Sunday, December 21, 2014

Solstice

Oversleeping a bit, we chugged a cup of coffee and threw on our winter coveralls to head up to the barn. It's less often now that Kim has time to help with livestock chores, and it's always nice when she does on the weekends. I miss her, and though it's not a heavy work load at the moment, it's still lighter with 4 hands- but it's more her company that I crave.

The rabbit water bottles were frozen, so she threw them in a crate to take them down to house to thaw while I hauled feed out to the pigs and dumped the goats old water out. On my walk back across the barn I stopped to feed the laying hens, tossed them more oyster shell and noted the three small eggs for collecting. The long nights make eggs more of a treat then a staple, but I'm pleased that the chicken coop at the new farm keeps the girls so warm they don't need a heat lamp.

The rabbit cages are finally neatly hung in the rear corner of the new barn, threaded with steel pipe to keep them sturdy and hanging from eye hooks in the rafters. It's a nice set up, but we're looking forward to finally building our dream rabbitry come spring, outdoors, with plenty of grazing and hopping space. I spent the week outside trying to sort through the materials, tools, supplies,and junk. The barn will take at least 2 years to get it set up just so, (one full season to make mistakes) but at least now there's space to move around and things are making more sense. Our two goat does (hopefully bred) and the buck clamored for breakfast from the pole barn while June, the only sheep we kept from our old flock, had weaseled her way out of the barn.  She was standing directly outside of the big red door and digging through the snow for frozen grass. Apparently, her breakfast had just not come quickly enough.

Today is the solstice. The darkness is here, for many more months, and we're grateful for a few more long nights before the season starts again. But the turning point is something unique- it's simultaneously the start of the winter and the climb towards spring. We're having company today, warming the farm house on both ends with two kitchens filling with friends and baked goods. We're welcoming in the winter with sweets. It's a strange thought, to know that we're on the cusp of the seasonal turn- a literal turning of the strange globe we live on. But what is more comforting then a warm house, good folks and the smell of chocolate?

Seasons are important our rhythm here, we watch the weather and the light. We take the time to notice the shifts, it affects our work and schedule. As the light goes, so do the eggs, and we take our cue from the hens to slow down. The light always comes back, along with the work.

In our celebration today, we've prepared a traditional winter wassail, a mulled cider drink (with wine). There's more than one way to warm a house and your guests. It's currently brewing in the crock pot, a cauldron of cider and spice. Combined with the smell of wood smoke, and two (finally) settling in dogs, the twinkle of Christmas lights, the farm is everything one could hope for to journey through the longest night.

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!

R'Eisen Shine Farm is a small farm, recently relocated to Washington County after operating in Columbia County on  leased land. We're transitioning to our new space, and expanding our products each season! We pride ourselves on raising livestock in an ethical manner, including doing our processing on-site. We use a freshly milled, non-gmo feed and a rotational grazing system. This means our livestock are out on pasture, and given plenty of space to roam and graze. The flavor on our meat is hard to beat, and if you have any questions, email us at any time!

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