Lambs love to play, and sometimes cows are the playground!
"The best farming systems are ones where animals and plants are put into a synergistic relationship."
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma
The cool, damp weather of early spring seems to want to hang on longer than we would all like this year, and it has pushed back many of our garden plantings. But many plants that we started indoors are finally in the ground, and most of the seeds have been planted. Just a few late crops to get in yet - sweet potatoes, okra, summer and winter squash, some late corn. We plant a big garden each year, trying to grow as much food as we can to feed ourselves here on the farm, with a few extras that we sell along with our meat and mushrooms.
Some folks might ask...why not use all of your land to grow vegetables? Wouldn't that be healthier for ourselves and the planet? Given the recent news about meat shortages, there are some vocal advocates for having everyone eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. I recently read Jonathan Safran Foer's article The End of Meat is Here in the New York Times. I was considering writing a response, and then I read Jon Darby's response to a Facebook posting of this article, and found that he had written exactly what I wanted to say. Jon is the Education Director at the Horn Farm Center in York. We have partnered with them for several years, we respect Horn Farm's work, and Jon's voice carries weight with us. Here's what he wrote in response to the article:
"An end to industrial meat? Yes please. But one of the best strategies to repair land ecology, restore carbon to the soil, and improve biodiversity is rotational grazing of cattle mimicking the way large mammals existed on the land prior to western civilization. It’s a nice slogan, but meat isn’t murder if done with natural systems in mind. It’s actually living in relation with the land and it’s inhabitants and becoming fully human again. So don’t quit meat, support regenerative farmers doing it right. This article starts with a completely false premise and ignores the fact that not all meat is equal."
Exactly. Ruminant animals like cows and sheep turn sunlight into protein, and they enrich the soils, the land and our bodies in the process. We don't eat meat every meal here, and we have community members and friends who are vegetarian and vegan - we respect their choice. We do our best to treat all living things here on the farm - people, animals, plants - with respect and value, and we thank all of you who support your local small farmer who is doing their best to provide good food for you.
Our newest multifunctional riparian buffer!
What's happening on the farm...
We are now sold out of all of our Summer CSA shares so thank you all for your support and interest in helping to regenerate land with your fork. For those of you who weren't able to sign up, we are very low on inventory at the moment but we still have a large supply of pork roasts, bones, organs, and fat for sale at our store. We have a small amount of mutton, lamb and other pork cuts too. We will have beef again in August. And, shiitake mushroom season is about to begin and there will hopefully be many fungal surpluses in the future to share so keep in touch.
On the farm, we have planted another riparian buffer that will act as a windbreak for our orchard trees as well as provide a great deal of beauty and wildlife food. The trees we planted are ninebark, redbud, red osier dogwood, spicebush, and winterberry. All are beautiful native trees that grow well in wild, wet areas or in a landscaped yard. We have also been grazing our cows across the road for the first time to much success (though they did escape one night and I woke up at midnight to a cow beneath my bedroom window mooing for attention) and we are excited to see how that silvopasture will grow and respond to the healing power of cows. And of course, we are busy in the garden planting and weeding as the weather finally warms up and we pray for no more late frosts! Wishing you all green growth and sunshine as your gardens, plants, and tree friends wake up too.
Cows and sheep grazing on the pasture across the road from the farm - lots of tall grasses and plant diversity!
What's cooking here on the farm...
Given the opening to this newsletter regarding our meat consumption choices, it seems a good time to share a favorite recipe that stretches a bit of meat to serve many people. This recipe is endlessly adaptable - use whatever vegetables you have on hand - cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, greens. Just increase the cooking time for vegetables like broccoli and make sure to chop them into fairly small pieces. Add greens at the end, just enough to wilt them. Experiment - we have tried many combinations and they all work!
1/4 lb bacon, chopped in small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
Peanut or canola oil, as needed
4-6 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup celery
1 cup peas
4 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
soy sauce to taste
For this recipe, it helps to have all the ingredients chopped and in small bowls close by. As the ingredients are added to the skillet or wok, keep them moving to avoid sticking to the pan, and be generous with the oil that is added.
Using a large skillet or wok over high heat, fry bacon for a few minutes, until fat is rendered some and bacon is beginning to crisp a bit. Add onions and fry for a few more minutes until it is becoming translucent. If using a wok, push bacon and onions up the sides of the pan (or, alternatively remove bacon and onions to a plate). Add a tablespoon or so of oil, and then add the eggs, let set for a minute, and then scramble. (Add the bacon and onion back, if you removed them.) Add the peas and celery, lower the heat a bit, and fry until celery and peas are heated through (add oil if needed). Add the rice, and soy sauce, and continue frying until everything is heated through.
Serves about four people - we always make more than one batch because leftovers heat up nicely. (It doesn't work to double the recipe and make it all at once - the pan gets too crowded and the ingredients don't fry well.)
Like most people, we are still waiting and wondering how soon we can schedule events again. We look forward to the day when we post invitations to events here, and see many of your faces here on the farm. For now, we will do our best to be patient.
We hope you are all well, and we invite your emails, and phone calls with your thoughts and suggestions on how we can work together to move forward in these strange times.