Pastured Chicken Order Form

We now have whole pastured chickens available for sale. Chickens can be picked up on-farm, or at one of our freezers in Viroqua or Madison. Farm share customers will get their chickens delivered along with their monthly meat bundles.

DIY Portable Solar Electric Fence Energizer

Here’s all the components you need to build your own portable solar fence energizer and save hundreds of dollars. It’s super easy. With this setup, we’re able to keep miles of polywire fence for cattle, and 3+ acres of electronet fencing for sheep through thick brush.

Essential Components:

Premier IntelliShock 20 AC/DC 2.0 Joule Energizer – $169.99

12V Deep Cycle Rechargeable Battery – $69.99

20 amp Solar Charge Controller – $17.99

30W Solar Panel – $49.99

Waterproof Tool Box – $32.36

Grounding Rod Kit: $26.54
Total = $366.86 – Save over $300 off equivalently powered energizer kits. Prices on Amazon subject to change 🙂

Optional Components:

Mallet to pound grounding rods through hard or rocky soil:

Extra Wire to connect battery and charge controller

Wire Stripper and Wire Connector Kit

4-pack of Alligator Clips

Our Favorite Electronet Fence for Sheep:

Our favorite Electronet Fence for Goats

Newsletter – June 2017

Milkweed and monarchs! There was no milkweed here when we arrived to overgrazed pastured and poisoned cropland. After 3 years of rotational grazing, it’s popping up all over the place and the monarchs are already here laying eggs!

We also got bees! It’s something we’ve been wanting to do since we first got here, but the season to get bees started is usually in the spring, when we’re the busiest with everything else, so we haven’t had time. We bought a 4-frame nuc and got them settled in a new hive box. In just the last month, they’ve more than doubled the population and are gathering tons of pollen and making tons of honey. We have an amazing diversity of flowers here from the apple trees to the red clover to the diversity of flowers in our prairie restoration. It’s a bee’s paradise! We’ll be adding new hives soon as the population grows, and look forward to having honey available for our farm shares in a couple years.

It’s grass growing season right now on the farm! The warm sunny days, cool, dewey evenings, and weekly rain showers mean we’re in serious grazing mode right now. We’re racing through the pastures with the cattle, sheep, and chickens. This is the time where the cool-season grasses are racing to flower, pollinate, and start producing seed. Once a grass plant successfully produces seed, it stops growing for the season. It’s completed it’s annual mission! If those flowering heads get eaten or mowed, the grass will continue growing throughout the season. We would rather have green grass to graze all season, so we graze cattle hard and fast this time of year to keep them munching those flowering stalks, preventing the grass from going to seed. Once the grass slows down a bit as temperatures warm, we’ll slow down our rotations in sync.

Our chickens are loving being out on pasture! We’ve got 300 Freedom Ranger broilers out on pasture now and they’re racing through the grass. Freedom Rangers are a breed of chickens that are much heartier and healthier than the standard cornish cross meat chicken breed. They are excellent grazers and hunters of bugs. We have them up on a steep hillside where its rocky, has very little topsoil, and the forage quality is low. It’s the poorest pasture on our farm. By running the chickens through, they scratch at the grass, poop, and heavily fertilize the ground. We can’t wait to see the green grass that will follow later in the year and the cows can’t wait to eat it! We move them twice a day in order to keep them in fresh grass. It’s quite a challenge managing this endeavor on such a steep hillside. We’ve made all kinds of wedges and props to keep feeders and waterers flat and to keep them from spilling. Travis loves chasing them back in their tractors if they get out. We’ll have fresh whole pastured chickens available in early August. You can sign up to reserve your chickens here.

We’ve gotten a lot of work done in the last few weeks with a new addition to our farm crew. Rachel moved out here from the central coast of California. From redwoods to the driftless! She built a camper out of reclaimed redwood lumber on the back of her pickup truck. On the first day she arrived, we moved it onto a trailer and now she’s got a nice little perch in the back of our valley with an excellent view! She’s been super helpful helping us build fences, move cattle, build chicken tractors, and pack up and distribute our meat shares. We’re happy she’s here!

Peter was recently interviewed about our farm and his switch from graduate studies to farming. Check out this nice article by the Land Stewardship on page 20 of their newsletter.

This month we’ve included a package of beef stew meat in everyone’s shares. We love this cut of meat. Usually in the winter, we slow cook it in the wood stove oven or put it in a pot of broth for stew. Here is a nice recipe for a spring time meal with stew meat: Cuban-Style Stew Meat

Cuban-Style Stewed Beef

We love stew meat. Here’s a good recipe for dinner on a cool spring evening.

This is a mild, family-friendly stew. You can always omit the olives for those opposed.

Ingredients:

Braise:

2 tablespoon lard or rendered beef tallow

1 package stew meat (about 2 pounds) or beef chuck roast cut into 1” cubes

1 quart water

1 quart beef broth (or water, if not available)

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 garlic cloves minced

2 teaspoons salt

Stew:

2 tablespoons rendered tallow or lard, or olive oil

1 medium onion, quartered and sliced thin

1 red pepper, quartered and sliced thin

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 16 oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 cup olives drained and halves

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup peas

Salt and Pepper

Rice and black beans for serving

To braise the meat:

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil and brown stew meat, about four minutes. Add broth and water, and the other ingredients for the braise and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until meat is tender, about two hours.

Remove meat and bay leaf from liquid. With a fork and knife, shred the meat into small pieces. Pour braising liquid into a bowl. If there’s a lot, reduce in a pot until about three cups remain.

In a clean, nonreactive skillet, heat oil. Add onions and pepper and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, thirty seconds. Add shredded meat, two cups of braising liquid, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, oregano and cumin. Simmer, uncovered, twenty minutes. Add vinegar, olives and peas and continue to simmer five minutes more. Add more braising liquid as necessary to reach desired consistency. Adjust seasonings. Serve with rice and black beans. 🙂

Driftless Nettles Soup

This is a delicious spring soup that we enjoy on cloudy days when it is still a bit chilly. Remember that nettles are stinging…meaning if handled with bare hands they contribute a mild stinging, almost itchy sensation. This stinging property is neutralized when the nettles are steamed and fully cooked. To avoid it, handle nettles with gloves.

Ingredients;

  • 3 cups chicken or beef bone broth, low sodium, preferably homemade
  • 2 tbsp. bacon grease or lard
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 bunch each or a combination, about 1/4 pound stinging nettles and watercress
  • fine sea salt and black pepper
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly slice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • sour cream
  • chopped chives

Method:

Bring broth to a boil on the stove.

Heat oil in a saucepan. When hot, add onion and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, around 5 minutes. Add nettles and stir to wilt. Add broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook for a minute. Then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, around 10 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Stir in butter. If you have it, a add a little lemon zest.

Serve with sour cream and chopped chives.

 

 

Grilled Steaks with Ramp Butter

I embrace the nourishing proprieties of high quality animal fats in our meals. We especially appreciate the French cooking technique of finishing nearly every dish on the table with a healthy pat of butter right before serving. Steaks, in my kitchen, are no exception. The ramp butter melts with the meat juices and lends a delicate flavor to the steak. For more punch make with green garlic, or skip the greens and follow the recipe with just butter. We used the extra butter to season our grilled potatoes and asparagus. Spring bliss.

Ramps are a native spring woodland flower in the Allium family – the same as onion and garlic. The small bulbs and stems of ramps have a unique subtle garlicy onion flavor that we only have the pleasure of enjoying for a few weeks each year. Get a few bundles from the farmers market this weekend!

Ramp butter

1 bunch ramps, washed and trimmed
2 sticks butter, preferably organic, softened

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, submerge ramps and blanch for 30 seconds, then immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Dry in a towel. Mince ramps finely on cutting board or process in a food processor. Then add butter and mash together.

Store in the fridge or freezer.

Grilled steaks

Sea salt
Steaks: ribeye, porterhouse, tbone, rib steak, New York strip all work well

Bring steaks out of the fridge at least a half hour before you want to cook them. Season with salt to taste and let rest on your counter.

Light your charcoal or heat your grill. You want a hot sear side and a cooler cook side, achieved by piling many hot coals in one corner of the grill and a thinner layer next to that. The sear area should be too hot to hold a hand one inch over, the cook zone cool enough to have your hand over for two or three seconds but not longer than that.

Twenty minutes before you want to serve the steaks, place them on the hot side to sear, about two minutes per side. Transfer to the cook area to continue to cook another five minutes or so depending on your preference. It’s a good idea to get used to testing for doneness by poking with your finger.  A medium rare steak feels like poking the space between your thumb and pointer finger when you’re making a fist.

Remove from the grill with tongs to a cutting board. Place a generous tablespoon of ramp butter on each steak and tent with aluminum foil. Let rest ten minutes, then serve.

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!

Shiitake and Nettles Saute

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons lard or cooking oil

1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems removed

3 green garlic stems or scallions, chopped including green parts

1/4 pound stinging nettles, soaked in water

1-2 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add oil. When oil is shimmering but not smoking, add the mushrooms and stir to coat. Add a pinch of salt. Cook mushrooms, stirring frequently, about seven minutes. When nice and soft and browned, add scallions. Cook thirty seconds, then add the wet nettles. Place a lid partly over the skillet to steam the nettles, for a minute or so until very wilted. (The wilting gets all the sting out!). Add the butter to the pan and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve with your grassfed burger. 

Newsletter – April 2017

It’s April and although it’s an early spring, it’s a soggy one. We’ve had plenty of rain the past few weeks and mud for the past two months. Fortunately, it’s now just now warm enough that the grass and clover are beginning to wake up and creep out of the ground. We wait to graze until they have really started to grow, like waiting for our grass to be a decent size before we mow it. This helps the roots of our pasture grasses get nice and strong and keeps us from clipping it too short.

We are in the middle of an early calf season. Ideally we’d like to calve a little later in the spring, but it worked out that the calves are a bit earlier this year due to an unintended early breeding with a very, um, robust and insistent (fence-jumping) bull. We still have many calves and lambs to go, so we are up and about all the time checking on the mamas and babies. We let our animals have their babies outside, so our job is making sure they have access to clean and dry areas to go, clean water and proper nutrition. They will continue to munch on hay for another month or so while we wait for the grass to get taller, so we make sure to give them good groceries.

We got out a little bit already to seed some prairie seeds into our field where there are still some bare spots. We’ve also been focusing on logging and milling from our pine plantation in preparation for our building project this summer. It’s been a challenge with all the mud! As the ground greens up the animals get a little more restless, so we are often working on fencing for those guys keeping them in just a little longer until we really have enough forage for them to chow down. We also will be building some extra tall fences to make sure we can keep our bull contained this summer.

Peter has been busy getting everything ready to build a house this summer. He’s been logging our white pines, milling timbers, and making wood chips with the branches. It’s quite a job!

We’ve got some delicious beef roasts to hand out this month. There are a couple different types of roast: marbled pot roasts like chuck and arm, and lean muscle rump roasts. A couple of cooking suggestions for each:

 

Wine-braised Beef Roast

Roasted Rolled Rump Roast

Roasted Rolled Rump Roast

Contrary to the chuck, the rump of the cow has lean muscle groups. The rolled rump roast comes from the eye of round, the middle of the cow’s rump. It is the cut of beef used to make roast beef sandwiches, and should be roasted with dry heat in an oven or a grill until medium rare or medium and sliced very thinly to serve.

Rub roast all over with 2 tablespoons sea salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Let it come to room temperature on your counter, about an hour.

Heat oven to 225. Heat your largest skillet on the stove. When hot, add 2 tablespoons tallow, lard or vegetable oil. Sear the meat on all sides until well browned, about ten minutes. Top with one spring fresh rosemary. Transfer the roast to a roasting pan or baking sheet, or put the entire skillet in the oven.

Roast for 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the middle of the roast reads 135. Let the roast rest on a plate 20 minutes, tented with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, make a sauce, if desired.

In your dutch oven or skillet (not cast-iron) where you seared the roast, heat 1 tablespoon tallow or vegetable oil. When hot, add one diced shallot. Cook until softened, about two minutes. Then stir in 3/4 cup low sodium (or homemade) beef or chicken broth, 1/2 cup red wine and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Scrape the bottom of the pan and simmer until thickened. Off the heat stir in 3 tablespoons melted butter, salt, pepper and a little fresh thyme if you have it.

To serve, slice meat very thinly, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and drizzle with sauce or pass at the table. Alternatively cool the roast and slice the following day for roast beef sandwiches, salads and snacks.