Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fun Times at the Farm

Our apologies for not having posted since May, but sometimes life simply has you going in too many directions at once.  Running a farm doesn't help either, as often this time of year we don't even get around to having dinner until 10 pm :)

The long, lazy days of summer are now upon us and Old School Farm is settling in to focus on growing vegetables for selling at the farmers market we attend each Wednesday from 4 - 6 pm.  The market is located at the Cooperage - right on Main Street in Honesdale.  It's a great place to find local purveyors of fresh and delicious food.
Dave selling early season produce - asparagus, rhubarb and ramps (wild leeks)

Now that it's July, we've also been able to turn our attention to a couple of big projects that got put on the back burner during the hectic spring planting season.

The biggest project we are working on right now is clearing for a fence line that will surround three or four acres of pasture we are developing in the central portion of the property.  The idea is to move the sheep to this location during summer for two reasons:

Mary gets a better view by standing on her mom's back
1) Rotating their grazing area provides fresh grass and greatly reduces parasite load by not keeping the animals in the same location for months on end.

2) Keeping the sheep on higher ground during the  summertime when flooding can occur is wise.   Having lost five animals last year during a high water event along our river bottom area is not something we want to repeat.

The other projects that are ongoing are the hooking up of power to the springhouse so we can pump water up hill to the new pasture for the sheep. This takes a lot of doing and requires the coordinating of a plumber and electrician. Dave will also be getting some deer fencing around the new vegetable plot we have established in the main field adjacent to the Dyberry.

The newly certified commercial kitchen in the barn
Another milestone has been our recent approval as a certified bakery.  This will enable us to bake wood fired artisan breads in our earthen oven.  We plan on selling these at the farmer's market and hopefully eventually to be open once a week for on farm sales.  We are also looking into hosting a seasonal wood-fired pizza night once a week in the future.

Old School Farm has two interns this summer and we have been very pleased with their efforts on the farm.  Devon and Rip are staying in our barn and utilizing our new commercial kitchen space. They've been doing a great job of planting and taking care of our vegetable crop and we really appreciate all they are doing to help our farm move to the next level. Right now they are assisting Dave in clearing and setting up the fence for the new pasture area.  

We hope your summer is going well and we hope you enjoy all the photos this time around - we had a lot to catch you up on and share.
Devon & Rip

Your Friends at Old School Farm
 Sue & Dave Benner take a break to sit on a pile of living edge hemlock
that will soon become siding for the new seasonal interns cabin 

Our neighbor Jim Sanders demonstrates his pizza twirl skills

The Seligsohns and Benners making their pizzas

Uncle Jeff and his perfect pie..yes that is Old School tomato sauce and spinach!

Owen about to sample one of Pat's rhubarb squares (they didn't last long) very, very quiet - I am trying to catch "Momma G." (bullfrog)

Yes, Aunt Lisa you have now officially made the blog!!  ;)

Relaxing after the pizza event

Lisa Seligsohn captures barn swallows on the electric fence

Family Farm Tour

Mom relaxing with her charges

Addison Benner overcame her fear of chickens to become an expert egg gatherer

The "Old Gizzard" hits the Dyberry

Uncle Rob and his nephews pick asparagus...

... green and white (white are growing under the mulch - no light)

spring dinner from the creek, pond, and vegetable garden

The Woodpecker alarm....actually a turkey "killing cone" ,
this was wrapped on at 5 am every 2 minutes by a downy
woodpecker who was staking his claim to our backyard!
It was hanging on a tree - We took it down and put it in the barn

Fresh watercress from our spring.  We had placed a few
clumps into the water last year and had a very large patch
this season to harvest from.  We sold bunches at the
Farmer's Market.


Who's afraid of a little rain!

Wild Strawberries
Heading down the Dyberry to fish for trout

Owen lands a nice one - patience pays off !

The high tunnel fully planted

Garter snake.  Maybe that is why they call them "garter" snakes - they wrap around your arm or leg!

biking along the Dyberry through the game lands

cooling off at the Dyberry

picnic at the Sanders

Pat roasts up a marshmallow

Fully planted

Broccoli transplants need water after solar drip stops running

The portable saw mill cutting cherry logs at the Sanders

Dave and the stray merganser duckling that someone dropped off

Filling egg cartons

Working hard???

good times...

pea picking

Devon getting ready for pizza

Jim and Pat ready to dig into a wood-fired pie

8 year olds love to role pies

Friday, May 23, 2014

Spring Juggling Act

We have had so much going on here at the farm it is hard to know where to begin...  Not only is it now planting season, but Farm Manager, Dave Campeau has been performing a juggling act of sorts, as we have had multiple infrastructure and construction projects going on all at the same time.

The project that has been most time consuming has been the build out of our soon to be inspected for certification, commercial kitchen in our timber frame barn.  The kitchen is in the corner of the barn adjacent to the earthen oven which is right out the back door under the shed roof overhang.  Right now Dave is finishing coating all the  wood surfaces with urethane and is also finalizing the butcher block-style maple counters.  The 3 bay stainless sink is in place and the used stainless frig and range will be delivered tomorrow.

Wild Leeks - AKA- "Ramps" - a delicacy in restaurants
We experienced our first farmer's market at The Cooperage in Honesdale yesterday.   We will be there every Wednesday from 4 - 6  pm right on main street - stop by and say hello.  This week we had an early spring offering of ramps (wild leeks), rhubarb, and our first  picking of asparagus.   We sold out quickly.

Our asparagus is something truly extraordinary.
Not only does it grow like bonkers down in our silty river bottom soil, but the flavor  is like no other asparagus - incredibly rich and very tender. We even enjoy it raw.  Now that we have crop insurance, we plan on expanding this perennial crop that can produce for up to twenty years!

A mix of white and green asparagus - same plant, just
some has been shaded by our thick straw mulch

We've tried two rounds of eggs in our incubator this spring and the hatch rates have been abysmal. So far only 10 birds have hatched from close to 60 eggs.  We are trying one more round.   Our turkeys are another story.  Our farmer friend and retired teacher, Dave Nonnemaker took a few of our eggs and had his midget white turkeys sit on them - so far 18 poults have hatched!  We also had our first hatching in our coop this evening... we were hoping for this, as it means we don't have to keep ordering poults through the mail every year.

Our truck engine is shot.  We are currently waiting to decide who will do the work to re-build the engine. This came at an inopportune time given the busy spring season.

We have been planting quite a bit in the garden - potatoes, broccoli, peas, and onions are all in. Tomatoes go into the high tunnel tomorrow.

Broccoli transplants and snap peas with trellis
Our warm weather seedlings were doing great in our sun room until we got nailed with a major aphid infestation - our eggplants and peppers really took it hard and will be lucky to survive transplanting.  Our tomatoes seemed to have not been targeted by this light green aphid.  Neem oil and other organic measures only had a minimal effect.

Our one room cabin construction for our intern couple has been delayed until June. We made the decision to first complete the kitchen area, and for now these folks will be staying on a futon in the barn living area.  We did level the building site with a mini-backhoe rental.  We also trenched for a power cable along the driveway from the house to the springhouse.  We will be installing a well pump down in the water basin to pump water up to our middle pasture for our sheep during summertime.
Lifetime farmer, friend, and radio personality, Dave
Williams drops off an old Ferguson "two bottom" plow

We've also acquired a couple of "old school" plows and disker for turning and breaking up soil for new planting areas as we expand our
growing areas in the river bottom area.

The sheep are doing great and our lamb "Mary" is as frisky as they come.  She really enjoys hopping up on her mom's back for a better view ....

Until next time, enjoy all the photos and the great weather this time of year...

Your friends at Old School Farm
The old shed being converted into a privy

Our very busy Spanish Black tom is looking very regal this time of year

Broody heritage breed turkeys will sit for days on a clutch of eggs

The mini-backhoe rental kept bogging down in our thick mat of leaves

Dave moves boulders and levels cabin building site

Trout Lily - note pattern on leaves

View from cabin site

Site for cabin

Owen and Coleman Benner & their grandparents, Sue & Dave prepare ramps
and potatoes for potato leek soup.

Coleman seems to have enjoyed his bowl

An unheralded, yet delicious weed - "Lamb's Quarters"

Dave turned an old snowmobile trailer into a useful farm trailer

Winter Rye -soon to be tilled under as green manure

Fly fisherman pay a visit

Rural roads are quite useful for tractors...

Mary standing atop Freya

Dave working hard to get the solar water pump back in operation

The first of the rhubarb - soon to be stewed and sweetened with Old School honey

These amazing cold frames slipped right over our rooftop beds and have produced incredible seedlings

Pussy Willow

Fiddleheads begin to emerge.  Ostrich ferns are a sure sign of spring

Fly fishing the Dyberry  - just prior to hooking a 3 pounder on a stone fly pattern

Tractor headlights at dusk

Outdoor shower with flagstone floor

The outdoor vegetable wash sink

Single bottom 14" plow with disker

Wood Turtle

Red Trillium in bloom streamside


Massive stand of ramps in gamelands - digging these is off limits

Winter can be cruel - deer skeleton in drainage ditch along road in gamelands

Wild Turkey feather

Beaver work

A lot of beaver work

Old homestead site (torn down  years ago because of flood plain)

First harvest of Rhubarb

Al found this door that we thought had been lost  in the flood last
  year, back along the small creek behind our garden

Heads down and clipping grass  -90% of their waking hours

vibrant spring yellow

Early May full moon over the Dyberry

trench for power line to springhouse

Dave bends conduit to follow curve in trench

The fun part - back filling with the grader blade

Dave Campeau and OSF intern, Sam

Dave and Al as stock runs low

One year after transplant - cherry tree flowering

The old disker

The pumphouse with high tunnel in background

A few sprigs of watercress thrown into the spring last year, and now ready for market

moss covered boulder with liverworts

Killer broccoli in mini hoop house cold frame prior to transplant

Transplanting in process

Healthy soil = delicious and nutritious food