Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kittens and Baby Birds

Today has been a reminder that the cycle of life is always working here on the farm... I've had a coup of chickens that I essentially rescued this past winter, that have been pecking open all the eggs that they lay. So, after months of trying to decide whether or not to keep these chickens who are literally eating away at the farm's profits, I finally decided to end their lives in the name of the farm's financial sustainability... my friend Carl came over to help me do the job. It's never an easy decision to end an animal's life, one I took very seriously. And when it came time for followthrough it was done with no lack of respect for the animals. As I tearfully placed each one of them in the compost pile I thanked them for their lives. Being year old hens we didn't feel they would be useful for anything other than broth, and quite frankly we thought they would yield more nutrition if they were returned the soil to help the garden grow next year... I walked away feeling sad at the loss of healthy birds with bad habits all the while knowing we had done the right thing for the farm.

Meanwhile, this morning at 6:45 I picked up the two newest members to our farm family, soon-to-be mouse assassins. This grey kitten is Leeroy, a 6 week old kitten with a gentle little way about him. He is certainly the friendlier of the two...

And this is Roscoe... I can already tell what a serious business man he is going to be, I've been referring to him as a kitten ninja as he seems to have his mousing skills already underway and seems to have less time for canoodling... This dynamic duo will be housed in the barn, keeping the mice population in check while they keep an eye on the overall whereabouts of the rest of the farm critters...

These baby robins included! They were born last Tuesday in the nest their mother has been lovingly laboring over for the past few weeks in the CSA pickup area in the barn... mama is around, feeding them and keeping them warm on these cool nights. I'm sure she's not pleased to have two aspiring snipers camping out in her personal space, but honestly they are so small they probably won't even understand that her children could be food. Today Roscoe had the opportunity to devour a beetle, and after pawing it forcefully for about 2 seconds he ran off having found a piece of hay that looked more promising... mama robin has nothing to worry about...

And finally, this morning I got out to take photos of the pigs!! They are HUGE now, and will continue to become giants for 2 more months with us. George is a sweet brute who loves more and more affection each day. Now when I enter the pen he comes over and leans against my legs immediately, waiting for a good rub down... Gladys is still rowdy and causing constant quarrels, but I'm just happy she's keeping things interesting as none of them seem to be plotting an escape...
and then there's Flossie, who just always seems confused. I think she is torn between being George's girlfriend and Gladys's right hand lady... and rightfully so, those two really do demand a lot from her... I try to give her tummy rubs and good scratches as often as possible.... Pigs are happy, birdies are safe, and kittens are deepening their skill set... everything is as it should be.

Friday, July 9, 2010


So far we've had 4 CSA pickups this season, and things are off to a bit of a rocky start... two plantings of head lettuce bolted before I could get to them, I didn't plant enough broccoli raab at first so not enough of it budded at the same time to make it worth it to give out. Most of my cilantro has bolted too, my snap peas got too heavy and collapsed by trellis... never a dull moment!!Shareholders have been getting a good amount of kale, collard greens, and salad mix though, among whatever other goodies we find ready out in the fields each week.
I am hoping that very soon their baskets will be filling up with more than just greens and snap peas!

And now the tale of Henrietta:
Henrietta was just another nameless chicken among the ranks, a number if you will. And then one day about 3 weeks ago as I went out to her chicken tractor to feed her and her friends, I noticed that something was wrong. All the chickens were crowded in the sun away from the back of the coup making lots of noise. When I crawled into the coup I found little Hen Hen( her new nickname) hanging upside down by her foot from the nesting boxes, who knows how long the poor girl had been like that! I went over to her immediately and eased her little body back up into the nesting boxes... her foot came immediately free. I knew that cocky little Gus Gus would never allow me to crawl out of there with one of his ladies in hand without giving me a good beating, so I quickly exited the coup and snuck around back to pull down the back flap behind the nesting boxes that I usually collect eggs through. She was still sitting there in the nesting boxes, so I grabbed her and secured the flap once more without the slightest retaliation from Gus Gus. Mission accomplished.
Once in the house little Miss Hen, Dad and I washed her little leg that was already swelling, and got her some water and food. After a little bit of relaxation time in the porcelain sink in the house, Hen Hen and I made our way out to the barn where I promptly made her a little hospital hay nest in the front stall with her food and water right next to it so she could eat and drink without having to move...
Since that day Hen Hen has been healing really well. Since she is all by her lonesome in that stall, I open up the doors and let her free range with me during the day while I'm out there. She's still limping, but she moves pretty quickly regardless, getting stronger and stronger everyday. The other day I was out in front of the barn watering the piggies, and here comes Hen Hen down the front steps of the barn, hobbling over to stand next to me as I did my chores. Then she followed me inside to get grain for them, and back out to feed the piggies. She takes her farm tasks very seriously... I'm thinking about making her full time staff... we'll see how her references pan out...
In other news, things are getting really big in the field! We've got baby broccoli coming soon, basil, green beans, cherry tomatoes, the flower garden, and summer squash are also on the way. This heat is causing everything to kick into high gear, and while it's making it harder to keep up with the weeds, the veggies are really taking off... I'm a proud veggie mama.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Today all the tomatoes got into the ground! This year we've got Pruden's Purple, Green Zebra, Sunkist, Yellow Perfection, and Black Cherry. The cherries will be PYO (pick your own) for the CSA, which is a new addition this year.

We also got all the eggplant into the ground, there are three different varieties of that as well!
The flower garden is also coming together slowly as things are ready to be transplanted out...
I've always heard farmers talk about how they could work from dawn until dusk and still have more work to do and I never quite understood what they were talking about, but this year that's all changed! I feel like there's a never ending list of projects to be done now that the frost-free zone has arrived (we hope!). Piggies need to be moved, tomatoes need to be trellised, winter squash needs to be transplanted, greens need to be seeded, onions need weeding, the winter garden needs mulching, the flower garden needs all kinds of love... the list goes on. But the great thing is things are growing, and well! I tend not to irrigate my fields because I feel like the plants should be able to fend for themselves, so far I've been successful with that approach, I hope that luck continues!

Before I sign off I thought I would leave you with some photos from the garden, the bakery, and one of my good little Abner with his ladies... the farm is a bundle of activity these days...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CSA Season Has Begun

Yesterday was the first CSA pickup of the season! Shareholders got salad turnips, mesclun, radishes, garlic scapes, dill, and kale or collard greens in addition to a little baby basil plant to take home.
This year Sundora farm has close to 40 shares going out every week compared to 25 last year, and so far so good! I've got a fantastic group of volunteers here helping me weekly, and I have to say we're way ahead of where I thought we would be.The fields are getting fuller everyday, and things are really taking off.
Wildflowers are in bloom all around the fields, baby lettuces have turned into teenage lettuces, and the snap peas are flowering!

Meanwhile the pigs have tripled in size since I got them and only continue to get more lovable. George, who was the least interested in me in the beginning and was maybe even a little aggressive, has discovered that right between his eyes is his favorite place to be rubbed and that little tummy of his likes love once in a while too... Flossy is also warming up quite a bit, but Gladys doesn't seem to understand why everyone wants to touch her. I try to give her her space.

In other news, my bread is now being sold at Chef's Market! You can find my french breads there and sometimes even my bread sticks, dinner rolls, and cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting too. I make deliveries on Saturday and Monday mornings by 10am.

Finally, Sundora Farm could use a few things to help out with this season.
#1. Cardboard boxes (medium-sized) and brown paper bags for delivering bread and packing up shares at the end of CSA days.
#2. Old milk crates or big plastic bins that you no longer need(they don't have to have lids).
#3. 5-gallon buckets
I think that's all for now! If you have any of these items to donate, send me an email and we'll figure out a good dropoff time! Thanks!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Using draft animal power on this farm has been a goal of mine from the very beginning. But as a new farmer with already so many balls in the air I don't have the time needed to devote to learning to use horses to work the land. Someday I know I'll be able to integrate them into my farming system but for now I've got plenty on my plate. So, yesterday, on a beautiful cloudless Saturday, I had my friend Carl Russell of Earthwise Farm and Forest bring his team of draft horses, Kate and Ted, over to the farm to ready my fields for the season.
With the use of a walking plow and a good set of harrows, Carl and his team got my fields loosened up and ready for planting into come Monday morning. Carl is very knowledgeable in the field of draft animal power and helps coordinate Animal Power Field Days in Tunbridge, VT every year. I feel so lucky to have him just over the mountain.

In other news, the piggies all have names now. This little girl is Flossie. She's the sassiest out of all of them and also the friendliest. She already flops over to let me rub her tummy.

The other two in the picture with their little house are George and Gladys. George is the most protective of the three. He will probably take the longest to win over. And Gladys is my big sturdy girl who I think aspires to be a professional rugby player. She certainly knows how to stand up for herself.

Overall the farm is coming along nicely so far this season. Peas are in the ground, lettuce, arugula, and spinach are all growing in the green house. The garlic is growing big and strong thanks to my friend Jan helping me weed and re-mulch it last week.The flower garden is getting a make-over as I reform the beds and mulch all the walkways with mulch hay... things really are taking shape!

Just a little look ahead, May 8th is the Fiddlehead Festival up at VTC. The farm will have a booth in addition to lots of other local farms, businesses, and crafters. It's always a lot of fun with great food and good people. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fresh Air

Spring has sprung here at Sundora. This gorgeous weather has both chicken coups outside. Crow and his ladies (above) are all out free ranging around the farm, while Gus Gus and his girls are tractoring on the front lawn.
I've been moving them twice a day so they get new grass and bugs to keep them busy. I bought those hens at a couple months old from another farmer, and when we got them they were not happy campers having been trapped in a small space with almost no bedding and stressful living conditions. All winter they've continued beating up on each other, so I'm hoping that constant moving onto new land, some fresh air, and new bugs to chase and eat will help distract them from picking on their siblings. So far so good.

The chickens have some new friends on the farm now too... the piglets have arrived! I picked them up from Hogwash Farm in Norwich, VT this afternoon!
Here they are patiently waiting in Dora's dog crate in the back of the car. I've got a boy and two girls just like last year, which I am really happy about. It's amazing how surprisingly small they are after having 200+lb hogs in the fall. I haven't named them yet, but as soon as I do I'll make sure to let you know.

So far they seem to be much more trusting right off than my last batch, which I'm sure can be immediately attributed to the fact that they didn't get out of their pen within the first 15 minutes and have to be chased around the farm and caught by my brother Jake and I like last year!
They sat in their little crate in their new pen for about 3 minutes, and then immediately shot out and ran right into the electric fence! After a little squeal and some jumpy running, they were off exploring their new digs. I took that as my cue to go grab some corn and start our interactions off on a good foot. So with a scoop full of delicious treats I sat down in the middle of their pen and sprinkled some kernels in front of me while I waited for their curiosity to get the best of them...
Sure enough within 2 minutes the boy (who I just might name George since he is the most curious so far) came right over and started eating, keeping one eye on me every moment. We went on like that for 15 minutes, me staying very still, them eating, watching me closely, and every so often getting the courage to lean forward and smell my boot, or my pant leg before suddenly turning back to their food to continue their snack time. I'm going to go in their pen and spend at least a half an hour with them every day like I did last year with Herkimer, Flo Jo, and Crysta. Those three pigs last year were some of the friendliest animals I've ever met, and I have every confidence that this group will be just as lovely. They really are my favorite part of the farm. I'm so happy they're finally here!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ben and Crow

Today Ben, my farming partner and dear friend, packed up his Kia(a.k.a Kitty) and left on a grand adventure to work on another farm crew about an hour away. But before he took off he said he couldn't say goodbye without getting a final picture with his pride and joy, Crow. He is so proud of that rooster, as he should be having raised him from day one. That is one handsome bird.

While it is incredibly sad to be losing Ben as a part of the farm team and household, I couldn't be more excited for him as he starts this new chapter in his farming career and life. I wish him only the best. He knows that he is always welcome back here anytime he likes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beginning the Season

The season has begun on the farm! On a gorgeous sunny day last week I set up a rather makeshift potting table outside the barn next to our new pile of Fort Vee Vermont Compost Company potting mix, and went to town seeding tomatoes, onions, and leeks. I'll do another round of seeding in a month or so when I have more table space and lighting.

For now the trays are inside under the primitive light setup I constructed in the mudroom. The seedlings will remain there until the hoop house is set up with tables instead of the cold frames that are in there now, and warm enough at night to keep those little guys alive.

In other news, the CSA still has a couple open spots for shareholders! So, if you are interested in a share for this summer season, you can still get one! I also have one remaining work share position available. So, if you're interested in a share or work share please send an email right away!

Monday, February 22, 2010

There's still time!

The deadline for 2010 CSA shares has been pushed back to March 19th. We still have a few slots left, so get your order form in soon! If you don't have a brochure, please email Claire at for a digital copy!

In other news, seeds from High Mowing arrived in the mail the other day... getting very excited for the start of the season...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

CSB Creations

Lately there's been a lot of baking going on in Sundora's kitchen! I've been creating new things each week for the CSB shareholders, like basil mozzarella bread and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting... so I thought some mouth watering pictures were in order! Enjoy!

This is the seasonal fruit tart that I've been offering, this time with apples...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Brochures for 2010 Growing Season Now Available!

It's official, Sundora Farm is now taking on shareholders for the 2010 growing season. Below is a small version of our brochure for this year, just to give you an idea of what it looks like. If you'd like a digital copy just shoot me an email and I'll get you one right away! Spread the word!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Community Supported Baking Begins

Today was the first day of our CSB (Community Supported Baking) and it went really well! We have 7 families to start out with but will welcome more! Please let us know if you're interested in joining!

I was in the kitchen from 6:15 to 12:30 baking french bread, dinner rolls, fruit tarts, whole wheat sunflower seed flax bread, and white sandwich bread among other things. I'm going to try to have something new for my CSBers to try every week and have the opportunity to order the following week. Today I made rosemary-chive french rolls for sampling today and they were a a real hit. I'll be making those weekly, if not for customers, at least for my family. We love them!

That's all for now, but I will leave you with these photos of bread bounty...