Poo Power

While reviewing his news sources recently, The Farmer saw a reference to a comparison of fertilizers on soil health.

In a study that spanned more than a decade, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison used varying levels of manure on one field and varying levels of inorganic fertilizers on another. Yet another plot received no amendments, acting as the control.

Fresh Cow Pile

Soil samples were taken in 2015 to assess how the soil fared with the different protocols used. And in September of this year the results were published by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). The executive summary states:

Core Ideas:

*Long-term annual application of manure maintained the soil pH but inorganic fertilizer decreased it.

*Manure application increased soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN).

*Higher manure rate helps in improving the water stable aggregates compared to inorganic fertilizer at 0- to 10-cm depth.

Fresh Chicken Droppings

There was also a warning that higher electrical conductivity readings in the manure-fertilized fields could indicate salt levels being too high.  But since The Farmer is not a member of the  ASA, he cannot get the report details to read the specifics.

As someone whose farm includes animals, and whose animals provide much of the fertility for garden, this is a heartening study.

This post’s bottom line: using what comes out of your animal’s bottom will help your farm’s bottom line…or, the power of poo keeps your soil from bottoming out.

Our well-aged compost pile

Meaty Shank Soup Bone

1 package of meaty shank soup bone; note, there are 2 pieces of meat side by side

The meaty shank soup bone has long been one of my favorite cuts of meat.  It is a thick piece of beef with a marrow bone in the middle.  It can be boiled to make a delicious broth for soup.  It can be sauteed and then simmered with veggies to make Osso Buco.  The flavor comes from the marrow fat in the middle of the bone.  Here are the recipes for Beef Barley Broth and my rendition of Osso Buco.

Each package of meaty shank soup bones are 2.50-3.00 lb. each. The cost is around $25.

Beef Barley Broth

Beef Barley Broth

This is a simple broth, simple to make, simple to eat. It is more broth than stuff.  It is good with a hearty bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds meaty beef soup bones, can use beef shanks or short ribs
  • 8 cups water
  • 6 whole peppercorns, opt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped turnips (or 1 cup other veggies)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup medium pearl barley

Instructions

  1. In a large soup kettle, combine soup bones, water, peppercorns and salt. Cover and simmer for 2-1/2 hours or until the meat comes easily off the bones. Remove bones; remove meat and marrow from bones; dice and return to broth. (Yes, dice the marrow and add it back into the soup. The fat gives the flavor!)

  2. Add the veggies and barley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer about 1 hour or until vegetables and barley are tender.

Recipe Notes

Typically, I put everything in the pot about 2 hours before we are going to eat.  Then about 15 min. before we are going to eat, I remove the bones, take off and dice the meat and marrow, and return them to the broth.  Both ways work.

 Original recipe

Osso Buco

Osso Buco

The meaty shank soup bone is browned, then veggies are sauteed, and all of it is simmered for several hours.  Yummy-licious!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil, butter, or fat
  • 1-2 meaty shank soup bones
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 18 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups broth, chicken or beef, use up to 2 cups, as much as your pot will hold

Instructions

  1. Brown meaty shank soup bones in oil for 3-4 minutes on each side in dutch oven. Remove from pot.

  2. Saute the fresh veggies. Add oil if needed.

  3. Put the meat back in the pot under the veggies. You do this by pushing the veggies to the side and putting the meat down, then covering the meat with the veggies.

  4. Cover with diced tomatoes. Add broth. Cover pot. Bring to a boil, turn to low, and simmer for 2-3 hours.

  5. Take meat out, cut into fine pieces or shred. Cut marrow into small pieces.  Add back to pot and stir it all together. 

  6. Serve as is or over rice or potatoes.

Recipe Notes

This is based on a kitchn.com recipe and comment on someone else's website.  Neither had good proportions.  They were -ish recipes.  So feel free to -ish with what you have on hand.

 

Spaghetti Squash Secret

This is the season to use spaghetti squash.  It looks like this:

If you look online, most folks recommend cutting it in half lengthwise from the stem end to the blossom end.   But here is the secret that I learned thekitchn.com.  If you want the strings to be longer, cut the squash around the middle this way:

Notice that the strings start in a swirly pattern from the bottom and circle around coming up.  When you boil or bake this, and then let it cool, the squash strings will come out sort of like circles.  I cut them in half and mix them with the topping for the day.  I have used both a traditional spaghetti sauce and a veggie-chicken-sour cream mixture.  Both tasted good and were well-received by the family.

Awesome Administrator

The Farmer saw the above graph recently. As you can see, it shows that over the 39 year period 1970 – 2009, the number of doctors in the US increased by something like 100%.

They doubled.

During that same time, the number of administrators and support staff working in the health care field increased by over 3,000%.

Wow.

But guess what? Farming is no different. Administrative needs have ballooned.

Why? Well, step into The Farmer’s world and let him explain.

Continue reading “Awesome Administrator”

July, August, September Local Food Challenge

I haven’t posted about the local food challenge since June. So for September, we will allow you to have up to 3 comments/entries. They can be about your choice of locally grown chicken or vegetables. The food can be from my farm, from a farmers market, from your garden or from your neighbor’s garden. It just needs to be locally grown (to you). What have you made this summer? Any salads, grilled veggies, chicken soup? Comment below OR  email and let me know.

What Gaia Saw

Gaia is our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog. Her job on the farm is to protect our livestock, and in particular, our meat chickens. On a recent morning, the young crew went out to do their chicken chores, and Gaia was at the end of her chain jumping and excitedly barking.  They let her go and she sped off to investigate a broken two-wheeled cart that is stored close by.

An older son was in the area and came to investigate. As Gaia ran around the cart, our son pushed down on the back so that she could snoop around under the front.

Something flashed out from under the cart…

Continue reading “What Gaia Saw”

The Tall and Short of It

A few years back, The Farmer was able to pick some multicolored maize (translation: “Indian corn”)  from the field of fellow farmer Robert Perry.  The Farmer had been meaning to plant it for himself and finally had space and time this year.

On Saturday, May 26, The Farmer planted the corn in hasty rows just to get it done. On July 6, we took a picture,  because your corn should be “knee high by the fourth of July.”

Multicolored maize

Continue reading “The Tall and Short of It”