Joey the Draft Horse: Farming before technology

More from Olsen Farm

Olsen Farm

Great Grandpa Olsen used his draft horse, Joey, for all his plowing and field preparations on Olsen Farm for decades. In the early to mid 1900’s farmers all used hand tools and animals for plowing and heavy farm work. By the 50’s motorized tractors became available and were ‘the next big thing’ in farming- if you didn’t have a gas tractor you were falling behind.

Great Grandpa preferred to stick with what he knew worked- Joey was steadfast and reliable. He loved Joey like a child and trusted him like a friend. Great Grandpa had a way with animals, he passed this love of nature and compassion for living things on though the generations.

We still have the remains of the first motorized tractor Great Grandpa was given by the agricultural department as an incentive to expand his farm, and produce more. In the late 1950’s more and more farmers were…

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Beneficial Insects: Praying Mantids for Tick Control

More from Kriten at Olsen Farm

Olsen Farm

Ticks are a serious problem in Berkshire County. Not a day goes by when we don’t find them on ourselves and our pets and we are always searching for ways to manage these horrible pests without the use of toxic chemicals. Our chickens and guinea fowl offer great tick control but can always use some help in their daunting task- we discovered these little helpers in praying mantids, a beneficial insect and natural predator to ticks and other small insects.

Mantids are native to our area so there is not risk of introducing one invasive species to manage another. Be sure to check your area before purchasing and releasing beneficial insects to be sure there is not risk of introducing invasive species. 

Two years ago we bought a few egg sacks and hatched them in a clear cup. There are about 300 tiny mantids in each egg sack- we bought the egg…

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DIY Chicken Saddles, protect your hens from over mating

What a great idea!

Olsen Farm

Chicken trouble: bare backs

Spring is for the birds and the bees- and this means our rooster is working overtime. Sometimes he can get a little carried away with his ‘rooster duties’ and end up pulling feathers from the girl’s backs. Once the other hens see bare skin on their sister’s back they can’t resist pecking and pulling out more feathers.

When a rooster mates a hen he climbs on her back, standing on her wings and holding her neck and back feathers in his beak to get in position for transfer of sperm. Sometimes he pulls out a few feathers during the process. Over mating, or aggressive mating, can lead to hens with bare backs and at risk of further wounds and infection if not cared for. 

We tried using Blu-Kote Antiseptic spray, which we have had success with in the past when chickens had skin exposed,  on our…

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Book by Book

My brilliant daughter

Adulthood is Terriffying

I know that I’m good at writing, but I also know that being good at writing doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve always got something worth writing about. But Anne Lamott says writing is like playing tennis, meaning that sometimes you just go to it and don’t worry about doing it well but still do it because it feels good and also you’re Anne Lamott and grew up in Marin, CA surrounded by insanely liberal, insanely wealthy, insanely creative insane people in the sixties.

Because who else plays tennis and enjoys it?

(For the record, I really respect Anne Lamott and enjoy her work. But she’s kind of a self-righteous asshole.)

Speaking of assholes, Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Slaughterhouse-Five that “what we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time,” and I’ve gone searching for those moments to marvel at countless times throughout my…

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Saving Olsen Farm: a call for help

Please consider supporting my daughter and her husband in keeping the family farm!

Olsen Farm

In January we lost our father unexpectedly after a short illness. He grew up helping his grand parents take care of the chickens, cows and pigs at Olsen Farm. Those were his fondest memories from childhood, and he always loved to reminisce about what an incredible experience it had been to grow up on this farm. He then built his own home on the family farm lands, where he raised his children with a love for the outdoors- creating his fondest memories from his adult life.

His recent passing is part of what inspired us to make Olsen Farm opened to the public as it once was when he was a child growing up here.

We now live in the house he built back in the 1980’s and recently received scary financial news. Because of debts and outstanding bills against the estate we are in jeopardy of losing our home…

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The Politics of Food..What is at Risk?

In this very politically charged world we are living in it is hard for me, as a Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Educator/Counselor to ignore the politics of food. Access to good food is critical for all people in reaching their optimal health and well-being. Without good food we are less likely to be successful in what we endeavor to do in life.

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I am very fortunate in that I have access to good food, grown often very close to where I live. Food that is grown organically or with great care to avoid a multitude of pesticides. I also have jobs that I love at Vermont School for Girls and Southern Vermont College. I work with thoughtful people who seem to enjoy and support the work I do. And I have my private practice as a Holistic Health and Nutrition Educator/Counselor which every day teaches me something new. Enjoying my work adds to my overall health as much as the quality and choices of food do. I spend a great deal of time working and so made a commitment to myself to only do what I consider to be good work. I am aware that not all people have these same blessings and so I remain active in the political arena making an effort to increase access to good food for everyone.

I have had the great privilege of being one of the workshop presenters at the Northeast Organic Farmers Association’s (NOFA) Winter Conference in Burlington, VT. http://nofavt.org/events/35th-annual-winter-conference. While there I offered a workshop on the positive impact food has on not only our physical health but also mental health. I was as you might guess singing to the choir. Talking with the people who attended my workshop feed my desire to continue to seek ways to increase access to goof food for more people. The keynote speakers are both people I respect and I admit I’m a big fan of both due to the amazingly transformative work they have and continue to do in the area of accessibility to real food grown in a sustainable manner.

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The first keynote was Dr. Fernando Funes Monzote, See the source imagewho is a founding member of the Cuban Organic Farmers Association and the developer of the Agroecolocial Project outside of Havana, Cuba http://nofavt.org/events/winter-conference/keynote-speakers. I encourage you to read about he and his families work to provide better access to food in Cuba on small parcels of land. I was struck by the intelligent approach he took to reducing the food crisis Cuba experiences as a small island country. I thought if he could create such a successful farm under such challenging conditions then we here in America could learn from his example and figure out how to better feed our nation.

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The second speaker Dr. Vandana Shiva, who is truly one of my heroes in the world of food accessibility and for her work to protect biodiversity and water rights. She was so approachable meeting with vendors and farmers who gathered for the conference as if she had known us forever. I am such a fan that I found myself following her around the conference for every minute I had to listen to her wisdom and experience her kindness. Here is a Bill Moyers film to introduce her to those of you who are not familiar with her and the work she does: https://youtu.be/fG17oEsQiEw. She has written widely some of the most powerful books include Monocultures of the Mind , Water Wars and her most recent book Making Peace with the Earth. These books will change the way you think about food and water and the very health of this beautiful planet we live on. I truly believe that if we can create food sources that are closer to people and grown with the care connected to organic and sustainable farms we can not only feed more people but we can create a culture that allows peace. And we can do it in a way that makes food not only more accessible but also more nutrient dense improving health of planet and it’s people.

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As for the risks if we continue on the model of large-scale industrial style agribusiness, it has become evident that we will continue to see a rise in health conditions in our country related to the food we eat and the chemicals that are used in the growing process. We will continue to see the decline in the health of this planet which by the way can do without our presence. It is in our best interest to learn about, teach, explore and act to protect the health of our neighbors and this Earth by developing better growing practices such as were presented at the NOFA Conference. Make it your job to get informed and buy or grow your food locally.

Eat Well, Be Well, Live Well

Blessings,

tomatoes

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. HNC

Certified Holistic Health Coach @ Kira’s Kitchen

Blog: http://kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

Phone: 413-464-1462

Spring Means Chicks: Remembering our First Hatch

New from Olsen Farms

Olsen Farm

Our obsession with poultry started last April when we incubated our first five eggs in my classroom, and amazingly all five hatched! Three turned out to be roosters, they all turned out to be exactly what we were missing in our lives. Chickens are truly incredible animals with such unique personalities and an ability to both create and be food. They help control pests and enrich the soil simply by going about their daily business. Chickens are the perfect bird, and the perfect friend.

Chicken eggs need to incubate for 21 days, being turned at least twice a day to allow chicks to evenly develop and prevent them from getting stuck to the inside of their shells. During incubation eggs need to stay at about 100 degrees and have 60% humidity. We have incubated using electronic incubators, seen above, so we can watch the eggs crack and hatch, this year we…

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