Regenerating Soil, Regenerating Ourselves

Wise Traditions is a great podcast that we subscribe to, we listen while we do chores or while we drive from here to there.  This week there is a great podcast called Regenerating Soil, Regenerating Ourselves with Paul Grieve and we wanted to share it with our friends.
Whether you are always on the lookout for the healthiest food for your family (as a customer) or growing pasture raised animals and tending your own vegetable garden (as a producer), I promise you’ll enjoy this podcast.

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Spring 2018 Has Begun

While it’s still cool and very wet, spring has officially begun here at Tikkun Homestead because we have begun our pasture rotation.  Couldn’t be more thrilled about the season beginning!

The sheep have moved out to grass and the two goats have joined them, the hens have moved out of the hen house and into their two tractors for their journeys to the pastures to meet up with the cows once they move out of their winter quarters and onto fresh grass in a day or two.

Next on the agenda is tackling the weeds that are popping up in the garden.  Maybe today!

Pasture Raised Spring Lamb Available

Our spring lambs are growing nicely over the winter, eating local grass hay and enjoying time lounging in the sunshine on nice days, or in the barn when the weather is crummy.  They are eyeing the fresh grass growing slowly in the rest of the pastures and are very eager to get into those new pastures!  As soon as the pastures are ready they will leap and bound over to the fresh sweet grass.

What this means for meat connoisseurs is that our lambs are almost ready to make their way to your freezers for the second stage of their life’s purpose – to nourish you and your family!  To some this may sound a little bit shocking, but this is the circle of life and it is part of how we honor the lives of the meat animals we raise.  Each animal has a lofty purpose and part of that purpose is to feed our local community members.

Our lamb sells for $5 per pound, based on their weight at the butcher shop.  We use a local butcher’s shop for processing and his fees are separate from the purchase price.

Lamb will be available in April 2018,  just a matter of weeks away!

While you wait you can plan some of your new favorite meals by checking out some of our favorite recipes.

Winter Wet Land Update

We live in a wet environment and the last few weeks have been quite wet with flooding all over our region.  Usually we have inaccessible pastures during this time of year due to so much standing water.  However late last summer we replaced an old collapsed culvert and installed a new one under the alley way.  Today we took a walk in the sunshine to see how our culvert project has affected our troublesome locations, and I have to say that we are very pleased!

2017 Pasture 1, collapsed culvert center right

2017 Pasture 1, looking east

 

2018 Pasture 1 after culvert installation

2018 Replaced culvert on the right

Here we have two sets of photos from standing in the same general location 11 months apart.  To the left of the first 2017 image is the source of all of that standing water shedding from the hill and across the alleyway.  The high spot in the second 2017 photo is where the collapsed culvert was.  The standing water here was 12 to 18 inches deep and spilled into Pasture 2 for quite some distance as well.  This was a common scene as it looked like this for most of the winter and spring, and it took a long while for the ground to dry out enough to allow the cattle to graze through the areas with standing water.

The two 2018 photos gap a bit in the center, but  you can get a sense of how the two years look in the same location.  After a few weeks of heavy rain and flooding, do you see any standing water?  There isn’t any.  (the darker areas in the second photo is exposed soil)  The alleyway culvert is the blue/green spot on the left of the first photo and the replaced culvert is to the right in the second photo.  We walked through the areas that have been the deepest water and though the ground is saturated, it has shed the excess water perfectly.

2017 Alley way, looking west

2018 Alleyway, looking east

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the alleyway, Pasture 1 is behind the trees on the left in 2017.  It is hard to see from this photo but the standing water beyond the trees is 18 to 24 inches deep at this time of year in our seasonal high traffic alleyway. This is the primary access route from the winter pastures to the grazing pastures for the cattle.  All of this wet is a big reason why it has taken us so long to be able to graze the cattle in these pastures in the spring or bring the tractor into these pastures.  It has been frustrating, to say the least!

The elevation of the alleyway was also raised a bit to allow the culvert to drain the water underneath and toward the second culvert, and with all of that dirt work the exposed soil needed to be re-seeded and covered with old seedy hay.  As we walked through this area today the ground was firm, which told us that we will finally be able to get the cattle to their pastures at the start of the grazing season and mow behind them to manage the pastures much more efficiently.

We have been looking forward to getting this project done for several years now and we’re thrilled to have finally been able to accomplish this necessary task.  When we look at our land it’s hard to believe that our neighbors down the hill are still flooded and that the river is still so high.

Buyers Club

We have decided that we would like to start a Buyers Club for the meats that we raise.  We will start out focusing on our pasture raised broiler chickens and turkeys this coming season.  If this arrangement works well for everyone we will expand to include our lamb and beef.

We think that this Buyers Club will benefit your family as well as our farm.  How is that?
We want to offer our pasture raised poultry at a discounted price to those who will pre-order their chicken and turkey before the start of the 2018 growing season and secure their order with a non-refundable deposit. The deposit will be applied to the final purchase price.  Whether you want only a few chickens and a turkey, or you want to stock up your freezer to feed the family throughout the year our Buyers Club benefits you by letting you plan ahead, work with your budget, and pay throughout the season. This is your opportunity to get high quality, clean, and nutritious meat at a lower price than if you waited to place your order when the birds are processed.

A Buyers Club helps us so that we can appropriately plan how many birds to raise in the coming year and to anticipate pasture rotation for the cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry throughout the year.  And as part of the Buyers Club you gain a special sense of participation in the restoration that is taking place here on our small family farm – you can feel confident that you are participating in the restoration of our local ecosystem, cleaning up our area ground water, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, and providing clean and healthy meats to our local community.  We love raising healthy animals and we appreciate the idea that our animals have a job here on the farm with our holistic restoration agriculture practices, as well as a calling to nourish your family when they leave their home.

If you are interested in the details about our new Buyers Club, please contact us right away and we’ll get you the details.

 

What is Restoration Agriculture?

What is Restoration Agriculture?

Generally speaking it is a form of land and animal management that has as it’s core value the regeneration of the ecosystem that calls our land home. Hundreds of years ago our vast continent was home to incredibly diverse flocks and herds, flora and fauna, and fish and birds. Mankind lived well here too, but we utilized our resources differently than we do today. Our continent once consisted of vast grasslands, clean rivers, woods and forests – all of which worked as part of a fantastic system that we don’t see so much anymore. The early settlers were astonished at this rich land, a land of bounty, a land of hope and promise. Our land is not able to produce the vast quantities of crops that it once was and our animals are not thriving as they once were, and restoration agriculture focuses on how we can restore what we’ve lost.

Restoration Agriculture has grown out of permaculture, and permaculture is a blend of two words – permanent and agriculture. Permaculture focuses primarily on perennial crops (fruit and nut trees, perennial grasses) as opposed to annual crops (corn and soy). Many things that have become part of “the way things are done” are more destructive than we realize and as we learn more we are adjusting so that we do things with less destruction and more regeneration. The idea is that the ecosystem we manage; the land, soil, microbiology, insects, fish, birds, wildlife, and domesticated animals all work together for mutual benefit of every species – especially humans.

This is a holistic perspective, meaning that we recognize that the whole is made up of many parts that function independently and yet are vitally connected to one another. We understand that if one part suffers, the other parts can pick up the slack for a time but if that suffering part does not recover and dies off the whole is greatly affected. Like our bodies are comprised of many parts and systems, we understand that each system is interconnected and should one part or system ultimately die the whole is greatly affected. We instinctively understand that each of us is a single whole made up of many parts and systems. Everything in creation is part of at least one system or part, and that system or part is just a piece of a greater whole, and each whole is just a part of an even greater whole, and on it goes. Continue reading

Why Is Good Food So Expensive? Part 2

In our last post we cited three suggestions as to why it feel like good food is a burden on our budgets:

~ The business model of industrial agriculture has placed the dollar as the ultimate bottom line.  While this is necessary for any business small family farmers have very different values.
~ Low quality foods (mass-produced processed foods) may have a greater volume on your plate but your body will need more of it to feel satiated.  I believe this is why our standard portion sizes have grown so much over the years.  There is even talk of our populations being malnourished because we aren’t getting the quality nutrition we require from our “Standard American Diet”.
~ Prepackaged and fast foods are convenient and have been on the market for so long that a great many people simply do not know how to cook anymore.  Many people are intimidated by their kitchens and simply don’t feel comfortable trying something new.

Our previous post talked about industrial factory farms looking for creative ways to reduce their production costs including using ingredients such as junk food and food waste when raising animals for consumption.  We determined that  “cheap inputs and a higher volume means a lower end price” and that industrial factory farms can bring in their materials at prices that are not available to small family farms.

Today though let’s focus on the second two suggestions in our original list:  Our need to eat more of the cheap food in order to feel full, and intimidation of food preparation. Continue reading

Why Is Good Food So Expensive? Part 1

One question that is often asked today is “Why is high quality, healthy food so expensive?”  It’s a very fair question!  After all, food costs have been sharply increasing for more than a decade and some families spend as much, if not more, on their grocery bill each month as they do on their housing.  That’s a lot of money!  Very few of us have enough money that we can simply buy whatever we want, whenever we want, and feel no financial pinch.

Young families have lamented that they feel forced to use their grocery budget to buy a greater volume of lower quality foods because “it makes more meals” than if they buy higher quality foods.  To buy higher quality foods means they are concerned that there will not be enough to feed the family, and that is frightening.  I can really appreciate this concern.

An example that I’ve shared with some young families is this:  Years ago when our children were small my husband’s line of work was very unpredictable.  We were really pinching every penny to make it through each month!  One of the things I decided to do was to start making bread instead of buying it.  At first it was a financial necessity, but at some point we realized that we preferred homemade bread over store-bought bread.  The times I’d buy bread our family wouldn’t be satisfied with their toast or sandwiches and often felt like they needed to eat more just to feel full.  This solidified my opinion that homemade bread is more than just a good financial decision because it cost less to make and we needed to eat less of it to feel full, it’s also a good health decision because I know that my family is eating quality ingredients.  It was a win on several fronts.  Once I got the hang of this concept, learning to make more meals from the food I had was a delightful way to make our food dollars really stretch into good healthy meals.

I’ve learned a few things about cheap food:
~ The business model of industrial agriculture has placed the dollar as the ultimate bottom line.  While this is necessary for any business small family farmers have very different values.
~ Low quality foods (mass-produced processed foods) may have a greater volume on your plate but your body will need more of it to feel satiated.  I believe this is why our standard portion sizes have grown so much over the years.  There is even talk of our populations being malnourished because we aren’t getting the quality nutrition we require from our “Standard American Diet”.
~ Prepackaged and fast foods are convenient and have been on the market for so long that a great many people simply do not know how to cook anymore.  Many people are intimidated by their kitchens and simply don’t feel comfortable trying something new.

Let’s tackle the first item listed above and save the next two for a later post.  I’ve talked with people who say, “I can get chicken at the discount store for 99¢ per pound, why on earth would I buy chicken from you for $5 per pound?”  This is a good question! Continue reading

Emotional Health Tips

As we enter the cold and dreary time of year there are many people who find it difficult to remain at peace and hopeful with our long, dark, cold, and wet days.  You might be surprised to learn that your diet can help bring back some of that balance, and not just in the winter but all year-long.

Years ago I read articles that spoke of schools and prisons changing the quality of the foods that their kitchens offered and that the results showed both children and prison inmates were better able to concentrate and were better able to control their impulses.  While the prison inmates were given supplements, it appears that the children were given better quality food and had stronger improvements.  (sorry, I can’t find the follow-up articles.  but if you have a link, I’d love it if you’d share it with me)

What intrigues me about this is that we can make a profound change in how we feel by eating better food, and instinctually we’ve always known this.  We’ve had traditional comfort foods for a very, very long time.  Not only do these traditional comfort foods help us when we are ill, but they can help bring us into balance when we are down too.

One of those “feel better foods” is bone broth made from clean animals. Continue reading