Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fool proof Chicken Wings

Ahh summer, when you can eat so well, so easily... there is abundance everywhere you turn! So many farms have so much to offer right now, and one of our favorite treats is to turn every seasonal veg into some kind of tasty pizza. And what goes better with pizza than chicken wings? Here is how we make our not-fried chicken wings, including sauce and we've never had a complaint! We thought we'd share, so you too can sit on your porch with a good brew and the classic pizza/wings pairing- but far more delicious because it's FARM style!


1 Dozen Wings, split
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/8 cup ketchup
1/8 cup brown sugar
liberal amounts of salt, chilli powder, pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika
olive oil

Par-boil your wings (probably for about 5-10 minutes) while you are preheating your oven to 425.

On the stove-top, mix all of your sauce ingredients and let it cook down at a simmer for at least 15 minutes. Don't be afraid to add spices, take some away or just generally change the entire sauce recipe. Though the butter is key to make a smooth sauce.

Spread your wings out on a cookie sheet, and toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast them until golden brown, crispy and cooked thoroughly.

Pour your sauce over your wings once they are ready to serve. Eat them immediately, and provide ample napkins!!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Meat for Sale!

We are having a great summer, and have some really wonderful offerings for anyone looking to grill some locally grown, non-gmo, ethically raised meats. If you would like to order anything, let us know! We can arrange a convenient time on farm or we'll be in Albany this Wednesday, and can bring it you then. For those who would prefer to pay ahead, we now accept credit cards and can send you an invoice through square.

What's available:

Boneless Skinless Turkey Cutlets (12.50/lb, packages are usually about $7 each based on their weights. Approx 2 good size cutlets per package)

Turkey Drumsticks (7.50/lb) roughly 1lb packages (2 drumsticks)

Turkey Thighs (7.50/lb) roughtly 1.2lb packages (2 thighs)

Turkey Wings (7.00/lb) roughtly 1.5lb packages (2 wings)

RABBIT!! Whole, $30/each approximately 3.2lbs each

We still have 2 sides of pork available for our fall delivery date, for details on ordering a side of pork, check out this link. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tough Choices

Well, as we mentioned in a previous post, we've been without a horse team for quite some time. While we are focusing on our meat operations (and loving that) we do miss the equine spirit around here. But, with the knowledge that our resources are better spent elsewhere, we've made the gut wrenching decision to sell off our equipment, hopefully to someone who wants it for active use! You can find the full listing on craigslist here.

Pick up only, we can't ship or trailer anything.

It's one of those choices you have to make as a small business with limited resources. We make them all of the time, and mostly, it's not public. But if you are going to succeed, you have to remember what's important. Plus, it really is a bummer to see such nice equipment not in use.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Fireflies

I get home, after a meeting and then ice cream with a friend, rushing at this late hour dusk to do the last of the livestock tending. Each evening, we walk the farm, securing hatches to all of the chicken coops, the turkey pen, the barn, ushering in our critters who plead like children for just one more drink of water, one more snack, one more romp around the field.

I slide off my sandals, and into my boots, weather worn leather that slouch in all the right places and start down the quickly darkening path. And though Kim is off farm for the night, I'm certainly not alone. The sky is erupting from every angle with the quick flashes of light. It's astounding, unlike any other place I've ever lived. We must be a central point where all fireflies come to meet, zooming in from all directions to discuss the days events and light the way for weary farmers. Everywhere I step the night is alive, and the quite glow of the emerging stars even pales in comparison to the light show of these tiny bugs. Isn't in incredible that a swarm of insects can surpass the beauty of the entire universe of stars.

As I'm walking, one laser technician dips low near my nose, and suddenly I'm 6- holding a country crock container with holes popped in the top. I'm racing across my parents back yard, in mud smeared clothes and flip flops hopped up on sugar water. I'm sun burnt and giddy with the late hour. I'm breathless chasing fireflies. When my container is finally full, I open it back up and watch as the relieved flies zoom away from me, resting only moments before starting again.

Then suddenly, I'm 16 and parked in my first car, with a teenage love, whispering secrets and watching the fireflies dance across a lake. I'm nervous, and shy, and putting on a bravado to cover my shaking hands. I grip the steering wheel and stare outside in the gaps of conversation. I can feel my jittery laughter bubbling to the surface of the quiet. The fireflies seem to be teasing and soothing all at once, winking at my insecurities without judgement.

And even as I walk on through the pasture, hands moving through the routine now I'm 20. I'm 20 and sitting on my Alma Mater's dock of Cayuga lake. There are only the hint of the start of fire fly season, but they're there. It's too cold to swim, but we're hot with youth, and booze, and brazenness and swim naked under the late spring moon. I've never felt this sure, this wonderful, surrounded by passion and brilliance and folly.

And then I'm myself now, and all of those things at once. I'm a tired farmer, amazed at his life, and weary of the day. I'm still stressed about the season, aware of the struggles. But the 6, and the 16, and the 20, and the 29 versions of myself beg me just to watch for a minute. The sheep and goats stand surprisingly still, and quiet, perhaps in their own reverence of the show.

There is truly very little more brilliant then the glow of a firefly.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Falling back in love with the garden

This is our home garden, and needless to say- it's a land of miracles. A combination of planting in the past two years of manure, tender care, and unfettered access to water- and we have quite the jungle out there. We keep it fairly weeded, and it's an absolute pleasure to step outside and grab the ingredients for dinner. It's kind of like the universe congratulating us on listening to the capabilities of the land.


3 varieties of beans, including those for drying

peas!!

delicious, delicious scapes

The Winter Squash Jungle, and upcycled PVC pipe trellis

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Community

It all started with a phone call. It was just before Thanksgiving, we were still in high gear. We had turkeys on pasture, harvesting to do- the last thing I felt like doing was answering the phone. But, it was a neighbor, fellow Agland Protection Committee member, and, someone I liked- Jeanne Mettler.

Jeanne is just one of those people who gets things done. She's that rare type- she has great ideas and the kind of dedication it takes to see those great ideas actually follow through. She was calling to see if we thought farmers in the area would have any interest in saving our local general store.

Our local general store isn't just a convenience store- it is a lifeline to many in the community. The current owners needed to close it, and it would certainly leave Copake with a void. We have seniors and other community members who do not have access to cars (and there is no mass transportation). There are other places semi-near by to get groceries, but for many- it would be near impossible to get the basics. For others, it was just needed a place to get local goods close to home, rather than commuting 15-20 minutes just for those pantry items everyone runs out of. The need was clear. But where did we fit in as farmers?

We're constantly struggling to find ways to make our products more accessible. In our rural community, you can set up a farm stand but unless someone drives by- they may not see it. And with our switch to meat products, it's even harder to make sure that you are reaching folks you can hardly leave fresh chicken out all day. Folks barely see what you have regularly- even when they live less than a mile away! We've always imagined there to be a way to get the local farmers together and create a space where our community could get those farm fresh goods on more than one day a week. In the first two years of business, it was impossible for us to even find the time to get to a Saturday market- so when Jeanne called us- it was like she read our minds.

We were in. We wanted to bridge the gap between the general store needs of our community and an amazing array of farmers who could practically cover the food groups. Of course, a great idea is only the beginning.

I could tell you all about the hours of meetings, the setbacks, the renovations. I could tell you about mishaps with electricians, negotiating regulations... but really- what I want to tell you is about the feeling of the first day we were open.

We were there all week, frantically getting the last of the must haves together to get open on Memorial Day weekend. Kim and I even put most of the non-essential farm work on hold, and instead spent the entire week running errands, setting up a register system, meeting with local vendors to go over their product lists... and then finally our big grocery order came in.

This store isn't just run by someone with a good idea and the money to execute it. The funds were raised through the community, and the business LLC is managed by a board (of which Kim is a member), subject to elections. The store has staff, who are wonderful, and care for day to day operations. The board is still highly involved, working together to really make the place run.

So the night that our big grocery order finally came in, we had been waiting for hours on the delivery truck. We had struggled to find a vendor who would even consider delivering to our little town, with enough products to ensure our community would be served well, at good prices. And so we unloaded them, all hands on deck, all 680+ boxes. We got them on the shelves. We got them into our inventory and register system. Volunteers came. We all skipped meals. We all were exhausted. But the doors opened. And this is really, just the beginning of the story.

It may just seem like something small- a little store where you can pick up your coffee, milk, bread... but it's so much more. Along with grocery items we have 10 local farmers bringing in their goods weekly. We have local meat, cheese, granola, bread, produce, canned goods, cookies... the farmers and food producers jumped at the chance to sell directly to their community. This is how we see change for our community. By blending a grocery store model with a daily farmers market we can offer so much more to our community. We can help to reconnect local people with local food. We can provide for those folks who can't drive to get their groceries. And it came together because our community wanted it, worked for it, and funded it.

The doors opened on Sunday. It had hiccups, we have much to do- still. We have kinks, technology issues, stocking problems- all of the things a small business expects. But we also have joy. Or, at least I do. I have such joy at seeing folks come in, grab a basket and grab a chicken I grew- and then chat with them about it. I have joy that you can get salad greens from a small farm run by some of the nicest folks you'll ever meet. I have joy that spices are 99 cents and a local elder told me that we had done a "mighty fine job with the pricing". I have relief, that the doors are open, that I could run down and grab coffee beans this morning when we ran out. I have hope, that this is just the beginning, we're just getting started.

To many in our little town, it's just "nice" to have an open store, and I'm glad for that. But for me, and I think for many others involved in this project- it's nothing short of extraordinary.



ps- if you want to know more about this project, or help us continue to do the work of managing all of the local products, check our our link here! Thanks! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Missing Links Part 1- The Team

Several folks have been sending suggestions for more things they would like to read about here, so we'll be trying to write about many of them. Today is that first post!

Last winter, we bought our first team of horses. They were a gorgeous team of haflingers, supposedly trained on all the ins and outs of farm work. We bought equipment, and started working them. We trained in classes, kept reading, brought in experts. We loved one of the pair quite dearly, Sunny- who we had been told was a lot of sass. We didn't find that, she was, by all means- the most willing work partner one could ever meet. She wanted us to push her limits, to see how strong she was. And we did, working with her as much as we could. But our older gal, just wanted to be retired. She was long spoiled after a time period of being off for too long. She fought us on ever single turn, and became downright dangerous on several occasions. We sought even more help, and the season started slipping away. We paid someone to plow the field, desperate to keep up with the vegetable planning- despite having budgeted only to make the huge purchase of the team and equipment. Farming is a domino effect, one things breaks or costs more- and the pieces topple on top of another causing a series of challenges and set backs. They just weren't the team we needed.

We were prepared for a solid working team. We weren't prepared for a shattered team. Part of this was inexperience in buying horses. It was heartbreaking, and I think that is why we haven't shared it before now. Our entire vision for the farm centered on using the team for the chores we needed to get done- not as fast as a tractor- but faster than our own bodies could do the work. We kept at it all, and then finally- realized it wasn't just us who were suffering. We had to do what's best for the farm, and what was best for the horses. We began looking for a new home for them. 

Sunny, our prize gal- now lives with a family who uses her to pull the cart of their daughter, who has physical differences that don't allow her to ride along with everyone else. She's had tip top training, is well loved, and is by everyone's accounts- amazing. We keep in touch and check in on her, and miss her often.

Nataya, the grouchy mare- could only find a home as a companion horse. She keeps horses that are still employed company in the pasture. Her behavior only became more challenging the longer we had her, but by our few updates- retirement suits her well and nothing much is asked of her aside from a leisurely trail ride. 

Last season dragged through, we kept up with the work using our truck and keeping very, very long days. We started looking for a replacement team casually, and licking wounds. Then we just stopped- not because we are done having a team- but because the season's work was overwhelming. Farming was still glorious- but it was also far more stressful then it had been previously. Then came the long winter, and our decision to transition to using the land for what it does best- grow grass to feed livestock. 

We love our little piece of land. It's beautiful and in a community we've worked hard to get to know. The pasture that held the promise of a successful horse-powered farm will feed pigs, turkeys and sheep. We still will be horse powered, but like so many things we've worked for- it's just going to take more time. 

I miss the smell of leather lines in my hands, the joy of working with an animal of that scale, doing those jobs. The clips, and snaps of the harnesses, the rough brush and the horse sweat. But I also recognize the magnitude of our struggle last season. We have to let the business grow, and shape to be successful. Right now that means we don't have a team, or a veggie patch. But we do have sounder sleep, happy chickens, a great game plan and a pretty gorgeous 1937 tractor. Our farm is incomplete without equines. But that just means there is more to work towards.