So, you have a few acres. You want to raise something animal like to feed your young family. Where do you start, you may be asking?
Chickens. Chickens are the gateway animal to all sorts of good eating, good stories, and interesting childhood experiences. Jim (7) and Frank(4) take care of the egg laying hens. These hens will stay around for 2-3 years and require food, water, and shelter but aren’t high maintenance. All our children have started with the hens. A bonus for the boys is that they find all the odd eggs first. The double yolkers are theirs! The egg the hen forgot to put a shell on (it happens). Theirs! Jim has even learned how to fry eggs so when he gets hungry, or just excited about a find, he can take care of business.
Rachel is our “mother hen” in the brooder. She takes care of all the incoming birds for the first month of their lives. Primarily she cares for the broiler, or meat, chicks, but later in the summer we add in turkeys and the replacement layers. Feeding and watering chicks is a job young kids can do with a bit of supervision. The perk of raising the meat chickens is that they are only around for 7-9 weeks. They lack the personality of the laying hens but are in and out fairly quickly. You can bring them to us to butcher, or do it yourself. Part of the Pastured Poultry class coming up in May is how to process your birds yourself. Anyone can do it!
Pastured Poultry classes give you all you need to embark on chicken raising, from cute chick to in the freezer. Classes run May 21-22, June 25-26, and July 23 (processing only). Contact us via e-mail or phone if you are interested in attending!
This winter and spring we have worked to support farming operations in Maine, to include a Homestead Hog Harvest processing class this coming fall. Here is a great article from the Bangor Daily News featuring one of the farmers we are working with:
(link follows below picture)
Today is slicing day. I’m slicing coppa, guancialle, fiocco, and ham (for sandwiches). Of course, we make sure it’s all good as we go. That’s a more important step than one may think. After hanging for some time, the pieces ideally have some mold on them. This helps impart desireable flavors and keep the meat safe–if it’s a good white mold. Green and black mold are BAD. We’re constantly patrolling the hanging room for good molds and bad molds, and I also check as I’m slicing to be sure a given piece doesn’t contain an unpleasant surprise. When we see green or black mold it gets treated with apple cider vinegar. If it’s just a small spot, a spray from a spray bottle usually does the trick. Larger areas require some scrubbing and rinsing in the shop with the vinegar and water. Then the piece dries and hangs in the shop a day or two to make sure it got cleaned thoroughly before returning to the hanging room. Mold spores are airborne, so when I find a little mold on a piece I mist the floor and general area lightly with the vinegar as a precautionary measure. Last year we had more trouble with mold, but this year these measures have worked well.
Another lesson learned this year is that seasonality is an element in the quest for good vs. evil molds. The reasons for harvesting hogs in the fall when the nights are cold include the fact that the cooler temperatures retard mold and allow the pieces to go through the initial cure, when they are most moist and therefore most vulnerable, with greater safety. When the more humid summer months come the pieces are either done and in use, or have a protective layer that is dryer and less conducive to mold growth.
There are many other reasons to harvest pigs in the fall and many other ways to control molds in your hanging room. We discuss them in the classes, which are now all updated and available. Check out either the Saturday classes to jump into the process that interests you, or come to the weekend class to get an intensive experience!
The Hog Harvest classes are coming up! Here’s a cool video a friend of ours did about our pigs:
We made a video of how we process chickens today, just for fun. July 25th is the date you can come and learn how to do this at home. It really isn’t hard! Raising chickens is an easy place to start in raising your own meats–and you CAN do it all yourself. Check it out:
“Let food be your medicine”
Our 16 year old just discovered a fascinating truth: what you eat affects your body. Yep. Achy joints? Fuzzy head? Difficulty getting up in the morning? Lots of acne? The underlying cause and fix are often in your food and how your body interacts with it. Our chiropractor recommends eating up to 300 different foods daily to get the minerals and vitamins and other nutrients you need to maximally function. You can come a lot closer if you figure in all the spices and ingredients in things; however, the 20 ingredients in Fruit Loops don’t go far because they are “nutrient fluffy.” The goal is to eat “nutrient dense” foods, meaning that the carrots and lettuce and chicken on our dinner plates are as full of the tasty building blocks of life as we can get them.
How does one get nutrient dense food? One needs nutrient dense soil. This happens when you build your soil with complex fertilizers like compost and organic matter. However, there are things to know about assessing and targeting your soil’s needs. In this video, Dan Kitteredge will talk about why nutrient density is important and the first step in building your soil.
By the way, it’s February now and he recommends testing in the fall. Not to worry. That’s an optimal time, but there’s no time like the present (well, maybe the present in a couple of months) to start. Do your soil test when you can. Dan will look at sample tests in the workshop coming up and teach you how to look at your test and feed your specific soil. Sign up today: Bionutrient Food Association workshop & registration!
Here’s an introduction to Dan Kitteredge and some of the work he’s doing on his own farm (yes, he actually farms):
Check out the course in February on the Calendar page.
“How can I become a farmer?” someone recently asked us. Well, if you have dirt and can put a lettuce or tomato or carrot seed in it, you can become a farmer. It’s that easy.
However, growing food is also a science and art that can be learned and honed. That’s what this course is about: learning the science and art of growing food that truly nourishes body, soul, and soil. Here’s what the Bionutrient Food Association says about the course:
They do have scholarships, so don’t let the money deter you. We have hostel type housing on-site, so don’t let that deter you. This is a great course for beginners and seasoned growers alike as Dan Kitteredge is a wealth of information and a down to earth communicator. If you can’t attend our class, look for one near you. It’s an opportunity that’s not to be missed!
December 31. Today’s job is to work on the calendar for this coming year’s Anyone Can Farm classes. It’ll be a work in progress, but we’re excited about some changes and looking forward to hosting a course in February.
The biggest change this year will be a shift to more one and two day classes. Look for a chicken butchering day class. Look for a day to learn how to make bacon and ham. Look for a cheese day. Suggest a topic and we’ll see what we can do!
Here are a few scenes from this past year:
Little Artshram and Baker’s Green Acres/Anyone Can Farm will host a free introductory lecture and potluck on Sunday, December 7th, from 5:30-8:30 pm with Dan Kitteridge of the Bio-nutrient Food Association. We are pleased to bring this free lecture about bionutrient food production, with an opportunity to consider and prepare for a two-day training course later in February.
The introductory lecture and potluck will take place at the Anyone Can Farm bunkhouse in Marion, Michigan and will allow those gathered to meet Dan Kitteridge, the founder of the Bionutrient Food Association, to ask questions, and gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of growing more nutrient rich foods and the ways in which we can return to growing nutrient dense food in our gardens and farms. Please RSVP the FREE Introductory lecture and potluck by contacting us.
Following the introductory lecture in December, the 2-day workshop is scheduled for Feb. 21st and 22nd, also being held at Baker’s Green Acres.
In the February workshop, you will learn how to detect and understand the unique advantages and limitations of your soil and your crops, as well as the interactions between your plants, soil, and air. You will learn how to grow better food, and help heal the environment and nourish humanity. And the best part? Bionutrient rich food just tastes better! This evening introduction will prepare you for the class later this winter.
As Penny’s O’k CSA Cooperative garden-farm sites were “put to bed”, we also took time to take a soil sample from each in order to fully participate in the upcoming Bio-Nutrient Food Association’s crop production workshop, which will take place after this lecture as an intensive 2-day workshop Feb. 21st and 22nd, and will focus on principals of biological farming, identifying deficiencies, vital health in the field and care-taking crops thru the season. Registrants will be expected to procure their own soil tests as desired, and instruction for interpreting those will be covered during the workshop. You can follow this link about soil testing at the Bionutrient website.
Please bring a dish to share, and plan on a fun, informative evening with friends and neighbors who care about growing good food and eating good food!
For directions to the December potluck/lecture and February workshops contact us:
To REGISTER for the 2-day workshop, Feb. 21-22:
Sign-up online here: www.bionutrient.org/workshops
For additional information:
Right: A Mangalitsa ready for processing.
Left: Everyone gets dirty! Scraping and cleaning the pig is a team effort.
Cutting the chilled carcasses into primal parts, or useable pieces.
Part of the fun of any Anyone Can Farm class is the sharing of our collective skills and interests. The WhistlePig Whisky distillery in Vermont sent a couple of their folks to visit us. Besides some great maple syrup (what else, from Vermont?), we learned some about fine whisky.
The beauty of lard: leaf lard chipped and ready to render.
Besides turning pigs into pork, ie: delicious bacon, creamy lard, and superb proscuitto, we ate a lot of flavorful pork. The attendees were introduced to the pig, nose to tail and most all parts in between. We enjoyed stimulating conversations and fun music. Everyone left with heads full of information and possibilities. “And a good time was had by all.”
The part of overgrown squirrel was played by Mark and family last night. Acorns are great feed for pigs and traditionally are a finishing feed. Mark explains how and why we use acorns:
You can come experience the acorn pigs, maybe even feed some, at the Homestead Hog Harvest class coming up soon. Sign up today to be sure you get a spot!
Here’s a teaser for the Hog Harvest class coming up. At the class, though, you get to “do the thing.”
Remember, Anyone Can Farm.
Coming soon! You can sign up on our calendar page, or e-mail email@example.com.
It’s cooling off and that means hog killin’ on the farm. Traditionally, chickens were a summer meat and the hogs and cows were butchered when the nights got cold enough to cool the meat and kill the flies. At the same time, the pastures the cows and pigs were on were depleted and their bodies had naturally stored up fat for the winter, so the time was right. If you’re into self-sufficiency, the next step after raising the animal is knowing how to put it in the freezer or meat locker. Homestead Hog Harvest will do exactly that. You get the benefit of the whole farm experience while you learn, hands-on, how the take a hog from the pen or pasture to the smoker and freezer. We’ll feed you a great deal of pork and teach you how to cook the whole pig, from snout to tail including the organs. You can stay with us free of charge in the bunkhouse, where there is heat and a hot shower available. Check it out on the Calendar page, and see how previous classes fared: Hog Harvest 1, Anyone Can Farm facebook page.
Hope we see you here!
The weather is changing and the trees are beginning to look like fall. That makes us start to think about Hog Harvest. Then this article from the UK came across the computer screen. The Mangalitsa is a neat pig, as are so many heritage breeds. We’re looking forward to some fresh wooly pig pork and to sharing the experience with you!
Here’s your chance! For all those times you’ve thought it’d be fun to learn how to make mozzarella and just wanted someone to show you, now’s the time. June 7, at the Anyone Can Farm bunkhouse, starting at 9:30, we’re going to turn some of our Baker’s Green Acres milk into a few quick cheeses. It’s just a friendly gathering of a few folks to enjoy a real food process. I’m planning to help you (we’re all about hands-on) make mozzarella, feta, and queso blanco/paneer cheese. If we have opportunity, we may start some kefir and yogurt, too. All these milk products are easy to make at home with a few ingredients. Donations accepted to cover costs. Bring something to share for lunch. There is limited space in the kitchen, so let me know through the Calendar page or by e-mail if you are coming.
Mark talks about watering your chickens, whether on pasture or in the brooder, and other pastured poultry issues.
If a weekend class doesn’t work for you, but you want to learn all you can, there is an opportunity for you to spend the summer at Baker’s Green Acres. Mark explains:
For more information visit www.BakersGreenAcres.com or contact us!
Matt is a young man with a vision. He sees himself revitalizing the dormant family farm using regenerative agriculture practices. He wants to, ultimately, offer pork, beef, and chicken to local customers. Where to start, he asked himself. “Chickens,” was his decision. So, he attended our recent Pastured Poultry class to get a jump on the learning curve.
Not only did he get an intensive weekend on everything chicken so that his first 150 broiler chicks would go well, he got to see how the whole farm works together and gathered ideas for his own farm of the future. We walked the fields, watched the pigs tilling up the gardens,
milked the cows, and talked politics while learning about chickens. We also talked about marketing and the importance of sound (rather than haphazard) business practices.
Chickens are a great place to start in raising livestock. You can have a few hens in your backyard, or let the kids have a small start-up business supplying eggs to friends, or raise broiler chickens to build a market base and learn farming (like Matt is doing) before jumping in with both feet.
The next class is May 23-25. We hope to see you there!
This weekend we are looking forward stretching our wings again and welcoming our first class of the season. Pastured Poultry is the topic this weekend. We’ll be looking at how to start chicks and are getting our own chicks this week to have them ready. We’ll build a chicken tractor and look at how you can get your chickens on the grass in your situation. Lastly, we’ll process a few birds so you have the skills to be entirely self-sufficient in your own chicken operation. Plus, you get to spend a weekend on the farm as our guests! We look forward to seeing you on the farm.
In the last week we’ve had an explosion of our pig population. Through the recent yucky, springish wintery snowy rain weather the sows decided it was time for piggin’, or farrowing. Here are a couple videos Mark made talking about this process in a pasture system:
Yesterday the little ones were following their mothers around, napping in the sun, and just enjoying being alive. You’ll be able to see them, plus everything else we do, when you come for a class. You get a whole farm experience with a focused learning topic. They’ll still be little and cute for the April Pastured Poultry class!
We got our first batch of chicks last week. The weather isn’t ideal, but there are ways to work around it. We used to raise these birds through the winter. We’ve worked toward being strictly seasonal for many reasons, so now we start them sometime in March and end sometime in October. This year we’ve held off a bit, but now we’re rolling.
Here are a few brooding principles we use:
1) Heat. Heat lamps work good–the standard shield and high amp variety. You have to monitor these because they can create hot and cold areas in the brooder and can start fires (that’s really exciting!) with the bedding. They are effective to do the job, though, for brooding small groups of chicks once or twice a year. We use a gas brooder now. They are bigger and more efficient for brooding large numbers of chicks. They also help maintain a healthy moisture level and heat more evenly. We have some friends who have an outdoor boiler for their house heat and have the same radiant heat for their brooder. That works wonderfully on all counts (even heating, dry bedding, safety) but is a higher input if you don’t already have the set-up. The bottom line, though, is simply heat. The ideal temperature for the first week is 90 degrees, tapering off to “room” temperature by the end of week two in July, week three in March and April.
2) Container. The first few days the chicks like to be in a small area–like all newborns who are used to the cramped space pre-birth. Then broiler chicks grow at an almost exponential rate. Layer breeds grow slower, but like more space under any circumstance. Folks start chicks in all sorts of containers: Rubbermaid boxes, kiddie pools, cow hay bale feeders, plywood boxes, etc.
One of the considerations in your container is to round out any square corners. Chicks like to pile on each other when stressed in any way (hot, cold, damp, thunderstorm, crowded, too much space, bad mood) and corners are their place of choice. If there isn’t a corner they are less likely to pile and the collateral damage is less. We’ve actually stopped piling simply by rounding the corners, which had the net effect of changing the stressor, which was too much space.
The other consideration with your container is flexibility. Because they like to be tight at first and need more space exponentially, you need to be able to expand the initial space. Dividers that can be removed as they grow is an easy way to do that. We have expandable brooders and have panels that allow the chicks to eventually come and go out of the heated area. We place their food and water in the cooler area to encourage them to go in those areas.
3) Feeders and waterers. Most chick feeders and waterers have small edges and are red. You want to be sure the little ones can get their sustenance without having to climb into the container. Pans of water are a bad idea as a wet chick (and they will get in it!) is a potentially dead chick. We’ve learned the hard way that if they can climb into a feeder they may get stuck in it and that’s not a nice discovery at chore time. The red color helps them figure the process out quicker. Chickens peck at red anyway, so it’s a natural step to play the hen’s part and teach them to eat and drink with the coloration. The chick feeders and waterers are a worthwhile investment.
That’s today’s wisdom. We’re taking applications for the April Pastured Poultry class, where you can learn all about chickens from start to finish.
Pasture raised chickens are tasty, healthy, and easy to clean up after. Layer chickens like to run around the yard and go home at night. The broiler chickens prefer a little more structure. A “chicken tractor” is the thing for them. Essentially, it’s a mobile pen that you move every day. That encourages them to seek out new grass and bugs every day while protecting them from predators. We have an e-book that will give you the directions for the summer weight tractors we use. Here is the link to purchase your copy: Chicken Tractor e-book. Happy chicken raising!
The farm is in it’s restful winter mode, but we haven’t been. We just realized that it’s the middle of February! We are making the schedule for this coming year and are looking forward to seeing you. The Pastured Poultry weekend classes, Hog Harvest classes, and Permaculture and Soils class are up on the course schedule. We are still working on a couple of new classes and some one day classes. Those should make an appearance very soon.
Last summer proved too busy with our legal wranglings to get the online videos done. We hope that this summer won’t be so busy and we can complete one or two of those.
Check out the new class dates! Check back for more information soon!
Mark had the job of milking for a week while Sam was on a fishing trip. He took the opportunity to make some videos while he was waiting on the cows. Here are the links to the series:
Last weekend was our first Hog Harvest class.
Day one saw everyone busy taking the pigs from the field to the cooler.
We saved the internal organs, including the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, and brain. Here Mark is showing how to separate the caul fat from the spleen.
Day two was cutting the halves of the pig into pieces.
Day three is the yummy step: starting the curing process and making sausage.
This is a hands-on class, and everyone got their hands into every step. Along the way we ate great food and stayed up way too late discussing the world. Students remarked that it helped to see how the pigs were raised, and to see them as part of the bigger picture of the whole farm. They left ready to tackle raising and/or processing a pig or two. That’s what it’s all about!
Remember: Anyone Can Farm (and that includes you).
Mark tells you about the Hog Harvest classes coming up:
This past weekend we had a group of folks from Indiana who ordered pork and sent two families to pick it up. The benefit to the Ritzmans and Baughmans was some OJT (on -job-training). They got to help us to kill, scald, and scrape one hog, and pitched in to cut and package the 4 hogs they took back with them.
As we looked at the different cuts, we talked about various ways to prepare and preserve the parts of a pig–especially the not-so-commonly used ones, like the head, trotters, and brains. Actually, we enjoyed the brains scrambled into an omelet for breakfast. They end up being about the same consistency as the eggs and can pass unnoticed.
This is the thing we do that led to Anyone Can Farm. These folks did not get the benefit of a full-blown class. This was a utilitarian, get the job done session. Learning happens when hands are put to work, and that’s what Anyone Can Farm is all about. Plus, we solved the world’s problems, ate good food, and parted hoping to do it again next year.
We have two opportunities coming up for you to join us for a weekend and learn the whole process, from in the pig pasture to putting meat on salt to cure: October 25-27, and November 1-3.
We will be processing pigs through the fall and into December. If you’d like to purchase a half or whole hog and help butcher your pig, let us know! OJT is a great way to learn.