Newsletter – May 2017

It’s May and raining again. We had a bit of warmth and grass growth a few weeks ago but the recent cooler weather has slowed it down to a crawl. We are really excited for the warmer weather later this week and to get all the animals out in their normal pasture rotations.  In the meantime, the nettles are growing, well, like weeds and we are chowing them down. Nettles are an amazing spring super food and delicious vegetable. Loaded with trace minerals and vitamins, they fill us up with nutrients while we wait for the garden to start producing. We’ve been eating them everyday either with eggs at breakfast, as pesto, or stir-fried with shiitake mushrooms. We are offering bunches of nettles as an add-on this month. They are wonderful steamed and stir fried, and can also be dried for a delicious and nutritious tea. 

Also emerging this month were shiitake mushrooms from our ironwood mushroom logs. We (especially Tilia!) have been enjoying them every night sauteed with nettles and finished with a generous helping of pasture butter.

We brought out a sheep shearer to clip all of the beautiful wool off of our wooly sheep. The Rambouillet sheep are a type of Merino sheep that make the ultra-soft merino-type yarn for garments that can be worn next to your skin. They produced an abundant quantity of wool that we took to our friend Kathryn Ashley-Wright in La Farge. She owns Ewetopia Yarn Shop in Viroqua and now the Ewetopia mill. So all of our raw wool will be washed, carded and spun into yarn six miles from our farm. We will hopefully have some of that yarn available for purchase in the coming months. I’m already planning some sweaters and hats for my family….

We’re still spending a lot of time logging and milling wood from our old pine plantation. There are some big pine trees ready for harvest, and with the right thinning we can open up many smaller pines so they are able to get more sunlight and grow big for future building projects in years to come. We were able to borrow a really nice portable bandsaw mill from a friend and have been busy stacking up boards to dry and turning the tops into woodchips. The boards in the photos will be the panelling inside our future house! 


There are a whole crop of new pullets (young chickens) in the chicken coop who are just about ready to start laying some beautiful brown eggs. We’ve been watching them chow down nettles and grass. Tilia has been socializing them so they are well used to full body hugs and trips around the paddock.They should start producing soon and we hope to offer them as add-ons next month

300 baby chicks are nestled in the bottom of our barn now growing fast. They are a breed called Freedom Rangers that thrive especially on pasture. In a few week’s they’ll be out running around eating grass and bugs. In a few months we will harvest them for roaster chickens, so stay tuned for chicken add-ons.

We got a couple litters of pigs a few weeks ago! We got them from an amish farm where they’d spent their whole life in a barn stall. They sure were excited to get outside! They spent their first hour on the farm, running in circles around their paddock. We’ve got them in the barnyard where we overwintered the cattle, and the pigs are happy digging around all the waste hay and mud. They’re a mix of Berkshire and Red Wattle. They’re really nice pigs and we’re happy to have them out on pasture.

It’s grilling season! It’s also ramp season! Here’s a recipe for grilled steaks with ramp butter we’ve been enjoying that combines two of our favorite foods. Enjoy!

  • Krystian ,

    Hi there,

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful work with us. Are the nettles “Stinging Nettles”? We have a lot of them around as well, but they are for sure stinging. Would you process and eat them the same way?
    Thanks,

    • pclarkallen@gmail.com ,

      Yes, they are stinging nettles. The skin on your palms and tips of fingers is generally tough enough to not really feel anything. Sometime’s I’ll get a little sting on the side of my finger if it accidentally brushes against a leaf, but it doesn’t really bother me. Tilia usually picks them for us and they don’t seem to bother her either 🙂