Friday, March 25, 2016

Sausage Making 101

Earlier this month we made our first sausage!! Our first on farm butcher experience gave us the opportunity to learn this new skill and make our own nitrate-free ground sausage and patties. (This "101" is not necessarily a tutorial on sausage making, but rather our 101 in making it!) In total we put close to 40 pounds of sausage in the freezer.

First, the meat needed to be ground with the right ratio of fat/lard.  Then we used a mixer to blend some of the ground pork with an Italian seasoning, some with a breakfast seasoning and we left some plain (seasonings are listed at the end). We were able to use herbs we dehydrated last summer, as well as some dehydrated onions. A huge thank you to Jason Moody for lending us the great equipment and showing us the ropes.

Ground pork, ready for seasoning.
Some pork was wrapped in full pound, and half pound, portions, the remainder was formed into patties. We used a regular canning ring to shape them. Another thank you goes out to Larry helping! It really was fun to share the experience with friends and family, plus it made relatively short work of the project. Thank you to the boys - John, Jason and Larry - for doing the work with the meat, I was happy to work on the packaging and labeling instead.  ;)

Sausage patties formed with a regular canning ring.
After forming the patties they were frozen on large baking sheets. They needed to be completely frozen before we packaged them in vacuum sealed bags. Patties were packaged in bags of 4 or 6.

Mmmm. So far we have enjoyed some delicious breakfast sausages, pasta with Italian sausage and zuppa tuscana (potato-sausage-kale) soup! It really is such a treat to put so much ground pork in the freezer, we always run out. I think a sausage quiche may be in order this weekend!

Italian Mix

per 2 lbs of meat
•2 tsp parsley
•2 tsp Italian seasoning
•1 T garlic
•1 tsp onion
•1/2 tsp fennel
•1-1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1 tsp red pepper
•2 tsp salt

Breakfast Mix

per 5 lbs of meat
•2 T salt
•1-1/2 tsp sage
•1-1/2 tsp thyme
•1/2 tsp ginger
•3/4 tsp nutmeg
•1/2 tsp white pepper
•1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
•1/2 cup water

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Medicine Cabinet :: Bruises

So, Suzy stepped on my toe the other day - the weight of her front foot felt fully on my pinkie toe. Somehow just one toe. Here it is after a full day and nice rainbow of purple, blue and red.

I thought this would be a great chance to take a peak into our natural medicine cabinet.

350 lb pig - 1, my toe 0
Of course ice is a good call, but the other items in my medicine cabinet I grabbed for include arnica and lavender essential oil.

I always keep on hand a tube of arnica ointment to rub on bruises, bumps and strains. Arnica is also in my homeopathic medicines kit, which I will take internally to aid in healing. Lavender essential oil (EO) is a must have for your EO line up, I will apply it with or without the arnica rub.

Lavender is great for reducing inflammation and speeding up the healing process. (Plus, it smells great.)

Arnica is considered one of the best bruise remedies.

I have also decided to put this comfrey salve on my to-do list for this summer, for use for the humans and animals living here.

Other items you may consider include rosemary EO, aloe and comfrey.

Friday, March 4, 2016

CSA :: Rich in history, ripe with possibilities

I think there is so much more to CSA, community supported agriculture, than most consumers - and even some farmers - realize. CSA is much more than just getting your seasonal fare locally. While we focus on the story of CSA at our farm - our trials and tribulations - there are many stories (1,500-1,700 by Steve McFadden's estimate) unfolding at the same time; building on the deep history of CSA itself.

While there are principles at the core of the CSA concept - share risk, seasonality, community - each farm is unique, I love that about CSA. We tailor our farm to our personalities, our values. Customers can find a CSA that fits them, because with any relationship we all have certain needs to feed our individual souls.

When we started our farm I was well versed in the CSA concept and logistics, but I didn't know that much about the history of the movement. As with anything I have learned so much over time, and continue to through our personal experiences, continued connections with other farmers and broader coverage of the food movement as momentum continues.

I really enjoyed this two part article on the history, as well as the future of CSAs in our country. I do strongly believe CSAs have such power to change the way we eat and think. In our ever disconnected world of individualism the concept of community becomes more and more important to build our economies, mend our spirits, and nourish our bodies and souls.

Pre-season member meeting - connecting with our farm community.
Heading into our fifth year of farming and CSA the element of community moves more into our focus, as we wish to deepen this relationship further. In this endeavor we will look to our members, our market goers and our peers in the farming world (whether they have come before us or are growing along with us now) for inspiration, ideas and participation.

You might enjoy these articles on CSA, if you do, we'd love to hear any thoughts you have on them.

The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part I
Community Farms in the 21st Century: Poised for Another Wave of Growth?
This is the first in a two-part series exploring the birth of the CSA movement in the United States as well as the potentials for this growing and successful model of community agriculture.

The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part II
CSA’s World of Possibilities
When Steven McFadden first wrote about CSAs back in 1990, there were about 60 CSAs in the country. Now in 2004, he says, there are around 1,700 ... and he sees a strong potential for another wave of CSA development, a wave that could not only triple or quadruple the number of CSAs over the next few years, but also raise in importance the role these farms play in their communities.