There is no time a year that is more generous, abundant and overwhelming than the fall. The garden explodes (and thus does our kitchen), the sheep and goat get eager to eat all they can before winter (naturally, so do I) and nature slows down and seems to long for a good rest (definitely, so do we).
Every single part of the farm has to be prepared for when these seemingly forever lasting warm autumn days end, and the cold really sets in.
Our apiary has gotten a lot of attention during these last warm weeks to make sure all beehives are fully stocked on food, the entrances are reduced so mice don’t take over during the winter, and hives got wrapped to keep the wind out. Dan and our 5 year old start to become a solid team together, it’s amazing how little ones can be so tuned in to what happens inside of a hive, without any fear or hurry.
Perhaps young ones make for the best beekeepers; curious, observant and intuitive.
This spring we are starting a beekeeping course for kids, and it might be what I’m most excited about for 2021.
We harvested the most delicious wild meadow honey this year. If you smell with your eyes closed, you can recognize the pasture flowers; clover, goldenrod, New England asters. I love our wild growing pastures for many reasons, and the diversity of flowers for our honeybees is for sure one of them.
Our wildly talented friend Charlotte designed the most beautiful jars, and they are flying out of our online store, so if you have your heart set on honey to give away for the holidays, make sure you order it soon!
The Sheep Flock
Our sheep flock got expanded with another 10 beautiful ewelings and the most promising ram. They all mingled in with our original flock right away (especially that ram did a whole lot of instant mingling..), and we expect a bunch of colorful lambs by the first week of March.
This year we managed to expand our grazing season by quite a few weeks. We managed the pastures so that the grass had the opportunity to grow back enough to rotate the sheep another time, which saves us weeks of feeding hay. That is great for our bottom line, but it also reduces our carbon footprint and it keeps these hardy sheep out in the fields longer where they thrive best.
The Goat Herd
The goats on the other hand have moved to their winter area a couple of weeks ago. We raise the hardiest goats for our climate, but they still detest the rain and don’t do well when it is cold and wet outside. Their winter area is an overgrown part of the farm, where they have all the bark to chew on, stone walls to climb over and hills to run on, but also can hide in the barn whenever they please. We feed them their hay in a different spot every day, which causes little grass seeds to spread everywhere and grasses will start to grow in spots that are now overgrown with invasive species.
The goats are all getting their soft, thick winter coats, and on cold mornings there is nothing that I like more than running my fingers through their fur to warm up.
Connecting With You
One of the biggest changes this season has been the launch of our online store. By moving part of our sales online we’ve been able to connect with you in a different way. Besides the encounters at the NYC Greenmarkets, we’ve had many of you come to the farm to pick up orders and take a peek at the sheep, talk about our favorite ways to cook with lamb and goat and the in’s and out’s of sustainable farming.
During a year in which everybody had to cut down on their social interactions a lot, it has been a warm hug to read your messages, get you to the farm or meet up in the city to drop off your orders.
Our Family Life
Like so many of you we’ve had our two boys home with us all day, every day during the past half year. Combining a quickly growing farm with the needs of a 2 and 5 year old isn’t always easy. While the days are growing shorter, our to do list seems to grow longer, and dressing up in 3 layers of wool takes time, keeping our tent warm by taking care of a fire takes time, cooking over wood instead of a stove takes time.
Every night we go to bed while moving more urgent tasks to the next day, because someone really longed for a cuddle and a book, or nap time didn’t happen, or another snack needed to be prepared.
At the same time, starting the day with a long breakfast by the woodstove while discussing the priorities for the day, being able to roam the fields with two little bouncy kids and seeing them become more and more confident in their roles at the farm is certainly something we are so grateful for. Not having to drive to school and generally not having to go anywhere makes that we’re able to slow down our rhythms, and that will be something we will try to hold on to far past this fall.
Stay warm and soak up all the goodness that late fall spreads around!
Marleen, Dan, O&O.