AgriCulture: @ Turkana Farms

14 April 2017 12:16PM


With the beginning of spring Peter and I were anticipating two events: the start of lambing, and our annual escape to New Orleans for French Quarter Festival. We had moved our handsome ram, Osman, into the ewes’ pasture in November, hoping to start lambing in…

8 April 2017 06:50AM


Pictured: Forces of life resurgent

If you read Peter’s essay last week, you must have wondered whether we’d really follow through with everything he said we would do. Well, people asked the same thing about Donald Trump. The lesson is, don’t laugh off what seems improbable…

1 April 2017 10:31AM


I must admit that I did not vote for Donald Trump for President. I was rather nervous about him during the campaign, given his decidedly unusual temperament, and did not think he was at all suited to holding the most powerful position in America, if…

24 March 2017 06:30PM


Departures come in many different forms. There are those you know will happen eventually but you don’t know precisely when. There are departures you think are likely to happen, but are not inevitable. And then there’s a third category: departures you know are coming, and…

11 March 2017 01:49PM


Above: Esthwaitewater at Harvest Time, 1895

Last week, both Peter and my sister sent me an op ed from the New York Times, “An English Sheep Farmer’s View of Rural America,” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/opinion/an-english-sheep-farmers-view-of-rural-america.html?emc=eta1. Both thought it might merit my commentary. Having written…

25 February 2017 09:50AM


A snow cover is more than a thing of beauty, more than a blanket-like cover protecting the plants beneath it from killing freezes, more than a reservoir storing and gradually releasing much needed moisture to our depleted water table; a snow cover is also a…

18 February 2017 11:11AM


When Peter wrote last week about the “strange impulse” that wells up from within to impel him to grow things, it led me to once again contemplate ​my own engagement with the farm. I’ve previously acknowledged just how much I’ve learned seemingly through some unconscious…

11 February 2017 09:44AM


We are already, unbelievably, into February. Mark, as he usually does at this time of year speculates that winter is almost over. But Ground Hog Day has come and gone, and if the Punxsatawney groundhog is to be believed we are in for six more…

9 February 2017 06:39PM


Peter has reminded me that if we veer off into political screeds every time we are upset these days, we will never keep our focus where it needs to be, on matters agricultural. In general he’s right. But we don’t live in just “general” times.…

1 February 2017 11:29PM


Above: Our farm (outlined in black) on Bob Rider’s map

It is a wintry scene out there, a heavy, wet snow blanketing a dormant world. The pastures months ago stopped greening and growing; the vegetable garden, stripped of vegetation, heavily composted, silent and still, awaits spring.…

27 January 2017 12:30AM


Pictured above: Training by reward: grain treat time

I can’t imagine why, but lately I’ve been feeling that culture, civility and caring are in retreat, and are being replaced by a frenzied glorification of dog eat dog. So accustomed am I to seeing the world through…

15 January 2017 09:46AM


Photo: How Humaan?

If you have been following our posts, you have probably noticed that Mark and I keep returning to the subject of our farm animals and the degree to which we see them as human or not human. No wonder we are so obsessed…

6 January 2017 07:47PM


Photo: Beauty in barren bleakness

For every one who said to me in the early days of 2017 “thank God last year is over, I cannot remember a worse year,” there is someone like the friend who recently said, instead, “brace yourself, last year was only…

31 December 2016 07:42AM


Things do have a strange and often serendipitous way of happening, as we discovered this past Christmas day. For the past twenty or so years we have roasted a goose for the occasion — in our first years in an oven but of late on…

24 December 2016 08:51AM


By some miracle, there is a meeting of miracles this year. The first day of Chanukah, built on the foundation of one miracle, falls this year on Christmas, built on another. Immaculate conception, meet the long burning oil. These are miracles that only particular groups…

20 December 2016 04:25PM


After chores this frosty morning I canvassed my little animal kingdom here at Turkana Farms about us maybe collaborating on a satire on the President Elect’s cabinet making process. After doing what I thought was a really savvy sales job on the matter to the…

10 December 2016 08:54AM


Pictured: Our Beloved, all dressed up

For Peter’s birthday this week (I won’t say which one), we celebrated in part by going to see Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which we left, sadly, at intermission. It is a play Peter had…

3 December 2016 09:40AM


Above: Long shadows on the bare pastures of Winter

An overwhelming silence has settled in here at the farm. The constant buzz and energy of spring and summer has suddenly evaporated. The daily busy, sometimes frenetic schedule we have become so accustomed to is in abeyance.


26 November 2016 08:26AM


It is Peter’s turn to write the weekly essay, but we’ve agreed he should have the week off. This year he had to carry far more of the turkey distribution effort than usual. As the years have gone by, an ever increasing proportion of our…

19 November 2016 12:35AM


Pictured: A chorus of sniffy snorters, milling about

The end of Turkana Farms’ annual turkey season is fast approaching. Though they usually graze not far from the house, just up near the barn, , we can’t always see them, screened from view as they are by…

11 November 2016 07:49PM


These are, indeed, “…the times that try men’s souls”. Need I say more? You know what I am talking about, I believe. As an indicator (not that we need one), a young farming couple near us had just, days before the election, bought a house…

5 November 2016 10:10AM


Human ingenuity can do wonderful things, as one story in the New York Times about how the first farmers changed history recently reminded us. But progress isn’t always what it appears to be, as another article about very minimal benefits provided by genetically modified crops…

31 October 2016 06:44PM


Once Mark and I began moving about the city on our recent visit I noticed, despite being met by the usual Turkish friendliness and hospitality, a significant change. True, the street crowds were not quite as dense as I had remembered them to be, but…

28 October 2016 04:06PM


I am writing this bulletin on my return flight from Turkey, where Peter has remained this week to visit with his former students. The Turks, like us, are going through political turmoil. In some senses, our political situation is like a funhouse mirror reflection of…

16 October 2016 07:04PM


Pictured above: Peter on our Empress Zoe terrace, Sea of Marmara and Princes’ Islands in the distance

I am once again in Istanbul sitting on the terrace of my penthouse room at the Empress Zoe Hotel, gazing out at the Sea of Marmara, the Princes’ Islands…


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