Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chicken Plucker, Take 2

Rob built a chicken plucker last year.  At first we tried using the motor from his ice auger, in the interest of using one motor for more than one purpose.  That worked but was extremely awkward. This year Rob got another motor and hooked it up with the plucker.  It's a big improvement!  Next step will be a belt tensioner to keep the belt tight when it gets wet.

Chicken Plucker, Take 2

It actually takes less time than this but the temperature of the scalding water got a bit low.  The first bird only took 15 seconds.  This tool does a much better and easier job on an sort of annoying task.  Thanks, Rob!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stinging Nettles

Honest, it's nettles!

It's that time of year when we start picking and drying nettles, comfrey and other good herbs to dry for the winter.  We like to feed our hens nettles and comfrey as a winter supplement.  Both are packed with vitamins, minerals and protein.  So, for awhile, the porch looks like we are drying dope, but no, no, no!  It's nettles!

PS I don't actually know what those "other good herbs" might be but I bet that there are plenty of good things we could be feeding the hens in winter.  Do you have suggestions?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's beginning to look like a real farm around here.

Farming Week - Day 9 (hmmm, this is a long week.)

Sunday, the sun is shining, at least some of the time.  I want to plant and I want to sing and I want to rest and I want to be ready for the coming week.

Rob and a Welsh Harlequin
- RC poultry care
- dishes
- dug a bed for okra
- lots of weeds to the chickens
- planted okra in the hoophouse
- hoed the corn and sweet peppers
- started weeding the onions
- farm visitors (yay!)
- delicious breakfast/lunch featuring our own vegetables and chicken
- blog post
- I seem to have hit my energy wall.  oops.
- Everyone left and now all I want to do is rest but I also want to plant a few more things first.
- planted okra, with some marigolds
- planted cherry tomatoes
- thunder and lightening so I am back inside.  Now the sun is shining.  This has happened about 6 times today.

(Forgot to post this one.  The last of my daily posts from the Farming Week.  It was a good week overall except for the need to do paperwork when I wanted to be outside.  That made me stressed and grumpy for a while.  And I missed the singing in Amherst on Sunday because of being so behind.  It's a constant thing, trying to find balance between work and play, friends/family and quiet time alone, outside and inside projects.  I just keep carrying on and I do best when I don't forget to pray.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Farming Week - Day 8

Two week old ducklings
- poultry care
- blog post
- dishes
- picked a whole lot of spinach

Before picking spinach

After picking spinach (now it's a leek bed)

- raining hard off and on.  to plant?  to freeze spinach?  paperwork?
- RC moved the ducks into a bigger space.  They love it.
- made a fire in the fireplace (June 2!)
- set out plants - tomatillos, ground cherries, snapdragons, broom corn (for the flowers)
- weeded New Zealand spinach, chard
-fun supper with friends featuring our own kale, scallions, green garlic, cilantro, sorrel, mesclun, and freshly caught shad
- lots of fun talking to a young chicken fancier.  "Chickens are my favorite animal."

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Farming Week - Day 7 - Gone Gardening

- share clean up (cloths, buckets, cold paks, flower vases)
- paid bills
- ordered Tree Collards from Bountiful Gardens (I am really intrigued by these.)
- steamed eggs for "hard boiled" eggs It worked!  Easy peeling of freshly laid eggs at last!
- planted brussel sprouts, cilantro, dill, leaf fennel, plum tomatoes, small salad tomatoes
- found these guys:
Tomato Hornworm???
- set 9 eggs under the broody hen (exchanged for her golf balls, which she defended fiercely)  Hopefully, we will have chicks for the solstice!

- supper = our own chicken (Delaware) and our own kale and scallions

Friday, June 1, 2012

Farming Week - Day 6

- bath!
- poultry care
- dishes/hand washing
- pick the shares
- correct my accounting mistakes, surprisingly quick and easy!
- town, turned in papers, Yahoo!, saw a friend who gave me some tomatillos plants (Thanks, David of Rainbow Harvest Farm!), dashed home
- rushed about putting away the most dangerous items in case of young children coming over, prepped two salads and some radishes
- friends - eating - singing!
- I feel much better after that and a good night's sleep and looking forward to some quiet, if busy, days at home.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Farming Week - Day 5

- poultry care
- dishes/clean hands
- picked extras, emailed and posted, chilled the greens
- checked on the birds around 1:30.  They were fine but it was a long time since the morning.  I saved some hatching eggs but I may use tomorrow's instead because of the heat today.  Plus, I want more Welsummer eggs.  So far I have saved mostly green eggs.
- still have accounts and two forms to fill out and get notarized this afternoon.  There's still hope but I do not like working against a deadline.
- sold a bunch of kale and mesclun, a big sale for me.
- refrigerated vegies.
- checked for eggs
- Fastest account clean up and tax form writing I've ever done.  Now off to get notarized.  Luckily, it rained again while I was working so I didn't feel as bad about missing outside time.
- Note to self:  Never get so behind on accounts again!
- nice rain

PS  sorry about these boring, whiny posts.  Soon I will be on to actual farming, cheery writing, and pretty pictures.

PPS  Check out this sweet article from NPR about salad.  "Everyone says, 'Your food is so good,' " Lloyd says. "But it's the farmers who give me the products that make it good."  (Jordan Lloyd, chef and owner of the Bartlett Pear Inn in Easton, Md)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Farming Week - Day 4


My goals are to finish the accounts and prep for picking the shares.

- still plugging away at paperwork.  And I intend to finish!
- poultry care.  Collecting eggs for hatching but so far it's kind of slow.  The 2 I set aside yesterday got a bit wet so I decided not to set those as the protective bloom on the shell probably got washed off.  As of 8:30 am, only 1 green egg saved.
- blog post
- read about saving eggs for hatching, caring for the hen and chicks
- collected eggs (1 more green one to save)
- dishes, breakfast, put away laundry and containers for shares.
- banana bread
- check for eggs, 1 more green one to save
- ordered a new book about poultry
- accounts continue
- hoophouse temperature read 104 so I went outside and sprayed it.  Now it reads 92.  Storm may be coming, or maybe not.
- 2 more eggs to hatch.  broody hen off the nest and taking a dust bath.  Will she go back?
- no storm yet.  The hoophouse is back to 100.  Poof lettuces and kale and cauliflowers and sunflowers!
- broody went to another nest that she could reach more easily.  Now she is back in her new nest.  And content.
- RAIN!  Down to 66 in the hoophouse.
- accounts...

Well I did not completely finish but I am at the checking for mistakes stage.  Ugh.  I hope I never get behind again!  I am reluctant to promise, as so much in life is uncertain, but I will certainly do my best to stay on my weekly routine year round, despite busy garden times.  So much depends on good record keeping.  Wednesday I get to pick vegetables!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Farming week - Day 3

Kousa Dogwood
- my goal is to catch up on my accounts
- poultry care
- slow start to celebrate the holiday, bath, blog posting
- start laundry
- poultry care, starting to save eggs for Miss Mix
- supported sweet peas
- watered seedlings
- very hot today, lots of chicken watering
- cleaned all containers from picking and share pickup
- csa email and blog post
- accounts!
- watered hoophouse and seedlings (very hot day!)
- more laundry
- more accounts!!
- accounts take a long time when they are so behind.  much progress, finish tomorrow, while it rains, I hope, then I'll be able to garden for the rest of the week
- more laundry folding, etc.

Snow Crown cauliflower in the hoophouse...small, but hopeful.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Farming week - Day 2

Sunflowers for Memorial Day

- poultry care
- supported the fava beans in the hoophouse
- too much time inside blogging...
- dishes, clean up from last week's picking
- poultry care, broody hen has settled onto her new nest
- RC made another nest box for the Orpington (getting broody)
- set out lisianthus
- set up more bean teepees
- moved Muscovies in with the Cayugas and Welsh Harlequins, so far, so good.
- RC mowed some more
- watered eggplant
- siesta
Pole beans 5/27/12
- planted 15 teepees of pole beans: 3 Scarlet Runner, 2 Northeaster, 3 Rattlesnake, 2 Green and 1 Yellow Annellino, 2 Garden of Eden, 1 Kentucky Wonder, and 1 Kentucky Wonder Wax
- some weeding in the hoophouse
- planted more Luscious corn seed with the corn seedlings
- planted 25 ft of Royal Burgundy bush beans
- hoed half the New Zealand spinach, hoed the Asian onions
- picked some of the bolting spinach for supper
- that's all for today!

l. to r.: Royal Burgundy, Dragon Tongue, Kentucky Wonder, KW Wax, Gold Marie, Northeaster, Garden of Eden, Rattlesnake


Sunday, May 27, 2012

May Farming Week - May 26 - June 3

More Pictures

Saturday, May 26, 2012:
- caught up on my bookkeeping job
- contacted a previous vegetable customer about salad greens
- went to the land fill/made a space in the garage!
- set out 45 sweet peppers and 35 eggplant
- RC set the Ghost pepper in the hoophouse
- RC bought a new lawnmower and 4 Blue Muscovy ducklings
- interplanted basil and marigolds with the large tomatoes
- RC mowed with the new mower after it was delivered
- sold some salad
- started setting up bean teepees
- moved manure to the summer squash area
- RC cleaned the rest of the coop!
- set up an area and nest for the broody hen (moved her at night)
We now have 6 separate poultry groups - hens, breeding hens, chicks, ducklings, Moscovy ducklings, broody hen.  Hoping to merge the two sets of ducklings soon.  Hoping the broody hen likes her new nest and settles in so we can give her some eggs to set.

Enough blogging!  Time to get to work!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sweet Morning Farm - Work Bee - May 5, 2012

April 30, 2012

Hello friends,

I would like to invite you to come to the farm this Saturday, May 5, anytime between 9 and 5, for a Work Bee!
There are many things that need doing around the farm, especially in the spring, and Robin and I would enjoy seeing you and sharing some of the spring chores with you.

There is a wide variety of jobs to be done.  You can pick what suits you best.

Examples of possible tasks:
Weeding, both standing with a hoe or spading fork, or sitting and using a hand tool and doing delicate sorting.
Stacking firewood.
Planting corn seedlings.
Setting dahlia tubers in the earth.
Playing music/singing to the farm workers.
Planting seeds.
Clearing brush.Securing the pea fence.
The chick house may be ready for the young chicks that day so  - helping to set up their fence and moving them to their new quarters.
Taking pictures - of farmers, helpers, plants, chickens, etc.

I'll have a big pot of homemade chicken soup and some fresh Sweet Morning salad ready for our lunch break.

Bring gloves and favorite tools, sunscreen and water.

This will be a very casual, light hearted affair.  If you are able to come over, to help or to encourage, that's great!  If you are busy elsewhere, that's fine too.  This is mostly a way for friends and farm members to see what is happening here on the farm and to help plant the seeds for a wonderful harvest.  Come and go as you please.  Bring a friend.

The next Farm Work Bee will be Saturday, June 2.
RSVP if you feel like it, or just show up.  We'll be here!

Your happy farmers,
Laura and Rob
Call or email to RSAP or for more information.413-773-8325

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012

Welcome, friends!

I am sending this email to 2012 farm members, farm members from previous years, family and friends.  If you want to continue getting emails about the farm, (about weekly during the growing season), let me know.  Email me at

Partly I want to share what I have been doing and partly I want to invite you become part of the farm, in whatever way feels right to you.  Farm shares are on sale now and I look forward to growing food and flowers for all of us.

Lots of news lately.  Too much to go into all the details but here's a list to get started:

1 - The Farm Has A New Name!  I finally settled on the name Sweet Morning Farm for my little farm.  Farm facebook page
2 - The Harvest Has Started!  The new hoophouse (built last December by Robin with help from Dan) is already producing mesclun, radishes, greens and arugula.  Every Wednesday I email a list of what is available and interested people make their requests.  I plan on continuing this practice all season, although once the farm shares start, the Shares will always get priority over the Extras.
3 - Baby Chicks Are Here!  So cute and all are doing well.  Soon they will be moved to the garage from their current home in the kitchen.
4 - Ducklings Will Be Arriving In May!  Robin is building a secure and comfy house for them.
5 - Busy Busy Busy With Planting!  It's so much fun!  Already there are salad greens, head lettuces, snap peas, beets, scallions, radishes, spinach, kale, and chard coming up in the garden.  I am hoping for some great tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), onions, corn, squash (summer and winter), beans, shell beans, carrots, and more!  It's that time of year when I start getting really excited about vegetables...  Oh!  And of course, flowers.  I am looking forward to their bright sweetness.  
I am sorry about the headline organization of this email.  There is just so much happening and I've been trying to finish this message since January.  Here it is mid April and I am finally sending it out.  I am determined to send this before anything new happens around here!  Some people have already signed up for shares this year,  (Thank You!), but there are plenty left at the moment so now is the time to claim yours.  I sure hope lots of people want shares because I'm going to have a lot of vegetables around here. 

Shares are on sale!  Sign up SOON for yours!  I'd love to have you as a farm member!
Full Shares:  $600.00 to $675.00  (20 - 24 weeks, weather dependant, starting May 17)
Half Shares:  $300.00 to $350.00  (20 - 24 weeks, weather dependant, starting May 17)
Mini Shares:  $100.00 (16 weeks - starting June 7)
Extended Mini Shares:  $125.00 (20 weeks - starting June 7)  (I am just offering a few of these.)
Pick up at the Farm on Thursday afternoons.

Note:  These are the same prices as the last 2 years.
PAYMENT:  If this email were being sent in January as planned I would be asking you to pay a deposit by April 1. Ah well.  New plan, pay as soon as you can and be paid in full by July 15.  You must pay a deposit to hold a share.  Make checks out to Laura Timmerman.  

Start your fresh eating early with EGGS & EXTRAS*

Each week I am sending out an email with a list of extra items that can be purchased.  If you don't want to sign up for a weekly share, this might suit you.  Or you can extend your mini yourself by buying in weekly early or late in the season.  Or increase the size of your share when you want more vegetables.

*This is a separate weekly email on Wednesdays, so if you want to hear about extras, let me know.  I am hoping this will continue next winter with salad greens, microgreens, kale, and leeks.*  I post what is extra at the blog and update as needed.

There will be a section of the garden devoted to pick-your-own crops this year.  They will include snap peas, cherry and plum tomatoes, and flowers, maybe more.  So if you have some extra time, and want extra vegetables and flowers, be my guest.  Free to farm members.  Open to all.

Speaking of FLOWERS, I always feel like I just want to share the flowers.  Sometimes there is such an abundance and cut flowers are something that people don't always include in their lives.  Please, if you know someone who might be cheered by colorful bouquet, come by and pick some.  Bouquets for the sick or homebound or the bereaved are always free.

Buy a farm share.
Become a working member, or recommend this idea to someone who likes to garden.  I would be happy to trade 1 day a week working for a full share.  
Come to work bee - Saturday, May 5 and Saturday, June 2 - weed, chat, plant, look at chickens, mulch, have fun.
Help at the farm when you can and go home with extra vegies.
(I'll be here full time April 21 to April 28 and May 26 to June 2 so those are good times to come visit too.)
Tell people about the farm.
Stuff the farm needs but can't afford: 2 working refrigerators, 2 long folding tables, compost, manure, cattle panels, big scale, frost free pump/faucet, picnic table, saw horses, massage
Come to the farm picnic! - Saturday, August 18 - Farm Tours, pot luck cookout, visit with your fellow farm members.  The harvest should be in full swing by then!

The farm has several interconnected blogs where I try to keep you informed about on-going activities.  You can also read about and see pictures of the shares and get some recipe ideas for using all that fresh produce!  (See the links at the right hand side for CSA news, Farmstand news and Recipes.)

My little farm is what is called a "CSA", which stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  The main feature of a CSA is that we share the adventure and the benefits of farming.  At this time of year, your farmer (me) is deeply involved in fine tuning the layout and planting schedule, planting and transplanting every week, tending my little seedlings every day, madly planting outside, picking from the hoophouse each week, caring for 30 baby chicks, watering, etc.  Every year the garden expands and the soil improves; I learn a few things and the flow of crops gets smoother.  This year's expansion includes the HOOPHOUSE, or unheated greenhouse, where I am growing kale, mesclun, carrots and pak choy in early spring, tomatoes, peppers, collards and more in the summer, tomatoes, raspberries and more in the fall, and kale, spinach, leeks and salad greens next winter.  It's a whole new way of gardening with many new possibilities!  A new crop for the shares this year will be sweet corn.  Keep your fingers crossed for some lovely corn on the cob. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this long email.  Future emails will be shorter and I'll try to put more of the chattiness and news (and pictures) at the blog and facebook page.  (You don't need to sign up for facebook to see the page.  You do need to be on facebook to "Like" the page.  I am not sure what exact good that does for me if anything, but it does help to know that people are interested in the farm.)

This is my once-a-year big email to a lot of friends and family.  You won't get the weekly ones unless you ask to be on the list or sign up for a share. 

Remember, some things are the SAME:
PRICES - Same as 2010 & 2011
And some things are NEW:
EGGS & EXTRAS LIST - more vegetables for longer with more choice

It's a new season, and a new start to the cycle of growth here at Sweet Morning Farm.  For those of you who may not know it, this is my sixth year as a farmer and it is still a thrill.  The earth is so amazing and generous that I feel grateful every day.  
Thank you for all your interest and support for the farm.

Laura Timmerman
910 Greenfield Rd
Leyden, MA 01337

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A little more farm work

Today I did this,

which looks like stacking wood but was really making room to plant this:

I got the seed from High Mowings:
Luscious Corn
I borrowed the picture from Territorial Seeds, another one of my favorite seed companies.

Next two projects:  Transplant some pepper seedlings, fill out a form for the US Census about the farm, and write an email about the CSA shares.  I would love to get all those things done today.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Today's planting.

Today I did some planting.  Inside the house I planted four kinds of head lettuce.  The Webb's Wonderful is an old favorite crisphead and the other three are new varieties to me that sound great.

Webb's Wonderful



Mayan Jaguar

Outside I planted Sugar Snap peas.  This is the first thing I have planted outside this year.  Getting ready for pick-your-own for the farm shares.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cloudy Day

It's spring, by the weather, if not by the calendar.  Pussy willows and snow drops are blooming.  The snow is mostly gone.  On sunny days the hoophouse temperature rises to bone-easing warmth.  But today my heart feels heavy.  On Wednesday a dear friend, a kind man, a gentleman, an artist, a fisherman of good cheer died of a heart attack.  Mike Wells, a gem in our little town, is gone.  We will all miss him and his wry remarks and kindliness.

Mike was a active member of our Council on Aging gatherings, attending most of our meetings, even when his hearing aids weren't working so he could only BE with us.  My son Rob and I had plans to help him go fishing this year and I know many people had plans to do things with him.  That's always the way, especially when death comes suddenly.  I feel lucky that I saw  him just last week and felt his smile.

This picture was taken at a Leyden COA meeting.  Mike's hand is in the circle.  Next to mine.  Still taking this loss in, as are all who knew him must be.

Thanks for being such a kind friend for so many years, Mike.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Firsts

It's a lovely time of year here at the farm.  Lots of thinking and dreaming and planning.

AND this week marks the start of many fun activities.  Yesterday I planted my third batch of microgreens.  This is a new part of my winter gardening and eating.  I've been learning with every batch, sharing the crop both as gifts and as extras for sale.  The bottom line on microgreens is that they taste great!  This batch includes Green Wave mustard, Dwarf Grey Sugar peas, Red Russian kale, Arugula, and for the FIRST time: radishes and basil.

Freshly planted microgreens

FIRST planting for the 2012 garden (not the hoophouse):  I planted leeks, onions and parsley.  These are last year's seeds so they may be a bust but fresh seed is on its way  here.  For the hoophouse I planted: broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes.  Probably I am jumping the gun on the tomatoes but I couldn't resist.  It turns out that I do not have any determinate tomato seeds so I will probably choose some and plant again in a couple of weeks.  The plan is to plant early tomatoes, intercropped with head lettuce plants, in part of the hoophouse.  In theory they will be an early, quick crop and the tomato plants will be pulled out to make room for other vegetables in the early summer.  SO, I am realizing as I write this that I had better make sure I grow determinate types for this experiment as otherwise it will be torturous and possibly silly to pull the plants out when I need the space, if they are still bearing.

Kale, chard and kolrabi for the hoophouse

FIRST predators of 2012: The night after planting, mice attacked the seeds that were unprotected by covers.  Tonight everything will be covered, except for the mouse traps!

Mice like brassica seeds.

Tomorrow morning I'll be planting my FIRST seeds in the hoophouse - mesclun, lettuce, snow peas, sweet peas and fava beans.

And today I got my FIRST seed order of the year in the mail.  I am one happy farmer.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


For information about the FARM SHARES go to the CSA BLOG THANKS!


We finished the hoophouse a few weeks ago. Mostly it was done on December 10. Since then I have been reading and dreaming and planning the crops I want to try out in there and when and where to plant them. It's a lot of fun. Here is an update on the process of finishing the structure. It's awesome! Building the end walls and doors
Rob worked all day until dark. Here he is attaching the side rails at dusk.
Finishing the east wall early Sunday morning.
Friends came over to help us get it together. Installing the side rails, taping rough spots with duct tape, finishing the walls, etc. Thank goodness for friends!
Rob consults with TOM (our mentor and friend at Dancing Bear Farm)
Rolling out the plastic.
Big gap here while we folded the plastic in two and hoisted it over the hoophouse frame. No picture taking possible! Luckily it was a calm day.
Plastic is essentially in place. Phew.
Newest farm member Linnie and former farm intern Heather survey the hoophouse.
Helper Sam.
The new inside view.
A few days later, Robin tilled inside the hoophouse. (mid December)
Plastic snugged down for the winter.
Designer, foreman and construction crew, Robin.
Up and running.
Plastic puffed out by air blown between the the double walls.
Beds laid out and prepped for planting. (Looking west.) So far I have planted sorrel, daffodils, dahlias, glads. Kale, chard, kolrabi, and mustard greens started in the house to be transplanted in a few weeks.
Looking east. Resting and thinking area. Tool storage and later there will be a potting table.
My sons. Thank you for this wonderful gift, guys.