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Year in Review 2017

“Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.” 
― Wendell BerryThe Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

2017 was a year of accomplishments and obstacles. This, of course, is true of any of our lives in any given year but in regards to my continuing mission at the Bossy Hen homestead there were some glaring examples of both.

It has long been my goal to extend my growing season here in southern New York state by using row covers. Due in large part to the contributions we received last year from a number of like minded individuals I was able to invest in the equipment and do so. I used Agribon row…
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Urban Livestock

Initially we started our urban homestead with a few vegetables. As the years passed and our desire to be more involved in our own food production grew we eventually added urban livestock.

The very first animal that we added were rabbits. Upon the suggestion of my great-aunt we purchased our first rabbits from a local farmers' market for their manure. As I began to investigate the slow food movement and factory farming I decided that I wanted to explore rabbits as a potential source of animal protein. With this decision our operation expanded slightly. Within the last year we have slowly cut back to two breeding pairs of rabbits.

So what are the pros and cons? Frankly speaking rabbits are an amazing addition to any small property homestead. For those of you who have chosen a vegan lifestyle they are extremely valuable as well. Their manure is gold for the garden. If properly cared for they are very clean animals that emit very little smell. They are so quiet that unless you put th…

A Garlic Testament (Book Review)

In regards to literature the gardening and farming market has become saturated. There are countless books espousing the latest trends. Others center around material that has been written about countless times while attempting to provide a new face to an old body of work. None of which is inherently wrong, personally speaking I would prefer to read those books rather than most other forms of literature but it has become difficult to locate books of true substance among the weeds.

I have an interest in garlic. Maybe a bit of an obsession would be the correct term so I am always on the lookout for a good book about my favorite allium. That is how I discovered A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm by Stanley Crawford.

I am partial to writers who are able to transport you to their very location. Crawford succeeds in doing so with an almost effortless stroke of the pen that reminds me of the great Wendell Berry. Within the pages of A Garlic Testament you are able to feel C…

Purpose

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.” 
― Wendell BerryThe Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture-

I have been thinking about my purpose in life a lot lately. Now, maybe the fact that Sidney has had rain or severely dark and cloudy weather 75% of the last 75 days has something to do with my intense introspection. Maybe it is simply my age. The optimist in me hopes I am viewing life from my peak. The pessimist suggests I am already on my way back down the mountain side. Regardless of where the search of my existence stems from I cannot help but find my focus firmly rooted there.
I have responsibilities that I cherish and embrace with love such as being a husband and father. On some level these are very much my pur…

In Winter

I enjoy winter when it arrives at the homestead. Though the gardens are long since dormant there is still plenty to do.The rabbits and the chickens need constant care. A couple of times a day I have to break ice from the animals water and make sure they have enough warm bedding.

I don't mind though. No matter how cold it gets. There is poetry in the garden during summer. Birds sing with triumphant melody. Soft summer rains baptize new growth. But the winter features a more solitary form of art. For the most part there is a resonating silence that is a canvas for the occasional temperamental gust of wind and snow. These same squalls force the breathe from my lungs and scatter the frozen mist before my eyes. Then, once again, there is silence. As any good steward I try not to disturb this peace. If anything, I try to move unnoticed among it.

When it is cold enough the trees will produce an individual moan as they threaten to splinter in the darkness of the woods. They all have their…

Bossy Hen Homestead Update

I would like to take a moment and provide an update to those of you who read our blog as well as those of you who were kind enough to donate to our cause.

As many of you know we are beginning to refine our focus in regards to the short and long term goals of our urban homestead.  Recently we have been able to take a few steps towards accomplishing our desires with the help of some very generous people.

To begin with, we were able to winterize the hutch for our eldest doe rabbit. It will provide her with a dry and warm home this winter with plenty of room to stretch her legs.

We purchased three new varieties of  organic heirloom garlic from The Seed Savers Exchange to go along with our existing "postman" garlic. This in turn aloud us to plant well over 300 cloves of garlic. Not only will our family directly benefit from this planting but so will many of the members of our community who live below the poverty line and receive donations from our local food bank.

We also invest…

The Land of Plenty

The idea that I am about to present to you is certainly nothing new. Wonderful organizations such as Ample HarvestPlant a Row for the Hungry and countless food banks and pantries across the country have been confronting the issue of hunger in our communities head on for some time.

Food insecurity is a cornerstone of the human condition. A little research will lead you to discover a long history of charity in opposition. For example, the seventh century Irish Benedictine monk St. Fiacre who was a master herbalist eventually settled in France and practiced a reverse tithe by keeping 10% of his harvest while giving away 90% to those less fortunate.

Life is complicated, as we all know. There are no easy answers to any of the problems that plague our society but there are some very simple issues that could be addressed that could in turn have a ripple effect on a number of other dilemmas such as poverty, health and even violence.

According to the USDA 40% of the $161 billion dollars’ (yo…