Sunday, July 24, 2011

Farming in June

Look who is eating my dill: A Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

This is a little late but life is finally settling into a nice "routine" in our family. Sharing about my mini-farming is more for my record but I still hope you are amazed at I am how much so little space can provide.

Meat: 2 birds off to the freezer (we need at least 6 to make a meal).
Eggs: 130 from six hens; equivalent to two dozen large chicken eggs. We are finding that everyone loves these hard boiled. They are the perfect snack size!
Produce: Production finally started taking off in June. I used both Rodale's and a Farm Co-op in New York for the prices which seem closer to what we pay for organics here. FYI: A bunch of greens usually weighs about half a pound.

  • Strawberries: 6lb. @ 3.53/lb = $21.19
  • Lettuce: 1 1/2 lb. @ $5/lb =$7.50
  • Bok Choi: 7 oz. @ $2.06 = $.90
  • Kohlrabi: 1 lb. @ $2.86/lb. = $2.86
  • Snow Peas: 1 lb. 5 oz. @ $4.40/lb. = $5.80
  • Chard: 3 lbs. @ 1.67/bunch = $10.02
  • Daikon Radish: 11 oz. @ 1.27/lb = $.87
  • Kale: 9 oz. @ 1.87/bunch = $2.10
  • Green Beans: 8 oz. @ $2.23/lb =$1.12  
Estimated value of June Harvest: $52.36

One of the best things about growing a garden (and buying everything else in bulk) is that I don't have to go to the grocery store or farmers market as often. Going out into the garden everyday to gather my small harvest adds up to a lot. Every day I would pick strawberries we might eat a few and then freeze the rest. Over a months time I had frozen enough to make a dozen half-pints of jam.While you can't do that with everything, often I can gather enough in 3-4 days to make a family sized side dish.

As far as bartering has gone, I exchanged 3 days of milking my friend's cow for one month of free milk. Pretty sweet deal, eh?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I am reading this book right now and totally fascinated by the art of preparing good meat. "Art?" you say? Yes! When you get really high quality meat from animals that live their lives as they naturally should on pasture the meat is fundamentally different than the stuff you buy in the grocery store. Not only are the animals raised differently but their meat goes through a very different process of cutting, hanging, aging and packaging than you get with meat from your local chain store.

This year I purchased half a hog and a half a steer (which steer I then divided with a friend) from Meadow Run Farm. Last year we bought our quarter from a different farmer and the meat was fine but we didn't feel like we got a good deal. Enter: Offal. Offal is just about everything edible other than the "meat" you are used to buying. By requesting the offal and choosing to eat it we save money because we pay by the hanging weight (weight of the hanging animal before cutting). Also, it seems far more respectful to the animal and less wasteful if we make use of as much of its body as possible.

I wasn't prepared by just how much extra stuff I would be getting. Not only did I get the organs, tongues, tails etc. of the pig and steer but I also got the fat for rendering into lard and tallow and the bones for stock. Learning to prepare organ meats can be challenging but that is why I am reading the above mentioned cookbook.

Now for the nitty gritty details: Our side of pork had a hanging weight of 100 lbs. and cost $325. Of actual cuts we received 15 lbs. of ground pork, tongue, liver, heart, kidneys, about 20 lbs. of fat, lots of bones, 1 tenderloin, 12 lbs. of pork chops, 1 rack of baby back ribs, 4 shoulder roasts, 1 shank roast, 10 lbs of pork belly (bacon), 3 ham roasts, 3 ham steaks and 2 packages of spare ribs. The roasts are all between 3-4 lbs. each.

Our quarter of beef, after being divided with our friend had a hanging weight of 115 lbs. and cost $392. Out of that we got 24 lbs of ground beef, 9 lbs of hamburger patties, 3 chip steaks, 3 lbs. short ribs, 2 flat iron steaks, 1 petite tender, 8 soup bones, 2 chuck roasts, 1 sirloin tip roast, 7 New York Strip Steaks, 4 Filet Mignon steaks, 8 Delmonico steaks, 4 mock tender steaks, 1 Tri Tip roast, 2 sirloin steaks, 2 London Broil, 1 brisket, 2 eye roasts and 1 skirt steak plus probably 30 lbs. of bones and fat. We haven't yet received our offal and ox tail but we will be getting it next week.

Fun stuff! This should last us until next summer but anticipate that we may need to buy more ground beef. It truly is a pleasure buying directly from the farmer and having so much choice in what we get for our dollar. I highly recommend going onto to Local Harvest and searching for farmers in your area. Being able to know where the majority of the food we consume comes from is such a blessing. Even with the high price tag, the assurance that what I am feeding my family is of the highest quality keeps me coming back for more.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Holy Cow! 9 Months!

Just a little update because I have some fabulous news and you probably won't even believe me. The GAPS diet is steadily moving forward. I am ever so slowly healing and learning the rhythms of how my body heals. Bodies are weird. When I started GAPS I developed a new symptom: tiny little painful pustules around my eyes accompanied by eczema. I had never had either of these before so I felt like my diet was a lost cause. Thanks to the Interwebs I discovered that for some reason or another (detox?) the pustules commonly appear with the addition of dairy to the diet after a long hiatus. Aha! Eventually they just go away but in the meantime I am treating them with a healthy dose of topical coconut oil.

And now for the fabulousness: I healed a cavity! You heard me right! In December I had a cavity that my dentist wanted to fill right away because it was pretty bad. It was way back on one of my last molars in between the teeth where food has a tendency to get caught. Well, aside from the fact that I didn't like the guy in the first place, I strongly believed that my dietary changes would allow my teeth to heal themselves and refused the filling despite dire warnings against my choice and guess what? The cavity is gone! Hurray!

I am starting to feel like this diet is going to be something I stick with for the long haul. The more time I spend eating this way, the easier it gets. All the food prep can be daunting and having a teenage foster daughter who refused to eat anything not heavily processed made things even harder but now that she is gone my time in the kitchen feels easy peasy.  I still can't eat most fruits without a bad reaction, but berries don't seem to bother me at all. I also recently added dairy kefir and raw honey and I am okay with them in small doses.

Healing is wonderful! Today I learned that my mom was just diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and my first thought was "I will not follow suit." With all the healing that I have felt so far on this diet, I really believe that I won't. Right now I am feeling so grateful that I have had all these health problems at such a young age when change doesn't seem insurmountable and infertility is a HUGE motivator. I never thought I would say that I am grateful for my various maladies but with this diet and the healing I am experiencing the future seems so much brighter!