Sunday, December 25, 2011

Contaminated Meats

So where does your meat come from?

Meat Contamination Widespread
Acres, June 2011

According to a nationwide study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), drug resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus are present in meat and poultry from United States grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates. Nearly half of the meat and poultry samples -47%- were contaminated with S. aureus, and more than half of those bacteria -52%- were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics. This is the first national assessment of antibiotic resistant S. aureus in the U.S. food supply. Researchers collected and analyzed 136 samples -covering 80 brands- of beef, chicken, pork and turkey from 26 retail grocery stores in 5 U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Flagstaff and Washington D.C.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Summer 2011

It has been a really long time since I've posted anything. Summer is SOOO busy! Wish it would come about a month sooner and last about a month longer.... then maybe I wouldn't feel the pressure to get everything done in such a short amount ot time.

Here are some pics taken through the summer.....

Some of the tomatoes I was harvesting at the time....heirlooms-Mr. stripely & Black Krim, green zebra, regular red slicing, and red romas. The orange slicing and yellow romas weren't ready when the pic was taken. All this color makes for a very interesting salsa! Using just the old standard red ones is boring now.

It was a pretty good year for strawberries given the absolute horrible spring we had. The bad spring pushed everything else back and when the berries started getting ripe, we were still messing with other things and they kind of got ahead of us.

Storm clouds moving in.

This came during strawberry season. Hail is not good for berries in the field! Thankfully we didn't have too much damage.

One of the flower gardens. Even though this birdhouse is mostly for decoration, we had some wrens moved in again. Wrens are very good bug eaters.

A flower garden

I was stitting at the computer one night and looked over my shoulder and saw this on the window. Look at that waistline!

This momma was slated for butcher....then she had a baby (it was a bit of a surprise)....looks like she gets to stay a bit longer.

A hot air balloon took off at the fairground going over the pasture barely above the tree tops then landed in a yard a few doors down. Don't know if this was on purpose or something was wrong. I like seeing these in the air. One of these days, I am going to ride in one of these things.

The guys trying to get the hay wagon in the barn to unload.

Now this is a bit too comfortable! We were over run with squirrels and chipmunks this summer for some reason.....luckly they have moved on (or the cats got them). They are nice to watch but can become a pest real quick and they eat a ton of bird seed.

Veggies growing in the garden. I love mixing different things together. A big mass of the same thing looks this helps with pest control.

Broccoli, peppers, potatoes and cucumbers.

Cucumbers, green onions, potatoes and basil

This monster thing is growing out of a little compost pile. I'm not sure yet what it will be but it is growing over the truck cap, shelter, and then heading through the trees.

And lastly, this little guy takes a good amount of time and energy but he's well worth it! It's been a joy to have him around. I will say it has been a juggling act some times for us (and Nathan) to get things done when it needs to be done.

When he's here with us, John has started taking him out with him to do the chickens chores. He wheels him out in the stroller, then throws some grain on the ground by him and little Owen loves to watch the chickens run around him eating while he waits for Grandpa to finish what he needs to do.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Know Your Farmer Program Attacked

Heaven forbid that the USDA finally support the local effort to help the public connect with small farmers to help them understand where their food comes from and how it gets to their plate.

Farmers' Markets Today, May/June 2011
Three Senators attacked USDA'S "Know Your Farmer" Campaign

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack received a sharply worded letter against the ag department's Know Your Farmer program from Sen. John MaCain (R-AZ), Sen. Ag Comm. Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and House Ag Comm. Member Pat Roberts (R-KS).

Argi-Pulse reported that the contents of the the letter included, "while the concept of educating consumers about production agriculture is a worthwhile endeavor, we have serious misgivings about the direction of the Know Your Farmer program." The letter charged that the Know Your Farmer initiative also included "Subsidizing the so-called locavore niche market" with $65 million this year, and claimed that the USDA 'pledged to deliver more in Fiscal Year 2011."

The Senator's letter charged that 'this spending doesn't appeared geared toward conventional farmer who produce the vast majority of our nation's food supply, but is instead aimed at small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets."

Additional charges are related to spending "rural Development funds on feel-good measures" and how 'propping up the urban locavore markets addressed their [American families and rural farmers] needs." The letter also requested that USAD provide proof of congressional authority to spend money for Know Your Farmer purposes along with a full accounting of all spending.

Agri-Pulse has posted the MaCain/Chambliss/Roberts letter for public review online -- use the link there to see the full letter.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Exploding Watermelons

From: the New York Times
World Briefing | ASIA

China: Acres of Exploding Watermelons

CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

Farmers cleared out watermelons that had burst from their rented greenhouse in Danyang city in eastern China's Jiangsu province.

Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state news media called fields of “land mines.” About 20 farmers in Jiangsu Province have been affected, losing up to 115 acres of melon, China Central Television reported. High prices over the past year prompted many farmers to enter the watermelon market. All of those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth stimulator forchlorfenuron, which has been widely available for some time, the report said.

Now do we really need growth stimulators for produce??? Come on's bad enough it's in our dairy & meats!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chicken Stock

Why is chicken soup superior to all the things we have, even more relaxing than 'Tylenol'? It is because chicken soup has a natural ingredient which feeds, repairs and calms the mucous lining in the beginning or ending of the nervous system. It is easily pulled away from the intestine through too many laxatives, too many food additives....and parasites. Chicken soup...heals the nerves, improves digestion, reduces allergies, relaxes and gives strength.

Hanna Kroeger, Ageless Remedies from Mother's Kitchen

If you don't know, that natural ingredient that she mentions above is gelatin-rich meat stock...and in this case, chicken stock.

Since it is close to stewing hen time, I thought it would be a good time to post a recipe for chicken stock. Chicken stock can be used for more than making chicken soup, of course, and by doing so, we can get more of this gelatin-rich broth into our system to bring about healing and health. Use it in places that call for water, like stir fying & making rice.

Making stock isn't hard (the stove does most of the work), it just takes a little bit of time....but it's time well spent!

The best (easiest) way to make stock is to make a big batch and then freeze it into freezer bags in the size amounts that you use most. If you have a really big stock pot, you can double this recipe.



Farm-raised, pastured/free ranged chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.

6 lbs chicken scraps *
4 qts. water
3-4 carrots, peeled & coarsely chopped
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
2 leeks, including green part, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, with leaves, coarsely chopped **
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs parsley
7-10 peppercorns
2 Tbs. salt
3/4 cup dry white wine (or 1/4 cup vinegar) ***

Place chicken into a stockpot and add water. Bring to boil, removing scum that rises to the top. After scumming subsides, put the rest of the ingredients into the pot and bring everything back up to a boil.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook covered for 4-24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be.

Remove from heat and cool some.
Remove the chicken pieces and big chunks of veggies from the stock with a slotted spoon.
Strain stock through several layers of wet cheesecloth over a strainer.
Reserve chicken meat for soup or other uses. Discard everything else but the liquid.

The test to whether your stock contains good amounts of gelatin is done by chilling the broth. It should thicken, and thicken to the point of jelling completely like a bowl of jello, when refrigerated.
whitish stuff on the top is the fat, scrap it off and discard.
Scoop out the amounts needed and put into a covered container or freezer bag.
Use immediately, refrigerate (for up to several days) or freeze.

* Chicken scraps can be bones, necks, backs and other scraps (chicken feet are loaded with gelatin so don't be afraid to use them!). If using whole chicken, cut it up into pieces.
** Using the center of your celery bunch works well as that is where the leaves and the 'not as pretty' stalks are. If a bunch of celery is going bad before you can use it all up, put it into the freezer and when you make stock, pull it out and use that.
*** Don't be tempted to leave out the wine/vinegar thinking it is not important; you need this acid to pull out the minerals from the bones.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Big Egg!

Since we have some older hens, we are getting some jumbo and x-jumbo eggs. As the hens age they lay few but bigger eggs. The other day John brought in one that was the biggest I've seen. I got the tape measure out to see just how big it was.

Now aren't you glad you didn't lay that one!?!?!?

I put this x-jumbo egg (really it's almost a double jumbo) next to a reg jumbo egg and a quarter just to compare.

Then a few days later I got another one. It was almost the same size but not quite as big, but both were a handful as you can see. I believe this eggs is coming from the same hen as the shell types are the same.

So I decided to make breakfast out of that one really big egg. I usually do 2 regular eggs (if I have any regular ones to eat as we usually keep the really big ones, really small ones, cracked ones or the weird shaped ones for us so regular isn't something we have often in the frig) or I could use 4 small ones or a combo of 1 big and 1 small.....but I thought that this time the 1 super big one would be enough. Sure enough it was! I was wondering if it would be a double yoker. Notice the color of the yokes? The bright orange color comes from the grass that the hens get to eat. You won't see that in any store egg! I cooked it up with our grass-fed, nitrite free pork bacon.

Time to eat!
The toast has homemade strawberry/blueberry/red raspberry jam made from our organically grown strawberries, blueberries and red raspberries using the pectin we sell that allows me to choose the kind & amount of sugar to add to it, so it is low-sugar mixed berry jam. The toast is a bit darker than I would like but everything was yummy just the same.
A great start to a busy day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Survey winners

We have mailed out our farm newsletter, order form and price list for the 2011 season but this we included a local food survey. If you filled it out and returned that survey to us by April 30, you could be included in a drawing for a $10 gift certificate for Fair View Meadow Farm. There were to be 3 winners and today is May 1.... so the winners are:

Ann Wakefield
Dennis Livchak
Helene Lain


Thank you for taking the time to fill this out and share your thoughts with us. Also a thank you goes out to the others that took the time to fill it out and send it in as well but didn't get their name pulled.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Smoked Ham with Apple-Maple Glaze

Just in time for your Holiday meal.

We have the smoked ham and the maple syrup, all you need to supply is the butter and apples. How easy is that! Our hams (and bacon) are smoked and cured the traditional way without the use of nitrites. Enjoy!

Smoked Ham with Apple-Maple Glaze

serves 6 to 8

3 to 4 pound, semi-boneless cold smoked ham

1 to 2 large tart baking apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 to 3/4 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 325º F.

Rinse the ham well with cold water and pat dry. Place in a baking dish or roasting pan large enough to comfortably hold the ham, and cover tightly with foil.

Bake the ham until completely heated through, about 20 minutes per pound. About 10 minutes before the ham is done, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until it begins to foam. Saute the apples in the butter until tender and golden, about 5 minutes, and add the maple syrup. Increase the heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the syrup begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Remove the ham from the oven and increase the temperature to 350º F. Carefully pour the juices from the ham into the skillet with the apple/maple syrup mixture and stir to combine. Spoon the glaze back over the ham and return to the oven. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 to 20 minutes to glaze the ham, basting it every 5 minutes.

Remove the ham to a cutting board and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes before carving; reserve the glaze from the pan. Carve, spoon the glaze over the slices and serve.

Recipe variation: Want to try this but don't want to get a big ham? There is only goint to be 1 or 2 of you eating at this meal? Why not try some of our ham slices and put them in a baking dish, cover and then bake. Add other ingredients as above and drizzle over your slices. You won't even need to cut it up with this version.

Monday, April 4, 2011


I thought I'd share some farm/animal cartoon that Jacki Palmer-Boyce sent to me a few days ago. I, by far, like the first one best. By sharing, it brought a smile to my day so I thought I'd pass some along to you. Thanks Jacki!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Exodus

Last night and today we've had a good size snow storm come through. I just measured the stuff on the sidewalk and so far, as it's still snowing, we've gotten 9" of the heavy wet stuff.

Ye Olde Cow Path, Watch Thy Step......

Have you heard that saying before? It's true, cows do have paths.... and ours are no different. They are creatures of habit. Ours have a path from the pasture barn to the bigger pasture area where John feeds them everyday when they can't get to the grass themselves. We can see them walk this path from our kitchen window. We've seen them do this many times but today was rather unique. It was 11am and still snowing but apparently they were tired of waiting for us so they made the trek out themselves hoping we'd notice and bring lunch. Sometimes these guys act just like children!

Gabriel (our bull) lead the way this time plowing through the snow for the crew...and it really did look like he was plowing. I missed getting a pic of that before he went behind the trees. Everyone is in single file with their heads down headed for the food area.....moving no faster than the one in front of them.
This is what they call herd leads and the rest just follow--following and not really thinking about what they are doing.

Still coming.....

First part of the herd coming out from behind the trees on the left with the tail end still on the other side.

Coming into the area where they get fed.

Still coming.....

Then they stood there waiting for the food to come. If we opened the window, we could hear them calling us. John when out a bit later. They will munch for a while then, as they usually do, make their way back to the barn using the same path that got them there.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It a Boy!

Well, we knew ahead of time it was a boy but now it's official.

Our 4 generation farmer (we hope he enjoys farm life) has finally arrived! He was 11 days late and it took 36 hours to get him and dad were exhausted. Owen's debut was Jan 19th, weighing 8 lbs 2 oz.

A proud mom and dad

This one cracks me up as when Chad and I arrived at the hospital the 2nd day, we found him wrapped up tight like a mummy. The look on his face almost says "help me"---'AH... Grandma, finally--get me out of this straight jacket!'

So, of course, we had to help....and we let him go free. Seems happier doesn't he?!?!

He was actually quite interactive while we were there. It wasn't long after freedom that he found his hand, fingers and thumb, then he tried to get them into his mouth. Uncle Chad helped coach him though the process in getting the thumb in there and not the knuckles. He did OK for a beginner but still needs practice.

Then it was time to leave, so we had to give him back to dad. I think after we left, he then got that mummy wrap again. We hope he enjoyed his time while being out and about.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Making Strawberries

I know the snow if flying as most of you read this right now but I thought I would post this entry in hopes that talking about strawberries would bring summer on sooner. Think it will work?

Here are some of the processes we need to go through to get strawberries ready to have an berry harvest to offer you the following year. I didn't get the planting part, so you will have to imagine that.

Want to know what is better-- organic or conventional? Be sure to go to the end of this post to see the organic vs. conventional strawberry study.

Here we have the beginning stages after planting. We had it somewhat 'easy' this summer as we didn't have much rain and as you can see we don't use black plastic (for various reason) so the lack of rain did keep the weeds at bay for a time. Because we don't use weed stray, we need to keep the weeds out manually so this was a God-send.
Since you don't want to get berries the first year , we did have to come through here periodically and pick off blossom stems. After a while the plants start to send out runners (and this year they seem to have sent out a ton!). We need to clip most of them off because if you don't it will be too thick come next year and that will cause the berries to rot and it actually cuts down on productivity if things are too tight. While down there pulling, we needed to reset the runners we wanted to keep and place them were we wanted them (if they weren't already there) as they grow whatever way they feel like it and that is not always where we want them to grow. In this pic the runners hadn't started very much yet....we were still picking blossom stems.

We have runners now. Our lack of rain ended in September and everything (that being the weeds) took off even more. Between the runner overgrowth and the weeds can you still tell where the rows are? It was a jungle in there!

We were all assigned 2 rows a piece to de-weed and de-runner. Somehow Chad seemed to get out of his 2 rows but my mom was willing to come out. Chad did offer to rototill when we were finished so we let him do it. You can see in the 2nd isle all the runner that were pulled out....and remember this is not the first time we had pulled runners

Starting to look a bit more respectable.....5 rows done and 3 to go (1 Nathan's and 2 Chad's) . I took the last 2 rows on the right as that was by the garden and while I was already over there clearing things out for that, I just worked on those while I was there.

AAHH! now that looks A LOT better. Done and ready for straw after they harden a bit from the cold. John got a few new mid-season varieties this year to try and they didn't get as big as the rest of the varieties. You can tell which ones they are just by this pic. We are curious to see how things go with them when it's picking and tasting time.

Finally time to cover them for the winter. Covering them helps to keep the weeds out for next year as we won't be rototiling again and also protects the berries from ground diseases and helps keep the bugs from getting into them as bad.

Here comes the last of the straw. Leftovers from a church hayride we had this fall.

Done and ready for the snow.
We'll uncover them come spring so they can get sunlight and start to grow again and probably (well it just about a given) that at some point we'll cover them with frost cover to protect the blossoms from frost damage.
Then we'll pick, pick, pick, pick, pick, pick, pick and pick some more until you can't stand strawberries anymore. Funny how that works.

So why go to all the work to make berries like this? A few months ago I can across a study that was done on the quality of organic vs. conventional strawberries. It was nice to see something in print that we had known already.

If you want to see the whole study you can go to:

but if you want the condensed version, read on....

Strawberry Study
Side-by-side comparisons of organic and conventional strawberry farms and their fruit found the organic farms produced more flavorful and nutritious berries while leaving the soil healthier and more genetically diverse.

"Our findings have global implications and advance what we know about the sustainability benefits of organic farming systems." said John Reganold, Washington State University Regents professor of soil science and lead author of the paper published in PLoS ONE.

The study is among the most comprehensive of its kind, analyzing 31 chemicals and biological soil properties, soil DNA, and the taste, nutrition and quality of 3 strawberry varieties on more than 2 dozen commercial fields--13 conventional and 13 organic.

Among their findings: the organic strawberries had significantly higher antioxidant activity and concentration of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds. The organic strawberries had longer shelf life. The organic berries also has more dry matter, or, "more strawberry in the strawberry".