Since my last post, things on the farm got CRAZY.
We had two does give birth on the same day...at the same time...like...at the exact same time...during a storm...on my birthday. Both had healthy triplets, and 12 hours later, another doe gave birth to triplets...during a surprise birthday lunch for me. While everyone was enjoying my birthday dinner I was helping deliver a breech kid. (I had never had to "go in" before, nor have I ever had to reposition a kid before) That experience is a great reason why I do all I can, no matter how much sleep lost, to be present during labor. You just never know when someone may need help.
So, we went from no kids, to 9 in 12 hours. 6 of them were taken to be sold as bottle kids. About 2 days after giving birth, Lola seemed off during evening chores. At first I thought she had maybe mastitis or edema on one half of her udder (edema is fairly common right after birth), as I watched her I realized her breathing was shallow and quick. A temperature check indicated fever, and she was given a dose of antibiotics. Unfortunately, by the next morning she was gone, leaving behind a precious doeling. Thankfully, the doeling took to a bottle (taking a dam raised kid and getting it to take a bottle can be impossible), and she became our 7th bottle baby. It took everything in my power to not keep her!
About 4 days later I got to the goat barn to do chores...and found Juniper with triplets, born, nearly dry, and thriving, and the next day Marni kidded with twins. Both Juniper and Marni kidded perfectly, without me, and without any issues.
Two days later, Berta went into labor. Her labor was VERY slow, much slower than her previous labors, and much slower than seemed normal. I hung around all day as it made me think of Lucy's labor in which she had a breech kid. Finally a kid started to present, but only one front foot. The foot wasn't back too far, but immediately I realized this was a big kid. I called my husband to have him come down as a precaution, because it was a very intense labor. If the kid had been any larger, or if Berta wasn't such a big gal, it would have been a very bad situation. The kid was bigger, and stockier than the kids born a week before. It was very rough on Berta (I don't blame her!), and she then kidded two more kids with little trouble.
We took the large kid, and his brother to be bottle kids, and were astounded at their size difference. Unfortunately the next morning, I realized the largest kid was born with atresia ani, or in layman terms, the kid did not have an anus. Sometimes this means there is just a layer of skin, sometimes it means the intestines are malformed. We got him into the vet, got xrays, and found that he did not have intestines headed towards his anus, they were just coiled up. We had him euthanized as there is nothing that can be done to correct it when the intestines aren't where they should be.
In 8 days, we had 14 kids born. Each doe had triplets, except for Marni who had twins (it was her first kidding). Altogether it was a really great kidding season, albeit the most hectic, crazy, busy few weeks of my life! The kids that were taken to be sold as bottle babies needed bottles 4 times a day, and as I don't live on the farm that equated a lot of driving (thankfully we are only 4 miles away). Kidding season means we start all new routines, and does get locked up separately, and its just a crazy time. Thinking back it is a blur in my mind and I barely remember it. The last two kids went to their forever home about 3 weeks ago, and I am almost back into a new rhythm.
We have one doe left to kid in about a month, and I am VERY excited for it. They will be our first purebred, registered goats born here, and I pray it is twin doelings (hopefully with spots but I'm happy for just girls!)
We sold 4 wethers, and made a little room in the herd. I may sell a doe or two, but those are harder decisions to make. Other than that, all the goats are doing great, and the kids with their moms are happy, healthy, and....wild...but we will work on that.
At the end of March we got our feeder pigs for the year. We got a few different breeds, and a few crossbreeds, and I am very interested to see how they grow. Right now, we have 4 larger ones, and 5 that are a bit younger and slower growing. We will be taking reservations on them in May if you are interested in filling your freezer with pastured pork in the fall!
I have been waiting for about a month for spring to show up. We have had 3 snows now in April. THREE. That's more than we had in December. I usually have the garden planted, or all but tomatoes planted by now. We finally got a garden bed tilled last Thursday, but then I decided not to plant as large rains were headed our way. The forecast looks better for the next 10 days, so I hope, and pray, we can get the gardens tilled and planted asap. I have bought WAY too many seeds, and I am going to hate myself in 2 months when I have to live in the garden. I'm trying a lot of new things, so stay tuned!
I apologize for this being lengthy. Starting in May I will do a monthly, or maybe biweekly update on what's going on. However, I knew if I didn't write all this out now, I would probably forget it all.
Cheese. Butter. Yogurt. Ice Cream. All these delicious products brought to you by milk. You can get milk from many animals, from cows, to goats, to camel and yak. Cow’s milk is most common here in the United States, however world wide goat milk is the most consumed milk. No matter what kind of milk you’re talking about, there are certain steps that have to be taken to get it. You have to have a female animal, in my case, a doe (a doe is a female goat), who has given birth to a kid (a kid is a baby goat). You cannot get milk without an animal having had a baby. So, now I have a doe with a baby, a udder full of milk, what’s next?
The industry standard calls for removing the baby at or shortly after birth. Usually the baby will get colostrum, the first milk from the mother. This colostrum is immensely important, and contains a plethora of nutrition, along with antibodies to keep the baby strong and healthy. Once the baby is removed, you’re dealing with a lot of milk, about 6-7 gallons a day for dairy cows, and about a gallon a day for dairy goats. On a commercial farm this can mean milking up to 3 times a day, depending on production. Most small dairies milk twice a day. Depending on your schedule and lifestyle, twice a day milking works for most. It’s also more profitable for the farmer, because more milk equals more money.
The obvious downside to this practice, is removing the baby from the mother. It’s viewed as stressful and inhumane to put both mother and baby through such a traumatic experience. If you ever look up a YouTube video on the practice, you’ll soon understand why. There are no sounds more heart wrenching than that of a mother calling and fighting for her young.
Although most may be unaware, there is another option. One that is not well known outside of agricultural circles. It’s called milk sharing, or once a day milking. The big difference is that the mother gets to keep a baby to raise. The process looks like this. Doe has kid, doe keeps and tends to kid. Once the kid is about 2 weeks old, the kid is placed in a nursery, along with the other kids from other does. The kids spend the night together, playing and getting into mischief, while the does stay in their stalls. The first few nights can be stressful, but once the does and kids understand what’s happening, the dynamic changes completely. The does are happy to get a break from constantly being assaulted by kids, and the kids enjoy playing and special treats. The next morning, the does are milked, and are reunited with their kids.
Less you are concerned we leave no milk for the kids, do not worry! Animals are smart, and hold back milk for their kids. Not to mention any farmer worth their salt would never milk so much as to leave a baby hungry. I love milk sharing as it’s a win-win situation. Not only does the doe get to raise her young, and I get milk. In addition, it also makes my life slightly more flexible. Whereas most farmers must milk twice a day, I am only committed to one. Even better, if for some reason I can’t do my morning milking, I can let the kid stay with mom and handle the milking for me.
Question of the day: Have you ever milked an animal?
Ah. Seed starting. A glorious time between winter and spring where you get to play in the dirt, and nurture tiny seedlings. A brief glimpse of spring while the world still dark and cold. Seed starting is simple in concept, but it's easy to make tiny mistakes that make a big difference. I've made all of these mistakes before, at least once, and had entire years where nothing really worked out. I'm a firm believer that it isn't really a mistake if you've learned something from the experience. Here are 5 tips for seed starting.
Light is obviously essential for helping seedlings survive and thrive. Contrary to what you may have read, they do not need a fancy bulb. I've always just used a fluorescent shop light. I start the light very close to the seedlings, and as they grow I raise it higher. If you only use light from a window, or have your light too far away, you will get tall, spindly plants. These are called leggy, and although it's not a death sentence, it's better if your plants are a bit shorter and stockier. Although light is good, too much light is also bad. Although it can be easy to just leave the light on your plants all the time, don't!! They can get too much light. A general rule is about 18 hours on, 6 hours off. Hate turning the lights on and off? Get a timer, it's worth the investment!
This is one I had a hard time grasping. Plants need water, but they can also have too much water. When you first plant your seeds, you will want to water them thoroughly (be gentle when watering from above as to not displace the seeds). Once you water them the first time, DO NOT WATER DAILY! Let your soil almost completely dry out. Once mostly dry, water well. Once your seedlings have sprouted, watch them for signs of floppiness or wilting. If you see them start to droop, don't panic! Resist touching them much, and water. If you've made the mistake and constantly watered, never letting the soil dry, you can deal with mold or fungus gnats. If you notice any small gnats flying around your seedlings, that's most likely what they are. These are easily treated using diatomaceous earth. Give your seedlings a gentle sprinkling, let your soil dry, and you'll be back in business.
If you've planted your seeds, watered them, and waited patiently without any signs of sprouts, you may need some heat. Seeds, especially tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, herbs, all like warm soil. If they are in a cooler place, they may need an extra push to get going. You can look on pinterest for diy heat mats, which can work well, you can also find a seedling heat mat on amazon for less than 14 dollars. I got two for Christmas, and as someone who doesn't like to spend money if I don't have to, they were absolutely worth it. My seeds sprouted and grew better when I used the heat mat. If heat isn't the issue, it may be old seeds, which just don't have the umph needed to grow. If your seeds are both in warm soil, not old, then they could be planted a bit too deep. In that case they may still sprout, it just may take longer for them to be visible.
It's always a great idea to rotate your seedling trays. Seedlings are smart little buggers, and they will stretch and grow towards the light source. This can cause seedlings to get floppy, or leggy. An easy fix is just to rotate your trays to ensure even growing. It's amazing to see them all growing one way, flip them, and them be growing the opposite direction by the evening.
This is one of my least favorite things to do. Most likely when you planted your seeds, you did more than one. This means you have 2 or 3 plants all growing together. Once your seedlings are up, stable, and thriving, you need to thin them. It's hard to pluck out a perfectly good plant, but it's for the best. Doing this is easy, just grab the extra seedling and gently pull. The root systems are still quite small, so they should pull out easily. It's best to do this now, and not get too attached to those extra plants. As they grow, their root systems will intertwine and they will start running out of space. Trying to separate two plants that have spent a life growing together usually doesn't end well.
I hope these tips come in handy as you start seeds this year. There is nothing more fun that to watch seedlings sprout and grow. I love stopping by and admiring them while the winter weather rages on outside!
Question of the day: Have you ever started seeds before?
This weekend we lost a couple of fixtures on the farm. It’s always difficult to lose an animal, but it’s even more difficult to lose one with a name. Although livestock aren’t my pets, that’s not to say they are not loved. Just as birth is a part of life, so is death.
Friday morning when I let the chickens out, everyone came out tumbling, flying, or running, except Molly the goose. She sauntered out quietly, which was highly unusual. Geese can have a knob on the top of their head, and hers looked scuffed. Not scratched, not poked, just scraped. As far as I could remember, she was fine the evening before. I didn’t know exactly what had happened, but she obviously wasn’t having a good day.
I made note to check on her that evening, and give her a good look over. That evening all the birds were in the coop, except Molly. She was sitting by herself, under the large wooden spool we have. Molly was having some issues breathing, and was cold. I checked on the goats quickly, and brought her inside to a laundry basket and a nice big comforter. She had a few more scratches that I hadn’t noticed that morning. Other than her breathing, and obvious lethargy, she seemed ok. I couldn’t identify any big, glaring issues. We put a warm corn bag over her, and turned off the light. I wanted her to heat up a bit, calm down and relax. I decided the only thing I could try was to start a course of antibiotics. I searched high and low for a syringe and needle, but of course couldn’t find one. I decided to check down at the goat barn. By the time I got down there, found one, and got back, Molly was gone. I still don’t know what exactly happened. She had been healthy as could be, and most evenings was taking a bath when I came to do evening chores. As much as I hated losing Molly, we weren’t extremely close. As I mentioned most of our livestock aren’t pets, and Molly and I (just like with the other geese) had an understanding. I feed them, toss them treats, but no touching. I steered clear of them as I never wanted to stress them out if I didn’t have too. Regardless, I will miss her honking, and the barnyard is much quieter without her.
The second loss was much harder. If you’ve followed my instagram or my facebook page you may have heard me mention Edward Scissor Beak. He was a buff orpington rooster I got with a batch of chicks about 3 years ago. I never noticed he had a beak problem until he was a few months old. All of a sudden he started following me around, and I got a good look and realized he had scissor beak. Scissor beak is a beak deformity where the top beak and bottom beak don’t line up properly. He loved the feed we gave to the meat chicks, and I would always put a pile out for him. He loved to follow us around, and did so frequently. Over the summer he had a little flock of hens that would follow him around. Although Edward had problems eating, he had great health. He was a bit smaller than our big rooster, but had gorgeous feathers. Last weekend my husband held him so I could trim his top beak as it was getting too long. I noticed all last week that he followed me more than usual. Thursday evening I picked him up, something I normally don’t do with the poultry, and he was extremely thin. I felt bad because I hadn’t noticed he was struggling that much. I decided to start feeding him moistened food, with added protein every morning. The worst thing about Edward is he had that, “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality when it came to food. I’d put him at his bowl, he would chow down, but see the other hens eating and leave his bowl to share theirs. His special food was available, so I hoped he would come back and continue eating. Saturday night, I noticed Edward trying to get on the roost. All the geese, turkeys and ducks were coming in so I figured everyone was getting in his way. I picked him up and tried to put him on a roost, but for some reason he couldn’t grab on to the bar. The chickens do this sometimes if I have to move them, in the dark it’s hard to find their footing. I decided to put him in one of the nest boxes as it had lots of hay, and would actually be a cozy place for him to spend the night. This morning I watched all the birds come out, and was concerned not to see Edward. Then I thought I saw him come out. As I put out feed I realized I just saw Rudy (our big buff orpington rooster) come out, not Edward. I went into the coop and found Edward still in the nest box, obviously struggling. There are a few details I’ll leave out of the story, as there’s no reason to recount them, but I knew it was time. There was no coming back, and if I left him I knew he would die alone, and cold. I made the decision to put Edward out of his misery, and I held him while he died.
Farming is not easy. It’s made up of hard choices. Some days you do all you can, and try your hardest, but you’re still left with an aching heart. That’s ok, that’s just life, you love and lose, and start all over. In a few days and weeks fresh, new life will be born on the farm. A perfect reminder of the circle of life.
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under the heaven;”
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Every so often you come across a recipe that is so absolutely delectable you can't keep it to yourself. Being as we have half a hog in our freezer, I'm constantly looking for new ways to serve pork. We have a lot of pork chops, and it doesn't take long to get tired eating a plain ole chop. Que this sauce, which takes a humble pork chop and transforms it into a masterpiece. The kind of masterpiece I'd pay good money for at a restaurant. Best of all, it is easy. Whether you are a beginner cook, or more advanced, this recipe will make your taste buds sing. (And if you are a novice, please don't shy away from new recipes! Even good cooks struggle sometimes and half the fun is in being creative and having fun in the kitchen!)
Heat your oil of choice in a heavy skillet (this is a GREAT time to break out the cast iron) Let your pork chops come to room temperature, dab them dry with a paper towel, and then season well with salt and pepper. That's it! See? Simple already! Don't forget to do the front and back! You want your pan to be very hot, with smoke rolling from the pan. This is essential. If you start to put your chops in and don't hear a sizzle, stop and let the pan get hotter. A hot pan creates a nice outer crust on the meat you are searing. That crust is not only delicious, it also holds in moisture. Once your pan is smoking hot, slowly lay your pork chops into the pan. Do not turn these guys until they have that crust formed, you can peak, but only turn them once they are golden brown and lovely.
Cook your chops until to your desired doneness. Not sure what that is? I have just what you need, a thermometer. It takes a little extra time to use one, BUT in ensures a perfectly done chop...or chicken...or steak anytime you make one. Most come with a guide on what temperature is best for which piece of meat you're cooking. Once your pork is done, pull it and place it on a plate. Cover with foil. Do not cut it, do not poke it, just cover it and let it take a nap. During this "nap" time the juices redistribute. So it's another step towards having a juicy chop. Next, drain out any excess oil, but leave a little. You don't want it to be dry. Do not remove all the little dark, crispy bits from the pan. They add flavor! Turn the heat down to about medium. Take your sage, rosemary and garlic, and saute. Saute until fragrant, and wilted. Do not let your spices, or garlic burn.
Once your sage, garlic and rosemary have had some time to heat up, add in your wine and heavy cream. It will be quite liquidy at this point, and that's ok.
Bring it to a simmer, and stir occasionally. All you have to do is keep an eye on it, and make sure it doesn't scorch. You are letting this reduce down, to create a thick, delicious sauce. You can use it at any stage of reduction, so if you like a more runny sauce, that's ok. I call it good when a spoon pushed through leaves a trail.
Very steamy pic! Once the sauce is reduced, plate your chops on their respective plates, and spoon the sauce over top. A side of roasted veggies is perfect!
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons, fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 ounce sage, chopped
2 pork chops
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
Heat oil in a heavy skillet. While skillet is preheating, salt and pepper both sides of pork chops.
Once skillet is smoking hot, place pork chops in pan, letting sear until a golden brown crust has formed. Flip chops, and sear until at desired doneness. (Use thermometer to be precise)
Remove chops to a plate, cover with foil, and let rest. Remove most of the oil, leaving only a little behind. Add in your rosemary, sage and garlic. Saute until wilted, fragrant and golden brown. Make sure you do not let the herbs and garlic burn.
Add wine and cream, reduce heat to medium, and let simmer until reduced by at least half, or to your own preference. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Plate pork chops along with your favorite side, and spoon sauce over top.
Serve and enjoy!
A farmers market can be a somewhat intimidating experience. Especially if you aren’t used to shopping farmers market and eating local. You may see some unfamiliar terms, or maybe you are just starting out and can’t afford all organic everything. I’ve made this little post as a little helpful guide on terms to know, and tips to follow for having a great farmers market experience!
If you don’t know what a product is, don’t know how to prepare it or store it, feel free to ask the farmer!
Stock up at the farmer's market before hitting up the grocery store.
Challenge yourself to go to the market without a list, buy what looks exciting, fresh, and delicious. Plan meals after buying produce to highlight your fresh, local produce.
Try not to over buy. (I struggle with this a lot!) It’s easy to get so excited over all the produce, but the last thing you want is for things to go bad.
Being as most items bought at the farmers market are not extremely expensive, or you may buy a little here and there, bringing cash is a good idea. Not to mention not all vendors have the ability to accept checks or debit/credit.
Don’t forget to bring a bag, or reusable tote. If you plan on buying anything cool, or it’s the middle of the summer, you may want to bring an insulated bag with an ice pack for produce.
The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen
Have you heard of the clean 15 and dirty dozen? They can be a great way to transition into eating organic produce without breaking the bank. The clean 15 are foods that are least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue. The dirty dozen are foods that are most likely to be contaminated and therefore should be purchased organic if possible.
There are a TON of phrases, and terms used to describe food these days. It can be extremely difficult to keep track of what everything means. Here's a list of some fairly common terms and what they mean.
Food products grown using organic practices, but without actual organic certification.
Food products grown in accordance with the National Organic Program’s standards. These farmers avoid synthetic inputs, including but not limited to, synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides and food additives. It also does not allow genetically modified organisms from being considered organic. Fields must be chemical free for three or more years before qualifying as organic.
Certified Naturally Grown
This is a grassroots alternative to certified organic. It is a simpler and less expensive alternative to the USDA’s National Organic Program.
USDA guidelines state that all “natural” meat and poultry products can only undergo minimal processing and cannot contain artificial colors, or flavors, preservatives or other artificial ingredients. Naturally grown/all natural is otherwise an unregulated term.
The term pastured is usually used in conjunction with hogs and poultry that are raised outdoors, on pasture. They are usually given some type of extra, supplemental feed. These animals are usually unconfined, and are able to graze and forage for food.
This is a term that varies based on who you are talking too. Eggs from the grocery store that boast free range, is quite different than talking to a farmer who has free range chickens. The industry standard on free range means the hens have access to the outdoors. That does not mean they actually ever go out. When you talk to a small scale farmer, free range likely means the chickens are out and ranging at their own discretion.
Grass Fed/Grass Finished
Grass fed is used to describe a ruminant who is raised on pasture. A cow, for example, can be grass fed, and then grain finished (a portion of grain fed until slaughter) Or it can be grass fed, and then grass finished, in which it would never eat any grain.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)
GMO’s are plants and animals whose genetic makeup has been altered to exhibit traits that they would not normally have, like longer shelf-life, different color, or resistance to certain chemicals. Genetic modification is currently allowed in conventional farming.
A term that refers to standard agricultural practices, which may include the use of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, synthetic fertilizers and other chemical use.
Refers to products raised, bred, butchered locally versus trucked from locations far away.
Heirloom crops are those which have been passed down generation to generation. They have been developed by farmers via years of cultivation, and seed saving.
A breed of livestock that is much like heirloom crops. They have been bred over time for certain traits, such as to withstand harsh environments, or withstand disease.
Products made by hand in small batches.
Raw refers to food products (like cheese, milk, vinegars, cider, sauerkraut) that have not been pasteurized to a minimum of 145 degrees. Raw milk cheese is required to be aged for 60 days, and some states prohibit the sales of raw milk.
An unregulated term that refers to humane, viable, environmentally sound farming.
Refers to plants and fruits that are allowed to stay on the vine/tree and ripen fully before being harvested.
Much like organic and certified organic there are two options here. One is getting certified humane status, which means the animals can engage in their natural behaviors, they are raised with plenty of space, have good shelter, access to fresh water, and limited stress. The other is an unregulated term that implies animals that were treated with compassion, and given the ability to live as nature intended.
Refers to the practice of not administering antibiotics, which is commonplace in conventional farming. Some farmers may use antibiotics on an animal, but only if necessary.
Hormones are often given to beef and dairy cattle to enhance production. These hormones may be synthetic, natural or genetically engineered. A farmer who says, “no hormones” mean they do not engage in these practices. It is important to note hormones are not allowed in the raising of hogs or poultry-ever.
Farm fresh eggs are a great way to get started as a farmer, and a great place to start when buying from a farmer. However, for an egg being such a small thing, it sure can cause a lot of controversy. It seems somewhere along the way we became so disconnected from our food source, we believed a lot of lies thrown about by the factory egg producers. They’ve disconnected us from the fact that all eggs come from chickens, fears of salmonella, and we’ve gotten used to a sub par product. So, let’s take a look at some of these misconceptions and figure out the truth.
1) You HAVE to have a rooster to get eggs!
Contrary to popular belief, no rooster is needed for a hen to lay an egg. A hen usually starts to lay eggs at about 5 month sold, and will lay quite a few years. No roosters required.
2) There is a bit of blood in this egg, it’s a baby chick!
Alas, a spot of blood is NOT an indicator of a fertilized egg. In fact, most individuals cannot differentiate between a fertilized and unfertilized chicken egg. When you find blood in an egg, it’s called a blood spot. What happens is a small blood vessel ruptures sometime during the egg laying process. You can also find what appears to be tissue, which is the same thing. Just a little hiccup in the egg making progress. These eggs are COMPLETELY safe to eat. You can eat them blood spot and all, or pick out the spot with a spoon (or shell!). These "spots" can be found in store bought eggs, but are rare due to the eggs going through a candling process. The eggs are still used, just not sold by the dozen.
3) Fertilized eggs are baby chicks, and you shouldn’t eat them.
When an egg is fertilized it means one thing only. It has the ability to grown into a chick with the correct conditions. Contrary to popular belief an egg doesn’t come out and then automatically start developing into a chick. In fact a chicken egg can sit, fertilized, at room temperature for weeks and nothing will happen. (Well, the egg will eventually go bad, but there won’t be any chick inside!) Fertilized eggs need to be held at a constant temperature of 100 degrees, for 21 days before a chick hatches.
4) Fertilized eggs are unhealthy./ Fertilized eggs are more healthy.
Truth is fertilized or not has nothing to do with the nutritive value of an egg. They are both the same.
5) My eggs from the supermarket have omega-3 in them.
ALL eggs have omega 3’s. And although the advertisements may sway you, eggs from hens raised outdoors on pasture have 2 times more omega 3s!
6) There is no difference between a factory farm/store bought/conventional chicken egg, and a farm fresh, pastured chicken egg.
There is a HUGE difference!!!! According to a study done by Mother Earth News, free range, pastured chicken eggs are much more nutritious than store bought eggs.
“Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
⅓ less cholesterol
¼ less saturated fat
⅔ MORE vitamin A
2 times MORE omega-3 fatty acids
3 times MORE vitamin E
7 times MORE beta carotene”[Source]
7) Brown eggs are better for you.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but nope. Brown eggs, white eggs, blue eggs, or green eggs (yes you can get a lot of different colors from chickens!), are all the same...well at least on the inside.
8) Aren’t store bought eggs safer?
Salmonella is a hugely feared disease that you can contract from eating raw, or undercooked eggs. Salmonella is a bacteria that grows in the intestinal track of humans and animals. Eggs that are laid and then exposed to feces may be infected with salmonella. Salmonella is food poisoning, and as such it doesn’t spread from hen to hen like a cold. Hens in factory farmed conditions usually contract salmonella due to eating rat/mouse droppings that is in their feed. Once infected, they lay eggs that then become tainted from the hens. In contrast, most small farmers, or backyard chicken keepers do not have salmonella in their flocks. Smaller flocks mean you can easily tell when a hen is off, or under the weather and treat an issue before it gets out of hand. This is a great reason why you should know your farmer!
9) I get caged free eggs from the store which are just as good as farm fresh eggs./My free range eggs from the store are from free range chickens.
I wish this was true. Unfortunately cage free and free range really doesn’t mean much in the grocery store. Cage free eggs are from hens that do not live in cages, but are housed in overcrowded barns. “Free range” eggs from the store means the chickens were given access to the outdoors. That means there is a pen outside, and at some point in their day that door was open and they may or may not have gone out. That door may also only be open for a short period of time.
10) Farm fresh eggs are too expensive! Store bought are cheaper.
Well, this is true, unfortunately. I have to feed chickens for about 5 months before they start laying eggs. I also may have predators eat my hens, lose a hen unexpectedly, or have another unforeseen incident (with farming you just never know!) Free ranging chicken can be more difficult, as they love to find a hidden spot to lay eggs. Egg production is more likely to drop over winter, especially for those who do not use supplemental lighting. So again, you are feeding them without getting eggs in return. It is pricey, and to be honest, most small farmers are lucky to even just cover the cost of owning chickens. The thing I love about farm fresh eggs, is that by purchasing them, you are supporting a farmer. You are putting that money back to your local economy. You are showing a farmer you care and support them. As a farmer I am overwhelmed with appreciation any time someone purchases something from me. Because without you, the consumer, I am nothing.
Have a question about farm fresh eggs? Or just eggs in general? Use the comment section below to ask your question!
I've been debating doing some blogging here, but have been a bit torn. I'm not a great writer, and I'm not 100% sure what people would want to read about. For now, I'll be sharing informational posts, daily farm life, projects, and recipes that highlight farm fresh produce or products. The rest of this post will be just a little over view of the farm, and our creatures. Is there a question you have for a farmer? Want to get the scoop on how to start your own garden, or how to milk a goat? Leave a comment and let me know!
We joke we should have named Twelve Springs Farm, Rough Acres. Our old barn has seen better days, we have some fences the goats laugh at, and a pretty nice scrap pile from roughly 50 years of farming. We have a long list of projects and improvements, and hopefully someday we will make it to the end of the list! Although it may be a bit rough, it's home to a whole bunch of happy animals.
I believe strongly in animals being raised with respect and dignity. I believe pigs should be on pasture, goats should browse at will (ok, except the neighboring cemetery!), and chickens should get to free range. I am bucking a lot of old farming techniques in place of new ones. I don't believe hogs need nose rings, and I don't take all kids from our does. Even if an animal is destined to be slaughtered, doesn't mean we don't care for it. It also means when the time comes, we try to make butcher day as stress free as possible. We process our own poultry, but hogs go to a double humane certified processor.
Antibiotics are a highly controversial subject. On our farm antibiotics are only used when needed, no if's and's or but's. Although it's easy to completely vilify antibiotics, sometimes they are needed. Just like sometimes they are needed for us. There will always be full disclosure with our customers on any antibiotics used. And we want to foster a relationship between consumer and farmer, so if you have a question or concern, never hesitate to let us know!
We have a mixed poultry flock. I have never selected chickens based on productivity. We have everything from bantams (miniature chickens), to feather legged cochins. We also have turkeys, ducks and geese. They all hang out together, and range pretty much wherever they want too. We try to keep them out of the front area, just so we don't have an endless poop battle!
We also have a little herd of goats. Our breeds are varied (just like the poultry!) After a long time trying to figure out what direction we want to take our goats in, we've placed a deposit on some full blooded, nubian kids from a registered herd. They will be the breed and direction we head towards in the future. Our main goal is dairy production, mainly for our own needs. Surplus milk is given to other animals, or used as an ingredient in our handmade goat milk soap.
We have an orchard, which is in need of some TLC, that produces mainly apples. We get a very small harvest of cherries, and persimmons as well. We have blackberries, wild raspberries and wild mulberries as well. Our garden is modest, and usually weedy to be honest. We grow a bit of everything, but the staples are always radishes, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peppers, fennel, cucumbers, squash, green beans, pumpkins, melons and various herbs. I hope to add a variety of flowers this year, cabbage, eggplant, dill, and anything else that strikes my fancy. I start the majority of my seeds myself, however will buy started seeds if mine are unsuccessful. I experiment with non-gmo, organic seeds when I can, but do also have more conventional seeds and hybrids as well. We do our best to raise everything organically, without chemicals. On occasion, we have come across a huge issue that has been addressed with chemicals, this is rare. Maybe once a year, for a certain plant. (Last year our only issue was insects on our squash/pumpkins) There will always be FULL disclosure if a chemical has been used, but we do everything in our power to keep that from happening at all.
Above all else, I want us to always be a farm full of integrity, and honesty. I will not hide our practices from anyone. If you want to see the farm before making a purchase, just ask. If you want to know how we do something, why we do something, let us know. We are here to answer those questions, and show that there are other alternatives when it comes to farming.