AgriCulture: Pillow Talk

A week ago I was down about the state of the world. One and a half million Ukrainians were facing electricity interruptions as Russia’s brutal imperialist war took an ugly turn in tactics. Yet Kevin McCarthy, the prospective Speaker of the House should the congressional balance of power shift, was complaining about our giving a “blank check” to Ukraine.

This week I feel so much better. Vladimir Putin has assured us that Russia does not intend to turn its war nuclear and has called for unity with those in the west who embrace what he calls his Christian values. Even nicer, Kevin McCarthy solicitously called Nancy Pelosi to inquire after her family’s welfare after a right wing extremist attacked her husband with a hammer, clearly heralding a new era in bipartisan warm feelings and cooperation.

OK, I’m being sarcastic. The same Vladimir Putin has continued Russia’s barbaric attacks on infrastructure, now depriving four million Ukrainians of life sustaining utilities. The same Kevin McCarthy is still intent on restoring or even enhancing committee assignments for Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a frank antisemite who helped set the stage for the hammer attack by calling for Nancy Pelosi’s execution for treason, even endorsing a statement that the most expeditious way to deal with Speaker Pelosi would be a bullet to her head.

And yet, I do feel better. Because while the world around me may be disintegrating, I am resolutely “cultivating my own garden,” stabilizing and getting things operating better here on the farm. I haven’t lost any more of the young chickens. I’ve also found the groundhog’s route into the coop, which will allow me to close him out.

Things in sheep world, too, are decidedly looking up. A couple of weeks ago, I was terribly concerned about getting hay in for the winter. I wanted to stock up so I could keep the sheep fed even if snow covered the route up to the barn. The mid-summer drought in this region meant that virtually no second cut hay, the later cutting that is usually preferred as fresher, was locally available. I was resigned to buying first cut, but when I called the fellow who supplied me in the past few years he told me he hadn’t made any first cut this year either because he was dealing with his house burning down. I called someone he referred me to, who after a week of back and forth said he could not deliver wagons full of hay because he had no help to load them. He referred me on to a third person, who was unable to deliver on our first planned date for the same reason, “no help,” and who didn’t respond to my further messages. By last weekend, I found myself awakened by hay concerns at 3:30 a.m., googling hay suppliers.

By a stroke of good fortune, this third supplier suddenly called me Sunday morning, ready to come deliver, while I was enjoying the company not only of my chum, Eric, but also of occasional visitor Macho Matt. Matt is both a fan of farm work and a dynamo at accomplishing things. He earlier led the effort to paint the barn.This Sunday he, Eric and I worked with the farmer who delivered the hay to get two full ricks unloaded and stacked in the barn.

Even better, while we were awaiting the deliveries, mechanically adept Matt was able to reconfigure an interior gate that the sheep had been continually knocking off its pindles, and to restore to smooth operation an interior sliding door that, by sticking, had made moving between the two halves of the barn a challenge for months. The latter he accomplished with two twists of a wrench. Said Matt: “I feel like that was my #1 achievement of the weekend if not the month.”

With the sheep having gotten their fall shearing at the end of this week, I feel we are now fully prepared for the winter. And I’ve even now gotten a glimmer of how to deal with the ever challenging question of what to do with all the sheared wool accumulating in the storage loft, to which I’ve just added 26 more bags. At the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival recently we came across a vendor from our region, Dashing Star Farm in Millerton, selling beautiful and well crafted bed pillows composed of mattress ticking stuffed with wool from the farm’s flocks. It dawned on me that producing similar pillows might be a perfect solution for me.

Why? Well, the last four months of constant house guests has convinced me that I have something of a pillow problem. After his first overnight visit here, my friend Tom never arrived without bringing four of his own pillows, carried in a satchel he stitched himself from mattress ticking. He assured me that it was his custom to carry his pillows wherever he traveled, and was no reflection on mine, but was he was just being diplomatic? Then Steve brought a pillow of his own, which was so nice that it somehow migrated under my head, and last month bought me two new pillows as a gift. Why was it that Steve kept gently suggesting that “You could get a dozen perfectly comfortable new pillows delivered from Amazon in just a week, cheap”?

I’d much prefer my own wool stuffed pillows to Amazon pillows stuffed with petrochemical fibers. This winter project will require me to learn to wash the sheared wool and transform it into batting. And also then to get it sown into pillows. While I might be able to learn to sew for this purpose, a good project for long winter nights alone, I’m not really very handy. Seeing Matt so successfully address mechanical issues that have vexed me leads me to think that I should enlist someone who really knows what he’s doing for the sewing.Tom, are you reading this?

Fall color 2
Fall is definitely upon us Photo by Mark Scherzer


Just a few things. Eggs are in hiatus until these new girls get a bit bigger. The old girls are producing just a couple a day.

Daikon radish, $2/bunch 
Salad turnips, $2/bunch 
Lamb chops $14/lb, riblets $10/lb., shanks $12/lb 
Garlic: $2/head 
Fresh horseradish root: $4/lb. 
Garlic chives (flat leafed): $1/bunch 
Sorrel $3/bag


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. Because I’m now here full time, we’re abandoning regular pick-up times. Let us know when you want your order any day between 10 and 5, and unless there are unusual circumstances we’ll be able to ready it to your convenience. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or text at 917-544-6464 or email.


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