Empty brooder, DGA summit, grazing the woods, ground beef sale
For the first time since late March, the brooder house on the farm is empty, as we moved the last batch of Thanksgiving turkey poults out to the pasture coops this week. Feeding, watering, and caring for up to 2,000 baby chicks and poults 3-4 times a day is a significant part of our daily chore schedule during the spring and summer, and so this marks the beginning of our slightly less hectic fall season on the farm.
Anna and I even had the chance to get away for two days to attend the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) Mentor Summit near Medford, Wisconsin this week. There we visited several dairy grazing farms, a farmstead creamery bottling grass fed A2 milk and yogurt (great idea!), and had the opportunity to network with many other farmers from all over the country that graze their dairy cows. It's becoming a lost art nowdays with most dairy farms converting to confinement operations in the last 20-30 years.
For the past 18 months we have been involved as a mentor farm with the non-profit DGA, and currently have two Apprentices enrolled in the 2 year program. The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship is the only farm-related Apprenticeship program recognized by the US Department of Labor, and our goal is to train the next generation of successful dairy farmers in the best grazing techniques. Learn more about this great organization at www.dga-national.com.
COWS IN THE WOODS
Our Elkhorn, Wisconsin farm has a little over 10 acres of dense forest in the center of the farm that we have explored but not grazed in our first year there. We were a little concerned about what kind of mischief the herd would get into if we let them loose in the woods, as the density made it difficult to control their movements with temporary electric fencing.
Beeves and dairy heifers sampling the free choice mineral feeder in the woods
But with the oppresive heat and humidity this week, combined with the slow grass growth due to the ongoing drought in SE Wisconsin, we decided to put them in this past Sunday and hope for the best. Many of the tree and shrub leaves also have minerals and nutrients that may not be present in the pastures so we have noticed the cattle will generally graze the leaves of trees they can reach.
Overall they did a nice job of trimming the undergrowth and low hanging branches, opening up the forest floor to allow more sunlight in for ground cover growth.. Their hoof action should also stimulate additional plant growth and diversity. Given the generally good experience we will probably make the woods another regular stop on our grazing rotations in the future.
SUMMER GRASS FED BEEF SALE
This week we tried to make room in our two big walk in freezers for the last few batches of chickens we are processing in September. Since we can only produce chickens on pasture during the warmer months, we have to raise enough to last through the entire winter and next spring. And in moving the frozen chickens around I noticed we have a substantial amount of ground beef on hand, even though our steaks are selling out pretty quickly. So for the next week we are offering a 20% off sale on our grass-fed ground beef packs (10, 25 and 50 lbs), as well as our slow cook sampler packs. Visit our online beef store to order today for curbside or in-store pickup or home delivery.
FARM STORE UPDATE
We do have fresh chickens again this week, and will be processing our last three batches of chickens over the next few weeks so fresh chickens will available every week from Thursday through Sunday until mid-September.
New in the store this week we have our own pork breakfast sausage patties just picked up from Eickmans yesterday. We haven't had them yet this year. They are good.
This week Karolina is harvesting cherry tomatoes, heirloom slicing tomatoes, patty pan squash, cucumbers, yellow squash, eggplant, zucchini, cabbage, and jalapeno peppers from her organic gardens here at the farm.
Fresh local fruits this week include Michigan blueberries, plums, and peaches, and watermelons from Broadview Farm in Marengo.
We will also have green peppers, cabbage mushrooms, microgreens, and lettuce mix fresh from other local farms.
And more of the fresh sweet corn from Van Laars Family Farm in Harvard - harvested Friday and in the store Saturday morning. And their delicious Apple Cider donuts as well.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK - SHEPHERD'S PIE
This recipe originated from Jen and Bryce Riemer at Riemer Family Farm, and was published in the Band of Farmer's Cookbook. Ready in about 50 minutes.
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 5 carrots, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 lb. grass fed ground beef
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. gluten-free flour
- 1 tbsp. ketchup
- salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. Mix in butter, finely chopped onion, and 1/4 cup of the shredded Cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste, set aside.
Bring another large pot of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender, but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, mash, and set aside. Preheat over to 375 degrees F. Heat oil in a large frying pan and add onion and cook until tender. Add ground beef and cook until well-browned. Pour off excess fat, then stir in flour and cook one minute. Add ketchup and beef broth, then bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Spread the ground beef in an even layer on the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish. Next spread a layer of the mashed carrots. Top with the mashed potato mixture and sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown
Thats it for this week, hope to see everyone at the farm or in the store soon.
To Your Health,
Cliff, Anna, and the Farm Team