Getting my farm geek on

It’s been far too long since I’ve updated this thing. It’s been far too long since we’ve actually done anything of consequence at the farm, so I guess this is a touche moment.

Anyway…

Tonight, I had the pleasure of getting my farm geek on. I’m sure I’ve written about it here before, but I’ve read, highlighted, annotated, and studied this book:

Said highlighted, annotated, and well-loved book

Said highlighted, annotated, and well-loved book

About a month ago, I learned that Kristin Kimball would be coming to my school to speak about this very book I’ve come to love. Of course, I immediately reverted back to when I was 8 and couldn’t get enough of New Kids on the Block (and now I’ve dated myself). So I left the kiddo home with Daddy, tossed my book in my bag and went back to campus.

Ms. Kimball is witty, articulate, intelligent, and I only wish there had been infinite time to ask her the eleventy billion questions that bob and weave through my head about getting this farm up and running. I know Matt has a ton of questions, too, and we’ll make good this fall about getting up to her farm, honest, promise, I swear.

I’m starting to get excited again. I guess that happens come springtime; the possibilities of what can be. I’m excited to watch our daughter explore the farm through new eyes. I’m ready to start planting, demolishing, repairing. I know where I’d like us to end up and I can’t wait to get there.

Grassroots support

Recently, a dear friend and several people she knows began a grassroots effort to shut down a local puppy mill. It all started with pictures posted on Facebook at the beginning of January. Within a month, the dogs were seized and the “owner” (hesitate to use that word) has been charged. I did my part by helping get the word out about these dogs.

Now, I’m trying to do my part again.

Earlier today, I shared a blog post by Collingwood Farm about the proposed zoning changes that would affect them directly. You can read all about it here. In an effort to help them and keep their farm going, here is the letter I sent to their city council members:

Dear Council Members:

I am writing on behalf of Collingwood Farm. I have been informed of the proposed changes to local zoning laws and would like to speak on their behalf in opposition to those changes.

My husband and I run a small farm outside the Capital District of New York. We are life-long supporters of self-sustainability and agriculture. When so much of the meat and produce in local grocery stores comes from corporate concerns that use various chemicals and unsavory business practices to provide the consumer with the staples of a balanced diet, it is refreshing to see community supported agriculture (CSA) thrive. Even on a smaller scale, having a personal vegetable garden and a few chickens can provide enough for one family to reduce costs at the grocery store. When a farm has an abundance to share with the local community, as in a CSA, they should be applauded.

However, limiting the number of small farm animals and banning animals over 30 inches not only deprives the community of natural resources but limits or eliminates people’s livelihoods. Selling produce at farmer’s markets or through CSAs keeps the community connected versus purchasing similar products through a less personable chain grocery store. If a family is relying on a maximum of only two chickens to sustain themselves, it is an unrealistic scenario. Two chickens, even in the most ideal circumstances, cannot produce enough eggs for the average family.  Animals such as chickens are flock animals by nature and thrive in small groups. This is reflected in how they can be purchased; the minimum order for spring chicks is six. Additionally, the ban of animals over 30 inches is illogical and contradictory. Why allow a horse (the average quarter horse is around 60 inches, or 15 hands) but not other animals? If it is a cleanliness or noise issue, how neat is the average garbage truck, how loud is a souped up car stereo? It is my understanding that little to no elaboration was given as to why these sanctions were suggested. One can conclude it has to do with personal vendettas or misinformation about what small scale farming and CSAs are about.

The farm my husband and I run has aspirations of becoming a CSA. Right now, we provide for just ourselves and a few friends. Collingwood Farm has been a great model for us to gauge timing of planting, conditions for planting, and community outreach. The C in CSA is for community, an aspect that seems to be lacking in the proposed zoning law changes. Farms get a bad rap: they’re smelly, the equipment is loud and cumbersome, they take up valuable real estate, etc. I’ve heard it all. But during World War II, did communities object to Victory Gardens? In fact, they were encouraged; nearly 40% of American’s daily vegetables came from such community-run agriculture. Why spend for “designer” fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other CSA-supported items at a grocery store – don’t forget to add in the round trip cost of gas to get these items! – when you can meet the farmer face-to-face and find out just how the chickens were raised, the vegetables grown. It’s hard to believe the minimum wage clerk at the grocery store can answer those questions!

I don’t claim to have any grand ideas on how to resolve this zoning issue. My suggestion is this: before making sweeping changes that affect everyone, allow those being affected to have some input into the law. Reach out to them to see what suggestions they have. Don’t allow the minority affect the majority. The sad truth is, regardless of anything said at any upcoming public meetings, the board has already made up their mind about this issue. All I ask is that time is taken to carefully consider each side, any compromises that can be made, and to do what is best for everyone involved.

Regards,

Tara L. D****

This is another example of why my husband gets so fired up about limitations put on farmers trying to make an honest living. It’s his biggest fears coming true: that farming and agriculture are being phased out and wide-open spaces will be taken over by mini malls and house developments. Will our daughter have no coherent memory of running through a hay field, climbing an apple tree, or collecting her own eggs for breakfast? Will all the farm animals she remembers be at traveling petting zoos? Will the family farm be sold and broken up into cookie cutter houses?

Not on our watch.

The End of Collingwood Farm? A Letter to Supporters.

I know I haven’t updated in ages — but this blog crosses my mind more than the average reader would realize — but I read this today and in a show of solidarity am helping get the word out.

If you have the time, take a few minutes to read this post and take some action. Word of mouth and grass roots support does work! I’ll elaborate about that in another post soon!

Thanks!

 

The End of Collingwood Farm? A Letter to Supporters..

via The End of Collingwood Farm? A Letter to Supporters..

Circle of life

When I got to the farm today to drop off kiddo with Grammy, I was quickly ushered over to the chicken coop to see our two little squirts.

Playing hard to get with me

Playing hard to get with me

Out for a snack

Out for a snack

They’re Americauanas, which makes me happy as they’re my favorites (don’t tell the others!). So they bring our head count to 26 (we had 26, sacked a roo a few weeks ago, and Honey — the lone Rhode Island Red — has gone missing). Wonder if we’ll have more hens or more roos…

 

Biscuits and gravy

In 2006-ish, or whenever it was that we got our first round of Rhode Island Reds, we had planned on doing a dunk ‘n’ pluck. For various and sundry reasons, it never happened, but we had the best of intentions (our road is well paved). When we got the latest round of chickens, we made similar overtures.

Today, that all changed.

I wasn’t even sure it was really happening until Matt wielded the Dullest. Machete. Ever. and lopped off a roo’s head. It was reminiscent of this scene, only less bloody and no one cried:

I opted to watch via my cell phone’s screen, deluding myself that in my role as unofficial photog of the event I’d be less squicked out by the whole thing. Surprisingly, I handled it well. I guess I was expecting the roo to be noisy or there to be more blood.

Matt chasing the mouthy roo

Matt chasing the mouthy roo

Mom-in-law attempting to go ghetto on the roo with a shovel (she missed)

Mom-in-law attempting to go ghetto on the roo with a shovel (she missed)

Got 'im!

Got ‘im!

I’ll spare the rest of the pix I took, but needless to say this guy won’t be mouthing off or harassing anyone (animal or human) again. He’s in our freezer right now. I’m so anxious to dress him and roast him right and proper!

Doris showed Matt how to gut him once she and Cindy did the dunk ‘n’ pluck. I would have joined in, but someone had to record it for posterity… and I had the baby with us.

Cutest. Supervisor. Ever!

Cutest. Supervisor. Ever!

 

A fast check in

Things on this side of the blog have been crazy nutso since my last update. Naturally, it all revolves around our little girl:

1 month, 1 week old; taken by Uncle Haywood

1 month, 1 week old; taken by Uncle Haywood

We had a tough time between weeks 2-4 but finally turned a corner. She’s sleeping well, eating like we’re starving her, and she’s just a baby doll.

Meanwhile, the only progress we’ve made on the farm is minimal. Matt finally put his new toy to use a few weeks ago — a heavy duty brush trimmer. He’s slowly clearing out the brush by the pond field and is antsy to tackle the rest of the farm. Thanks to Jim, we now own a corn planter. It was Amish owned so it needs to be retrofitted for the tractor. We keep talking about tilling the garden plot to get it ready but it seems to go by the wayside. Matt even put it out there that maybe we should back off on the garden this year. If anything, we’ll keep it small.

Right now, this lil bean is our first priority (taken approximately 10 seconds ago):

Love my lil bean!

Love my lil bean!