Welcome to Painted Hand Farm

Painted Hand Farm is a 20 acre Civil War era farm located in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. We raise meat goats, veal calves, turkeys and organic vegetables using humane and sustainable agricultural practices.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Few Farm Shots

I thought I'd just snap a few random shots of the farm today. The turkeys are getting tugged along on fresh grass and clover. They're about the size of a softball right now. A special thanks to Jill in N.H. who graciously sent me her sash weights for Christmas a few years ago. They're coming in handy all over the place! See the one that helps the coop door automatically close behind us so the turkeys don't get out? The ladies are on fresh browse and loving life. Of course, the first thing they go for is the poison ivy. I love you, but I'm not going to pet you.

I was thinking of Bill & Joan Smith, who have BIJO Boers in Gardners, PA when I took this picture. . We bought our first does from them and many are still productive matrons in the herd. The wide-bodies are Carlisle & Cocoa and in the background standing on her hind legs is Peaches. Between the three of them, they'll put nearly forty weaned kids on the ground. In the livestock business, regardless of species, health and longevity are keys to profitability.
There's fungus among us! When I removed a water tub that was set on blocks, I found these mushrooms and decided to take a picture. (Yes, go ahead and make fun of their shapes.) It's been a wet year at the farm and we've had lots of interesting fungi popping up all over the place.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Eating Well from the Carlisle Central Farmers Market

I am constantly asked by people how to shop and cook meals solely from the local farmers markets. As a vendor who puts in a 12+ hour market day (actually, that's every day on the farm), I'm faced with feeding my family as well as the goats, calves, cows, horses, turkeys, dogs, cats & bunny.

This is an example of a healthy meal with the majority of ingredients obtained at the Carlisle Central Farmers Market.

Grilled Fresh Ahi from Ted's Seafood seasoned with huli-huli sauce (soy sauce, Toigo Orchards honey, our fresh garlic and a few sesame seeds)

Green Bean Salad with produce from the Garden of Edenbo, toasted almonds from Castle Creek, Bovre fresh cheese from Keswick Creamery, our own fresh shallots minced with a spoonful of capers tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Dinner for three: Less than $15 dollars and 15 minutes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Hoppy Harvest

Earlier this year, we began hearing about the hops shortages that were affecting the beer-making industry and were especially hard-hitting to micro-brewers and home-brewers. Many years ago when we brewed our own beer, we planted several hops vines of assorted varieties in the perennial garden by the outhouse. By the time the vines were producing, our brewing days had passed. For years, they draped the outhouse and would be cut off and fed to the goats. But this year, Ralph decided to get a legitimate harvest out of the mature vines and installed a trellis.
His vines grew, grew and grew some more.
Harvest time is upon us and Ralph's out there on his scaffolding. The initial plan was to be able to drop the guide wires, but the vines entwined the top rail of the trellis and this is now not possible. So it's up in the air for Ralph. Good thing he's not afraid of heights.

Until they are gone, we will be selling the hops--Cascade & Centennial--from the farm and at the Carlisle Central Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Prize-Winning Garlic

Ralph entered his Elephant Garlic in the Shippensburg Fair and won a blue ribbon. At first, they weren't going to allow him to enter it in the Garlic Division because they didn't believe it was garlic, but a sniff test proved it to be truly the stinking rose.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Look at Ralph's Elephant Garlic!

Anyone who knows Ralph, knows he doesn't screw around when it comes to growing garlic. The book said that giant elephant garlic couldn't be grown in our climate zone. Don't tell that to Ralph! This is one of the first heads he has harvested and it's a little one, weighing in at only 2.5 pounds. Neighbor Bill wants to help with the harvesting and brought his own tools. Bill's son has talked Ralph into entering the garlic in the local Shippensburg Area Fair. I'm sure he'll win a blue ribbon. This week the turkeys left the brooder in the barn and are now officially on grass. It will take a few days before they get the hang of eating greens, but then watch out! We'll have to move the tug-along coop at least twice a day once they catch on. Believe it or not, we are still at zero mortality with this batch. There's one in the group with funny, bugged out eyes and we're guessing he'll be low man on the totem pole who eventually get pecked to death by the others. There's one like that every year.
Speaking of birds, can you believe these are the baby Robbins who hatched only last week? They are feathering out and getting their distinctive orange breast feathers. We have been keeping Megs the Merciless inside otherwise they would have been on the half-shell kitty snacks by now.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We Farmers Eat Well

Two of the most incredible pigs I have ever roasted.

When it comes to eating well, no one does it better than a gathering of sustainable farmers who are dedicated to producing the best food possible. So when Mark Toigo from Toigo Orchards in Shippensburg, PA called me about getting a goat for a picnic, I offered to come out of retirement from years of catering to roast up the goat for his party, which was only supposed to be for a couple dozen of his family, friends and staff.
For anyone who is interested in roasting pigs, goats, lambs, etc., I highly recommend the Kane BBQ Grill. I now have two of them now.
Toigo Orchard's reputation for quality fruits and vegetables is known throughout the easter seaboard. They've been staples at the metropolitan farmers markets in the Washington DC area since the 1980's. I knew that Mark would gather up the best of the best for his picnic and looked forward to being a part of it. Fresh apricots, Star-gazer Lilies, salad, breads, cheeses and cucumbers topped with yogurt & dill.
But a few weeks before the picnic, we spoke and he said, "We've got a problem." The problem turned out to be his generosity and the party had rapidly ballooned to 200 people. We were going to need more than just a goat. So we added a pair of smoked heritage turkeys from Painted Hand and a pair of Pigaerators from Polyface. Despite the humid weather and a few brief showers, the evening was a phenomenal success. A feast was laid with local artisan foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, wines and beers. A local band played bluegrass music. The first sweet corn of the season roasted over hot coals.

Tiki torches cast shadows among the guests who ate, drank and enjoyed each other's company. We pretty much picked all the carcasses clean.

But the moment I knew I was among kindred spirits was when the gold lamae, feather boa and funny hat came out. Life is good.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Good Eats from the Farm

In a recent Small Farm Today article, John Ikerd asked farmers to question themselves as to why they farm, noting that the answers would be diverse as the farmers themselves. It only took me a fraction of a second to answer his question: food. On the most fundamental level, I love to produce good food--be it meat or vegetables, I want people to have access to clean, safe food produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner and most importantly, food that TASTES GOOD.
I will whole-heartedly admit that the green thumb in this family belongs to Ralph. While I'm content to move portable fences, wrestle goats for foot-trimming, bottle calves, pluck turkeys, milk cows and all the sex, manure & death associated with farming, Ralph's gift is in the care he devotes to his immaculate gardens. Here he is examining the germination rate of the Italian Cuccuzzi patch.
The barn garden--home to a wide variety of vegetables including squash, potatoes, beets, peppers and sunflowers.
Ralph's hops trellis supports a bumper crop of the golden flowers. Home-brewers get ready!
One of my favorite treats Ralph grows are his gorgeous garlics. This year I talked him into including some French Grey Shallots in his Allium patch.
There's nothing like freshly-dug new potatoes! Here are some of the Pontiac Reds. He's getting ready to also harvest the Yukon Golds.
We try to have greens growing from March through December.
While most farmers are content to grow the tried & true staple varieties, we seek out heirloom and unusual varieties, such as these Italian Summer Squash.
With the gardens in full swing, look for all this naturally (organic with a little "o") grown food at the Carlisle Central Farmers Market in downtown Carlisle on Saturdays from 8 AM to 2 PM.