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Welcome to the blog.
Posted 9/25/2017 3:30pm by Stefanie Jaeger.

Farming is very much a game of playing the odds. As the fairly predictable weather of summer gives way to the anything-goes-roller-coaster of fall, keeping track of the odds becomes a critical part of the farming equation. A forecast junkie, I habitually check the weather radar every time I turn on the computer, ending up there whether I intended to or not. Gears spinning in my head quickly evaluate the changes in percentages of rain, thunder storms, sunshine, or cold/frost from the last time I checked the forecast. These changes are weighed carefully against what tasks need to be accomplished for the day and the week, and a course of action is plotted. Repeat hourly as needed. As the captain of this produce ship, I am charged with simultaneously keeping one eye on the horizon and one directly off the bow, constantly readjusting my course to keep the harvest on course and not run aground.

This time of year, having a good crew here on the farm is critical to success. In order to better handle the rigging and keep ahead of the weather, at the end of August we hired on an additional farmhand, Evan. Evan worked here a few years ago for a summer, and has worked on a variety of area farms since then – we are glad to welcome him back on the crew! Having another set of capable hands on the team has been wonderful, and the 3 of us here have been tackling a host of projects. In addition to regular weekly harvests of produce (still picking beans and sweet corn in late September!), the past 2 weeks found us busy getting summer crops out of the hoophouses and prepping the ground in there for winter spinach plantings. The first plantings of winter spinach are up and looking great, and we’ve got 3 more plantings on the way to keep the spinach coming all season long in your winter CSA boxes. For our big project next week, we’ll be pouring a new concrete slab in the root cellar to replace the old gravel floor, which will be an exciting development. That way we can move whole bins of carrots, cabbage, beets, and such around with the pallet jack instead of in 80# sacks by hand. My body is grateful already. Meanwhile, we’ll be watching the weather closely as fall progresses, ready to turn hard starboard as fast as we can and get back to the big storage crop harvests when a cold front appears on the horizon. The onions were the first of the winter crops to get harvested, and I am happy to report they are curing down splendidly in the greenhouse. The next big harvest will be the winter squash, and we’ll need to get it in before the first hard frost settles down in the fields. The longer we leave them to grow in the fields the sweeter they will be this winter – but wait too long and we could lose them to frost damage. Always playing the odds! Enjoy the warm weather while it lasts everyone.

Yours in community, Chris Duke and company – Great Oak Farm


Onions curing for winter

Posted 9/25/2017 3:20pm by Stefanie Jaeger.

Here is the link for the September 27th, 2017 Newsletter!




Posted 9/18/2017 1:28pm by Stefanie Jaeger.
Posted 9/11/2017 2:05pm by Stefanie Jaeger.

The First Frost:

It is something you look forward to with both dread and relief. Dread that your plants will be killed and the tomatoes, peppers, and beans will come to a quick and dramatic. Relief that finally the farming season is coming to a close. With both these things in mind my fiancé I found ourselves out Friday night (the day before our wedding) covering whatever we could with row cover and old greenhouse plastic.

After an unexpected mild frost, the night before and a freeze predicted tonight, I’m not going to get caught sleeping on the job. The thing about early frosts is that they are unpredictable. A degree or two can make all the difference and there is still a lot of stuff out there. What should I harvest now? Should I cover the beans or the peppers? Zucchini or cucumbers? Should the high end of the field get covered or just the low end? I look around and conclude there is not enough row cover for the peppers or beans. Ok let’s cover the cucumbers and zucchinis. We set the sprinklers up in the beans. If it frosts I can turn the sprinklers on to fend off a couple degrees of cold. Peppers, pull off everything that looks reasonably ripe.

Its 11:00 39 degrees and we have harvested everything we can, used all the row cover, and set up sprinklers on the beans, there is nothing more we can do for now. I get up at 2:30, 37° no frost, 3:30, 36° no frost, 4:30, 35° no frost, 5:30, 34° can’t tell might be some frost forming on the grass clipping, 6:00, 34° sun starts to come up, no frost this end of the field, I walk to the low end, a little frost on some grass clippings, 6:30 sun starts to hit the fields, we are in the clear no damage.

Time to get married.

~Northcroft Farm


Posted 9/11/2017 1:36pm by Stefanie Jaeger.

Here is the link for the September 13th 2017 Newsletter!


Posted 9/4/2017 3:15pm by Stefanie Jaeger.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get that pork chop on your plate? Well, it all starts with selecting quality animals for breeding, with an eye on good body configuration and a gentle disposition. Once quality breeding animals are selected, it takes three months, three weeks and three days for the gestation time to produce a litter of pigs. We try to manage for about 10 pigs per litter, on average. We produce two litters per sow per year. Once the baby pigs are born, it takes 10- 11 months for them to get to the ideal weight of 250 lbs. A 250 pound hog produces 170 pounds of meat that can be utilized. During the life of a market hog they will eat about 700 pounds of feed to grow market size. Hogs we pasture during the summer, provides about 70 pounds of feed equivalent. We have 150-200 hogs on the farm so that translates into about 105,000- 140,000 pounds of feed needed each year!

Our goal is to grow as much of our feed as possible. It takes a surprising amount of machinery to grow field corn, our main hog feed. For field preparation we use a two large tractors for plowing, discing and cultivating and a smaller tractor for planting. We try to cultivate our corn 2-3 times during the summer and use our small tractor and a four row cultivator for that task. Once the corn grows and dries to about 25% moisture content it is time to pick. We use a two row corn picker and one of the larger tractors. The corn is picked into a gravity box which is pulled behind the picker. When the box is full we haul it to the farm with our flatbed truck and unload the corn onto a conveyor that carries the corn into a corn crib. One corn crib holds about half the corn we need to feed our hogs for a year.

We also feed our hogs plenty of hay and silage but that is a whole other set of farm implements. We believe raising hogs on pasture when it is available makes for great tasting pork. We try to minimize stress to our hogs. Once the hogs are market size we transport them in our stock trailer to the processing facility (3 hours travel one way) a day before processing takes place to allow them time to adjust to their new surroundings, reducing stress. To get the finished product to your plate we need to pick up the processed, frozen pork cuts up and transport them in our insulated trailer and then transfer it into our walk-in freezer. When the time comes for a CSA delivery we transport the pork to the Bayfield Foods Co-op Aggregation Center where it is boxed up with other meats. That pork chop is then carried to your CSA pick-up location in the Co-op’s refrigerated van and delivered to you our customer!

Thank you for supporting Bayfield Foods Co-op and enabling our members to provide you the finest quality foods in our area.

Tom, Matt and Connie Cogger

Maple Hill Farm LLC

Posted 9/4/2017 2:09pm by Stefanie Jaeger.

The September 6th newsletter has arrived!

Posted 8/30/2017 11:43am by Stefanie Jaeger.

Quick post from the Kitchn on potato storage!

Stock piling tomatoes? Make sauce and freeze for the winter! Recipe here!

Super Hero Muffins - These utilize a good portion of shredded carrot and shredded zucchini!

Blueberry Jam Recipe

10 Ways to Preserve Fruits and Veggies Without Canning 

Posted 8/28/2017 10:37am by Stefanie Jaeger.

This one is packed full of recipes and preserving tips! 

August 30th 2017 Newsletter

Posted 8/21/2017 4:08pm by Stefanie Jaeger.

The long awaited harvest season is finally here! August is what we pine for in the deep May days of seeding, the long June days of weeding, and the hot July days of watering. All those months of planning, seeding, planting, watering, and anticipating have made way for the harvest. For the flower farmer, this means cutting, cutting, and more cutting….  

The colors in the field layer upon themselves in waves, mirroring the highly planned succession plantings that were plotted out way back in December. Bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, garlands….there are so many colors to choose from! In the workshop, colors come together so easily with so much to work with. The work feels like painting – yellow here, then white, pink, and a splash of blue.   There is so much we cannot harvest, but that work falls to the buzzing armada of bees, hummingbirds, birds, moths, and little scissor-clad hands anxious to make their own masterpieces. Some plantings get away from us, blooming overnight in the hot summer heat or when we tried to sneak away for a little down-time off the farm. Better to have a little extra, than not enough, I say.  

In these next few months, we will be opening our fields to share this incredible season of harvest by hosting several on-farm workshops. Our Field to Vase workshops on August 27 and September 17 will focus on the basics of floral arranging, planning out a cutting garden, and venturing in the field to gather and create a masterpiece to bring home. On September 10, we will host a Fresh Flower Crown workshop, where we will demonstrate the tools and techniques of creating several types of fresh flower crowns. Participants will then cut their own flowers to bring back in the workshop to create their own crowns to bring home. In the fall, we will host two wreath making classes – dried flower wreaths on November 11 and fresh evergreen wreaths on December 3. Please join us!

For more information or to register, please see our website: www.wildhollowfarm.com/workshops.html  

Melissa Wild Hollow Farm

Wild Hollow Farm