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early-birdIf you are thinking about signing up for our certified organic vegetable CSA this year, please remember that we are offering a $40 early-bird discount for paying in full before March 1. That leaves today and tomorrow, so act soon!

Bill has given us his preliminary vegetable list. It includes arugula, string beans, beets, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, Chinese cabbage, chard, sweet corn, popping corn, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, melons, okra, peas, peppers (hot and sweet), radish, rhubarb, spinach, squash (summer and winter), tomatillo, tomato (cherry, grape, slicing), turnip, and herbs. Also, Bill is going to experiment with sweet potatoes in the greenhouse. Very exciting!

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2014 Ordering Info Coming Soon

mailboxEvery year around this time, we send out a newsletter with all the ordering information for the coming year. The newsletter is coming out on Thursday night, so keep an eye on your inbox! If you are not signed up for the newsletter, and you want to be among the first to get our ordering info, go to https://stevenormanton.com/newsletter.

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Craig and Omar are in the news lately because of their efforts to build a new USDA-inspected chicken processing facility in Leominster, Massachusetts. Residents of the next-door residential neighborhood are objecting, mainly because they fear for the values of their property. No matter how much modern technology might prevent any public nuisance, the word “slaughterhouse” triggers negative emotions. I think this would happen anywhere—or am I wrong? Any volunteers out there for bringing a chicken plant to their town?

Chicken Processing Facility -- Front

Chicken Processing Facility — Front

Chicken Processing Facility -- Back

Chicken Processing Facility — Back

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Road Work

RoadWorkIf you have visited the farm at all since March, you probably went straight from there to the car wash. Our driveway and parking area have been an absolute mud pit since the ground thawed. You will be happy to know that we are finally fixing it, starting this Saturday, June 22 and hopefully ending by Tuesday, June 25. The farm store will be inaccessible while the work is being done. Unless you are desperate. In which case, you could probably park across the street at the Griffen Memorial School and make a dash through the traffic and the construction site. But remember, there is no parking along Charles Bancroft Highway on either side (it is a state highway).

P.S. If the construction goes longer than planned (has that ever happened?), we will make other arrangements for the CSA pick-up on Tuesday—like Steve’s garage. But we are optimistic—otherwise we wouldn’t be farming!

P.P.S. Our apologies to all the car washes in the area for all the business they won’t be getting any more.

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BedfordDerry Lots of firsts are happening this month including our first ever appearance at a farmers market. We will be selling at the Bedford Farmers Market every Tuesday 3PM-6PM beginning June 18; and we will beĀ at the Derry Farmers Market every Wednesday 3PM-7PM beginning June 19 .

The Bedford Farmers Market is located at the parking lot at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish (190 Meeting House Road, Bedford, New Hampshire); and the Derry Farmer’s Market is at the municipal parking lot at 14 Manning Street, Derry, New Hampshire. Come check us out!

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Early BirdI just got off the phone with Steve, who is away on vacation this week. Steve asked me to post this message, because we have heard that some customers were unaware of an ordering deadline originally set for today.

If you are thinking about signing up for our Organic vegetable CSA, there is a $40 discount for those who sign up and pay in full early (originally, today). This information was buried pretty deep on our organic vegetable ordering page and in the newsletter we sent out last month, and many people did not see it. So we are extending the discount deadline until Monday, March 4.

The discounted prices are $560 for a full share (suitable for a family of 4), and $360 for a half share (suitable for 2 people).

Lots more information is on the ordering page, including our Organic vegetable CSA signup form. But if you are pressed for time and you want to get the discount, you can just put a check in the mail by Monday to Steve Normanton, 226 Charles Bancroft Hwy, Litchfield, NH 03052, or send us an online payment via the Intuit Payment Network (https://ipn.intuit.com/pay/SteveNormanton).

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NemoI was just getting ready to post a note about the upcoming Granite State Graziers 7th Annual Grazing Conference this weekend in Manchester—Steve will be presenting again this year. But now I’m not sure. The folks at the Weather Channel have convinced me that “The Big One” is going to arrive Friday night. Jim Cantore is about to hop a plane to Boston, and he is bringing his yardstick with him. He says no-one should be on the road past noon on Friday. Here’s an idea: get snowed in at the conference, and let the spouse handle the shoveling back home.

Update February 7, 2013: Sure enough, the conference has been postponed. I will post the rescheduling information when I get it.

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Meet Bill

Bill Harris The New Year is a great time for new beginnings. Steve and I are delighted to welcome Bill Harris to the farm as the Manager of our new organic vegetable operation. Bill grew up working on his family farm in upstate New York, so we know Bill is hardy and resourceful as most farm boys are. But get this—Bill spent the past 13 winters working the night shift on the Killington snowmaking crew. That takes a special kind of hardiness! Bill has been missing the challenge of his old winter passtime, so we are waiting for a really cold night when we are going to send Bill up onto the roof at 3AM with some old irrigation equipment that needs fixing. If he survives that, we are looking forward to a great 2013. Please stay tuned for more information about vegetables, and of course, we hope the New Year is a happy and healthy one for all!

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We have decided to add a new business unit to the farm next year: an organic vegetable CSA. For those who are unfamiliar, “CSA” stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It is a system whereby customers buy a share of all the produce grown on a farm—usually a once-a-week box of assorted vegetables during the summer and early fall. We are now searching for an expert Organic vegetable farmer with CSA experience to be in charge of this new adventure. If you or someone you know fits that description please see the application instructions on our new Job Openings page.

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Predator!

It’s not easy to farm in harmony with nature. In fact, it seems that whenever you think you have it figured out, nature demonstrates that she can make your plan fail, no problem at all.

Yesterday, Patrick set off to the fields on his daily round of chores, and came upon a gruesome scene. In one of the chicken enclosures, 40 of the 5-week-old chicks had been killed by a predator. We aren’t sure what the animal was, but it got to the chicks by digging a shallow ditch under the electric netting. Lately, grass and weeds have grown thick around the electric fences all over the farm, draining power from the fence at every point of contact. The voltage got low enough that the predator, whatever it was, was undeterred by the shock. We all feel sickened by this episode. Steve has been furiously taking it out on the weeds with the weed whacker. He also installed a bigger fence charger, so the voltage is now back to a level that should be effective.

As for the animal’s identity, we were quick to suspect a fox. A fox has been spotted many times snooping around the fence. But the mass killing is not typical of foxes. And here is a strange detail: several of the dead chickens had been buried. Domestic dog is one possibility. Fisher cat, badger, and skunk are all on the list. But none of them matches the m.o. perfectly. Craig and Patrick will be on the case this weekend while Steve and I are both away for the holiday. Craig is going to install a game camera for hunters to see if we can get a photo of the culprit, so we can figure out how to deal with it.

It’s not that we think we can beat nature with technology–that is an arms race that we don’t want to start. But we have to solve this particular mystery because now that the predator has succeeded, it is almost certain to come back, bolder than ever.

We’ll let you know how this turns out.

Photo by Craig Fournier of a chicken buried by the myster predator

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