Late September Newsletter 2012

Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms,

Fall has arrived on Wellesley Island with gusty winds, cooler air, and some much needed rain.

RECLAIMING THE SWAMP: It was so dry during the summer that our fenced-in pastures, once grazed, did not regrow, and the 30 acres of Class II wetlands in the “back 40″ were wet no more. In order to avoid resorting to feeding the ruminants hay, David was able to brushhog cross-hatched grazing paddocks throughout the “swamp” without getting the tractor stuck once! It was a huge amount of work cutting through the cattails and brush, and bringing power to the portable fences and water to the cows and goats as they moved daily through the area. The goats, who are primarily browsers, were thrilled with the variety of weeds, brush and small trees from which to nibble tasty morsels; the cows, who can eat this fodder, but prefer lush grass, were not as happy and complained daily with loud moos, demanding to move to grassier pastures.

U-PICK TOMATOES: Until we have a hard frost, we have organic tomatoes on the vine in abundance, and invite you to come to the farm to pick a quantity for sauce, salsa, or whatever. Please call ahead to be sure we are home to show you where the best pickings are.

HARVEST TOUR: This coming Saturday and Sunday Cross Island Farms is participating in Jefferson County’s first “Harvest Tour Weekend” during which 20 farms and agricultural businesses around the county are opening their doors to the public. Of course, Cross Island Farms is always open for tours and camping. But on this special weekend we are offering discounts on our tours scheduled at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday the 29th, and 2 p.m. Sunday the 30th. Visit or for more info about the weekend.

PUMPKIN PICKING: On Sunday the 30th at 1 p.m. in conjunction with the Harvest Tour, Cross Island Farms is partnering with the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center for a pumpkin picking event here at the farm. The public is invited to help gather pumpkins from our field to be used for children’s pumpkin painting at the Nature Center’s Fall Festival the following weekend. Young children particularly enjoy this event, which is free, and followed by an optional farm tour.

CATAPULT CONSTRUCTION: Those of you who follow us on Facebook know that a student from Clarkson recently volulnteered his time to build us a catapult as an attraction used to lob various vegetables and fruits into our pig paddock where Yorkie Girl and her 9 baby piglets enjoy chasing the trajectories of excess organic tomatoes and zucchini. It is quite the show. If you come for a tour you can try your hand at it. It’s been suggested that we call it a “pigapult” but David has pointed out that we would then have to use it to lob the pigs.

PORK: Speaking of pigs, we are now taking reservations for our delicious pork (by whole or half hog) which we will raise for you on organic grain and vegetables over the fall and winter for spring pick-up. Go to our website to download a reservation form.

GOAT: We still have some goats available for fall harvest. The reservation form is downloadable at our website.

DUCKS and TURKEYS: We are also taking reservations for organic ducks and turkeys which we are raising for this holiday season. Please email for more info.

DANI’S BLOG: Although I am a bit computer phobic, with the help of a computer-savy summer intern, I have started a blog where all of my former newsletters are archived and I ocassionally enter a personal reflection about life here at Cross Island Farms. You can access it by clicking on the icon on our website’s home page.

From Cross Island Farms we wish you a bountiful fall season.


Dani Baker
Cross Island Farms

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A Late Summer’s Day on the Farm

I actually slept in till 7 this morning. The pace has slowed just a bit with Labor Day passing and the hours of daylight reducing.

I went straight out to the garden to pick some chard for this week’s CSA and thought I saw a touch of frost on the mulch hay in the garden isles. Later my suspicions were confirmed when I noticed some blackened leaves on the sweet potato vines: a very light patchy frost – the first of the season.

My list for today included processing Roma beans for freezing – done; dealing with onions hardening off in the greenhouse overdue for bagging – partially done; cleaning off desk – postponed; picking tomatoes – done: 50 pounds of hierlooms; picking peppers, okra, zucchini, and blue coco beans – done; planting arugula and radish – not done; making and canning salsa – done: 8 quarts cooling on the counter. Not to mention the numerous things I accomplished that were not on my list.

I did take a short break to walk out back and check on the progress David is making brushhogging new paddocks in the bonedry “swamp” for the ruminants. My fantasy about the back 40 being pasture is becoming a reality!

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Winnowing Black Coco Beans

A couple of days ago, when the breeze was stiff, I transferred all the Black Coco bean pods that I had painstakingly picked, and then spread out to dry in one of our green houses, into large plastic bins. I laid out a tarp in front of the house where I know the wind is reliable. Wearing my stiff-soled leather shoes, I climbed into one of the bins with a small quantity of the pods, and proceeded to stomp on the contents, shattering the crisp dry pods and releasing the hard black beans. Once the beans were thoroughly stomped, I lifted the bin above an empty one, and slowly poured the contents out. The brisk breeze blew the lighter pods onto the tarp while the freed beans dropped into the empty bin. I had to repeat this procedure numerous times for each small batch, using my hands to free the last holdouts from their encasements. Finally, (about 2 hours later), I had 21 pounds of clean black beans to store for winter dishes, and next year’s seed.

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Newsletter 8/27/12

Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms,

It’s hard to believe it’s already Labor Day Week – the summer has just flown by.
BABY PIGLETS: We are happy to announce the birth of nine baby piglets this week. They are with their mom, Yorky Girl, in the former “honeymoon suite” soon to be the “Edible Forest”* and can be seen on tour arranged at your convenience.

PORK, TURKEY AND DUCK RESERVATIONS: Coincidentally, we are now taking orders for whole or half hogs which we will raise for you over the winter and butcher in the early spring. Go to our website for more info. We are also taking deposits on ducks and turkeys, new offerings for this fall’s festive dinners.

THE DROUGHT has been hard on our pastures which have not regrown after being grazed. So Dave has been frantically brush-hogging fresh forage paddocks out of the (now dry) swamp in the unfenced back 40 where he is moving the cows and goats daily using portable fencing. The goats are thrilled with the amount of browse, the cows, notsomuch.

TOMATOES GALORE: Due to the marvelous drip irrigation infrastructure which David has perfected over the years, and our artesian well, we have been able to keep the vegetables amply hydrated and, with the exception of crops devastated by pests, are reaping a bountiful harvest. Our tomatoes and zucchini are particularly stellar this year and are available at our farmstand (tomatoes in quantity for sauce at the house). I am experimenting with air-drying zucchini this year to use instead of chips with dip. I will let you know how they turn out.

GOAT TRAINING: Our most recent volunteer, Sydney, departed this past week, leaving a legacy of hard work and two goats, Salt and Pepper, trained to pull a cart! Her contributions are much appreciated.

HARVEST TOUR WEEKEND: Cross Island Farms will be participating in the Harvest Tour Weekend September 29 and 30 when a number of agricultural businesses around the county will be opening their doors to the public. We will be offering our tours at a 20% discount during the weekend, and will also be co-sponsoring, with the Minna Anthony Nature Center, a pumpkin-picking event Sunday the 30th at 1 p.m. which is open to the public free of charge. The pumpkins we pick will be painted by children at the Nature Center’s Fall Festival two weekends later.

BOOK A FARM TOUR: If you have a houseful this week and coming weekend and are looking for something exciting and interesting to do, why not book a tour of our farm? You will get up close and personal with our chickens, goats, turkeys, ducks, cows and baby pigs, and learn all about our organic practices – educational fun for the whole family!

Wishing you and yours a fun and healthy Labor Day week!


Dani Baker
Cross Island Farms

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Preparing for this week’s CSA and sales to a chef

This morning before the sun rose I picked Rainbow, Redbor, and Red Winterbor Kale, Romaine lettuce, Bellesque Endive, Escarole, Red Ace and Early Wonder Beets, and did some spot weeding and turned on the drip irrigation. I pick the leafy greens before the sun hits them so they are cool and moist from the night. After they’re weighed, they go straight into the fridge to preserve their freshness and nutritional value, and to maximize their shelf life.

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Goat Nuptial Performed at Cross Island Farms Wellesley Island

Coverage: T.I. Sun, Channel 7 [[–Goats-Get-Married-On-Wellesley-Island-161812725.html]]

Goat Nuptial Performed at Cross Island Farms Wellesley Island –

The union of goats Artemis and Mustard in holy matrimony took place on Tuesday, July 3, at Cross Island Farms. The parents of the bride, goats Kikoman and Daughter, were detained in distant paddocks and unable to attend. The parents of the groom were unknown.. The betrothed couple was escorted to the ceremony on leash by Cross Island Farms Interns Shah, Lila, Brandyn and Lauren. Each betrothed wore a crown of Gloriosa daisies. Their union was blessed by Freddie Webb, the Pastor of the Fineview, Alexandria Bay, and Redwood Methodist Churches. Following the ceremony the lovestruck couple was promenaded to a private paddock to commence their honeymoon. .

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County-wide Agricultural Open House Weekend Planned


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE County-wide Agricultural Open House Weekend Planned Jefferson County, NY, March 2, 2012. Planning is underway for Jefferson County’s first Farm, Food and Family open house weekend scheduled for July 21 and 22, 2012. The public will be invited to visit participating agricultural related businesses in Jefferson County. Participation is open to any farming or agribusiness, including but not limited to dairy, livestock, fruit and vegetable farms, wineries, butcher shops, and farm supply businesses. This is an opportunity for agricultural businesses to show the public what their enterprise is all about. Each participating farm or business can choose to be open to the public on Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm, or both days. Each farm or business also can determine what it will offer the people who visit. Examples include a facility tour, product tastings, equipment demonstrations, games or activities for families and children, product sales, etc. The event is supported by Jefferson County Agricultural Development Corporation, the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, and the Jefferson County Chapter of Adirondack Harvest. Farms and agricultural businesses interested in participating can go to or to download a participation form. For a hard copy of the form or more information contact Corey Hayes, Farm Business Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, 315-788-8450 or Jay Matteson, Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator, Jefferson County Agricultural Development Corporation, 315-782-1806. For an agricultural business to be included in the event publicity, the application deadline is March 30. ####

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Heritage Breeds and Heirlooms Specialties of Cross Island Farms

Heritage Breeds and Heirlooms  Specialties of Cross Island Farms

After a busy morning laying three huge eggs, Cross Island Farms’ five strikingly large ducks seek out shade for the remainder of the day.  The ducks’ abnormally hefty size is not from growth additives, but the result of their uncommon genetic makeup.  They are a rare breed originating in England called Silver Appleyards.

The ducks’ rarity is what makes them desirable to Cross Island Farms’ owners, David Belding and Dani Baker, who are enthusiastic about raising rare, heritage breed livestock and growing unusual, heirloom vegetables at their certified organic farm on Wellesley Island.

Heritage breeds  and heirloom vegetables are varieties that have been developed for specific qualities, often in a specific town or region, and handed down through the generations. They frequently carry genetic traits that have been lost in our modern high-production agricultural system.  “Biodiversity is essential to continued life on the planet,” comments Belding.

The  animals also have characteristics that align well with Belding’s style of livestock management.  “A lot of it has to do with the ability to raise themselves and be part of a low input system. [Plus] the quality of meat or eggs they produce,” he explains. Cross Island Farms’ Silver Appleyard ducks, Kiko goats, Tamworth pigs, Ameraucana chickens,  Bourbon Red  Turkeys, Belted Galloway and Red Devon cows prosper in this particular organic farm setting.

Heirloom  and specialty  vegetables, with their unusual appearances and complex flavors,  create attractive and intriguing gardens.    “I grow these unusual things because it distinguishes our farm. I’m always trying new varieties, [and] eliminating ones that don’t work,” Baker explains.  The vegetables, she adds, “have to be beautiful, that’s important to me, [and have] fabulous flavor.” Bakers favorite heirloom group is Italian vegetables (she purchases seeds imported from Italy) such as Red Torpedo onions, a preferred choice of the chef of The Black River Valley Club.

Cross Island Farms’ specialty organic products are available  year-round at the farm and its produce is now offered at the new Clayton Food Co-op.   Educational  organic farm tours can be arranged by appointment.   You can visit Cross Island Farms on line at and find them on Facebook.

Cross Island Farms is one of several Thousand Islands area attractions participating in the Farm & Food, Family Open Door Weekend July 21 and 22..  Why not stop in at Cross Island Farms for a tour to see the rare breeds, gorgeous gardens and lush pastures for a wonderful, interactive organic farm experience!  Then visit the  Clayton Food Co-op’s Grand Opening Celebration, take a walk on the pastoral trails at the Thousand Island Land Trust’s Zenda Farm Preserve, and round out the day by visiting the Thousand Islands and/or the Coyote Moon Winery, all within a 5 mile radius.   For additional information about the Farm & Food, Family Open Door Weekend visit

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Greetings from Cross Island Farms

Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms,
SPRING has finally sprung here on Wellesley Island after a false start in late winter
PLANTS:  Our pear trees and blueberry bushes are blooming.  The peas, which I planted in March, are finally starting to grow again after hugging the ground for a month for warmth.  My dining room is filled with racks of green seedlings soon to be planted in our gardens.
BABY ANIMALS:  Our pastures are green and growing.  Frolicking on them are twelve bouncing baby goats born this month, with our last doe due any day.  All three of our cows, Hanna, Gailey, and our new Belted Galloway addition, Socks, are all confirmed pregnant and due any time from later this month through July.   We are raising five baby turkeys, just over 3 weeks old at this writing, and have 28 duck eggs in our incubator about to hatch.
EGGS & VEGETABLES :   The FARMSTAND IS OPEN.  Yesterday we moved it from the front porch back to our roadside location, and gussied it up a bit for the season.  There you can find our delicious pastel-colored free range organic CHICKEN EGGS, and a new addition to our offerings: DUCK EGGS.   We also have fresh VEGETABLES including SPINACH, LETTUCE, ARUGULA, CHIVES, RHUBARB, PARSNIPS and SWISS CHARD.
MEATS:  Come to the house to ask for USDA butchered cuts of BEEF, GOAT, and now PORK, all raised organically here on our Wellesley Island pastures.
CSA MEMBERSHIP:  Our Clayton CSA slots are filled for this season, but we still have a few openings for pick-up at the farm on Wellesley.  Email for more info.
TOURS & CAMPING:  We would be happy to arrange a farm tour for your family and friends at your convenience, and offer a 20% discount for groups of 10 or more.  Our campsites are waiting for your tent and campfire.
Looking forward to seeing you again when you visit this season.  And please visit us (and “like” us) on facebook for some regular updates about goings on here.

Dani Baker

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