Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gifts

I am a notorious Christmas Grinch. I have been, for many years. The story of why is long and not really fully explainable in one, or many blog posts. Now that I'm grown, I do my best to go along with the spirit and not bring down friends or family. I look on the bright side- I hate shopping but I do love to make gifts. I love cold weather, snow, and the wood stove. I love winter. I don't mind the dark, it means earlier nights and lots of cooking. I love to cook and serving large meals to people I care about.

We haven't written much about the move, because frankly- it was an unholy nightmare that ended in us spending all of Thanksgiving Day moving our entire house, alone, in the snow. It's a long story of poor truck rental companies, bad timing, and a heck of winter storm and I promise to revisit it- when it's more funny and less raw. We had the most glorious relief when friends helped us unload Thanksgiving night, in the dark- if it hadn't been for that bright spot I think we would both block the entirety out from our memories...it was that bad. Thanksgiving is my holiday- it's my absolute favorite. I can think of nothing more fitting for a farm then to celebrate the end of the growing season with a beautiful meal, prepared with care, much or all of it grown right there. I love the fall weather, the end of the poultry season, the last of the pumpkins... so it was a blow when we finally ate a (though delicious and so generously provided) plate of left overs from friends sitting among our boxes upstairs in the new house. We were so tired and sore enough we didn't even bother heating those left overs. Though we were relieved to have made it through- we were also threadbare in ways we couldn't have imagined.

So I'm trying out this Christmas thing, it's kind of like our holiday rebound. But I'd like to bring a little of Thanksgiving into Christmas. I want the gratitude that comes simply with being present (no pun intended) with one another. We'll be cooking food grown on farm (of course), but it's more than that. I feel like at Thanksgiving, there is more room to pause and show kindness- not in giving- but in acknowledging each other. Even handmade, meticulously created gifts are often still things. I'm not trying to replay the well worn message of Christmas not being about material items- but striving to get the the kernel about intent. I'm trying to get at the sense that a day, spent with family and friends, over a meal alone- is enough to celebrate. We have become this fast-food culture, and meal times rarely exist unless there is media playing, if at all. But on thanksgiving we can mutually agree that we will "ooo and ahh" over food, we will place all of our attention on each other's words. And we will eat, together. There is no background noise of reindeer, gifts, stockings, or flashing lights. Those sparkling things are all well and good, but what I want is the appreciation that someone took the time to cook a meal, that someone planned a place that was welcoming, and warm- and that we have all chosen to be in each other's presence. That's the Christmas spirit I can get down with.

I don't really care at all about the religious 'reason for the season', the reason for my season is to bring warmth. To break up the cold, and the snow, and the drudgery of routine. To think, thoroughly, about how we can show great kindness and consideration without spending a dime. Hold doors, make phone calls, send a card. Because I think what we all want in this holiday season is just to know we're important to someone in a tangible way. If I never got another wrapped gift that'd be fine, and I mean that. But I would hate to live in a world where I didn't feel as though I mattered to those who matter to me.

I think that's one thing that this move has really brought forth for me, the ways in which our choices have changed the intentions of our life. Our home is a space of two households, run independently. But, it's also a place where I can open a door to a room where either household can enter, and with reasonable assurance, be joined by a joyful two year old and a favorite friend. If I need a cup of milk and they have it- we have it. And if the two-year old needs watching, I'm there. Not because we all can't do it alone- but because we're choosing not to. I can't express the comfort that goes with knowing that more friends are minutes away, and will show up to move pigs, and feel confident enough in my abilities and trustworthiness to have me come take a look at their sow on the same day. It's not a trivial thing to be needed, and to need others. It's a gift. And really, if it's the only one we get this year, I'd say we got more than our fair share.

What I hope for anyone reading this is that someone shows that they need you--that you are a gift this year. It's doesn't need to be romantic, or from someone you have known for years. It's just an expression from someone that you matter- that the time you share is valuable. That the time isn't compulsory, it's freely enjoyed and given. So often the holidays become this string of events we must attend. And it's fine to do things to make others happy, if you can. But let's also make space for creating time where you couldn't imagine a better place to be, with better people. Because I'm pretty certain that's how you cure even a many year Grinch. Not with always with 'tradition', or the best sale-price sweater, or a favorite movie, or the best cookie-- but with time and a sense of belonging somewhere.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Announcing the 2015 Meat Shares!

Ok, so a brief primer for anyone who isn't in the know about what a 'share' is. We operate on a Community Supported Agriculture model, which means you purchase into the growing season ahead of time, and then get a monthly or bi-weekly delivery of farm grown products, based on availability and the growing season. This model allows you to get the best pricing on all of our meats, and allows us to better offset the costs associated with a small farm. It also lets you try a wider variety of what we grow!

We're starting deliveries early this year, with the first round coming in March and running all the way through September. That's two more months of meaty goodness. We're also offering a slightly different version of our shares this year, made to hopefully suit a variety of customer's needs.

Without further ado.... here are the 2015 Meat Shares from R'Eisen Shine Farm!


Small Monthly Meat Share
(March-September) 7 deliveries

What it contains:
6 chickens (may include chicken cuts- ie: legs/thighs, wings, breasts etc)
8.65-10lbs pork
5lbs of mixed turkey cuts
3lbs of lamb

Price:
SALE until 1/1/2015 $310 
After 1/1/2015 $320

Sample Delivery:
whole chicken
1lb sweet italian sausage
1 package of turkey cuts (wings, thighs, or drumsticks)

Large Monthly Meat Share

What it contains:
17-20lbs pork
10 chickens
8lbs turkey cuts
3lbs lamb
1 rabbit or duck (farmers choice)

SALE until 1/1/2015 $540 
After 1/1/2015 $560

Sample Delivery:
whole chicken
1lb sweet italian sausage
1-1.5lb ham steak
2 packages turkey cuts (wings, thighs or drumsticks)

Small Poultry Share

What it contains:
7 Chickens (may contain chicken cuts ie: wings, breasts, leg/thigh)
5lbs turkey cuts

Sample Delivery:
whole chicken
1 package turkey cuts (wings, thighs or drumsticks)

SALE until 1/1/2015 $180 
After 1/1/2015 $190

Large Poultry Share
8lbs turkey cuts
14 Chickens (may contain chicken cuts ie: wings, breasts, leg/thigh)

Sample Delivery:
2 whole chickens
1 package turkey cuts (wings, thighs or drumsticks)

SALE until 1/1/2015 $350 
After 1/1/2015 $370

Culinary Quest Add-On Package 
(The following included in two installments during the course of the regular delivery season, scheduled dates TBD by February 15th)
2 Ducks
2 Rabbits
5lbs Goat
2lbs Liver (pork and/or chicken)

SALE until 1/1/2015 $200 
After 1/1/2015 $210

Delivery Information:

We are still confirming our delivery locations, largely because we are in the process of applying for farmer's markets for the season, which will impact our drop offs. We plan to have the following drop-off locations:

Albany 
Kinderhook
Schaghticoke (our new farm!) 
Copake 

Remember, pick-up is only once a month, so it's not a huge commitment of time to make a pick up, regardless of where we end up! 

If you want us to consider adding an additional delivery, please let us know. We're open to adding locations for a minimum of 10 shares to be picked up. It's only once a month- so consider hosting us at your business, church, or gym! 


If you're ready to place your order, head over to our ordering page! Don't forget, you order is not complete without payment. For those who need it, financial assistance is available, more info when you place your order!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Turkeys gone out to pasture

Each year, we take on the monumental task of processing our flock of non-gmo, pastured, beautiful turkeys for your holiday meals. Each year, this is one of the hardest and most fulfilling days of the season. You are taking these proud animals and turning them into someone's center piece. It is cautious work, and work we couldn't do without help. We know not everyone can participate, but we can't express our gratitude for those who do. And for those who buy those turkeys, and help us keep our farm going. This year, we had the great pleasure of Rebecca Busselle joining us, she's putting together a short docu-film on our turkey process. She sent over these photos for us to share with you, we know they aren't all savory, but they are all honest and beautiful for what they represent. We take the utmost precautions in our preparations, and make sure everything is done with care and safety. In 13-14 hours we completed our task, with frozen fingers and sore muscles. Hours later we delivered nearly all of them, and then they were lovingly prepared by our customers. The work is so intense, but the reward of a job well done is also unmatched. Some of the photos are a bit graphic, so if you can't bare witness, check back another day.

Most importantly, thanks again to Rebecca for providing them, and to each and every volunteer with sacrificed their time, body heat and a full day to help us get this done. From frozen hoses, to a stubborn tractor, to a cold, cold wind, to scalder issues- we only it made it through because of your help. Thank you.
Sunrise on turkey processing day, deceptively cold. 
Turkeys after a tractor ride
Turkeys in the wagon, parked a bit away from the action to keep them calmer. 

Peter, from Ten Barn Farm, cleaning feathers

Peter intensely focused

Kim warms her hands while refilling water
Ejay cleaning each bird methodically

Mary, reading orders and preparing each label

James, carrying a turkey to the processing station

Teamwork. 

Peter and Erika cleaning birds


Kate packs a finished turkey at Quality Control
Kate examines her fine work

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Photos

A few snap shots of life, right now. The beauty here can't readily be captured by a photo, but they will have to suffice. I hope that even in our move, we never forget the views we've had the pleasure of enjoying here. Things on the farm are immensely hectic, but we are excited for the next phase! 

The field behind the house, on a walk with the pooches. 

Meet Kermit- our rent-a-stud. He's here to make more goats. Shown with Noelle. Fiona was busy snacking, you can see just part of her head behind the big boy. 

After the heavy rains, we put out some snacking and lounging hay. The piglets approve. 

Full bellies, warm sun. If only the paparazzi would get out of here! 

Autumnal glory

Little barn, you've served us well. 

Pumpkins we grew in the garden, about to turn into lanterns! Kim is ready! 


Never too old to carve a pumpkin! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Breakfast

This morning after chores I came inside to make breakfast, pretty ravenous. Last night as part of dinner I had shredded beets including greens, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, onions and garlic, and sauteed them together in left over bacon grease and seasonings to make a hash-like side dish. The left overs were on my mind as I filled water buckets. I tossed a bunch into a skillet to re-heat and then cooked two farm-fresh over easy eggs to go on top. A little hot sauce and another cup of coffee- and damn- What Luxury! The richness, the sweet, the savory and a bit of heat and my belly is full and utterly satisfied. I'm ready for the day.

Folks often ask how/why I got into farming and food- and there are a lot of reasons, some of which I have written at length about. But, one I don't always discuss is the food insecurity I've experienced at a variety of ages in my life. I'm not a stranger to laying in bed, staring at the ceiling after chugging a glass of water to feel full. Or, drinking another cup of coffee mid-day so that what's left in the cupboard can last just a little longer. I know what it's like for the meal to have to stretch too far, but contain little to no nutrition. I often joke now that when I don't get a meal or snack, I get 'hangry'- but it's not just low blood sugar. It's like this minor tantrum my brain has- I'm recalling a place I really don't want to go to. It's visceral, and though irrational at this point, still very real.

When I grow food, it soothes this dark place hidden away, the person who wondered where the next meal may come from. The times that this food insecurity happened to me, I was doing everything I could to survive, even at an age where that could hardly be expected. I hope never be in that place again. It could happen, but farming makes it much less likely for us. And the solace there runs right to my core.

We've started this fund, to defer the costs of our products. We've spoken at great length about how we believe the way in which we farm shows the greatest respect for the land and the animals. But, we also want our farm to be respectful of the communities we want to provide for. Each year, we donate between $300-$500 worth of products to charity events, benefits, church dinners (though we're not religious) etc. But we can't really start to tackle making our food accessible in the way we want to. This is our effort to start to bridge that gap- and it's a modest one. We're selling t-shirts, so that we can cut the cost of our goods for folks that are economically disadvantaged. If we reach our goal, we will be able to provide 250 servings (about 85-100 lbs) of meat totally free. Or, at least double that at a reduced cost.

We know, not everyone can always fit the foods they would like to be eating into their budget. But more than that, there are folks who really need a little support. Help us bridge the gap, because if you or someone you know has never experienced food insecurity- now you can say you know someone who has.

We only have today to reach our goal- and we are SO close! Fund closes tonight at mid-night, and if we don't hit 50 t-shirts, the fund fails and we get nothing.  You can get your t-shirt and support our fund here.


And, not for nothing, but the t-shirt is pretty cool too.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Driving a Tractor in the Rain

The rain is falling increasingly quickly, and my clothes are already heavy, since my rain gear needs to be replaced I'm soaked through in an instant. Even my socks are soggy, need new boots too after a season of work. I go through even the toughest pairs of boots at least twice a year--maybe it's because farm work is as rough in a summer as a life time guarantee--maybe it's because I'm just rough on things.  The tractor has no cab, and I'm sitting on top of it pleased it's running, yesterday was spent troubleshooting. God bless the internet, and friends with mechanical skills- and YouTube. In this modern era you have all of the info at the click of a mouse, which is good because there is no one around to show me what they know about the Farmall A, and no one to fix it but me. She's running fine now, though you never expect it to last, I'll be back covered in grease and frustration in no time.

In the trailer behind the tractor are buckets of feed and water, a luxury! The last several days while I fussed with the sputtering engine were spent making 4 or 5 long walks, with full 5 gallon buckets in each hand, twice daily, to edge of the acreage to get all the livestock their rations. Not impossible, or terrible- but slow and especially annoying with the sun glint of the tools resting on the engine block winking at my struggles.

I'm drenched now, but the animals are unconcerned with my momentary discomfort and hardly seem to notice the rain themselves when there is breakfast to attend to. I open up coop doors and pour feed into trays, hoping too much doesn't get washed away but knowing the clean up crew won't let much go to waste. Back in the barn 12 piglets are resting comfortably out of the weather, with round bellies and contempt that I didn't let them out yet. They're new to our electric fence, and the weather can make the fence unreliable. I don't trust them outside, and they have plenty of space indoors for today. It's one thing to be wet during chores, it's quite another to slide around in busted boots chasing muddy, obstinate piglets. I recognize the silliness of filling watering containers in this weather, but do it anyway. The turkeys get a boost of electrolytes, the warm and cool moods of October doesn't suit their delicate sensibilities, and keeping them flush with minerals seems to do them good. Or, it at least soothes my worried farmer mind even if it doesn't help them at all.

The rain is warm for October, and I'm grateful for that-- I'm not shaking with cold with a dripping nose. I'm just wet, and only temporarily. There is a modern miracle of a clothes dryer inside, hot coffee, and the promise of breakfast. Breakfast will be a bed of last night's roasted sweet potatoes, topped with two runny eggs and drowned in a healthy dose of hot sauce and house-made summer tomato ketchup.

In all our lives, we deal with some level of discomfort. I'm not talking about those with chronic pain, or in severe emotional distress, or the myriad of other sufferings that exist in our world.  Boredom, being over tired, being unsatisfied- these are considered to be human conditions. But we've also strayed away from even momentary feelings of physical discomfort- slightly cold, a little wet, too hot, a bit sore... it's considered beneath us to inhabit your physical body unhappily for even a second. Those millions who work jobs that keep them on their feet are considered by many to have 'failed' in some way. But, I will tell you a secret... for me... the physical discomfort is glorious. My mind can not handle sitting still, even for a few hours, I crave motion and action as much as my coffee. I model myself after the chickens I care for- flinging themselves into the weather in the pursuit of a good meal. I know my limits better now, having pushed through the immediate modern western human reactions of horror at being drenched in sweat, and of course- calluses help.

The hot cup of coffee tastes more perfect. The bowl of breakfast is more satisfying. The sound of the dyer is musical. Silly? Romanticized? Sure. But also completely and totally honest. Discomfort brings me appreciation. Which is good, because shortly I'll be experiencing plenty more of it with the day's tasks. So, I say- let it rain. I'll sit on top of the tractor, keeping rain from my eyes the best I can, feeding the masses. I'll ring out my socks. There's plenty more coffee to be had.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

R'Eisen Shine Farm Community Fund

Hey folks! We've started selling t-shirts, of which half of the proceeds will go towards reducing the cost of our meat shares (or providing them free) to lower income families or individuals. We want to put our money (and ham) where our mouth is. So- help us out and get a cool shirt!

Check out the campaign here!