Winter Chicks

Last Spring, The Farmer used an incubator to turn some of the farm eggs into chickens. They were The Farmer’s little pet project throughout the year.

Chick hatching in incubator in April 2018

December found The Farmer enjoying fresh eggs while the hens were adjusting to their winter quarters.

One night late in December, when The Farmer went out to gather eggs, a hen was still in a nest box. She made it known by the cock of her head and the low screeches that she did not want to be disturbed. She had gone broody.

The next morning, though, she was out with the other hens, so The Farmer just took note…but, the hen acted the same way a couple days later. Continue reading “Winter Chicks”

Pork Resupply – Part 2

And our pork is back! YEA!!! 🙂  We have frozen meat:

  • Smoked pork – $7.00 / lb.
    • Bacon – around 1 lb each
    • Ham slices – These are 1 each in a package and they are about 6 in. ovals with a small bone in the middle and some fat around the outside – around 1 lb. each.
    • Smoked pork chops – 3 smoked chops in a package, each package about 1.25 lb.
    • 1 smoked ham roast – This will have a bone down the middle. It weighs about 4 lb.
  • Fresh pork (unsmoked, frozen) – $6.00 / lb.
    • Steaks – These are 2 / package, are about 5 in. long and 3-4 inches wide. They weigh about 1.75-2.0 lb.
    • Chops – These are 3 / package.  They weigh about 1.25 lb.
    • 2 shoulder roasts – These have a bone in them and are about 4 lbs. each.
    • 2 loin roasts – These have a bone on the side and are about 4 lbs. each.
    • Ground pork – This is bulk ground meat that is in a tube and weighs about 1 lb.  Each tube is $6.
    • Spare ribs – This is a short rack of ribs, about 2? lb.
  • Sausage – This is bulk sausage in a tube and weighs around 1 lb. – $7 each.
    • Pork sausage or breakfast sausage – This is pork, salt and flavorings, primarily sage.
    • Sweet Italian sausage – This is made of pork, salt, sugar, white pepper, fennel, paprika, anise and coriander.
    • Hot Italian sausage – This is made of pork, salt, crushed red peppers, sugar, fennel, black pepper, and paprika.
  • Other pork parts
    • Liver – This is about 1 – 1.25 lb.  $4.00 / lb.
    • Heart and tongue – Both of these items are frozen together.  They weigh about .5 lb. $4.00 / lb.
    • Feet – This is 2 feet / package and weighs about 2 lb.  $2.00 / lb.
    • Lard – This is unrendered pork fat in frozen slabs.  A bag is 5-10 lb and is $2.00 / lb.
    • Bones – These are $2.00 / lb.
    • Heads – This is the pig skull with most of the meat trimmed off. $6.00 each

These items are available from the farm or through the monthly Meat Subscription. Email me about what you would like to purchase.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is mentioned a lot on health and natural food websites. What is it used for and how does one make it?  I recently interviewed Griffin, a SU Ph.D student who loves to rock climb. He shared with me that he takes bone broth on his hikes to give him an energy boost. He finds that it can quickly heal collagen tears and can help maintain the tendons. If used regularly apart from hiking, it helps with gut health and helps the skin and hair with the nutrition that they need.

Cooking the bones with a splash of vinegar helps to get the collagen and marrow out of them.  If you want minerals and vitamins, then you need to include some veggies and/or herbs in your broth as this is where the minerals and vitamins come from. 1

Here is his recipe with my comments:

Griffin's Bone Broth

Ingredients

  • 4-5 marrow bones
  • 1 splash vinegar, whatever variety you have Splash is about 2-4 Tbsp.
  • 1 cup veggies - onions, celery, carrots, whatever you have available
  • 1/2 bunch herbs - whatever you have available and what you like
  • 1 shake salt; 1 tsp is good amount to start with
  • Pepper to taste
  • Water to cover, leave 1 inch head room

Instructions

  1. Put bones in 6 quart crockpot. Add veggies, herbs, salt, pepper and vinegar. Add water to cover leaving 1 inch head room. 

  2. Turn on low for 36 hours. You can start it on high for an hour or two to get it warmed up and then turn it down to low for the remainder of the time.

  3. After 36 hours, if the water has steamed off, then add more water. Check flavor and add seasonings as desired. Continue cooking for 8 more hours.

  4. Turn off and allow to cool some.

  5. Take bones out of broth.  If there is any meat on them or marrow in them, remove it, cut it up, and add it back to the broth.

  6. Pour the broth into containers.  Glass containers will store in the refrigerator, plastic in the freezer.  Let the broth cool in the refrigerator.  Once it has gelled, take the fat off the top and use it to cook food in or to add to dishes for flavor.

  7. Label and freeze. 

Make sure you leave 1 inch of head space when you add the water.  If you don’t, you will end up with a layer of fat on the counter.

I like the glass containers in principle. However, a plastic container is easier to get the fat out of. If you let the broth cool until the fat is solid, then you can gently squeeze the container which lets the fat pull away from the sides. You can then lift this up and out and put it in another container to use on bread or as the fat for sauteing veggies.

The broth can be the base for soups, can be added to stir-fries,  or can be part of a daily drink. Because it is concentrated, you will want to dilute it.  In soups or stir-fries you could use it for up to 1/2 of the liquid.  For a drink it could be up to 1/8 or 1/4 of the liquid.  It will have a slightly salty, meaty taste, although depending on the other ingredients, that could be masked.

This broth is tasty. It is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of attention. It will take up the space and use of the crockpot, so you need to plan around that. But this works well.

This would be the point where I should say – Do you want to try this? Contact me to get your bones today! – but unfortunately, my marrow bones are sold out for this year. Next time I will share my personal bone broth method. It doesn’t extract as much collagen as this recipe would, but it works well enough for me. Stay tuned.

And the winner is…

Congratulations to Sara L. on winning our 2018 Local Food Challenge.  During the winter and spring she and others regularly commented on the food challenge for that month.  Yesterday, her name was drawn and she won a $50 gift certificate to the farm.  Congratulations, Sara!

Pork Resupply

It is time to send the pigs to the butcher. We purchased these pigs from another small family farm and have raised these pigs out of doors and fed them non-GMO grain, milk and cultured milk from our cow and day-old produce from a local grocery store and from our garden. They have been allowed to root and act like pigs.  The plan is to use the location where they were as the start of a garden bed.  They have done the tilling and fertilizing, we will do the planting and growing.

We have several sides available as halves or quarters.  1/4 side would take up about half the freezer over a refrigerator. We sell pork in bulk for $200 / quarter + processing costs (last time it was about $80/quarter).  The total would be around $280, depending how much smoked meat and sausage you get. Assuming you leave most of the bones in, it would be about 35-40 lb. of meat.   If you contact me by Monday, January 7, you can choose how you would like to have your pork cut up and what (if anything) you would like to have smoked or put into sausage.  Payment can be made in late January when you pick up the meat.

Email me if you would like to purchase a quarter or half a pig or if you have questions.

In February we will again have pork available by the cut – $6 / lb. for unsmoked meat, $7 / lb for smoked meat and sausage.  If you have cuts that you would like me to request from the butcher, please email me about that.

2019 Plans – Seeds

In early January we make our main plan for what we will grow in the coming summer.  We tweak this until finally we plant things.  Part of January’s plan is placing the seed order.  We primarily use Fedco Seeds, because we like their small farm sympathies and because we get a significant discount with the group that we are part of.

Here is how YOU can help us:  What have we grown that you have enjoyed?  What would you like us to grow?  Think about greens, root veggies, pumpkins, squash, herbs, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and flowers; in short, any vegetable, herb, or flower that might grow in this region.  We make no promises that we will be able to grow it, but we will seriously consider it. Email to let me know.

Jarrahdale Pumpkin – Grown at a customer’s request; excellent as a vegetable and a pie

Here is how WE can help you: You can place your own order with our group for seeds, potatoes and exotics, and growers supplies. Seeds tend to have 15% discount, potatoes and supplies 5-10% discount.  Shipping is free for seeds, but will be spread out over the group for the potatoes and supplies.  Email me your interest, so that I can let you know how to be part of the group.

Here’s to planning for our 2019 summer!

Poo Power

While reviewing his news sources recently, The Farmer saw a reference to a comparison of fertilizers on soil health.

In a study that spanned more than a decade, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison used varying levels of manure on one field and varying levels of inorganic fertilizers on another. Yet another plot received no amendments, acting as the control.

Fresh Cow Pile

Soil samples were taken in 2015 to assess how the soil fared with the different protocols used. And in September of this year the results were published by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). The executive summary states:

Core Ideas:

*Long-term annual application of manure maintained the soil pH but inorganic fertilizer decreased it.

*Manure application increased soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN).

*Higher manure rate helps in improving the water stable aggregates compared to inorganic fertilizer at 0- to 10-cm depth.

Fresh Chicken Droppings

There was also a warning that higher electrical conductivity readings in the manure-fertilized fields could indicate salt levels being too high.  But since The Farmer is not a member of the  ASA, he cannot get the report details to read the specifics.

As someone whose farm includes animals, and whose animals provide much of the fertility for garden, this is a heartening study.

This post’s bottom line: using what comes out of your animal’s bottom will help your farm’s bottom line…or, the power of poo keeps your soil from bottoming out.

Our well-aged compost pile

Meaty Shank Soup Bone

1 package of meaty shank soup bone; note, there are 2 pieces of meat side by side

The meaty shank soup bone has long been one of my favorite cuts of meat.  It is a thick piece of beef with a marrow bone in the middle.  It can be boiled to make a delicious broth for soup.  It can be sauteed and then simmered with veggies to make Osso Buco.  The flavor comes from the marrow fat in the middle of the bone.  Here are the recipes for Beef Barley Broth and my rendition of Osso Buco.

Each package of meaty shank soup bones are 2.50-3.00 lb. each. The cost is around $25.

Beef Barley Broth

Beef Barley Broth

This is a simple broth, simple to make, simple to eat. It is more broth than stuff.  It is good with a hearty bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds meaty beef soup bones, can use beef shanks or short ribs
  • 8 cups water
  • 6 whole peppercorns, opt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped turnips (or 1 cup other veggies)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup medium pearl barley

Instructions

  1. In a large soup kettle, combine soup bones, water, peppercorns and salt. Cover and simmer for 2-1/2 hours or until the meat comes easily off the bones. Remove bones; remove meat and marrow from bones; dice and return to broth. (Yes, dice the marrow and add it back into the soup. The fat gives the flavor!)

  2. Add the veggies and barley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer about 1 hour or until vegetables and barley are tender.

Recipe Notes

Typically, I put everything in the pot about 2 hours before we are going to eat.  Then about 15 min. before we are going to eat, I remove the bones, take off and dice the meat and marrow, and return them to the broth.  Both ways work.

 Original recipe

Osso Buco

Osso Buco

The meaty shank soup bone is browned, then veggies are sauteed, and all of it is simmered for several hours.  Yummy-licious!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil, butter, or fat
  • 1-2 meaty shank soup bones
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 18 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups broth, chicken or beef, use up to 2 cups, as much as your pot will hold

Instructions

  1. Brown meaty shank soup bones in oil for 3-4 minutes on each side in dutch oven. Remove from pot.

  2. Saute the fresh veggies. Add oil if needed.

  3. Put the meat back in the pot under the veggies. You do this by pushing the veggies to the side and putting the meat down, then covering the meat with the veggies.

  4. Cover with diced tomatoes. Add broth. Cover pot. Bring to a boil, turn to low, and simmer for 2-3 hours.

  5. Take meat out, cut into fine pieces or shred. Cut marrow into small pieces.  Add back to pot and stir it all together. 

  6. Serve as is or over rice or potatoes.

Recipe Notes

This is based on a kitchn.com recipe and comment on someone else's website.  Neither had good proportions.  They were -ish recipes.  So feel free to -ish with what you have on hand.