Monthly archives "February 2013"

Gaggles of Geese

On Valentine’s Day Eve, we brought 2 gaggles of geese home, from Botan Anderson’s Mystic Prairie flock. We’d been thinking of adding a goose breeding flock to our farm for some time, but it just hadn’t happened yet. The breeds are Pilgrim and Toulouse, and we couldn’t be more excited! For the first week, the geese have been getting adjusted to us & their new home, which is the hoophouse until the pastures are clear of snow. They are gearing up for the spring breeding season now that they’ve settled in. Geese only lay a small number of eggs in the spring, so we were lucky to bring them home right before this began. There is not much information available about raising geese in larger numbers than a couple pairs or so, so we’re learning as we go. Thankfully, observation is a very powerful learning tool. Animals give plenty of clues about their state of being, if you just pay attention.

We’re passionate about raising animals on pasture, giving them a natural and good life outdoors with fresh air, sun and a diverse diet. The most amazing thing about geese is, like rabbits, they can eat and grow almost 100% on grass. We’re care about grass-based meat because it is the most ecologically sound choice for our planet. When animals eat grass, they not only utilize something we cannot eat, they harvest it themselves and enjoy this natural behavior in the process, and while grazing, they help build the soil by preserving and stimulating the turf. If more farms preserved grasslands by raising animals on pasture, we wouldn’t be losing so much topsoil from our fertile farmlands.

A goose will usually lay between 20-50 eggs over the course of 2-3 months. Our plan is to incubate the first eggs, and then let the mothers build up their nests and hopefully hatch out goslings. We are excited to be one of the few local farms raising real pastured goose. Grocery-store goose is usually raised indoors in dark barns, stimulating fast growth, but depriving these intelligent & noble birds of a natural, healthy life.

As we continue on our farming journey here at LTD, we’re realizing that one of our major missions is to “be the change we wish to see in the world.” We do not want animals to be subjected to factory farm conditions ever, anywhere. While we cannot stop it, we can provide an alternative – we can raise animals how they ought to be raised and we can know we are doing our part in fighting the good fight. Our customers truly complete the cycle by purchasing our products. Thank you for your support of our farm!

The Farmstead Kitchen – Beans in the Winter

Featured LTD Farm Foods:

  • Hand-shelled Dried Beans
  • Cured and Smoked Ham
  • Raw Goatmilk Feta
  • Heirloom Tomato Salsa
  • Organic Chicken Stock
  • Fresh-frozen Jalapenos
We harvested a lot of dried beans by hand last fall. They certainly can be a “poor man’s meat”  but we love them for what they are; creamy, delicious, and filling! Beans are awesome for breakfast, as they keep you going long into the day. Winter is cold outside, so we want some hot food inside our Farmstead Kitchen to warm us up. 
A delicious savory breakfast  –
Pureed Chipotle Beans, served with Smoky Pork  & Feta Grits and garden salsa.
After picking through the beans for stones, and rinsing them well, we soaked our beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse before beginning to cook! We cooked about a cup of dried black beans, but you can always make a bunch and use the beans for other meals in the week. Every bean has it’s various attributes and flavors, but we generally find them rather interchangeable.
Make sure to add about 4 times the amount of water to beans, and don’t add salt, as it can inhibit the cooking process for beans. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered, for about an hour or more. You can also cook them easily in a crockpot. We added extra water and cooked them slowly on our woodstove for about 4 hours. When the beans were nice and soft, we drained off almost all the liquid, pulsed them in a food processor, and put them back on the stove to simmer for about another hour. We added these ingredients:
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon chili powder
3/4 Tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
1/2 Tablespoon cumin
dash of homemade apple vinegar
fresh ground black pepper
When the beans are simmering on low, time to cook up the Grits with Smoky Pork & Feta.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, and then stir in 1 cup of dried polenta- this is found in the co-op bulk section, and it’s basically a coarse, gritty cornmeal. The key to luxuriously smooth grits is to keep stirring as the water comes back to a boil, and then lower the heat to barely a simmer, keep stirring and then cover and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring sporadically.
We raised our own pig named Rosie, and then cured and smoked her hams ourselves. We over-salted during the curing process, but now just plan on the ham bits to be the salty component in any dish we make with her ham. Chop up the ham bits and stir in while the grits are cooking, so that the saltiness of the ham will spread through the grits. Add a bit more water to the pot if needed. Stir in the feta cheese to taste at the end of the cook time, and then lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Portion into a big bowl, placing the chipotle beans on one side, and swirl the salsa in between.
With the other beans from our woodstove pot’s worth, we prepared a
simple but delicious soup last night –
Creamy Beans with Pork
Cooked Leftover Beans, Ham, Chicken Bone Stock, Jalapeno- that’s it! Combine in proportions you like and slowly simmer as long as possible, at least 2 hours, adding water as needed.
Super Simple Bone Stock –
Making stock is so easy, and once you get into the routine you’ll never go back to the tasteless stuff in a box. Put your roast chicken carcass/bones (and all the nibbly bits left on the plates)  in a crockpot, cover with water, add a glug of cider vinegar, cover and cook on high all day. You can add other herbs/veggies  if you want, and use any kind of bones from any meal. We tend to save up leftover bones from roasts, chops, etc in the freezer so we have a nice assortment of flavors going into the stock. The vinegar helps pull minerals and nutrients out of the bones. You’ll notice how the bones actually will soften after stock making, now the dogs can safely eat them, although consult with your vet before you let them. Strain the stock into jars, store in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.
A cheater tip from one who dislikes doing dishes immensely-
Prepare your chicken dinner IN the crockpot, then post- dinner, and after removing all the meat from the bones, proceed to immediately make Bone Stock- cover the bones in the “already dirty” crockpot and simmer overnight!

The “Farmstead Kitchen” Series

 

“What’s for Dinner?”

Sometimes it’s just hard to think of something to eat for dinner, even if all kinds of ingredients are staring at you from the cupboard, freezer, or fridge! I’ve been enjoying Pinterest lately, searching for recipes and gazing at mouth-watering photos. The only problem with some of these beautiful recipes is that most call for out-of-season and other store-bought ingredients. I try to use what is at hand in my farmstead kitchen, and that precludes following most of these recipes.

Eating for me is all about flavor AND sustainability. Eating is an agricultural act, as Wendell Barry has said. You literally vote with your fork each and every day for the kind of world you want to see in the future.

Being a farmer on a budget who happens to grow actual food (many farmers these days only grow animal-feed or ethanol crops like field corn and soybeans), I have a variety of fresh and preserved ingredients to choose from for meals. I raise pastured animals for meat and have a very diverse garden that feeds customers and ourselves, and I almost always have duck eggs (although only frozen eggs while the ducks enjoy their winter vacation). I can, ferment, cure, dry, freeze, and root cellar our products all spring, summer, and fall. Nevertheless, we all still get into cooking ruts and need some inspiration. I decided to begin the “Farmstead Kitchen” series as a way to broaden my own cooking horizons, while sharing what it is like to eat from a diverse farmstead throughout the year. Even if you don’t have a farmstead, we can all learn to focus on what is available in season from local farms and learn how to preserve food for out-of-season use.

february respite

We have a respite from the intense cold right now, but strangely we are busy with indoor tasks…Preparing our taxes is always extremely fun. Luckily we have great farmstead food snacks to help fuel us through.

February snuck up on us, and it is getting closer and closer to that exciting time when we can start our seedlings. Pictures will abound as seedlings emerge and snow melts, and hustling bustling life returns to the farm. Right now there is some hidden life all around, under the snow, deeply buried in the ground, but the abundant beauty of spring will make our hearts sing again.

For the last few days the snow seems to have fallen lightly every night, and each morning we’re greeted with a different crystal blanket. We re-trudge our paths through the snow to water and feed our animals, and pick up wood for the stove. When we were children we enjoyed the snow so much, what happens to us as we get older and more curmudgeonly, keeping close to the warm heat of the inside? Maybe it’s time for some snow angels…

We are expanding the Permaculture Design and Consulting aspect of our business as of March – please check out our page here with all the information. If you would like to learn more about this please email us. We have a body of knowledge and experience that can help you realize your own dreams, as well as the design experience to help you envision your grand plans. We can help you prioritize your goals and work toward building your dream garden or homestead.

Now it is about time to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. A visit to the birch grove will lighten the spirit.