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WHITNEY FARM NEWSLETTER
JANUARY 2016
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    The first Whitney farm newsletter ever to be sent!  We have hopes of sending out a hand written and illustrated newsletter in the coming seasons. If you'd like to receive a copy of this, please provide us with an address and we will surely send one your way. There is just nothing quite like receiving a meaningful letter in the mail, and we'd prefer to share our stories in this way. Nevertheless I hope you enjoy our email newsletter. Read on!        
Greetings from the Whitney farm family! Winter is finally here (we think), and though we did not pound all of the fence posts we may have needed to, we are nevertheless very grateful for the cold weather and short days to slow us down. Matthew and Malaika have survived their first full year of farming (thanks to lots and lots of help from family, neighbors, friends). This fall Matthew's twin brother Peter Haarklou joined the farm as a full time member of the crew, bringing valuable help and knowledge to farm endeavors, as well as starting his own chicken business. Since returning to the farm in the fall of 2014, they have gathered 1 Asher dog, 2 oxen, 4 dairy cows, 4 steers, 10 pigs, 4 sheep, and a partridge in a pear tree. Below you will find a collection of farm stories, pictures, and happenings we'd like to share with you all.
We hope to see many of you in the spring for our maple syrup open house!
DECEMBER 30th 
(two days away!)
 is the date of the drawing for the American Milking Devon painting. The first name drawn will receive the original framed painting! The next three names will receive framed full size prints, and all who donate receive greeting card(s). It is not too late to participate! Find out how here:
 https://whitneyfarm.squarespace.com/heritage-breed-fund/
The foundation of our Sugar Shack is finished. The concrete floor is complete with our initials, maple leaf prints, and paw prints. The lumber is felled, milled, and joinery layout has started. In order to have good sap season, we need a cold winter. We are hoping winter will arrive soon. We are planning to do another maple syrup open house this spring, and will have information as the time nears. Meanwhile, we will be busy buckling down to finish the building in time. Above is computer generated design of the building (thanks to the tech savvy members of our family).
Below is the pouring of the floor: 
  

Can you guess what is going on these photographs?

THE COWS ARE OUT! 
Earlier this fall, we headed out to bring in the cows for milking, as we do every day. The sun was not yet up and we stumbled into the pasture expecting to see large dark shapes hunkered down in slumber. We saw nothing. Returning with flashlights we searched the dark corners of the pasture, again finding nothing. Cows are quite large (hard to miss) and by now we had figured out that they were missing. A down fence in the west corner of their paddock quickly confirmed our fears. Thus began the search. We split up and roamed the fields, first by foot, and then with vehicles. The sun was still sleeping, and we had found no signs. As time pressed on, the sun rose, and we grew more frantic (for our entire business was lost and gone, nowhere to be found!). Malaika began checking in with all of the neighbors and pacing cornfields, Peter continued to roam the back fields, and Matthew and Asher (our herd dog) began to track. Matthew tracked hoof prints and cow pies all the way around the wetland, and into a corn field. In the vastness of the corn, he lost them. Little did he know, that with a few more steps onto the neighbors property, he may have spotted their deep red and white coats far off in the valley. For as Malaika was driving to a neighbors house, out the of the corner of her eye she spotted a splotch of red. Instantly she knew that she was on to something. Quickly parking the car, she sprinted across the field, and sure enough they were there, sprawled out beneath an oak tree chomping on acorns. Upon reaching them Malaika wasn't sure weather to laugh with delight, or cry with anger, or sigh with absolute relief. Without protesting the cows stood up and began tromping home. They knew they were in trouble and they knew exactly where to go. They ran the entire way home, as you can see by the bottom picture of our ox Loki. The morning was almost gone by now, and the cows udders were fuller than usual, looking as if milk might start squirting out as they were running. Back at the farm yard, the day began to calm done. We fixed the fences, finished milking, and finally took a deep breath. Over the next couple of days this rather stressful and frantic experience, slowly began to become a story, our first "when the cows got out" story.
In our family the stories of "when the cows got out" were our favorite bedtime tales. There were many versions of them, and most were true. The top three photos, taken on the farm decades ago, are proof. 
These stories are, in a way, a right of farm passage. Embedding us in the tradition of carrying on skills, knowledge, and tales from one generation to the next. The bedtime story of "when the cows got out" is no longer just a story in our minds, but an experience, a lesson, and the next chapter. 
Randall Cattle: The second watercolor painting of the heritage breed series is finished! More infomation here: https://whitneyfarm.squarespace.com/randall-cattle/
The Centennial Dialog (is coming soon)
Malaika is beginning to work on what she is calling the Centennial Dialog. She is studying her great, great grandfather (Esli) and great grandfather's (Horace) journals from the early years of the 1900's and comparing and reflecting upon what they did on this land 100 years ago, with what we did/do on the exact same date, month, and year. She is curious and excited to compare planting dates, weather patterns, animal breeds, maple syrup production, plant species, etc, as well as land specific observations and particulars of farm record keeping. For example, in these dairies, some days are filled with notes of tasks completed, while other days have just one word to describe them: rainy, fair, or frost. These entries are gentle reminders that not all days need be defined by tasks and chores we have set out to do. These reflections and comparisons will be found on our website beneath the page Story Pole Press. https://whitneyfarm.squarespace.com/story-pole-press/
Video clip of our Red Wattle sow and piglets wattling around their pasture
John Whitney receiving his homemade Whitney Farm Mechanic of the DECADE award on Christmas day. 
We are winding down from a whirlwind production of hand felted, homegrown, black walnut dyed, felted wool Michigan trivets, which we brought to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. We will be making them again next year, for the late fall, early winter season. In the picture below are two of our Icelandic sheep, Micah and Angela (daughter and mother)
Rocking Whitney Farm illustration by our talented uncle Denis. 
whitneyfarm.squarespace.com
Our mailing address is:
5525 Jennings Rd,
Ann Arbor Michigan 48105

Copyright © 2015 Whitney Farm

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