Results for tag "pastured-pigs"

The new farmer revolution!

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Since we started farming together here on this land in 2010, the two of us have been learning HOW TO farm at the same time. Without any formal farming apprenticeships or interning experiences, we both were total greenhorns when we started. We didn’t have much money to live on, and every penny we made and make keeps going back into our farm. But you know what? We’ve learned ALOT these past 4 years, and we’re still learning, and we’re making a living. Each year, life keeps handing us humbling setbacks and curveballs, but we keep our eyes on the prize of fulfilling our mission and keep at it. Perhaps we aren’t doing everything perfectly just yet.  Many things we planned to have completed by now aren’t totally done. We’ve experienced some disasters and many frustrations. But this is how you learn. You have to hang in there during the tough times to see the reward.P1100925

This season it feels like we have our act together and are headed in a solid direction. It is satisfying to feel that the many steps we took toward a goal are finally adding up to something – It’s been a tough road to get here alright! The key for new farmers is to start something, work as hard as you can, and find the things you are really, really good at, then keep doing them and grow. When we started, we tried as many farm projects as we could. By necessity, many of them have been abandoned when it was clear that they weren’t helping us financially to move forward, or they just didn’t fit into our work flow, skill set, or we weren’t 100% passionate about the product we were producing. Too much diversity means you can go absolutely crazy trying to keep up with it all. Breeding poultry, rabbits, pigs and goats are some examples in our farm journey. Gardening for a CSA has been a challenge, especially starting on a totally new patch of land, and of course climate change has meant very odd weather patterns.

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What we are really passionate about is giving our ducks, chickens, turkeys, and pigs  the best lives possible on pasture. We love the food that they become. Since we can never stop exploring other things we may love, we are trying out pastured veal calves this year as our new project and so far they have been just lovely to raise. Basically, the theme for us is animals. Our farm start-up was based on providing an ethical alternative to factory farm food and connecting customers to their food.

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Check out the latest issue (August) of ACRES USA magazine to get the first installment of Khaiti’s article series geared towards new farmers. The focus is to help aspiring ecological farmers get going into farming smartly, by following their passion. We’re pretty excited to watch this publication reach out to the new farmer revolution underway!

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pastured!

Can you spot the lady ducks hiding in the grass?1655737_10152199133991448_4193783938692871107_oOur pigs really enjoy the cool shade in their “Pig Park,” where they get to run, root in the dirt and play as all pigs should!P1100883

Our goslings, chickens and turkeys all get along just great on pasture, the little turkeys like to help clean up the broilers’ beaks after dinner.

P1100856P1100851One of our pastured veal calves, Bucco, enjoying some delicious grazing.
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Our hay harvest is coming off the field where we pastured our turkeys, geese and chickens last summer and fall. Our bale yield has gone up considerably because of all the nutrients the birds added to the soil!P1100821

A simple and delicious dinner to make without heating up the kitchen hardly at all: Fresh Duck Egg pasta, amaranth greens (you could use any greens) and garlic scapes (or green beans would be good too) all cooked together in a pot of water for 3-4 minutes, then topped with salty aged goat feta, olive oil and black pepper.P1100809P1100813

Nanking Cherry Seeds after extracting the juice, which is shown in the process of simmering down with apple vinegar and frozen serrano peppers from last year to make an experimental cherry hot sauce. The seeds we’ll save to plant next year.P1100812P1100815P1100889 P1100890 P1100892

 

Happy Pigs & the Silent Auction

P1070233Awww Summer is here! Finally!!! The garden is growing very well and the bounty coming out of it is starting to get seriously huge. It feels great to pack our CSA boxes with copious amounts of spring greens, herbs, baby lettuce, radishes, wild greens braising mix, kale, chard….even if it’s all a month behind schedule, it’s looking good and tasting even better. We’re looking forward to the next flushes of summer goodness – the sugar snap peas, sweet peppers, zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, jalapenos, carrots, beets, garlic scapes, garlic bulbs, apples (it’s been a great year for our apple trees! lots of baby fruits are plumping on all our trees-fingers crossed for a successfully maturity period.)

P1070235We have have exciting news- we’ve added three pigs to the farm this year- They are a lovely trio who are part Duroc, a breed reknowed for deep red pork with exceptional flavor and texture. Chopper, Tulip and Lecker are living the dream, like all pigs should! Here’s a little video from when we just brought them home:

They love the grasses and shrubs in their expansive pasture, love to dig into the earth and eat grubs and roots. We also feed them an 100% organic grain ration, as well as cull vegetables from the garden and DUCK EGGS, which they love the best. They have the shade of our 1 acre spruce forest when the sun finally starts to shine.

We believe this is the best organic pastured pork you will ever taste. The silent auction we’re holding for this amazing pork closes on 7/15/13. Bid by emailing us, you can submit a bid for a half or whole. A half will be between 80-100 lbs – including bacon, chops, roasts, ham, lard, YUM! Check out the “better pork” prices in the store, and know this pork will be even better because of their diverse and all organic diet, the space, freedom, exercise and TLC they’ll be getting. If we accept your bid you will put down 50% of your bid and the remaining 50% will be due when you receive your pork in December/January.P1070241

 

 

Delicious things to make with Duck Eggs, & all the latest

Today I made custard for lunch with our ducks’ eggs. So fresh, so vibrant and lovely-the custard turned out not only a gorgeous color, but had a satin smooth texture. Yum! This dessert, made with eggs from happy happy ducks is actually good for you! Loaded with protein, calcium, B vitamins, healthy mono-unsaturated fats and some mineral rich maple syrup to boot.

duck eggs so fresh they nearly bring tears with their beauty!

i forgot to whisk the eggs before i added the the milk-

stirring over the low/medium heat

oh yeah- hot custard poured over frozen raspberries from a neighbor's farm

The basic recipe is as follows: Whisk 3 whole eggs in your pot, off the heat. Stir in 2 cups milk (we used fresh goats’ milk) and a 1/4 cup maple syrup, a 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and  apinch of salt. Then start to heat on low/medium, stirring for about 5 minutes until the mixture is thickened. Eat right away with fresh local berries, or pour into serving bowls and refrigerate until firm. You can also cool the custard and then freeze it in your ice cream maker for an out-of-control summer luscious treat. Absoutely divine. The richness of the duck eggs is what makes this very simple custard a knockout.

duck eggs also make the BEST homemade pasta!

The extra protein in our girls’ eggs make homemade pasta even more robust and rich. Give it a try. One thing we learned is that whole mixing on the counter top is not a good idea- just use a bowl to avoid making a giant mess. The ratio is so easy (this is for about two servings)- 2 eggs to 1 cup flour, a pinch of salt. Stir, knead add more flour if needed, then roll out vigorously with a rolling pin, flouring your board as needed. Cut into strips that are about the same size, and drop all at once into a pot of boiling water. Boil maybe 5 minutes, depending on how thin you got your pasta sheet. Just boil until the texture is to your liking. Dress with fresh greens, sauteed in a little olive oil, some garlic. So simple, yet fancy and delicious!

rhubarb from a friend, we've established our own giant patch now, for next year and beyond

some of our broiler chickens that we're raising for our chicken share customers

Life has been good out here. Our first CSA boxes in May did not have any of our own veggies, as April was snowy and nearly sunless, so nothing grew! Radishes sat in the soil, not growing like they would have. We found wild ramps to share, and padded the boxes with extra eggs, soaps and other farm made goods. The June boxes begin next week, and we are so excited for all the good stuff we get to share now! Fresh, tender Kale (soo good with duck eggs for breakfast! Just sautee for a few seconds in olive oil, crack an egg on top and flip after a minute. Greens enriched eggs the easy way!), sorrel, cauliflower and broccoli, fresh peppermint, lettuces, china choy, baby salad mix, radishes….it’s so exciting. The first tomatoes are being formed on the plants, and the summer squash are about to bloom and start producing mountains of zucchini and patty pan squash. Kohlrabi is doing well, parsley and beets are taking their time, carrots are beginning to be visible. Brussel sprouts are starting to reach for the sky, and cabbages thinking about starting heads. Some of our cauliflowers are forming tiny heads. The heat wave we all experienced of over 100 degrees really pulled a fast one on the brassicas, who thought, that’s it, time to make seed. So we have some tiny heads, and some of the plants burst into bloom when it suddenly was 45 at night. They thought winter was coming, so time to make seeds for the next generation!

The Green Beans and other beans are coming along nicely, but that’s another month away before we see beans to pick. We’re growing some for fresh pods, and some for the dried beans we’ll shell in the late fall, after the pods dry. For those of you who got to have some of our fabulous winter squash last year, and know the special method we have for seeding them (using the pigs), you’ll be happy to know the pigs did it again, and we have squash plants everywhere!! Even though the growing season is so short in this climate, the bounty is insane, when it all works out. So funny to be salivating over winter squash at the start of summer.

Trixie is a Bancha goat -half boer, half la mancha- my own creation! She's milking not too heavily this year, her first, but her milk is really really creamy. Excellent for cheesemaking. Note her tongue!

It’s also been challenging this spring. First we lost Metallika’s son, Prince, to something we don’t know what. We took his body to the WI State Veterinary lab for an autopsy, but haven’t heard anything. he died completely suddenly, no warning signs or anything. Being from a set of triplets, and being the smallest one, he may have had some kind of defect that prevented him from living a full life. It was heartwrenching to lose such a robust, handsome and friendly little guy, and not be able to do anything about it. So far, we’ve had no problems with his sisters or any of the other goats, so it must have just been a fluke.

Then we had a predator come. We’ve not had much trouble ever before, due to Little Blue and Javi’s protection of the farm. But this jerk-hole snuck into the side shed where the little fat broiler chicks were brooding for a week or two before we could move them outside. This predator came two nights in a row, we think it is a weasel based on what we found. We lost 12 chicks at about 2 weeks of age. So we moved them outside a bit too early, but we needed them out of the den of the beast. We camped in our tent next to them that first night, having nightmares of weasels chasing baby chicks. We had two nights of peace. Andrew built a weasel trap which we baited, but caught nothing yet. And then it got cold one night, and all the chicks piled together in one end of a box, and ended up suffocating 6 of their chick buddies. Man oh man. We really are trying, but this has been a frustrating struggle.

Gardens are always a challenge, something is always hard. We’re starting with freshly tilled sod, and so despite cover cropping to hold back the weeds, we have had to go back and double dig some beds that got out of hand. Luckily the stream of baby plants needing transplanting never ends, so there is always something to put in the new beds. We’ve been totally on top of succession planting (yeah!), and now that the weather is kind of normal, we’re looking forward to lots of  veggies cascading into our lives and sharing that bounty with our CSA.

Rosie and her boyfriend Lance!

What else is going on out here? We decided we want to raise our own piglets instead of having to buy them from outside farms. And Rosie is such a magnificent pig were sure she’s gonna be an awesome mom. So we got her a suitor. Lance is a Tamworth boar, a heritage hog breed. He’s been hanging out next to her for 2 weeks, we’re all waiting for when she goes into heat in a couple days, and then hopefully piglets will be in the works. A huge thank you to Harvey from Carlena Farm, for raising such a nice boar and bringing him to us. Lance is so mellow and such a stunning guy, and he’s been singing Rosie sweet nothings pretty much all day long.

Rosie enjoying the sprinkler spa on the 100 degree day

piglets, soap class, spring thoughts

Goatmilk Soap Making Class is this June 5th @ 1:30pm. Please let us know if you’d like to come out for this fun event and a full farm tour afterwards. Learn all the tricks we use to make a long lasting, gentle on the skin batch of soap, which will make you 30 bars of soap for gifts and your own soap needs. Class is $20, and you get a bar of soap to take home with you too!

learn how to make pretty soaps like this!

lil’ schmagoos

 

We picked up our last installment of 4 piglets for 2011. These cuties are half Hampshire, 1/4 berkshire 1/4 Black poland china. A good mix, and really pretty babies. They are about 35 lbs, and immediately started rooting and eating grass. The 4 yorkshire piglets we’d gotten last month, who are not bred to browse, root or anything normal for a good pig have been learning the ropes here on our farm, and are now happily rooting and eating grass like maniacs. We have the two groups side by side, and when the new babies came the 4 yorkshires were so excited to see them.

Last week was the pig harvesting of the two big girls: Penny and Squeak. It went very smoothly, but it is always hard to say goodbye. These pigs lived such gleeful, joyous lives with us on LTD Farm. They helped us get new vegetable garden patches tilled up, and wild bramble patches under control, and they got to fufill their natural instincts while doing this, which made them SUCH happy pigs. That’s what our mission is- raising small numbers of animals in a way where they get the best life possible. We can’t make a difference beyond our own sphere of influence and our abilities. This applies to everything in life you care about. DO the best YOU can do to change the things you don’t like!

the beginnings of head cheese post pig harvesting This is headcheese. You pick meat off the slowly simmered and seasoned pig's head. I know, gross sounding, but this is a way to show ultimate respect for a life that is taken- USE IT ALL!

our baby broiler chickens---growing by leaps and bounds for the Chicken Shares! Thanks to everyone who signed up early, these birds will live such a good life with us until harvesting day.

the fantastic turkeys, foraging maniacs who we adore!

We’re going to be doing some Duck Egg demos in June at Seward Co-op and both Mississippi Market locations. See our events calendar for the dates and times. Come have a snack and say hi!

 

spring is really, finally here!

Happy happy joy joy, we have warmth and sun, finally. The animals feel it, the plants, the soil…quite magnificent in the glorious turnaround. We’ve been busy busy busy planting seedlings, seeds, asparagus crowns (all 500 are planted now!) and setting up new paddocks for the growing turkeys, the meat chickens on the way and the new piglets.

blooming bush cherries, which the hummingbirds have adored!

The worst thing about this spring was that the plastic cover on the hoophouse came off- it was a terrible day May 9th. The gusts of wind coming right at it in the wrong direction caught a loose end and the continuing gusts just kept pulling harder until one side was nearly off and we tried in vain to hold down the plastic with our whole bodies. But two people trying to contain a 40×60 parachute that wanted to go with the wind, it was quite a sight, we’re sure. Then the huge plastic sheet went off and got impaled in a tree. Arrrrgh……..There was yelling, cussing, screaming and some dumbstruck tears. The day before we’d put out tomato plants in the raised beds in there, and now we had a convertible style hoophouse, with no cover, no shelter for the ducks or the plants. Right away we ordered a new plastic cover, but this could happen again. We’ve put in extra reinforcement baseboards, so the securing areas will be doubled. On a side note- the company we got this hoophouse from, Farmtek, was absolutely horrible in their dealings with us after this incident. Terrible customer service, no apologies or commiserating, nothing.

The ducks don’t mind the new skeleton hoophouse. Their routines are such that they just keep going out and in where they are used to. Such sweethearts! Now that spring/summer is upon us we may just leave the hoop up and cover it later in the season. Too much to do in the meantime.

We got our 4 piglets for the fall group of pigs. These are all sold already. We really like mixed breed pigs who are different colors since they seem to be more suited for the outdoor life, but we could only find Yorkshire piglets. These poor little guys never saw the sun before and immediately got sunburns, as they are pure pink! We’ve had to be on top of getting them extra shade, as well as stop worrying over them because pigs are really robust beings. As our friend Angelica says, as long as they are eating and pooping, they’ll most likely pull through anything. This year it was incredibly difficult to locate anyone with piglets for sale. So we’ve decided to try our hand at raising pigs on a very small scale. With some encouragement from our pig raising friends, we’re going to be keeping Rosie as our first gilt-turned-sow. A gilt is a young female pig, and a sow is a gilt who has had at least one litter of piglets. Details. Our friend Harvey at Carlena Farms is going to rent us one of his Tamworth boars for Rosie to have a boyfriend for a month or so. She should have piglets 3 months, three weeks and three days after their successful meeting (…Fingers Crossed.) Looks like September or so. Raising our own piglets will take self sufficiency to a new level, our own LTD blend too! The majestic heritage breed pigs out there are just completely enrapturing, we’d love to raise them all. But the prices for babies are too high for small scale farmers. Some day we’d love to get Large Black Hogs, an especially intriguing tall, huge, beautiful pig who’s very good at grazing. Some day…….but take a 1/2 Duroc gilt and a Tamworth and we’ll have some nice piglets. If everything goes ok with the farrowing (piglet birthing) which is the biggest variable with raising hogs. We’re going to do our best, as we always do, and see how it goes.

Rosie's the red hugey on the right, our future momma!

The greens are finally growing bigger, the radishes fattening, green beans sprouting, and the transplanted planties thriving in the new thick soil. Our summer turkeys are galloping around in their new pasture, foraging very well and loving the sun. Penny and Squeak are eating so much they leave leftovers after feeding time, so they are nice and fat and their time is coming up on Wednesday. They have been an absolute joy to raise and we’re honored to have had their beings here, living a good life with us, each other, and the land. The bounty of meat coming from these pigs will sustain 4 families for a LONG time.

arugula, china choy........