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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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mutt & Jeff

My two favorite hay-burners in the field--Bango & Andy. While it's true that I prefer to drive full-sized trucks, when it comes to horses, give me a 14.2 Quarter Horse who can move like a cat. The last time I was on anything the size of the Big-A was the year before I moved back to Pennsylvania (1999) when I took my friend, Joyce's fox hunter sport horse out for an afternoon. It was like driving a Monster Truck. Jess likens riding Andy to a freight train because he takes a while to get going, is hard to steer and takes even longer to get stopped. Although, when she has him undersaddle, there's a strange elegance to the old plow horse.

There's nothing 'elegant' about this extremely pregnant Jersey, though, she was hoofing it throughout the neighborhood yesterday given the chance. I (wrongfully) thought that she wouldn't waddle far from the paddock where I put her while I mucked out the maternity ward--no freshing in the pouring rain this year, girlie. Despite her added weight, she headed the whole way down the hill, to where there was a gate waiting to be put on it's hinges. No big deal since there was an entire 2-acre paddock on the other side of that gate. Not good enough. She had to find the other gate at the top of the hill that was also not attached to the brace yet. Then it was back down the hill through the alleyway to the end of the fence row and up the outside, around the perimeter and across the street to the Hoffmans' backyard. Needless to say, while I completed the cleaning project, she was forced to stand tied to the rack in front of the barn. What a naughty cow! Stay tuned for baby pictures. The official due date is April 1st. I wonder how she'll fool me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Harbinger of Spring

The first crocus ready to bloom and the others aren't far behind.Since Ralph had been sweet enough to prepare the garden beds a few weeks ago, I figured that I'd better get something planted in them. To celebrate the arrival of spring, I broke out the hoe & seeds. In the first row, we set up a cattle panel and planted two 15' rows of Cascadia snap peas. Since peas grow up, that left us with plenty of room for other goodies, including Purple Kosaitai, Cima Di Rapa and Kintsai--all international greens.
For those of us who just want a good green salad, we also planted High Mowing Seeds' Gourmet Lettuce Mix, Freckles Romain, Black Seeded Simpson and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds' Siamese Dragon Stir-fry Mix.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Have you ever thought about moving out to the country? Getting your own little acre of land with a rancher and planting a big garden? Here's your chance.
This is a four-bedroom, two bath rancher with a large two-car garage, living room, dining room, kitchen and mud room. It has a full basement and a wood-burning stove.
Our neighbors purchased the log home on a larger lot behind this house. The house is being offered privately for $185,000. In addition to having Painted Hand Farm as your neighbor, on either side are retired couples who maintain immaculate homes and properties. To the rear is an Amish family. It's about six miles either way to the Pennsylvania Turnpike or I-81. Kids go to the Shippensburg School District and the bus stops right in front of the house. Shippensburg University is four miles away.
The garden is tilled and ready to be planted by the new owner. If you are interested, contact Bill or Pam Herb at for more information or images.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Tale of Two Sausages

We got our first batch of All-Goat Breakfast Sausage back from the butcher and it was time to taste them side-by-side with pork sausage using the same recipe. The links are about the size of your finger and stuffed in collagen casings so our customers who don't eat pork can also enjoy them.
The first noticeable difference is the leanness of the goat sausage compared to the pork. Goat meat is actually leaner than skinless chicken breast, but contains the same amount of protein as pork. However, fat = flavor so we were hoping for something just as tasty. The links were cooked in identical pans with similar flame settings.
However, the pork sausages cooked much more quickly than the goat and had to be removed from the heat almost a full two minutes prior to the goat sausage cooking the whole way through. The goat sausage did not form as crispy a 'skin' as the pork, but they still browned up quite nicely. For me, a breakfast sausage tasting isn't complete without some farm fresh eggs and toast. When it came down to the tasting, the sausages had similar flavors, but the consistency was different. The pork sausage was more moist compared to the goat which could have easily been mistaken for beef or venison. Both were delicious!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Socks from the Flock

I'm giving away my holiday shopping secret. Some of my friends & family will recognize these soft and warm goodies that ended up under their Christmas trees last year. The socks are from Bearlin Acres, a small, sustainable family farm not far from us.
My friendship with Linda Singley began several years ago when we met at a regional potluck dinner for PASA. I had mentioned to her that I was interested in acquiring a Tibetan Yak to eventually milk and the next day Linda called me after she spied a yak for sale in the Lancaster Farming News. So now you also know how I ended up with that yak. Over the years our friendship has grown as we've adventured into the world of small ruminant farming and life in general, sharing our knowledge, our triumphs and our tribulations.
In addition to socks, Linda also makes snappy (and warm) hats, hand-dyed roving and yarns and an assortment of other goodies including tanned fleeces from both her sheep and cashmere goats.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Man versus Stump

When Ralph chopped down the cherry tree last week, we were left with a large stump in the middle of my flower bed. Opting for the easy road, I suggested putting a flower pot on top and planting something that would cascade down over the stump. "That is so redneck ghetto," said Ralph and started formulating his plan of attack against the stump.

Soon he was hard at work with shovels, post-hole digger, ax, pick, breaker bar, sawzall, chainsaw, tractor, muscle and pure determination. While he was working on extricating the remnants of the tree from where it had stood for probably close to a century, the mailman came by and told him he'd never be able to dig out the stump. "By the time you deliver mail tomorrow, this stump will be gone," said Ralph. The mailman just laughed and drove on. The roots were numerous and thick, but Ralph chopped away. As the roots became larger, the power tools came out. Even with the new & improved tractor, the stump proved to tenacious to to be torn out of the ground so Ralph decided to jack it out a little at a time until is was free from the compacted hard shale ground.
I didn't have my camera handy for his attempts of lifting the stump with the bucket. He had the rear wheels off the ground a few times. Even with all the dirt knocked off the remaining roots, the stump proved too clumsy to chain into the bucket and safely drive down the street to George's fill hole. "Put a chain around it and drag it down the street," I said, but Ralph was worried about leaving a dirt trail and damaging the road. "The Amish & Mennonites leave more dirt and damage on the roads around here than that stump will ever do," I countered. So the tow chain went around the stump and the stump went down the road.

Friday, March 06, 2009

What an Idiot!

It's a windy day. The fields are dry. We live in a township where we can take our garbage to the local landfill for FREE. So, what does our illustrious Hopewell Township Supervisor's son do with his garbage today? He burns it! Yes, it's not bad enough he has to stink up our neighborhood with burning trash, he's also stupid enough to set the field on fire and risk burning down several other houses in the area. Did he bother to call the fire company when it was obviously out of control? Duh! Glad we have some other neighbors with a brain and a cell phone that alerted the fire company.
Here's an aerial image so you can get a better idea just what an IDIOT this MORON is.

Another Good Meal

After restocking my larder with goodies from Trader Joe's, Common Market, Country Pantry and farmers market, I wanted to make something fulfillingly hot, gooey and chewy. On top of my basic pizza dough, I put fresh chard from Spring Valley Farm, pepperoni, Keswick Creamery fresh ricotta, cappicola, Lioni Ciliegine fresh mozarella, Toigo Orchards' Heirloom Tomato Sauce, topped with Ewe's Dream, a luscious sheep milk pecariono romano from Otterbein Acres. Ralph requested a Mexican flare on top with fresh avocado (I don't even want to know where they came from) and some sour cream from Nancy's Organic.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

There's No Excuse

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times....what's there to buy at farmers market in the winter time? This is my idea of "fast food". Spring Valley Farm's stir-fry mixture of winter greens (kales, chards, mustards, spinach), a variety of mushrooms and a few green onions all stir-fried together really quick and a few sea scallops tossed in for good luck (and Ralph). And for dessert...chevre from Cherry Glen, their Monocacy Ash.