Go Organic!

Great news from a reputable source, the Union of Concerned Scientists.



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Mama’s Famous Chicken

Mama's Famous Chicken

Alice’s daughter Fiona calls this “Mama’s Famous Chicken,” but Alice insists that all credit for original authorship of the recipe goes to the great Marcella Hazan, from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Alice has modified it only slightly.


Whole chicken

3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

3 garlic cloves, peeled


Black pepper

Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 375. Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold fresh water.  Pat the outside dry. Put two or three rosemary sprigs, plus garlic cloves and salt and pepper inside the chicken cavity. Rub 1 tablespoon  oil over the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper and leaves from the third rosemary sprig. Put the chicken in a roasting pan (don’t bother with a rack.) Baste the chicken every 15 minutes or so until it’s done, about 1-1/2 hours (meat thermometer in thickest part of thigh should read 160-165). Carve and serve with the pan juices.


We are down to about 20 chickens unspoken for.  This includes the 65 or so in the last house out in the field.  Probably get to them at the end of next week.  So, if you want chicken and haven’t spoken up yet, now’s the time.


$ 3.50 a pound, pasture raised and organically fed and the most important part of “Mama’s Famous Chicken.”

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The Waxing Crescent and the Thistle

Some things take time.

The name of the farm — McClary Hill — came early and easily enough, back in the days when I moonlighted as a farmer.  Since then, I’ve pondered the appropriate logo — that simple rendering of pen-and-ink that would capture the meaning and the spirit of this place.

The designs have run from the complicated to the simple, from the (not- so-very) sublime to the (downright) ridiculous.  From talking cows to complicated fonts with stars and moons and flowers indicative of the four seasons — you get the picture.


At last we have a logo that befits our operation.


The thistle and the waxing crescent moon.


Clean, simple and symbolic.

Many farms reference the moon in their logos, and for good reason: the moon has informed agricultural activities throughout human history.  It has reminded us when to plant, when to harvest, when to celebrate abundance and when to hunker down for times of scarcity.  We watched the moon to know what needed doing.

In the lunar cycle, the waxing crescent starts the process of moving from the darkness of the new moon to the brightness of the full. It is a beginning and promise of brighter things to come.

The thistle takes a little more explaining.

Alice said, “It says a lot that you would choose a weed that drives you nuts to symbolize the farm.”

It really does.

The thistle is the symbol of Scotland.  Stewarts are Scots and so is a significant portion of my mother’s side of the family.  Our hill was named for Andrew McClary, Epsom’s original Scottish settler.  He arrived in the early 1700’s with his family and a King’s grant of 1000 acres.  His son’s house still stands next door a quarter of a mile down Center Hill Rd.

The image of a thistle is an appropriate nod to the Scots heritage of the family and land that give our farm its name.

The thistle also happens to be beautiful, and hardy — as well as painful to grasp and difficult to eradicate.  I can think of few things more emblematic of farming in New England.

There is a saying: “grasp the nettle” better known in England than here.  It means “to tackle a difficult problem boldly.”   Nettles or thistles, the sentiment holds.  Every time I lean over to root out the flattened spikey first-year growth of a newly seeded thistle, I am encouraged by thinking about what it means to “grasp the nettle.”

So on we go, with a nod to the past, and resolve to face what lies ahead.  Beauty, struggle, joy and challenge:  all are here in great abundance, and are symbolized in the new logo.

We hope you like it.

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Most potatoes are clones. You plant seed potato, and get precisely the same variety you planted. Plant Russet seed potato, you get Russets. All well and good, but where’s the adventure in that? It takes two years or two generations, but a really cool thing happens when you grow potatoes from potato seed: Because the seeds can be the product of cross-pollination from whatever you had in the field the year the seed was produced, well, you have no real way of knowing what you’re going to get.

You may get a lovely blue tuber with a flesh streaked in violet, a rose-tinged thin-skinned beauty, a stout yellow bulb. We got some of all of those things. We’re still making new discoveries. They’re bagged up in the farm stand in four-pound bags, $2.50/lb.

If you cut one open and get something really interesting, send us a picture, save us a piece or save it and plant it yourself —  you can even have the naming rights on the new variety.

Garlic in the stand as well burger. The three things together will make a great American meal.

Chicken next Friday.  They weren’t quite big enough to do this week.



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The patch of milkweed stands since I scratched “mow backyard” off my list.  “Good for the monarchs,” I told myself  — one of my better rationalized bits of sloth.

Through July and August the weeds grew from edible shoots into tall, lush plants with sweet smelling pepto-pink blossoms and then to bedraggled-pieces missing-brown-edged leaves with ripening warty pods.

We all waited for the monarchs.

Without notice a confident stripey caterpillar, swollen to size by gorging on foul-tasting milkweed sap, had lashed itself with stiff silk to a shady spot where it could wait out its confinement.

Not on a stem or leaf, this one preferred the stability that a 4″ x 4″ x 10′ in a pile destined to become a deck for processing chickens could provide.

The chrysalis caught my eye while shifting the lumber to pull out the next board.  Only luck had prevented the squishing of the gold garnished pod.

Construction stopped and a chopped off 2 foot section of the arsenic-drenched wood was delivered to the kitchen counter.

And we waited again.

The hatching happened quickly one mid-morning after the pod cleared to reveal the tightly packed butterfly-in-waiting.   Alice carried the polka-dotted bug with waving stick legs and half-pumped up wings outside.  She convinced it, gently,  to let go of her hand and to dangle from an echinacia flower where flight preparations could finish in the early September sun.

Several times, onto noon and past, I searched out the flower to see if the butterfly was still there.  Until, at last, it was not.

Last week a flurry of monarchs cheered my walk to the barn — lifting off from clover, settling down in grass, or just flying 8 to 10 feet off the ground in any old direction.

But now it’s down to the odd one or two that float through the slanting sun.

These late ones have a long way to go before fast-approaching first frost.   They need to get moving.  Mexico, not the town in Maine, is far.

Of course, my concern amounts to nothing and some will get where they are going and others will not.

Still I will the butterfly up and up to catch the wind that will help it on its way.

And mowing the backyard is back on my list.


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Grass fed, Jersey-burger in the farmstand.  Ready for pickup on Saturday the 15th.

$ 6.50 per pound in 1.5 pound sleeves.

This is good stuff!

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Alice and the Varmints

Surf your way over to this link.


Alice hits the nail on the head, although I wish the head that was being hit belonged to a hornworm, or a chipmunk, or a potato beetle, or a Japanese beetle, or a…




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It has been a while…


It is not the critic who counts, not the man (or woman) who points out how the strong man (or woman) stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

That was Theodore Roosevelt speaking at the Sorbonne in 1910.

“I’m not dead yet…”


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Let us admit…

Let us admit: if we once start thinking no one can guarantee where we shall come out, except that many objects, ends and institutions are doomed.  Every thinker puts some portion of an apparently stable world in peril and no one can wholly predict what will emerge in its place.

– John Dewey

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More Wendall…

Wendall Berry’s speech for the Jefferson Lectures.  Berry was selected for this honor by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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