Results for category "farm life"

giving thanks

Hi guys! So- I’m going to be experimenting with returning back to my roots of this being a bit more of a personal blog again, now that I am running the farm on my own. Let me know what you think.

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Here’s to you and yours having an awesome holiday season. I hope you are able to focus on spending quality time with those you cherish and not get stressed over figuring out gifts! I can HIGHLY recommend the “Extreme Alpaca” boot socks as a special gift that will actually get used, you can get them from my neighbors down the road with the beautiful Suri alpacas, Chris and Jess of Whistling Pines Ranch. And if you know someone who adores Duck Eggs, I have some cute custom LTD Duck Egg themed mugs coming, I’ll update this post when I have pictures. Let me know if you are interested!

It’s been a heck of year here on the farm, and the past month in particular has been bazonkers.

The lady ducks are all on vacation from laying eggs, I have eggs for a couple more deliveries then the 2015 duck egg season is over. This means I get a break from cleaning eggs each and every day, do you know I personally collected and cleaned and candled over 80,000 eggs this year? My wrists are ready for a rest! During my egg time this year I listened to some phenomenal books on tape, which as a busy farmer, I never had the patience or free time to sit down and read.

Last week, I was finally able to get the ducks’ barn completely cleared out after 4 YEARS of deep bedding, with the aide of a rented HARDCORE Bobcat, with a special grappler attachment. My friend Klaus operated it, and me and my team of friends worked feverishly to fork all the bedding off the sides and into the middle rows to get it all accessible for the machine, which just barely fit in the barn. We also ended up needing to take the entire east side of the barn off so the Bobcat could get in, it was an insane and exhilarating and exhausting day! Now I have the world’s most lovely (and enormous) compost piles ready to have the most kick-butt garden next year. YAY!!!

I was able to get the cows’ more permanent fencing set up before the ground froze solid, now the girls have a channel that leads them from their water source, up to the hayfield, where there are plenty of round bales of hay to keep them occupied through winter. They will add their fertility up there as they eat, which will increase the hay yield next summer. Ruby still has not had a calf, and I don’t know if she will, only time will tell. Lola is doing wonderfully and is so sweet and beautiful! She possibly is going to have a calf next summer, but again, only time will tell. Overall, the Highlands have been an amazing and fulfilling experience for me this year, I just love them!

Turkey, goose and chicken harvesting happened right before the barn clear-out. Every year when I begin in on this difficult job I think, maybe not again next year, this is so much work to hand harvest my birds, and after tending them for months and months it’s hard to not get a little attached. But when I see my customers faces light up when they pick up their beautiful birds, it brings it all together for me. I absolutely love to be able to provide “my people” with humanely raised and harvested pastured meat, that also happens to be supremely delicious meat as well! I’m formulating the offerings for 2016 and will post the CSA sign up soon.

This ethical-meat-raising farmer had an awkward Thanksgiving. I’m the oldest of four sisters and one of them is an extreme vegan. She’s so hardcore about it that she didn’t speak with me for nearly 5 years because of my choice to “be the change I want to see in the world” by raising animal products how I believe they should be raised. She thought/thinks what I do is horrible, even worse than factory farming, because I know and love and care for my animals, and then harvest some of them. I don’t think that’s worse, I think that’s respectful of the beings, to acknowledge their life and contribution, and make sure they live a wonderful life while they grow. Anyways, this spring, this vegan sister finally opened herself up to having a relationship again, which meant the WORLD to me! I love her and think she is amazing, hilarious, talented, and just wonderful. She has a daughter who I adore and I was so glad to have them both out to the farm twice this summer.

Thanksgiving and Turkey Time brought the old conflict to the surface though. She assumed I would be bringing turkey I had raised to the dinner, and last minute said she was not going to be attending for “personal reasons.” Immediately I read between the lines and I assured her I can do an all vegan Thanksgiving, if that’s what it is, no problem! Turns out she didn’t even want to talk to me about whether I was even planning to bring meat, so she just had decided to not come. What? Just communicate, people! Things are still a bit raw between us, but I also know that the holidays can be a trigger of intense emotions and memories. When my family lost our dear Mom 8 years ago, we lost the family organizer and planner, strategist and coach, tradition keeper and referee. We all feel her loss especially during this time of year. So my lesson is to be kind, be patient, and be good to each other.

And if you are one of my beef people, here’s the link to the summer sausage I made in the pictures. It is outstanding!!!

 

November already!?

Well, what a glorious year it has been, and the weather this fall continues to be lovely! The past month has been insane with putting up garden goodness, family visiting, chicken harvesting, beef deliveries, furnace and waterline repairs, internet issues and then all the regular tending of things around the farm. I want to give everyone a heads up that the ducks are starting to get ready for winter vacation, there are less eggs each day so I know it won’t be long before they quit laying for the year. Duck eggs are a seasonal product after all, and because I do not cull my flock of older ducks, their laying is a bit less regular than younger birds. I just put them onto the garden after I collected my fill, and they are in heaven with all the kale, broccoli, chard, zucchinis, comfrey and radish tops to enjoy.IMG_0186IMG_0011 IMG_0044 IMG_0050 IMG_0054 IMG_0059 IMG_0075 IMG_0089 IMG_0098 IMG_0115 IMG_0126 IMG_0130 IMG_0138 IMG_0151 IMG_0156 IMG_0157

My first highland beef roast!!! SO YUMMMMMY! I cooked it for 12 hours in the crock pot with onions and garlic, beef broth and herb salt. So tender, so flavorful, so versatile for many meals afterwards too. Love the highlands, love their beef!

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October

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It’s been a busy summer on the farm, and suddenly fall has arrived. This seems to happen every year! The lady ducks are doing awesome and loving this warm days/cool nights time of year- check out their eggs on a special at the Wedge Co-op this month!) The organic pastured broiler chickens are growing plump (I will have extra dressed birds for sale in early November), the geese are maturing and the turkeys are enormous already. The garden was crazy productive and food’s been stockpiled in the larder for year round eating from the farm. The three male Highland cattle have been harvested, after a most wonderful grazing season. Lola the heifer and Ruby the 6 year old are here still, Lola might be bred for a calf next summer and Ruby is supposedly pregnant, but has yet to change much in the belly department, so who knows. Cattle were a big experiment this year and a dream come true!

There have been some major changes here that I will talk about later on. I hope you have a enjoyable fall and are soaking up this extra long warm season, what a blessing. Take care!

-Khaiti

Farmstead Kitchen- Katty’s Duck Egg Crepes

Back in the day at Seward Co-op, Katty and I worked together in the grocery department. She is a dear young lady, so intuitive, talented and kind. Before I left to start working at the co-op in Stillwater in 2006, she was hired on as my replacement Merchandising Manager and she rocked it so hard the store had to move to a bigger location!

Katty recently came out to the farm for a catch-up visit and she made ME crepes! It was the first time I’d ever eaten them…………and NOW I get it!!! Crepes are insanely decadent and complicated sounding, I thought you needed tons of butter and cream to make them, so never even thought of trying to make them. Turns out you can make them totally dairy free – Katty used duck eggs, almond milk and Earth Balance non-dairy butter. The trick to the perfect crepe is the low and slow cooking technique, which leads to silky smooth crepes that melt in your mouth!

In a cuisinart mixer, mix 3 eggs with 1 1/2 cups of a milky beverage, together til real fluffy. Then add to the cuisinart:  5 Tbl melted earth balance, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp salt and 3 Tbl Sugar. Get a large skillet warming with a bit of “butter” on low. A well-seasoned cast iron pan is ideal and will require less oil to grease between the crepes. Mix the wet ingredients together well, then pour into a bowl and add 1 cup white flour and just barely mix it in.

Add 1/2 cup of the batter to the warmed skillet and IMMEDIATELY tip the pan around in a circle to get the batter to cover the entire bottom of the pan evenly. Let the batter sit in the pan undisturbed, cooking slowly until you can see the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan, then carefully lift and flip. There are apparently special crepe spatulas you can find which make this much easier. You are not looking for a browned crepe, just one that is cooked and holds together. I find each side takes about 5 minutes, depending on your temperature. Compared to a traditional looking pancake, crepes will look underdone and much flatter,   which is not quite as exciting, but Crepes are WAY more fancy when you are eating them! Oil the pan as needed between crepes to ensure they don’t stick, but if you’re using cast iron you may not need to do this.

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Katty also made a blueberry sauce by simmering fresh berries with some sugar for a few minutes, and we rolled that sauce inside the warm crepes and shoveled them into our mouths with our fingers, barely making any sounds other than guttural oohs and ahhs! I just put some slices of uber juicy peaches on mine and snarfed them down!11999079_10153000472217751_894657438021719049_n

 

Farmstead Kitchen- Preserving the Harvest

11222646_10152867171507751_383718360300309371_nThings are simpler on the farm this summer, without trying to fill CSA boxes each week. I cannot lie, it’s a relief. When you cannot do something extremely well, it is better to let the ones who DO, do that! Hopefully you are supporting your favorite local farmer by participating in a CSA this season, or going to the farmer’s market near you and patronizing your most treasured local farms. Buy as much as you can from them! They depend on this short window of the growing season to make their living. Don’t  just buy what you want to have for dinner- put it up! Eating local year round by preserving the summer’s bounty is just so rewarding, frugal and lower carbon-footprint.

Here on the farm, the garden is growing amazingly well. I have previously done canning and freezing and drying of single ingredients, to allow for flexibility in their eventual use – like canning tomatoes, drying herbs, or freezing chopped garlic scapes. I am still doing that too, but also trying something new- freezing “leftovers.” This is a very simple way to put things up- make your dinner in a slightly larger fashion with your fresh local goodies, and then freeze some of it in dinner sized portions. 11866406_10152944273367751_7941376092407105345_n11800261_10152944409457751_581708455700096187_n

Not all leftovers freeze and the reheat perfectly, and this will be a learning curve to be sure, but many leftovers do freeze extremely well. Use up all those reused plastic cottage cheese containers, label what’s inside, and then mark down a “monitor freezer inventory” on your December/January calendar to remind yourself that you have all sorts of ready to use meal ideas already stockpiled. Just an idea for you as you deal with mounds of cherry tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers, green beans, kale and chard, etc. I have made and then portioned and froze giant pans of roasted herbed cherry tomatoes and zucchini chunks, braised greens (yummmmm, and this reduces the space they take up in the freezer,) and curries with all sorts of veggies. I also want to remind you this is the time of year to make a batch of herb salt which I posted here last winter.

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I just started a big pan of it today and added slices of fresh garlic too, it will be divine! And it is so EASY! You can make it in any quantity, it’s a great way to put those abundant summer herbs to use (and also makes a fantastic gift!) other than boring old dried herbs in the cupboard.

Don’t forget fermentation as a means of preserving. You can ferment many combinations and end up with an absolutely delicious probiotic-rich condiment that will keep in the fridge for over a year!11863301_10152943384932751_3959796014741046254_nMany of the co-ops offer classes on fermentation but you can also go your own way by utilizing the DIY spirit of Sandor Katz, he has written a most inspiring book called Wild Fermentation, and there is also tons of info on his website. I hope you have a great summer full of enjoyment and the reward of capturing the season by putting up food using many methods for eating local through the year!

Highland cattle adventures!

On my FarmerKhaiti Blog, I have been writing about the cow adventures happening on the farm lately. It’s been very exciting!  Click here for the full story.

Here’s an excerpt:

“When the bull saw them coming, he made the craziest strangely quiet guttural deep burp/moo sound. As the three approached him, he squared up like a patriotic soldier and faced his side to them, standing as still as a statue. I held my breath, what was going to happen? The steers were all up in his business, literally sniffing his bum and his junk. May was there too, the crazy goat who does not know her size for one second. Made of pure confidence, she went up to the bull and smelled his junk too. He stood completely still. But then Nillo did something unnoticeable by me that he didn’t like, and he swung at him, nothing too dramatic, more of an “I’M the BOSS” gesture. Then they all stood there for like ten minutes. The bull pawed the ground, just like you see in bull fighting. It was exhilarating, but terrifying. Was he going to kill the steers? Pin them to the ground and gore them? I could see him watching them, the whites of his eyes glinting in the bright mid day sun. But he just stood there. The steers got bored with this, and showed their submissiveness to him by leaving and going to investigate the 2 cows. Ruby, who is older, seemed to care less, although she did take a swing with her horns at Lola’s approach. Clementine, though, she is feisty and she locked horns with Nillo several times, pushing him back and winning the ranking over him. There were a few running spurts as the steers wheeled away from the bull’s stoic stare.”17657_10152814975797751_6590661058806509836_n 250434_10152854835542751_1181738618767917834_n 11140235_10152811169352751_1497854140595529659_n 11709459_10152866919837751_578658833152522997_n