Spring has finally arrived and we welcome the warm sunny days coming our way. With spring we are preparing for the arrival of our first batch of baby chicks (last week of March), our first batch of turkey poults (one week later), and more pullets for egg production. To make room for the baby chicks in the hoophouse we will be moving the older laying hens from their winter housing near the hoophouse out to their pasture shelters in the next week or two. Their guard dog Baraboo will also be excited to get out onto some green pastures as well!
We usually plan on starting the grazing season around May 1st for the beef and dairy herds, assuming we have somewhat normal spring weather and pasture growth. Until then the cows will be munching on hay harvested last year and trying to sneak out and gert an early bite of the spring grass before its ready.
Our list of spring projects is long, as usual. We started a perimeter fence around our pig pasture area last summer and hope to get that finished soon so that we can use simple electric fencing to manage our pig rotations, eliminating many hours each week of pounding t-posts and moving hog panels. And our new 30 acre dairy pasture south of the creek that we planted last spring needs to be fenced in before we can turn the girls loose down there. Of course the mobile range coops we use for broiler chickens need to be patched up and ready to deploy within the next few weeks as our chicks outgrow their brooder space. And the list goes on...but we are happy to be working outside in the sunshine again.
ANIMAL HEALTH WORKSHOP WITH DR. PAUL - NEXT SATURDAY MARCH 27th
We are exited to welcome Dr. Paul Dettlof to our farm next Saturday for a day long workshop on holistic animal health. We have long been referencing his hugely informative book "Complete Guide to Raising Animals Organically" as our bible for all of our ruminant health issues, and have been using many of his tinctures and homeopathic concoctions with our cows.
His workshop will start next Saturday at 10 AM in the picnic shelter, and will run through 3 PM with a break for lunch, which will include our own pastured pork brats and grass-fed beef burgers grilled up by yours truly. While Dr. Paul is best known for his work with organic ruminant animals, where he was a veterinarian with Organic Valley Cooperative for over 25 years, his workshop will focus on holistic animal care tools for all species including backyard chickens, pigs, and even pets. Sign up for the workshop on our website here.
ONLINE MEAT & POULTRY ORDERS NOW OPEN
We have been able to secure enough processing slots for all of our hog, beef, and poultry production planned for this year and therefore have opened up all custom orders (quarter beef/half hog) and discount value bundles for online reservations. We are taking in a load of grass fed beef approximately one per month, but our next hog processing dates are not until late April, and our first chicken processing date of the year is the first week of June. Learn more about what products are available for online order please visit our online store.
Our vegetable grower Karolina said she does have a few vegetable CSA shares left, you can preorder those shares on her website for pickup at the farm store beginning in late June.
FARM STORE UPDATE
With the warmer weather and a quite a bit of sunshine we are getting more eggs and milk from the hens and Moo crew in recent weeks. We are still selling out on weekends but many days during the week we have ample supply.
As always we have some new items and specials in the farm store that may be interesting to folks:
New organic raw fermented foods from Oregon Brineworks - Beet Kvass, Ginger Roots, Sauerkraut, and Chili Sauce.
Our grass fed beef chuck roasts, sirloin tip roasts, round roasts, and rump roasts are still 15% off through the end of March.
Friends of the Farm CSA Cards with up to 15% bonus levels available now through month end.
Our fitst selection of organic heirloom vegetable seeds from Seed Savers Exchange is about sold out, but we have another shipment on the way.
HEALTH NOTES - REGENERATIVE FOOD AND FARMING - THE ROAD FORWARD?
Last month we defined and discussed the growing interest in the topic of regenerative agriculture. Scaling up regenerative and organic food and farming will require not only consumer awareness, market demand, and farmer innovation, but also fundamental policy change, accompanied by a massive increase in public and private funding.
If we are going to reverse our catastrophic public health and environmental crises, and make family farm-scale agriculture economically viable again, we have no choice but to educate and mobilize.
We must step up the pressure on public officials to stop subsidizing bad food, which is low in nutrients and contains multiple contaminants and bad fats. We must force them to stop subsidizing degenerative farming and livestock management practices, which rely on the intensive use of toxic chemicals, fossil fuels, factory farms, and GMOs.
Fortunately, there’s a way forward. We are fortunate to have policy experts such as Mackenzie Feldman, founder and executive director of Herbicide-Free Campus, and John Ikerd, author and professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri, speaking out on behalf of our growing Regeneration Movement.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH - APPLE ONION PORK CHOPS
This simple recipe comes from our Band of Farmers Cookbook, and was submitted by Walnut Acres Family Farm near Walnut, Illinois. This is a recipe that we can prepare with all ingredients sourced from our farm store right now!
4 pork chops
2 tbsp. olive oil or lard
2 onions, sliced
2 tart apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
Salt and pepper pork chops; brown on both sides in olive oil over medium heat. Remove and set aside. Cook onions and apples in remaining oil and meat juices for 20 minutes over low heat. Add browned pork chops and vinegar to skillet until simmering. Stir in broth. Simmer 20 minutes and serve.
Thats it for March, get outside and enjoy this spring sunshine and soak up some vitamin D while it lasts!
To Your Health,
Cliff, Anna, and the Farm Team