Hens Online

My pullets (teen-aged laying hens) are finally starting to lay eggs.  Yahoo!  I’ve been egg rationing here. But no more!

Currently we have 9 2 yr old birds and 20 pullets.  I purchased the pullets back in September as 3-4 month old birds and feeding them for the past 3 months, expecting them to begin laying ‘any day’.   Fortunately that day is now!  Just in time for real egg nog and kids home on Winter vacation.  We eat a lot of eggs:  fried, scrambled, hard boiled on salads, quiche and fritatas; not to mention the gluten free oddities I have been baking (they don’t really qualify as bread).  Thank you hens, I look forward to your tiny presents, wrapped up in pretty browns and greens!


A New Leash (lease) on Life?

I ran into an old client the other week. She recounted how much she appreciated the extra effort and care I gave her and her little dog; the surgery to remove the tumor on her tail, and later when it was Lady’s time to say goodbye. Her gratitude brought tears to my eyes. It also made me realize that I didn’t leave veterinary medicine a moment too soon. I had lost that compassion, I didn’t believe in what I was doing anymore. What had been the reason for getting up in the morning had morphed into something i would rather hide under the covers to avoid. Continuing in that state would have been a disaster; both to myself and family, but also to my patients.

After removing myself from the compassion fatigue of practice for 2 years, I am now working a day or two per week as a relief veterinarian. It is bringing back some of the old flow. I think I may have recharged some of my personal reserves and am finding that I have the room to care again. Interesting, we will see what develops!


Stewing about the Hens

The cold weather has forced my hand.  I’ve not wanted to deal with it but now I have to.  My winter coop will only house about 25 hens and my older laying hens are not giving me many eggs this fall.  I’m getting a pretty consistent 4 each day (from 18 birds!)  I made the decision earlier this fall to follow a commercial model replace 1/2 the flock each year.   I purchased some pullets who should start laying in the next month or two.  This should ensure a good supply of eggs again, but is a hen over the hill at her second winter?  Probably not, she’s just not as efficient.   

Again, I straddle the line between hobbiest and business.   Old hens=expensive eggs.  But throwing away a life doesn’t sit well either.  So I am now making stewing hens from my old(ish) girls.   For the next few mornings I will be processing a bird or two each day and making the most fantastic mineral rich, glucosamine filled broth.  Healthy omega-3 fatty acids, gelatin and chondroitans, I keep telling myself.  If any locals want a home butchered stewing hen next week just give me a shout.  Seven more to go.  Sucks.


The much anticipated box ‘o pork

I am very happy to say that my entire inventory of pork cuts, bacon, ham and sausage are nestled into cold storage for the winter.  I also have mixed feelings about the end of the farmer’s market for 2012.  (This weekend is the last for the Weston market)  Things are getting cold so it is probably for the best. 

I would like to announce a new offering for our farm:  a 20lb box of pork consisting of roughly of equal amounts of pork chops, roasts and processed meat.  Expect to receive 2# of bacon, 3# brats and 2# sausage (your choice of italian or plain) as well as 7# of roasts and 6# of chops (your choice of thick or standard).   The cost for a box is $125 which is an approximate discount of 10% over buying the individual cuts.

The boxes will be available as long as supplies hold out, which likely means all winter.  I also have a nice supply of (nitrate and msg free) traditional ham sliced into 1/2 lb packages (think deli lunch meat only WAY better!).  I will have some at the market this Saturday.  It will retail for $4 per package. 
I also have a few chickens to sell – both whole and 8 piece cuts.
I will have a good supply of products at the LAST farmer’s market on Saturday, but please give me a call if you wish to pick up a box ‘o pork or a larger quantity of bacon, ham or sausage!

Cooperative?

Very interesting meeting in Point with a group of producers.  Our vision is to grow a sustainable Central Wisconsin farming community, producing high quality products and sharing resources.   Pretty inspiring stuff!  Might even convince me to step clearly over the line from large hobbiest to small producer!  Even if  no official co-op is formed the relationships formed here will be invaluable.

It was really great to see a group talking about how they could work together to improve the local food economy.  This is in a stark contrast to a very negative experience at one of the local markets where I was informed that producers would not cooperate or even communicate. This is the same market where I was told that Wausau market consumers don’t care how or where the produce comes from!  Really, then why the big stink a couple of years ago about revealing where the produce is grown?  Grrr.   I think things are changing.


City Pages, Discounts, and Boxes

A big thank you to Ingrid Clark Zavadoski of the City Pages for including our farm in her recent article Going Whole Hog and feature recipe of Slow Roasted Tomatillo Pork!

It is feeling very fall-ish this week; the trees and turning color and we even had a frost advisory last night!  The pigs have a scheduled date with the processor in the beginning of October.  I have a few unsold animals who need to find a home in your freezer, so i am offering a $0.25/lb discount for orders made before Sept 28th.  I am also working out the details of a 20# pork box which will make both the financial commitment and freezer space issue more manageable.

 


This Little Piggy Goes To Market!

I am very happy to announce that after four months of feeding, watering, moving, and yes playing with hogs I will be selling pastured Berkshire pork at the Weston Farmers Market tomorrow morning!  The bacon is not done curing yet, but I do have porkchops, roasts, steaks, sausage links and bulk sausage for sale!  I am supper  super excited to be offering something this unique to the Wausau area.