It feels like every month is the busiest month yet on the farm - and maybe that's true. Or maybe the summer heat is just making me extra tired. Regardless, there's a lot going on! At the beginning of May, we added 19 pigs to our farm (see below for more about the pigs!). Last week, we processed our second batch of 400 chickens, providing us with a brief (three week) respite from chicken chores. This week, we added seven yearling steers to our herd, to plan for next year's beef. We've trained these steers to our temporary fencing, and incorporated them into our herd this morning. Joe is getting three gallons of milk a day from our dairy cow, from which I make cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for our community. Here's what you'll find in this month's newsletter:
- June's delivery schedule
- Some thoughts on eating chicken organs (plus two recipes!)
- An introduction to our pigs (and how they fit into our farm plan)
June's Delivery Schedule
Church of the Holy Family, Chapel Hill
Order deadline: Fridays at midnight
Delivery #1: Saturday, June 13, 12:30 - 1 pm
Delivery #2: Saturday, June 27, 12:30 - 1 pm
Church of the Good Shepherd, Asheboro
Order deadline: Fridays at midnight
Delivery #1: Sunday, June 14, 12:30 - 1 pm
Delivery #2: Sunday, June 28, 12:30 - 1 pm
Reality Ministries, Durham
Order deadline: Mondays at midnight
Delivery #1: Tuesday, June 16, 2:30 - 3 pm
Delivery #2: Tuesday, June 30, 2:30 - 3 pm
Country Farm and Home, Pittsboro
Order deadline: Mondays at midnight
Delivery #1: Tuesday, June 16, 4:30 - 5 pm
Delivery #2: Tuesday, June 30, 4:30 - 5 pm
Eating Your Chicken (Hearts)
Last weekend, we processed our second batch of chickens. We divide the processing into two days. On the first day, we harvest, eviscerate, and bag the whole chickens, as well as the organs. On our second day, we focus on parts: leg quarters, breasts, wings, necks, and backs. When you spend two full days on your feet, harvesting and preparing the birds you've raised for eight weeks, it's easy to gain a newfound appreciation for that meat in the kitchen. At least, it's been easy for me to extend that appreciation to the more common and seemingly palatable parts of the chicken - the whole chicken, say, or the breast or leg quarters. I'm happy to incorporate feet, necks, and backs as well, in order to make thick and hearty stock. But what about the less well-known, but equally deserving, parts of the chicken - such as the liver or the heart? There are numerous nutritional benefits that both chicken hearts and livers provide. Yet in my case, respecting and showing gratitude for the life of the bird means honoring the entirety of what the bird has to offer - no matter how squeamish the particular words (or my ideas about the texture of the meat!) influence me to feel. It's taken me a few years to reach this point. But it's incredible to watch my children approach this food with no apprehension or pre-conceived notions. To them, liver paté is a treat, not something to steer away from. They encourage me to expand my own opinions and attitudes in the kitchen. If you'd like to move beyond your usual chicken fare, here's a few basic recipes to help you get started. And in the meantime, head over the website to see all of our new chicken inventory!
Recipe #1: Chicken Liver Paté
This recipe comes from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1 lb. chicken liver
- 1/2 lb. mushrooms, washed, dried, and chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 2/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth (you can also substitute chicken stock)
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp. dried dill
- 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, softened
- sea salt, to taste
Melt butter in a heavy skillet. Add the chicken livers, onions, and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the livers are browned. Add the wine, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, and herbs. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is gone. Allow to cool. Process in a food processor with the softened butter. Season to taste. To store, place in a crock or mold in the refrigerator. Serve with bread or crackers.
Gaizka and Claire removing oil glands and crops on harvest/processing day.
Recipe #2: Simple Chicken Hearts
This is a very simple recipe that can be customized in many ways. Try serving the hearts over rice.
- 1 lb. chicken hearts
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 tsp. herbs, such as garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, or cumin
In a large bowl, mix together the chicken hearts, 1 tbsp. oil, and seasonings. Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chicken hearts. Cook, stirring often, until brown and cooked through, about five minutes.
Welcome to the farm, pigs!
You may have heard, over the past few months, of the immense problems that commercial hog farmers are facing. Due to the breakdown of the industrial food system, and in particular the rampant spread of COVID-19 in processing facilities, these hog breeders are not able to sell their weaned piglets. Many have euthanized their piglets or induced abortions in their sows. Some farmers, however, have begun turning to small, local farmers for help. Early in the month, we learned of such a request from a commercial farmer in NC. We have now added 19 pigs to our farm. Rather than spending their lives on concrete pads, sustained solely by commercial feed, our pigs are now happily rooting away in the woods, helping clear away invasive shrubs, vines, and small trees. In fact, we spent quite a bit of time this winter developing a farm plan that relies heavily upon the labor of pigs. As we learn more about sustainable and regenerative farming, we're developing practices and plans that will help us "farm in the image of a forest". This means that we will not only plant trees that will help diversify our pastures, and provide fodder for our cattle to eat, but that we will also care for our forest land by rotating animals through, to help promote the healthy growth of non-invasive species. Pigs are the first step of this process. We set up temporary fencing of about 100' x 100' for our pigs, allowing them free choice of food and carefully monitoring the areas that they've rooted. Once they've cleared an area to the best of their abilities, we move the fencing to a new area. In this way, the pigs not only clear thorns and vines, but they also help till and prepare the land to be planted, or to allow native species to grow and flourish. Once our pigs rotate through, we'll then begin planting grass and native seeds, allowing our cows to then graze through our wooded pastures, and help manage the land. Our pigs will be with us for most of the year, until they're ready to process in December. Pork tends to fly out of our freezers, however! If you'd like to pre-order 1/2 or whole hog, please be in touch via email.
One of this year's heifer calves, born Easter Monday.
We wish you a safe & healthy month!
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