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

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!!

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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

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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

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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.

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AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

The rain is pattering on the skylights, lucia is upstairs listening to Pippi Longstocking, isaac is snuggled asleep on the couch, dan is even asleep on our bed after a 10-hour round trip drive to his cousin’s wedding on Long Island last night and returning home at 3am. We had an amazing day yesterday. Alyssa, my sister, and Sergi came up from Brooklyn for the day. Yes for the day. They drove up on friday night and showed up at the farm at 10 am the next day. They spent the night at my parents in Franklin.

The weather was gorgeous. After a full morning of chores. Milking, feeding the sheep, the chicks, the hens..and I also moved the broilers out to their new outside home. (It was past time, I have just been nervous because the nights are still so cold. ) The big shock for me was that the rats, in all of their glory, ate 44 chicks!! Mostly when they were very little. But man, what a hit. We’ll order more. But mostly it is the loss of little lives that hits us hard. Although I will say, better to lose them to a wild animal and not some disease or pathogen from their bad living conditions!

So after all of the chores, we cleaned up a little bit and drove to Oneonta for Lucia’s ballet rehearsal at the Decker School of Ballet. Her recital is friday and saturday and I think I am more nervous than she is. I think she is happy to be amongst all of the ballerinas and fancy costumes! My sister and I walked around Oneonta and then picked up Lucia and hit Salvation Army for some May festival supplies.

finally we arrived back at the farm at about 3:45pm and began the next big project, ripping up the sheets we bought into ribbons for the maypole. Thank goodness my mother arrived to help with that task! My dad began cutting the chicken up for dinner. And I gathered tools for strawberry planting.

Once the inside work was done, I led the crew out to the garden and helped begin the planting process. Unfortunately, I could only participate for ten minutes and then I had a cow mooing at me from across the creek.

5pm milking time! Sierra has been an angel the last three milkings. I thing she and I are beginning to cement a new relationship. She is still nervous. And I still have a totally numb right thumb. but she stands stock still and in a good position!

The crew finished the strawberries before i finished milking. When I got back I asked my sister and father to collect the oldest milk from the fridge - we made cheese!! And I started supper....

This is all probably more than anyone needs to know! We had a wonderful meal...ramps, kale from the garden, and our baked chicken! Yum!

all in all, just another day on the farmstead, and so lovely to share it with great people!

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesFamily, General

Ok, enough with the farm births you say. Well how's about sum farm fresh butter! (that's just me gettin' folksy in the presence of down-home farm goodness) Here's a pic of our first Sierra butter. More to come from Kate about how farm fresh butter from pastured cow's milk can garnish your toast, cure cancer, and hasten peace on Earth!

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Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral

Another beautiful beltie heifer was born while we were lounging in the Florida sun. Graham watched carefully to ensure that the cow passed the placenta. Took almost 2 days, but now all is well with momma and calf.wpid-l_960_720_6A911ACC-9693-4DF5-B6E0-23203CF963EB.v2owuCQbe5Wr.jpg

Posted
AuthorDaniel Marsiglio
CategoriesGeneral