Barnyard Bull - News & Blog

Posted 6/26/2012 12:13pm by Desiree & Jesse Robertson-DuBois.

Garden CSA 2012                                                                            Week 3

PYO Signage

We still have a few signs left to paint- but the PYO looks awesome with its new labeling!

The new raised bed system is transforming the Garden as well (really transforming the whole vegetable field system). Our new raised bed maker-which also lays plastic and drip tape irrigation if we need it- is a new piece of equipment for us this year. While we are still figuring out all its quirks and the management involved with raised beds (how do you weed the sides of those beds?) we are already seeing a marked change in the growth and health of the plants. Everything planted in the shaped beds is growing bigger, faster and more beautifully than the vegetables we planted earlier on. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the PYO garden field where, traditionally, the soil has always been rockier and more claylike and very easily compacted. It has also always had a horrible erosion problem due to its slope. We’ve tried many things before to improve drainage and break up the hardness, but nothing really has worked. The plants still struggled along and looked sicker than others grown in different parts of the farm. Or they just plain washed away in the next thunderstorm. This season the plants are lush and gorgeous, dark green and not stressed and we are finding that they are growing faster as well, which means that you will get to enjoy them sooner. We are so excited!

If you are looking for the sheep- they are now behind the pig barn- and the cows with their adorable new calves are also closer than they were. You will find them along the back farm road to the left of the house.

What’s in your share (maybe)


Kale- mixed Red Curly

Chinese (also called Napa) Cabbage

Garlic scapes- the last week! Take plenty for the freezer


Salad Turnips- eat raw in salad or roast


Pick Your Own

Peas are still going strong- Please stick to the limit- we all have to share even though they are so tasty that they rarely make it home.

The flowers are beautiful and hard to resist- we will probably open them next week!

Tender herbs are getting closer to being open for picking, but not quite yet.


Featured vegetable--: Escarole

So this beautiful curly headed vegetable looks a lot like lettuce but it is not lettuce and you will be very surprised if you make a raw salad out of it. Escarole is in the same family as radicchio, chicory and endive- a bitter green that we like best cooked.  It pairs best with beans or lentils and Italian sausage- similar to Kale only with a sharper bite and slightly softer texture. We just uploaded 4 delicious recipes using escarole onto the website- check them out or use the one below. As always, escarole is also delicious sautéed with garlic (scapes too!) and olive oil.

Escarole and Beans- creamy and delicious!


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 large heads escarole
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans cannellini beans, undrained
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss in escarole, turning to coat with oil. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until tender.
  2. In a separate skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Stir in garlic. Pour in beans with juices, and simmer until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in escarole and parsley; simmer 10 minutes more.
Posted 6/19/2012 2:13pm by Desiree & Jesse Robertson-DuBois.

Garden CSA 2012                                                                            Week 2

Welcome to this season’s CSA. We’re very excited to get to know you and your family, and we hope that you enjoy all the benefits of coming to the farm.  Please don’t hesitate to ask questions. We will hopefully get a short newsletter out to you every week detailing what might be in the line-up for veggies- highlighting new additions, letting you know how the PYO is coming along and what is open for picking, some farm happenings that you might want to check out, and a recipe or two to get you inspired. Don’t forget to sign-up in the book to help with distributions, we value your help and couldn’t do it all without you.

We have been a little short-handed the last couple of weeks, but that is changing this week with the addition of three more pairs of hands. Some of the faces will be part-time helpers and the others will be here full-time for the season. Introduce yourselves to the apprentice team- we couldn’t provide you with such beautiful and healthy bounty without them. Despite the much welcomed additions- we still need your help more than ever, so please sign up to help us weed, harvest or sit on the transplanter!

Our current full season apprentice is Jada Haas and she grew up Near Rhinebeck, NY. She has worked on farms in VT and PA and she is accompanied by her beautiful Nubian goat Lucy who has made fast friends with our dear Penny. Jada does not like to be idle for long- you will probably find her weeding in the PYO garden during distribution it she isn’t harvesting. Jada also inspired the much longed for signs in the PYO. We always wanted to have them but there was never enough time on the spring to get them done (and we always forgot in the dark of winter). Jada took part of one of her days off to draw and paint the signs (I helped too because it was too fun to resist).

What’s in your share (maybe)


Kale- mixed Lacinato

Chinese (also called Napa) Cabbage

Garlic scapes



Pick Your Own

THE PEAS ARE HERE!!!!!! Please stick to the limit- we all have to share even though they are so tasty that they rarely make it home.

We have a bunch of new signs that will be going up in the PYO. Please respect the Open & light picking signs when they are present. We hope that you like the new look!

The flowers are beautiful and hard to resist- but please give them a few more weeks to put on some more growth before venturing down to pick- we will let you know when they are open.



Featured vegetable--: Chinese or Napa Cabbage

We love this delicious vegetable- so crisp and fresh tasting- even when it is cooked. Our favorite way of eating it is quickly stir-fried in tamari or soy sauce and toasted sesame oil and then tossed with rice noodles and toasted almonds or pecans. Sometimes we throw a little home-made sweet chile sauce on top with a scramble egg and a little diced pork. A delicious and quick lunch or dinner after a long day.

Posted 6/15/2012 11:17am by Desiree & Jesse Robertson-DuBois.


30% OFF

Select cuts of our Grass-fed Beef burgers & bulk ground and our Pastured Pork (chops, ribs & tenderloin). All defrosted and ready for grilling!!! Store open tomorrow, Saturday, all day from 9am until 530pm. We also have delicious local cheeses, yogurt and krauts in our refrigerators. Come check it out.

Posted 6/11/2012 8:46am by Ruth Crane.

Just a friendly reminder (because I've been getting a lot of phone calls!) that we are starting distributions of veggies (and meats, if you haven't already come by) this week on Tuesday or Saturday. Tuesday pickup starts at 3pm and runs until 630ish and Saturday pickup starts at 9am and runs until 1pm- both a little earlier and a little longer by popular appeal.

Please help us out by bringing some bags to pack your share into to bring home- we have brand-new baskets for quantity measurement, but we would like for them to stay here on the farm and not go home, so bringing a couple of bags (and we will happily take extra bags for "bag share") to pack your veggies home would be great.


We are busybusy cleaning up the distribution room and making the Pick Your Own Garden gorgeous (well, it is doing that all on its own, but we are adding beautiful new signs to help you find your way around).

There will be one extra sign in the PYO this year that we hadn't planned, but that was because we had an unexpected visitor to the cherry tomato patch last week- We will be counting down 60 days or so....

Snapping Turtle nesting in the PYO Cherry Tomatoes

We will see you in a few days! Cheers- Desiree

Posted 5/10/2012 3:54pm by Desiree & Jesse Robertson-DuBois.

Aaron Loux shearing one of our Clun Forest x Border Leicester Mules. We don't yet have a final tally on how many pounds of wool we got this year- but you can look for a beautiful natural black yarn in the store later this summer from this wool clip. We are also planning on a light variation of our variegated yarn.  

We have 60 lambs on the ground right now- almost finished! It has been a long season but we've got some beautiful lambs, including pure-bred Clun Forests for the first time. They are lively, gorgeous lambs with a lot of hop in them. So fun to watch them run in packs around the field. We will get some video up soon.

Posted 5/5/2012 3:59pm by Desiree & Jesse Robertson-DuBois.

We have been getting a lot of phone calls about our annual Plant Sale so here is the official announcement:

3rd Annual Holiday Brook Farm Plant Sale

Saturday & Sunday, May 19th & 20th and again on Saturday the 26th, 9am-3pm

We will have many beautiful vegetable, flower and herb transplants for sale- all organically raised and ready to go into your garden or patio container.

Vegetable varieties include: Heirloom & hybrid tomatoes (in singles or mixed six packs!), Cucumbers, Summer & winter squashes, lettuces, pumpkins, eggplants, broccoli, kale and cabbage.

We have more flowers this year, including gorgeous lavenders and scented geraniums!


In other farm news, the sheep are now NAKED, but they are very happy to be free of their heavy winter coats. We still have a few ladies that haven't lambed but we are more than half way through and there are 55+ lambs on the ground and RUNNING! We are all (sheep and shepherds) looking forward to getting everyone out on grass and out of the barn for the summer. Right now they are in the field during the day and in the barn at night since we don't want to have any chilled babies.

Special thanks to our great help on shearing day- workshare, Amy Pagano and our apprentice, Jada Haas's, mom, Gail who were not afraid of getting their hands dirty "quick skirting" the fleeces as they came off the sheep (which means they got all the poop off) and went into big bags for later. Thank you also to Aaron Loux, who came out really at a moments notice to shear.

Posted 3/28/2012 6:30am by Desiree & Jesse Robertson-DuBois.


We are having a true Springtime baby-fest here at the farm. New Piglets started arriving last week and just keep coming. We still have two more sows left to farrow and we are already up to about 30 piglets! It has been really cold so we have rigged up more of Jesse's specially designed farrowing heat lamps so that both sows and babes stay warm and cozy on some on these frigid nights we've had this week. Jesse can also be found asleep in the barn on the coldest nights making sure that everyone stays safe (no heat lamps broken or knocked down) and warm enough.

We had a surprise early (for us) lamb born a full week before we were expecting them and to a Momma that we hadn't bred (since she was still under a year). Someone must have jumped the fence because little InaMay arrived on Sunday. She is cute as can be and already jumping about. More lambs should start arriving by the end of the week so we are on lamb watch-checking on the flock throughout the day and night. We don't quite sleep in the barn unless it is going to be really cold which is one of the reasons that we tend to lamb later in the spring than many of the shepherds we know.

So come by and meet our babies. It isn't fancy here, but you are welcome to look and learn. The best times to catch us for questions is at chore time between 530pm and 6ish at either the pig barn (in the farmyard) or the upper barn (sheep are here) near the house. Please don't bring any treats for our ladies, we spoil them enough with greens from the hoophouse and special grain mixes-they don't need anything else right now. Cheers!

Posted 3/21/2012 10:45am by Desiree & Jesse Robertson-DuBois.

Hello to our community! We have finally gotten all the details worked out to enable the credit card processing for our farm store and CSA share payments. You may order things on-line to be picked up at the store or shipped out to your friends and family. Call us if you find any bugs- we are still working out the system, so we appreciate your patience as we non-tech savvy farmers wade through all of this. A big thank you to Small Farm Central for their great design and technical assistance throughout the whole process. We love our new website and hope that our community does too.

We are starting seeds as fast as possible in the greenhouse and hoophouses. We hope to start up our preorder system here again very soon for spring greens. Ordering can happen through the farm-store. Remember to order by Wednesday at 4pm for Thursday afternoon pickup! 

We welcome our newest season long apprentice, Jada Haas, to our team. She hails from Rhinebeck, NY originally, but has come from a more recent apprenticeship on a goat dairy in PA. Just in time for our Penny goat to have her kidlets (yes, we promise to post pictures as soon as they arrive). Her goat friend, Lucy, has also made the trek to the Northeast with her and has taken up residence in the barn. She is queen of her own stall for the moment, but will soon meet all the rest of her new flock!

Piglets also arriving soon. We are placing bets among the crew on who will go first of the sows....Spot, Moony, Bela, Petunia, Rose, Lily or Tulip. We will let you know and post pictures. Cheers!

Posted 2/12/2012 8:30am by Desiree & Jesse Robertson-DuBois.

We are gearing up for the new season! Seeds are ordered- we are looking at new vegetable equipment and we are starting to get excited. Planting in the greenhouse starts next week, so does the next round of hoophouse greens so that we can get a jump on early greens! Our new CSA brochure is ready to download, paper ones will go out in the mail tomorrow to all of last year’s members- there have been a few changes, but one of the bigs ones is that starting around March 1st we will have a new website and folks will be able to sign-up and pay on-line, set up payment plans and all that fun stuff that has been a book-keeping struggle for us for years. We will also be delivering boxed shares to the Farmers’ Market in Lanesboro on Wed & Sat so if you know of anyone who has been holding back on joining the CSA because they didn’t want to make the trek all the way to the farm- this is their chance to get in on the freshest produce around.

We are looking for apprentices- send strong backs and smiling faces our way! Susan & Tony send everyone their regards and asked us to tell you about their new CSA farm in South Dartmouth, MA, Apponagansett Farm in case you have friends or family out their way! Their Amelia is getting so big and is smilingly adorable- we go to see them all when they came out to bottle maple syrup for their new farmstand. We are so excited to have yet another set of apprentices become farmers- it means that we are fulfilling one of our missions- to educate/train/influence new farmers. In a country where the average age of farmers is drastically rising closer to retirement- we need innovative and educated young farmers to move into this field- someone has to grow the food of the future.

We hope to see everyone soon!

PS. the sheepies are getting very wide- we should have the first of our lambs (and a few kidlets, as Penny the goat will have birthed hers as well) in April this year- we will let you know since you are welcome to visit! New piglets will have arrived by then as well (yep. and it is free. we don’t charge to see baby critters on the farm. we get way too much joy in sharing them with our community).

Tags: csa
Posted 9/5/2011 1:25pm by Desiree & Jesse Robertson-DuBois.

Well, it has already been a long season, but it isn’t over yet! We are growing a lot here on the farm. Herds and flocks have increased with the birth of new piglets, lambs & calves and now our farmyard is growing too. The fire set us back last December, but we’ve taken a leap forward and are rebuilding and making it all bigger and better. All summer long the farmyard has undergone a vigorous transformation as we called in excavators to level, dig, fill-in and move vast quantities of soil, rocks and other forms of earth. But the whole yard will be a better place as a result. As of this point, the new barn foundation is almost, but not quite finished. It is the farmstand that is really a marvel- the huge hole that no one managed to fall in that appeared one afternoon in front of the sugarhouse, has become, first a concrete lined foundation that looked surprisingly like a swimming pool and then had a deck built across it (perfect for kids on bikes and easier access to the front door) and now, in one incredibley hot, long, sweaty and amazing day, our timberframe sugarhouse. There is still a lot to be done, but the putting up of the frame feels like a huge accomplishment after a summer of anticipation, sleepless nights, and agonizing detail work (and we weren’t even cutting the frame or doing the architectural plans). And yet, we laid our hands on giant beams, seven different native species, every tree cut from right here on the farm (and some the most beautiful even rejected by the log buyers and destined for firewood!) and we lifted, strained, stretched and pulled them into their specific places. Like a perfectly formed puzzle, they went together with efficiency and beauty. We had one joint to chisel and saw and one slightly loose brace- to me, those are just the small flaws in the Persian carpet so that we appease the jealous gods.

Now that it is fall again and the leaves are starting to turn- we are once again putting the fields to bed, planting cover crops, planning winter animal housing and putting in additional seeds to keep growing veg throughout the cold months. We are going to use a combination of quick hoops (thank you Eliot Coleman) and a new hoophouse that we are getting a grant to help purchase from NRCS. We’ll continue to use the raised beds in our transplant production house- keeping it as a ‘coolhouse’ for the more tender winter vegetables (not tomatoes folks, but the veg that are fine at 30 degrees, but not any colder). We’re trying to come up with a plan to keep supplying some of our members with fresh organic veggies throughout the year, but we are starting small. Last season, somehow and even starting really late, we had delicious salad in January- but we had a few failures too. The greenhouse was set too warm at first and we wasted a lot of propane; the arugula variety we planted was terrible- flavor was awful and it didn’t grow well; bull’s blood beets had HORRIBLE germination (it said this on the packet, but even planted at 3x the normal density, it barely did anything) what did grow was incredible but not until March. Unusual successes balanced our first attempt- the most amazing turnip greens anyone has ever tasted and claytonia rocks! So we are experimenting and learning and expanding and giving season extension another go.

The drought here in the Northeast has been challenging. We did buy the irrigation equipment we needed, but never installed it. Surprisingly the tiny amounts of rain we’ve gotten here and there and good root growth established by the long season plants in the spring somehow got us through. Walking through three inches of dust in some of the fields was a little daunting, but when you are doing that and harvesting the most beautiful, delicious tomatoes & peppers you’ve ever grown- what can you say? The fall brassicas will certainly suffer some size to the lack of rain however, but the pac chois, chinese cabbage and turnips seem to be coming in just fine. We tried to time our direct seeded crops with high chances of sprinkles- it worked for the most part and we’ll have salad, mustards and mesclun through the fall.

Animal news: After spending the summer away from the farm- in fields down the street owned by the Musante family- the cows are finally home again. It is amazing to see them out there on the green hills again. They birthed all their calves while they were away. Going to check on the cows was a little like opening presents throughout July & August as one calf after another was born. Who would notice one of the girls was thinner? Who would get the first view of the new calf? Heifer or bull calf? What interesting color pattern would it have? Because our girls are Belted-Galloway/Highland crosses or Heirford/Angus crosses and they were bred to a white faced, grey with white belt Beltie/Murray Grey- all the calves are different and in surprising combinations. Our most wide belted cow had a all black calf, our Black baldie had a solid dun calf. It has been great fun and also makes us realize just how complicated genetics really are.

The pig herd is slowly growing: they have spent all summer grazing on a specially planted forage mix of oats, turnips, rape and sorghum sudan grass that we sowed for them in Holiday field. It was all organic seed and we put them on organic feed that we bought in from two different sources. Unfortunately, the pigs HATED the feed,one type was a ground mash and they just spread it around the other was a pellet which they ate, but it was clear that they weren’t happy about it (and we are talking about piglets here- not the sows- they had never had anything to compare it to). They are enjoying the forage we planted, but they don’t root up the turnips the way we thought they would. Other problems with the forage mix is that neither the oats nor the sorghum germinated well. The oats were planted all over the farm- we had great hopes for the fifteen acres we planted in one field for straw…..alas, it was obviously bad seed. Kind of a bummer, but I guess that is the nature of this business- you win some and some you don’t. We ended up going back to the non-organic ( but not medicated) feed that our local feed company puts together. I wish we could find an organic feed that looked this good- whole or cracked grains mixed with rich molasses….it looks and smells like good granola and the pigs love it.

After a successful and fairly uneventful lambing (our girls all gave birth either in the morning, in the field during the day or right before bed- very convenient for the farmers) where we only had to assist one ewe with her lambs, the sheep flock has been a challenge this season. Somehow drought on our farm equalled fly strike for them. Fly strike is also just a nice way of saying MAGGOTS. We’ve been battling foot rot & scald and maggots all summer. We’ve trimmed and treated their feet numerous times, but it is clear that we need to do some heavy culling to get rid of carrier ewes. There isn’t a whole lot we can do about the maggots except keep killing them, but we had them hitting ewes and lambs that didn’t have anything wrong with their feet. It has not been fun, and even though our lambs are big and beautiful and we are very proud of them- we won’t be making any sort of profit on them this season.

Our amazing apprentices, Susan & Tony are planning on staying on with us this winter to help with the interior construction of the store & barn and for sugaring. We’ve added Seth Tebo to our team this year- he’s the guy who’s always fixing something and covered in grease. Lily Crane and Zach Sears both worked on the crew for the summer season and though both are back at school, Zach is continuing to help out afterschool. Jonathon Sawtelle, who has worked year-round for the farm for the last four seasons, is off to college at Paul Smith’s in the Adirondacks (though he keeps showing up for a day of work here and there since apparently they won’t let him drive a tractor up there in the North Country- fools they be). It has been a great summer and we’ve never laughed so much- thank you to all the crew for making it easier by just showing up and being there. Thank you for the extra pair of hands despite the heat, the cold, the blight, the maggots, the wet, the drought, ‘the cows are out’, ‘the sheep are out’, ‘the pigs are out’ and especially for the wicked early mornings and long days and so very much more. We can’t do this without a good team….. cheers.