8/17/2015

In the world of Bare Hands Farm…

Oh what crazy times have found us here at Bare Hands Farm! House concerts, yoga retreats, duck roasts, wedding planning, micro greens, new animals, oh my!

Grove News: The yoga retreat went splendidly! Mindy and I weren’t able to be around for hardly any of it, but it was well attended and the few Talkeetnans that we spoke with who went said it did them very well. Svia mentioned an idea she had for a skiing/yoga retreat in the winter time at The Grove. Sounds great! Probably not this year but stay tuned for possibilities there.

Newborn House Concert: I’ve been in contact with Nick from the band, “Newborn” (members from the locally loved, “Wasteland Hop” out of Fort Collins, CO), who admitted that he was more excited for the show at The Grove than anywhere else on his Alaska tour! I’m really hoping for a great turnout for this young acoustic duo.

Upcoming Events: Emma Hill and Small Souls House Concert on September 10th and we’re happy to announce that the 2015 KTNA Art Auction will be held at The Grove on September 13th! Stay tuned for details.

Farm News:

Duck Roast: Rather quickly conceived and organized is our first partnering with Nate Bryan for feast offerings of our animals and his smoker, to the public. We’re trialing this out with our ducks to see how it goes and may do much more in the future. At any rate, the feast starts at 5pm tomorrow, first come, first served, with the house concert to follow at 8pm. Hope to see many of you there!

Development: The back woodlot is turning more and more into a gorgeously prepared south-facing slope, ready to be transformed into an expanse of food production. We aim to use swales (i.e. long, level ditches on contour, to help us catch water and slowly bleed it back into the landscape). On the downhill side of the swales we’ll be using hugelkultur, or large beds of buried woody debris, to slowly break down and act as a sponge for all of this water and nutrients, fed back to the plants as needed. These are 2 very effective methods for improving fertility and natural irrigation onto landscapes and I think are going to work great on our property.

New Animals: When some doors close at Bare Hands Farm, others open. We’re once again very grateful for the time we had with our ducks and are very much looking forward to our duck roast this weekend. We’re also excited to announce some new members to the Farm – a whole slew of rabbits! There was a couple in Trapper Creek who love raising rabbits, but alas, life was getting in the way and needed to get rid of them. It was the perfect time for us to take the plunge, I do believe.

Rabbits have been on our list of possible animals for the farm for a variety of reasons. Easy management, very efficient means of turning grass and other forage into meat, great taste, wonderful manure, and not to mention, their pretty adorable, as you can see! Let us know if you’d like to come check them out. We’ve got a couple of Flemish Giants, a few New Zealands, and several young crosses.

What animals will be next at Bare Hands Farm?! Eh, I think we need to paring down a bit at some point! Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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

– Graham and Mindy

7/13/2015

In the world of Bare Hands Farm…

Hello again, everyone! Lots going on with Bare Hands Farm as we continue to make big strides through this summer of 2015! Plants and animals are flourishing, land is being cultivated and made fertile, infrastructure is being installed, new tools are being acquired, relationships are being made. We’re so excited with the progress and are loving each day and always looking forward to tomorrow. Let’s keep growing!
Grove News: We are finally getting official promotions out for the Easton Stagger Phillips House Concert on July 25, just a week and a half away. The last bit of info to share is that there will be a $20 suggested donation at the door. Come eat, drink, and play before the show starting at 5:30 and the music will start at 7:30. The grill will be on, so bring anything you’d like grill up, or any other picnic food. We’d also love to play some bocce and any other lawn games. Bring your favorites.

Farm News:

Micro Greens: We’re continually putting out an abundance of fresh micro greens twice a week. We had our best farmers’ market yet again last Friday, and still had some left over. Thank you so much for supporting us. I’m getting too good at growing and just the whole process and putting out a ton of greens! As a result, we’re currently looking for other venues to sell, and that work with our schedule and harvest days. Let us know if you have any suggestions.

Regular Commutes to Denali?: As I believe I mentioned in a previous newsletter, we’ve begun a great relationship with the incredible 229 Parks Restaurant up near Denali National Park. The owner and head chef, Laura Cole is willing to buy a substantial amount of greens from us. She comes through Sunshine on the Parks occasionally on trips to/from Anchorage where she will pick up greens from us, and we go up there occasionally where we can drop off. But we’d really love to get her greens at least once a week, and we’d like to limit the amount of trips up there.

That said, does anyone on the list, or anyone that you all know of go up that way on a regular (ideally weekly) basis? It’d be such a bonus for us to get a regular delivery of our greens up there, but of course, it’s a long way for us to go to just drop off greens. Don’t get me wrong, we love the drive, but gas and time add up week after week. Please let me know if you know anyone frequently heads up that way. There’s at least some free micro greens involved, and potentially just plain old gas money if that would be more appropriate.

Tuesday Market: Due to low attendance, Mindy and I have decided to cancel the Tuesday Market at The Grove this year. We knew it was a lot to expect folks to carve time out of their chaotic summer schedules to come get a bag or 2 of micro greens. Next year we’ll have lots more to sell and maybe we’ll have a full-fledged mid-week farmers’ market out here next year. Thanks so everyone who came and by all means, please still feel free to come by the farm anytime, or set up an farm tour with us beforehand.

The Upper Susitna Valley Farmers’ Market: As mentioned, we had our best farmers’ market yet again last Friday and are hoping to see even more folks tonight. And there were more vendors than ever as well. It’s really starting to look like a fabulous market out there with a pretty diverse array of produce and products. Come get out of the rain and by some delicious local produce. 5-8pm at the Fairview Inn Beer Garden!

Animals: The chickens and Samson are just loving their new forest paddock! It’s already so transformed compared to when we first got them out there. What a positive difference animals can make on your property. More pictures forthcoming!

Hansel and Gretel (the pigs) are looking so healthy, happy, and are flat out getting huge! Hansel has about another month to fatten up before we really need to start thinking about processing in time for the wedding. The lovely lady will be very big and healthy in time for winter, whereupon we will likely move her next to the winter chicken abode in the (former) carport, now turned barn.

The ducks are great as ever. They’re doing a wonderful job, with an initial boost from Samson, at keeping the dense jungle of plant growth on the leach field to a manageable height. But they can’t get to all areas of overgrowth on the farm. Which brings me to my next exciting addition to the farm.

The Scythe: Staying true to our name, our mission at Bare Hands Farm is to resist the conventional perspective of using heavy, fossil fuel-powered machinery and tools to do the things that we can do on our own (and our livestock’s) biological energy. We believe that we can do them better, with less harm to the soil, the land, the environment, the climate, and to our pocket books. For example, by choosing not bring an excavator/backhoe/whatever on the area that is now the forest paddock, we’ve not scraped off all the incredibly valuable top soil, we’ve not severely compacted the top soil, we’ve been able to mindfully harvest the timber from the area, we’re feeding our animals stuff they want to eat and in its natural form, the area is being fertilized, we’re not polluting the air and contributing to global weirding, and we’re not spending a ton of money to do any of this. And we get exercise and nature therapy by being in the woods and doing this work!

Not to get too off subject, we’ve just made a wonderful acquisition of, what I already know will be an indispensable farm/homestead tool, the scythe. Not to be confused with a shorter, hand-held sickle, the scythe has two handles on a long snath (stem) with a curved blade that is 20-30” long, on the end. The mechanics of using the scythe are to gently somewhat rock back and forth, twisting your hips and very slightly rotating your arms in an arc to give the blade its shearing action to cut grass, brush, small trees. The action is easy, graceful, rhythmic, silent, and without emitting any pollution or toxic fumes. Quite simply, it’s a joy that is not physically demanding, but a nice gentle work out.

We’ll be able to keep the property tidy this way, get grasses and other slash to the animals if it doesn’t make sense to pen them up there, and eventually, I’d like to produce hay on a small area on our property to feed our animals through the winter. We’re pretty ecstatic about our new toy, I mean tool

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

– Graham and Mindy

6/15/2015

In the world of Bare Hands Farm…

Greetings, everyone! I hope you all are finding a way to stay cool in this hot, dry heat and that nobody is being directly affected by the Sockeye Fire. We live in a fragile environment with lots of burnable fuel lying about. It’s times like these that remind us to clean up our properties of all that dead timber to try and diffuse the potential for out-of-control fires, at least around our homes. And to always be careful of ignitable sources in this kind of weather. It doesn’t take much.

Anyhow, sorry for the delay in the newsletter this week. It’s been busier than ever on the farm.

Greens: I think it’s safe to say that sowing and growing the perfect amount of micro greens throughout the season of ever-changing demand in Talkeetna in the summer, will always be a work in progress. With that said, I am indeed already out of greens in this first harvest of the week, with all of the new weekly orders that are coming in. Of course, I’m sowing much more seed and scaling up, but there’s a lag time of at least a week or 2 to get to where you want to be. Very sorry to anyone who was wanting greens in the early days of this week, but there should certainly be some available this Friday at the Farmers’ Market, and then tons from there on through the rest of the summer.

I am going to undergo an extra harvest, probably tomorrow or Thursday, to accommodate a few other weekly orders and there may be a few extra bags, so if you are in need, feel free to get ahold of me and inquire in the next couple of days. Otherwise, some see us at the Farmers’ Market on Friday.

Eggs: Although we don’t have micro greens today, we do have a few dozen eggs for anyone who may want some. Let me know if you’d like me to reserve a dozen for you!

Farm News: Most everyone around Talkeetna has been taking measures to beat the heat and farm plants and animals are no different. The low tunnel poly for the micro greens needs to peeled back as early as 9am before they start to roast. The ducks have been splashing around in their pools and bins of water and especially enjoy showers from the hose. Samson the goat has been spending much more time in his shady shelter. And the pigs have definitely discovered their instinctual behavior to wallow! It’s a great activity for them to be doing, and to do it where they’re doing it, for a number of reasons. Mainly, it is their way to regulate their body temperature, and also because they’re at work building us a pond (see above)!

“Gleying” is the act of forming a sort of film on the surface (or subsurface) of the soil, that in time, becomes impermeable to water and seals itself from the draining of water, in turn, forming a pond (of course, if there is a big enough depression in the ground at that spot). What we’re doing is using the pigs and their behaviors of wallowing, mucking, and otherwise disturbing the soil to the point where it seals itself off and begins to fill with water. At least that’s the hope. It can also be likened to the “Brazil Nut Effect”, whereby if you shake a container of nuts, the biggest nuts (Brazil nuts) always rise to the surface and everything underneath would settle in tightly on itself. Same idea of pigs and soil and gleying a pond. When the water is slowed enough, then that ground stays wet long enough and with enough organic matter (i.e. pig stuff and spent grains) anaerobic microbes will begin to populate the area and finish the sealing. We’ll let you know how it progresses, or better yet, just come check it out!

The other big projects is, as mentioned, animals structures. We’re very much looking forward to getting the animals out back and doing their thing. Here’s a sneak peak at it finally taking form (see above).

Tuesday Petting Zoo at Bare Hands Farm continues tonight from 5-9pm. Come out and see for yourself what we have going on at the farm. We love visitors!

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

– Graham and Mindy

6/8/2015

In the world of Bare Hands Farm…

Hope everyone is hitting their full summer stride and ready for salmon season. You know what they say, the only thing better than a fresh, baked filet of salmon is a filet of salmon on top of a bed of fresh, crisp micro greens ☺
Farm News: Things are fabulous, as always, on the farm! We’ve been hard at work clearing fence line out back to get the animals out there doing what they’re meant to be doing – eating fresh, unprocessed food, clearing, scratching, cultivating, fertilizing, and otherwise doing what chickens and goats enjoy doing. But like they always say, take any given project you have in mind and double the expected time and cost. But it’s shaping up and they’ll be out there soon enough.

BHF Petting Zoo Market: Don’t forget about the Bare Hands Farm Petting Zoo Market held every Tuesday evening at The Grove from 5-9pm. Come grab a goat and some greens, fresh from the Tuesday harvest (just the greens, of course) at the BHF Tuesday Market!

Farmers’ Market: We had a great last week and sold out at the first Live at 5 Farmers’ Market. It was so great to see all of you that made it out. What good energy, especially with some of our new vendors. If you haven’t made it out, you need to come experience this wonderful environment of music and food, every Friday from 5-8pm at the Fairview Inn Beer Garden.

Micro Greens: Greens will be in somewhat short supply this week, as I continue to get my sowing/harvest times dialed in. The sunflower in particular have such a short window to be harvested, and 2 bins worth this week were ‘tweeners (too early for the Friday harvest and too late for the Tuesday harvest), rendering them essentially unsellable. However, we’ll still have some Mild and Spicy Mix, as well as Red Russian Kale, Arugula, and Asian Mix. There may be another Amaranth harvest by Friday, but more likely it will be next Tuesday.

Pick-ups: There has still been some minor confusion/mis-communication in regards to pick-ups and deliveries for weekly and non-weekly customers. Unless you are a weekly customer and have confirmed a specific delivery day with me (of whom I believe I have only 1 at the moment), I cannot anticipate which day you’ll be picking them up, and cannot risk not selling them if others want them that day. So unless you are 100% sure that we have arranged a specific pick-up of your greens, please shoot me an email, text, or call, and I’ll try to make sure that you get what you want on the day that you want them.

And finally, if you are a business owner or individual who would like greens on Tuesday or Friday, but would rather not come to the BHF Tuesday Market or the Farmers’ Market, I would be happy to deliver those greens to you (within a reasonable radius of The Grove – certainly between Talkeetna and Sunshine) if you purchase a minimum of $10 worth of produce.

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

– Graham and Mindy