AgriCulture: Living Without

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WHAT’S NEW THIS WEEK:Strings of dried Matchbox Peppers, $5/string
Tennessee Dancing Gourds, delightful decorative squashes, 4 for $1
Vegetables are starting to trail off for the season, get your Leeks and Broccoli while you can, $1.50/ea and $3.00/lb respectively.Tomatoes, Cukes, Scallions, Shiso and Mint are all done for the season.
Mapquest on his throne (Photo by Troy Spindler)
Living Without
Hey all, Troy here.
This Wednesday, while I was driving home from the big freezer, steam began to rise from the hood of our farm truck. The gauge indicated that the engine was extremely overheated, so I pulled over in a nearby parking lot. I don’t know much about engines, but I could see something had cracked and fluid was leaking everywhere, and I figured that was pretty important for the function of the vehicle. So I had it towed.I don’t know the prognosis yet, but I’m fairly sure this old ’98 Chevy is in its twilight days, especially since this is the third time this year it has broken down. The last time this happened, the mechanic called it a veritable “rust bucket” and said this sort of thing will just keep happening. As we depend on the truck for so much around here, it might be time to look for a more reliable replacement. But during this uncertain period of transition, my brain inevitably turned to the question, “What would we do if we had to live without it?”We were forced to face this question when we lost the barn early in the summer. We had to adjust immediately, adding temporary fencing and improvising pasture rotations. We converted the corral into a makeshift area where we could feed the sheep, observe them, and take care of their hooves. It was harder and messier, sure, but we went without a barn for months, and the sheep have thrived. Getting through the winter would be a lot harder, but I can imagine ways we could provide shelter from the snow and wind. It would be difficult, but not unimaginable.Likewise for the truck. Without a truck, we wouldn’t be able to transport our animals or deliver hay to them. But it’s not out of the question that we could learn to skillfully slaughter our own animals and hay our own fields if we had to. We would have to switch to selling only whole animals and fresh meats, and acquire equipment for haying (a scythe maybe? A dog-pulled cart?). It would mean more work overall, but it would lower our carbon footprint if we’re not driving long distances for so many things.Okay, so these imagined scenarios may be bit implausible in our current circumstances, but thinking them through is valuable for building sustainability. If we can come up with reasonable backup plans for when we lose critical pieces of equipment, we aren’t as vulnerable when accidents or disasters happen. And maybe we’ll also discover ways to make our operations less dependent on those things before catastrophe strikes. This feels like important work beyond the farm as well, since the looming climate crisis suggests that loss and scarcity may define the decades to come.Having said that, there are certain things I would rather not imagine living without. A few weeks ago, I floated my resume and a cover letter to the nearby bioscience company, Taconic Biosciences, looking for some part-time, weekend work. Taconic raises lab rodents and sells them to researchers and universities across the country. I thought it was fortuitous that such a close match to my academic and professional background existed only a few minutes down the road. Apparently they saw promise too, and invited me for an interview. But first they had to disclose a stipulating company policy: Employees cannot keep rodent pets, as they might accidentally bring contaminating bacteria into the lab and endanger the health of the lab animals. In other words, we would have to re-home our pet dwarf rabbit, Mapquest.Here I am, just looking to trade my time and energy for some extra income, and all I’d have to give up is the living, breathing embodiment of my sensitive, furry, grass-eating heart? The thought has not been easy to contemplate.I’ve previously written about Mapquest and his role on the farm and in our family. I’m sure he would adjust to a new loving, caring home in time. But what about me? Who will put his little paws up on my leg? Who will give me curious sniffs? Who will run circles around me when he’s excited? It may not sound like much to you, but these are valuable resources for me. There must be other weekend job opportunities around here
To re-imagine the farm without a truck or a barn requires only that we re-evaluate the balance between our time and our money. If we can somehow picture a better place without these tools, then we can start to think about shifting our priorities. But if our imagined future comes at the expense of the things we value most, that’s when the experiment collapses. By keeping Mapquest close, I’m also making an investment – an investment in myself and the things that help me find joy every day. That’s worth prioritizing sometimes too.
Raspberries, $6/pint — Just a few available
Fish Peppers, 2 for $1.00
Cubanelles, 4 for $1.00
Tiny hot matchbox peppers, $2.50/bag — spicy, great for stringing and drying
Oasis turnips, $2/bunch
Cherry Bell Radishes, $2/bunch
Broccoli, limited quantities, $3/lb.
Wild Water Peppers, $2/bunch
Tomatoes – SOLD OUT
Rainbow Chard – $3/bunch
Leeks, $1.50/each
Honey nut squash, $2/each
Mugwort, $1/bunch for infusions or tea
Scallions – SOLD OUT
Kale $3/bunch two different varieties, deep blue green straight leaf and curly leaf
Collards, $3/bunch
MINT: $.75 a bunch
SHISO LEAVES – SOLD OUTEGGS: $5/dozDecorative Tennessee Dancing Gourds, 4 for $1MEATS: 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.ROASTING CHICKENS – Nice fat Freedom Rangers, frozen, largish (4 to 7 lbs, a few smaller), $6/lb.LAMB: 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) SOLD OUT
smoked bacon, $12/lb
Kielbasa $8/lb
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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