Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pork available!

Wehave another round of the famous Red Wattle pork avaible now. This pork is pastured and suplemented with SOY FREE and CORN FREE organic feeds. It should also be a tad on the leaner side.

If you've been waiting to receive some pork, now is the time. Supplies are limited and there won't be any more until the end of the year.

If you have already reserved some, we will be contacting you this week for final arrangements.

Remember we now offer 4 types of curing for bacon and ham (included traditional true nitrate free cures) plus a variety of sausage styles.

Get yours while supplies last!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer mornings

One of the best things about living on a small farm are summer mornings. Leaving the window open at night brings nature right inside at daybreak. We can lay in bed and as the day wakes up we hear turkeys softly calling as the roam, a sheep or lamb calling out to the flock, and the obligatory rooster crows. Laying in bed listening to our little world waking up is peaceful and fulfilling. It reminds me of man's greatest calling.... To care for the earth on which we live.

First aggressive rooster

Discovered our first aggressive rooster yesterday. Poor Kaelyn was moving the jeargens to the main coop and twice had to deal with an unfriendly one. Two of the roosters fought back at her. No injuries but she was scared. One even grabbed her nose and refused to let go. We are very thankful she wasn't hurt.

This I'd the first time in over 3 years a rooster has been aggressive. I am suspecting it is in the breed. We are already unhappy with this breed because of a low sturdiness. We lost over half of them to one reason or another.

These sort of genetics we don't need on our farm.... So... Freezer time!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Busy Busy!

Sorry for the lack of posting lately.. believe me it is NOT because nothing is happening around the farm. In fact just the opposite is true. There is a LOT going on, so much we can barely keep up. To make things even more busy, we lost our farm hand to a move out of state, so I am maintaining everything myself now. Summer is normally a very busy time, and we have added so many things this summer that its a bit hard to keep up.

It looks like we are finally getting organized enough to slow down a little bit, at least to normal. I hope to be able to post some of the exciting projects we have going. This summer has been a string of success and failures. More lessons learned, and more new things tried. Part of hte fun of running a small farm these days is exactly that.. the discovery and experimentation. There is so much to learn that we have lost over the last century... so much wisdom and knowledge that just isnt available anymore, that every day is an exploration into the cutting edge. Believe me, my background is in high tech computer stuff, and running a small sustainable farm creating organic nutrient dense food is the most challenging and exciting thing I have ever undertaken. Technology is easy, nature... that is something totally different and complex!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

6 hours of hive extraction

What a day! Extracted the largest hive I have ever seen from an old hollow oak tree. What we thought would be a couple of hours turned into 6 hours of fairly intense work. Too tired to go into details tonight.. I'll update this tomorrow.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Misting System in the Greenhouse

Summer is here is force throughout Southern Oregon, and with it high temps. All the recent rains has lef the humidity higher than normal also, so its hot and a tad muggy. This has caused a bit of stress in the greenhouse. The outside temps reach 100+ during the days (highest so far was 111 degrees). To help counter these extremes we installed a misting system in the greenhouse.

Not wanting to spend more money than necessary I purchased 4 sets of backyard misters from a local store. Each set has about 10 feet of misting from a flexible tube. I hung simply connected thee together and hung it from the top support bars in the greenhouse in a back and forth patter using wire ties. All the misting nozzles pointing down toward shte plants. Then I put a digital timer on the water hose coming in and set it to run about 6 hours a day, through the hottest part of the day.

hopfully this will provide enough evaporation to cool the interior of hte greenhouse for hte plants, but also provide enough moisture to keep them watered.

First thing I noticed is that 4 is too many to string together, After the third one pressure is so low that it's creting a very light and uneven mist. I plan on getting a T connector and using some old drip irrigation pipe to connect the water intake  to both ends of hte mister hose. That should even out the water delivery.

Tonight I installed a remote thermometer and humidity meter to track how its going throughout the day. If the balance between water vapor and ventilation is right, we should be able to drop the temp by 10 to 20 degrees.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day - America at it's finest

We would like to share this video on this Independence Day. It is so important to remember why we are here in this country, and the price paid by those who created this country for us. It is too easy to make light of the men and women and children that gave their lives so that we might life free and worship free.

We invite you to spend a moment with your children listening to this video, and discussing the bravery, the committment, the determiniation that was required to make America the world's greatest country.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bee Hive Retrieved from a Shed Floor

We have another bee hive happily making hteir home at little sprouts. This one was retrieved from a backyard shed in Grants Pass. The bees had taken up residence under the floor in the shed.

This time I tried something new. Instead of going at sundown, we arrived at mid day. It was HOT!  The advantage here is that many of hte bees were out foraging for pollen, so the hive was fairly small.  That did make it a bit easier to deal with. Since this was a hive, not a swarm, I built a temporary hive box. It is a square seal able plastic storage box from Walmart. I built 4 supports from old wood cut into 2x2s and laid them in the bottom. a light piece of wood across the top kept the spacing just enough to slide honeycomb down between the supports. Across the supports I wrapped some light wires. This in theory would allow me to place ehte comb upright between the supports, leaning against hte wires, and allow hte bees to crawl on them just like in the natural hive. IF I encountered enough comb it would be easy to slip it into the box with the queen, let he bees follow, and take them home without damaging the comb.

Well, that was the plan. Unfortunately I made one grave mistake. Wen we pulled the floor boards up (a 2x4 sheet of plywood) I wasn't prepared properly and had to stand the plywood against hte side of hte shed to get hte boxes in position. when I did that, the comb slowly but too quickly to save, leaned over and broke off the plywood, falling to the dirt floor. Sigh.  ?Not to self... NEVER lean comb... ever. Keep it straight up and down as the bees built it. If i had the box ready, i could have placed the board over the box, cut the comb off letting it fall into the box, and take hte bees home quick and easy But.. alas.. this was a several hour experience now.

Since hte comb and bees fell on the floor, it became a hide and seek with the queen. I started sweeping up as many bees as I could and placed them in the box. But.. alas.. every time i did so and left for 5 or 10 minutes to watch, they all left hte box again. The queen was not in the bunch yet.

After trying that three or so times, I came to the realization tha the queen was not in the mounds of bees that were accumulating on the shed and floorboards which I was sweeping up. she was hiding. Close inspection showed another group of bees slowly moving even further under the floor, along an old rotted floor support.  I removed a full 4x8 sheet of flooring and sure enough.. there they were. I did the best I could to sweep up the bees climbing on and under the rotted floorboard, but again each wait meant more bees leaving hte box than coming. Then I got a bit more aggressive and started tearing off hte rotted parts of hte wood. behind hte exterior of hte board was several holes full of bees. They were so deep  into that old 2x6 that my brush was not touching them. By pulling it apart and placing the pieces in the bucket I finally found success! the Queen was flushed out and I saw her crawling away from me. Carefully scooping her up and dropping her in I held my breath.  FINALLY this time the other bees started swarming into the box! I even moved hte box outside hte shed door and within 5 minutes most of hte bees were heading out to find the box. Then it was easy, just keep scraping them inside every so often, let them settle, scrape them in again, etc.

By now the foraging bees were returning and hte hive was growing. At least this part worked according to plan, the returning bees headed straight into the box, pollen and all.  That did make things a bit easier. We waited as long as we could to let as many as possible return, then sealed the box up and headed home.

This experience brought back memories of when I was a volunteer fireman in Texas... in a hot suit, inside a small building, hot summer day, sweat dripping down  like rain inside the bee suit, limited visibility, buzzing all around as the swarm protested, tearing floor panels out looking for the goal... yes it brought back many memories... and it was hot. I had to pause 3 or 4 times to get water and cool down. Even so the afternoon totally drained me. was it worth doing in the hea of hte day? probably not..

But hey.. we have another hive at our farm, happily adjusting to life in a Top Bar Hive.

UPDATE: unfortunately these bees didnt decide to stay. Within a few days the hive was completely empty. I supposed you cant control everything!

Absolute Best Tasting Turkey Ever!

The heritage turkeys we have cooked before have been outstanding in flavor, exture and moistness, but today my wife created the absolute best tasting turkey ever! Even better than any we have done before.

This was a heritage narangansette tom, about 15 pounds, about 9 months old. It was processed, brined in our Little Sprouts brine recipe for 3 days, then smoked in a commercial smoker and frozen. That was about 2 months ago.  Today she pulled it out FROZEN, placed it into a turkey bag and in a pan. In the oven at 200 for about 2 hours, 350 for about an hour, then back to 200 for about four hours more. At the end of all that it sat in the cooling oven for maybe an hour or two.

I dont know if hte temp time and changes had anything to do with it, but the end result was the best tasting, moistest, and tenderest turkey ever. The full flavor of hte heritage bird combined with the soft brine was phenomal and really came out under hte smoke flavor.  The combination was hand down a winner!