Monthly archives "November 2010"

our take on life and death

 

Harvesting a turkey and having a death on your conscience is not something to be taken lightly. When we choose to end a life here on LTD Farm we are doing so with the full knowledge and realization that we have taken on the task of ending a life and transforming that life into food that will sustain our own lives. This process does not begin on the day that we harvest that animal, it begins back when we start to plan for the farming endeavors of the next year. On a farm your actions and daily work are directly determined by the seasons and you work within the constraints and parameters determined by them constantly. For instance, if we didn’t get the hoophouse built by the time the ground froze up, we wouldn’t be able to get it completed this season, and that would put our ducks and pigs, as well as next years vegetable production, at risk in this cold weather. So we can never ignore the seasons and the rhythms of the natural world. To do so would be perilous for our business at best, and completely destructive of our farm’s ecosystems at worst. 

When you think of the farm as a whole interconnected system of food production, rather then a bunch of unrelated parts that require inputs and produce outputs, then you start to consider all the varied roles that the flora, fauna, and landscape play in the farm organism. This is a fundamental understanding of permaculture; that nothing exists in a vacuum, that everything exists in relationship with everything else. To build and expand these relationships is what creates good health in ecosystems, farms, communities, and businesses. Most commercial agriculture is an example of the folly of ignoring the value of these relationships, and we can see the results of such ignorance in the horrors of factory farming, the degradation of topsoil in mono-cropping, and the pollution of our aquifers and waterways by the use of poisons called pesticides and herbicides on industrial farms. We feel that it is imperative that we connect all the parts of our farming together into a cohesive whole, to offer an alternative to industrial ag by growing our small permaculture based farm into a sustainable business that can support our lives and others by providing delicious products that have been grown in a happy, healthy environment, as well as to help facilitate the growth of basic homesteading skills and experiences that will provide us and our community with security in a world of increasing oil prices and decreasing oil supply. 

None of this would be possible without the complex interplay of flora and fauna on the landscape of our farm. Our take on animal products begins with the reality that we must consume life in order to continue our own, in many ways. We think that it is very important to understand that concept in order to develop a relationship with what you consume. Here on LTD Farm we want to acknowledge that we are taking something from the earth every time we pick a broccoli floret, harvest a turkey, buy a new tool, or feed the ducks. Then we give thanks to the plant or animal, and to the earth for such amazing generosity, and we strive to give back to the earth as much as we can. Our side of a relationship  with the earth can be in the form of creating compost with 80% of our organic waste, or teaching others how to live lightly on the land. It can be by bringing like-minded folks together for a workshop, or planting a cover crop. 

To get to the heart of the matter of life and death here on LTD Farm, we think that our animals are an integral part of our farm organism. When we commit to keeping animals on the farm, we commit to giving them the healthiest, happiest, and most fulfilling lives possible. We want to create a self-sustaining farm in as many ways as we can, and in order to do this sensibly we will choose to end the lives of animals that have come to the end of their productiveness, or are ready to be part of a customer’s dinner. With that in mind, we also commit to honoring their lives by utilizing their entire body as much as possible, and to give the rest back to the earth. The finality of death is certainly a scary thing, but it is in no way an unnatural event, and to recognize that death is simply a part of the life continuum of all creatures is very important. We believe that to die is to go back to the source and to nourish the earth once again in this ecstatic circle called existence. We give our animals the best possible lives that we possibly can, and end their lives with the quickest and most painless method that we know of, and this is all that can be asked of any life or death. None of us know when we will die until perhaps the very end, and neither do any of our animals. Meanwhile they live good fulfilled lives. 

Our animals are happy, healthy, and loved. The milk from a goat and the eggs from a duck are miracles of nourishment derived from the miracle of life itself. The flesh from one of our animals is it’s last gift to us. To respect that gift is extremely essential to building a good relationship with our own death. We feel that the only ethical meat that should be eaten on this planet is from an animal that was loved and raised in a happy, healthy environment, and provided a quick and painless death. As a small farm we are just a speck of sand on the beach of agriculture, but even a speck of sand can get in your sandal and make you take notice, and to see that the beach is made up of millions of specks of sand. We all have the capacity to make serious decisions about our food every single day. We can connect the dots and make a constellation of small-scale growers/producers and cooks/customers, and create happy, healthy relationships all around us.

-Khaiti and Andrew

snow and challenge

our shiitake logs, all innoculated and ready to sprout next summer! Andrew's wearing his grandpa's coat!

the newly covered hoophouse, covered now with SNOW! just in time!

that blue squash is one Roxy and Matilda planted in the old hoophouse, a variant of a heirloom called chermunsunya

our new buck romeo, kicking Cedar's butt for a second

inside the hoophouse, with the pig pen set up for the three girls, and the shelter Andrew made for their winter snuggling

awwww, turkeys.........

Today was out of control. We woke up all nervous after a fitfull car problem day yesterday, and a full turkey harvest this day, Sunday, to worry about. It was 6 am and one of our customers called to say the roads were sheer ice. We had expected about 20 families to be coming out today, but due to the road conditions, we kinda thought NO ONE would come. Our brave friend Jean showed up after driving slowly forever, and Jessie came going 15 mph the whole way, ahhhhhhh….we thought our day was just shot after harvesting the first 4 turkeys. But then more people came out! Much thanks to Josh and Abbey from Turnip Rock, Melanie T., Sue H., Mary and Charlie, Steve and Kaia, Susan and Ernie, Renee and Tommy, The Lunas, and Daniel Klein. Roland came out to get his special bird also. What a whirlwind of a day, a big change from how we thought it’d go. WOW. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We all have so much to be thank-full for.

hoophouse!!!!!!

 

the new LTD Farm tractor- Andrew's grandpa's ancient Case!

As of today, the hoophouse’s major milestones have been checked off the list. Level the ground in a 30×60 area.Take down a tree that was threatening to fall on the area, and cut up for shiitake logs. Pound in all the ground posts in straight lines in a PERFECT rectangle, perfectly level. Assemble and erect 18 ginormous 300+lbs arches that form the hoop of the house. (that’s when I got hurt, those suckers were out of control for me to try to help work on.) Attach purlins at super awkward angles, above your head, between all those arches, as the arches are going up. Drill into purlin holders, with a bolt and then into the steel pipe—a major pain and killed Andrew’s drill! Attach baseboards along two 60 foot sides -that’s alot of lumber!!!!) then dig the anchor holes and buy and haul cement home to pour in the anchor holes, and then attch the anchors to the frame.

What a lot of work, and I have to say this getting done is all thanks to Andrew who has majorly piloted this project since I have been working off farm quite a bit. His Dad George has come and helped with so much, and our friend Aaron Blythe from the Minnesota Food Association came out one day and helped get all the arches up, since I was completely unable. Such a crazy process and it feels so great to have it covered. Almost ready to roll for housing the ducks and piglets this winter We still have a paddock of fencing to put up around the hoophouse before that happens.

The piglets are doing great! Such lovies, they play tug of war with my pant legs, race around with jumps and skips and delighted hyper motion. They are GROWING before our eyes, filling out nicely as they settle into their new home. Amazing to witness those little bodies building muscles everday. Love the pigs so……oh my lil sweets in the morning sun!

The goats are in full swing with Cedar standing watch for any girl goat that goes into heat. May just was in heat a couple days back, and Cedar was following her all over, they were inseparable. Today it is Catalpa, and his alliance changed very quickly. He’s pretty brutus like with the girls who are not in heat, so i am anxious to sell him since he is just too much “man goat” to deal with. My girls are all so dainty and sweet, and he is a giant compared to them. A giant with big horns.

And…..we got a tractor. This is definately not my realm at all, but this special tractor was Andrew’s grandpa’s machine. We’re excited to have her here and bring her back to life on a farm, working hard.

a beauty!

piglets……now life is complete again!

enter Squeak, Penny and Rosie....our three new piglets for winter pig snugglin'

 

after a busy day acclimating to their new home, the three lined up under the heat lamp for some zzzz's

 

We really missed Roxy and Matilda’s presences since their harvest two weeks ago. We’ve been enjoying the fruits of that harvest, but pigs are such astounding animals to have around……we missed them. So, today we picked up our three little piglets from Turnip Rock Farm in New Auburn, WI. Our friends Josh and Rama raise pigs organically and had three sows give birth over a month ago, so they had lots of cute little piglets available. These three girls are half Duroc, which is a pig breed renowned for some delicious flavors. And they are just really freaking cute. They’ll be smothered with love (we can’t stay away from them actually) for the next 6-7  months and fed like queens- we seriously made smoothies for them today in the blender, since they can’t digest whole or cracked grains yet being so tiny! They are 25-30 lbs now, and will grow to 300+ by late April. Two pigs are available to the first takers, email for details.

Here’s some pics of our pig butchery with our half of Roxy (a half a hog equals about 100 lbs)

picking up the pig halves after a thorough chilling at Northwoods Locker

 

guancianale- spanish style bacon made from the jowl of Roxy, cured with salt, sugar, thyme, pepper, etc

 

cutting the loin section into chops!

 

our first pork chops! can I say.....heaven

 

grinding meat and back fat into bratwurst filling....

 

oh yeah! brats! we did it all from scratch, even cleaned the intestines to make authentic sausage casings from our dear Roxy

 

some of the cuts, so beautiful

 

this, my friends, is pork belly, from a loved and wellfed pig. It went into a dry cure for over a week, and will be smoked tomorrow..