This week was slow and difficult for me because I had a stomach flu, but many exciting things did happen. I slept through all of Monday, but Brian and WWOOFers harvested head lettuce, mesclun, broccolini, arugula, herbs, zucchini, rhubarb, and chard for the CSA. I keep forgetting to take a picture of the CSA pickup with all the beatiful vegetables out on display… maybe next week. Monday evening we had another CRAFT (collaborative regional alliance for farmer training) event at Hogwash Farm in Norwich. We got to see their beef cattle, broiler chickens, sheep, and pigs, and talked with the farmer about all of her breed choices and, later, her land tenure situation. They have Belted Galloway beef cattle, which are the same cows that Hampshire College has for dairy. Belties are a trifecta of bovine utility, offering rich creamy milk perfect for cheeses, a long torso of well-marbled meat, and quality oxen to boot! Plus, they’re a critically rare heritage breed, they can winter outdoors even in Vermont, and they attract lots of passersby with their funky coat pattern (people call them “oreo cows”). They have three different heritage hog breeds: Large Black, Old Spot, and Tamworth. They were actually successful in crossing two of those to combine the best of each breed– the long loins of Large Black and the marbling of Old Spot. She had some strange goat-looking sheep with asymmetrical horns and spotted coats who apparently are very friendly and low-maintenance.
Throughout the week, we laid down mulch hay between rows of squash for weed control. We also continue to clip up tomatoes in the greenhouses and are starting to see massive fruit loads on the full size tomatoes and actual ripening on the cherries! I haven’t eaten a sun-ripened tomato in so long that after my first cherry tomato bite, I didn’t stop smiling and exclaiming about it for five minutes.
On Thursday night, we went to this amazing event which was a collaboration between several farms in Barnard, Vermont. Barnard is a 20-minute drive down a dirt road to the West, and when we arrived at Heartwood-Fable Collective Farm, there was a live band, people of all ages dancing, families with picnics, and so much great food for sale! Tacos, cheese, cider, pastries, ice cream, and meat and vegetables for sale. Every Thursday throughout the summer, Heartwood-Fable Farm’s CSA pickup is accompanied by this multi-farm musical gathering, and I am so looking forward to going more in the future! I talked to one of the farmers there about what “collective” in their farm name means, and following that conversation she seemed agreeable to being a subject for my senior thesis on farm business models! So I walked away from that event not only inspired by this land-based-summer-community-family-celebration of local food and music and partnership, but also with an actual tangible piece of my thesis finally in place.
On Saturday, we took a long, winding way up country roads to Burlington, stopping along the way at waterfalls, historic barns that we’ve read about in Brian’s barn book, and to get a maple creemee (VT soft serve). The barn pictured below is four stories tall and is designed so that each gravity facilitates the transference of hay storage to cow-feeding to manure-loading where in most barns each step would be done from the ground-up, requiring more energy. Once we got to Burlington we met up with a big group of Brian’s friends who were on their way to the beach, and we went kayaking with them on Lake Champlain and then got second creemees. We then hung out with Brian’s friends Becky and Caroline, and stayed with his friend Claire. It was really fun to see what Burlington is like in the summer– at least on weekends.
We came home to the farm on Summer Solstice and felt the shift from spring to summer almost immediately– the hills sprinkled with rainbows of wildflowers, stream rushing from a warm thunderstorm, and fields bursting with produce.