What’s "growing" on at Morning Star Meadows?!

Flowers…

 

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Grass…and sheep who happily mow our lawn…

 

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Broiler chicks…

 

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“Spot” (has a single spot on top of his head) is center photo…he’s been a bit ambulatorily challenged, but he’s coming along ok now…

 

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Kennebec potatoes…

 

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Green peppers…

 

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Green beans that have yet to sprout above the surface…

 

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Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts…

 

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Red, white and sweet onions…

 

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Leaf lettuce…

 

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Red beets…

 

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Peas, that keep getting found by the bunnies…

 

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Tomatoes…

 

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Carrots…

 

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Grapes…

 

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Rhubarb…

 

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Sweet potatoes…

 

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Field trip!

Today I had a little diversion from the normal busy Saturday.
After picking a sink full of lettuce (again!) and checking all of the sheep for signs of internal parasites (looking for signs of anemia), I left Roy with his tractor and the kids and LOTS of fencing to stretch in the back pasture, and headed up Route 2 toward Andover, CT to the Hurst Family Farm.

Tom Hurst puts in a yearly bulk order of sweet potato slips and shares them with us, so it was time to make the trip up there to pick them up while they were still fresh and healthy.

When I arrived today, I first saw Tom and his boys in the lower field planting…what else?  A slew of sweet potatoes!  No, you don’t actually plant the potatoes themselves, as you do with white potatoes.  Tom orders “slips”, which are vines that are started down south, then uprooted and quick-shipped alive and ready to be planted.  

 

A little further up the driveway I saw these handsome guys – Tom’s oxen team – having a much deserved break after plowing the sweet potato field.  Tom finds that using the tractor with the plow compacts the soil quite a bit where the tires pass, so, apart eliminating from the noise and pollution of the tractor, there are other very practical reasons for using the oxen!

 

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At the top of the hill lies their hand-built country store.


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I love the wraparound porch — complete with rocking chairs and a picnic table, the shade is very inviting on a warm summer day!

 

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Inside, the exposed post and beam interior lends itself to the charming country style, often handmade merchandise that is for sale there.  A friendly Hurst family member is always there to welcome you and help you with your purchases.

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To the left of the store lies the family built post and beam sugar house, resting quietly in the off season.

 

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And to the right are the greenhouses, mostly rebuilt/replaced after the heavy snows damaged them two winters ago.  

 

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There’s also a spectacular post and beam bank barn down the back for the hay, equipment, oxen and cows — sorry I didn’t get a photo!

They also have a newly begun apple orchard, hay fields and acres of organic veggie gardens!

It’s always hard to say goodbye when we visit the Hursts!  But alas — work awaits me at home!  After a quick lunch we were down in our own garden planting tomato plants and sweet potato slips.  It’s looking so nice down there — be back soon with a garden blog with plenty of photos!

Until then — we wish you a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.  We pray for those who have given their lives in the service of our country, and for the families they have left behind.  And we thank all retired and current military personnel for their commitment to keeping us safe and free!

 

The boys are here!

50 Italian red broiler cockerel chicks just arrived!  

 

They’re settling in nicely in our homemade brooder.  We have 2 infrared lights hanging for warmth, some nice warm molasses water to perk them up after their trip to our farm, and they’re starting to peck at the grower feed already!  

 

They’re fluffy and adorable — but they’re going to grow fast and go through an awkward teenage stage before you know it!

 

 

The kids are loving them — the dog is VERY interested in them, and can’t be trusted!  And lets hope the cat never gets near them!

 

If you’re interested in starting some of these yourself, they’re available from Moyers Hatchery or locally in CT from Gourmavian Farms

 

This breed has an interesting history as to how it arrived in the U.S.  I found this story a few days ago in an issue of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association newsletter from 2007.

 

Italian Pastured Broiler Available in US

By Jean Nick


Early in 2007 Moyer’s Chicks quietly added a new type of broiler to their price list.

The first I heard of it was at the PASA (Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Farming) conference in February. I stopped at the Moyer’s booth to chat with Leon Moyer and he gave me a flier about the K-22 broiler.


He told me it had been developed in Italy for raising on pasture. My eyes bulged slightly at the lack of fanfare for this momentous addition, and we promptly added some K-22 chicks to each of our first few Cornish-cross orders.


I was curious to know more about the K-22 so Leon put me in touch with Gary Proctor, a long-time poultry producer, and president of Avicola America, the company that has introduced the K-22 the U.S. market. Avicola America is owned by Pure-line Genetics LLC (http://purelinegenetics.com), a company that produces a range of standard Cornish cross hybrids.


Gary explained that a few years ago Rob Saglio, CEO of Pureline, attended a trade show in Italy. His booth was next to the Avicola Olandia (http://www.olandia.it/public/ inglese/home_en.htm), an Italian company that has been breeding pastured chickens for almost half a century. It currently ships many thousands of chicks to pastured poultry operations across Europe and the Middle East.


Rob was invited to their house in Rome for a chicken supper, declared theirs to be by far the best chicken he had ever eaten, and Avicola America was formed to distribute Avicola chickens in the U.S.


The K-22 (or Kosmos 22) has red or red and black plumage, is a vigorous, healthy bird that forages well, and has a docile nature. It has the body conformation of a heritage bird (long single breast, rather than the short double breast of a Cornish-cross type broiler). The skin is yellow, and the meat is flavorful with a good texture.


In the spring of 2006 Avicola America was allowed to import the eggs that would hatch into the first U.S. breeding flocks of K-22s. Avicola America chose Moyer’s as their only hatchery, both to produce chicks for a handful of large growers as well as to hatch additional K- 22 chicks for sale to the general poultry-raising public.


Later in 2006 Avicola America raised 2,000 of the K-22s and asked the Culinary Institute of America to try them. The Institute proclaimed them the most delicious chickens they had ever tasted and placed an order for 1,000 birds a week, starting as soon as they could be supplied.


Avicola America is developing a brand logo for the K-22, which will be available for use by anyone raising them. They are also establishing a second egg-production flock to increase production. Leon says Moyer’s expects to have a good supply of the K-22s all year.


Our first batch of K-22s is six weeks old as I write this. They are somewhat more active than the same- age CXs they are in with and are definitely growing a little slower than the CXs. We are impatiently watching them grow and looking forward inviting the first of them to dinner soon!

Board member Jean Nick runs Happy Farm in Kintersville, PA with her part- ner Tom Colbaugh. She has a day job with Rodale as a writer and re- searcher.

 

 

Listen to the mockingbird!

No – I won’t start singing again…

 

But what an amazing bird!  I’ve heard them in different parts of CT, but this is the first year I think we’ve had one residing here at Morning Star Meadows!  

 

Listen to this amazing repertoire, in which I am certain are at least 5 different bird calls in one minute, including a hawk!

Leave me some comments to let me know what other bird calls you can identify! 

 

Sorry you can’t see him — here’s a stock photo for you, though:

 

 

Sprouting in the rain!

Just sprouting in the rain!  What a glorious feelin’ – I’m happy again!

 

Aren’t you lucky you can’t hear my Gene Kelly imitation this morning?!

 

I love asparagus!

 

We sloshed through the wet grass and puddles to check out the asparagus patch this morning, and now I’m getting an inspiration to make my famous asparagus/bacon/onion/gorgonzola pizza tomorrow night!  We got a nice harvest with all of this rain — this is only part of it!

 

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Spring is bursting out all over!

The pastures are lush!  The lambs are thriving!  New life is springing up everywhere!  Temperatures are warming overall, and the rain keeps falling enough to keep the grass growing!  

I snapped a full battery’s worth of photos yesterday in the warm sunshine, knowing that we’d have a few gray days coming up.

 

Firstly, those who have been purchasing eggs from us will be happy to learn that as of July we will be increasing our supply of eggs significantly.  This will also please my eldest son who LOVES eggs but more than once has found himself rationed on his consumption so that we will have enough eggs for our customers!

 

Here are ten 3 month old pullets who arrived Saturday and are testing out our new chicken tractor while they mature to layers over the next few weeks (until our broilers are ready to take it over!)  The older girls can’t help themselves and come over to check them out!  

 

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The chicken tractor is working out well!  Each day we move it to a completely new square of grass, and the pullets seem to be pleased, as is the grass, which will get a break to grow back by the time the tractor is ready to return to that spot!

 

Speaking of grass!  It’s definitely spring!  I noticed that it was really getting thick and lush around the feed and storage shed.  Instead of mowing and weed whacking it, as we have in the past, I grabbed a couple of the boys to help me set up the portable electric fence so that we could “mow” and “feed” at the same time.  The yearlings and Millie were more than happy to comply!  They should have a few days worth of feed here.  We move them over in the morning and return them to the barnyard in the evening.

 

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I decided to go in and try to get some candids of the lambs – they’re growing and changing so quickly!

 

Here’s Roxanne’s ewe lamb, enjoying the shade of the hay feeder.

 

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Of course quickly after approaching her, she called to her brother and they ran over to Mom for some support!

 

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Molly’s singleton, which had a head start with an 11 pound birth weight, is HUGE!  And she’s growing some nice horns, now.  She’s shy, but starting to come a bit closer to us now.

 

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Here’s Bindi with her moorit ram.  

 

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He’s adorable and chocolatey!

 

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And here are his ram/ewe siblings.

 

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Hi Bindi!  Yes, your doing a great job with those triplets!

 

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I threw Blue’s ball in just for fun recently.  I thought perhaps the lambs would play with it a bit.  Matilda is pushing it with her nose — only to get it out of the way of food supply, though!

 

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Then her lamb took a brief interest in it.

 

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I decided though that overall it was not a hit and threw it back out of the pasture for Blue.

 

Going into the rams’ pen with the camera was…intersting!

 

They were so inquisitive, that my initial attempt at close-ups was more
than I bargained for!

 

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Think “extreme” close ups!  They HAD to see if the camera was edible!

 

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There.  Finally!  Relative succes.

Hi guys!

 

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And with only a tiny spark of battery left, I finished up the shoot with the “picture of contentment”!

 

Awwww!

 

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