Wednesday, July 23, 2008


It all started with Gordita and One Eye. They were chickens over at Veritas Farms who got picked on. One Eye would get her missing eye pecked at and Gordita eats too much--can't stop the fattest damn egg laying bird I've ever seen. In fact, Paul from Veritas told me if ever I feel like making 30 million dollars I should just take Gordita over to Monsanto so they can figure out what makes her so fat and they can patent the gene.
Anyhow, like One Eye, Gordita was pecked at ruthlessly by the chickens at Veritas, so I said I'd take the two outcasts and see if they got along with my young birds. As it turns out, all chickens want to eat One Eye's missing eye place, so she couldn't be with them, but, Gordita gets along just fine with my birds. She, in fact, is the only bird that never leaves the coop. She just hangs out by the food and honks whenever I go near her. As for One Eye, I decided she should have a duck to hang out with. You see, chickens need other chickens. It's actually New York State law that you can't purchase less than six at a time. But, poor One Eye is considered food by all her brethren (yes, indeed, chickens are canibals). So, I decided that she should have a duck for a friend. The fine folks at Veritas gave me a duck with a limp. That duck's limp went away and therefore there is nothing all that distinguishing about her, so I call her No-Name. I might start calling her Duckywalky in honor of Duckynowalky, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
It worked out with No-Name and One Eye. They half hung out and half did their own thing. Then, an unfortunate incident happened where a duck down the road got tangled in an electric fence and remained there all night. The owners of the duck, at that time, decided he needed a quieter, safer place to spend his days. So, that's how I got Shock. Shock, like No-Name, is completely healed. Then I was informed of a duck at Veritas that could barely walk due to a deformed foot. Needless to say, the deformed duck relocated to Muddy Farm and henceforth was called Duckynowalky.
Duckynowalky usually couldn't leave the duck coop on his own, so I would, most days, carry him out. Sometimes he'd make it back in by himself, but more times than not, I'd have to put him back. Ducks, unlike chickens, are incredibly kind to one another. Shock wouldn't go back into the coop until Duckynowalky was inside. Shock was very protective and both ducks would run to Duckynowalky when I'd put him out. I enjoyed watching all the duck love.
Then one day a baby raccoon fell from the sky. I left that baby raccoon out all night in the barn, thinking mama raccoon would take it back to the nest. Mama raccoon did no such thing. A woman who rescues them took the baby and it's doing fine. Then, in the middle of the next day, mama raccoon ate Duckynowalky.
Now, ducks getting eaten on a farm is no big deal. I mean, sure, it's sad and all, but it's pretty common, and a duck that couldn't really walk was pretty vulnerable. However, I have a very safe coop for both the ducks and chickens, where they are locked in each night. During the day, the only thing that usually gets fowl are domestic dogs. So, when a raccoon is hunting during the day, that's a big problem. Apparently, though, it's not an uncommon problem. They sometimes do that when nursing.
The next day, two more baby raccoons fell from the sky (by sky, I mean, the ceiling of the attic). Again, I left them out, thinking if mama can drag a duck up to her nest (which was in the loft above the barn) she surely would carry her babies back up. Nope. Again, the rescue woman came.
Needless to say, I'm trying to catch this mama raccoon, using a Havahart trap and Friskies Ocean White Fish cat food. I've been doing this for days. No mama raccoon.
It makes no sense why the mama wouldn't resuce her babies and why she won't eat the damn cat food, but it does get the story of One Eye, No-Name, Duckynowalky, Shock and Gordita out of the way, finally. I will end by saying I am truly looking forward to entering mama raccoon into the Muddy Farm predator relocation program. Further details cannot be disclosed, but I assure you they are humane.
As for the rest of the farm, this week at market I'll have:
Sunflower Greens
Basil (Genovese, Lemon and Thai)
Purple Top Turnips
Hakurei (Baby) Turnips
Buttercrunch, Romaine and Red Leaf Lettuce

Friday, July 11, 2008


No, dear reader, not you. Me. As far as I can tell, there are three possibilities for the lag in blog postings: A. I woke up March 20 at sunrise, on a beautiful late winter day with the weather in the 40's and the sun shining, poised to finish my deer fence and thought screw it, I'm going back to bed. I woke up seven hours later and got a job down the road at the tanning salon. B. I'm totally callous and cruel to my dedicated and faithful following of readers (that'd be my brother Brian and possibly Ron Klassnik--though I'm not sure I believe him). C. I've been busy growing stuff. D. B and C.

I'm not going to tell you the answer. But, I will give an incomplete update in the hopes that I'll come back to this weekly with at least an updated list of things I'm going to have for market.

Speaking of market: I've been selling at the Saugerties Farmer's Market on Saturday and the Rosendale Market on Sunday. I love (when I'm not busy cursing and hating) my five days on the farm, but somehow it's the market days that are the treat at the end of the week. I feel like a rock star selling my purple topped turnips. I'm also selling at the High Falls Food Co-op. One of my favorite past-times is bickering with their produce manager, Ryan, and making him think I'm mad at him. Mostly I like doing this because the co-op, and Ryan in particular, is very easy to sell to. They're flexible and go out of their way to buy from local growers, which is challenging because us small growers can't be as consistent as enormous Cal-organic companies. The co-op, however, wants to support us local little guys and also provide their customers with the best produce possible. Seeing as Ryan chooses to deal with 30+ local organic farms, full of hard-headed, bitter, overworked local farmers instead of buying from one pleasant sales representative from an enormous Cal-organic company, why do I, Dave Siegel of Muddy Farm, enjoy tormenting him so? Dunno.

Okay, but before I lunge into what I'm taking to market, I should say that, yes, the greenhouse got finished. With the help of Aaron Phillip D'Orio and Captain Paul Alward and Crew, all went well and the greenhouse has been filled with plants and emptied many times over. however, for over a month it's been empty and I've been direct seeding stuff because it's just too hot in there and I really like planting in the field directly in the summer.

And, on March 26 my box full of 60 baby laying hens arrived. They're now huge and enjoying their enormous fenced in area and coop. They should be laying eggs by September. I'm feeding them grain from Lightning Tree Farm, a local organic farm that grows and mixes a good blend of food. As most of you know, the cost of grain has been sky rocketing and is only going to get worse this Fall, so this local organic food costs a lot and I'm hoping to be able to sell all my eggs at the market directly instead of wholesale. I mentioned that I received 60 chickens in the mail. They came somewhere from out west and the mortality rate, I'm sorry to say, is generally huge for those poor things. I ordered mine from a hatchery called Privett, which has a good reputation. Of my 60 chickens that I ordered, I'm left with 61 and three ducks. I'll blog later about the odd chicken and three ducks, but I'm not going to do that now because those four animals get more attention than me and my vegetables and all the rest of the creatures around here. And so you're just gonna' have to wait. But, I'll tell you their names: Gordita, One-eye, Duckynowalky, shock and no-name. I know, that's five. Again, I'll blog about it later.

To finish other unfinished business: the deer fence is up and working. The cooler, with the Coolbot that UN Guy from the other side of the mountains invented works like a charm. Yeah, I have a cooler the size of a big walk-in closet and it's being cooled with a used 10,000 btu window AC unit that is hooked up to the Coolbot which confuses it so that it runs colder.

Okay. I'm tired now and market is tomorrow, so let me tell you what I'm bringing:

Salad mix (my main crop). This is a triple rinsed blend of baby lettuces, spicy and mild mustards, arugula, red Russian kale, Swiss chard and other weird things I can't think of now.
Sunflower Greens
Curly Kale
Red Russian Kale
Collard Greens
Swiss Chard
Baby Japanese turnips, which are awesome!
Romaine Lettuce...

and I think that's it. In the next few weeks, I hope I have beets, potatoes, tarragon, rosemary and most weeks I sell arugula separate from the salad mix.

That's it. No promises, but hopefully I'll give at least quick updates on what crops I'll have. That'll get boring, though, since it's not going to change that much until the tomato season comes around. And, yes, I'll tell the stories of Duckynowalky, Gordita, No-name, One-eye and Shock.