Thursday, February 2, 2023

Dilled Bone Broth

Warm until steaming, then enjoy…

Dilled Bone Broth
1 cup bone broth of choice
1-2 tsp ACV, or to taste
Sea salt, to taste
1 tsp fresh chopped parsley (I use 1/8 tsp dried)
1 tsp chopped fresh dill (I use 1/8 tsp dried)
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Day 2 of Daily Bone Broth
On day 1 of deciding to drink bone broth daily I realized I was doing it all wrong.
I’d been simply warming a mug of bone broth and making my way through it. Enter actually seasoning it…and savoring it! This dilled broth is delightful.
So what is the difference between bone broth and stock?
Bone broth is more nutrient dense and typically simmered for a long time, 12-24 hours. It often contains connective tissues (think joints) that add more beneficial properties. The most gelatinous rich broth will have a good jiggle when it cools.

Nutritional content of a broth depends on what goes in and may vary how you make it and there are different recipes and different takes on it. So, don’t be overwhelmed, give it a try and learn from there. I know I can do things to improve my broth-making and that’s part of this journey for me.
Bone broth bought from the store should always be frozen. Anything on the shelf is processed and has lost beneficial properties. At home we use it fresh, or place extra in the freezer. When I have a lot I will can it for stock. Still beneficial, but not as much so.
If you’re not ready to start sipping on it use it more liberally in your cooking! Sub broth for water in recipes - cook your rice in broth, instead of adding a cup of water to your simmering taco meat, etc.
Real fats and proteins are at the heart of health!!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Fruit Tree Grafting Class

 Learn how to graft your own fruit trees!

March 11 Fruit Tree Grafting Class

$55 Registration includes three grafted apple trees.

Mankato - Saturday, March 11
Wooden Spoon - 515 N. Riverfront Ave.
Time:   9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Cost:    $55 / participant

In this class we will teach you how to propagate your own apple trees. We will discuss the time-tested techniques of fruit tree grafting including grafting tools, timing, proper scions and rootstocks. Attendees will practice what they learn by “Whip & Tongue” grafting different varieties of apple trees using modern day rootstocks.
Each participant will take home 3 newly grafted apple trees to be planted on your own property.  Additional rootstocks available for purchase at class. All materials and tools will be provided for the workshop. You can bring your own grafting knife if you prefer. We will bring a variety of apple tree scions to the workshop for grafting.

Optional: Bring scions of your favorite old apple tree if you would like to graft these at the class. (Call John, 507-439-6541, for tips how to properly collect scions.)

You Bring:
  • Large trash bag,& pot/bucket to take your grafts home in.
  • Lunch or snack for yourself.
  • Cash/check for additional rootstock purchase ($3 ea).

Registration & Payment:    
  • Registration must be paid in advance.
  • Register Here

Friday, January 20, 2023

On Pigging...

As we bring a new pig onto the farm for breeding purposes it always makes me think of the many times we are told by other producers, “the pigs are not my pets”.  This statement has always been of interest to me; do they say that because they don’t like to think of the impending death of the animal to provide us or someone else food?  Is it because they don’t want to develop a relationship with that animal because it will be then emotionally difficult for them to slaughter? Is it because they just think of it as only a dollars and cents type of relationship (food in food out)?

I do not fault any of these producers for having that type of mindset, they do best what works for them and their operation.  We have had many pigs from farms “where the pigs are not pets” and they have been wonderful animals and worked well for us.  

Our pigs are not pets either, we know they will be butchered one day and provide us with nourishing food, but in the space between, they are welcomed into the fold and treated with love and kindness.  BUT WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT TO US?

We have now been working with pigs for 11 years on our little farm and each year we learn more and more about how it all works and their roll on the farm.  We are by no means experts in raising pigs, but rather lifelong students. 

Here are a few things I think are important about why we try and develop a strong relationship with our animals (that will some day be butchered):

  • Pigs on our small farm need to be moved from pasture to pasture frequently, if they trust us they are much easier to move from paddock to paddock or load on the trailer when we need to move them across the farm.
  • We have small children and many visitors have small children.  While we do not children go into the pens, I feel its important for our family and any visitors to get close to the animals or maybe even touch them if they want.  It amazes me that our now 22 year old daughter, an animal lover to the core and who still has to visit the pigs on every trip to the house, never had an issue with knowing the pigs are going to be food someday.  To me this speaks volumes. 
  • Pigs provide more than just food on our farm – they help transform all of the “waste” produce on the farm into delicious bacon.  In the fall we literally have thousands of pounds of apple pulp after pressing for cider that the pig and chickens eat up like crazy!
  • They spend a fair amount of time on the farm.  Our feeder pigs only spend a short time on the farm (9-11 months) and are rotated on pasture constantly.  Our breeding stock spends anywhere from 5-8 years on the farm, we rotate them on pasture, are in their sheds during farrowing, need to separate at times for breeding and farrowing, the list goes one.  The breeding stock can be very large (500-700lbs) and we are around them a lot.  Boars have tusks and sows are very protective of their young – We do not need to be around large aggressive animals on our small operation – they need to be friendly, trust us and be docile.
  • If there are issues we need to be able to intervene and get close.  I remember the one winter we had a pregnant sow, Elsa, that got injured when wrestling with her sister, Suzy.  Elsa was not able to stand on her back legs for some time and we were quite concerned about her.  Because of her demeanor and her trusting us we were able to be in the small shed with her and the local vet to check for any bone breaks or other issues that may be a problem.  The outcome ended well and Elsa went on to farrow some beautiful piglets that late winter.
  • Lastly, pigs are living creature that provide the ultimate sacrifice for us – they die so we can live.  They need to be respected for that.


These are just a few thoughts on pigging…..  


Sunday, January 8, 2023

Passive Solar Magic

When it’s sunny a passive solar greenhouse works it’s magic!! 91 inside, 22 outside - no fossil fuels used to heat that!

Our certified organic greens are grown under natural sunlight, but the con of that is we are at the whim of cloudy days too - working with Mother Nature to the best of our abilities!

We have electric fans, lights, and back up heat, but all of this moves us in the right direction. Hope to someday get it all running on solar.
We’ve been growing Microgreens, pea shoots and baby salad greens since September! Next month we’ll begin the very earliest garden seeds. This space is amazing and is definitely a winter happy place for me.

Winter Preservation Season Begins!

Time to crank up winter preservation season.

Today I’m going to finish the garlic preservation. Frozen in whole cloves or blended with olive oil frozen in tablespoon dollops. I’ll pick out a small amount of the hardest bulbs for fresh use.

Also on the preservation to-do list is taking care of other pantry items:
Shallots (frozen like garlic)
Potatoes (going to try canning some!)
Onions (dehydrated)
Then there are other canning projects:
Beans (a first)
Baked beans! (A first)
Hope to get through all of that!!
It’s nice to have the slow down from the bustle of summer and fall preservation, but winter is a great time to do this as well, out front under the pressures of tomatoes and weeding and such.
What are you working on?

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Happy New Year! Looking ahead...

Howdy and Happy New Year from your local organic farmers! I want to reintroduce ourselves for any new folks and share some of our good energy, and plans, heading into the new year.

John and I sat down on Sunday, New Year's Day, reviewing 2022 - wins and losses, lessons learned, etc. - and began visioning and projecting for 2023. This will be our 12th season on the Alternative Roots Farm!!!
We have big plans this year (every year?!) that include finishing building our screened-in porch, which last Mays storm took down, and building our new pig barn. It is a year of projects, which are many, but we are up to the task. Our annual planning meeting brought up new strategies, inspiration and a welcoming vision for the season - and years - ahead.
I see more pigs, more fruit and more fun in our future! We hope you continue to follow along (and maybe introduce a friend or two) with our farm this year!
While following along with our farming shenanigans you’ll learn about...
-canning and preservation
-self-reliance and resilience
-homesteading & organic orcharding
-farrowing heritage hogs
-winter greenhouse growing
-what we offer at our certified organic farm
...and whatever else comes our way as we continue to build our skills, and passions, on the farm and in nature.
Through our farming journey we’ve seen how much need there is for a deeper connection to food and farming. The food system is broken and it needs to rebuilt by small farms and people like you, supporting those farms. There is such a disconnect from what real food looks like, how much food is wasted in the current system, how much nutrition has been lost in conventional food, how important putting food up is and the list goes on.
We are passionate about this adventure, and we are excited to have you joining us as we grow and evolve along our journey on this farm and this great planet!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Happy Solstice

Happy Solstice!

Today we celebrate the first day of Winter, the shortest day of the year, followed by the longest night of the year. Tomorrow the light returns, so to speak, as the days begin to get longer.

It's a time to celebrate earth's cycles, which we are a part of. It's a time of rest and renewal and growth - in this long dark and stillness of winter, where the landscape sleeps.

What is the role and benefit of the long dark nights in our lives?
What blessing can it bring and how can it serve us?

Here is some food for thought, taken from "Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection" by Jessica Prentice:

"In "Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival", anthropologist T.S. Wiley puts forward a provocative hypothesis. She believes that the rise of degenerative diseases in industrialized countries (especially diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity) can be traced to the invention and widespread use of electricity. Her reasoning is that the use of electric lighting, televisions, and computers after the sun goes down (and our consequent ability to stay up later and sleep less) serves to keep our bodies in an artificial state of perpetual summer. This disrupts our natural hormonal functioning and deprives us of a period of semi-hibernation that our pre-agrarian and even many of our agrarian ancestors would have enjoyed: a winter season of long nights and lots of extra sleep.

Wiley believes that this is the cause of our cravings for sugars and carbohydrates. Our ice age hunter-gatherer ancestors would have had, for the most part, access to sugars and carbohydrates during the summer only, and would have lived on proteins and fats throughout the winter. Wiley claims that we crave sugar because our bodies think its summer all the time, and our bodies have evolved to use carbohydrates to store up energy for the long, sugarless winter--a winter that never really comes in our modern, electrically lit world."

Happy solstice friends. Enjoy the winter.