Since the start of Covid and social distancing, we have obviously been spending much more time on the farm. This has given us the opportunity to record many of our day to day tasks, and we’ve started sharing them on our YouTube channel. Some of our recent videos have been peeks into what it’s like with as many birds as we have.
We currently have about 60 ducklings in a tractor, growing big and strong before they head out on pasture. This is what it looked like when we first moved them out of their brooder and onto grass.
A few days later, we gave them a “pool” for the first time. When ducklings are covered in their baby “feathers” they are NOT waterproof! They can easily become waterlogged and possibly drown. In the wild, momma ducks preen them with her own oil to allow them to float. For this reason, we don’t allow our tiny baby ducks to have access to any containers of water that they can climb into, unless we are supervising them directly.
You can see how much larger they are in the second video! Within a couple weeks, we will be moving them into a pen surrounded by Electronet, and they will have access to two or three swimming pools. This group will grow up on pasture, eating locally grown grain from our local mill, and some will be processed for meat. We may keep some of the females to add to our egg laying flock, but we are still undecided on that at this time. Until then, we will enjoy watching them grow.
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Last week, we spent a few hours in the Albion Food Hub making some sauerkraut for ourselves, and to swap with friends. Fifty three pounds of sauerkraut, to be exact. The cabbage was grown by Green Gardens, and was absolutely delicious! Starting with good ingredients is so important, especially when there are only two in the finished product.
When we decided to skip the garden entirely this year, we knew we would need to acquire veggies from other farms to preserve for ourselves. Last weekend, we picked up a basket of pickling cucumbers from our friends at Willow Garden. We have been buy vegetables from Jason and Seraina since before we bought the farm. They are certified organic growers, and grow a great variety of veggies for the market. We also got some Walla Walla onions from them, and those are the other major component of this recipe.
I don’t make pickles often, but I do really enjoy having a mandolin slicer when I do. This model specifically is really easy to use and clean. It cuts two different thicknesses, and has the option for a julienne cut. We have made our own french fries with this, and it does a great job at decreasing the workload involved.
One note: When using salt in fermenting, pickling and canning, even if it’s just a fridge pickle, it’s important to use un-iodized salt. We love this sea salt. It has a really crisp taste, and won’t mess with the pickling or fermenting process.
Now, onto the recipe!
4 or 5 pickling cucumbers (I usually slice extra, and snack on them)
2 Tbsp pickling salt
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 whole cloves
2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
1 or 2 walla walla onions
To get started, rinse your cucumbers. Then, slice them on the thicker setting of the mandolin into a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and toss for 20-30 seconds. Stick the bowl in the fridge for an hour or so to allow the salt to draw some of the moisture out of the cucumbers.
While your cukes sweat, start on the brine. In a pot over medium heat, add the vinegars, sugars, crushed garlic, cloves, peppercorns, mustard seed, and celery seed. Allow to heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Remove cucumbers from fridge and drain. I also rinse them to remove most of the salt. Cut the onions in half, and slice on the thin setting of the mandolin. Add to bowl of cucumbers and toss. Add cucumbers and onions to a clean quart jar. Pack them in there pretty firmly, but without totally smashing the slices. Top with prepared brine. You will have to tip the jar in different directions to get the air bubbles out. I usually put a sealing lid on the jar, and shake it around for a couple seconds. Keep filling the jar until it’s totally full. Stick the jar in the fridge and let it sit for 24 hours minimum. Taste the next day, and enjoy!
This recipe is NOT meant for water bath or pressure canning. It will last in the fridge up to 6 weeks. Feel free to modify the ratios of white to brown sugar, or white vinegar to apple cider vinegar. Add more spices if you like a little more flavor. Add a half teaspoon of turmeric for more flavor and color. Add some red pepper flakes if you want a sweet and spicy pickle. There are many ways to change this up, and with a small batch like this, it’s easy to make a bunch of varieties and see what you like best! Enjoy!
This post was sponsored by our Patreon supporter Giles. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Etsy! Frontière Farm House is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon. If you click a link in this post, we may earn a small commission. This does not cost you anything, and helps us cover the costs associated with farming.
Since Coronavirus hit the United States, many folks have been forced out of work, or are working much less than they were before. We still have friends and customers who want to feed their family quality food, and who want to support us. We acknowledge our products are not exactly a necessity, but we appreciate that so many still want to support us. One way we’ve made this happen is by bartering with people we know. There are always things we need, and we always have things to exchange. These are just a few of the things we have traded since March.
Our friends Aimee and Dan from Overland Lamb and Wool asked us if we would brood chicks for them. We have a pretty good brooding setup, and at the time, we didn’t have full brooders yet. So we happily said yes! In exchange, we got to keep a few of the birds, and they gave us a dead freezer chest that was taking up space in their garage since they bought the house. We use chest freezers to store our bags of feed, so this was a GREAT exchange for both of us! Aimee’s friend also had a dead freezer to offload, so we drove an hour away to pick that up, and we are going to give her some meat and eggs when she is in our area! This works out so well, because it keeps two rather large hunks of junk out of the landfill. When we are ready to replace them with better storage, we will likely swap them with another farmer so they can store their feed.
In other swaps for “trash” we gave a couple dozen eggs to Dan and Aimee for this awesome bench! The goats and lambs love climbing on it, and it helps file their hooves with the shingles we put on top of it. Those shingles were acquired from another friend, Tyler, in exchange for a few beers out of our cellar. He was really stoked about those, and our goats were pretty excited too!
Our friend Caryn, who owns a really awesome store in Marshall called Handle and Hinge, has been buying eggs from us since we started selling. She has probably been our biggest supporter in the way of our Egg CSAs, which is always a wonderful feeling. She recently needed a new card, and we needed a new doorknob for our garage. We did a quick trade, and we are both pretty happy about that.
Another friend and farm supporter we enjoy trading eggs with is our farm vet. Her family has a really awesome chicken coop and run around their garden. We recently gave them a handful of brooded birds to weed the perimeter of their garden, eat their food scraps, and eventually put on their dinner table! We also give them eggs as needed, and she orders miscellaneous supplies we need from her supplier. It’s so wonderful having our farm vet and her family be such great friends, who live so close by.
One of our ongoing back and forth swaps is with our friends at Cinnamonkey Shrubs. We met Amber and Dan at the market last summer, when they were brand new vendors. I was so excited to see something new and modern at our market, and I wanted nothing more than for them to succeed. Now that they are really making a name for themselves in Marshall, we support them in other ways. We have recently swapped some eggs and a chicken for a pedicure from Amber in the future (she also works at an awesome salon in town!). I also get a pack of delicious home made cookies from them at the market regularly, and swap for eggs or chicken. These regular exchanges are so much fun.
The second best bartering we have is when we get food scraps from our friends and customers, and swap it for farm products. Keeping food from being wasted, saving money on feed, enriching the lives of our animals, and just generally being a win for everyone is a great feeling. The pigs have gotten bags of tomatoes, salad greens, bananas, strawberries, and a couple loaves of stale bread. The chickens have had boxes of cereal, corn chips, and much more. And the sheep and goats get an occasional treat of a tortilla chip, or graham cracker. Everyone is happy!
And finally, the best exchange of the Coronapocalyspe: we swapped meat and eggs with Overland Lamb for a living, breathing lamb! Barleywine comes from that wonderful farm, and is a cross breed we otherwise probably wouldn’t have been able to afford. She is a Blue Faced Leicester x Teeswater. This big girl gets us some variety in our flock, which will mean some really exciting fiber and wool in the future! I think we all feel like we came out on top with this deal!
This time of year can get chaotic with all of the new arrivals on the farm. Between the dozen lambs, 100 meat chickens that have been here for a month or so, 100 turkeys coming this week, 100 meat chicks coming next week, and an unknown number of turkey poults, chicks, and ducklings recently hatched by broody moms, there will soon be more babies here than we will know what to do with!
We have several broody birds right now, most notably a turkey and a muscovy co-nesting under our front porch. Just over a week ago, they hatched seven sweet little turkey poults. They are mostly black, but we have one pretty little blue bird as well. These will grow up and either be added to our flock, or become delicious holiday dinners. Heritage birds are different than broad breasted in many ways. One of which is that they grow slower, and develop more even muscling. If you are a fan of dark meat, heritage is what you want to eat. They still have quite a bit of breast meat, but it isn’t as huge as what you’d find in the store.
Over the last couple days, the porch moms and the barn muscovy have hatched over 15 ducklings. We don’t even remember the actual number! Every morning, one of our additional chores is checking in the nest for more little puffy babies. It was really cool that they started hatching the majority of their clutches on the same day!
This is such a fun and exciting part of farming that we didn’t really expect to enjoy so much. All of the moms have easy access to food and water, so this extended broody period is not an issue for them. The next time we catch them off their nests, we will be candling the eggs and making sure we don’t have to worry about any exploding.
This whole year has gone a little wild for us, like many others. We called our processor a couple days ago to book processing for our first batch of chickens, and we are excited to announce they will be available on July 4th, 2020! This was definitely an intentional decision on our part, and we hope you will consider purchasing some fresh, never frozen chicken for your socially distant 4th of July celebrations.
We will have them available whole, halved, or 8 piece. We will not be separating them into parts. Whole chickens are $4.50/lb, halved and 8 piece are $5.00/lb. Whole birds are great as a “beer can chicken”. Halves are awesome for the smoker or the grill. And the 8 piece is perfect for frying, grilling, oven roasting, or just about anything!
In addition to the birds, we will have feet, necks, hearts, gizzards, and livers back in stock!
Despite 2020 already being… well… all of this… we assume time will continue to tick on, and Thanksgiving will eventually get here. We’ve placed our order for turkey poults, which means it’s time to start taking deposits! We will be modifying how we do turkey dispersal this year, to make things a little easier on us, and make sure everyone can get what they request.
First, there will be a non-refundable deposit of $25. This helps us afford the cost of acquiring the poults, and paying for part of the feed. Turkeys eat a lot and take a lot of work to grow them out. If you do not show up to pick up your turkey on the date you decide upon (we will send out an email later on and you will choose your pickup date and location), you will forfeit your deposit.
This deposit will obviously go towards the total cost of your turkey. The turkeys will be whole birds, with the neck and giblets included, and will be priced at $4.00/lb. We will also offer the option to purchase a half turkey, which will not include the giblets, and will be priced at $4.50/lb. If you would like to purchase a half turkey, let us know when ordering.
Turkeys will be sold frozen. We choose to sell our birds this way to allow more flexibility for the processor, and to be able to process birds over the course of a few weeks, which means we can have a wider range of sizes available. Contrary to the belief of many, turkey that is frozen properly is practically indistinguishable from fresh, never frozen turkey. We rent a commercial freezer that is set to -4 Fahrenheit (or lower!), which allows the meat to freeze quickly, keeping the texture and flavor intact. To thaw a turkey, allow approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of bird. Stick it in the fridge a few days ahead of time, and you’ll be ready to go by the morning of the holiday.
If all of this sounds good to you, you can head over to our fancy new online store and place your deposit. If you have any additional questions about our turkeys, feel free to contact us! We appreciate your support and trust with such an important part of your holiday dinners. We look forward to feeding all of you!
After two weeks to the day, all of our Jacob ewes have lambed. Our solo Romeldale girl Calypso isn’t due for a couple weeks still, but we are calling lambing season done, for all intents and purposes.
First up, on April 12, Janus gave birth unassisted to a two horn ewe named Vienna, sired by Limerick.
April 17th brought a pair of four horned, blue eyed twin rams, Kolsch the lilac, and Porter is black, to Tanka, sired by Apollo. They were a little slow to figure things out, but got themselves together within half a day.
April 21, we called our farm vet to assist Citra with the delivery of her ram lamb Pilsner. He was all sorts of backwards, and on the small side with rather long legs. His sire is Limerick.
On Earth Day, April 22, Galena gave birth to twins. Schwarzbier the ram, and Corona the ewe. They are sired by Limerick.
On April 23, the second of our two original ewes, Haiku, had twin ewes. They were quite tiny, and still are the smallest lambs we have, got tangled up, and because of that, we needed to call the vet out again. In no time flat, she had the two tiny girls out, named India and Amber. They are sired by Apollo.
Sunday April 26, had two ewes giving birth. Up first was Hallertauer who had two lilac boys, Lager and Labatt, while we had some farm visitors. Cascade went into labor a few hours later, and had twins. The larger of the two didn’t make it, but the smaller is vigorous and growing well. This little guy has not been named yet. Both of those gals had their lambs sired by Apollo.
We are so excited to watch all these babies grow up! We will be keeping the majority of the ewes to add to our breeding stock, but may consider selling some later on. Some of the rams are destined for the dinner table, and others will be sold to Jacob breeders to continue the preservation of this awesome breed.
This post has been rolling around my brain for some time. But there have been many other things rolling around up there, and it’s been hard to string together coherent sentences. Finally, I have found myself at a point in Coronatine where I feel like I can adequately describe what we have planned for this year! And it’s a lot!
Up first, we will be raising MORE pastured chicken! We have 100 chicks arriving this week, and an additional 100 arriving in May. We are modifying how we will be raising them ever so slightly, so they will have more space to roam and find tasty snacks. This will result in more flavorful meat, and happier, healthier birds. We will do at least one more batch of 100 birds before the end of the season, possibly two.
We will also be raising more duck! We have a muscovy hen setting a nest in the barn, and we are pretty sure there is one under one of the coops (the same one who set a nest under there back at the end of summer 2019). We will raise these ducklings in the barn to start, and then move them outside with the rest of the flock once feathered. This gives them the best start on our farm. Because of our mixed flock, little babies can’t really keep up with mom amongst all the turkeys and geese and other bigger birds. The girls will join the ranks of the layers, and the boys will be destined for the freezer. We will also be getting some pekins to raise for meat.
In July, we will welcome 100 turkey poults. These will be a broad breasted breed, which is the same as what we raised last year. We are also hoping to have a handful of heritage turkeys to put on the table. Our friend Alyssa, from Tall Grass Farm, is incubating some turkey eggs for us, and so far they are developing well. We will have a post soon about how to order turkey for this year. It will be similar to last year, but with a few modifications based on things we’ve learned from our driveway mini market. They will be processed a little bit before Thanksgiving, and frozen so they can be served for other holidays as well.
It’s lambing season, and as of when I’m sitting down to write this, two of eight ewes have lambed. Janus gave us a sweet, beautiful ewe lamb. Tanka gave us a pair of robust 4 horn rams, one a gorgeous dark lilac, and one a lively black. And both those boys have the prettiest blue eyes. We will hopefully have lamb available before the winter holidays. It will depend on if the lambs grow fast enough to make it profitable to send them to the butcher at that point in time. We are planning on giving them minimal grain, and allowing them to grow on the rich pasture that grows here.
Finally, the thing SO MANY people have been asking about: PORK! We will be working with our friends at Ham Sweet Farm and starting with some American Guinea Hogs. For at least this first year, we will be raising them as feeders, and not breeding them. These are a delicious lard breed that is known for rich red meat, and melt in your mouth lard. Depending on their growth, we are hoping to process some before the winter holidays, and perhaps grow a couple of them out longer to allow for the most flavor to develop. We will be working with a couple local produce farms, getting their scraps regularly to enrich the diet of the pigs, as well as the rest of our animals.
In addition to all of this, we are going to hopefully have our yarn back from the mill in the next couple months. And we have the wool from this year’s shearing in the barn, waiting to be processed. Plus, we have our usual eggs and meat happening. If you want to buy into all this goodness, we have our Farm Share CSA available here.
We’ve been watching the weather quite closely the last couple weeks. Between wanting to have the windows open during the day, making sure we close them before the rain starts, to figuring out if we need to add more straw to the coops to help keep the birds warm, there is always some reason one of us will check the weather 73 times a day.
We knew there would be a storm last night, and we knew there would be wind. We made sure stuff that could blow away was put somewhere safe, and there wouldn’t be trash blown around the yard or something annoying like that. We woke up this morning and found nothing out of place, other than a few small twigs blown off trees, which is normal for any amount of wind here. And then I looked out the back window…
One of our shelters for the sheep and goats was blown onto its back side. Somehow, the wind was strong enough to blow something over that we couldn’t move without a tractor. But nothing else blew around or blew over. I am a little bit convinced the goats just had a raucous party, and knocked it over.
Thankfully, no one was injured, and nothing was damaged. You can even see an intact goose egg near the base of it! It was VERY close to hitting the fence, and we were quite worried we would have some urgent fence repairs to take on this morning. We got very lucky.
Thankfully, the fence was spared. The corrugated roof managed to hold up the weight of the shelter, plus the addition of some naughty goats bounding around inside.
We are very lucky that nothing was severely damaged. We hope all of you fared well during last night’s storm!