Inter-species affection and play on the first day of grazing!
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu
We had this month's newsletter opening mostly written, and then realized that our thoughts and conversations have been so focused on the constantly changing news regarding the Coronavirus, that it seems to be a much more appropriate topic to address.
All of us have concerns about ourselves as individuals and families, and most of us have worries about people we are close to who are more vulnerable to this virus. How will it affect us as individuals and as a community? What will happen as schools, businesses, restaurants shut down?
Here on the farm we have an ample supply of our own meat, eggs, dried mushrooms, homegrown and stored vegetable and fruit. We buy in bulk to feed the community, so we always have the staples we need, to avoid going to the grocery store very often. The off-farm income that helps support the work of the farm is secure, and can continue from home. We are already fairly isolated compared to most, but our personal resiliency does not help us to rest easy at night, knowing that so many do not live in the place of privilege that we do.
We've discussed what we can do as a farm business and community. We know that the food we offer is nourishing and is important for our health. If you have a CSA share with us or just want to place an order and decide to isolate or quarantine due to becoming ill, we can work out a doorstep drop-off for you. Please contact us if this applies to you. We're also doing our part by following the recommended WHO (World Health Organization) protocols for hygiene.
So, what can we do more broadly? We are open to conversations about how and where we can help, if things become difficult. What are your ideas about ways to help? Can we begin a conversation about how to create more resiliency within our communities? How can we support each other through difficulties?
Times like these are when communities need to come together to take care of one another. Through mutual aid, kindness, compassion, and sharing resources we will foster resiliency. Stay up to date on medical advice put out from the WHO and CDC but don't let the facts put you into a state of fear. Do self-care to stay healthy and check in on your elders and community members who have pre-existing illnesses. If you are an elder or someone who is immuno-compromised please reach out if you're in need. We will get through this together.
What we're cookin' here on the farm...
Okay, we're not exactly cookin'...rather we are rendering! In the photo above you can see our simple process of rendering lard, using a crockpot. The fat from our pasture-raised pigs comes back from the butcher frozen in packages, and we thaw it partway, then chop into pieces (golf ball size or smaller), and just put it in the crockpot on low. As the fat melts, we gradually ladle out and strain the melted fat into quart mason jars. Shannon Hayes (author of Long Way on A Little cookbook) says it keeps up to a year in the refrigerator and indefinitely in the freezer. She also says "Sustainable livestock farming cannot happen without sustainable livestock consumption. We must make use of all the gifts an animal provides when we take its life." (p. 35) And, "Good, clean animal fats...are our source for the all-important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which enable us to absorb minerals from our food." (p. 36). There are many methods for rendering fat, and Shannon prefers a stove-top method which is detailed in her book. We have found the crockpot method to be simpler and effective for us.
We have frozen pork fat available for sale if you would like to give it a try!
Each year we anxiously wait for the grass to grow tall enough for the first day of spring grazing. This year it was the earliest day ever, March 15, about 2 weeks earlier than last year due to our unseasonably warm winter. Spring grazing starts again the process of regeneration on the farm where the flerd's rotational and adaptive grazing (not the same formula but managed with careful observation) begins to increase soil health, plant health, and the health of the herd. The plant is grazed, its roots die back to feed the soil, it regrows to a greater height before the next grazing (grass grows fast in spring!), the flerd grazes again, more roots die back to feed the soil life more, grass recovers even quicker, and the process continues and grows. Meanwhile, our pasture trees are all growing and beginning to cast shade (which helps animals and plants in the summer heat grow), sending their roots farther down into the soil to pull up minerals and provide habitat for more soil life, and providing habitat for birds and insects that are more numerous each year as well (and those birds bring in a lot of free poop for the pasture). So, the first day of grazing is always an exciting time for for us where we feel like our grazing management with the animals can have a lasting impact on creating more abundance in our little corner of the world. The cows, grass, trees, sheep, and wildlife all end up creating more life and health on the farm just by being themselves and performing their role in the ecosystem. That's a lesson worth remembering.
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic we will be suspending events until further notice.