About Joanna

Joanna manages many behind-the-scenes aspects of work on the farm, taking primary responsibility for vegetables & other cultivated plants; she selects varieties, develops and implements the planting plan, monitors and identifies problems, and saves seed. She also takes charge of recordkeeping, database management, scheduling, technical aspects of web development, and accounting. A geologist by training, Joanna enjoys landscape exploration in various forms, including hiking, canoeing, and nature observation, especially bird watching. She also enjoys cooking and eating really good food.

Eastern Hognose Snake

In our first ten years here, we had only three sightings of these, and it wasn’t until the third sighting (in April 2016) that I had a camera with me. This snake announced its presence in an audible manner. I paused, looked around, and saw a patterned brown snake emerging from the vegetation where I had heard the rattling sound. From about 10 feet away, I strained my eyes to look at the tail. Then it puffed up its head, conjuring up a menacing cobra. Oh, relief: a Hognose Snake. I hollered to get Eric’s attention, and we enjoyed watching it for a few minutes. After its initial bluff didn’t scare us away, it shape-shifted its head to a triangular form, more reminiscent of the rattlesnake that I had initially feared. It even moved in a sidewinder fashion, a master impressionist. The one trick we didn’t get it to do was to play dead. The round pupil is absolute confirmation that this one was nonpoisonous. Certainly a really fascinating creature to have around, though they are predators of toads, and we like to have high populations of toads–which we’ve confirmed through observation to be predators of squash bugs.

Cooking with kid: Ribs

Even during my vegetarian years, I salivated at the thought of ribs. I didn’t really think about the kind of animal when I thought about ribs, but there’s a good chance I was thinking about pork or beef ribs. There’s a fundamental difference between pigs, cows, and goats. The fat of the former two tastes great. Goat fat? Not so tasty. And the trick with ribs is that they’re loaded with fat. That abundance of not-so-scrumptious fat can be dealt with using an ideal method for goat-rib cooking. Unfortunately, this blog post will not reveal the details of that method.

Now, I have eaten really amazing goat ribs, prepared by someone else. The method reportedly involved a spice rub and a long, slow cook in a smoker. I’m guessing a lot of the fat had a chance to ooze out, leaving great-tasting goat meat behind. Maybe I should try that approach sometime. But that’s not what I did in this case.

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Spring Beauty

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A wildflower of early spring, fairly common in the woods and along woodland edges at Chert Hollow Farm.

White Trout Lily

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A wildflower of mid-spring with colonies that are scattered in the woods at Chert Hollow.

Large Bellwort

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A wildflower of mid-spring that is scattered in the woods at Chert Hollow.

Virginia Bluebells

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An especially showy spring wildflower that occurs in the woods along the stream at Chert Hollow.

Cut-leaved Toothwort

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A spring wildflower that occurs in the woods at Chert Hollow.

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The seedpods are similar in shape to other brassica-family plants, such as collards that we routinely save seed from.

Dutchman’s Breeches

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An early spring wildflower that is moderately common in the woods at Chert Hollow.

Mayapple

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Occurs in patches in the woods at Chert Hollow, especially in relatively moist areas. We’ve seen leaves coming up as early as late March. Although the ripe fruit is reportedly edible, various critters always eat them before we do.