February Healthy Eating Newsletter
We survived the two week long deep freeze of '21 and are enjoying the warm sunny days of the last week. Of course with all that snow melting we are heading right into mud season, probably the least favorite time of the year for most farmers, in particular those that raise livestock on pasture.
The many snow events we have experienced over the last month accumulated to the largest snowpack in this area since 1979. On the plus side the cows operate on full time four wheel drive so they have no problems navigating the deep snows to get back to the barn for water and back out to the fields to their hay feeders. Note nice hayshed on the right in the background last week at our new Elkhorn, Wisconsin Farm.
The downside of the unusually heavy snow and ice pack this year...it can be hard on large roof spans such those found on pole barns and machine sheds. Here is what our nice hay shed looked like on Monday morning when we arrived at the farm:
Too much heavy snow and ice combined with wind had taken its toll even though the roof only appeared to have a few inches of snow on it. Fortunately we did not have our newer tractor that we use to feed the beef cows or much hay in the shed when it came down. Unfortunately our neighbor had some very expensive haymaking equipment stored on the south side of the shed that is holding up a portion of the roof. We are both hoping insurance comes through to cover most of the damage and we can get a new shed built by summer when we will need it for the summer hay crop.
UPDATE ON ONLINE BEEF, PORK, AND CHICKEN ORDERS
As noted in last month, we were fortunate to secure additional processing slots at This Old Farm, a new beef and pork processor we are working with for 2021. We met with them last year, and were impressed with their capabilities around custom packaging, labeling, and ability to produce value-added products from our animals including nitrate free bacons, hams, beef jerky, snack sticks, and even beef bacon!
The downside is they are located near Colfax, Indiana which is just outside of Lafayette...almost a four hour drive with a loaded livestock trailer. However they will ship us our finished product back on pallets in a refrigerated truck so we only have to make the trip once per batch. We are hoping that we can use this processor for much of our farm store display product, and will use our local processors Lake Geneva Country Meats and Eickmans for the custom beef and pork orders (beef sides and quarters, half and whole hogs). They are both within an hour drive for customers that want to pickup their orders at the processor.
With this new processor online now we have additional capacity and have opened up online orders for ALL of our grass fed beef and pastured-raised pork packs for the remainder of the year, even the steak packs and no-nitrate pork packs.
And as noted in our January newsletter, we have opened up online orders for all the processing dates for pasture-raised chickens and turkeys on our pastured poultry store. If you are interested in picking up more than two fresh chickens on a regular basis we encourage pre-orders so we can make sure to keep enough fresh product from each batch we process this year.
VEGETABLE CSA IS BACK
Many of our long term customers remember the vegetable CSA we offered from 2014 - 2019 and discontinued last year due to production problems the previous two years. This year our former store manager, Karolina Kowalczyk, has added additional acreage to her operation here at our farm and she is offering a limited number of CSA shares this year, as she will also be the primary supplier of organic vegetables for our farm store again this year. However she does have a few CSA shares left, you can preorder those shares on her website for pickup at the farm store beginning in late June.
FARM STORE UPDATE
Our egg supply continues to be tight, so we are still sourcing extra eggs from nearby farms. However we have weaned some of the older heifer calves so our raw milk production is much improved.
As always we have some new items in the farm store that may be interesting:
New coffee... Sandhill Coffee is roasted in Elmhurst from fair trade, organic beans
Grass-Fed Kefir from Kalona Supernatural in plain and vanilla flavors
All grass fed beef roasts now 15% off in the store.
Organic hummus and Superfood Giardiniera made down the road at Organic Rootz
Friends of the Farm CSA Cards with up to 15% bonus levels available now.
Organic heirloom vegetable seeds from Seed Savers Exchange - my vegetable growing friends tell me there will be a shortage of seeds again this year.
HEALTH NOTES - REGENERATIVE FOOD AND FARMING - THE ROAD FORWARD?
There has been much interest and discussion recently about "Regenerative Farming", and the popular new documentary Kiss the Ground has only heightened the interest in this concept. If you have not seen the movie yet I highly recommend it. A young local filmmaker, spent a few days at our farm last year and is putting together his own documentary on Regenerative Farming featuring our farm. The documentary is still in the editing phase but he allowed me to post a link here to the film.
A common question that we hear is “What is Regenerative Food and Farming?”. This can be a difficult question to answer as it encompases many aspects of our food and agricultural systems. But the true definition would be something like this: Regenerative agriculture and animal husbandry is the next and higher stage of organic food and farming, not only free from toxic pesticides, GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and factory farm production, and therefore good for human health; but also regenerative in terms of the health of the soil, the environment, the animals, the climate, and rural livelihoods as well.
To learn more about the path forward with Regenerative Agriculture, please read Ronnie Cummins, one of the founders of Regeneration International, essay on the topic here.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH - CAST IRON KALE BREAKFAST
This simple recipe comes from our Band of Farmers Cookbook, and was submitted by Edgewood Farm Organics, a CSA Farm in Princeton, Illinois.
1-2 tbsp. lard, butter, or olive oil
1 bunch of Kale, preferably curly leaf, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 eggs (more or less depending on hunger factor)
Salt and Pepper
Heat a large skillet on medium. Add the oil; heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add chopped kale over the onion and garlic, making a nice thick layer of kale over entire pan. Remember, the kale will cook down!
Place a lid over pan until kale is slightly tender, then crack eggs over the bed of kale, spacing them an inch apart. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow eggs to steam until the whites are cooked through, but yolk is still soft (2 to 5 minutes, depending on stove top). Cook for longer if needed based on personal preference. Remove lid and serve each person with a lovely slice of onion, garlic, kale, and eggs.
Thats it for February, and enjoy this spring-like weather while it lasts!
Cliff, Anna, and the Farm Team