April Newsletter

Oh my!  I hope sincerely that you have been enjoying all of this wonderful weather we have been lucky to experience.  I have had a list of farm projects that needed to get done sometime in the spring.  I never imagined that we would be well into the list by the 1st of April.  That’s part of what is awesome about farming, you are always being thrown curve balls, some are good and some are bad. I’m enjoying this good one.  In fact, the Easter Bunny delivered baskets full of annual flowers to the children to plant in their gardens.  The flowers have already been planted!  That’s a first!  I so look forward to those lovely little blooms greeting me all summer long as I walk out my front door.

April and May are my favorite months of the year.  I so enjoy the green grass, the blossoms, the bees buzzing and all the new life awakening after a dark, rainy season.  I will install 4 more hives of bees this weekend, so honey is in our future.

Our chicks and ducks are on their way and will be here on April 12th.  You will see them roaming around the farm eating up bugs and grass converting it to food on your table.  There are a few extras so feel free to add on.

All of the goats but one kidded this past month.  We have 7 happy, bouncing babies running around and growing like weeds, and it’s been fun to get to play with them again and to enjoy the goat milk from our two milking mamas.  You will no doubt see these guys running around out in the pasture from now on.  We are also still looking for names for almost all of them.  Hint..hint…

As of today, our RAWMI listing has been finalized and is official.  It was actually official  on March 11th, but they have now posted it on their website and announced it themselves.  Our bacteria counts are now public on the web (www.castironfarm.com/test-results).  We have really learned a lot in the listing process, and I am so glad that our farm walked that path.  As a listed farmer, I now have a donation box with envelopes for RAWMI.  This will live in the creamery.  I know that things are tight, but do consider making a contribution, even as small as $5.  If everyone made a small donation we could pay for another farmer to go through the listing process.  We are slowly educating and proving that raw milk can be produced safely (and deliciously).

I did a bulk order of the wide mouth ReCap Mason jar lids.  They are awesome to put on the milk jars to help with the pouring.  They are on the shelf in the creamery and you can grab them for $6 each.  That’s a steal, as they are $7 on the ReCap website.

I wish all of you a happy spring.  I hope that you find some time to grab some good food with someone you love, and as always, Enjoy your milk!

March 2013 Newsletter

March has arrived!

The groundhog was kind to us this year and seems to have told the truth when he announced the imminent arrival of spring.  Of course we are still having some temperature drops (it froze this morning), but all in all, this farmer is grateful to be experiencing this mild weather that makes it pleasant to be out of doors.

The most wonderful part of the weather change is that the cows have made it out onto the good pasture!  The grass is growing, albeit a little slowly.  The ladies are appreciating being moved into a fresh patch of grass every morning, and I must admit that I love this time of year when they finally return to being visible from my kitchen window.

Be sure to check out the test results for the milk this month.  The numbers we are seeing in the milk quality tests are indicators that the milk you are taking home is fresh and clean!  I do hope that you enjoy your milk every week, as I think kindly of each of you when I write your name on the top of each jar.

The RAWMI listing process has been completed, and at this point, we are only waiting for it to actually show up on the website.  I am excited to be a member of the group that is proving raw milk to be a safe and healthy option.

We did some more work this month on the cow barn and it now has good lighting.  What a difference it makes to turn on the lights and actually be able to see!

We are expecting some little goats this month, so keep your eyes out for those happy, bouncing souls as you pick up your milk.  The goats and the sheep will transition slowly onto the sheep pasture over the course of the next 4 weeks.  On that note, we will be shearing the goats and the sheep this month and have some beautiful coated fleeces still available.  The fleeces will be the best I have ever produced and I can’t wait to start processing and spinning my chosen fleeces.  I plan to make many pairs of socks to keep my feet warm during next winter’s milking and barn cleaning.

I am going to order chicks this next week, so you have the chance to get in on that still.  They will get to take advantage of the green spring grass, and I am looking forward to having chicken in my freezer.

Enjoy your milk and the arrival of spring this month!

February 2013 Newsletter

Happy February!

We’ve been having some nicer weather lately.  It feels to me like it is the calm before the storm, as I know we have more freezes and more rain ahead of us, but the cows and I have nonetheless been enjoying the weather.  They’ve been out to pasture for almost a week straight which has given me a break from barn cleaning.  They’ve been kicking up their heels on the way out to the pasture every day, which always makes me smile.

Lots happened in January!  Our adorable Fritz (Daisee’s bull calf) finally joined us 14 days late.  He is a troublemaker, and he is simply gorgeous.  I’ve really been enjoying having him around the farm.

We took advantage of a short lull to add fully automatic water plumbing in the barn and in the pasture.  The system works wonderfully and is already saving me a lot of work and time.   We also completed some plumbing projects in the creamery.  We now have plentiful hot water in the sink, and the dishwasher is working diligently sanitizing those jars brought back.  Oh! We have also installed an ice machine!  You are welcome to throw a few scoops of ice into your cooler on  your way out to keep your milk cold.  We have been using the ice to chill the milk in record time!  Our milk is down to 36 degrees within 30 minutes of leaving the cow!

Our RAWMI listing should be made final in February!  Our January test results sealed the deal and we were officially invited to complete our listing.  We are just now fine tuning some paperwork, but you should see Cast Iron Farm listed on the RAWMI site soon.

Spring will soon be upon us.  We have decided to do 1 batch each of spring poultry for sale.  We are going to do a batch of heritage Freedom Ranger chickens for $5 per pound as well as a batch of ducks for $6 per pound.  We will start them in late March, early April.  They will be fed non GMO feed and will be heavily pastured (the ducks even have a pond). We are currently taking reservations on these guys.  I will require a deposit to hold your spot.  Space will be somewhat limited, so if you have interest, let me know sooner than later as there will be no extras, I am going to order based on reservations.  They will be available in mid to late June.  Also, we will have a limited number of rabbits available for $22 each, ready throughout the spring and summer months.

The cows will gradually transition to more and more pasture this month.  May your butter become more and more yellow!

Enjoy your milk!

January 2013 Newsletter

Happy New Year!

May 2013 bring you lots of smiles and many delicious meals!  I know I have a long list of things we’d like to see done around the farm.  I’ve already started working on many of them.  I also hope to spend lots of time participating in the growth of my kids.

December was a big month for Cast Iron Farm.  As you have no doubt noticed, the milk pick up has now moved to the new creamery space. I am loving this new arrangement.  I spent many hours over 2012 designing the perfect production spaces, and the creamery is the culmination of many hours of careful thought.  We should have hot water and a dedicated dishwasher in there by the end of next week, which will complete the space!  Remember to put the empty jars back into the yellow fridge for cleaning.  The jars I have sitting out on the granite countertop are the clean, sterile jars ready for the next milking.  Additionally, I have stocked the space with some basic office supplies for writing a note or a check, etc.  Please put any payments in an envelope and put them in the metal wire basket next to the office supplies.  I will pick them up on one of my many daily trips through the creamery.  If you are paying in cash, please use the receipt book to write yourself a receipt so that I can credit to your account.  Ask me if you have any questions about this.

In other news, on December 19th, Mark Macafee flew up here from California to do an inspection of the farm.  He was here while I milked, and we went into excruciating detail about my milking practices.  He was very pleased with the set up here and he extended an invitation to me to become the 2nd nationally listed farmer with the Raw Milk Institute.  This is a very exciting opportunity for Cast Iron Farm to be a part of proving that with careful practices, raw milk can be produced safely.

I am also working as a technical advisor to the Oregon Raw Milk Producers Association to help develop standards for all raw milk producers in Oregon!  I am a big advocate of testing.  As such, you will now find our test results posted in the creamery space.  I test the first non holiday Monday of each month.  If you have questions about interpreting the results, I would be happy to direct you.  Last month’s results showed VERY clean milk with no coliforms detected (!) and only 8000 colony forming units on the standard plate count.  We are meeting the standards required to milk after it has been pasteurized!

Lastly, we are expecting a calf VERY soon from Daisee (the white roan cow) any day (she was due December 24th.  Feel free to ask to check in on her and see the soon to be born new baby!

Enjoy your milk