Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall In

The seasons are changing and there is a chill in the air...gleaning the fields to prepare for the winter months.

Grace cleans the stalls

The farmall is ready for second cut hay (a little late after all the rain!)
Our farm stand in fall color

The last vestiges of summer color

and the season turns
still, cosmos linger in the cool temperatures.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Visions of Thanksgiving

All of our visitors to the farm have commented on how big the turkeys are.  (Except for our South African WOOFer, Dan, who comments they are much smaller than ostriches.)

They will still add quite a few pounds before they are ready for Thanksgiving. 

People love pasture raised turkeys, especially heirloom varieties like these, because both of their incredible taste and they are better for you.

If you are interested in ordering one for your Thanksgiving, just contact us.  Volume is limited! 

Dan is our expert Turkey-Catcher.

And the other fowl are also enjoying the rain.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guest Post from Dan Mckenzie our WWOOFer from South Africa

Hi!  My name is Dan Mckenzie, I am from Cape Town, South Africa and I am currently WWOOFing on Barberry Hill Farm. I wanted to share with you my experience thus far. After a very unusual Skype interview (Kelly's microphone and camera were broken so she could hear and see me but could only talk to me via instant messenger) I arrived at Madison train station not quite knowing who to look for. Fortunately Kelly was waiting for me. I was lucky to arrive two days after the tropical storm, but not lucky enough to arrive after the electricity was reconnected, so there was no warm shower after my 16 hour flight!

My first day on the farm was Abi and Ross's (also WWOOFers) last day, and it was nice to have an overlap so they could show me around the farm and teach me the finer points of feeding the livestock. My daily tasks are quite varied; I feed and water the cows, sheep, turkey, chickens, dogs and cats every evening, but other than that I have weeded, picked, transplanted and worked the farm stall. I've also been helping a bit with the storm clean-up by clearing tree branches broken by the wind. The coolest chore I've had to do was probably chopping wood using the hydraulic log splitter, while the worst was undoubtedly cleaning the chickens' coops.

Throughout I have been struck by how much time farming takes, especially the picking. It had never occurred to me that even after the tilling, planting and weeding there is still so much work left to do in getting the fruit and vegetables off their trees and bushes or out of the ground before they rot. I've also learnt that its neither easy nor straight forward to grow good food. Although Kingsley won't divulge all of his tomato growing wisdom (trade secrets, you know) it's obvious that it really requires attention to detail: giving the plants just enough water, ensuring that they are neither too hot nor too cold and letting the tomatoes ripen on the vine for the optimal amount of time.

Although Chelsea Clio laughs at me when I call Connecticut 'exotic', it is in the sense that it is very different to Cape Town. I have really enjoyed cycling around Madison, people watching or admiring the architecture. The beach is about 5 minutes away from the house (a 'hurricane's stone throw away' I'm told) and I often go for a swim in the afternoons. On other afternoons I play soccer with the kids or get beaten soundly at 'Super Smash Bros' on Nintendo Wii by Silas, Grace and Quinlan. So far it has been a pleasure staying with the Goddards and I hope the next two weeks will be as great.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Little Farmer's Co-op

Our farm stand on US 1 has just got a bit of competition. Quinlan and his good friend Liam have been planting all summer and are now selling what they sowed.

They built their own stand and are open for business on weekends and nice days after school. 

So come by our stand for flowers, tomatoes, corn, and other assorted greens, or come by the Little Farmer's Co-op for corn, potatoes, edamame, and herbs. 

Cape Gooseberries and Potatoes 

Ursa is an honorary member of the co-op.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Recovering Slowly

As is easily visible, we have suffered damage and loss from trees all around the property and will be weeks in the clean-up. What may not be evident is the amount of crop damage. As we are located less than a mile from the Sound, we often benefit from the mild sea breeze to extend our growing season. This year however, Irene brought salt spray and tortuous winds to the fields. The result is nearly all of the broad leaf crops have withered and died.

Grapes that were planted decades ago experienced unprecedented damage.

The fall crops of beets, squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, chard etc. have shriveled to compost. The young plants of lettuce, spinach and salad mixes have inhaled too much salt to thrive, and even the raspberries have become stark sticks.

But we are cleaning up.  We will have plenty of firewood this winter!

We have dug up completely many of the damaged fields.

We are still able to pick some of the greenhouse peppers and tomatoes and other covered items and are rapidly replanting cool weather crops.

Yet as Fall approaches and the cool rains continue, there may be precious little time to reap the sowing.  Still, we have weathered the weather safely, and look forward to getting as much out of the ground as we can.

Thank you for your support!

Monday, September 5, 2011

View from the Field - Recovering from Irene

Irene devastated Madison.  The Wharf, a hurricane stone's throw from Barberry Hill Farm, shows the disruption caused by the wind and water.

Our property took the full brunt of the storm.  Trees that had stood for generations were snapped in half.

This 80 foot tree fell inches from our house.  If it had been a few feet taller, our house would have had some new ventilation.

The fields were not only covered with debris, but layers of salt.  We are still assessing what can be saved. 

Kingsley considering options for other employment. Arborist?

Grace made the best of some orphaned pre-ripe produce. 

We also lost electricity (and Internet access) for about a week.  This meant that we had to say good-bye to our two Scottish WWOOFers Abi and Ross, and welcome our new South African WWOOFer, Dan, by candlelight.

We now have power again at least for the home, and will be repairing what we can in the days, weeks, and even months to come.