Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Week 3, May 29th: The Never Setting Sun

Make sure to wash all veggies! I recommend soaking and rinsing all vegetables. 
This week’s harvest
Head Lettuce- “Buttercrunch” is a mild, tender, and crunchy head lettuce that is very delicate when handled.  Beautiful red buttercrunch.
Kale “Curly”: See a great recipe below.
Swiss Chard “Rainbow”: See recipe below.
Zucchini and Summer Squash: See recipe below
Baby Greens Mix (Arugula, Mizuna, and Tatsoi) - This lively mix has the peppery flavor of arugula with the more mild flavors of mizuna and tatsoi.  You may also dice it up and wilt down in a dish at the very end of cooking.
Mizuna- fancy Japanese green that is a bit peppery, but is much more mild than arugula. It has fancy, deeply serrated edges.
        Tatsoi-(pronounced: tat soy)     
Sugar Snap Peas: Yum, yum, yum! Recipe below.
Garlic scapes: Chop ‘em up and use them raw or cooked. Tastes like garlic and onions.
Cilantro: The cilantro is very lush right now.  It does not like hot weather, and as soon as it gets too hot it will not produce. Enjoy it while it lasts!
Red Scallions: Use the fleshy part and the greens too.  Nice mild onion flavor.  Check out this blog for a great sauce. It’s good on the snap peas…Ginger Scallion Sauce. http://www.salon.com/2010/06/19/ginger_scallion_sauce_recipe/
Large shares only: the first of the cucumbers

Farm News
Sugar snap peas are a real garden treat.  The entire crunchy pod and juicy peas are edible. Just break off the tiny stem.  Every year we thick about not growing sugar snap peas, because their window of pea production is so short and it takes forever to pick them!  We end up growing them because they are so delicious, and we want to make sure our CSA members get some special veggies! Their season is very short; we’ll only have them for a few weeks.  Make sure to use your sugar snap peas right away; their flavor is reduced with storage. 

Planting of Kale

We’ve been chugging away here with the long days filled with sunshine. We need the extra daylight to keep up with planting the baby veggie seeds and plants, and to try to hack the weeds back. And everything is so much easier when the temperature is only in the mid eighties.  In the past two springs, we were hit with drought like conditions very early in May, and the inhospitable weather kept going all summer. No one likes hot, dry, scorching weather in May. Especially not the plants.  This spring is just right for us so far. I think you’ll be able to see the evidence in your CSA box this week.

A planting of summer squash


Braised Swiss Chard with Asiago
This is a yummy Swiss Chard idea for quick and easy garden fresh cooking.    Try playing around with the favors however you may imagine it!
·         1 clove garlic, minced
·         1 medium onion, diced
·         1 bunch Swiss Chard, stems and leaves separated.
·         Lemon juice
·         Asiago, Parmesan, or Romano cheese
1.     Dice upper half of stems (you may also dice the entire length of the stem for stronger flavor).  Roughly chop the leaves into 1-2 inch pieces. 
2.    Sauté 1 clove garlic, 1 diced onion, and diced chard stems over medium low heat in 3 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes.
3.    Add ¼ cup of water and chopped chard leaves. Cover and lightly steam in the pan until the leaves are tender and still bright green, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4.    Uncover, add a dash of lemon juice.  Grate your aged cheese of choice and toss over your favorite carb like fettuccine, cous cous, quinoa etc…

Tip: Feel free to run wild with the flavors based on what is in season in the garden! Add some dice zucchini or summer squash,  more garlic, fresh oregano, and perhaps little cherry tomatoes cut in half. 

Turkish Beef, Kale, and Rice Casserole
This filling dish is inspired by the delicious kale rolls (like cabbage rolls) that I enjoyed while staying with a Turkish family at their organic honey and egg farm.   That meal was vegetarian, since meat was above their means.  In most restaurants in Turkey the meat would be ground lamb.
This dish is also a spinoff of the traditional beef and rice casserole that easily feeds a hungry family. 

3 cups cooked rice (about 1 ½ cups of uncooked rice) The variety of rice is your choice- I used the end of 3 types of rice and it turned out great!
1 lb. ground beef (you may also use ground lamb or no)
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon coriander
½ tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
1 bunch curly kale, washed, stems removed, and finely chopped

1 (16 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
Brown ground beef, onions, and spices in a large skillet until meat is halfway done (still very pink inside.)  Meanwhile, blanch the chopped kale in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain.  Add blanched, drained kale to the beef mixture and cook until beef is done.
Combine cooked rice and beef and kale mixture in an 11x7 inch baking dish.
In a large bowl mix diced tomatoes and tomato paste, and stir until tomato paste is smooth, adding water if needed.  Cover and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until warmed through and bubbly.

Teeny Zucchini with Onions

From Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes 2001
Note: squash can be substituted for zucchini
Health Note:  We like to get include some other form of protein in our meals, when not eating meat with a meal.  We tend to eat meat just 3 times a week.  The walnuts in this meal are a great protein source.
1 lbs baby zucchini or 3 medium zucchini
1 tblsp. Olive oil
1 Small Onion, cut into thin wedges
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ tsp dried oregano, crushed
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Rinse and trim zucchini.  If using medium zucchini, cut each in half lengthwise, then turn into ½-inch slices
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add zucchini and onion.  Cook for 6-8 minutes until vegetables are just tender, stirring occasionally.  Add walnuts, oregano, salt, and pepper to mixture in skillet.  Cook and stir for 1 minute more.  Makes 4-6 servings. 

"Teeny Zucchini"

Garlic Stir-Fried Snap Peas
From Asparagus to Zucchini, A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce.  Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition. Submitted by Oak Ridge Farm
3 cups sugar snap peas
1 tablespoon oil (any mild one)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked rice (optional) (you can also try quinoa)
Heat oil in skillet. Stir in garlic. Add peas; cook and stir 2-4 minutes on medium heat.  Remove and sprinkle on lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Serve over rice, if desired.  Makes 3-4 servings.

Rooster Keeps Watch

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Week 2 5-23-2012

This week’s box

Remember, you can look at each week's newsletters on this CSA blog.  Look at previous weeks for veggie tips and recipes.

Make sure to wash all veggies! I recommend soaking and rinsing all leafy green vegetables.  Rainstorms are very good at splashing up dirt on veggie leaves.

This week’s harvest and cooking ideas and tips:
Baby lettuce mix- We grow a mix of 12 different delicate and tender baby lettuce varieties.
        ~Add to sandwiches. Make a baby salad and hummus wrap.
Baby Salad Mix (Arugula, Mizuna, and Tatsoi) - This lively mix has the peppery flavor of arugula with the more mild flavors of mizuna and tatsoi. 
Mizuna- fancy Japanese green that is a bit peppery, but is much more mild than arugula. It has fancy, deeply serrated edges.
        Tatsoi-(pronounced: tat soy) a
Radishes- “French Breakfast”    
Head Lettuce- “Buttercrunch” is a mild, tender, and crunchy head lettuce that is very delicate when handled.  This week’s box has a green buttercruch variety.
Cilantro- Adds a fresh flavor to eggs, beans, or almost any dish.
Add to a homemade vinaigrette.  See recipe below. You should make the  vinaigrette recipe if you haven't yet!
Bok Choy- Crunchy and mild Asian veggie that is great diced up raw in salads or cooked in a stir-fry.  See recipe below.
Kale “Red Russian”- a wavy, tender kale with a mild kale flavor.
~ It is very tender, so it requires very little cooking. I just “wilt it down” in a sauté.  Kale goes very well with sausage and onion. Heat skillet to medium heat.  Add an onion and a pound of your favorite sausage to a skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the sausage is almost done, then add the chopped kale.  Cook only 3-5 minutes longer until the kale is tender and sausage is cooked through.  Serve with your favorite carb like rice, grits, couscous, potatoes, or pasta.    
Swiss Chard- large shares only this week.  Plenty more to come of this delicious green.  We add it to almost all of our vegetable sautés.
Farmer to Member newsletter...

Hello all,
                This week saw the final big transplanting sessions in the garden.  Our biggest job in the spring is taking all of the babies we’ve started in the greenhouse and getting them out to the field.  We want to get them in nice and early so they will be ready to harvest sooner.  But we can’t plant too soon or they may get nipped by cool weather.  For each crop cool weather is a little different.  Cool season crops like lettuce and kale don’t even mind a light frost very much.  But peppers will complain if the nights get below 50.
                Besides transplanting seedlings the other method we use to plant is to direct seed crops.  We do this for crops like lettuce mix, arugula, beets, and radish.  These small, quick growing crops don’t appreciate the root disturbance that comes from transplanting.  To direct seed a crop we have to start with a totally weed free, nicely loosened garden bed.  We can’t have any weeds because they will quickly out compete the crop that is trying to sprout from seed.  The soil has to be the right texture so that the vegetable seed will come into contact with moist soil for water and nutrients.  But we don’t want to pack it down too tightly or else it’s like asking the seed to grow in a brick. 
                This week the seeds we planted: lettuce mix, arugula, and radish all came up in about 2 days!  This is incredibly fast germination because the temperature and moisture conditions were ideal.  Back in the early spring when the soil was still cool (probably about 55 degrees) lettuce mix took a solid week to germinate.  We like it when the vegetables germinate faster because it gives them an edge over the next round of weeds (there’s always a next round of weeds).  It also means that it will be ready to harvest sooner.  The tricky part about accelerated germination and growth is that a later succession of a crop can catch up to an early one providing and over abundance one week and leaving a hole in the harvest the next.  For example: we might plant lettuce mix 1 week apart.  But the weather is so much better for growth the second week that that planting comes up only a few days behind the first.  Now that its up and the weather is nice it might even catch up.  To help solve this problem we try to space out the planting longer and longer as the spring goes on.  So the early successions might be 1 week apart while later successions space out to almost 2 weeks.
                A downside of this perfect plant growing weather is that it is also perfect insect growing weather.  We’ve had our hands full with several of our common pests.  Squash bugs are starting on the squash, cucumber beetles have enjoyed their favorite appetizer of swiss chard and are now headed to the cucumbers themselves.  In the potatoes a herd of potato beetles was munching until we got out there with one of our biological controls and took care of them!  The other big muncher is a small insect: the flea beetle.  The fleas beetle got its name form its small dark look as well as its habit of leaping away form threats.  It particular enjoys eggplant (which we think we saved just barely) and certain cabbage family plants like arugula, mizuna, and tatsoi .  You may notice small holes in the spicy salad mix leaves-that’s the handiwork of our friend the flea beetle.

Flea beetles with their characteristic "shot gun" damage to a leaf.  They don't affect flavor, but can eat so much that they eventually kill a plant. (photo from Wikipedia)

                Out in the big vegetable field we are enjoying a subtle flower show.  Our potatoes are blooming!  We grow a nice variety of potatoes for the CSA and for ourselves.  This year we are trying a purple variety as well as a red, white, and gold type.  After the plants have grown for a month or so they send out delicate flowers at their tops.  The flowers are not necessary for crop production because the potatoes we eat are all clones of the mother seed potato.  This year the purple type has one of the nicest flowers: a lavender petal with a rich buttery center.  We’re looking forward to the potatoes later this summer!

Potato blossoms.  Ours look something like this (photo from http://www.fourgreensteps.com/)

Cilantro:    Honey Cilantro Vinaigrette        
Adapted From Passionate Vegetarian
Makes about 1 ¾ cup

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1 jalapeno pepper or 1 pinch cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce(optional)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste, freshly ground
1 cup olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping the sides when needed.  With the machine running, slowly pour olive oil into dressing.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Best if aged for at least one hour or overnight.

From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce (written by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition)

Crunchy Bok Choy Ginger Salad

1 medium bok choy
1 cup shredded daikon radish (Marie used regular radishes)
1 tablespoon salt (make sure you follow the recipe and rinse the salted bok choy and radishes)
½ cup slivered sweet pepper (a colorful pepper is beautiful! We leave out the pepper since they are out of season)
¼ cup finely chopped green onions
1 inch knob of gingerroot, grated
2 tablespoons of each chopped mint and cilantro (fresh…used 1 tablespoon of mint if it is dried)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
Pepper to taste

Marie’s tips- Washing bok choy:  I like to chop the very bottom of the head off and then wash and quickly scrub each leaf.  
Rice vinegar: If you don’t have this item, try using a sweet white vinegar or a white balsamic vinegar….or you can make up your own fun vinaigrette!

Steps: Thin- slice the bok choy leaves.  Thinly slice the stems on the diagonal.  Toss bok choy leaves and stems, and the shredded radishes, with salt in colander.  Let stand to wilt vegetables, about ½ hour. Rinse, drain, and squeeze out excess liquid from mixture. Place in paper or cotton towel and squeeze again. Toss with remaining ingredients in bowl and chill before serving.  Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Week 1 of Lovely Vegetables

Hello Community Supported Agriculture member,
   Are you ready for a seasonal journey through the garden?  Our vegetables are grown with love using organic methods.  No synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. 
    You are a valuable part of our farm!  We plan all winter to grow a full garden for you.  This year will be our best year yet. The gardens are glowing and soil has really responded to our careful organic management.

Washing veggies: We’ve got wonderfully fresh vegetables for you.  Just remember to rinse or soak your veggies before preparing or cooking.  I have a large bowl that I fill with cold water to soak and swish veggies around it before cutting them up or spinning the salad greens dry. I also have an awesome little salad spinner that stays full in the fridge with my washed baby lettuce and arugula mix.

This week’s harvest and cooking ideas and tips:
        ~Mix into lettuce or enjoy it on its own.  Try an arugula salad with fresh dill and goat cheese.  Add something sweet like grated carrots to an arugula salad.  Add some strawberries if you can find them.  I love a sweet white balsamic vinegar with arugula.
Baby lettuce mix- We grow a mix of 12 different delicate and tender baby lettuce varieties.
        ~Add to sandwiches. Make a baby salad and hummus wrap.
Radishes “French Breakfast”  This variety is easy to slice or grate. It is more mild than other types. (Of course it does get spicier when the weather warms up.)
        ~Do you think radishes are spicy? Much of the spiciness is a volatile, aromatic flavor that will dissipate once you slice or grate the radish.  I make sure to dress the sliced or grated radishes with a bit of salt, olive oil, and sweet white balsamic vinegar and let them marinate for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Heirloom Romaine Head Lettuce- “Rouge di Iver,” a red French heirloom and “Forellenschluss,” a speckled German heirloom (the speckles are normal and unique)
Dill- Adds a lively, fresh flavor
~ Add to any potato dish, really.  Great with eggs: Add to egg salads, frittatas, fried egg sandwiches. Add to any salad. See a salad idea in the arugula section.
Cilantro- Add to a homemade vinaigrette.  See recipe below. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over any Mexican or Brazilian fusion style meal.  We love cilantro with black beans and our chorizo sausage.
Bok Choy- Crunchy and mild Asian veggie that is great diced up raw in salads or cooked in a stir-fry.  See recipe below.
Garlic scapes-Once a year the garlic plants try to flower just before garlic bulbs are ready to harvest. A rare treat.  It has a sweet garlic and onion flavor.
        ~Dice and add to any dish that you would use garlic and onions.
Kale “Red Russian”- a wavy, tender kale with a mild kale flavor. This a staple cooking green that is more mild than mustard or collard greens. 
~ It is very tender, so it requires very little cooking. I just “wilt it down” in a sauté.  See a yummy recipe below. Very good with canned diced tomatoes or add to spaghetti sauces.  I strip the leaves of their stems, dice about ½ of the stems if you'd like, and chop the leaves into 1 inch pieces.  Cook the diced stems about 4 minutes before add the chopped leaves. *Try making kale chips!  Recipe below
Curly Kale- Large shares only: a curly kale that holds up well in sauces and soups.
        ~See above cooking tips.  This variety usually takes 2 or 3 more minutes of sautéing to “wilt it down.”  Great texture for kale chips! Recipe below

Name That Veggie!

"Red Russian" Kale bunch

Heirloom Romaine Lettuce "Forellenschluss," the speckles are normal and unique!

Bok Choy, a wonderful Asian stir-fry vegetable

The delicious eggs are brought to you by...our lovely layer hens. (Members who have a small egg share and who pick up at Bluebird Farm will not get eggs this week. 

Many of my personal recipes are kitchen ideas that I try to capture before cooking dinner myself.  My ideas are sometimes typed on the fly, so if a recipe seems a little incomplete, just go for it and innovate!  Use your judgment and your wonderful fresh veggies and it will taste wonderful!

Bok Choy:     Asian Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
Peanut Sauce-
Sauté 4 garlic cloves and 1 chili (or 1 teaspoon chili powder) over medium heat in a medium pot for 4 minutes.  Then add 1 cup water, ¼ cup soy sauce,  1/3 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy), and 2 teaspoons brown sugar.  Stir vigorously to combine.  Thicken sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally.     Makes about 1 ¼ cups of sauce
Stir Fry Vegetables: Add any veggie that you’d like. The possibilities are endless.
Saute 1 onion and 2 carrots over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add chopped bok choy stems and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn up heat to medium high heat and add a splash of water. Add roughly chopped bok choy leaves and stir. After about another minute of cooking, lower heat to medium and pour peanut sauce over veggies. Cook over medium heat until some sauce absorbs or vegetables are done to your liking.
Serve over soba noodles, basmati rice, or brown rice.

Cilantro:    Honey Cilantro Vinaigrette        
Adapted From Passionate Vegetarian
Makes about 1 ¾ cup

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1 jalapeno pepper or 1 pinch cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce(optional)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste, freshly ground
1 cup olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping the sides when needed.  With the machine running, slowly pour olive oil into dressing.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Best if aged for at least one hour or overnight.

Kale:              Marie’s favorite Kale Chip Recipe
You can use any variety of kale.
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar (about ½ tablespoon)
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (175 degrees C)
With a knife or kitchen shears remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. (I like to use my hands to strip the leaves from the stem.)Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Place kale in a plastic bag. Drizzle kale with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with sea salt. Thoroughly massage the bag to mix the oil and vinegar into the leaves.
 Using several baking sheets spread the kale pieces out so that they are not touching; I use 3 or 4 sheets.  Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, about 7 to 12 minutes. Make sure to check the chips almost every minute after 7 minutes have passed.  Every oven is a little different…Adjust this recipe’s time to your oven!

Kale:          Fettuccine with sausage and kale
Recipe from Shiloh at Tumbling Shoals Farm in Wilkesboro, NC.  We both have stands at the Hickory Farmers’ Market, and she sends her vegetable customers over for our ground Country or ground Italian sausage for this recipe!  She says this recipe is how she gets her farm customers “hooked” on kale!  It’s certainly an all-star vegetable in this awesome recipe!
Makes  4 servings
A quick hearty Italian dinner.  I prefer to use a whole wheat penne, but the fettuccine is always tasty!  With tender young kale, you may skip the blanching step and add the chopped leaves after partially cooking the sausage for 4-6 minutes and sauté the kale and sausage for 5 minutes while the pasta boils.
    3 tablespoons olive oil                                        
    1 pound turkey or pork sausages, casings discarded and sausage crumbled
    1/2 pound kale, tough stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (about 1 bunch of kale)
    1/2 pound or less of dried egg fettuccini pasta                   
    2/3 cup chicken broth                                          
    1 ounce finely grated pecorino Romano cheese plus additional for serving
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook sausage, chopping in quarter sized pieces with a spatula or spoon, 4-6 minutes.  Meanwhile, blanch kale in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, 5 minutes.  Remove kale with a large sieve and drain.  Return cooking water in pot to a boil, then cook pasta in boiling water, uncovered, until al dente.  While pasta cooks, add kale to sausage in skillet and saute, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Add broth, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet.  When pasta is al dente, reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water to skillet, tossing until combined.  Stir in cheese and thin with additional cooking water if desired.  Serve immediately with additional cheese on the side.
Gourmet, March 2006

Your farmers,
Marie and William
Please don't hesitate to email or call.  BluebirdFarmNC@gmail.com or 584-7359

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hello Community Supported Agriculture members.
Welcome to a season of fresh eating!
CSA starts one week from today on Wednesday May 16th!  Pickup is from 4-6pm at your location: please follow this link for your personal membership details. >>>>>>>>http://bluebirdfarmnc.csasignup.com/members/statusemail

We will send you another email with pickup logistics and detail soon....but this is the fun farm email! Enjoy the photos.

Every week you will receive a member newsletter with recipes, farm news, and a list your seasonal vegetables.  

 The fields are lush with delicious vegetables ready to harvest.  The early warm and dry weather helped us to get a jump on the season preparing the field.  We even have stayed ahead of the weeds (recent rain might change that though).

Heirloom lettuce...nice early spring varieties!  We planted them in mid March.  Some vegetables for CSA were started from seed as early as February.  We have so many great spring veggies in the gardens for you.

Crop Circles:  This spring has found us busy as usual with some exciting new projects that will help us keep growing more and better vegetables.  We saw an example of a mini-sprinkler irrigation system at a friend’s farm that is perfect for some of our favorite small crops.  The system uses one feeder tube for a bed that we puncture about every 5 feet.  Then we place sprinklers that stand about 1 ft off the ground and emit a mist in a 3 foot crop circle.  It makes gently watering a large area so easy.  Right now we are using it to get better germination and growth with carrots, beets, lettuce mix, arugula, and radishes. 

I'm holding bok choy, behind me is red and green lettuce, then a solid patch of kale, and then the metal hoops of the hoophouse.

   Lettuce mix, arugula, and radishes are all ready now for your first several boxes.  Beets and carrots are all growing away out there for harvest in June.  We hope the misters will also help us extend the harvest season of some of our more delicate crops because the mist of the water can be used to help cool the plants on hot afternoons in late June.

The plastic goes on the hoop house.  The tomatoes will be safe from blight in this giant umbrella.

Preventative medicine: Our other big vegetable project has been the construction of two hoop houses for tomato umbrellas.  Another filed trip to a different friend’s farm inspired the construction of the hoops.  By preventing the rain from splashing on the leaves of the tomatoes and the soil around the plants, we naturally control blight (a common fungus) from reducing the tomato crop and potentially killing the plants.  A bit of clever engineering prevents the use of chemical fungicides.  No toxic residue on our crops!

Fastening the edges...no giant hoophouse kites for us!

Organic grains are “GM”- Free: Organic grains are never genetically engineered.  We are excited to replace our non-medicated, conventional grains with certified organic grains for all our animals.  Not only is the organic feed free of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, the fresh feed is made of cracked, multi-grains.  Wheat, flax seeds, barley, roasted soybeans, winter peas, corn, and alfalfa mixed with a kelp based mineral supplement make a wholesome balanced diet for the animals.  A healthier mix of multi-grain feed is healthier eggs and meat from our farm.  

Checking on the sheep, hens, and guard dog.  The chicken palace is in the background.

Chicken palace: The hens have a chicken palace now.   Our free range hens are living in a spacious coop that is built on a hay wagon with all the amenities a chicken could desire: large doors  for outdoor access, tall roosts, a self-feeding trough for organic grain, hanging drinkers, fluffy wood shavings, and cozy nest boxes.  But, I think the chicken’s favorite part is the foraging trips through the tall grass in the pasture. The hens went on a road trip in their new coop on wheels.  For the first time, we have hens at our leased farmland 1 mile up Silver Creek from us! 


Organic food is never genetically engineered...

More about genetically engineered crops... 

Our nation's food supply is genetically engineered: Almost 85% of the soy and corn grown in the United States is genetically engineered or GE.  And it's what the nation's animals eat.  GE foods like corn and soy are in the food that we eat every day...Unless you eat organic foods.  Even rice, canola, and cotton are GE. 

GE foods means we use round-up every time we eat non-organic corn products, soy products, or grocery store meat. Genetically engineered soy and corn and soy are also called “round-up” ready.  This mean that the crops have been modified to withstand the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in round up, so that round up can be used for weed control.  The ease of weed control with roundup ready plants and roundup has led an increase in the amount and frequency of roundup use.  While glyphosate itself is quickly broken down in the soil, the effects of the remaining herbicide compounds are poorly understood.  In addition, roundup and other commercial mixtures of glyphosate almost always contain other “inactive” ingredients.  These ingredients are listed as inactive because they don’t contribute to the stated purpose of the product.  However, this does not mean that they don’t have other effects in the soil. 
Human experiment: The long term effects of glyphosate use in the soil, plant, animal, and human biology are extremely poorly understood.  These plants have only been on the market for about 12 years and only in extremely widespread use for an even shorter time.  There are little to no long term studies tracking the effects over time.  Even worse, Monsanto, and other large corporations who own both the seed technology and the sprays that go with the seed, do their very best to prevent further studies.  The first obvious long term effect has already begun to appear in farmers fields.  Weeds are becoming resistant to glyphosate because of the persistent over use of the chemical.  This will require the application of heavier doses and the introduction of new, more toxic, chemicals. 
Toxic Soils:  There are many other long term effects of the chemical that have been suggested by other studies: Glyphosate binds soil nutrients, preventing weeds and crop plants from proper uptake.  This reduces the nutrients available in the harvested crop, reducing its value for animal or human food;  round up and other chemicals damage soil biology creating dead soils where plants are far more prone to disease and pests-prompting the further use of other chemicals; roundup in combination with other chemicals reacts in unknown ways that have been suspected of contributing to the large losses in honey bee colonies; and there are some suggestions that long term consumption of GMO crops by lab animals and livestock causes infertility and abortions as well as reducing the vigor of those animals that do survive. 
Legal Colonization of Agriculture: In addition, Monsanto and other large agro-chemical companies seek to achieve total control of seed genetics and accompanying products through patenting of life.  They have successfully prevented farmers form saving seed through lawsuits as well as the introduction of terminator genes into their plants (these make all the resulting crop infertile and thus useless as seed).  They work closely with regulatory agencies to prevent rules and laws that seek to prevent or even slow the release of new products.  In short, they seek to make farmers consumers of their product that rely completely on the company for their seed, fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide.
Genetically modified plants, their accompanying use of poisons, and he corporate structure used to push their use are all opposite of the goals of organic agriculture and our farm.  We want to work with the soil to create a healthier, more diverse, and more vibrant soil biology.  A healthy soil will carry through to healthy plants, and so to healthy animals and healthy people.  The use of certified organic, non-GMO feed allows us to continue that goal in a broader way, supporting other organic farmers growing real food using techniques to build their soils.  We hope you will enjoy the food as much as the animals do!