Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
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Planting at Last!

Finally, the warm temperatures and sunny skies are making it feel like spring!  This weekend, we were finally able to get the horses harnessed and get the majority of this year's garden plowed.  We'll still need to do lots more, like discing and harrowing, before it's ready to plant, but it sure is nice to see some freshly tilled soil when I look outside.  We did get a few things in the ground as well, in a space tilled with our BCS rototiller.  Again, we planted beets, green onions, radishes, lots of lettuces, carrots and peas.  It's important to plant things like lettuce and radishes every few weeks in order to be able to harvest routinely as the season wears on.

 We also planted some potatoes.  Our potato order from Seed Saver's Exchange arrived, so we wanted to get them into the ground as soon as possible. We're trying a neat new variety this year called Mountain Rose.  These red-skinned potatoes also have swirls of rose through the flesh.  The description in the catalog said they will be a non-waxy potato, great for chips, fries, mashing or a unique looking potato salad.  We were also anticipating more All-Blue potatoes, which we've grown for the past couple of years.  They're small, with a purple-blue skin and flesh.  Tasty potatoes that are great for baking & frying, and also retain their color when boiled.  I had visions of a really patriotic potato salad if I combined the two varieties!  Unfortunately, despite the fact I placed my order months ago, when it came time to ship, they were out of the All Blues.   I'm still trying to locate another source with hopes of growing them yet this year.  But I was excited that Seed Savers shipped another variety of potato (at no charge) to make up for the ones I wouldn't be getting.  So we're growing Nicola potatoes this year.  They are medium-large, white potatoes.  They are said to have a low glycemic level and are waxy and excellent for boiling & salads.   I've yet to be less than amazed at the rich flavors of the wonderful heirloom plants from Seed Saver's Exchange, so I'm looking forward to trying these as well.

We're also looking at moving at least some of the herb garden.  It's been years since the soil has been tilled and properly limed and fertilized.  The weeds are thick and most of what herbs are there need thinned.  So yesterday, as Dan was plowing, I began transplanting some of my chives, thinning them and moving them to their new home.  This morning, they looked great, it didn't seem to faze them one bit.  I have more to thin and move, so I just may put some in pots and offer them for sale when we open.

It's hard to believe, but we'll be open for the season in just three weeks, on May 28!  There is lots to do before then.  One thing we needed to take care of was getting meat processed- we'll be offering our grass fed beef by the pound and also some lamb kielbasa on opening day, so of course we needed to make arrangements for those animals to go to Hirsch's, our meat processor.  We penned up the animals in the barn last night, which ended up being a very good thing.  Matt was around and able to lend an extra hand sorting out the right animals and moving them. The trailer usually comes in the evenings, but this morning I got a call asking if it would be possible to load them this morning instead.  I said yes, it was just great as far as I was concerned to get it done with earlier in the day.  The only thing was that Dan was working an hour away, so it would just be me  and Tom, the driver.   He is almost always the driver who comes to the farm, and is a pro at loading the animals with a minimum of fuss and stress for all involved.  When he got here, I opened the barn doors, spotted as he backed the trailer, and let him know it was just me on the farm today.  He said it would be no problem, and 15 minutes later, the animals were loaded and the trailer was on its way down the road.  

I've gotten used to the idea of loading animals onto the trailer for processing into meat, and I don't get too choked up about it anymore.  A frequently asked question I get is how I can eat something that I raised (and usually named, as well!) The answer is that I know we raised them in a humane way, with all the luxuries of pasture, sun, and wholesome diet that most animals raised for meat don't get.  The animals wouldn't even be born if they didn't have a purpose, so giving them a good existence before they are killed quickly and humanely is nothing to get too upset about.  In fact, just the opposite- not only do the animals live in a way fitting to their nature, but it gives people in our area an option to support something besides the factory farms with their food dollars if they choose to eat meat.  And it tastes so much better!  So, over time, loading has become more of a semi-routine farm chore and less of an emotional roller coaster.  Even though it was unexpected, it did feel good to know I could take care of this chore myself, without Dan.  It wasn't a big deal, everything went well, and the driver seemed comfortable working with just me there in the barn, which to me was a big compliment.  I've noticed that many farm and livestock folks aren't big on giving each other praise.  Often the biggest is that they are happy to work with you, and when they do, you trust each other enough to get the job done safely and quickly, like we did today.

 
 

Flowers & Fieldwork

Well my little Morgan, Sara, got her first taste of being a "work pony" this week.  Dan had her pulling a harrow through the garden and she did really well.  She's going to need some time getting used to the traces rubbing a bit when she turns, but overall it's going well.  I'm like a proud mama, she's been my baby for 17 years now.  I just think it's amazing that she's done so many different things in her life and now is working towards being a great field work horse.  Not bad for a little pony no one wanted whom I got through the Equine Rescue League.  It just shows the old Morgan bloodlines really are an all-purpose breed. 

 Everything is starting to turn green!  I swear when I looked at my flower bed on Sunday, there were just small buds and plants coming up, but last night my bleeding heart flower had not one but two blooms on it!  The rhubarb is really growing fast, if anyone is interested I have lots for sale!

We transplanted seedlings this weekend and I am always amazed at how fast they grow.  Everything we got from Seed Savers Exchange sprouted exceptionally well and I can't wait to taste the vegetables!  Our other seed orders are all in now, with the exception of some shallots I was hoping to plant but were sold out.  We're going to start the rest of the indoor seedlings this weekend and hopefully plant the rest of the potatoes.  We should have lots, we're planting 50# of Yukon Golds as well as reds and whites and I'm trying a heritage all-blue variety.

 
 
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