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Posted 8/14/2016 9:38pm by Reuben DeMaster.

 

Hello Friends of the Farm,

We made it to the 'dog days' of August.  All of the farm workers are tired, but we continue to be impressed by the abundance of the harvest.  Our hard work over the past 5 months is producing more vegetables and other farm products than we know what to do with.  Each week, we donate vegetables to food pantries so that it does not go to waste (we only donate to places that are willing to pick up from the farm).  August is also the time when I wonder if the bills will get paid for the year and if I will have to work off of the farm later in the fall.  I have a limited amount of time to market farm products at this time of year, but I want to let you know about several things that we have right now. 

1.  One time CSA delivery - $35.  Each year, we offer a single CSA delivery for people who would like to try our product or who were not able to sign up for the entire season.  Since we have so many things this week, you may order a box for delivery on Wednesday.  The box will include an abundance of peppers, eggplant, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini or summer squash, and parsley.   The box will come to your home this Wednesday afternoon.  You may leave payment for pick up or you may mail a check.  Please respond by Tuesday evening and include your address.

2.  Tomatoes for canning - 75 cents per pound.  I have several hundred pounds of beautiful organic tomatoes picked now and many more to pick this week.  If you need bulk tomatoes for canning, freezing, or making sauce now is a great time to get them.  I can work around your schedule and you may pick them up during the week if necessary. 

3.  Pastured organic chicken - 6 for $100.  These chickens were raised on the farm and fed organic, no-soy feed.  They are whole and frozen.  You will get 23-24 pounds which is a much lower price than I have seen elsewhere.  Comparable products are often sold for over $5 per pound.  Meat orders may be picked up from the farm or I will deliver for $5.

4.  Grass-fed beef - 50 pounds for $400.  This beef comes from a steer that was born and raised on my farm.  You will get a sample pack of steaks, roasts, and ground beef.  I will only be selling 4 of these packs and the beef will be divided between the four packs.  Meat orders may be picked up from the farm or I will deliver for $5.

5.  Pastured pork - 20 pounds for $150.  This pork was raised on the farm and was fed organic, no-soy feed.  Your pack will include 2 ham slices, 2 packs of pork chops, 2 packs of bacon, and a variety of ground pork and sausage. 

Thank you for your support of the farm and of local agriculture. 

 

Reuben DeMaster

Willow Haven Farm

 

Posted 7/11/2016 8:30pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Hello,

It has been a few months since I offered to deliver meat orders.  Now that the spring rush is over, I am able to offer bulk orders again.  This month, I have chicken and pork raised on the farm and Wild for Salmon products.  All orders should be placed through the website.  http://www.willowhavenfarmpa.com/store/store/specials

The minimum order for salmon is 10 pounds.  Since this is the month that the owners of Wild for Salmon are fishing in Alaska, they do not have the large salmon size.  The only option is the smaller portions which come in about 1/3 pound packs. I expect the salmon orders to arrive by the end of July. 

The chicken and pork were raised on the farm on pasture.  They are fed organic no-soy feed.  Pork Sampler is $100.  Bulk Whole Chickens for $100. More details are on the website ordering page. Please note that we have Chicken Cuts (breasts, leg/wings) for available at our On Farm Market. 

If you would like home delivery and live within 15 miles of Willow Haven, you will need to leave a cooler out and choose $5 delivery option on the website when you check out.  I will notify you by email when I schedule a delivery day.

Please place orders by next Wednesday, July 13, so I can get the salmon order together.

 

Thank you,

Reuben

 

Posted 5/19/2016 5:25pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Hello,

       You will be hearing from the farm often in the next few weeks because there are many things going on at the beginning of the season.  I am really glad that I asked for suggestions for people to receive CSA shares.  This is something that I have not made public before and it turns out that most people know someone who really needs help.  Already I have had requests from 5-6 food banks and missions along with almost 20 suggestions (and counting) for families and friends.  I am not able to find time to respond to each email.  The overwhelming response has started some thoughts in my crowded brain.  As a small farm, I am not able to donate 20 CSA shares which would be over $6000 in vegetables.  But if enough people were able to work together maybe there would be a way to do it. 

        If you would like to sponsor a CSA share for someone, I will donate a bi-weekly vegetable share to them if you contribute $150.  This is about 45% of the normal share price.  You will list the name of the person, their address, and a phone number.  If you want to keep it anonymous, just let me know. 

          If you would like to contribute a smaller amount toward a donated share, I will add up contributions in a donation bank.  When the bank reaches $150 I will donate a CSA share to someone.  I will make the total donations public (but obviously not the donors or recipients) so that everyone will know how much was contributed and donated. 

            You will find everything that you need to make a donation on the website.

          Finally, the season starts in 13 days.  In order to donate a full season CSA membership we need to receive all donations by June 1. 

         This is one example of what Community Supported Agriculture can mean.  If a community supports local farms, local farms can support the community in many ways. Thank you for being a caring, supportive community.

Sincerely,

Reuben and Tessa DeMaster

Posted 5/16/2016 3:30pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Hello friends of Willow Haven Farm,

 

       For seven years, I have been farming on land owned by Tessa's family.  This year, I am farming all 50 acres and it is all done with organic methods.  We do not use synthetic chemical fertilizer or pesticides.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and learning process.  All of our farm products are direct marketed which means that they are sold directly to the people that will eat them. 

        One challenge of direct marketing is that the supply and demand are never quite equal.  Sometimes people are looking for products that we no longer have and sometimes we have more products than people want to purchase.  This balancing act has been difficult to learn and I think it will always be a part of small farms.  This year, we are off to a very productive start.  We have an abundance of many farm products.  In fact, we have much more than we can sell and are looking for ways to distribute more food to people.  Right now we have eggs, pork, bread, milk, and vegetables.  In fact, our storage spaces are filled.  We spend a lot of time marketing already and can't add another marketing project.  If you regularly eat organic products like these, please consider coming out to the farm to purchase some.  Or send an email order and we will find a way to get them to you.  I have several pigs coming back from the butcher in the next few weeks and my freezers are already full.  Maybe some of you have ideas for how to quickly sell these items.

        You might have heard that I am participating in a start up market in Slatington called the Blue Mountain Farm Market.  You can find more information on Facebook.  This market is still in need of people to sell the products on Friday and Saturday.  Please email for more information.  I also have an opportunity to join a new maket in West Bethlehem.  I am also looking for people to help staff this market.  It is a Saturday market in a great location.  Finally, I can use additional help at my farm on Saturdays.  These are all paid positions.  Please let me know if you are interested or if you know anyone else who might be interested.  I need to make a decision about the Bethlehem market by the end of the week. 

        The farm is looking to buy or borrow a used box trailer.  A 6 x 10 foot trailer would be perfect for hauling vegetables.  Please let me know if you know of anything available.  My price range is around $1000. 

         My tractor's transmission went out this week.  I know people that could fix it but they don't have a shop with the proper equipment. If anyone knows of a small shop that could work on the tractor quickly, please let me know.  Maybe someone has a friend with a home garage set up...

        Finally, the farm would like to donate a few CSA shares.  If you know someone who would appreciate fresh, organic vegetables but cannot afford a share, please let me know. 

 

Thank you,

Reuben DeMaster

 

Posted 5/8/2016 2:48pm by Reuben DeMaster.



Dear friends,

This announcement is going out to those on our email list who indicated an interest in Weston A Price Diet products.

We have fresh, raw, bovine colostrum from our grass fed Ayrshire cow.  She calved yesterday and we have carefully reserved the extra colostrum that we are milking.  Many recognize the incredible healing and immune boosting power of colostrum.  This article mentions a few benefits.  http://www.naturalnews.com/043038_colostrum_health_benefits_immune_system.html

And here is an article from Sally Fallon in Wise Traditions in 2002 http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/cooking-with-colostrum/.

If you are interested, please reply.  Since we cannot store this product very long, whatever excess we have will be given to our farm animals. 

Feel free to pass this information along to someone you think would be interested.

Thanks, as always, for your friendship and support of our farm.

Sincerely,

Reuben and Tessa DeMaster

 

Posted 5/2/2016 3:35pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Dear %%user-firstname%%,

Do you want to eat better and include more vegetables in your diet? 
Do you want to avoid GMOs and pesticides in your food?  
Do you like to cook 3 – 4 times a week?
Do you want to connect to a local farm and learn more about your food?
Do you want a farmer who cares about the land and is working to improve it?
With a Weekly Veggie Box, you can be a part of our farm all summer long!

What is Included?

> 20 weeks of fresh picked seasonal vegetables
> Choose Wed. home delivery or  Saturday Pick up at The Farm
> 7 – 9 varieties of veggies in each box choose weekly or bi-weekly box  
> add-on bread, fruit, eggs, and cheese
> sign up and pay for the entire season
> season begins first week of June

Extras!

Organic Sourdough Bread – 1 loaf per week made with organic whole grains.
Artisanal Cheese – local, raw, grass fed cow’s milk cheese – 1 pound per week
Pastured Organic Eggs – free range hens raised on grass with organic, non-soy feed – 1 doz. per week
Local Fruit – two containers per week from berries to tree fruit, not organic.

We are taking sign ups for our last memberships for 2016 right now!  Visit our website for more info or to sign up.  Call or email if you have questions.  We'll get right back to you.  Willow Haven Farm CSA is a Lehigh Valley favorite.

Thank you for your interest in our farm.  We'll keep farming for you.

Sincerely,

Reuben and Tessa

Posted 4/12/2016 8:42pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Hello,

     Thanks to the support of many, many people, Willow Haven Farm is growing this season.  Many volunteers help during the season and we need several dedicated volunteers. New opportunities for paid positions show that we are serious about our growth.  Please take a few minutes and consider if you know anyone who might be interested in these opportunities.

1.  Blue Mountain Farm Market - I am working with a few other farmers to start a farm market in Slatington.  It will be open on Friday and Saturday at the trailhead park pavilion.  You will receive more details soon.  We are looking for someone to work the stand on Fridays and/or Saturdays.  This will be a paid position.  We also need help with advertising this new market. 

 

2.  Willow Haven Farm Market - We need help on Saturdays with setting up the vegetable display and with making pizzas.   In the past, we have offered farm products as compensation but we would consider paying someone. 

 

3.  Deliveries - We need help delivering vegetables on Wednesday afternoons.  Drivers must be at the farm by 1 PM on Wednesdays and they deliver 10-12 boxes to homes in the Lehigh Valley.  Drivers receive a weekly box of vegetables. 

 Please reply to this message if you are interested in these positions. 

- Reuben DeMaster

 

Posted 3/7/2016 1:38pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Last week, Tessa and I traveled to my brother's wedding in Mexico.  The 6 day trip was the longest that we have had together in 15 years.  My brother and sister-in-law live in L.A. but chose to get married in Mexico.  To get there, we flew into San Diego, drove across the border along the Pacific Ocean, and entered the Ruta Vina - Mexican Wine country.  Like most people, I had not realized that Mexico has its own wine producing region.  We drove through a large, flat valley with almost 100 wineries and farms.  Although this is a vacation region for Mexicans, it did not have the gaudy commercialization that we always find in the United States.  In fact, most of the roads were not paved, there were only a few billboards, and there may have been one stoplight in the entire valley. 

Many of the vineyards had a restaurant, a vegetable patch, and a place to stay.  We stayed at an elegant place that had 12 rooms and a pool.  It was a modest scale with kind and good employees.  It was set back from the road which made it quiet.  There was not a TV in our room and the place didn't attempt to entertain it's guests.  The hospitality of the place felt different from anything in the United States, but I can't describe exactly what made it that way.  It felt welcoming, honest, simple, and kind. 

Tessa and I visited several other places in the valley.  At Villa del Valle, we were able to visit with Claire (the farmer) for almost 2 hours.  She had been working the garden for over 4 years and had moved from California.  She explained some of the challenges posed by the climate and soil.  Growing vegetables is hard work anywhere you go!  We ate at a restaurant owned by a chef who grew up in Lancaster.  We visited a four acre vegetable patch run by a farmer who didn't speak any English.  Tessa and I have not practiced our Spanish in many years but we managed to communicate a little. 

Through a chance connection, a friend of my brother knew the vintner at a large vineyard.  This gave us a chance to get a wine tasting and tour.  During the tour, I was able to speak with her about the challenges of producing wine in that region.  They have alkaline soil with a high salt content.  They receive very little rain each year and have very hot summers.  The salt and mineral content are present in the wines.  Since it is so hot during the growing season, the grapes develop a high sugar content.  With more sugar in the grapes, the wines have a higher alcohol content - often 15% or more.  From experience, I can tell you that they are strong. 

The wedding and family time were the highlight of the trip even though that is not the focus of this post.  It was a small, beautiful wedding in a part of the world that I would not have otherwise visited.  Tessa and I are thankful that her parents were able to stay with our children and that our children were able to take care of the farm. 

Maybe Willow Haven Farm will someday become a wedding destination with a farm-to-table restaurant, winery, and resort.  I'm tired just thinking about it.  Maybe someone wants to operate it on the neighbor's land! 

Posted 2/22/2016 12:39pm by Reuben DeMaster.

This past weekend was our most productive lambing weekend ever.  When we fed the sheep on Saturday morning we found 4 new lambs and then the same thing happened on Sunday!  The best part of all was that each ewe gave twins.  Jacob lambs are about 7 pounds at birth and are able to stand and walk almost immediately.  In fact once they are 24 hours old, we have a difficult time catching them because they can outrun us!  We have had lambs born in all conditions.  The mothers refuse our help and will not enter the shelter that we provide.  Our sheep are independent and we are proud of them. 

This year, we have 9 ewes.  Seven have given birth so far this winter and all of them have given twins.  This is always the goal but we have never had such a productive lambing season.  The remaining two ewes look large and have bellies that hang low.  Is it possible that each ewe could give twins in a season?  

The previous weekend was a different story.  If you remember, an arctic blast hit the northeast and our temperatures dropped to around zero degrees.  The wind blew very hard all weekend.  On that Saturday morning, we also woke up to find twin lambs.  One died quickly because the ewe had not cleaned it off.  We took the other lamb into the house to warm it up.  The lamb was bathed and fed milk from a bottle.  Later in the day we brought it back to the ewe so that it could bond with his mother.  The next morning, it was again very cold and we had to bring the lamb back into the house.  This time we noticed that it was sick and lacked vigor.  Unfortunately that lamb did not make it.  

We generally think of farmers as people who grow things.  But this is not quite true.  I cannot cause one seed to germinate, cannot produce one baby animal, and cannot cause one drop of rain to fall.  I live close to conditions which I cannot understand or control - the weather, new birth, growth, and fruiting.  I observe these things but cannot cause or prevent them.  Every day I am reminded of our smallness and of the mystery of life.  

Farmers attempt to control some of the conditions that make life and reproduction possible.  For example, I keep certain sheep and other animals within a fenced area.  I plant certain seeds to grow into plants that the animals can eat.  I give them water and food during the cold months.  I ensure that only one male will be with the females to prevent fights.  At times I provide shelter.  I make sure that the fleece is removed from the sheep every year.  I make sure that there are the correct amount of animals for the amount of grass available to eat. 

It is possible for anyone to lose sight of the mysteries in life.  Even farmers need to remind themselves that the control that we attempt to impose on the world has limits.  And this mystery is what gives my life meaning.  

Posted 2/15/2016 6:31am by Reuben DeMaster.

In January, the week before the record setting snowfall, I injured my knee.  Injuries are not uncommon to those who regularly do physical labor.  This felt different however.  I was sitting on the floor taking some measurements for a piece of drywall.  When I stood up, something was wrong with my right knee.  It lacked the strength that I expect from that joint.  I could not put much weight on that leg and I knew it was a significant injury.  

Although I did not shovel any snow that weekend, I had several projects scheduled for the following week.  Of course I did them in spite of the discomfort.  When I finally had someone examine my knee, he called it a muscle tear that required rest and rehab.  This sounded like a good idea at first until I realized how many simple things that I could no longer do on the farm.  Stairs became a problem and I could not do any daily animal chores.  My sons and wife have done the extra chores every morning and afternoon in the snow and cold.  It takes a supportive family to be able to operate a farm!

The result has been that I am spending more time at my computer than I have done in the past few years.  I completed my taxes, I planned my seeding and transplanting schedule, and I have a budget for this year.  I am interviewing interns and I attended two workshops.  I have more time to spend on projects with my children and have done some volunteer work.

Each of these things benefit the farm and family and I am glad to be able to do them.  However, I learned several years ago that spending time on certain things means that other things are not getting attentions.  This year, I am spending less time earning a winter income and less time on farm projects.  The fruit trees and berries need pruning, I had planned to trim fencelines, and I have firewood to cut.  Every year really is different on the farm and I am challenged again this year to hold my expectations loosely.  I cannot control many of the conditions that this year will bring.  My job remains to enjoy the positives, minimize the negatives, and manage the farm as best I am able.  I remain hopeful that another 6 weeks of rest will be enough time for my knee to heal.  

I thank all of the people who have supported us each year in so many ways.  

New recipe: Simple Sauteed Yellow SquashJune 20th, 2017

-adapted from www.food.com   3 medium summer squash, sliced 1/8 cup butter 1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly or diced 1/2 to taste salt & pepper   Melt butter in large skillet. Add on

New recipe: Sauteed ZucchiniJune 20th, 2017

2 medium sized zucchinis, washed and unpeeled 1/3 cup pine nuts (or slivered almonds) 1 tbsp butter 1 or 2 cloves of garlic minced Grated cheese (optional)   Cut zucchini in bite sized strips. M

New recipe: CUCUMBER ALMOND COUSCOUS SALADJune 20th, 2017

1 1/2 tsps salt, divided                   3/4 cup plus 2 Tbls couscous* 1 cup slivered almonds    &

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Willow Haven Farm, 7686 Herber Rd., New Tripoli, PA 18066

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