Summer!

You know that Summer is here in full swing when the local fair starts! I hope that you all support your local community and farmers by visiting the fair - not to mention taking time to enjoy a funnel cake ;-) 

On the farm we have several batches of fresh chicken in the freezer. The turkeys are 4 weeks old, looking bright eyed and bushy tailed. The lambs are almost 12 weeks old, and they weigh close to 60 lbs - little chunkers! We even have some baby bunnies growing quickly in a field nest :-) We stumbled across them in the field, and they are so cute. Nature is growing quickly around us, making use of the warm weather of summer. 

I hope that you are taking some time to enjoy family and maybe even a little vacation before Fall arrives!

Let a chicken be a Chicken!

The first batch of pasture raised chickens will be ready for your freezer in a few short weeks! 

Get your pre-order form filled out and submitted so you get what you need before they are sold out!

We will have two more batches this Summer, so on your order form you can indicate when you would like some or all of your birds. 

Unlike the chicken you get from the grocery store our birds are truly an artisanal product. Hand raised takes time and energy, but we feel that what you get in turn is worth it! Sun, fresh air, green grass, and activity.

Letting the chicken be a chicken gives you food that tastes amazing, and provides your body with a source of healthy protein. 

Get ordered today, or visit us at the Sayre Farmers Market on Friday between 10am-2pm

We look forward to talking chicken with you

Petals and Moons

There is a lot about farming that is exhausting, and down right dirty, but then there are these moments. 

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Yes, it was o'dark thirty - and yes, I was tired with a list as long as my arm of things to do - but how can you not just take five minutes and enjoy a flower as the night is waning and morning is rising over the hill behind me?

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Off to School

While the world is busy with all sorts of babies, we are headed off to herding school for the puppy! Watson the English Shepherd puppy is headed on an adventure, and I am headed with him to learn too. While instinct is important it is not the only thing you need in order to work animals successfully. Hopefully some lessons will get us started, and we can practice this summer as we have all our animals to move daily. 

This winter it was all fun and games, but now its time for working!

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Delivered Fresh

While there are times I bemoan technology - other times it offers us remarkable benefits! 

One of the ways that we sell our meats and eggs is through Delivered Fresh - an online avenue for local people to buy local products. The business was featured in the NY Times last week, and the outpouring of support from people all over the country has been amazing! 

It is so exciting to see people support local food and farmers especially in rural areas. I have included the article here for you to read, and know that my folks and I appreciate all you do to support us, and support local food here in the Valley. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/10/business/farmers-ecommerce-amazon.html

 

Incubating and Brooding

Spring is here, which means babies are in the air! In order to have baby bird we must incubate and brood. You might ask, what the heck are those?

In order for fertilized eggs to hatch in to chicks in the Spring they must be incubated. Traditionally a mommy bird (chicken, duck, goose, etc) will sit on her eggs to keep them warm for about a month, and then they hatch! When we incubate eggs we have to mimic what a live animal would do. That means keeping the eggs warm, with the right humidity, and turning them twice a day for about a month. 

 Here is an example of a brooder.

Here is an example of a brooder.

Once chicks start to hatch we are on to brooding. Chicks have to be kept at about 90 degrees for the first couple days, and then very slowly kept less and less warm.

Now a momma bird doesn't really "brood" in the same way we do. She is more like a walking warmer for the chicks.The momma hen does this by allowing the babies to come and snuggle under her to rewarm. We do this with heat lamps, etc. Brooding usually lasts about 4 weeks, or until the chicks start to develop feathers that protect them from the cold. 

Like all new life it is amazing to know the process including all that can go wrong, and what it takes to be successful. We should have our own chicks any day now. Ducklings from our own incubator, and chicks from a momma hen who is sitting. We will see!!

Sheep Shearing School

I treated myself to a little pain therapy this past weekend, by attending shearing school. It was amazingly helpful, and important to learn, but also exhausting! The goal is to get the wool off in one "piece" with no secondary cuts that lower the wool quality. 

We also learned how to use and maintain all the shearing equipment. Can you believe that on average shearers make less than $5/sheep to shear them. It is back breaking work that requires skill, strength, and expensive tools. No wonder shearers aim for speed. A good sheep shearer can get the wool off a sheep in less than 3 minutes!!! The top shearer in the world gets one done in 45 seconds - it blows my mind! I'm lucky to have one done in 8 minutes, much less be able to do sheep after sheep with no break. 

The next time you see something made of wool you just keep in mind that there is no automated way to yank wool of a four legged creature. All shearing is done by hand every year on every wool sheep in the world. Be thankful for quality wool products, and appreciate their sustainability. In a world that is rapidly loosing people skilled in "trades" it is so important to encourage and support this kind of knowledge. 

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When It Is Not Quite Spring Yet

While Maple Syrup season may be underway for some; for most the ground is still too cold and wet for much to happen. It can often be the time of flu or colds. I remember last year mid March I had a horrid cold right as we had some lambs arriving. Although I know that it doesn't actually make the cold go away any faster, Honey Tea does sooth my throat, and get me through. I even make a carafe of it, and take it with me to the barn; so I thought I'd share.

In a mug I add water, then about 1-2 Tbsp (lets be honest I just pour some in) of Apple Cider Vinegar, and 1-2 Tbsp Honey. If you like it sweeter add more, etc. If you prefer you can even substitute the vinegar for Lemon juice. 

Sticking with the honey is a great recipe from the Ethical Meat Handbook by Meredith Leigh. Roasted Lamb Rib with Orange, Fennel, and Honey Marmalade.

Marmalade:
4 Oranges, sliced thin with the peels on
1 whole fennel bulb and 1/2 of it's leaves thinly sliced (if you aren't sure about fennel just use less leaves)
1 lemon, zested and juiced (keep both in a bowl) then quarter the lemon and keep the seeds
6 cups water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup honey

In a pot put the water, oranges, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Wrapped in cheesecloth add the quartered lemon. Simmer mixture for up to an hour - you want everything very soft. 

Once the mix is soft bring back to a boil, adding the fennel, sugar, and honey. Stir constantly until the mix reaches about 220 degrees Fahrenheit. It's ok if it is slightly less. The goal is to be able to place some marmalade on a plate, and have it slide together when you tilt the plate. If the mix is watery and runny, or doesn't slide as one - then stir and heat until further gelled. 

Meredith suggests using this on more than lamb, and to cool the mix in mason jars. 

For the ribs:
1/4 cup vegetable oil (sunflower, grapeseed, etc)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of the marmalade you made above
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Combine oil, garlic, paprika, pepper, and 2 tsp salt in a small bowl. Pat the ribs dry and rub it with the oil and spice mix. Cover the ribs and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. 

When you are ready to start cooking make sure to bring the ribs out and let them come to room temp (about an hour).Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Place the ribs in a heavy, but shallow baking dish, and cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake for 1 1/4 hours. While the ribs bake, mix the red wine vinegar and remaining salt in a small sauce pan. Heat to a simmer. Once the ribs are done remove the foil, pour off any fat, and brush with the marmalade mixture before returning it to the oven for 10 minutes uncovered. Remove the ribs again after the 10 minutes, flip over, brush the underside with marmalade and return to the oven uncovered. You will continue flipping and brushing the ribs every 10 minutes until the marmalade is gone.

Then serve and enjoy!! I recommend eating these with fresh mashed potatoes (sweet potatoes are great too) and Brussel Sprouts. However, there are so many yummy combinations!

Want more?

I don't know about you, but as much as I enjoy blogs I always find myself missing posts or loosing touch because I am busy. If you are like me I'd encourage you to connect with our emails. I usually send 1-2 emails a month that give you recipes and tips for cooking. If you are interested email me, or you can scroll to the bottom of any of the website pages and connect with me there. 

Other farm news - we have one new calf that was born. Fiona, and we are waiting on one more who is due any second. Winter is not a great time to have babies, but these mommas were bred when we bought them, so you just have to roll with the punches! All the sheep however, are happily eating the Winter blues away, they will not start having lambs until late April into May. Mostly January and February are hunker down months, time for farmer rest and recuperation.

 

Cut Sheets 101

Understanding what pieces of meat that you can get back from the butcher is very important. Especially if you are trying to decide between buying whole, half, or individual cuts of (in this case) a lamb. Keep in mind that buying in "bulk" when it comes to meat will always save you money. One of the great things about lamb is that even a whole lamb can usually fit in your freezer no problem.

Once you've decided on how much meat you want, next you need to decide what cuts. Unless you are buying individual cuts of meat you will have to let the butcher know exactly how you want your meat cut. Below I included a poster of some common lamb cuts. If you are not sure what you want, or how to use a specific cut drop me an email! We are happy to help work through your first cut sheet, or the butcher can help as well.

Some questions that the butcher will want to know are:

- How thick to make steaks or chops. 1-1.5 inches are usually a good place to start. Remember - the thicker the piece of meat the less of that cut the butcher will be able to make since each single cut will be thicker (just as an example - these numbers are not exact - say you might get 6 - 1 inch loin chops, or 4 - 1.5 inch chops). This is an important thing to remember.

- Don't forget to ask for soup bones if you like making stock!

- How many pounds of something in a package? You might want all your ground meat in 1 lb packages so they are easier for you to use. 

- Bone in, or bone out? You will want to specify. Bone in meat can take a little longer to cook, but it also can add flavor. Bone out is also easier to cut since there is no bone to work around. This is a big decision when it comes to the "leg of lamb". 

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I hope this has made things more clear, and a little less daunting. One thing to keep in mind - unfortunately some butchers will keep/"steal" meat. It is just something that any meat buyer should keep in mind. If you ever receive meat back from a butcher that seems a lot less than what we told you it should be, please make sure to let us know! While we can't control the butcher, we will change butchers if this becomes an issue - and we can definitely work to reimburse you.

These are just some basics - if this was helpful leave us a comment!