October 26, 2013 Hoosick Falls High School Fall Festival

Some of our field flowers

Field flowers drying


Join us at Hoosick Falls High School this Saturday from 9am – 3pm for the annual Fall Festival. 

Fall Festival has fun activities and games for kids including an old-fashioned cake walk, the popular Animaland, Haunted Hall, many vendors selling their wares including crafts and homemade products, and fabulous door prizes and raffle items. 

Hay Berry Farm will feature our dried flowers, dried flower arrangements, wool products from our sheep, farmer-made baskets and more. 

Hope to see you there.

Holiday Wreath

Holiday Wreath

Pumpkin picking in the field

Pumpkins in August

Pumpkins in August

The pumpkins are ready and we have opened the field for You-pick.

Since the weather looks like sun this week, can’t wait to start picking pumpkins and gourds for the Hay Berry hut.

We are open Thursdays through Mondays from 9 to 3 (Fridays until 6) from now through at least the first weekend of October.

We like to stay open, however if it’s raining steadily, we will wait for the rain to abate.

Our small pumpkins are weighing in at about 6 pounds, and the largest are over 20 pounds.

The gourds turned out to be cute or warty with many different shapes and colors.  Each gourd seems to have a unique personality.  There are a few that look like tiny pumpkins, so perhaps we should report that the smallest pumpkins are less than half a pound!

Pumpkin in September

Pumpkin in September

You-snip (or we snip) flowers, herbs, and vegetables

The dill is ready at all stages to use for pickling.

The dill is ready at all stages to use for pickling.

You can snip your own herbs, and we also have them available at the farm stand.  Through August we will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 7:30 to 3:00 (until 6:00) on Fridays.

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Basil is bountiful, and we are maxing out on pesto from the basil.

Basil is bountiful, and we are maxing out on pesto from the basil.

It’s a good thing we planted too much basil, because it is very popular, and we are keeping up with demand.

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Rosemary thinks it’s a weed in our fields.  The well-drained soil seems to be perfect for herbs, especially rosemary.  We use it fresh on vegetables, including potatoes, and in salads.  So fragrant, so good.

Rosemary thinks it’s a weed in our fields. The well-drained soil seems to be perfect for herbs, especially rosemary. We use it fresh on vegetables, including potatoes, and in salads. So fragrant, so good.

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My family loves using fresh rosemary on gently sauted sliced potatoes.  It adds a wonderful flavor.

The sweet, sweet yellow cherry tomatoes seem to sell as fast as we pick them.  We are blessed with elegant eggplant and healthy red and white onions.  Cucumbers are now a wonderful size, not too big and and not seedy.

The sweet, sweet yellow cherry tomatoes seem to sell as fast as we pick them. We are blessed with elegant eggplant and healthy red and white onions. Cucumbers are now a wonderful size, not too big and and not seedy.

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We were lucky to find this variety of gold cherry tomato that does not crack easily.  On the other hand, the farmers feel free to eat the ones that crack and save the whole ones for the farm stand.  As a result of this quality, we farmers have not been eating too many of these little sweet tomatoes this year.  Oh, well.

Flowers, flowers, flowers … both fresh and dried.

Flowers, flowers, flowers … both fresh and dried.

What will you find?

What will you find?

Sunflowers, zinnias, asters, statice, calendula, globe amaranth, sweet annie, love in a mist, strawflowers, celosia...

Sunflowers, zinnias, asters, statice, calendula, globe amaranth, sweet annie, love in a mist, strawflowers, celosia…

What did I miss?

What did I miss?

We are thinking of offering demonstrations and/or workshops on crafting your own dry flower arrangements.  We have the flowers, the materials, and a wonderful new shed space.  Please let us know if you are interested. (info@hayberryfarm.org)

We are thinking of offering demonstrations and/or workshops on crafting your own dry flower arrangements. We have the flowers, the materials, and a wonderful new shed space. Please let us know if you are interested. (info@hayberryfarm.org)

If people are interested we will schedule workshops on crafting your own dried flower arrangements.  Please email and tell us if you are interested.

info@hayberryfarm.org

Zinnia info@hayberryfarm.org

Zinnia
info@hayberryfarm.org

Fresh Farm Food Year-round

Good news for those who like fresh, organic, local and sustainably-grown food.

Blue Ray berries

Blue Ray blueberries from Hay Berry Farm

 

I’m excited that we can now provide year-round access to farm food via our new internet buyers club.

The selection is large, and will increase in the spring when your neighboring farmers can add their products to the choices.  There are currently over 3000 choices of fruit, vegetables, meat, drinks, flour, herbs, bread, cheese, etc.

The price is reasonable and there is no fee to join.  Buyers order on an internet website and pick up their order on Babcock Lake Road in Hoosick.

Check out the link:

http://www.wholeshare.com/join/1987

Questions?   info@hayberryfarm.org

 

We are pruning blueberries

If we didn’t love pruning, it would be hard to go down to the field and wallow on the snow and the wet ground.  But pruning is interesting, not something to do by rote.  There are visual choices for the artist in you.  There are structural choices for the farmer who wants plenty of good-size berries.  There are practical choices for easy access for the people who mow, and who weed, and who pick.  I like the challenges of shaping something that does not stay exactly the way you arrange it.  It grows with or against your touch.  In summer, you see it respond.

RekaBefore4358

Reka Blueberry bush before pruning this week.

Today I want to work on the Reka bushes.  They grow fast and can throw out throngs of berries on one branch that force it to flop, undignified, to the ground.

I was glad to put on bulky winter clothes topped with rain pants, because the temperature hovered just above freezing, and a steady breeze kept the snow from melting.

How to start?  Look from the top to see what’s crowding the center.  Look from several sides to see what is crossing and bent.  Look to see what has too many short old branches.  Look for the fat flower buds that are waiting for spring to transform them to berries.  Each bud represents a cluster of berries.  Then look into the future.  Which stems are strong and straight enough to support the berries they will hold?

Reka after pruning.

Reka blueberry after pruning on March 5, 2013.

Once you have seen all this, then start removing stems you know will not grow well: the small, crowded and dead stems; the lower branches that will get little light and those that grow horizontally.  Take as much as one-third of the growth.

Here is the same Reka after Tuesday’s pruning.

I will look for it this summer, to see what it does.

Really, the chickens were this color before eating carrots

CarrotBeakThese chickens love the carrot pulp left over from juicing.  They don’t always manage to get all the carrots off their beaks.  Today, outside their safely-fenced night space by the barn, they wandered around looking for any bit of wild green or stray insect or new seed they could find.  They haven’t learned how to share very well.  One grabs a piece of squash and runs away with it, while another chases her in hot pursuit of the prized food.

 

The sun broke through the clouds today.  We are looking forward to a break in the clouds and some better weather for pruning blueberries.  Perhaps this week it will happen.

Before and after … Shiitake mushroom site

MushroomSite

Dan checking out a mushroom growing site

 

You saw it before,when we were checking this area under the hemlocks.  It seemed perfect for growing Shiitake mushrooms.  Shaded by the hemlock trees and protected from winds coming from the hay fields, this space will keep the mushrooms from drying out.

 

 

 

And now you see the area after Dan cleared stumps and branches on the ground.  In this photo there are over 600 logs stacked and waiting for good weather.  Then the crew will inoculate the logs with mushroom spawn.

FebBolts4306

Logs in our Shiitake mushroom growing site waiting to be inoculated

 

All of us at the farm have been thankful for a REAL winter this year.  We can reach the trees without creating ruts, because the ground is solidly frozen.  We also expect any problem insects to get off to a very slow start because of the cold.

We never use toxins on the farm, so cold is a wonderfully natural and “organic” way to discourage trouble.

It seems that a few deer like this spot also, so we might have to ask them to hang out somewhere else, in case they decide that Shiitake mushrooms are tasty.

 

Lavender, sage, rosemary, and … more lavender

LavenderPixabay

Lavender and more lavender

It has taken a lot of time, but I’m pleased to say today we’ve found some excellent sources for herbs that have the qualities we want for You-Snip customers.   Many of the larger growers concentrate on producing plants that are strictly visually exciting.  Some lavenders, for example, are incredibly beautiful in the garden and as a hedge.

But we seek varieties that are also excellent for cooking and baking, that smell wonderfully fragrant and that dry well for use in crafts such as wreathes and sachets.  We expect to transplant our first eight varieties of lavender this spring in the You-Snip part of the field.

We also found several different sage varieties that will also be versatile for cooking, their unusual fragrance as well as great for crafts.  Rosemary, one of my favorite herbs in the kitchen, will also be part of the You-Snip field.  I’ve recently made a deliciously fragrant hair treatment using both rosemary from my garden and rosemary essential oil.

So much fun!