Wow - how about this crummy weather the last few weeks! The cold, wet spring has really slowed down the grass growth quite a bit. Good if you don't like mowing much, bad if you have lots of cows that like to eat grass. We are still feeding hay but hope to start grazing both the beef and dairy herds next week if we can get another few inches of growth on the pastures over the next few days. The rain expected over the weekend should help the cause by warming up the soil temperatures a bit to get the grasses growing more quickly.
One of our winter projects was to build two eggmobiles at our Wisconsin farm so that we could bring some free-ranging hens up to help "sanitize" the pastures behind the beef herd this season by eating fly larvae off the cow patties. The new eggmobiles are built on old boat trailer chassis so they are easy to move around the farm with the Polaris UTV. And to save us a little time they each have two automatic doors that open at sunrise and close at sunset to protect the hens from predators (who mostly come out at night). We had to train some of the hens for the first few nights to go inside but now for the most part they have got it down pretty well. Once we have the beef herd back to grazing we will cut them loose. All of our hens this year are eating a special organic corn-free and soy-free mix that our feed mill developed for us.
New Eggmobiles at our Elkhorn WI Farm
On the topic of poultry, we have opened up reservations for fresh Thanksgiving turkeys. There will be only two fresh pickup dates this year again, with frozen turkeys available about two weeks prior to Thanksgiving. The fresh turkey pickup dates are Saturday Nov. 19th and Wednesday Nov. 23rd. To reserve your fresh turkeys please visit the turkey page on our website.
PLANTING A FEW TREES
Its no secret that Anna likes her trees. Especially fruit-brearing trees. One of her favorite aspects of working at our Wisconsin farm is the large number of Mulberry trees that provided a bumper crop of plump berries last year.
Anna planting trees on a cold spring day
So I wasn't too surprised when she ordered 300 trees from the Racine County Conservation District last fall. A variety of fruit trees and bushes as well as native oaks, maples, spruces, and pines. I dug at least 100 holes last Wednesday as we created what we hope will someday be additional shade alleys for the cows and windbreaks to protect the property edges. And hopefully some tasty fruits in the next few years...
SUMMER FARM CAMP REGISTRATION OPEN
We still have a few slots open for the summer farm camps, although a couple of the sessions are almost full. Each week-long camp caters to a different age group. The campers will learn about raising chickens, cows, and pigs, regenerative agriculture, and also some useful hands-on survival skills as well. We only have room for 20 kids per camp this year, For more information on the camps or to register visit our camps page.
FARM STORE UPDATE
We are eagerly waiting the first spring veggies to arrive, but for now we don't have much fresh local produce to offer except for micro-greens and spring ramps.
We do still have a good selection of local organic potatoes from Igl farms as well as organic apples, onions, and carrots.
I just picked up a trailer full of beef from our Indiana processor on Thursday, so right now we have a very broad selection of local, 100% grass-fed beef including steaks, roasts, organ meats, marrow bones, beef jerky, and even beef hot dogs.
And our pork freezer is still well stocked with pork chops, roasts, and ribs, plus bacon and a good supply of artisan sausages, brats, and Kielbasa from our pasture-raised hogs.
New products in the farm store include Lovebird Cereals - grain free, organic, no refined sugar.
Also Umland Crunchy Cheese bites, Spindrift sparkling fruit waters, Luna Ghee and tallow candles made by our own Gina Lange.
HEALTH NOTES - NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF EGGS
Since we started raising chickens in our backyard over 20 years ago we've always had fresh eggs available, so rarely does a day go by when we don't eat eggs for breakfast. When I read this article from the eatingwell.com website about all the health benefits of eating eggs every day I though it was worthy of sharing.
Eggs are one of the most affordable proteins and pack and impressive nutritional punch...one large egg contains 70 calories, 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and no carbs.. The yolk in particular is a source of important nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin D and choline that are all important for helping our bodies process food into energy we can use. Plus, the combination of protein and healthy fat gives eggs some staying power so you feel full for longer.
Eggs are a good source of several B vitamins, including vitamins B2, B5 and B12. All of these nutrients have several functions in the body, including maintaining healthy skin and hair. All B vitamins are water soluble, meaning they don't stay in your body for very long and are not easily stored, so regular consumption is a good way to make sure you meet your needs. Eggs are also rich in amino acids (protein building blocks) like methionine that can help improve the tone and pliability of skin and the strength of hair and nails.
Eggs are rich in the micronutrient choline, which is used to help create cell membranes and important neurotransmitters in the body. Choline is important for memory, mood, muscle control and general nervous system function, so it makes sense why not getting enough could make you feel foggy (among other more severe symptoms). One egg offers about 6% of our daily choline needs, and thus eating eggs can help support a healthy brain.
Egg yolks contain two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, that are important for eye health. They play an important role in eye development and healthy vision, and research shows they might even help lower the risk of common age-related eye diseases. Dark leafy greens are another great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, so recipes like our Stir-Fried Mustard Greens with Eggs & Garlic can help you double down.
Vitamin D is important for numerous bodily processes. It helps regulate blood pressure, lowers risk for certain cancers and can play a positive role in mental health. One of vitamin D's most important functions is helping us maintain healthy bones. It does this by improving calcium absorption in the gut, and helping keep our calcium and phosphorus levels in a range that promotes healthy bone growth and bone remodeling. One egg boasts 6% of our vitamin D needs, so adding one to your plate each day can reap bone-healthy benefits.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH - MOZZARELLA, BASIL, AND ZUCCHINI FRITATTA This vegetable-studded frittata recipe from the EatingWell.com egg article above is one of the quickest meals you can make. Make it for breakfast, or serve for lunch or dinner with a tossed salad and a slice of olive oil-drizzled crusty baguette. Ready in 20 minutes. Ingredient Checklist
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups thinly sliced red onion
1 ½ cups chopped zucchini
7 large eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
⅔ cup pearl-size or baby fresh mozzarella balls (about 4 ounces)
3 tablespoons chopped soft sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Step 1 Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.
Step 2 Heat oil in a large broiler-safe nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 3 Meanwhile, whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour the eggs over the vegetables in the pan. Cook, lifting the edges to allow uncooked egg from the middle to flow underneath, until nearly set, about 2 minutes. Arrange mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes on top and place the skillet under the broiler until the eggs are slightly browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Let stand for 3 minutes. Top with basil.
Step 4 To release the frittata from the pan, run a spatula around the edge, then underneath, until you can slide or lift it out onto a cutting board or serving plate. Cut into 4 slices and enjoy!
Thats it for this week. Think sun and warm weather!
Cliff, Anna, and the Farm Team