Friday, April 29, 2016

Lamb - Blossom - Mom Day - Authors, Artists, And Activities - Oh My!


This May 8th; Mothers Day, Badgersett will hold our First 
Annual Lamb - Blossom - Mom Day!
10 AM  to 7 PM

May 1 - On Schedule!

We intend that this will become an Annual event - there will always be apple blossoms; there will always be new lambs, there will always be Moms who need a little time to enjoy the world with their kids, and there will always be friends we want to share it all with.

            We have a Spectacular Day arranged for you! 

Look below here for Authors, Artists, Things To See, Things To Do; and Things To Buy.

— Authors — Artists  —

Beth Dooley - One of Minnesota's most beloved food writers - WILL BE HERE - to sign her new book In Winter's Kitchen !  How do we rate such wonderfulness?   Well.  One of the chapters in Winter's Kitchen is - "Chestnuts".  And we get mentioned a bit.  So she'll be signing her books- under chestnut trees for you.  (We hope you're bringing some of your other books too, Beth!)

Tom Teller - a wood turner of considerable reputation - will be showing and selling his work.  Tom has been interested in transforming several of the unusual woods we can provide into his art for several years.  Not too surprisingly, some of our wood has proved - difficult.  But you'll see from his other work how gorgeous his results can be- and you'll understand why we're not giving up.

Dee Teller - Internationally known Asian Brush Stroke artist - will be showing and selling her work.  Her paintings of Horses - continue to win important prizes, and you will see why!

Josh Landy - Award-winning Mead and Cider Maker - will be here to talk about the cider he made from these trees last fall - and the hopes for scaling those test batches up.  Beth Dooley got a little taste of it last November...  All but a few of our apple trees are Heritage varieties; Golden Russet, Roxbury Russet, Westfield-Seek-No-Further - the cider they can produce is as different from regular commercial ciders as champagne is from grape juice...  all starting with the blossoms.

And - More!  We still have artists/artisans letting us know.  Are you one?  Let us know!  What's Mother's Day without a sale or two for Mom to look at??

We - will of course be selling and signing our new book from Chelsea Green, Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts.  This would be the one where Joel Salatin's enthusiastic comment was "Sign me up!", and John Torgrimson of Seed Savers: "Apply Johnny Appleseed’s pioneering spirit to the science of breeding and cultivating hazelnuts, and you’ll begin to understand..."

Speaking of Seed Savers!  You should be aware of the chance for a great weekend here; their annual Spring Plant Sale; and Spring Garden School - happen May 7 - the day before Lamb-Blossom-Mom.   And Seed Savers, in case you didn't know - is just 20 miles away from us.


— Things To See —

•  Lambs - The big problem with young Icelandic lambs is that they are so adorable - you can just watch, and watch.  They are distilled, purified, Life; and will light up any face.  We will have a couple of the ewes penned close enough so that petting their little ones should be easy; though after they're about 3 days old they can get seriously frisky.  We'll try; and we have several of the adults who love to be petted at all times, so some contact is guaranteed.


•  The Running Of The Rams (And Lambs) - Something we've always wanted to share- when the sheep are let into their new paddock - with lots of fresh grass - they usually put on a show for us; not only racing in and around, but usually with a great deal of leaping and sheer exuberant kicking; the big rams included.  It's fun to see Buster - 3 feet up in the air, forelegs going north, hind legs going south; doing a half-gainer with a half-twist before hitting the ground and chasing everything again.  We're going to have the next paddock set up and waiting - and we'll do the Running about 2 PM, for you to see.

•  Apple Blossom Time - Endless poems, stories, and songs have been written about apple blossom time - now you can find out why.



Come and wander anywhere you like under our full sized Heritage apples - which we expect to be in full bloom on May 8.  Take all the time you like- in fact- bring a picnic.

•  Chestnut trees, Hybrid Pecan trees, hazel bushes, solar greenhouse, horses, biodiverse ecosystem crop management -  All the things we normally feature during our open house days are here of course; there's 160 acres of things to see..

•  The Mystery Not-An-Orchid - It looks like there's an excellent chance we can see some on May 8.  We'll introduce you.



•  Biomass Harvest - Coppice - In Progress - We've been complaining for several years now that we were drowning in biomass.  This year we've started harvesting it seriously; turning the chestnut and hazel wood into usable/salable products: fence posts, bamboo replacements, and biochar.  Never heard of biochar?  Then you should come.  Know lots about biochar?  Come.  And yes, we'll have some of the products on sale.




— Things To DO —

•  Bring The Brunch! - Mother's Day Brunch is a tradition for many - this year - why not bring Mom, and brunch, and a blanket - and settle under an apple tree for a picnic?  Please do.  And ->

•  Blossoms For Mom - We have dozens of big apple trees- most of which actually need some pruning - if you ask us, we will cut a good branch (about 2 feet) of apple blossoms for you to give your Mom; either here, or to take home to her if she wasn't able to come out with you.  Put it in water like any cut flowers and they can keep for at least a week.

•  Your Mom Wants Nettles!  Even if you didn't know that.  Part of our sharing with you - you are welcome to pick plenty of nettles to feed your family, free.  Lots of folks would love to have good spring nettles; but it's hard to find a place to just go and pick enough.  Here we are!

Don't know about nettles?  Beth Dooley does - she says that was the thing that pushed her over the top on her decision to come.  Michael Pollan has eaten our nettles - harvested from under our hazel bushes.  He's not sure he remembers the soup (likely 10 years ago), served to him in a restaurant in Minneapolis - but he loves nettles, and told me a new way to eat them, when I was asking his permission to tell you this story - on pizza.  "I love nettles -in soup, on pizza- so fine."

So- with that in mind, Beth Dooley has a recipe for Forager's Pizza With Nettles - which we'll be handing out to those who come and pick.

We have never had so many beautiful, easily picked nettles as this year.  They are one of the few things that grow well in the dense shade of the hazel bushes; and our Biodiverse Management means we let them grow there- they're not only good food for us; but for the entire ecosystem here.  Picking them won't hurt a thing; they'll grow back; they're a crop.

As food - they are crazy delicious, and astonishingly nutritious.  It's because they're so good that they  have such effective defenses; but just wear leather gloves while picking, and before they're cooked, and they're easy to work with.  Boiled or steamed - 100% of the sting is gone.  We're nettle experts here, and we'll show you how- it takes about 20 seconds for the whole class.

Come- and pick - all you want.  Well- all you want to feed your own family; if you're interested in harvesting and selling our nettles as a business; we need to talk.  Yes, we have that much.  We're doing a lot of hazel coppice right now; and as a result, the young nettles are incredibly easy to get to; and abundant.   BRING - gloves, scissors or a knife to cut them off, and something to put them in; any bag or bucket will do.

Oh; and if while you're harvesting nettles you should happen to run into some gorgeous Dandelion Greens - you're welcome to harvest those, free, too.

•  Wildflower Scavenger Hunt - KIDS - All our tree crops are growing on land that was corn and beans.  But now - we have wildflowers coming back into the almost-forests of our groves; things like Jack-In-The-Pulpit, Mayapple - and more.  Meg is the organizer of this hunt, and will hand your kids a list of wildflowers to find.  If the find them all - and they can pick them and bring them to show - there will be small prizes.

•  New Wildflower Species Hunt - Adults - Every year we find a new species of wildflower or other wild plants that have found their way to co-exist with our crops; and we can use your help finding and identifying them.  If you're a native plant enthusiast - this is for you.  We'd like to do this every year; it's part of the science, too.  We can get you started, and point you; but we really need a good baseline list launched.

Help Us Plant Hybrid Pecans - we've got tubelings overwintered in the greenhouse that need to get out, now.  You'll need to plant at least 10 for it to be worth while for us to show you how and where; but if you want to plant 100 - we can arrange that, too!

• Learn to divide and propagate hybrid hazels - This will likely be a one-time demonstration, around 3 PM.  We developed this technique of springtime, direct in-field propagation; and will show you how.  If you're interested enough - we could use some volunteer help to get a serious amount of this done here this year; not on May 8; but very soon.

•  Things You Could Teach US -  One of the things we're doing with our coppice chestnut wood is building horse corral, using split rails.  We know about 10 ways to do it- and don't like any of them.  Some take too much wood, some are unstable- If you know how, or have suggestions - Come Teach Us!  Another thing - we're novices at handling wool; and we have all of this year's Icelandic fleeces waiting for us to do right by them.  We don't even really know how to "skirt" a fleece- can you show us?  This would be a good time!

•  Solar Greenhouse - We think we are the oldest solar off-grid business in Minnesota, and our entirely solar heated and powered, earth-sheltered greenhouse is a big part of that; you're welcome to take a look inside and hear about it.

— Things To BUY —

   Badgersett Farm is in a transition phase; we're not stopping the Research - but we are adding to the Farm part - real production, real sales.  The crops are all at the point where that is the next step - they work (after 30 years of proof) - now we need to DO it.  So you can expect an increasing diversity of things that we have to offer you.  Here is a partial list.

Hazelnut Oil — this is what hazel oil should be; artisan made oil from France, not our own.



Icelandic sheep products - raw fleece, tanned skins, horns, and registered breeding stock














Hazel wood - hiking staff/ wizard staff / quarterstaff  unfinished blanks.  Did you know that hazel is the #1 choice of wood of the British Quarterstaff Association?  Yep.  Garden stakes; pea, bean, tomato poles; marshmallow sticks - We're calling this "Minnesota Bamboo" - because you can use it just like bamboo - but it wasn't shipped from the other side of the world...

Chestnut wood - shiitake logs, fence posts, heavy stakes, some very small saw logs, carving bolts

Live plants- sweetgrass, highbush cranberry, and our special "Sheep-o-Lantern" pumpkins.  (no, sorry, we will have not nut seedlings ready to sell yet)

Nuts To Eat - NOW

Badgersett Hybrid Pecans - these are at peak flavor, and stored in our freezer to keep them there - EXCLUSIVE with us; no one else in North America has these.

Fresh Chestnuts - If you think chestnuts are just for the winter holidays - you should buy Beth Dooley's book!  We have these available May 8th, in fresh condition.  The Atlantic Monthly used them to make a chestnut-asparagus dish; we think chestnuts and nettles are likely to work well too.

AND - There's a good chance we will have a NEW chestnut product available for you to try, and buy; something no one has ever produced or marketed before.  Not our chestnut polenta - something else.

And Don't Forget -

Books — Wood Turnings — Art — And MORE ...

May 8th, 2016; 10 AM to 7 PM


How To Get Here:  Map

Updates to all this will appear here on this blog and on our Facebook sites; and hopefully our website.

Phones: 
Greenhouse; 507-743-8570
Meg's cell: 507-481-6946

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lamb—Blossom—Mom Day!!

We're having a NEW EVENT - coming up May 8, which yes, is also Mother's Day!

This is kind of short notice - but in fact this was simply a new thought for us; and sounded like so much fun we decided we had to do it.

The lambs - now happen every year- and they are simply a joy, for everyone who sees them.  Trying to count them, the other day (we're up to 14 I think; more coming) - it hit me - I wish we could SHARE this joy with our friends.  No, not making that up.  We want to share the wonderful bits.

And although yes, this is a crazy busy time for us, with planting in the greenhouse, ground prep for outplants, and blah blah blah - we DO take time to smell - not the wild roses yet, that will be in another month; but- if you've been here, you know we also have apples- actually about 80 trees; and not silly dwarfs tied to sticks; but BIG 35 year old Standard sized heritage apple trees.

And we have Apple Blossom Time, every year- now, with lambs!

Here is SOME of what you'll see- and stay tuned, we have a lot more we'll explain about Lamb—Blossom—Mom Day as soon as we can get it up and info out.
Apple blossom yesterday -

Our big pear tree- full flower right now; always earlier than apples
This is not a day focused on learning- it's focused on joy.  Bring your Mom!  Or come and watch ours- and all the beauty.

(And yes, we'll have stuff on sale- for you to buy for Mom... quite a lot more items than ever before...)


Apple blossoms are pink - before they open, like these; then the trees show white.  This tree will likely be past bloom by May 8; but we have many that won't even start for another week yet.












Trying to time a blossom viewing event is always tricky - but this year May 8th is looking like it should be very close to peak apple blossom time.  Our 2 pears always blossom a week ahead of the apples; and the pears burst out full just yesterday-

The Mystery Bloom below is usually just a bit later; but this year with all those warm days; we could get lucky May 8th and have plenty of them to see.  These astonishing Spring ephemera are very nearly entirely unknown, even to wildflower enthusiasts.

But as showy and simply gorgeous as a tropical Bird of Paradise blossom...
We're Not Telling you what this is - but if we're lucky, we'll show you these, May 8th!!
No, it's not an Orchid... but we have thousands here now - for a few days every year...
Our apple orchard trees are now even bigger than this photo from 5 years ago - bring your Mom, and walk...

Full Apple Tree; from another year

 The apple orchard is now grazed
The lambs snuggle into the hazels, by instinct, while Moms graze...
every year by the sheep; so the walking is a pure pleasure.

Yes, we intend to have lambs situated so you - and your Mom - and your kids - can hold them, pet them.

Lambs and Moms- still working for us even at this time!  They're mowing grass and clearing weeds for hazel coppice...

 We'll have a bunch of fascinating things to sell - like Icelandic fleece-

All this wool - will be for sale (raw fleeces yet) Here on May 8!!

Check Back Soon- More info as fast as we can.  Sunday; May 8 - 11 AM to...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lightning strikes-

We know we're hard to get ahold of- today is going to be worse.

We've got spring thunderstorms rumbling overhead constantly - and both the house, and greenhouse, have been hit by lightning multiple times; in spite of tons of installed lightning protection.

And if we get hit while the phone, or DSL, are plugged in - current surges get in and kill anything vaguely connected.  So - we have to unplug.

I'm sneaking this post out between thunder cells; I hope-

Monday, March 14, 2016

Yep, it's the weather-

The weather is crazy; you're pretty certainly aware of that.  The media are full of "warmest on record" and so forth; pretty much daily.  It's affecting us, daily; also; and has thrown our "what we're doing this month" schedules entirely out of whack.  Leaving us about half the hours in a day we need.

Just so you don't forget winter altogether: 

That's a beautiful typical late March/early April "sticky" spring snowfall, and lovely icicles on the house eaves.  Except that was Feb. 2nd, when snow usually falls as powder, at 0°F, and never melts off the roof...

And last week:


I sent Elly scrambling out of the greenhouse, after dark, to try to catch any photo she could get- of the sudden arrival of the Redwing Blackbird migration - flock after flock; on March 8th; weeks ahead of "normal".  You realize; there isn't going to be a "normal" - ever again.  We're well into unstoppable climate change; and we don't know what happens next.  Except, it won't be normal.

Our most urgent messed up schedule has to do with sheep and horses - "normal" would mean snow on the hard frozen ground.  In winter, we don't/can't move paddocks, and we expect to feed hay.  The Icelandic sheep are wonderfully easy to care for in winter- they eat little, and utterly refuse to drink water if there is any snow available at all.  The horses are more work; they'll challenge the electric fence when snow prevents good conduction, and they prefer liquid water; though they'll eat a little snow if they need to.  For both sheep and horses, sledding their hay to them is not difficult.

When the thaw comes a month early -sleds work poorly on mud, and wheels can't be used until the ground firms up.  The sheep must be watered, and paddocks for both must be moved, or they will pound the ground they are on into oblivion; wrecking good pasture for years.

And it has to be done now.  Like, really; that's what I'm doing as soon as I hit "post."  

Which skews everything-  But - we're still here; getting tubelings going in the greenhouse; just not much time for writing just now!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Rejoice! Rejoice! - well, sort of...


"Good news- Bad news" stories used to be a kind of joke.  Sometimes these days it can seem like "bad news-bad news" - unless you go out of your way to find some good somewhere.

The Rejoice! part- we did finally get our excellent chestnut crop stabilized, in regard to temperature and spoilage.  So; in case you were holding off on ordering some- now would be the time!  We had to re-invent our sorting process, find a new way to get bad nuts out; we did. Order away.

The well, sort of... - it turns out the Global Warming Grinch is quite versatile.  He's getting us right now in ways I didn't mention before; but ways that can wear us out.

Our nut storage cellar is at a stable 35°, after a couple seriously cold nights; not perfect, but ok.

But now; the air temperature is back well above freezing; and our frozen soil is now covered with a nice 1/4 inch of - wet mud.

This is no joke for us; all our farm work patterns have developed on the idea this is Minnesota, and we have winter here- the ground will be either frozen hard by now; or covered in snow.  We're totally prepared for either.  But not for mud.

Mud makes it impossible to get vehicles around on our wonderful sod roads- they'll get ripped down into dirt, and never recover.  So we wind up doing a lot of walking.  If you've ever been here, you'll understand how much - our operation is spread all over 160 acres; it's 1/4 mile from the cellar to the greenhouse, where we pack nut orders; and another 1/4 mile from there to the place the cars are parked.

Livestock - plans are messed up.  The Icelandic sheep thrive in snow- if there is any in the paddock, they will refuse to drink any water you provide.  No snow.  Have to haul water - on mud, by hand.  Plus; both the sheep and the horses will turn their paddock into a pig pen- if left too long on thawed sod- ruining next year's grazing (and generating a huge field of thistles).  So - we have to move them; at a time of year when that's not in the plans.

Walking on icy mud- is deadly dangerous, not a joke at all.  And- it really looks like this warm Pacific air thing will run well into mid January, at least...

And our bright sun-on-snow winter days- are on the gloomy side; brown grass and bark.

But!  The nuts are in good shape.  And I am so NOT going to say "things could be worse..."