Edible Forest Garden Materializes

Over the past couple of days our back hoe operator has been here making the plans painstakingly developed over the last several months become a reality. First he dug a two section pond deep enough for fish to winter over. Then he scooped out the natural drainage route into the pond areas and created a flow from the adjacent water-logged woods into the ponds. The rivulet ran rapidly down the gentle slope, cascading into the first pond until it reached the height of the bank of the second, and then ever so slowly began to trickle into the second, larger and deeper pond. By sunset there was about 3 feet of water in the bottom. Can’t wait to see how full it is this morning.

Then he began scooping out the gathering area and accessible road to and from it from gates at either end of the garden parcel. The top soil from the road was piled in two long narrow mounds to give plantings of apricots, almonds, and a peach tree some better drained ground in which to spread their roots. He also mounded up some top soil near the Northwest fence line where some Chinese Chestnuts will be planted which could also use additional drainage height.
While the backhoe work was being done I was busy, chart in hand, triangulating the locations of all the plants and trees ordered for this spring and marking the locations with labeled garden stakes. At the end of the second day the contractor dug four 2x2x2 foot holes at the locations of  trees already delivered and dug into our “nursery” area to preserve them until holes were ready. Today we’ll plant these trees to fine-tune our method so we can better organize and train whatever crew we can gather to help us plant the bulk of the specimens once the rest of the landscaping is complete.

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Spring and Holiday Greeting from Cross Island Farms

Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms,

Spring and Holiday Greetings from Cross Island Farms!

FRONT PORCH FARMSTAND OPEN: Just in time for your spring shopping, I have just restocked our self-serve 24/7 front porch farmstand with organic produce. Right now we have our pastel-colored Americauna chicken eggs, duck eggs, an assortment of hoop-house grown greens, and inside various USDA inspected cuts of goat and beef including hot and sweet goat sausage. We expect to have our USDA inspected pastureed pork by the end of April. Please calll ahead if you are interested in meat to be sure we will be available to help you.

OUTDOORS: Outdoors here on Wellesley Island the snow is gone from the ground which is still frozen in spots, and very muddy in others. David has been working steadily on our new perimeter fench enclosing the “back 40″ which will almost triple our potential pasture area (in a drought period) once completed. I have been tending plants growing in our hoop houses and preparing some garden rows for late March planting of onion, leek, chard, kale, and head lettuce sets, and early peas. I have been using a new “toy,” a “broad fork” which is a 20 inch wide no-till 5-tined tool used to aerate the ground without disrupting soil life beneficial to plants, and without turning up weed seeds.The two-handled tool is inserted in an already-raised row left from last season, stood upon and pressed down with full body weight, slightly tilted back with two wooden handles on either end to loosen the soil, and then removed and reinserted 6″ to 8″ down the row. It is a mildly aerobic work-out not unpleasant duriing these cool early spring days.

ANIMALS: The chirping is loud and constant in our living room where two batches of incubated eggs have hatched 31 Ameracauna chicks which will be two weeks old this Sunday. Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod, our three new Large Black piglets are enjoying the moist side-yard soil where they are rooting away with their snouts in search of roots, grubs, and any other tasty morsels they can dig up. Tired of a long winter’s diet of dry hay, our cows and goats are impatient for the grass to green up. Our turkeys have begun to lay eggs and appear to be sitting on them. The ducks as well have resumed laying. Our four pregnant does are expected to give birth in April. In the midst of these cheerful signs of the season, some sad news: our buck “Mustard” is no more. He was failing for a few days with an unknown ailment and yesterday lost his ability to exist. We are grateful that the rest of our goat heard appear to have made it through the cold season healthily.

EDIBLE FOREST GARDEN: The first shipment of plants for this new venture has arrived: black walnut, chinese chestnut, almond, peach, paw paw, persimmon and Cornelian Cherry bare-root, dormant trees keeping cool on the front porch for now. We expect to have a back-hoe ooperator here next week to dig a pond, create an accessible entrance, build mounds and a swale and dig holes for planting. And then the fun (and hard work) begins!

Wishing you all this season’s best.


Dani Baker
Cross Island Farms

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Late Winter Update 2013

Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms:

AN EARLY MORNING SKI: A beautiful sunny day after a frosty night here on Wellesley Island. Got out early for a quick ski on the crusty snow accompanied by our boys, Snow Toes and Splash Gordon. As Snow Toes prances over the snow with his feathery tail waving gracefully, he could be mistaken for a black wolf. We traverse the property approaching a far corner where this week David pounded 16 posts through pond ice, posts which will comprise a perimeter fence enclosing the entire back 40. As we near the corner Splash trots out of the scrub with a deer’s leg bone dangling from his mouth. With head held high he proudly carries it all the way home.

SEASON EXTENSION: Then out to the hoop houses to inspect the plantings to date – no apparent damage from the cold night. By the end of this month all 6 rows will be planted with beet, radish, carrot, arugula, cilantro, pea and snap pea seeds; kale, collard, lettuce, parsley and bok choy sets, and wintered-over greens like spinach,baby chard, and kale, dormant until recently, now beginning to grow again in response to the increased length and intensity of daylight.

THE MENAGERIE: Our ducks, turkeys and pregnant and virgin goats recently moved in together in a paddock near the house, a serendipitously happy result of predation of the ducks and turkeys by a racoon, and the need to have our pregnant does closer now that they have entered their third tri-mester. It’s a joy to observe how well they all get along together. We expect baby goats beginning early April when the weather can be bitter and the moms sometimes need assistance drying their newborns. Our mama pig, Yorkie girl, is expecting in the next couple of weeks.

NEWEST ADDITIONS: Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod, two female and a male “Large Black” piglets, are happily settled in a sheltered pen from which they soon will be able to venture outdoors at will to join the ducks, turkeys and goats. The Large Blacks, also known as Devon Blacks, are a very rare pedigree developed in England during the 1800’s. They sport adorable droopy “dumbo” ears that cover their eyes, are extremely docile and friendly, reportedly can glean a good deal of their nutritional needs from foraging, and yield excellent meat.. They are a delightful addition to our menagerie.

PORK: On the sales front, we have one half pig available for late March harvest so you can supply your family with Cross Island Farms certified organic pastured pork this coming season. Call us or visit our website for more details. If half a hog is too much meat, we will have an assortment of USDA cuts of pork including hot and sweet sausage available at the farm beginning early April.

FEEDER PIGS: Eight of Yorkie Girl’s yet-to-be born brood have already been reserved, but depending on the size of her litter (she’s had up to 13 live births) we may have more available and are accepting reservations for them now.

BEEF AND GOAT: Our freezer is well stocked with a late fall harvest of various USDA inspected cuts of our grass-fed goat and beef.

EGGS AND VEGGIES: We have storage onions, parsnips, squash, garlic and fresh eggs available at the farm and the Clayton Food Co-op. Small quantities of greens will be available as they are harvested from the hoop houses. Easter is less than a month away: what better way to celebrate than with Cross Island Farms’ (already) pastel-colored free range organic eggs.

Wishing you a happy and healthy spring!


Dani Baker
Cross Island Farms

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Holiday Greetings from Cross Island Farms

Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms,

As the end of 2012 draws ever closer, David and I here at Cross Island Farms are counting our blessings.

We are so grateful for your support and patronage over the past seven (!) years. It is because of you, our friends and patrons, that we have been able to gradually grow our farm and offer you an ever expanding array of products.

We have been thrilled with your response to our USDA inspected cuts of beef, pork and goat, and our holiday ducks and turkeys, all recently added to our offerings. (FYI, just arrived, is an assortment of cuts of organically raised, grassfed goat including hot and sweet sausage, roasts, chops, stew and ground.)

Because you have often requested fruits, we are planning a major new perennial planting, an “Edible Forest” or “Forest Garden” to contain fruits, nuts, berries, edible ground covers and vine fruits, as well as a duck pond and a contemplative sitting area. We hope to create an accessible path within the landscape so those with ambulation challenges will still be able to enter and enjoy the forest’s ambiance. As the forest becomes established there may be U-pick opportunities as well as quantities of fruits and berries available at our roadside stand and other venues.

As many of you are aware, we are open year round. When you are in the area, we inivite you to stop by and say hi, and perhaps join us for a tour of our farm to see all we have accomplished thanks to your support. And if you are looking for a gift for your health conscious friends and family members, we can email a Cross Island Farms gift certificate tailored to your wishes.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for a fruitful New Year!


Dani Baker
Cross Island Farms
Certified Organic Vegetables, Pork, Goat, Beef, Eggs, Primitive Camping, Farm Tours
44301 Cross Island Rd., Wellesley Island NY 13640
on Facebook at http://facebook.com/CrossIslandFarms
(315) 482-FOOD (3663)
44301 Cross Island Rd.
Wellesley Island NY 13640

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A Late Fall Morning



As I write this at November’s end, looking outside my window I see the first steady snow of the season falling and beginning to accumulate on the not-yet-frozen ground. Earlier, I completed the morning chores, making sure the pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats and cows had fresh water and ample organic grain or hay for the day ahead. Once the five young pigs were distracted by their morning ration, I entered their 3/8 acre paddock and took several soil samples to combine and send to Cornell for evaluation in preparation for planning and planting the “edible forest” destined for that plot this spring.

Back at the house, the bird feeders were replenished with black oil sunflower seed, a favorite of the several blue jays, chickadees, and pair of cardinals who visit this time of year. For the Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, there is fresh suet which they prefer as it simulates fatty insects. For lunch I am looking forward to a bowl of Italian wedding soup I made with stock from our farm-raised vegetables and Thanksgiving turkey, just picked escarole, and tiny meatballs assembled from our own beef.

Later I’ll visit our hoop house which covers three rows in one of our gardens, protecting its cold-hardy contents from some of winter’s intensity so greens and root crops can be harvested continually and grow again in the spring. Then to Clayton to restock the Clayton Food Co-op where our greens, storage and root crops will be available throughout the coming season.

The pace has certainly (and thankfully) slowed since the rush of summmer and early fall harvesting. If there is enough snow on the ground, perhaps I can take a ski on our trails early tomorrow morning after the wet blanket crisps up from the cold of the night.

Here at Cross Island Farms we are open for business year round and have a variety of meats (beef, pork, goat, duckliing), eggs (duck and chicken) and vegetables (greens, Brussels sprouts,carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, red and yellow onions, leeks, butternut squash, fingerling potatoes) for your everyday and Holiday meals.

We thank you for supporting our farm this past year, and wish you the best for the remainder of this holiday season,

Dani Baker

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Thanksgiving Greetings from Cross Island Farms

Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms,

PREPPING FOR THE NEXT SEASONS – Still busy here buttoning up things for the cold weather ahead, although judging by the 10 day forecast, we are going to have fairly mild temperatures through the end of this month. We continue to rotate the animals through our gardens to clean up the remains of our summer vegetable crops and fertilize for spring planting.  At dusk yesterday David moved some of the goats to a section of the garden behind the house which I had just completed harvesting (kales, chards, cilantro, parsleys, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) so they could enjoy the greens that were left while cleaning up and fertilizing the area.  Of course, the goats had other ideas, soon escaping the electric fence to munch on my raspberry plants in an “off limits” section of the same garden.  When David came in and told me the news, I asked if they had trashed any of my row covers, and he said “how do I know, it’s dark out there!”
“SOCKS” JOINS THE HERD – We added a new member to our beef herd this past week,  “Socks,” a new Belted Galloway cow who didn’t pass muster as a pedigreed animal because she has white furry anklets just above her hooves.  David has posted a picture of her on our farm’s facebook page.
ROASTING A WHOLE PIG – Today we are roasting a pig as a test-run as we have several for sale and want to make sure they can fit in the oven.  I stuffed and trussed it this morning, tucked it in a roasting pan, and put it in our oven to roast at 350 degrees for several hours.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Next day:  it turned out fabulous, receiving rave reviews fom our dozen guests.  We have 5 more USDA butchered roaster pigs for sale from the farm, ranging in size from 25 to 35 pounds – something special for a Holiday or Super Bowl gathering.
FARMSTAND OPEN, MOVED INSIDE FRONT PORCH – If you are, or are going to be, in the area for the Thanksgiving Holiday, our SELF-SERVE FARMSTAND IS         STILL OPEN, 24/7, just moved to our FRONT PORCH, where we have a wide assortment of cool weather greens and seasonal root and storage vegetables for your holiday and late fall meals. Special orders for vegetables in quantity are always welcome as well.
We also have some tender and flavorful grass-fed BEEF steaks, roasts, ground meat, and patties as well as cuts of GOAT for sale at the farm..
Once again wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving Holiday.

Dani Baker

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Holiday Greetings Newsletter, November 2012

Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms,

Fall has definitely arrived on Wellesley Island. With the lengthening and colder nights, each following morning reveals frozen ground and waters. In preparation for winter, a thick layer of mulch leaves is gradually covering the gardens, . The animals are slowly moving toward their winter paddocks.

While we are busy preparing for the season ahead, we continue to produce certified organic products for you, our loyal customers.

HOLIDAY DUCKS AND TURKEYS: For the first time this season we are offering CERTIFIED ORGANIC HERITAGE BREED FREE RANGE DUCKS AND TURKEYS for your holiday meals. BY PRIOR RESERVATION, FRESH ducks and turkeys will be available for pick-up at the farm from the afternoon of Saturday, November 17 thru Wednesday November 21. FROZEN birds will be available thereafter while supplies last. Visit our website for more information and/or call/email the farm.

HOLIDAY VEGETABLE BOXES: We would be happy to assemble a SPECIAL ORDER OF CERTIFIED ORGANIC VEGETABLES for your holiday meal including your choice of: Brussels Sprouts, Beets, Rainbow Carrots, Parsnips, Onions, Parsley, Kale, Butternut Squash, Pie Pumpkin, Garlic, Swiss Chard, Head Lettuce..

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season.


Dani Baker

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Press Release – Heritage Breed Ducks and Turkeys for the Holidays

Heritage Breed Ducks and Turkeys Raised on Wellesley Island

Wild turkeys are commonly seen in the fields and woods of the Thousand Islands Region. What are not as common are heritage breed poultry raised for food. This holiday season Wellesley Island’s Cross Island Farms is raising certified organic heritage breed turkeys and ducks for its customers’ holiday meals.

Heritage breed poultry are closer to wild birds genetically than those commonly sold in supermarkets. Descendants of the traditional breeds raised on family farms until American agriculture became industrialized in the middle of the twentieth century, heritage breed poultry have a different taste and texture than “modern” birds. Their flesh is darker, denser, leaner, and significantly richer in flavor than supermarket fare, while lacking the “gamey” taste of some wild fowl.

Rather than being confined in small indoor spaces, Cross Island Farms’ turkeys and ducks are raised the traditional way as well, freely ranging outdoors on green pasture where they reap additional health and nutritional benefits from the fresh air and live forage. To supplement their foraged food, the birds are fed organic grain certified free of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers.

Cross Island Farms is open year round and welcomes visitors who wish to learn more about raising heritage breeds. For more information or to arrange a tour, contact the farm at organic@crossislandfarms.com or 315-482-3663.

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We’re famous!

Watertown Channel 7 News came to our farm to discuss the menacing Cucumber Beetle. Click the link to check it out! Cross Island Farms on the news!

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Hoo Dini (not original name)

Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms,

It’s mid-October and many fall projects are underway here at Cross Island Farms. Today David is heading for a friend’s stand of black locust trees that had a major blow-down during the ice storm of ’99. In the informal barter agreement we have with our friend, David is cutting and clearing the downed and damaged trees, using the straighter trunks for end-posts for our fencing project here at the farm, and cutting the remainder for firewood for our friends. The posts are needed for a major fencing project underway here which, when completed, will add about 5 additional acres to our pasture behind and around the second vegetable garden. David is anxious to finish the project because we have plans to create a third vegetable garden inside that perimeter so we have more options for our crop rotations. It will be our pigs’ job to till and fertilize the quarter acre plot, but we don’t dare put them there until the perimeter fence is complete and secure. We do not want a repeat of “pigs on the loose” even though it makes great copy.

We are proud to announce the addition of two new doeling goats to our herd, formerly named Ellie Mae and Jill, but as of this morning re-named “Hoo” and “Dini”. They arrived two days ago and spent their first night in the shelter of one of our greenhouses, then moved to an electrified pen adjacent to the other female goats to begin acclimating to their new brethren. Dave gave them a small run-in shed for shelter for the night. The plan was to merge them with the rest of the herd later today. This morning when I went to check on them, they had disappeared from their pen. And they were not hiding in their shed. As I concentrated my attention I could hear their faint cries in the distance. Sure enough, they were perched together atop the larger run-in shed at the far end of the paddock containing the rest of the herd. Hence their new names. Stay tuned: I have a feeling this will not be the last of their shenanigans.

Speaking of goats, the last two afternoons David and I took two delightful strolls through the back of our property (where our four campsites are scattered) in the company of our three male goats, Kikoman, and his twin sons, Salt and Pepper. These three are beautifully marked black and white animals, tame like puppies, who happily kept pace with us, pausing occasionally to sample a tempting morsel of weed-top or branch-tip. That is, when they weren’t attempting to mount each other. Watching the goats, especially the twins, who make such an attractive pair, we decided it would be great fun to train them as a team to pull a cart or a sled and help with the hauling work around the farm as well as to add to our attractions as an agritourism destination. Now all we need is a dedicated volunteer to do the training. Any takers?

One more note on the animal front: We harvested our first certified organic grass-fed beef last week and picked up our own “mixed quarter” from the butcher this morning. Can’t wait to sample it! We will be harvesting a second beef in May of 2011 and are accepting reservations now. Imagine having Wellesley-Island grown steaks and burgers on the grill to share with friends and family throughout this coming summer’s season! Go to our web-site and click on certified organic grass-fed beef for more info.

On the vegetable front, the main harvest is in. Potatoes, onions garlic, pie pumpkins, winter squash, drying herbs, are stacked, spread, and hanging on the porch for now. Before the porch gets below freezing they will be moved to an unheated room in the house to stay viable all winter and into the spring. And there is alot still growing in the ground! Leeks, beets, carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts are getting sweeter with each frost, and will winter-over in the ground if not sold before then.

All of the above are planned contents of this year’s “Thanksgiving Holiday Gourmet Vegetable Assortment” which can be picked up on the farm, delivered locally or shipped to friends and family for a unique holiday gift. Reservations are being accepted now and I have attached this year’s announcement FYI. Now that Columbus Day has come and gone, we want to extend a heart-felt THANKYOU to all of our friends and customers for supporting us through this past summer’s season.

Best to you and yours for the holidays ahead.


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