Nitty Gritty News February 3rd

From the Farmers ….. February 3, 2011

I have been working on the seed order all afternoon today. Except for periodically getting up to put another log on the fire in the woodstove, I’ve spent the whole afternoon pouring over seed catalogues trying to determine exactly what seeds and amounts to purchase for this year. Looking at the luscious pictures in the catalogues, remembering what grew well last year (and the year before and the year before, etc. etc.) and what people liked or didn’t like as much, helps me decide what to grow and how much. Every year, it gets a little easier to know how much seed to buy without buying too much. As I select what varieties we will grow this year, my criteria are: 1) Varieties that taste good, 2) An assortment of colors (like pink eggplant, white squash, black peppers, rainbow carrots), 3) Varieties that grow especially well in our kind of soil and climate 4) Varieties that I think our shareholders – you- will enjoy – or learn to enjoy, 5) Several new varieties to try on a trial basis and 6) I do not order varieties that didn’t perform well for at least two years or we just didn’t like and 7) Varieties that simply appeal to me.

Soon the seeds will begin arriving and we will set up our first early germination rack with fluorescent lights in our home office and begin sowing the first early seeds – like the pyrethrum herb (we grow as a natural insecticide) that grows slowly and must be started very early in order to be big enough to do it’s job in the fields of keeping away those nasty squash bugs

Though the temperature went up to the mid twenties today and the sun shone so bright it turned all the snow blue reflecting the sky, with the wind blowing hard, it was still very cold carrying buckets of water to all the farm critters for their mid-day refill. All the farm animals were outside enjoying the sun, even the cows that seem to stay inside their shelter except when they are eating their daily grain and hay rations. The sheep seem to feel the cold the least as they have very thick wooly coats.

Another bale of hay from the barn.

Is that for me?

It's for all of you.

As the sheep belly up to the snow trench hay feeder every morning, I have been noticing that it takes a lot more length of feeder to accommodate all of their wide bellies. We have some very pregnant looking ewes among the group – though I am fairly sure that all of the ewes are bred. Our wool shearer will be coming to shear all the wool off of them in late February as we begin getting ready for the first lambs to be born in early March. Yes it is cold for them with no wool – and that is one of the reasons why we shear before shearing. If the ewes still have their thick wooly coats, they don’t think twice about birthing their babies in a snow bank; but if their wool is gone, they want to come into the nicely straw-bedded barn to give birth. Without their wool, they also need to eat more, and that is a good thing at the end of their pregnancy. It is also easier for me to see what their condition (how fat or thin) is without the wool hiding it – and when the lambs are born, they don’t have to find their way through a lot of long dirty wool to find mom’s milk.

Fill it up please

Our four dairy goats are hopefully also all bred. They have the same gestation period as the sheep and should also give birth the first week in March. We are quite excited about milking goats again. Well maybe not so much the actual milking the goats – but excited about having fresh goat milk to drink again. We have been purchasing store milk to drink for the last three months and it is just not as good.


Our laying hens have been laying well all winter. On the really cold days, even though we try to collect the eggs periodically throughout the day, we’ve had a few eggs freeze before we could collect them. Our newest laying hens, the Aracana’s are all laying now – beautiful greenish-blue eggs which look lovely in the carton with the big brown eggs of our older Black Star chickens. We decided to keep a rooster this year and Rocky the Barred Rock has grown up to be quite majestic, yet very gentle.

We have been enjoying this real Minnesota winter with so much snow. Our neighbor Rick has a snowplow and has kept our driveway and yard scraped of snow. We’ve been doing a lot of shoveling keeping the paths open to all the animal pens and the sauna. We find it quite delightful walking on those nicely shoveled paths through the beautiful deep snow. We hope to continue to make time for skiing and snowshoeing even as the inevitable spring keeps letting us know it is right around the corner.

Until the next time………..


Use the addresses to google or mapquest or look up the drop site from your particular location. Keep in mind that the folks at the drop sites are volunteers, allowing us to use their space (and in some cases, their homes) as drop sites. Be nice to them. We couldn't do this without them. If you have any questions about your share etc., you should ask us, not them. They have enough to do....as do we all. All deliveries occur on Thursday afternoons. Approximate drop site times are listed below each location. The end times vary but you should pick up your share as early as possible. Look for the NITTY GRITTY DIRT FARM DROP SITE signs at your delivery locations along with lists to check your name off when you pick up, and a description of exactly what you should take.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm
10386 Sunrise Road (Cty Rd 9)
Harris MN 55032

35 north past North Branch to the Harris Exit. Turn Right.
Go into Harris, cross RR tracks to stop sign. Turn Left
Go 2 blocks to County Rd 9, also called Sunrise Road. (at Heartbreakers Bar) Turn Right. Farm is 4 1/2 miles out on left side of road. Look for Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm sign.
Shares available from 3:00 to 6:00

United Theological Seminary 3000 5th Street NW, New Brighton MN 55112
694 to Silver Lake Road exit. Go south to 5th and turn west (right). Go three blocks to UTS. Follow driveway (left) to the maintenance garage at the far north end of the parking lot. Shares available after 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM.

Pilgrims United Church of Christ
8801 Rice Lake Road, Maple Grove MN 55369
Just off of Weaver Lake Road across from Rice Lake Elementary School. Use main church door. Shares available from 3:30 to 6:00.

Acadia Cafe
329 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis
NW corner of Cedar and Riverside. Park on Riverside or
in lot behind the cafe.
Shares available after 3:15 PM until 6:00 PM

Vincent Avenue
3646 Vincent Avenue North, Mpls MN 55412
1/2 block north of 36th Ave N, and 2 blocks south of Dowling. Park on the street. Shares available after 3:30 until 6:00 PM

Additional drop sites may be added as shares are sold. Drop Sites are subject to change but plenty of notice will be given and alternate sites will be within close proximity to the original drop site.


Robin Raudabaugh & Gigi Nauer

Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm

10386 Sunrise Road

PO Box 235

Harris MN 55032

(651) 226-1186


Also Nitty Gritty Goods Wool CSA
Robin Raudabaugh

We are a 15 acre Community Supported Agriculture farm providing a wide variety of fresh, organically and sustainably grown vegetables, fruit, lamb, pork, turkey and chicken. Located one hour north of the Twin Cities, we deliver to several metro locations. We are intentional about our organic and sustainable farming practices which include (but are not limited to): maintaining soil health through green and animal manures, compost, mulch, cover crops and crop rotations; Organic Pest Management to naturally monitor, prevent and control insects and other pests; maintaining animal health and well-being through the use of portable and loose housing and pasture rotations. Owner/operators Robin Raudabaugh and Gigi Nauer provide over 30 years experience in fruit, vegetable and livestock production, education and customer service. Our primary goal is to build community, relationships and personal health and well-being around good food and the intentional living that creates it. We’d love to have you join us.

Not every day is like this but we try.

Not every day is like this but we try.

Not every day is like this either.

Not every day is like this either.