Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fancy chicken draining device

We added a new tool to the bird processing equipment today,  and it worked marvelously!  We built gadget that allows the birds to drain (air dry)  more completely before packaging in the heat seal bags.  It holds 12 birds safely and cleanly, plus allows easy application of the bags over the birds.

It is made out of 3/4 inch pvc pipe,  and sits about 2 1/5 foot square,  just enough to sit on a standard card table.  Quick and easy to build

The only problem was actually quite comical.  Every so often a bird with a larger than average neck cavity would suddenly slip down the pipe as if it was skewered by some invisible force onto the riser pipe. 

Here are some pics

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Successful chicken processing day!

We just finished a very successful chicken processing day.  Several customer volunteers came to help,  and took home some chickens of their own as fruits of their labor.  Some were newbies,  some experienced,  but all did an excellent job and processed plenty of chickens.

Feel free to browse the online store for pastured heritage soy free organically grown chickens and chicken organs and parts.  Supplies may not last long, so hurray!

Here are some pics of our day!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Here's how you do it...

Levi learned to milk this week. He has been watching for a while and just decided that he wanted to do it himself.  right away, he is an old pro!  He loved showing his little brother his new skills this morning :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Jalapeno Goat Cheddar

And here is our first block of jalapeno goat cheddar cheese fresh out of the press! the moisture level and texture of this block seems the best yet! At this point, the taste is a mild jalapeno. Lets see how it ages.

Are you hungry yet?

Ducks finally have a home!

We have been struggling with the ducks this year, trying to give them a free ranging containment system that protects them and yet allows them freedom, access to water, nesting boxes, and plenty of forage.  Today we set the girls into a test patch to see how they do.

It is 2 poultry nets strung together, with a fancy pallet and 2x4 door, out in the back of the pasture.  inside is a 4 hole nesting box setup with shade, and a sprinkler for misting and "puddling". That should provide them enough coolness for the summer while giving some water play but not creating soaked eggs nor killing the ground. We will move the sprinkler every day or two to keep it wet but not soggy enough to kill the grass from little trampling feet.

If this works out, we will have duck eggs available
You can see the pallet gate in this shot, and the test girls posing in their new home. If you look very closely you might see the sprinkler spray to the right of the gate. 

Here is the other half, where the nesting boxes are. 

And here is the nesting box setup, made from 4 5 gallon buckets and an old steel table with a roofing panel piece nailed to it. 

The Grain Train!

What do you do when the greenhouse is flooded from constant watering of the sprouts, and the pasture is dying from dryness? You build a grain sprouting train!

and thats what we did. Using old pallets, a little 1/2 inch PVC, a few low pressure sprinklers, and some creativity equals a nice grain sprouting system that moves all the excess water from sprouting to where it can do some good!  There are 9 sprouting buckets on each "grain car" of the train (a pallet), 3 train cars  strung together  with bailing twine to make a pull-able train, and some water hose to power it. The result is a nice setup that moves around the pasture daily, using the water runoff from sprouting to water the pasture grass.

Aside from needing to pull it to a new spot every day, it is actually easier to use than lugging the buckets in and out of the greenhouse doors.  Plus it moves the sprouts out to the pasture where they are fed, instead of back at the greenhouse where the heavy buckets have to be hauled so far.

It's a win-win!
Two trains, one with 3 cars and one with only two. the third car is in the shop for maintenance. 

here is a closeup of the sprayer bars that mist the grain  to sprout it.  there is one nozzle over each bucket of grain. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

First block of cheese tasted... Success!

Well we did it.  At 3 1/2 weeks we cut open for first ever block of little sprouts cheese for taste test.  It's early..  Sure.  Still has a few weeks to go,  but I had to see if this goat cheese we are making has the dreaded "goaty"  flavor and aroma.

The verdict is.....  YUM!

Not a hunt of goaty flavor nor smell!  Celebration!

Th4 texture is a bit off,  slightly dry and chalky for my liking,  but 5hats easy to fix.  The flavor wa a nice mild cheddar.  We even melted some down on a corn tortilla for a quick lunch snack and it was excellent.

So..  Onward!  Tod a we put the cranberry cheddar in the cave and started a nice jalapeño cheddar.   We have some exciting flavors planned as things settle into routine :)

Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cranberry goat chedder

Here's a shot of a cranberry goat cheddar in process.  You can see the curds and whey being stirred with dried cranberries.

Hopefully this will turn out a mild cheddar with very tart cranberries through out.  Unfortunately we won't know for...  60 days!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Birds and the dangers of trash

Kaelyn found this poor little duck with a plastic ring in its mouth.  It was lodged in so tight that there would be no possible way for it to free itself.  In fact,  had we not found it,  the duck would have died,  from starvation.

Why did this happen?  Right now our ducks are free ranging,  and it could have found this ring anywhere.

What does it mean?  Think about this poor duck whenever handling plastic.   Something so simple as rain small ring,  tossed out improperly,  can cause a lot of suffering and death.  Birds are especially susceptible to plastic trash.  Please keep this in mind wherever you are.   Beach,  forest,  home,  Park,  anywhere.

This particular duck will be fine.  A snip with siscors and she was free.  The ones in the wild....  Not so lucky.

First Honey Harvest!

Its is HERE!  After a long wait, we can now offer our first Little Sprouts Honey! Thats right, not honey resold from other farms, but produced right here on our own farm from our own bees.

Our honey is quite unique. Rich, dark, flavorful, it is naturally produced in only Top Bar hives and naturally harvested  by hand, then dripped from crushed comb with no heat, no pressure, no machinery of any kind. Honey just like the bees have.

Top Bar hives have several advantages, one being the forced creation of new honeycomb for each batch of honey.  No re-use is possible as the comb is harvested along with the honey, then brand new comb is produced to replace it.  This does affect the flavor of the honey, since honey is created inside the cells of the honeycomb, the purity of the honeycomb is a factor in flavor.

Our first harvest is available immediately, sold in half pint only, in VERY limited quantities.  Be sure to order yours today!

Link to the online store:

Look under the HONEY section.

New cheese cave installed!

Woo-hoo!  We found a great deal on a new "cheese cave"  that fits our needs perfectly!   The cave is really a frost free stand up freezer with a special add on temperature controller.   But hey...  It works like a cave!

Frost free is necessary because we age cheese at 53 degrees.  A normal stand up freezer has coils under the shelves.  When the compressor runs,  the cools cool and frost over.  When the compressor quits,  the 50 degree condition melts the frost and....  Dripping water from each shelf.  Not good!  Frost free has coils in the back which eliminate the problem.

The temperature controller is from an online home brew store.  It accepts a 110v plug,  and through a seperate bulb temp sensor allows setting of gemperature from about 30 to 70 degrees.  Works quick and easy!  Just plug the freezer into it,  and plug it into the wall,  set whatever temp you like and it just works.

Why a freezer?  Space!  Fridges almost always have built in freezers.  That is wasted space for us.  You can't keep both at the same temp,  so only one is useable.  Freezers are a big box all the same temp :)

Humidity?  We are monitoring that....  Might need to add humidity for cheese aging,  since the frost free nature removes internal humidity.  But then again.  Because of daily openings allowing fresh air in,  and higher temp meaning less running,  maybe not.  Remains to be seen.

So here it is.  Cheese cave!  We have our first 6 blocks of goat cheddar aging now,  each wrapped in a coating of bright red cheese wax.  The one on the shelf is yesterday's block being salted daily while waiting for waxing.

Taste tests are very positive!  And we are learning....  But well on our way.  The plan for now is to keep producing 2 to 3  blocks of cheese,  about 6 lbs each,  of various cheddar flavors.  Jalapeño will be next!  But my goal is a nice mild blueberry cheddar desert cheese :)

All of our cheese are raw organic high nutrient goats milk from our own milk,  aged at least 60 days before sell.   The clock is ticking!

Kombucha is back

By popular demand we are pleased to announce the availability of little sprouts kombucha!

We had stopped offering this wonderful elixir when moving into the new fermentation room,  but all is up and running now.  Kombucha is available!

Our kombucha is quite special.  Rich and thick without high sugar,  and fully alive!  We do not flash pasteurized this,  do not "heat to extend shelf life"  or in any way change it from its homemade state (as most store brands do).  It's unique flavor is due to two kinds of tea with two kinds of sugar.  There is none like this!

For now available in half gallons and quarts as plain.  When our new screw top jars arrive,  we will be bottling this in flavors in single serving screw top bottles.

Order some today!

Here is a pic of the next batch of kombucha aging...  14 gallons with healthy scobys.  Yum!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

It's official! No gmo in Jackson County

It is official!  Our country becomes the first and only County in oregon to eliminate genetically modified crops!  Here is the official news story

GMO ban passes

More thoughts on this later! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bee swarm!

We collected a wild bee swarm this week.  This one was at a neighbors house...  And was quite challenging!  The swarm was nestled up about 30 feet high in a willow tree!  A tall extension ladder,  a pole saw,  and some careful balancing did the trick.  The only approach was to cut the branch and let it fall to the ground.  Hunter then quickly picked it up and set it in the box.  Fortunately it worked,   the queen was safe and sound in the center and then in the box.  Within a couple hours all the rest of the bees joined her.

Unfortunately myself and Kaelyn suffered a bee sting or two this time.  Those bees were angry!

The swarm is safely in a new hive now,  living at Little Sprouts...  And soon making you honey!

Cheese batch number 2

Here is our second batch of cheese....  Another raw milk cheddar.  This one will be about 6 to 8 lbs in a block.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Honey harvested!

We harvested a small amount of winter made honey yesterday!  Hopefully we will be able to offer some for sale next week.

Stay tuned!

First block of little sprouts cheese!

Today I took o7r first ever block of raw goats cheese out of the cheese press!  Exciting!

This first block is a plain goat cheddar and weighs in at 2 lbs,  9 Oz from 2 gallons of little sprouts goat milk.  Not bad!  (the recipe predicted 2 lbs,  so we are 25% higher in fat and solids than expected).  Plus it produced 6 liters of cheese whey!

Now on to the aging in our cheese cave, Which takes 3 months to be sellable.

Tasting the block going into aging gives no detectable "goaty"  flavor,  so hopefully the end product will not taste goaty.  That is our goal...  To produce goat cheese high in fat that does not taste goaty!

Stay tuned.....