In the world that once was Bare Hands Farm…

Hope I didn’t startle anyone. Just because this is the final “Bare Hands Farm” newsletter, certainly doesn’t mean it’s “our” last newsletter. On the contrary, to your delight or dismay, there are many, many more to come!

Another winter gone by and a new spring and summer upon us. I’ve really missed writing these updates and communicating our ideas and passions to you all, but there just hasn’t been enough interesting to write about. The winter will always be the quiet time on the farm, at least as far as big, tangible projects are concerned. And this winter was even more quiet since I (Graham) was laid up for a large portion of it, recovering from ankle surgery. But now with the return of Spring, and us quite literally back on our feet, there is anything but a lack of stuff happening on the farm and much to share! So here’s to the return of that big ball of energy we call the sun returning to our portion of the globe and the ever-bearing injection of life that will follow, henceforth.

I suppose I should start by informing everyone that the name, “Bare Hands Farm”, will no longer officially be used to identify our farming venture here at this site. Lumping our farming/permaculture efforts into the whole that more simply is, “The Grove”, will make things much easier in many ways, including communication about what is happening at this site, and administratively, legally, and so forth. Also, we very much do envision an encompassing, full-circle offering of social and educational sustainability, as well as practiced demonstrations of sustainability, with respect to the gambit of systems, projects, activities, and events that take place here. Thus, from now on, we will refer to the location of this site, as well as the food and other natural production side of things, as well as references to all the other events that happen here, as happening at “The Grove”.

So in these days of increasing, but still scant, light, the propagation of life at The Grove has begun in earnest. Some of you may have seen the pictures of our 2 beautiful baby goat kids, that quite frankly, were bit of a surprise to us. We were doing our best avoid any contact between our large Saanen/Toggenberg mix buck, and our new (at the time) itty bitty Nigerian dwarf/Kashmir mix does right around the time of our wedding and hosting copious amounts of out-of-towners. When we acquired our little does, what we did not consider were the birthing complications that could occur with such a difference in size of the parents. The other way around would have been fine (i.e. large doe, small buck). Alas, in the chaos surrounding the wedding, Samson with all of his persistence and determination, did manage to get to one of our does, and about a 150 days later (or, about 2 months ago), we were brought Reginald and Archibald, our 2 vivacious little male goat kids. We noticed one day earlier in the winter that she was looking rather large in the belly, and sure enough, about a week later on a particularly chilly morning, Mindy came running inside with an armful of 2 screaming new-born goat kids to warm them up and clean them off. Anything but a disappointment now, these guys have been 2 rambunctious balls of joy. So sprightly and full of life. And growing fast! They’re almost as big as their mother already!

Next are our bunnies! And how appropriate for the Easter holiday season?! With 2 disappointing failed litters over the winter, we learned a lot, and this one was a big success. A litter of 7, so cute almost fake-looking, puffball bunnies. They’re just old enough (just over a couple weeks) for us to sarely handle and take some photo ops with.

And lastly are our pride and joy litter of 9 piglets from our beautiful gilt, turned sow, Gretel. A huge thanks to Steve and Anita Hill from Sunny Hill Ranch (the ones with all the amazing yak out on Montana Creek Road) for letting us barrow Wilbur, their young stud boar earlier in the winter to plant the seed, so to speak. Wilbur did a fantastic job, and as a result, our pig herd grew immensely in one fell swoop 2 Sundays ago. Being absolutely smitten with our pigs over the last year, we really, really, really wanted baby piglets, so we were crossing our fingers, but I was skeptical. Every time I saw Wilbur making his advancements (and believe you me, it was frequent!), Gretel was always very resistant. But as they say, it only takes once, when she’s ready! So now we’re blessed with 9 little grunting gremlins. Right now the plan is to keep all of them (except for the one we’re giving to the Hill’s for their gracious loan of Wilbur to us) to raise and sell. We’ll probably keep one gilt (a young female pig) to breed next year (along with Gretel again) and also one to butcher for ourselves.

When we sell, there are some legality issues that need considering. The main thing is that we cannot legally butcher our own meat and sell the cuts to the public. In order for us to be able to sell cuts in a retail-type situation, the meat needs to be processed in a USDA-certified processing facility, which to my knowledge there is only one in the state, which is state-run, and is now possibly on the legislative chopping block. So, the big thing we’ll need to figure out is if the buyer would like to take the pig live to butcher (or otherwise), or….something else. I guess the other options would be setting up a sort of U-butcher operation here on the farm for the consumer to butcher (I think this is a thing), or possibly us transporting the pig to the butcher, for the consumer to pick up at a later time. At any rate, there are some legality issues there that need to be navigated, but we’ll deal with those as they arise.

Ok everyone, as always, I’ve been long-winded, my fingers hurt from typing and your eyes probably hurt from reading. Much more in the way of news, subjects, blabberings, in the future, on subjects such as: hugelculture raised beds that will built this summer; the black locust, chinese chestnut, and mulberry trees that I have growing inside right now; other selected varieties of perennial plants and why we’ve selected them; the continuing formation of the pond, the jobs that our critters will be performing for us this summer; other plant varieties we’ll be getting in the ground; a potential plant nursery here on site; plant and animal breeding; and on and on.

Looking forward to sharing our trials and tribulations with you as we joyfully blunder through this lovely experiment of sustainable land design. We’re happy to have you along for the ride!

Thank you so much for your support and please contact us with any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions.

– Graham and Mindy

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