BRIEF INTERLUDE OF GRATITUDE

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Moon Dancers, snow and the wonder of having animals

A moment of appreciation

We’re on the cusp of a big holiday which celebrates abundance. Harvest is over, and with this blizzard, it really really is. We loaded our turkeys up last night for today’s big life change… butchering for Thanksgiving. Yes, we raise animals for meat and that is part of it.

I wanted to take this moment to breathe thankfulness to all of the Good Life Farm animals- those who only stay a season and feed us at the end of it AND those who live here year in and year out. On our farm we emphasize a regenerative system that combines pasture with the care of trees. It is a cycle of fertility, pest control and joyful expression of each creature’s animal-ness. We seek biologically appropriate designs and integrated systems for maximum health throughout the lives of those in our care.

And today is a change for some, and next week many families will share this gratitude with us. Thank you to our perennial animal family (Leo, Polly, geese, Goose, Reepicheep, Wally, Suss, Ria…) and to those who stayed this summer and fall- the turk mclurks.

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Breaking news: Kite & String Wins NY Governor's Cider Cup at the New York Wine Classic!

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'Pioneer Pippin' breaking all kinds of ground!

K&S Pioneer Pippin wins both Governor's Cider Cup- first time awarded to a cider- and Best Heritage Cider.

FULL NEW YORK WINE CLASSIC RESULTS

We're psyched! This year seems to have a run on the FLX for wine and cider for accolades, and we're not complaining. The work has and is being put in, and New York State and the FLX are showing our stuff!

A few months ago, the Finger Lakes Cider House won #7 in USA TODAY'S 10 Top Cider Bars (nationally). Now, the Finger Lakes Currently Leading USA Today Poll for Best Wine Region, (you can vote through August 20).

About Heritage Cider

The US Association of Cider Makers (USACM) put together a style guide for cider, to help differentiate the incredible range in our industry. We identify as Heritage Style and choose more frequently to define ourselves as "orchard cider". For context...

Heritage Ciders are made primarily from multi-use or cider-specific bittersweet/bittersharp apples,heirloom varieties; wild or crab apples are sometimes used for acidity/tannin balance. These ciderswill generally be higher in tannins than Modern Ciders. This style encompasses those produced in the West Country of England (notably Somerset and Herefordshire), Northern France (notably Normandyand Brittany), Northern Spain (notably Basque and Asturias regions), as well as New World ciders and others in which cider-specific apple varieties and production techniques are used. Aroma/Flavor- Increased complexity derived from the cider maker’s selection of apples and production techniques. Common attributes include increased astringency, bitterness and complex aromatics.
Appearance- Typically yellow to amber in color. Ranges from brilliant to hazy, depending on the cider maker’s intention.
Varieties- Commonly used varieties include Dabinett (bittersweet), Kingston Black
(bittersharp), Roxbury Russet (American heirloom) and Wickson (crab).

Join us in continuing to shed our love on the FLX and heritage (orchard) cider!!

Making cider for the trees

Why cider, why here, what for

Growing an orchard for cider, and hard years

by Melissa Madden, owner Finger Lakes Cider House, Kite & String Cider, Good Life Farm

The Cider House started as a love letter in physical (in exceptionally encompassing form) to the orchards that do and will cover the landscape of New York and the greater Northeast.  From a terroir perspective, the abundance of wild and state-bred apples alone recommends NYS as the hard cider capital of the country.  When thinking in terms of biologically-appropriate planning, trees as part of a northeastern farm come front and center.

Over the past few years of intense Cider House start-up, we've allowed the visible role of Good Life Farm to fade to the back ground.  Kite & String is now the name of our house cider, and we still strive towards using only our own apples. This goal is years away but in focus as the clearest way for us to express the power of a biodiverse organic farming system. Like those we collaborate with most closely- Redbyrd Orchard CiderEve's Cidery and Black Diamond Cider- we value the life that exists within the orchard and recognize its potential for ecological healing.

Without further ado, here is the case for you, as our friends and customers- to try out orchard cider built on the verticality that is Good Life Farm- Kite & String- Finger Lakes Cider House... A love letter to the trying year in agriculture that was 2016 and an invitation to our Cider Club...

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ORCHARD CIDER, IN THE GOOD LIFE ORCHARD

The 2016 organic Goldrush crop on our Good Life Farm was the sole harvest for that year, and quite minimal it was. We shared the loss of harvest potential with many Finger Lakes farmers starting right off at Valentine’s Day. In mid-February 2016 we saw temperatures swing from the non-winter we’d been having at 50F to 5F in one night. At that moment, it was adieu to the peach crop in one great Valentine’s Day massacre. As we proceeded through that capricious winter we watched temperatures soar to record heights January thru March only to drop randomly (in February) and significantly in April and May during blossom and pollination. We lost 95% of our crop between those 2 extremes, and then followed a drawn-out drought which started with the extreme dry winter and lasted all the way to October.  The resulting water stress on the trees was lessened by the absolute lack of a fruit crop, but we watched our potential for a ’16 vintage estate cider and fresh fruit sales trickle away into a dry creek of farm desperation.

A bright spot shone through the doom and gloom of scary climate and unhinged nature with a very tiny yield of Goldrush persisting on our adolescent trees. Between the drought and loss of buds at bloom time, we were astounded to greet these nuggets of survival. And the resulting fruit! We recorded the highest brix (sugar content of fruit, indicating ripeness, alluding to growing practices and giving a sense of what final ABV can be after fermentation) we’ve ever seen in fruit coming into Kite & String- either from our own organic fruit or from fruit purchased at more established FLX orchards. This juice was a miracle of complex, largely tropical flavors at the outset- think pineapple explosion- and through primary fermentation only became more astoundingly celebratory.

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IN THE KITE & STRING CELLAR

Garrett and Jimmy made the lovely decision to keep our 50 gallons of 2016 estate harvest (all our own fruit) separate, and to dive into the opportunity presented by this beloved and exquisite pressing in late October 2016. Goldrush 2016 made its way through a primary fermentation designed to maximize fruit quality, to experiment with a new yeast to maximize the single varietal character and to allow time for the choose-your-own-adventure of post-primary fermentation decision making. In March 2017, Goldrush went into secondary fermentation to become a methode champenoise (traditional method or champagne-style) with loose yeast through  secondary fermentation to bring fine, mousse-like bubbles to final cider. And Goldrush ‘16 fermented slowly away to a final and delightful 11% ABV. We disgorged with our fine team of 5 staff in October 2017 after 7 months of second fermentation and lees aging. At the moment, we’ve got a tiny 22 cases (50 gallons) to share and savor. And thus, we release it here to you. Because of the absolute precious-ness of this cider, K&S Goldrush 2016 will only be available to you and our Valentine’s Dinner folks for ordering and tasting.

IN THE BOTTLE, ON YOUR TABLE

This cider, like the Baldwin ’16 you all received in November 2017, is very much a wine-like cider in its alcohol content, fruit expression, production method. Goldrush will pair well with the gentlest of Emmentaler or Alpine-style cheeses (think nutty flavors and subtle acid like a good Swiss). You’ll see how we serve it… first, with little to overshadow it but enough of a pairing to further tantalize your palate. It’s a celebration, the champagne of cider to get a little fancy with! We’re so pleased to have this come out of 2016 and all its challenges and even more pleased to share it with you- our closest friends in cider.

INTERESTED IN OUR 2016 ESTATE CIDER 'GOLDRUSH'? 

jOIN OUR cIDER cLUB!

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A Pin In Time: 5 Vintages of Cazenovia

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Finger Lakes Cider House Staff Training February 28, 2018

Marking time in our own little tree ring…

On the verge of finalizing the 2017 blend, we spent an hour walking through a vertical tasting of Good Life Farm-Kite & String Cide Cazenovia, starting with our first vintage in 2013 and through the blending trials and proposed final blend for 2017. Reminiscing fueled by cider as each vintage reminded us of something unique to our orchard cider community- Eve's Cidery's generosity in 2013 when they let us start production at their place while still building ours; my own learning curve in selling cider alongside vegetables, fruit and meat; the support of Cornell Orchards, Black Diamond Cider, Redbyrd Orchard Cider and Farnum Hill Cider in getting bittersweet cider varieties into our country.

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Cheers to the uniqueness that emerges as we produce or more of our own bittersweets here at Good Life Farm to make Cazenovia- one of my personal favorite ciders for its tannic dryness and  the windows it opens into past support that is the Finger Lakes and northeastern cider communities. This tasting marked the slow, one-chance-annually evolution of us a cider makers in the fine methode champenoise tradition 🥂

Sweet 2017 Send Off from Finger Lakes Cider House, Kite & String and Good Life Farm

The year draws to a close... 

We say thank you.

It’s a bit early for us to be drawing conclusions about 2017, but we have the honor of working with incredible people whose reflections are powerful insight.  Jeff Katris created this video comprising the lush seasons at the Cider House and the farm, and we offer it to you as our sweet goodbye to the year.

I recently heard a song in which the lyrics speak to the ever evolving farmer soul- “tell me how trees are planted and all the things I never studied, let me learn them now.”

My rewrite... “remind me to plant trees each year and to ask for help when I don’t know the way.”

Thank you to all of those who have worked to make the Cider House, Good Life Farm and Kite & String Cider what we are, and for all the help on the way.  

Chronicling Spring at high speed

Loving and trying to keep up with life at Good Life Farm

Spring 2017

It happens so fast!  Throughout March we watch spring plod towards us, hoping it won't come too fast and expose us all to late, killing frosts. Simultaneously, we are HUNGRY for it!  The warmth! The absolute burst of life that is late April and May. One day you are sitting, covered in bees and thinking "oh, this is unique".  And then you are covered in everything, and possibly underwater with your task list.

And then it comes, very suddenly.  And absolute all at once. Bloom begins in the peaches, spreads to the crabs and continues in perfect succession through the orchard.  We are blessed at this point in the 2017 orchard season to see fruit in our future, as a deep balm to the huge losses of 2016. And we are challenged to keep up!

This past week we got through orchard set up and started planting our 1500+ dwarf orchard alongside and in between the past 8 years of long-lived, slow growing semi-dwarfs. 

We also chased cows around, and got them onto pasture!  Huzzah- calving season can begin!

Asparagus popped up, we'll be a-pickin' starting Saturday and every day til June!

And always trying to take time to admire and appreciate this frantic, fleeting season. 

The Orchard Year Opens With A Bang!

This year can be said to be a watermark for Good Life Farm, home of Finger Lakes cider House. Each year since 2009 we've planted up to 300 semi-dwarf trees, but this year we're acknowledging several things, notably that we need higher production for GLC cider. So while we continue to grow out our 1,500+ large trees, this year we'll be popping in 800 dwarf trees and trellising them all with Good Life-grown, -horse logged and -hand hewn locust posts. Here's to calories! 

So while we continue to grow out our 1,500+ large trees, this year we'll be popping in 800 dwarf trees and trellising them all with Good Life-grown, -horse logged and -hand hewn locust posts. Here's to the calories that keep us all going!

LOOKING AT 2017 WITH BRIGHT EYES

Living the Good Life now: Farming the way we want to live

We are refreshed. We are determined. We see and we set the way forward. We believe this, and we are joyful though we have considered all the facts.  We are citizens, we are farmers and we are hopeful.

A member of my family and business- who remains nameless- said that 2016 was the year “Stella got his groove back”.  This statement was utterly at odds with my own experience of the year, which was more of an anxious and disorganized firefighter.  The complexity that the Cider House brought to the farm is just that- complicated.  It brought Garrett home to the farm and cidery full-time, and knitted our family and staff together so that we offer year-round jobs with opportunity for advancement and creativity.  It also created an administrative boondoggle and bound me personally to learning and employing a series of mysterious tools based on my tiny desk in my even smaller yurt.  Yes, 10 years and multiple construction projects later, we still live in and work out of the yurt.

So, gratitude for the coming of 2017: while one partner in a two member team perceives extreme challenge, the other overflows optimism.  In listing my top reasons for looking forward to 2017, Garrett’s bright eyes and forward vision easily make #1.

What does Good Life Farm look like in 2017?  The week between Christmas and New Year’s (2016) was a delightful breath of fresh air in thinking about the farm.  The more my job at the farm became that of supreme administrative ruler, the more confounded I became.  In seeking balance, we return to the sort of farm enterprise planning we were so actively engaged in from 2008 up until we shifted focus to the Cider House in 2014.  It feels great to hear Garrett rant about the next generation of trees on the farm, to plan for carbon sequestration, to see the health of our herd ever increasing and to play with the makeup of geese+duck+chickens vs turkeys for the orchard and asparagus polyculture.  More challenging is the continued use of draft power vs the tractor that we finally kowtowed to in May.  After a year of borrowing tractors to load and unload cidery-related stuff, we realized that this particular level of outsourcing was… ridiculous.  Ridiculous not in a funny, zany way.  And so arrived on the farm a front loader, easily harnessing the power of two well-sized horses. In denial and mulish stubbornness, I worked with Polly and to mow, plow and harrow the tiny amount of bare-field work we have left now that our farm is covered in grass and trees.  And I pondered.

Here’s a hopeful answer, for now.  Polly and Leo are a good team- calm, middle-aged, strong, healthy.  Draft power is important to me on an emotional-historical-impactful-audial level.  I love the swish-swing-clink of mowing, pulling, and harrowing with horses.  I love it when Polly calms down and focuses.  I love horse sweat and I deeply value horse manure.  Leo, I just love. Animals are an incredible and compelling part of our farm.  Some systems make complete and inherent sense.  Poultry in the orchard: check.  Cows in the between-times pastures, and clearing honeysuckle and brambles from the woods: all good.  Dogs as friends, greeters and deer-chasers: certainly.  Draft horses: how practical?  How affordable?  Do I have the time to keep them in training?

Why the constant reference back to horses?  Isn't the farm all about apples and cider now? Draft horses are certainly only a part of Good Life Farm, and currently are not economic drivers. But they continue to embody core farm mission in terms of impact, pace, lifestyle, in-sourcing, energy. Recently, I read a sprightly article on demolition in a Vermont mountain wilderness- requiring the use of Percheron power to haul out rubble. (Hell Hollow Bridge Removal: The Green Mountain Club, Winter 2016).  Draft animals fit and maneuver with less impact and greater elegance than tracked or wheeled machinery sent into similar situations.  I grew up in an aura of Muir-inspired wilderness love.  The appreciation of wildness tracks straight to my own love of nature-inspired agriculture and our farm management.  Land stewardship is something I can wrap my head around, get up in the morning and work for.  I can administrate the heck out of this idea if I know we are still on this track.  Good Life Farm has a long way to go in proving anything about the combined yields and ecosystem benefits of polycultures, but on a day to day level, I think we can continue to offer an experience of the farm where all who come imbibe a feeling of peace, pace and empowerment.  I believe that Polly and Leo can help us along this path, the human-horse relationship being as deep and old and sensitive as it is. 

When folks visit the Cider House, they often wander down to the horses.  I’d like to be bringing the horses out to the people, and taking the time to tour and chat about what such members of our system mean.  Yes, let’s debate the anachronism of farming five times slower than one’s neighbor. Let’s acknowledge feed and vet bills and never getting to leave the farm.  In the 2 years of the Cider House, I’ve come to realize that what might be lost in time and efficiency can possibly be gained back in education, imagination and inspiration.

Whether we can keep the horses as a part of the functioning farm is still in the air.  So this Saturday we’re celebrating our years as teamsters and the love we have for working with Leo and Polly.  We invite you and your families, friends, colleagues to join us to WASSAIL our orchard, ride along with the team, make some noise, sip some cider and invoke abundance for the 2017 harvest.  Come on out!  The rest… will be the stuff of more blogging.

SATURDAY, JAN 14TH, 3:30 - 5:30 PM


Celebrate the orchard: Good Life WASSAIL

Garrett and I invite you to our Cider House and farm next Saturday for a Wassail!  We'll tour the orchard on a sled, powered by our draft horses Leo and Polly, bang some pots and pans, enjoy a warming fire, sip some cider, sing (or not) a song to the trees, and share in the love of orchard-based cider. INVITE EVERYONE!

Cider House Blog Share... Resting To Reignite A Sense Of Curiosity

Seasonal Interlude With A New Friend

For the past two days- Wednesday and Thursday- I've been swept away by what I've come to call a core-mission experience. Simran Sethi came to town to share her book "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love", which we carry here at the Cider House with pride.  Simran's book focuses on agricultural biodiversity and how this affects flavor, sense of place and food stability.  Among other things.  There's a lot out there to read about both Simran and her wonderful book, and my aim is not to repeat that necessarily, but to continue to share with the Finger Lakes Cider House and Good Life Farm communities how this kind of reading, writing and discussion circles back to spark our passion for what we do here.

Please do check out Simran, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate..." and find her where you are!

Listening And Contemplating Amidst Much Doing

First stop- Simran's lecture on Wednesday night, brought to us courtesy of the Cornell Plantations Fall Lecture Series.  Sitting in the audience was the first time in 2 months I'd sat and sustained a quiet, listening pose.  September-November in the cider world is pants-on-fire, between the bookends of FLX Cider Week (Oct 1-9), NYC Cider Week (Oct 21-30), and all the harvest, pressing, fermenting, tasting room hosting, etc that goes on at our farm in a busy Finger Lakes fall.  These times are critical to our business and we do our best to keep up and provide our customers and employees with a truthful and rich experience to keep us all grounded.  It is a time to say "Yes" and take every opportunity to get out into the world with cider, with ginger, with beef, before we all hunker down for a northeast winter.  In the midst of all this comes Simran and her rejuvenating message, and so back to the Statler Auditorium. 

I find a direct and essential connection to Simran's work in the frequent decision making here at Good Life Farm, and continue to be reminded just how far we've come on the strength of our belief, our willingness to compromise and our youthful naivete. 

Walking The Right Livelihood Path: Every Decision A Compromise

When it came time for Eric (Redbyrd Orchard Cider) and me to talk, I realized that despite being there ostensibly to talk about cider and preserving apple varieties, I could easily discuss many farm conundrums, and chose to illustrate the painful decision around turkey breeds we faced each year.  Quoth one of our mentors regarding heritage breed turkeys "they will ruin your high tunnels, they will ruin your marriage, they will ruin your life".  And so, uncharacteristically, we chose NOT to take on the challenge of breeding and raising only heritage breed turkeys.  In actuality, the minute the broad breasted whites and bronzes hit our farm we found them to be active, curious animals who didn't at any point become catatonic on their way to processing weight.  When holding up the permaculture ideal and trying to carry this biodiverse torch, each compromise that involves a nod back to industrial breeding seemed like a huge burden to bear.  Except, it was really hard enough.  On the agricultural side organic, day-range turkeys moving throughout an orchard and asparagus polyculture is a beautiful, productive system.  On the financial end, the intense labor and high grain prices produce an endless series of question marks, so many that this year we took a turkey-raising break.

Luckily for me, I wasn't at Simran's talk to problem solve these issues as much as acknowledge and contemplate.  On Thursday, we followed up the Wednesday Plantations lecture with an intimate Community Writing Circle, Discussion and Happy Hour here at the Cider House.  This workshop was among a few we've held that are small, free, and content-rich without having a sales focus and they truly light my fire.  We sat in a circle, sipped hot toddies of sweet cider and Pommeau, and followed Simran through her process for writing about food (read, love) and were challenged to write our own food story.  Precious time spent in a more restful and thoughtful period that I could have wished for in this hurly burly season.  Again, I found myself writing about the food aspect of Good Life Farm and our challenges in growing food in such an idealized bio-extensive system.  I continue to realize how this farm is intended for the second generation of farmers here, who will enter into a land base of well established trees, a solid herd of cattle, and maybe some clarity around raising poultry. 

Til Next Time

At this moment, a lot seems unclear and in flux.  The Cider House has made it possible to run this as a full-time family operation but still entails 80-90 hr work weeks, which leads me to wonder where that second generation is going to come from.  Instead of just worrying, the past two days of reconnecting to my personal "why" for all of this provides me with a tool for analyzing and discussing it with myself, with Garrett and with our team.  And, in the midst of the exhaustive season of harvest and cider sales, I am awake!  Thank you for the visit, Simran.  Looking forward to sharing more on this topic.

Good Life looking towards fall. On beef, fruit, ginger and this crazy year

How's the Farm?  Drought, Frosts, Cider Houses, Herds not Flocks

Looking back at our last newsletter- May- I find myself wondering "what's news, farm-wise?".  It has been a heck of a year to be a farmer in the Northeast.  We've recorded the hottest months for several months on end.  This heat began with unusually high and sustained winter temperatures, little snow fall and continues to be aligned with drought every step of the way.  We said goodbye to our peach crop during a 50 degree temperature flux in February, and goodbye to much of the apple crop and part of the asparagus during the late frosts of May.  After all that loss, we found that turkeys were not in our budget this year and we buckled down on what we could offer and found that the beef, ginger, fruit and cider remain.  

We continue to find ourselves in a state of identity crisis between the Cider House and the farm.  As Garrett and I analzyse our enterprises, we are increasingly reminded that our major crop systems are really for the 2nd or 3rd generation of farmers to work this farm.  Growing a beef herd with excellent genetics and an orchard of drought-reslient, deep rooted semi-dwarf trees- these things take up to 20 years to yield fully.  It is hard to find a farm like ours without a secondary or matching source of off-farm income.  In 2015, the Cider House became that for us, and we've continued to pile our eggs in this vertically integrated basket. We are asked, regularly, whether this is "working".  


What IS working?

On one hand, I can see that after 7 years of continuous cover, our soil seems to have the ability to bounce back a pasture, even in drought years.  We are not yet feeding hay to the cows, but still rotating on a rapid basis and seeing regrowth in our wake.  This, and the ability to grow trees, are the reasons I farm in the Northeast.  

While waiting for it to rain, praying for it to rain... we accept the losses of this year, and do have some Good Life to share with you all!

Things we have to offer this year

  1. 100% Custom Cut Grass-fed Beef!  More info here.
  2. Organic, baby ginger.  Starting October!  Order info here.
  3. Pending info on organic apples and asian pears.  Info will be posted here.

TURKEY UPDATE: No Good Life Turkeys This Year

Why, one might ask?  Each year I tout the glory of an integrated animal and plant polyculture, wherein the turks do all the fertility work for the following year's fruit and asparagus crop.  While this is still true, organic grain prices continue to outpace the price we can sustainably charge (and pay up front for grain delivery) for a finished turkey.  We decided, after seeing the other 2016 farm losses coming down the pipe, to take a year off from turkeys to regroup, rebuild our financial stability.  In the weeks to come, we will have a set of recommendations for where you might find this year's Thanksgiving bird, so please feel free to ask!  And please do consider us in the future- turkeys have been an important part of Good Life Farm, and we hope to bring back this enterprise.

Good Life Farm May: Appreciation and Chaos!

MUSINGS ON THE ROLE OF THE FARM


This morning was an excellent reminder of the way the work of farming balances the energy needed for the Cider House.  Each morning, I start with animal chores- visiting cows, horses, geese, dogs, and soon, back to turkeys.  This morning was a chaotic and distracted start and when I got to the boy band of bull/steers, I was flying.  The cows move each morning to fresh pasture, from which they are only separated by a single strand electric fence.  Today I dropped the line off the charger, let it down to the ground and lazily started rolling it up.  Any anxious cow could easily hop this dropped line, and in the process learn a new and destructive trick.  My bad, entirely.  I was, however, offered forgiveness by the cows themselves, in the form of Jed the bull.  Jed followed me up and down the dropped, dead line, all the while staying on his side.  When I made a very small corridor free of fence line he gently walked up to it, waited for me to move, and cheerfully moosey-ed onto the new grass.  It wasn't dramatic, just patient, but it created a moment of stillness and peace, and things seemed more clear afterwards. These moments are somewhat unpredictable, but in some ways, are more so every day.  They are created by choosing good genetics, fully providing for the animals and maintaining constant contact.  As my role in the Cider House changes, I find that morning chores are an essential grounding in the truth and vision of what we're nurturing at this place, in this time.

Good Life CSA+ Reckoning

An Update for past Good Life Spring CSA members!

I write in the midst of a truly weird spring full of jump starts and jolting stops, weather-wise.  Possibly this is how the Spring CSA communication has seemed to go as well, and I want to reach out and explain ourselves :)

Good Life CSA Summary

We decided not to run the Spring CSA this year, as I am sure you've surmised.  We tried an experiment back at the beginning of March (deliveries March 9 to be exact).  That experiment is about loading up the van with a whole lot of food to fill your larder and pay for free delivery/staff time.  It was successful!  And as we move towards our grassfed beef herd producing more, we're going to look to this bulk buying model for meat, fruit to keep our relationships with you intact.

For us, the March 9th experiment worked, and that those of you who ordered enjoyed the mix of larder supplies and CSA+ add-on's.  We would like to continue to work with our CSA+ Kindred Farms to offer that full diet range of preem-o FLX food, raised in a way we are sure of and can pass along to you. 

Why no Spring CSA?

I think we've talked about the relative expense of running a Spring CSA versus the Summer/Winter CSA models.  By committing to fresh Spring vegetables in the share, rather than stored roots, we felt we were filling an important niche in the local food scene.  However, most of those crops take 3-5x longer to get to harvest size than they would during the May-November growing season.  We found it difficult to charge for the CSA package accordingly and to fill the shares to a point we felt comfortable, thus finding the Spring CSA a challenging economic model.  From 2011-215 we tweaked and tweaked, but this year needed to take a step back to find what will really sustain the Good Life Farm on its path.

We still value, very much, our connection to you and your family.

We hope you will stay in touch with us!  Thanks to the Cider House, there are a lot of ways to do so!  Come out for a Friday night date, come taste on the weekends, come to Asparaganza!  (PLEASE come to Asparaganza on May 28th!  More Info Here)

More info on our next Bulk Delivery will go out over email, social media and will be posted here!

Welcoming the New Year starts in the Spring

Awake Ye Good Life!

Welcome to Jax.  Born sometime before 9:30am on Thursday, March 31st, 2016.

Mama Sparky, a wonderful, experienced mama cow, had a smooth birth.  She is always first to bear, in our experience with her.  She came to us from dear friends the Chezoys at Angus Glen Farms and has given us Magda and Jax. 

Sparky's first tasks as a mama: lick baby clean, ensure good nursing.  Assist baby to hide in tall grass or brush.  Protect from curious 1 yr old calves and the farmer with the Selenium shot.  Lick again. 

This also marks a moment in time for Jed (Jedidiah of Hector).  He was a bottle-fed baby at Kathy
Engel's RK Farms before she absconded to Nebraska.  Jed is now a real bull, able to breed, but sweet and friendly in a way no one expects a bull to be.

Jax is a month earlier than we usually prefer to see calving.  We like to do it on full pasture.  Jed was not of the waiting mind back in the 2015 summer, and routinely hopped the fences separating him from the lady herd.  So, Jax.  Last day of March.  Welcome sweet one!

Orchard Moments at the Farm

Meandering around in a hurry... Spring is nigh!

Looking for success!

Above: Garrett started re-thinking our later (2011) Honeycrisp plantings and decided to use the B118 rootstocks we'd established to really get more cider apples moving.  Now these promising Dabinette scions are ready for their first year on this tree!

 

Why we make Ice Cider from fresh-pressed juice

Above: Bledded Golden Russet in the orchard.  Frozen, thawed, frozen, thawed... mealy, smushy but brilliant in color!

 

Not Success: Girdling

This Dabinette didn't make it.  Sad face... despite the tree guard (pushed up for this pic), the bark mulch was too inviting for our many vole friends.  Goose and Reepicheep, asleep on the job!

Thanksgiving is Nigh!

A Guide To Stocking Up and Getting Down...

Come to our Thanksgiving Market on Monday, Nov 23rd in our Tasting Room!

Prepping the bird...

Good Life turkey birds had a great year!  We ended up needing to process the last batch early, so all our birds are frozen this year.  Please let us know if this changes your order!

To help make this all easy as... pie... Early Morning's Tracy McEvilly and Chef Emma Frisch teamed up on receiving, thawing, rubbing, brining and generally prepping for the big day.  See their Guide to your Good Life turkey, below.

Click here for RECIPES!  Apples, ginger, cider, turkeys, oh yes!


'Tis Organic Apple Season!

Good Greetings!

Our joint Good Life Farm + Hemlock Grove Apple Shares are up for the Fall season!  Delight your family with a weekly or biweekly 10 lbs of fresh, organic apples!

Season's line UP:

Early Apples (til mid-September)

  • Paula Red  Tart but sweet, juicy and crisp, with a lovely white flesh. They're perfect for eating out of hand and makes a superb applesauce with little to no sugar additions required! Leave the skins on for a sauce with a beautiful pink hue.
  • Red Free  Great for eating out of hand. It is less sweet than Paula Red but will still make a great sauce. The flesh is barely off-white with plenty of crispness to it. Try slicing and drying this apple for a real treat!
  • Akane  Great for eating and cooking as it holds its shape well.  Suggested to be one of the best early apples. Cherry red in color and somewhat small in size with a sweet and mild flavor. Look for a bit of russeting on the shoulders and a pleasant crunch with each bite.
  • Burgundy  As it's name suggests, this apple is deeply colored with a purple-red skin that often bleeds color onto the flesh. The flavor is intense like the color and pleasingly tart.
  • Honeycrisp  Medium-large fruit, mottles and striped red over yellow. Cream-colored flesh is sweet and juicy with hard snapping-crisp texture. Best for fresh eating and holds well in cold storage.

Early-Mid Season (mid to late Sept)

  • McIntosh  Small- to medium-sized round fruit with a short stem. Macs have a vivid red skin brushed with bright green that is thick, tender, and easy to peel. Its white flesh is sometime tinged with green or pink and is juicy, tender, and firm. Great for fresh eating as well as cooking.
  • Sweet 16  Fine-textured crisp flesh contains an unusually complex combination of sweet, nutty and spicy flavors with slight anise essence, sometimes described as cherry, vanilla or even bourbon. Truly excellent fresh eating and also highly rated for cooking. Round-conic bronze-red medium-sized fruit, lightly striped red over yellow with cream-colored flesh. Keeps well in cold storage.
  • Scarlet O'Hara  Fruit is round-conic, full blushed red, sweet and juicy.  Medium storage life, delicious and perfect for fresh eating all Fall.
  • Liberty  Liberty is a handsome medium-sized, round-conic shaped red apple, with white flesh. It is juicy, crisp and has a sharp, mildly tart flavor. Fabulous for fresh eating and juice. It can be processed into a beautiful pinkish applesauce.

Mid to Late Season (early October)

  • Jonagold  If you're looking for a juicy apple, this one is it! Jonagold is a cross between sweet Golden Delicious and tart Jonathan, developed in Geneva, NY. These two parents produced an apple with a wonderful balanced sweetness - a honey flavor with a hint of tartness. This fluffy, crisp and juicy apple is great for eating, baking and sauce. Jonagolds make great fried apples; simply saute in coconut oil and add a little cinnamon.
  • Empire  Empire apples are red, juicy and crisp with a nice blend of sweet and tart. This tree, also developed in Geneva, NY, is a cross between the varieties Macintosh and Red Delicious. Empire apples are excellent for eating and salads, and good for sauce, baking, pies and freezing.
  • Enterprise  These apples are tart with a hint of sweetness, very firm, and are sometimes described as “spicy.” Their skin is a beautiful deep purple-red, although it is a tad on the thick side, and their flavor is excellent. Enterprises are great for slicing up and eating fresh, or use their firmness and tart flavor to enhance pies and other deserts! Makes for a superb storage apple.
  • Hudson's Golden Gem  Considered to be one of the best russeted apples, Gems are sweet, nutty, and distinctly pear-like in their texture and flavor. They are conical in shape, and their yellow skin is partially to mostly covered by russeting and sometimes sports a copper red blush. The original Gem was a chance seedling discovered in a fence row in Oregon; it was introduced for sale in 1931.
  • Tompkins County King  An antique variety popularized by Kingtown Orchards in Tompkins County in the early 1800‘s. Called the King of apples for its size and flavor, it was the fourth most popular variety in New York in the early 1900‘s. Considered by many to be the finest apple ever, it is crisp, course, sweet and juicy, with a real antique apple flavor. Unexcelled fresh eating quality and highly prized for sauce, pie and cider making.
  • Spigold  Spigold is a large apple, with red streaks over a yellow-green background. It is juicy and dense, with a sweet complex aromatic flavor that combines the best qualities of Northern Spy and Golden Delicious.

Late Season and Storage Apples (late Oct thru Winter)

  • Melrose  Large and slightly squat in shape, Melrose apples are a dusky red over a yellow-green background. Firm and pleasingly coarse in texture, this apple's creamy white flesh is juicy with a sweet and mildly tart flavor that becomes more floral and aromatic with age.
  • Northern Spy  An antique New York state apple, Northern Spy was originally discovered around 1800 in East Bloomfield. It became very popular for its juicy tart flavor and reputation as the best apple for making pies. Northern Spy apples are variably colored from green to red, and thin skinned. They store well, and are an all-purpose apple, good for fresh eating, cider making, and of course, excellent for pies!
  • Baldwin  Popular old American apple variety, widely grown for culinary use, and a good keeper. Its inherent hardness makes it an exceptionally good pie apple as it maintains it’s crispness through the baking process. This juicy, firm, sweet to mildly tart winter apple is also great for fresh eating.
  • Golden Delicious  :  Golden Delicious is an 1890’s heirloom with exceptional sweet flavor and silky, tender skin with creamy-crisp juicy flesh. This is one of our favorite apples to snack on while working out in the orchard, and it is also good for baking and sauce. Reduce the sugar in your recipe when using this apple.
  • Florina  Medium to large fruit, skin very attractive, purple red covering almost completely the yellow background. Flesh is medium firm and aromatic, a blend of sweet and tart, used mainly for fresh eating.
  • Gold Rush  This is an attractive smooth-skinned modern dessert apple, with a crisp hard flesh and good sugar/acid balance.  The flavor is typical of Golden Delicious but with a bit more acidity.  Juicy apple that keeps well and makes for excellent snacks, pies, sauce, and juice.
  • Golden Russet  Golden Russet is a small moderately attractive apple, which keeps well, and is very versatile for eating, cooking or juicing.  The flavor is typical of a russet apple but rather more intense than the traditional English St. Edmunds Russet or Egremont Russet - usually considered one of the best-flavored American russet apples.
  • Mutsu  These apples are sweet, crisp, juicy and refreshing. Their skin is green to yellow, and they tend to be large in size. Mutsus are an excellent multi-purpose apple, and can be eaten fresh, baked, or turned into applesauce. Mutsu apples can sometimes be found marketed under the name Crispin.
  • Esopus Spitzenberg  One of the great American apple varieties, thought to be Thomas Jefferson's favorite. Widely used for both dessert and culinary purposes. Noted for its spicy flavor, and for its susceptibility to any and every disease afflicting apples. Flavor improves with storage.
  • Ida Red  This old-fashioned variety is excellent for baking, pies and sauce. The apples hold their shape perfectly, but make delicious soft and tender pies. They have a mild sweet-tart flavor and are extremely juicy.
  • Fuji  Fuji is well known apple developed in Japan in the 1940’s. It has a predominantly sweet, mild flavor and is refreshingly juicy and crisp. It is a very pretty apple, with pink, speckled skin and creamy colored flesh, and is best used as a fresh eating apple.
  • Roxbury Russet  Probably the first apple variety originating in North America, as a seedling from a variety brought from Europe by early settlers.  Although it has some tartness it is like all russets a fundamentally sweet apple.

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Today, we said goodbye to our two retirees- Randy and Pet- as they headed off to Tammy and Jody's farm near Cooperstown. We've had 5 horses for a few months, trying to balance the working needs of our farm with geriatric Randy and rescued Pet. We are so grateful to Jody and Tammy for a good place for Randy and Pet to rest, and allowing us to concentrate on Leo, Willie and Waylon.

Spring CSA Explained!

In time for St. Patty's day, we bring you our Spring Green!

Spring CSA explained.  We’ve been fielding a number of questions about how the new CSA+ project fits into rest of our story… one of my favorites is when we meet new folks, and they ask “but is Good Life really a Farm?”  In some ways, the CSA+ looks like a distribution business, and I believe that the CSA+ is probably confusing even to those of you who’ve grown with us, but that one is especially funny for me.  So, here are the basic deets on what we’re doing, and why.

If you’re looking to join the Spring CSA of olde, the CSA+ is the way in!
For our Spring Green aficionados, we have two Vegetable options, which pair really well with each other (no overlap) and with any of the rest of our extensive list of Shares!  They are:

  • Green and Fresh (April 2 start date is full, but pro-rated for rolling starts- sign up quick)!  This share is the most like the Good Life CSA formerly known as “Spring”… based on our greens, on heads of early stuff and on Asparagus!  Check it out.
  • Spring Roots (still taking full Spring members).  A truly wonderful mix of roots to fill out your veggies needs.  Always contains carrots, sweet potatoes and onions.  Then we rotate in Watermelon and Daikon Radishes, Cabbage, Kohlrabi and a few other choice roots, for diversity  and delicious-ness!