Its been a few weeks since my last farm update and a lot has happened. We finally started getting some consistent rains at our Dundee farm in early July and the pasture's there have really greened up and look great. Unfortunately, we haven't had much rain at our Wisconsin farm but several thunderstorms rolled through last weekend and this morning with intense downpours so the dormant grasses are starting to green up some. Just in time as our grazable acres are shrinking fast without regrowth.
The broiler chickens are back on track with normal 4 - 4.5 lb. whole bird weights for the last two batches. We did process a batch Wednesday morning but we can't pick them up until Friday so the fresh chickens will not be in the store until Friday around noon through Sunday. Next week we are processing chickens on Monday, and so we will have fresh chickens in the store Tuesday through Friday. We also have a good supply of chicken parts in stock now.
This past Saturday we hosted a farm tour for staff and volunteers of Crate Free USA, an animal welfare non-profit we have worked closely with over the years. Bob Benenson of Local Food Forum came along and took some great pictures of the farm and provided a nice writeup of the tour in his newsletter. Read it here and subscribe for lots of great information and stories about the local food scene in Chicagoland.
EGGS A PLENTY + SHIPPING SOON
Both our Wisconsin and Illinois laying hen flocks are producing like crazy now, which is kind of weird given that its midsummer, hot and mostly dry. But we have lots and lots of eggs to sell, so the discounted egg bundles are back in the store and online. Buy 6 dozen or 10 dozen and save up to $1 per dozen.
We are also excited to receive our organic certification for the eggs produced at our Wisconsin farm. Our plan is to begin shipping those certified organic eggs to customers in the next week or two once we get all the packaging tested out. They will be unwashed and unrefrigerated with the bloom intact. Our egg shipping boxes will hold four dozen and we plan on setting up a subscription service for monthly deliveries. Stay tuned I will send a note out to everyone when they are live on the website. The organic feed and production methods are the same for eggs produced at both farms, but our Wisconsin farmland was already certified organic so it wasn't too difficult to certify the eggs as well for those shipping customers that may never have visited the farm and had a chance to see our hens out in their pasture rotations.
NEW PIGGIES TO VISIT
We picked up our first batch of spring pigs from our farrowing partner farm and they have been very popular with visitors. For the first weeks their pasture rotations have kept them close to the farm store but they are slowly moving north and away from the store. Stop by and say hello before they get too big.
FARM STORE UPDATE
We are in the peak season for local produce from our on-site grower Karolina and the other local farms we source from:
From our on-site organic grower Karolina we have carrot bunches, slicing cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, scallions, lettuce heads, green beans, rainbow chard, and kale.
From Broadview farms in Marengo we have their bagged salad greens/lettuce mix, green beans, and cabbage.
From Harrison Market Gardens in Winnebago we have potatoes, jalapenos, and spring knob onions.
From Joe's Blues in Michigan we still have fresh blueberries
New products in the store include Severson Farms (Dwight Illinois) organic grains, oatmeal, cornbread and pancake mixes
Smoked turkey legs and sous vie turkey legs on sale 30% off
And of course egg bundles on sales for six dozen or ten dozen.
WHY GRASS FED IS BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
There has been a significant amount of negative press in the last few years about how bad livestock, in particular cattle, are for the environment. Part of this is no doubt an effort by some globalists to push more people away from real foods and farming and into eating the proprietary fake meats and lab grown meats that are popping up. And certainly there is an effort by the climate change activists to point the finger at animal agriculture as a leading cause of global warming. However, as we say in the regenerative farming world, its not the cow, but the how!
Most of the data blaming cattle for global warming is based on meat production from confinement feedlot systems. And raising cattle in those un-natural systems, heavily reliant on trucked-in GMO corn and soy and trucked out manure, certainly is not a sustainable system and no doubt is damaging to the environment. However, raising cattle in a regenerative, grass-based system is a whole different story. Multiple studies have shown that grass-fed beef and dairy, managed on rotated pastures, sequester more than enough carbon from the atmosphere and back into the soil to compensate for the methane they belch out while ruminating. For a great read on this topic that takes a relatively deep dive into the science, I highly recommend the book "Defending Beef" by Nicolette Hahn Niman, a former vegetarian turned cattle rancher. Here is a nice summary of the book by The Guardian Newspaper.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK - TENDER, JUICY LEMOM ZA'ATAR FLANK STEAK
We are in the midst of summer grilling season and our recipe guru Jackie has come up with a fantastic recipe for flank steak. Follow the link at the bottom to view the recipe on her blog with more pictures and ideas for sourcing a good grass-fed flank steak.
Description Tender, juicy flank steak is totally obtainable if you follow along with me. A Za’atar lemon marinade lends bright, fresh flavors while tenderizing this lean cut of meat. A quick cook over open flame creates a beautiful crust and seals in the delicious juices. With just a little planning, flank steak can grace your dinner table any night of the week.
(1) 1-1.5lb All Grass Farms flank steak
2 tsp salt
Lemon Za'atar Marinade
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp coconut sugar
20 turns of cracked pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Za’atar
1/4 tsp EACH dried garlic, dried onion, red chili flakes
3 sprigs rosemary
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Avocado oil
5 tbsp butter
1 tbsp EACH parsley, lemon zest, finely chopped.
1/2 tsp Za’atar
Night before, trim silver skin and salt steak. Refrigerate overnight uncovered.
Next morning, combine marinade ingredients into a resealable bag. Add steak, push out air and seal. Marinade 8 hours in refrigerator.
Preheat grill to 500F.
While grill is preheating, prep the herb butter.
Soften the butter. A few seconds in microwave works.
Combine rest of herb butter ingredients. Place in freezer until steak is done grilling.
Grill steak over direct flame around 5 minutes per side. Temperature should be around 130F-133F.
Lightly tent with foil, plop 2 tbsp of herb butter on top and rest for 10 minutes.
Slice against the grain and plop rest of butter evenly on top.
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Cliff, Anna and the Farm Team