The CSA Begins!

Announcing CSA pick-ups beginning this week!  Come pick-up your vegetables Saturday June 2nd 1:30-4:30 or Tuesday June 5th 3:30-6:30 in the CSA pick-up stable on the farm!  Can't wait to see you!
Don't forget to bring your bags!
We'll have egg shares available from Sparrowbush Farm with Farmer Ashley!
We are still seeking members for this season! If you haven't signed up yet, but want to join in summer's bounty, or if you know a friend or neighbor who wants to bring fresh produce into their life--please spread the word and get in touch with us to join in for 2012!

May 24, 2012
Volume II, Issue 4


Dear Friends,
With CSA pick-ups beginning on Saturday, life here at Great Song is blessedly busy.  The rain, that great gift and curse, has been regular enough to keep us from having to set-up irrigation, while also preventing us from getting as much field work done as we would comfortably like to.  It is all a give and take in this sacred and stimulating life—obstacles and gifts combining to make the impossible possible, and the possible difficult.

On a Sunday evening, or maybe it becomes night once darkness envelops us, some weeks back, I found myself in the back field weeding Hakuri salad turnips by headlamp.  I don’t write this as a means of seeking honor, or sympathy, or pity, but simply because it is what was happening, and there is something mirthfully honest about taking up the task of weeding in this way…

I wouldn’t exactly be choosing to spend my Sunday night weeding by headlamp under circumstances other than the one I am in, but there happens to be a specific progression of reasons why this particular weeding need happen tonight.  It goes something like this: Hakuri turnips are susceptible to flea beetles—those tiny flying insects barely perceptible to the untrained eye which like to eat the leaves of many plants, particularly those in the brassica family, thus weakening the plant, and also consuming a portion of the plant that we humans enjoy eating, (not to mention aesthetic concerns of hole-y leaves).  To prevent this gluttonous consumption and pestilence, we cover the plants with row cover from the day they are seeded until harvest.  Row cover is a thin, fragile material which lets through sunlight and air, and adds warmth and protection to more pest-prone or otherwise sensitive plants.  This morning, I uncovered the 474 foot row so that Anthony, Kate, and Sunny could cultivate the plants, using tines to pull-up any germinating weeds.  I then followed behind, hand-weeding any large roots and clumps of grass which the cultivator did not effectively uproot.  But then we were away all day, and I felt wary of letting the plants be exposed to the potential threat of flea beetles any longer than a day, so I am back at night completing the task: weeding, covering with row cover, putting the countless rocks which adorn our fields on the edges of the row cover to hold it in place against wind.

The main struggle with weeding by headlamp is the thousands of bugs attracted to the bulb enveloping your face and eyes, flying up your nose.  And every once in a while in the darkness I will loose my orientation, and have to stoop down low to find the seedlings which I am trying to not step on during this undertaking.  The whole affair seems rather silly, to say the least.

I hear the “whoa” and jangle of Anthony a few rows away from me, discing with the horses through the dark, avidly trying to take advantage of the soil dry enough to be worked before the 1-2 inches of anticipated rains come through.  We finish, or at least stop, our night work at about the same time, and I am a few moments behind him walking down the hill of the back pasture.

For these small offerings we make, we are rewarded in equally small and equally manifold ways.  And so, turning off my headlamp, walking down the long lovely hill, sucking in the air, loping limbs pulled by the momentum of a downward gait, the unmistakable, unparalleled smell of working horses fragrantly living in my nostrils, I realize I am surrounded by lightening bugs, the first of the season.  One of the offerings of the universe most resembling magic—small, living vessels of light that seem to be like stars floating to earth, willing, with a little effort on the part of any careful eight or nine year old, to be caught, held, or even kept in a glass jar for an hour or two of observation.  But I am not trying to catch them, only watch the little lit creatures in all of their glory, as they offer their small, steady, and fleeting light to the world.

Nearing the bottom of the pasture, I catch up with Anthony and the horses; I walk behind them back to the barn, breathing in the sweet, humble smell of horse sweat.


A small note about Share the Harvest...

We are honored to be able to continue to offer free and reduced shares through our Share the Harvest program, which allows for members to extend the bounty beyond their own families, to others who may need a bit of support this season.  It is clear to us how great a need there is in this commuity for such programs, to make local and healthy food accessible to all, regardless of financial situations.  We are still seeking funding toward Share the Harvest which will allow for us to continue offering shares to more families and individuals for this upcoming 2012 season; if a donation us a possibility for you at this time--no matter how small--we welcome any further support to Share the Harvest, and thank you, again, for your generousity and support.

Things you may have missed in the midst of May…

i. Our two new Milking Devon Cows each gave birth to a healthy bull calf—two little boys who love sleeping on the compost pile and chasing each other through the pasture.  Unfortunately, the cows are proving a challenge to milk, to say the least, and we are looking for a new home for this lovely four-some cow family, where they can continue to eat grass and live healthy lives.  For now, we are glad to have them contributing to our compost piles and the fertility of our pasture.

ii. Pasture!  The cows, horses, and 27 growing chickens are all happy that it is spring and their diet has accordingly switched to fresh grass rather than hay.

iii. While this news is really a few months old, we belatedly congratulate Jen on being selected as the Journeyperson by NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY) in recognition of Jen's abilities and experience as a farmer, as well as her commitment to sustainable agriculture.  This award will support farm business planning, as well as allowing Jen to further her farming education through a mentorship program.

iv. The semi-permanent deer fence is up in both the upper and lower fields—quite a major undertaking.  The fence is 3-D, supported with cedar corner posts, and tensioned to withstand snowcover.  We hope the deer will learn that our vegetables fields are not a place for them to be, and seek nutrition elsewhere.

v. We continue to seed, transplant, pick-rocks, and weed.  If you’d like to join us for any of these life-affirming activities, please come by, any day but Sunday.


A Little Something Else

Prayer After Eating

I have taken in the light
that quickened eye and leaf.
May my brain be bright with praise
of what I eat, in the brief blaze
of mortion and of thought.
May I be worthy of my meat.

Wendell Berry