Monthly archives "October 2011"

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A misty morning today, feeding and watering all the animals in the semi-darkness. The woodstove is stoked and we wake up warm, with a pretty balmy 36 degrees outside. The ducklings cheep in their brooder boxes, which we made out of 3/4 sheet of plywood, a pretty good design for around 40ish ducklings. We’ll post instructions later.

Can’t see the sun yet, wondering if we’re going to get any shine today. This is the time of year when we reassess our priorities for the winter, and for next spring. It’ll be here sooner then you think.

The ground is wet and everything sticks to the soles of our boots. Time for milking.

homemade sausage?

We’re teaching a class in St. Paul, at Mississippi Market on Saturday, November 5th @ Mississippi Market! It’s all about SAUSAGE, and most specifically BRATWURST. We seriously have the most amazing brat recipe, and we’ll be grinding, mixing and stuffing homemade brats in this class. Come learn and eat! Register online through Mss Mrkt. http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2145962632

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

apples

This year, 2011, has been the year of the apple. We have been up to our eyeballs in apples for what seems like months, because, well, we have. The pollination and weather worked out so beautifully this year to produce an applicious bounty on our farm. Trying to make the most of it, we’ve canned, sauced, jellied, buttered, juiced and wined our hearts out with the apples that bombarded our trees. And we had plenty more for our CSA members as well! Such lovely apples, all 100% organic. If our apple grinder concept hadn’t failed us, we’d have alot of hard cider going on, but we’re going to have to rework that plan for next season. We’re actually applying for a grant to make a community portable apple processing center to take advantage of all the apples around this region, many of which simply return to the soil year after year, due to lack of equipment. When one thinks of all the time & energy put towards gathering sap from maple trees to gather sugar in it’s pure form, you can’t help but realize apples are loaded with sweetness that oftentimes goes unharvested.

Update: Our apples are done for the year, the last trees are bare. let us know if you want to be on the email list for apples next summer and early fall!

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This morning we noticed that there has been a voluntary recall of the Larry Schulz organic eggs because of an outbreak of Salmonella. This is a quote from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture: “Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in very young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Anyone who believes they may have become ill with Salmonella should contact their health care provider.”

As producers of shell eggs we are of course concerned about providing our customers with the safest eggs possible. We provide our flock of ducks with plenty of living space in our hoophouse and fresh bedding, as well as access to rotated pasture throughout the day. Our ducks live separately from the rest of our farm animals, in their own fenced in paddock which is more than half an acre.

Every day we inspect each egg for defects or cracks. We are very small scale and have a hands-on approach to every aspect of our farm.

We would like to remind all of our customers to cook each egg thoroughly to kill any bacteria that may exist, in order to prevent any illness.

Little Bunny Foo Foo

A few days ago, once again our farm family grew! We are happy to welcome Jack and Jill to our menagerie. They are fluffy and cute and hopefully Jill is pregnant and will  be giving birth to a litter of 8 bunnies in a month. We have decided to give raising rabbits a go, and our great friend Cris over in Prairie Farm had these rabbits available. Thanks Cris!

We’ve taken a shine to them. Since this is a working farm, these rabbits are not destined to be pets per se. We do plan on breeding these two and using their offspring for food. Right now we are in the experimental stages. We are going to build some rabbit tractors such as the Salatin farm uses as soon as we get some time here. They have already produced a copious amount of poop in the last few days, and this poop is ready to use in the garden right away. Waht an amazing concept.

We are planning on eventually feeding our rabbits all homegrown food but right now we are giving them pellets and some of our hay. They love the hay, and we fed them some clover yesterday and they went right to work and seemed to enjoy the clover as much as we would enjoy a bag of potato chips.

pig ponderings

Our pigs have been quite an adventure this year. We bumped it up from raising 3 piglets last winter, to 8 this spring.However, spring brought NO PIGLETS for sale ANYWHERE. It was a nightmare, but we finally located some south of our farm. We were about 4 months behind our planned piglet raising period, but finally we had our piglets and put them to work tilling in the center of our farm, where we’ll be gardening next year.We decided to keep one of the over-wintered piglets, named Rosie, as she is stellar in body type ( a real bacon type, fatty pig), a sweet, engaging personality and, yes, we just loved the idea of raising up our own piglets, especially since it was so hard to find piglets for sale this spring. Rosie had been the pig we were going to make into wedding bratwurst for our reception, but we changed the menu to Goat Curry, featuring our goat bucks, Cedar and Romeo.

Lance courting Rosie

Enter Lance, a Tamworth boar pig, who arrived in June to be Rosie’s boyfriend, and hopefully the father of her piglets. At first we were mighty concerned he was not able to get the job done properly, as he was quite a bit smaller than she. We saw attempts, but never witnessed what would count as success. They were joined in their big wooded pen over the summer.

Pigs’ gestation is funny- 3 months, three weeks and 3 days. If Lance got Rosie knocked up in June or July, that would have led to October or November piglets. November is not ideal, with out rustic farm set up (no barn, just a farrowing hut in the pasture.) After a couple months of blissful cohabitation, Lance was moved next to Rosie, but separate from her. No December babies, thank you.

Rosie........pregnant?

After realizing we really couldn’t keep him on the payroll all winter, and attempting to sell Lance for some time with no luck, he was humanely harvested on our farm. There’s alot of info out there about boars being unfit for human food, being “stanky” and the meat tasting like boar piss. We had some encouragement from a friend in Andalusia who said she’s harvested boars on their farm and never had problems with bad tasting meat, and she wholeheartedly agrees that animals who are not scared when they die do not pass on hormonal changes in their meat (making a bad taste). If we had trucked Lance to the butcher, even just 10 minutes away, it would have scared the crap out of him, and adrenaline most likely would have been surging through his muscles. Instead, he was being calmly talked to, adored and then he was gone.

look at the belly change-------Rosie!

We took his hams, several roasts and hocks and placed them in our charcuterie tub with a strong sea salt brine, in a fridge, for about a month. Most of this was cold smoked after the brining. Everything else from Lance went into our freezer and he tastes amazing, like a good pig does. He spent his last month eating organic apples, clover, oats, etc in company with the best lady pig ever. Good pigs are, unfortunately, delicious.

One of Lance's massive loin roasts, which was smoked after brining. We could have cut it into chops, if we were so inclined, but a nice big roast was so.........

After doing the numbers, we can’t really afford to raise pigs on the scale we did this year. Without machinery to do all the hauling of feed around for us, it has become back breaking to be hauling hundreds of pounds of grain all of the place, to keep up with their rooting frenzy and continually move them over and over and over…we love pigs, but we’re barely getting paid to do all the work it takes to raise them well. And we do raise them well, and love them up. Until we can figure out how to do it more efficiently, we decided the hassles and hauling are too much to continue next year.¬† Maybe………..

Farming small scale means you must choose your projects to suit your abilities and time frame. We’re focusing more energy on our ducks and their eggs, our CSA gardening, the goaties, as well as raising fantastic broiler chickens and the lovely turkeys.

That being said, after many nervous observation periods, we’re quite sure Rosie IS pregnant. The earliest she would be due with piglets is in about a week, but there’s no way that’s happening. Her body and appetite seem to be more in order with piglets due in a month. Oh boy, the dreaded November delivery. Our first too. What a crazy adventure. Pigs are amazing, wonderful creatures. They are recycling eating machines, and they till any turf you want tilled. And they are incredibly friendly, intelligent beings. It is a joy to play hide and seek with Rosie, watching her try to find you when you dart around the corner of the farrowing hut, or race through it, and she waits for you on the other side. I’d just say small equals better for anyone thinking about raising pigs, and don’t try breeding your own for a good long time.