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It’s a good thing there are only 24 hours in a day

Hustle, hustle, hustle! When the weather turns and the sun comes out, it is all hands on deck. I have to keep reminding myself that it is only April and that I will be planting crops until August. I used to think that vegetable farming was a marathon race, but now I am more inclined to think of it as a track meet.

Yes, the season is long, but it really feels like a series of sprinting events, and the starter gun has definitely gone off. We are getting the peas, spinach, beets, chard and lettuce planted. We are also getting the ground worked up for potatoes, corn and winter squash. So in the spring we are mostly preparing the ground for planting and then planting it.

As the season marches on we are still working the ground for summer crops, like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but we add in weeding – lots of it (ugh!). We also add harvesting of those early planted crops of lettuce, spinach, etc.

About June we move into a weeding, watering and harvesting cycle. Life also begins to mellow and the days become more manageable (ahh! deep breath). Life feels normal. We are not quite there yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

We have lots to do between now and November. This week we are planting strawberries and potatoes!

 

Sprinter (Farmer) Tristan

 

 

 

cow

Order your grass-fed beef before prices increase!

Prices for our local, grass-fed beef will go up $0.10 per pound after April 30th, so place your order today!

June beef is sold out, but we still have shares available for August and October.

 

Mashed Cauliflower with Cheese and Chives

Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower

2 tablespoons cream cheese

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 clove crushed garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Trim the stem from the cauliflower and cut it into small florets.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and simmer just until tender, about 8 minutes.

3. Drain the cauliflower florets and transfer them to a food processor. Add the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese to the food processor and pulse until creamy. Add the garlic and pulse for about 30 seconds.

4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the chives, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with additional chopped chives.

Adapted from Kelly Senyei’s recipe from justataste.com

Know Your Produce: Beets

If you’re not a fan of beets’ famously bright hues, then cover your work surfaces before you start peeling, slicing, and grating. To store beets, cut the greens from the roots, leaving an inch of stem attached, and place the different parts in separate plastic bags and refrigerate. Beet roots will last at least a month, but you should use the greens within three or four days.

Roasted Beet and Fresh Greens Salad

2 1/2 lbs. small beets, trimmed and scrubbed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt

4 cups leafy greens, with any thick stems removed

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets on foil lined with parchment. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; season with coarse salt. Wrap foil into a sealed pouch. Roast beets on a rimmed baking sheet until easily pierced with a skewer, about 45 minutes. Carefully open pouch; when beets are cool enough to handle, rub off skins with paper towels. Halve beets (or quarter if desired).

2. Arrange beets and greens in a serving dish. In a skillet, bring remaining 3 tablespoons oil and cumin seeds to a simmer; toss with beets and greens. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

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Meat – The Way It Was Meant To Be

A few years ago, I was invited by the director, Robert Kenner, to attend a screening of Food, Inc., in Los Angeles. This invitation was all thanks for my brother who filmed much of the movie. I jumped at the opportunity to see the film.

What struck me the most while viewing the film is that food works best if we let it do what it was created to do. Tomatoes left to ripen on the vine are sweeter, have a much greater nutritional value and a flavor that cannot even compare to the tomatoes that were plucked while still green and left to ripen on the truck while in transit. The same goes for cows.

Cows were created to eat grass. Their digestive systems were designed to consume grass and yet lately, due to ease, cost and control, many cows are being fed grain. Now we all know that grain, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but when cows start eating something other than grass things start to go wrong.

As things have started to go wrong for cows because of their unnatural diet, science has solved the problem by creating antibiotics that combat the diseases that arise. Rather than solving the problem by changing their diet, which would eliminate the need for antibiotics, we are now consuming meat from “cows that are essentially being kept alive by drugs” (baronbeef.com).

So now that we got that out of the way, let’s focus on the benefits of grass-fed beef. For me the most important part is that it just plain tastes better. Richer, meatier and more complex in flavor. But there are other reasons as well. “The animal itself thrives because it is getting the food it was designed to eat and it converts that food to muscle and fat that is higher in minerals, vitamins, CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid) and Omega 3 fatty acids, and lower in cholesterol and fat” (baronbeef.com). Even though grass-fed beef isn’t injected with antibiotics you have a much lower risk of getting diseases associated with beef such as E-Coli and Mad Cow Disease.

To learn more about this and in general where our food comes from, I can’t recommend the film Food, Inc. enough. Also, any of Michael Pollen’s best-selling books, like the Omnivores Dilemma, provide a very thorough look into the world behind the food on our plate.

In the meantime, I highly encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity to purchase and enjoy grass-fed beef. Not only can you eat it in good conscience but you will be thrilled with the wonderful taste that comes from cows that eat a diet they were created for.

by Ashley Rodriquez, Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom.

You can read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com

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Good Fences are a Must

The first year I ran cows, I spent a lot of time researching which grazing system I wanted to use. There was barb wire, New Zealand, or just one hot wire. The choices were straightforward. Every dairy cow in our valley is controlled by one hot wire right next to the road. Being overly cautious, I settled on two hot wires. 

Well, those first cows arrived, wandered out of the trailer, impolitely walked through the hot wire, and left. OH NO! Thankfully it was Sunday and all of our neighbors were home. It took all day long to round them up. Fortunately, one our dairy farm neighbors corralled them for us. Our family went to work building a 4-strand barb wire fence with one hot wire in the middle. That was an education. Now when our cows break a hot wire fence, it is an interior fence and they are still contained by the perimeter barb wire fence. We even have combination locks on our exterior gates so that they can’t be accidently opened. Nothing like chasing cows, and cows by nature are pretty docile, but when they know you are trying to catch them or move them all bets are off. 
 
The other challenge with having fences is controlling the grass on the fence line. It takes us 40 man-hours to trim the grass in order to make sure that the blackberries don’t grow and the grass won’t short out the electric fence.
 
Last week, when we were trimming the grass, a hot wire at a post was cut and no one noticed for a day or two. Eventually the cows let us know, at least the few that are always testing the fence and our patience☺. (Hmmm, sounds like a good segue into parenting, but we will save that for another week.)
 
We are now on the hunt to find the short in the fence that the cows have discovered. I am not concerned, however, because now the cows can only wander around inside the perimeter fence and not the neighbor’s yard. But we still need to find it. We start turning off sections of fence to locate the short. Sometimes the short is a wire that is touching another wire or overgrown grass touching the wire or, in this case, a cut wire.  
 
We finally ended up finding the break. It was on a buried section of wire where it came out of the ground. I grabbed the end of the wire to fix it, but I grabbed the hot one that wasn’t shorted out. Man that wire was hot—sent a jolt right up my arm. Yep, the electric fence charger still works.
 
Moral of the story: good fences make good neighbors and let your kids fix the fence when it is shorted out!
 
 
 
 
PS.Take a look at our video below to meet the cows! 

(vw75)

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Beef…the way it was meant to be

The good food community is making a difference! Thanks to committed “foodies” and connoisseurs of fine food, “pink slime” is being removed from the market place. And it is not because our beloved USDA or federal government had an issue with the product, but because the consumers spoke up and said, “Enough !”

Last week, Tyson Foods told their major investors to expect a 2-3% drop in sales because of the pink slime issue, and AFA in Pennsylvania, the major supplier (producer) of pink slime, filed for bankruptcy. 
The loss of this “filler” product is going to further cut into the shortage of American beef animals because pink slime was made of beef scraps and then added to hamburger. Without pink slime being added as a filler, it means that more beef will have to be used to replace the loss of this product. Also, because of the drought in the Southwest over the last few years and really high grain prices, many beef operations sold out and got out. The grain prices have been high for lots of reasons, but the primary reason is that a lot of grain is now being grown for ethanol and when farmers compete against automobiles we usually lose.
Ironically, the consumer is the biggest loser. When the cost of fuel increases, so does the cost of food. When farmers have to pay higher fuel prices then it costs more to produce, harvest and get our food to market. Fuel is the 800 pound gorilla in the room and it takes a huge bite out of everyone’s budget.
 
Thankfully, there is an alternative to rising fuel costs and grain-fed meat. Klesick Family Farm has been working with local family farmers since we began in 1997. We have a great network of farmers that care about their animals and raise them with dignity.  And because we are a local grass-based farm and work with other local grass-based farms, we are not contributing to the craziness of petroleum and its world politics. But even more importantly, we are not supporting the unhealthy GMO grain world and our cows are not beholden to Monsanto in any way, shape or form.
 
We still have shares of 2012 grass-fed lamb and beef available. A quarter share of beef is approximately 90 lbs. of meat, filling about two shelves of a large upright freezer, and costs around $6/lb. Imagine that! You can get locally raised, all natural grass-fed hamburger and T-bone (100% true beef) for $6 a pound. By purchasing beef the way it was meant to be, you are not only supporting local farms, but also sending an important message to Monsanto, Tyson Foods and other mega food companies!
 
If you haven’t ordered local meat from our farm or network of local farmers, it is easy, healthy and straight forward. Just click on the meat page at our website or call the office and we can walk you through the process. 

 
In support of local farms and real food,