Category Archives: Antique tractor

Welcome to 2013 and a new Mehaffey Farmer!


Hello 2013 and goodbye 2012. Wow! What a year! It was a year filled with growth and change for this farm and its people. Almost more than we could keep up with ourselves! But that is not a bad thing when you are chasing a very big and ambitious dream, and the dream is only beginning to unfold. Yes, we work hard here, but it is still rewarding and it is the best work I know! Of all the hundreds of photos taken around the farm, I have managed to winnow this year down to a few highlights:

On Dec. 31, New Year's Eve, we welcomed our newest family member, Silas William Mehaffey!First and foremost, we welcomed our newest family member, who belongs to our son Ross and his wife Acacia. Silas William Mehaffey was born on December 31. He is as they say,  a real “keeper!”

In the cold early winter months of 2012, the boys started work on the foundation and drainage for the new cooler. They also began welding parts for the new greenhouse. Bill and I took a vacation in Florida.DSC_0087

When we got back, we started soil blocks for the starts greenhouse, and planted onions and celery on my windowsills.DSC_0077DSC_0675

We held an engagment party.

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In Spring, we added a hive of bees, then dealt with a swarm which gave us an extra hive. We plowed fields, and harvested the first asparagus of the season and started to plant. Then, we put up our second greenhouse.

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This shot of the new moveable greenhouse was taken just after the guys moved into its summer location. It had covered rows of greens, and now  ready to house tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.

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Some new animals came to the farm, but first, a beautiful new barn to house them had to be built.DSC_0083

Then came Prudance.

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And Gracie and Lilly, who boarded with us for awhile.lilygrace

After the donkeys left, Pru got a new BFF, Ruby the pony who came to replace them. Hi Ruby! Don’t they look like sisters?

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My sister Leslie came to stay for the whole summer in the role of “House Elf.” She kept order in my house and cooked delicious meals for the crew all summer.DSC_0245

And just look at the bounty she had to work with!DSC_0480

Our meals looked like this…

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and this…pretty much every day!

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Two interns came to work with us, Rosie and Susan, They pitched in and gave 110 percent!!DSC_0158

Rich joined us for another summer. (Shelby adores him!) He kept us in succession plantings the entire summer.

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Desi and I made up the rest of the crew. That’s Inigo Montoya, one of her bunnies. The other is a Inigo’s stuffed toy, which keeps him warm! Later, Desi added a second bunny, “Cinder.”

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That’s me in the new greenhouse, planting the tomatoes.

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We had a wedding shower, followed in short order by the most amazingly beautiful wedding this farm has ever seen.

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Literally everyone we know pitched in to help us make this the most amazing day and we all felt the love. It definitely was one of those: “It Takes a Village” weddings.

Desi’s mom Leslie flew in from Washington State for a whole month, helped us spruce up the place and did a tremendous amount of harvesting too! It was so great having her here.

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DSC_0635The cooler got finished just in time to keep things cool for the wedding feast, thanks to our boys and their friends, most notably Dan LeFave, Russell Sanderson, Rob Swiniarski and Brad Gallant. And thanks to Rich for doing double duty harvesting and cooking up a farm fresh meal with his friend Joe, the caterer.

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They even got the old 1930 Model AA flatbed running, those men. They used it to transport the groom and his groomsmen to the wedding ceremony! Aaoogah!

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(They clean up pretty good, don’t they?) The wedding day dawned a perfect August day, with none of the heat you might expect at this time of year.

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The Reverend Carol Waleryszak, Michael’s aunt, officiated, making the ceremony personal, and unforgettable.

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After the wedding it was back to every day the business of getting in the harvest, doing more markets through Christmas, running our fall CSA, delivering vegetables and buttoning up for winter. Whew!

But first, everyone got in a week of much needed R&R, the honeymooners flew off to California, while some of us went up Maine, to Pierce Pond, our favorite fishing spot. We’re slowly learning to build in some away days in order to survive the pace that the rest of our year demands of us.

Unfortunately, after withstanding two hurricanes and several other windy events, a freak December windstorm did some serious damage our original hoophouse in December. Of course it was totally unexpected, but then, such things never are expected, until they just happen, and we say oh well, it’s not the end of the world, and then we move on. We have already repaired most of the damage, and expect to be growing carrots in there by February.

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This Christmas, Ross presented us all with T-shirts with an awesome new graphic he’s working on. Very soon we’ll have our own Mehaffey Farm hoodies, shirts and caps to wear next summer. The eventual design will end up being a more basic, graphic arts style suitable for two and three color printing, but it’s so much fun having this first edition to wear.

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We are glad the world didn’t end on 12/21/12, and now, after a brief holiday and freezing cold interlude, we get to do it all again! These welcome winter months will afford us a little time to think and breathe and plan and prepare.

All in all it was a very good year and we wish everyone the best to come in 2013!

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Another Eye on the Farm


We have a guest photographer today. Desi took a walk around the farm and posted these on Facebook. She has a great eye! These absolutely blew me away and I had to share. I love seeing the farm through another’s lens. I will definitely be asking for more guest photographers!!

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So Much Work Ahead! Fear Not, It Will Get Done!


If we focus on how much work lies ahead, it could be overwhelming, but we’ve done this enough times that we know it will get done when all hands are on deck. Help is coming soon, our summer intern staff starts next week, and during planting time, all volunteers are welcome. Meanwhile, much has been accomplished. During the next few weeks, it all will come together in a most marvellous way!

Monday was a beautiful sunny day, and I thought it might be fun to take a walk around the farm and show you what it looks like so far. This will be the “Before.” Then, we will do the same walk together in a few weeks after the planting is done, and then once again during the hectic summer bustle, and link those posts back with this one. You with me?

Pay particular attention to this shot. See the greenhouse? It will look quite different very soon.

See the three beehives? The short one in the middle is brand new. We are still feeding sugar water so they will build comb. We have to keep it up until two whole boxes are built out with comb. The two outside boxes are filled with bees and doing well.

I spent quite some time waiting outside one of the hives trying to capture this slightly blurry shot of the bees with their pollen jodhpurs on! How cool is this? I am only about a foot away, and the bees don’t pay any attention to me. They are too busy gathering pollen and nectar.

Notice the excavator on the right of the first of the three photos above. Michael and Desi are doing something very special with it. They are getting ready for three new farm residents. I will tell you more about this later.

This is the view our new farm residents will have!
They will have the best view on the farm from this spot!

Moving on toward the original moveable hoop house, the field has been harrowed and compost spread and mixed in. Next, the rows will be created using the tractor and then we will be ready to plant.

My breakfast! A delicious Ya-ya!

At the front the hoop house are four beds of carrots planted starting in February. Four successions of them. This is where the hoop house was located from last October until a few weeks ago. (See the video in the previous post.) The hoophouse now holds an experimental crop: Baby ginger! We bought some at the farmer’s market last summer and vowed to try it this year. It spent about 6 weeks presprouting in our guest room in a tented warming area. Looks promising!

Baby ginger, just planted in the greenhouse. Can’t wait to see how this fills in over the summer! We will also grow a row of hot peppers in there.

Over here is the garlic. We never have enough, but we are working on expanding the size of the crop. Every year, we save more to plant. It takes awhile, and you must be patient and not eat it all!

The garlic is higher than usual this year. Bulbs are forming…

Strolling past the asparagus patch, I can see there will be more to harvest for supper. You can almost see it grow, it comes up so fast! And the recent cool temperatures are just what asparagus needs to thrive! The greens we are now planting love this cool weather too!

Asparagus!

Meanwhile, inside the new hoop house, spinach, lettuce, onions and beets are up and growing fast. With the threat of frost seemingly past, (but you never know!!) we will soon have these in the open.

On this side of the tunnel we will plant potatoes. Michael and Bill have invented a special plow that will open up a furrow, and we purchased a couple of disc hillers to put on the cultivator to hill up the crop. No more backbreaking labor!

And on this side, we will plant mostly U-pick crops. Here you see the first succession of peas coming up. The second succession is in, but not up, and we will plant yet one more. When it warms a little, we will also plant green beans, bush and vining, with a trellis, and finally, cherry tomatoes and herbs. We offer a limited number of items for U-Pick at a slightly reduced cost. It is fun if you have kids, or if you just want to groove with nature once a week! My house is up on the hill there, behind those trees!

And here behind the tunnel we will plant tomatoes, very very soon! But first, we have to move it! I will publish photos of the move in my next post.

Back up at my house, here are the tomatoes that will go inside the tunnel. We are trying out a couple of greenhouse-specific types, and also our favorite heirloom varieties like Cherokee Purple and Striped German, among others. We will plant about 150 tomato plants in here and keep them well pruned. Their vines will be trained to reach toward the ceiling. Yields of tomatoes grown in a greenhouse can be impressive!

Cabbages ready to plant.

These will go into the ground right away!

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Farmtography


So many days on the farm we are just lucky to have the camera in our hands at the right moment…

…to capture an interesting cloud formation…

… to record the pinks of a setting sun through the maple tree……or an intimate moment…

To record artfully, our more ordinary workday activities…

…the mundane tools of our daily toil…

from another perspective…

The creatures on our farm keep us endlessly amused and entertained…

All of this reminds us why we love what we do here!

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And There it Goes…


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Doing it…


 

Ah, sweet spring! So much has been happening here that I hardly know where to begin. I hope to keep this blog going despite the myriad challenges and complexities of getting this whole operation up and running. (Fortunately, I have lots of help!) The good news is that everything we put into place last year and all the knowledge we’ve collected so far has made this spring’s work seem a little less daunting. But with all the excitement and care of a new family member, Grammie has little extra time! I hope to persist with the writings and photos whenever possible!

Last week ended with a spring burn on the last day burning is allowed. What is it about fire that brings out our inner pyromaniac?  

Meanwhile, with the advent of warmer temperatures, the plantings in the greenhouse have exploded in the past couple of weeks. After mulching with a thick layer of compost, the carrots have doubled in size, and we are cutting lettuce and baby chard, kale and beet greens, and pulling up a few bunching onions to go into our salads every day. I’m noticing a craving for greens has taken over my longing for all the warm soups and stews and root vegetables of the past season.

Carrots in the greenhouse have doubled in size the past week!

Deer tongue lettuce. One of our favorites!
 

 

We’ve weeded out the asparagus bed and layered it thickly with compost as well. We are already being rewarded with many sweet stalks. The adjoining rhubarb bed is also growing like mad and soon we will be enjoying the tangy bite of rhubarb pies and crisps from the patch. We even use it in sauces for our main dishes!

The asparagus bed has been weeded and composted. The rhubarb is coming up.

Shelby is going to be a real farm girl! She's already spending time with us as we hoe and rake and do the work on the farm. Pretty soon she'll be helping!

 
The first succession of peas got planted in the U-Pick area about a week ago, and they are already coming up. We’ll be putting in another planting in a few days. Our CSA customers can save a little money and have some fun picking their own peas, green beans and cherry tomatoes this year, as well as fresh herbs from a new area we’re planting just for this purpose. People can also opt to have us pick these items for them along with the rest of their weekly veggie pickup for an added charge.
 
We are very fortunate to have a number of friends who like to come and help us. On Sunday they helped us to plant 36 raspberry canes on the slope in front of our house. Within the next two or three years, we hope for a bountiful harvest of one of our favorite fruits! 

We planted 36 raspberry canes. Nova, a summer bearing, and Heritage, an everbearing variety.
 
Our latest acquisition was a six-row seeder designed by Eliot Coleman. We used it yesterday to plant beds of lettuce mix, spinach, and arugula. Oh yes! Once we figured it out, it worked like a charm and will save us much time and backbreaking labor.  We also plan to use it to plant living mulch such as clover between the rows this year. Living mulches add nutrients to the soil, keep down weeds and retain moisture. The bees love it! And an added benefit of planting clover is that it can be walked on! We will mow it every so often to keep it under control. It dies when frost comes, leaving the soil areated. It will also hold the soil in case of flooding, which has been a problem in some areas of our gardens in the past. (Not this year, fortunately…)  

Michael and Ross trying out the new 6-row seeder.

Cleaning up the beds and adding compost to plant lettuce, arugula and spinach.

Michael, Ross, Richie and Paul worked hard all afternoon clearing out all the weeds in the lower part of the garden where they'd taken hold!

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Our Tractors: a Short History


 

 

Bill’s dad, (Bill Mehaffey Sr.,) convinced Louises’s father Harrison Tenney in the mid-1940’s to buy the farm’s first tractor, a practically new 1940 Allis Chalmer’s “B.” Bill Sr. started working here as a hired hand when he was 16 (Louise, 11 at the time, eventually grew old enough to notice the handsome, young, and very shy farmhand, and fortunately for us, the rest is history…) 

Bill Sr., like many young men of that time, was something of a “gear head…” fascinated by the possibilities of the internal combustion engine. Obviously, the automobile had been around for some time already, and the family had owned and driven cars for years. In fact, Harrison used a work truck, a 1930 1.5 ton Model AA flatbed he purchased with only 300 miles on it, that’s still on the farm.

But when Bill Sr. first came to work here, all the haying, and tilling of the soil was still being done with the farm’s two draft horses: Dick and Dan. Bill was something of a mechanical genius. He converted all the old horse-drawn implements for use with that first tractor and fabricated some equipment from scratch. Soon after, another tractor was purchased, a 1939 Allis “B.” Much could be done with two tractors that saved them time. With two machines, each tractor could be left set up for various operations. The 1939 model was used mostly for haying with the sickle bar, towing trailers, harrowing, plowing and using the manure spreader. They fitted the 1940 with a home-built snowplow, tire chains and a weight box they filled with sand. Now, they could plow the 700-foot driveway after a big snow to get the milk out for delivery, something in earlier years they did on a sled called a “pung,” which rode over the snow. It was difficult for the horses when the snow got deep, and involved much shoveling by hand.  This “newer” tractor could also be fitted with the large cordwood saw to cut up the huge wood supply needed to heat the farmhouse.

Bill Sr. and Harrison haying

 Using the tractors was a huge time saver, but also meant the end of an era. Isabel, Harrison’s wife, used to tell how she drove the team of workhorses loaded down with salt hay across town from the Mather Lot, a piece of salt marsh the family owned on Stackyard Road. Farmers outfitted their horses with marsh shoes, which kept them from sinking into the sometimes muddy areas on the marsh. They often built haystacks right there on the marsh up on “hay staddles,” which were short cedar posts driven into the marsh that kept the hay above the flood tides before being loaded onto the wagon. You may have seen these as they’ve been re-enacted on the marsh along Route 1. Bill Sr. and Harrison would cut the grass with the horses pulling the mower that was adapted later to be pulled by the tractor. They used this mower until they purchased a new belly sickle mower that mounted right on the tractor.  They raked it up into windrows with a dump rake, and then drove the horses and wagon along, carefully “building a load” with pitchforks into a towering stack on the wagon. In order to get it safely across town, the load had to be built just so, layering it one way, and then the other. It was a lost art which Bill Sr. often told of with the pride of one who knew how to do a thing well.

On the way home from a day of haying on the marsh, Isabel also told of stopping in at MacIntyre’s for a box of fried clams at the corner of Route 1 and 133, where the new Institution for Savings Bank now sits. Once home, she would help by leading one of the horses back and forth across the yard to unload the hay into the huge barn loft. The horse was tethered to the huge hay fork on a long rope that was fed through the pulley attached to a rafter in the barn. Back and forth she’d walk with the horse, as the men pulled the hay in and laid it carefully in the upper reaches of the barn.

All of the old equipment is now in service once again. Bill Sr. always kept the tractors running, and each engine has been rebuilt numerous times. Bill and Ross and Michael inherited their mechanical skills from their father and grandfather and are keeping that tradition alive today. They rebuilt the 1940 “B” last year, and again it runs like new.  

We bought a “new to us” 1956 Allis Chalmers WD45 two years ago. It came with a bucket loader, chains and a 2-bottom plow.  We just purchased a 3-point conversion kit that will allow us to upgrade to some newer implements we have our eye on that require a power take-off, such as a bedder, and a reciprocating tiller.

Our most modern piece of equipment is a Kubota excavator, which we’ve been lucky enough to have use of, and will purchase this year.

And here we are, still using all the equipment and implements that have been around here for a very long time!

 

 

 

 

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