Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chicken Sale!

Wow, it's been awhile since we wrote a blog post!

It's also been awhile since we had the 10 minutes it takes to write a blog post - because we've been super busy growing delicious food. Want proof?

We're having a HUGE CHICKEN SALE!

For $110 - you get 5 whole roster chickens weighing between 4 and 5 pounds each. That's a great price for chicken that's raised on non-gmo grain, fresh pasture and sunshine!

Take advantage of this deal my emailing reisenshinefarm@gmail.com - we'll send you an online invoice and coordinate your delivery.

We've got a lot more work to do before the season ends in November - and we want to stock up your freezers before we sell out of poultry for the year. We will sell out of chicken - so get yours now so you can enjoy the great grilling of summer and the soups and stews of winter.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Farm Photo Update!

I thought it was about time we did a little showing around the place, we are behind (always) in what needs to be done- but it's still shaping up, albeit slowly.

Here sits the tractor. It's needed a repair for weeks. But, it's very possibly something we will have to pay to have done, and it just hasn't made the list yet. 
The rabbits are quiet and mostly very good. We had kind of a slow breeding season, but the ones we have had all are doing well. 

In any free hour, I will be found running fencing. It's one of the largest expenses we have, but we bought our cedar posts in bulk so I can at least drive those and make improvements as we can.

The doelings we are keeping for breeding are growing quite well. Here is little Blanche, munching on unmowed pasture. We let the pastures grow so that when we graze them, they last longer. Also, it's better for the bees. 

Fiona (the big girl), Raja, Blance's butt in the background, a door they broke off of their shade hut, Margo (almost directly in front of Fi) and little no name buckling (meat production guy)

The summer turkeys are grazing on pasture 


Raja. If you don't fall in love, you're probably heartless. 

The escapee piglets are still in the barn, though I'm thinking they will go out this week. We're hoping electric netting will do the trick, but all fencing is a gamble with piglets. They are clearly not wanting for much, though. 

Swanson, always watching, always a joy. 

Just a little left to fence (sigh)

A little farm geek photo- this is how green the pasture is after grazing. Responsible farming is GOOD for the grass! 

So. Many. Goats. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why Vegetarianism Didn't Work For Me

Ok. So- Disclaimer: We get asked this ALL the time, as former vegetarians turned ethical meat producers. We also know that this subject gets A LOT of heat, especially on the internet. So, if you're looking for a debate, this isn't the place. This is just a full length description of my food journey, in case it's helpful for those investigating their own choices, or interested in what makes our growing practices different. Please refrain from sending us, or commenting here with anything from militant veganism sites or references, these things are combative and highly alarmist. But anyone thinking and talking about food is alright by us, so feel free to share our post.


I was 16, going on 17 when I stopped eating meat. I was getting sick all of the time- the kind of sick no one wants to read about. Anytime I had a meal, I would be ill for hours afterwards. My home life was complicated, and the food we had available was mostly quick and cheap. I had stress related health issues that affected my digestion, so it wasn't clear why I was getting sick despite medication. During a particularly rough time period of sickness, I decided to stop eating meat because I was kind-of sure it was part of the problem, and I had started learning about factory farming which was upsetting to say the least. I had adult mentors who were vegetarian, and it seemed like I should at least give it a try. The last thing I ate was a chicken nugget from a fast food restaurant on a school field trip. I bit into it, and came back with a mouth full of gristly chicken by-product and that was that.

I've always been relatively interested in the kitchen and cooking. I started making my own food instead of buying school lunch, using wages from my part time job to buy my substitute meat products. I did feel better. I still had issues, but they were less frequent, and I also felt like I was on a good path environmentally, and ethically. I still ate a lot of taco bell, though. I've always danced around restrictive eating, I was really grouchy at this point in my life. I was not a pleasant teenager most of the time, which was in part due to my food issues.

Then came college. Our dining hall was notoriously bad (seriously, it made the "worst of" lists)- and I lived basically on french fries w/ranch dressing and/or tomato soup. I came home after my freshman year and was diagnosed with minor malnutrition. That's how bad my eating habits were (and the options at school). I was wrapped up in a world walking a dangerously fine line between an eating disorder and vegetarian activism.

Over that summer, I started cooking in earnest. I made all of my meals, and ate regularly. I worked in a factory, so I was able to make better choices and my physical work demanded I be more careful. I started to become a better cook- paid more attention to my Grandmother's lessons. Grandma modified her recipes for me, taking time to make marinara instead of Sunday gravy, and making these super tasty eggplant meatballs (as well as all the manacotti I could eat). I fell in love with food. A love affair I have often described and referenced at length on this blog and to anyone who will listen.

Back at school, I did better at minding what I ate. My health was better.

And then my world view exploded.

I went to Imokalee Florida, to work with migrant farm workers who were advocating for better working conditions and a one cent pay raise. This was at the time of the national taco-bell boycott, and the Coalition won their pay increase just a week before we got there. This was a pivotal trip for me. The realities of agribusiness, fast food, and subsidized cash crops hit me with a deadly force. I spoke with humans who had risked life and limb in an attempt to make a better future, and now were living in overcrowded trailers, exposed to deadly chemicals, working 16 hours a day for not enough money to live. It was astounding. I couldn't un-see anything from that point on. Industrial farming treated those workers like commodities, and not very valuable ones. I met so many incredible people during this time, and I was forced to look at the way in which our food system allows us to leave these workers invisible. The privilege of ignoring the source of the food on your plate.

It was also in Imokalee that the reality of the difference my upbringing to the other students hit me. We participated in this exercise which made you step forward and back based on markers of privilege, and at the end, you were supposed to realize how different your lived experience was to other students. It's hard to talk about this. In my group of students from our small, liberal arts, private college, I was dead last in line. I'm white, and afforded white privilege. But the realities of my upbringing became painfully, startlingly apparent in comparison to my fellow students' experiences. The politics of class warfare became very, very personal. It was hard to confront these things in the presence of other students, but it was critical for me to realize that no matter what I ended up doing- my background would play a factor- I would work to be an advocate for change. And that my experiences in childhood were colored by many of the same oppression politics that rendered farm workers invisible.

I began reading about food, farming, agricultural practices- and feeling more steadfast in my decision to be a vegetarian. Modern meat production is horrifying. The abuses of animals and people, farm workers who I now could picture, solidified my decision to avoid meat. I became a great vegetarian cook, but I did use a fair amount of meat-replacement products. And tofu. And tempeh. I left school, joined (and then worked at) a co-op, and made a million Quorn roasts for holidays and the best damn nutritional yeast gravy off of a recipe from my friend, Cathryn.

I started a garden. Gardening brought me closer to my food in a new way. The feel of my own hands in dirt reconnected me to a body that had often been sick. I hate talking about this point in my life, and I'm hesitant to share it now. There is so much judgement in our culture about chronic illness or even people who just get colds more often than usual. I was mostly fine, and functional. But gardening was a way for me to feel more at home and able after struggling with weight and health issues. Really, the control over my food in this very tangible way was important to me. Also, it was delicious.

I started weeding out things that traveled for long miles on trucks. I bought local milk where I could see the cows. I met a lot of local food producers while working at the co-op. They would come in with deliveries, still in the farm boots and with their kids carrying boxes of produce to the back. I'd chat with them, and I admired how... sturdy they all were. Not in appearance, but in presence. Even when they were in a terrible mood, they all looked strong, like they were fully inhabiting their bodies rather than just hauling them around everywhere.

As I've mentioned, I've had a few serious health crises in my life, and I came upon one of the worst during this time period. Let's just say I was really, really, sick. And then I got sicker. It took me ages to recover, almost a full year. And then it would be several more years before I was actually healthy on a regular basis (and I had several other unrelated but necessary medical treatments during this time). I wasn't desperate for some kind of holistic cure, or wrapped up in the notion that food was the only solution. I was just looking for ways to feel better, in every corner possible.

I've always bee active, and I've always been engaged. I was eating almost exclusively local, and reading a ton about how soy, corn and wheat were essentially robbing the soil, killing small farms, and consuming vast amounts of fossil fuel. There are hundreds of articles, films, and resources on this topic. If you don't know how farm subsidies work, or how corn and soy are in EVERYTHING- start reading. It's the lynch pin in understanding how/why our food system works the way it does. I also started steering away from processed foods, after a long time of struggling, I learned that I had a sensitivity to food additives. Don't get me wrong- I friggin love an Oreo. I really do. But whole, unprocessed foods helped me lose weight, have energy, and kept the hangry at bay. I still eat crap, but less often, as an indulgence (and with gusto). My girlfriend of the time was working on improving her health, so the whole household was shifting to eating more complete foods.

I had drawn the conclusion, that for me, it was important to eat as much local as possible to ensure I knew about the labor practices, environmental practices and fossil fuel consumption involved in my food. I also felt like food tastes better when it was that fresh, and felt healthier. Science backs this up. But, the elimination of many of the foods I'd counted on to maintain my vegetarian diet for being environmentally unsound and overly processed really did limit my options. What to do?

After nearly a decade, I started literally dreaming about chicken. Mouthwatering dreams. I could smell it, and I'm not kidding. I increased my protein, cut back my carbs, and still- vivid chicken dreams. I tried an iron supplement, I ate more at meal times. I was lethargic. I was... hungry. I added back in some of the processed vegetarian proteins, Quorn brand specifically. But, it was coming from Europe, and made of a million ingredients. And it did kind of taste like cardboard.

I started digging deep, really thinking about how I had decided that killing animals for food was wrong. I took up some hobbies that put me back outside. I started thinking of humans as animals within ecosystem. I met more farmers. It's hard to say *when* exactly, my thinking shifted, but it did. First, with fish. This is kind of typical for someone moving out of vegetarianism. I had more energy eating ethically farmed fish, but I felt weird about eating something caught by someone I never met.

And finally, I bought and raised some chickens. The deal was, if I could start to finish raise chickens, I would eat them- but only if I was mindful about where it came from. Friends helped me build my first little coop and fencing. The chickens were pampered (overly so). They were funny. I liked them. I respected them. But I realized the work had to have a pay off. They were not pets. We had no deep emotional connection. My relationship with chickens is not the same as my relationship with dogs. Our species understand each other differently. And then, we ate them.

Raising and then processing that first batch set me on my farming course. The first chicken processing was... not smooth. We were scared, basically. It was hard. It was dirty. I'm not ashamed to say my hands shook. Life became a harvest. The first chicken processing left me with an unparalleled understanding of myself, and what I believe in. I believe we should be lifting up farmers in our communities. I believe in small farming. I believe in ending dependence on monolithic crops. Food products are not to be understood in the same way as whole foods are. Not that they don't have their place- but not in the volume we eat them now.

It does not work for me to buy a synthetic, food-like substance instead of the products from a carefully tended field. It does not makes sense to me to ship tomatoes from across the country, from a drought ridden state, rather than freezing my garden extras or going without. I'm not saying that I know how to solve the problems of food deserts and world wide hunger. But the earth is not meant to grow strictly one variety of anything. Biodiversity, reducing fossil fuels, protecting bees from pesticides- these things are tantamount to protecting the planet.

Eating meat, for me, is the most ethical choice I can make. We grow 90% of what we eat, and I have seen (as have others) how you can rehabilitate pastures with responsible grazing. We don't mow all of our pastures, to leave room for the birds and bees. We let flowers happen. We run poultry after grazers when we can. We serve the community.

That's the other piece of the puzzle for me- farming is a dying art in our country. As pointed out again recently by This American Life, only 1% of our population live and work on farms. And, most farmers are over the age of 60. If we continue to rely on current farming practices, we are going to forget as a country how to grow actual food- but instead only grow crops that we can synthesize down into ingredients we glue back together and ship across the country. As much as there as been a resurgence of farming, small farms fail daily. It's dire. Every purchasing decision we make goes into the pockets of a small farmer (who, almost exclusively puts it back into their local economy) or, goes into the pot keeping things as they are- environmentally unstable, nutritionally incomplete, and with little consideration for the rights of farm workers.

I'm not sick any more, and I'm not tortured by my own food politics. I'm strong. We're healthy. Kim can carry a feed bag nearly the same weight as her with minimal struggle. We can work 16 hours and get up the next day. I do think Americans need to eat less cheap meat. Cheap meat is the opposite of the work we do. It doesn't not protect the environment, it does not care for its consumers or producers. And we have a long way to go to get more of our animals off of soy and corn. But whole foods, including meat like ours, are not the enemy. Ethical and sustainable meat, sourced locally, is one cornerstone to revitalizing food economy and restoring health. I believe that, and I'm living proof. Also, it tastes better. And eating is not supposed to be just something you do to survive, why the hell would we have such extensive taste buds if not to enjoy it?

My meals used to consist of now-debunked ideas of heart conscious products, synthesized into familiar meat shapes. Now, I eat actual bacon, with lower cholesterol and a sturdy immune system. I'm not saying meat healed me- a lot of things have contributed. But vegetarianism did not work for me, either in my world view or in my dietary needs. So I grow and eat meat. I eat joyfully, and respectfully.  Sometimes with that nutritional yeast gravy, which is still damn good.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

July 3rd Chicken BBQ at the Old Station Inn!

Once again we are teaming up with the Old Station Inn for a Farmer Night! 

Join us on July 3rd for a R'Eisen Shine Farm Chicken BBQ dinner with two seasonal homemade sides, cooked by us!


We had such a great time at Wing Night, we wanted to come right back- but this time with a full meal!

Pre-sale tickets are strongly recommended! We have individual dinners ($15) and dinner for 2 ($25) available. For those of you who haven't hit the Old Station Inn yet- you're in for a relaxed atmosphere, great service and drinks to suite everyone's tastes.

Chicken BBQ is a great way to kick off the holiday weekend, support local businesses and local farms! Oh, and eat delicious food in a great place! See you there!

To order your tickets online, please go to our online storeDon't forget in the "notes to seller" section to tell us your name, and a time preference to join us. We'll be serving from 5-8pm, so you can give us an estimated arrival time of 5,6 or 7. You don't have to arrive exactly at that time, we're just trying to get solid estimates to keep the flow. 


Tickets are also available at our stand at the Waterford Harbor Farmer's Market, Cambridge Farmers Market and the Old Station Inn! 



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

When Farming Feels like Failure

Last week we had an incredible week. Wing Night was one of our greatest successes to date- 100 orders sold within 2 hours, and great reviews. We had so much fun cooking the food we grow, and we can't wait to launch the next event. July 3rd will be a chicken bbq- details coming after we meet with the wonderful Danielle from the Old Station on Friday. The farmers markets were solid, a little slow, but still we came home feeling accomplished. We worked with a friend to acquire her used pick up, a payment plan and some trade for meat to cover the cost. The truck came none to soon, the van blew a tire on the dirt road, needs a new windshield and has a door tied shut with bailing twine. Typical farm tin can.

We pushed ourselves ragged last week, and it showed. We made progress. But a bad farm day here is sometimes, a really, really bad day. It makes it feel like everything you accomplished is completely undone.

Yesterday afternoon I was totally flattened. I'm sitting in the gator with my head buried in my forearm over the steering wheel. Drenched in sweat, so mad my frame is shaking. I straightened up, tilted my head to the sky and just stared. The dog jumped back in the seat next to me gave a genuine glance of concern, with reason.

I must have stayed there, statue like for 10 minutes. I counted down from a 100, took deep breaths, I just couldn't move. I was inches away from turning off the atv, going in the house to drown my sorrows in a beer and a mid-day shower. But giving up is never an option on a farm. You are the flywheel. If you're not spinning, nothing is moving.

During morning chores, Kim and I had come upon a gruesome site. The worst predator attack in our farm's history lay out before in the last meat bird pen. Nearly full grown chickens were scattered everywhere, missing crucial pieces and still warm. It was horrific. We think it was at least 30 of our beautiful, carefully tended stock. That's at least what we could count. Weeks of work, and lives we valued. Money lost. The cause- a problem with our electric fencing.

Not just that- but the animals must have sensed the electricity in the air with impending bad weather. Two rabbits had escaped the indoor and outdoor growing pens, and I could see that across the road, the goat herd and duck flock were both not even remotely in their appropriate locations. It took time, a patience, but after dealing with the gruesome predator attack, I did manage to get everyone straightened out, caught up (Swanson helped a little). The goat fence would need to be moved to fresh pasture and re-set to be effective.

That'd be enough for a day. But it was just morning chores. After coffee, I set out to go get the repair supplies for the chickens, and to buy feed. In my distraction, I forgot to throw a tarp in the truck, and so naturally, hit a downpour with 800 lbs of feed in the back of the pick up. I made a quick detour to buy one while I was headed to TSC for the electric fence supplies- and managed to get the feed covered before it was totally ruined. By the time I got back, the rain had stopped, which was good because we were expecting a delivery of 15 piglets, (4 for our friend Jenna). I got a business call from Kim about something that had to be dealt with immediately on the road back, so I had to drop everything and head into the farmhouse. An hour later, my business owner duties fulfilled, I looked at the time and rolled my eyes. I was two hours behind, and the piglets would have to go in the old pig pasture, instead of the new one- there was no time to set up in the far field. I grabbed spare cattle panels and set to creating a small pen within the pasture- we've found piglets get worked up with too much space during the first 24 hours on farm, we create a smaller 'safe space' and then let them out into the wider area after that.

As I was unloading feed, Jenna pulled up in her pick up, two border collies in tow. While Gibson and Swanson got reacquainted, I got to hold Friday- an 8 week old ball of gorgeous border collie baby. At one point, all three were running in a line, from oldest to youngest and it was painfully adorable. Soon enough, Bobby pulled up in his box truck with a load of piglets, slick with manure. Yep. Sounds about right. We caught up Jenna's 4 and then she graciously assisted me in putting mine into the small paddock. I hadn't even had a chance to lay bedding for them yet, in my rush. But there was plenty to explore, so I didn't think twice about leaving them while I said goodbyes.

Bobby was paid, Jenna was off, and I went down to the farmhouse for a cup of water, realizing lunch was out of the question. While I was eating a handful of potato chips, a car pulled up. I threw my boots back on and poked my head out the door. The neighbor stopped by to say he had just seen a large herd of piglets cross the road. Fuck. Shit. Damn. Whistling for the dog, I raced up to the barn, jumped back in the gator. Those of you who read this blog know this isn't the first time we've had rogue piglets. It won't be the last. Seems like every time we get a new batch, they act totally different then we expect and best laid plans are never good enough. This morning had scattered my best plans though, so the back up plan was not surprisingly a failure.

I raced around the fields, between the fence line, the dog, and jumping out of a barely stopped atv, I managed to get 8 of the 11 loaded into a dog crate I use to move poultry. The crate was then close to 200lbs though, so too heavy to lift. I ran into the barn, trying to figure out what to do next. We had a chicken grow out pen not occupied, and previously goat-kid tested, so that was the best option. I grabbed a shovel, and mucked it out, right into the center of the barn, I could clean that out later. Shoveling with the rage of a farmer chasing pigs, I grabbed a fresh bale of shavings- and it was pig ready. I individually carried 4 piglets to the pen, to lighten the crate. I restarted the gator, and moved it closer to the now half full crate. I could see the last 3 piglets still roaming freely. With a mighty lift, I picked up the crate and headed for the tailgate. Simultaneously, Swanson caught sight of the last 3 piglets, and made a mighty leap OUT of the ATV, knocking it into gear and sending it rolling backwards into a large hole I dug while repairing buried water lines.

So to recap- we have lost 30 chickens. There are piglets running free- 4 in a crate, 3 being run down by a border collie failing to heed "stay" or "no" or "no chasing" or "come", and 4 in a cleaned out chicken pen. The gator is in a hole. The goats still haven't gotten their fence mended, nor the chicken pen with the predator attack, chores are not done. The goat kids on bottles are now screaming as only goats can, because I'm late with lunch. And, I've had nothing but a handful of potato chips since breakfast at 7:30 am (it's close to 2:30 at this point). 

This is where the staring at the sky moment happened. I sat in the gator, where it is in the photo.This is when farming felt like failure. Basically, my whole day was chasing livestock, a symptom of the first season on a new farm, running the place day to day alone, and just bad luck. The farm isn't as clean as I like it at the moment, which makes me anxious. There was still feed to unload. My body was tired and I should have eaten a snack, since I'm notoriously hangry. This was a moment when I couldn't see it was worth it. It didn't feel worth it. It felt like absolute madness and total failure. 

I went and grabbed the keys to the pick up, and towed the gator out. I finally loaded the crate, got the 4 piglets safe and then spent 40 minutes catching the last 3. Somehow, in the midst of this, I also found out we had a tornado watch, and texted Josh to come out and help. He wasn't home, but as soon as he was he came out to join me, as I was driving the gator with a screaming piglet in one hand, the last one to be caught. 

We set to work on getting the animals fed, and fixing the chicken fence. I bought a new electric fencing box, not trusting just one to run both the dairy herd and the chicken pastures. Better safe then another massacre. The last task was to move the goat herd in the lower pasture to new grass. They would continue to act like jerks until we moved them to fresh grass, and are still using the rotational grazing netting- as we haven't even begun permanent fencing down there. It was starting to mist, but moving the fencing takes less than 15 minutes, usually. 

Swanson, after a day of rough commands, a less than stellar leader, and being overexcited at new pigs- was unprepared to do a task he does with ease every other day of the week. We moved the goat shelter, it slides on skids, we set up the fence in fresh grass. And then we tried to round up the herd of goats and flock of lambs. With a mighty failure, Swanson chased just the sheep up the hill from the far side of the pasture- right into the road. Blatantly ignoring my commands. Perfect. Flying at full speed in the gator, I raced to get the sheep out of the road, and back down the field. Dog back into the seat beside me, and moving the sheep using machine instead of fur- the sheep moved back down the 10 acres past the duck pond. Always enthusiastic, Swanson decided my methods were insufficient, and jumped out of the gator and herded the sheep back up to the road. Roaring, I basically grabbed him up off the ground and set him into the atv with the mightiest "STAY" I could carry and drove back up, again, to rescue my now really, really confused sheep with a shamed collie in the passenger seat. In the glove box was a goat lead, which once the sheep were safe from the road I spun it in the air, kind of like a lasso. This made me look and sound bigger, which finally moved the flock back to the goats, and into the pen. At this point, the rain picked up and Josh and I finally rode back to the farm, animals contained, and drenched. Swanson had already headed for the dry shed. Jerk. 

There was no predator in the trap I set out last night this morning by the last chicken pen. But there were no more missing chickens either, and the fence is testing hot. We may not know for a few days what the predator is, the rains keeps everyone in shelter. The piglets are enjoying the barn, where they will stay until I get their set up in the proper pasture finished. No compromising. 

There's a lot at play as to why yesterday was a bad day, not the least of which is the fact that Swanson and I have quite a bit of work to do. We're learning, and awkward, and sometimes training looks a whole lot like making a mess. At the end of the day, the farm is still not picked up, but the animals are safe and fed. And there is beer. I'm still keyed up from the antics though, and cautiously looking at how to make sure less of these days happen. But one thing is certain, these days have happened on every farm I've ever worked. Farming sometimes is failure. And when it's failure- it's mighty failure, the kind that really shakes you, making you question your sanity. 

Actually, scratch that. We've got to be crazy to farm. There is little to no other explanation. But we do grow damn good food. And someday, the fencing will be more reliable. In the meantime, I'm going to do a better job of at least making sure I eat lunch. I'm going to work the dog with better training. I'm going to keep going. It's only failure if it's the last act. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What makes a chicken wing?

So by now you've probably heard that we are having a Wing Night at the Old Station Inn in Greenwich, NY. We are pretty excited about this partnership, the venue give you all the right feels in all the right ways. It's funky and local, charming, with history and run by Danielle who is enigmatic and kind. It's going to be a blast, and you should join us on June 3rd (next Wednesday) between 6-9. Let me cook for you, it would be my absolute pleasure. I'm making everything from scratch, Kim and I will be at your service. Please come, eat and see what we're about.

But this post is about what makes a chicken wing. No, not a recipe, no not a cooking secret. It's about what we do, here, and why. We grow chickens. A lot of them, and better than many other folks. I'm not trying to be arrogant, we didn't start off as fantastic poultry producers. We made mistakes, we had losses, we screwed up. It sucked.

That all still happens. But what we grow here IS unique. The chicks are from hens that are non-gmo fed, and we use a non-gmo, locally milled grain for the entirety of their lives. We chose this grain because it doesn't come compressed, it's just milled into smaller pieces to make it easier for the birds to eat. It's non-gmo, which we feel is better environmentally for the grain farmers, and everyone. We have an insulated, temperature controlled brooder, which we clean out every two weeks, and disinfect to keep pathogens low. We have several 'transition' pens, which allow us to help the birds acclomate to life without heat lamps, slowly to cause no stress.We have huge pasture space, and birds spend their fully feathered days running freely about, never having a care in the world. We try to be gentle, and kind, and attentive to the birds lives. We think they are funny, and they sometimes out smart us.

We handle the processing, we don't feel comfortable with anyone else handling the harvest transition for our poultry. My hands are the ones that unpack the mail boxes of chicks. My hands are the ones that shepherd the life of a chicken into the harvest of a meal.

Our chicken is made of time, and sacrifice and obsession. It takes weeks of careful care, long days, rain gear, sweat, scratches, to get what we grow. I never thought that chicken would be our primary enterprise here, but it is. And I'm proud of that. A chicken wing isn't a throw away bar food for us. But we love a wing night where we can eat and be merry among many! We want you to come, share a pint and see where we live. This vibrant community, with it's cast of characters. We want to cook you a treat, our years of trail and error grow chicken that will make you realize that chicken HAS a flavor. Also, not for nothing- but my italian grandma passed along a mighty skill for the kitchen and I'm eager to share it. And, if you hate it, there will still be a drink to have. (you won't hate it).

I don't think there is anything more primal then sharing a meal with someone. And sharing a meal with the farm that grew it is it's own special experience.

Farm to Fork? How about we do the whole damn thing!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Patience vs. Laziness and a farmer's meatloaf

There is phrase on the farm that we toss about pretty regularly. It comes up when we are working collaboratively on a project, when talking about issues of social progress, when we planning the next big move, etc. One of us will state, casually "We are not patient though" as a reason for why we feel so frustrated with stagnancy.

We're wrong. We are incredibly patient. We have been building a business and a life for years, we have spent our entire relationship training and working towards owning our farm. We have never taken a vacation together, never even a non-working overnight (we travel sometimes for presentations). We do not expect the livestock to grow any faster then they do, and don't really get upset when that doesn't happen. I think what we should be saying is, "We are not lazy". I'm not talking about the necessity of relaxation, or the occasional Sunday afternoon. I'm talking about the condition of laziness. The state of allowing one's life to plod along for no other reason then the sun rises.

I know, this is somewhat confrontational. I think I'm okay with that. Patience is slowly crawling towards a very challenging goal, with success only in your mind, and dealing with all of the hardships on that path. Laziness is waiting for success to happen, and believing you are owed the existence you crave.

Patience is understanding that set backs are natural, and that being uncomfortable is not always undesirable. There are lessons in the state of uncomfortable. Laziness is believing that comfort is more important than effort. I'm certainly not saying that if you work hard, you will inevitably succeed at whatever is at hand. I don't believe that, and we don't live in a world where everyone is offered the same opportunity. I actually think that the mindset that anyone can pull themselves up by their boot straps is a form of laziness, a refusal to comprehend the privileges some have in our culture that allows automatic success or advantage. I believe that our modern culture is set up to force this compulsory life narrative on almost everyone, that many follow, unflinching because it's the most obvious one.

And I'm not just talking about money, either. I'm talking about fulfillment, in whatever your passion is- or in just finding your passion. Patience is in putting yourself in a million different situations, knowing that most will not be what you expected, or wanted, but keeping the eye out for what is. Laziness is accepting that your current moment, however boring or unpleasant, is a permanent condition. I don't want to sound like a motivational speaker. I'm just trying to work through what so many people struggle with. I can remember a time when I got up, went to work, came home, puttered about and basically accepted that this was forever. It was fine, but it wasn't challenging, it didn't make me a better human, and I didn't sleep very well. My life now is very different. And in most ways, a lot harder. But my life now is not just happening to me, either- I'm the object in motion.

Our farm is not going to change the world. But it is going to drastically alter my world, and has provided me with a focus. It also happens that my work is my passion, and that is something not many can say. But everyone should be able to have something that keeps them in motion. Something that is their project- making the best damn cup of coffee for your morning breakfast, or having a high score on some game, or... I don't know- mastering the art of flower arrangement. Laziness is believing that if you're in a current state of mind, that it is fixed, and that nothing can change. Laziness is believing that your interests and passions cease to exist, or won't change. Patience is knowing you won't get everything you want, maybe you wont' even get anything you want- but keeping yourself moving towards change to let the whole story play out as an active character. Put yourself in motion. Life will just happen if you let it. You will (hopefully) get older. Relationships will change, end, begin. Do something, Right Now. Anything. Seriously, do Anything that disrupts your usual schedule and is within your power to reclaim a little bit of your own existence. You're the only one who can. I've had enough laziness. I need more patience.

And to head towards your new goal, please, take our meatloaf recipe and enjoy it thoroughly. We rarely buy meat, but occasionally I'll pick up some ground beef when we are out of venison or pork. Nothing is exact, so edit and make changes as you see fit! It's a great way to use organ meat from your sides of pork.

(makes 2 loaves, one for dinner, one for weekday lunches)

1lb ground grassfed beef
1lb pork liver
1 pork heart
1/2 cup masa harina
1 can tomato paste
1 red pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
salt, pepper, smoked paprika and italian herbs to taste
ketchup
2 farm fresh eggs

1. Preheat Oven to 375 and lightly oil two pans
2. Use a food processor to blend pretty thoroughly your eggs, paste, garlic, pepper, onion, salt and spices.
3. Pour mix into a largeish bowl.
4. Pulse your liver and heart until it's a chopped/ground consistency.
5. Knead or mix your ground beef and organ meat together into your eggs/spices/etc mix. Make sure it's integrated fully, then add masa harina until it's a little bound together (don't over do it, it will ruin the flavor if you do).
6. Split the mix in half, put each half spread into a bread pan (casserole dishes, whatever you have two of the right size of).
7. Drizzle with ketchup, and bake until done (45ish minutes? Keep your eye on it, but none to closely)
8. Make a big batch of mashed potatoes and veggies, too.

Affordable, delicious and super nutrient dense. Win!