Misty Bleu Farm Blog

About Misty Bleu Farm

Misty Bleu Farm is located in beautiful Washington County, New York at the head of the Black Creek ValleyMisty Bleu Farm produces hops for the R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery.

Located on 50 acres in the heart of the Hebron Hills, Misty Bleu Farm is the home of R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery.  The Brewery and Taproom are open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 9:00 pm.  Come experience true field to glass farm-brewed beer at our farm, nestled among green hills and stunning natural beauty.  Our farm boasts over 600 feet of frontage on the West Branch of the Black Creek, with waterfalls and rushing cascades.  Tours of the brewery and grounds are available.  The Farm and Brewery are also available to be rented out for special events.  Please visit the brewery website, www.rstaylorbrewing.com for more details and directions.

Follow our journey as we create the Most Beautiful Farm Brewery in America!


Latest Project Updates

Time for a Cool Change

Misty Bleu Farm - Saturday, January 16, 2016

When I first started this blog, about 4 years ago, it was about our family's journey of moving to the farm full time.  That has finally happened, and since then our lives have changed, dramatically.  I have tried to chronicle as much of this as possible in these pages.  I hope you, dear reader, have enjoyed the journey and our observations along the way.

The rhythms of our daily existence are different now, and it has made me reconsider the focus of this blog.  It may be time for something fresh and new.  I am not sure exactly what the next incarnation should be, but I believe it is time.  The last thing I want is for this blog to be, heaven forbid, boring.

We have new lives now, and the new neighbors and friends we meet in the tap room each week only confirm this.  I find that I am correlating less and less to the outside world- outside of West Hebron, that is.  We have no tv, although we do follow along with the outside world via the internet.  We do this mainly to make sure it is still there; but otherwise we have very little use for it. 

Stay tuned for what happens next.

This Suburban Life

Misty Bleu Farm - Thursday, August 06, 2015

Driving back and forth between the farm and my office in Albany has been nothing but a slog.  The only saving grace is that I take the long way home, the scenic way home.  That may sound a bit crazy after a long, mentally exhausting day at the office, but I find I need the time to peel away, ever so slightly, just a little bit more of the suburban life we had been living for the last quarter century.  There's a lot to slough away.   There's a lot of habits that die hard.  Suburban life takes a lot for granted.   

Once I hit the intersection of Ferry and Broad Streets in Schuylerville, that's my last traffic light 'till I turn into our driveway.  Not many folks can ride home for 30 minutes or more and not see a traffic light, but we can. 

This suburban life I once knew is slowly falling away.  Sometimes I slip up and still call Albany "home", but I'm working on that.  These fat green hills are starting to feel like home, even if I spend only a short bit of my week among them. 

      

Natives in Bloom Vol. 2

Misty Bleu Farm - Wednesday, June 24, 2015

 

Our native turk's cap lily is now in bloom.  We salvaged it from the field and placed it in one of our garden beds.  It IS slightly different from the photos of native turk's cap lilies I have seen.  The petals do not recurve nearly as much as other examples of the species, lilium superbum.  But it clearly is a turk's cap.

It may have cross pollinated with a garden variety at some point - I don't even know if that's possible.  Or it may have just mutated over the years in our little corner of the world into something a bit different.  Either way, it appears to be unique.  They seem to pop up in unusual places around the property.  Two years ago, there were a bunch that sprouted up by our neighbor's rickety footbridge over the creek.  The next year, they were all gone from there, and they haven't returned since.  They come and go at their own whim, like the wind, just as nature intended.  But the one we transplanted is still going strong. 

Turk's cap lily, I therefore christen you lilium superbum serendipitous. 

It's Different Now

Misty Bleu Farm - Monday, June 08, 2015

The wild phlox are in bloom along Washington County's roadsides.  Co-mingling with ostrich ferns and silky field grasses, it makes for a spectacular show, and it doesn't last long.

It used to be we spent the entire weekend outdoors at the farm.  We became attuned to the vagaries of the weather and intimately aware of the comings and goings of all the wildlife.  I find we have lost touch a bit with the outdoor world now that we spend more of our time indoors when we are there.  I can't say that I really like it.  It changes the whole perspective.  Everything used to be viewed through the lens of being outdoors and now it's not.  It will take some adjustment and balance.  Sunday was a good day.  We all spent time outdoors weeding and watering.  I spent the whole morning down by the creek weeding out some of the most invasive wetland grasses you've ever laid eyes on.  But it was glorious.  I had my water shoes on and my feet got numb from the cold spring water rushing up to my ankles and beyond.  I hadn't done anything like that in a while, and I've got to remember to do things like that more often. 

Natives in Bloom Volume 1

Misty Bleu Farm - Thursday, May 28, 2015

Several springs ago at Gardenworks in Salem, I had the pleasure to run across an elderly woman who was there selling a small selection of native plants she had propagated herself from plants she had found on her property.  Apparently she had been coming each spring for many years and was an expert in gardening native area plants.

Oh how I wish I could have bought more native plants from her that spring.  Later that year, her husband had died and apparently she had to sell her home and garden.  When I came back the next spring, hoping to see her again, she was not there.  It was not just a loss for me of the opportunity to purchase more plants, but it was the loss of such a great local gardening resource.  I don't even know her name. 

I consider myself fortunate in that I did purchase quite a few plants from her that year, including Twinleaf, Sanguinaria (bloodroot), Jeffersonia and Mayapples.  When you come to visit us at the farm, please ask about our native plants.  I will be happy to show you how we are working to incorporate them into the landscape according to the precepts laid down by the great Irish plantsman and father of the classic English country garden, William Robinson.

I had never heard of the umbrella-like Mayapples before, but I love them now, and they are a great taller ground cover for the verges between woods and meadows.  They produce a simple, pretty white flower in mid-May, which then becomes a small seed pod that looks like a miniature Granny Smith Apple - charming!  They seem to be loving their spot on the bank of the old dam.  They have multiplied since I planted them two springs ago. 

Here is a photo of one in bloom this spring:

 

 

Spring 2015 Farm Dispatch

Misty Bleu Farm - Thursday, April 23, 2015

It is actually snowing as I write this - yes, snowing!  But spring has, indeed, sprung at the farm.  Even though today is a bit unseasonable, there's no stopping the warm weather now.  We're rushing toward the sun as we speak.  It is inevitable.

The sun is warm and the days are longer:

 

And the snowdrops are out:

 

 

The Suburbs are Crazy

Misty Bleu Farm - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In Glenville, New York, Target is more important than Joshua Rockwood.  It's obvious after driving through the Town of Glenville last evening, on our way to show support for small farmer Joshua Rockwood at his court hearing, that the citizens of that town have made their wishes known loud and clear.  They have proudly welcomed big box stores and embraced suburban sprawl. They are clearly out to shed their rural sensibilities, trading pastoral scenes for parking lots and traffic snarls.  I doubted many of our fellow supporters there last night were Glenville locals. 

So who needs a small farm like West Wind Acres to muck up the pretty, sterile housing developments?  All the food that can possibly be got can be had at the local supermarket, all nicely and cleanly packaged in plastic.  Farming is messy, dirty, smelly business.  And it clearly doesn't mix well with Glenville's aspirations to be like their wealthier neighbors with more suburban sprawl.  Someone should tell them "the more the better" mantra is not necessarily a good strategy when it comes to welcoming suburban sprawl into your community. 

Someday they will be sorry.  The drought in California is a slow motion train wreck.  And with inland California producing a large percentage of our country's food supply, we should be embracing small Northeastern farmers like Mr. Rockwood, not trying to shut them down.  It has been estimated that less than 2% of our population is actively engaged in farming.  Do we want to piss off this very small minority of important people who feed us every day?  Farmers are some of the most vital people in this country.  It is simply insane that we do not recognize this fact.

Having a small family farm around like West Wind Acres raises uncomfortable questions for people who are clearly disconnected from the origins of the food they eat every day.  When you food comes all neatly packaged with the blood and guts and poo nowhere to be seen, why would anyone want to be reminded that animals sometimes live in uncomfortable conditions, both on factory farms and on sustainable farms?  Animals, including livestock, don't have perfect lives.  Just as we humans don't always have perfect or comfortable lives.  Although, truth be told, humans don't always like to see other humans living in uncomfortable circumstances, either.  Witness the number of communities that routinely shift homeless populations around to hide them from public view.  This is now what is happening to our family farms.  They don't fit in with the neat, tidy, clean suburban sensibilities, so let's do away with them in our communities, even as we embrace the "locally sourced" and "sustainable" lifestyle at the local Whole Foods.  Let farms go off to the "country", not to be seen except on rare excursions.

Were there instances of outright animal abuse at West Wind Acres?  By all accounts, including the accounts of two veterinarians, no.  Could things have been managed better?  I'm sure they could have, but that is not criminal.  Here's my philosophy on this debacle:  I would rather see Joshua Rockwood's pigs live a semblance of a more natural life in an outdoor habitat and get frostbite on their ears during one of the worst winters on record than see them live their days on a factory farm in a pen too small for them to turn around in.  The real crime here is that the powers that be in Glenville, New York don't understand the distinction between the two conditions.  Neither is a perfectly comfortable scenario for the pig, but one is far better than the other. 

Sugaring Off at Rathbuns

Misty Bleu Farm - Friday, April 03, 2015

Anyone who knows me knows that if someplace says it is "world famous" or "world's best" or "world's biggest", I HAVE TO stop and check it out.  I'm still fuming over being denied a visit six years ago to a place in Santa Monica purportedly to have world famous hotdogs because Rich said we didn't have time to stop.  Really. 

That's why I love the scene in the Jon Favreau directed movie, Elf, when Buddy takes Jovie to a dumpy coffee shop and blindfolds her and has her taste "the world's best coffee".  It's so me.

Any of you that are crazy enough to remember The Little House on the Prairie first book might remember the sugaring off party that takes place at Laura's grandparents' house.  It is a fine affair, practically the highlight of the entire country year.  Well, the last two weekends here in Washington County are Maple Weekends, when the sap flows and maple syrup is made. 

We decided to head out to Rathbun's in North Granville to get pancakes and bacon and sausage last Sunday to celebrate the sugaring off.  Well, what a treat!  Not only was breakfast absolutely delicious - best blueberry pancakes I've had in a while!  BUT Rathbun's advertises that they are WORLD FAMOUS!

 

See!  World Famous! 

AND they had horse and wagon rides, too!

 

 

The Story of the Small Farmer Who Roared Back

Misty Bleu Farm - Saturday, March 28, 2015

The big story this week swirling around social media and the local and national news has been the story of small farmer, Johsua Rockwood from Glenville, in Schenectady County.  Eking out a living as a small, sustainably-minded farmer is hard enough, but Joshua had the misfortune to try his hand doing so in a community in transition from rural to suburban.  And therein lies the heart of this Orwellian nightmare for one family farmer.

If you haven't heard of the plight of Joshua Rockwood yet, spend a few moments doing a Google search and reading up on the details.  Basically, Joshua, a hard-working novice farmer, was caught off guard by this winter's severe weather.  Truth be told, there were many a seasoned farmer who had the same problems Joshua did in keeping his animals comfortable and well-watered during this winter-to-end-all-winters.  But the powers that be in Glenville, New York, decided that Joshua's struggles constituted animal cruelty, and some of his animals have been taken away.

This story has a bit of something for everyone - its a story of a small farmer's dreams and perseverance, a story of government intrusion and overreach, and it is a story of the farming community coming together to support one of their own.  The world has truly gone crazy when a struggling small family farmer trying to raise animals in a sustainable way is charged with animal cruelty while factory farmers get away with horrific abuses day in and day out.  Something is rotten here.

Let's imagine for one moment how differently this story would have turned out if the police officer, after his first tour of Joshua's farm, instead of acting like a government lackey, had said to Joshua, "Hey, it's a really cold day and I can see how it might be harder than usual today for you to make sure all your animals have fresh water.  What about if I help you do your chores so that we can make sure all the animals are watered sooner?"  Yeah, imagine that.  Instead of being an Orwellian instigator, the police officer could have been a friend, a neighbor, a help-mate to an area resident in need.  One needs to question the motto "To protect and to serve."  In whose service did he cite Joshua for animal cruelty?  And maybe, just maybe that police officer would have seen just how hard Joshua's job really is and what it really takes to produce food in a sustainable way.  It's tough, grueling work that isn't always pretty.  But sustainable farming, as Joshua practices it,  is a hell of a lot better than raising animals on factory farms. 

Well the Glenville town government is going to find out just how tough and determined the local farming community is.  They're all standing behind him, knowing it could have been them.  His next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21st at 5:00 pm at the Glenville Town Court.  Let's see how many supporters show up this time.  For his first court appearance, over 100 supporters showed up.  Let's make it 1,000 or more in April.  Let this become the story of the small farmer who roared back.

Early Spring Dispatch 2015

Misty Bleu Farm - Sunday, March 22, 2015

 

 

On the second day of spring, one could hope for temperatures in the mid-40's, right?  No.  It looks like this spring is going to be a repeat of the last one.  The only saving grace of temperatures in the mid-20's is that all the mud is frozen.  Small victories!

 

Today we have a stiff breeze out of the northwest.  It is bone-chilling.  Rich was cutting down the big limb we lost in the first snowfall last year.  It was a shame, too.  It was an absolutely, perfectly symmetrical sweet birch down a gentle slope from the back of the house.  Quite the pastoral scene.  Unfortunately, one of the larger limbs had rotted away at some point and the wet snow of the early winter was too much weight for it to bear.  It succumbed last December.  It sat there broken and forlorn-looking all winter.  Now is the time to clear it away.  Out came the chain saw this morning.  Then the little Kubota tractor to drag all the pieces away.  The bitter wind was no friend, though.  I came inside before too long.

 

The good news is that the snow has compacted from waist deep to about a foot.  It's hard and crusty so we can now walk on the top of it.  Our confinement to the cottage and plowed areas is now over.  I headed down to the Soggy Bottom.  The running water has broken through in a few areas.  I think spring may finally be coming.