Monday, November 29, 2010

Please Pray!!!

Back in August I wrote about our trip to MN/WI and our visit to my cousins farm.
Today I found out that the barn with all the cows in it (the one pictured in that post), burned down! No one was hurt, but they've lost everything...this was their livelihood!
Please pray for Dave & Judy Zesiger and their family as they work through this. May God be with them, guiding them and comforting them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Fall is here and well on its way out the door.
With its arrival it brought incredible busyness.
This is actually nothing new.
What fall brings here to the farm...
beautiful color and than deep darkness,
lush harvest and then barrenness,
over abundance of production and than not enough.
We look forward to the light that will enter the world once again.
We take the time now to reflect, to dream and to plan.
Once again, very soon, the earth will bring forth abundant color and provisions.
My prayer and dream is that it will be far better than the past year.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Family Farmers

As some may know we (the kids and I ) are visiting MN where lots of family and friends live. My dad needed a visit from his "baby" and she needed to see her dad since he had a heart attack and worries were flying.
He's doing alright for now, although concerns are still warranted. But since the long drive was made with 4 children in tow we decided we needed to do lots of visiting. We've not been in these parts in over 6 years!
Today we drove to Exeland, WI, a TINY little town in the heart of WI where my cousin runs a dairy farm. I have to tell you, this is by far one of my most favorite places in the whole world to be! I know years ago I blogged about growing up visiting my uncles farm in Exeland. Well, he's not farming any longer but his daughter married a farmer and I've visited as often as I could over the last 20+ years. I even lived in Exeland for a year in 92/93. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this place.
So today's post isn't about St. Brigid Farm, it's about the Zesiger Farm in Exeland WI. Here are tons of pictures from that visit.

Above are just some cows lazying around. Below, Joseph and Nicholas have found some new friends. Barn kittens. And they LOVE to be held and played with! All day long I kept hearing, "Can we take one home with us?" This would come with "ideas" on how to make it work in the 1700 mile car trip home. :)

As I said, they love to be held. They would just plop there on your shoulder and stay.

The kids found some of the kittens in the hay bales.
Kelsey jumped right on into chore time. Every day at 4pm starts "chores". She scraped the center isle where they walk up and down to milk the cows. Then she swept their mangers, pushing the feed back into place for them to reach it.
In the above picture of Kelsey you see she is scraping manure into the gutter. Below you see Nicholas absolutely fascinated by this system. The gutter is turned on and these little arms move along the gutter to scrape it. They reach this part of the system where they run over a deep hole where the manure drops and a device scrapes the arm off and it moves on. He stood there the entire time it ran to watch it move. He even informed me that at times it "wasn't working properly."

Here is again, 15 minutes later watching the gears move and the arms get cleaned off.
Joseph and I went to the calf pen while everyone was getting ready for milking. This little calf, Starbust, wanted to lick and lick. I was standing there and this big huge tongue came out and was trying to reach my shirt, hands, camera. LOL It was so funny. I tried to get a picture of the LONG tongue but it was difficult.

This calf is yet unnamed, but she was curious too. Wanted to smell Joseph. I love this picture.

Charissa was the only one to climb up into the hay loft. She thought it was pretty cool.

Charissa is washing an utter and then she learned to put the milker on as well. She really jumped in there and was helping out. She really enjoyed herself. Notice the cat in her lap. That cat would jump up into anyones lap that was sitting like this working on a cow. I first saw it in my cousins sons lap. It was so funny.

Kelsey's helping was Ellyn. They name ALL their cows. They don't just get a number. This was Kelsey's favorite because of the color. Beautiful. I think the breed is called a "milking short horn" .

In this picture Joseph is helping wash a cow and he has on his hiney the cutest little stool that attaches around the waist while milking, for this exact purpose. He begged and begged to try one out and so I tightened up the belt to see if it would fit. It sure did. He walked around like the big guys and it made his work easier. LOL Seth, my cousins 22 year old son, got a big kick out of it.

Here is Joseph and his little seat.

After chores were all done the kids were rewarded with a ride on the ATV. They had a blast. Here is a very cool picture of the first ride. Kelsey and Charissa are on the back, Dave (my cousins husband) is driving and Christina (my cousins youngest daughter) is on the front.

It took awhile but Joseph decided he wanted a ride so he sat behind Dave and hung on for dear life. He had a blast!

I wanted a picture of the whole farming family before leaving. Joseph decided he needed to be a part of the family. Since we just finished barn chores they are all in their barn clothes and dirty. Thanks Zesiger family for a great day! I miss you all very much!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Help Poulsbo Farmer Market Be America’s Favorite Farmers Market!

It’s summertime and that means two things: 1) There are loads of delicious farm fresh produce available at Poulsbo farmers market every week; and 2) American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest has kicked into gear and we need your votes to win!

The process is simple. To vote for our market, all you have to do is:

1.) Go to

2.) Type in Poulsbo; and,

3.) Click “Vote”

That’s it. That’s all it takes to bring Poulsbo one step closer to being America’s favorite farmers market!

Now American Farmland Trust has introduced leader boards where you can keep track of the Top 5 markets receiving votes in WA.

Want to support multiple markets in WA? Search by state and you can vote for more of your favorites - just remember, you only have one vote to cast per market!

According to American Farmland Trust (AFT), the purpose of this contest is to re-connect local consumers to local farms, with the ultimate goal of keeping our nation’s farm and ranch land productive and healthy! Buying at the farmers market keeps money in the local community and helps farms and ranches remain economically viable. By voting, you’re helping support farms and communities across the nation. As American Farmland Trust says, “No Farms No Food™!”

So don’t forget to vote for Poulsbo at and spread the word! Big thanks to everyone who has already voted!

But really if you have a local farmers market you love than vote for yours. The point of my posting this is to promote farmers markets all over the USA. Shopping at farmers markets is so important and so awesome. You are supporting your local community and getting farm fresh produce that cannot compare to that which is shipped into your grocery store from thousands of miles away.

Friday, July 30, 2010

udate...finally, short and sweet.

Busy, busy, busy is all I can say about this summer. It's screaming by so incredibly fast I'm scared to blink.
Summer weather finally has arrived and I don't think we've had rain in a month now. I LOVE IT!!!! So does the garden. Chickens are eating and producing. A little too much on both ends but that's okay. Soon we'll be down more with some going in the freezer and some going to Abbot Tryphon and the monks at All-Merciful Savior Monastery on Vashon Island. They'll be well cared for and loved. And they'll be very pleased to know they won't end up as dinner. :)
Here are some pictures of the garden now that it has finally had an opportunity to grow.

We did not have "knee high by the fourth of July" but it is doing well. This year I am trying my hand at growing popcorn! Yes, popcorn. It's called "pink early" and should do well since it requires a shorter growing season. And what fun it will be to pop.

This is Mr. Ferrenbergs hop plant growing nicely along the fence. Those little fuzzy things are the "flower". It's pretty.

Beet leaves are so pretty!

This is a leaf lettuce but I can't think of the name right off hand. But it is SO pretty! And tasty!

We are trying bush beans this year for freezing. And look a bean already!

This is Kelsey's amazing pumpkin plant! Sugar pumpkin for eating. It's is huge and taking over this part of the garden! Beautiful!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Farm Updates

Have you ever heard those silly little rumors about how it always rains in Seattle? For the first 16 years that I have lived here I always laughed when people talked about those silly little rumors. I never felt that “it always rained” and thought that maybe those rumors were started just to keep people away.

Until now! This is the year that all of those rumors are definitely true! In a 26 day period from mid-May to mid-June (May-September is considered the “dry season”) it rained 24 days. We had our latest EVER first 75 degree day which I think MAYBE happened on June 12th. I actually didn't hear the official word on that one, so maybe it didn't happen. I just asked James to look into that for me and NO...we have not hit 75 degrees yet. The record we broke was June 9th and here it is June 15th and no 75 degrees yet.

On top of that we are several inches ahead of normal rain fall since October 1st. At the airport (the official stats) we've had 38.87 inches of rain since October first, normal? 32.89!!! Here on St. Brigid Farm we've been keeping track of our rain gauge for school and I just added the numbers up. We've had 47.7 inches of rain since September 1st. Ours is a month longer but I can tell you that in September we only got about an inch and a half of rain. Wow!

I don't mean to complain but this has been one doozy of a year for me with regards to weather. It has been miserable. I'm cold! It's June 15th and only 48 degrees outside at 10AM.. I'm tempted to start a fire! The tomatoes are molding. I think I'll have to start over with them. I'm also going to replant the cucumber because when it first came up the slugs attacked it and now there are only a few left.

These beets coming up just look so pretty against the dark soil.

The strawberries are doing alright but I realized today that the slugs are getting the one or two that have ripened. The blueberries look so pretty and the echinacea is growing well. The days that the sun has come out has really boosted their growth.

In animal news we have moved the ducks from their little space in the garden to down by the pond where they get to roam free all day and sometimes all night long. They often don't want to come in at night. But I just hope their stupidity won't come back to bite them in the butt. (Pun intended)

One of the benefits of their roaming free and getting to eat TONS of greens and tons of slugs is the incredible color of their eggs! I just cracked one open yesterday and about fell over!! The picture says it all. The duck egg is the top one, chicken egg below.

BTW...the reason I'm not blogging much anymore is because I don't have internet at home any longer. I can check email on my phone, which keeps me connected, but I do nothing else at home. We go to the library for other internet needs and my time is limited. This was our choice and I was a little nervous at first but have decided that I really do like it a lot!!

I hope your summer is going well and from what I've heard everybody else is actually having a summer. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

There is meat in the freezer.

On Saturday we butchered 7 hens and a rooster. These 7 hens are from our old flock and they range in age from 3 1/2 years to 1 1/2 years. It had been awhile since we butchered and even though I had don it before I needed to reacquaint myself with the procedure. By the last couple birds I think I was completing the process in under 30 minutes. We still have nearly 30 to do and I am hoping the next Saturday I'll be able to double the number we process.
It feels good to be able to put meat in the freezer like that.
Sorry I didn't take pictures. My hands were too messy.

Bringing It To The Table

I haven't read any Wendall Berry except a tid bit now and again. James has read a lot, but I just haven't had time, nor the interest to create the time. But Wendall Berry had a new book come out just last year titled, "Bringing It To The Table". It peaked my interest and so I checked it out at the library. If you aren't familiar with Wendall Berry his books are compilations of essays that he has written over the years and all fit under the heading of what becomes the title of the book. Some of the essays in this book are from the 70's, some from early 2000's. There is one that I found very interesting and wanted to share. Sorry for it's length, I'll try not to tye out the whole thing.

Stupidity in Concentration (2002)
I. Confinement, Concentration, Separation
My task here is to show the great stupidity of industrial animal production. Factory farms, like this essay, have the aim of cramming as much as possible into as small a space as possible. To understand these animal factories, we need to keep in mind three principles: confinement, concentration, and separation.
The principle of confinement in so called animal science is derived from the industrial version of efficiency. The designers of animal factories appear to have had in mind the example of concentration camps or prisons, the aim of which is to house and feed the greatest number in the smallest space at the least expense of money, labor, and attention. To subject innocent creatures to such treatment has long been recognized as heartless. Animal factories make an economic virtue of heartlessness toward domestic animals, to which humans owe instead a large debt of respect and gratitude.
The defenders of animal factores typically assume, or wish others to assume, that these facilities concentrate animals only. But that is not so. They also concentrate the excrement of the animals--to which, when properly dispersed, is a valuable source of fertility, but, when concentrated, is at best a waste, at worst a poison.
Perhaps even more dangerous is the inevitability that large concentrations of animals will invite concentrations of disease organisms, which in turn require concentrated and continuous use of antibiotics. And here the issue enlarges beyond the ecological problem to what some scientists think of as an evolutionary problem: The animal factory becomes a breeding ground for treatment-resistant pathogens, exactly as large field monoculture become breeding grounds for pesticide-resistant pests.

I won't write more. It's too long but you get a glimpse. The essay is truly well written and the book GREAT. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Most of the Garden is in!

I have one more bed that has space and I'm trying to decide exactly what I want in it. I also am waiting to get the tomatoes and peppers in. Yes, I want to try again. They are such a longed for garden fruit that I cannot give up. If you've ever grown tomatoes with any success, you know what I mean. I'm going to buy starts in a week or so from the farmer's market and plant them under little tents.

Here is what I've got in:


snow peas


leaf lettuce





bush beans

pole beans

slicing cucumber

pickling cucumber

lemon cucumber








Each of the 3 older children have their own little plot. Joseph just wanted to help me with all of mine.

Now if I can just get them to grow. For some reason I really struggle with getting greens to grow. I don't know what I could be doing wrong. I've heard this is the best climate for growing these things and we use them ALL the time. I sure would like to be able to grow my own spinach and lettuce! I've just started to saute greens with onion and mushrooms on a regular basis and would love to start growing such things as kale, arugula and collard greens. But I'm not having much luck. Argh! I planted spinach, lettuce and kale at the end of March and I should be picking it now I would think but it just hasn't done much. It's up but oh so small yet. Any advice! I really want to grow my own salads, and year round would be nice!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Garden ready to go

It is May 4th and we woke up to frost! Yuck! But thankfully all is well in the garden. Over the last week I've worked really hard getting the beds all ready. I doubled the size of my garden beds this year from 6 to 12! I'm really excited. I have greens coming up now, plus peas and radishes. I hope this cold spell (to last a couple nights) won't slow things down too much.Here are the blueberries blooming!

And my one lone chive plant.

I love spring but am really looking forward to summer!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Killick is in the dog house...literally

Our big dog Killick, has had a chicken fetish for the last couple years. He's been pretty innocent in his endeavors, until now. One of our friends put it this way: "He's border patrol." The chicken gets out, Killick takes care of it. Our new flock was getting out all the time. I've never had a flock of chickens "FLY the coop" as much as this one. In fact, I've never had chickens fly over the fence at all until this new flock. I knew Killick was getting them when they got over, but I never wanted to know how many I lost, until now.
Last Saturday we were gone ALL day. It was dark when we got home and I went to lock the coops up. I walked into the barn (the coop for the larger, newer flock) and found a big pile of feathers, a mass of feathers, some with flesh still attached. This was not an ordinary thing. I looked around for a carcass thinking maybe a chicken just died and the others had lunch (they actually do do this). But no carcass was found and if that had happened, there would have been a carcass. I looked around outside in their run for one as well, but didn't find one. Instead I found a broken fence, as in something literally climbed the fence!!! It was broken at the top and the bottom half was sagging tremendously!
I have no doubt in my mind that our dog, Killick, got into the coop! Killick has not been on my "friends" list in a VERY LONG time. It is no secret that I do not like this dog and do not consider him my dog at all. But now! Words cannot explain how I feel about this dog now.
I SHOULD have approximately 81 hens in that barn. I've sold some, a couple have died and therefore I SHOULD have approximately 81. On Saturday I decided I just needed to know what he's done. I waited for them to roost for the night and went to count.

I am not pleased to say that I THINK I MIGHT have sixty hens left. Maybe, if I'm lucky. I'm not saying he got 20 hens in that one day, I know that the numbers have trickled down slowly but I know he got more than one. The last 2 days my egg count has been down by about 10-12 eggs, give or take.

Killick is now on a trolley lead in the yard. He is NEVER to roam free again, except at night. Once the chickens are locked up for the night I let him go run and chase other predators. (notice I say "other" ) He has a doghouse (he doesn't know how to use) and he is not welcome in my house any longer. (I might lose the battle on that one when winter roles around again, though.)
Let me be very clear...this was NOT my decision because he is NOT my dog.
You know what they would have done on the old farmstead?

Friday, April 23, 2010

What I learned from WSDA Food Safety Program for Shell Egg Producers Information Night

Last night I went to a meeting that the Kitsap Poultry Growers Coop had. Their guest speaker was from the WA State Department of Agriculture and he came to tell us everything one needs to know about selling eggs or slaughtering chickens in WA. These regs only apply if you want to sell eggs "off farm" (at markets or to stores) or if you want to sell your chicken for meat. One of the only positive things I walked away from this meeting with is a better appreciation for ANYONE who wants to make a living farming in any way. And this meeting had nothing at all to do with organic, he kept saying "that is a completely different department altogether". So taking these regs and building to comply with every little thing you need to do in order to sell and adding to them the regs for wanting to be organic, which from what I understand is NOT an easy thing to do, you can completely understand why organic food is so expensive. The small farmer seriously goes through an incredible amount of "bull" to be able to sell what he works so hard to produce... off the farm. We can sell our eggs on the farm, like we've been doing, selling to family and friends all we want but as we were told last night it's a"buyer beware" sort of thing because we aren't "inspected". Haha! So "buyer beware" if you buy our eggs.

The reason why I went to this meeting was to really understand what I needed to do to sell at Farmers Markets. Last summer I made a decision to completely concentrate on chickens instead of having a variety of farm animals to raise. I was always and forever turning people away who wanted to buy eggs because I didn't have enough. So I thought I could possibly make a little extra income selling eggs. I love my chickens. I love selling the eggs. Everyone who buys our eggs says they are awesome. I get lots of fun compliments all the time. Like the time my friend told me her 3 year old daughter wouldn't eat the store bought (organically raised even) eggs she was forced to buy when my husband was on a business trip and couldn't deliver to Seattle, but when she finally got our eggs again she gobbled them up. :) So I sold the goats and started on my adventure with 100 new chicks. Now that those 100 chickens are laying (and I don't even have 100 anymore but closer to 80) we are getting about 70+ eggs a day (we also still have the old flock that give me about a dozen a day)! The problem is, things aren't going according to my plan! I can't sell enough to keep up. So we are eating LOTS of eggs, donating to the food bank (which is a very good thing), and trying to advertise for more on-farm sales but we still need more sales. So I thought I'd check out this possibility of farmers markets. But the good ol' government don't make it easy.
So we'll plug along with the way things are. I'm sure Poulsbo's food bank doesn't mind me bringing eggs in now and again. We'll be butchering our old flock and donating some chickens to All-Merciful Savior Monastery (if they ever get the chicken coop done, When Fr. Tryphon???) and hopefully with a slight increase in sales (thank you to some new customers from the east side of the water) we'll even out here soon.
But I have to eyes are opened a little wider and I appreciate all those small farmers all the more. ( A small farmer selling eggs is any farm with less than 3000 hens!!) I AM one of those small farmers, but I have resigned from ever trying to make something of it. I really wanted to but until I have the time to put into all the "bull", I can't. Maybe once the kids are grown and I'm not needing to concentrate on home AND school.

BUY FROM YOUR LOCAL SMALL FARMERS!!!! BUY ORGANIC!!! Seek them out! They need us! Don't know where they are? Check out this website...Local Harvest.

One more thought. Through all of this I'm regretting getting rid of the goats. I feel that for little people like us the goal really should be self-sufficiency and sustainability. This means VARIETY. Growing and raising lots of different things so that we don't need to go elsewhere, except for a very few needs. Back to rethinking how I might want to do that. For this year, it's concentrating on the garden!

Happy Spring to you all! May the sun shine on my farm a little more every day...I need it. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Little Bit of Heaven Here On the Farm

Yesterday was an amazing, beautiful day. Spring has truly sprung! By the afternoon the sun was high in the sky and temps were rising. I think we hit about 60 degrees. Today it is suppose to be even warmer and we started with sun! Yeah. I got to work outside, in the garden mostly, for more than 3 hours!!! Earlier this spring I set up my little Icon shelter in the east corner of my garden. The icons I put in there are from the girls. The Theotokos one Kelsey made at camp and the little one in from of it is a rock icon of Christ that Charissa made at camp.

Below the icon shelter is a wooden cross. It isn't because there is something buried there, but because one of my kids made it and wanted it displayed. :) Joseph and Charissa made that and Joseph pounded it proudly into the ground.

The chickens were really enjoying the weather yesterday. I walked out to the run and found all these chickens laying around on the ground. They were sprawled out on their sides, legs stretched, wings stretched. They almost looked dead. They were just relishing in the warmth of the sun!

This little, old flock will become food soon. They've been a wonderful flock but they need to move on to their next purpose since the new flock is finally giving back to us now. We'll start butchering tomorrow, not sure how many we'll get done in one day. We have about 30 to do.
I worked in the garden for a long time yesterday and hope to for a long time this afternoon as well. I LOVE IT! This project that I'm working on has been going for a couple months now, but here is what I'm doing. I revamped the whole layout and decided to do a "no dig" method of gardening raised beds! There is tons of information on this on the internet. One of my favorite books though is called "Lasagna Gardening". If you google lasagna gardening you will gets lots of information as well. Since I started late in the winter I didn't have time to do LOTS of layers but decided that they will build up a little each year. We'll see how it all goes. First, I started with a layer of newspaper or cardboard, THICK.

Second step was to then put a thick layer of straw. They say some straws aren't good, I think I got one that isn't good because it is starting to sprout, but there is nothing I can do about it now. I just pluck out the little sprouts and because they aren't rooted into anything it's easy.

Third step is to put on a thick layer of compost! This is the step I'm still in the middle of doing. Well, yesterday I finished 2 beds that still needed the first 2 steps done. Today I plan to haul compost all afternoon and get all 10 beds complete. I also hope to do some planting in the beds that have been complete now for a month. The 3 closest beds you see below have been ready for a month. There is a fourth one ready, you can see a tiny corner of it in the lower part of the picture. I planted lettuce, kale and spinach in that bed 3 weeks ago.

Here is my spinach sprouting!!!
A funny picture of Nicholas. Nicholas has become my inventor. He has a "laboratory" up in his bedroom and wants to be an inventor. This has really inspired his sister as well and they often invent things together. This is a blessing, because most of the time all they do is fight. But they've worked nicely together on their inventions.

The reason I mention the inventor and his sister is because yesterday Charissa was the inventor. She spent a good part of the afternoon rigging up this watering system. Hours!
When she was done and it did what it was suppose to she was SO proud of her work. I was too. The bucket fills with water, she moves the ropes to let it dump into the buck that is waiting below.

She filled the duck waterer with her new invention.

So, So, So happy spring is really here and very much looking forward to summer and hoping it is a good one, weather wise.