Pumpkin . . . Fall 2011

Pumpkin . . . Fall 2011

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Store Bought vs. Farm Raised Eggs

We first started raising chickens for eggs when our son was three years old (2002). Our first chicken breeds were the Dorking and Dominique chickens. The hatchery we purchased our chicks from threw in a "free exotic chick" which later turned out to be an araucana rooster - whom we named Caesar.

When our first eggs started arriving we noticed a Huge difference in color and taste.

You can see the difference in the yolk color - the lighter yolk at the left is a store bought egg and the one on the right was laid by one of our "pasture raised" hens.

The darkness of the yolk is due to a high concentration of omega - 3's picked up from the grasses and bugs the chickens eat. The egg on the left tastes bland and the egg on the right is loaded with flavor. Don't be fooled by the eggs at the grocery store that claim to be high in Omega-3. These chickens are still raised in a factory shed with very little room per bird (even if the package says "cage free"). The only difference is the feed. The birds laying "Omega - 3" eggs contain fish protein. These eggs always taste slightly "fishy" to me.

If you have the chance and never have done so - stop by a farm that advertises that they raise "fresh eggs". Better yet, become a member of a Local Buying Club that sells locally raised meats and produce (hopefully you also live in a state that allows the sale of raw dairy). Raising your own chickens can be fun too. About 6 hens will provide enough eggs for a family of four,
Meat birds will be the next topic on this blog . . . .

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Lambs are here!!!!

My leader ewe - Pumpkin was the first to go a week ago. As of today we have four sets of bouncy and healthy twins on the ground and over 16 ewes to lamb. This should go on until the end of May. These first sets of twin lambs are exceptional this year due to Lenny.

Lenny was our fastest growing lamb last year. His fleece is to die for - a very unusual shade of moorit with the mouflon pattern and so, so soft. I never had to worm him last summer and only needed to do so during the stress of weaning from his mom Helen in the fall. He is a very bright boy with an easygoing temperament. Lenny's twin girls out of Liz are showcased in the new blog photo. Sugar is the black/grey ewe with the faintest sugar lips the other sweet spotted ewe is unnamed as yet.

Elena's boys came next. Wow was I in for a surprise here. This is the first year that she has thrown me really, really chunky boys with thick, hairy legs - they look like clydesdale feet! Elena is out of a Mjaldurson and a Rektor daughter.

Manon gave birth when Mark was building more brooding pens for the turkey and duck chicks. It was super noisy in the barn and I did not notice Manon was in the barn and in labor until Declan noticed she was laying in the darkest corner of the sheep pen. Her water bag was already out and in minutes she gave birth to two gorgeous black/grey ewes.

Tolkie and Pepper are going to go any day now . . . .

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Finding the Farm - Part 3

On a long Thanksgiving weekend in 2006 we came back to Downeast Maine.

Our real estate agent took us around to two farm properties that we had picked out. The first had lots of land (mostly swamp), a nice view of the ocean but the house was not really what we were looking for and contrary to the listing - did not have a restorable barn. The second had 36 acres of land that was perfect for raising sheep but the house was close to a busy road. I knew when I stepped into the third house that this was our dream farm that we had talked about for many years. The 200 year old cape was filled with light from the afternoon November sun. Most of the restoration work needed was mainly cosmetic. The huge timber framed barn was still in relatively good condition on the inside and the land was perfect for animals - a long narrow parcel that is nestled between two main roads. The land gently slopes down to a year round stream with many feeder springs nearby. Over 100 heirloom apple trees are on the property. This was the farm we had been waiting for.

Four years later we have settled into our life in Downeast Maine. We are blessed with two healthy children and livestock raised on fresh ocean air and lots of Maine sunshine. The summers are never too hot and the cold winters allow for snow to stick around for longer than a few days. Our farm is slowly growing as we clear land for more pastures for our sheep and poultry. Everything we do here is sustainable from hatching turkeys and chickens from carefully selected breeding stock to raising sheep on 100% pasture and hay. All of our vegetable gardens are fertilized from our own compost and seed is saved from year to year.

This year the farm will go "public" and open our farm store - opening day is May 28, 2010. Our farm store will sell Icelandic fiber, yarn, pelts, chicken, eggs, turkey, produce, cut flowers, forced bulbs, and orchids. We will also be hosting a weekly buying club for products such as dairy, seafood, pork, honey, berries, cheese etc. A large hoophouse will go up this fall so we can grow produce year round. Eventually, time permitting - shepherding classes/workshops will be added in the fall.

We are very excited to bring our products into our local food marketplace. We are very passionate about local agriculture as it provides food security and promotes healthy eating. Hope you enjoy the blog and looking forward to all your comments.