Friday, April 30, 2010


Mark you calendar - !! for the ODHBA annual plowing competition - I'll be out there with my boys this year! - at Champoeg State Heritage Area the weekend of May 1-2.

What: Champoeg State Heritage Area's Founders Day and the Oregon Draft Horse Association's Plowing Competition

When: Founders Day will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; the plow competition will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the exposition field preparation from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Champoeg State Heritage Area, 8239 Champoeg Road NE, St. Paul

Cost: Free, but there is a $5-per-car parking fee

Info: Call (503) 678-1649 or go to

Founders Day

The plow competition is part of the annual Champoeg Founders Day celebration, with the theme "Farming Then and Now."

Champoeg is key to Oregon's history: In 1843, it was the site of the vote to form the first provisional state government, thus putting us on the road to statehood.

It also was the site of many of the first farmers, the first gristmill and one of the first towns in Oregon.

The day also will include presentations from farmers and Sons and Daughters of the Oregon Pioneers, costumed historical interpreters, a tool display, musical performances and refreshments.

Monday, April 26, 2010

more spring beauty!

I feel pretty darn lucky to live here this time of year... Ronnie is doing great nursing and running around... so cute I've picked him up a few times for various reasons and oh man so soft and warm and cuddly!!! the spring pigs are on new pasture and having a grand time!!

In wine news - the rose is getting bottled on Wednesday!! and the release letter will be going out THIS WEEK!!! for the rose and the '07 syrah (this is the first release of two wines that have been sold out for a while now so e-mail me if you're not on my list) This Rose is different (better IMO) than the '07 Laughing pig it's from a beautiful vineyard I'm super excited about it's the first organically certified vineyard in Oregon and is over 30 years old! - don't worry we made pinot from this fruit too!! (that will be realy in the fall!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

the video!

click here to see the video of haley's big day

full report and video tonight!

Baby is healthy and nursing perfect birth at 1pm mom was relaxed and did great!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

a watched cow

... like a wathced pot ...never - gives birth!! I've been waiting it's seems like an eternity since Haley started showing all the 'signs' of being about to give birth! and I think I've totally jinxed her she has seemed imminent for over 6 days now!! eshhh .. alright already the suspense is killing me.. cross your finger for an eventless birth!! and then for Josephine next!

new painting

This one is going to an auction in Carlton - more details to follow... it's 28" square

Friday, April 16, 2010

this weeks painting

love that man of mine

Brian made a simple diner earlier this week - 'ham and cheese sandwich' with some greens - the catch was it's was on his home made bread with lovely local cheddar our Farm raised and smoked ham, toped with our friend matt's homemade mustard and some greens from our friends at Square Peg Farm just sauteed lightly in the pan - humm that took the humble ham sandwich to a whole new level. I really tried to only eat half... to no avail!

Monday, April 12, 2010

a spring weekend!

Sunday Brian and I and the lovely miss clementine took a walk around and surveyed the lower field the grass , clover and vetch are all coming in nicely! look s like we will have some happy cows come summer! Speaking of cows they are DUE!! any day now we are expecting babies!! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.. and boy do those girls look pregnant! ... cross your fingers for them!...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

a perfect day

Plowed with Duane's teams today at the farm museum - Used the walking plow with three up and the kids were perfect!! and then was handed the lines by Duane for a pass with 6 horses on the two bottom riding plow! What a thrill - a great day of horses and farmers young and old... if you missed today COME to the plow day May 1st !!

all these shots are taken by my brother Joseph (except the one below ; )- My friend buzz ran the horses for him so he could put his hand to the plow - I think he liked it... : )

Friday, April 9, 2010

more press : )

A truly wonderful article came out in the spring issue of 1859 magazine on Big Table Farm you can read it here (or below - or pick up your very own copy!)

as you can see - Miss Clementine is featured!

Eat, Drink, Graze Love

Winemakers in tiny Gaston strike a balance in winemaking, sustainable farming and life outside of Napa Valley

by Cathy Carroll
photos by Clare Carver

Brian marcy and clare Carver live by a seemingly simple creed: eat, drink, enjoy. In heeding this doctrine, Carver, 37, a graphic artist, and Marcy, 40, a winemaker from Napa Valley, were raising chickens and growing food on a 7,000-square-foot lot at their home in the renowned California wine region.

Convinced that the best food and wine require the finest, freshest ingredients, they searched for land they could afford, so they could grow their own grapes and raise animals.

By 2006, they had laid claim to 70 acres in Gaston, a blink of a town at the northern edge of Oregon’s wine-growing region 23 miles west of Portland. Marcy and Carver gave it the name Big Table Farm, and began raising free-range poultry, pigs, cows, and egg-laying chickens. Creating a vineyard—particularly on land that hadn’t been farmed for more than half a century—is a slow and expensive process. In the interim, the couple has been leasing land at other vineyards and buying grapes, mostly from Willamette Valley farms with environmentally responsible farming practices. Since their first Pinot, Syrah and rosé were released in 2006, they have earned high marks.

“My wine making is very hands-off. I just sort of guide the grapes, and they make the wine themselves,” says Marcy. “I don’t add yeast or enzymes or modern winemaking ingredients. It’s a really old process. People have been making wine for thousands of years, and additives have only been around the last fifty. With just a little bit of thought, there are lots of other ways to do it.”

The Wine Advocate, called the 2006 Big Table Farm Syrah “superb,” and gave it 90 points, citing its blackberry and acacia flower notes, good acidity, and “beautiful purity and length.” Last fall the San Francisco Chronicle picked the 2008 Big Table Farm Resonance Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Pinot noir as one of the top Pinot noirs of the year, acknowledging a “burnt orange peel, sweet extracted cherry and a bell-clear cranberry highlight, with a mineral edge.” In February, The Oregonian chose that same wine as a top Pinot, for its silky texture, lightly spiced baked fruit flavors, and even the “keepsake-worthy” label featuring Carver’s drawing of resident cow, Josephine, smiling.

Josephine has good reason to look content on that label. When Marcy and Carver were looking for farmland, they were reading Michael Pollan’s 2006 book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, seminal in the small-farm movement. In part, it profiled Joel Salatin and his small-scale ecological rotation farm in Virginia, where he adheres to natural conditions as closely as possible, recycles waste and uses few artificial products.

“It really struck a chord,” says Carver. Soon the couple adopted a managed intensive grazing system and farming methods that would build the soil and sequester carbon. For example, their pigs, chickens and organic egg-laying hens move around the farm to fresh, clean grassy grazing areas. The wheel-mounted “winnapigo” and “chicken bus,” made with scrap metal from the property, provide shade, rain protection and rainwater troughs at each fresh grazing site. Solar-powered electric fences keep the pigs, cows, horses and goats on alternating stretches of land at a time. The only fertilizer at the farm comes from the grazing animals.

Carver uses her newly-trained team of draft horses to pull a harrow, a raking tool that looks like a section of chain link fencing, and aerates and spreads manure. The low-emissions horse-powered plow is in line with their lofty aspiration–certified biodynamic farming. Beyond the standards of organic farming, biodynamic farming certification looks at the entire farm as one self-sustaining organism. “I look at it like yoga,” she says. “You practice, and maybe someday you attain a proficiency level.”

Producing meat is just one of several lines of business the couple runs.

There’s the winery, Marcy’s winemaking consulting, seasonal dinners at the farm’s big table, and Carver’s graphic design and painting. “I realized we need to have weekly meetings—just the two of us—to plan and make sure we were on the same page,” Marcy says.

Clearly, living and working that closely with another person is challenging, Carver says. This is a situation, however, that has strengthened their partnership. “It’s like my horses. If they both aren’t pulling their weight the same way at the same time, things get all catywompus and don’t work right.”

When things don’t work right, Marcy can often cook his way out of it. “You could be mad as hell at your husband, and then he makes a homemade pizza with prosciutto from one of our pigs that he cured, and kale and some other gorgeous thing, and you can’t stay mad,” Carver admits.

The final part of the couple's creed—enjoy—largely involves sharing their food and wine with others, at their 16-foot-long table for which their farm was named. From their window, they can see the south-facing slope where, soon, they hope to plant their own acres of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nice article for the upcomming plowing competition

Mark you calendar - !! for the ODHBA annual plowing competition - I'll be out there with my boys this year! - at Champoeg State Heritage Area the weekend of May 1-2.

the full article

written by David Sale 4/7/10

It’s a vanishing art, but these horse lovers are determined not to let it die.
Members of the Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association will show off their horse-drawn plowing skills at Champoeg State Heritage Area the weekend of May 1-2.
“It’s a wonderful group of old farmers who have been working the land for generations — and some newbie farmers like me who are being mentored into this great art,” said participant Clare Carver of Big Table Farm.
In fact, according to founding member Duane Van Dyke, plowing with horses is undergoing a bit of a renaissance.
“It’s a way of reconnecting to the past — and a lot of organic farmers are going back to it,” he said. “For one thing, you can get out there when it’s too muddy for a tractor.”
“It’s actually very relaxing,” he added. “Just you and the horses — when it goes well, life doesn’t get any better.”
Unlike most horse shows, awards will be given not on the animals’ looks or gait but on how smoothly the teams and their leader start and finish plowing, making tight turns and straight furrows along the way.
“Older farmers would always look at each other’s fields to see how they were doing,” Van Dyke said. “We’ll have two judges scoring, but it’s really all in fun — we’ve all known each other for years.”
The association expects 18 to 20 teams of draft horses and mules to compete from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 1, followed by an “exposition day” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 2, when participants will disc plow, harrow and seed the competition field with wheat.
For the benefit of spectators, an announcer will be on hand to explain the finer points of field preparation and visitors are encouraged to stop and ask questions of the contestants.
Harvested in August, the wheat field forms a part of Champoeg’s living history exhibits and its plowing is the centerpiece of an annual celebration, said park ranger Kim Martin.
“The draft horse competition is part of our Founders’ Day celebrations — we’ve been teaming up with them for the past five years,” she said. “We’ll also have costumed interpreters on hand, including some blacksmiths from Fort Vancouver, Wash., to demonstrate shoeing, live music in the visitor’s center and discussions on ‘Farming Then and Now’ led by the Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers.”
The Founders’ Day festivities commemorate not the establishment of the state park itself, but a vote by the early settlers of Champoeg to align themselves with the United States government — rather than Britain or France — thus beginning the process that led to Oregon’s statehood.
Admission to the draft horse show and Founders’ Day events is free with the purchase of a $3 parking permit.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

our little dog is home!

El Dorado's Clementine aka 'principessa' went to California earlier this week and we are sooo happy to have her back home - she went down to be meet Tasso's Joaquin a beautiful working dog to be bred - We are very excited for this litter the pups they due around June 1st !!

for folks into Catahoulas here's some info on Joaquin:

Joaquin is a wonderful large male with numerous red spots and patches and two cracked blue eyes. He has a sweet disposition, except with hogs. His sire is my Grand Champion hog dog, Hebert. He has been started on hogs and cows and is doing well. He has completed BAER testing with hearing in both ears. He has completed PennHIP testing with a diffraction index of .35/.35. This places him at the 90th percentile of the 144 Catahoulas that have been tested. The median for all Catahoulas tested is .57. He has passed OFA with a rating of "Excellent".
He passed CERF testing with no eye abnormalities.

With Gratitude!

We had a lovely dinner tonight with Katie and Whitney. We had a toast at the big table to Katie! - If you've been here with me for a while you may remember this post it's when Katie showed up in our lives just about a year ago and I was stunned - I remain stunned!! I'm so grateful to her for her spirit, and energy and just plain showing up and always being game!! here's to you Katie!! Thank you for all your countless hours of work on this farm!