AgriCulture: The Friendship Economy

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After the recent winter storm and cold snap, the last of the garden greens got blasted. Just a handful of acorn squash and small pumpkins remain.The sheep gladly spent the week in their cozy new barn.The high bush cranberries are no more. I chopped them down.We wish you all luck in your search for Thanksgiving turkeys this year. We look forward to raising nice plump ones for you all next year.
Sonya showing us how to sharpen a chainsaw (Photo by Miles Pulsford)
The Friendship Economy

Hey All, Troy Here.
If you read last week’s bulletin, you got a window into the farm’s less than ideal financial situation brought on by the large sums we recently paid to construct the new barn and provide it with adequate power. On top of these extraordinary expenses, we have all of the typical difficulties that small farms have trying to stay afloat in a competitive food economy, including the fact that most of our costs for the coming year are upfront and fixed. Before we get any payoff from the turkeys, for instance, we must first feed them for eight months.In times like this, doubt can begin to creep in about the sustainability of our experiment. Last weekend we resolved to take a hard look at our budget, tally up the expenses for next year’s projects, and figure out concretely what we can and can’t afford from here. This week, I started this process by estimating the upfront costs for each of our products and estimating values for our wish-list of future equipment and structures. However, this exercise was interrupted when our dear friends Sonya and Miles drove across the country to visit us. It was a timely reminder that there are values to this place that are much deeper than my tallying could possibly reveal.For starters, this farm has the incredible power to draw people to us. In our wayward years post-graduation, Victoria and I had a great track record of visiting our friends in distant places whenever we were in-between temporary, seasonal jobs. It looks like those investments we made are starting to pay off. Now that we are farming and living in a beautiful space that can fit more than four people comfortably, our friends keep coming — and they don’t stop coming.Last weekend two of our friends from Raleigh, Colin and Alana, were in the Hudson Valley attending a memorial for a family member. They knew we were close by and asked if they could tour the farm with some of their family. We already had a rather full house, since our bud Lila (hailing from Salt Lake City) and their sister, Hanna, were in town, while Mark had also brought two guests, Paul and Eric, with him from the City. Even so, we enthusiastically agreed, and before we knew it, a convoy of vehicles circled into our driveway and unloaded a parade of cousins, sisters, uncles, parents, babies and more. Suddenly we were overrun with inquisitive, polite strangers of all ages. We acted quickly, and took up posts at the chicken coop, barn, and pig shelter in order to give little info-sessions for rotating groups of Colin’s family – just like we used to when we worked in environmental education. We did the same thing in the house to simultaneously show off our dwarf rabbit upstairs and the 19th century kitchen in the basement. It was a hectic couple of hours, but it felt right to fill the hallowed halls of this historic farm with youthful energy and unfamiliar faces.The value of these visits multiplies dramatically when our friends are eager to help us with farm tasks. When Lila, Hanna, Paul and Eric pitched in to help move a sizable pile of leftover construction debris, we managed to do in less than an hour something that was quite impossible for me to do on my own. Likewise, over the course of several visits, our trail-building friend Isaac sharpened our tools, re-handled a shovel, built a shelter for our freedom ranger chickens and helped us clean and inventory all of our wool – a service that allowed us to recover nearly $11,000 in property insurance after the fire. Meanwhile, Arielle, a video producer in New York City, filmed a promotional video for us to add to our website. You can see it just as soon as we record a voiceover that isn’t totally embarrassing.Most recently, Sonya – a veritable angel from heaven – traveled to us from the Pacific Northwest, where she had been fighting wildfires all summer as a hotshot firefighter, and gave us a crash course in the safe operation and maintenance of chainsaws. We proceeded to clear-cut a row of high bush cranberry bushes at the edge of our garden. Afterward, we made beautiful loaves of challah bread together and shared our personal religious histories. On her way out, she also casually showed all of us babies how to change the oil in our cars.Thanksgiving is one of our favorite times of year. Much like that family that pulls out the Christmas décor on November 1st and leaves it up until February, Victoria is notorious for starting to plan our Thanksgiving meal before we’ve even finished the leftovers from the previous year. So regardless of the company, we always experience intense excitement for the impending feast around this time of year. But I don’t think we need to wait another two weeks to share our appreciation for the people who have gone above and beyond for us this year. After all, we wouldn’t be here celebrating without them.
Tiny hot matchbox peppers, $5.00 a string, dried and quite decorative.
Acorn squash, $2/each
Decorative Tennessee Dancing Gourds, 4 for $1
Cheese Pumpkins, $2/lb, 5 to 8ish poundsEGGS: $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.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,PORK: 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
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.

AgriCulture: The Friendship Economy

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