Supporting Local Agriculture and Artisans

One of our Farmers Markets posted a contest asking you to post a meal with at least 3 items purchased from the farmers market.  That spurred me to put together two pictures showcasing what farmers market items we had on hand purchased from the Seymour and North Vernon markets.  I was pleased at the quantity of items we had on hand, but not surprised.

 

These are not planned and staged pictures.  My wife, who was at the N. Vernon market that day, had no idea I was planning on taking these pictures and some of the items in the Seymour picture were not purchased that day or were repeat purchases.  Neither picture include the various past items that were not on hand such as mushrooms, flowers, sweetcorn, nuts, bread, biscuits and gravy, etc., etc., etc.

 

Even before we started selling we were purchasing locally grown meat and produce.  Not only is there tremendous satisfaction in knowing where your food comes from and the upstanding individuals that produced it, but the quality and experience is so much better.  Imagine having a seller explain to you how to tell a cantaloupe is ripe and point out that this one would be good to enjoy today, but another one should sit 2-3 days before enjoying it.  That’s just one of many examples I’ve witnessed at the markets.

 

Don’t think that I’m saying you need to purchase everything from a local source, we don’t; however, if it’s in season and we can buy it locally, we do.  Knowing where our food came from and supporting family farms and business in our communities is important and satisfying to us.

If you’re currently supporting local markets, God bless you and keep it up.  If not, give it a try; you might by pleasantly surprised.

-Jason

Guinea Pig Tractor

My wife asked me if the guinea pigs could use a spare chicken tractor during the summer so they could ‘free range’ and eat clover and such from the yard.  A chicken tractor won’t hold a guinea pig; however, I used a lot of what I’ve learned building the tractors and coops to make a ‘Guinea Pig Tractor’.

 

 

I’m not going into a “how to” on building a guinea tractor, like the “How To Build a Chicken Tractor” guide I did, but here are some basics.  I purchases 2 2x4s and 4 2x2s and scavenged the rest from leftovers of other projects.

I started with a 2×4 frame, cutting the boards at 34″ to give me the inside width and ~5 feet left over for the length boards.  I used a scrap 2×6 for the board on the end with the house so that I could attach some wheels later.  That gave me an extra 2×4 to use for the floor/nailer of the house area.

The tricky part was the 45 degree A frame.  I calculated the length needed as ~24″ for the “rafter” pieces, subtract the width of the 2×2 header, and that gave me ~23.5.  Measuring  from each end of a 2×2, then making a 45 degree cut angled toward the end, so 23.5″ is the length from the tip of the angle, will let you get 4 rafters out of one board.  Measure 23.5″ from the remaining tips and made 90 degree cuts at the marks.  See layout below below.  I cut 8 rafters out of two of the 2x2s.

I cut the 3rd 2×2 at 34″ and attached it to the back 2×6 and attached the 2×4 flat to form a ledge for the house floor.  The width of the hose is 14″ because of the scraps I had to work with.  The leftover 5′ from the 3rd 2×2 becomes the top header.  I pre-drilled the screw holes in the header where I attached the diagonals, making sure to offset the screws so they didn’t hit when they crossed.  I attached the diagonals at each end, under the inside of the house, and where needed for the door in the tractor.

 

 

 

I used the 4th 2×2 to make a 2′ door to the tractor area.  The rest was just fitting my scraps in the house shape and stapling on the chicken wire.  I also used 2×4 fencing on the bottom to keep any predators from sliding under the sides and into the tractor.

 

In these pictures I have a board as the floor of the house area.  I later removed this because guinea pigs are not particular about defecating in the area they sleep in and this area was difficult to clean.  It’s now just fenced in open bottom like the run area.  To clean it, we just move the tractor.

 

What to do with a whole chicken

“I don’t have time to roast a chicken.”

“I’ve never cut up a whole chicken.”

“What do you do with a whole chicken anyway?”

These are the comments I hear most when it comes to buying a whole chicken.  I’ve been making meals with whole chickens from our land for a few years now and this is what I’ve come to realize.  I don’t have time to roast a chicken either.  And knives, chickens, and myself should never be within proximity of each other at the same time.  HOWEVER, regarding the last question, I do know what I do with a whole chicken and thought I would share my no-time, no-fuss method of getting the max out of a chicken.  Grab a crock-pot, a few staple kitchen ingredients, and you are ready to go.

After thawing out the chicken in the fridge for a couple of days I place it in a crock-pot.  Sprinkle it generously with salt, pepper, and garlic.  You can add other seasoning if you want.  This is just my basic, take 5 minutes, and get the bird slow-cooking.  Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or high 4 – 5 hours.  As with all food prep, times may vary depending on the size of your bird, crock-pot, etc.  Basic rule is an internal temp of 165 degrees and juices run clear.

Once the chicken is cooked I take it out of the crock-pot and let it cool down for 30 or so minutes.  When it is cooled down enough to handle without burning your finger tips, it’s time to pick apart the meat.  I’m sure there are plenty of YouTube videos that showcase the how-to’s and ways to pick apart a chicken efficiently.  Watch a couple, get the feel for it, wash your hands, and start pulling!  This process only takes a few minutes once you get the hang of it.

After the chicken meat is pulled off I cut it up and divide it into 2 cup quantities.   You now have the base for a multitude of recipes;  chicken salad, enchiladas, soups, casseroles, and the list goes on….

Now comes the next step.  What to do with the frame and chicken leftovers after pulling the meat  off?  Chicken stock, of course!

Using the same crock-pot (keep the juices from the chicken) return the chicken remnants.  At this time I add whatever vegetables I have on hand that don’t have much shelf life left.  Onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and bell peppers are my usual.  Sometimes all and sometimes none.  It’s not an exact science and you can wing it.  A splash of cider vinegar, a couple of bay leaves, add water to cover plus about an inch or two higher, and you are good to go.  Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours.  If life gets busy and you forget and it cooks longer, no biggie, the longer you cook it the more nutrients you will get from the bones.  Good stuff.   Once your stock is done, strain it through a cheese cloth and marvel at the nutritional liquid gold you have at your disposal.  Note:  Coloring will vary from a yellow to a darker brown and is dependent on time cooked and vegetables used.

The final step is to use and/or freeze your bounty.  I usually place everything in the fridge and use it, as needed, for a couple of days.  Then I divide out what I have left and freeze for future use.  For the chicken stock I pour into ice-cube trays, freeze, and pop them out.  Store them in a gallon zip lock bag and you now have grab and go chicken stock.  I use these for just about anything that requires water.  Rice, sautés, soups, etc.

And that, folks, is what I do with my whole chicken.

~ Tricia ~

Brothers M. Mondays – Family

Brothers M. Mondays – A new post each Monday until the 2018 market season starts on 5/26.

We are family.   Samantha fractured her ankle, but the chickens don’t care if you’re sick or hurt, they still need care multiple times a day.  So family kicks in.  Dad, Joseph and even a cousin or two have been helping Matthew while he’s the lone wolf.

Since Samantha couldn’t help, we put her to work taking some video.  And the youngest did her part by taking a few pictures and an unintentional  video of Sam and the boys with her new camera she got for her birthday.

Enjoy the video we’ve put together.

 

Brothers M. Mondays – Care of the Earth

Brothers M. Mondays – A new post each Monday until the 2018 market season starts on 5/26.

We recycle at our house and in the past have reused our plastic bags for Brothers M. Poultry.  With the increasing awareness of waste plastic polluting the environment, we’re switching to paper bags made from recycled material.  They look nice and are better for the environment.  Get one free with every chicken purchase.

Brothers M. Poultry – Out to Pasture

Brothers M. Mondays – A new post each Monday until the 2018 market season starts on 5/26.

Pasturing is an important part of producing such high quality, good tasking chicken.  We get them onto pasture as early is safe for the chickens to maximize their naturally grown experience. Enjoy the video of the kids moving the chickens from the brooder into the pasture.