July, August, September Local Food Challenge

I haven’t posted about the local food challenge since June. So for September, we will allow you to have up to 3 comments/entries. They can be about your choice of locally grown chicken or vegetables. The food can be from my farm, from a farmers market, from your garden or from your neighbor’s garden. It just needs to be locally grown (to you). What have you made this summer? Any salads, grilled veggies, chicken soup? Comment below OR  email and let me know.

The Tall and the Short of It – Revisited

In an earlier post, we showed that our corn had met the “knee high by the Fourth of July” criteria.

We went out one month later, and it must be the weather is the right combination of warmth and water, as the stalks now tower over The Farmer.

And remember the short broom corn that was barely as big as the scissors?  Well, it is now taller than the regular corn!

It is the corn-like plant that is in the back.  Here is a close up of it.

What Gaia Saw

Gaia is our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog. Her job on the farm is to protect our livestock, and in particular, our meat chickens. On a recent morning, the young crew went out to do their chicken chores, and Gaia was at the end of her chain jumping and excitedly barking.  They let her go and she sped off to investigate a broken two-wheeled cart that is stored close by.

An older son was in the area and came to investigate. As Gaia ran around the cart, our son pushed down on the back so that she could snoop around under the front.

Something flashed out from under the cart…

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The Tall and Short of It

A few years back, The Farmer was able to pick some multicolored maize (translation: “Indian corn”)  from the field of fellow farmer Robert Perry.  The Farmer had been meaning to plant it for himself and finally had space and time this year.

On Saturday, May 26, The Farmer planted the corn in hasty rows just to get it done. On July 6, we took a picture,  because your corn should be “knee high by the fourth of July.”

Multicolored maize

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17-Year Cicadas

Cicada on Wild Parsnip

On and around our property this year was the eruption of the 17-year cicada. We moved here 18 years ago, so we would have been here the last time they erupted.  But it was our first year here and the time of their eruption was also the time of the birth of my twins.  I don’t have any recollection of the cicadas.

This June we knew the cicadas were here by seeing the hard locusts shells on trees and clothes lines and items sitting near trees. About a week later we started hearing a background hum or buzz.  The Farmer described it as an other-worldly noise. (Think outer space other-worldly.) If we were in the city and coming home, there was no buzz up on LaFayette Rd.  But as we came to Graham Road, the buzz started and continued until we got to our home (and probably beyond).

I think the noise was temperature dependent and perhaps daylight dependent as well.  It would start around 9-10 a.m and stop around 4-5 p.m.  This continued for about 2 weeks.  We were able to record the noise of the cicadas.  At first you will hear the hum of the cicadas.  Then at about 10 sec. you hear the hum of 1 cicada.  From our internet  and book research, we found that only the males make the noise.

One day during this time as I took a walk on Kennedy Rd., I saw that the cicadas were covering everything – trees and weeds – everything.  Of course we had seen them flying around.  But I didn’t realize they were hanging off everything.  Here are some pics of them:

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Stray Livestock

From Jewish literature – If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.  (Exodus 22:5 NASB)

Every so often we raise what we term a “naughty” cow. And our naughty cow recently went on a field trip to our neighbor’s house.

A naughty cow often develops when the calf is out with Mom, and she is in a non-electrified fence. The curious calf naturally wanders to and then through the fence.  The calf never learns that fences exist as boundary markers. Most of our calves eventually learn what a fence is, but need one hot wire to remind them. Naughty cows only respect fences with multiple strands of electrified wire.

Generally speaking though, cows are quite content to lounge in the area they are given. Sure, the grass is always greener elsewhere, but as long as they are not super-hungry, they will not cross a fence line to get it.

We currently have a naughty cow, and it changes the pasturing dynamic.

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Generational Agriculture

When The Farmer’s father was growing up, their family house burned down while they were out of town. Eventually the family landed on a 100+ acre former farm. The Farmer’s grandfather raised beef and had a garden to help feed his seven children. This was the property that The Farmer knew as “Grandma & Grandpa’s house.”

Of those seven children, several stayed involved in agricultural pursuits.

Child 1 (The Farmer’s father) ended up on his own small farm doing part-time agricultural stuff. His first career was teaching agricultural mechanics, and his last career was performing testing at farms as part of the New York State Mastitis Control Program.

Child 3 ended up with part of the “old homestead” and built his own small farm (the one pictured here, at an annual Memorial Day Picnic) where his part-time pursuits include raising beef, hay, and eggs, and working in his retirement at a nearby farm.

Child 5 married a man who was the owner/operator of a milk trucking company.

Child 6 married and ended up on a small farm of her own raising beef part-time and having a family milk cow.

Child 7 bought the remainder of the “old homestead” and while he does not farm per se, he does breed and raise Newfoundlands as a part-time venture.

The Farmer does not expect 70% of his offspring to maintain an intimate connection with agriculture, but it has been nice to give them that exposure as they are growing up.

June Challenge – Your Choice

Our monthly local food challenge is a freebie month.  Find a local food and enjoy it.  Maybe you like local fish, or perhaps you have spinach or lettuce in your garden.  Maybe you grill local chicken or steaks, or you collect wild edibles and use that for food or as herbal remedies.  Or you like local honey!  (See this story on how we collected a bee swarm.) June is the month of comment on that.  Any comments enter you in our January gift certificate drawing!