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Worth the Wait

There’s nothing like a just-picked Potter Hill heirloom tomato! IMG_3622You’ve probably seen round red tomatoes for sale at local farmstands for a while now. Though grown in a pot rather than rich soil, hothouse tomatoes are at least picked ripe, so they wouldn’t survive a fall off a semi on the highway…unlike the “fresh-picked” tomatoes in the grocery store! I will admit I’ve bought a couple hothouse tomatoes for burgers, but summer doesn’t officially start for me until I make my first my tomato basil mozzarella sandwich. I made one for my cousin the other day – “easily one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had”. Our friends at Couet Farm dared me to replace the mozzarella with their Fran de Maquis. Challenge accepted – yum!

On that topic, I can now refer to our ‘friends at Couet’ as our ‘award-winning friends at Couet’. Their Franciszka cheese recently won first place in its category at the American Cheese Society’s 2016 Awards Ceremony. You can now order Franciszka and all their other incredible cheeses for Monday pickups at Potter Hill along with your veggies.

In sadder news, the heat finally caught up with the blueberries and cucumbers. Cucumbers are down for the count, and the blueberries are on vacation for a couple weeks. With the minimal amounts of rain we had, I’ve been busy prepping the garden for fall crops. If we all do a little rain dance, we might be snacking on Potter Hill’s famous frost-sweetened fall carrots after all come November!

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday morning. If you’re too busy to choose, order a garden bag for only $15 by replying to this email or ordering it online. We’ll pick all orders fresh Monday morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday afternoon right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Take advantage of this short window of time when the best produce around is grown in Grafton’s backyard!

 

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Relief and a Meatful Monday

Well, a very tiny little bit of relief, but at least it didn’t quite hit 90 today, so I can’t complain. Ok, so maybe just one complaint. What happened to 73 and rain all day!?! Don’t expect a flush of produce all at once, but there is still plenty on the market list for this week. Tomatoes (!!) and beans will be first come, first serve again.

More MatersThe Grady household faced a minor emergency recently…we ran out of Short Creek breakfast sausage last week! In keeping with the trend of having good food come to me, I convinced Jeff to restart his meat deliveries on the first Monday of each month. Fortunately for me and for you, this coming Monday happens to be the first Monday of August. Join me in putting in your order for the best sausages and BACON around. Just like the cheese and blueberries you can now pick up at Potter Hill, all money goes right back to the hardworking farmers who raised the animals AND hand-made each sausage.

Despite the less than hoped for amount of rain, I decided to roll the dice and plant some lettuce that had been waiting for a change of pace from 95 and sunny. Ever the optimist (fool?), I will seed some fall beets, carrots, watermelon radishes, and rutabaga this weekend and hope for the best. What else can I do? The forecast looks decent, though it looked even better yesterday.

We will not be at the market in Douglas tomorrow, so if all you Douglasians need your organic veggies this week, please put in an order for Monday pickup. If you can’t wait, we will be at the Boylston market from 10-1pm on Saturday.

See you Monday!

 

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Parched


Here it is approaching Sunday afternoon and I still haven’t let you all know what’s new in the garden yet! There is so much going on, it’s hard to sit down and spend an hour on the computer, especially with a fussy, but oh so adorable, 5 week old to constantly soothe.Maters

This heat! What can I say about it that hasn’t already been said? We’re in the midst of a severe drought and this brutal string of 90 degree days is supposed to continue for five more days. With our rich, heavy, wet soils up on the hill, we’ve never had to irrigate in the past. Sure, it would have helped during some dryer times, but it never reached crop failure proportions. The good news is that everything that rooted deeply in wetter times (a distant memory now), is continuing to produce…the tomatoes especially seem to be thriving. You may even see a few for sale on Monday!! But I’ve had to delay all new planting, including succession plantings of beets, carrots, radishes, arugula, etc, meaning there will be an unfortunate gap in goodies down the road. Definitely get your fill of Potter Hill organic veggies now…because if this heat doesn’t break soon, there may be no fall crop at all!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention…there will be blueberries for sale on Monday! No, not from Potter Hill (future project along with irrigation!). The good folks at Douglas Orchard have taken on the large task of revitalizing a neglected orchard and are committed to organic practices. Just like the incredible cheese available for order from Couet Farm, the blueberries are being offered as a convenience to Potter Hill customers – all money goes right back to the hard-working farmers that raised these tasty treats!

As always, put your orders in online before 8am tomorrow morning. If you’re too busy to choose, order a garden bag for only $15 by replying to this email or ordering online. We’ll pick your order fresh tomorrow morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday afternoon right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Hope to see you then!

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Cheese? Yes please!

It’s so hot out there you could fry an egg on the sidewalk! Speaking of eggs, breakfast doesn’t get any better than eggs fresh from the farm on toast from Simple Bread, covered with Adelisca cheese from Couet Farm & Fromagerie. FranciszkaMy wife and I love the cheese so much, I reached out to our friend, Marie-Laure, to see if she was interested in offering it to Potter Hill customers. She immediately caught on to what I really wanted – a steady supply of her cheese delivered right to the farm! But she also thought it was a great idea. And so, you can now order her most tasty cheese on our website to be picked up along with your veggies from 4-7pm on Mondays. Just like last week, get your orders in before 8am tomorrow morning. This is my first step in trying to make Potter Hill a one-stop shop of delicious goodness. Please give her cheese a shot – you won’t regret it!

The garden is tolerating the heat and continues to crank out loads of veggies, but how about some rain sometime soon?! New this week is a limited number of rainbow carrot bunches. If you didn’t try any beets last week, you need to. They’re so young and tender, I didn’t even peel them before roasting – halved or quartered, salt, pepper, olive oil and a 400 degree oven for an hour or so, removing the cover halfway. Easy peasy. Oh, and have you tried the blonde cucumbers yet? Follow this link for more tasty treats.

The garden bags were a big hit last week. If you’re overwhelmed by choice, or running short on time, just reply to this email or order online, and you’ll get enough fresh veggies to feed 2 reasonably sized adults for a week for just $15. Order away!

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Monday Pickups are Back!

CucumbersAll of a sudden the summer abundance has struck, and it’s quite delicious. Beets, cucumbers, and zucchini are all available for pickup tomorrow, in addition to much more. That’s right all you beet fantatics, we got the beet back! It seems early up on the hill for these juicy, crisp and cool blonde cucumbers, but I have to keep reminding myself it’s mid-July…how’d that happen!?

There are a dozen different veggies listed on the market page so no matter what you like, there’s a good chance to we have it. Overwhelmed by choices like me? Leave it to your favorite farmer to choose for you. Just reply to this email that you want a garden bag – they’re only $15 and will be filled with enough veggies to last 2 people one week.

Due to the tardiness of this newsletter, I will take orders up until 8am Monday morning, but try to get your order in by midnight tonight! Pickups are back on schedule right on the farm on Mondays from 4-7pm. See you then!

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Special Weekend Pickup!

I’m pretty sure most of Grafton was at opening day of the Grafton Farmers Market yesterday, but in case you missed out on our incredible veggies, we’ll have a Saturday pickup from 9am-1pm this week at the farm. All of a sudden we’re flush with produce and the markets are canceled for the holiday, so please don’t be shy! You may even get to meet our newest farmhand – hint: she’s really, really small and may take a few years before she’s ready to actually help with anything.

radishes

In case you’re new to this or just need a reminder, you can order what you want on our website right up until the night before (in this case tomorrow night). We’ll harvest your order for you the very same morning you pick it up…which is a far cry from the weeks old produce you get from the grocery store! Not only does it taste better, veggies start losing nutrients immediately after harvest. Veggies a few hours old are packed full of nutrients, while the other stuff loses plenty on their long journey up from Mexico or the left coast. In addition to these delicious French Breakfast Radishes, we have kale, swiss chard, lettuce, arugula, tatsoi, bok choi, salad turnips, basil, and scallions available for order on the website.

And don’t forget about eggs. The ladies are scratching around out on fresh pasture and supplemented with organic feed, enjoying life and laying like crazy. You can really taste the difference!

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Bumps and Bruises

Ups and down, call it what you want – it’s been a challenging start to the season. But before we get too far into things, a very exciting announcement: THIS SATURDAY kicks off our market season. We will be at the Douglas Farmers Market from 9-noon with some super fresh organic veggies and plenty of pastured, organically-fed eggs. Hope you can make it! If Grafton is more your style, the Grafton Farmers Market moved to Wednesdays and starts back up 6/29. Same great hours (2-6pm), same great place, and same great vendors, plus a bunch of new ones. Details coming soon.

So it turns out farming is hard. Like, really hard. And not just physically – that part I was prepared for and truly enjoy. There have been a plenitude of literal and expected bumps and bruises, but the those to the ego have been most challenging. I knew it wouldn’t be easy filling Jeff’s boots and striking out on my own, but I sure didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Certainly some of it was my own boneheaded mistakes, incomplete preparation, and taking on far more than I should have in year one. Like not having a working tractor when the first field needed tilled…though she’s purring now thanks to a new friend! Or getting chickens before they had somewhere to hang their hats for the night. Another bump that has been smoothed out!

I wrote this in my head ( a black hole most things never get out of) about a week ago, and my optimistic ending was going to be ‘at least nothing has died yet’. And that’s still 100% true, at the moment. Hopefully he continues to make small improvements, but one of my beloved belties is circling the drain (pictured below in happier times).

Beltie

Pastured cattle don’t get sick – if they do, it’s because of a nail or other piece of metal some careless farmer left in the pasture long ago. The same stumped Tufts veterinarian who told me that had no explanation for the blistering 107.2 degree fever this poor guy had (they’re dead at 108, normal is 101.5). Listless and disoriented, we were both amazed he was still eating with such a high fever.

The vet’s best guess was a rare viral disease (bacterial infections don’t cause such a high temp) that cattle can get from sheep. Unlikely considering he’s seen it twice in 15 years and these belties haven’t been exposed to sheep. His fever is down and his eating up, but he’s developed a limp that may or may not be secondary to the infection. Only time will tell how this guy fares.

In brighter news, the garden looks fantastic despite some bumps and bruises they’ve received from this recent relentless wind. If you think it’s windy down the hill, add 20mph and hold onto your hat at the top! I’ve been waiting for the winds to die down before putting in all those sweet and spicy peppers, but most everything else is in the ground. Tomatoes, eggplant, cukes, zukes, squash, broccoli, cabbage, far more greens than you’ll know what to do with, and plenty more. A few new items as well, but we’ll save that for another day.

See you all soon enough!

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Oink Oink

Unless we add goats to the mix (not happening!), I promise this is the last animal sounds themed newsletter. Really it’s more like ‘squeal squeal’ because these piglets are big talkers. If you haven’t already, head on over to our new Facebook page to check out more pictures and watch these guys grow!

Best Buds

Our ladies up on the hill are laying like gangbusters all of a sudden. I’ve started a pre-buy weekly egg share until the markets start back up. Basically you pay a month at a time and reserve yourself a dozen organically fed, pastured eggs that you can pick up at your convenience.  Reply to this email if interested in signing up!

It’s a meat week so don’t forget to get your meat orders in to Jeff – I fried up some of Jeff’s famous bacon this morning to have with my eggs, Zach’s bread (you can get some at Plantapalooza today), and Couet Farm’s Adelisca cheese. That’s a breakfast of champions…or this farmer at least!

Finally, if you’re reading this Saturday morning, be sure to head over to the  Plantapalooza at Community Harvest Project – it runs till 1pm. They have a huge variety of plants, and it all supports their great mission. See you there!

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Introducing…

Potter Hill’s first foray into social media – we are now on Facebook! We’ve managed to avoid caving to the demands for posting cute piglet pictures for this long, but 2016 is a new year. Here’s a list of unlikely candidates who beat us to Facebook: my mother (happy day after Mother’s Day all y’all moms!), my older brother (who thinks it’s called FaceSpace), and Short Creek Farm (?!). Who knows, maybe we’ll join Snapchat next…whatever that is! Be sure to like our page to get your fill of happy pigs, busy hens, handsome oreo cookie cows, tiny sprouts, recipes, America’s funniest farm videos, meat share prices, and all the farm news…like that those busy hens just laid their first eggs of the season!

And that we’re still looking for a paid intern. If you enjoy working hard and eating like a king, please apply ASAP. I need some serious help to grow all that good food! My last hire fell through at the last minute, so please share with anyone who may be interested. The position is for now through October or November. Click here for the full job description.

Unfortunately, there’s not much for an update on the garden – hurry up and wait some more. Supposedly that big warm yellow orb in the sky will reappear this morning and stay out through Thursday. It’s been so long I forget what it’s called. If this indeed happens, the fields should dry out enough that I’ll get my little tractor into the garden to make raised beds for those poor onions and leeks, who have been waiting far too long to go in the ground. Fingers crossed!

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Moooo!

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In continuing with the animal sounds theme, I’d like to introduce the newest addition to the farm – this handsome quartet! While Jeff was down from NH to grab the last (we think) of his stuff, he helped me haul these young fellas up from Dudley. Although quite healthy, they had never seen an electric fence before. Turns out fence training steers is similar to fence training pigs, but much more exciting. Rounding up a loose 50 pound piglet is much easier than a big 750+ pound steer. After two days of being cooped up in a small electric fence pen enclosed by metal panels, the very minimal hay supply ran out, and I needed to either source more hay or take the gamble and turn them loose in the pasture.

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Expecting them to tear out of the gates like they were in a bullring, we took up positions on the other side of the electric fence. Not sure what we would have actually done had they come full steam toward us considering the electric fence is nothing more than two charged lines of twine, but we were ready! Instead they came out slow as molasses in wintertime, and have respected the fence ever since. These guys love our already lush pasture, and will pack on the pounds eating nothing but the finest grass Potter Hill has to offer until harvest in late fall.

Between the chickens, cattle, and onions just about ready to go in the ground (Monday maybe?), it’s starting to feel a lot like a farm again up on the hill.  I can’t wait to offer you all the best grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, and organic veggies around. Beef share details coming soon!

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