Thursday, February 20, 2014

Start to Finish

Thank you Cocoa!

From May 2013 to February 2014, a cycle is complete.  Ginger's first calf, little Cocoa, was born here and lived an easy life.  He was able to grow fat on his mom's milk for six months then enjoy any array of alfalfa, vegis, pumpkins, and grain.  He was able to run and jump, sniff and investigate like any calf should. He slept most of the day like babies do and enjoyed many a scratch behind the ears.  

Then when he started to grow up he was even able to express some of his manhood and bully us around a bit.  (The poor goats got bullied around alot!) And at a certain point when he was eating the same amount as his mom and when he was getting just too big to handle safely (with those horns of his), it was time for him to go.

We knew from the start that Cocoa's destiny would be to fill the freezer.  Since we don't eat meat it would not be ours. And when all was said and done the whole scenario could not have worked out better. A friend purchased him, picked him up in her trailer, brought him to the slaughter house and then the butcher.

This friend of ours happens to be extremely particular about where her meat comes from and feels it's important to face the animals she will eat.  So she sat with Cocoa to the end and watched the complete process to make sure it was as humane a possible. She was even kind enough to bring us back some of the innards for our compost pile so a part of Cocoa could be incorporated into the soil where he was born.

We saved Cocoa's beautiful hide for salting and preserving as well.  We say farewell to Cocoa who gave us our first amazing experiences with calf rearing. He was sweet, gentle and of course very stubborn. We are all grateful for the gifts he has given us.

Every part of Cocoa was used.  He was split between four families, meaning he will feed and nourish fifteen people.  Just in case any of you are considering buying a whole animal for meat to share or just for your own family, here is a cost comparison analysis of the beef purchase from the buyer, I thought it was interesting to see the breakdown.  Cocoa was eight months old and approximately 700 lbs.  

Compared to a 6 month subscription from Marin Sun Farms
 (adjusted for weight differences)
more steak--102%
less roasts--32%
less hamburger--15%
more bones--100%
more offal--100%

cost savings of meat per pound (excluding offal and bones)--36%
total cost savings--33%
final cost per pound of meat (excluding offal and bones)--$5.20

pounds of meat each + 1/4 of the bones and various cuts of offal--46.26

And now, all is quiet here on the farm.  Are you are curious about Ginger??  We have been watching her closely. She seems to have had her few days of wondering and most likely mourning but with all the green grass coming up it's business as usual. 

Monday, February 17, 2014


The coldness and darkness of winter urges us to slow down.  This is the time of year to reflect on our health, replenish our energy, and conserve our strength.  Eating warm hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts helps warm the body's core and keep us nourished...


The first seasonal CSA baskets have been delivered.  Our winter share includes a green forest salt soak and scrub, herbal vapor rub, fire cider, adaptogen elixir, redwood chai, and a potent osha-black seed honey. The focus for winter is boosting immunity, with six medicinal creations that offer prophylactic defense, as well as promoting healthy circulation and warming the system.  Advice for winter wellness; sleep early, rest well, stay warm, expend a minimum quantity of energy. We had so much fun making all these goodies! 
Spring shares are available for order now.  Check out more info here. Many winter blessings and praying for more rain!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Growing the Staples

Now that we are finally receiving the long awaited rain (hurray!!), the race is on to get winter chores done.  We've been amending beds with manure, heavily mulching, building compost piles everywhere, and transplanting lots of starts from the green houses to the beds.  After going at this small farming business for almost four years now, we are honing in and getting organized.  Our seed list has narrowed as we have learned a thing or two about what we like to eat and preserve, what types of plants grow well here, and what we can plant that will give us a large yield with little energy input/water.  

The changing climate and weather patterns are forcing us to rethink everything.  For us that means starting to establish our food forests and for annuals, keeping it simple.  Growing the staples (beans, potatoes, squash, brassicas, and eggs) can keep us well fed all year long. Of course we'll plant some of our other favorites, but the bulk will be these five.  

Since runners beans are hardy, produce a large harvest that can be eaten fresh or dried, and can become perennials, there are big hopes to plant them all over the garden this year. Scarlet runners, painted ladies and many more varieties to climb the fences.  

Yukon Gold is our preferred variety
Potatoes are probably the biggest crop we want to grow.  Our family consumes masses of them and with growing boys it's always good to have some around as a base for a meal, especially when we are trying to cut back on wheat.  Plus they thrive here, our big dilemma is that the gophers love them as much as we do.  We're still searching for a solution to that problem.  

Eggs are versatile, reliable, don't need refrigeration, and can be grown off the compost, extra vegis and waste products from our farm.  They are our main source of protein given half of us don't eat meat.  Every breakfast around here includes eggs with a variation of avocado and toast, porridge, or potatoes.  

winter squash grows exceptionally well in our garden
A list of other crops that are easy and grow well for us in our soil and climate are zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, winter squash (Oregon Sweet Meat is our favorite), red and yellow onions, garlic, quinoa, amaranth, and artichokes.  Planting vegis that need more hydration near the grey water is key and we'll be dry farming tomatoes again this year. These rainy days are perfect for planning and dreaming of the garden to come....