Farm Update - we make the news, spring lambs, certified organic?
This week we finally got all the laying hens moved out to the pasture shelters on Tuesday, dodging rain showers and thunderstorms most of the week. We then scooped a few tons of winter compost out of the hoophouse and started setting up the brooder boxes for 8000 broiler chicks we are planning to raise this year. The first batch of 500 day-old chicks is arriving from the hatchery next Tuesday, and our summer batch of 300 turkey poults are arriving on Thursday. Things are definitely starting to get busy.
In other baby animal news, Anna's small flock of katahdin sheep have almost finished having their spring lambs. Most of the ewes seem to be having triplets this year, which can be challenging because sheep only have two teats to suckle from, not four like the cows do. But the lambs are very cute, pictured below is a set of the early triplets. For most of the year the sheep flock grazes along with our beef herd, but just prior to lambing we separate the ewes out into one of the barns so they can have their babies in a "safe" space away from all those hooves. Once the lambs are able to keep up with the beef cattle we will put them back together again, probably in the next few weeks.
WE FINALLY MAKE FRONT PAGE NEWS
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Jenny Whidden, a climate reporter (yes there is such a thing) from the Daily Herald. She had been talking to Ben Haberthur, the new Excecutive Director for the Kane County Forest Preserve, about regenerative agriculture on public lands, and he referred her to me. I wasn't sure what would come of our lenghthy conversation, but they eventually sent a photographer out to take some less than flattering winter cow pictures. Next thing I know we find ourselves on the front page of the Daily Herald with regenerative farming finally getting some love in the mainstream press. Read the entire article here.
CERTIFIED ORGANIC - TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
For many years we have debated on whether or not to seek organic certification for our products. Certain buyers put a lot of faith in the USDA organic seal, for others that understand the many shortcomings of the USDA organic program it means nothing. Last year, we did certify all 400 acres of our Wisconsin farmland organic. The total resource investment in that process was almost $2,000 in certification and inspection fees, about 6-7 hours of my time completing the certification application and related paperwork, and another 4-5 hours driving the inspector around the farm during our inspection day. And that was just the first step, as we need to get the land certified organic before we could certify any of our products.
This year we decided to go ahead and certify the eggs we produce on our Wisconsin farm, as we have tentative plans to start shipping unwashed/pasture-raised no-corn/no-soy eggs to homes in the region later this year. We expect many of the buyers may not ever have visited our farm, and so the organic certification would be more important for those types of buyers that may not be familiar with our farming practices. As I was filling out the livestock portion of the certification application, I wondered how the many certified confinement egg producing operations answer the question about how many hours per day their chickens are outdoors???
SPRING CHICKEN SALE - CONTINUED FOR ANOTHER WEEK
We sold quite a few chickens last week but still have a good supply to work through so we will carry the sale over for another week. Purchase whole or cutup chickens online or in the store for 15% OFF both regular pasture-raised/organic fed chickens as well as those batches we raised on a corn-free and soy-free diet. Save even more with 20% OFF on 4-packs of chickens and 25% OFF on 10-packs. Purchase the bulk packs online for store/curbside pickup or home delivery on our pastured poultry page.
FARM STORE UPDATE
We converted another 250 or so whole chickens into parts the last few weeks, so we now are restocked on breasts, thighs, wings, legs, and even ground chicken in the store. And we have the artisan Hungarian chicken sausage back in stock as well, plus a good supply of chicken bone broth made by our friends at Hometown Sausage Kitchen in East Troy, Wisconsin.
We still have a good selection of nitrate-free Easter hams available this year. Taste the difference from a hog raised outdoors on pasture!
I am picking up eight more beef from our processor on Wednesday so we will have a broad selection of beef cuts, bones, and organ meats back in the store by next weekend after we inventory all the boxes.
Anna wanted me to remind our Polish clients that we have Kielbasa for making white borsch (an Easter favorite).
Great assortment of local/organic sourdough breads, pastries, muffins, and bagels.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK - ORANGE BAKED HAM
This is a very simple ham recipe for those who like their ham on the sweeter side. Ready in an hour! If using a smaller ham, reduce the ingredient amounts proportionally.
1 (14 to 16-pound) fully cooked, smoked ham on the bone
6 garlic cloves
8 1/2 ounces orange marmalade
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 orange, zested
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the ham in a heavy roasting pan.
Mince the garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the marmalade, mustard, brown sugar, orange zest, and orange juice and process until smooth. Pour the glaze over the ham and bake for 1 hour, until the ham is fully heated and the glaze is well browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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Cliff, Anna and the Farm Team