Category Archives: Mobile Blogging

Turkey day, in review, and anticipation

Well I suppose Thanksgiving is in our rear view mirror now. In fact, if it weren’t for the frozen bits still waiting to be rendered into broth, it might not be on my mind at all. Except for the turkeys out in the field still. They were the ‘experimental’ birds. We have been looking for a low input, no-fuss no-muss solution to paying $12 per poult to buy day old chicks and then raise them. We had let some of our hens sit eggs, to see how it would work out. We hedged our bets, and bought poults as well. Cause we didn’t want to come up empty on T day. There are 5 of them, and they will head off to Ice Camp on February 2nd.

This year was our test run year for selling birds.  We are in the ‘lucky’ position to be able to fund a small scale grow out experiment, with a low per pound price, for mostly family, and then watched our feed costs and labor inputs.  All in all, excluding the cost of the poults (remember the $12 each) we are out about $4.20 per pound, not including the processing costs, poult cost.  So you could say ‘feed costs’ were about $4.20 per lb of finished bird.  That may sound like a big hit, but when you think about the fact that they were fed 100% organic feed, and pastured it’s a little more understandable.  Add to that the fact that they were all heritage breeds.  That means that the hens topped out at about 8# and the biggest tom was #16.  #16 you say, that’s hardly enough for a family of 5, let alone guests.  I assure you that our family, and extended family, who joined us, all ate all they could, and took turkey home with them, and we had a pound or so of left overs in our fridge for a couple of days.  In total that was 9 adults and two kids.  Yes, food that’s grown naturally does fill you up faster.

Here is a shot of about #125 of turkey, ready to get bagged and head out for local ovens!  5 more will head to the big freezer in the sky at the begining of next month…  Stay tuned, as we will be offering organic, pasture raised, heritage birds for tables again this year.  Full update with price to follow.  Or shoot me an e-mail adam(at)

*Edit* we will be doing full organic, pasture raised, broad breasted birds this year (2013).  We had more folks asking for larger birds than we get out of the heritage birds, so for now, the heritage birds will wait in the ‘wings’ for a possible future appearance.



Eggs on the farm.

Talk about holding the future in the palm of your hand… If another salmon had not riled up the gravel in the stream, this little thing could (with a lot of luck) have made it back here in a few years…  It’s been an epic Coho run this year.  All the reports say so, but all I have to do is step out on the back porch and listen.  It sounds like a water fight at the local pool.  Typically we see salmon in our creek from about Thanksgiving till now, but this year, they started rolling in about a month early, and they are still thick.  New ones showing up every couple of days to take the place of the ones that are spawned out and dying.  And getting hauled up on the bank to be munched on by other critters.  Yep, the lab figured that one out, and he’s now on a short leash.  Yuck.

I contemplated fishing REALLY close to home, but I have not seen one yet that was not a fire truck (full spawning color, and soft squishy flesh).  I was able to get a few out of the river before the river got high and wild with the winter rain.  I like a float trip as well as the next guy, but not in my waders, in November.

So back to the egg, salmon lay their eggs in redds, a spot in the gravel where the salmon lay on their sides, and thrash to clean the gravel, so their eggs don’t get smothered in the silt that’s on the bottom of the river.  Here’s a great overhead shot:  When they are pinched in a creek that’s only about 6′ wide, and stacking up like firewood, they will build redds on top of each other, and the later salmon will end up inadvertently kicking eggs out of redds as they clean a spot for their own eggs.  Makes me wonder if over time, the run will shift later in the year, as the fish pre-disposed to early spawning don’t have the high survival rate that the latecomers do.

Either way, it’s cool to be able to walk the kids (and adults too) back to see how it works.  Nothing like learning about everything from ecology, to biology, to physiology in your own back yard.  Even if it does stink.


Little nugget of life, found high and dry in a gravel bar, thanks to a neighbor hen’s redd making.


Firgus. Or, the stinky boy…

Here he is. Although you will probably smell him before you see him. Intact male goats are a bit stinky. Or a lot. But then you would be too, if you peed all over yourself. They also have a stronger ‘goaty’ smell, in part from the pheromones that help will all those non-verbal communications that help them figure out the ‘who, when and where’ of becoming a daddy goat.

I had sworn that we would never have a buck on our property.  They do smell, and badly.  However the prospect of hauling three does around the state, trying to catch the two or three day window of them being ‘open’ was not appealing.  Especially as that would have fallen to Farmer J.  With her two little ‘helpers’….  Not going to happen.

So we went shopping, and found Cuipu (the name he came with) down in Auburn.  He comes from RubyStarDairyGoats, from a great line of milkers.  The attempts that our three year old made at pronouncing “Cuipu” on the way home sealed his fate.  A name change was in order, for all our sakes.  Having just watched “Brave” the king Fergus kept coming around as an option…  Sticking with the floral theme, Firgus it was, and he now is.

Vinegar. Our vinegar.

So, this will be interesting.  We still have a bunch of apples to process (from my folks), but we are done with the pressing of all the windfall apples I was able to gather up.  Now I need to chase the mice out of the shed where they were being stored.  Sigh.

In other pest news, we are pleased to note that if you have a fruit fly problem, making your own cider vinegar in an out of the way corner, is a great way to ‘relocate’ the fruit fly population.  Instead of looping in drunken holding patterns over the sink, and compost tub, they are now gathered around the jars of fermenting vinegar like kids at a teen idol concert.  Happily, we all like the smell of the vinegar, as it’s a faint odor in the back part of the kitchen.  This is our first time making it, and I’m not exactly sure how to tell when it’s done, one resource said ‘when it tastes right’.  Humm.  I’m not a big vinegar swiller, so I’m not sure about that one.  The sediment has settled out even more than in the photo below, and the fluid is clearing.  There is also a lovely mat of goop on the top (the mother I suppose).  We did not  buy a starter, or add any raw to get it rolling, and I’ve read that you can get ‘off’ flavors if you let it run wild.  We’ll see.

Has anyone else done home made vinegar?  How did that work out for you?


Update! The ACV was great!  It did bubbled for a few weeks, and then started to clear.  Once it seemed to have stabalized (no more clearing or bubbling) we strained it through a milk filter, and poured it into quart jars.  It’s been a year now, and we are almost through the batch from 2012, with more going this fall (2013).  It’s been great!  No starter either time, and although it can take a week or two to get rolling, it smells great while it’s ‘brewing’.

First frost, and optimism.

It’s happened. First frost. It looks like the dahlias might pull through this one, but their time is limited.  The summer squash in the garden may not be so lucky. But I have hope for at least one last batch of grilled zukes.

I’ve been told that I have an overdeveloped sense of optimism. I think it comes in handy in farming. I also tend to be most excited about what we are in the middle of, with a close second being what we are about to start. That said at the moment I am loving the fall. Although the earlyish frost is a bit of a damper, the weather that had brought it on has been lovely, with clear sunny days and clear starry nights.  I am also looking forward to the fall proper. Wood stove hot to keep us warm, soup on the stove, weather that encourages us to get caught up on record keeping, and prepare for the holidays.

I hope this seasonal transition finds you well, with good people and good food all around you. And a sense of hope for what is to come.