Thursday, October 27, 2011

Catawba Valley Brewery Market

It might feel like fall, but Bluebird Farm is still going strong. We spent this morning harvesting beautiful head lettuce, rainbow swiss chard, tender kale, and lots of fresh salad mix. Fall gardening is such a joy because the cool weather keeps the insects away. We've done the big work of bed preparation, weeding, and transplanting. Now practically all we have to do is wait to harvest the vegetables.

Of course, there is the cold weather to contend with. Last Friday after market was the first frost warning. We hadn't had time to prepare yet so after market we ran around in the dark with our row cover and wire hoops to protect all the vegetables. They came through the two light frosts well. If the weather predictions are right I'll be out again in the evening covering all the vegetables so we can have crispy greens for weeks to come.

Friday Brewery "Menu"

Buttercrunch Lettuce
French Breakfast Radishes (the flavor is excellent with the cooler weather)
Cilantro (last night I added dill and cilantro to mashed sweet potatoes. A delicious southwest-ish twist)
Salad mix
Swiss Chard

Pastured Chicken-roast chicken with fall veggies on the side is an easy, filling, and delicious meal.

Full selection of pastured pork, sausages, chops, roasts, artisan salamis-the whole nine yards!

Bluebird Farm at the Brewery!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Farmer Friday's at Catawba Valley Brewing

October is coming to a close and the Morganton Market as ended for the season. But don't worry, we are still growing delicious food! You can now find us at

Farmer Friday at Catawba Valley Brewery from 5-7pm on Friday afternoons

The fall garden has provided a bounty for tomorrow's market. I will have

Crispy, buttercruch head lettuce
Salad mix
Swiss Chard
Red Russian Kale
and the end of some summer crops:
Sweet Peppers
Poblano peppers

Also, the weather is perfect for roast chicken. I will have a full selection of our pastured pork including our new artisan salamis Pepperoni and Sweet Soppressata (fully cured and ready to eat while you enjoy a beer!).

See you Tomorrow 5-7!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ram pump and rain

Fall Garden

Rain, rain, and a little more

Where was all the rain in August? We try not to complain about much needed water, but boy howdy ten cloudy days with 6 inches of rain-not exactly what we were wishing for. The pastures are now a rich green of a fall growth. The sheep certainly look forward to their munching.

In the garden we could see the vegetables green up as they finally received the water they needed. The cooler weather helps the delicate greens stay tasty and crisp. However, I think they have enough water and could use a little sun for growth. While too little water in the summer is hard on vegetables too much rain can cause problems as well. We can see some fungus and rot problems around the edges of greens. Sun and air flow in the next few days should clear it up.

Sweet potato harvest

Success of the ram pump!

Way back in the spring we received a grant from the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) for sustainable farm development. RAFI distributes funds from the golden leaf fund (money from the tobacco trust fund settlement) to assist farmers to transition away from tobacco and develop alternative enterprises. We received the grant to help us develop our pastured animal operation. We already constructed our walk-in freezer. But the second part of the grant was to build an energy free hydraulic ram pump. The ram pump is a pump that uses falling water to lift water up. There are only two moving parts-just two valves. You can read about hydraulic ram pumps at


Just today I finally succeeded in making the ram pump work! It has been challenging to get the water to flow downhill to the pump. Then I had to fiddle with the pump for much of an afternoon. But now it is lifting water 30 feet! Now it is just a matter of hooking up the rest of the tubing to run the water all the way to the top of our pasture. From there it will collect in a cistern to be gravity fed out to all the animals. Stay tuned for photos and video on our website.

Ram pump detail


The ram pump has officially pumped water to animals! I used it to fill 2 of our water barrels at the top of the property. The pump even seems to work better than anticipated. You can see a video of the pump in action here:

Ram pump inlet pipe