Farm to Fork

Farm to Fork Dinner
Farm to Fork Dinner at Whispering Winds Farm

For the first time ever, I attended a Farm to Fork dinner. (I know, I know, why did it take me so long…) It was at Whispering Winds Farm, home of Freshly Doug Vegetables, a local CSA and farmstand farm. It was held inside their heritage barn which has quite a nice view of the valley. We were serenaded by the band Cabin Fever and Pacek Winery kept the mood jovial with some delightful white, red, and dessert wines. 

Char and Doug, Freshly Doug Vegetables

Considering that this was their first ever dinner, our hosts, Char and Doug, were quite well organized. There were a few hitches, such as some of the vegetables not being harvestable in time due to the cool weather, but they persevered. Menus were slightly changed. Last second details were modified. Everything came together in the end.  

We had a nice time hanging out on the farm, talking to the goats, walking the fields, sipping wine, and chatting up the other guests. I was able to talk to the chef, Devra Gartenstein, who created the recipes we enjoyed. She has several cookbooks published and some were given away in a gift raffle. (No, I didn’t win one, but The Neighbor, who went with me, did win a Freshly Doug Vegetables hat. I’m almost jealous.) Devra’s blog is, where she writes extensively about good food.  

If you find a Farm to Fork event in your area, go! It’s a great way to spend an evening. 

Sustainable Small Engines

One-stroke Engines at the Silvana Fair

One-stroke Engines at the Silvana Fair

At the beginning of the last century, farms would use small, usually one-stroke engines to power all kinds of activities. Most connected to belts that ran tools, such as sheep shears, small wheat threshers, or other processing equipment. They ran all day on a quarter gallon of gas, but could require almost as much oil as gas to keep everything moving. The one-stroke action meant that the wheel turning the belt would slow down between strokes, causing variances in the speed of the tools. These were tough engines, though, and many lasted through decades of work, as long as they were maintained. They were the work horses of food processing and most every farm had one.

Australian Engine

Water-cooled, one-stroke engine used for sheep shearing in Australia

By mid-century, tractors had belt drivers attached to their drive trains and the little one-stroke engines weren’t needed anymore. They were stored in the back of barns and storage sheds. Today, farmers  and antiquers are discovering these old engines and restoring them. Small, organic, biodiverse farms are rediscovering their many uses, albeit slowly, as they learn more about what they are and how they work.

I know of two sources where farming gearheads can find valuable information about rebuilding older or antique farm equipment:

  • – This site has tons of information and numerous discussion boards on all manner of older engines and equipment. I could spend hours there learning about threshers, harrows, and such.
  • The Small Farmers Journal – The journal reprints information and manuals on all kinds of farm equipment, horse-drawn or otherwise.

Do you know of other resources? If so, send them to me and I’ll repost them here.

Farm Fashion

Moving to a farm changes you, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes not so subtle. Just the other day I was standing on a street corner in the city and I heard the sound of a horse talking to another horse on a distant block. I asked the coworker I was with, “What was that?” He was completely perplexed.

“What do you mean?”

“That horse.” I turned around and about a block away, there was a police horse, a draft type, actually, yelling at another horse out of view. My coworker had not even noticed and was surprised that there was a horse there, especially a big one. He was not attuned to a sound that I hear everyday.

I heard that sound tonight, as I do most nights. My little quarterhorse wanted me to let him out so he could go hang out with the drafts. We have to put him in an enclosed stable so that Meme, the draft mare, won’t steal all his food. This means that I have to let him out when he gets done and he usually lets me know exactly when that is. Regularly, it seems to be at the most inopportune times.

I have to run outside in muck boots and whatever I happen to have on. Sometimes that’s farm attire, sometimes it’s my nice work clothes, sometimes it’s the nightgown. When I lived in the city, I was fashoinable. Now that I’m in the country, things just get mish-mashed together. I’ve gone from fashion plate to more fashion relish tray.

Half my closet is full of workclothes and my nice casual attire, fit to wear to dinner. The other half contains clothes that I can get dirty, with impunity. Inevitably, though, I rationalize my ability to stay clean in my work clothes while walking into the horse paddock. I think, “I’ll just dash in, pick up the feed bucket and get out of there before I get splooged on.” Nope, that never works. Mud knows no boundries.

So, some garment from the nice side of the closet gets moved over to the farm side, and I have to go shopping. Again. I hate shopping…