Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A long time coming....

So, it's been over a month since either myself or Justin has posted anything. And finally after all of the snow has melted and the temperatures have been above freezing, we seem to be making headway on the organic front.

For what seemed like forever getting our beef from Well's Family Farms, we now have a freezer packed with (now less than) 70 pounds of grass fed beef. The majority of the haul was ground, which seems to be what Justin and I eat more than any other kind of beef. There were a few steaks and a couple of roasts and even some bones and shank pieces for the dog. Personally, I can't taste the difference between what we previously got at the grocery store and this beef, but I know it doesn't have hormones and other chemicals hanging around and it was humanely treated. Justin nearly went vegetarian thinking about how the cow had such a good life as compared to other cows living in deplorable conditions. I tried to relieve this concern by telling him that the cow was destined to die anyway and it wasn't our fault that the cow was slaughtered in the prime of its life. Anyway, beef. Check.

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig....
FINALLY, a "local" vendor for pasture raised pigs. I put local in quotation marks just because they are 157 miles away, but their pork is awesome! Schenker Family Farms is located in McCune, Kansas (not far from my home town of Chetopa). We met them at the Food Expo, first in Shawnee and then the following week in Independence. You can order directly from their website. They also have beef, chicken, lamb and an assortment of relishes and jellies. Last week we had their cheese stuffed Italian sausage and it was excellent. Last night we had the hickory smoked bacon. It had very little fat and was so flavorful and crispy. They offer meat bundles at an excellent price. They offer home/office delivery on a weekly basis to Kansas City, Wichita, Lawrence and Topeka.

CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)
We've decided that joining a CSA is probably in our best interest. CSA has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Hen House Markets in metropolitan Kansas City Area offer a CSA on a weekly basis, allowing for pick up at any of their KC Area Markets as part of their Buy Fresh Buy Local program. This is the one that we will probably join, since it is cost effective and relatively close to our house.

Last week I finally started getting my raised beds built. Despite the concern of Justin for termites in our back yard, I'm using wood. It is more cost effective and will eventually be replaced with stone. I just couldn't put it off any longer. I was overly excited when I discovered the chives, oregano, thyme, and mints were coming back from their winter hibernation. So, I transplanted them (except the mints) to a 2' x 6' bed of fresh soil, giving them plenty of room to grow. I purchased purple and sweet basil plants and cilantro and caraway seeds at the Food Expo in Independence April 3rd and added all four plants and planted a hand full of the seeds to the bed. Since the bed is next to the fence, I crafted a frost barrier, just in case of plastic and wood, to protect the little plants from harm. It also serves as protection against heavy rains and hail that have appeared already in the last couple of days. I have four rows of potatoes planted. This may sound like a lot, but there are only four plants for each row. Two of russet and two of reds. I'm hoping to find some gold that I can plant, for those make excellent soups. We've decided that  this year to plant what we use the most of, instead of a few plants of a number of things.

Hopefully we'll also have strawberries, rhubarb and blackberries this year. I planted a gooseberry bush, next to the blackberries and with a little nurturing next year we'll have gooseberries. We've also discovered that there is an apple "tree" of some sort in the back yard. What we thought was a bush, we learned is multiple trees sprouting from an old tree trunk that wasn't properly treated. We're thinking they may be crab apples, but only time will tell. To me, it's pretty exciting and I'm already looking at crab apple recipes, just in case.

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