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Oh, Betty Rose

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Ah, just look at that pretty girl, lounging in a pile of food.  That there heifer in repose be the beeeeyootiful Betty Rose.  So much sass and just enough class.  She’s Abigail’s girl, hence the good looks – you know she doesn’t belong to Lois.  Her daddy was a Dexter bull, so that means she will probably be petite her whole life.

I’m really interested in what good might come from crossing the small breeds (i.e. Dexters, Lowline Angus) with hearty Scottish and English breeds like Galloways and Devons.  With grass-fed beef, we want animals with good carcass yields that efficiently convert grass to mass.  We don’t really need to hang the biggest steer on the block.  (One of the USDA auction reports down in PA last week listed a slaughter steer that weighed over 1700 lbs on the hoof.  Holy what?!?!  Looks like someone decided to take Paul Bunyan’s ox to the abattoir.)  The proof is in the pudding, of course, but these very intriguing numbers come from the Lowline Angus website.

lowline-tableTwo things to note: 1) Stocking rate is almost double the average of 6 other large/medium-framed cattle breeds.  2)  Retail Meat Yield for small cattle is 66% higher than the average of the 6 other breeds.  Also consider that these small cattle have 1/3 the nutritional requirements of larger animals, although that seems like a very low number and might be Lowline voodoo.  Maybe someone can do the math for me, but 66% more yield per acre seems like a good thing, even if you’re feeding twice the number of animals one-third of the feed.

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Hey, hay buffet

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Busy morning today.  Up to Tufts to grab a round bale for the cows, but now they are all set for the next few days, at least.  Paul and I spent some time trying to rake the snow drift off of the barn roof, to make room for more coming.  Looks like some snow – just a bit – this weekend, but hey, at least it will be mixed with some rain.  And then possibly some more mid-week, but we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.  One thing is certain – this year, we’re going to have one heck of a mud season.  Might have to invest in a pair of bog waders just to get anything done during the month of April.  But spring will come, one way or another, and we better get ready.  Time to get the seed order finished, and to start tracking down some animals to stock our pastures.

More snow may be in the forecast, but it looks like we are in the clear for Monday.  Plenty of carrots, beets, and celeriac to go around, and still a decent selection of beef and pork.

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Back in Business

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Just before the first big storm in this completely unholy string of snowstorms, the John Deere tractor decided that it was not going to start.  And so, in spite of the kind efforts of some neighbors and a mysterious stranger with a very large machine, the snow has really been piling up in front of the barn.  Well, after a lot of head-scratching and a full complement of scraped knuckles, I finally got the tractor running again.  Starter motor had finally given up the ghost after 40 years of service – a relatively simple and inexpensive fix once I finally figured out what the problem was.  There’s really nothing like the sound of an old diesel motor turning over and roaring to life on a cold winter afternoon.  And those fumes, those incredible fumes!  That is the smell of victory, my friends.  And just in time to get things cleared up a little bit before we get whacked with another foot of powder.  Let’s hope that the old tractor can push through the accumulated snow drifts deposited in front of the barn by a very crotchety Old Man Winter.

Looks like we’ll finally have a snow free Monday, so we’ll be back in business at the Brigham Hill Community Barn.  Hit the website to place your orders.

Thanks!!

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Mo’ snow

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It looks like more snow in the forecast, but we will have pickup this Monday, no matter the weather.  We just wouldn’t be proper New Englanders if we let a little snow shut us down 2 weeks in a row.  No way, not now, not never.

See you Monday!

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These carrots are gooooood

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There’s something crazy happening with our carrots.

These familiar Red-cored Chantenay carrots are the same variety that we’ve grown for 4 years, and they are well-loved by many regular customers.  One customer’s children will now only eat “farm carrots” – they are by far the coolest kids I’ve never met.  Sometimes I think that people come to Monday pickup these days just to get carrots, and that it has nothing to do with wanting to say hi to their favorite farmer.  It’s OK, I get it – these carrots are really good.

And they’re getting better.  Especially in the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed the carrots have developed a more intense flavor.  More fruity, reminiscent of a sweet red pepper.  According to the FEDCO seed catalog, Red-cored Chantenay carrots get better in storage, but I’ve never really appreciated it before.  Perhaps we just were never able to store them for quite so long.  Whatever the case may be, there is something to be said for the joy of discovering the amazing flavor of fall-harvested heirloom carrots in February.  This small pleasure, and a million others like it, are what’s missing from industrial supermarket food culture.

As good as these carrots are, they won’t last forever where we are storing them.  However, they will keep for many weeks in a plastic bag in your refrigerator, or in a similar cold dark place.  Just keep the humidity high.  Order 10 lbs or more for  $1.25 / lb – this price won’t show in the shopping cart, but we’ll take care of it at pickup.

If you have a good carrot recipe that you want to share, send it over – I want to start a recipe section on the website.

Thanks!!