Newsletter: August 2018
Well, I started working on this Newsletter in May. Then in June I changed the name to June Newsletter, and then I did the same in July. Now August has arrived and here I am, trying to finally finish up! It is not that what I have to say is so incredibly important that it should take 4 months to do. There are just so many things that take priority over sitting down in front of a computer. Hay needs to be made, cows need to be milked and moved to new pastures each day, pigs and chicken chores need to be done, farmers markets attended, deliveries made, fields planted, fences built and mended, building projects worked on, water lines laid….all in between bouts of rain and very hot weather, not to mention taking some time for ourselves to swim, canoe, camp, tend the garden, preserve food and enjoy the bonfires, potluck, reunions, music, hikes, and gatherings that all make summer such a bustling wonderful time of year. 

All of that said, I really enjoy taking the time to write a newsletter. Beyond being helpful in spreading the word about what products and programs we have available, our newsletter is also a chance for me to share tidbits of our farming journey and shed light on why we choose to be farmers.  

Farming is our livelihood, but it is also our lifestyle. For better or worse their are very few lines drawn between our home and our work. When we hear a cow who is mooing at 11 at night, there is no question about it, we will get up from sleep to go see what is going on. We depend on our cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and maple trees to produce the goods from which we make our living.  They are vital to our farming business, but they are also our daily companions. We see them first thing in the morning as the sun is rising and as the sun is setting we head out to close up the chickens for the night, do a final check on the herd, and talk about the days and seasons to come; how the grass is growing, which pasture the herd will move to next, or when the next hay cutting might be…

All of that said, here are a few farm happenings I'd like to share with you. 
Signups Open for our Winter Meat CSA
November thru April (6 months)
Pork - Beef - Chicken - Lamb
All spring, summer, and fall we rotationally graze our livestock on diverse lush pastures of grasses, legumes, and forbs. Our heritage breed cattle, and lambs are 100% grass fed. Our heritage breed pigs, and black broiler chickens are raised on pasture and fed local whey, bread, bagels, and sunflowers, organically grown corn, wheat, rye, oats, and soybeans, pumpkins and kelp, homegrown hay and pasture, kale, apples, turnips, and acorn and hickory nuts from our trees.

Here is how our CSA works:
Pickups on are on the farm the first Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday of each month from 3-5 and each month members choose what types and cuts of meat they would like (the only requirement is that throughout the share members must choose a variety of all the types and cuts we have available).

Share options: 
Small share is $300, 5 lbs of meat per month
 Medium share is $600, 10 lbs of meat per month
Large share is $900, 15 lbs of meat per month
Larger shares available upon request

Payment options:
Pay in full when you join
Pay half when you join, and the other half in February, mid-way through

Payments can be made at our farmers market booth (see market info below), sent in the mail, or online at

Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions! Send us an email at or stop by our farmers market booth. 

Heritage Hogs: Though we have always raised pure Red Wattle pigs, this last batch we decided to try a crossbreed. This gal is a Red Wattle crossed with a Large Black. We also have some Red Wattle crossed with Gloucestershire Old Spot's and Mulefoots. These are all neat rare heritage breeds that have unique characteristics and are known for being great foragers. If your curiosity is piqued and you want to learn more about these rare swine breeds, The Livestock Conservancy website is a great place to do so:
Summer Market Schedule
Weekends are a busy, bustling time for us, this summer we are going to 3 farmers markets: Webster Farmers Market, Ann Arbor Farmers Market, and White Lotus Farm Carts (info below)
We try to attend markets on a regular basis, but sometimes things come up and we can't make it. You can always send us an email to double check if we will be there on a certain date. Also our baby is due in mid-September, this will likely affect our farmers market schedule for a bit! However, until the baby arrives, we plan to continue attending markets as normal. 

Malaika is at the Ann Arbor Market on Saturday and the Webster Farmers Market on Sunday. Stopping by one of these markets is great chance to talk with us, ask questions, or learn more about our farm and what we offer. 

Webster Farmers Market
Sundays 12-3 (except 3rd Sundays), held on the northern end of the Webster Township Historical Grounds. Parking is on the south side of the Webster Township Hall parking lot, located at 5665 Webster Church Rd, Dexter. This is a year round market and we will be moving indoors to the Crossroads Community Center (5501 Webster Church Rd, Dexter) the first Sunday in October. 

Ann Arbor Farmers Market
Saturdays 7-3, Kerrytown

White Lotus Farm Carts
Saturdays 9:30-1:30, White Lotus Farms 7217 W Liberty Rd, Ann Arbor
Restoration agriculture project: Hazelnuts plants growing on keyline swales in our pasture. Along these same swales we have also planted apple trees, plums, apricots, hardy kiwi, raspberries, and elderberries. The cows have managed to munch a few when we put the fence just a little too close, but they seem to be coming back. No hazelnuts to eat though just yet!

Timber Frame Barn Project

Two winters ago we began the process of building a timber frame barn which will serve many purposes for our farm including a milking parlor, a milkroom, and a pickup room for our CSA and herdshare programs. After the design and planning phase, we headed to the woods and began felling trees. During this process we studied the woods and did our best to take only trees that were damaged, or had the beginnings of disease, or were growing too close to another tree. Throughout last summer this wood was milled and stacked. The remainder of the lumber we need will come from a local saw mill.

With the help of many family members and friends, the site work and foundation were also put in last summer, in many different stages of surveying, excavating, and concrete pours. Then brick laying begun. For many decades (since the 1940’s) there has been a pile of glazed ceramic brick sitting next to the old grainery (similar to the bricks used in the Dexter Mill, built around the same time). These were left over from when my great-great grandfather Horace Whitney built a new milk house around that time. To begun sorting the bricks we first had to wrestle with a very established grapevine jungle. By the end of the summer the bricks were laid and the next stage of the project could begin: cutting the frame. 
Then winter arrived and before long the Maple trees were ready to be tapped and the Sugar House brought to life for Maple Syrup season. By the time syrup season was wrapping up, the grass was growing and grazing season began. A couple more weeks and it was time to cut our first cutting of hay! 
This summer Matthew has been chipping away at cutting the joinery for the frame, finding spare time wherever is possible in between the plethora of farm duties. Meanwhile I have been growing a baby and holding down my weight on the farm wherever is possible. Between tending to the cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, as well as attending farmers markets, running our CSA and herdshare, and getting ready for our child to arrive, finding space moments has been a bit tricky. Nevertheless we find them when we can. 

This project is meaningful for us because it combines two of our once separate, and now entwined passions; timber framing and dairying.  When Matthew and I met at a northern Vermont college (Sterling College) 5 years ago, I was studying sustainable agriculture and working on small-scale grassfed dairies, while Matthew was furthering his skills in furniture making and timber framing. Both of these paths were continuations of interests that began many years before. I spent my teenage years working on an Angus beef farm, and Matthew worked for a cabinet maker throughout high school. 
We spent the summer after college in southern New Hampshire where Matthew worked for a Timber Frame restoration company, while I worked on a grass-fed raw milk Jersey dairy. We moved back to Michigan that fall (of 2014) and began our farming journey. In shaping our farm we tried, and continue to try, to bring together as many of our individual passions and interests as possible. Both of us hold great value in traditional methods and rural heritage, which we integrate through practices such as raising heritage breeds, diversity in all aspects of our farm, working with wool, small-scale grassfed dairying, using tin buckets and wood in our Maple Syrup production, learning the history of the land we farm, and most relevant to my story, the art of Timber Framing. 

There is nothing quite like the feeling of being in a timber frame building. In the 2 years since we built our timber frame Sugar House, we have experienced how that space has brought inspiration and awe to many people. The large hardwood beams, the wooden pegs, the intricate joinery, the blacksmithed hinges, all fit together in a truly beautiful way. During our annual pancake breakfast we get to share the story of how it was built; how all winter long the joinery of the frame was carefully cut and when the last mortise and tenon were made, the entire structure was raised on a beautiful spring day with the help of many family, friends, tractors, straps, and poles. 

Barn Raisings were once pillars of rural communities, a day where everyone came together to help raise a magnificent structure that would likely become the heart of the farm. As excited as we are the reach that day with our barn, which in many ways will become the heart of what Matthew and I do here on my family's farm, there is still much work to be done. If you would like to support us in finishing this project by making a donation, you can do so on our website (the donation button is beneath the contact us form). For donations of $200 or more we will thank you by carving your name in a beam in the new barn. We will keep you posted on our progress in our newsletter for next month, which hopefully won’t take 4 months to do! 

Icelandic Sheepskins
We have a limited number of our Icelandic Sheep and Lamb skins available (2 left to be exact!). One side is smooth tanned leather and the other is beautiful Icelandic wool. The two we have left are cream colored with hues of silver and light brown on the edges. We are selling them for $250 and will be bringing them to the Ann Arbor and Webster Markets.
Webster Fall Festival Art Show
The one and only art show Malaika participates in each year is held in the Webster Church Sanctuary during the annual Webster Fall Festival. Malaika helped start this 6 years ago, with two other local Webster artists, and it has continued ever since. This year the Fall Festival is on September 22nd from 10am-5pm and is held on the Webster Township Historical Society Grounds and the Webster Church. If you haven't been before, mark your calender's; it is a one of a kind festival held in the heart of a very special community.
Well, that's all! Thank you so much for taking the time to read our newsletter. We couldn't do what we do without the support of all of you. 
Until next time, 
Whitney Farmstead farmers
Malaika Whitney and Matthew Haarklou

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Whitney Farmstead · 5525 Jennings Rd · 4 · Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105 · USA

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