Saturday, May 4, 2013

Lessons from the Farm #1: Take a large task and break it down into smaller tasks

It has been a long time since I have written for the blog.  The excuse: children.  Not in the traditional sense as in, my children take up a lot of my free time, but as in, my children got older and got phones and devices and games and killed our limited bandwidth every morning before 9:30am.

We finally found an affordable solution to our bandwidth issue through a wonderful local company.

Today I went out to tackle the weeds that had grown among my garlic.

Where is the garlic in this picture, you might ask?  I asked myself the same question.  Looks like a big bunch of thistle.

I took a deep breath and said to myself.  First, create the boundary of the weeding area.  Second, start out by clearing 4 rows of weeds.  That's it- 4 rows.

After 20 minutes of weeding, this was the result.

As I was weeding, I was thinking.  I was thinking that weeding a garlic plot is no different than tackling any other problem or opportunity in life.   At first something looks too big, too impossible, too hard or too risky.  If that happens break the big task into pieces and take it 4 rows at a time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Welcome 2012

We haven't had snow on the farm since this day back in October. Not that often that you see the trees such vibrant colors with snow on the ground.

At this point we are sold out and full for our trial round of 'pick your own CSA' for 2012. We still have more meat CSA shares available. See website for details but basically it's $300 for 3 months of meat- 10-15 lbs per month with a mix of cuts.

We are almost at lambing season- we start early this year in February because the ram again got in with the sheep a month before were ready. Julica the jersey cow is also set to give birth sometime end of February so we'll be digging out the mild supplies again as we'll be milking again!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The things that interrupt the farmer

Not a lot of posting during the summer and fall.
20 member CSA is a lot and not something that will happen again unless someone wants to take on the job for us. The focus next year is a pick your own CSA for a select group (3 families) of people to learn this model and try it out. And the focus will turn to goats and cheese..... learn, learn, learn.

In between the farm--- kids and life happen and blogging is not a priority.
Our kids' love of music and theater shouldn't be a big surprise to Mike and I as we both were in theater and have a creative side. I sing horribly but Mike has a pretty good voice.
So to see the kids enjoy this part of life is magical. A singing solo in the middle school play, to the one above who loves to play her flute and now wants a piccolo, to the youngest who plays his sax like he was born with it..... are these my kids?

I wonder if sheep and goats will follow music or come towards it like the pied piper? Might need to perform an experiment....

Monday, October 3, 2011

Our Farm Meat

I was reminded again today that the quality of our pasture raised meat is superb. I also am debating the ramifications of pursuing a lofty goal. Can I do with lamb what the wine industry has done with grapes? Will customers be willing to learn the breeds of lambs to value the superior genetics and quality of meat?

Tonight I was at a nice restaurant that was serving rack of lamb. Now first off, the waiter said "would you like a petite lamb chop? Now I know the difference between a lamb chop and a piece of rack of lamb but I ignored this error as the waiter likely said this as it is easier to say lamb chop than rack of lamb. It was very good lamb so I was very curious of the breed as it was very mild like our Kathadin lambs.

So then came my dilemna. Do I or do I not ask my infamous question? My colleagues I was with cringed because they knew what was coming. After 2 glasses of a great Cab- Beringer- I had to ask. So I asked the waiter.... would you happen to know the breed of lamb just like grape of this wine I am drinking? He said, "Yes! This is Colorado Lamb!".
Oh boy-- that's like saying this is California wine when a merlot is absolutely different from a Chardonnay.

So then the poor waiter had to listen to me for a few minutes while I said I raised lamb and that the breed of lamb is like the type of grape for wine. Poor, poor waiters who fall into this trap at every restaurant I visit. But if you want to make an impact on society and the world in general then teaching people about lamb is a practical and achievable goal.

Just like people think that Angus steers are superior meat due to the marketing efforts, Kathahin lambs could be the breed of choice for lamb!!!

2-3 more people got the lamb lecture from me tonight---- billions left to train...... maybe....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Taking orders for fall/winter lambs

Tonight I am in Marketing mode...... lamb for sale. And not just lamb-- the most amazing lamb you've ever had for sale. When Mike told me he wanted a farm and he wanted to raise sheep I kind of whined and said "sheep? but I hate lamb". Then I got the speech about eating the WRONG kind of lamb. So lamb is like wine. All kinds of wine out there. You can drink wine from a box. My dad will drink wine from a box and doesn't really care about vintage wines- me, I'm kinda hooked on a nice Cab but I don't like a Merlot that much. Our lambs are Katahdin lambs and they are grass fed. The grass feeding makes a difference. I've had Katahdin lamb that was 1/2 grass, 1/2 grain fed and it was not the same as 100% grass fed. It was good - but not as sweet. So our Katahdin lambs are like a vintage wine and you have to try it and see if you like the 'vintage'. We sold one early lamb 4 weeks ago and just got the report back. Outstanding was the verdict. Ask my kids what they want for dinner-- they will say "RACK OF LAMB!!!" - totally spoiled children and I remind them there are only 2 racks per lamb so sometimes we also have to eat lamb burgers and lamb stew and leg of lamb. My oldest is a picky eater and even she loves lamb. Kids come to our house for dinner and we don't tell them till afterwards that they ate lamb (they always think it's flavorful meat-- but no idea what it is).

So that's my pitch. We raise a wonderful high quality product and we want to sell to you if you are interested.

Below are the details:

We are currently taking orders for fall/winter lamb.
Our lambs are 100% grass fed, no hormones and are the Katahdin breed.
This breed of lamb when grass fed produces lamb meat that is tender and sweet.

Whole lambs dress out at 40-55 lbs and will be sold for $7.5 per lb.
Total price for a whole lamb will then be $300-$412.50.

If you are in a co-op and buying for many families then if you purchase 2+ lambs the price will be $7/lb.

You will pick up your lamb at our partner butcher in Littlestown, PA at Stoneypoint Market.
Lamb will be available in Oct/Nov/Dec.

Normally once you tell us you want a lamb, we will then send to the butcher the next available Monday as this is the day they process USDA for small farmers like ourselves. The lamb then needs to age a week or two so you will get your lamb about 4 weeks after you order it from us.

This price includes butchering costs and all cuts are vacuum packed in a heavy duty plastic so cuts will stay fresh for up to 6 months. We like this method of storing meat in freezers rather than butcher paper.

Over the past few years, we have found that the following cuts of lamb are usually the most popular so if you are unsure of how you want your lamb butchered, we will take care of that for you and cut it so that you receive the meat per below (the lbs/cut will vary based on the weight of the lamb):

2 rack of lamb - normally 1-1.5 lbs each
2 lamb spareribs - .5 lb each
2 bone in whole leg of lamb - 5-7 lbs each
2 packages of lamb shanks -1 lb each
5-8 lbs of ground lamb wrapped in 1 lb portions
6 lbs of lamb chops
2 lbs of lamb stew meat (can also be used as kabobs)
lamb neck bones - .25 lbs - for seasoning sauces/soups/stews
4 shoulder roasts boned and rolled (2-3 lbs each)- if you decide you don't want to use these pieces as roasts you can also cut them up for kabobs later so this gives you some flexibility.

Email or call 443-340-9986 to reserve your lamb today.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Long time-- no post

Running a 20 member CSA along with milking a cow daily is a lot of work when you also have a very busy full time day job. Add in that a certain child now needs to be at school early for play practice and the cow milking must stop.

I've learned a lot over the last 5 months about milking a cow and milk in general and I'll be ready when she has a baby in the spring and I'll know what to do with all that milk each week.

Today I had a lot of great help from CSA members on the farm and it was a great day even though it rained on and off. I still think that this has been the best part of the farm and the CSA- meeting our customers and gaining new friends. I would have no reason to meet some of these wonderful people thru my life but for the CSA and our farm.

As the days are getting shorter-- my blogs will get longer. Our house is under some major-minor construction (we have some closets now!!!!!) and so after October I don't know what I'm going to do with my time as the inside of my house will be all organized!!!! :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Special Farm Visitor - June Brown

In the background of this picture you see in White paint 1942 and the initials NJB.
I met NJB, June Brown last weekend. I have no idea her first name as I am realizing right now but I do know that she didn't remember putting her initials on the barn. 1942 is when the barn was last painted. June is 84 years old and she was born in my room. Her room was where our bathroom is now and her grandfather who was blind died in the room that is now our kitchen.

She basically lived in the basement as that is where the kitchen was and our backdoor was her front door. June raised Pekin ducks and her father milked 6 cows by hand each day. They milked and then put the milk in the spring house which is still across from the house.

The cherry and apple trees she remembers are gone but when she told me there were daffodils in the corner of the property I nearly fell over. Those daffodils still come up in the same place after 80 years. Next spring I'm going to invite her back to pick those daffodils.

The fascinating thing for me was to imagine life 80 years ago. No car, no car insurance. No electric bill, no cell phone bill, no water bill or gas bill, no tv bill, no internet bill. June told us how her parents used the horses to till the fields and to help pull the hay up to the top part of the barn. She said one of her favorite things was to take a pie her mother had made and sit in the grass next to the house and eat that entire pie with her father. What a beautiful image. I think we're going to have to make a pie this weekend and have a family pie picnic.