Results for tag "small-scale-farming"

frosty frost

After quite a brown & dry beginning to winter, the region has been blanketed with snow. In the mornings, we’ve had relatively warm air currents leading to some spectacular hoar frosts. Don’t you just love it? Our animals are all doing fantastic in this new season- rabbits come with their own fur coat, and we are raising our youngsters outdoors so they can grow healthy and sound with lots of hay and room to romp about in the sun and fresh air. We’ll be offering fresh rabbit throughout the winter, email us to reserve yours. Rabbit is an incredibly nutrient dense meat, very healthy and lean- delicious marinated and grilled, or stewed with herbed dumplings on top.

Rabbit is the new local grass fed meat!The ducks are insulated with not only a down jacket, but also a plump layer of fat. Our lady layers are blessing us with eggs MUCH later in the season than ever before….which can only mean they are very content and happy with their new duck barn, deep bedding, hay for snacking, constant fresh water and days spent sitting outside in the sun. We absolutely love our ducks! Look for the Holiday Special going on now until Christmas at several of the Twin City Co-ops. We did have a couple of episodes with a hawk scoping out our ducks, which is very scary for them and for us. The safety of our ladies is extremely important to us! And so- we got the ducks some guardians, a pair of French Toulouse Geese. They are drop dead gorgeous, very calm and are doing a great job patrolling the duck pasture and keeping an eye on the sky.Still scratching your head over gift ideas? Please know we have set up a PayPal account in order to sell our handmade goatmilk soaps online, and shipped directly to your door! These soaps are the most moisturizing EVER, being made up of 50% goatmilk! There are 8 “flavors” to choose from, let us know if you have any questions about ordering. We can customize your mix of flavors and wrap up gift bundles with festive ribbon so they are ready to go. Our soap is sold by the pound, as the bar sizes vary (they have a rustic look from being handcut.)  Thanks so much for your support!

how to properly cook a duck egg

How to cook a Duck Egg? Go easy on the heat. Here’s how we do it:

Warm a cast iron skillet on Medium high with a little oil in it. Crack your eggs in the pan, break the yolk if desired and salt and pepper them. As soon as you can flip the egg over “safely,” do that, and then TURN THE HEAT OFF. Leave the cast iron pan on the burner and then your egg will finish cooking for a couple minutes with this gentle heat. Duck eggs have a considerably higher amount of protein, so if you cook them too hot, too fast, the protein will seize up, causing a tough & rubbery egg. If you cook your duck eggs as described above, they will be silky, luscious & have a rich creamy texture.
We’d love to know how do you cook your duck eggs as well as your favorite recipes!

birds

The avian world rules our days…..feeding, watering and tending to ducks, turkeys and chickens. We love our duck eggs, we love our ducks first and foremost. But we also adore our chickens and turkeys!!!

Our broiler chickens, aka the “Bubbies” or the “Bubsters” are quite a joy. So many farmers like to talk smack about the Cornish cross, which is the most commonly raised meat chicken in this country. On-line you’ll read that they are lazy, messy, not able to forage, disgusting, inefficient, etc. The Cornish Cross is a hybrid (different than genetically modified) chicken of the F2 sort, meaning these little meat machines come from a unique and secret combination of 4 different breeds. 2 different parent breeds make up the rooster side, and 2 different breeds of chicken make up the hen side. Then THOSE 2 different offspring are mated to make the Cornish Cross, which is a remarkable fast growing, hearty and robust bird. There are a few things to know if you are about to try raising your own. Keep them warm for the first 2-3 weeks. They grow muscles, not lots of feathers, so they need to be kept cozy in this tender period of their lives. After they are 4 weeks old, stop feeding them before 8pm each night to prevent them from growing so fast that they have heart attacks. Give them things to climb on when they are in the first weeks of life so they can develop stronger leg muscles. A piece of 2×4 leaned up on a block works well. They don’t like to roost, but they will climb up and on and over and get stronger legs in the meantime. From day 1 when you bring them home, talk soothingly and use this tone everafter, we croon “oh Too-Toos” for some reason, and they love it,  and respond to this sound, & coming running! Also from day 1 give them tiny snipped up greens. Feed them from your fingertips, sprinkle them in the feed dish, all over. These ARE chickens, and they LOVE variety, but like a mother hen, you need to teach them some of this stuff. Give them a bowl of plain old feed and they will just sit there chowing down, like a kid in a bag of potato chips.

Oh the turkeys, how we love to raise turkeys!We raise the broad breasted turkeys, and have found that all the stigmas against them are just not true. They are bright, inquisitive, friendly birds. Being so closely related to the native wild turkey, many of their wild instincts are there, just waiting to be tapped into. Again, feeding them greens as babies helps them learn what they already know deep inside. Treating all animals with kindness and respect makes a world of difference in your relationship with them & their quality of life.  Our summer turkeys have just graduated to being able to be free outdoors during the day, at night they’ve been staying in a chicken “tractor” to stay safe. One thing to watch with all birds on your farm/homestead is arial predators during the day, and the host of others potentially coming to dine at night. As the turkey babies have grown to large chicken size, we feel confident they will be safe out during the day, but night time is still worrisome, so keeping them contained at night is just safer.We kept 4 hens from last spring to try our own turkey breeding experiment. We never got the heritage tom we were hoping to, in time to produce offspring ready for the Thanksgiving crowd. The 4 hens have been laying eggs for the last 2 months, unfertile, but delicious eggs which Heartland Restaurant has excitedly put on their menu. Something different. We have a beautiful relationship with these hens and are excited to see how they do next spring when they have a boyfriend to make those gorgeous eggs fertile. Turkeys are just a joy to have around.

 

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.