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  • Cliff McConville

Farm Update - where's all the milk? missing turkeys, bacon is back

FARM HAPPENINGS

Whew...last week was a challenging one for me with processing dates for beef, hogs, chickens, AND turkeys all requiring lots of driving animals around. And missing Anna while she spent the week hiking in the mountains of Colorado. She is back now so I have a little time to work on the newsletter.


The number one question we get in the farm store right now is where's the milk? We are typically selling out within an hour of store opening every day, and that leaves lots of frustrated customers looking for raw milk. So I thought it would be valuable to let everyone know why our milk production is down so much at this point in the summer.


First and foremost we always see a dip in milk production during the dog days of summer, with heat and humidity reducing the cows appetite and their willingness to graze during the heat of the day. The less they eat the less milk they produce. We try to supplement their grazing with dry hay but they really just have a reduced appetite.

The second reason for reduced overall production is that we have quite a few cows on "maternity leave" right now, in preparation for calving soon. About 75 days before they are due to have a calf, we start reducing their milk production by milking them less often, going from twice a day milking to once a day, then once every other day, and so on until they have stopped producing milk altogether. We like to give them 60 days of the dry period to help them rest their bodies and put on a little weight in preparation for starting a new lactation cycle once the calf is born.


Finally, we are fortunate to have a lot of heifer calves right now, as noted in last week's farm update. We have nine older heifer calves that are weaned from milk and almost ready for breeding, and another six calves that are still suckling milk (see the calf posse below - they like to hang together). They drink a lot of milk and that leaves less for the customers. But that investment in the growth of the heifer calves will pay dividends for us in terms of future milk production. So hopefully our summer swoon will not be as bad next year when some of the new heifers are in production.


BACON IS BACK!

With all the driving this week dropping off livestock at processors I was able to pickup four beeves and six hogs we processed last month at Eickmans on Friday. So after a bit of a dry spell we now have smoked bacon, pork chops, and ham steaks back in the store - all pasture raised, organic feed, and cured without nitrates. And a whole bunch of grass fed steaks and beef patties as well.


MISSING TURKEYS

The first thing many visitors see when driving into the farm is the free-range turkeys on the pasture near the entrance drive. Of course they can't live the good life forever, and we took half in this past week and the rest will go in next week. The first batch I dropped off at Hometown Sausage Kitchen already for processing so those should be back in the store next week in the form of ground turkey, breast tenders, smoked drumsticks, and turkey bone broth.


FARM STORE UPDATE

We have fresh chickens available again this weekend until Sunday. And The summer fresh vegetable list is growing every week:

  • This week Karolina is harvesting cherry tomatoes, carrots, beets, green cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, and jalapeno peppers from her organic gardens here at the farm.

  • We will also have heirloom slicing tomatoes, local peaches, apricots, broccoli, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, microgreens, and lettuce mix fresh from other local farms.

  • We have 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 - FIESTA BEEF CASSEROLE

This recipe comes from Tom and Dale Lasater of Lasater Grasslands Beef our of Matheson, Colorado as is published in The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook (available in the farm store).

- 2 tablespoons butter, lard, or tallow

- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of grass fed ground beef

- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

- 1 tablespoon chili powder

- 12 ounces chunky salsa

- 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen

- 3/4 cup mayonnaise or sour cream

- 2 cups crushed tortilla chips

- 2 cuips shredded sharp Cheddar or jack cheese

- 1 head lettuce, coarsely chopped

- 3 tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chipped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Coat a large, heated skillet with fat. Add the ground beef, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder; cook untiul the meat browns.


Remove beef to a large bowl, and add the salsa, corn, and mayonnaise or sour cream. Spread one-half of the meat mixture on the bottom of a 2-quart casserole. Top with one cup of the tortilla chips, followed by one cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers. Bake for 20 minutes.


Serve on a bed of chipped lettuce, and top with tomatoes.

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Thats it for this week, hope to see everyone soon in the store or on a farm tour soon.


To Your Health,


Cliff, Anna, and the Farm Team

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