Slowing down for Fall

It’s been three months since we’ve last posted here. Sorry to neglect you. Needless to say we’ve been busy, which is always a good thing. We’re glad it’s Fall, but the weather is still unseasonably warm, and warm weather usually means that things are still growing. We’ve got most of our fall crops in tact: kale, collards, some broccoli, peppers and chard. As well as a steady flow of eggs from our chickens.

But it’s about time we slow things down and reflect on the past three months.

By the way, it’s me, Neal. I’ll be the new web sheriff in town. Follow the jump to read what we’ve been up to.

Since August we’ve had that terrible attack on our beloved chickens. A pesky raccoon snacked on six of our chickens in one night, and returned a few nights after said incident and attacked a few more. It was grim. Our remedy? Andrew slept outside on the hammocks for a few nights with a shovel. And then poor Roscoe, our dog, also had a night tied up to the coop while on “watch.” As cartoony as it sounded to me at the time, it worked. We haven’t had any problems since Andy whacked that raccoon with a shovel. Knock on wood.

And from that incident survived a brutally scalped buff orpington, which we’ve since renamed Scalpy. Our good friend and virtuoso of chickensĀ  Bailey Hale in South Philly assisted in the recovery, helping us force feed her back to health. I’ll never forget our nightly ritual of feeding Scalpy antibiotics with pre-moisteed chicken feed with a cut off syringe. In retrospect it was totally worth it and we’re glad to report that she’s healed and laying regularly. She’s the star of the bunch.

Speaking of stars, we’re famous! Or at least we like to pretend we are. Farm 51 was featured in the University City Review back in early September. (Click here if you want to relive how dumb I look). Andrew’s also been featured in Out and About, as well as the DCH newsletter. We’ll also be coming to you soon in radio form. Keep your ears out for a Christmas time story on poultry raising on WHYY. I’ve always been told that I have a face made for radio.


And on that note, we slaughtered two of the three turkeys we’ve been raising for Thanksgiving dinner. Andrew can get into the specifics of what kind of mixed heritage breed the turkeys were, but all I know is that they’re in the fridge waiting for a stick of butter and some bacon.

But in all seriousness, and out of respect for our turkeys, it was a pretty cool experience having them flutter around the yard, watching them grow, hearing their noises develop from whistle like sounds to full on gobbles. It was a beautiful menagerie, what with our normal animals contributing to the mix. And no, we didn’t name them, which made the slaughtering process a lot easier.

You know, it’s funny. Youtube and Google instantly made Andrew and I “experts,” which you could immediately guess got us into some, um, light disagreements on how to do the deed. He preferred the garden pruners while I preferred a sharp knife. He preferred to bury the remains, I preferred to burn them. Yadayada. All is well, and it was actually a lot less scary than we anticipated. If there’s anything I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving, it’s the bunch of crazy turkey slaughterers who’ve paved the way for us. Thanks.

And in the restaurant industry, we’re somewhat paving our own way through building relationships with a few key players in the Philadelphia food scene. Our dear friends and advocates, James and Jennie over at ProfilePR have been extremely wonderful in helping us explore an avenue we haven’t before. We’ve been able to sell our fresh, local produce to restaurants like Noble American Cookery. And special thanks go to JG Domestic‘s Chef de Cuisine Dave Conn and Chef Garces for visiting and collaborating with us on a few potential ideas. Come back soon!

West Philly Urban Farmers Alliance
And through our grant with the CGA, we’ve met some cool people along the way. We played hosts to PHS’s CGA meet and greet potluck, stuffing our faces full of the good fresh stuff we’ve grown this season. It was nice meeting all the other urban farmers, and through that, we’ve been able to get a conversation going about forming an alliance of West Philly urban farmers. As crunchy as it sounds, it’s a realistic step in collaborating and utilizing all of our spaces efficiently. It’s going to be an exciting year to come and can’t wait to see all of our hard work pay off. But hush, that’s all I’ll reveal on that front for now.

Though she’s not gone forever, our dear beloved Sarah Loomis has relocated to Massachusets. Her physical presence will surely be missed, but her industriousness and loving spirit will carry through to Andrew and I. She’s not dead for crying out loud, but I want to celebrate how much she has done, pushing us and putting Farm 51 on the map. We’ve got huge shoes to fill, and much of the knowledge came from our dear “Sloomie.” But we know you’re a phone call / e-mail / 6-7 hour car ride away. And! [wink wink] we hope you keep your voice heard here on the site [nudge nudge].

Final Thoughts
Phew. We’re working through the winter, so don’t hibernate just yet! We recently moved our orchard in order to make more room for raised beds. So we’re going to be planning on having a farmraiser / work day where we’ll be building beds and moving soil. There may or may not be a box of pizza or some hot dogs on the fire for you guys. We’ll keep you posted and entertained as best we can! Until next time, thanks for reading!


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