Category Archives: fall

Make it Monday – Latte

Everyone seems to be buzzing this year on social media about milks in Lattes at certain coffee houses. In an effort to demonstrate the ingredients used and give you a choice an how to make your own at home, I did some research and some taste testing.
I used fresh, raw milk straight off the farm but you can use any milk, so long as it’s whole milk. I’ve read where others have used substitute items like coconut milk but I don’t keep those on any trees in my lawn.
I will tell you that I like a little vanilla flavoring, so I did a splash of extract to both the tea and the milk. This was especially delicious when I used peach tea instead of black tea.
I would love your feedback and recommendations on anything you try! Here is the base recipe I used:

Ingredients for Tea
• 2 cups water
• 2 black tea bags (add additional from stronger tea flavor)
• 2 whole cloves
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground ginger
• ½ teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
• 2 tablespoon maple syrup
Ingredients for Latte (Milk mixture)
• ¾ cup whole milk
• 1 tablespoon maple syrup
• Pinch of ground cinnamon
• 2-3 tablespoons pumpkin puree (or other fruit if you desire flavoring)

Directions:
For tea, bring water and spices to a boil. Turn off and steep for 5 minutes. Turn heat back on, add tea bags and maple syrup. Return to a slight boil. Turn off again and steeping for an additional 5 minutes. Remove bags and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Use ½ cup (per serving), reserve the rest in the fridge.
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and any optional fruit puree (whisk this in milk as it heats) to a slight boil. Make sure to stir often. Remove from heat and use a submissersion blender until milk is frothy.
Pour tea to use in a mug, slowly add the frothy milk to the tea. Garnish with a pinch of cinnamon and serve hot.

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Lots of News

So much has been going on that I’m not really sure even where to begin. A year or so again, everything that has been happening was just a dream. A pipe dream of wishes written out on a scrap piece of paper and internet page links stored in favorites full of useful information. Twitter conversations about plants, seasons, materials and lots of questions were happening then too.

I have made so many great friends in the past two to three years of my life. Some of which I haven’t met YET but share the same kindred spirits. This is a group of people who have inspired, encouraged and guided. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that can attest to the power of the internet, in good ways and bad. What I’m discussing today is the power of knowledge, prayer and positive thinking.

As many of you that read this blog know, I’ve had some big transitions in mind for the farm I live on. Earlier this year, I thought those dreams were shattered. I’m not going into gory details but I will tell you that the whole ordeal took it’s emotional, financial and health tolls on me. It wasn’t the worst situation I had ever been through but I will admit that it ranks right up there in the top 5 fearful months of my life.

I opened up to a few of my friends about concerns I had. I talked to advisors about what to do about myself in the role I was holding to in a death grasp. It’s when I truly learned who to REALLY listen too and whose opinions to dismiss. I do have this word of advice….NEVER LET ANYONE DISCOURAGE YOU FROM LIVING THROUGH WITH A DREAM THAT YOU ARE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT THAT YOU WOULD NOT BE YOURSELF WITHOUT IT!

I had an advisor that told me that I wasn’t the one to make difficult decisions about the farm I have managed and that the animals are a business only. He proceeded to inform me that what I did do with the animals here didn’t have much worth in the “big” picture of things either. He never asked me about what type of protocols or plans I had set into place. All he seemed concerned about what my overall dollar value. It was rather insulting to tell you the truth. Okay, I admit that I am a pauper working toward a bigger dream. I struggle to pay my bills. I work hard and go without to work toward a bigger goal. But seriously, is that all I am viewed for? Nothing more than my “worth” on paper or my bank account? Well, to make a long story short, it was determined that my “real worth” was $675 a month. How about them apples?

I struggled for weeks with this new information. I doubted myself and what my long-term goals were. Then it suddenly hit me. I may only be worth $675 a month now but what about next month or even next year or better yet three years down the road? I started thinking about that kid going through college, building up debt, and working part-time at McDonald’s. I am at a stepping stone. The first step into a new life with a new future. Everything for the past three years has led me to here, worth zero when I started and look, I’ve increased my “worth” by what percentage rate? Just imagine how much I can change that worth in the next three years with proper planning, some of my awesome marketing skills, my photography and my networking!

I decided to take a risk and file an application to a Holistic Beginning Women’s Farm Management Program. I GOT ACCEPTED! Classes start in TWO WEEKS! Whoa, I’m doing what? Oh yeah, I’m not letting some or anyone for that matter tell me my SELF WORTH and I’m sure not letting anyone tell me to let go of what really makes me WHO I AM. You know that passion for nature, animals and the environment? You know that dedication and love I have for the cattle? Well, those are all something that God has given me that don’t have a dollar value! Just ask that rescued cow who lived another 5 years under my watchful eye and who know how it felt to be well cared for! Go ahead, look up into the sky and just ask yourself…is that something you could have done with tenderness and compassion when she first came here? Would you have taken the chance to get to know a scrawny cow who looked like she stood on the edge of starvation? In the end, that same cow you would have made into hamburger provided me with beautiful calves, LOTS of milk, butter and cheese but most of all, she provided a vision of what MY future may hold.

So again, I ask you to not let anyone judge you by what they see in paper or in bank accounts! Only you know what passions are held in your heart and soul. For me, it’s farming and photography combined. For you, it may not be. Look to people who are going to POSITIVELY encourage your own personal growth, NOT what society says it should be. Find what you love to do and NEVER let go of that internal drive that ultimately makes YOU happy!

After months of fighting my “worth” internally, I want to report that my “hobby farm” as this kind man put it, is now up to 21 cows, around 75 chickens and a handful of turkeys. I have 110 acres surrounded by beautiful high-tensile five strand fence. I have a full fledge water system for the fields going into the ground in the spring of 2014. I have increased our sales of meat products by 100%. We supplied chicken and beef for our first catering event this year. We have more and more people coming for visits. I am preordered on beef for next year. Demand is blooming for the rose veal. Contracts are in the works for some direct marketing for poultry. Eggs aren’t building up in the refrigerator. AND contracts are in the works to rotational graze additional animals for around $2200 per month until I can build my own herd. To say the least, my next worth has increased double since those fateful words back in June of this year! Just imagine what that worth will do next year as I am raising more chickens, selling more eggs, beef, rose veal, rabbits and pork.

Sometimes we all just need to take a step back and evaluate what our future is really “worth” to ourselves! I can’t even begin to tell you the changes that have happened since I told myself I’m worth more than just a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper. My passion has proven enough that maybe just maybe I can inspire another generation with the help and encouragement of someone like me. In the meantime, I’m going to keep on trudging….and getting better at this blogging thing. After all, I want to share all this new and exciting information I am going to learn!

For now, take a look at this picture.

Not my camera but that is my cattle on the farm!
Not my camera but that is my cattle on the farm!

I look forward to comments on speculation of what’s going on around the farm! This image holds a bunch of clues…can you figure it out?

Why Rotational Grazing?

Since this is a question that has been asked several times over the past weeks, we decided now would be a good time to discuss what actually drove our decisions.

A few years ago, we allowed a local large-scale dairy farmer to utilize the 80-ish acres of tillable ground for producing crops for his farm. What we didn’t realize at the time was how he intended to use the ground. After tilling the soils around  half of the farm this first year, we started noticing some issues with soil retention. We held conversations with him to communicate our concerns about the erosion and run off issues. Unfortunately, our concerns fell on deaf ears or he just didn’t care.

He continued to till the ground from lowest to highest points, providing “alley” lanes for the water to just run toward our pond. Water wasn’t the only concern, it was also the over abundance of manure waste from his farm that he began applying as well. Every field slops toward the pond.  Concerned over contamination of our pond, we started really paying attention to what was going on. Even to the extent of documenting through photographs what was happening. Our Department of Environmental Conservation started doing water samples too. Low and behold, the phosphorus levels started to increase in the pond water. Not to the point of dangerous…but close.

Look at the top, you will see bare ground and corn stubble
A closer look at the “silt” or soil erosion
All the water funnels to a pond…can you see the “silt” along the ice?

There are ways this could have been prevented all together!

With just the simple motion of NOT plowing the field straight up and down the slope, much of this erosion would have stayed in the field instead of heading directly into the ponds. Cover crops that establish root systems would have worked too. Unfortunately, neither happened and now, we as the land owners need to repair the damages.

What started out as major concerns over erosion and run off, we stumbled across some information that has undoubtedly changed the course of our entire farm. The recommendation to start rotational grazing for our small herd of cattle has altered our whole perspective on farming. In April of 2012, we started rotational grazing on the lone 4-1/2 acre piece of the farm that wasn’t plowed up and bare dirt. We spent around $800 for step in post, braided wire and an energizer. It took us a few hours to put in the posts and another couple of hours to string all the wire.

We started grazing April 1st, 2012. We started noticing after the first month that the grass was getting greener in spots from the cow manure patties. We started noticing less and less water running across the field too due to the small pieces of matter laying between the plants. We noticed that our grass was still growing in July when every one else’s in our area had dried up and turned brown. Benefit after benefit started to show.

We planted the highest elevation piece into grasses for hay and future grazing too. 30 acres were planting with grass and legumes. After the first three weeks, we noticed less and less run off from that field too! Another 14 acres was reseeded and we started noticing spots of no growth. That got us to wondering why some spots were growing great and others barely at all. After walking through the field, the explanation was simple! All of the topsoil was GONE! Literally, it had all flowed off of spots and deposited in others. All that was left was the shale rock base. We knew right there that something had to change dramatically!

After talking with our Natural Resources Office and our local county Soil and Water representative, we all came to the same agreement. Based on the success of our rotational grazing trial and the erosion issues, we would all work together and apply for some grant funding to put the entire farm into Managed Grazing. March brought us the approval and the contracts for two separate programs! We are happily reporting that the full 90 acres of acre we deem as “farm” will soon be pastured and used exclusively for rotational grazing and hay production ONLY. There will be no more tillage, other than by cattle hooves.

Which do you think would be better if it was your property?

Erosion from water on tilled ground that was left bare after the corn was harvested fall of '12
Erosion from water on tilled ground that was left bare after the corn was harvested fall of ’12
Water draining out of the pasture.
Water draining out of the pasture.

 

Exciting Times Around the Farm

Well, now that things have kind of fallen into a routine…it’s time to get back on track with updating.

We are excited to say that we are now collaborating with a store front located in Binghamton, NY called Old Barn Hollow. We have been sending our eggs to their newly opened store front for about a month now. It is so great to be able to share our eggs with some of the fine folks within the city that are purchasing local food goods! I am excited to see how they do and know in my heart that this is just the start of a great adventure!

Second, we send our fast growing meat chickens over to a USDA certified butcher shop that is now open locally too! Cascun Farms is now the only processor I know of within our area. When talking with them after our birds we processed, we discovered that our ideas on how to support, increase awareness and generate fair income for local small farms fall right into line with each other! Andrea is a joy to work with and we have been collaborating on developing some ground work for some future developments. Andrea has a ton on her plate right now with being a mom of three and operating not only a farm herself but also being involved with the poultry processing. Both her and her husband have been working very hard at setting up meetings and looking into new market avenues for small farms within the upstate New York regions.  As time goes on and more things come online…I will start sharing the progress.

As for us….we are now chugging away with 18 head of cattle (including a couple of dairy heifers that I am super excited about), around  60 chickens and 15 turkeys! It’s really hard to believe that just four short years ago there weren’t any farm animals here! They seems to be multiplying all over the place!

All of the turkeys that we grew since this summer are no spoken for as well! Twelve are headed to Cascun Farms for processing…with four to return and just two for us to keep! Unfortunately, that means no remaining for us for the rest of the year…but it just means I can get more birds in the spring!

We have sold and eaten some of our pasture raised Rose Veal now too! There is much conversation all over the place about what we do with these unwanted bull calves and why. We know have an amazing brochure that explains the basics in detail as well! Now I have been talking with a few local restaurants and a whole sale supply chain on developing some new markets as well. Several folks have requested some samples and I can’t wait to hear what they say about the product…I know that we have worked hard to do the right thing by these fellas and I know it shows through in flavor and texture!

So many things have been happening all at once that it has been extremely difficult to keep up with everything….but now that a couple of things have been changed around, I find myself with an extra few minutes everyday to be able to get back to doing what I love to do so much……Go figure! It’s talking about the farm and the animals!

Make sure you stop by and visit our facebook page too. We are posting conversations and sharing lots of photographs! You can see how well the animals did on rotational grazing this summer and even get to see some of the fantastic meals we eat! We will be running some specials for ordering very soon too so don’t forget to click that like button!

People Ask…

People ask me questions sometimes that make me really sit back and ponder life in general.

Most Common Question:
“Why do you farm?”

My answer is simple, yet complicated.
I love cows! I love chickens! I love animals…period!

Calves holding a "discussion"
Bubba J and Rosie playing in the snow on a warm winter day.

Then of course, there is the food stuff! From canned, stewed tomatoes to home grown sweet corn, making cheese to eggs for breakfast…without the farm, I wouldn’t have those things like I do.

Right to Left: Canned Beef, Sweet Corn and Stewed Tomatoes

Question: “What is it about your farm that keeps you where you are?”

There are a ton of reasons on this one. One of them isn’t the taxes, I do need to specify that!
There is an easy answer to this one! It’s the sunrises/sunsets. It’s the views. It’s the private pond….and so much more!

The morning sunrise
Sunsets as seen from Barrows Pond

There are many more questions and a whole lot more answers…..But I think this will give anyone a good idea on why I love farming. I think it will also give you a fair idea on why I love being here!

Of course, Mr. Farmer has one very big reason……this land has been in his family for 6 generations! The deed reads out like a genealogy report!

Out to Pasture

Katie out for a run

When the weather is nice outside like it has been lately here in NY (60 degree the last week in November), I like to let the calves out to get some exercise. It gives them time to stretch their legs and play.

Katie, shown above, really enjoys running around the pasture as fast as her body will allow her to go!

DJ and Katie

It also allows the calves to mingle and socialize.

DJ follows like a puppy

That is…IF they don’t follow me around like puppy dogs anyway. DJ is my best bud and I really enjoy spending time with him…with both of them actually!

Katie shows some Love
DJ giving kisses

Frosting Mornings

I try to find the good in everything. No point in focusing on the negative all the time…one of the reasons I rarely watch any other news than AgDay. With the leaves gone of the trees and the grass slowly turning brown too, I turn to other things in nature that I like. I like watching the sun come up on a frosty morning as the rays just start hitting the crystal and you can see every tiny detail along the edge of a blade of grass. It works the same for those mornings when we had a smidge of snow overnight.

The animals are usually very quiet at that time of day. You might hear the rooster crow or the flap of turkey wings here on our farm but usually the only other sounds you hear are the wild birds chirping their good morning to the sun. As crazy as it may seem, that is my favorite time of day. I take my coffee cup (insulated of course) out while I do my morning chores. I have been known to be found leaning on the side of the barn, hands curled around my cup and bundled in about four layers of clothes watching the sun crest over the horizon.

Everyone else changes their clocks, gets an extra hour of rest but not me. I still get up before the sun. I live somewhere where the old adages of “red sky in the morning, sailors take warning” doesn’t seem to apply. We have a red sky every morning. Of course, we also have the most spectacular sunsets too. At sunset, I am usually back in the barn again or close to it. There is nothing as peaceful as watching the sun sink below or peek over the horizon. It paints the clouds in the sky in spectacular colors.

The setting sun paints the clouds pink.

The orange of the morning sky makes everything look warmer with hints of orangy-gold.

The snow of the top of our mailbox as the sun comes up.

Farming life isn’t always about the hard work of feeding animals, cleaning barns or harvesting crops. There are those little moments that only country living can supply. To me, farming isn’t only about the animals, it’s about a way of life. Some people thrive in this environment. I am one of them. I could tell you about countless others that feel that way too. We don’t really care about fashion trends, unless maybe it’s for a new pair of boots. We don’t care what the latest celebrated gossip is. The things we care about the most are our animals and the weather. Needless to say, those are fairly time consuming and the rest…well, we take it one day at a time.