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Let The Winter Preparations Begin

written by

Sue King

posted on

September 27, 2019

Do you have a to-do list? Or are you the kind of person to fly by the seat of your pants?

On our farm we always have to-do lists in one form or another. Sometimes they are in our heads, but we really encourage them to be written. We are learning that when we have a list we don’t wonder about aimlessly trying to figure out what needs to be done.  

There are four adult family members working together to make this farm function. Our experience has been when “the list” is in somebody’s head those things are not accomplished. We have been really working toward having a written list.  When we have the jobs down on paper they are more likely to be completed. 

Our list building exercise, if you want to call it that is pretty simple. It has been our habit since we were married to eat breakfast together, so it is just natural to incorporate family meetings into this time. At the beginning of each week every family member makes the jobs that they are aware of know to all the others. When everyone’s projects are written down we go through as a group and prioritize the items.  

Once the list is completed for the upcoming week we determine who will do each job and if they will need help to complete it. 

As each project is completed we check it off the list. This helps everyone to feel a sense of accomplishment that things are actually getting done and we are moving forward toward the goals that we set at the beginning of each year.  

Autumn is the time of year when we need to complete the projects that prepare us for the upcoming winter.  

The daily moves are slowly moving the cows and sheep that have been grazing on pastures farther away from home back to pastures that are closer to home.  

The pastured laying hens that have been following the cattle are brought back to the main farmyard so they can spend their nights in their winter house. This is important because at this time of year with the shortening day length they need some supplemental lighting to keep egg production up through the winter. The hens are allowed to free-range during the day searching for insects, seeds and whatever goodies they can find. 

 The pigs that have been growing all summer to fill our freezer are being processed. The pigs that will spend the winter on the farm are moved to thicker parts of the forest. This allows them to build “nests” under fallen willow bushes. They are amazing at packing these areas full of leaves and straw to make nice cozy shelters for themselves. 

Firewood is always on the list. We heat our home and commercial kitchen with an outdoor wood burning heater. Unfortunately, it is not a very efficient piece of equipment (in the amount of wood it uses), but it does a very good job of keeping us warm. We also preheat the water for the commercial kitchen with it.  

We have a wood-burning cook stove in our home kitchen. We use it almost exclusively for cooking in the winter because there is always a fire burning it. It is my favourite way to cook our meals. If the children, whose bedrooms are in the loft, didn’t complain so much about the heat I would use it year round. 

These are just a few of the items on our list.  

Be sure to come back next week. I want to show you around our northern gardens and orchards. If you don’t want to miss out on the tour subscribe by clicking the button below. 

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June Farm News and Updates!Where has June gone?  It feels like just yesterday we were rushing around trying to get the gardens planted, baby calves and lambs were being born and the grass was slow to start growing.  Now all that has passed and we have settled into summer routines.   At the beginning of June, we were concerned that we might face drought again this year.  But thankfully God opened the heavens and sent much-needed rain.  The cows and sheep are not able to keep up with the explosion of lush grass growth at this time of year. But that's ok.  We will be able to stockpile the extra grass for next winter. Our days on the farm are full.  We head out to the pasture every morning after breakfast to move the electric wire so the cows can have a fresh salad bar pasture for the next twenty-four hours. Then it's back to the barn to milk Gail, our Jersey Canadienne cow and feed the pigs before changing clothes and heading into the butcher shop or doing projects around the farm.  There are lots of fences to fix, machines to get ready for haying and daily upkeep of the farm and yard. Have you had a chance to try our NEW Bacon Infused Patties yet?  We love them and so do our customers who have tried them.  Be sure to order yours today at the link below.And, as a side note.  I will not be posting as much over the summer, but you can come on down to the Grande Prairie Farmers Market and we can have a little visit there.See you soon.FROM OUR FARM TO YOUR FAMILY,thank you for caring where your food comes from.  

Pasture versus CAFO: Why Do We Raise Our Animals on Grass?

Why  Do We Raise Our Animals on Grass? I want to start to answer this question.  It all begins with our family's journey to regaining our health. In the late 1980's we started to experience varying degrees of health issues.  We sought medical help to no avail.  The doctors could not pinpoint the causes of persistent rashes, digestive problems and persistent weight gain to name a few of the difficulties we were experiencing.  It was during these challenging times that we were introduced to the concept of organic food.  We were very skeptical that switching to organic food would help these issues.  Part of our skepticism was because it would require us to spend additional money on groceries.  Another issue was that we were in a community of conventional farmers who thought there was no basis for organic claims. So, feeling like we had no alternatives left to explore, we started to make the shift to eating organic foods and pasture-based meat, milk and eggs.  To help alleviate some of the out-of-pocket expenses we started to grow a bigger garden and preserve its bounty to supply our produce.  A small improvement in our health was noticed, but the issues were not alleviated.  We then started to take some courses on raising animals mimicking nature.  We discovered the harmful effects that our conventional agricultural practices had on the animals and the people who consumed them.  In 1997 we turned our backs on conventional agricultural practices and started farming organically.  I want to add a disclaimer here:  We are not totally against the use of medications if an animal or human gets sick and could die without intervention.  We will however try every available natural alternative before resorting to pharmaceuticals.   We started to harvest meat, milk and eggs from our pasture-raised animals instead of selling them and then going to the store to purchase our meat, milk and eggs.  At this time we added pigs to our repertoire of animals that we were raising.  So now we had beef, milk, lamb, pigs, chicken and eggs that we were raising for ourselves.    We believe that our health has significantly improved because we changed our diet to consume "clean" meats, raw dairy, eggs from our healthy laying hens and veggies from our gardens.  Still, more health improvements were noticed, but there were still quite a few lingering issues.Through our connections with other organic producers, we were introduced to a wonderful naturopathic doctor who did some very detailed allergy testing.  These tests finally gave us a very clear picture of what we were dealing with.  So after eliminating the myriad of foods that triggered the allergic reactions daily life became much better.  By eating home-raised, organically grown foods that didn't produce the allergic reactions the health issues just seemed to fall away.  Every once in a while when we cheat and eat away from home the symptoms manifest themselves again.  We then quickly correct the behavior and our bodies go back to what is now normal.  I am not saying that this is a cure-all to whatever ails you.  There are still days that we struggle with health issues that seem to come out of nowhere, but we just backtrack to see if it is something that we can correct. The information that follows is from the website "Eat Wild".  It is very interesting and explains the important health benefits of grass-fed meats, eggs and dairy far better than I can. "Summary of Important Health Benefits of Grassfed Meats, Eggs and Dairy Lower in Fat and Calories. There are a number of nutritional differences between the meat of pasture-raised and feedlot-raised animals. To begin with, meat from grass-fed cattle, sheep, and bison is lower in total fat. If the meat is very lean, it can have one third as much fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal. In fact, as you can see by the graph below, grass-fed beef can have the same amount of fat as skinless chicken breast, wild deer, or elk.[1] Research shows that lean beef actually lowers your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.[2] Data from J. Animal Sci 80(5):1202-11. Because meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, it is also lower in calories. (Fat has 9 calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number of calories.) As an example, a 6-ounce steak from a grass-finished steer can have 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain-fed steer. If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to lean grassfed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year—without requiring any willpower or change in your eating habits. If everything else in your diet remains constant, you'll lose about six pounds a year. If all Americans switched to grassfed meat, our national epidemic of obesity might diminish. In the past few years, producers of grass-fed beef have been looking for ways to increase the amount of marbling in the meat so that consumers will have a more familiar product. But even these fatter cuts of grass-fed beef are lower in fat and calories than beef from grain-fed cattle. Extra Omega-3s. Meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals. Omega-3s are called "good fats" because they play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of all the fats, they are the most heart-friendly. People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. Remarkably, they are 50 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack.[3] Omega-3s are essential for your brain as well. People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's disease.[4] Another benefit of omega-3s is that they may reduce your risk of cancer. In animal studies, these essential fats have slowed the growth of a wide array of cancers and also kept them from spreading.[5] Although the human research is in its infancy, researchers have shown that omega-3s can slow or even reverse the extreme weight loss that accompanies advanced cancer and also hasten recovery from surgery.[6,7] Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and walnuts, but they are also found in animals raised on pasture. The reason is simple. Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s. When cattle are taken off omega-3 rich grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on omega-3 poor grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished.[8] The graph below illustrates this steady decline. Data from: J Animal Sci (1993) 71(8):2079-88. When chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs also become artificially low in omega-3s. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory hens.[9] It has been estimated that only 40 percent of Americans consume an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids. Twenty percent have blood levels so low that they cannot be detected.[10] Switching to the meat, milk, and dairy products of grass-fed animals is one way to restore this vital nutrient to your diet. The CLA Bonus. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of another type of good fat called "conjugated linoleic acid" or CLA. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets.[11] (A steak from the most marbled grass-fed animals will have the most CLA ,as much of the CLA is stored in fat cells.) CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA—a mere 0.1 percent of total calories—greatly reduced tumor growth. [12] There is new evidence that CLA may also reduce cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. Switching from grain-fed to grassfed meat and dairy products places women in this lowest risk category.13 Researcher Tilak Dhiman from Utah State University estimates that you may be able to lower your risk of cancer simply by eating the following grassfed products each day: one glass of whole milk, one ounce of cheese, and one serving of meat. You would have to eat five times that amount of grain-fed meat and dairy products to get the same level of protection. Vitamin E. In addition to being higher in omega-3s and CLA, meat from grassfed animals is also higher in vitamin E. The graph below shows vitamin E levels in meat from: 1) feedlot cattle, 2) feedlot cattle given high doses of synthetic vitamin E (1,000 IU per day), and 3) cattle raised on fresh pasture with no added supplements. The meat from the pastured cattle is four times higher in vitamin E than the meat from the feedlot cattle and, interestingly, almost twice as high as the meat from the feedlot cattle given vitamin E supplements. [14#] In humans, vitamin E is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. This potent antioxidant may also have anti-aging properties. Most Americans are deficient in vitamin E. Data from: Smith, G.C. "Dietary supplementation of vitamin E to cattle to improve shelf life and case life of beef for domestic and international markets." Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171" Grab your copy of our free booklet, 6 SUPER SIMPLE COOKING METHODS TO ACHIEVE PERFECTION EVERY TIME FROM YOUR PASTURE-RAISED MEATS.  It is a great resource that you will turn to time after time.Join me next week to learn what "grass-fed" means to me.

Making a Difference: Exploring Grassfed/Grass Finished Beef

 Approximately thirty years ago many ranchers realized the adverse health effects that CAFOs were creating in their animals and the people who consumed the meat.  So instead of sending them away to a CAFO, they started keeping them on pasture until it was time to process them for food.  When animals are raised on pasture the animals grow at a natural pace, consuming only foods that were designed for their bodies.  This low-stress life came with the added benefit of virtually eliminating the use of antibiotics and many other routinely used drugs.  Pasture-based farming allows the animals to express their naturally design characteristics while being naturally healthy.  This means that the people who consume the meat benefit from the animal's health.  How can a sickly animal help us to stay healthy?  We don’t believe that it can.    There have been numerous studies done that compared CAFO meat to grass-fed and grass-finished meat.  They all found that the meat from grass-fed and grass-finished beef, lamb, bison and goats has less total fat including saturated fat, cholesterol and calories.  It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and other health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid.  Raising animals on pasture for meat also requires more intimate knowledge of your animal' needs than sending them away when they are weaned from their mothers.  Pastures must be managed so that the plants are always at their optimal growth stage.  This provides nutrient-dense forage.  The attention to pasture management details results in succulent and tender meat for you and our family. Well-stewarded animals raised on high-quality pasture provide the opportunity for us to consume the healthiest meat possible without being concerned about what they were fed and how they have been treated.  In 1998 we made the switch from raising our animals conventionally to raising them following organic principles.  In the coming weeks, we will explore the differences in more detail.  Plus I will have some tried and tested recipes you will be sure to love. If you have been searching for locally raised and processed grass-fed and grass-finished meat raised by caring farmers whom you can talk to in person, you have come to the right place.  Every day our family puts great effort into ensuring our animals are well taken care of.   It is simple to order our grass-fed/grass-finished beef and lamb or pasture-raised pork.   Visit our online store where you can browse our large selection of farm-raised products.  When you are ready to order create your very own personal account, fill your cart, and select your preferred pickup location.  We will notify you when your order is ready to pick up.  It is that easy.  What are you waiting for? To help you get started successfully cooking with our grass-fed, pasture-raised meat you can download our 6 SUPER SIMPLE COOKING METHODS TO ACHIEVE PERFECTION EVERY TIME FROM YOUR PASTURE-RAISED MEATS booklet absolutely free. It is a great resource that you will turn to time-after-time. I know I sure do!