Saturday, April 12, 2008


A wonderfully bright Saturday morning, puddles on the ground (it rained hard last night!) and it's gonna be a warm day. The air is fresh & crisp. Blades of grass are shaking off dew and the robins are pulling up worms. I spent an hour or two opening up the greenhouse & moving tables & trays around-- Dave and I pulled outside 2 tables of plants that are almost ready to go into the field but need some "hardening off". I watered everything 3 times since it looked like there would be a lot of sun today, & now I am ready to go out & play!

Newborn basil seedlings:

Help! My heirloom tomato project has exploded! I planted dense seed because it was 2-6yr old seed & I didn't know how it would all germinate. Now I have enough to plant the whole farm in. Unfortunately, 3/4 of this tray I'll have to toss. Unless any of you want some? Come get' em!

There are 40 different varieties. I'll be potting them up to larger trays tomorrow.

I drove out to Red Hook to meet up with Severine. We never have too many things planned... spontaneity as a lifestyle is something picked up from living in California I think. But we find things to do... here is her cute new office in Red Hook:

Here is where she is living right now:

Yup. It's a proper mansion. Estate. Right on the Hudson. The whole street is named after the place. Rolling hills, large stately trees, and a host of barns & crumbling outbuildings surround this thing. Inside this giant house are creepy dusty antiques filling the enormous halls, stuff like giant mounted antelope horns, and big dragon statues from the Orient. And the walls have worn tapestries or murals on them. Shouldn't this stuff be in a museum or something? Crazy place! One of the girls in the family is our age & running a small CSA from the garden here.

We leaned against the front porch banisters & discussed our goals for the day: my main priority was to find sheep. Severine was up for farm adventuring & anything having to do with raising meat rabbits. We made a few calls and found a woman who lives in Upper Red Hook who had some lambs for sale. We rushed over there & got the low-down from a talkative but very informed female farmer! She raises registered Tunis breed sheep, had about 80 of them, all in the barn, since the pasture was still too muddy. It didn't smell at all, good sign of healthy practices.

They are among the oldest American breeds, originally coming from Tunisia, in Northern Africa (so they are tolerant of heat & drought). They are known for having calm dispositions, unlike most sheep which freak out at the wave of an arm. Tunis sheep do well on pasture, "convert feed efficiently", and produce lean meat with good flavor. They are one of the rare heritage breeds that the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy ( is monitoring.

She has 3 baby ewes saved for me, $125 a piece. I can pick them up after May 1st, when they will be fully weaned & hopefully out on pasture. She said that they learn from their moms how to avoid the electric fencing. That way you don't have to train them... or have them attempt to walk through it and get shocked.

The woman also raised a few goats, pigs, cows, guinea fowls (they eat ticks), and rabbits! So Severine & her had a long discussion about breeding Rex rabbits, while I chased around & picked up lambs. Rabbits are a good meat source that breeds quickly and doesn't require a lot of space, but they sure are soft & cute.

We toured Rhinebeck, & checked out an organic & grass-fed meat store, Fleisher's. They had everything from lamb shanks to "bork" (ground beef & pork), and local cheese, eggs, & sauerkraut.

We visited Germantown Community Farm-- they are a bunch of punk kids who moved out of the city & started doing homesteady stuff. They have about 8 or so dairy goats, some fancy chickens, 2 happy honkin' geese, a nice garden & greenhouse, & even tap their sugar maple trees. They hold workshops & barn dances generally attended by the tattooed & dreadlocked.
Check out their blog & photos at:

We strolled around Tivoli (a really cute collegetown) for a while, went into a little bookshop & Severine bought tons of old agriculture-themed books for her office library.

We were driving by Clermont, a park/historic place along the Hudson that's hosting the Sheep & Wool Showcase in 2 weeks, and we thought we'd check it out. Nice place.

We sprawled out on the grass and rested while the Hudson sparkled by below us.


Cynthia said...

You don't have to toss all your extra tomato seedlings! Post a notice on and also for your area. If people have to provide their own cups and seedstarting soil for the little transplants, just say so--they can poke holes in the bottom of plastic cups, or even paper cups, such as the three-ounce kitchen size. Bottom line--tell people your terms for offering the seedlings and see if anyone will meet them. Also, list the types of varieties you are offering with the color and size, so people will know a little bit about the tomato. For example: "Brandywine, pink, beefsteak."

If you will sell or give away seedlings annually, let me know and I'll list you in my e-book, "Heirloom Tomato Secrets," which will be out by the end of April. I tell people where to find seeds and/or plants for over 900 heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties.

Cynthia Yockey

Debbi (and Bob) Brown said...

Lovely Tunis sheep article, aren't they wonderful animals. In fact, I thought that one photo was a group of especially lovely sheep. Oh wait, those are MY sheep. ;-)

When taking photos from other websites it is good manners to acknowledge the link. The photo of ewes and lambs is from my website...

Debbi Brown
Unicorner Farm
Axtell, Texas

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

Tunis are great sheep! I raise them in northern NV along with a suffolk and dorset and crosses thereof that my daughter uses for 4-H. The other breeds dont compare to the tunis in personality or hartiness, you've made an excelent choice!