Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cheese Making

Today we learned how to make mozzarella cheese.  We went to a friends house and she showed us how to make it.  We made 3 batches.  About 4.5 lbs of cheese.   For mozzarella cheese you need to pull the cheese like taffy and it is hot- about 135 F hot to be exact, hence the gloves I'm wearing.  In the end I molded it into an oval shaped piece of cheese that we cut up and ate fresh.  
We learned that we needed to double the salt in the recipe.  So mozzarella will get perfected with different milks and adding a few herbs and such.  Then maybe on to ricotta cheese?  Not sure, but appears that we may be hooked.  

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Treat for Your Dog

If you are looking for the ultimate gift for your dog this Holiday Season, then consider a smoked lamb bone.  Our dogs devour them and we've had several other dogs taste test them as well.  They are a winner.  

These are grass fed and smoked real lamb bones.  What more can I say?  Your dog will love them.  Limited supply of these bones but they are available for $5/bone.  I know that's more than a bone at the store, but you put this bone next to that store bought bone and I'd like to see which one the dog picks out.  (hmm... I'll have to test that out....)
Call Mike if you want any bones.  
Also, if you ordered a whole lamb, you get the bones as well.  Although we keep forgetting to give everyone their bones-- as the bones are a new thing.  Nothing goes to waste if you do it right!  

Yesterday Mike made Sheppards Pie (or as I call it- Hamburger pie) with venison and lamb.  
Wow-- great flavor.  We are lamb eating machines these days.  Probably because we've now had enough chicken and turkey to last us the year.  But beef is coming soon.

Speaking of beef.  We are bringing 4 steers to the butcher on Jan 11th and we have 2 left that are not spoken for.  So if you were considering ordering 1/4 of a steer or more, please let us know as we've got 3 people that once Mike calls them I'm sure they'll gobble up the last 2.  So place your order now.

We also have 4 of the 5 pigs available when they go to slaughter in January/February.

Eggs are also available over the winter but you'll have to pick up at the farm.  We will likely get a smaller fridge as we don't need to run the big fridge for a few dozen cartons of eggs.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Toss-up

Turkey on Thanksgiving or rack of lamb and lamb kabobs the day before Thanksgiving?
It was a toss up.  The turkey was great.  It cooked faster than we thought but it was tender and so full of meat that we'll have leftovers all weekend.

Kabobs and rack of lamb the Wed before thanksgiving.  We had to try it out since we just picked up the lamb from the butcher on Monday.  O.M.G -- as my kids now say.
I chopped up sage, parsley and added olive oil, salt and garlic.  Spread it on the kabobs and the rack of lamb.  Mike cooked it perfectly.  140 F
This is the picture of it in the packaging.  Still defrosting-- but cool to see it in the nice vacuum sealed packages.  If you are interested in lamb, we have 3 more lambs and we'll also be making some lamb sausage.  I was never a lamb eater.  I never ordered it, never liked it when I did order it.  I was obviously eating the wrong lamb.....  It's great to eat because the pieces are smaller than beef so you don't over-eat and the flavor is fabulous.  

Monday, November 23, 2009

Morning Photos on the Farm

The chicken eggmobile will be by the barn for the winter as that is the one place where we have a heated waterer.  That means the hens and 8 roosters are roaming the yard as there is no electric fence to keep them in.

When I came out to take pictures they all gathered around.  They have food-- but my voice must mean "special food" to them.  I am the one that usually brings them leftover veggies-- which they love.

And then they started following me up the drive towards the house.  Not many have ventured past the house- but several have been found hanging around the front door.  

The cattle are also in the front pasture again!!!  Yeah!!  I love to watch them!
The lamb is back from the butcher.  I'll snap some pictures as it looks fabulous.  Tonight we had regular lamb sausage and Merguez lamb sausage.  The Merguez sausage is spicy-- but not too spicy and great with a honey mustard.  We'll be getting more of that processed soon as we're going to run out......

Mucho Thankso

Just wanted to say thank you to Hunter and his father Jim who most graciously helped us with our turkey processing yesterday. 29 turkeys, 9 chickens. We had a great time yesterday, it was great to both meet you and work with you.

The turkeys ranged from 17 to 27.5 pounds.

Only 2 were scalded a bit too long and we had 1 with a broken wing. Otherwise, the rest looked fantastic. Heck, even the turkey that was attacked by a fox earlier in the summer was no worse for wear. They all look fantastic!

Turkeys are now all spoken for so I also need to say thanks to everyone who purchased a turkey from us this fall. Next year we start a bit later so we can have some smaller hens for fryers.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Who needs a turkey?

We still have a few turkeys available. Sorta big ones. Last week we had one processed that I thought would be about 12 pounds or so. She was almost 20. So...

Come and get em!


Give me an email or call if you still need a bird for the holidays.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Egg Transitioning

The egg production is 1/2 of what it is in the summer so not many eggs to wash these days.  The last farmers market is this weekend.  We've only gone every other weekend the past few weeks as we wouldn't have had enough to last us even an hour at the market.

We have moved the egg mobile by the barn in order to do maintenance on it and to thin down the flock.  It's a huge structure.  HUGE!!  Either this weekend or next weekend we'll be converting some of the older layers to stewing hens.  Evidently, stewing hens make the best stock-  (I'm a little obsessed about stock these days).   Then we'll keep around 70 hens and a few roosters.  I think we have about 7 roosters which is way too many.  However, Nicky is one rooster, Roadrunner is another rooster and then I've got an Arucana, Barred rock and Maran roosters.  And I was kind of thinking that I want a few more hens next year-- but I thought I'd put 2 hens with 1 rooster in the brooder room and see what happens.  I'd love to see if we get home grown chicks.  

So we will thin out the hens and then convert to organic feed.  Folks have asked me if the eggs will taste better.  Nope-- likely exactly the same.  What we really want out of the feed is the genetically modified corn.  Being a person who loves productivity improvements, I understand the benefits of the genetically modified corn.  However, I also could understand the growth hormones for cows as well and that had some negative side effects.  It's different now that I have to choose what my animals eat.  I might not have thought about it before but in the end I eat what they eat.  And so organic, non-gmo corn it is.  We want to see how much extra it will really cost for organic feed.  So expect our price/dozen to go up.  How much?  Not sure yet.  We'll try it out for a month and I'll post results.

The chickens are now not inside electric fencing but just regular old perimeter fencing.  So they are now pretty much free range.  If you come to our house, drive carefully as there will be chickens all over.  They get braver each day and explore a little further.  I'm just hoping they don't go up to the neighbors house. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

The sign of a good farm

I've read and heard from farmers that you can judge how well a farmer takes care of his/her animals by looking at the fences.  Our animals have great areas and it's castle living.  So if that holds true-- our meat will be fabulous since our animals have newer and better living quarters than we do!  

We're just about finished with fencing (the only area left to fence in is the garden and we don't know what we want to do with that yet- so that's a future decision).  Above you can't really see the fencing for the side pasture (up top left) but that 20 or so acres is now fenced in.  It's 7 wire strands with 3 electrified.  Not as expensive as the 4 board fencing you see in the front part of the pasture.  That's the nice stuff and we could only afford that around the house.  Below is also a new cross fence in our main pasture.

This is the mid priced fencing that is woven wire with electrified strands behind it.  This is the area that we'll keep baby goats, lambs, and then pigs and rams.  Anything that we really, really want to keep contained.  I'm excited about this area because we'll have more options now for the pigs!!   Thanks to all of you for the fencing!  We get about 70% of it paid through federal and state funds for turning row crops back into pasture.   So thanks for paying your taxes.  You helped us pay for the fencing.  You don't even want to know how expensive fencing is... thank goodness for the help as we would never have been able to get the areas turned over to pasture so quickly.  

The checklist is getting smaller!!!
animals - check
waterlines - check
tractor - check
fencing- check
Barn painting and maintenance - future project

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why do we have a farm?

Sometimes Mike and I look at the farm bills and we say to ourselves... what the heck were we thinking?  We should have kept our money in the bank, kept our little house in our little neighborhood and had a great life.  We could travel, we could go to farmers markets and buy all organic and local foods, etc...  Did we have to buy a farm with lots of land but with a teeny house and do the farm adventure?

Sunday was a day that answered the question....
I forgot to take a picture of Sunday dinner--- it was fabulous and about 50% of the ingredients were home grown.
Kohlrabi, celery and fennel slaw with walnut oil
Cauliflower gratin
grilled venison steaks (marinated first)
apple whole hog sausage 
roasted sweet potatoes and leeks cooled then mixed with dijon dressing and baby arugula  
red potatoes - which ended up as breakfast the next day

then pears cooked in butter, honey, lemon for dessert

There is just something about eating a meal that you grew most of the ingredients--
And as I had fun on Sunday-- the kids had even more fun.....

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fried Chicken

As the vegetables have died down.... it's now all about meat.  I decided that I needed to learn how to cut up a whole chicken properly.  Yikes!!  So I cut up 3 chickens and got better each time.  Still have a lot more practice ahead of me.

 I then decided to try out a fried chicken recipe from Thomas Keller's new cookbook Ad Hoc.  Unfortunately, I didn't plan correctly and so I didn't have the oils he suggested but I wanted to use bacon drippings for part of the frying anyway.... yum!!!  

It was really great fried chicken but I've decided that I like chicken baked or grilled much better.  And 3 chickens took a long time to fry up.

Of course the chicken was even better because it was pasture raised!  In the spring we will do another round of chickens so if you are interested email Mike to order now.  We are switching to a business model where we will take orders for chickens and you will pick them up fresh/refrigerated instead of frozen.  This way you can cut them up yourself and freeze the chickens in the parts you want.

We are also making another big switch next year.  We are going to go all organic.  For the laying hens as well as the meat birds.  We've decided that we really want the genetically modified corn out of the feed and we also want the feed to have been pesticide-free so we'll just have to see how much it really costs per chicken to do that.  

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Animal pictures

I was into taking pictures of the animals last weekend.  Here are the goats.  They are now in the barn for the winter as they don't tolerate the cold like the cattle and sheep and pigs.  Anyone want a free goat or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?  

I am so happy we still have ducks.  The Runner ducks survived the fox.  The father is the white and tan pencil duck in the middle.  Mommas are the black ducks and so offspring are a mixture.  We are trying to figure out how to give them a place for the winter.  Searching for a pond bubbler to keep one part unfrozen for them.

This is Lucy.   She picked a great spot to hang out for the afternoon.
Lamb goes to the butcher on Monday!  Last call!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall Bounty

I love where we live because it doesn't freeze for successive days until December or even January.  The fennel is loving the cold weather.

Baby carrots!

Turkeys!  Ok- so not a vegetable but a fall crop.  We've sold almost all the turkeys.  We'll likely have 5 left at the end as we wanted to make sure we had the right amount in case we suffer a few more casualties before thanksgiving (aka- the fox).

The turkeys now gobble.  It is the funniest thing.  I'll have to take a video.  It's hilarious.

Still lots of greens.  Chard (I know some CSA members will say--no, no more chard), bok choi, parley, sage, thyme, cilantro, random greens, spicy ones, carrots and more chard!  Oh, and arugula and kale.   Let Mike know if you want any- he can package some up for you.  Also, you can come pick what you want for yourself as well.  I'll show you where it is and you pick what you want/need. 

The lambs are going for slaughter Nov 9- we're almost sold out of lamb, so if you haven't placed your order, email or call Mike soon.  We're going to try a few of the older ewes for ourselves as our farmer friends tell us that you still get a great loin and rack from an older ewe and the rest can be used for sausage.  We'll try it out and see if they were right but if it is true we may have a mutton special.   :)  There are a few older mommas who are not behaving- and so they'll either get sold off or go into our freezer- sorry ladies but you've had your chance to be good.
I was traveling in Denver last week and had a lamb hamburger- it was fabulous.  I then had lamb for dinner as well.
We've also been eating a lot of lamb lately at home (of course grass fed and local) from Evermore Farms also in Westminster and we've been loving it.  It's a meat that grows on you.  Even our pickiest child ate lamb sausage for dinner and breakfast- just plain old lamb sausage with no seasonings.  We're cooking lamb stew in the crock pot for dinner tomorrow with fresh carrots from the garden!

Basically, I'm in love with lamb these days....