Eco Farm
Cindy Econopouly and John Dennis Soehner
2501 Butler Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Food for Living
Food for Thought


Eco Farm Photos 2012
(Check out our photos on Eco Farm's facebook page as well. Look for "Eco Farm NC, Farming, Agriculture")

Willie's dog Hank has shown us that he longs to chase and harm our cats and kittens, so Hank has been temporarily banned from inside our house. Now Willie is working with a renowned dog-trainer to help Hank learn and appreciate his farm-dog occupation of protecting farm animals, including cats and kittens. (12/29/12) These pigs are getting big and are almost ready to go. (If you noticed the metal chair on top of the pig house, Cindy noticed it also and inquired about it to John. He replied that the chair improves the pigs' television reception.) (12/24/12) John splits logs and tosses them into his pickup for firewood sales. (12/24/12) While O'Neal eyes a kitten in the flower pot behind Cindy, Sungold bats at O'Neal's wagging tail. (12/29/12)
The piglets are doing a beautiful job of rooting up the pasture. (And what winsome piglets they are, like tortoiseshell kittens!) (12/24/12) Our new kittens are young and not yet accustomed to all the humans and dogs on the farm so we've decided to keep them confined in the bathroom until they've learned to love our farm family. But they're so tiny that even in that small space we still lost Shiitake for a period of time until she was discovered hidden on the bookshelf. (12/21/12) We let Clapton into the bathroom so that he can meet his new kitten siblings, Sungold and Shiitake. (12/22/12) On a cold winter morning with our wood stove radiating heat, Sungold and Shiitake curl up with a potted plant in our sunny living room window. Our kittens are growing so quickly they won't be able to fit in that little spot much longer. (12/28/12)
On Friday we had bushels and bushels of Brussels sprouts. John, Cindy, Nichole, Willie, and Adrian spent a wild Friday night cleaning them (and cooking them) in the kitchen. (12/14/12) Seeking an increase in stature, Turkgirlistan flies up onto our roof where she contemplates the peace dove. (12/18/12) On Tuesday, Cindy decided to solve their mouse problem by adopting two 2-month old kittens from Chatham County Animal Control. The kittens may not be mice hunters yet, but while exploring underneath the desk on their first day home, Shiitake tries to snooze while Sungold shows interest in a daddy-long-leg. (12/18/12) At sunset on Wednesday, John sets Nichole up with the Jang seeder in the cold frame, and she plants a row of Haukerei turnips. (12/19/12)
On a frosty Friday morning, John cuts firewood logs on his firewood splitter. First he splits them in half. (12/14/12) Then he continues splitting them into narrower and narrower logs for firewood sales. (12/14/12) Shane prepares to shoot down some mistletoe for our holiday sales. (12/14/12) We'll be selling little mistletoe sprigs at the farmers' market for $5 for a sprig of 3 to 5 inches. (12/14/12)
These rows are ready to have seedlings planted in them. (12/14/12) On Thursday night, a frost hit the garlic. The two rows in the foreground are full of weeds while the ones further behind have been weeded by Nichole and Cindy. In the background are rows of freshly laid plastic for our next season's plants. (12/14/12) The piglets are looking perky and content. (12/14/12) John and Nichole pick up the logs they've just split and toss them onto the bed of the pickup for firewood sale delivery. (12/10/12)
On Monday morning John discovered and harvested scores of oyster mushrooms on a felled tree behind our shed. (12/10/12) John has some time to split firewood, so first he has to move a tremendous log down off of the log pile. (12/9/12) Then he rolls it up onto the log splitter. (12/9/12) He splits it first into two halves. (12/9/12)
After splitting it in two, he continues lifting and splitting so that the logs will get narrower and narrower, and light enough for people to carry from outside into their homes. (12/9/12) John and Nichole are pleased with how well our little piglets are doing in their new home. So is Rocky.(12/8/12) The piglets seem relaxed as they enjoy exploring their barn. (12/8/12) One day after their move to our farm, the piglets look tired but content. (12/9/12)
On Saturday afternoon, John and Cindy drive to Silk Hope to pick up eight beautiful new friendly little piglets. But they don't seem too sure of what to expect yet. (12/8/12) With the sun setting behind him, John lowers each piglet one-by-one gently down into their new home. They'll be confined in this small pen with fresh water and corn in their little barn and lots of clean straw to snuggle down into. (12/8/12) John opens the gate to the barn and encourages the piglets to enter it.(12/8/12) In the pouring rain on Friday morning, Willie chainsawed tree trunks into sizes that would fit onto our log-splitter. (12/7/12)
Nichole rinsed Swiss chard in the rain. We'll be bringing the chard and other greens to the Carrboro Farmers' Market on Saturday. (12/7/12) Willie and Hank got onto the back porch for a few minutes to take a break from the rain.
So did Rocky. (12/7/12)
At 3:15 Nichole and Cindy sit down on the back porch to take Brussels sprouts out of the blue basket, cut off the outer leaves into the green basket, and drop the freshly cleaned Brussels sprouts into the orange basket. My, there are an awful lot of Brussels sprouts in the blue basket and mighty few in the orange basket... Looks like we'll be here until after 5! (12/7/12) Cindy brought a light out to the porch so that she and Nichole could continue working after dark, but they quit working by dinnertime at 5:30. John and Cindy finished the job after they finished dinner. (12/7/12)
We planted our garlic with white plastic covering to keep the moisture in and the weeds out, but it hasn't completely kept the weeds out. (12/4/12) On Tuesday, Cindy and Nichole began weeding the six rows of garlic plants on the farm. Clapton walks between the two rows that we just weeded on the right. (12/4/12) Cindy tie-dyed scores of T-shirts that she's adding Eco Farm logos to for holiday gifts and sales. (12/4/12) Ask Cindy at the farmers' market or contact her online if you're interested in purchasing one of her large cotton all-American farm T-shirts for $15: (12/7/12)
After the lettuce is gone for the season, Nichole tears up the white plastic so that we can rework the soil and put in new plants. (12/3/12) When we got an order from Panzanella Restaurant, Nichole went out to the field to cut and band collards for them. (11/28/12) Our poultry tend to assemble where people are gathering, as these grey Toulouse geese that wandered over to where John was working. (11/28/12) If you haven't seen it before, this is the difference between a Food Lion egg (upper left) and a fresh local farm egg (lower right). We don't have eggs to sell at this time of the year, but eggs are available at many other farms at the farmers' market if you get there early enough! (11/28/12)
Willie's little black dog, Soccer, has been a member of our family since we first began to farm. She spent every day and every night with Willie, hunting, fishing, sharing, and dreaming; she even traveled with him from Maine to Alaska. But on this day, at age nineteen, Soccer has gone on the final journey into the canine clouds. God bless you, Princess Soccer! (11/27/12) On a winter day long ago, Shane put the sheep in harnest so that Willie and Soccer could go on a brief adventure. (11/27/12) As youngsters, Soccer and Willie enjoyed the summertime sunshine on the farm. (11/27/12) In the summer of 2012, Willie and 19-year-old Soccer got ready to hop into his pick-up truck and they drove to Alaska. (11/27/12)
Willie hangs the young buck he shot. Now he has more meat for the winter. (11/27/12) Türken has a face only a mother could love. (Our Türkgirlistan sure doesn't seem to love it.) Türken was rescued from a frat house and given refuge on our farm, but unfortunately, now our dogs need refuge from Türken. (11/25/12) When Cindy went out to the chicken coop to release the poultry for the daytime hours, she discovered that a bucket of feed had been left in the coop and two mice had dropped into it. Try as they might, they could not leap high enough to escape their prison. (11/27/12) Free, free at last! (11/27/12)
Our niece Amarandi's birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year, so our family celebrates both holidays together. Amarandi blows out all the candles.(11/22/12) Granny's seven grandchildren pose for a photo: Anastasia, Nichole, Shane, Amarandi, William, Eleni, Nicholas. (11/22/12) Over the months we've piled up a load of excess wood for a future bonfire and on this Thanksgiving night, Shane heads out to the woodpile with fuel and a matchstick and returns victorious.(11/22/12) The family stands back watching the bonfire blazing twenty to thirty feet high.(11/22/12)
After the flames burn down a bit, John used the tractor to push the fallen logs back into the bonfire.(11/22/12) The night is cool but Shane, Brooke, and Amarandi enjoy the warmth of the bonfire.(11/22/12) On the morning after Thanksgiving, John gets up early and removes the smoldering ashes from what remains of the bonfire. (11/23/12) He carries this new rich earth and dumps it on top of his experimental compost-filled "grow pile" for next season's butternut squash. (See left foreground of previous photo.) (11/23/12)
Is it a collapsed deer, shot dead in our garden? No, it's Hankster, relaxing in the sunshine on the remay. (11/21/12) On the day before Thanksgiving, John is loading firewood into his pick-up so that he can delivery it before the holiday. In front of the truck is the woodpile we'll light for the next night's bonfire. (11/21/12) Willie gives his ancient "Princess Soccer" a few moments of cuddling while his newest dog, Hank, searches the grounds in hopes of discovering and then eating one of our hen's freshly laid eggs. Hank has figured out how to discard the eggshell while eating only the delicious raw egg inside it. (11/22/12) On Thanksgiving morning, our turkeys and other poultry wander around, under, and on our cars and trucks, appreciating their lives of farmland freedom.
We're expecting an eighteen-wheeler to deliver pig feed in the morning so at sunset, Nichole, Willie, and John move the grain wagon out from under the shed to where John can tow it with the tractor. We transfer the corn on the street since the eighteen-wheeler is too long to turn around once up our driveway. (11/16/12) Shane cuts logs into firewood for sale with his dog Elvis standing by.(11/19/12) Nichole uses a sponge to scrub the mud off our Carolina Ruby sweet potatoes. We'll be selling these and many other of our vegetables, greens and pork at the Carrboro Pre-Thanksgiving Farmers' Market on Tuesday from 3 - 6pm.(11/19/12) Willie washes lettuce and Swiss chard for the Tuesday market.(11/19/12)
John carries giant logs over to the log splitter to be worked on the following morning. (11/11/12) Shane splits logs with the wood splitter, tossing them onto the pile to be sold for firewood. (11/12/12) This pig has an itchy neck, which he scratches to his utter satisfaction by rubbing it against the drinking water bin.(11/12/12) Then he decides to give his feet some satisfaction also and he steps into the tub for awhile. In the background, his brother is eating some grain from the pig feeder.(11/12/12)
Having eaten all the green grass in their pen, these pigs work to get at the greener grass on the other side of the fence. They mostly remember not to touch the fence since it's electric, but when they do accidentally touch it, we hear it loud and clear. (11/11/12) Türker stands beside the fig tree watching the hens, roosters, and geese wander the garden nibbling on arugula. (11/11/12) With the computer on John's pickup broken, he and Nichole work together to get the truck moved to the trailer to bring to a repair shop. We're careful to avoid hitting Hank and O'Neal, who are excited by the action. (11/9/12) Nichole and John carefully line up both sets of tires with the ramp to get the truck aboard our trailer. (11/9/12)
In the late season, we protect some of our crops from the frost by covering them with remay, like we did with these cucumbers, Swiss chard, and lettuce. (11/1/12) We'd let the carrots get overrun by weeds (see the front left portion of the photograph) so Cindy has been working on cleaning them up. (11/1/12) Nichole is working on the draining job of pulling up this season's black plastic. It's an exhausting job where it's important to stay on the lookout for a face-to-face encounter with one of the many black widow spiders or copperheads seeking warmth beneath the black plastic. (11/5/12) John carries tremendous blocks of wood over to the log splitter to be worked on the following morning. (11/11/02)
George Jones and Tammy Wynette visit Eco Farm on their way to a Saturday night pre-Halloween party. (10/27/12) Fidel Castro drops by with his latest American sailor girl.(10/27/12) The violent winds of Hurricane Sandy ripped through our state and headed north on Monday, leaving us a whipping Tuesday breeze to quickly dry our freshly washed blue jeans and bed sheets.(10/30/12) Cole splits logs and tosses them onto the trailer to be towed next door and stored until sold for firewood. (11/05/12)
John prepared the storage trailer to make space for the sweet potatoes that Shane is bringing up. (10/29/12) Shane carries Carolina Ruby potatoes from the greenhouse, where they were curing, to the storage trailer. (10/29/12) At sunset, John is trying to load the biggest sow onto the trailer, so he dumps in a favorite treat: Peanuts (in the shell!). She boards the trailer, and he brings her to the slaughterhouse on Friday morning. (10/25/12) Perched beside a banana tree, Türkgirlistan appears to contemplate taking a dip (or a sip). Her limited turkey IQ could endanger her with the complexity of a swimming pool since turkeys are known to drown themselves looking up at the rain. (10/26/12)
Another load of huge logs gets dropped off for us to split into firewood to sell. This keeps us busy splitting logs, and keeps our customers warm in the cold weather. (10/24/12) John grows much of his produce over at Maple View Farm, including strawberries, elephant garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, among other things. Cows in the background congregate around the feed bins. (10/26/12) John heads over to Maple View Farm to see which of his crops are ready for market on Saturday. He'll be bringing broccoli shoots, cauliflower, and more.(10/26/12) Farmer John is mentioned in a story about quality food production in the Daily Tar Heel on October 24th. (Our farm would have appeared much more rugged in the photograph if standing with Farmer John had been Eco Farm's solid German Shepherd or one of our pit bulls; but instead John is accompanied by Cindy's tiny Maltese, "Clapton".) (10/26/12)
After dumping a shovel full of corn for the poultry, John now carries buckets of feed down the driveway for his pigs John farms several different fields besides those on our land, which means hooking up his trailer so that he can transport his tractor to work the various locations. John loads the tractor onto the trailer, but one of the tractor's tires is low so he has to fill it with air before heading off. John and Willie hop into the pickup and head over to Maple View Farm to harvest cauliflower for Tuesday's market.
Nichole and John plant garlic cloves that, with proper weather, will become our garlic harvest next June. This year our harvest of regular garlic was poor since we never got the cold weather necessary to produce it, although our elephant garlic produced better. Our five-dollar bouquets of zinnias, dahlias, and ageratum sit on the porch waiting for us to load them into the pick-up truck for transfer to tomorrow's farmers' market. Baskets of Long Island cheese squash, butternut squash, and Carolina Ruby sweet potatoes are packed into the truck, along with our five market tables. Willie and John harvested bushels of collards and kale from this field in front of the solar greenhouse. (We enjoy a Greek collards recipe that Shane created: Saute chopped up collards with onions, garlic, and oregano in extra virgin olive oil. Cook covered for thirty minutes, and then add feta cheese and anchovies. Cook awhile longer until anchovies disappear, and then enjoy it!)
Cindy walks down to the flower garden to cut zinnias and dahlias to sell in bouquets at market, and she's followed by hens, roosters, turkeys, and geese. The birds then form what Willie called "a poultry party" by gathering in the freshly tilled earth to search for delicious insects to eat. Our little white dog, Clapton, followed the birds into the garden but he made sure to keep himself at a great distance from Türker our dog-attacking turkey. The hogs are getting big enough for slaughter, so Willie tosses one of their favorite foods, peanuts in the shell, into the trailer. Two pigs get on, but unfortunately they aren't the right pigs; Willie was trying to get the largest one. A few minutes later, with the gate left open, both pigs walk off again. At around dinnertime, John convinces the right pig (the largest one, a sow) to board the trailer. Nineteen-year-old Soccer is now deaf and blind, but she still gets pleasure from being with Willie, who has owned her since he was four. Willie has been working off-farm part-time doing tree work for The Arborist, so when Willie is gone now, Soccer is sad. John and Cindy try to remember to take her for walks often since she's becoming slightly incontinent. Soccer enjoys her walks and her ears perk up with interest, but she can't always get up or down the porch steps. Soccer is an old lady now.
One of the many jobs we do on the farm is laundry, and we do a lot of it. Cindy does it, John does it, and each of our kids do their own. We hang our laundry outside on the clothes line to help conserve energy, but for rainy weather we also have wooden clothes hanger wracks indoors on the second floor. But when the day is clear, Cindy enjoys the outdoor time she spends hanging clothes since she often has an animal or two for company, be it canine or poultry. On Friday afternoon, after we'd completed harvesting broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, collards, mushrooms, and flowers, Cole spent some time tilling beds to help dry them out for the next planting. Since feed prices have been steadily rising (due to the high price of corn and of transportation), Cindy's been purchasing less layer pellets and instead feeding her poultry some of WSM's surplus breads (which would otherwise be turned into compost). The birds are thrilled at the variety, but the crusts can be a challenge so Cindy will either soak the bread in water or else remove and then tear up the crusts. This grey Toulouse goose rips off bites from the inside. Willie and 19-year-old Soccer take a relaxing moment in the late afternoon. Willie has had his little corgi-mix for nineteen years, since Willie was four and Soccer was under a year. Soccer is slowing down now, but not before she's journeyed the country with Willie going as far northeast as Maine and as far northwest as Alaska.
Nichole has hundreds of shiitake mushrooms to harvest. We'll be selling them at farmers' markets on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Willie and John sell piles of shiitake mushrooms and broccoli at the October 6th Saturday market. Cole and Mark divide the garlic heads into cloves to be planted in the field. In the foreground are yukon gold potatoes we'll be selling at market. While Willie and John were removing plastic row covers they came upon a hill of army ants, which can swarm up workers' legs, biting as they go. To get rid of the swarm, we pour diatomaceous earth onto their hill. (Diatoms are a unicellular organism, and diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of them. Its sharp surfaces can cut through the cuticle of insects like ants, and also absorb lipids from their outer skeleton and thereby cause dehydration.)
After waking up well before dawn to set up at the farmers' market and spend six hours promoting organic vegetables, meats, and flowers, Cindy and John finish off their work every Saturday with lunch and a drink at Carr Mill Mall's Panzanella restaurant. This season we're delighted to sit beneath the outstanding farm life paintings that embellish the walls; our close friend Carroll Lassiter is the artist. In the first week of October, John and Cindy and Nichole take advantage of what their friend George (of Lil Farm) has offered them: The chance to stay a couple of nights in the beach house he and Kelly have rented on Topsail. After hours of searching online, Kelly found a six-bedroom A-frame right on the beach, a life of luxury compared to our farm life. Kelly and George brought their two dogs and we left our five at home to guard the farm. With help from George, Nichole gets the kite up into the sky.
At sunset we take the mile-long walk to the pier. Nichole and Mark rinse and band the hakurei turnips and broccoli they've harvested that we'll be bringing to the farmers' market tomorrow. Hakurei turnips are sweet and are delicious sliced raw into fresh salads. On Friday mornings, Cindy walks out to the spearmint patch where she cuts handfulls of mint for the spearmint lemonade they sell at the Saturday market. She squeezes lemons and combines the juice with the fresh mint and local honey, and she keeps it in the cooler overnight. Soccer and Willie take a moment to relax on the back porch after a hard day's work.
On Wednesday morning, we receive another load of tree trunks and giant limbs for splitting into firewood. Fran and Ella sit at the picnic table on the back porch dividing the garlic heads into individual cloves for planting. John carries yet another mushroom log to drop into another bin. He covers the logs with cinder blocks to hold them down as he fills the bin with water from the hose. Our woods are filled with stacks of shiitake mushroom logs growing shiitakes that we sell at market and to restaurants. Willie splits firewood at dusk.
On a cool morning in late September, Ella and Cole wash the arugula they've just harvested. Nichole harvests some of the harder-to-reach shiitake mushrooms. Willie chainsaws huge logs he will later be splitting for firewood. Shane transports massive logs to chainsaw and split for firewood sales.
After dinner, John walks out to soak his mushroom logs in the forest. Cindy accompanies him, and her dog Clapton follows along. Unfortunately for the little dog, Türker follows Clapton. Türker has a need to display his dominance. Clapton is careful to always keep something between him and the aggressive turkey. Türker loves chasing dogs, but won't challenge Rocky, who is much bigger than Clapton, and as big as Türker. After the sun sets, John splits firewood.
On a rainy Tuesday before market, Nichole is laying out and stacking the damp mushrooms that John, Cindy, and Cole just finished harvesting; Cole is wiping down the wet zucchini and zephyr squash. These vegetables will be sold at today's Fearington farmers' market. Türker is always eager to chase and attack our dogs, so we've blocked off the front porch and now O'Neal can sneak onto it for some refuge. And Girltürkestan has learned to stand behind her guy. Look behind you, Clapton, Türker's on the rampage! "Watch out, bird, or I might decide to have my Thanksgiving feast two months early!"
John killed the copperhead snake that faced Cole, who had been removing plastic layers by hand from the vegetable beds. The farmworkers and farm animals are safe from that snake, but removing the rest of the plastic can still be nerve-racking for John and Cole. We know that last night's cold weather has forced poisonous copperheads and black widow spiders to seek shelter beneath the warm plastic. John and Shane lay plastic on the field while Elvis looks on. The beds are covered with plastic and ready to have strawberries planted in them.
The poultry are prancing around in our driveway, and Türker is showing off for his potential partner, the Royal Palm that came to live with us last night. This black rooster is acting like a competitor. John moves the tractor closer to the tree so that Ella can pick more pears from on top of the loader. This hen has decided to lay her egg on our back porch in a basket full of elephant garlic cloves. Find the camouflaged egg
Türker has been threatening our dogs lately so we've decided to try to get him settled down by providing him with a female. Our turkey-raising friends Mark and Molly are visiting us Monday evening, and they're bringing a surprise for Türker: Türkgirlistan! Ella and Cole unlatch the wire from the electric fence so that John can drive the trailer into the pig pen. We watch as the pig shows interest in the trailer, and in the food that we've placed inside the trailer. John shares his enthusiasm after he shuts the gate on his happily-eating pig.
The shiitake mushrooms have begun coming in full force, due partly to the weather and also to the fact that John has been inoculating and soaking so many of them. In order to sprout shiitake mushrooms, John inoculates logs with shiitake spores and then shocks them by plunging them into cold water and placing cinder blocks on top of the logs so that they can't float up to the warm surface. John removes the cinder blocks to retrieve the inoculated logs. Then he lifts out the soaked logs. Then John stacks them onto a new pile beside one of the older ones, and he'll leave it for a week or so until the shiitakes begin to sprout. The mushrooms on the logs in the foreground are ready to be cut and brought to market.
Phil, Moe, and April are enjoying picking our cooking pears, and Moe is enjoying the pears without the cooking! April will have these for sale in a deliciously cooked form at her booth, The Farmer's Daughter, at the Carrboro Farmers' Market. Our grey Toulouse geese stay together, and they stay away from other poultry and from humans. One grey Toulouse nibbles on a pear while the other stands guard. One grey Toulouse preens while the other stands guard. One grey Toulouse drinks while the other stands guard. In the background you can see the peels and stalks from our garlic that we've prepared for planting in the fields.
Shane weed-whacks between the blueberry bushes to increase their growth and production for next year. John and Cindy at the farmers' market in August 2012. We're trying to convince our pet turkey, Türker, to sleep on the roof of Vernon's old house instead of where he prefers to sleep: On the roofs of our cars and pickup trucks. ("Türker" is a Turkish male name which means "Brave Turk".) Türker and Anastasia are looking at each other. Anastasia (pronounced Ah-nah-sta-SEE-a) is Cindy and John's niece, her brother David's daughter. And Türker has been confined in the chicken coop (with his wing-feathers clipped) because he's been attacking our farm dogs. Cindy feels that maybe Türker would behave more civilly if he had a female broad breasted bronze turkey friend. Anybody know of one looking for a new home?
On Saturday, John brings a log full of shiitakes to the farmers' market to show people how they grow. On the late afternoon of Friday August 17th, Nichole is cutting through a forest of shiitakes so that John and Cindy can sell mushrooms at the Carrboro farmers' market the following morning. Shane captured two four-foot-long black snakes near the chicken coop, and with help from Cindy and Ryan (one for each snake) he secured the snakes in blue pillowcases for subsequent release. To keep the snakes from eating our eggs, Cindy drove the snakes four-and-a-half miles away to near the Haw River. After she untied the knots in the pillow cases, each snake had difficulty figuring out how to get out until she helped each by holding the closed end of the pillow case and gently shaking it.
The rain got our shiitake mushrooms on Thursday night, so early Friday morning we dry them out by picking them and spreading them out on towels on our kitchen table with a fan blowing away the moisture. While giving a short tour of the farm to the Whitaker Small Farm Group, John demonstrates his mushroom-growing techniques. After dipping into our pond, a heron flies up into one of the pines beside it to perch and dry it's wings. Scores of shiitake mushrooms have sprung up following our rainy weather and a recent soaking we gave them.
As the sun sets, our turkey tries to protect himself from nighttime predators by hopping up onto the hood of Cindy's Volvo. Beside him and to the left hang a string of Greek worry beads from the rear-view mirror, and behind him stands our solar greenhouse. We've planted these young zephyr squash seedlings on white plastic to retain the soil's moisture and to reflect the burning sunshine of the summertime heat. With our turkey looking on, Mark and Ryan remove the roots from the leeks they've just dug up. We'll sell the leeks along with other vegetables at the Tuesday farmers' market in Fearington. On Sunday morning before Cindy drives the highway to work at Weaver Street Market, she has to first use a broom to gently persuade the turkey to jump off her car.
On Friday July 27th, we're out in the sun harvesting our vegetables for Saturday's market while the temperature is over 100 degrees. In the late afternoon, Nichole sorts potatoes in the air-conditioned house. Clapton rests by the tomatoes, which we're storing indoors where it's cool. Slowly healing from dog bite, our turkey is once again prowling the grounds where he can gobble authoritatively at arriving vehicles and challenge his reflection in their shiny doors.
We've harvested lots of organic corn and squash for market. (Our proof of the fact that the corn is organic comes in the form of a happy worm.) Nichole working at the Fearington Farmers' Market. This market is located on the grassy lot beside the Fitch Creations Administration building, and is open on Tuesdays from 4pm-6pm, April through Thanksgiving. Our turkey, a broad breasted bronze, is recovering from his injuries after suffering the attack of a dog. We're all so grateful that our turkey friend survived. On Friday morning, Willie finished tying down his canoe, and then left on his drive to Alaska. He brought both of his dogs, Hank and Soccer, and will be visiting his friend Joshua.
John is pleased with the harvest of Long Island cheese squash. On Friday July 6th, Rocky looks on while Nichole and Cole harvest squash for the next morning's market. We'll be selling lots of squash on Saturday! When we have company, our turkey hangs out with us on the porch. He seemed to connect with John, who began patting him on the head, and now the turkey allows others to pat him.
Our turkey craves human company, and stands outside Cindy's office door waiting for companionship. He gobbles loudly whenever he hears a noise, like a shout, a tractor engine, or a telephone ringing. John plowed up his carrots to bring a lot of fresh ones to the Saturday farmers' market on June 16th. (See our recipe section for Faith's Baked Carrots in Mayonaise Sauce.) John gathers up the carrots. Willie and Bengie rinse the dirt off our freshly dug carrots.
Ella and Chris bunch the carrots we are bringing to market. Nichole mixes up a batch of potting soil to plant more seeds in the greenhouse. To display his dominance on the porch, our turkey fluffs out his feathers and struts up to the sliding glass door to glare at his own image. He'll peck at his reflection in the glass, and also (beware, visitors) in the side of shiny new vehicles. Bengie wipes down the squash before we'll be bringing them to market.
During one of our walks, Clapton and O'Neal gaze upon the ancient snapping turtle we chance upon occasionally over the years. After living with us for 16 years, Vernon went to his final resting place on Monday, Memorial Day 2012. Vernon will always be remembered by family members and by anyone that has encountered him on the farm.
Rest in peace, Vernon.
As in "The Story about Ping", Willie guides his ducklings onto "the wise-eyed boat on the Yangtze River" every evening . Willie and WWOOFer Anna Pearl pound in posts to make a duckling yard.
John and Cindy drove up to Pennsylvania on Saturday May 11th to attend the wedding of her cousin Craig's son, Cashius to bride Megan. A bus was chartered to take guests to and from their hotels and the wedding and reception settings. They all had a wonderful time eating Greek "mezethes", drinking retsina, and dancing with Econopouly relatives. We can see that John and Cindy DEFINITELY had a wonderful time drinking retsina! Willie bought himself a flock of white Peking ducklings to raise for meat. Ryan and Willie shovel gravel onto our driveway in preparation for the Piedmont Farm Tour this weekend.
Willie lets the goats out at night, and they sample leaves off the pear tree. John offered to milk the goats when Willie took off work to attend the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival. Willie, Erica, John, Nichole, Alena, and Cole move the pigs' electric fence to give them more variety in their vegetables. The pigs in turn will till up and fertilize the garden. Nichole takes two of our WWOOFers, Cole and Erica, to the far side of the property to cut greens for Tuesday's market. WWOOFers are Willing Workers on Organic Farms that volunteer on farms across the world in exchange for room and board and the farmlife experience. Our daughter Nichole WWOOFed on a dairy farm in Ireland after she'd completed high school. For information about WWOOFing, go to
At the end of March the first strawberries in our cold frame are peeking out from under their leaves. Wes sharpens the chainsaw that Willie & Joshua are using to cut the logs to length. Stacey and Willie watch as Wes knocks down another tree. Wes had first used the trackhoe to loosen the dirt around the trees top roots. Willie and Stacey measure the log before cutting it to the required length.
After Wes has knocked down the tree, Willie cuts the root end off as he sizes the logs he's already sold. Willie hires a trackhoe so that he and his friend Wes can clear the land that Willie just bought adjacent to our farm. Vernon shares a breakfast of cracked corn with the black hen which Matt has recently named "Cluck". Alena milks Rose in the new milking stand that Willie built yesterday.
After Alena finishes her milking, "Butter" decides to go for a mountain climb. He then tests his limits to see if he can climb higher, but decides not to. Willie is milking his goat first thing in the morning. This doe produces enough milk for her growing kid to thrive on and for Willie and Alena. Nichole mixes up a new batch of potting soil for starting seedlings in the greenhouse.
Nichole and John harvest, wash, and bag collards, kale, turnips, and chard for Saturday's market. On Friday morning we head out to the woodshed after a cold rainy night to discover with relief that the tiny kid is alive and well. Willie bought himself three piglets to raise on the land he just bought adjoining the family farm. Willie ascertains that his goatling is learning to feed on her own.
The full moon shines over our shiitake log pile. These logs have yet to be innoculated and stacked. On the night of the full moon, Willie comes home with a goat and her fading day-old kid that had yet to learn to nurse; it's sibling had just been found dead. Nichole and Willie quickly get started teaching the kid to nurse. Nichole, having learned about dairy goat care on a farm in Ireland, guides the kid towards the over-full teat while Willie offers milk to its weary mother. Nichole and John plant cauliflower seedlings in March.
Nichole plants broccoli seedlings just after John tills the beds. Nichole, John, and Cindy plant swiss chard into the freshly tilled beds. (Cindy photographs also.) Willie distributes feathermeal onto the beds John is about to form beds with the plastic layer. Watching this process from outside the bed on the right is Willie's 18-year-old corgi-mix, Soccer. Cindy walks daily with the dogs, and this March she found a pile of bones on the trail. She remembered the year previously discovering in that spot a dead buck. (She waited a year before walking that trail again.)
With the music playing from his truck on a warm morning in early March, Willie builds a new pig pen for the two piglets he's buying today. This pig gets a bite of grain while his siblings sleep. Willie slices potatoes into pieces and drops them into buckets so they can be planted in the earth. In early March, John drives the tractor to hill over the potatoes Nichole just dropped into their trench.
As Willie hills the potato beds, a red hen looks for uprooted worms. This lucky hen managed to fly out of the chicken coop so she is the lone worm-catcher in a sea of brown earth. While the others watch from inside, one pink piglet steps out to eat some grain. John retrieves the grain wagon after having it filled by an eighteen- wheeler down in the road.
O'Neal relaxes in the driveway as he gnaws on the relics of a past family meal. John waters seedlings in the wintertime cold frame. In mid-February, Nichole plants thousands of onions at Maple View Farm. Rocky, her new German Shepherd that she just got from an animal shelter, relaxes at her side. John tilling his field at Maple View Farm.
Scotty and Nichole dump buckets of grain into the pig feeders in the woods. Nichole gathers and bundles collards in the field. We have walls of split wood to sell and deliver to our customers. In the wintertime when we haven't many crops for the poultry to raid from the garden, we allow them to roam the farm freely. The roosters, turkeys, and hens enjoy each other's company and choose to hang out in a group.
In the wintertime when the gardens are mostly empty, we release our poultry from their chicken coop. This hen has chosen to roost in the fig tree where she can enjoy the sunshine. Vernon, our pet Vietnamese potbelly, warns John's two pig escapees to stay away from his pear tree. This tatsoy makes a nice salad mix when our lettuce is wintered out. It can also be sauteed with onions and garlic, or made into a cream soup (please see "Family Recipes" above). Nichole cuts the last of the Red Russian Kale for a late January market.
Cindy bought an Australian traffic sign at the thrift shop, and in her wintertime leisure she painted in the addition of pigs to make it more Eco Farm-appropriate. John sells high quality dry hardwoods for firewood. In the wintertime we've got plenty of firewood and pork to sell at market. John washes off the carrots he'll be bringing to Saturday's market. In late January it's so warm he only needs a t-shirt.
On a cold winter day, three large hogs lie side by side in the sunshine through the doorway of their house, sheltered from the wind. Our newest and youngest piglets wander in their pen beside one of our firewood splitting stations. In the background is our solar greenhouse. Showing off his masculinity, Alena's Royal Palm turkey puffs out his feathers and his face turns an exquisite shade of blue. On a cold January day Willie, Nichole, and Scotty sit on upside down buckets in the greenhouse transplanting seedlings.
John, Willie, and Scotty are installing fencing for some new piglets. Nichole harvests red Russian kale and tatsoy for a January Saturday market. On a gusty January morning, Shane, Nichole, Scotty, and Willie work at innoculating shiitake mushroom logs. On a misty morning, Willie chainsaws logs to split for firewood.