Thursday, August 27, 2009

CSA Day- Week 13

For those in the CSA-- you know these pictures and you live them each week. For my friends not in a CSA or for those just reading our blog-- I'm sure you can find a CSA near you and try it out. Or you may be interested in joining our CSA next year. Mike and I are still finalizing the details of the CSA for next year -- should we scale back, should we expand, can we have a different business model, can we afford to hire someone, etc, etc.

The process at our farm starts with a visit to the fridge (not pictured) where you get your box and cold items. Then you read the very sophisticated signs and pick the number of items listed. (if you look closely you'll see this is leftover paper from my kids when they were learning to write).
This week in the fridge was Cilantro and Dill (yum), a huge bag of red chard and a small taste of edamame. In the fridge you would get your egg share as well as peppers and a bonus item (leftover items from other weeks).
Then you come out and get 2 Zucchini, 5-6 large potatoes from another farm but the biggest potatoes I'd ever seen (I think a CSA should include items from other farms as one farmer is not going to be great at all items), a bag of our potatoes (this week were purple potatoes mixed with yellow/white potatoes), and 2 garlic.

Then we had sunflowers! They look better in the field and I had a hard time keeping them alive in the water.

Then you get to pick tomatoes!!! 20 tomatoes
Check out that table!!!

I have been making sauce this week. Oh my goodness. I will share my eggs, I will share my garden, I will share just about anything--- except, except my tomato sauce (and my husband- for the record). I have never scraped the bowl of the sauce pan to save the last 1/8 cup of sauce in my life. I know it's in the fridge. I could slurp it up with a straw right now. If you don't know how to make tomato sauce, learn now. It's not that hard and you'll be loving yourself in December.

And on to other pictures. Featured below is Nicky the Naked Neck chicken. As is customary at our farm, we tend to name the 'bonus chick' a female name and then it turns out to be a male. Nicky is a male. But Nicky works.

This is where Nicky lives with his harem. There are about 4 other roosters that live with him as well and I don't think he is top rooster. A Barred Rock rooster is the head rooster.
If you look closely you can see the roosts in the eggmobile. They go up the ladder at night and they roost. We've kept the 5 roosters because we have fox on the farm. The roosters do a good job at keeping the other birds alert when the fox comes around.

Mike is working to get our website updated. The website was connected to our computer that is crashing all the time. So, the following information should be on the front page of the website.

Place your turkey order..... $3/lb. We have 17 left.
We still have chickens for sale.
If you are reading this blog you can have the CSA member prices for chicken -
$15 for a 3.5-4.3 lb chicken that is a slow-grow breed
$20 for a 5.2-6.5lb chicken that has a lot of white meat (cornish cross bird)

Pork is sold-out as of tonight for special cuts. Though if you would like some Whole hog sausage, we still have some of that left to sell. Pigs go to butcher on Monday. My mom asked me how I could feed them and look at the animals and then eat them. I have no idea- the long time blog readers know I thought I'd turn vegetarian. The meat is just so darn good....

We are also starting to take orders for Grass Fed Belted Galloway Beef and Grass fed lamb.
Mike will be putting out prices for the Beef and Lamb in the next few weeks. But if you are interested and not on our mailing list then send us an email. The Beef and Lamb will not be ready until Later October/November. We will also have more pig for sale about the 2nd week of December. So if you missed out this time, you'll have another chance to order pork in December. We'll have 5 pigs to sell for December and so far we still have 4 1/2 left.

Farmers market on Saturday, rain or shine. This week we'll be better prepared with the right size eggs and the right amount of eggs and more information about pastured eggs.

I think I may need to go eat that tomato sauce...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Farmer's Market - the real deal

Ah-- emily the photographer needs a few lessons. We didn't get any really good shots of us at the market.... but we were there!

First week and we almost sold out. 3 dozen brought home- so not bad. And the other vendors still sold their eggs as well-- so we didn't subtract from the market-- we hopefully added to the market.

And we had a lot of fun and were surprised about the interest in turkeys that we'll take pre-orders for.

Emily is a great saleswoman and accountant. Margaret would not let anyone else control the cashbox but her. She is getting to be an expert change maker. Mike and I just hung out and talked to people. So it was fun.

We have 28 turkeys but we'll only pre-sell 20 in case 8 more die. (turkeys are really hard to keep alive). So if you want to preorder a turkey for Thanksgiving-- send Mike an email. They will be $3/lb for pastured turkeys. This is a really good deal and we're doing it at this price because we are still not experts so the price will go up next year after we're good at this.

We realized all the marketing materials we need and that would help explain pastured chickens (and their eggs). We also got a space at the market and we learned what needs to happen to prepare to leave for the market. (get eggs into cooler the night before and put in the walk-in fridge, etc).

So all in all a good day. We also spent money at the farm and got some great produce that we don't have. Good fruits, pies, bread and a few veggies.

Thanks to those who came out for your egg shares! We loved seeing you at the market!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Westminster Farmers Market

This Saturday we'll be at the Westminster Farmers Market across from the gas station and off of main street and 27.

We'll be selling eggs. That's it- just eggs. So if you happen to have an egg share and you'd rather come to the Farmer's market on Saturdays to pick up your eggs, that is another option for you. It's also part of the reason why we wanted to go to the farmers market. We noticed that several folks were going to the farmers market and then coming to our farm after to get eggs. So we thought we'd work towards being in the market and eliminating a separate trip for some of you. If you want chickens, you'll still have to come to the farm.

So tell all your friends and neighbors.... Fresh, pastured eggs available at the Farmer's Market! And while you are there I'm sure you'll see all sorts of other fruits and veggies to take home as well!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week 12

I missed week 11-- oh well. It is now week 12 of the summer.

We have ducklings. The other day we had 11 and I think now we are at 8. We decided not to try to grab them and just let nature take its course. We want ducks that can outwit the fox and survive on their own, with a little help of duck food from us. 2 mommas and 1 daddy below.

Those in the CSA know that it is TOMATO TIME!!!
Oh my goodness do we have tomatoes. This year as I grew a few 100 varieties, I have some new favorites. Below is a small beefsteak tomato called a Red Calabash. Wonderful taste, thin skinned and prolific. Great for backyard gardens where you want something cool and different than your regular round tomato.

I should have put my hand by this one-- you can't tell that it's about 2 lbs. I'll take more pictures today of the tomatoes but there are some really, really cool varieties.

We have eggs and chickens for sale. Eggs $5/dozen (we've been told our eggs are really good by folks who have tried lots of eggs). I think we have a few things we are doing that are contributing to the great eggs--- for a later blog. I think it has to do with our setup as well as our choice of chickens.

Also chickens for sales 4 lb'ers are $15 and 8 lb'ers are $20. We have about 40 left of the small ones and about 80 left of the 8lb'ers. We're debating whether we should do 1 more batch before winter. We might do 1 more anyway in case these others all sell out. I'd hate to have to go to our farmer friends and buy their chickens for ourselves to eat!

If you haven't placed your pork order with Mike--- hurry and do so.
We had no idea how popular the pigs would be. We have 3 and already 1 1/2 are spoken for. So if you didn't get a price listing send an email to Mike. We won't open it up to the general public but only for those in the CSA or egg shares (or our neighbor) at this point.

We are getting 5 new piglets this week. These will start out on pasture and if you get a chance to come over in the next 2 weeks--- come see the piglets. I thought chickens were fun to watch--- no way- pigs take the cake. and piglets.... it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about them running around squealing.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Food Inc.

I seem to be all about food this weekend.
We processed 100 birds today!  Record time of 3 1/2 hrs but we are still on a learning curve.  We are also thinking about redesigning the layout of the mobile processor to go a little faster.

We ate chicken for dinner with fresh salsa!!!  Nothing like fresh salsa.  
Tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, peppers- mild and spicy, lime juice, salt.  That's pretty much our ingredients.  The leftover salsa is then great with eggs the next day.

We saw Food Inc on Saturday night with some fellow farmers.  
It's slightly depressing but then at the end it gives you hope.  Change will happen but it is going to come one person at a time, one small farm at a time.  I am thrilled to be one of those small farms.  

When they showed the chicken houses and all the birds in it I knew I'd only eat my chicken ever again.  I know the smell of 100 birds that we move every day-- they smell even when you move them.  But the smell of tens of thousands of birds not moved?  

I also never made the connection between all the subsidies from our government to corn and soybeans which then are passed on to consumers as all those things are that are really bad for you.  But fresh fruit and veggies are more expensive and not subsidized.  If we changed our policies, we could have healthier people.

I'd recommend the film and especially if you've never read about the realities of where your food comes from.  

For all those friends not near our farm.... go to and look up a farm near you.  I bet the farmer would love another customer and you'll be happier as you are eating better food.

ps--- we have 4 baby ducks on our pond.... pictures later-- they are so small!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Omega 3's

I'm noticing a trend.
When people try our eggs, they do love them and comment on the yolk color, how the whites are nice and thick (that means grade AA or AAA for the whites or something close to that).

BUT.... the people who say they TASTE wonderful and who WANT them..... and who EAT them like crazy.....

I can tell you that every single parent who has commented to me about the eggs and who has fed their child these eggs and has a child that can talk has told me that their children love these eggs.  They tell me stories that the kids liked the green tinted eggs the best and that they can't get them to stop eating the eggs.   I get this same story over and over and over.  

So I started to wonder why?  Why is this?  Isn't that odd I say to Mike?  He looks at me as if I have 3 eyes, but then I continue..... there has to be a connection.  For those that know me well, I have this rule-- when you hear the same thing three times- there could be a pattern and you should investigate.  Some people tell me I'm intuitive-- I believe I just listen well and connect dots.  

So I narrow the data.  I've heard this from parents with children as young as 3 and as old as 21. So it must be people that are growing.  What does a growing body need?  
What is in these eggs that is not in other eggs?
Hmmm... the good Omega 3's.  I wonder if the green eggs have more Omega 3's than the brown eggs?

Why would children's bodies be craving Omega 3's?  
Well, the research is out there on Omega 3's.  I had no idea how important it was to a growing body and a growing brain.  
I've not distilled it to find the best article that isn't selling Omega 3 supplements but Omega 3's are evidently very important for growing children.  Here is one that talks about the benefits of pastured eggs.  

So just like pregnant women have cravings and all of us have cravings when our body is lacking a certain vitamin or mineral, our kids bodies are saying "I like what is in those eggs"  Give me more!!!  Their bodies are lacking something-- something that is in the eggs.

My oldest child has eating issues- she forgets to eat, she only eats certain things, she can be cranky when she doesn't eat correctly, etc.  But now that I am writing this, I realize that when I have hard boiled eggs and she eats 1 a day, she is a more balanced child.  I am going to have her help me with an experiment and see if there is a cause and effect.  The interesting thing is that as picky as she is - she loves salmon.  The kind that is wild with Omega 3's.  We eat a lot of salmon as a result.  Hmmmm... the dots are being connected even more.  

If anyone has researched Omega 3's and the importance to developing children, please comment with a posting.  I think there is a reason why kids love the fresh eggs and if it helps them grow and develop then I'm even more hooked on pastured eggs. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

2 things that are not at all related

We have a lot of eggs.  Eggs are a funny business.  You need to have them to sell them and it is unknown when you'll exactly get the right sized eggs from the hens.
Horrible variability for planning your operation.  
But, we now have almost all the right sized eggs and almost all the hens are laying.
We are selling egg shares off the farm so if you haven't signed up-- now is the time!  
$5/dozen if you just want them once in a while and $4/dozen if you sign up for 20 weeks of eggs.
We will likely start the Westminster downtown Farmers Market for the last few months and see how many we can sell there.  We're waiting for the final confirmation on being 'let in' so I'll let all know if we do get in.  
If you need eggs, let us know and they'll be ready for you in the fridge.

We are also getting credit card services so if you want us to charge you for chickens and soon meat and/or eggs, you can pay via credit card/debit card if you'd like.

Grandma was visiting for a few weeks and brought these funky face masks.  They are so lifelike.  These would be great at a party after a few drinks-- although they were hilarious without the drinks as well.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Today we cracked the huge egg. it was not the triple yolker. i cracked the huge egg open and a smaller egg fell out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Being Famous

So today I read the posting about our farm from the perspective of our visitors last weekend and I got a glimmer of what it's like to be famous.  

-Avoid all photos-- yikes-- I'll remember next time to glam myself up (since I'm always glammed up on the farm)
-What you read isn't always correct - a few small facts are incorrect in their blog- but all in all accurate.  But if you are famous there is likely a lot more incorrect written about you
-Feeling cool--- wow- someone wrote about us and our farm!  And loved the food and the experience-- what a wonderful feeling!
-Seeing yourself through someone's words- very interesting to read about yourself and to know what others thought about your life.  You don't normally get that kind of feedback in real life.

So although that was fun-- I think I'll stick to being unfamous.  )

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Week 10

Emily is our new farm photographer.  She's learning so she should develop her camera eye as time goes by.

Week 10 and the cucumbers are the focus this week!  So get out your cucumber recipes!  You'll be getting more potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, onions, peppers, zucchini, beets and dill.  

Tomatoes are turning red and I think there are about 20 lbs a day turning red.  Yikes!

The peppers continue to do well and the first round of zucchini is dying while round 2 of zucchini plants are starting up.  

The eggplant is not doing well.  If the eggplant ever grows, it isn't going to be to my standards of organic.  I did have to spray the plants in late June for potato bugs but I did use an organic type spray.  I still don't like to spray anything for bugs but if I didn't help the eggplant it would have died.  It still may die but I gave it a chance.

We have some more chicks (in our basement because the brooder room is ready for turkeys that should come on Wed).  I got 16 Marans-- they lay large dark eggs.  They lay less often but have larger eggs.

I also got 10 Welsummers.  These lay lots of eggs but smaller dark eggs.  We love chicks.

And look what we found in the nest boxes today.  A super huge egg-- and a tiny egg (likely one of the birds first laid eggs).  I'm not sure which chicken laid that egg but I hope she's doing ok.

My animal story of the week is about one of our lambs.  This particular lamb cried a lot for its mother when it was still with its mother.  We weaned the lambs and so they've been separated for over 2 weeks.  Last night we had a storm at 3am and it looked bad enough that I needed to move the lambs to an area that had better shelter.  So I get dressed at 3am and get Frank and move the lambs to the larger pasture.  Well, that one little lamb that always cried to mama I'm sure is blind or has something wrong with her vision.  Frank moved the other lambs so fast that she got left behind.  She was wandering around and looked lost.  So I had to sneak up on her and carry her into the pasture.  Normally lambs will kick and fight you.  This girl laid her head on me and though her heart was racing, she accepted my help and I carried her out to the field so she could find the rest of the flock without getting too lost.  I say that like this is a 15 lb lamb-- it's about a 65 lb lamb and so the fact that she didn't struggle was a gift.

This morning I had Frank herd the flock and sure enough this lamb got lost because he was moving them fast and she wandered around the pasture until she smelled and heard the flock.  It was amazing to watch as well as heartbreaking, but she found them.  She has likely adapted herself and figured out how to stay with the flock by smell and sounds and feeling.

  She's now back with mama so we'll need to call the vet and see if there is anything we can do or anything we should look for and we'll grab her and check her out.  She was likely born this way (she came to us during the week where we got more lambs and ewes from folks getting rid of their flocks).  And we thought sheep were not smart..... 

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Today part of our dream came true...

When Mike and I started this farming adventure, our vision of the future looked something like this:

A group of people who care about the food they eat and who want to experience nature will join our CSA and buy our wonderful eggs and meat and eat great food and love the experience so much that they'll volunteer to come do some daily chores and also come and just sit in our pasture and watch the chickens or other animals playing in the fields.  We said we wanted our farm to not only be about the quality of the food but about the experience.

Today we had a CSA family come and help pick tomatoes.  They picked and picked.  They probably picked 60 lbs of tomatoes.  They also took the time to enjoy the view and Frank helping me move the lambs to a nice lush area of grass.  They learned how to ride the Mule (a red golfcart type vehicle) and took a ride around the farm.  They offered advice on what they'd like to see us do for posting prices for meat and they left with some of the nice juicy tomatoes that split open due to the crazy weather but that were still perfect to eat today.  They fed the chickens some tomatoes and made a few hundred new friends.  It was so cool to have them at our farm for the day-- they rejuvenated my spirit to keep going.  This farm is definitely hard work- but to see them enjoy the day made it all worthwhile.

At the same time, we are welcoming a new Egg share member who I'm sure will soon be addicted to fresh eggs.  Her little boy was the cutest baby with these blue, blue eyes and a smile that just made me melt.  He of course loved our dog Dougie who is old and wise and knows that he wants no part of babies.  Unless they are in a high chair and he is under it.

And to top it off we had friends who were traveling across the country stop at our farm for a visit.  They've been to all sorts of national parks and really cool places and WE made the list!  Green Akeys Family Farm is right up there with National Parks and Ellis Island which is on the list for tomorrow.  I'm truly honored.

Now to top it off..... Grandma has been here and being totally adventurous with cooking.  We have so many eggs that we started out by saying, "what can we make that needs lots of eggs".  She's made quiche, deviled eggs and today was the grand finale.  We had chicken (our chickens of course), zucchini and tomato and shallot ratatouille, cucumbers with onion and dill, bean salad and then for desert, Lemon Meringue pie.  

Oh my goodness- if you've never had a lemon meringue pie made with farm fresh eggs then you are missing out on one of the wonders of the world.  If your food doesn't taste this good, it might be because you aren't using high quality ingredients.  Good inputs = good outputs.  

mmmm...good food, good company, good times.....  life is good.