April Newletter and Upcoming Events!

Volume 2, Issue 3
April 18, 2012

From the Farmers

Trixie, chewing her cud, 10 days after arriving at Great Song
A few words I wrote some weeks back...
Today offers a full spectrum of emotions—a vital mix of swoony bliss comingled with an unfocused and restless apprehension.  Both flow out of the circumstances alive daily in the world of farming—the beauty and the strife, the successes and the worries.  It would be a terribly stressful profession if elements of the divine were not so present in my everyday work.  Today is a sunny day at the end of March with a high in the lower fifties, soil (persistently) dry for cultivation, breeze blowing through the manes and tails of the horses as they work, lifting up the milk-chocolate-brown dust of top soil as the disc chops through the left-over chunks of sod and grass. 

We are farming in a brave and thoughtfully spontaneous way, which leaves me to conclude that we may be dangerously close to folly—the bliss and the apprehension comingled in such a way that I cannot extricate one from another.  They are one in the same story, one tremendous and relentless set of overlapping images fueling my spring days; it may sound a little hyperbolic when I go ahead and put exact words to the circumstances—perhaps the danger assigning words to these emotions at all—but the words themselves feel like a true reflection of the experience in the daily hustle-less bustle of being a farmer.    

Nearing the end of their second hour-long work in harness of the day, pulling the disc through the choppy, chunky, lumpy hilltop field—2 acres of ground plowed out of 30+ years of sod last fall—feet, human and horse, navigating the ups and downs of baby-dogwood tree roots, clumps of grass, and ruts, the horses are noticeably tired.  Today marks only their fifth day working since their long, muddy, logging-less winter “off”—bored, out of shape, and waiting expectantly in the sacrifice pasture.  They are reestablishing their muscular tone and self-confidence, and we are taking it slow, to make sure they establish a positive relationship with the work they will be committed to throughout the summer.  A little bit at a time, and lots of rest in between.  But it is nearing the end of the hour and Kate (the 13 year-old mare) is tired.  She is covered in the sweet-smelling sweat of a working horse, and I see the force of her body sort of lunging ahead, pushing into her hind-quarters in the slight up-hills.  I send her encouraging words, to coax and comfort and uplift.  This is the last round we will make.  Sunny, (the 4 year old gelding), fatter, taller, more ornery and curious, with an off-center stripe of white drawn down the front of his face and nose, is a little bit lazy in the pulling of his load, but then bolts ahead with the mere mention of his name.  But their tiredness means they listen well—stopping, starting, and turning with a slight signal of the lines or verbal command.  I unhitch from the disc and drive them down the steep grassy hillside that will be their pasture in a month’s time; together, we walk through the meandering trail which takes us back to the barn.  Over dried-up stream bed and through the woods.  This is the moment when the word ‘bliss’ comes to my mind and lips—tired, engaged horses, a solid, small, piece of work accomplished as we prepare the fields for the pre-full moon planting of root crops in 6 days’ time.

And inbetween acknowledging the bliss, my mind floats back to the onion seedlings which I have somewhat irrationally decide to worry about because they do not stand quite as erectly as I was somehow hoping.  Am I overwatering them?  Am I underwatering them?  Are they too cold at night?  Are they too hot during the day?   And then I begin to think about the 30 degree night ahead of us, and wonder (again) if our newly constructed home-made woodstove mass heater will functionally provide an appropriate amount of heat to support our plant babies through one more cold night. 

There are an abundance of things to loose myself in apprehension over, should I so chose to do so.  Sometimes I let myself go, caught in a spiral of what-ifs, but then usually something or someone catches me—a farming partner, a horse, a member of this community, a moment of bliss—and I remember that our plants and animals are strong and healthy, that we are bestowed with the great gift of work and of purpose.  I step out of the spiral, and I get to work.
Lisa, Kate, and Sunny prepare the ground to seed cover crops.
Upcoming Events at Great Song Farm!
Great Song Farm will be hosting a family-day open house on Saturday, April 28th at 10 am. We will be gathering in the CSA pick-up stable on the farm.  Bring the whole family to come meet our new baby chicks and dairy cows and tour the farm with your toddlers and kids.  We will have some farm songs and stories to entertain the little ones, along with information about joining our CSA for 2012.  What is a CSA?  How do I join?  Where do I pick-up vegetables?  Are you growing vegetables that my children will actually eat?  Come ask questions and check out the farm.  Be a part of our farm community!  Send questions to greatsongfarm@riseup.net or call us at 845-758-1572.

Mark Your Calendars!  Other up-coming dates in May:

Informational Open House on Saturday, May 12th at 2pm on the farm.
Get-lots-of-rocks-picked-in-one-day work party on Saturday, May 19th.  Join us for rock picking 9 a.m.-12 noon, and stay for a picnic potluck lunch.  Please bring a plate and silverware, and a dish to share.  Don't forget your gloves and waterbottles!  Children are definitely always welcome.  Please leave pets at home.  Hope to see you there!

Great Song Farm's Big Spring Community Celebration for CSA members, friends, and the whole community.  Sunday, May 27th 2:30-6 p.m.  Farm Tours, Games, Music, Potluck!  Bring an instrument, a dish to share, and a friend and join us in celebration of spring!  On the Farm!

Friend us on Facebook for event invites and announcements!
Our new baby chicks--10 days old
Spring Cleansing Recipe?

Looking for a little culinary adventure combined with a hike through the woods?  Lots of delicious wild eatables are popping up outside--dandilion greens, (stinging) nettles, garlic mustard greens, ramps (wild leeks).  If you're starved for something local, fresh, and green, I recommend experimenting with a garlic and onion-plus-wild greens saute, foraging out in your yard or woodlot for these tasty and nutritous plants.

Harvest nettles with gloves and long sleeves to prevent getting stung, and make sure you cook them thoroughly before consuming them.  But they can be added to just about anything--stir fry, soup, pesto, quiche, or pasta. 

Nettle Soup
1 lb. fresh nettles (handle with tongs or gloves!), rinsed
1/2 lb rutabagas (or potatoes), diced
1 leek or onion, chopped

garlic, minced, as much as you'd like
a thick slice of butter and a dash of olive oil
1 3/4 cup water
1/3 cup cream

salt and pepper and a dash of ume plum vinegar

To make the rutabaga (or potato) soup:
In small pan, add the butter and oil, and saute leek or onion and garlic until soft. Add potato or rutabaga and water, and cook until soft (falling apart).  Add cream, slowly, and while whisking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Blanch the raw nettles (leaf and thin stems only) until tender. Blend until smooth in food processor or blender, with a little water if needed.

Combine root soup and nettle puree over low heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat and thin with water or cream if desired.  Serve with a dolup of yogurt or sour cream on top if desired, and a dash of ume plum vinegar.


Jen Seeds Peas!

A Little Something Else

Seek Me An Artist

who will grind stones, soils, clays
into sediments that bring their essences
with them, iron oxide reds, lapis lazuli
blues, other mixtures.  An artist who will stir

and blend these elements into warm beeswax
softened with oils.  Seek me an artist who will
paint these wax pigments on wood, encode
their meanings in tints for my encaustic mask

that rests flat upon my face.  A mask upon
a mask upon a mask.  Seek me an artist
who will extend my life past flesh
through those veils of color.  Through

visage that smiles to those not yet seen.
Seek me an artist who will capture
my spirit, in layers of understanding,
intrigue, mystery.  In portrait that lives

beyond grave, beyond centruries, beyond
time.  Seek me an artist who will be
in portrait, in self of another self, in person
layered within another within another

as in life within death within life, one
cycle of unending cycles.  That lives longer
than artist, than deceased, longer than
earth time, of no time at all.  Seek me

an artist who can capture what is
was then always one.  Yes, seek me
that artist who now I see is me.

by John Fitzpatrick



Betti stirring biodynamic preparations to spray our fields.