

Let’s talk about Kombucha today. I used to pay $4 for 16oz of kombucha and feel guilty about it even though its health benefits were so obviously recognizable in my body. No more! I get all that probiotic goodness by the gallon now. Roughly estimating, I can make it for about $.22 for 16oz.

This food grade 5 gallon bucket has already paid for itself.

This food grade 5 gallon bucket has already paid for itself.

It’s fairly simple. I bring a big pot of water to a boil, remove from the heat and throw in 2/3 c loose leaf tea.

I use this red tea, though some people suggest adding some portion of black tea.  I love the natural sweetness of this flavor and have not had any trouble yet.

I use this red tea, though some people suggest adding some portion of black tea. I love the natural sweetness of this flavor and have not had any trouble yet.

I toss a lid on the top and leave it a few hours before stirring in a cup of organic sugar for every gallon of water.

After it cools, I scoot the Scoby (that is floating on about a half gallon of reserved kombucha) aside and pour in the tea, straining the tea leaves as I go.

The thick round portion on the right is the original mother. As you can see, it expands to cover the entire surface.

The thick round portion on the right is the original mother. As you can see, it expands to cover the entire surface.

It goes back on its stand next to the wood stove where it sits, covered, and begins fermenting all over again. I leave it for a couple of weeks and repeat the process.

The ferment slows down enough in my frig that I can keep it for a month.  Do you see the raw milk, raw milk yogurt, fresh bread and those ribs that we will use in the coming week to celebrate AJ's birthday?

The ferment slows down enough in my frig that I can keep it for a month. Do you see the raw milk, raw milk yogurt, fresh bread and those ribs that we will use in the coming week to celebrate AJ’s birthday?

And you?  Have you tried kombucha yet?

Salut!

Salut!

Lunch From the Farm

Our first summer on the farm, we picked up three pigs: Victory, Princess Girl and Nellie Olsen.

guess who named her

guess who named her

We kept Princess Girl until she was about 500lbs, so the hams we got from her were on the larger side.

Every once in a while I grab one of her smoked hams from the freezer, boil it and slice it for lunch meat.

so yummy

so yummy