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In this video, one of our cows demonstrates the use of a frost-free nose pump, while her calf demonstrates why mother cow needs to drink so much! This pump is powered by the cow, herself. Cows learn very quickly to push on the lever to draw water up from the shallow well. After the cow is finished drinking, the pipe drains automatically to keep from freezing. No electricity is required for pumping or for keeping the water from freezing. This makes it possible to over-winter the herd far from an electric power source.

CSA Reminder

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!

Life’s a Boar

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Last year we decided to keep back two gilts for breeding so we can start producing our own piglets. Our Hazel and our Charlotte are celebrating their first Valentine’s day with a new boar-friend. Since his arrival two weeks ago, Big Red has been a huge hit with the two smitten gilts as he wooed them with his mild manners and really easy going nature! Our hope is that he sires a couple of litters and that the piglets have the same mellow temperament that he has. This will be the first two litters of pigs to be born on the farm!

Steve had the great honor of receiving the Farmer Mentor of the Year award from the Northeast Organic Farmers Association last Saturday. Except, he didn’t actually receive the award. When his name was called at the award ceremony in Concord, NH, an awkward silence followed. Steve wasn’t there. At that exact moment, Steve was tracking down a runaway calf a mile up the road from the farm. The independent-minded calf led Steve, the Litchfield police, and a handful neighbors and friends on a tour of the Litchfield School Conservation Area before finally giving himself up. The things Steve will dream up to avoid public speaking!

Escape map

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.

Home to Roost

Well, this winter we had a huge dilemma. We needed to get new winter housing for the laying flock, as the old high tunnel we were using will now be used for growing vegetables. We decided to go with the Colossal Chick-Inn Hutch (manufactured by ClearSpan). After some weather delays, we finally finished putting up the structure a week ago. We gave half of the space to the young pullets and the other half to the laying hens. The laying hens were so impressed with their new home that egg production went from 4 eggs a day to 24 eggs a day, in just one week!

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No, we are not starting a dairy, but my friend Max Benedikt of Benedikt Dairy, just got his Grade A certificate and has now offered to add a milk CSA drop off point here at our farm! The great thing about Benedikt Dairy”s milk, is that it is raw, certified organic and produced from 100% grass-fed Jersey cows. To find out more information about how to sign up for a milk share, contact Max or Melissa.

Thanksgiving

oats and vetchOur vegetable season has ended. The harvest is finished, and Bill has planted a cover crop of oats and vetch to prepare the soil for next year. Although the cattle and the pigs are keeping Steve very busy, we are reflecting on our first summer of vegetable production. We certainly thank you, our customers, for your business. But we get more from our customers than pure business transactions. We get a lot of moral support—and never more than this year as we figured out our vegetable operation. We thank you for teaching us the meaning of “Community Supported Agriculture.” I used to avoid that term in favor of “vegetable subscription.” But I think “Community Supported Agriculture” fits now. Our community is part of us, and we are part of it, and we are grateful.

The Scarecrow

This animated short (sponsored by Chipotle) has gone viral on YouTube. Its anti-industrial-farming message is generating a lot of discussion, but the film is worth watching for the beautiful art direction and music alone. The studio that made the film—Moonbot—is not terribly generous about giving credit to all those who contributed (other than the directors Brandon Oldenburg and Limbert Fabian), but it appears that the Art Director was Joe Bluhm.

One small quibble: I realize “All Natural” is fairly meaningless as a marketing claim, but I’m pretty sure you can’t inject chickens with things that plump them up and call that “All Natural.” Just saying.

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