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Week 8 Newsletter

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The Weekly Menu

 
What you can roughly expect to receive each week:

Please note: this CSA summary is written ahead of time, and before we even harvest on Tuesday.  We do some guesswork:  some things may be in your CSA that aren't listed and some things may not be included.  Although we're the farmers, we're still at the whim of Mother Nature. 

This week Lettuce 1-2 heads, Herbs- one bunch, Kale or Chard or Collards,  Beets, garlic, and garlic scapes, beans, scallions,  and potatoes.  (And just maybe.... cherry tomatoes - yes - they are starting to ripen!)

 

We can't be sanguine all the time, right?  

In the heat of the summer, sometimes the weight of the farm can be overbearing, and it's hard to keep on the sunny side.  This week's newsletter has a heavy dose of reality added in: 
 

It’s times like these that test our patience.  A fellow (weathered) farmer once told us that to be a farmer, you have to have tenacity.  Everyday, that rings through my head.  There’s a reason that less than 1% of the population chooses this as a profession, and these past couple weeks have been kicking us in the shins repeatedly.  

To start out, Clover (our milk cow), in her attempt to reunite with her weaning calf, tangled herself up on a milk bucket, jumped the fence, ran, fell, and cut her hind leg.  For three weeks now, we’ve been nursing her back to health, dealing with infections, kicking, barn break ins or outs, puss, and lots of antibiotic shots.  On top of that, we still have to milk her- but dump the milk, because it’s now contaminated with antibiotics.  Her leg is a lot less swollen, and she’s traveling more through the pasture… but really just to get away from us and our ministrations.  Hopefully, she’ll heal soon, but our milk consumption is postponed for another week and a half, easily.  

Meanwhile, we’ve been battling the onslaught of a clever fox.  He travels in the day time and nabbs a chicken here and there.  We lock the hens in at night, the best we can, but he’s figured out that late afternoon is optimal.  We’re not getting many eggs, and it doesn’t look good for the foreseeable future.  We’ve gone from 60+ hens down to less than 20, and they won’t lay eggs when they are stressed.  We’re buying in eggs to sell from Kevin Jarosinski.  Although they are great eggs…. they aren’t ours.  

Last week the coolant pump/system blew out on our main tractor.  Luckily the engine didn’t seize up and Greg was able to diagnose the problem.  A phone call, a drop shipment, and $250 later, Greg is spending Sunday rebuilding the tractor  Let’s hope it’s back up and running soon!

Two weekends ago, Evelyn came down with Strep Throat.  Poor girl was so miserable she couldn’t eat or hardly even talk.  The prescription of Amoxicillin seems to do the trick and she’s back to being her old self.  Here's the latest picture of her driving the golf cart "all by herself".  She's very excited and proud!  


Greg and I aren’t ones to divvy out antibiotics lightly, so having both Clover and Evelyn on them, is a bit stressful and goes against our “probiotic” mentality.  Anyway, I guess this is what modern medicine is for.

 

Lastly, there’s Mags (our dog). This is a hard one to write.  She’s had a cough for a while now and just the other day hacked up blood.  We took her to the vet, where we discovered that she has advanced lung cancer and the vet expects her to live for another couple months.  She’s been with us since Greg and I got married, since we bought the farm, and is now almost 12 years old.  Despite her occasional barking, there isn’t a complaint in the world about this old dog.  Back in 2007, I told Greg that I wanted to get a blue merle, female, 1 year old (and already trained), Australian Shepherd.  She’d follow me around the farm and I’d name her Maggie.  It turned out that a friend’s daughter in Ohio had a dog that met that exact description- her name was even Maggie!  It was fate!  She’s been a constant companion ever since.  Besides the cough and a little less luster, Maggie seems to be doing alright for now.  It’s our goal to make sure the last couple of months will be the best for her.  Look for the pile of treats in the barn and give her a few snacks and a scratch behind the ear.  

 

Having things go wrong on the farm, seems to be the norm; maybe for all farms, but right now, our farm.  So many things are cobbled and patched together and made to work, simply because we can’t afford other options.  We bought this farm from another couple of organic farmers (some of you may remember Jack and Dale) and inherited many of the things that they had patched and cobbled together too.  We know several folks who are or have been employed by millionaire farmers in the area.  It seems that every gizmo and gadget they desire just appears.  Alas, they are at the whim of the millionaire and never guaranteed any longevity at their farm. 

Although we work hard, beat our heads against walls, have disappointments and stresses, we’re constantly reminding ourselves that there’s not much else we’d rather be doing.  We’ve got it good: a healthy family, good community, bright stars, clear horizons, plenty of food and our freedom.  

 Place your order for Hunter Farm's Organic Blueberries now!  $5.50/pint or $60 for a flat of 12!  They'll be delivered by Mom and Pop Montgomery transport services on Tuesday, so the sooner we know you want a flat, the better!

 

Please let other Fawn twp residents know about this!

Do you know what an ASA is?  

"Agricultural security areas are intended to promote viable farming operations over the long term by strengthening the rights of farmers to farm and the farming community's sense of security in their use of the land. Landowners in an ASA receive protection from local laws and ordinances that would unreasonably restrict farm practices, as well as protection from condemnation."

We're working to get Fawn qualified to be an ASA.  Fawn prides itself on it's rural and agricultural heritage and we're working with the Allegheny County Conservation District (ACCD) to get 200 acres in Fawn signed on to the ASA.  

Jon Burgess from the ACCD  will be at Wendy's in Natrona Heights on Monday July 24th from 5-7 . He will be there to get the tax parcel numbers for each property as well as the signatures of all the legal owners.

Here's a link for more info on the ASA.   Once an ASA has 500 acres signed on, you can sell (if you want to) your development rights to the Allegheny County Conservation District - ensuring that your property will be preserved for agricultural purposes in perpetuity.  

Please contact Jon Burgess for more info.  We'd love to get this thing done!  

Jonathan Burgess |Senior Agriculture Conservationist
Allegheny County Conservation District
River Walk Corporate Centre
33 Terminal Way, Suite 325B
Pittsburgh, PA  15219
P: (412) 241-7645 | Direct: (412) 291-8017

What's happening in the fields?

I think the weather set us back last Saturday and not many volunteers showed up for the garlic harvest.  We've still got quite a bit to go - so if you can come out this next Saturday and help, we'd be grateful!  9-12!! 

If field work isn't your thing, we also have to spend time hanging the garlic so it can dry and cure (before it gets moldy).  So, if you'd rather be in the barn and bunch and hang garlic on our infamous garlic chandelier, we'd be happy for that help too!  That task can be done during this Saturday.  Just show up and we'll put you to task!  

And - if you know of a football team, scout group or other large group of eager and willing children/teenagers, please let them know we're looking for help with the garlic harvest in the immediate future.

I always say this, but next year, I'm not going to plant this much garlic!

 

Work Day Sign Ups for Mud Pie Days

Tuesdays are a lot of fun with all these kids!  It's really great to have new friends to play with and new helping hands on the farm.  Sometimes the kids help in the fields and sometimes they stay at the farm house and play in the sandbox or playground.  There's always some parents around to help keep an eye on the kids and they all take turns either kid watching or filed work.  

Now that this looks like it might be a popular idea - I'd like to get a handle on how many kids are coming and which parents are willing to spend a couple hours helping to monitor the kids!  Please click on this link to sign up for roughly 2 hour long sessions throughout the growing season.

Kids are welcome to help be in the fields - so long as they are conscientious of where they walk and what they pull out of the ground!  They are not allowed to go to the barn without an adult. Please bring snacks and lunches for your own kids.

 

Call us on Monday morning to place an order for a 1/2 hog!! $3.75/lb hanging weight.  


You can buy pork by the piece, the Homestead Hog CSA Share, or by the 1/2 hogInterested in pork?   There's a few new items for you to try:  We have 1 lb packages of unseasoned sausage patties (great for the grill), fresh side (unsmoked and uncured belly bacon), ham loaf (recipe in week 2 newsletter), and THICK cut chops - seriously... 2" thick?!  There's lots of roasts, steaks, and a few hams for sale too.  We feed our hogs all verified non-GMO grains, veggie scraps, and pasture.  They've a good life and they produce a quality meat!  

Customers who want to Workshare:  Some of you have already signed up for workshare, thank you!  Maybe you're interested but can't commit to coming out weekly?  No problem. As long as you are here more often than not, we are happy!  If you'd like to do a workshare with us, just show up on Tuesday and/or Saturday at 9. We will get you oriented and then talk details. An email or text would be nice, but not necessary. 

Customers who would like to spend time in the fields:  If you'd like to come out and get a little dirty and see what we are up to, we are happy to have "working visitors" almost any day, except for Wednesday, Saturday afternoon or Sunday. 

If you want to bring the family, check out the farm, visit some farm animals, and snack on a few cherry tomatoes, then you should come by on Wednesday 11-7 or Saturday 2-5. Bring a picnic, buy some veggies, relax, and enjoy the countryside! 


Our Market Card Program - is a great way to support our farm up front when our risks are higher.  You can buy any of  our home-grown items in our barn with the market cards.  For $50 your get $60 worth of purchasing power!

Looking for a bit of respite form the city? We have two (soon to be 3) bedrooms available on AirBnB.  Come out and spend a few days living like a farmer.... or watching us farm.  Click this link for more info.

 


Find us at area Farmers markets:  Lawrenceville,  Arsenal Park Saturday 1-4.  Phipps Green Market, Phipps Conservatory- Wednesday 2:30-6:30, and Pitt Farmers Market in front of the Union on Thursdays 

We are not maxed out on CSA memberships.  If you know someone who's looking for a healthier lifestyle, curious about local organic food, or wants to eat fresh, nutrient dense food - send them our way (and make sure they mention your name to receive $25 off in the barn or market stand).


CSA Pick up Details:


If you're coming to the farm to pick up: Stop at the wooden barn by the road  (at 7115 Ridge Rd) it will be open Wednesday from 11am - 7 pm and Saturday 2 - 5 pm.  Just park by the old wooden barn and come in.  We'll check your name off and give you an intro to our CSA system.  Bring your own bags please!

If you're picking up at the Phipps Farmers Market: We'll be at our market stand from 2:30pm - 6:30pm.   Swing by and pick up your veggies.  Bring your own bags please!  If you'd like us to bring down items that we sell in the barn - just let jen@blackberrymeadows.com know.  Each newsletter will list the items we have for sale.

 

Yoga sessions by the pond are gaining in popularity!  We're mentioned in the Post Gazzette article in this link.  

Be sure to carve out some time for yourself.  We're now happy to have Alyssa from Adore´Yoga to host Sunset Yoga on the Farm.  Each Wednesday 5:30-7:00  Rain or Shine.  $10.  Please bring your own mat

 

Allegro Hearth Bakery- Fresh bread and sweets available at the farm pickup only.  Made fresh every Tuesday night - amazing stuff!
Jarosinski Farm - we're excited to be working with Kevin, a young fellow in Buffalo Township who is tending high quality pasture raised chickens for eggs and meat.
Hannah's Honey - talk about local!  These guys keep bees on our farm, as well as other locations in southwestern, PA. NOW IN STOCK!
Northwoods Ranch - supplied us with pasture raised, grass fed beef - of the Highland Cattle variety. GONE OUT OF BUSINESS!! 
Hurry Hill Maple Farm - as award winning maple syrup!  Grade A is the best! Super Dark and Robust flavor

 Thanks for choosing our CSA.  We strive to grow nutrient dense, wholesome foods for you.  We think what we do is hard work - but important for our family, friends, and community.  There's a few things that we find important: growing good food, participating in the local economy, being good stewards to the environment, providing our community with access to a farm, farm animals and the outdoors, and teaching new and beginning farmers what we know.  By being a CSA member and supporting our endeavors, you're helping us to achieve our goals.  Thanks!!

Sincerely,

Your Farmers,
Jen, Greg, Evelyn, Olivia, Brittany and Mary



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