Monday
Jun122017

Somebody is getting rich on the farm - but not who you think!

Organic Weed Control Can Be EXPENSIVE
We often like to think that when you follow such strict and environmentally friendly practices as ours -- you would never have weeds in your pastures.  For the most part -- this is true.


Partly because of our definition of weeds is a bit different than a lot of people.  We like variety in our pastures and so they include a lot of different forbs and plants that add variety to our cattle's diet.  This picture is a good representation of our pasture and includes at least a dozen different plants that all bring healthy nutrition for the animals and the pastures.

However, we do still struggle with some weeds.  One weed which we really do not like because it seems to serve no purpose on our land, the cattle don't eat it and it pokes us as we drive around is Musk Thistle.  



They are a beautiful plant that can spread quickly through pastures if not controlled.  The county suggested control is to use herbicides to spray them.  However, since we use no sprays on our farm at all we have to find another way.  

We use -- CAPITALISM

We pay the girls a bounty for each bloom they cut and bring back to the house dead in a bucket.  Since Musk thistles are a biennial, they only spread by seed,  If we cut the blooms off, the plant is never able to propagate and since each plant can spread over 10,000 seeds - that's a lot of propagating that can happen.


Everyone has pitched in and just this evening the three girls cut 1680 blooms (16,800,000 seeds for those that are counting).]

Funny story, the first time I sent Elise out to cut blooms I thought 25 cents per bloom was a reasonable bounty.  Elise was 8 and she went out with her gloves and scissors and when she returned less than an hour later with a bucket full -- I knew we were in trouble, or at least my wallet was.  Once we had counted up her blooms she had collected over $60 worth of blooms.  Although we honored the price quoted for that batch of blooms, we quickly renegotiated the price down to 5 cents per bloom.

After tonight's harvest where the girls averaged around $30/hour for their work, Laura and I decided to renegotiate prices once again and they will now be 3 cents per bloom.  It adds up quickly!

Our efforts have paid off there are dramatically fewer thistles in our pastures then there were just a few years back -- and not one drop of chemical used -- just quite a bit of sweat :)


 

Monday
Jun052017

Brats!

One of our favorite ways to make an easy and quick meal on a hot day is to cook brats.  We offer three flavors of brats to please your palate.  Apple, Italian Sausage with Cheese and Kielbasa.  Many families have commented Apple Brats are a favorite, especially of their children -- it is in our family too.  The Italian are the adult favorite.  The Kielbasa wins for versatility!

You can do a lot of different things with your brats.  Grilling, of course, is always a great choice this time of the year.  However, they can also be a great convenience food - you know when you spent all day out playing at the park or watching soccer games and you need a quick dinner idea?  Pull out a package of brats -- pop in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 while you are pulling out plates, drinks and cutting up a melon or other summer favorite and you suddenly have an amazingly delicious meal.  Many of our customers share they like to slice up the brats and add them to all-in-one dishes.  

To add a little fun for the kids, cut the brats up into little circles and have everyone eat with toothpicks!  Another incredible use for Italian brats is when Laura makes pizza for the family, she will often use the cut up brats as a topping and it IS delicious.  

Try some pastured pork brats and see which flavor is your favorite.

 

 

Tuesday
May302017

DIY Breakfast Sausage

Many of our customers have shared that they prefer to make their own breakfast sausage from ground pork rather than use our pre-made breakfast sausage, which is VERY yummy, too.  By making their own, they can customize it just the way they want it -- and it is SUPER simple.

Here is a basic recipe that can then be tweaked to fit your family's preferences.
 

SUPER SIMPLE BREAKFAST SAUSAGE

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 2 pounds ground pork

Mix spices and pork into a bowl, form into patties, cook AND enjoy!  (PRO TIP - want to make your sausage the best ever, add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup to the mix rather than sugar -- It makes the sausage almost ADDICTIVE!)
Wednesday
May242017

Being a Grass Farmer



Being a grass farmer always feels good this time of the year. Grass is our primary crop at Synergistic Acres.  Many people would be surprised thinking we grow grass because they enjoy our pork, beef, chicken, turkey, and eggs.  They don't buy and enjoy grass on their dinner plates.  However, the reason they enjoy the meat from us so much is because of the great grass we grow on the farm that imparts that unmistakeable flavor. We grow grass and we simply hire the animals to take care of it for us.  They fertilize, mow and control weeds every day.  We are merely the managers.

Growing great grass takes a lot of planning and attention.  This year we have taken a more deliberate approach to this planning and have instituted some very specific grazing planning steps to try and more fully utilize the grass we have on the farm and maximize the animals' benefit from every square foot.

 

This written down and deliberate approach will help us see how productive our fields are and how that productivity changes over time in response to different grazing methods.

 

This spring we have been doing things a little differently than in years past.  We are moving the cattle across the farm very quickly through very large paddocks.  Every day they get a new section of grass and often when we move them the next day, you cannot even tell they have eaten the grass since there is still so much forage left - even though they are eating around 1200 pounds of grass every single day.  

The results speak for themselves though.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday
Apr172017

Know your Farmer's Farmer


A mantra you may be used to hearing lately is how important it is to KNOW YOUR FARMER.  However, it is equally important to know your farmer's farmer. See, when you buy chicken or pork from us, you are also buying the feed the animals have been fed.  And although when you buy one chicken, that doesn't amount to much feed, when we take into consideration of all the feed we buy on the farm, it is tens of thousands of pounds a year.  That equals a big vote of what kind of food we want to be grown. We have always been committed to organic practices and buying organic feed, and have felt very fortunate that we have found so many other people who value that same thing.  

However, organic can mean a lot of different things so we are always working to make sure that we don't just rely on a government certification, but rather focus on actually knowing the farmer. We have developed that relationship now and are getting all our feed from a local farmer in Emporia, KS.  His name is Gail Fuller. He grows a wide variety of crops organically and of course all non-GMO.   In many ways, he goes way beyond organic as he is extremely committed to soil health.   We have worked with him and with feed nutritionists to develop healthy rations for our poultry and swine using the grains he grows.  These are NO SOY and NO CORN rations using grains such as mung beans, peas, milo, rye, sunflower seeds, and wheat.  We have been slowly transitioning to using his feed exclusively and the animals have been doing very well on it.   We are now using this feed for all our swine and poultry on the farm.

This is a perfect example of the choices you make about fixing your dinner go beyond just what you put on the plate.  The choices you make about your dinner change the world, in a very important way.  Imagine the world where there were millions of farms like Gail's, growing rich, diverse crops that fed millions of other farms growing rich and diverse livestock feeding millions of people, a rich and diverse diet.  This is the world you are helping to create when you buy from farms like ours.  

 

Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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