Hey everyone. Some how I didn’t post this the day I wrote it - and here it is almost three weeks later!! In themean time a lot of other stuff has happened. We’ve made even more hay since then amidst some rainy adversity. Nevertheless this is a good little bit of reading. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So we got some hay in yesterday. mostly things went very well. the baler continues to "miss" knots about 1 in 15 bales (maybe less) and it sure is a pain in the butt. when that happens, the baler just dribbles the bale out of the kicker chute like a baby rejecting a bite of pureed brussel sprouts - not pretty. Or it shoots them into the wagon in a big grassy mess, which is even worse because then you have to scramble to toss the loose hay out of the wagon before the next bale is launched at your head.

Last week we spent a bunch of time rebuilding our second hay wagon which we’d repaired several times before but never properly. All of the main beams were rotten and sagging and the whole thing was destined to fail spectacularly at any moment. What it required was nothing short of a full wooden frame replacement. Pictures below tell the story. Of course, Pete was racing back from the sawmill with the decking while I was zooming around on the tractor with the hay rake. He and apprentice Ryan managed to get the boards screwed down just in time for us to head out to the field and start shooting bales into it. Perfect.

That’s all for now. One day soon Kate is going to catch us all up on the progress that she and our apprentices have made in the gardens which is nothing short of AMAZING! Our CSA members are overjoyed so far and there is so much more great food to come.

Also, we will be sending 9 or 10 sheep to the butcher in coming weeks. We’ll have lots of sausage and ground lamb available very soon.

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

Hey everybody! We are into full-on craziness here at Stony Creek!! We’re running around between the rain drops tilling and planting, moving fences and collecting eggs, harvesting our first crops and cooking delicious farm fresh meals AND...

discovering newborn animals!!

Here’s a quick look at the two new beltie calves that were born in the past 48hrs.

Also looking forward to full tents this weekend. Though we did have some great folks here last weekend, we’ll be sure to post some thoughts and pics after our first full weekend of accommodating guests in the Feather Down tents for the 2011 season.

until then..

wpid-blackiesMay2011calf-2011-05-24-22-31.jpg

wpid-curlysMay2011calf-2011-05-24-22-31.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio

April 28th began with some of the hardest rain storms since the flood of 2006. It was a reminder of just how bad it was 5 years ago. As I described it then - it was like the hardest 2 minute surge of an already intense downpour, but for 4 days straight!!As the day progressed, the sky cleared up and we continued to get more done outside.

We finally got the sheep out of their muddy interim holding pen behind the barn. It had become quite a disgusting mess even after nearly 2 weeks. We put them there after shearing and all was nice and dry and clean. Since then it’s been raining constantly and the residual hay from feeding hasn’t been enough to keep it dry. Another lamb was born that day as well, but has not survived. Another victim of bad mothering instincts. We are planning to do some MAJOR culling of these ewes within a couple of months. We will likely bring in new ewes for next year and perhaps change our flock entirely to a breed that produces much larger, faster growing lambs among other desirable traits.

Well, as it is this post was intended for the 29th, so I’ll leave it at this.

A couple of other quick updates:

  • our first batch of broilers are getting quite large in the brooder room - will get them on pasture today or tomorrow
  • we’ve separated the beltie heifers and will be moving everybody else to the upper pasture later today! hurray!!
  • our first apprentice arrives today!!!
  • peas are up!!
  • hoop house is fully planted with greens
  • first CSA shares go out 26April
  • Autumn Cafe, our favorite restaurant in Oneonta, is now serving our eggs for Sunday brunch
  • we’re also delivering over 50dozen eggs to a bar / cafe called Blue Haven in SoHo NYC every two weeks for their Sunday brunch

that’s all for now!!

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio

Phew these early spring days always kick my butt.... By 9 o'clock I am physically worn, emotionally drained and totally exhausted. My muscles ache from the 5-gallon bucket lifting that I must do to fill the sheep's water -7 full ones to fill it 2 times a day. Fill them at the creek and then walk 50 paces without spilling them all over. I have gotten pretty good at it now and the 50 paces is one thousand times better than the 5 VERTICAL paces we had to do all winter. We have them temporarily behind the barn. They had to be shorn in the barn, then we moved them out once they were done. Now they are sort of in a holding pattern until some grass shows on the hills.

I worked a few hours over at a friend's farm today and will return tomorrow. He and some of his crew worked over here for a few days getting our hoop house up and covered in plastic. IT IS UP NOW!!! And I owe some time over there...dan too once he is back from the city. Worked over there watering and seeding. What an amazing thing to grow food for people to eat. Really eat and not just talk about. These guys, Lucky Dog Farm, they are doing it. Growing LOTS of food.

We have a ton of transplanting to do over the next few days. But first I have to get dan ready for a delivery to the city, then work at a friend's homestead in Oneonta with some Hartwick College students (some from the group that was here last week got a taste of something they liked and they want to come back to work more!!) and then Lucia is really psyched about easter so we'll do a bit of that on Sunday..Perhaps I can sneak in a few hours of work in the afternoon.

rest well, kate

wpid-PhotoApr1892250PM-2011-04-22-07-20.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio

I (kate) did a short interview for a local radio show while I was working a bit at Lucky Dog Farm this morning. And since I have begun milking Sierra again...(who I must say has matured quite a bit from her teenage skittering of last year.) she was very much on my mind. During the interview I spoke about how milking Sierra last year was anything BUT bucolic for the first month. Here is a small snippet...Because she is a Jersey, she is a ferocious mother. It is in her genes. And Jerseys are also notoriously jumpy.                  So for the first few weeks every time I tried to milk her she had a dance party... And usually my forearms were caught up in the mix. So how would you react to a cow kicking you (what seemed like) on purpose?!!! I yelled. I cried. I pleaded. I tried punching her back...all of this didn't go the way I wanted it to. Luckily we both were saved by an amazing invention..the 'kick stop'....no not a prescription drug, just a simple device that goes around her hip and over her back bone. It doesn't hurt..as far as I can tell. But when she goes to lift her foot to kick at me, she can't make it past a certain point. A few tries that don't work out and she stops trying. By the middle of the summer, Aaron and Greg (apprentices) didn’t even use the kick stop every time. By the end of the second month she was doing great.. even allowing visiting children to milk her!!

        The last two days, now that she has freshened again..I have been revisiting that time in my heart and soul...I am realizing how much I have grown from that experience and even how much she has grown. It is sort of odd and beautiful to know an animal as well as that. But there it is. I guess I am honored to be able to have such a relationship with her, as I feel honored to be able to dig my hands into the dirt every growing season. Thank goodness the ground doesn't spit dirt back at you when you try to plant carrots! (or maybe it does?) Now the part I need to figure out is how to make some money while doing these things that I cherish. Stay tuned to see how it turns out...

In other news: more lambs, and our first batch of broiler chicks arrived today!

wpid-chicksMarch2011-2011-03-31-22-16.jpg

wpid-choco2011-2011-03-31-22-16.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesAnimals

Spring seems like it might be creeping in...The kids and I started more seeds in our greenhouse today and we actually sweated while we did it!

This morning while I Isaac and I were doing chores we had a few surprises:

1) When looking in on Sierra, our very pregnant Jersey cow, we noticed a new member of the family: a new calf!! He was just laying there looking like he has been here for years. Mama had licked him clean, he had already nursed a bit and he looked like he owned the place!!

2) Then as we brought hay over to the sheep, Isaac pointed out that there were FOUR new lambs in the mix. By the end of chores, the four turned into six and by the end of the day it was seven. We just sent the 7th one home with a friend b'c his mama was not helping him find the teat...he was pretty hungry.

Don't worry...lots of entertainment to come...Sierra the dancing cow for example..

here are some blurry initial photos of our newest critters

wpid-march2011lambs-2011-03-30-22-222.jpg

wpid-sierraandcalf-2011-03-30-22-22.jpg

wpid-ciaandsierrascalf-2011-03-30-22-22.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesAnimals

Still no calf from our sweet Jersey cow, Sierra. I am guessing that she will calve when we least expect it. (does that count as expecting it?)  The temperatures around here refuse to go above 40 at day and drop to a mean 20 and lower at night. We have used up almost all of our wood, as has everyone else in this area who heats with wood. Dan worked on insulating the greenhouse portion of our house today...we are still covering the onion and lettuce seedlings in there with two extra layers of plastic at night!

I took my precious tomato seedlings over to my friend's heated greenhouse on Sunday and started another 20 flats of flowers, greens, beets and more FLOWERS!!

So far we have four members of our CSA and my goal this year was 5-10.......Soooooo Get out those checkbooks and pay for a subscription. Really it is dirt cheap and you get the most amazing vegetables FRESH fresh fresh!

Here are some photos of lots of dirt in trays at Mary's...Yes there are seeds in there too...Just you wait...they will sprout. I promise.

wpid-IMG_0820-2011-03-19-00-281.jpg

wpid-IMG_0821-2011-03-19-00-281.jpg

wpid-IMG_0819-2011-03-19-00-281.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGardens

Here's Jack having a good scratch in the Winter sunshine. His mother, Sierra is in the background. We're headed to NYC today for our monthly home deliveries. If you'd like to be included, get in touch with kate@stonycreekfarm.org wpid-p_2592_1936_69493A62-5E20-4E82-9CF3-980BCAC8E8ED-2011-02-25-13-03.jpeg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesAnimals

This man should need no introduction.But if he does, read Michael Pollan’s, The Omnivore’s Dilemma (granted, reading a book is a lengthy introduction, but you should read it anyway!)

Here he is at his best:

http://www.westonaprice.org/farm-a-ranch/2087-the-politics-of-food.html

and here he is holding our baby son Isaac 4 years ago!!

wpid-wpid-uswithJoelSalatin_small-2011-02-21-10-50-2011-02-21-10-50.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

ok, so we didn’t grow the apples, but our friends at Pie in the Sky (Oneonta, NY) did. and we’ve had them stored in our root cellar (closet) since late fall. they are still delicious and not a bit mealy. also, check out our press page for a great little article about the farm that is on page 24 of the current issue of National Geographic Traveller magazine. wpid-applesinFebruary-2011-02-19-22-34.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

Just a quick note to say that we finally decided to put down our injured beltie heifer. She was not improving and appeared to be in pain or at least great discomfort. We have butchered her for pet food. We feel that is the best, safest and least wasteful way to use her meat. Perhaps we will revisit the nuances of this experience in a later post. In better news! A little beltie calf was born this morning. Despite the cold he/she appears to be doing very well. There are no guarantees this time of year (or ever). Its critical that she it gets a good dose of colostrum (cows early milk after delivery) and that it's mamma remains very attentive. So far so good.

wpid-p_2592_1936_9F0B3CAB-BD04-426F-8D9D-FE8A656E8751-2011-02-9-15-00.jpeg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

Ok, i won’t even try to explain why we disappeared for 3 months. No explanation realy. Just kind of turned inward for a while. Well, it’s time to get back out there! Sorry to make the first new post in a while a depressing one. But we have a little Beltie heifer who is in bad shape. She was a bit more pregnant than we realized (several factors contributed, only one is important - our bull!!). Bottom line is that she was a tad too small to give birth to her little heifer calf. Sadly, the calf died during birth. Worse, we found the momma in pretty bad shape with the calf only half out. Without getting to detailed, we had to use a rope and a tractor to get the dead calf the rest of the way out.

Almost 2 days later the little cow (“heifer” becomes “cow” after first calving) is still hanging on - in much better shape really - she at some hay and drank water today!!

The core problem is that she suffered some nerve damage in her birth canal while pushing the little guy out. This is not all that uncommon, and can often lead to irreversible paralysis of the hind legs. Sad. The good news is that our vet got here pretty quickly and administered some anti-inflammatory drugs intravenously that helped reduce swelling in the nerve sheath (or at least in the tissues surrounding the nerves) which may allow her to regain use of her legs. So far we’ve seen her move her legs a little bit when we lift up on her rear half with the special cow clamp that farmers use to deal with this situation. It’s a pretty crazy thing that tightens over her “pin bones” (bony hips that stick up and out). You hook it to the tractor bucket and LIFT! Then lower a bit so her hind toes just touch the ground. Hopefully at this point she is standing on her front legs. (she did that) and then you massage her hind legs and try to get her to use them. She quickly became exhausted and we let her back down. That was mid-day today. Now she is comfortably lying down. Eating and drinking, as I said.

I’ve got to go check on her in a minute.

More on this soon....

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

Just a quick note to report our first (somewhat) significant snowfall.Of course, we aren’t fully prepared, and neither are the sheep.

A couple more inches last night added to the soggy whiteness.

We still have much more firewood to chop, animals to move and gardens to prepare for Winter, but the forecast is calling for a warm(ish) week so all should get done in time. That’s all for now.

Next post: The Japanese film crew descends upon us...

wpid-photo-2010-11-9-06-59.jpg

wpid-PastedGraphic-2010-11-9-06-59.tiff

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

Perhaps we harp on it a bit much, but it is really the premier thought on our minds at this time of year...the cold, the snow, the darkness of winter.My second year farming, I finally got it. I finally understood what all of the fuss is about.

We, humans, have spent the last, oh, thousands of years working every spring, summer and fall to make sure we make it through the winter to another spring. (Okay, yes, I realize that I am leaving out the people who inhabit the areas around the equator - those places that see no change in seasons) Nevertheless, those people who were my close ancestors - Italian, Russian, German, English - all have spent three seasons of the year working to make sure they made it through the fourth. We have it a lot easier with our gas powered engines and refrigerators, but a lot of what we do really connects me to them and the life they must have lived.

So what exactly does preparing for the cold look like around here? Here is our list of chores for October and November: * harvest remaining things from garden - pumpkins and winter squash, peppers, beans, * Many things remain in the garden and need just a light covering of remay (polyester cloth) to protect them from the cold - we still have chard * Katie and I scooped up the last of the annual flowers - we just cut them even though they weren’t blooming and brought them in..before the hard frost a few nights ago. * collect seed from annual flowers and vegetables * plant and mulch Garlic for next year * till garden and sow winter rye as cover crop * Collect as many wild apples as I can and feed them to our pigs, as well as unripe pumpkins and winter squash * cut and stack firewood * clean out the green house and begin curing winter squash * cure and store potatoes * cover lettuces, chard, kale, arugula * mulch strawberries

I will continue with that. There is a soft white layer of frost over the fields that we look out onto from our house. I can see Abigail, Sierra, and Zeus waiting for me to come and milk Abby and bring them Hay. As soft and friendly as it looks from the warmth of my home, I know my hands will ache with the biting cold as I open her bucket of grain and lift the electric fence line to let her into her area. Thankfully hand milking is the warmest chore around. Once I begin I get to snuggle up to her 102 degree body and my hands will go to work releasing delicious creamy WARM milk into the pail.

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

Hey all, First, here’s a link to the Whole Living article online - more pictures and some different text from the print version: http://www.wholeliving.com/photogallery/feather-down-farms?lpgStart=1¤tslide=2¤tChapter=1#ms-global-breadcrumbs

and another link to a Whole Living blog post by the Martha Stewart editors who were here last week. They are doing a story on cooking with fire that will run next Spring. They did a crazy photo shoot for 3 full days here! http://wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/2010/09/cooking-with-fire-at-stony-creek-farm.html

Well, the last bits of Summer have slipped by and as is usually the case around here, Fall is just a blink. Persistent rains this week have downed most of the leaves and now we are looking forward to mid-20s night time temps next week. Sounds like Winter to me.

We will begin winterizing our water systems, getting our firewood loaded near the house (should have been done already!), putting equipment away, moving animals to their winter paddocks, and a million other things with the house, farm, and gardens.

Sure, we’ll have many more beautiful days before we’re truly socked in, but it’s quite easy to get caught off guard around here, so we try to get ready early.

There are many things to report about the second half of the Summer. Winter is a good time to do all of that as we’re just too busy to write much down these days. Luckily my camera is never far away (if you can call an iPhone a camera!) so we have many pictures to share to get everyone up to date. More full galleries coming soon, to include a stunning set of photos that our friend Rush took during his recent 2 week visit.

That’s all for now. Here are a few shots just to tide you over.

wpid-IMG_0976-2010-09-30-06-56.jpg

wpid-IMG_0784-2010-09-30-06-56.jpg

wpid-coolspider-2010-09-30-06-56.jpg

wpid-IMG_0849-2010-09-30-06-56.jpg

wpid-IMG_0861-2010-09-30-06-56.jpg

wpid-IMG_1039-2010-09-30-06-56.jpg

wpid-IMG_1044-2010-09-30-06-56.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

Hey everyone. Just wanted to check in quickly to let you know that our Feather Down farm stays got a fantastic write-up in the September 2010 issue of Whole Living Magazine. No web link to post just yet, but it’s still on news stands everywhere so pick up a print copy!! -dan

here are some scans of a piece of the article

wpid-wpid-WLpage1_small-2010-08-24-23-46-2010-08-24-23-46.jpg

wpid-wpid-WLpage2_small-2010-08-24-23-46-2010-08-24-23-46.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

Aaron's sister Zoey visited this past weekend. (Aaron is one of our summer apprentices) She had a great time and we all enjoyed having her here. She sent us her favorite moments from the visit. Have a look.

wpid-l_720_576_506A09FA-7BAC-4949-9BBE-FF7200D574C5-2010-08-4-10-05.jpeg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral