Left alone last week with our part-time helper away on vacation, we found ourselves in a sort of bizarre farm party spiraling out of control. By the end of the week we were dodging piles of storage crops in every corner, cleaned out of frost-protection materials, and fighting a serious chicken hangover. I don't remember what project it was, but I do remember once coming across Noah in the midst of something and asking, only half-joking, shouldn't there be some kind of adult supervision on this?â€
It was kind of just a perfect storm; another night of frosts on Saturday after a market drenched with rain, and then a deep-freeze on Tuesday with temperatures around 20. Sizable orders for the growers' co-op, our local wholesale accounts, and the farmstore needed harvesting. The transitioning of the old laying flock to stewing hens, which we'd been stalling for over a month, reached a state where it could no longer be ignored as the new young flock clamored from their moveable chicken tractors, demanding their move to the big-house and larger pasture spaces, mobbing the feed bucket and cracked door more excitedly each day.
By the time we reached Friday, and needed to harvest for the Apple Day market, weâ€™d already weathered 2 nights of being up past 2 a.m., a number of early mornings, and were trying to count up the number of heroic farm acts we'd accomplished in that week.
Our final onions brought in as the freeze settled on the ground (3 more full "giant" bins). Thousands of bed-feet of frost protection. 64 chickens butchered. Fixing a flat tire on the 6-wheeled mobile chicken barn. An epically rainy market last week. Demolition of an old platform in preparation for building the base for the yurt. It was hard to keep count.
Luckily we had help from a spate of small-farm heroes through the week: Greg, who came on Sunday to help finish shingling half the roof of the farmhouse, and begin deconstruction work on the building site for the yurt. Toby, who brought food more than once, and her able hands for harvesting on Friday night, staying, as a wild-party guest might, well past the time when sheâ€™d planned to get back home. Graham, Emily, who showed up with a friend shortly before dusk to weigh and bag 200 lbs of potatoes. The un-identified customer who grabbed on to one leg of our canopy as I held another, when the worst of the wind gusts came through on Apple Day, toppling one of our display shelves and tossing neighboring canopies all up and down Bedford Street. Graham, who threw us a tub of Tucker Family Farm chocolate ricotta mousse as we packed the truck to go home from Apple Day. And of course all of you who consistently support us, coming to market in the rain and wind, adding a stop up our gravel road to your grocery errands to buy from the farmstore, or boosting us with a hug or a keep-the-chin-up pep talk at market when we could barely do math through a cold sleepy stupor. We are grateful for you all!
And after our wild week, we collapsed into bed before it was fully dark on Saturday, and slept an incredibly long time, but still both stumbled around a bit Sunday. I canâ€™t remember the last time either of us suffered from a classic drink-and-party hangover, but it turns out that over-indulging in hardcore farming and too many chickens can leave a person with a similar feeling. We are vowing to be more temperate in our chicken butchering and fall farming in the future. This weeks' cure was more sleep, a good walk with the husky, chicken soup, and generous helpings of pickled beets.
We're back on track folks, with a farmstore and member shares packed with goodness, and three more Hamilton farmers markets left. Come on out and see us, load up with fall produce, and see what kind of farm-fueled party of your own you can throw!
With love, gratitude, and winter squash,
Mary and Noah