Tag Archives: food

“Processing” Chickens…and “Processing” Through It!

Standard

So this coming Saturday we will be butchering 150 chickens. We raise meat chickens, process them, and then sell them. You see, raising your own animals and eating them is 100% new to me. Growing up I did, unfortunately, like the majority of America, not know where my food came from. I ate mostly processed foods and I’m pretty sure my parents just bought the cheapest meats at the grocery store. I never thought about the farmer who grew the wheat and vegetables I ate (though I rarely ate vegetables and when I did they were mostly fried), the peanuts in my peanut butter, or the animal my meat came from. I saw wheat fields all the time but never noticed they were there and if I did I most definitely did not think that bread came from them. I had a complete disconnect with where my food came from. And that is the problem with America today. That is why so many people eat junk because they don’t think about where it comes from. Knowing your food came from a hard-working farmer or a cow that was treated humanely makes you want to eat those foods.

Not only has learning how to farm been a journey, but learning where my food came from has been one too. I am way more conscious of what I eat. It hasn’t exactly been an easy ride though.

When we lived in OKC we bought a lot of our vegetables and meat from local farmers. I never had to see the animal alive and well. For some reason it is very difficult for me to see the animal alive and then eat it a few days later.

Even though we butcher our chickens very humanely, using processing equipment, it is still extremely difficult for me to eat chicken. We butchered 100 chickens in June and I have still not tasted our own chicken or hardly any chicken at all. I know it is 1 million times better than grocery store chicken. I know those chickens lived clean, happy, and nurtured lives without steroids injected into them. They saw daylight everyday and were moved to fresh new pasture with new bugs to eat every single morning.

It is just very difficult for me to see the animals I cared for and fed everyday processed in just a few hours (I’m going to leave it at “processed” for your sake). Last time we processed them it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It took me several minutes of self-motivation before I could even touch the finished product to clean it. Yes, I did cry. So knowing what is ahead of me on Saturday makes me very nervous because I do not handle chicken day very well.

However, I pressed forward last time, and I’m sure I will this time. I just have to remember that those chickens were given the best life possible and I am providing the best food my community can get.

I am the same way with any animal. I get so attached to them and start making them have feelings and thoughts. I know God put them here for us to have food. He put those animals here for us to take care of them properly, which I genuinely believe we do.

I do know this: my children will be taught at a very young age where food comes from. They will take care of animals, giving them dignity and a good life, but understanding that those animals will be food. Thinking about that makes me very happy and giddy!

In saying all of this I ask of you 3 things:

  • Know where your food comes from. Know how that animal was treated. Was it given a good life? Treated ethically? By the way…not all food is real. Some of it is 100% fake ingredients so if you’re eating that throw it away right now!
  • Pray for your farmers and thank them for their hard work and providing the food you eat at your table.
  • Pray for me on Saturday as we give our chickens their ultimate purpose in life: to be food for friends, family, and community members we so cherish. And too that I will be able to get past this issue and eat chicken again.

Thanks friends!!!

 

DSC_0018

 

DSC_0021

 

My Rainy Day

Standard

It has officially been raining since about lunch time yesterday!  We couldn’t be more excited!  We are in a horrible drought in Pawnee County so when we get rain there is a lot of excitement around here.  What’s even more amazing is that the high today was only 65 degrees.  I can’t believe how incredible this weather is in the middle of July!  We are very very thankful, that’s for sure.  Normally I would be napping most of the day on days like this, but I had an agenda.  So let me tell you all about it!

Watching the rain from our back porch

Watching the rain from our back porch

Breakfast

For the past couple of years Chad has been experimenting with milling our own flour from the wheat his family grows.  I’ve made a few things with it, but the consistency is so different from white flour so I’ve had some issues with certain recipes.  He milled some earlier this week for some customers in our buying group so I had him mill some extra for us.  I made sure the consistency was very fine so it would hopefully work better with recipes I’d found.  When he was selling it in Shawnee the OSU Extension did a cooking demonstration with it and made pancakes.  Chad has been raving and begging me to make these pancakes for months, so this morning I finally did…and they were delicious!

Here is the recipe:

Whole Wheat Pancake Recipe

2 eggs
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 canola oil
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white four
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat eggs and brown sugar with a wire wisk. Beat in canola oil and buttermilk until combined. Add dry ingredients all at once and stir until smooth. Ladle batter onto a hot griddle or skillet until bubble form on the surface. Flip to the other side and cook until both sides are golden brown.

Whole wheat pancakes made with our very own wheat!

Whole wheat pancakes made with our very own wheat!

Canning…Canning…Canning

The past couple of years I have been teaching myself to can and pickle vegetables and jams.  My grandma did a lot of canning while I was little, and though I helped her quite a bit I do not remember very much.  Therefore, I have found most of my recipes and information online.  In years past I’ve canned peaches and tomatoes, pickled okra, and made peach jam and tomato sauce.  Since we have lots of veggies this year I am hoping to can and pickle as much as possible so we are stocked up for the winter.

Today I picked an entire row of banana peppers (yes, in the rain!) and canned them.  Cutting them up and taking most of the seeds out was tedious, but it will be worth having them to put on sandwiches and other meals throughout the winter.

Here is the link to the recipe:

http://www.amandathevirtuouswife.com/2012/07/banana-pepper-rings-canning-tutorial.html

Banana Peppers...yum yum!

Banana Peppers…yum yum!

It has been a beautiful and productive rainy day!  I also spent about 2 hours cleaning house and doing laundry.  Now I’m going to make homemade granola bars.  I have to triple the recipe since the boys and I love them so much!  I’ll post on those soon with pics!

I am normally not this productive, especially on rainy days, so I’m definitely bragging about it.  But hopefully I can put my feet up with a good book this evening since tomorrow is picking day! Busy, busy!

I hope everyone reading this has had a wonderful day too, and I hope you have an even better evening.

Your Guide to Farmer’s Market: What You NEED to Know!

Standard

Growing up in North Texas I had no idea farmer’s markets even existed. I knew you could sometimes find roadside stands with old people selling fruits on the way to Dallas, but my family never stopped. It wasn’t until I was in college in Shawnee that a professor told us about the one in town. My husband ended up managing the farmer’s market in Edmond two summers ago, and then last year we sold at the Shawnee market. I have not been able to be very involved until this year, where we sell in Cleveland. We were accepted to the Stillwater Market, where we know we could sell more and make more money. However, it is very important to us to sell as locally as we can, and to the people in our community: where Chad grew up, where our children will grow up, and where our home is. We want people to have access to good quality homegrown food. We know you can go to the local grocery store or Wal-Mart, but you do not know the farmer who grew that tomato, what chemicals were used, or how far it had to be shipped to get there.

I am only saying this to get you thinking. Most towns have a farmer’s market, and if yours does not I bet there is one close by. Hard working farmers are growing fresh produce in your own back yard because they understand our food crisis and want to give you the opportunity to get good food right where you live. Please go and support them.

Two Important Things I Think You Should Know:

1). Farmer’s Markets are meant to be for locally grown and handmade items ONLY.

  • If you see a watermelon at your market in May, that farmer probably did not grow his melon but bought it from a packing house or auction (yes they have those). Another clue is if they are still in the printed cardboard boxes he brought them in.
  • Ask questions such as, “Did you grow this?”, “Where is your farm located?”, and “How many years have you been producing?” They may still lie to you, but be aware that there are people who buy at auctions and packing houses and resell for Wal-Mart prices or less at your local farmers market.
  • What’s the problem with that?
  1. For one, you have no idea who grew that tomato, where it came from, or what chemicals were used on it. Technically, you’re not buying local.
  2. Secondly, by buying from a reseller you are taking money away from the actual farmers at the market by not buying his/her produce or not waiting for it to come into season.
  • If you see a farmer there that you know is growing his/her own produce, please support them. Wait until their produce is in season before purchasing it, instead of buying from the reseller.

(Side note: I have no problem with people who resell produce. I would and have bought porter peaches from them before. But a Farmer’s Market is meant for local produce/items only. Most farmer’s markets in the state have guidelines and rules, which do not allow items into the market that were not grown locally. There are many other locations to resell produce other than at the farmer’s market. Also, it is important to note that a person reselling produce must have a license from the health department to do so, plus all people selling at the market must have a sales tax permit as well. These are also questions to ask your local farmers/resellers)

2.) Why are Farmer’s Market Prices so expensive?

  • A Farmer’s Market is NOT Wal-Mart.
  • Farmer’s spend hours upon hours planting seed, weeding, fertilizing, etc. etc. etc. Now that I work from home farming, I see first hand how much work goes into it. Yes, we sell our green beans for $4.00/lb. If you do not think they are worth that much, please come plant the seeds, keep them watered, keep them fertilized, and pick them one by one and tell me how much they are worth.
  • Farmer’s spend a lot of money on seed, fertilizer, tools, water, heat for the greenhouse, and not to mention the big items, such as a green house, cooler, tractors, etc.
  • If a farmer is growing his own produce, he/she cannot afford to sell it as cheap as Wal-Mart. Most of the farmer’s you see at your local farmer’s markets make their living off of one or two market days a week.
  • Wal-mart grows their produce in Mexico to avoid paying living wages for their labor, local farmer’s provide most of their own labor and when they do hire labor, they compensate their workers handsomely (there are strict department of labor regulations on how farm labor must be compensated).

I hope this helps you better understand the importance of farmer’s markets, what to look for to make sure your getting locally grown items, and why prices are higher than store bought produce.

Thank you for supporting your local farmers. Doesn’t it feel good to know and put a face with the farmer that grew your food?!

 

 

Our setup at the market this past Saturday!

Our setup at the market this past Saturday!