Full Circle

I had grand plans for all the farms we would visit during this past weekend’s CFSA Farm Tour.  But we got stuck at the first one.  We spend the entire day (5 hours) at one farm, Woodcrest Farm in Hillsboro.  I picked it to start the day because it had something for everyone in the family.  Silly me.  I grossly underestimated the lure of the forge.

IMG_0111

Blacksmith apprentice

 

Farm owners, Chris & Allen Green, were very generous opening their property to the public.  Mr. Green demonstrated blacksmithing, working the entire day in front of his blazing forge.  Spaghetti was more than a little star struck.  But he & Paul quickly jumped at the chance to participate, assisting, and ultimately producing a pretty good steel hook.  Spaghetti’s take home treasure.  He worked in Mr. Green’s blacksmith shop hammering, grinding & toting water for a good 2-3 hours.  He was invited to return for a local ABANA meeting of blacksmiths.  Nirvana.

goat

Kidding around

Sauce & I were busy roaming the beautiful 1850’s barn taking in the milking parlor (sigh) and animal care areas (ducks!)  I had set goals for myself to research on the tour: duck waterer, poultry housing, wildlife protection.  Check off the duck & poultry line items.  I learned that the combination of poultry drinkers & an old open bucket provided for the ducks while keeping mess to a minimum.  Sauce was

 

adam on gate

Photo by Holly Henderson Bourne

enamored with the kids – both other children and baby goats, that is.  (Baby goats, sigh.  Some day.)

 

 

 

The Greens’ farm model was of great interest to us – direct sales via on farm store with diversified offerings: Dexter beef cattle, heritage pork, rabbit meat, pet milks, and produce.  All done on 11 acres.  Inspiring!  Over the course of the day, we discovered that some of the bloodline of the heritage Dexter cattle breed came from our farm’s previous owner, John Clouse.  This connection gave us pause to think about the importance of provenance.  It was a special day for us.

 

parterre

Formal Garden

IMG_5658

Tiny house model!

 

Sunday, we managed to visit 2 additional farms: Harland’s Creek Farm & Piedmont Biofarm in Pittsboro.  Harland’s Creek was a beautiful plantation farm whose tiny house made me fall in love.  It was the perfect model for our future place!!  They also have a beautiful formal parterre garden full of fruit & pollinator flowers (euphorbia in bloom).  Not to mention the acres of organic produce fields.

IMG_5669

Piedmont Biofarm’s serious eats

We were overwhelmed at the quantity and quality of produce coming from an unlikely place at Piedmont Biofarm.  These business partners were growing astronomical amounts of gorgeous produce on less than 2 acres.  I was awed & inspired.  Chef Geoff topped of the tour with a taste of the gardens.  I watched the boys gobble up his preparation of white radishes (which he munched whole as we chatted).  Both boys sucking down a pile of stewed stems & roasted radishes.  “Oh wow.  This is so good!”  Really?????  Sign me up.  In addition to produce, the farm offers regular on-site field to fork dinners under the stars.

This visit motivated me to retool my mini market garden.  Paul was motivated to get the tractor fixed so we can finally get the bee flower forage and summer veggies in (and off my porch).  Busy weekend ahead.

lettuce

Mini eats

The farm tour was both humbling and uplifting.  These farmers are very generous with their time & treasures.  It’s a daily commitment to preserve their land and produce the finest food the old fashioned way.  And we as a community are really blessed with a selection of quality foods grown by local folks who believe so passionately in what they are doing.  “We feel like we have a calling here,” said Chris Green. “We want to show people the importance of taking care of this land.”  We returned home with great encouragement & ideas (old and new) from these places.  We are excited to ratchet up the work of revitalizing our farm and bringing its growth full circle.

Advertisements

Give it a rest

soaprest

The best part of using hive products for our soap is that I have lots around the house.  The end cuts, misshapen bars, trial runs.  The downside is that bar soap can get messy.  (Thus the ubiquitous Bath & Body pump soaps.)  But not if you have the proper drainage!  Enter Spaghetti’s new and highly effective cedar soap rests.

Spaghetti is our chief woodworker here at BNF.  (I told him he can have his own label once he gets enough products in the works…  The Woodshop at Buck Naked Farm.)  He has been busy churning out these little cedar beauties, just perfect to keep your high quality handmade soap nice and dry.  The soap rests are all handmade by him (age 14) and are finished all naturally with mineral oil and beeswax for water repellency.

His next step is milling an enormous cedar tree that came down in a storm on the farm.  He is anxious to replace the lumberyard wood for farm-grown stock.  (Which smells fantastic!)  So if your soap is feeling a bit mushy or you are looking for a way to dress up your gift of our all natural soap, give it a rest!  It will keep the soap drier and lasting longer for more clean fun.

Farm a Friend

cfsa tour

If you’ve ever wanted to get a step closer to your food, check out this weekend’s CFSA farm tour.  38 local farms across the NC Piedmont are opening their doors, er.. gates, to the public.  This is a real opportunity to see behind the scenes of where & how real food is grown.  Plus, it’s spring which means hordes of cute, fuzzy (redundant?) animals to see.  These farms are the local superheroes of your menus.  They use sustainable, often better than organic methods to produce superior food inside your area code.

We are not on the farm tour this year.  Who knows?  Maybe someday when we grow up.  But for now we are anxious to learn from our neighbor farms.  My learning goals for the weekend include: improved duck housing (especially poo-free waterers), expanded egg layer housing, and fruit management (& wildlife defense).  Many farms on the tour have meat, produce, & other goods for sale during the tour, some even have lunch menus offered for sale.  (One of the farms has a working blacksmith shop.   Spaghetti may set up camp and refuse to leave.)

Even though we aren’t open for farm visits at this time, please come visit us at one of our public events this spring.  First up is a tasting event at Lauralee Gifts on 5/6 and then opening day of the Holly Springs Farmer’s Market on 5/7.  We will also be attending the Chatham County Pollinator Festival on May 14 at Chatham Mills.  Please come out to visit us in May!

In the meantime, tour your local farms and celebrate the wonderful local farms & farmers NC enjoys!   Visit Carolina Farm Stewards Association for maps & all the details.

Strawberry Arrivals

Strawberry season is creeping across NC.  And what a welcome sight at the farmer’s markets!  These highly anticipated berries are starring in our our first new jam of the season, Starwberry Vanilla.  It is the current favorite in our house.  Recent customer quotes include “Awesome” and “Delish!”  (Sauce can’t get enough of it.  I caught him eating it straight out of the jar one day.)  This spring beauty elevates basic PB&J and is lovely on English muffins.  But it is equally tasty as a salad dressing base or topping sponge cake with whipped cream.  Spring trifle!  As usual, local fruit and all natural ingredients make it sing.  But it won’t be around forever, so enjoy it now. 

 Also in celebration of Spring’s first fruit our new, and slightly addicive, Strawberry Lime lipbalm.  It pairs our simple beeswax and shea butter base with a fresh new flavor.  While it is all natural, try not to eat it straight out of the tube.  Because with a little salt, you could imagine yourself on the way to Margaritaville.  

Look for both new products at Ninja Cow Farm and Lauralee Gifts.  More new products coming out very soon, just in time for Mother’s Day and all those other Spring events (teacher appreciation, graduation, etc!).   Feel free to email me directly to buy or stop in to one of our retailers.  Happy Spring!

We Caught a Swarm!

IMG_5495

Spring swarm on a nice low branch

It is swarming season for bees in our area, basically through May/June.  Swarming is a scary sight to most folks – thousands of bees in the air or clustered on a branch, mailbox, or house.  The sight seems menacing, but during a swarm honeybees are very docile.

Swarming is the goal for any colony.  It is the reproductive act of a strong colony where half of the workers, along with the old queen, leave the hive to start a new colony elsewhere (like your house).  Scout bees are out searching for the new location while everyone else clusters on a nearby object (car, lamppost, tree).  Because these bees have no honey or babies to defend, they are pretty harmless.  I know, easy for me to say in my bee suit.  But they really are.

IMG_5503

Adding the swarm to a new hive box

IMG_5517

Welcome home

 

 

 

 

 

 

This swarm conveniently landed on a knee-high branch.  I was able to easily clip the branch and place the cluster into a new hive.  It was a pretty small group but I wasn’t sure if I had caught the queen.   If you have her, everyone else will follow.   You know she is in the box when the workers start fanning.  They hike their backsides in the air and use their wings to fan the queen pheromone into the air.  This signals to other bees still flying “We are here!”  And it works.  Any wayward bees quickly follow the scent and dutifully march into the hive.  Presto!  It’s not always this neat & clean.  But today was.

IMG_5522

Come on in!

Swarms only stay in one spot for as little as a few hours or up to 2 days.  So you have to move fast before they setup permanent camp.  I got a call recently from a friend who had a swarm move into her 3rd story suburban attic.  Within a week, the colony had built up a bunch of comb and was already storing nectar – in her house.  Beekeepers love to get swarm calls.  If we can reach the cluster, we gladly remove a nuisance and collect some free bees!  Who knows?   You might even get some thank-you-honey in return.  So keep an eye out for swarms this Spring.  If you find one, feel free to call me or any local beekeeper.  We love the sight of a ball of bees!