Eggstravaganza! Sunday 4/30/17 12-5pm

There is a reason the Easter Bunny hides eggs…
Alright folks it has been a while since we have been flush with eggs. We started our layers on October 27th, 2016….yes, right before the winter to remember (or forget!). The chicks did well in the brooders, but it was out to pasture in late November. Surprisingly, all of our shelters lasted through the wind and snow. We were really buried out here- but the super-doops held up and the snow even created some insulation. The chicks did fine throughout the winter. Then came spring and they popped. As I write this I am so surprised how well things went. Anyway, the birds are now fully grown and for the most part done with the Rooster eggs. We were a little conservative starting in October- planning to be ready for the markets in June. Turns out, even with that winter, the birds came through well and are laying great.

So….how about a farm day before June?? Yep, if you would like eggs or sausage, bacon or any other pork product please come to our first Farm Day of 2017 this Sunday from noon to 5pm.

There is lots going on this time of year and some of you might be interested in walking around a bit. We put in a lot of berries this month and if you’re interested in seeing our irrigation system- come on out. If you would like to see the pigs that will be ready for June and July classes- come on out. If you are just looking for a Sunday drive – come on out!

Long term members might remember the Sunday Egg Drops at Drake Park- want to do those again? We are up for it, but we know it has been a while since we have had enough eggs to do this. Let us know if you’re interested in meeting us downtown again.

Happy Spring and we look forward to feeding you and your family again this year!

Pastured eggs have pasture under where they lay, sleep and forage.

What? A brochure!?

The long dormant marketing department of the Great American Egg rises!  With the aid of my lovely and talented sister- we now have a brochure/pricelist!  You know something physical that must be transported by hand and read by reflected rather than projected light!  That’s right an actual paper brochure!  Check it out (note- for me at least, the two pages are one on top the other- rather than side by side):

GreatAmericanEgg_RackCard

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Forage Crops

We have come to the realization that our animals would benefit from annual forage crops. This week we disced up about 1.5 acres and planted turnips. These are pretty quick growers and work well as a break crop. A break crop is a plant that is strong enough to win the new versus old battle and hopefully drop the grass down a bit. We are thinking this will be a good crop for both the pigs and the chickens. We will see. We will also try and strip graze the tops of the turnips. This variety (appin) has enough shoots at the crown that regrowth is possible after the pigs have nubbed it down. If we leave the pigs too long the will go for the subterranean gold.

So if your driving by….the North field is in triticale/oats and the south side of the driveway will be the turnip patch.

2011 Farmer’s Market Schedule

The winter is over (I won’t comment on spring yet!?!?!) and it is time to start planning for the Farmer’s Markets. Here is our current plan:

    Wednesday – Bend Farmer’s Market, Drake Park, 3-7pm
    Friday – Bend Farmer’s Market, St. Charles, 2-6pm
    Friday – Redmond Greenhouse Farmer’s Market, Redmond Greenhouse, 2-6pm
    Saturday – Salem Saturday Market, near the Capital, 9am-3pm
    Saturday – Silverton Farmer’s Market, downtown Silverton, 9am-1pm

We hope to still have open butcher days at least one Sunday each month for those of you craving fresh chicken! We are excited about the upcoming season, we feel that we are stable in our offerings and production methods, confident in the health and efficacy of our feeds, all that is left to economically connect folks with great food. See you in the booth!

Note: The Sunday Egg Drop in Drake Park will continue until we start running out of eggs….I would guess around the end of May.

The Cures are In!

The cures are here!! And lots of em’!

Say hello to bacon, ham steaks, polish sausage, linguica, thin sliced deli ham, cottage bacon, pepperoni, hocks, necks and ready to go creamy fresh white lard….ahh…there is peace in the walk-in. All cured naturally and tasting great. I will set up a webpage with all the new stuff so you can get some idea on how it is packaged and all the ingredients.
As always, we will be in Drake Park this Sunday from 3-4pm. We came home with quite a few eggs last week- so if you have missed out in recent weeks- please give us another try. We have high hopes that winter is winding down, we have had a lot of trouble with wind this year and the laying ladies have been stressed. Bring on Spring! And the tasty bugs!

Hope to see you Sunday

Making Bacon

We sell fresh pork sides- mainly because we cannot sell bacon. There are many things to do with a fresh side; you can slice it thick batter and fry, you can brown-braise and bake, or you can make bacon. Granted that there is a limited market here and lots of pork belly to serve it. For you brave souls- I submit a simple bacon cure/smoke/breakfast bacon makin’ method. First a note on cures…there are wet and dry cures. Most every bacon that you can get at the store and we could get made at the butcher shop is made with a wet cure. However, you can make something that was made for centuries, yet has disappeared from the diet in the last fifty years. A dry cured bacon. What an opportunity! So how do you make a dry cure? . . . Easy – make a dry rub, cure in the fridge for a week, smoke, slice, cook.

Now for the details:

  • Rub is equal parts salt, brown sugar, and maple syrup. About a 1/4 cup each is plenty for our 5 pound sides.
  • Rub the cure into the surface of the slab, cover equally all around the slab.
  • Place everything in a zip lock bag, and lay flat in the fridge.
  • Turn over every other day for 5-7 days…the longer the saltier.
  • Make sure that there is a cup or so of fluid that will pull out of the slab bacon.
  • Decide how salty you want your bacon…light salt- soak in water for a day, changing the water a couple of times. For heavy salt flavor (I go heavy when the bacon is used as flavor, like chopped for a salad or used on a BLT) just go straight to the smoker.
  • The pedicle is an essential step. Leave the slab out on a plate on the counter for a couple of hours, preferably in front of an open window. The slab will develop a glaze called a pedicle which is needed to seal in the flavor during the smoke process. Smoke for a couple of hours with fat side up…there are too many smokers to detail here; however, I have a Little Chief and I smoke for a couple of hours until the slab temperature reaches 150 degrees F. This smoker runs a bit over 200 degrees….yours may vary. If you want to cold smoke- call me and I will come over and turn green with envy over your cold smoker….but I digress.
  • Let the slab cool, in fact chill in the fridge a while to make slicing easy.
  • Slice to your desired thickness.
  • Cook it up….

Now for the visuals…

Thawed out slab...skin side down (although there is no skin on our slabs)

Thawed out slab...skin side down (although there is no skin on our slabs)


Here is the slab with the 3-part rub packed on a sealed in a bag ready for the fridge

Here is the slab with the 3-part rub packed on a sealed in a bag ready for the fridge


Ahhh...the magic of osmosis...the cure has pulled out the juice from the slab

Ahhh...the magic of osmosis...the cure has pulled out the juice from the slab


Ready for the smoker...let it develop some pedicle for bit before smoking to help the flavor stick

Ready for the smoker...let it develop some pedicle for bit before smoking to help the flavor stick


Cured and smoked bacon slab

Cured and smoked bacon slab


Chill and slice....then fry it up- ENJOY

Chill and slice....then fry it up- ENJOY

Final note….we sell these slabs for just $2.00 a pound- so 5 pounds of bacon will cost a bit over 10 bucks to make – or you can buy it from a specialty shop for around $10 a pound. Flipping a baggie in the fridge every other day doesn’t sound so bad anymore does it!!

Training Pigs on Electric Fence

 

I am new at this so…I share with you my experience.  The big question is whether containing pigs solely on hot wire or not it is possible/repeatable.  I really hope it is because it has been a great experience!

What I know- at least what I have gleaned from sources and now bank as ‘truths’:

  • Pigs surge forward when first exposed to electric fence
  • Once pigs fear the wire they respect it- for life
  • Training requires both a hot wire and a physical fence 
  • A drift of pigs running up to to the fence to greet you- without getting near the wire- priceless!!
  • You will shock and awe friends, family and yourself!

We want to produce ‘powerhouse pork’ which means that these pigs are not single purpose porcine.  We are trying to reclaim unused land, spread compost and fertilize a bit.  We chose to run them on hot wire to accomplish these goals.  We thought about a moving pen set up but couldn’t visualize easily portable housing with piggies in -15 F degrees weather outside.  Instead we built a house of straw and a fence out of 2 wires and plastic posts (trust me- I am nervous all the time about this set-up).  We figured we better try pigs on hot wire before we know any better or we would never try it.  

Constuction of the house took about 20 3-string wheat straw bales.  We cross stacked a perimeter of bales to leave a 4’x8′ interior.  We went two bales high (except only one bale high at the door- a decision I would soon regret).  We then laid 2″x4″s across the top and covered them with corrugated roofing.  We thought the corrugations would give some ventilation but still keep the body heat in.  On top of the corrugations we placed another course of bales.  We shoved fiberglass rods in to tie the bales together and pin them to the ground.

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Overall- I love the house.  Before we put the roof on we put down a couple of inches of compost followed by an couple of inches of straw.  The pigs took to it and there have been no complaints.  I have crawled in a couple of times and all is well on the inside.  We plan to only have pigs over the winter this year and will blend the house into the garden after butcher day.  I hear straw bales will get infested with lice if you try to use them over and over- not our intention.  I am concerned about the doorway being only one bale high- I can always dig it out a bit if worse comes to worse.  

 

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Alright- back to the hot wire.  

From the house we extendended bales as wings and attached a 16′ horse panel (hog would work) to the front.  On this panel I attached two aluminum hot wires: the first at about 6″ from the ground and the second 10″ above that.  Keep in mind the pigs were about 70 pounds at this point.  They sniffed- checked it out- got zapped- several in a row- zap, retreat, zap (different one), retreat.  We kept them this way for a week.  The day before we removed the panel I put a little bit of their feed next to the horse panel as a test.  They never touched  the hot side- any food that had slopped near the wire stayed there all day!  

We thought they were ready and Saturday morning we removed the panel.  We were fortunate to have nice weather and could spend all day outside with a watchful eye- all the stars were aligned.  With the panel gone and the feed trough in the ‘outside world’- nothing happened.  The pigs were not going to cross the line where the panel used to be.  Enventually the call of breakfast was too much and one by one they crossed the line.  For the rest of the day when they went in for naps they paused, sniffed, and then eventually crossed the line.  Today- they are fine with it.  

We were a bit worried that they would know that the old threat of being zapped was gone- but would they know there was a new boundry?  To check, I fed them on the other side of the wire one brave piggy took a sniff and got zapped.  No one else tried it- no one else has gotten within 2′ of the wire.  Content that they would not try the wire again I moved the feeder over the wire and they gobbled it up.  For two days I kept an eye on them- the third day I left for hours and all was well.  Tonight Hazel and I  took turns chasing each other and the piggies around the compost pile.  Hazel got down on all fours and called them her ‘wild brothers’ while crawling around with them.  

Watching pigs run, wrestle, root, play king of the hill is truly ‘better than cable TV’ (Joel Salatin).  Did you know when pigs play-run they bounce around on thier front feet- kind of like a dog on one of those agility courses with the zig-zag posts?  Did you know they like to dig a trench and then lay in it….then dig another?  Did you know they like lie perpendicular to the sun all lined up next to each other?   Did you know they are happy to see you- even if you don’t have feed bucket in hand?  I didn’t.  We raised pigs when I was younger and didn’t know these things.  

So far so good.  The pigs are free to be pigs- a fundamental objective of the farm.

Pig on Compost