Generational Agriculture

When The Farmer’s father was growing up, their family house burned down while they were out of town. Eventually the family landed on a 100+ acre former farm. The Farmer’s grandfather raised beef and had a garden to help feed his seven children. This was the property that The Farmer knew as “Grandma & Grandpa’s house.”

Of those seven children, several stayed involved in agricultural pursuits.

Child 1 (The Farmer’s father) ended up on his own small farm doing part-time agricultural stuff. His first career was teaching agricultural mechanics, and his last career was performing testing at farms as part of the New York State Mastitis Control Program.

Child 3 ended up with part of the “old homestead” and built his own small farm (the one pictured here, at an annual Memorial Day Picnic) where his part-time pursuits include raising beef, hay, and eggs, and working in his retirement at a nearby farm.

Child 5 married a man who was the owner/operator of a milk trucking company.

Child 6 married and ended up on a small farm of her own raising beef part-time and having a family milk cow.

Child 7 bought the remainder of the “old homestead” and while he does not farm per se, he does breed and raise Newfoundlands as a part-time venture.

The Farmer does not expect 70% of his offspring to maintain an intimate connection with agriculture, but it has been nice to give them that exposure as they are growing up.

Farm Technology?

When The Farmer graduated from the Cortland Enlarged School District, back last century, his parents bought him a Vic-20 computer. That was back in the days when you hooked your computing device up to your TV as a monitor.

The Farmer spent the summer between high school and college teaching himself the BASIC programming language.

He has dabbled with computer technology ever since.

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Pork Dishes – Flavor is in the Fat

This is what pork is all about.  The flavor!  Whether it is smoked or spiced or roasted, the flavor is what you remember from a good piece of pork.  And what makes the flavor?  The fat.  As Julia Child has been attributed to say, “Fat gives things flavor.”

The fat is what is left in the pan after you cook your bacon and what gets drained into a container to be later used to flavor veggies or rice or potatoes.  It is what mixes with the barbecue sauce of Sloppy Joes made with sausage or with the sauce of the pulled pork and what you sop up with the bread or boiled potatoes at the end of the meal.  The fat of a smoked ham slice or pork chops melts and flavors the potatoes or rice it is cooked on top of.

Pigs resting in their hut

We cook pork either by itself or on top of something: such as,  bacon cooked first and then eggs cooked in the grease; smoked ham slices, pork steaks or chops cooked over rice or potatoes; pork roast, first pan seared and then roasted in the oven.  In the last scenario, the fat is saved for a later use OR the bones and fat are boiled to make a broth for rice or for soup.  (This makes an excellent bean soup broth!)

Sausage is used to flavor things.  It is added to soups; it is the spice of sloppy joes – 1 part sausage, 3 parts hamburger, spaghetti or barbecue sauce for the sauce; it can be added to a stir fry or to an egg dish.

How have you used pork recently?  Let me know by email or in the comments of this post.

March on the Farm

March can have so many different faces.  Last week we were looking at 12 inches of snow with paths cleared, but a good snow cover on everything else.  With the freeze-thaw pattern – below 32F at night and above during the day – we will see the snow compact and will see some water leave the property, but much will get soaked into the ground.

If we didn’t have the snow cover, then we would be in mud season.

If it gets warm enough, then we will think about working in the garden and would probably hang the laundry out to dry.

With these different faces, what is one to do in March?  Well, we keep doing what needs to be done – feed and water the animals, pitch manure when it is above freezing, cut firewood for the summer and next year.  Then we plan for the summer growing season – what seeds and tubers should be purchased, what chicks or poults will we want, what equipment needs to be repaired.  Next we purchase those things and repair broken things.  Finally, we learn, read, and take classes related to farming, so that we are better prepared when it is time to do our summer growing.

May you enjoy your March as we enjoy ours!

2 Liver Pâtés

Here are 2 liver pâté recipes that we have used over the years.  The EAS Liver Pâté with variations is blended liver, milk, eggs and spices.  Lunchon Pork Pâté is blended liver and sausage.   Both taste good and are not hard to make.  Both can be eaten warm with crackers or bread, or can be used the day after for sandwiches.  My children prefer the one with sausage, which is not surprising, as many things taste better with sausage!

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February Challenge – Organ Meat

I can hear it already – “What do you mean organ meat?  You mean, like liver? And why do it the 2nd month of the challenge? Can’t we wait until later in the challenge?”

Organ meat has to be included sometime.  It is a legitimate meat that local farmers will sell. It includes the odd pieces – heart, liver, tongue, kidneys, brains, ox tail, chicken feet, pig feet and hocks. (Ox tail, chicken feet,  and pig feet and hocks aren’t technically organ meat, but we will allow them for this challenge.)

We have scheduled organ meat in February because that is traditionally when our family eats heart (Valentine’s Day).  (And yes, we have eaten rabbit at Easter and would consider reindeer at Christmas!) Rather than have just heart this month we have included all organ meats.

What are ways to prepare these items?

  • The feet and hocks make good stock that can serve as the foundation for soup or for the liquid to cook rice in.
  • Heart and tongue I tend to boil and slice and serve as part of dinner or in sandwiches.
    • Chicken hearts I saute with onion, celery and/or mushrooms in oil.  Once the onion is limp or the celery is soft, then I turn it to low and let it simmer with the lid on to make sure that the hearts are cooked.  I have several young children that like this as their birthday meal.
  • Sliced kidneys or liver can be soaked first in milk.  If I soak them, I do it for 30 minutes, change milk, soak them again for another 30 minutes.  For the kidneys this reduces the urine smell/flavor.
    • Kidneys – I have made steak and kidney pie.  More recently I have made Tom Clack’s Deviled Kidneys from Shannon Hayes The Grassfed Gourmet. It is sliced kidneys in a spicy ketchup sauce that is then served with bread or over potatoes or rice. (Recipe to come later in the month.)
    • Liver
      • This can be ground or finely chopped and mixed in with other meats.
      • Before we moved to the farm, I always would cook liver with onions.  We would sometimes serve it as a sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce and mayo and call it a Real Man’s Sandwich!
      • One of my early farm customers gave me a recipe for Danish Liver Pâté.  Her in-laws were from Denmark.  Her mom sent the recipe in Danish to her, her husband translated it into English, and she gave it to me.  It is raw liver, blended with milk, egg, flour and seasonings, which is then baked and served on crackers or bread.  This is now my main way to serve liver.
        • A similar recipe adds sausage and omits the milk and egg.  My children like this a little better.  Lots of things taste better with sausage!
  •  If you have a good way to make something with some other organ meat, make it and include it in the comments.

Again, the rules are that this made from organ meat grown local to you.  Comment below by March 3, 2018, with what you made, how you liked it and how you would make it differently next time.

Organ meat is on sale for $3.75 / lb through March 3, 2018.

 

 

Christmas Traditions

Christmas is a special time for many people. The Farmer has very pleasant memories of going to Grandma’s house for Christmas. Besides playing with the cousins, The Farmer loved Grandma’s nut tray, cracking shells and enjoying tastes that he did not get at home.

As an adult, The Farmer wanted to shape Christmas to his own liking, and since The Farmer’s Wife was willing, a unique format for our meals has developed.

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Dried Beans

Many of the pole beans we grow can be eaten as a dried bean. This means that you don’t harvest the bean when it is young and green. You let it grow full size.

As the beans mature, the seeds inside the pod get much larger. The pod drys out in the wind and sun, leaving the bean’s seeds as the part of the plant that is eaten.

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