Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
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A New Season Begins

A new season is here at our farm!  Yes, it's officially summer now, although it's been pretty hot with lots of thunderstorms for some time now.  As I mentioned in my last post, we're transitioning to a new season in our lives as well.  Tomorrow is my official last day of off-farm work.  I'm excited, optimistic, and yes, a little nervous about where this will lead.  I'm walking away from what I've known for the past five years, but during the "test run" of a 3-month layoff last fall, I came to know, without a doubt, that this is really where my heart lies.  Will I have to find another day job or will the farm be enough?  I don't know.  I do know I have a vision of what I'd like the farm to be someday.  A teaching place.  A place where anyone can learn about how food is grown. How it is possible to build up the soil rather than destroy it while producing your crops.  How to raise animals in a way that is humane, sustainable and healthy for the creatures, the people and the environment.  How to partner with horses to work the land like Americans have done for generations, before our dependence on oil put a tractor in nearly every field (and why this part of our lives doesn't have anything to do with being Amish).  What an heirloom plant or heritage livestock breed looks like, what it tastes like, why it's valuable and how we can save them.  I'm not sure exactly how this will work or what it will look like.  I am excited to take a small step in that direction July 24th by being part of the PA Buy Fresh Buy Local farm tour.  I'll be showcasing the poultry on a short walking tour, letting people see our birds and letting them know more about what we raise and why.  We'll see where it goes from there!

The garden is thriving in this weather.  My heirloom lettuces, Grandpa Admire's and Crisp Mint Romaine, have taken the heat well so far and didn't bitter like some of the other varieties.  Peas are here, both sugar and shelling.  The borage (a beautiful herb that tastes like a cucumber) is in bloom already.  The green onions are rapidly growing into big onions. Tiny zucchini and summer squash are appearing with the promise of being plentiful as always. Little green tomatoes have appeared, and so far no reports of the blight that plagued farms in our area last year.  More treasures appear every day.  I swear you can see the corn stalks' growth between morning and night!   The hay fields are also more than ready, and with a break in the predicted thunderstorms we'll be mowing hay Friday with any luck. A great time to be in the fields.

All the animals are thriving on pasture.  We recently got a couple more beef cows that have joined the herd without incident.  This weekend we're anticipating the loan of a Dexter bull along with a Dexter cow to milk and a calf to raise.  One of my doe rabbits just had 6 healthy babies.  The spring lambs are growing so fast on the lush pasture, some of the boys are nearly as tall as their mothers.  The turkeys are growing by leaps and bounds, with the males attempting some hilarious-sounding teenage gobbles.  While the peafowl are finished laying eggs for the year, the eggs are in the incubator and I'm anxious to see if we have a successful hatch. A wonderful time to have animals.

I've begun canning garden excess, so far I've made 2 rhubarb jams- one with oranges, the other with ginger and oriental spices.  I have new batches of homemade vinegars fermenting, and I'm excited to try some  herbal or fruit infusions with them when they are ready.  There are new mustard recipes to try, including my quest to master a good champagne-dill one.  I was trying to use Google to find an alternate recipe last night, and I had to laugh when my blog entry about my utter failure with this earlier in the year was the #4 result when I typed "champagne dill mustard recipe"! A superb time to use up the bounty of the garden, to try new recipes, to create my own.

Tomorrow, I'll come home and put the khaki slacks away.  (ok, I'll wash them first.)  I'll put on my jeans and barn boots, and begin a new day, a new season.  I don't know how long it will last or what storms lay on the horizon, but I'm excited.  I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be, and I can't wait to have more time to put my hands in the dirt. 

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