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.

Northern Fence Lizard

Northern Fence Lizards are common at Chert Hollow. This one was hanging out on the greenhouse screen:


This is a recently hatched lizard:


Central Newt


The Central Newt is a type of salamander that has aquatic larval and adult life stages as well as an intermediate terrestrial stage. It is the terrestrial stage, known as an eft, that we have encountered on several occasions at Chert Hollow. We once found an eft in the woods near ephemeral ponds. Somewhat more surprisingly to us, we’ve also twice encountered an eft while digging sweet potatoes in the main vegetable field (in 2012 & 2015).

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpeckers are year-round residents at Chert Hollow.


Our trail cam captured this one at the pond’s edge during the severe drought of 2012, when most other water sources had dried up.


Holes made by Pileated Woodpeckers are distinctively rectangular, and the wood fragments can be quite large, appropriate for our largest woodpecker.

Trumpeter Swan


Through 2013, we had never seen a swan at Chert Hollow, but that changed in the early months of 2014. Since then, during the winter months, it has become routine to see Trumpeter Swans fly over at low altitude. Their distinctive call alerts us to their presence, and we always welcome a chance to take a break from tree work, look up, and listen to both their call and their wing beats as they pass low overhead.

Snow Goose


Snow Geese migrate over Chert Hollow in late winter/early spring and in fall. Northbound migration routes seem to pass more directly over us than do southbound ones, as we consistently see the biggest numbers in spring.

Here are some our first-of-year observation dates for north-bound snows:

2007: February 22
2008: February 23
2009: February 17
2010: no data
2011: February 15
2012: January 27
2013: February 6
2014: January 20
2015: February 6
2016: February 1

Cooking with kid: Adobo hocks

Hocks (the lower part of the leg) are not inherently the most tender cuts of meat from an animal, goat or otherwise. One of the tricks to cooking one’s way through an entire animal—as I am doing for this “Cooking with kid” series—is learning to use those “lower quality” cuts to yield meals that are every bit as delicious and satisfying as ones made with the fancier pieces. A Filipino-style adobo does just that, yielding a rich garlic-vinegar-pepper-infused meat that is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The preparation is great for the tougher cuts from kids, any cut of an old goat, and also for old hens or even stringy old roosters. Adobo is one of Eric’s favorite methods of preparing meat, and the results are always so tasty I tend to think of it as a complicated meal. But now I know: This is an easy preparation that should be in every omnivore’s repertoire.


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Cooking with kid: Koftas

kofta_mealWe don’t make Indian food as often as we’d like, so for this installment of “Cooking with kid” I decided to address my goals of culinary diversity by tackling koftas (spiced meatballs). Although ground meat has already been featured in Burgers and Tacos, it’s a practical way to use less-than-ideal cuts, and we always enjoy the results. This meal ended up being the most stressful to prepare of the entire series to date, but the end result was nice. Perhaps I’ll tell the full story in a different post, but for now here’s the simple version.

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Cecropia Moth


A stunning caterpillar, but not one that we encounter very often, this being only the second in nine years. This one was feeding on a domestic blueberry plant in mid-August 2015.

Chickweed Geometer


Observed early October 2015 near the main vegetable field.

As the name implies, the caterpillars can feed on chickweed. Hooray for anything that eats chickweed!