Thursday, November 27, 2008

Molly at three months

This season being our first as a community supported agriculture venture has been interesting and quite the learning experience.

  • Worms can kill without obvious symptoms and not all wormers are created equal.
There are only a handful of wormers actually approved for use in goats. None of them specifically target tapeworm. So to keep your goats effectively wormed, many folks recommended using cattle "wormer" off-label and dosing appropriately. This year we tried using an organic/herbal wormer. No dice. The goats were asymptomatic - meaning they didn't show the worm infection until it was too late and they were already anemic. This year, the plan was to raise the goats completely organically without chemically-derived wormers.

  • Fencing is of primary importance

We only have a portion of the area we used for livestock and growing vegetables actually fenced in. This was fine most of the time, but certain circumstances arose where this was a liability. The farm is home territory to many different types of predators and plant eaters. The fence is effective in deterring these predators as long as it is in place. We lost two goats and numerous chickens to predators. A partial list of animals cited this year includes coyotes, owls, hawks, raccoons, possums, minks, weasels, foxes and the family dog. Plant eaters of note included deer, groundhog and rabbits. Plant predation was low because of the presence of the dogs. But one dog in particular really liked chickens and several seemed to think goats legs were chew toys. The fence was an effective deterrent once it was up.

  • Chicken tractors are awesome

Not only did ours protect the chickens but it has been most useful preparing areas for cultivation. . If the chickens have been there first, it is so much easier to do to turn the ground over. I am so grateful to the friends who lent us this piece of equipment for making that bit a this year's adventures a success.

  • Farm work is harder than most people think

There were several shareholders who liked the idea of working for food. Since, I'll take any help I can get, I agreed to let them come and help me. I worked along side most people and several did not come back after the first time. One notable exception, a wonderful young woman who is also a museum, had to stop helping because of heat issues. I love this kind of work, but apparently that is a pretty rare occurrence. Maybe later when the farm is more established and we're not doing so much break-breaking work, people will enjoy actually the labor involved.

I've learned countless other lessons big and small and am so grateful to everyone who supported the cause and encouraged to keep plugging away. We will have another season next year and I hope to post 2009 share agreement around January 1

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Snacks that Subtract

apple by Aurimas Rimsa

I was poking around on the Internet while waiting for the washing machine to finish filling up. Guess what I found out. Some of my favorite snacks to keep on hand are good for helping you keep off extra weight. I though I would share this list with you.

  • Celery - takes more calories to digest than it provides and it will keep you feeling full.
  • Berries & apples - will help calm that craving for sugar, fill you up and help you eat less. Berries take more energy to digest than they give you and an apple before each meal will help you eat less.
  • Water - I know, duh. Not only do we drink water to help "fill" us up, but water helps our overall digestive process. And if you chiiillll your water, it will help you burn even more calories.

I'm kind of in list mode right now and we'll ride it out. Maybe I'll stumble upon the list to end all lists. Any ideas?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Useful Links

Lettuce & Broccoli bed in the spring.

Here are a handful of links I was looking at today after visiting the Open Air Market.

Preserving Herbs after the Harvest

Five Squash Blossom Recipes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Interesting information about Cucumbers plus a couple serving ideas

Super Carrot Raisin Salad

Pickled Peppers - hot &/or sweet

Arthur's Limericks

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Keep on, keep on, keep on.

An Inspirational Note written by Bobbi Decious

My mother just told me yesterday, in speaking of the ~100 acre South central KY farm made up mainly of rocks, clay and sinkholes I grew up on, that they KNEW they couldn't make a living on the farm, but, they were raising children, not really anything else. Everything else was just a bonus. And, she was right, and she is STILL raising children but we all love the farm, with the thistles and ragweeds and whatever else is there.

I lost my father, my mother's best friend of 50+ years and the best dad, we think, in the world last week, so this touches a nerve with me today as I have to make it back to my world, work, etc. Daddy would have admired what you are doing SOOO much, as he was a student of all things agricultural, interested in new advances but loved the old ways too. One of my sister's has a goat herd that breaks her heart, too.

I have a few heirloom yellow tomato plants that I would like for you to have. They make a very large, meaty tomato with a little red on the bottom. These were from seeds saved from the long time, most beloved 4-H agent in Wayne Co, Ky ever. Mr. John Rickett was the 4-H agent there for, I'm sure almost 40 years, and my mother worked with him as the Extension secretary for about 33 yrs. He had these wonderful tomatoes that she always saved seeds from and got starts the next year, of course. Well, I guess this hadn't happened for a few yrs, but this year, the story goes, that "everyone had lost their Rickett tomato seeds" and she found an envelope marked 2000 in her pantry and my dad planted several trays of these seeds, hoping that 5 or 6 would come up. Well, probably 100 came up!! and they are 4-5 or 6 inches tall and I brought some home with me, but I can't keep that many and can't bear to throw them away. The plant is very large at full growth, so it must have room.

It just hit me that Daddy would like for you to have these tomatoes and for you to not give up. The day before his surgery he was out "delivering tomatoes" to several of his buddies at his hang-out places. Ah well, it's off to work, but I hope you can remember that even when the corn isn't growing, your children are, and learning to love the land and all of it's joys and heartaches.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Save Fresh Herns Without Drying

This tip I picked up who-knows-where comes in handy this time of year when herbs are plentiful and fresh. I've used it for chives and it works great.

Cut up, smash up or whatever you need to do to the herb for using in your favorite recipes.

Take a tablespoon or teaspoon of the fresh herb and put it in an empty ice cube tray - in one cube space. (In case you were wondering if you should sprinkle it or dump it).

Fill that space the rest of the way with water. It's easier to keep the herbs in the ice cube tray by pouring water from a cup into the tray.

Let the tray of cubes freeze. You can pop the cubes out and put them in their own freezer bag labelled with what herb it is. I don't know about you, but I have plenty of other mysterious frozen things in my freezer. I don't need anymore surprises.

The herbs should keep three to six months like that. When you are ready to use them, take the necessary cube out of the freezer and let it defrost. Voila! Fresh herbs. If you put some up this week, they will last until January at the latest.

Friday, July 11, 2008

As I sat writing ...

It's hard to know where to start when I sit down to write. A few months ago, a dear reader observed that there seemed to be a lot of bad things happening on the farm this year. So I backed off the wiritng. If you don't have anything nice to say, then you shouldn't say anything at all, right. Well, when you have seven out of eight goats die on you and a five week dry period, you spend your time trying to hold it together and then picking up the pieces. I'm not saying farm life is all hard work and doom and gloom, but sometimes, what you think of as news is not so good. I can say that I know what caused the goat die off. I also have a new perspective on irrigation. I've gotten to watch my daughter grow taller and stay pink. I seen my son get used to having jobs to do and learning how to trim horse feet with my husband. All those are great and good things, but when I sit down to write, I remember the individual goats, the struggle to get time to pull fence, the property line "discussion" the adjoining property owners keep bringing up and so on.

The truth is farming is a quite a bit of hard times punctuated by brilliant flashes of great moments. It IS work. It IS hard and it can be disappointing. But I love it. I would work whether it was at this or something else. And I love this. The quiet moments of picking or weeding. The intense joy of watching a small animal play. and so on. It can sound quite cliched and maybe it is. But perhaps that's because so many people have had a chance to experience this life either through their relatives, TV, books or whatever.

So stick with me. It may be hard but anything worth doing has a price. Besides, the stories may be interesting. I think this farm is absolutely necessary. More small farms are needed. We must concentrate on growing local food for our own survival. Tomatoes, anyone? How about spinach?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

See Kort & Law "Feedsack Dress"

Ms. Law is a shareholder at Mule Shoe Farm and recently participated in Grand Ole Dulcimer Day. Enjoy the YouTube video at

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Then There's the Mulch.

If you put in flowers this past weekend, it's time for mulch. If you're not sure you want what's at the store, come on over to the Farm and load it up.

We've been moving mulch here, there and everywhere. Six to eight inches deep in between the raised beds for weed control and moisture containment. Two to four inches side dressing on plants for nutrition.

We use two different kinds of mulch. One is the wood chip mulch which is now three years old and quite nutritious. The other kind is the compost we created from last year. The compost is for side dressing on the planted areas. This compost acts as fertilizer in addition to weed control.

To improve soil fertility in the field, we rotate grazing animals like chickens and goats. When they're done with a grazing pen, we can use it to plant crops in two weeks or less. We also planted squashes and melons directly into the wood mulch this year. Those plants are coming along nicely and should have record yields.

Compost and mulch are two great secret weapons in an organic farmer's arsenal. These things build soil health which in turn builds healthy plants. Healthy plants are more nutritious for us to eat. So composting improves our diets and helps us be healthier. It all starts with the earth.

Friday, May 9, 2008

More Fence, Please.

Some days, it seems that the only tasks a farmer has is to put up fence, repair fence and plan for more fence. Where we farm, in the cove, a fence is necessary to protect our chickens and goats from predators. Since we practice rotational grazing, as the goats or chickens finish grazing one pen, it's time to move them to another.

We opted for the "do it as we go" method which means we build new pens as we need them. It also means we don't have a giant cash outlay all at once. We thought it would mean we wouldn't have fencing materials laying about, but that hasn't worked out like we thought.

It's time for two more pens to go up. We've decided to separate the girl and boy goats, so that we don't have any baby goat surprises. The goats have also eaten quite a bit of the pasture in the two existing pens, so it's time to move.

I have to say, putting up fencing is not a job I enjoy. I would rather that the fence brownies came and did it, but it's got to be done. The fence brownies don't apparently exist.

First we measure out the pen size and locate the corner posts. Then we locate the gate posts. Thirdly, we put in other posts as needed. Then it's time to string the wire - a job best done with several people and vehicle. With the tractor needing a part, it's also time to order the part and repair the tractor, so it can be used to stretch the fence tightly. Finally we put up the gates and open the pasture up for grazing.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Digging in the Dirt

We've been busy planting last Friday and this past Monday. In the raised bed area, last Friday, we planted spring peas, snow peas, carrots, dill, fennel, lettuce, onions, beets, and spinach. I think that's a complete list. This increases the number of lettuce varieties to at least seven. Three packets of lettuce seeds were mixes, like chef's mix and Mesclun mix, so those actually have more than one variety.

On Monday, the kids and I planted herbs: oregano, basil, sage, bee balm, parsley and thyme. Planting with the kids was such fun. They asked lots of questions about the different weeds we cleared first. We talked about what various herbs can be used for. They learned how to transplant herbs from a pot to the ground and about different types of soil.

I was reminded about how important it is for children to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. By helping me plant in the garden, the children have a stake in what they eat. This is also the basis of Community Supported Agriculture. By supporting the farmer, you have a stake in what you eat. Not only that, you help ensure that the farm can continue to produce the food you eat.

And speaking of farm involvement, the kids were extremely excited to help milk the goat. They are learning how to take care of a milk producing animal, and how milk is processed. I am reminded that children who grow up on farms are more likely to be compassionate and responsible because of their involvement with animal care. These are priceless lessons that cannot be taught in school as effectively.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Pie Lady

The Pie Lady has been making fried pies for a really long time. Twenty years - she thinks. At first she only made them for her family. Usually she made apricot pies, but sometimes she made peach pies. She would make them when family and friends requested them.
One year, her daughter told her about an new Open Air Market in Ashland City. All Master Gardeners were invited to set up at the market and sell their plants and whatever else they were producing at home in their gardens. Her daughter wanted her mom to come with her. Mom didn't want to go because... why after all, she would not have anything to do. So her daughter suggested that she make some pies and bring them, just to see if they would sell at the market. She sold 20 pies in 30 minutes.

The Pie Lady comes to the market early on Saturday mornings. Those delicious fried pies are the first item sold out every time. She now makes four flavors of fried pies: apple, apricot, chocolate and peach. All of them are fantastic.

I eat breakfast so early on Saturday mornings, that by the time I get to market and get set up, I am ready for a snack. One of those delicious homemade fried pies really hits the spot. When the Pie Lady's grandchildren are there, you can often get a large cup of sweet tea to go with your pie. When you come to pick up your share or to visit your friends at the market, come early and see The Pie Lady.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Our New Prince

This goat is our new herd sire. Notice his beautiful and quite long ears. Look at that lovely color. Java is a Nubian goat. Nubian's are milk goats.

We got him from Beth Thompson who maintains a quite wonderful Nubian Herd. Beth also makes fantastic goat's milk soaps which you can get at the Ashland City Open Air Market.

Java enjoys playing with Rock, Gem, Rock Lee and Anabelle. He has also visited some with George, the rooster.

Java is acclimating well to our herd which now features three goat breeds: Saanen, LaMancha and Nubian.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Head Games?

Paint + Sleeve = Head Scarf!

I was helping my friend paint her living room and noticed all the other ladies had on head scarves except me. I don't typically wear one because it would slide off my head constatantly. Of course, I was also the only one who had paint in her hair that night, too.

Then a week later, my husband decides to cut off the sleeves of a t-shirt. Then he shows up with a sleeve on his head, the newly sleeveless shirt and a sarong. So I slipped the other sleeve on my head so we would match. We were both wearing hot pink shirts and now hot pink head gear. Oh yeah, then I put my sarong on, too. Sorry no pictures on that scene - it's just too ridiculous!

This is awesome. It doesn't slip. It acts like a headband and absorbs sweat. It's washable and it's free.

Ladies, grab those sleeves. When they get too dirty, you can toss without regret because you have reused and recycled.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Where in The World Are Rock & Gem?


If it's Saturday morning, they're at the Ashland City Open Air Market at the corner of Highway 12 and Washington Street in Ashland City, of course!

Rock & Gem live at Mule Shoe Farm most days, but Saturday mornings they get in the back seat of Ms.Anne's car at about 8:15am and ride to market. By 9am, they are munching away on the grass graciously provided at the Open Air Market, waiting for their many fans to come and visit.

By Noon, Ms.Anne has finished delivering shares to shareholders, and Rock & Gem are ready to go back home to rejoin their friends and playmates: Anabelle, Rock Lee, & Java. Sometimes, they even get to hang out with the herd queen, Duchess.

Rock and Gem are LaMancha goats with the distinctive "elf" ears of that breed. They were bottle-fed as babies which means they enjoy human contact and are not at all afraid of children petting them. The twin brothers are almost 6 months old and when they are big enough Ms.Anne will train them to pull a cart and carry packs. Right now, they enjoy greeting the public and answering questions. Come find them every Saturday morning until the end of October at the Open Air Market in Ashland City.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Long Slow Spring

What a lovely spring we are having this year! The cool weather has been wonderful and it has helped our early spring crops grow - but not too fast. I cannot believe how beautiful it has been with everything slowly coming to life. You can really appreciate the various flowers and leaves of spring without fear of missing something when you blink.

This week I was hoping to have enough lettuce and other odds and ends to have shares for pickup. The cool nights this week, have challenged the lettuce considerably. It is smaller than would be expected at this time. We'll take a wait and see attitude here. Next week looks quite promising.

Here is what I expect to have in the shares next week - April 26: Collards, lettuce, chives, eggs, lemon verbena for your tea and yarrow for a sweet scent. Check out What's in the Basket for more complete descriptions later this week. Just a reminder: shareholders on a payment plan have payments due this Saturday, the 19th.

Things have been quite adventuresome in the last couple weeks. Duchess was mauled by a young coyote. Two dogs found new homes. Plants emerged from the ground. The chickens got a new home. Various wildflowers have been blooming and putting on quite a show. I see more this year than ever before. A consistent challenge has been to photograph everything going on here.

Everyone is invited to visit us on Saturdays at the Ashland City Open Air Market at the corner of Washington & Main Streets in Ashland City. Many farmers and craftspeople have booths for you to visit. Don't miss the "Pie Lady" or many of the other wonderful vendors there.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Signs of Spring

The forsythia bushes at the corner
After Anabelle and Rock Lee were born, I really started to notice Spring around here. The weather also started to warm up a bit and I was more motivated to get outside.

The forsythia started to pop and periwinkles began to bloom. We are still early for daffodils, but I can see the buds beginning to swell. I expect to see a green haze in the woods very soon. If you live in Nashville and your stuff bloomed last week, don't worry, Mule Shoe Farm is right on schedule. The cool weather stays here a little longer in our cove. Our temperatures are less extreme and the changes more gradual. That's effect of the Cumberland River on our little piece of paradise.

My To Do list just exploded along with the change in season.
  • file taxes
  • build milking stanchion
  • build new compost piles
  • build goat shelter
  • clear weeds from raised beds
  • add compost to raised beds
  • plant raised beds
  • get out floating row covers
  • cover raised beds
  • wash down chicken house and feeders
  • move chicken furniture to new pen
  • put up garden fence
  • order chickens
  • build brooder boxes
  • declutter last year's market supplies
  • order business cards
  • make banner for market

And the list could go on, but at this point it gets a bit overwhelming.

So we start with the most pressing issues - like milking the goat and getting spring plants in. Oh yeah and &*()#% taxes.

I built a large part of the stanchion on a Friday afternoon with my son's help. There is still a head holder and hobble to be installed. Before you start wondering why I would want such things, remember that goats, like toddlers, don't like to be confined for any reason. They just KNOW something better is just over there. Great survival instinct. Bad milking time. Duchess is still a bit people adverse and has displayed a distinct dislike to having her udder touched by humans. But never fear. I got her number. The milking stanchion also gets a feed bucket and I can feed her grain ration while milking. Pretty soon she'll be loving it.

I also finished the new compost bins and have started to fill them.

A large portion of compost needs to be moved, but we are on our way.

It feels good to get outside and I sleep a lot more soundly after all that fresh air.

One more thing to mention. Shakers and Daisy need new parents. We simply have too many dogs and we want these two to go to good people.

Shakers is about 6 months old and a small dog with great intelligence. She is a cross between a rat terrier and Carolina cur. She would make a great house dog.

Daisy has been a house dog who is also comfortable outside. She will always be glad to see you and would be best in a yard with active older kids, say 9 or 10 and up. Free to good homes.

The Ashland City Open Air Market opens on April 12th provided the weather cooperates. Mule Shoe Farm will have shares ready the following week on April 19th.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Waiting for DaGoat

Scene 1

The Scene is a kitchen table on a bare stage. It's early morning.

Me: Does Duchess look pregnant to you? I can't tell if she's just fat and shaggy or pregnant.

Darling Husband (DH): I don't know. Will you make a cup of coffee? (I go over to the coffee pot)

Me: I'm pretty sure Buddy bred her, but I can't tell if she's really pregnant. I hope we have two goats.

DH: That's nice. I hope so, too. (I hand him the coffee). I got a lot of calls today, so don't hold dinner.

Me: Do you need the phone? I was going to check my email.

DH: No, I'll use my cell phone.

Scene 2 several days later. It's lunch time.

DH: Hey, have you seen my notebook anywhere? (I hand him the notebook from the other room) I looked at Duchess when I went by. She's strating to look pregnant.

Me: Yeah, I think so. Her udder is starting to swell up. But I can't really be sure yet.

DH: Look at her hips from the back. She really looks pregnant then.

Me: Do you want a sandwich for lunch? Yeah, you can't tell she's anything much from the front.

DH: OK. I'll have a sandwich. Her right side looks bigger than her left. Is that what it's supposed to look like.

Me: Yeah that's normal. Do you want cheese? I got American and Provolone.

DH: Provolone sounds nice.

Me: I'll bet she has her kids during the 28 degree night we're supposed to have tomorrow. Probably in the sleet.

DH: (eating his sandwich) Yeah, right. (finishes sandwich) See ya' later. (He walks out the door)

Scene 3 A week later. DH is nowhere to be seen. I'm on the phone.

Me: No. No baby goats yet. Yeah she sure looks pregnant. (pause) yeah. yeah. I know. I hope she has them soon. OK (pause) OK. That'll work. See you tomorrow. Bye. (hangs up phone and talks to dog). Hey, boy. come here. Let's go look at the goats. Come on. Let's go (they exit)

Scene 4 Two days later. It's evening. DH is in the kitchen drinking coffee. I come walking in.

DH: Hey, you got to see this. I got something to show you.

Me: Hold on. (I put a small object down on the table and lay down a purse and a bag) I'll be right there.

DH: (goes over to camera and turns it on) You gotta see this. (I walk up to him and look at the camera as he pushes buttons)

Me: Oh look. how cute. Hey that's Duchess!

DH: Yep. She had her babies. I was there. It was cool

Me: Alright! How many?

DH: Two - a boy and a girl.

Me: Cool. I wish I had been there.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

So, How Was Your Day?

Do you know what you'll be eating this year? I do. Fresh, home grown organic produce. You can too. Just join us by becoming a shareholder in Mule Shoe Farm. Click here for the Agreement.

Today was a great day! Warm air, a little rain and there was enough time to work on the goat nursery. Yep. That's right. I'm going to be a goat granny. Duchess is quite well along in her pregnancy and Leslie told me last week, she would have kids soon. I could have made sure I knew when she got pregnant and then marked her due date on the calendar but that would have been too easy. Instead, she and Buddy have been shackin' up together and who knows when she got knocked up. But that's what we wanted. She'll be nursing her kids for awhile and then we'll have milk for the family. Can't wait.

Mary and Hannah came out to help. We picked up the many many sticks in the nursery. The pile was so tall we needed help to stand on top of it. We also made an opening in the fence for a gate and took apart two chain link panels to form the actual gate. Along the way, we discussed what first time farm visitors would need to hear. Hannah took home a math problem to work on and they'll be back on Thursday. We'll be working on putting up chicken wire inside the pen, so the newborns can't get stuck in the larger fence openings.

I've been working on a list of what seeds will be needed this year and a list of what to buy. I think I'll post the inventory on hand In the Basket soon. So, if you have requests or suggestions, please send them in.

We're taking a critical look at the structure of our forests. Trees, just like gardens need to be weeded and tended. They are on a different time scale because trees are not annuals. Duh. I know you know, but sometimes I have to say it out loud so I can get it. Trees require patience.

I've started to see a chiropractor and attended an informational session this evening. Would you believe that the chiropractor advised eating a sensible diet of organic food to maintain health? What do you know? I think this organic thing is catching on. Anyway, a few more people know about Mule Shoe Farm. I am excited about the opportunity to welcome new friends into our circle. Oh yeah, the chiropractor is a big help for me, too. He'll help keep me moving.

While the weather stays good, I'll be outside and working. Maybe tomorrow, I'll actually take pictures. Meanwhile, I am working on a multi-part piece all about growing potatoes. Look for it here.

And before I forget: I got my Valentine present early. He's furry and about 12 weeks old. We named him Lotlo:lu, which is Oneida for "he is watching." He is an Australian shepherd, blue heeler mix. Jimbo's taken to calling him Swiffer. Pictures will be forthcoming.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Get Your Share

In 2008, you can become a shareholder in Mule Shoe Farm. A partial owner. Without all the farm work (unless you really want to)

Click here for the Share Agreement. Print it out and mail it to

Anne Pouliot
Mule Shoe Farm
3120 River Road
Ashland City, TN 37015

Oh yeah, write checks to Anne Pouliot not Mule Shoe Farm. The bank doesn't know what to do with me already.

The harvesting season for Mule Shoe Farm is mid-April to the end of October. The pick up site for shares is the Ashland City Open Air Market on Saturdays between 9am and Noon beginning in mid-April. Arrangements can be made for another pick up site on a different day of teh week depending on requests and shares.

A full share is a half bushel of produce every week. It costs $750 for the year. You can divide that into payments. Click here for the Share Agreement which will have your choices.

A half share is a quarter bushel or peck every week. It costs $400 for the year. There are payment plans available for that as well.

This year we are planning to produce the following and anything else that strikes our fancy on the farm:

mulch, firewood, lettuce, beets, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, carrots, onions, spring peas, tomatoes, swiss chard, leeks, potatoes, corn, green beans, dried beans, summer squash, winter squash, dill, oregano, rosemary, green peppers, hot peppers, watermelon, goat's milk, and fresh eggs.

Share holders' input is welcome and encouraged. If you would like something that you don't see on the list, please tell us. We will try to grow it if at all possible.

This summer we will have a Family Day on the Farm sometime in July. There will be more details later, but expect good food, old-fashioned fun and games.

All Shareholders are welcome and urged to visit anytime except Friday and Saturday. You will want one of us to show you around, so please contact us before you plan to show up.

One more thing, before I forget, everything we produce will be done organically and as sustainably as possible. It will be fresh. Some things will be harvested on Friday and others will be harvested Saturday morning right before delivery. How 'bout that? Fresh. That's how we wobble.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Official Mule Shoe Farm Miscellany

Thanks to everyone who wanted a share and sent in your form with your payments. There are just a few shares left for the 2008 growing season. Click here for the form with instructions.

Now here's some stuff we just gotta share....

Honey bees are not native to North America.

Feral horses travel 10 miles a day grazing and usually don't need their hooves trimmed or shod - ever.

You can tell which continent a chicken breed was developed by the color of its eggs. Europe: white; North America - brown; South America: blue

Green eggs are a cross between a North American and South American chickens.

Dogs, chickens and cats are all carnivores. So are bears, but bears will eat anything.

Calendula flowers served originally as a dye in cheeses and for coloring butter.

Annatto is the name of the carrot juice used to dye things yellowish orange, like butter.

Chamomile is good for cabbage but must planted a yard away from onions.

Chamomile is also related to ragweed. So if you have allergies in late summer through early fall, you might not really like chamomile tea either.

People who suffer from gall stones and kidney stones should stay away from turnip greens, mustard greens, dock, spinach and swiss chard. The oxalate in those plants can make their conditions worse.

Gourds are pollinated by moths at night. It is not possible to over water a gourd.

Organic ketchup has five times the lycopene of regular ketchup

Goldfish eat mosquito larvae and make good water cleaners for standing water ponds.

Barley straw can combat too much algae in your pond.

A hen will lay an average of 2 eggs in three days.

Cover cherries with cold water. If some them float, throw them out. They're no good.

You can use old hose to store onions. Put an onion in the hose then tie a knot. Add another onion and tie a knot. When you need an onion cut the bottom below the first knot.

To keep moles and the like from eating your bulbs, plant them in cans. Cut off both ends and put the can in the ground. Fill with soil 1/3 of the way and put in bulb. Fill it with soil to the right level and the can should cut down on raiding rodents. Of course you could always get a rat terrier or a feist dog which will hunt the moles.

To keep cats out of your garden put down plastic mesh or chicken wire which they do not appreciate walking over.

Most wild herbivores will absolutely love your sweet potatoes. If you're going to fence in part of your garden, this is the part you'll want to fence in.

If you water your acid-loving houseplants with leftover tea or coffee once a month, they will love it.

You can use beer or salt to get rid of slugs depending on whether you want to get them drunk or dry them up.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

CSA Share FAQ with a link to the Share Agreement

Click to open.
Print the form and fill it out.
Send it with your payment to the address shown on the form.

What does CSA mean?

CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. Instead of selling to the grocery store and letting them store and mark up your produce, Mule Shoe Farm produce can go directly to you. To receive our produce, you become a partial owner of the farm by buying a share. We all share in this endeavor together. A CSA ensures that Mule Shoe Farm is a sustainable operation and that you can get the fresh organic produce that you need to be healthy.

How much does a share cost?

A full share is $750 for a half bushel every week from mid-April to the end of October. A half share is $400 for a quarter bushel every week from mid-April to the end of October.

What if I can't pay all at once?

That's fine. The share agreement has three different payment options available. If finances are an issue, call or email for arrangments. Mule Shoe Farm is proud to barter shares for needed goods or services.

How do I participate in the CSA?

  • Pick up shares on day and time specified unless you make other arrangements. Call 615-792-9955 or email
  • Buy your share at the beginning of the growing season. Fill out the share agreement and send in with your share amount.
  • Recycle the container used to pick up your share by using it each week.

What does a share mean? What do I get?

By buying a share, you become one of the farm owners for one year. You will receive a ½ bushel of fresh organic and natural produce each week during our season. A full share is enough produce to feed a family of four for a week. Half shares are also available for couples or singles desiring fresh produce. You will be invited to attend our Summer Festival and you are welcome to visit anytime. Please call in advance to make sure we are here to show you around.

The volume in a share will vary slightly over the course of the season. The peak of the season will have more produce than the beginning or end of the growing season. The produce will vary depending on what is at its peak of freshness. This means you will not be getting tomatoes or corn in April. You can experience the connection to your food by “eating with the seasons.” You may get vegetables you haven’t tried before. Recipes can be found in Friday posts at

Is Mule Shoe Farm certified as an organic producer? Does the farm grow its products organically?

Mule Shoe Farm is not USDA certified organic. We are currently building a paper trail for organic certification. We use organic production methods for our poultry and goats, as well as, our vegetables. Our animals are pasture-fed, free-roaming creatures and our vegetables are grown in organic raised beds, as organic field crops and as naturalized plants throughout our property.

Share Agreement
Click to open.
Print the form and fill it out.
Send it with your payment to the address shown on the form.

Be a Part-Time Farmer

I remember coming home from school in the spring and eating snow peas straight off the vine, munching on green peaches at the tree, picking and eating strawberries, all before I went inside to do my homework. There is nothing like the taste of fresh home grown produce. Nothing in the world. It is warm sun on your back, the flight of butterflies dancing across flowers and the gentle background buzz of bees making their rounds.

If you tasted it and become accustomed to it, then you know what I mean. But there is a great deal of effort that can go into your own garden, like weeding, pest control, planning and placemnt of crops and harvesting your produce. Not many have much time to do that anymore. When you work into the evening, the last thing you'll want to do is walk out the back door and harvest a half bushel of cucumbers or pull up great clods of weeds by the corn.

Since childhood, I have dreamed of growing my own food. As I started a family, fresh, whoelsome food became a priority. Now I have a small farm and I am offering you a partial share. I do the work, you get the produce. To be sure, if you are dying to wander around and pull weeds, I won't stop you, but I know most don't have time for that. I think local organic and frsh food is a cornerstone of healthy communities and I believe fervently in the idea that 'someone' must act now to make this dream a reality.

Over the past year, I have practiced a 'dry run' of the farm, through a drought no less and now I am ready to offer Community Supported Agriculture shares to interested folks. This is fresh, local, in season produce. Whatever we are producing: from vegetables to eggs and milk. I will post some more details later this evening and put up a link to an Agreement Form which you can print and fill out and send to me. Stay tuned...

Monday, January 7, 2008

And We're Back

photo by ☼ Sunshine

Even if you didn't celebrate Christmas, you probably had time off during the last couple weeks. Did you eat too much? See enough of your family? Wondered what to do with time on your hands and no work? OR Did you have an altogether different experience?

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we are inundated with commercialism in the guise of the perfect Christmas.
Dinner magically prepares itself with multiple courses, perfect ham, perfect
turkey, perfect dessert. All carefully crafted by ... who? Oh that's right. You don't
have to actually prepare any of this yourself. If you go to the right store,
wear the right clothes, and buy the best gifts, these things will magically appear.
The Cha-ching Fairy will bless your lovely multi-million dollar dream home with
magical happiness.
Some folks help others in need at Christmas and others gather the few friends they have around them to celebrate a much smaller sparer version. Some folks are not home and celebrate in other places with foreign customs feeling reassured while strangely out of kilter. For many others, the holidays are a hard cold time. A time of remembering, unwillingly, things you don't want to remember.

Media momentum prevents us from really skipping Christmas. For those who are depressed and saddened by the holidays, there is a double burden of their own demons and the expectations of the dominant culture. Probably you know someone for whom the holidays are a difficult time whether or not they are alone. Maybe you take care of someone who has difficulty around the holidays.
You are not alone.
Let me say that again.
You are not alone.
The holidays are the most difficult time of year for many. If the dark wolf of depression stalks your Christmas table or you take care of someone who refuses to "play nice" at Christmas, there is Hope. Now is as good as time as any to tap into the wonderful resources at NAMI - a.k.a. National Alliance for Mental Illness. There is an affiliate just about wherever you are in the U.S.
I am a child, great grandchild, and great niece to people who have major holiday blues. I am also a cousin and a daughter. I never realized growing up how different things were at my house. NAMI has helped me learn to cope with the legacy I inherit from my wonderful family, who could no more help being who they are than I can. Perhaps you are in a similar position. Perhaps you have a close friend who is. There is help in Middle Tennessee and it is a phone call away.


NAMI sponsors local support groups. People who have been through it and taken care of their beloved family members. They have designed and present workshops providing tons of useful information, coping strategies and most of all, the support of generous, loving people who know exactly what you're going through. In Cheatham County, the NAMI affiliate meets the second Tuesday of the month at the Ashland City Public Library from 7-9pm. If you need them, they are there.
How has the "holiday blues" affected your family? What has your experience been like?
Feel free to comment by clicking on the comment link above. I want to see what you have to say.