The Fabled Paw Paw
is a wild fruit tree,
Endemic to Appalachia. It is highly nutritious, tasting like a sweet banana, and was such a preferred staple for pioneers and settlers, that towns and festivals all over the Appalachian region bear its name. The fruit ripens in early fall, and this picture was taken on our farm several days ago. The trees are slight and graceful in stature and typically stand in the under-story of large hardwoods. They are inspiring to behold, reminding observers of the natural bounty of land well-tended.
In similar vein, the ant-hill below is a curious phenomenon. It is the only one on the farm, and each year it gets bigger, now standing at about three feet tall. If you look closely, you can see how it is consuming the woven-wire fence in its midst.
Our friend, Nancy Stranahan, Director of Highland Nature Sanctuary, identified our inch-long caterpillar of last week as on its way to becoming an Imperial Moth, for those interested.
Guard-dog, Ulysses, loves to wag his tail and say hello.
Note how hard and dry the ground is.
Here is the sheep flock of about 300 head, including lambs. Typically we wean lambs in September, creating another flock to manage, giving ewes time to gain body condition before breeding in early December. But ewes are in good condition now, and as long as lambs can nurse, their nutrition is augmented. So this year we are going to try leaving lambs with ewes until December. This reduces stress on lambs and on us, which seems like such a reasonable concept, we wonder why we didn't think of it before. Sometimes the less one interferes the better the results.
Our sheep are contained by electrified net fencing, which Bob moves every three days across the landscape. This requires considerable labor and management to execute continuously, but the benefits are many, among which are: no treatments with chemicals, a constant plane of clean high nutrition for the flock, and enhanced organic matter in the soil, which has doubled over the past five years. Our flock and the lamb produced would qualify for organic certification, had we the time to complete the copious paperwork, which we will at some point down the road.
So, what do paw paw trees, ant hills, and inch worms in Pike County have to do with food you eat in your home with your family? Perhaps everything. They tell the story, create the context, and describe the landscape from which our food comes. It is a landscape full of biodiversity, clean air, clean soil, natural feed, and careful stewardship. You can know this farm and these stewards intimately. Whereas when you go to the supermarket, you know nothing except price - nothing. And as we are learning, low price is often coupled with high costs in health. In contrast, we hope to win your allegiance, by inviting you to integrate with this land and our process, so you may trust the food on your table.
Pastured eggs with orange yolks make for delicious omelettes for lunch or dinner.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday September 28 at the Hyde Park Farmers Market. We will have on-hand: grassfed chili, Moroccan sliders, beef, chicken, eggs, and lamb. And if that timing doesn't work, we encourage you to sign up for neighborhood delivery by going to: http://grassrootsfoods.biz/on-line-purchasing The next delivery date is Wednesday October 8. The ordering window is now open and closes on the 6th.
Thank you for your partnership.
Drausin & Susan