Zen milking, local tofu, and rabble-rousing cows.

Day by day, I am feeling more comfortable and confident in my new role here. I was on 5am milking duty every day this week, and the biggest thing I learned was the importance of state of mind in my success with these creatures. If I feel confident and calm when I approach the task of milking, I’m more likely to do things well, but perhaps more importantly, the cows can really sense my mood, and react to me as such. If I am nervous, it makes them nervous, and if I flinch, they flinch. On the other hand, if I lean into them with much of my weight as I milk them, they understand that I mean business, and that they’ll just have to put up with me until the job is done. It has been a real lesson in taking deep breaths, in relaxing my muscles, putting worries and other thoughts out of my head, and truly focusing on the task at hand. I have a long way to go in these matters, but I can tell already that this job is going to stretch me personally in really interesting ways.

One of the things I have been enjoying most since I have been here has been, unsurprisingly, the food. Most products for sale at the farm store are grown here on the farm, at nearby farms, are biodynamic, organic, or sustainable in some other way. This weekend, I went to The Main Street Public House, the local pub in nearby Philmont, NY, and they had an organic beer on tap and organic, grass-fed beef burgers available for dinner, and the liquor stores also have wine from local vineyards as well as a decent selection of organic and biodynamic wines. Yesterday, I bought some local tofu made by The Bridge (their soybeans are grown in upstate New York and their factory is in Connecticut), and made some really awesome tofu salad. I have made several different kinds of tofu spread over the years, but this one, I must say, was stellar—another recipe from Moosewood Restaurant’s New Classics.

Tofu Salad


  • 1 cake firm tofu (16 oz.)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons miso
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise*
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrots
  • 1 ½ cups diced bell peppers
  • 1 ½ cups diced celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, basil, or dill
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


Crumble the tofu. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, until the tofu dries out a bit. Stir in the soy sauce and the lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together the miso, tahini, mayo, and mustard in a mixing bowl. Add the carrots, bell peppers, celery, scallions, fresh herbs, tofu, and salt and pepper to taste.

Dankest tofu salad ever.

*Side note: One of my roommates recently gave me a tutorial on making my own mayonnaise—just take an egg yolk and slowly whisk in about a cup vegetable oil, and add some mustard and salt and pepper for seasoning. Easy and super tasty.


We had some excitement today at lunch when we looked out the kitchen window to see a bunch of cows wandering about amongst the hay bales, where they definitely are not allowed to be.

View from the kitchen (imagine wandering cows).

Apparently the snow had been mounded so high that the cows could just walk over the fence to freedom (though they were definitely more interested in fresh hay than running away). For the most part, it wasn’t too hard to corral them back in, but the calves are a little more frisky, and none of us were too eager to get close to the bull, Charlemagne (he is generally pretty even-tempered, and we affectionately call him Charlie, but he’s pretty big and could do some serious damage if the mood struck him). We managed to get everyone back in the fence by waving our arms around and generally trying to look big, but it must have been pretty funny to watch.

Moon over the barn, January 16, 2011

Addendum: I have been doing a lot of reading since I have been here, mostly about farming and anthroposophy, and I plan to start including thought-provoking quotes that I come across in my explorations. This first one is from “An Evident Need In Our Times,” which is an essay by Karl Ege that explains why Hawthorne Valley Farm was founded.

“And here we come face to face with the economic life of today, where the impulse for ‘rendering service’ has become almost totally lost. Earning money, gain as a goal–in short, purely egotistical strivings–rule our economy. Work for the love of work, for others, and for the sake of the whole, have become practically nonexistent. For this reason, the young people of today cannot help but find this earning for the sake of earning for purely personal ends meaningless. For deep down in the young generation there lives a strong social impulse, arising out of a deep longing for true community.”


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