Its been a little while since I’ve update the site and I apologize. I’m still working 1 full time and 2 part time off-farm jobs, but I’m quitting both the part time jobs by the end of the year. I should be able to devote much more time to the farm, my family and hobbies, and hopefully the website.
So now to the title of the post: St. Catharine College had a conference in early April this year to commerate the 35th aniversary of the publication of Wendell Berry’s book “The Unsettling of America.” The conference featured numerous luminaries speaking about agriculture, sustainability, coal, GMOs and other issues. The highlight of the conference was Bill Moyers interviewing Wendell Berry right here in Springfield, KY. After the interview, the Moyers film crew came to our place to get some footage of a real farm to include in the program. And, finally, the program is going to be aired this weekend- sunday here on KET1 and KET2, and other times during the next week on other PBS stations nationally, and the program can be streamed from the Moyers and Company website beginning the afternoon of 10/4/13.
I had been hoping to teach a pottery class through the continuing education department at St. Catharine this fall- 5 weeks in the studio at their Lebanon campus and then the final week we would fire all the student’s work in my wood-fired kiln. I took every wednesday off the next 8 weeks for the class, and so far NO ONE has signed up. It doesn’t begin until the 16th of this month, so it may fly still, so if anyone reading this is local and interested in pottery, please sign up here http://www.sccky.edu/academics/continuing-community-ed.php.
And finally, we’re getting another batch of hogs butchered at Marksbury Farm in 2 weeks, which means in about 3-4 weeks, I will have a LOT of pork. If anyone is interested in purchasing a quarter, half, or whole hog, now is the time we should be talking. This batch is Tamworth/Berkshire crosses, never medicated, never given steroids or hormones, never on concrete- in pasture or woodlots, and fed garden goodies and non-GMO corn for a local mill. Good eating. Contact me at my e-mail- firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in the pork.
Here are some cool photos that Kitty and Michael, our current wwoofers, have taken while they’ve been staying with us:
We’re going to Frankfort on 7/1 to use their mobile processing facility to process our 125 freedom rangers which are getting, really, really big- I suspect we’ll have some 6 pound birds in there. We’ll have them at the Danville and Springfield farmer’s markets this weekend in addition to all or our pork.
Our current wwoofers, Kitty and Michael, are helping out trememdously- we made about 40 pounds of soap yesterday, mostly from lard we rendered last week. It looked and smelled pretty good this morning but will need to cure for a few weeks before we can try it out.
Our friends Chad and Robin are traveling out of state for a few weeks and loaned us their Jersey milk cow- Big Mama. She’s giving about 2.5 gallons of milk a day, and it is some good, rich, creamy stuff. We made mozarella and ricotta yesterday.
We are going to start having open farm days the first and third sundays of the month from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. These will start in July, and right now we are planning on having a pottery making demonstration on 7/7/13 and then on 7/21 we will be demonstrating how to wash and card wool in preparation for spining or felting. Please stop by.
I’m going to post a few photos I am ripping off from our eraly June wwoofers’ website- please read about their journey here: http://goodfootproject.com/our-first-organic-farm/#sthash.cnDT2Qiw.dpbs
It has been a little while since I’ve posted anything on the blog, but we are updating the Farm’s Facebook page fairly frequently, so please check there for new photos/news.
We have lots and lots and lots of pork in the freezers. We had Marksbury Farm butcher 5 feeder hogs about a month ago- they averaged 330 pounds, so we have 4 freezers full of really, really good meat. All cuts are still available- tenderloin, boneless chops, county style ribs, spare ribs, boston butt, ham steaks, bacon, smoked/cured ham, breakfast sausage, sweet Italian sausage, and bratwursts. Please visit us at either the Danville or Springfield farmer’s markets on saturday mornings, or give me a call at (502) 331 1492 and stop by the farm if you would like to purchase some pork and see the farm.
We got the riverbottom planted with field corn and sorghum this week, so hopefully we’ll be able to grow at least some of our own animal feed this year and be able to make molasses this fall.
We are going to start having open farm days the first and third sundays of the month from noon until dark. These will start in July, and right now we are planning on having a pottery making demonstration on 7/7/13 and then on 7/21 we will be demonstrating how to wash and card wool in preparation for spining or felting.
That’s all for now but please check the Facebook page for more frequent updates.
The empty bowls supper was a rousing success, other than the baby pigs getting out just before a fairly large group of folks got to the barn. New Pioneers raised quite a bit of money, and we were delighted to welcome so many community members to our farm.
February seems to be dragging and dragging on- the hay has been low for weeks, and I’ve had to make a couple of emergency runs to get a few extra bales. Green grass will be quite a welcome sight here in a few weeks.
In preparation for the Kentucky Green Living Fair I’ve put together a couple of logos and am getting tee-shirts printed- they will be for sale at the fair and also at our farm- I am picking them up this friday and will have medium, large, and extra large- here are pics of the logos- the pitcher will be printed on the upper left chest in front and the chicken on the pig will be full size on the back. The tees are $12.
I’ve been delinquent in updating the website over the winter so here goes, in no particular order.
Our Tamworth sow farrowed a litter of 6 baby pigs 2 weeks ago ( luckily enough I had her in the barn already, although I suspect she would have done fine in the field), and all of the baby pigs are doing great.
Our first lamb of the year was born 9 days ago- a ewe lamb, from one of our Border Leicesters- mama and baby are doing beautifully.
The batch of 5 feeder pigs are up to about 175 pounds and will hopefully be ready to process in around 2 months- they are Tamworth/Berkshire crosses, never in confinement, never medicated (the old saying healthy as a horse is inaccurate- pigs, given adequate space, clean water and food are the most robust animal on my farm). We are taking orders for quarter, half, and whole hogs- please e-mail email@example.com.
We are hosting another WWOOFer (http://www.wwoofusa.org/), Nick- all the way from Alaska- he’s been here about a week and is wonderful help.
On February 22, we will be hosting the empty bowls supper for New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future. I would encourage all of you to look at their webiste and see what wonderful things Sister Claire and the rest of the organization are doing: http://newpioneersfsf.org/.
Then on March 30th, Sustainable Kentucky is hosting the Kentucky Green Living fair in Somerset- http://www.kygreenlivingfair.com/. We’ll be giving informal talks on our system of pastured rabbit, showing off one of our rabbit tractors, and giving away some free samples of grilled rabbit. Notice I said giving away- right now, after calling a few dozen abbatoirs across the state, I cannot find a single USDA inspected facility that will process a rabbit. And since Kentucky is one of the states which does not allow the 1000 animal exemption for home processing, I can’t legally sell anyone any of my rabbits. This will change after I go through the certification process at Kentucky State’s mobile processing facility.
Most of the high tunnel is already planted, and the remainder will be finished this week.
We will be selling produce and meat at the Springfield Farmer’s market this spring and will likely be signing folks up for a late summer and/or fall CSA, if there is enough interest.
The crocus have been blooming for a week.
I’m sure there are things I am omitting, but I will try to post again shortly.
Well we butchered our big hog this past Wednesday- Luckily we had a lot of help- 3 Amish friends and a total of 6 English folks worked part or most of the day. We ground the sausage, cut the chops, roasts, etc, rendered the lard and pressed the cracklins, and put the hams and bacons on salt on wednesday. Then on thursday I finished the souse meat, made livercheese and scrapple, and finally had some delicious roasted tenderloin for supper. From a 400 pound hog we threw away about 25 pounds of guts- all the rest was put to some use or another.
Anyways- I will be loading the wood fired kiln on the 12th (this coming Wednesday) and will be firing then this coming thursday and friday and maybe into saturday. Any or all are welcome to come by and see the show and help out for a while if the spirit moves them.
Nearly all of the chickens processed at Marksbury have been sold for the year. We will probably try to raise 2 batches of meat birds next year, so if anyone wants to reserve a few please let me know.
Also, we have had 2 interns from California, via http://www.wwoof.org/, Antony and Jenny, staying with us for a few weeks. We have had fairly good weather and gotten quite a bit accomplished, including filling up the kiln shed with firewood from the river, butchering 50 chickens for our own use, picking up an East Friesan ram, building doors on the barn stalls, and helping friends butcher turkeys. Big thanks to Antony and Jenny for being such good sports and so good with our kids.
I will probably need to postpone the gallery opening again- the last few weeks in November have filled up with work to the point it looks like I won’t be able to get a firing in until the first week of December. But with my new work schedule beginning in December I will have a LOT more time at the farm and can get the kiln fired in short order. I will try to get the gallery open before Christmas in any case.
The greenhouse is perking along beautifully- if it is sunny, and the outside temp is around 50, the inside temp of the greenhouse is usually in the mid to high 80s. With the solar array in place, we used 120 kilowatt hours from Salt River Electric last month. Yippee.
The solar array is finally up and running- it is great to see the arrows blink backwards on the electric meter, even if it is only happening through the afternoon. Anyways, we had been planning and saving for this system since the spring and it was finally finished this past tuesday. It should provide about half of our power, especially if I am able to get the geothermal system in sometime in the spring (the builder of our house did many things which we are very pleased with; the electric cooling and heating units are not one of those things however).
In other news, we picked about 7-8 bushels of various peppers from the hoop house on tuesday and are desperately trying to get them dried, smoked, pickled, or frozen before they start to go bad. The hoop house was then replanted with winter hardy stuff- hopefully not too late in the fall that it will still have time to germinate and grow.
Marksbury Farm will be processing our chickens on 10/23- if you want fresh chicken please contact me and we can arrange a pick-up for the 23rd-25th, after which time I will freeze whatever is left of this batch. The cost is $3/pound and they should average 3.5 to 4 pounds.
Sustainable Kentucky should have an article on our farm very shortly, please keep a look out for that- Jamie runs a great site/blog.