Good Medicine for the New Year
HAPPY NEW YEAR! This year we've had so much gratitude for you--our family, friends, and customers!
2017 HIGHS AND LOWS
- Jason finished building our home and we moved in just as grass growing weather and grazing began.
- We bred our 8 mature ewes and lambed our first flock of 9 bouncy, fluffy lambs on the hillsides outside our new house.
- We got a third, and then fourth livestock guardian dog to keep the livestock safe from coyotes and wolves.
- We said goodbye to our beloved old buddy, Wolfin.
- We grew frustrated with our laying hens... who never quite learned to lay in their new mobile coop after a wild youth ranging the yard.
- We were surprised to grow a great patch of pumpkins without much effort.
- We bought four heifers and raised our biggest batch yet of 20 pastured pigs.
- The pigs escaped their pen (only once this year!) and we got the tractor stuck in the mud (more than once).
- We rotationally grazed the south half of our land, making two passes through most of it with daily paddock moves in what we hope will result in a huge boost in grass growth, soil life, and ecosystem health.
The grazing season and fall harvest time are always a mad dash to the finish line, and we're actually grateful for winter when chores are reduced to watering the cattle and sheep and feeding the dogs daily. We have a chance to catch our breath, and this time of year we assess what worked and what needs to change for 2018.
We just started a two year program known as the Journeyperson Course with the Land Stewardship Project which continues the work we began in their Farm Beginnings Course and dives deeper into farm financial management.
Part of LSP's programs that we have found immensely valuable is holistic goal setting. The outcome of this process is our farm mission statement, but it is also a decision making tool that helps us balance quality of life goals, business growth, and the realities of two people taking care of 75 animals and a baby... now toddler!
As such, it has helped us rethink priorities, make some hard decisions, and plan our growth thoughtfully. For example, those chickens... they had to go.
As day light and egg production dwindled, the cost of feeding them was no longer worth the time to care for them through winter, and we decided to give them to a neighboring farm with a bigger focus on eggs. We will reassess starting with a new batch this spring who we can properly train to lay in their nesting boxes. We are also researching turkey production and whether it might be a better poultry enterprise for us--at least until Harvey is old enough to hunt for eggs!
We've also come to realize there are limits to the number of animals we can raise because of the amount of labor required when we do not have full infrastructure yet.
We've made some improvements to speed up our watering process and gotten smarter and more efficient at temporary fencing moves, but to ever have a full herd of cattle and support the growth of our sheep flock, we need to install water lines to the far corners of the farm and build permanent perimeter fencing. We've applied for two separate grants in support of our rotational grazing practices and have our fingers crossed that funding opportunities will help us make these additional investments.
We're committed to being as resourceful as possible, keeping things simple, and minimizing inputs, but most farmers raising grass fed livestock are working backwards from old systems and removing unnecessary infrastructure, while we're starting from scratch.
It's certainly been exciting to get livestock on this land for the first time, and the fact that it hasn't been intensively farmed for long has many advantages, but there are definitely days we wish we at least had a perimeter fence (like when the pigs get out!).
Long term, we're also thinking big picture about the farm and our vision to continue using Jason's building talents to create a "farm stay" -- a rustic farm house that people can rent to come experience life on the farm or just get away. We are prioritizing other projects to start while still planning for the day when you all can join us in experiencing the beauty of this land in a deeper way.
In the meanwhile, we're toying with the idea of joining Hipcamp and opening the farm to campers during warmer weather. We have plenty of good sites, beautiful views, lots of firewood, and we're a half mile from the Munger State Trail and less than 10 from Banning State Park. If this is something you'd be interested in, let us know!
All in all, we're excited about the direction we're heading and hope to see more of you all on the farm in 2018. We're also taking advance orders of pork this year, so if you know you'd like a half or whole next fall, feel free to make your order and deposit now (or even pay in installments) to reserve your pig!
We know there's lots of interest in grass fed beef as well, but we will only have 6 quarters finishing in the coming year. If you know you're committed to a quarter, the sooner you let us the know the better. We'll also be starting a wait list for future beef as it comes available and making every effort to prioritize scaling up our beef production.
Making your own sausage seasonings at home is really quick and easy. We are not too careful about measurements to be honest, and everything can be adjusted or omitted based on your preferences. Mix each with about 2 pounds of ground pork.
Maple Breakfast Sausage
- 1½ teaspoons sage
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon fennel
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoon parsley
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
Spicy Italian Sausage
- 2 teaspoons parsley
- ½ teaspoon basil
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon rosemary
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon fennel
- ½ teaspoon paprika (we really like smoked paprika best)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced onions
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust if you like more or less spicy)
- 1½ teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
ON THE MENU at Tullibee
The talented in-house butcher at Tullibee Restaurant in the Hewing Hotel (on Washington Ave. in Minneapolis) is currently at work curing hams and bacon from one of our very own belly-rubbed pigs. If you haven’t had a taste of our pastured pork yet, hit them up for brunch in the coming weeks!