Snow Where It Doesn’t Usually Snow

 Bees snuggled safely inside their hive.

Living in southwest Washington we get hardly any snow. We had a snowstorm about 5-6 years ago and spent an afternoon sliding down our pasture hill on scraps of old cardboard, so when Joseph saw a toboggan for sale a few years ago, he snatched it right up in case we’d ever be visited again by snowflakes. 

We originally come from New England where snow falls from October to April and though we don’t miss blizzards one bit, when we had a few inches of a snowstorm all those years ago, we did wish we had a good sled on hand.

That toboggan sat unused for all those years until just before Christmas when an arctic wind visited and over a week’s time dumped about ten inches on us. As you can see the farm looked peaceful and beautiful. What you don’t see is how we ran around the day before the storm — when it was still a balmy 54 degrees — covering all our garden beds with row covers, tarps and cold frame boxes.

It got so cold last week that much of our winter garden gave up and decided to become mulching material for spring. Nonetheless some hardy plants survived:  brussel sprouts, kale, red cabbage and the parsley that lives in the coldframe. Also everything underground did just fine, all the potatoes, sunchokes and even a few onions. It amazes me how some plants, even in freezing cold temperatures just say, “Brrr…,” then shake the ice off their leaves in the next melt and continue growing. Isn’t nature wonderful?

Our hens completely refused to set one bony foot on snow. They stayed inside the coop or wandered out under the roofed area to eat from their feeders but nary a chicken track appeared in the snow.

  Joseph walking up to the chicken coop with Remy.

We’ve been keeping our cows in our neighbors’ pasture just up the hill. Normally we milk our cow in an outside stanchion all winter. Hardy souls that we are, if it’s raining we wear a rain hat. But our neighbor’s barn has inside stanchions and I have to tell you, in the freezing cold snap, I sure was happy to be inside and milking. Not that it was warm by any means, but we at least were out of the wind and snow flurries.

When I milk our cow, no matter how cold the air is, if my fingers are on her warm udder and my head is resting on her furry side as she eats hay, I feel warm. Soon as I stop, even with long underwear on, the air immediately feels bone chillingly cold again. 

Marcus and Shari had a grand time chasing each other all over creation in their first snow!

Normally we make the seven minute walk up to the barn with our hot water jugs twice each day to feed and milk. If it’s a dark and rainy night, however, we’re not above driving the car up to stay dry. But snow isn’t the same as rain and who wants to drive uphill in snow and risk getting stuck? 

Joseph finally had an opportunity to put that dusty toboggan to work. He suggested it would be a good way to carry our heavy hot water jugs up there so we bundled the bottles in a cloth bag and tied them on. Off we trundled with the toboggan dragging behind us. It was a lot easier to walk through the deep and icy snow with the toboggan carrying the heavy bottles.

But the best part was after we finished our cow care tasks and walked out of the barn into the fresh snow drifts. Joseph sat down in front so he could steer and with one milk jug under each arm I snuggled myself behind him. Speedily we sailed down the hill, coasted at a fair clip across the straightaway and then picked up speed as we yelled and hollered across our field, past the greenhouse and sledded down the path to home.

A few nights later the rain returned and overnight we went back to winter drizzle and green grass. Tomorrow’s supposed to be 50-something and sunny so I’m thinking it will be a good day to get started on pruning the fruit trees. Hope you’re staying warm this winter.

Jacqueilne & Joseph

Friendly Haven Rise Farm

www.FriendlyHaven.com

Venersborg, WA

This entry was posted on January 13, 2009, in Farm Life.

The Art of Bee-ing

Wherein I give a complete accounting of a day I made a series of bee mistakes and the little bees made sure I learned how not to screw up so badly again …

Every summer at our county fair I put in a few hours at the bee house. We bee folk have our own little house set away from the rest of the fair. You have to walk a ways to find us but we always get a good crowd who come to see the bees.

The house is divided into two rooms: One has bee info, displays, blue ribbon honey and empty hives from different bee-ish beings. The other room is a wire enclosed 10×10 area with a live hive of bees flying about.

Every hour a volunteer goes over and gives a talk about bees while standing in the bee cage. Most volunteers wear the bee suit but because I want people to know how gentle bees are, I do my talk without protection. Inevitably someone asks how that is possible. I explain that bees have little desire to harm anyone, that they only sting when they fear they or the hive are about to be hurt. I also tell them I have only been stung three times in my life, each an accidental sting when a worker bee got tangled in my hair or clothing and, thinking she was trapped, stung me. No harm meant, just a scared little bee.

The first year I did the demos I noticed dozens of scout bees on the screen trying to get to the clover field across the street. It was early August and though they were only a whiff away from a field of nectar-filled blossoms, they couldn’t get out to collect anything.

I felt their frustration so I walked down to the flower show and asked what flowers were being tossed that day. I came back with armloads of bouquets in jars which I put inside the cage. I immediately felt the bees relax. Bees need to be around flowers! After that every demo was delightful. Happy bees buzzing flower to flower, showing onlookers how we all get along.


The next year I worked the fair I got paired with an outspoken old guy who is my direct opposite politically. While the bee booth is not, in my opinion, the right place to spout one’s pro-war opinions, that’s what he spent his time doing. So I was a teensy bit on edge (understatement). I brought this up a few times but he was oblivious and went on blathering about his political views. (With no good intentions I made a small note to self: “Do not tell him his fly is unzipped,” and stuck to that.)

True bee work requires a kind, loving heartspace. I love bees and this place of ‘bee-ing’ is totally natural to me. When I approach bees in this space, it becomes obvious how life-affirming, generous and fulfilling the bee community is.

When it was my turn to go into the bee cage for the demo, I was not in a heartspace, not even close. I opened up the airlock to the bee cage and WHAM! I got stung right on the top of my head.

I stepped back out of the airlock, untangled the little bee from my hair. I had already pumped a bit of snittiness into my system before I got stung and I was surprised at the adrenaline the sting evoked in me.

I shook it off, took a deep breath, walked back in. WHAM! again, stung on the very tip top of my head, on the exact same place, my crown chakra, the side of me that points to the heavens although I certainly did not have heavenly thoughts emanating from within.

I stepped out of the cage again and this time one bee came outside to have a talk with me. She assertively buzzed me and in no uncertain terms told me not to set foot in their home until I worked out my “stuff” and bettered my attitude.

Okay, I can take a hint.

Receiving not one but TWO stings in the exact same spot was not lost on me. I admit I had very little cosmic consciousness going on when I reached for the door to go inside the hive room. I was still re-playing, “I should have said …” and quite focused on how wrong this guy was in every way.

Luckily my shift was nearly up. Proving I am not yet an enlightened being, I still had dialogue going around in my head as I drove home and I was none too pleased about getting stung twice. Once home I changed my clothes and decided it would be a good idea to visit with MY bees and calm everything down.

I walked barefoot through the field toward a hive and WHAM! I stepped on a little bee who stung me in the very center of my foot, on Kidney1 point (Bubbling Spring), the very first acupuncture point that forms in the fetus and the one that helps you ground, connect with the earth, the one that roots energy downward.

I sat down on the ground and scraped the stinger out, apologized to the honey bee for stepping on her (and felt terrible that I’d done that). I told her her gift wasn’t in vain, that I’d sit right there and go over my day and let go of whatever crap I was carrying around that was making me bad bee company.

Three stings in one day doubled my entire life sting count at once. Getting stung on the very top and bottom of my body was none too subtle. I had throbbing focus points showing me precisely where my energy connects with the heavens and the earth.

So I sat there and apologized to everyone I’d labeled harshly, had miserly thoughts about, or offended (including my higher self) by being such a knucklehead. And when I felt I could be a better person I got up and went on with my day.

I did notice that as a result of having all that bee sting formic acid into me, I felt ‘buzzed’ and very aware of ALL of my body, like breathing through my skin instead of just my nose. Having a front row seat to an important lesson in selflessness taught by bees caught my attention and I flitted around in a buzzingly happy state for quite some time.


Little bees, bridging the union of heaven and earth.

warmly,
Jacqueline

If you’d like to attend one of our bee classes and learn organic and biodynamic approaches to bees, visit our classes page:

Click Here — Classes at Friendly Haven Rise Farm

Friendly Haven Rise Farm
www.FriendlyHaven.com
Venersborg, WA


This entry was posted on January 5, 2009, in Bees.

Our December Garden

Who would guess that on December 1 we have 30 different vegetables growing in our garden? That’s the Pacific Northwest for you. True, it does drizzle a lot but the overcast skies keep the warm air down here where our pretty blue borage flowers are still blooming.

I was surprised myself at how much is still growing. I had our milk cow on a lead line, letting her wander around the gardens eating foot-tall green grass and everywhere I looked, I saw something edible. 30 vegetables and herbs, two kinds of apples in the trees, a few purple grapes still on vines, two edible blossoms and three flowers blooming.

    

Heirloom lettuces in the greenhouse, purple kale and parsley are outside where they like the chill.
      
Greenhouse tomatoes, outside spotted trout lettuce hunkered close down in the ground, big healthy rosemary that stays out all winter, burgundy red radicchio.
      
Spicy orach, white onions (look at those healthy roots!), a few sweet concord grapes still hanging off the shed roof where they’re now bird food, and a little cauliflower from the patch. 
  
Celery growing in two different beds, red cabbage heads that have been visited by slugs. Not to worry, we have enough for all.
    
Can you believe we still have blue borage flowers blooming? Just in case any bees make their way outside on a sunny day! Brussel sprouts will be ready soon, and a few small beets are still going.
  
These are the last of the basil plants in the greenhouse, spindly but hey, it’s December! The next photo is our big project this week, covering our new bed with a layer of cow manure and then stacking deep piles of wet hay on top. By springtime this soil will be ready for healthy new plants. In the meantime our hens have had a fabulous time sorting through the wet hay to see how many worms they can find. 
We’ve also got sunchokes, the sweet tuber that’s kind of like a potato. As usual I overplanted this spring, and what I hadn’t harvested last winter also regrows. If you miss one and leave it in the ground, five or more will grow from that one. We probably have 400 right now and I’m getting pretty good at serving them five different ways. I have to dig a few buckets full and bring them to our local food co-op and share the bounty. 
Also found three rosebuds nearly ready to open, some winter apples that are FINALLY ready but since we have so many apples already stored in our garage, I’ll leave those for the birds to peck at all winter. 
This is winter gardening. I admit there’s not much that looks lush right now, but it’s all still growing and we can go outside and pick a fresh salad every day. 
We regularly go out and dig potatoes through the winter. This year I planted a half dozen kinds including some that are red, some white and some blue potatoes. I got these from Ronniger’s Potato Farm in Colorado. If you want to plant something EASY, get some. You can order a catalog from them and immerse yourself in the incredible variety of heirloom and unusual potatoes. Fresh potatoes taste nothing like store potatoes. And you can grow them in a garbage can or even a stack of old tires filled with hay or dirt. Really, they aren’t fussy.
The first settlers out here often planted potatoes as soon as they arrived. The potatoes loosened up the soil as they grew and in springtime the settlers had their first crop ready AND they didn’t have to do as much work to fluff up the soil to get the rest of the garden in. You really ought to try them. 
This entry was posted on November 29, 2008, in Farm Life.

Spend Time at the Farm with us

Ever thought visiting us at the farm might be a good idea? This year we thought we’d invite a few friendly, interesting people to spend time with us on our biodynamic farm. 


When we first wrote this, the harvest had just been brought in, the gardens put to bed for the winter and the fruit, meat and vegetables preserved, dried, canned and frozen for the coming seasons. A rare time of quiet.


Each time of year has its special qualities. New gardens and births come in spring, summer when all is lush, fall with the generous harvests, and winter’s quiet time of reflection.

We decided it would be a fun idea to share our roomy farmhouse, our joy and our knowledge with good people showing them what we do here:  Farm skills like milking a cow, tending chickens, making cider, learning about bees, and cooking up great meals made with healthy, organic ingredients. 

Often we bake pies. We may pick greens or dig potatoes and sunchokes from the garden for dinner. You can meet our cow, Miss Amelia, collect eggs, make eggnog and cheese, take a hike to the waterfall. Bring a favorite game for evening if you like. 

If you stay for a few days you may learn about bees, honey skin care or help bake some rustic tarts. Chop firewood if you feel so inclined. We’re always open to talent nights, too. Bring a poem to read, art to show, song to sing, dance for/with us or just watch and applaud. And if you want to sleep in and lounge about, feel free to do that. Help out with our daily farm chores and learn all kinds of interesting things about our animals and the gardens. Or just lie down in the field and describe the clouds.


 

Sound like fun? We have room for up to eight people at a time. No pets (we have PLENTY of animals). This is family style so expect to make your own bed and help with dishes. Our intent is that this time be relaxing for all and full of laughter. 

Cost is $125 per person for the overnight. We ask that you pay half when you reserve your spot and then pay the other half when you’re here. 

See more of our farm at http://www.FriendlyHaven.com (lots of pictures).

Our experience tells us we get along best with easy-going people who are interested in good health and have a well developed sense of humor. If you’re like that and wish you had a farm to go home to, pop us over an email and we can talk. 

warmly, 
Jacqueline & Joseph Freeman 
Friendly Haven Rise Farm

This entry was posted on November 5, 2008, in Farm Life.

New Calf at the Farm!

Remember when Miss Amelia had her calf, Possum, last January and we hung around for 35 hours waiting to see the birth and be there in case she needed … hmm… moral support? cheering?

Same thing happened this time. We had Delilah on baby-watch all week, visiting her in the pasture a few times each day to see how she was progressing. Finally Saturday morning Joseph said, “Nah, she’s not coming due any time soon. I say she’s still a week away.”
How do they do that? Sure enough, we showed up to water them a few hours later and Delilah was standing over a still wet baby boy.
  
Today we took our five cow herd up the road to the east pasture for winter. We gather together a group of friends, no matter if they’re cow-savvy or not. We post someone at each driveway and orchard along the way with the task to wave arms and shoo cows back onto the road if they shuffle off. But shuffling never happens. The cows get excited about the road trip the minute their hooves hit the pavement and it always turns into a herd of galloping bovines racing to crest the hill before we catch up. They always get there first. Luckily they remember where the gate is and by the time we arrive, panting heavily and doubled over from laughing, they’re already inside munching green grass.
This should be the last move until spring. They’ll get this last bit of rich green grass and then frost will hit and they go on hay for winter. Our herd will get smaller in a month as Maurice is nearly big enough to butcher. We may take Possum then, too. We’re still debating that. We’re thinking of finishing up with the beef cows and just having dairy cows which would be simpler. Hay has gotten so expensive that taking cows through winter is a real expenditure and sometimes it doesn’t pencil out to keep them going. 
We had a very good hay season this summer and managed to put away 180 bales but that’s not enough to take us through winter. Because of the huge spikes in oil, production costs went way up. Bales here are $7-8, up from $6 last year and $4 the year before. Our cows can run through quite a few bales in a week. if you’re buying beef, be aware of this. We feed our cows only grass and hay, nearly all of it from our land. That makes them what’s called “grass fed.” 
Commercial grain and corn growers put fertilizer on their fields and costs for that have skyrocketed, boosting prices for feedlot owners who raise grain fed cows. Since we don’t do that, that’s one cost we’ve avoided being caught by.
In case you didn’t know, grass fed beef is significantly more tasty and better for you and the cow than grain fed beef. Grass is what cows have always eaten. Their digestive systems are designed to process grass and hay, not grain. Commercial operations feed grain because you can put weight on a cow a lot faster and raise more in less space. Problem is that grain gives cows indigestion which makes them less healthy, needing more antibiotics and medicines, some of which stay in the meat. The indigestion they get causes flatulence ripe with methane. In plain language, their poop stinks.
Grass fed beef doesn’t have that. On our farm you can walk right up to a pile of manure and you’ll notice there’s hardly any smell to it. We spread the manure on our fields and it helps keep the pastures lush. Our grass fed cows don’t need medicine to keep them functional. They eat what nature intended and they do just fine. The compromise we make is that grass-fed beef doesn’t grow as quickly but they are significantly more healthy overall.
Next time you buy beef, try some that’s grass fed. Way more flavorful, less fatty and more tender. If you slow cook it like we do — put it in the crockpot on low in the morning with some veggies and dinner’s ready by evening — it cuts with a fork. Knowing what organic, grass fed beef tastes like, we can’t order beef in a restaurant anymore.
Our chickens are out in the garden cleaning up frost damaged, limp lettuce and mushy, green tomatoes and happy as can be. Nothing a chicken likes better than finally being allowed into the garden!
 
These cooler days mean we dress warmer and I get to wear my insulated farm boots which I love. Joseph bought some early last winter and liked them so much I got a pair for Christmas. Warm, dry feet on a cold, wet morning is a real joy.
A full moon came up over the field as Joseph and I closed the hens into the coop last night. Everything’s turning:  Bronzed yellow and scarlet orange leaves, newly sweet apples, fragrant purple grapes ready for pressing. We’re fully into cider-making season. If you come by, we’ll pour you a cup of sweet fall ambrosia.
This entry was posted on October 19, 2008, in Farm Animals.

Outhouses and Antique Apples

If you live anywhere near us in southwest Washington, come on over to our heirloom apple tasting event on Saturday, Oct. 18th. We’re going to have TWO HUNDRED different kinds of apples to taste.

Here’s a look at the event if you didn’t get a chance to see it when we did this with summer apples in August. (Our friend Lisa Fenderson made this video and she did a great job on it.)

Lisa’s video of Apple Day

Our farm is east of Battle Ground in the sleepy village of Venersborg in the Cascade foothills. We have three commercial buildings in our town: a tiny general store, the two room church and the one-room schoolhouse that’s on the national & Washington Historic Registers.  The 1912 schoolhouse is the oldest continuously operating community building in Washington. For the past two years I’ve been president of the local community club. Once I didn’t show up for a meeting and — surprise-surprise — I got a phone call telling me I was the new prez. That’s how it works here. 

The median age of our members is, I’d guess, about 78. I think there are three of us who are under 60. I may be exaggerating a little but not much. (In case any of our members are reading this, of course there’s not a one of them who looks her age. Country living can be either marvelously kind or sunburntly unforgiving and she’s been kind to our group.)

This little building is heated with a hundred year old giant woodstove and we use outhouses when nature calls. Which brings me to why I’m writing this.

These ladies are getting on in years and the outhouse is a problem for many of them. You’d know what I mean if you, as I have, handed an 83 year old lady a flashlight so she could take her walker and trundle up the path in the woods in the rain in February to use the loo. Quite a few of them say they can’t come to the meetings anymore because they can’t easily use the outhouse. Or, worse, they don’t drink anything for half the day before they come so they won’t have to use the outhouse which certainly isn’t healthy.

They’ve wanted a bathroom in the building since probably before I was born. I am determined this year to get a bathroom (small sink, low flow flush toilet, that’s it) put in.

Over the past ten years these ladies have raised a few hundred dollars each year raffling off handmade quilts and afghans, hosting baked goods auctions, running a tiny annual yard sale, ice cream socials and craft days. That money took care of upkeep on the little building and the rest went into savings.

They let boy scouts, the cemetery commission and local people have meetings and get-togethers here for no charge, although many folks do make a small donation. The money raised was enough to get the permits, perc pits dug and a simple septic system designed. At this rate they need to do this for another dozen years and I wonder how many of them will be around then.

Right now we have donations of materials and labor from local folks to build the bathroom. We need about $6000 more to pay the septic installer and a few other bills and we should be able to get the job finished. Up until now all our events have been local but with the apple event, we’re reaching outside of town for support.

On Saturday Oct. 18 from 11-4 our farm is co-hosting an heirloom apple tasting at the schoolhouse to raise funds toward the bathroom. We’ll have 200 different kinds of apples to taste, luscious pies to eat, unsprayed apples to buy. Choose which apples sing to your taste buds and we’ll make trees of those types to plant in your yard. The generous folks from the Home Orchard Society will be on hand to help identify apples and, hopefully, to find some rare ones among what gets brought in. Last year we learned one of our old farm trees was so rare it was thought to be extinct and now is rediscovered!

First I want to invite you to come out to the schoolhouse for our apple event. Bring friends. Eat pie. Munch on red-fleshed apples or purple skinned ones or apples that taste like pineapple. We’ll have kinds you can’t even imagine.

Below left, Kandil Sinap. Right, Duchess of Oldenburg (from the 1600s)

          

On left, the red-fleshed Russian Crab (a BIG apple). Right, the sweet Swedish Make.

          

While the ladies have volunteered to help out, I think the energy required may plumb tucker them out so I’m also putting out a call for some helpers.

Admission is $5, kids are $3 (under 6 free) and volunteers can eat as many apples as they like. I’m not going to let the ladies price the cookies this time though. At our tag sale in September they each baked a few dozen cookies and then priced them a quarter each because they were so concerned that someone might not be able to afford one. I would have charged a dollar for the whompin’ handful of still warm made-from-scratch brownie and given a free one to anyone who looked quarter-challenged and hungry. I keep reminding them that this is a fundraiser and it’s okay to charge a few dollars for a slice of homebaked apple pie like the one our neighbors Scott and Brenda (and son Kyle) are making here …

      

or the pies our sweet farmgirl helpers from Dee Creek made. 

If you want to help slice and handout apples you’re welcome to pitch in. You’ll learn all kinds of things about heirloom apples, or you can slice pie, pour cider, sell buckets of fresh apples or take tree orders. It all helps. If you want to volunteer, give us a call 360-687-8384.

If you’d like to munch 200 apples and contribute a few dollars to the town’s flush fund, we’re glad to have you! The schoolhouse is located at

24317 N.E. 209th St. in Battle Ground, WA, a pleasant country drive about a half hour north of Portland, OR.

Visit our farm’s website — read more stories and see pictures!

warmly,

Jacqueline & Joseph

Friendly Haven Rise Farm

“Where Spirit and Nature Meet”

This entry was posted on October 8, 2008, in Farm Life.

How We’re Doing: An Annual Update

If you’ve been on this list for awhile you know we bought this farm seven years ago and have been learning, little by little, how to work with it. We’ve been growing our farm with the intention of creating as much personal sustainability as we can and educating those who come our way with open and inquiring minds in how we do that. Alongside permaculture ideas we’ve also integrated biodynamic principles in the way we work with our land and animals.

* FARM ANIMALS

Let’s start with the TURKEYS …

Last year we again raised a dozen heirloom turkeys, which shows we’re no smarter than the turkeys. They’re a handful and we decided after two years in a row with them that we’d raise them every OTHER year. Sweet as they are personality wise, they’re really not that bright. One out of three evenings they’d forget where the coop was. If we weren’t home at dusk we’d have to climb trees to get them down in the dark. Or, since it was fall and the start of our rainy season, we climbed trees in the DARK and in the RAIN. Now really, how dumb are we?

Joseph would hold the ladder steady while I climbed up into the tree with a flashlight to shake a turkey down, then Joseph would run to catch the 20 lb. pile of wet fluff and feather that fell out of the branches and carry him AROUND THE CORNER OF THE BUILDING and put him in the coop. I’m not kidding. Around the corner.

When we’d see them lost as dusk neared, we’d go down to help them find the coop. First you should know, a turkey will follow you anywhere. It must be a feature in their little brains that says if nobody else can figure out how to lead, then follow the one that does. That would be one of us.

So we’d go inside their pen in the apple orchard and call them. Our turkeys had a two word vocabulary. If something good was happening, they’d trill three ascending notes, beep-beep-beep. If we beeped, they followed.

If they felt lost or confused (I can’t tell you how many times a day THAT happened), they’d do three descendiing notes, boop-boop-boop. Try whining that as sadly as you possibly can. Like on the verge of tears. 

Even if we were in the house we could hear that mournful little boop-boop-boop and we’d always go out to see.

 And what we found was always sad. 

To protect our small orchard trees from deer and bunnies in winter, we put a circle of wire fencing around the trees about two feet out from the trunk. Since it wasn’t winter and the trees weren’t in danger, we had opened the wire cages so we could prune or apply compost. 

More than once we’d hear the sad boop and go down to their pen and see that one or more of the turkeys had managed to get inside the OPEN cage near the tree and couldn’t figure out how to get out. They would keep walking forward and bumping into the wire as they tried to rejoin the flock on the other side of the fence. Stuck. Could not figure out that all they had to do to escape was TURN AROUND AND WALK OUT THE OPEN SIDE OF THE FENCE.

Excuse my caps on these letters but I must have tried to explain this to the turkeys forty times at least. I’d even go in myself and show them. Bump up against the fence, no go. Turn around and walk out in ANY direction behind you and you’re free.

I swear if you ever wanted to hunt a domestic turkey, all you’d have to do is put up one short wall of a fence, no sides, no corners, and just wait for one to get stuck up against it. Done. Thanksgiving dinner on the table.

So every third night we’d go down at dusk in answer to the chorus of nearly weepy boops and call the turkeys to fall in behiind us as we walked twenty feet south, took a right and … the whole flock would suddenly leap into a run-fly, beeping all the way. We’ve found our way home! Here it is!

So that’s why we decided to take a year off and raise them every other year and this isn’t one of them.

 

To give credit to Ben Franklin who wanted the wild turkey to be our national emblem, I’ve heard that wild turkeys are really smart. Ours were not. We raised a few commercial breeds (a gift from a friend) the first year, then tried four different breeds of heirloom turkeys the second year. Hardly a cipher’s worth of difference smarts-wise. 

COWS

Our Jersey-Swiss cow, Miss Amelia, calved in January presenting us with an adorable half-Angus boy, Possum. We learned how to milk her by watching a video on YouTube of an old Slavic woman doing it.

We just did what she did and it worked. We milked every day up until a few weeks ago when she went dry. Now she’s pregnant and we’re waiting for the next calf to start over again. In May we also added two Simmenthals: Delilah is a big black monolith who’s due to calve in the next week or two; and Maurice (“the gangster of love”), her nephew, is our beef cow this year. I’ve watched him in the orchard and I bet he can eat his weight in apples in a day. With Amelia’s delicious creamy milk we made a lot of cheese, butter and ice cream this year.

HENS

Our chickens had the entire farm to range on last year but this spring they were monsters in my flower gardens so we caged them into four big half-acre pens that we rotate them through. They don’t seem to have noticed they’re behind a fence. 

New additions are six chicks, some born this week. Nothing’s cuter than a baby chick. We can easily spend a half hour cooing and ahing over them which we do at least three times a day.

BEES 

We’ve got a lot of bees in the non-commercial top bar hives (TBH) we made. TBHs are more bee-centric than production oriented. I don’t do a big honey production although we always get some. They’re more for pollination and simply because I love bees. They give me extra reason to grow flowers, herbs and clover and to let the weeds go to flower and then seed without feeling I should have pulled them up when they were small.

GARDENS and ORCHARDS

You’d laugh if you saw the gardens right now. Because of the joyful activity of the bees, I let most everything go to bloom rather than pulling it out once the vegetables go by. We have plenty of five foot tall blue flowering lettuces and taller-than-me purple flowered radishes and truly enormous yellow mustards. The beds are full of red and white clovers and purple vetch. When I go to pull something out, I look on top and if there are a few bees there I let it go longer. It makes seed saving easier anyway.

Our tomatoes and basil are delicious. The beans have climbed higher than our corn already but the corn is short so that wasn’t hard. Not sure yet how to grow tall corn but even on short stalks we get ears. Maybe next year we’ll figure that out. 

Beds have chard, onions, lettuce, cabbage, eggplant, blueberries, currants, jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, sunflowers, lavender, rosemary, thyme, mints and celery. And anything else that volunteers like borage and tomatillos.

We just hayed eight acres of our neighbor’s field where we’re pasturing the cows so we ought to have enough to get through winter without buying more. The cost difference is immense. Non-organic hay is about $6 bale, organic much higher. When we hay by ourselves — despite the challenge of hot, sweaty, hard labor — a bale is about 15 cents direct cost. Don’t remind me of the cost of the mortgage for the land because when I look at 15 cents, it sounds like a win.

Orchards are growing. We’ve got about 150 fruit and nut trees so far, many still young. Our old timer trees are laden with fruit. Again, a banner year for apples. Grapes still green, many bunches. Just planted a dozen more varieties of seedless grapes so we can add raisin-making to our fall chores. 

HOW DO WE DO IT?

We earn our income teaching garden, farm and animal-related classes here. Take a look at our class schedule.

Early  Fall 2008 Classes

We also host farm volunteers through the year and they are a big help. We had three helpers this summer, Kat from New York, Jean-Paul from Italy and Andrea from Switzerland. Great helpers!

Everything else we do (like writing this blog) happens alongside the farm chores. I just finished two hours of shoveling in a new compost pile while Joseph installed pipes to hook up a bathtub in the cottage. Our days are always full. Hard work. Love it.

Our volunteers live on the farm with us and help out in exchange for room/board and learning farm skills. Tasks vary. Obviously gardening and animal care is a big part but also carpentry, irrigation, dismantling and rebuilding outbuildings, stonewalls, laying brick paths, fencing, haying … the list goes on.

We did a few farmers markets this year and realized we’re not really cut out for that. It’s a tremendous amount of work and doesn’t always pencil out as profitable. Makes me admire even more the farmers we see week after week hitting all the markets around. I grow stuff yet, for the same reason I overtip waitresses, I still buy whatever I can from local farmers because I know how hard a job it is. 

So that’s what we’re up to right now. Our days are full, animals are thriving, apple trees are so lush we had to put ladders under the branches to hold the branches up. We made our first cider a few days ago and already have a few gallons in the freezers. If you come by we’ll break out a bottle. 

Life is good. Be well.    

warmly,

Jacqueline

Friendly Haven Rise Farm

www.FriendlyHaven.com

Welcome

Welcome to the farm! It’s our hope that we can get two new posts up each week. Check back every few days and see what we’re up to.

To return to the main website, our archived stories, photos and class schedules:
warmly,
Jacqueline & Joseph Freeman
info@FriendlyHaven.com