Sunday, October 20, 2013

Feeding the hungry

We are blessed with an enormous amount of bok choy (aka pak choi) this fall.  Last week we harvested a lot, filled bags with it, loaded it on our "donkey" (aka electric cart) and then drove it to a friend who transported it to a local food bank. A community effort to feed the hungry in our greater community. When we finished harvesting, the row still looked full. Guess we'll do it all again this week.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Susan and Lloyd Lee have been working hard to cultivate mushrooms and one day, after months and months of waiting, the logs erupted with shiitake!  Yum!

Weighing some of the shiitake Susan harvested.

The shiitake are growing on oak logs harvested from the farm and  left to rest before drilling holes to place the spore.

The oak logs must be freshly cut during their dormant period to assure a fully hydrated log and to prevent the natural infection of fungi other than the implanted shiittake spores.

Growing mushrooms as naturally as possible means they decide when to "flush" or burst forth.  Without controlling their environment we cannot control the precise time they will bear a crop.  Commercial growers use climate-controlled buildings.  We use a shady place in the yard.

Shade and moisture in the form of high humidity and rain help shiitake grow.  They also prefer cooler weather so  we look forward to having more soon.  They were delicious and we're eager for more!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


When I opened the nest boxes to gather eggs at Henabago 3 this afternoon I found a surprise awaiting me.

In the far left box, a shiny black . . .
. . .rat snake was coiled.

I got Charlie's snake catcher and he met me at the henabago.  The snake escaped as Charlie was walking with it to the "donkey" cart and it headed straight back to the chickens and their eggs.  
Charlie caught it again and we set off to a distant part of the farm with the snake along for the ride.  As you might notice, rat snakes are constrictors and this one was wrapping itself around the pole in an effort to get away.

We hadn't gone far when the snake's efforts to free itself worked & it dropped to the ground, trying to pretend it was dead so we'd ignore it.  The chickens were not only unperturbed by the snake in their midst, but they all ran down to stand at the edge of their fenced pasture to watch Charlie capture it. Who knew we were a spectator sport for chickens!
Here we go!  Charlie has got the snake in a tighter grip.  It seems to be getting tired.
This time the snake dangled at the end of the pole where it was held firmly in a rope noose.  Charlie commented on how heavy it was as he held it out of the cart and up in the air so it wouldn't scrape on the ground and be injured.  

Finally we reached our destination and the snake was released.  It slowly glided into some nearby underbrush.  
 Rat snakes are beneficial critters on a farm as they consume a lot of small rodents.  Unfortunately, they also have a taste for eggs and baby chicks so we do try to keep them out of the chickens' spaces.  This one was between 5 and 6 feet long.  They can grow to 8 feet in length. This is the second time in the past 10 days we've found a snake dining on eggs.  The farm has plenty of mice for them to eat and it would be helpful if they do so!.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


We've dug all six varieties of potatoes we planted this spring.  They are delicious!
Laurie planned her visit at just the right time to help us get the potatoes sorted and ready for storage.

Potatoes on "screen" shelves (for air circulation) Charlie built in the root cellar.  We have King Harry, German Butterball, Cranberry Red, Dark Red Norland, and All Blue in this picture. These potatoes were grown from organic seed potatoes purchased from Wood Prairie Farm in Maine.  Another variety called Swedish Fingerling and also grown from organic seed potatoes, is on a set of shelves not visible in the picture and acquired from a different supplier.

We have three varieties planted for fall harvest and winter storage.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rainbows and moonbeams

The skies over the farm have been especially beautiful recently.  A few days ago we saw this enormous rainbow.
The colors were so much more intense than the camera in my phone captured.

One morning the just past full moon was setting as we were beginning our morning chores.
It looked a lot bigger to me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


our "new" produce cart!
Late 1800s era wagon from a Tennessee mine, originally used to transport a tank of water.

Charlie purchased this antique wagon (note the iron wheels) a while ago and its conversion to a produce cart is now complete.  Today it went into action for the first time with the last of our tomato and herb starts and the first of our green beans (in the cooler) for sale.  Time will tell if its the eye-catcher we hope it is to those traveling past our farm.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Day at Market

Every Saturday from the first of April until the end of October Wings of Dawn Farm sets up our local, seasonal, chemical-free produce for sale between 8 a.m. and noon at the Burlington Downtown Farmers' Market.  The market is in its 2nd year offering to the community the opportunity to purchase food grown by the farmers at the market as well as products e.g. baked goods and soaps made by those selling them.  Such a market is called a "producers' market" because each vendor has produced the items for sale at their tent. Through this post you can join us for a virtual tour.  If you live in the Burlington area, come see us some Saturday and experience all that the market has to offer.

Saturday was a beautiful day at Burlington Downtown Farmers' Market and a pleasant change from some of the windy, wet weather we've had.  We were able to offer our customers some of the first cucumbers and green beans of the season!  We also had lots of our delicious eggs created by happy hens living on pasture and eating organic feed free of antibiotics, medications, or genetically modified grains.    

It was an exciting morning as we watched the preparations for Company Shops Market's 2nd anniversary celebration going on near us.  

As part of the anniversary celebration, a sign painter worked all morning to complete the sign on the back of the building.  We had a direct view of this work as it progressed.
Our market manager set up a display about the Farmers' Market.
Eddie, Allison and Bronwyn from Asgard Farm sold soaps made from their Nubian goats' milk
as well as whole broilers and eggs from their pastured chickens.

Ellen from Boywood Farm stands behind piles of chard, cabbage, summer squash, potatoes, beets and beautiful cutting boards made by Gary (who's off visiting T5).

Carnivorous Plants offers Venus Fly Traps and Pitcher Plants
propagated by Victor and Melissa.
Noah and his grandpa Arwood are manning the table at T5 today and enjoying a visit from Gary who wandered over from Boywood.  T5 has a variety of vegetables, chicken, eggs, pork and beef for sale each week.
We had a special treat on Saturday when a family of musicians
came to market to play Bluegrass during an Open Jam session.  
Glen Marie Vineyards & Winery sells wine and a lot of good veggies.

You can even get a massage at Burlington Downtown Farmers' Market. 

Some vendors were not at market today, including Be Happy Bakery, Yardbird Kitchen and Bluebird Sun Farm.  We have a couple new vendors arriving soon also.  Each week is exciting and new as the offerings change with the seasonal availability of the produce.  Be in touch with the harmony of the natural order and shop at a "producers only" Farmers' Market near you where you can purchase fresh, local food, supporting your health and the health of your community.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Checking on the bees

Bees require a fair amount of attention.  Lloyd Lee opened the hives to assure the bees were settling into their new homes and building the honeycomb needed for the hives survival.
Happy beekeeper!

The bees are doing their job.  Each capped honeycomb represents an egg deposited by the queen and developing into a bee.  The expression "busy as a bee" takes on new meaning when one sees bees in action.

And where is the bee suit, Lloyd Lee?

Back into the hive to continue their work.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


The bees arrived two days ago and they are adjusting to their new hives.  They have a lot of work to do!  In the picture below you can see the sugar water solution in the quart jar.  It is there to assist them with nourishment so they do not have to forage so far from the hive to find nectar.  Right now the focus of their energy needs to be on building honeycomb so their queen will begin laying eggs.  The sugar water allows them to expend less energy finding food during these initial days.  Even bees have housekeeping to do when they first move into a new home!
The bees are the small dark specks against the white of the hive.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bee Prepared

We are getting ready for the arrival of bees.  They will be pollinators for our crops and, in time, producers of honey for our table and for market.
First, Lloyd Lee mowed a portion of the pasture to prepare a bee yard.

Bee hives in place.

Available for immediate occupancy.
Ready for bees.  Any takers?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Bee on squash flower
On a farm there can never be enough pollinators! Pollination for many of our plants relies on the bees moving pollen from one plant to another which allows the flowers to become the produce on the plant.  Soon we'll be acquiring bees (and hives) for the farm to assist with the pollination of our crops.

Stay tuned for news and pictures when the new arrivals actually show up to begin working.  Won't be long!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Day on the Farm

On a recent, beautiful Spring day, there was a lot of activity on the farm. . .
In pasture one, Charlie was removing "deer guards" from young fruit trees and
Jason was spreading lime on a newly plowed field.

Lloyd Lee was assisting Mike with the renovation of an old metal wagon into the produce wagon for the farm store.

Susan was at work in the greenhouse planting seeds in flats.

The garlic was growing.

And the peach trees were peacefully blooming.
Meanwhile, Jan was simply walking around taking pictures and listening to the hens celebrate the many eggs they were laying.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Opening Day of Burlington Downtown Farmers' Market

Today was the "season opener" for Burlington Downtown Farmers' Market.  Wings of Dawn Farm was in the starting line-up and the team of vendors pulled out a winner thanks to the support of lots of fans who came to see, to learn, to shop and to eat.  Thank you!

After these photos were taken some real excitement began--the first "Food Truck Rodeo" held in Burlington, hosted by the market, was held in the parking lot behind our tables.  Here are some of the trucks arriving:
Six different food trucks, members of the Central Carolina Food Truck Alliance, came and the lines of customers were long!  The atmosphere was very festive.  The sense of community was obvious as children licked ice cream cones and adults chowed down on foods such as tacos, jambalaya and BBQ.  Cooperative weather added the finishing touch to a great day!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Signs of Spring

Despite the cool, windy weather of March-as-lion, we can see glimmers of life as we wander the farm.  ("Wander" sounds so much more relaxing than "trudge" or "work" about the farm, but don't let that fool you.)  Here are a few of the ways in which we know it's the season known as Spring.

     Two tractors in the field.

 Jason planting onion sets in the rows he's just hilled.

Peas are planted and just peeking out of the soil although you can't really see them in the picture.

 Layers are laying eggs galore.

 The incubator is FULL of eggs!  Stay tuned--in a few weeks we'll have pictures of really cute chicks.