Well, howdy do! It's a beautiful rainy Monday morning which is a nice weather change after a pretty hot weekend. Even though it was warm out, Bob and I as well as our friends Patty and Arthur tackled the job of harvesting and processing 70 pastured raised chickens.
This round of processing was a bit different. I have been raising on farm processed meat chickens for people for at least 8 years now. This is the first time I have EVER used a spinning chicken plucker. And my oh my what a difference that made. I usually just scald and hand pluck birds. The plucker took less than a minute to get those feathers off, and it cuts out the strain on your hands from plucking so many birds.
Plus there where other "improvements". The first one is that I received a grant from FACT-Farm Animal Concerns Trust. This organization gave me a small grant to invest in heat shrink bags for poultry and to help with local advertising. Second was having a double propane burner on legs. This served to heat water up for scalding chickens and for dipping bagged chickens in to make the bags shrink to each processed chicken. In the past I have only used a ground level burner for my processing. It's not very ergonomically friendly and only one burner means we often had to stop to heat up a fresh kettle of water. Last is the draining rack that Bob made with PVC pipes. This allows processed birds to drain after soaking in an ice water bath. Getting rid of excess water before bagging is important.
Moving on, if you are interested in fresh, pasture raised chickens you can sign up for a second round of chicken shares that will be harvested in mid October. This is also when my turkeys will be ready for processing. I have a limited amount of turkeys left, so consider signing up for a chicken or turkey meat share for this fall!
Pastured Poultry Meat Shares
Now, just a little bit on some slow but steady social media changes. For personal reasons I have struggled feeling o.k supporting facebook. I have started moving away from my personal page and exclusively using my business page. I also use instagram, twitter, and mewe as social media platforms. Not to mention my own website. I'm not sure what the future will hold in keeping a facebook account at all. While it's not a priority in the summer time to be working so much on the computer, I may end up moving completely off facebook this winter. In the process I want to keep more current on my website. Updating regularly with pictures and short blogs. I also might start using youtube a bit more to share farm related videos. In large, I have hopes and goals to start having more on farm interactions. I know covid-19 poses a barrier in doing this right now, but creating a safe way for people to interact and learn in the future is something I'm keeping in mind.
As always, thank you for the support!
Below on the left are the finished bagged chickens. To the right, while it looks pretty weird, it's a draining rack that Bob made with PVC pipes. This allows excess water to drain from the chickens after soaking in ice water for quite a while. Cooling the birds down and getting rid of excess water needs to happen before bagging!
Thank you again to Patty and Arthrur for helping process all those chickens!! Chicken share members are welcome to help during the chicken processing as well.
As this spring keeps moving along, I have been dwelling deep in my own thoughts. I look at the EB Ranch property and think about ALL the things that have happened here in the last five years. Bob built a metal goat shed, put up two hoop houses, put up two solar panel units plus a battery install. I have been rotationally grazing my goats and poultry all this time. We have a pretty decent garden, I recently started putting on amendments and seeded in our pastures.
What I'm getting to is that ALL OF THESE THINGS are rooted in community support. EB Ranch received a grant from the Menomonie Market Food Co-op to help turn one of our hoop houses in to winter shelter. That included winter paddock fencing, new white livestock friendly plastic and a handful of other things.
Bob, my family and friends have been cornerstones of support. Like Lauren and Caleb Langworthy from Blue Ox. They encouraged, pointed out resources and gave me work opportunities on their farm years ago. I really treasure these long lasting bonds, through thick and thin.
Even remembering back in 2017 when I ran my kickstarter campaign to expand on my goat milk soap business. Andrea Newberry was a tremendous help in rolling that out. And the dozens and DOZENS of supporters for that campaign. Wow.
There are lots of people I'm not mentioning of course. But it's stunning to even think about my job at the Menomonie Market Food Co-op to my current job working at Spring Hill Community farm. Not only did I gain tons of experience, but both jobs where and are delightful to work at because of the people I work with.
The past few weeks EB Ranch has gotten an increase of online and retail orders. It's a good feeling to feel swamped with goat milk soap orders. Not to mention a record number of chicken meat shares.
I want to discuss this most recent uptick in support. First off, I'm so thankful and grateful. I'm honored to provide local farm raised meat, soap and other products. Secondly, I think people are getting a good look at some major flaws in our food system. This may be the reason why I'm seeing an increase in support not only here, but at other local farms and CSA's. While there may be a bit of "fear" buying, I want people to think about our food system in the long term. Supporting local really could be a long term goal for most people out there. Continued and increased support for our local farmers and producers will have nothing but positive outcomes.
I hope you consider spreading the word about EB Ranch. That I offer chicken, turkey, and goat meat shares, not to mention goat milk soap, homegrown mushrooms and garlic. I will continue to be your constant farmer. Farming is what get's me up at 5am and keeps me excited through the day.
Thanks for the support. For whatever reason I'm still not able to add pictures to my blog. Sorry about that!
Sometimes putting all that effort into planning ahead makes life easier. Though, even the best laid plans can crumble.
This spring of 2020 my best laid plans of breeding the goats for later kidding dates has been a HUGE success. There is always a bit of an unknown factor when livestock gives birth, and if I can take one less unknown factor out of the equation it let's me focus on other, more important things. With later kidding season that means I'm not worried about really cold temps and kids getting chilled, and then I can focus on taking good records and just getting other important things done around the farm in the spring.
So far, one san clemente island goat name Atla had two kids, one male and one female. Fingers crossed Colores will be kidding pretty soon.. I'm hoping for at least 2-5 more goats to kid, but we'll see!
Of course the wild card in everyone's lives right now is covid-19. Many of us are staying home and still many people are out working jobs. Folks are quickly establishing new protocols for their businesses that seem to revolve around more online ordering and curbside pickups.
One major change I saw with the farm is a lot more chicken meat shares. I'm excited to announce that I applied for a very small grant from FACT / Food Animal Concerns Trust. I received an email a few days ago saying that my grant request was accepted. This money will go toward focusing on more online and local paper advertising AND investing in heat shrink wrap bags and nice freezer stickers for the birds after they are processed. Since I have more customers for these meat birds, I want to present them in nicer packaging. All I have to do is put a bird in a bag and quickly dip it in hot water. The bag will shrink around the bird and I can put a custom made sticker on it. Plus I already requested the use of a country neighbor/friends big chicken plucker! These chickens will not only be raised on amazing pasture, but will be more professionally wrapped. Hooray!
This wraps up my quick blog. I'll be posting more goat kid pictures as they are born. I'm going to work on finishing up tanning some goat hides, getting my chick brooder set up and enjoy a nice rain shower that should be moving by later on today.
Take care everyone, thanks for the continued support. It's nice to see goat milk soap orders still rolling in!!!
As if I haven't mentioned the fun chaos of Wisconsin weather before. Today we may be getting an accumulation of snow, up to 6 inches or more, or less, who knows? I did a frantic yard clean up this morning, just putting garden tools away. I left them out on purpose yesterday thinking they would cast some magical spell to keep the snow at bay. No such luck.
I spent the whole day in the garden yesterday. Raking out clumps of sod, pulling out loooong quack grass roots and smoothing out bumps. I'm also preparing the garden to plant some willow cane cuttings from my neighbors and fellow farmers Maggie and Ben at Green Light Farm. I want to start making a "fedge" or a living willow hedge/fence around my garden. It's been on my to-do list for years and I'm very excited to finally follow through with this.
Some of my san clemente island goats due dates to kid are in a few days. Colores especially has been getting huge. Her hip ligaments are starting to soften and her udder started filling in. I'll be keeping a close eye on her as barometric pressure changes can sometimes entice animals to give birth with those changes. And it's supposed to be a chilly week so I'll be making many more trips to check on the progress of any labor signs, I don't want chilled baby goats!
Also, I want and need to address covid-19 and how this changes things on the farm. For the most part, life in general hasn't changed. I got panicky and am still a little concerned about feed and pet food hoarding and even price fluctuation. I don't know what the price of hay will be this year, will it go up even more? Besides a few worries, I'm pleased to say my chicken meat share subscriptions doubled from previous years. There has been an uptick in interest for whole goat meat shares as well. As for goat milk soap, things are at a bit of a standstill.
I want to discuss how things have changed with ordering goat milk soap. I'm taking even more precautions packaging soap by wearing gloves. If myself or Bob got sick, I would no longer sell soap for an appropriate amount of time and contact people that did previously order soap to let them know. I also encourage safe package receiving procedures just click and you will be taken to that web page. Here is another link discussing how washing your hands with good old soap and water help with covid-19. Also, Bob and I are taking quarantine and social distancing seriously. We are thoughtful about when we leave the farm and for what purposes and try to cram all necessary errand running all together.
Covid-19 has also affected parts of my 2020 business plan, and that was to attend farmers markets and related expos at least once a month through the summer. While farmers markets are still happening, many are just having essential food producers and growers participate. I fall in the the crafting or art category and cannot attend. Which is fine, and I agree with this decision. I just really encourage people to not only support my online sales but also online sales of other farm, craft and art businesses.
The pick-up date for my chicks and turkey poults was delayed, and I'll be getting them on the 22nd. Toward the end of the month I'll also be starting up my 4th year working at Spring Hill Community Farm, which is a veggie CSA. I had a wonderful zoom conference with Patty and Mike and we discussed all the possible unknowns and scenarios regarding covid-19. But I'm pumped to get back to work and start a new season with them!
Exciting news, I'm moving forward with the prescribed grazing plan that was written for me last year and just got lime spread on our pastures. This ties in with the EQIP/Environmental Quality Incentives Program cost sharing grant I applied for through the NRCS/Natural Resources Conservation Service. The NRCS will help pay for the suggested land management plan. I am currently getting quotes for prescribed seed mixes and the rental of a no-till drill to inter-seed pastures. This will help improve pasture quality for the goats and create a possibly more drought resistant pasture with more diversified plant life. It will be exciting to see the ripple effects of these improvements, from higher milk and meat production from the goats to more diversified wildlife, specifically birds. After pasture seeding I will be delving into perimeter fencing and then possibly water lines.
In other exciting news, if I'm able to get a microloan I may also be bringing in some new san clemente island goat breeding stock. These goats vary A LOT in size, and there are some farms that have some pretty big goats. With males averaging 160 pounds and females at 100 pounds. Versus my biggest buck at 100 pounds and does weighing on average between 50-90 pounds.
Well, the goats, geese and ducks are tucked in. It's snowing pretty good right now. Bob just got back from a walk with Anders. I made a breakfast of udon noodles with chicken broth and veggies. Bring on the coffee and then the naps.
I hope folks are doing o.k out there. As a farmer, I'm happy to be a part of your food and farm product system, be it just a small drop in the bucket.
Thank you for the support!
***For whatever reason, I'm not able to upload pictures. I'll come back and put pictures up eventually***
Thought everyone might like to see some of the food I have been trying out over the winter. I'll attach links to recipes as well.
When I first started a more homesteading lifestyle, I found it to be so empowering to make food from scratch. Homemade ketchup, mayonnaise, bread, pickled items. As well as growing my own produce, livestock and poultry. There was always something new to try that I found worthy of repeating or never trying again!
This winter I tried out these new to me food items, and I found all of them worth trying again and again. That being raised donuts, my own HOMEMADE bran flake cereal, deep dish pizza, and "kind bar" copycat nut snacks!
Below are pictures and links to try these recipes. Let me know what you think? Many of these recipes are good multi-person or family friendly recipes. Everyone can pitch in and help out making some delicious food!
I made these deep dish pizza's recently for Bob's birthday. I was a bit skeptical, but the pizza's turned out great. The crust wasn't grossly soggy. I made my own pizza sauce from frozen tomatoes. I think layering the mozzarella on the bottom before putting toppings on is important. Plus I used up a bunch of frozen veggies and made my own ground mutton sausage with Italian mixed spices. YUM! https://www.seasonsandsuppers.ca/meat-eaters-deep-dish-skillet-pizza/
Over the years cereal has become kind of a novelty. It's usually pretty pricey and full of sugar. Though, sometimes having a prepared snack is important to have on the shelves. So I dove into making my own bran flakes! Using parchment paper is important. My first batch I thought I could just use a well greased pan and the dough stuck horribly to it. And on my second batch I was able to roll the dough out more thin on the parchment paper. That way you get a more thin and crisp flake. Plus I am in control of house much sugar and what kind of sugar I put in these flakes. My choice was using maple syrup and only on tablespoon per batch. I used whole milk for my liquid, but I'm sure you can use water or like liquid substitutes.
One of my favorite snacks when working at my local co-op was kind bars. They are basically a bunch of nuts mixed with chocolate, peanut butter, or whatever else held together with some kind of liquid sweetener. This recipe uses maple syrup and I used bran flakes instead of crisp rice puffs. I also added some chocolate chips. I need to makes this a few more times to avoid the burnt corners. Otherwise this turned out great!
Sadly, this isn't a picture of my donuts. I KNOW I took pictures but I can't find them. I made traditional shaped donuts and fried of the donut holes. But I also used my unicorn and sheep cookie cutters and made fun shaped donuts as well. Prepare this dough the night before as it needs to rest in you refrigerator for at least 8 hours. I experimented with the glaze and used maple syrup instead of powder sugar. I thickened of the glaze with some flour. I also made variations by adding jams to the glaze to give it different flavors. My favorite was a crab apple jam from Mary Dirty Face Farm in Menomonie. I made plates and plates of donuts, for Bob and I and also for family holiday gatherings. Just be careful when frying and enjoy!
The planning season is upon us and many farmers are probably also at different levels of completion with their 2020 plans. A few months ago I made a list of my own 2020 plans. You can visit that particular blog here. I think it's important to be as transparent as possible on EB Ranch, plus I'm just excited about the prospect of some pretty big and good changes coming to the farm.
What I want to focus on right now is in some ways more personal. After Bob and I moved back to Ridgeland over ten years ago, I realized that not only did I want to homestead I wanted to be more involved in my community. It started off with loosely organizing a "Stone Soup" Farmers Market in Ridgeland. People and businesses would donate ingredients then individuals would make a "stone soup" with those ingredients. And that would revolve around having a small farmers market. It was a good gathering of people eating good food and hanging out.
As things go, organizing the event got to be too much. And thankfully, as of last year the Civic Club took over the responsibility of organizing a weekly farmers market in Ridgeland. Other opportunities to organize and participate arose over the years. Through this process of participation, I realized I had to narrow down the what and why of participating in groups. A person can quickly become overwhelmed by participating too much. And it's important to participate in organizations that ring true to your own personal ideals and operate in a way that works well for you.
After some years, and some coaxing from friends and researching of my own I joined the WI Farmers Union. This organization has been around for a long time, and with some navigation I found they had a decent amount of resources to offer.
Farmers Union has been a launching board for organizing potlucks, farm tours, pasture walks, and last falls' successful Community Grown Harvest Dinner. Farmers Union works with other organizations like Pheasants Forever to help orchestrate many of these events.
I am also on the board for the "rare and critically endangered" cooperatively run small and local paper called the Hay River Review. Small local papers like this are far and few between, many have died off over the recent years. Yet, papers like this are the lifeblood of small communities. They offer the month's events and other social gatherings. Not to mention all the businesses that advertise in them. I still scan my copy of the HRR for contact information of local businesses. This also allows local people to be journalists, and cover local politics and many other stories.
In 2020, I plan on stepping back a bit from so much extra curricular activity. After doing my 2019 bookkeeping, I saw a devastating plummet in my own farm business during a particularly hard few months of dealing with some organization issues. I wasn't advertising, I wasn't taking on new retail business, I wasn't following through with my own business plan. I need to find balance this year.
This doesn't mean I'm not going to participate in any outside organizations. I still will and happily so. But I'm going to say no to a lot. And with that, I have a suggestion or maybe a big ask of people out there. And by no means is this a guilt trip, but I suggest that folks consider taking on more small roles in your own community. The Hay River Review is always looking for more board members and writers. Farmers Union is so fun and you can participate on so many levels. And of course, think about supporting a local farm like EB Ranch. Not only do I raise heritage goats and poultry, I care for my land and I care for my community. Having this farming lifestyle gives me enough flexibility to give back on this kind of participation level. The more people that take on small pieces of participation, the more it get's spread around the less of a load others feel. Participation is also empowering, and gives everyone opportunities to have their voices heard and possibly make change.
I'm not writing this to pat myself on the back or to seek thank you's or attention. I'm writing this to possibly empower other people. I also want to be transparent with other aspects of my life. Community participation isn't everyone's "thing" and I totally get that! In many cases, when you support transparent farms these farms also support the surrounding community in many other ways besides provide food and goods. It provides a fertile ground for people to grow, learn, and participate. This goes for locally owned businesses as well.
One last bit I want to add to this. Personally, I like being challenged and questioned as this gives me a different perspectives to ponder. I believe that being part of organized groups is hard as we often have varying opinions and view points on matters. This gives us much needed opportunities to learn how to LISTEN, communicate and leave our egos at the door to find solutions. We all have emotions and logic to help us communicate our view points. We all fumble from time to time with how we give and receive communications. Over the years I have dealt with a lot of sexist, bigoted and even verbally violent and threatening dialogue. It's not fun, it's emotionally draining, but it's also learning opportunities. And thankfully I have lots of people around me to help navigate those tough situations.
As always, thank you for the support! And thank you to all the people out there that are doing what they can do. Thank you for the encouragement, ideas, and solutions. Thank you to the people who helped create paths in the past and thank you to the people that are paving those paths and making new branches now and for the future.
**Sorry for the lack of pictures, my weebly domain has been buggy for the last 10 hours.**
Hey, it's my birthday today and I am now 39. Holy cats, how cool is that?! I'll be celebrating by having a pretty normal day and seeing if I can get my hands on a sweet treat.
To extend the celebration, I want to offer an early bird sign up for both meat and turkey shares. This is an on farm chicken and or turkey share pick up. The first processing date for the chickens will be around June 20th. The turkeys will be ready sometime on early October. I am offering $.50 off each pound. Instead of $4.50/pound it's now $4.00. The deposit of $10 will remain the same. Chickens usually average 4-6 pounds, so costs average in that $20.00 ballpark with the subtraction of the $10.00 deposit.
The same goes for turkey shares. Instead of $6.00/lb I'm offering $5.50/lb and with the same $25.00 deposit. Turkeys can average 10-15 pounds so cost around $65 per bird minus the deposit. I also plan on raising a heritage breed turkey called Chocolate Turkeys. I have raised them in the past and they are wonderful birds!
Another aspect I offer with on farm poultry processing is the opportunity for YOU to be part of this process. I have had newbies and regulars at each processing time. And really, the more the merrier. I'm happy to teach you the ropes and you get to see exactly how your bird was raised and handled. You are also welcome to participate on whatever level you feel comfortable. If it's jumping right in, watching from the sidelines, or just picking up your birds after processing is done.
All of my animals are on pasture rotation, including poultry. They get a new paddock at least once a week if not more. When processing day happens on the farm, myself and a team of people harvest and process each bird and let them cool in a tank of ice cold water. We then weigh and bag each bird for YOU to take home and put in your freezer. No middle person and as transparent as you can be!
This offer will end in ON WEEK! That's Sunday February 2nd. Sign up soon so you don't miss this birthday discount.
Thank you for the support!
A pretty short and sweet blog post for this round. Over the weekend I have been working on updating social media and website information. Check out the list of newly updated sites and goat and goat milk soap related items.
Meet the EB Ranch Herd! I have ALL the san clemente island goat breeding animals up and listed with pictures and pedigrees.
Breeding Plans and Kidding Dates. Pretty self explanatory. Though I go over why I'm breeding who to who and discuss healthy breeding plans.
San Clemente Island Goats for Sale. FYI, I don't plan on selling any SCIG's in 2020. I have hopes of bringing in some new stock to improve on the meat quality of the goats. Then I plan on having a closed herd afterward. I will have enough genetic diversity on my farm to keep in closed for a very long time. I just really want to take this year to scrutinize and work on improving my breeding plans.
Last is my Etsy Page and business facebook page. I have completely updated and refreshed my etsy page. Etsy is just another avenue I use to gain attention to the goat milk soap I make. I only sell wholesale and monthly subscriptions through etsy. On my business facebook page I updated the "shop now" button to take people directly to this website. I'm still debating if I want to sell soap through the shop option on facebook. It's just another area to manage sales, but it's also an easy option for people to buy.
In the future look for on farm gatherings and classes on EB Ranch. I have a soap making class scheduled at the Amery Farm Table Foundation on February 15th. Tickets are $20 and the class will be about 2 hours long.
Personally I have been enjoying this fairly mild winter. I go for walks in the woods, and get caught up on dorky cartoon and t.v series! Hope y'all have been having a good winter season as well!
Thank you for the support!
Wrapping up the nee year is always exciting for me. I take some time off, catch up on bookkeeping, and start writing up next years plans, realistic goals and "dream" goals.
I have already been taking steps to move forward with some farm goals for 2020. But, here are the goals I hope to accomplish!
Personally, I have been creating a good amount of artwork. Also taking time to have pure unadulterated "down time" which includes watching full t.v series and playing video games. That's right, good ol' super nintendo video games. Not to mention going for nice walks in the woods with Anders the newest doggy addition to EB Ranch and catching up on sleep. Also keeping busy with butchering and processing a deer and ewes at a friend's farm.
I look forward to creating more opportunities for people to visit the farm and be more involved. I want to grow the steadfast group of people supporting EB Ranch and all that we do here.
Happy New Year, have fun, be safe and thanks for the support!
This is a special blog sharing information on a last minute and very urgent san clemente island goat transport. Myself and a group of san clemente island goat breeders are helping a fellow breeder in MN as he has fallen upon hard times. He currently owns a herd of 150 SCI goats and 30 British Soay sheep, the sheep are also critically endangered. With a recent SCI goat census letting us know there are about 1000 SCI goats currently in the US and Canada, this breeder owns about 15% of the population. He also has some rare lines and genetics that truly need to be saved.
A friend is coming with me this weekend to the breeders farm. There we will the health check of the goats, treat each goat accordingly and tag all the animals to prepare them for transport. It will be a LOOOOONG Saturday, but this is the first step to get the animals ready to go to Virginia.
Another breeder has donated a farm space and shelter for this group. She is also organizing a group of volunteers and veterinarians to help out during the 30 day quarantine period. After animals are deemed healthy they will be re-homed for a small donation.
There are a lot of moving part in all of this, and a lot of unknowns. We need to find transport for the goats for a reasonable fee. Before they are moved I'm putting in their scrapie tags, but we also need to have a veterinarian come out and give a certificate of health to legally transport the group. Though we are looking into options to work with the USDA veterinarian to see if we can get a special pass on this group of animals.
After the animals are at their new location, there will be the cost of hay, feed , minerals and other medical costs and bills.
The cost of this will add up quickly, and we are looking at spending over $20,000 to pay for all of this. Never mind all of the volunteer work put into this.
While there isn't quiet an official breed association made, it's really close to being finalized. working with a core group of other breeders to make this happen is our first real project with this breed association. And it's a HUGE project , but we are all handling it well with our passion for this breed driving us.
Here is a link to the gofundme page for this project. Any monetary or donation help would be incredible. Other people in this group are creating a website that will have a list of items you can donate and where to send them, including gift cards for that regions farm and feed stores.
I'll keep folks posted on my business f.b page with updates. And thank you so much to all of you that have helped out already, we appreciate it! And if you can, please share the gofundme link as much as you can. It seems like there are a lot of causes out there, and a lot of farmers have been and are falling upon hard times. It's so great we can help each other out through thick and thin!
Thank you for the support!
Born and raised in a small town, then moved back to the same small town. Jill of many trades and happy to be so.