Goodbye to Black Brook Farm Growers!

We’ve decided that we’re not con­tin­u­ing Black Brook Farm Grow­ers this year. It was a very dif­fi­cult deci­sion, but as much as we’ve enjoyed the last two years on the farm, Dave and I both feel as if we’re not ready to com­mit 100% to an agrar­ian lifestyle quite yet. Because so much plan­ning in farm­ing is very long term (you don’t see the results from your efforts until many years down the road) in order to really cre­ate a eco­nom­i­cally and eco­log­i­cally viable farm we would have to com­mit to stay­ing here for a long time. Dave and I are still young, and we still want the oppor­tu­nity to travel and exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent career paths, and we feel as if this exper­i­men­ta­tion wouldn’t be pos­si­ble while main­tain­ing this farm in Carlisle.

 

So, we’ve moved back down to New York City and left all the beauty the farm has to offer behind. Dave’s work­ing in film, and I’ve con­tin­ued to work in restau­rants and also been doing some work with Slow Food USA, which is based in Brook­lyn. If pos­si­ble, our dream is to take a road trip across the United States vis­it­ing and work­ing at dif­fer­ent farms through the WWOOF pro­gram (World Wide Oppor­tu­ni­ties on Organic Farms). Where ever we are, we hope to keep learn­ing about farm­ing and food. My mom has also had an excit­ing cou­ple of months, but you’ll have to ask her about that.

 

We started Black Brook Farm Grow­ers because we wanted to learn about farm­ing, and because we wanted to get this beau­ti­ful, nutrient-rich land back into pro­duc­tion. Well, we’ve def­i­nitely learned a TON, not just about farm­ing, but also about our­selves. We’ve become stronger, men­tally and phys­i­cally, and we’ve moved back down to New York City with more con­fi­dence, a stronger com­mit­ment to local food and the envi­ron­ment, and a much more solid rela­tion­ship with each other and with our fam­i­lies. As far as get­ting the land back into pro­duc­tion, we’ve found a cou­ple women in the area that are inter­ested in keep­ing the gar­den going, so it’s so the land will still be used, now under the name Danc­ing Tomato Farm. Visit their web­site for infor­ma­tion about where to buy their veg­eta­bles. If you’re inter­ested in a CSA share, our friend Andrew Rogers is start­ing a CSA over at Clark Farm and I’m sure it’s going to be great. You can get more infor­ma­tion at the Clark Farm web­site.

 

If you have any ques­tions about our deci­sion feel free to email us. Thank you to every­one who sup­ported us these past cou­ple of years. It’s been an amaz­ing experience.

 

Happy Spring!

Gal­lagher

A Look At Last Summer

I’ve been spend­ing some time recently look­ing back at pic­tures and video I shot last year.  It’s amaz­ing how much the farm has changed in such short time.  It’s also remark­able how much fur­ther along we are this year than we were at the same time last year.  For exam­ple, last year at this time we had JUST started form­ing the rows of our main garden.

 

I also came across some video I shot one morn­ing last August with my sister’s Canon 60D.  It’s excit­ing to think that the gar­den will soon look like it does in this video.

 

A Lamb is Born!

It’s a boy! He was born early this morn­ing, and seems very healthy and strong. When we came out to the pas­ture this morn­ing, Brid­gette (and Dia­mond) were hov­er­ing over the lamb nuz­zling it. Here are some pic­tures that Dave took this morn­ing (click on the thumb­nails to see the full size images).

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Meet the Newest Member of the BBFg Team: Diamond! (plus new piglets, chicks etc.)

First of all, I hope that you’re all enjoy­ing our new site. Aside from hav­ing a sleek new ban­ner, some new pages and a bet­ter URL address, our web­site also makes it pos­si­ble to reserve meat online using Pay­pal. Just got to our Pre-Buy Meat Online page.

 

I’ve been mean­ing to post for a very long time, but so much has been hap­pen­ing around here that I didn’t really know where to start. How­ever, yes­ter­day there was a big enough change that I couldn’t help but come online and share it with all of you…

Meet Dia­mond!

Meet Dia­mond, our new llama from Pel­ham, NH. Dave and I just went to pick him up yes­ter­day, and so far he’s exceeded our expec­ta­tions for awesomeness.

 

I’m get­ting ahead of myself though. This all started because we’ve been look­ing into find­ing some other pas­tures for our sheep to graze on this sum­mer. Because we bred all our ewes to a Finn ram, a breed that’s known to throw triplets, quadru­plets or even quin­tu­plets, I’ve been get­ting a lit­tle ner­vous that we were going to end up with more sheep than we have pas­ture for at Black Brook Farm. Add to this worry the fact that we’ve been get­ting very lit­tle rain so far this year, and we have to ready our­selves for the pos­si­bil­ity of a very dry sum­mer, and you can see why we might want some back up fields. How­ever, the more we talked to peo­ple, the more obvi­ous it became that there was no way that we could put our sheep out on pas­ture some­where with­out pro­tec­tion against coy­otes. Dave and I have yet to see a coy­ote since we moved to BBF (which could be because of all the bark­ing dogs, or the horses, or just blind luck) but there are surely coy­otes in these woods too — so that’s where Dia­mond comes in! We researched some dif­fer­ent ways to pro­tect our girls and their babies from preda­tors — guard dogs, per­ma­nent struc­tures — but a llama seemed like the best solu­tion. Dia­mond eats the same things that sheep do (unlike a dog), he doesn’t require any spe­cial train­ing, and he’ll stay behind 4′ elec­tronet fenc­ing! Plus, he’s a per­fect gen­tle­man, and appar­ently has never spit at a human, he just doesn’t like coy­otes. There’s lots of infor­ma­tion about guard lla­mas online, but here’s a nice suc­cinct study if you want to read more:  http://www.sprucelane.com/guardllamas.pdf.

The ewes check­ing Dia­mond out

So hand­some!

 

The sheep also have got­ten sheared and look more preg­nant than ever! We’ve expect­ing lambs to drop any day now.

Before

Dur­ing…

 

After

 

And now, finally, our new baby chicks and piglets…We were on our way up to get our breed sow from Ver­mont when we got a call that she had had a mis­car­riage, so we decided to go with piglets instead. It’s sad that we’re not going to get a big beau­ti­ful pig momma, and that we didn’t get to see our piglets birthed, but it’s nice to have con­trol over exactly how many piglets we have (six right now!) I’m just going to post some pic­tures, and I’ll write more later. It’s almost 9 AM and there are things to do today so I have to wrap this up.

Baby chicks under the heat lamp

 

More baby chicks (note all those feet under the heat box)

 

Com­ing home in the trailer

 

Chow­ing down on whey

 

And finally, the pic­ture you’ve all been wait­ing for…

Our new sign!

Some Pictures of Spring!

Tom Erick­son mod­el­ing our new bee suit with accessories
our geor­gian fire gar­lic start­ing to sprout 
the ducks enjoy­ing fresh green grass
the good news: our ducks have start­ing lay­ing eggs
the bad news: they’ve been lay­ing them in the pond
prepar­ing beds to plant sugar snap and snow peas 
fenc­ing in a wood­land pas­ture in antic­i­pa­tion of our new breed sow com­ing home!
fix­ing up the garage
orga­niz­ing the garage (very VERY excit­ing)! There’s noth­ing like spring cleaning…
Egg­plant and tomato seedlings enjoy­ing the indoor light table

Spring and our new CSA room!

Well, it seems as if Win­ter is over and it’s officially…Summer? At least I got to see one snow storm before it became 80 degrees…

The sheep are def­i­nitely hap­pier, they’ve started ignor­ing their hay in favor of the green shoots that are sprout­ing up through­out their pas­ture. I’ve been watch­ing them closely to see if their bel­lies are round­ing out with lit­tle lambs, and I believe that they are. They also seem to be laz­ing through­out the pas­ture more, but that might just be because they’re happy for warmth and sun to lay in.
Lambs aren’t the only babies that we’re get­ting ready for. I just placed an order for 75 free­dom ranger chicks, which were our favorite broiler chicks from last year, so those should be arriv­ing mid-April. Also, arriv­ing mid-April is our new sow who we’re going to pick up from Sugar Moun­tain Farm in Ver­mont. She will already have been bred, and should have piglets within a cou­ple weeks of arriv­ing. We also recently decided to start two bee­hives by the gar­den, which is very excit­ing. We’ve only learned a lit­tle bit about bees, but we can already tell that they’re going to be fas­ci­nat­ing to raise, not to men­tion how excit­ing it’s going to be to have our own honey or how help­ful they’re going to be in the gar­den. They should arrive in early May, around the same time as the lambs.

And don’t for­get about these babies…

onions, leeks, cab­bage, broc­coli, swiss chard, beets and more!
After weeks of wad­ing through spread­sheets we finally have a full plant­ing sched­ule for the sea­son, just in time to start plant­ing! With tem­per­a­tures in the 80s this week, keep­ing these lit­tle guys at the right tem­per­a­ture has been dif­fi­cult. The green­house has been sky­rock­et­ing past 100 degrees daily so we’ve had to keep the flats out­side. Although it’s hard to com­plain about beau­ti­ful days and sun, this unsea­son­able weather makes us, as new farm­ers, pretty ner­vous. What’s next? Snow­storms in June?

Mean­while, we’ve been work­ing on our new CSA pick-up room in the barn. One of the rooms on the back right-hand cor­ner of the farm’s beau­ti­ful 1800s barn was (extremely kindly and effi­ciently) cleaned out for us, and we got right down to work cut­ting a door to the garage (aka our tool stor­age and veg­etable clean­ing sta­tion) into our new farm store!

Before…
…and After
Then scrap­ing and sanding
And finally painting!
Now that the paint­ing is done, we can start orga­niz­ing! Happy Spring every­one! It’s time to get back to work!

February 22nd

Black Brook Farm Grow­ers 2012 CSA has been filled! We’re all get­ting really excited for this year, and we’ve all got a lot to do to get ready. Our seeds have all arrived and we’re going to start plant­ing this week. My mom has been bravely tack­ling a fresh set of spread­sheets (in order to set up our plant­ing and har­vest­ing sched­ules), Dave and I are work­ing on a new web­site that we’re hop­ing launch­ing this year and we’re talk­ing about clean­ing out a sec­tion of the barn for our new CSA pick up spot. 

The sheep are all doing well and are (hope­fully) preg­nant. We started trim­ming their feet this week, which requires catch­ing them and flip­ping them, not the eas­i­est feat, espe­cially when they’re as large as this one:
Lau­rel: the sweet­est sheep in the world
Carlisle Grows Green the new Carlisle School gar­den­ing and com­post­ing pro­gram has been nice enough to give us their com­post. Yes­ter­day Dave and I shov­eled it into the hoop house, where the warmth will hope­fully speed up it’s progress.
That’s all for now! Pic­tures of our first lit­tle seedlings com­ing soon
…and just for fun. Last Feb­ru­ary 22nd:

Happy New Year!

We had a great hol­i­day sea­son here at Black Brook Farm. By Thanks­giv­ing the farm was pretty much shut down for the win­ter, and we were all able to take a break and spend time with our fam­ily and friends. We read, worked on projects that had been pushed to the side, watched the movies we’d been want­ing to watch, ate a lot of amaz­ing meals and even slept in!
Black Brook Farm Grow­ers hol­i­day ham get­ting ready to be brined

The one thing we did not do was blog, as I’m sure all of you loyal fans have noticed, but now that it’s the new year and all the Christ­mas candy is gone, we’re gath­er­ing up seed cat­a­logs and get­ting back to work.

Up until now, every month has been a new adven­ture, with new excite­ments, chal­lenges and sur­prises. But we’ve finally come full cir­cle and are back in the win­ter plan­ning stage (just like when this blog was born a year ago). This year has taught us a lot, and we have a much clearer pic­ture of what we want Black Brook Farm Grow­ers to be.
Here are some of my new years res­o­lu­tions for Black Brook Farm Growers:
  • Get orga­nized: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, farm­ing requires A LOT of orga­ni­za­tion. That means tons of spread­sheets, lists and records so that you can remem­ber EXACTLY what worked and what didn’t. Every farm is dif­fer­ent, so as help­ful as books and other farm­ers can be, at the end of the day it’s impor­tant to learn from your own land. Orga­ni­za­tion is not always my strong point, but this year that’s going to change. There’s some great online soft­ware out there for small organic farms, this year I’m going to try using AgSquared, which I learned about in a work­shop at last years sum­mer NOFA conference.
  • Take risks: We want to keep stretch­ing our­selves and learn­ing new things. That means exper­i­ment­ing and being cre­ative, and not being afraid to try some­thing that we think might work. There’s a lot of room for cre­ativ­ity in farm­ing, which is one of the rea­sons I love it so much.
  • Make money: I know it’s not classy to talk about money, but BBFg is a busi­ness, and it’s impor­tant for Dave and I to prove that we can make a profit doing this work. Being able to cre­ate a finan­cially viable busi­ness not only means that we can con­tinue farm­ing, it also means that we can show other would-be farm­ers that this is a dream worth pur­su­ing. This last year we saw, and were inspired by, a lot of awe­some small farms that were finan­cially sta­ble. We’re con­fi­dent that it can be done, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
  • Effi­ciency: We need to use our time and resources as effec­tively as pos­si­ble to min­i­mize waste on the farm. (This is Dave’s res­o­lu­tion and it ties in nicely with get­ting orga­nized and mak­ing money).
  • Cre­ate a com­mu­nity around the farm: This year, as you may or may not know, we’ve decided to focus entirely on CSA, or Com­mu­nity Sup­ported Agri­cul­ture. That means that instead of going to farmer’s mar­kets, or hav­ing a farm stand, we are going to have a lim­ited amount of mem­bers that buy into the farm at the begin­ning of the sea­son, and receive a weekly stipend of veg­eta­bles as a result. Not only is CSA a great way for to help meet all of the res­o­lu­tions I’ve already listed above,  it also means that we’ll have a com­mu­nity of peo­ple who are inter­ested in local food com­ing to the farm every week. We’re excited to share the farm with our mem­bers, and to use the farm as a space for com­mu­nity events. We’d also like to have work­shops at the farm to teach our mem­bers, and the larger com­mu­nity, about cook­ing, butcher­ing, pre­serv­ing and more.
These are just a few of my res­o­lu­tions. I’m sure over the next cou­ple of weeks, as we begin plan­ning, there will be many more.
Before I say good-bye (and get back to all that work I’ve been talk­ing about), I’d like to men­tion one excit­ing Decem­ber devel­op­ment, our ewes have been bred! Eli, a Finn ram, came and stayed at Black Brook and spent some qual­ity time with our sheep. He just went back to Bel­mont and we miss him already. He’s a great look­ing ram, and was very sweet with the girls. We are cross­ing our fin­gers that the ewes are all preg­nant. They should lamb some­time in late April or early May.
Eli. We’re hop­ing some of our lambs will have his coloring.
We’re look­ing for­ward to a great 2012 season!