Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not MIA...just working elsewhere,,,,,

Visit my alter ego blog The Artful Omnivore to see what I have been up to lately.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It is raining today so that put the kibosh on any outside plans I had for today.  I am kind of glad about that because the other day I was working on getting all my pots, etc. up to put into storage and I had a little experience that made me throw down what I was working on and literally run away.

I had all kinds of stuff in pots this year and I was pulling out the dead stuff and dumping out the dirt into a big bin, so I could reuse it next season to fill in stuff.  I paid good money for that organic potting soil, so I always reuse what I can.  Anyway, I had been dumping out small 3" plastic pots for about 20 minutes, which is a totally mindless thing to be doing, so I was not paying any attention.  I just happened to look down and see that the dirt
from the pot I had just emptied was moving so I took a twig and scratched the dirt around and there was a BIG, FAT BLACK WIDOW SPIDER.  I threw down the twig, ran about 30 feet and screamed like a little girl. 

When I was at the farm every day, a spider like that would not have drawn a second glance, other than to make sure it wasn't where somebody might get their hands on it accidentally.  Good thing I was wearing gloves, though. A black widow bite is extremely painful though rarely fatal so I wasn't in any real danger. Life-threatening reactions are generally seen only in small children and the elderly and I am neither of those. I was bitten by a Hobo spider when we lived in Oregon and they are much more dangerous.  It wasn't pleasant, but I survived.  

Black Widow

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Today I am working on a project that started back before Dave passed away. It was something that was very important to us and I have just not been in a frame of mind where I have felt like I could continue to work on it. I have not really felt inspired to put anything new up for a long time, but if I am going to survive, I have to get my butt in gear and move in a positive direction.  Dave taught me better than that.

Dave's biggest pet peeve was "negativity". I remember once in particular, when I was just trying to be the "voice of reason" when we were planning a project, that I pointing out the cons of whatever it might have been, he looked at me and said that I should only be putting positive intentions out to the Universe. He also said that if they were good ones, the negative stuff would just work itself out and that I should stop wasting my pro vibes on stuff that didn't matter.  That may sound kind of naive to some people, but it was totally true.  When Dave wanted to accomplish something, he rarely failed to master whatever he was trying to do.  I need to channel him a little more often, instead of just missing him so much.

I am also working on redesigning the old website, so that it is more up to date and a little less downbeat. I have some grand new plans for next season (2011) and I can't wait to reveal some of the new stuff.  I think it is gonna be good.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Okay, I admit it. I am wishy washy.  I said I wasn't going to post much on this blog anymore, but I keep coming back to it.  It is like a comfortable old pair of jeans you just can't seem to throw out because there might be one more season of wear left in them. This blog feels like home and so I have come back to it again...most likely to stay.

To paraphrase that guy from Extreme Makeover, "Welcome home, Suzanne Ballard, welcome home...."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Oh my!  I just looked at the last time I posted something here.  It has been like 6 weeks.  I have to admit that there is nothing much going on right now. I have had to postpone my readying of the raised beds due to lack of fundage.  That is something that is not easy to overcome, so I am just hanging in, putting it out to the Universe that I need a miracle to happen.  That was a veiled reference to the Grateful Dead for the uninitiated. Actually, I am waiting on some funds from the state of NC from Dave's estate....waiting, and waiting, and waiting......

Anyway, I have a new food blog, The Artful Omnivore, which I have been putting a whole lot of work into. I am basically moving my recipe index from my old website over to that one, plus a whole lot more information.  It is turning out to be quite a nice diversion, while I am waiting to get started on the beds.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sorry about yesterday's rant. Today is a better day.

I was tottering on the rim of  Despair Canyon yesterday but I am back on solid ground today. Have recovered most of my balance overnight.  After the last couple of months, I was actually starting to feel pretty okay with my situation. I had just gotten settled into what I thought was going to be a comfortable, semi-permanent space while my new diggs are being rehabbed but then found out that I had to move yet again and I had 12 hours to do so. Had to pack up everything I had moved in and store it yet again.  Now I am living out of my backpack....oh well, I lived in a tent on top of a mountain for almost a year, I guess I will survive this, too.  I will survive this, I will survive this, I will survive this......

Monday, June 28, 2010

No computer access for 2 weeks YIPES!!!!

Hello to everybody. I have sneaked a little time on a friend's computer, so I thought I would post something here today. I am officially moved and to tell the truth, the confusion just grows. I am now a displaced person and there are so many loose ends that need typing up I feel like Medusa's hairdresser.
Anyway, I am hoping to have my own computer back on line this week so that I can catch up with the blogs, website, etc. The going is slow and I hope to have a grip on things soon.
Thanks for following along with my adventures.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Apology to anyone who reads this blog

Still not posting much to this blog. I am working on a new blog about the creation of a new growing situation where I am moving to in my hometown. I have not gone live with it yet but when I do, I will post the link here. I may end up focusing some of my blogging energy over there for a while.

At the new place I am basically starting totally from the ground up and I thought it would be the perfect teaching opportunity. So many people ask me for advice on growing their own food, organically, that I am going to post step by step exactly what I am doing at the new location. Because it was too late in the season to get the inground garden going (too much work to do on that to get any meaningful crop in the ground this late in the season) I am going to start with my raised bed and herb garden area. That should be a great way to start for me and it will give me the opportunity to post information that someone who wants to do a backyard garden can use.

Thanks for following along here and look for the link to the new blog. I had hoped to have it up by this past weekend but too busy with other projects. Soon, though, soon....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Been very, very slack with the blog lately. Simply have too much going on right now so hang in and I will get back to business soon as....Moving sucks, by the way.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wow! didn't realize it has been so long since I posted anything. Right now, I am just trying to keep my head above water. Between the move of the Farm and everything else going on, I have been a slacker/blogger. I have posted a couple of things at my farm Facebook page (it is just easier that logging on to the blog) so if you want to see what's been happening at the Farm, check
New Moon Farm Organics over at fb. I linked my fb page to my Twitter, but haven't linked up the blog yet...least I don't think I did.
Are you as confused as I am?

Monday, April 12, 2010


Since my husband passed away several weeks ago, many things have changed here at the Farm. The main thing is that I have discovered that I simply cannot remain here without him. It is intolerable on many levels and for many reasons.

After a lot of agonizing consideration, I have decided to move New Moon Farm Organics back to my hometown, back to my own farming roots. I have access to a fine little piece of property and it will suit me well, eventually. I will be closer to my family, which is what I feel like I need right now. My parents and my son are really my support group at this moment and I just need to be closer to them. I just kept thinking, and wrongly so I might add, that New Moon Farm was about this particular piece of land. I find that is not so true as I imagined. The spirit of the Farm is that two incredibly dedicated people had a wonderful dream and made it into a reality. I carry that spirit inside of myself and so no matter where I might be, that will not change.

This move will not affect my May-July CSA, nor my participation in the Davidson Farmer's Market. I might have to shift some things a bit, but overall, it will hopefully be just a minor hiccup if things don't go as planned. I still plan on following through with the plans Dave and I made together before he died. Just in a new location. There is a longer, more detailed missive about all of this at my website New Moon Farm Organics so if you are curious, you can check it out.

The logistics of making this move are daunting and I am going to have to call on those folks who have graciously volunteered to come help me out. I will be posting a page here and also on the website with a "Wishlist" of things that I will need help doing and so hopefully, potential volunteers can choose what they feel they are able to help out with. I need to make this move quickly or I will lose some of my window of opportunity for planting some things for early summer.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Help Stamp Out Food Snobbery

This is a reposting of an article from this blog from about 3 years ago. I thought I would put it back up because I recently listened to something on NPR about things people pay big bucks for that are not the real thing...caviar was one of those things and there is something about that in this post.

I think that it is time that I do my part to bring attention to the issue of food prejudice. Since I am so in touch with food, I am going to address the food snobs of the world here on my blog today. That's right, it is my blog and I can say what I want to about whatever subject I am inclined to write love the power of the blog!! Okay, I am getting a power high so I better get back on subject. This just has to be said.

My simple definition of food snobbery: Refusing to even try or consider trying a particular fruit, vegetable, regional or local dish for any reason at all. If you are a food snob, let me help to set the record straighter on a couple of things:

Sushi versus Chitlins
I went to a Sushi restaurant in Japan once where there were a bunch of fish swimming happily together in a huge tank. We ordered and the next thing I know, the chef is screaming like a ninja and grabbing a live fish out of the tank and flinging it down on the table in front of us. When he pulled out a cleaver and hacked the head off right in front of me, I almost fainted. Needless to say, I didn't eat sushi (or much of anything else) for a while. Chitlins on the other hand are quite civilized by comparison. I have seen them being cooked before but that is it. Chitlin preparation has the good manners to stay out of the public eye as much as possible.

Grits versus Polenta
Grits and polenta are the same thing. If you let your grits simmer too long and they get really thick, you have made polenta. In Northern Italy, where polenta is a staple dish, it was first made when maize or corn was brought there by explorers. It is cooked down more than grits, but there is not much difference except for the seasoning and serving methods. Of course, grits can be pretty bland and boring if you buy those wussie white ones at the grocery store or you don't know how to cook them. I buy stone ground, organic yellow corn grits. Fortunately, I do know how to cook them (Granny taught me) and mine are delicious.

Livermush versus Blood Sausage
Do I even need to explain this one? Yes, I guess I do.
Livermush is decidedly Southern and Blood Sausage is decidedly disgusting.
Livermush probably had its origins with German settlers to the Southeastern areas of the US from Pennsylvania. Blood Sausage never quite caught on here in this area although I understand it is popular elsewhere. My best friend growing up moved to the US from Europe and we helped her mom to make BS at their house once. I repeat, ONCE. And I never ate any that I am aware of but sometimes when I ate dinner at their house, I was a little confused as to exactly what I was eating.

Okra versus anything
I already wrote an entire blog entry about okra, so refer back to that post from August 16th, to read up on okra. One quick note about okra: it is NOT indigenous to the Southern US (it just loves our climate); it is native to Africa; is an edible hibiscus; and is eaten all over the world.

Caviar versus Catfish Roe
I have eaten caviar once or twice myself, but don't remember particularily liking it. It tasted a little fishy. And speaking of fishy, there are people willing to pay $50+ an ounce for Beluga caviar yet look down their noses of folks who catch and clean their own fish and eat the roe. Joke is on them. Back in the late 1990's, the FDA busted a caviar "importer" who had been packaging and selling catfish roe as Beluga for years. Took DNA testing to determine that the roe in question was not from sturgeon, but in fact from the lowly Ictalarus punctatus or the common channel catfish.Nobody noticed the difference because, lets face it, who eats caviar on a regular basis? Do you know anyone who does? Neither do I.

Cow Peas versus English Peas
Cow Peas- A drought tolerant and warm weather crop, cowpeas are well-adapted to the drier regions of the tropics, where other food legumes do not perform well. It also has the useful ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen through its nodules, and it grows well in poor soils with more than 85% sand and with less than 0.2% organic matter and low levels of phosphorus. In addition, it is shade tolerant, and therefore, compatible as an intercrop with maize, millet, sorghum, sugarcane, and cotton. This makes cowpea an important component of traditional intercropping systems, especially in the complex and elegant subsistence farming systems of the dry savannas in sub-Saharan Africa. English peas are just a cooler weather, slightly different cultivar of Fabaceae or Leguminosae, or the legume family. There is nothing sophistocated or gourmet about English (green) peas. In fact, if you compared the common field pea grown in the South to the English pea, the English pea is by comparison a thin and pale relative, as far as adaptability and usage.

Water Cress versus Creasy Greens
If you ever watched the Dobie Gillis show back in the 60's, you most probably remember Mrs. Chatsworth Osborne, Jr., Resident RB&S, who was forever giving parties where they served watercress sandwiches. This is probably about the silliest food affectation I know of, in all of my culinary experience. Watercress on buttered slices of bread with the crusts cut off was supposedly the height of snooty cuisine. Somehow the idea of a weed that grows along the sides of the road, in ditches where there is standing water pasted onto a tiny piece of white bread doesn't really impress me all that much. And why couldn't they even have a "big boy" sandwich with the crusts still on...did those rich people have weak choppers or just still long for mama? I don't get it.

I don't remember my Granny even planting "creasies", a delightful little spicy, edible green plant, but she certainly got excited once it showed up in the corn field in the fall. It grows in a rosette, kind of like arugula. Today, you can buy creasy green seeds (Upland Cress is how it is sold) and plant some for yourself, but in the foothills and mountains of NC, they were/are considered a wild, uncultivated food, not to be taken for granted. I think maybe planting creasys would not set well with some old timers. Creasy greens are cousin to watercress and the name "creasy" is probably an Appalachian mispronunciation of cress. They are peppery and add a little spice to other greens.

There are lots more foods I could mention, but my fingers are tired and I have to go feed chickens. My break is over and I need to get back to some real work. Hope you enjoyed my little tongue in cheek (Really? Maybe.) missive today.

Older posts chronicle drought, growing seasons, winter doldrums, etc.

Just looked back thru some of my older posts from back in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and realized that there is quite a chronicle of farm life there. So that it wasn't so hard to find them, I changed the archive to a pulldown menu to make it easier to read thru these old posts.

Cold nights, Jack Russells and Heirloom Veggies

We had a pretty chilly night here last night. Had to bring all 5 Jack Russells on the back porch. Any night time temps under 45 degrees get them a warm bed, in their kennels. When it is warmer, they like to be outside, in a puppy pile in the doghouse. But I have talked about that in older posts and so I will just leave it at that.

Everything in the greenhouse is still gorgeous this morning. It was about 75 degrees yesterday and so I wet down the floor of the greenhouse and left the doors closed tight all day. That kept the heat in. The evaporating moisture from the floor raised the humidity and so the ambient air was warmer after the sun went down. It wasn't cold enough to do any real damage in the greenhouse but you never know when the forecast might be wrong. We are generally at least 2 degrees colder than whatever is forecast and sometimes a little more, so can't be too careful. I babied all those plants for far too long and they look far too good to lose them in one cold night.
I plan on taking some pictures of them and posting here but my camera battery is dead and I can't remember to charge it at night.

In addition to my tomatoes, peppers and basils, I planted another several hundred squash seeds in flats this week. The varieties are my specialty ones, mostly using seeds directly from the regions of Italy and other places, where they are favorites. Regional varieties of zuchinni, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, basils and other herbs,winter squash and pumpkins abound. Most all of the ones I grow are heirlooms that have been grown in their respective regions for over 100 years. Regions like Cambria and Tuscany have favorites, small villages have favorites. The Italian people are passionate about their food and so they are equally passionate about having the freshest and best ingredients to start with. Many Italian cooks believe that if you don't have the specific variety to make your recipe from, it won't be the as good. I love that concept!

I also love the idea of growing a food plant that is growing somewhere else in the world. It is very cool to grow from seeds that came from a particular region, grown just the season before. Makes me feel globally connected to people in other parts of the world who are just like, growers, land stewards, whatever we are. I am especially enthralled with Italian varieties, obviously, for the reasons I already stated and because they are fairly accessible, if you know where to look. But I also love more elusive cultural food plants like African, Asian and South American varieties, which are a little harder to find, but it is ultimately rewarding when I get my hands on something new.

And for as much as I love my international heirlooms, I am passionate about Native American heirlooms, many of which are in danger of disappearing from the planet. Several dedicated orgainizations are currently seeking to establish heirloom seed banks to preserve this heritage from our own indigenous peoples.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What The Heck Happened to Earth Day?

This post is gonna get me a lot of flack, but I call them like I see them.

I don't acknowledge Earth Day any more. I have become a little jaded about the whole concept. Back in the 70's, I was a little hippie chickie with granny glasses and flowers in my hair and I cared about EVERYTHING!!!! Earth Day was a huge deal to me at that time. It was a chance for the citizens of the Earth to come together on something we ALL have in on planet Earth.

Margaret Mead said it:

"EARTH DAY is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space.

EARTH DAY draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way – which is also the most ancient way – using the vernal Equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making night and day of equal length in all parts of the Earth. To this point in the annual calendar, EARTH DAY attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another. But the selection of the Equinox makes planetary observance of a shared event possible, and a flag which shows the Earth as seen from space appropriate."

That is the Earth Day I celebrated. What happened? Last week I heard an ad for an Earth Day Celebration at a water/amusement park in the local area, inviting everyone to come to the park to celebrate Mother Earth. Yes, let's drive our cars, make more trash, waste water and pay our money in celebration of Mother Earth. I just don't get it.

Don't you think Mother Earth would be better served if that amusement park hadn't covered her face with asphalt. Maybe if they had left the trees and plants? What if all the wildlife that lost their habitat had been left unmolested? That sounds like a celebration of our Mother to me.

Doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose of having Earth Day if you have to drive your carbon footprint to get the the celebration???? Shouldn't Earth Day be about staying home and taking stock of all the blessings that our planet bestows on us every day, not just on one day in April?

I guess, as with every other holiday we have in this country, somebody has found a way to make money from Earth Day, so the true meaning has pretty much flown out the window for most Americans. If you would like to read about what the original intent and purpose of Earth Day really was, you can visit .

More cool Earth stuff: Nasa site for pictures of Mother Earth Astronauts Views of the Home Planet Astounding pictures from the Hubble Telescope Not Earth, necessarily but WOW!!!

Moving on with life

If you have been reading this blog lately, you know that I have been dealing with the death of my beloved Farmer Dave. Dave was my best friend, husband, mentor, teacher, spiritual guide, counselor , alter ego, companion, confidant, comrade, helpmate, playmate and my soul mate. He was my kindred spirit, my knight in shining armor and the heart of my heart. I miss him so fiercely that it is like there is a fire burning my soul to ashes and I am helpless to stop it.

But, stop it I must, because I know that he would want me to get back to the business of living. To do otherwise discredits the things I learned from him over the years and it dishonors him for me to be wallowing in self-pity about being alone. Because I am not alone. I carry in my heart and memory 16 years of the most incredible journey. Without him, I would never have experienced most of the things that I did over those 16 years.

I have always been amazed that he so loved me and chose me to stand beside him. Not that I feel that I was unworthy of his love, but because I was given the opportunity to be loved by someone like him. When Dave and I had only been together for about 6months, I told the Universe that if I was only allowed to have 5 years with Dave, it would like a lifetime with anyone else. The Universe chose to gift me with 16 years and I am profoundly grateful for every second of those years.

Now, I will try to focus on the future and how I plan on moving through it. You may have to indulge me once in a while, since I am sure there will be some anecdote or story I will have to tell you. Dave was involved in everything I have done of any value for the last decade and a half, so it would be hard not to include him in most of my tales. But, I will try to keep my grief to myself and to refrain from waxing poetic about the enormity of our love for each other or how perfect our relationship was/is. I say "is" because the relationship still exists and always will. Death can not remove Dave from my heart and he is in every fiber of my being. So, if you take me on, you get him, too.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

This is not getting any easier....

I miss Dave....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I am sad today...

Origin: bef. 900; (n.) ME wid(e)we, OE widuwe, wydewe; c. G Witwe, Gothwiduwo, L vidua (fem. of viduus bereaved), Skt vidhavā widow; (v.) ME, deriv. of the n.;
def. A women whose husband has died and who has not yet remarried.

What a narrow definition for something so consuming. It is interesting to me to note that this definition says who has "not yet" remarried. Somehow thinking about having another person in my life is the farthest thing from my mind and it seems strange to me that it should be part of the definition of what I have now become. I do not like my new status as a widow. It is lonely and everything seems to be going by me in slow motion. Little things make me well up like a fountain and they are usually the silliest things imaginable. Like walking through the aisle at the market and seeing Dave's favorite cereal on the shelf or finding a pair of his dirty socks in the laundry hamper. Part of me wishes that he wasn't every place I look but mostly I am terrified that I will stop seeing him everywhere.

I thought that the nights would be the hardest but strangely that has not been the case. At night, in our bed, I am comforted with thoughts of all the nights he lay beside me there and sleep comes easily to me. He became so fragile near the end that it was impossible to give him more than a cursory hug or to just stroke his arm and I think I miss not having one of his hugs most of all. He used to enfold me in those impossibly long arms of his and he could encircle me almost completely. I never felt safer or more secure than when he did that. I take my comfort in knowing that in the years Dave and I were together we shared enough hugs, pats, squeezes, touches and more than most people have in their entire lifetime. Once Dave said that we had shared enough love that if we stopped right at that moment and never touched again, what we had already had would last the rest of our lifetime and into the next. How could he have known those words would be true?

Writing on this blog about my life with Dave is how I am getting by right now and I thank those of you who follow it for indulging me. The title says that it is about my life on an organic farm and this is the part of life that has to be dealt with. Dave and I believed strongly in the natural order of things, in the circle of life. How can I profess to have believed if I do not accept that death is a necessary part of that circle. Nobody lives forever, as much as you might want them to. Dave just completed his circle ahead of me and I hope he is waiting for me on the other side.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Last week was the "week that was".

Farmer Dave

After 16 incredible, amazing years with the man that I loved almost beyond reason, my sweet, organic life changed last week, in the blink of an eye. Dave left this world behind last Tuesday and now I miss him more than I imagined possible. When we finally resigned ourselves to the fact that he wasn't ever going to get better and that his time was growing short, I tried to imagine how it was going to be without him, simply to prepare myself for the inevitable. When the time actually came, it was 1000 times harder than anything I was capable of conceiving.

While you try to prepare yourself for the eventuality of a death, especially when someone is fighting a disease as sinister as cancer, nothing, and I mean N-O-T-H-I-N-G, prepares you for that moment when you realize that this person you knew and loved is really and truly gone. It is like something grabs your chest and squeezes the life out of you, too. It is like a wave of unimaginable agony that strikes you powerless and paralyzed. You can't breathe, you can't move, you can't even think. All you can do is be held in the grasp of that moment while the world stops around just you and everything else keeps moving. When that grip suddenly is let go, it feels like the entire bottom of the universe has dropped away and left you suspended, beyond space and time. And then, the shockwave of reality hits you and you are forever changed.

I have thought long, hard and much about my life with Dave and I keep coming back to the same thing. We loved each other without reserve, without boundaries, without most of the trappings that come with a marriage sometimes. We never focused on careers, we had both done that in the lives we lived before we met. Instead, we decided to forgo the pursuit of happiness through things as artificial and man created as money, position and power because those things are worthless in the end. We vowed to focus all of our energies on the power of love, both between each other and for Mother Earth and her children.

In all our years together, we never quarreled (of course, we differed in opinion sometimes but how could we use our individual strengths if we didn't express them?), spent less that 2 dozen nights apart, expressed our love for one another at every opportunity and left absolutely nothing left unsaid between us. We worked side beside for most of those 16 years, first in our store at the beach and then at the Farm for the last decade. Every effort was made to insure that we remained able to spend our time and be together as much as possible.

We tried to guide and support each other in everything we did but Dave was always the better teacher. The lessons he taught me have shaped the person I am today. I never felt like I gave as much as he did in that regard, but he always said that I taught him what you could accomplish through the power of love. He taught me that it is okay to just be who you are, that growing as a person is necessary for one to move forward on their path toward enlightenment and that fear is the mind killer. I no longer fear many things because of Dave's lessons and that has given me great peace and serenity on many levels. His most important lesson was that I was worthy of being loved by someone like him - intelligent, wise, spiritual, amazing, kind, gentle and the most beautiful soul I have encountered in my 50+ years. That was a lesson he never tried to teach because he was too humble to think he was any of those things I mentioned.

We both truly believed that we were soul twins, joined for eternity and that comforts me greatly. I will miss him in ways I can't yet imagine. But there is so much of Dave, and who and what he was, in me now that he is with me still, in every fiber of my being and always will be there.

Namaste, my love, good journey.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Something about Dave, the Farmer

A little more somber topic here today. Dave, my husband and co-founder of the Farm is gravely ill. He has had kidney cancer since 2005 and has finally reached that stage where quality of life is paramount. He is home and in hospice care. Alert some days, others completely "gone somewhere else", he is still guiding my hand when he can but mostly he just gazes out the window from his hospital bed and looks out across the fields.

So blessed that he can watch deer and wild turkey cross from the pine woods, across the pasture and into our backyard. From his perspective in the hospital bed, he can see birds in the sky and the trees and he never misses when the local Coopers hawk flies over when he is looking out.

Some of the friends here at this page know Dave and some don't. Those of you who do know him, know him as a dedicated organic farmer. For the last decade, we have carved our little 30 acres into something that we are very proud of, with good reason. From an original tiny plot of 100 square feet to 17 of the 30 acres being under organic cultivation, we have pushed forward each year to make the Farm a success. And I don't mean a monetary success, that has never been all that important to us (if you took a look at our bank account, you would concur with that statement). Of course, we have been so very, very lucky to have had the blessing and support of both of our families, even though in the beginning they were a little skeptical of what we were trying to do.

Originally, we didn't intend for the Farm to make our living. It was a labor of love for both of us and a part of a spiritual journey we embarked on a long time ago. Being able to dedicate so much of our lives to this labor is the culmination of our belief in something greater than ourselves and the manifestation of that belief into something tangible. There is no greater faith that to put a tiny seed in the ground and believe that it will eventually be fruitful and that it will feed the soul as well as the body. We experience that manifestation of our faith every single day and gives our lives tremendous meaning. How can you not believe in something greater than yourself when you see the miracles of Nature happen before your eyes every single day?

Setting an example for others to follow has always been something that we strove for at the Farm. Passing along the knowledge and experiences that we gained, too, has been something equally important. If one lives their life dedicated to their principles, that example can be an inspiration for others to follow. We have tried to make that the main tenet of our philosophies about organics, sustainability, living a life of voluntary simplicity.

From the day we met, we have done what we could to make sure that we spent as much time together as possible. Dave is truly my soulmate and when we are apart it feels like something is missing in myself. Not longing, like when you miss someone when they are gone, but just a little feeling in the background that something is not quite as it should be. Since establishing this farm, every day, we have worked together, side by side, toe to toe, on nearly everything we have done. It has made our relationship strong and unbreakable.

Love is too small a word to describe what Dave and I share. His illness has given me pause to reflect on many of the things I have expressed here in this writing. My heartache at the possibility of losing him was overwhelming me recently, until I decided to stop focusing on what is to come and reflect on what has been and how we came to be at this place where we are now. It has made me realize that there will be no regrets for things undone between us. We have never failed to express everything we felt about each other, with both our words and deeds, left nothing unsaid. I know that when he is gone, I will feel the weight of the world on my shoulders but I also know I will be lifted to the Heavens knowing that someone like Dave so loved someone like me and never, ever failed to make me feel completely safe and loved for as long as I have known him.

Learning how to bend with the wind, instead of fighting to make it do what we chose to have it do is something that every true organic farmer learns quickly. That bending leads one to find balance and harmony. Harmony leads to peace. And peace and love are what matter in the end.

I will continue to operate New Moon Farm Organics, no matter what happens in the future. It is Dave's legacy, what he leaves behind as a testament to his dedication and love of what we do here. I intend to continue our dreams and follow the path. He may not continue to walk with me in this realm, but he will always walk at my side, no matter where the path takes me.

Namaste my friends.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


It is that time of the year. Things are bursting at the seams with life! You can smell it on the air. The trees are covered with tiny leaf buds, the hens are laying again, the weeds are coming up faster than the planted seeds and the weather can't decide whether to be warm, windy, cold or wet. I LOVE Spring in the South!!!

Right now, I have so many irons in the fire, I need another arm or two to juggle them. I am working the farm alone right now but getting ready to put out the call for volunteers via my "VOLUNTEER WISH LIST". This is a page I put up on my website that lists all the things I need help with and then anyone with a couple of hours to spare can pick something they are comfortable helping with and take it from there. We start our formal "Hands Across the Table" crop-share/ intern program in May and I am working on the details of that to send out to the interested participants.

Another thing I am very excited about is my summer "Farmin-istas" seminar series starting in June. Every other weekend this summer, I plan on offering an educational seminar directed at female farmers (or "farm femmes" as I have christened them). Farming has always had the connotation of being a bastion of the "good ole' boy" network and that is quite true in some areas of agriculture, even though women have long worked beside of husbands, fathers, brothers doing just about any farm chore as the men. The number of women who own, operate or manage farms has grown significantly since the last census and I expect the numbers will have grown considerably after this one. I want and need to confer and conflab with other women who do what I do. We have our own ways of doing things, we think differently that our male counterparts and we can have a very different set of obstacles in the way of our progress. It is time for FARMIN-ISTAS to UNITE! I am making it my personal mission to get this ball rolling in my area this year. Watch for more info as it unfolds.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Getting back to the blog

Wow! It has been another one of those week, months, years. Hubby has been in the hospital for the last week and just got him home. I pray that nobody has to go through what we are going through, but I know that as long as there is no cure for cancer, that won't happen. Taking each day as it comes is all you can do. My sweet Farmer is beyond being cured and now we are in palliative care. Thanks to all the people who have been so kind to us in the past and the present and to those I know will be kind in the future. While we are still looking at a relatively long road, it is just so hard to come to terms with your whole life changing in ways you never imagined it would. But I have learned that the fears I had about my ability to care and comfort for someone this intensely have been assuaged and I now know that the depth of love truly does conquer all.

Now that we are past this latest hurdle, we are ready to get cranking on the gardens. Already have tons of stuff coming up in the greenhouse, so we are still on track...just a couple of weeks behind but that is due to the wet, cold weather. Now that it is warming up some, things will change quickly. I am pretty much able to man the helm here at the Farm and with the help of our volunteers, it all goes very well. The Farmer is still the General, he is just confined to quarters at the present.

Thanks to everyone who has expressed their willingness and desire to be involved with our farm this year. I am looking forward to passing the torch of organic knowledge onto anyone who wants to roll up their sleeves and get down and dirty with me. I will be posting some new information about volunteer/apprentice/internship opportunities here very soon, so watch for that.

If you missed the new slide show at the website check it out!
and look for the link. I have about 320+ pictures that will take you on a journey through our last 10 years. We are very proud of what we do and want to share it with anyone and everyone!!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Organic vs. Non-organic Produce

Humans have been growing produce organically for thousands of years. Today, the USDA has strict regulations governing the production of organic produce. In general, the use of genetically engineered seeds and methods, chemicals or radiation as preservatives, and chemically based fertilizers and pesticides are not allowed. Organic agricultural methods are more ecologically proper, sustainable, less harmful to the environment and overall are more energy efficient.

Organic produce are richer in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, trace elements and other nutrients than the fruits and vegetables produced by chemical based methods. In a recent study, antioxidant levels found in organically grown vegetables were almost 30% higher than conventional chemically enhanced vegetables.

Perhaps the most important reason to consume organic produce is that the human bodies were not designed to be constantly bombarded with chemicals and biologically altered products on a long term basis. Many of the problems associated with the non-organic foods will take years if not generations to show clear "cause and effect" consequences on our health. What we do know is that the herbicides and the pesticides used in non-organic farming are all "toxic" because that is how they were created. Obviously, the intake of toxic foods is bad for our health. The long term physiological and neurological damages done to the human health by consuming non-organic foods are numerous and very complex.

Another major health concern with the consumption of non-organic foods is the industry's wide and heavy use of antibiotics and growth hormones as supplements in animal feed. These supplements are used primarily to make the animals grow faster, bigger and less disease prone, leading to higher production yields. Numerous studies indicate that traces of these supplements remain in the food chain. It is not unreasonable to assume that the infusion of these biological and chemical agents into the food chain may be partially responsible for human obesity and other serious and growing health problems such as diabetes, coronary illnesses, autism, etc., etc.

Organic produce and food products have become more and more mainstream.They are more available in supermarkets. However, farmer's markets, smaller organic health food stores and community supported agriculture (CSA) are still more reliable outlets for organic produce and of course, local food.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back to the Blog

I have been a blogslacker (I made that word up...) lately but I have a good excuse. I do our website myself and am an old dinosaur when it comes to writing the code for the site. It takes me forever because I don't use a program for it and I have to tweak every page until I like it and that can take me days just to finish one section. While our website is pretty "folksy" and homemade, it takes a lot of work to make it look that way. There is a new 300+ photo album that has pictures from our 10 years here. The other new page is the 2010 Crop List and you can go there from here . That page is the one that took forever because I had to look through about 1000 photos to find the right ones since it has pictures of each veggie, most of which were taken of stuff harvested here at the Farm. I had to use stock photos for a couple of things, but noted that by the pics, so there is no confusion. Don't want to mislead.

And speaking of misleading, I recently looked at a couple of "local produce buying club" websites that deliver in this area. I am sorry to be my usual cynical self, but if you are buying a basket of produce and it has avocados, bananas or oranges in it, it ain't "local", at least by my definition. I guess they mean that the buying club is local, not the produce, but that is misleading. Guess the argument could be made that any assumption made by the consumer is not the fault of the operator. Of course, I have canvassed grocery store produce managers about their definition of local and have come to the conclusion that to some people "local" means grown on Planet Earth. Personally, I try to keep my "local" sphere within a 50 miles range, just because there is a great dairy that I buy cheese from and it is just about 50 miles from me. Other than that, more than 20 miles away makes me twitch.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Support New Moon Farm Organics by participating in our

We have issued 100 "I SUPPORT NEW MOON FARM" discount cards,which will sell for $10 each.
The card will entitle the holder to a 10% discount on produce purchases for the entire 2010 market season
at the Davidson Farmer's market and/or
at any other farmer's market we attend in 2010.
The card can be used as a one time $20.00 discount toward
a 12 week membership in our

Why the fundraiser?
Dave and I are passionate organic farmers, although it isn't a profession that pays a whole lot. Of course, we don't do it just for the money. There is something deeper than I can't quite explain with mere words, that keeps us at this year after year. We consider it our "calling", a deep and spiritual need to express our caring for this world by doing something concrete to demonstrate that concern. For us, it has never been about money. Unfortunately, however, we live in a world where money rules.

With the tremendous amount of medical and other bills related to Dave's cancer, we have almost completely exhausted our savings. While we now have coverage for almost everything that Dave requires, for the first four months of his illness nothing was covered, because his cancer was a pre-existing condition. We have a mountain of medical bills to prove it.

We are presently in a situation where we simply need to ask our friends and neighbors for a little help. Like most very independent people, it is hard to ask for a handout and that is not the case now. We always budget for our off season months, including unplanned and emergency expenses. This year it was one unplanned expense after another and now our "emergency fund" is almost gone.

Because farming is seasonal, we won't have any regular stream of funds coming in until late March or April and so we need to raise a bit of capital between now and then. To do so, we decided that a little fund raiser might be the solution to get us over this rough financial patch. The post at the beginning of this blog gives the simple details. Even though the button says "DONATE" this is actually more of a "special offer". Of course, any donation, however small, would be greatly appreciated.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

This article is posted on one of my other blogs, but I thought it was a good topic for this one, too. The original post was sparked by an article I read about how Dean Foods "quietly removed" the word organic from the label of its line of Silk Soy products. I identified with the headline because I was a victim of exactly what the article was written about. (The link on this blog is listed at the menu on the right but it won't stay up forever so you can read the article at for as long as it stays posted there. If it is removed, look at for articles written by By BARRY SHLACHTER )

Because I try to stay 90-95% organic in my choices about food, cosmetics, etc. I try alot of products, always looking for quality and good value. I stay away from anything organic from China, sadly because I just don't trust them yet. Ditto for anything that is not labeled with what I consider to be a legitimate organic certifying body for foreign goods. There are a lot of non-domestic "organic" products finding their way onto our supermarket shelves because frankly, there is not enough organic agriculture, etc. in the U.S. to keep up with the demand. Even though conventional agriculture continually tries to discredit organics, it is still far and away, even counting in the cheaters, way safer and healthier food. Safer for not just people but for the whole planet.

Anyway, it is what I believe, it is my life and I am relentless in my search for quality products. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I own an organic farm and I actually grow most of my own food, make my own cosmetics and generally do not routinely shop at the supermarket for anything except for things I can't produce myself. Soy milk is one of those things. So, now for the reason for this information and how it relates to soy products.

I don't do dairy. I am allergic to milk - not lactose intolerant- but truly allergic, with hives, stomach upset, everything you'd expect with an allergy. I passed this allergy onto my kids, although mine is more severe. Bottom line is that soy and alternatives to milk products has been a way of life for us. Soy has always been my product of choice. I drink it, cook with it, put it on my cereal. I never developed a taste goat milk and while I have been known to make my own almond milk, by the time I made enough for our usage, it would cost me a fortune so I stick with soy.

In my search for product I liked, I settled on Silk Organic Soy Milk. It has passed all my taste tests and I just like the product line. I have been buying it for years. White Wave, the company who produces Silk, is owned by Dean Foods and they have about 3/4 of the market share of these products anyway but it is a superior product, in my opinion. Buying these products from this conglomerate is one of the compromises that I make in my food choices. I am not buying local, I am not buying from a small family company and that is a bit of a sticking point, I admit. My conscience also tells me that this corporate giant (Dean) is not to be totally trusted but since I know that going in, it is my free choice to buy their products. For some reason that makes me feel a little better, knowing that they are not screwing me over, without my knowledge. I am allowing them to do it and that I think is called consent.

Recently, however, they confirmed my belief in the "not to be trusted" scenario. They quietly deleted the word "ORGANIC" from the label of most their products. No change was made at all to the carton but the much reduced organic line (I have only seen 2 products) is now in completely new and different green cartons. So if stocked on the same shelves, the organic product would stand out and that was the good news.

The bad news, unfortunately,that is not what happened. What did happen is that they didn't bother to tell retailers about the changes, so the retailers, in turn, continued get the same products they had been getting. Kind of a grocery store version of "don't ask, don't tell", much like what is going on with the unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the grocer's shelves.

Supermarkets don't work like they did 10-15 years ago, when the section manager actually made the decisions about products. Now the vendors just come in, place product and whatever they deem to be selling is what ends up on your grocers shelves. That is why there is such a limited selection of organic products in many of our local markets. There is no one who really knows anything about these products making any decisions. Decisions are made based on numbers on a page, not on customer demand. The numbers are calculates on sales in the store but if the store has no product to sell, how can those numbers reflect what customers might actually want. And as complacent consumers, we just accept that as the way it is.

When someone has been buying the exact same product, week after week, for several years, it is human nature to stop reading the label. Because nothing else changed on the cartons of Silk Soy, only the removal of the word organic, I didn't even notice that it wasn't there, until I got home from the market one day. For some reason, I was looking at the back of the carton and I noticed that the green "CERTIFIED ORGANIC" label was missing. Imagine my chagrin, because I have no idea how long it had not been there. I was furious to say the least. AND not only was the word "ORGANIC" removed, there is no disclaimer anywhere on the latest carton I purchased that says that it is made from non-GMO soybeans, which only incited my ire further. (To be fair in this tirade, that issue has since been corrected and the cartons now say that Silk is made with non-GMO soybeans grown domestically).

I immediately got online and looked up Silk Soy and discovered several articles written by other people who were just as angry as myself. I did find information about the much reduced organic line now offered by Silk but that hardly assuages my disgust for this company and their tactics. While I realize that the onus of responsibility for knowing what I am purchasing falls on me and only me, but this company's obvious "sneak attack" on one of their own organic products is unconscionable in my universe. Yes, the new cartons are bright green, easily discernible from the non-organic products, IF they are stocked on the shelves. It was a sneaky bait and switch as far as I am concerned but I hate to admit that I was one of those people who was duped by all this.

I have not stopped buying the non-organic Silk Soy products, because I can't find anything from the organic line at any of my limited sources. A couple of the local markets have their own lines of organic soy products now and the label says they are domestically grown, certified organic (non-GMO), although they are not as good as Silk Soy. I guess, at least for now, I will have to trust that the National Organic Program is doing its job. The NOP has the strictest organic guidelines on the planet at this point in time, but with lobbyists and politicians having a say in what happens at the USDA, who knows how long that will stay true.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting ready for the 2010 season

I am kind of relishing the cold wet weather that has been back for the last two days because I don't have to feel so guilty about wanting to stay in the house. Having a couple of warm days to work outside was nice, I guess, but it is supposed to be cold this time of year and I simply longed to be inside, piddling around the kitchen or working on my cookbook. I don't get much time like this so it is important to me to take advantage of it while I can.

I did a bit of work in the greenhouse and some other mundane outdoor chores while it was warm, but it just didn't feel right yet. I got tomatoes and a couple of other things seeded in flats, so that there will be plenty of plants to go out when it warms up in April, so that was good but overall I just wasn't into being outside yet.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter Wonderland

This morning I looked out my kitchen window to a veritable winter wonderland. Our backyard rolls down into a hollow and then back up a steep bank, much of which is treed with mostly old oaks and some huge poplars. Since the angle of the sun and the shade of the woods keeps out most sun this time of year, it takes a long time for any accumulation of snow to melt completely. That has given the woods a kind of jigsaw puzzle look, one of those with greyed out pieces.

The trees in my particular view out that back window are huge old oaks and a couple of grandfather poplars, so there isn't much undergrowth because these trees keep it so shady much of the year that not much grows under them. Because of that you can see much of the animal activity that occurs there. Coupled with the fact that there is an open pasture just over the rise and a thick, thick stand of planted pines on the other side of the pasture, you have the perfect place for much of our local wildlife to cross safely from one stand of trees to the other. This time of year, the outside dogs are on the back porch, warm and snuggled up in their kennels, so there is nothing to disturb the morning comings and goings of the local population of wildlife.

This morning, I watched 6 deer pass from right behind my house, into the pasture and on into the pines. They are not afraid of much this time of year and since this is a fairly protected spot for them, they linger as they pass. Deer are browsers and so curious about anything that might be edible. I watched them stop and paw at the leaves looking for some little morsel underneath. Unfortunately, today I think all they might have found was frozen solid but maybe not. Even as cold as it is, under the warmth of decaying leaves, things are sprouting and alive. Just the other day, I raked aside a pile of leaves and found several acorns with long, pink sprouts splitting their shells. There are many, many acorns in the woods and they feed a host of wildlife, from wild turkeys to the deer. Squirrels here have no fear of going hungry, even if they forget where they buried their own stashes, with the bounty available to them.

We also have several pecan trees in our backyard and the bluejays love them. There were not many pecans on the trees this year but high in the branches, the jays find the occasional nut and it is always interesting to watch them trying to crack them. I counted 9 jays on the tree just outside the window and more flying back and forth between that tree and two of the other ones. Flitting, bright blue birds on a morning as cold as this was really beautiful.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Winter has come in like a lion this year. It is so cold here this morning that it felt like my eyeballs were frozen by the time I got back in from taking the dogs out. But, even though I was really, really cold, I have to say that the sunrise was worth every shiver.

There is a pretty heavy cloud layer this morning because we have another system moving into the area so the sunrise was sort of weighed down by a blanket of periwinkle blue clouds. Under that blue mantle, the sun was just coming over the horizon (what I could see anyway) radiating with a glorious blending of red, pink and gold, so that everything was bathed in this intense copper glow. There is a dense line of pine trees at the back of the field across the road and they looked like they had been dipped into rose gold. It didn't last long, but I found myself standing there, holding my breath for a bit. I was so mesmerized that I forgot that it was 14 degrees.

It is at moments like that when I have no doubts that there is something Greater than myself in the Universe and I am always humbled by those moments.