Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Geese, Guests and Goodness Gracious


Duck Duck Goose
June in Driveway Puddle
Mallory the Mallard
Did you know that a group of ducks is called a badelynge, bunch, brace, flock, paddling, raft or team? It is also called a dover of ducks.   I like the last best.  We have a dover of Muscovy ducks taking over the farm.   A brood hatched last year and it looks like there will be more if we don’t curtail their population explosion.  I found a clutch of eggs last week.  The sensible thing to do is to destroy the nest.  The softie in me can’t do it.  So in a few days, if my calculations are right, we will once again be overtaken with ducks.    The farm has one mallard duck named Mallory who has been hanging out with the goose June. June’s mate was hit by a snowplow last winter and it's been difficult finding a male goose.  Last week we bought a male goose.  June ignored him and he ran away.  She preferred the mallard to the male goose.  June has been fickle lately, preferring our livestock guardian dog Smith as company, so I bought another duck for the mallard. The duck Emmaline (who looks like an Indian Runner but smaller) won’t have anything to do with the mallard so she lives in the pasture with the Pekin ducks and the broiler chickens.  The Pekins are scheduled for slaughter this week which will leave Emma without duck pals.  Perhaps we should keep one Pekin as her companion?  I am spending too much time meddling in poultry partnerships.

June and Smith
Muscovy sitting on eggs
Clutch of Duck Eggs in Tree Hollow

Good Guests; Ghastly Guests
Our schedule is so hectic that we seldom get a chance to get off the farm and see the world.  We are fortunate because the bed and breakfast, farm stay and Fable bring the world to us.  We’ve had the pleasure of meeting people from varied backgrounds, cultures, religions. Most guests have been interesting, fun and a joy to host.  And then there is the occasional “guest from hell.” Sometimes a guest is irritable, demanding and unpleasant and even when we bend over backwards to please them, nothing makes them happy. Recently we had a new kind of guest from hell.  They didn’t want to have anything to do with the farm, left breakfast untouched and drove away without saying goodbye. In a follow up conversation, I was lambasted with complaints about the farm, room and food, in particular, they wanted bacon for breakfast and I served them sausage because we were out of bacon until the next pig is slaughtered.  He advised that I should have bought bacon from the supermarket in anticipation that a guest would want bacon and put it in the freezer.  When I explained that the food we serve is grown and raised on the farm and I was not going to serve factory animal crap to my guests, his response was that we should serve what the guests want not what we want.  I didn’t say, but I wanted to say, “You are the wrong type of guests for us.”  I am so used to guests and customers who really care about the food they eat and where it comes from that I forget that there is a huge population that doesn’t give a hoot about what they eat.  And as crazy as it seems, they don’t associate bacon with a pig.   So the guest from hell was a learning lesson for us.   We attract guests who are interested in the farm, care about their food and how it is raised and care about their health. How do we vet and discourage the guest who eats Ding Dongs and thinks bacon comes from Price Chopper?

Sometimes guests leave behind socks, sweaters or books but this is the best leave behind: a message written on the Farmhand Cabin chalkboard. 

Frank, Silvia and Max's Good Guest Message


This handsome boy will service the ewes this fall.  The breed we use for a ram is different every year.  We look for a ram that will produce good meat quality lambs and he fits all the criteria.  Looking forward to his offspring next year.

Roy the Ram

Tom wrote an article about farmers markets in The New Franklin Register this month. The subject is that farmers markets are good for the customers but not necessarily for farmers. 

Page 6 T he New Franklin Register Summer 2014
By Tom and Denise Warren
We have been selling
our grass-fed meats
and eggs for twenty years
at three regional farmers’
markets. During that time,
especially over the past
three years, there has been
an explosion of interest in
buying local foods, mostly
due to a new awareness of
the importance of knowing
how our food is raised, harvested
and sold.
Ten years ago, there
were three farmers’ markets
in our region: Cooperstown,
Pakatakan and
Oneonta. These centralized
markets attracted customers
from several surrounding
counties and provided
strong, consistent revenue
for the participating farmers.
Today, every town
and hamlet is determined
to host a farmers’ market.
In Delaware and Otsego
counties, there are currently
twenty-one. In fact,
the number of farmers’
markets in New York has
increased from 235 in 2000
to 521 as of August 2012,
according to the New York
State Department of Agriculture
and Markets.
The good news is that
there is growing interest in
local foods, and it is handy
for the customer to have
“round the bend” access to
farm fresh food.
But maybe not such
good news for the farmers.
The number of customers
in our region who seek
farm-fresh food at farmers’
markets is growing, but
slowly, and the number of
markets is outpacing the
customer base. The relatively
small number of dedicated
customers is now
divided between a larger
and growing number of
farmers’ markets.
New York City is home
to 148 farmers’ markets.
That’s about 56,000 people
for every market. In Delaware
and Otsego counties,
there are 5,200 people for
every farmers’ market.
While there is no direct
data to support this theory,
we believe that a greater
percentage of people in
New York City shop year
round at farmers’ markets
than do locally.
A great benefit of small
town farmers’ markets is
that a market creates a
community, a space for
people to gather and socialize.
It creates an opportunity
for added income
for small-scale or part-time
farmers. But can this scattering
of farmers’ markets
support the full time farmer,
and will these markets
survive as more participating
farmers realize that he/
she is not getting a reasonable
return on his/her investment
of time and money?
Small farmers’ markets
tend to host only a handful
of farmer-vendors, while
larger, centralized markets
can support twenty to thirty
There is also an environmental
cost. If a farmer
travels twenty or thirty
miles to a market to sell just
$200 to $300 of product, it

becomes a carbon intensive
An informal survey
conducted at the farmers’
markets in which we participate
indicates that vendors
have to sell at twice
as many markets as they
did five years ago, just to
maintain the same level of
revenue. And vendors’ expenses
are high, including
transportation, labor, market
fees, market materials
and signage. All the while,
the farmers’ incomes are
So, while the growing
number of farmers’ markets
may be good for communities
and customers, it may
not be best for farmers.

Fable has been full with Saturday night dinners, Sunday brunches and private dinners and breakfasts.  Thank you so much for filling our kitchen with your praise, laughter and good companionship. We are having fun seeing familiar faces and meeting new people.  


It's strawberry season and we can't get enough. We are making strawberry margarita jam, strawberry balsamic jam, strawberry scones, strawberry short cake.... At Fable's dinner last week, we made Sorrel Strawberry Sorbet. Amazing.
Sorrel-Strawberry Sorbet

Makes 1 quart.
For super-smooth sorbet, churn this recipe in an ice cream maker. For a treat just as refreshing but studded with icy crystals, simply stick the mixture in your freezer. Freeze this sorbet in ice pop forms instead for children.

1 quart fresh (or frozen) strawberries, hulled
2/3 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped sorrel

In a mixing bowl, stir together the strawberries and sugar. Cover and set aside for an hour. Purée strawberries with their juices and the sorrel in a blender, then press the mixture through a sieve to remove seeds and large pieces of sorrel. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for an hour. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Or pop the mixture into a shallow, freezer-safe pan and freeze it. Scrape with a fork to break up ice crystals every half-hour to an hour until it is fully frozen, about 4 to 6 hours

Looking forward to seeing you at the farmers markets, farm store, at Fable for dinner or brunch or enjoying your summer out and about the countryside.
Tom, Denise, Shane

The White Cedar Bee Tree

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