A bit of our history…

What a rainy year it has been!  Just when we think spring is ready to bust open, it seems another blast of winter comes storming through, and another week of water gushes from the sky.  I think we can safely say that the drought is over here on the West Coast!  We thankfully enjoy the “sun breaks” and singular days of warmth and sunshine.  The kids were thrilled to finally have the opportunity (with willing adults) to try their hands at fishing in the pond once again!  Our oldest helper won the prize, catching four large mouth bass.

IMG_4484[1]

Grandpa and his helper, tilling the garden under in preparation for this year’s crops.

Other news on the farm: Mr. Hubbard has officially retired!  … At least from one job.  He has quickly filled the void with plenty of other work around the farm, including building this beautiful new pergola for the grapes to climb on, and a new raised bed for the strawberries.  One of our constant challenges is to find a place to plant all of the fruits and veggies we aspire to harvest.  It’s because of this that many of your average garden plants have found their way into our flower beds as well.  Some veggies are downright pretty anyhow, right?

IMG_4515[1]

Our new grape pergola

IMG_4512[1]

A new bed for strawberries

Mr. Hubbard has been reluctant to fill his retirement with an old profession, knowing that his former life as a dairy farmer was anything but restful and relaxing.  A dairy farmer’s life is the very definition of commitment and dedication… twice a day, 365 days a year, regardless of weddings, church, or social ‘obligations.’  At the same time, this extra bit of time has provided just the opportunity to introduce the grand kids to a way of life that we believe teaches responsibility and work ethic.  And so it has occurred that after 20 years, our little farm is now home once again to one singular little Holstein calf, whom we have named Clarabell.  She has been the center of so much excitement and joy as the kids fight over who gets to feed her, and spend much of their free time doting on her and building her already social personality.

IMG_4537[1]

Meet our newest addition: Clarabell!  The kids were excited to bottle feed her.  Fourth generation farmers-in-training

We are now in the works of building our fourth generation on this farm.  Bill and Jo Hubbard first bought the farm in the early 1950’s, and Bill worked multiple jobs while also building his own dairy herd, just to pay for the place we now call home.  As their kids moved through college and into their own careers, Bill and Jo decided they were ready to sell the cows, at which time their youngest son stepped in to take over the herd and farm responsibilities.  He and his wife eventually named the dairy “Billanjo Dairy,” and continued building the dairy into a successful, small, raw milk dairy farm.  As a family, we milked the cows, bottled the milk, delivered it to the stores, and even made cheese which we marketed at local farmers markets under the label, “Easteagle Cheese,” due to our location East of Eagle Point.  It was a busy and demanding life, but good.

IMG_4590[1]

We like to believe that a wheel of cheese is like a bottle of wine, improving with age. This is one of our few remaining wheels of cheese.

However, raw milk was an outgoing ‘fad’ at that time, and began to incur ridicule and censure from a society phobic of bacteria.  In an effort to sterilize the world we live in, Oregon regulations on raw milk began to increase and tighten, tighten and increase.  We fought to meet the new regulations, making our raw milk cleaner than any pasteurized product on the shelf today.  Then, after an e-coli breakout at a Washington Jack-in-the-Box, Center for Disease Control (CDC), local news stations, and even the Dairy Farmers of Oregon began to advise the general populace to avoid drinking raw milk as a precaution to avoid illness, in spite of the strict regulations and testing undergone to ensure cleanliness and purity of our product.  Customers and stores carrying our milk began to fall away, influenced not by their experience, but by the media and popular fear.  Legislation was introduced, and passed, to outlaw raw milk in the state of Oregon.  Our dairy was grandfathered in and allowed to continue until pure economics took their toll.  In 1996, our dairy was one of the last three to close in the state of Oregon, bringing a dramatic change of course for our family life.

IMG_4592[1]

One of the new additional state regulation required that we change our labels to include a warning that our product could potentially carry “disease producing organisms.”

Twenty years later, we’ve traveled the globe and worked lots of other jobs.  Most of the ‘kids’ are now married with their own kids.  Raw milk now sells at approximately $12 a gallon from private parties (we sold ours for $2/gallon when we closed in 1996, as we competed with mainstream milk prices).  These days, the pendulum has swung the other direction, and the public has begun to repulse antibiotics, and in turn embrace probiotics and all things raw!  (We clearly remember the difficulty of trying to educate people that not all bacteria are bad, and some are even necessary for cheese making and gut health.)  As fate would have it, we Hubbards have nearly all come back to settle close to the family farm, which has been leased for the past twenty years to a beef rancher.  We hold fondly our memories and experiences from the farm (most of them, that is), and still share an affinity for little black and white Holstein calves.  That being said, don’t be too surprised when you come by the farm and see a couple of them running around again!  We do not have any current plans to re-open the family dairy, so to speak, but we have high hopes for our newest farm member!

The garden report:  Things are growing, in spite of the cold and rain this year!  We have begun to sell chard, broccoli, and walnuts in our garden shed along with farm fresh eggs.  The other things are in the ground and growing: cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, garlic, onions, beets, kale, cauliflower, berries, melons… All things summer and delicious!

Also, beware of the puncture vine, which are popping out all over the valley, thanks to the recent rains.  Check out our previous post on that (Blackberries & Puncture Vine) so you can identify and remove them from your own property before they permanently invade your lawns and driveways!

summer-2014-031.jpg

Puncture vine has a distinct leaf pattern, and these ‘cute’ little yellow flowers… which lead to very distinct nasty thorns.

Spring Is Sprung!

spring 2016 083

It’s that time already!  The gardens are being tilled under and the next crops planted!

 

We made a good run of it last year, making it all the way to November before the garden was finally tilled under, into the ground!  Now if you think that means it’s time to take a breather and kick up our feet for awhile, you’re mistaken!  In November, we began receiving loads of leaves from the city which we released from their bags and added to the compost pile.  Thank you for your contributions to our soil!  With the addition of some lovely cow manure (we can say that, on the farm!), and the hard work of a gazillion worms, our pile has been breaking down in preparation for rejuvenating our garden soil.  Not to mention, it has been all sorts of fun for the young boys to climb on and ‘work’ on with their dump trucks!

Winter 2015-16 061

Mr. Hubbard started our garden during the cold winter months… indoors of course!  Here are your tomatoes! 🙂

Although it seemed we had just finished with the garden, we were just beginning the next.  By January, Mr. Hubbard was already paging his way through seed catalogs, and placing his orders.  Meanwhile, us girls spent many hours  cuddled up to the wood stove, cracking a fraction of the abundant walnut harvest we had this year!  By February, the garlic was well on it’s way in the garden, and the we began to plant the onions.  In addition to the alums, the first of the other garden seeds were already in the soil… just not outside.  Mr. Hubbard carefully planted tiny little seeds to sprout indoors before being potted up into larger pony packs, and larger pots…  Can you believe how much our garden has grown already?

spring 2016 106

Here is our garden in it’s beginning stages! Basil, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, and of course some pretty flowers. 🙂

Another task during those cool winter months has been pruning back the fruit trees and vines.  The little ones love to ‘assist’ Grandpa in this job… it’s a wonder he gets to hold the clippers or have access to the ladder at all!  I also got to try my hand at learning and practicing the different ways of pruning plum trees versus apple trees.

spring 2016 101

We love everything apple in the fall… but we also LOVE the pretty pink blossoms in the spring!

A youth recently mourned within my earshot of the brutality of cutting off limbs and branches from perfectly happy fruit trees…  If you happen to be susceptible to this mindset, let me put your mind at ease by pruning any misinformed neural branches:  Pruning is necessary to keep a tree healthy, and to encourage larger fruit.  It requires cutting dead and diseased wood out so that the disease does not spread; and, cutting excess branches that may not be strong enough to hold the fruit or that may prevent sunlight from getting to the center.  It also helps to limit the number of fruit to be invested in so that the fruit we pick is larger, and worth the effort!

spring 2016 102

These beautiful blossoms will be our plums come fall.

We won’t reap the benefits from our fruit trees and vines for several more months, but meanwhile, can you believe that we’ve already been harvesting a few things from our garden?!Lettuce was the first of them.

spring 2016 091

Our iris are blooming beautifully in front of a fully loaded fig tree! Fig trees only bear fruit on second year wood, so require a different strategy for pruning.

Mr. Hubbard has them potted up against a south facing wall in order to soak up the heat and crank up the early production!  He also got the chard planted early, so that we’ve been able to harvest some of that also.The asparagus comes up on its own year after year, and it was just in time to satiate that early spring craving for something green and extra tasty!  The rhubarb is growing heartily, and will be ready in no time!  The strawberries have yet to flower, but is anyone else thinking of strawberry rhubarb pie yet?

We’ve had one other unexpected garden harvest – Eggs!  I suspect that there were a few of you recently out hunting eggs in your own lawns and gardens as we all celebrated new life through our Savior.  One of the fun things about having our own chickens is that the Easter egg hunt never really ends!  Our renegade chickens rarely lay in the boxes provided for them.  Instead, we are constantly hunting for, or tripping on new clutches of eggs… under the rototiller, in the hay trough, or in the garden cart!  We do have some extra eggs for sale, if you’d like, and they are definitely “cage free” and “free range”!

2015 148

Those tricky chickens! They’ve done it again, and managed to lay a whole clutch of eggs outside of our awareness!

2015 145

Our perpetual Easter egg hunt paid off!

The work never really stops on the farm – it just changes with the weather and season.  Now that spring has made it’s glorious entrance, we’ve been pruning back bushes, and rototilling some of the gardens to plant.  Things are sprouting and blooming beautifully!  We hope you are all able to enjoy it as well!

spring 2016 104

This pretty rooster must have been making too much noise in town for some folks wanting to sleep in. He was dumped at our place, and has now made his home here.  Let us know if you’d like a rooster!

 

Winter 2015-16 059

Winter 2015-16 057

The same sunrise, burning up our sky.