February 2014 Newsletter

So, here we are, we’ve made it to February.  This time of year, though cold and wet often, is proof to me that we have made it past the worst of the winter and that we will soon see the spring.  Fitting words for me to write, as today is Groundhog’s day.  I don’t have any idea what he had to say about the weather, but what I do know is that with a little patience, we will again see warmer temperatures and longer days.  This ultimately means the growth of the grass which means happy, pasture munching cows–my favorite!

I want to thank all of you for your support and patience through these past 6 weeks.  It has at times been challenging to have a baby and still want to be so hands on with the farm.  Florence has now been initiated, and we have been out milking the cows together.  I am still managing to set aside plenty of time to just sit and look at her, as the tiny baby phase passes all too quickly.

This morning, I received an email from one of my old professors over in Greece and it got me to thinking.  I lived on a Greek island for 3 years where I ultimately decided that food was the most important thing in life.  I promptly returned home and became a farmer.  It seems the opposite of the entire rest of history where farmers were considered low class citizens, and I couldn’t help but think what a disappointment I might have been to my family a century ago.  I came from a poor family yet I was able to go to a big, fancy school and get a big, fancy degree, I even spent time abroad yet I came home to farm.  Even after mulling all that over, I couldn’t be more proud of that decision that I made.  After all, I sit down with my family 3 times per day and enjoy food that we created on our own land.  I have learned to have ultimate gratitude for the basic sustenance of life–food.  What a beautiful sentiment that was to ponder.  I hope that the milk we so lovingly produce here provides some meaning to you and your family.

Ok.. on to business.  There was some delay in shipment of the bulk tank, and it is due to arrive at SOME point this month (hopefully!).  I know it is going to be a bit of a transition, but I will do everything I can to make sure that it goes smoothly. When it comes, I plan to set it up, but I will likely pour the milk for you for the first week and put it in the fridge.  That will give you the opportunity to come back the next week with your own jars and return any jars that need to come back to me.  As usual, I am available for questions.  With the baby and the kids demanding my attention during the day, I most readily respond to texts if that is convenient for you.

Lastly, I would like to switch to emailing invoices next month to start to save on some paper.  If that works for you, go ahead and write your email address on the envelope when you pay this month and I will keep it.

Thank you all for your support this month!  We appreciate you!  Enjoy your milk!


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!

Daphne’s Holes

Miss Daphne dug these holes last spring. She couldn’t tell me why she did it at the time. These holes are still there. We ended up sinking a fence post in to one of them for our new permanent poultry pen. The other two holes she proudly points out to me whenever we are near them. They were her decision on her farm, and though I don’t understand the practical use of them, she’s got it all worked out–and she’s proud of them.

Read more about ..

Christmas 2011 a

Happy Holidays!
What a year we have had! For sure, 2011, was full of twists and turns and adventures! We have so many things we are thankful for this year.

Miss Daphne is growing up so quickly! She celebrated her 4th birthday in March. She is very proud to be 4, and she proves how grown up she is every day. She has taken on many different chores around the house. She especially loves to be involved in the growing and preparing of food. She spent countless hours helping plant, weed, water and harvest the garden. She’s even got a very big garlic patch growing that promises some delicious 2012 eating.
Daphne started her study of ballet this year. This is something she has always expressed interest in. She takes her study very seriously, and decided to perform in the Nutcracker! We are grateful for the patience of Miss Emma and the willingness to include such small children in this production. Daphne was a trooper. She practiced hard and did a great job when it came time to shine on stage.
This September, Daphne started school. She is home schooling with mom, and is doing a great job. She is working hard on her writing and math skills, and Jared has been working hard with her on her reading. She can now read many chapters from Dick and Jane. We are really excited to see her grow through her education.

Master Cyprus is also growing up. He turned two this year, and we celebrated with a pie picnic in our orchard. Somehow, our baby turned into a cowboy! She has a miniature horse that he rides and rides and rides. He even went through a period when if you asked him his name he would say, “I’m not Cyprus, I’m a cowboy.” Our little cowboy loves the farm, and he can be seen outside helping with chores even in the rain and the freezing temperatures. He is very helpful to his mama, and he helped pick hundreds of pounds of strawberries, blueberries, cherries, blackberries, peaches, pears, figs and apples.
Jared has been working hard, and he expanded his company and hired two new employees. We are grateful for the work and dedication of the Expansion Computers staff. Jared got to fulfill a long standing dream this year. After 5 years of working out of tiny corners in our house, he has renovated and moved in to his own office space! The farm’s old dairy make room now houses the world headquarters of Expansion Computers! Jared revels in the peace and quiet at having his own space. He has plenty of windows to watch out over the farm. Perhaps the best feature of his office is the heated floor. Jared has finally beat the cold!
Christine has been working and farming away. The kids and her managed to raise enough food that we now have 5 freezers full of our own delicious bounty! She is enjoying being a farmer, a mother, a teacher, a chef, a textile designer, a bookkeeper or whatever other job she needs to be on any given day.
We completed the total renovation of the play room this year. It took over 400 hours of careful work. Christine made the paint herself, and the room now rings of its 100 year old past.
This was our first full year on our farm. We finalized the sale of our property, and it is now ours for good! Even though there were some tough moments this year, we have had a lot of fun and joy as well. Spring time brought Easter egg hunts in the orchard and plenty of green grass for the cows. Summer was passed with many lazy days in the hammock and plenty of bouncing and goofing around on the trampoline. Fall brought us many, many, many bushels of apples and pears. We watched the leaves on OUR trees turn colors and fall as the cool breeze chased off the heat of summer. This winter has been passed with lots of cooking (and eating!) hearty meals and some knitting in front of the fire.
So many momentous things happened in 2011. We made some wonderful new friends and celebrated, births and weddings with old friends. We wish you a warm and joyous holiday season. We hope that this dark season bring you light . May your pantries be full, your food be delicious and your fires be warm.
Jared, Christine, Daphne and Cyprus
We are thankful for:
kisses from my boy | brussels sprouts | home grown chicken dinners | high speed internet | childrens peaceful sleeping faces | strawberries freshly picked still warm from the sun | baby bunnies | cozy warm beds | a barn full of hay | a large home garden | shelves full of canned goods |a husband who is always willing to wear his farmers hat | 3 family meals each day | Jared’s new office with a heated floor | 5 freezers full of nourishing food | owning property free and clear | owning our farm officially! | new fencing | soft, slippery mohair | baby animals | our cozy wood stove | sheepskins | calla lilies | ratatouille | a remodeled playroom | our trusty little car | huckleberries | the Carlton house sale | fresh cheese curds | Community Plate | raw milk | 2 happy cows | grits | Jerry Ripp | reclaimed wood floors | knitting | farm tours | potlucks | feeding Corey and Armen | food from other farmers | bead board | new babies | buckets full of blueberries | our trusty tractor | Thanksgiving dinner | Miss Emma | ballet shoes | family and friends


This is what a farmer’s daughter looks like. This is her signature look! Raising kids on a farm is so much fun!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Lots of fun for us today.  We got a lot of general busy work done.  First things first, I walked right in from milking the cow and got on processing milk.  We made some creme fraiche and some butter with the cream.  I then put the milk in a pot to make a wheel of Manchego.  While the Mancghego was ripening, I also got some feta going.  Making cheese is so fulfilling because the milk in the fridge turns into something so beautiful and delicious.

I finished processing the strawberries, one more load into the dehydrator, and some more in the freezer.  We are up to 40 pints in the freezer so far, and there is more to pick still.  My goal is to get 100 pints in there.  I calculated the yield of the berries out.  I can pick about 3o pounds of strawberries in about an hour or an hour and a half.  If I pick into 2 gallon buckets, that is ideal.  They are big enough to fit quite a few berries, but not so big that the berries on the bottom get squished.  Each 2 gallon bucket holds about 10 pounds of strawberries, so that’s about 5 pounds of strawberries per gallon of container. Just good to know for the future.  Also, one 4-tray dehydrator full translates to a quart jar of dried strawberries.

After everything was processed and cleaned up, the kids and I went out and drove up Baker Creek to a park to hang out and play.  It was a blast.  The sun was just warm enough for a bit of light swimming.

When I got home, my cows were running around the driveway.  They had been out in the field on long lines eating grass.  Jared had poped out of the house for a quick errand, and in the interim, someone came up onto the property and cut the tether lines on the cows.  We did some detective work, and it is clear they were cut.  The cuts are very straight across the lines, not torn.  The tethers were also not at the end as if they had been pulled taut and broken, they were loosely laying on the ground.  Also, my milk fridge on the front porch was unplugged by the hoodlum.  This is the kind of thing that was happening with the pigs, but REALLY?  Those lines are expensive to replace, and I just don’t get the motivation.  I’m considering filing another police report for documentation in case we find the jerks messing with my farm.

We had a friend out to visit with her son.  They enjoyed checking out all the animals, and we even peeked in the bee hive.  It is looking VERY nice in there!  I might be ready to do a bit of a harvest on one hive soon!

Put one more wheel barrow load on the potatoes.  If I finish writing this right now, I just might be able to get up early in the morning to finish it off.

I was out in the barn late tonight to find that one of the eggs a hen was sitting on had fallen from the nest.  It got pretty cold down on the ground, but I did pick it up and put it under her.  Hopefully it will be OK.  If only those damned chicks would hatch out so I could see.

I’d like to get the house  and the farm cleaned up tomorrow.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The sun made a nice appearance today.  Seems a bit like late April, early May around here in terms of weather.  Of course, the date on a calendar is not what matters.  We’ve got tons of things to do.  I like this time of year.  It’s not generally too hot, yet the sun is shining and the grass is growing.

Our little place is looking so good.  The appraiser came out on Tuesday, and if all goes well, in the next week or so, we will officially own our farm.  Not that it doesn’t feel like we own it now, but it is nice to have the piece of paper that says that it is ours for good.  No more of this leasing business.  That said, we are SO grateful to our seller for allowing us to take our time to buy the property.  She is, no doubt, ready to move on with her life, but she has nicely agreed to work with us, we really appreciate that.

The strawberry pick is still on.  After getting the first 30 pounds in the fridge yesterday, we headed back out for another 36 pound pick today!  I estimate that we are about half way done.  I was thinking yesterday about my progression in preservation of food.  Ten years ago, I bought a flat of strawberries at the farmer’s market, and that was my yearly need for fresh berries all year long.  This year, we’re hoping to get a 100 pound pick!  Julie and I pooled our berries to start some strawberry wine.  It’s now mashed, sugared and waiting for some yeast to send it off.  This should be a fun project.  The rest of the berries are going in the freezer for today, but the next pick will be to make a gallon or two of strawberry syrup.  We’ve decided to stop our dependency on maple syrup in the house since it is so easy to inexpensive to make our own berry syrups.

We headed off to the farmer’s market, but for the first time ever, came home empty handed.  Julie swears that she’s never going with me again because I yak and yak with all the farmers around.

We had a nice dinner with the kids’ godparents.  Linnea is headed off to the south for the summer, and we will miss her.

When we finally made it home, the kids and I worked on getting some chores done.  I cleaned the cow stall a little bit more, which meant more potato hilling!  I’m getting close to getting done.

I also fixed the sprinkler so the garden got a nice thorough soaking!  Add some sun and we might actually get some food!  It’s time to start planting the winter garden OH MY!

Our house is looking a little junky, so I spent the remainder of the daylight hours cleaning it up.  I did manage to clean out the milk fridge really well, so as of now, the milk will be in the new Cast Iron farm, milk fridge!  Very exciting for us.

My neighbor (who also gets milk from me) called me and said she was having some problems with a goat that had just kidded.  The mama’s udder was all plugged up and the kid wouldn’t nurse.  I headed over to help out.  It is so nice to have a like-minded neighbor.   She is so sweet, and she offered to help our around here as she could.  Now that’s what I call community.

Lots to get done tomorrow…

Wednesday, June 15th 2011

Finally feeling better after almost two weeks of being sick.  What is it with the sickness this winter?  Everyone has been sick several times, so I was a bit broadsided with yet another illness in June!  the house has now been aired out and we are all spending at least an hour in the sun a day, so hopefully that will keep everyone well.

I finished processing the first 30 pounds of strawberries we picked.  It translated into 17 pints for the freezer and 2 quarts dehydrated.  Of course, we ate a bunch as well.  Fresh Oregon strawberries are the BEST!

Julie came over and we weeded the corn and replanted any that had died or been eaten.  The birds are eating some of the small plants in the garden, so I encourage the sun to come out and make them grow!

I realized that my sprinkler is a piece of garbage, so I am now in search of something that will actually suitably water the garden.  Yet another expense.  The sprinkler search is tricky because out water pressure varies so much from one place to the next that not all sprinklers work out in the big field.  I’ve got to get this remedied because the plants are getting thirsty.

The kids and I worked on cleaning out the loose hay on the ground in the barn.  This worked very well to use to hill up the potatoes that are now growing very nicely.  The potatoes are about 75% hilled and the barn is getting cleaned, I like how these projects supplement each other.

The cows finally made it out into the grass field, which I like.  I went out and drove some stakes out for them and they were out from 6am to 9pm.  They really liked being out in the tall grass with plenty to eat, hopefully it increases my milk production.

The fridge came back from the painter, and it is beautiful, a nice shade of yellow, and it’s got the Cast Iron Farm logo on the front.  It’s now sitting on the front porch, and people can come get milk and eggs from it without having to come into my house.  Yes, I like this arrangement very much.

I’ve been giving the goat pasture a rest for a while and the goats have been in, but I finally felt bad for them being in while it was so nice out and I let them back out.  There is plenty to eat again for them, and I think they will be happy.  Of course, it started to rain the second I let them out, but that’s life, right, oh no, it’s just farming.

The dairy goats were reassigned the task of eating down the blackberries in the chicken coop.  I suppose another day or two in there and they will get to go back out with the cows to work on the blackberries and the thistles there.

On my way into town to celebrate my birthday dinner (it was postponed because of illness), I noticed that a farmer had cut some lovely clover hay I’ve been watching (and admiring).  I stopped by on the way back and left a note asking if he’d have the hay for sale and also asking if he might consider coming on down to cut some hay in our field.  It was a bold move for sure, but I wasn’t getting anywhere by sitting and watching the grass go to waste.  Next year, it will be fenced some more, so it wont need to be hayed, but until then, it would be nice to have a barn full of hay for the winter.  Now if only we had a hay elevator to get the hay up off the constantly flooding barn floor.

We are approaching the solstice, and it’s lovely.  I love those cloudy 70 degree days.  Jared and I just went outside at 9  to sit and enjoy and admire our beautiful farm!