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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.  

Posted 1/27/2016 9:39pm by Reuben DeMaster.

In this Email:

- Farm News

- CSA Discounts

- CSA Sign Up Info

 

Dear Friends, Customers and Members of Willow Haven Farm,


January is the planning season on the farm.  The details for next year must be planned in order to make the season run smoothly.  One of the first steps is to complete the financial recordkeeping and get ready to file the tax returns.  Then seeds must be ordered so that I have them in time for planting.  If the seed order goes in late, I run the risk of my preferred varieties being out of stock.  Then I look at soil tests, talk to one or more consultants, and make a plan for soil improvement.  This year, I am planning to transition another field into organic production.  To do this, I needed to add several dry nutrients including calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, boron, and zinc.  Currently, I am working on a planting plan which will record all of my planting dates both in the greenhouse and in the field.  It will help me decide how many plants to start and where each planting will grow in the field.  This is very important in order to be able to harvest a crop like lettuce for multiple weeks for the CSA and Saturday market.


In addition to these details, I am ordering supplies and equipment for next season.  Each year, I need potting soil, extra trays, harvest bins, hand tools, irrigation supplies, and more.  Animals from last year get picked up from the butcher and distributed to those who purchased them.  A variety of farm projects are worked on such as drywalling and organizing storage areas. In the winter, I also try to spend time fixing things in the house that were neglected during the growing season. Lastly, there are still animals to care for and I even picked a few vegetables in January!  This week I will be baking bread for the farm market on Saturday.  


Many of these planning details are expensive and require me to pay for the supplies before the crop is ready.  When you sign up for a CSA share in January, you help the farm pay for what it needs now to get ready for the season.  


CSA DISCOUNTS

To encourage past members to rejoin the CSA for 2016 we offer a Returning Member Discount of 3%.  This can be added to the Early Bird Discount of 2% off your entire membership which is only available through this weekend (ends Jan 31).  That is a total of 5%, which can equal as much as $65 off, depending on your choices.  Total payment must be made in order to earn the discounts.


Beginning Feb. 1st we will be offering the option to set up automatic payment plan on our website for those for whom this will be convenient.

SIGN UP INFO
Click Here to Sign Up on Our Website
For more Info Read The Articles Listed HERE.
Returning Members: Click here to begin your renewal process. Or just copy and paste the link below into your browser: %%renewal-link%%

Each year we get better at what we do, improve our methods, add nutritious products and serve more households.  We are looking forward to a great season with new members and many returning friends and supporters.

We’ll keep farming for you.


Sincerely,


Reuben & Tessa DeMaster

Willow Haven Farm





Posted 1/1/2016 12:49am by Reuben DeMaster.

Dear %%user-firstname%%

Starting today, we will begin CSA signups for the 2016 season. Like past years, we will offer a discount for returning members and for early sign ups.  If you pay in full by January 31, we will offer a 3% discount.  You may choose to pay with a credit card but a small fee will be added to your total.  You may avoid this fee by mailing a check.  We will respond to email questions as soon as possible during the holiday season.  Here is the link to sign up: http://www.willowhavenfarmpa.com/members/types 

 We hope you have a Happy New Year!

Reuben and Tessa DeMaster

Willow Haven Farm

Posted 12/3/2015 10:30pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Dear friend, %%user-firstname%%,

This warm late fall weather has produced a bounty of still growing, green and healthy fall vegetables.  Too many for our CSA, market and our family!  We would like to give you the opportunity to benefit and enjoy by conveniently making a special delivery to your home.  Our Saturday markets on the farm are a great way to visit, support and buy healthy food but we know that not everyone can get out here.  Let us bring some great food to you.

This is what we have available:

DELIVERED FALL VEGETABLE BOX - $35

A box of vegetables will include: radish, turnip, carrot, kale, swiss chard, lettuce, sweet potato, cabbage, rutabaga, and cutting celery  

DELIVERED PORK PACKAGE - $50

A mix of chops, ham and sausage of about 7 pounds. Please have a cooler ready to receive delivery.

HOW TO ORDER

Vegetable and Pork orders will be delivered to your home on Tuesday, December 8.

Reply to this email or willowhavenfarm@live.com to order. Please include address and payment arrangements.

Deadline to order is Monday, December 7.

Delivery area is within 10 miles of our farm, (or if you have received a delivery from us previously). 

Drop of to the Keystone Homebrew Store in Bethlehem is available.

Payment is due upon delivery.

Have a great weekend.

Thank you.

Reuben DeMaster

Posted 12/3/2015 10:24pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Dear friend %%user-firstname%%,

This warm late fall weather has produced a bounty of still growing, green and healthy fall vegetables.  Too many for our CSA, market and our family!  We would like to give you the opportunity to benefit and enjoy by conveniently making a special delivery to your home.  Our Saturday markets on the farm are a great way to visit, support and buy healthy food but we know that not everyone can get out here.  Let us bring some great food to you.

This is what we have available:

DELIVERED FALL VEGETABLE BOX - $35

A box of vegetables will include: radish, turnip, carrot, kale, swiss chard, lettuce, sweet potato, cabbage, rutabaga, and cutting celery  

DELIVERED PORK PACKAGE - $50

A mix of chops, ham and sausage of about 7 pounds. Please have a cooler ready to receive delivery.

HOW TO ORDER

Vegetable and Pork orders will be delivered to your home on Tuesday, December 3.

Reply to this email or willowhavenfarm@live.com to order. Please include address and payment arrangements.

Deadline to order is Monday, December 7.

Delivery area is within 10 miles of our farm, (or if you have received a delivery from us previously). 

Drop of to the Keystone Homebrew Store in Bethlehem is available.

Payment is due upon delivery.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.  Have a great weekend!

Thank you.

Reuben DeMaster

Posted 10/20/2015 11:05pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Greetings %%user-name%%,

This has been a great season and we hope you enjoyed your fresh vegetables from Willow Haven Farm.  It has been our pleasure to serve you and your family.  Thank you so much for supporting our farm and our family! 

Today is the vacation make up week for anyone who took a scheduled vacation during the season.  See below for the list of members to whom that pertains.  If we have made any mistakes, please let us know.

Our drivers will be stopping at EVERY members house today to pick up empty boxes and containers from the season.  Please remember set them out to return them to the farm.

You can still get our vegetables and other unique farm products. We will be open on Saturdays until December 19th and you are welcome to come!

Please consider signing up for our Fall Share on our website www.willowhavenfarmpa.com/members/types

Also, watch for announcements via email and facebook of when next summer's CSA sign ups will open.  This is usually in late December, with an early bird sign up discount available for about the first month.  Stay tuned. We'd love to have you back.

If you have any feedback about this season, whether bad or good, please reply to this email or send one anytime.

Thank you again for your support.

-Reuben & Tessa DeMaster
Willow Haven Farm
610-298-2197

Members receiving vegetables today:

 Rowland
 Gerencher
 Nichols
 Cunningham
C Young
Warnagiris
Stock Keister
Sprayberry
Chrisley
 Zimmerman
Harren-Lewis
 Kilpatrick
 Regina
Tindall
 Guillon
 Stalter
 Young
 Snyder
 Reinhard
 Posh
L Young
 Key
 Karl
 Snyder
 Hausman
 Caulwell
Mary Ambrogi
Solosko
Posted 8/19/2015 8:10pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Dear Friends of Willow Haven Farm,


     Most of you know how difficult it is to find locally grown fruit produced under organic conditions.  Our climate makes this a very difficult task and so we rely on other areas of the world to produce organic fruit for us.  Yesterday, I was able to purchase a fairly large quantity of organic apples grown within  a few miles of my farm.  The man who raised them has never sprayed the trees but I was not able to learn the variety name.  I was surprised at the size of the apples, their attractiveness, and most of all by the flavor.  They are crisp, juicy, and sweet.  The texture was just what I wanted in an apple. 

     I will have quarts of these apples for sale at my Saturday market for the next 3-4 weeks but I also want to offer 1/2 bushel quantities to you.  A half bushel is approximately 40-50 apples and weighs 18-20 pounds.  The price is $18 per half bushel. 

     I will not be able to deliver the apples unless you are a home delivery member of our CSA.  If you would like one or more boxes, please send an email with "organic apples" in the subject and schedule a time to pick it up from the farm.

      Since they are organic, I expect that you will find an occasional worm inside of the apple.  Like I said, the man did not spray them.  It would be best to cut the apples for eating.  If you are going to make applesauce, you will be cutting them anyway.

      I will also have a pig available for purchase next month and more in December.  Let me know if you are interested and I can give you more details. 

 

Reuben DeMaster

 

Posted 7/17/2015 9:46pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Farming, for me, came at the intersection of myriad interests, concerns, and beliefs. Western culture has developed in such a way as to abstract its participants more and more from nature (and more and more from each other). Such cultural development is wrecking havoc on the global ecosystems of which we, inescapably, are a part. Industrial agriculture poisons our food, our water, the air we breathe, and the soil upon which the health of our global ecosystem hinges. We are taught to consume rampantly, to dispose of waste with no thought of where it goes; that a large house and a nice car are signs of success, while the energy necessary for both contribute largely to the greenhouse gases that are warming our planet.
 
I see organic farming (and especially permaculture farming) as a way of reversing the trends that have brought us to the environmental crisis that we now face as a planet.
 
However, farming practices are also a reflection of the values of a society. Large agribusinesses and factory farms value profit above the health of people and their own economic power over the wellbeing of the small, local farms that once provided for the vast majority of Americans at the beginning of the twentieth century. As such, though they both inform one another, it is not farming practices in and of themselves that we need to address, so much as the social and cultural structures that led to them in the first place.
 
I was interested in visiting Camphill Village at Kimberton for precisely this reason: because Kimberton is not just a biodynamic farm, but an intentional community.
 
About 110 people live at Kimberton, 44 of whom are physically or mentally handicapped; the community is based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, a German philosopher, and is one of many Camphill Villages worldwide, including two others in Pennsylvania. Members of the community live together in group houses spread throughout the 400-acre property, which was donated by local biodynamic farmers in 1972. In addition to the farm, the community includes a bakery, a café, an herb garden, an orchard, and a dairy, all of which provide food for the villagers, as well as revenue for the community as a whole. 
 
My fellow intern Angie, our neighbor Liz from Crooked Row Farm, and I drove down to Kimberton on Monday morning, and met my parents there (they, like me, are interested in community farming).
 
Mimi Coleman, a member of the community, gave us a tour of the village center, which included a large library, a chapel, a healthcare center, various workshop spaces, and assisted living quarters for elderly community members. During our walk we saw people strolling through the garden, children on bikes racing down the road, and talked to people who were sweeping floors, assisting with the elderly, and working in the bakery. Everyone greeted us with a genuine smile, and it was evident that they were proud of their community, and happy to be where they were. Some residents have spent the vast majority of their lives at Kimberton, while others volunteer to live and work at the community for a year or two. I was impressed by the neatness of the whole village, and the general cheer we felt every time we talked to someone new.
 
Head farmer Tod gave us a tour of the farm; a flat ten acres surrounded by a tall deer fence with climbing beans twined throughout. A group of at-risk kids from the city were laughing and pulling weeds in one bed, while some Kimberton villagers helped out in another. In addition to providing food for the community, the farm has a 280-member CSA, and also grows food for a local food bank. We also met the farm’s two draft horses, both of whom were taller than me at the shoulder; while Tod still uses some tractor equipment for cultivating, he prefers the horses.

For lunch, we were divided up into pairs to eat lunch at different group houses on the property. My mother and I ate a delicious lunch at Sycamore house. Our table included three adults with disabilities, a married couple who were the ‘house-parents,’ a farm apprentice, and three young Americorps volunteers, one of whom had just decided to stay on for another year. People answered our questions about the community, and told us the stories of how they came to be there. For desert, homemade apple pie.
 
With places like Kimberton and Willow Haven Farm leading the way, I have great hopes for a sustainable future. All in all, a lovely day. 

Tags: intern
Posted 6/26/2015 9:44pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Reuben is fond of saying that all farms are different, and so to really get a sense of what farming is and what it means to you, you have to visit a lot of farms. Luckily for us, the tri-state CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) organization offers free workshops to farm interns, apprentices, volunteers, and anyone else interested in farming. This week’s workshop was hosted by Urbanstead, a small, urban farming program located in Francisville, Philadelphia.

            When you hear the word ‘farm,’ Philadelphia is most likely not the first place on your mind. And yet, outside of schools, next to libraries, in vacant lots, farms are beginning to spring up, many with great success, and eager communities to support them. Urbanstead itself is tucked behind a small old folk’s community housing development in the neighborhood; a series a raised beds with an assortment of delicious veggies growing, pots filled with flowers, green beans climbing up trellises, and a few fruit trees. Down the street, the local preschool has been planted with fruits trees, grapes, and fruit bushes. Lisa Gaidanowicz, who helped to start the farm along with the community of Francisville, told us that her first year she had two helpers; a high school boy, and a ten-year old girl whose grandmother dropped her off.

            “Do you like carrots?” Lisa asked.

            “Yes!” she replied. Lisa pulled a carrot out of a bed, washed it at the spigot, and handed it to the girl who wrinkled her nose and said, “that is not a carrot.”

            By the end of the summer, though, she was yanking them from the ground, rinsing them off, and eating them with little regard for the dirt that she missed.

            Urbanstead, and many projects like it, prove that the local, organic food movement is not just for those who can afford it. Urbanstead works with local youth to not only give them access to fresh food, but to help them feel pride in themselves and their community, to develop job skills, and to enjoy the natural world and our connection to it.

            To learn more about Urbanstead, check out their website at http://www.urbanstead.org/

Tags: intern

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