Friday, May 29, 2009

Market tomorrow

We planted beans today.  It was the first nice day after a couple of much needed rainy ones.  Tomorrow at the Suttons Bay Farmer's Market we'll have radishes, ramps, salad greens, turnips and soap.  Tomatoes and pepper plants can probably go outside in a couple of days, just as soon as I get up the courage to risk them overnight in the cold. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Hey everyone -- after numerous requests and slowly coming to grips with the reality that this networking phenomenon is unavoidable, we are now on facebook.  Come be friends with the Bare Knuckle Farm.  No word yet on twitter.  I remain skeptical. I'm also doubtful about these newfangled phones with the why-fi and so-called horseless carriage.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Northport is a small town.  You can drive all the way through without stopping -- just the occasional yield sign.  You don't always see that many people on the streets and there aren't that many shops.  You might think this is a tiny little community.  It's small, that's for sure, but it certainly boasts the most thriving sense of community I had ever seen.  For Memorial Day there was a rememberance of war veterans at the local cemetary.  It seemed like the whole town showed up.  It was like the carnival was in town.  We had to part far out in a field and walk in, there were so many cars.  The community band played Souza marches and the choir sang those good old patriotic tunes.  There was a reading of the Gettysburg address and a series of speeches and benedictions.  They played taps and lowered the flag.  Afterward we all walked around and looked at the gravestones, marking the burial sites of Northport pioneer farming families. 
Back on the farm we just started seeds for squash and cucumbers and zucchini.  I'm working on plowing up more field space to plant a cover crop of clover and rye grass.  The plan is to let it all grow tall, then mow it and gather up the clippings.  These are super sources of nitrogen that we can let compost over the year and next year will be awesome decayed organic matter to put back into our soil.  We are also busy strewing straw atop the paths between vegetable rows.  This straw will help keep weeds down, as well as help keep the soil cool and protected from the drying sun and wind.  Our soil is pretty sandy, so we need some way to keep moisture in the soil.  A little straw blanket is just the trick.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Things outside

We have so much stuff coming up.  Radishes, Turnips, arugula, chard, spinach, onions, leeks, carrots, claytonia, potatoes, mustard greens, amish deer tongue lettuce, sage, kholrabi, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, parsley, cilantro.  The ducks and geese are outside and every morning we herd them into a movable fenced in pen where they can eat all the fresh grass they want.  Our goose with the weak knees seems totally recovered.  The chickens are also outside now and much happier.  Last night we dug 75 pounds of ramps and sold them to restaurants in chicago.  Abra is delivering them whilst in Chicago this weekend for a wedding.  Tomorrow we are off to the suttons bay farmer's market -- where we'll sell radishes, stir-fry greens, flowering cherry boughs, ramps, soap and some seedlings.
All in all, things are looking very good.  Jess has a concert as part of the Northport Chior on Memorial Day at the cemetary.  Brix and Susie are coming up late tonight for the weekend. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Two nights ago the ducks and geese had their first night outside.  We built a little coop and installed a heat lamp to keep them warm at night.  They seem much happier and we seem much cleaner now that they are out of the bathtub.  Last night was to be their second night but it was a blustery day and at 9 pm the power went out.  We decided to bring them in for the night.  So out we trooped and with much goose screaming we managed to pull them out of their coop and put them into an old wooden trunk.  We brought them inside and set them up near the warm wood stove.  They settled right down.  Then the power went back on.  Of course.  Today they are back outside.  50 bales of straw arrived and we planted potatoes this morning. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


There are at least two porcupines that live near our cottage.  These large nocturnal spiny beasts waddle, grunt, and are unbothered by flashlights our pounding on the glass windows.  They are also in love.  A few nights ago Abra, Erik, Jess and I all witnessed extended porcupine foreplay.  The larger male pursuing his lover, slowly, awkwardly.  This all culminated with him standing up and well, it was like a nature documentary, right outside our window.  Read about the whole and unusual process of porcupine mating here:

We are going to move the ducks and geese out of the bathtub today and into their coop.  They'll have a heat light for the next couple of weeks though to fend off the cold.  And it has been cold.  We had a hard freeze the last two nights.  Killed a lot of our radish seedlings and arugula.  But we have plenty of time to replant.  Not so lucky for all the cherry farmers in the area - many of the cherries are in full bloom right now -- the stage where they are most vulnerable to frost.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

chicks asleep


Abra and Erik are set to arrive tomorrow.  Our Bare Knuckle Family is growing.  It's ofggy and wet today but is suppoed to be beautiful tomorrow.  Not that it is ugly today.  The trilliums are up and the fog through the woods gives the forest and ethereal feel.  The slight breeze from the water blows wisps of mist around the big towering catherdral like beech trees, their tops too high to be seen clearly.  A wet day is a great day to start seeds for transplants.  This morning we planted 1000 seeds of kale and mustard and arugula.  Later we might repot some of our peppers and tomatoes into larger pots.  Our birds are doing well, although one of the geese is a little weak legged.  It could be a niacin deficiency, although his food should have enough.  It could also just be genetic.  We plan to feed him some brewers yeast which is chock full of niacin and other good things.  The chicks love to pearch on our outstretched arms.  Just the black Plymouth Rocks though.  The Rhode Island Reds are more skittish.  Yesterday we met some fellow young farmers.  They're practically our neighbors, just a 15 minute drive away. (That's really close by rural standards.)  You can check out their operation at .  They've got a huge hoop house tons of leafy greens.  Their first tomato is set to ripen this week. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Birds arrive

We drove to the post office yesterday morning to pick up our poultry.  50 chickens, 8 ducks and 6 geese.  They are all happily pecking away in our bathroom.  They had heat lamps and water and food.  For the first couple of weeks they need temperatures in the 90s, so our bathroom is pretty tropical right now. The birds are very alert and active.  The ducks and geese are living in a separate pen because they fling too much water around and make big messes and run over the chickens.  We've probably spent at least three hours just watching them cavort.  
Yesterday we also installed an electric fence around the farm.  It was surprisingly easy, but we still need to run electricity out to it before it is ready.  It should provide the deer with a disincentive to sample our vegetables.
Tonight there is a all-you can eat smelt dinner fundraiser in the community and we are super excited.