By Connie Kellner-Miller
So I think the best way to introduce our farm is by giving you all a tour. A short, sweet one with words instead of being here. I’ll do the best I can.
Rolling past the Bighead River and over a hill, PlainSong Farm is at the corner of the dead end part of the Derry Line. Streams circle it, making these 50 acres almost, but not quite, an island at snow-melt. Like many of the farms around here it is a beautiful mixture of cedar-filled valleys and flat rich fields. The first creature to greet you will probably be an eccentric Nubian goat by the name of Pan who thrives in as much attention as she can possibly have.
Nine times out of ten we will give a quick wave from the garden and pull a couple more weeds as the rest of us wander up to say hello. It is quite a large garden, and all tilled by hand. I do not believe in having more equipment and motorized equipment than is necessary and affordable. Besides it makes for more care and attention to the plants in the garden, and to the sheep.
Did I mention the sheep? They are probably the heart of PlainSong Farm. The sheep were a gift from another beginning farmer through the programs of Heifer International. Heifer International will give one struggling farmer a gift of livestock or seed stock on the condition that they pass the gift forward. This is done by giving the firstborn livestock to another beginning farmer or by gifting them with seeds.
But back to the sheep… The sheep are North Country Cheviots; a hardy breed which are excellent mothers, and high-strung enough to keep an eye out for predators. Just to be safe from coyotes, we are raising and training a Maremma guard dog to live near the sheep constantly. Mostly he thinks he is a sheep to the point where he will nibble on grass beside them in the pasture. At PlainSong we sell the meat from the lambs, and some wool from our Romney ram. Currently I am struggling to grow my flock to meet the requests for freezer lamb.
The sheep are rotated to different pastures every day, which reduces disease without resorting to medications. They seem to grow like weeds on the rich smorgasbord of the pasture, and complain loudly if bad weather or shearing day keeps them inside. They also provide a lot of entertainment around the farm whenever they decide to escape.
Now, on with the tour… and into the jungle which is the garden. Right now the heirloom sweet corn is chest high and challenging the sunflowers to grow taller. Beyond them are carrots, beets, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and the spinach grows rampant. Beans are climbing the sunflowers and ground cherries spread themselves through the leeks. Most of my plants are heirloom, none are genetically modified. No pesticides. No chemical fertilizers. I enjoy feeling comfortable eating straight out of the garden without worrying about what a food might contain.
No farm is perfect and PlainSong Farm is no exception. I once read that “farming is a learning curve that never levels off.” So true. Each year I learn more about certain plants, their likes and their diseases. Throughout the season Mom and I experiment with different juices and infusions for market. Our most successful so far has been Rhuby: our rhubarb infusion. Don’t worry everyone it will be back next year!
Thank you for taking this little tour through PlainSong Farm. I can’t wait to see you all at Meaford or Clarksburg Farmers’ Markets!
You can contact Connie at (519) 377-8274 between the hours of 6am and 9 pm
or by email at email@example.com.