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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
brought a lot of satisfaction
as we celebrated a couple of birthdays this week.
Through the winter, the cattle enjoyed bale grazing.
The new calves stayed in a pen closer to the house where they drank milk and got the best hay, minerals and alfalfa.
We moved both groups to a holding pen so they could get to know each other and start making the transition to grass.
The kids helped us move them to the pasture.
They were happy to be on green grass.
In fact, this is what they had to say about it:
This morning I served cake for breakfast!
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!
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.
When winter came we boarded the pigs on the area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
And you? Have you tried kombucha yet?
Our first summer on the farm, we picked up three pigs: Victory, Princess Girl and Nellie Olsen.
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.