AgriCulture: Farm Artistry

Newest Member of the Peter Davies Memorial Bloodline, born Friday Photo by Troy Spindler
Farm Artistry
Happy Memorial Day, All. Mark here. Last weekend, Troy, Victoria and I had a little holiday from farm drudgery. We had the good fortune to attend a baroque music concert at Holy Trinity Church in Hudson. Musicians of the Four Nations Ensemble (with guest artists from afar) played lute, continuo, viola di gamba, harpsichord and violins. The Amor Artis Chorus from New York City, joined them, with some amazing soloists. All gave what I’d have to say was a magnificent performance in an impressive space. I was transported.So were the other 41 or so audience members, who seemed similarly enthusiastic. In a space that could have accommodated hundreds, we barely outnumbered the performers.As we left, I commented that perhaps Troy and Victoria might feel some kinship with the musicians we had just seen, as they embark on a career involving producing and selling products, in their case, heritage meats and poultry and farm fresh vegetables, for an apparently limited customer base. Troy responded that he had long found it amazing how classical musicians such as those we had seen spend decades cultivating an awesome skill that is both so specific and so underappreciated.Of course, developing specific expertise is both something of a natural human inclination and a requirement of living in society. As bees develop into worker bees, drones, foragers, and the Queen bee, we humans, as a species, specialize too. We live in a social structure of interdependence. In our incredibly complex economy, there are thousands of skills necessary, and thousands of different job categories requiring those specific skills. Government supported compendia like the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and O*Net describe the particular aptitudes and styles that may make one successful in filling those jobs.But what is it about those who don’t seem to move themselves toward a specialization because they know that to live you need a job? How does one explain the self-motivators who develop particular passions for obscure and often profoundly unremunerative endeavors and follow a vision that seems to spring from within?How do I explain Peter, my late partner, whose legacy of studying and appreciating kilims, middle eastern flatweavings, led him to accumulate a substantial collection of artifacts that now have hardly any market at all? He did not assemble them in the expectation that they would be appreciated and he’d make a killing, but out of the belief that they should be appreciated, and it was his mission to educate people into appreciating them. Similarly, how do I explain the friend who has made a career of writing historical novels set in Republican presidencies? It does not seem to me that he does so in the expectation that somehow books in that niche will sell better (if any books at all still sell), but rather because of the genuine pleasure he takes in doing particular types of historical research and in bringing the ideas and ethea (that’s the plural of ethos, folks) associated with those presidencies to life. His and Peter’s are highly individual artistic visions, and like the classical musicians we saw last week their pursuit cannot possibly be explained by the expectation of financial reward.Certainly there are potential rewards associated with the pursuit of personal visions. Critical acclaim. Or the sense of achievement when one has been particularly successful in realizing one’s vision. Or at the very least acknowledgment that you’ve accomplished something. This week I learned that Peter’s distinctly unremunerative passion for breeding American Karakul sheep is being recognized. Troy’s hard work reconstructing the genealogical record of our sheep herd has led the realization that it now constitutes a distinct bloodline, which the Karakul Shepherds Alliance Advisors have determined to name “Peter Davies Karakuls” in recognition of his 17 years of devoted breeding. Lambs born since Peter’s death in this bloodline will be recognized as part of the Peter Davies Memorial Bloodline in the Karakul Shepherds Alliance Registry. The recognition pleases me greatly.I’ve from time to time in the past described farms as works of art. Farmers pursue particular visions; they sculpt the land and create landscapes, they orchestrate the interplay of all the species that compose the cast of their farms’ characters. Victoria and Troy are not working on a blank canvass, but as I watch them shape the farm they want to have it is not hard to see a highly individual artistic impulse driving them. I’m not sure quite how they will ultimately pursue their vision, but I am increasingly confident that it is deeply impelled and likely to be realized.
THIS WEEK’S OFFERINGSHORSERADISH ROOT: $5/LBFRENCH BREAKFAST RADISH, $3 A BUNCHBABY OASIS TURNIPS, $3/BUNCHSORREL, $2/BAGMINT: $.75 a bunchFROM LAST FALL’S GARDEN HARVEST:FROZEN SQUASH (SHREDDED, TROMBONCINO), GREAT FOR FRITTERS, $2/LB.EGGS: Production is now in overdrive. We can handle all your orders. $5/dozMEATS: We keep some on hand, but it helps to order ahead in case we need to retrieve from our stash in the big commercial freezerGEESE: One remaining, about 8.5 lbs. $10/lb.TURKEYS: A few small ones left over and frozen $11/lb .GUINEA FOWL, We are sold out!ROASTING CHICKENS – Freedom Rangers, $6/lb, range of sizes, mostly in the 4 to 5 lb. rangeLAMB: Ground lamb $7/lb, shoulder roasts at $10/lb, riblets $8/lb, small and larger leg roasts $14/lb, lamb stew $7/lb, shanks, $10/lbPORK: Loin pork chops, $12/lb (2 to a pack, btwn 1 and 1.5 lbs), Jowl (roughly 2 to 3 lbs each), $12/lb, 
Spare ribs and country ribs $7/lb 
baby back ribs $8/lb 
fresh ham roasts (2 to 3 lbs), $12/lb 
picnic or Boston butt roasts (roughly 2 lbs) $12/lb 
smoked bacon, $12/lb 
Kielbasa $8/lbDUCKS: Two years ago we did Pekin ducks. The males are not so different in size from the females, and these are nice meaty birds, most between 5 and 7 lbs. Also $7/lb. We have to retrieve these from the big freezer, so please order a week ahead.COMPOST, $6/Bag, approx. 40 lbs.
FARM PICKUPS:Email us your order at, and let us know when you’d like to pick up your order. It will be put out for you on the side screened porch of the farmhouse (110 Lasher Ave., Germantown) in a bag. You can leave cash or a check in the now famous pineapple on the porch table. Regular pickup times are Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., other days by arrangement. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call at 518-537-3815 or email.


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