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November Newsletter, 2018
Greetings on this beautiful snowy day, 
Here on the farm we are trying to fasten up and prepare for the winter that is already upon us. 

In a certain sense the farm slows down in the winter. There is no hay to be mowed, tedded, raked and baled, and rather than bringing the cattle herd to the pastures, we bring hay to the herd. We move the hay instead of the fence. Hay feeding began last week, when the snow came and covered the pasture and made the white polywire fence difficult for the cattle to see. Further the southern hay fields where our herd was grazing are open and exposed, and when the weather turns, it is cold and windy. Through the winter the herd will stay near to the farmyard, where they will have shelter and windbreaks, and where we can easily attend to them. Our geothermal waterer is nearly installed and it will be a relief this winter to not have to worry about carrying water and frozen troughs. The pigs, during the winter, bring to life the true meaning of a pig pile, in which they stay cozy and warm in their pig hut. All winter they continue to dig up earth with their very strong snouts, breaking all the rules about the ability to excavate frozen ground. 

Projects such as fencing and working the fields, get put on hold for the winter and are worked on only in the planning of how they are to be carried out in the spring. There is always planning to be done. For the days, weeks, seasons, and years ahead. 

In another sense, the farm does not slow down at all. The chores and tasks that need to be done, take longer and are more difficult to do tromping through snow or ice, weighed down by layers of winter clothes. The woodstove must be loaded and tended to, and firewood gathered and split, both to keep the house warm as well as in preparation for the coming sap season. 

As a farm that direct markets everything we produce, we continue attending farmers markets throughout the winter. The Ann Arbor Kerrytown Market on Saturdays, and the Webster Farmers Market on Sundays (except the 3rd). These two markets couldn’t be more different and we enjoy both for different reasons. The Kerrytown market is big and bustling, our weekly excursion into Ann Arbor, the only city I have ever felt some sense of belonging to and a place made by special by the people in it. The Webster market is small and intimate, a weekly excursion into the fabric of our neighborhood, woven over many generations, a place I have always belonged to. At times markets can feel like a lot of time spent off the farm when we really ought to be on the farm, farming, but mostly we enjoy them and they give back to us in many ways. Beyond income and catching up with fellow farmers, they also provide a space to talk to people who nourish themselves and their families with the food we produce. Farming is never without a sense of purpose; to care for the land and grow food to eat. Interacting weekly with people who understand and are thankful to be a part of this purpose, is a gratifying reciprocal appreciation; it reinforces our choice and responsibility to be farmers. 
Malaika's Art:
Above are some new paintings and drawings that I did this fall, a welcome way to spend my last month of pregnancy. I will have some originals for sale at the holiday fairs (info below) as well as greeting card prints. The top left is a watercolor of myself discing a field with our International tractor. That field, planted over two years ago, is now one of our most valuable and nutritious pastures (the cows favorite), full of clovers, alfalfa, chicory, small burnet, plantain, rye and orchard grass. The top left is a drawing of Asher (our dog) and I bringing the dairy cows back to pasture after milking. This was our second fall on the farm, and our first fall with our cows. The bottom left is Matthew sitting on the bucket loader with his hand on the roof truss of the Sugar House frame, on raising day. The sun is setting and it has been a long day. The bottom right is a drawing of my twin brother as a small boy walking up the laneway towards the farmyard. I've known this array of buildings all my life and I never tire of how they stand together. Through them you pass from the farmhouse to the farm. 
Holiday Markets:
Mark you calender's, this year we will be at two holiday markets with felted wool goods (insoles, trivets, coasters), rural heritage greeting cards, and original drawings and watercolor paintings:

Kindle Fest: 
Friday November 30th from 4pm-10pm at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market http://kerrytown.org/kindlefest/

Argus Holiday Artisan Market: Sunday December 9th from 10am-2pm at 1200 Packard St. Ann Arbor https://www.facebook.com/events/1953935771599735/

Wool Goods:
Amidst preparing for the winter season, the season of felting has already begun. During the months of November and December I spend a great deal of time working with wool, water, soap, scissors, and felting needles to create trivets and coasters with the unique and endeared shape of Michigan needle felted into them. In addition I make thick wool insoles, which keep many a feet warm and cozy. 

I am not entirely sure how I begun felting. Within our first year of farming we got some Icelandic sheep and sheared their wool and I suppose in determining what to do with all this beautiful wool that we had paid good money to be cleaned and carded at the woolen mill in Frankenmuth, I got creative. My first year of felting I used our old stone fireplace (pictured at the top of the page) to dye white wool with black walnut hulls, which we had gathered and then crushed beneath a board with the tractor to separate the hulls from the nuts. The result was a range of beautiful brown hues and I am still working through this first batch of that dyed wool in my felting presently. This old stone stove, which sits behind the house amidst a grove of ground ivy, maple trees, and an old stone foundation, is a delight to light a fire in and sit beside and takes you back in time a bit in doing so. 

Now a few years later, felting is a steadfast season that thoroughly keeps my hands busy from mid-fall to mid-winter. 

Tomorrow November 16th, I will be bringing the first wool goods at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market!

My hands are being kept busy also by our daughter Able, who was born in early October. We are settling joyfully into our little family and being a mother feels as natural as being a farmer. As the weather draws colder Able won't be at the Ann Arbor Market very often, but she will always be at the Webster Farmers Market which is indoors and full of her loving grandparents, aunts and uncles, and people who held me when I was 6 week old baby. 

Well I think I’ve covered what I set out to. Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read our newsletter. We hope you will come visit us at any one of the markets and holiday fairs where we will be in the coming weeks. 

All the best,
(written by Malaika, for) 
Malaika and Matthew, Whitney Farmstead farmers







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

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