Grass-fed Meat CSA 2016

Comment

Grass-fed Meat CSA 2016

irrigation-project.jpg

Green Bow Farm is happy to announce that we will have a Grass-fed Meat CSA for Winter/Spring 2016 For the first time ever we will have Pasture raised pork available and we will have 2 different size shares to choose from. The CSA share gives you monthly boxes of grassfed meat delivered to specified locations in West Seattle, Ballard, and in Ellensburg at the farm. The farm share boxes will be a mix of chicken, pork, lamb, and beef spread out over 4 months of deliveries. We made the different size shares to help fit people's cooking needs but we still do not make exceptions for what kind of meat goes into the share boxes.

The Winter/Spring CSA shares will be delivered the first Sunday of the month to specified locations and will be spread out over 4 months March-June. The two different CSA share sizes. The CSA shares save you 10% off of retail prices and there will be other perks like special prices on any additional farm food you would like to buy and of course the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a small sustainable farm directly and all of your money will go to keeping the farm running and financially sustainable.

Small-The small share size will be 5-10 pounds of meat per month and is ideal for couples or a family that doesn't eat a lot of meat. Small cuts with some roasts and ground.  The small share is $75/month cost for a total of $300 due at signup.

Large-The large share size will be 10-18 pounds of meat per month and is ideal for families or people who eat a lot of meat. The large shares will have more roasts and more ground which we find to be what we eat more of as a family of 5. The large share is $125/month cost for a total of $500 due at signup.

In addition to Grass-fed Meats we also produce Pasture raised Eggs and some herbs and vegetables that we will have available as add ons to your membership as the season progresses. We will keep you up to date with emails that let you know what's happening on the farm, what we have available, and recipes!

A little bit about the farm-

All of our chickens, turkeys, and pigs are raised on pasture and are a part of our multi-species rotational grazing model. They are also fed a locally milled whole grain feed that is soy, corn, and gmo free. The feed is also certified gmo free by the Non-GMO project. Why soy free? Getting away from GMO feed is important to us but also what the animals are eating is also important to their health and ultimately the nutritional quality of the food we are consuming. There have been multiple studies showing that the Omega-3 values in chickens that are fed soy are much lower than that of chickens not fed soy. A huge reason we raise animals on pasture is to give them not only a more humane and healthy life but to give them access to the forage like grass and bugs that creates healthier eggs and meat that contain higher amounts of Omega-3's something our modern diet is lacking.

All of our Sheep and Cattle are bred here on the farm and raised on pasture and are 100% grass-fed no grain of any kind. They aren't fed hormones or antibiotics we breed our herds for health and strength so we are pretty hands off other that moving them around on pastures. We also do not spray pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers on our pastures. Instead we rely on our multi-species rotational grazing model to organically fertilize the pastures and help control weeds.

 

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="forms/d/1QrrGlWi44IbV_ZEDZ7i-Xo3SsnQ0BUs_jInu5R1-Vfk/viewform" query="embedded=true" width="760" height="500" /]

Comment

Discovery Lab at Green Bow Farm

Comment

Discovery Lab at Green Bow Farm

We are really excited to announce that we are working with Discovery Lab a local STEAM based school to have mini farm school workshops at Green Bow Farm. Our sons started attending Discovery Lab this Fall. They love it and we have been impressed with their hands on learning curriculum that emphasizes child lead interests. We started the year with DL students coming out and observing sheep shearing and also learning how to skirt and card fleeces. This got us excited about doing more educational outreach in our community. It's something we have always wanted to do but haven't made it a priority yet. So this winter with the support of the school's teacher and parents both Farmer Matt and I have worked on a simple curriculum for the students that touches on many different aspects of the farm and also gives them some hands on learning opportunities. The farm is at its healthiest when we are in touch with how all the different animals and plants are working together to create soil biodiversity and food for both humans, animals, and insects. In order to do this we need to closely observe the land on a daily basis and make adjustments to our work and how the animals are moved around on pastures. Working more with the community to teach people about how and why we farm the way we do is another way that we can be responsible stewards of the land and hopefully inspire a new generation to also look differently at where there food comes from . So here is a sneak peek at the workshops that the Discovery Lab students will be participating in. BoosterCampaign Laying Hens

February 1st visit Learn about how we use microscopes on the farm Discovery Lab Students will get samples from two different ponds and compare and contrast using a microscope If weather allows obtain fecal samples from sheep and cattle in the pasture to check on health of animals also using a microscope. Also learn about a permaculture experiment with our ducks 2nd visit Spring Sheep Shearing Observe shearing and help sort fleeces from our flock of Icelandic Sheep Compare multiple fleeces and their quality Compare fleeces from different breeds of sheep Lesson in felting and making a felt bowl

March

1st visit Seed Starts for Spring Planting Lesson on seed germination Make fermented kraut-chi with spring greens from Washington farms

IMG_6585

2nd visit Chicken day Learn about the role the chickens play on the farm Help rebuild small chicken tractors Visit chicks and learn about the brooders that help keep them alive when they are really young and also help add bedding and fill water Help collect eggs

Eat Fermented Kraut-chi if it's ready!!

April

1st visit Lambing Season Visit new lambs see lambs born if we are really lucky Learn about the Icelandic Sheep breed Explore pastures and identify plants with a scavenger hunt

2nd visit Lesson in Beekeeping After a lesson in Beekeeping with Farmer Matt each student will take a turn looking inside the beehives with safety gear on IMG_0669 First Lamb May 1st visit Planting Spring Starts Possibly seed carrots and beets Learn about compost, soil biodiversity, And compost tea. Also how it's integrated into our irrigation system

2nd visit Forage for plants on table mountain for dyeing fiber Bring back to farm and dye fiber. Students can bring dyed fiber back to Discovery Lab for future art projects

IMG_9943

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment

Comment

Winter Grass-fed Meat CSA and Plans for the 2015 Season

We are currently signing up members for our Winter Grass-fed Meat CSA 2015. The CSA is three months long, February-April, and includes a box of grass-fed meat (approx. 6-8 lb. per box) per month for pickup at drop off locations the third Saturday of the month. The drop sites include one in Ballard, one in West Seattle, and in Ellensburg on the farm. We are reserving the last of our pasture raised chickens for our Winter CSA members and our members will also have priority when we have more available this summer, our chickens are rotationally grazed on our pastures with our sheep and cattle and fed a locally grown, whole grain feed, that is soy and gmo free. Most of what will make up the csa boxes will be our 100% grass-fed lamb and beef. The three month CSA membership is $225 and you will receive approximately $80 of food per box so you will get a 6% savings from our farmers market prices. For a registration form please e-mail us info@greenbowfarm.com image

Besides being an easy way to stock your freezer with tasty grass-fed meat being a CSA member means you are also making an investment in our farm. You are helping us get our 2015 started helping buy equipment, chicks, seeds, and in turn you are repaid with delicious food. We enjoyed the CSA we started last fall so much that we want to work towards having it be a year round membership with seasonal installments. Besides having members that are really excited about what we are doing on the farm we also liked connecting with them about food. So many are like us and choosing to have backyard chickens, ferment veggies, making cheese, or just really wanting to know where their food is coming from.

Visitors

Some of the plans we have for the new year include expanding the CSA but also having some CSA memberships specifically for Eggs starting in the spring and one for Pastured Raised Chickens in the summer. We are also looking at expanding what we grow on the farm and selling at farmers markets. The past two seasons we have grown vegetables mostly for our family and we grew heirloom tomatoes to sell at the markets. This year we will do both of those things again and in addition we will grow fresh herbs for the market and also to turn into added value products like dry rubs and marinades that will work well with our grass-fed meats. We are both passionate about cooking so this is one area we are really excited about growing in and also sharing more recipes and tips for easy fuss free family meals!

Eggs

We will also have way more pasture raised eggs available this year compared to last. This is one area we saw lots of demand in last year and started planning ahead raising a new group of laying hens in the late fall. Our eggs are in great demand which is huge for a small farm like ours but it also means with that many more chickens we have so much more of that nitrogen rich chicken manure to fertilize our pastures with. Healthy soils make healthy animals, and in turn healthy people!

Bottle Feeding

Thank you for your support! Without our members and regular farmers market customers we wouldn't be able to do what we do. We also wouldn't be able to keep expanding the food we produce on the farm and see a bright future on the farm one that also includes financial sustainability.

Comment

Farm Mentors

Comment

Farm Mentors

Farmer Christina wrote a guest essay for The Female Farmer Project discussing Farm Mentors. She had a great discussion with Shelley Pasco-Verdi of Whistling Train Farm in Kent, Washington, Blair Prenoveau of Madstone farm in Northern California, and Whitney Johnson of Cloudview Ecofarm in Royal City, Wa. http://audramulkern.com/the-female-farmer-project/

IMG_5331 (1)

Comment

Chicken For Every Pot

2 Comments

Chicken For Every Pot

In today's industrial food system, chicken is raised by farmers who don't own the birds, only the infrastructure used to raise them. Or at least they own the debt as the agro industrial poultry corporations require farmers to build facilities to their specifications on their own dime, carry the debt of hundred's of thousands of dollars while the corporation has the right to cancel their grower's contract with a thirty day written notice, leaving them with expensive empty buildings to pay for. The feed that is used is heavily made up of subsidized corn and soy grown in depleted soil propped up with synthetic petroleum nutrients and sprayed with herbicides all of which end up in the food chain. The subsidized grains mean that the taxpayer is footing the bill for these less than nutritionally valuable food products and the corporations are able to buy them for less than it costs to produce them. The finished birds are then rounded up and shipped to processing plants where underpaid workers are hired to process them. The parts are then shipped out to the domestic and global market. If all this wasn't enough, the chicken is then often plumped up with saline injections to repair moisture and flavor compromises during growing and increase market weight.

2 Comments

Cooking Backwards

Comment

Cooking Backwards

Last month I spoke at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle with a great group of women all dedicated to local food. Audra Gaines Mulkern, the creator of The Female Farmer Project and the Oxbow box project, Greta Hardin, author of "Cooking Your Local Produce: A Cookbook for Tackling Farmers Markets, CSA Boxes, and Your Own Backyard", and Megan Boyce Jacobs, one of the Directors at Oxbow Center and Organic Farm. We had a great time talking about food and farming before the official speaking began, I really enjoyed the passion that all of these women brought to the table hoping to inspire people to eat locally grown and raised food but more importantly on this day to try to inspire bloggers to write about eating local food. Our topic was Cooking Backwards, a concept both Greta and I wrote about when we took part in the Oxbow box project ( My blog post for this project is titled Eating locally grown food will make your stronger, smarter, more beautiful, and possibly funnier. Two posts back if you haven't read it). Cooking without a recipe, cooking intuitively, cooking in season, all of these topics were a part of our conversation. I wish I had a transcript of all 4 speakers because we worked together to make a informative plea to this audience that cooking with local ingredients is not hard and not fussy, its everyday food that nourishes both you and your community. photo(161)

Personally the conference helped me realize how much more I want to reach out to our CSA members, and farmers market customers, really anyone who is interested in listening and create more conversations about the food we raise and how we all are cooking it. People have a wealth of knowledge that they don't really think about, but when you put all of that knowledge together there is endless possibilities of how we can help one another. Our good friends and loyal Green Bow Farm customers, Erin and Scott came up with this idea of people sharing their food evolution. It's still in the works but I would like to find a way to have people share their story about their relationship to food and how it has evolved over time. Sometimes it can happen because you start a family, a serious health concern, or you read about factory farming practices. For a lot people there is a moment where the food on their plate and how it effects them and the environment starts to play a role in what kind of consumers they are, and its usually anything but passive. Over and over again we have had people tell us at the market that they can't buy one of our pasture raised chickens because they have never cooked a whole chicken. So we have worked diligently to educate people about easy ways to cook a whole chicken and make it an everyday food. Or to talk to them about how to make one chicken into 2 or 3 meals. So I have been starting a dialogue with our CSA member asking them to send me pictures and recipes of what they make with their box of grass fed meats and sharing it on social media with the people that follow our farm. It has been great getting so much feedback and hearing from people who are as excited about the food we raise as we are. So here is a transcript of my talk at the IFBC, I hope you enjoy and I would love to hear from you if you have a food evolution to share.

Chickens

"Hello Bloggers. First I would like to thank Audra for inviting me to speak here today and also for the opportunity to take part in the oxbow box project. Both of these things have helped me solidify why local food is important to me but more importantly why it should be important to you. I may be a little biased, I’m a farmer. My husband and I raise chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep, and cattle on pasture in a way that we feel is giving back to the land and creating healthy soil. We sell our eggs, grass-fed meats, heirloom tomatoes, and honey at farmers markets, to our csa members, or right off the farm when people come to visit. We get to meet pretty much everyone we are raising food for, so there is nothing anonymous about the work we do. It also happens to be one of our job perks. We get to talk to people face to face about how we raise our animals, why we do what we do, and teach people how to cook the food they are buying from us.

The oxbow box challenge appealed to me because its a box of veggies you pick up and you have no say in what goes into it, because the farmer has decided all of that. Oxbow farm invites bloggers to take one of these boxes and write about the food that they make with it. I had all sorts of grand plans about writing several brilliant recipes and taking gorgeous pictures of the meals I made. The thing is-- I don’t cook like that. Not only am I a full time farmer, but I am also a mother to three small boys under 7 years old. My days are full of farm chores, keeping up with my very active kids, office work, planning farm projects with my husband Matthew, changing diapers, and washing eggs, lots and lots of eggs, so there isn’t a lot of time for meal planning most days. Everything is done on the fly. So, unintentionally, I have learned to cook more intuitively by looking at what’s in the fridge, pantry, or garden and throwing together whatever we have for a meal. So instead of writing recipes,  I just documented what I ended up making that week. However, I also wanted to take the challenge up a notch. I wanted to try to make 10 meals for around 100 bucks for our family of 5. So I added to the box of veggies one of our pasture raised chickens, a couple dozen eggs, a few things from our favorite farmers market vendors, pantry staples like grains and yogurt and made the 10 meals with only these ingredients.

One of the complaints I hear all the time about eating local and sustainably raised food is that its too expensive and its too time consuming to make meals from scratch. I would like to dispel this myth because I think with a little practice, cooking simple healthy meals for our families is obtainable for everyone.

It seems like a daunting task, but it’s how our family cooks, all the time. We are new farmers, and one of the biggest lessons we have learned is how much work goes into growing and raising food, so we try our hardest not to let anything go to waste. I started the Oxbow Box week off with a quick veggie scramble, sauteing torpedo onions and dinosaur kale in butter and then throwing in a generous amount of dill and sharp cheddar cheese. It was nothing special, not a very photogenic meal but it was quick and easy to make with no complaints from the boys, which these days is how I judge if a meal is successful.

The next couple of meals are what really set us up for the week. I took most of the dill that was left and made a large amount of dill yogurt dressing, adding some garlic, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. That was the dressing for the smoked salmon salad we had with one of the most gorgeous heads of red bib lettuce I’ve ever seen, but the dressing was also used in three other meals that week and also used to just dip veggies in for a snacks. The next meal was a butterflied chicken that was smothered in butter and fennel fronds, and roasted on top of a bed of fennel and onions. I took the backbone and neck and started making a large pot of broth that was then used in two more meals that week. The chicken was mostly eaten that night with a big salad and homemade croutons I make with the ends of our loaves of bread, and I took what was left of the chicken meat and made a pasta dish with it. After all that, there was something left that in a lot of kitchens might get tossed out, but I think it is one of the best parts--the fat. The chicken had been covered in butter and fennel fronds and was slow roasted, so what was left at the bottom of the pan was pure gold. A mix of rendered chicken fat and butter with bits of roasted veggies stuck to the bottom. I scraped up every bit I could and saved it in the fridge not knowing what I was going to do with it. It ended up being the base for one of the tastiest frittatas I’ve ever made. You’re probably starting to see where I’m going with this and the importance I place on using up every bit of food you can. It not only saves you time and money, but you get to be creative with your food on a daily basis AND have fun doing it. Most of the time.

Local food and the Farm to Table movement is often associated with beautifully prepared food cooked in beautiful settings, but really its not all that precious. It’s the food that most people cook everyday to nourish their families and themselves. They have a limited amount of time and if they choose to spend it cooking, they are most likely looking for the freshest and tastiest ingredients they can find and it doesn’t get any fresher or tastier than cooking with local food. Cooking this way is not a new idea and there are probably tons of people out there that are doing this, just not that many people talking about it.

This kind of cooking is not always sexy, photo worthy, or even successful-I have to expect that things will sometimes not turn out the way I planned or sometimes be a total flop. Being a farmer, especially a new farmer, I have come to expect and sometimes even appreciate the uncertainty of success. When you’re a farmer you have no control over the weather, how the animals are going to behave, when they birth, whether anyone will show up to the markets to buy food you have worked so hard to raise, or if you will have the funds you need to get the next season off the ground. You just have to show up everyday and make the most of what you have. We trust our instincts and learn from our mistakes day after day.

In both farming and cooking it all goes back to my favorite Arthur Ashe quote “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."  "

Comment

3 Comments

Fall Meat CSA

We are very excited to announce our first ever Meat CSA for Fall 2014. What is a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture is what it stands for but it is much more than that. They can be structured different ways but the basic idea is that you are supporting your farmers directly by buying a share in their farm and farm food. This is huge for a small farms like ours where costs just to run the farm can be daunting and it gives us the support we need to plan for our next season and gives us the capital to do things like build new chicken tractors. In return you get a monthly bounty of grass-fed meat that is less expensive than if you bought it retail. You can think of it similarly to buying a whole or half of an animal directly from a farm but instead of investing in a large chest freezer we will be bringing the meat to you in monthly installments that are less overwhelming and instead of having hundreds of pounds of just beef or just pork you will have a mix of chicken, pork, lamb, and beef over the course of four months. We feel its a enriching experience for both the farm and the members, giving us a greater connection to the community we are raising food for and giving you a better understanding of where your food comes from. So I will go into detail about all the different kinds of meats that will be included in the CSA and other member perks (yes! member only perks!!!) If you want to skip to registration click here. Please fill out the form and mail it to us with a check. No credit cards will be taken for CSA memberships unless you are okay with the extra 3% bank charge added onto your total amount. There is already a discount on this membership and we can't afford the bank fees on top of the discount. Now onto the exciting part! The nuts and bolts- There will be once a month drop offs on the 3rd Saturday of each month, September-December 2014. One in West Seattle (Location TBA), One in Capitol Hill at Nube Green, and one in Ellensburg (Location TBA). The cost is $600 and you will be receiving approximately 12-16 pounds of meat each month depending on the price of the cuts and it will be a mix of 2-3 different kinds of meats (chicken, pork, lamb, beef) each month. You will be receiving approximately $170 worth of meat but the cost to you will be $150 a month (so slightly more than a 10% discount). The CSA member perks will include but not be limited to priority on our waiting list for Thanksgiving Heritage Turkeys, Member only discounts at Farmers Markets, special farm made gifts that we don't sell at markets, and other things like honey when we harvest them. The gifts will be things that we think compliment our meats or may work with the recipes we include with each box. These recipes will be ones we have written ourselves or tested ourselves and think they work well with grass-fed meats. We are very dedicated to teaching people how to cook things they are unfamiliar with so we will be more than happy to talk people through things like cooking a whole chicken or how to part up a whole chicken. Register here! Mail back the form and check for your spot in the Fall Meat CSA.

Green Bow Farm Pastures- Are never sprayed with chemicals of any kind and we fertilize them by practicing multi-species rotational grazing in addition to using on the farm made fertilizers like compost and compost tea. We believe the animals when rotated around on pastures the right way will give back to the land and make the soil richer, this soil in turn will grow the animals healthier grasses to forage for. It's a beautiful symbiotic relationship that goes far beyond any man made fertilizers. If you treat animals right they will reward you and heal the land in ways you can't possibly imagine.

Pasture Raised Chicken- We raise our chickens on pasture with all of our sheep and cattle which is beneficial to the animals and beneficial to the soil. The chickens clean up what the ruminants leave behind and in this way they help fertilize the pastures and the chickens in turn are getting more nutrition from eating bugs and grass which give them a higher amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. In addition we feed them a locally grown whole grain feed that is soy and gmo free. There have been recent studies showing that chickens fed a soy free diet have an even higher amount of  Omega-3's compared to pasture raised chickens that have soy in their diet. The chickens are processed at a humane certified WSDA facility that our neighbor runs just up the road from us. We are very lucky to have neighbors that are as dedicated to sustainable agriculture as we are because in Washington State you are not allowed to sell chicken at farmers markets or to CSA's unless they are processed at a WSDA facility.

Grass-fed Lamb- We breed Icelandic Sheep at Green Bow Farm for both Wool and Meat. They are a very hardy breed that works well with our cold winters not to mention they have excellent maternal instincts and birth very easily. We raise them on pasture with our cattle and chickens letting them nurse as long as the ewes will let them. We breed them for a spring arrival and harvest in October so they are on green grass almost the entire time and 100% grass-fed which we find makes a huge difference in the quality of the meat.We have also found that their meat is slightly milder in flavor compared to the lamb that most people are used to eating and even people who swear they don't like lamb have been converted when they try ours. Our lamb and our beef are both processed at a humane certified USDA facility that is run by a cooperative of farmers and ranchers.

Grass-fed Beef  We breed Scottish Highland Cattle for many of the same reasons we do the Icelandic Sheep. They are hardy and in addition to grazing on pasture they also browse which means they are less picky about forage and it helps create healthier pastures that are less water intensive. If you've seen this handsome breed you've seen their red and sometimes black thick coat that insulates them so much so that they end up with less fat then traditional Angus beef. Our Cattle are also 100% grass-fed which means the meat has a much darker red color compared to the beef you are used to seeing in the grocery store.

Also fun fact: the British Royal Family breed Scottish Highlands and I have read it is their beef of choice. If it's good enough for the King and Queen of England it's good enough for our CSA members :)

Pastured Pork- When we started talking to people about a Meat CSA one thing that was requested was pasture raised pork which at this time we have only raised for ourselves. So in collaboration with our neighbors at Windy 'n' Ranch we will be including pastured pork with the CSA membership. Here are some details about how they raise their pigs-

"Our Pastured Pigs are sired by Berkshires which are a wonderfully flavorful Heritage Breed and bred to Yorkshire/Landrace sows known for their meat quality and maternal characteristics. It might seem odd but by purchasing Heritage Breeds you are supporting the effort to bring back breeds which have virtually vanished but were at one time common in early America because of their superior taste. Originally from Britain and known as Britain’s oldest breed, Berkshires are the most popular of the Heritage Breeds. Known as “Kurobuta” in Japan as their most prized pork and is looked at like Kobe Beef. Berks have become a favorite with chefs because of its intramuscular marbling. The breed yields a brighter pork than most, and features a thick, delicious fat cap. Something which make us VERY unusual in the industry is our feeding of Fodder which is Organic Barley Sprouts fed to our slaughter animals in the winter when fresh grass is not available." From their website. Windy 'n' also does not spray their pastures with chemicals of any kind.

 

Now go and register here! There is a limited amount of spots available based on how much we can fit on our truck so if you are interested send back your registration and check as soon as possible.

 

 

 

3 Comments

Eating locally grown food makes you stronger, smarter, more beautiful, and possibly funnier

1 Comment

Eating locally grown food makes you stronger, smarter, more beautiful, and possibly funnier

photo-14.jpg

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Now that I have your attention lets talk about what eating local food is all about, tasty meals you share with your friends and family. These meals may not change your life overnight but just standing next to them telling people you cooked them will definitely make you look smarter and more beautiful. Eating real food grown by local farmers will make your stronger not because of all the nutrient dense foods you will be consuming but because of all the veggies you will be chopping, your on your own for funnier.

All jokes aside I am very serious when it comes to eating local and sustainable food but it wasn't always this way. I was a vegetarian growing up who mostly ate frozen veggie burgers and rice and beans, partially because I learned about how factory farmed animals are treated but partially because I never wanted to eat another one of my moms overcooked pork chops ever again. I moved from the midwest to the west coast for college and fell in love with a cook who taught me a lot about food but also how to cook for myself. He was nice enough to eat vegetarian meals with me for years but seemed incredibly relieved when under a doctors recommendation I started eating meat again while I was trying to get pregnant. While pregnant I really couldn't get enough meat and Farmer Matt would laugh at me, the former vegetarian and once vegan, as I stood at the kitchen counter and devoured most of a roast chicken even the little bits of overcooked skin.  I then set about trying to learn how to cook meat, roasting a chicken for the first time and burning myself because I decided to start with a recipe that involves hot bricks, a not so pretty but delicious first roasted chicken that I haven't made since. I started reading all kinds of books about nutrition and cooking mostly with traditional foods in mind like bone broths, fermented vegetables, animal fats, and also the idea that eggs, milk, and meat that come from animals foraging on grass are much healthier for you and the animals. This was a big change for me when I most of the time just tossed a salad together with some goddess dressing to eat with my frozen veggie burger or fried up some tofu and called it good. It still wasn't the biggest change in the way I cooked.

Heriloom Tomatoes

We moved to the farm with the intention of growing most of the food we need for our family in addition to raising animals on grass for eggs and meat that we would sell at farmers markets. Farmer Matt and I had always grown a little bit of veggies in our backyard in Seattle and raised chickens for eggs but nothing on a large scale. It was a huge eye opener to go from 4 raised beds to a garden that was several acres and a season that was much shorter and less temperate than the one we had on the west side of the mountains. Wind, we also have lots of 30-40 mph days of wind which can flatten your veggies and make your soil dry out quicker than you can imagine. Every success in the garden feels like a triumph against the odds and does not go to waste. So between what we grow for ourselves and all of the fruits and veggies we get from our friends at the farmers markets we usually have lots of great food around the house. Because of this and because the grocery store is far away I started slowly giving up recipes and just throwing together meals with whatever we had on hand. This is not a revolutionary idea and it was mostly started out of necessity but I want to encourage you to try it. It took me awhile to get used to cooking this way and I think I've slowly gotten better but there are a couple great benefits. The creative part for me is huge with days where the farm chores are the same and the children are bouncing off the walls its nice to carve a part of the day where I get to experiment and use my brain in a completely different way. Thinking about what food we have on hand and how best to use it for the weeks meals I also end up wasting less food. Little bits from one meal end up getting incorporated into others and last but not least its a great way to cook with local ingredients. Recipes don't always have seasonal ingredients in mind or ones that are specific to your region so you always end up going to the store for something that you probably wouldn't be able to get from your local farmer. This quote from Arthur Ashe sums up how I feel about cooking and farming these days-

                                           

                  " Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."

 

I was excited to be apart of the Oxbow Organic Farm and Education Center CSA box challenge because it is perfect for the kind of cooking I have grown to love. A box of veggies show up that you haven't picked out what kind or how much of and you have to figure out what to do with it. If you are unfamiliar with what a CSA is it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The idea is that you are buying a share of the farm at the beginning of the season which allows the farm to have some financial sustainability and you get a box of veggies and sometimes fruit every week through the growing season for a price cheaper then you would be buying them for at the market. It usually starts with a small box at the beginning of the season and by the end they are so heavy you can barely get them to your car. I love the strong community connections that CSA memberships build.  We just finished our first very successful Egg CSA and have been planning on a Meat CSA for the fall. As a farmer you are always in a crunch for capital to do projects or just day to day needs of the farm and a CSA gives you a nest egg to help you plan out your season and allow you to do things like build a new chicken coops or buy the tools you need.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Oxbow is a leader in the region for sustainable farming but I am also in awe of all the education outreach they do with kids. Because of that I want to show you the mostly quick, healthy, and inexpensive meals I made with their box of veggies for my family of 5 which includes three small boys all during the busiest time of year on our farm. I wanted to add a little more to the oxbow box challenge so I decided  to come up with 10 meals using the box, a couple other local food favorites, and pantry staples for around 100 bucks. Thats 50 servings over 10 meals, so about 2 bucks a pop! My boys are 6 and under so I'm sure we will need twice that much food in a couple more years. I had a small box share which included a head of romaine, kale, red bib lettuce, a large bunch of dill, garlic scapes, fennel, and a large bag of peas. To this I added a bunch of basil and torpedo onions I got that week from our friends at Whistling Trains Farm, 2 dozen Green Bow Farm eggs, 1 whole Green Bow Farm chicken, a small piece of smoked salmon from Loki, another farmers market vendor we love, some pantry staples, and dairy staples we always have on hand like yogurt and cheese.

photo (15)

The first meal was just a quick egg scramble. I sauteed some kale and torpedo onions in butter until they were well cooked, whisked up 5 eggs and added them to the pan with a generous amount of chopped up dill and some sharp cheddar cheese. We eat a lot of eggs so this is a very typical breakfast for us usually with a side of toast or some fruit.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

A couple of the things I made this week that carried over into several meals was to make two sauces/dressings made with the dill and garlic scapes. With the the dill I made a yogurt dressing with lots of garlic, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. The key to this dressing for me is that the yogurt is made with whole milk so it has a nice thick and creamy texture. The garlic scapes got made into a large batch of pesto with the basil from Whistling Train and there was still enough scapes leftover for a couple other meals.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

The second meal was a smoked salmon salad with the red bib lettuce and yogurt dill dressing. To the top I added fresh peas and capers because my boys love something salty and pickled in their salads. This was one of the quicker meals and probably an overall family favorite. I find the creamier the dressing and  the more interesting and crunchy things are in the salad  the more likely everyone will eat it.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

This is one of those key meals that helps set us up for several meals throughout the week. I butterflied a whole chicken and right after I did this I took the backbone and neck and started making chicken broth and let it simmer for over 24 hours. I seasoned the to be roasted chicken with salt and pepper and as you can see liberally put butter all over the chicken front and back. Then I roasted it in a pan on top of some chopped fennel and torpedo onions and put some of the fennel fronds on top. I served the chicken with a little bit of roasted veggies, and a side salad of romaine, yogurt dill dressing, and some homemade croutons. I saved a breast and a thigh for one of our other meals and the chicken fat and the rest of the roasted veggies for our next breakfast.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Another change in my cooking is that I always save fat. Whether from a big roast beef, rack of lamb, or bacon it always ends up in another meal. This isn't just a desire to be thrifty but the flavors you get are amazing especially like with the roasted chicken it was cooked with very aromatic fennel and onions. The fat absorbs those flavors and eating fats with your veggies helps you absorb the vitamins in them. Not to mention if you are eating grass-fed meats they have a higher amount of Omega-3's in the fat. Thrifty, healthy, and tasty! So I took the roasted veggies and a small amount of fat from the chicken and heated up in my cast iron pan. I cubed up some stale bread and added it to the mix to absorb some flavor. I whisked up 6 eggs and added them to the pan letting them set up a bit until it was a little brown around the edges. Then I added some slices of sharp cheddar cheese to the top and put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

Eggs

This is where my documenting of the project started to break down. There was a couple times where the troops were just too hungry to wait for their mom to take a picture of their food before they could eat so I'll give you a quick run down of some of the other meals. One of my go to meals when I'm short on time is a quinoa salad. It cooks up really fast and its pretty versatile. I usually make more than I need so I can have some to throw into other dishes. I took a large bowl of quinoa added peas, dill, dried heirloom tomatoes we had in the pantry, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper. With the garlic scape pesto I made several quick meals like grilled cheese sandwiches, sunny side up eggs with a big dollop of pesto on the top and other snacks. My favorite one that I used the pesto with was a big dish I made for guests visiting the farm. I made a really large bowl of penne pasta added the leftover roasted  chicken I cut up and warmed in a pan, a generous amount of the pesto, about a half a head of kale chopped up really small and topped it  with some parm.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

The dish I made mostly for myself was the one that also didn't go as planned. I wanted to make a soba noodle soup with spring veggies and topped with a soft boiled egg. When I started making the broth for the soup we were in a cold snap and when I got around to making it it was in the 90's and hot soup didn't sound good to anyone. So I took the broth added some braggs aminos, which tastes like soy sauce, and the leftover garlic scapes and peas and let the veggies cook a couple minutes before cooling it down in the fridge. After cooking the soba noodles I poured some sesame oil over them and ladled the cool veggies and broth on top. My whites were a bit too runny so we ended up with soft boiled yolks on top instead. For a strange cold noodle soup salad experiment it was pretty good. Being okay with failures and missteps is also just a part of what cooking without recipes or trying new techniques is all about. There is going to be changes of plans and things you might want to throw away but its part of what makes it interesting. My last meal was nice and hearty, I took the chicken broth that still had a tiny bit of veggies left in it and cooked up a large pot of french lentils. I served them up with a dollop of the yogurt dill dressing and some toast with garlic scape pesto. It was so easy and filling for a long day on the farm where we didn't sit down until the sun was starting to set.

The 10 meals were all pretty quick and simple and mostly successful. The best part was that I still had leftovers. There was enough chicken broth to make another pot of soup. Some yogurt dill dressing to dip veggies in for a snack and some pesto left for some quick sandwiches. I hope this will inspire you to break out of your routine in the kitchen or maybe even join a CSA. Every person that supports a local farm or farmers is making a change in the way food is produced and how the future of agriculture will be shaped. Every bit counts, even the fatty bits.

 

 

 

1 Comment

Garlic Scape Pesto

Comment

Garlic Scape Pesto

image.jpg

image Spring is here and that means we have chicken again! There is also lots of spring goodies that are only around for a very short time in the farmers markets like garlic scapes, flowering pea sprouts, just about anything flower I love, and also spring onions which taste good just cut in half and drizzled with oil, a sprinkle of salt and cooked for a couple minutes on the grill or under the broiler. I like mine to have a tiny bit of char on them.

I wanted to share a recipe I wrote for Garlic Scape Pesto, it goes well with roasted chicken, tossed in with a bowl of radishes, or right on top of some sunny side up eggs. Garlic Scapes are not as strong as garlic and have a nice tender texture like asparagus not to mention they just look really cool. Over on our Facebook page we will have a short video about how to butterfly a whole chicken and then use the garlic scape pesto to season it. Its really tasty and this way of cooking a chicken keeps the meat nice and moist. Seriously I have never had a chicken dry out when I cook it this way, its fool proof even for a novice like me. For a side salad I chopped up two bunches of spinach put them on top of a warm bowl of pearled couscous (about 2 cups cooked) and drizzled it with the fat and pain juices from the roasted chicken. Then I added 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and tossed it before I added fresh flowering pea sprouts to the top. All of the veggies and inspiration came from our friends at Whistling Train Farm in Kent.

 

Garlic Scape Pesto

10 Garlic Scapes chopped

1 Heaping cup of Fresh Basil chopped

1/2 cup pistachios

1/3 cup grated parmesan

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 cup of Olive Oil

 

Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until its a consistency you like. I like mine a little more on the course side so you can still see chunks of pistachios and scapes. I have been eating this pesto all week on everything and next up I am going to try to talk Farmer Matt into making his tasty pizza dough so we can have a pizza night with it!

 

Comment

This ain't no disco

8 Comments

This ain't no disco

photo-5.jpg

Scottish Highland The season is in full swing and we have more animals on the farm then we have ever had before. So many chicks, turkey poults, ducklings, and lambs its hard to keep count. We are also without help again and doing it all on our own for the most part. We tried interns for a third time and just didn't work out. Every time we start with high hopes that we are bringing people onto the farm and into our lives that really want to farm. We pick people specifically because they say they want to start a farm of their own but the one thing we have been successful at is showing people they don't want to have a full scale farm. Maybe they want a little homestead, or just a garden, but they sure don't want the kind of responsibilities that we have taken on. We are thinking about and working on the farm 24/7 at this point. There is still infrastructure to build, also a learning curve figuring out how to manage a much larger group of animals, and also experimenting with value added products to make the farm financially sustainable. Everyday is different and full of chances to learn, adapt, and adjust what we are doing. Lets be honest doing this kind of work with a busy family life is not for everyone. The ability to juggle lots of different hats and also do a job that isn't always going to be laid out for you and may require some critical thinking is a tall order but really a must if you want to start your own farm.

photo (7)

The most disappointing thing about not being able to successfully have interns isn't just the much larger work load and not being able to do all the projects we wanted to do this season but the fact that we wanted this farm be a place where people could learn about grass based farming and also give them a chance to see how a farm is built. We have been planning and building fencing, irrigation, ponds, and shelters for almost three years now and its the kind of thing that many young new farmers would also be faced with because your not going to necessarily get a farm that has all of those things and the amount of land you want handed over to you. So for now we will try to teach people through our blog when we have time or if people want to come visit the farm we will teach them as much as we can but we won't be taking on any interns anytime soon.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

We have been getting by with the help of friends and neighbors lending a hand when they can. I also have a friend that is going to work in the garden once a week in exchange for some veggies so even though the season isn't working out they way we hoped we still feel good about the future. I have also enjoyed working more one on one with Farmer Matt. Our first summer on the farm I was pregnant and last season our son was just a newborn so as you can imagine I had a hard time taking care of three little boys and getting actual work done on the farm. Now I try to wake up before the older boys and Malcolm and I will start doing morning chores near the house, I even have a sitter coming a couple mornings a week so I can help Matt move larger projects forward. We also try to split up and get things done by one of us taking one or two of the boys and vice versa. Its not perfect, things take a little longer, the house is a little messier, and many nights we eat nachos for dinner but we are making it happen. We are also taking copious notes for how we want to do things differently next season. There is always room for improvement, especially in farming. You can't control the weather or the animals most of the time but you can create the best possible environment for them to thrive.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

On a happier note we found out the breeder that we got Lulu, our Great Pyrenees, from just had another litter so we will be going to pick out another puppy in about a month. Lulu, Bella, and our soon to arrive puppy are and will be  integral members of our farm team. Lulu spends time going between the sheep and the chickens day and night keeping prey both in the sky and on the ground away. Bella still officially a pup helps us heard the animals even the chickens, although that is something we have to work with her on on a daily basis so she just herds them when we ask and doesn't chase them for fun. Both of them alert us if something is amiss and I really appreciate Bella always wanting to be by your side especially those night time runs out into the pasture to check on animals or to lock the chicken tractors up. The second Great Pyrenees will help us cover more ground especially when we have groups of animals on separate sides of the culvert and also give Lulu another companion. She spends much more of her time out in the pastures and could use another dog to keep her from getting bored. Lulu was an amazing puppy and although she was and still is  harder to train basic commands to, unlike Bella the border collie, her strong guarding instinct plus her incredible gentle way with the kids make her the perfect dog for our farm.

FarmDogs_06

 

8 Comments

 Farmer Matt sees spring in sight

2 Comments

Farmer Matt sees spring in sight

calvesandchicken.jpg

It has been a very productive winter for us. We finished our website www.greenbowfarm.com, worked on some grant proposals, but the majority of it was spent planning our next year, talking about what worked and what didn't, and the new things we want to try out and grow into over the next couple of seasons. Last year we were building up our breeding flock of sheep and figuring out if there was a market for our eggs and poultry so we haven't had much to sell this year, but we will have more than double the amount eggs and meat to sell next year at our farmers markets. Last year we tried a little bit of everything and quickly learned what we wanted to put our time and energy into the most but also keeping the key elements that create biodiversity on the farm. EggsInFridgeIn addition, we spent the winter selling at the West Seattle Farmers Market where we sold our late season pasture raised broiler chickens, all our fall lamb, and of course our pastured eggs. One place where we took a risk was investing a large amount of money to send our lamb pelts off to be tanned and turned into lambskins not really knowing if people would want to buy them. Luckily we were overwhelmed by peoples interest in them so much so that we will probably be selling the one that we were going to keep for ourselves. Believe me it's a good problem to have.  We are enormously grateful to all our wonderful customers and all the feedback they've provided us. It's really hard to imagine farming without the community we have found at farmers markets. This spring, we are getting busy on fencing with help from the NRCS and improving our pastures by finalizing our rotational grazing system. It amounts to dividing our  large pasture with two permanent fence lines. From there we will be able to section off smaller pastures using temporary fencing. This style of rotational concentrated grazing improves soil health and there by grass production. It also greatly benefits the animals by moving them to fresh ground regularly and allowing the chickens to follow cleaning up and sanitizing after the ruminants so that when the cattle and sheep return all the manure they left when they were there before has been scratched out by the poultry and returned to the soil, greatly reducing the risk of parasite infection. It is a symbiotic relationship that regularly occurs in nature and with a little help from temporary electric fencing we are able to mimic it. All of these activities builds soil, builds forage production and protects the health of the soil. In effect, we are grass farmers first and the wonderful beef, lamb, chicken and eggs are simply a byproduct.

CalvesAndChicken

Weather wise, winter didn't seem to show up until February. We had some cold spells, but mountain precipitation was absent and the threat of drought was worrying everyone in the northwest. But at the beginning of February, the high pressure ridge off the coast broke up and brought us winter. The mountains began receiving heavy snow fall. Getting over the pass every Sunday morning for market became challenging as it seemed to snow every Saturday night and into Sunday. Once, I even drove from door to door on snow, getting to the market 100 miles away  and shoveling our booth spot free of snow.

RamsInSnow

This week our new apprentices arrive on the farm. Ryan and Crystal found us through a social media site and sent us their letter of interest. After a brief discussion, we invited them to come and stay with us for a few days as a get-to-know-you session. We hit it off famously and invited them to be here for the 2014 season. They are very serious about starting a farm of their own and its that desire to learn by doing that feels like it will be a good fit for our farm. We are very excited to have them here and their presence, I suspect will greatly improve our farm. You'll see them at the markets, so please give them a big "Hello".

Our chicks begin arriving soon and with the break in winter weather the workload will begin to increase rapidly. With a couple of nice days in March I already feel behind on all the repairs and building work that needs to be done. With a growing family and growing farm there really isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel behind on projects but we are hoping to get the boys out with us more often and have more projects be a family affair now that they are getting older.  With a toddler though, that won't always be possible so we'll also try to get some family days squeezed in hiking and camping or just exploring our valley. We have been so busy starting our farm there are still many parts of our valley and surrounding mountains we have yet to explore.

2 Comments

Comment

Sourdough apple french toast bake

Image We have been enjoying sharing recipes at the farmers market. Here is one I threw together this morning for a quick and warm breakfast for a chilly day on the farm.

Sourdough apple french toast bake recipe

2 cups of sourdough bread cubed

1 apple sliced

3 eggs whisked

1 cup milk

1/2 cup yogurt

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

freshly grated nutmeg approx. 1/2 teaspoon

butter or coconut oil for pan

Preheat oven 450 degrees and grease cast iron pan with butter or coconut oil. Place bread then apples in cast iron pan. Whisk together all other ingrediants and pour over bread and let sit for 10 minutes. Cook in oven for 20 minutes then take out and put under the broiler on high for 2 minutes. Cool and serve.

Comment

One Full Year

1 Comment

One Full Year

img_5324.jpg

All has been quiet on the blog front but on the farm things keep buzzing along. It's winter so the grass isn't growing, the hoop house is full of chickens so there are no veggies in sight but the laying hens are still giving us eggs and we have a freezer full of grass-fed lamb so we head over every week to the West Seattle Farmers Market. We are so happy to be apart of a very vibrant community of farmers, food producers, and dedicated market shoppers. It's been nice to make connections with people as passionate about healthy food as we are, and it has motivated us to do even more in the coming year. We have also had fun recipe testing and writing so we have recipes to share with market shoppers that work well with our grass-fed lamb. We've tried to find or create recipes promoting the nose to tail eating that we appreciate and also work with cuts that people are unfamiliar with or tend to shy away from.

IMG_5324

Despite having a booth at farmers markets and loyal customers, I still can't quite believe that we made it through one full year of farming. Technically we moved in the year before but we were just fencing and learning how to take care of our sheep so we didn't really feel like full fledged farmers yet. It wasn't until we started having food to bring to markets that it really started to sink in that we did it. We went from city slickers who had a couple raised beds, bee hives, and a gaggle of laying hens to full time farmers with hundreds of chickens, almost 40 sheep, 12 head of cattle in our care, plus turkeys and pigs, and a not so small market garden where we grew an array of fruits and veggies in. It still blows my mind that we produced thousands of pounds of food for ourselves and hundreds of other families with a small amount of resources and only a couple months of interns on the farm. We also finished a quite massive irrigation project in the middle of our growing season and with three little boys under 6 years old it means that Farmer Matt was left with the majority of the work (farm related anyway). So how do we do more and keep a sane family life? The internship model didn't work out because we didn't have the proper amount of time to teach people that had no experience. So for the upcoming season we are hoping to find an apprentice that has at least a couple seasons worth of experience working on farms and is passionate about starting their own farm-- someone who really wants to see and take part in the nuts and bolts of what takes to start a farm from the ground up. Farmer Matt read Joel Salatins' book "Fields of Farmers" and it inspired him to rethink about how we teach on the farm and not give up entirely on helping inspire future farmers. (I am hoping he writes a review of the book for our blog because the model Polyface Farm has could really revolutionize sustainable farming.)

IMG_4759

Our biggest hurdle besides the fact that we have a limited amount of land and hands on the farm is that we have no buildings. There were horse shelters here when we moved in and we modified them so we now store hay there. We built a small three sided shelter for the sheep during the winter and there is one shipping container where we keep tools, poultry feed, and fencing. Spring can have extremely harsh weather in the Kittitas Valley, so last winter and spring we raised our chicks and pullets in our hoop house. We had to move them out early so we could get vegetable starts going and even with many heat lamps set up in the chicken tractor we lost dozens to cold weather. Luckily there is a National Conservation grant for sustainable farms to obtain large hoop houses so we started the process and hope that it might be the answer to our space issues and be a great place to grow even more heirloom tomatoes.

So what are the plans for next season? We are going to double the amount of laying hens we have. People love our eggs as much as we do so we want to try and keep up with demand. We will also raise more Red Rangers chickens and heritage turkeys, not a huge amount but the right amount for our rotational grazing farm model. This year we raised pigs on pasture just for ourselves and one other family but we might raise a couple more next year for sale. We are currently breeding our Scottish Highland Cattle and would love to increase our breeding stock but think we are at capacity to also have enough forage for them through the growing season. I am very excited that sometime in the Fall of 2014 we will have grass-fed beef for sale for the first time.

IMG_4863

Our next big project is to come up with a value added product using the vegetables and herbs we grow that would complement our grass-fed meats and also make our farm more financially sustainable. Small farms like ours that don't have unlimited resources really count on things like jams, hot sauces, and spice rubs to bridge the gap and make farming viable.

I can't list everything we learned this last year but I can show you a little clip of  highlights of our first year of farming.

Looking forward to starting our second year of farming and all the things I am sure we will learn, experience, and enjoy. Happy New Year to you and yours from everyone at Green Bow Farm!

IMG_4839

1 Comment

News both big, small, and in between

3 Comments

News both big, small, and in between

irrigation-project.jpg

Farm Sign There are so many changes and things moving forward I'm not even sure where to start. What kept us up at night most was installing a new sprinkler irrigation system with the help of conservation district grants and after over a year of planning, applying for grants, and 6 weeks of 14 hour days it is finally done and passed inspection with flying colors. We needed to hire a little help once we got into the project and it was worth its weight in gold. This was a concern as our year was already financially burdened with all the infrastructure additions, but it proved to be the best thing we could have done. Farmers seem to talk about three things when they get together: weather, any animals lost, and how difficult it is to find good help.

Irrigation project

Irrigation is not the most exciting topic but the results we have already seen on the pasture have made it all worth it. The plan we designed utilizes tail water so as of now we aren't using the irrigation water we pay for every year which amounts to something like 8,000,000 gallons of snow melt. A huge Thank you to Mark Crowley of the Kittitas County Conservation District for helping us see the plan through logistically and taking a couple of his weekends to help us get the project done. We would probably still be working on it if it wasn't for him. The boys were also thrilled to have his son Wyatt here who has been a farm boy all his life helping his dad raise pigs and cattle. The boy knows his way around a farm and his confidence was inspiring for the boys and in many ways for me to see. We also need to thank our neighbor Cleatus and everyone at the National Conservation Resource Services office, especially Erin who worked some magic for us many times.

Eggs

Our first Farmers Market season has been successful, we sold out of our first two batches of broiler chickens and our pasture eggs seem to be sold before we have them. The Roslyn market is done for the season just as our ladies egg production is ramping up and we will soon have more pasture raised lamb and chicken available so we started looking for new farmers markets to try out in addition to our Ellensburg one. We didn't have high hopes for getting in to the Seattle markets so late in the year, but just this week we found out we will have a spot at the West Seattle Farmers Market starting in October. We are really excited about the West Seattle one because it is our old neighborhood and we have had so many people reaching out to us wondering when they could get some of our pasture raised goodness. I am really looking forward to seeing friends and familiar faces from my food co-op days.

Heriloom Tomatoes

We had a harder time selling our produce. Partly because there is so many people selling it at the markets but also on this side of the mountains they don't put as many regulations on who can sell at farmers markets. In some of the Seattle markets they actually require that you put signs up if you spray your produce with pesticides and they make it their mission to support small sustainable farms so you are less likely to see large conventional farms selling at the Seattle markets. While growing a market garden isn't our focus, we are dedicated to a sustainable local food system so we hope to influence our local farmers markets and community in the years to come. This experience also put us on the path of looking into getting Certified Naturally Grown. It's a grassroots movement of farmers who could no longer afford the cost of organic certification or all the paperwork and record keeping that went along with it once it became a national certification program. Certified Naturally Grown bases their guidelines on organic standards but they make it much more economical to obtain. For a small diversified farm like ours certifying our pastures, compost, garden, and each different kind of animal organic is not economically feasible. We are already transparent when it comes to our farming practices but this will hopefully spark more conversations with people who are unaware or want to learn more. We often tell people at our market booth that if it isn't healthy enough for our family we won't feed it to theirs.

Scottish Highland Cattle

Our biggest piece of news is that we are adding a herd of Scottish Highland Cattle to our farm. We read about a farm down in Southern California called Apricot Lane Farms with a similar farm model to ours but on a larger scale. They also focus on mixed species rotational grazing and utilize compost tea, apple cider vinegar, and full mineralization to keep their animals and pastures healthy. I was reading about them and their Scottish Highland herd that put us on a path to finding some for our own farm. They are a very gentle and docile breed, but the other important quality to us is that they browse and graze similar to our Icelandic Sheep. So in a few short weeks we will have three cow/calf pairs and two older heifers arriving at the farm. We will still keep our family dairy heifer, Love and the four steers we got from Pride and Joy dairy but the Highlands will be our giant leap into breeding our own cattle. It's exciting, terrifying, but most importantly it means we need more infrastructure as far as a wintering shelter and a place to corral them. For now though I will leave you with a beautiful quote from John Chester of Apricot Lane Farms  "You have to trust the magic is gonna happen when your heart's desire is in sync with your conscience. Never in a million years would I ever have been able to predict that simply watching animals eat grass would make my chest feel like it's going to explode." 1

Corn Tassel

1. Quote from The Stockman GrasssFarmer Volume 13 #9 "California Grass Farm Focuses on the Symbiotic Relationship of Mixed Species Grazing"

3 Comments

2 Comments

Farmer Friday

photo(151) It's Farmer Friday and Farmer Matt's Birthday. This is a picture of Matt with our three year old Boden in the middle of our gigantic irrigation project that I am happy to say is officially finished. Farmer Matt inspires us everyday working hard, problem solving, and taking breaks to be goofy and change a dirty diaper when needed. There are many inspiring farmers out there working from sun up to sun down to bring us clean food that is good for our families and the planet. Please give Farmer Matt a shout out and tell us the name of your favorite farmer and what they are doing to create a healthier world.

2 Comments

Friday Night Farm Stand

3 Comments

Friday Night Farm Stand

irrigation-project.jpg

Friday Night Farm Stand at Green Bow Farm 1809 Howard Rd. Ellensburg, Wa 98926 July 12th from 5-8pm, Come visit the farm, have a glass of lemonade, bring a picnic dinner, and check out all the great food we have.

Irrigation Project

We are in the midst of a huge irrigation project and because we are working with a deadline we cannot make it to the markets this weekend. Instead we are going to have the first ever Friday Night Farm Stand event. We will set up a little farm stand near the front of the farm and there will also be picnic tables set up in a shady area of the garden in case people want to stay and enjoy a glass of lemonade. Yes, you heard right the Green bow farm boys will also be having their first lemonade stand. In addition to our pasture raised eggs and chickens we will have veggies from our neighbors River Farm Organic Produce. Right now it looks like we will have Zucchini, Peas, and Patty Pan Squash from them. All of our veggie starts will be on sale for 2 dollars and we will have our fleeces out for all the spinners and needle felting people out there to check out.

Eggs

Friday Night Farm Stand at Green Bow Farm July 12 from 5-8 pm

1809 Howard Rd. Ellensburg, Wa 98926- If your coming from downtown Ellensburg take 97 west to Howard Rd and take a right. About a mile down Howard is the gravel road our farm is on, there will be balloons and signs on the road to show you which road to turn onto.

3 Comments

A year in the making

2 Comments

A year in the making

first-market-day-2.jpg

First Market day #2 We just reached two milestones, the first is our one year anniversary of moving onto our farm full time, right around summer solstice. The second, which felt like it might never happen, was setting up our very first farmers market stand. This farming venture has been in the works for two years but before we moved here it was mostly reading, researching, planning, dreaming, and doing the most we could with our little backyard garden plot, sassy brood of chickens, and a couple of beehives. Even years before we dared to dream of this giant leap into farming and out of the city it feels like we were taking hundreds of small steps towards this way of life. No matter how much we planned I don't think we could have prepared ourselves for how hard this would be to pull off with three little boys under five. Sometimes it feels like we aren't accomplishing anything but keeping our heads above water and others days like when we actually had dozens of starts, veggies, eggs, and chickens to bring to market it feels like we could accomplish anything we set our minds to.

Laying Hens

I now fully understand why most farms have several generations living together to make it all work. It takes a village to raise a child but it takes even more than that to not only get a farm off the ground, but keep it running from day to day. It's just us and the boys living here but we have been fortunate to have many friends, neighbors, and strangers lend a helping over the last year. Right now we have a regular volunteer who has been helping with animal care, gardening, and with bottle feeding the calves.

Kohlrabi and Radishes

There has been a couple days off here and there to go visit other farms and run farm errands. We are going to celebrate Independence day with a trip to the Gingko Petrified Forest, which we have been meaning to get around to for two years. So we are squeezing in some family time where we can. Our visit to Jubilee Farm in Carnation, Washington was a chance to take part in their discussion on Holistic Cattle Management but it was also nice to go back to one of the farms that inspired us on this path. It was really seeing a farm do it all, both animal husbandry and growing vegetables, on a large scale and how rich that relationship can be that made everything click for us. When you see the animals give back to the farm creating healthy soil and the soil giving back to the animals growing grass and veggies for them to eat it, you start to feel as if there really is no other way to farm.

Boys at Jubilee

That being said we need to slow down, take a beat this winter and really go over everything we learned and figure out what we are good at, what we can let go of, and what we want to try to push even further for the next season. We may never be as big as Jubilee Farm or some of the other farms we love so we need to figure out how best to use our time to be sustainable long term. Who knows, we might spend the winter remodeling what was once a hair salon on the farm into a commercial kitchen and come up with yet another farm/food dream that we just can't not try and take on.

Love #2

We brought a heifer calf home that we got from one of our favorite local farms and our son has decided to name her Love. It will be two years in the making before we see any gorgeous grass fed raw milk from her so Love seems just about right. This is a labor of love, not wealth or status, or even success in the short term. If half of what we do this year is successful and we can learn even a little bit from the other half we can finally breath a sigh of relief, sit back and enjoy the short days of winter.

Sheering day

2 Comments

2 Comments

Volunteers Wanted

Volunteers Wanted Green Bow Farm is looking for an intern this summer. If you are interested we have ads up on wwoofusa.org and attra.org. You will learn about caring for sheep, chickens, turkeys, rabbits and be moving them around on pasture on a daily basis. You will also get to work on a small market size garden, learn about beekeeping and have a small garden of your own. If you are unable to commit to a live on the farm internship but are interested in helping out we are always looking for people willing to come out to the farm for a day or a weekend and volunteer their time.

For more information contact christina@greenbowfarm.com

2 Comments

The road we travel

4 Comments

The road we travel

photo116.jpg

H on a farm hike

We have been working on putting field fencing up around the perimeter of the farm for over 9 months and we finally finished this week. I would say it's time to celebrate but there are too many things to accomplish to get the farm fully functioning before we can crack open the bubbly. The fencing will help us utilize all of our pastures and we will be a little closer to fully realizing our rotational grazing farm model. One other step in this process is getting a more efficient irrigation system installed. The farm has received two grants for the project but because of the sequester everything has slowed down dramatically. I am not complaining because I feel incredibly grateful to even have the grants and there are so many other things that have lost their funding that are much more essential. We had been planning on breaking ground this month but we are still in the review part of the process. The grants will allow a small farm like ours to use all of our pastures and to grow good quality grass during the months of the year we don't have any precipitation. Right now when we use our irrigation water it runs through a series of ditches and most of the water gets wasted and over waters creating bad quality grass that is not good for foraging. Most of our precipitation comes during the winter months so being able to use a small amount of water during the dry months in an efficient way will make it possible for us to practice our grass based farming in a way that needs fewer inputs (feed for chickens and hay for sheep) from off of the farm.

Rock found while fencing

Bella and Wyandotte Rooster

Another way to practice rotational grazing that creates healthy soil and healthy food is to have the right amount of animals grazing for the size of the farm. Right now we don't have quite enough animals to keep up with all the grass we are growing. We are adding on one more flock of laying hens, expanding the number of breeding sheep we will have year round, and looking for a couple bull calves to raise. So what else makes us different from conventional farms besides the fact that our animals are not caged and we don't spray pesticides on our pastures? We keep the number of animals we raise low to create healthier soil by not over grazing and in turn the soil gives us healthier eggs, meat, and someday milk. We produce less food than a conventional farm and we will do it by using fewer inputs (subsidized soy and corn feed) and instead use our own labor moving animals around on pasture. So we produce less food and we need more man/woman hours to do it. What does this mean? It means in no way can we compete with the prices that conventional farmers sell their food for. They are basing their farm models on an economy that relies on cheap subsidized feed and that doesn't give them much room to care about the health of animals and people. In every aspect of our farming decisions we take into consideration the health of the animals, the farm as a whole, the people who eat our food, and the long term health of the environment. So how do we accomplish all of this, farm the way we want and make it economically sustainable? We will have to spend time educating people, taking the time to talk to them about the way we choose to farm and why it is worth their hard earned money to pay more for food. We will also have to make sure we are paying close attention to economic forces and utilizing all the resources we have at hand. It is also why we pay close attention to the breeds we choose. The Icelandic sheep are tri-purpose which means you can get Fiber, Milk, and Meat from them and it will make our farm that much more economically diverse. When we pick a breed of Cattle we will make sure we have one that grazes in a way that will work best with our farm model. We will also be growing the vast majority of our own fruits and veggies (utilizing all the great compost we were able to make with a winters worth of sheep manure) this year and selling what we have in abundance at the farmers market along with our eggs and meat.

Tall Tails

Now that all of our serious business is out of the way we can move onto all the great moments from our first lambing season. It's technically not over because we have one ewe still pregnant but I can't resist sharing this special time with you. In addition we have our bottle fed lambs back and a shelter set up for them near the house. We moved the other sheep into a small paddock nearby so Lulu could keep an eye on everyone and well the grass was starting to look like it needed some four legged mowing anyways.

First two lambs

Bottle Feeding

Evening Grazing

Lu and Ram Lamb

Sheep with beehives

4 Comments

Joy and Pain

1 Comment

Joy and Pain

visitors.jpg

Planting I can't hear those two words without the song getting stuck in my head and now the part "it's like sunshine and rain" has a whole new meaning being a farmer. A good rain means growth and more forage for the animals. Pain is having below freezing temps mid April after you have dozens of seed trays started in the hoop house without a good way to keep them warm. Rain is no longer a pain.

morning

Visitors

I should really start with the joy of the last couple weeks. We had our first of many lambs born on the farm. It happened less than an hour before we were having a community potluck for the first time. So minutes after we welcomed her into the world we then shared a bountiful and tasty feast with some new friends and introduced her to all of them. There was no drama with the first birth only the beauty of seeing this ewe take on her new role as mom and the little lamb latching on right away like a champ. It was also a huge relief to see how easily it was for Lulu to transition into her new role as protector for the new lamb, never leaving the pairs side and even keeping Bella the border collie from playing too rough. The second birth was also uneventful but the lamb hurt one of his legs the second day and was abandoned by his mom in the pasture. Matt brought him back to his mom and kept an eye on him and slowly the lamb healed up and the ewe was no longer abandoning him.

First Lamb

2013-04-06 16.39.43

Our third birth was one of the ewes who was huge and we suspected she was going to have twins, which is unusual for the first year of breeding. She did have twins but she quickly abandoned the second lamb born and head butted him away, not letting him latch on. It was heartbreaking to see not only his mom but all the ewes do this to him. Luckily we found a local farm that dairys and was already bottle feeding goats and sheep that was willing to take him on and bottle feed him until he is ready to come back to the pasture. We noticed the ewe that had given birth to the twins was showing signs of pneumonia so we gave her some medicine but by nightfall she had died. It was shocking how quickly it all happened and then we had another lamb on our hands with no mother. So now our new farm friends at Parke Creek are bottle feeding both of the twins for the next couple of months and in exchange we are going to raise some turkeys for them. We are still awaiting the arrival of at least 6 more lambs and hoping we have learned a thing or two from the first four births on the farm. This has gotten us interested in doing all of our own breeding so we think our next flock of laying hens will be homegrown.

photo(109)

While all these births were going on we celebrated two birthdays in the family and also had to put to sleep our long time companion and rescue dog, Cooper. I could think of no other title for this post because I have never had a time in my life that was filled with so much joy and celebration but also the pain of losing animals that we loved. We can look at the death of the ewe a little more pragmatically but the death of a incredibly loyal dog you have known for over a decade is a little harder to get over. We had hoped he would spend his last couple of years enjoying life on the farm but by the time we got here his health was declining and we just did all that we could to keep him comfortable.

Red Rangers

We had yet another experience this week where we felt we took one step forward and two steps back. It was always a part of our farming model to have pastured poultry and we were excited when we got over the hurdle of finding a place that we could process them and also be able to sell them at farmers markets and restaurants. Then we started to look for business insurance and found that there was only a couple companies that would allow us to raise pastured poultry but they were going to charge us so much money that the only way it would be financially sustainable is if we were raising 500-1000 birds a year. We had been planning on just a couple hundred including turkeys. We don't have the right kind of land that it would take to raise that many and we honestly just don't want to raise that many. So we are back to square one, raising chickens and turkeys that will most likely be for ourselves and rethinking our farming model. We do have some exciting plans to bring pastured pigs and cows to the farm in the future but for now we are enjoying our first lambing season, busy moving chickens around the pasture, and looking forward to some planting in the next couple of weeks if it stops snowing.

Birthday Party

1 Comment