Entries in Eggs (34)

Saturday
Jan282012

Can We Get Some Grass Fed Beef?

Grass Fed Beef, Pastured Poultry, Free Range Eggs and Pastured Pork will all be available from Synergistic Acres

We are very excited that so many people have found Synergistic Acres and are enjoying following us as we work hard to create a wonderful place designed to produce healthy and nutritious food for people in and around Kansas City.  Your comments, in person and on the site, are very encouraging!

I thought this would be a good time to share our plans for the different products we plan on providing from our farm.  These plans are made on assumptions of animal growth and typical seasonal expectations.  Of course, there is nothing typical in farming so these are just estimates.  

 Eggs - We will be selling eggs that come from free ranging Rhode Island Red, Aracauna and Buckeye hens that live their summer ranging all over green pastures eating seeds, bugs and other natural things while being able to supplement with a whole grain nutritious food. Expected Availability -- Early Summer 2012

Chicken - We will be selling fresh broiler chickens that are pasture raised and moved to fresh pasture daily while having the support and protection of a sturdy enclosure. We will be selling three different varieties this upcoming season as we experiment with works best with our land and our customers.  We will raise Cornish X, Prairie Rangers and Barred Rocks.  Expected Availability -- Early Summer 2012

Pork - We will be selling all varieties of pork cuts from the chops to the snout including sausage and bacon. This will come from pigs who have lived their entire lives outside acting like pigs and moving around on fresh pasture and rotating through our woodlots.  Completely medication and hormone free - of course.  They will be processed at a local USDA processing facility.  Our Large Blacks will not have had piglets who have grown to processing size until January 2013.  However, we have been working with another farmer with similar farming practices who also raises a heritage breed and will be getting piglets from him that we will then grow and be able to offer to our customers.  Expected Availability -- Limited amounts Late Summer 2012 with Full production Summer 2013

Beef - Our cows will require the longest wait.  Raising cows in a  completely pastured grass fed model requires patience as it takes a full 2 years for a cow to grow to butcher weight.  Our first beef will available in the fall of 2013 and will be limited until at least 2015.  


This timeline illustrates something that we often don’t think about when we go and buy our food at the market.  In order for us to produce our first cow, we had to care for that calf for over 700 days; twice a day watering, setting up fresh pasture for daily rotations and 700 5am morning treks into the pasture.  Each Hen requires over 50 pounds of feed before she lays her first egg and our mama and papa pigs will have eaten over 7000 pounds of food before their first piglets are ready for market.  All of this has to be considered as we bring this food to the market.  We are excited to have so many avenues for bringing you farm fresh food, grown in a sustainable way.  

Make sure to take a moment and sign-up for updates with your email address on the front page so you will be the first ones to know about products being offered for sale!

 

What product are you most excited about?

 

Friday
Dec022011

more chicks!

The call comes EARLY in the morning.  "*peep* Your chicks *peep* are here."  We ordered 50 more chicks from a hatchery to get our pastured poultry and free range egg businesses up and running.  The chickens are shipped via USPS mail, in a small cardboard box.  The post office likes us to come get them right away so we can provide care for them. When we picked them up, I was surprised to learn that our post office does not often get chicks in.  Even though there is a lot of space here in the country, we are finding most people do not actively farm.

Once home, we transition the chicks into a brooder that we have stationed in our house. We monitor their health, environmental temperature, and adjust as needed for a week or so before we take them to the chicken barn that is setup specifically to care for the chicks with an Ohio-style brooder.  In nicer weather, we would transition directly to this barn brooder.

While the chicks are in the house, there is a constant background noise of happy little peeps.  As the chicks approach a week old, the tend to get more curious about their surroundings.  Occasionally, one will take advantage of a propped open brooder lid and go to great efforts to get out of the brooder.  However, once they are out and all alone, they begin to frantically and very LOUDLY cheep for their flock.  That's about the time I suggest they are ready for the barn!  

We have ordered two breeds of laying hens, Araucana and Rhode Island Red.  The Araucana lay beautifully colored blue-green eggs in varying hues.   The Rhode Island Reds lay lovely brown eggs.  I've already marked six months out on my calendar which is when they will be mature enough to lay eggs.  I think egg gathering will be a fun chore for the girls and I!

Our meat chickens are Cornish X Rock, selected for their quick growth and excellent meat quality.  These little chicks are very easy to spot as they are twice as big as the egg layers already.

When we check on them in the barn, they are busily peeping and pecking and exploring. Some huddle together under the heat lamp while others choose a spot away from the crowds.  Their space is large and they have lots of room to stretch their little wings.  Due to the winter temps, we cannot put them out on the pastures just yet.  I imagine they will be a little hesitant when we first open the doors to the great outdoors, but once they realize the opportunities, they will be rushing out to scratch and forage for their food.  

We are very excited not just by the fun of raising these chicks, but also what they represent - the very beginnings of fulfilling a passion we have to produce fantastic food for people in a way that will not only feed their bodies nutritious food, but allow them to be part of something that makes the earth better with every bite!

Thursday
Aug182011

What’s in a Name

Pork + Chicken + Lamb + Beef = Synergistic Acres

When we were choosing a name for our farm, the most important thing to us was that it represented more than just a physical location – such as Four Oaks Pastures – partly because we didn’t (and still don’t) have a physical location.  Instead, we wanted the name to represent more of the how and the why.  That is where the term synergistic comes from. 

The simplest definition for synergistic is 1 + 1 = 3 or The sum is greater than its parts.  Despite what I teach my students every day, there are times when the sum CAN equal more than its parts.  Synergism happens when two or more things work together to create something not possible by itself.  In nature, synergism happens all the time.  For instance sodium and chlorine by themselves are highly toxic to humans, but combined they make table salt, a beneficial compound.  Birds on the Serengetti exist in a synergistic relationship with the wildebeest.  The wildebeest attract and stir up insects for the birds to eat and in return the birds act as look outs for danger and remove parasites from their skin.  Even plants growing in the soil is a type of synergy.  They take water, minerals and sunlight and create completely new substances that provide their energy through the process of photosynthesis. 

Synergism is what will make a small sustainable farm like ours productive without depleting the land.  By mimicking nature, looking at the entire ecosystem on the farm and using multiple species working together, we intend to create a system that produces an amazing amount of nutritious and delicious food for people in the Kansas City area.

So what will this synergism look like?  On our farm, we will raise cattle. If you try to raise cattle without any other animals on your farm (the way most cattle in America are raised), you end up with problems that we then have to artificially respond to.  For instance, large amounts of cattle produce a large amount of cow manure.  Cattle manure leads to flies and parasites.  This is where it is important to have chickens.  Chcikens are excellent cow pie exterminators.  They will literally search out, peck apart and destroy the cow pies, eating a large amount of the larva from them which will dramatically reduce the parasite population of the farm.  These two animals need each other in order to thrive naturally.  Cows need the chickens to exterminate the parasites, and the chickens need the cows to keep the grass mowed and attract large numbers of larva.  The two grown separately would not grow as well.  There are similar relationships between all of the animals we will care for. 

Synergistic Acres represents the belief that nature has given us a model of sustainability and that if we watch closely and learn from that model, that we can grow nutritious and delicious food that will feed many people while simultaneously strengthening the land that sustains us.

Just for grins, some of the other names we considered:

  • Abundant Acres – Taken already – but I like this one
  • Pasturized Acres – Laura didn’t think anyone would find this play on words as funny as I do – thank goodness I have her to keep me in check
  • GrassRoots Ranch - Also taken - plus although I like the play on words, our roots in farming are not much to name a farm on.  
Monday
Jul182011

Are Free Range Organic Chicken Eggs better? 

Kansas City Organic Chicken Egg

 

Is there a difference between the eggs from a free range chicken and the eggs from a commercial egg producer that you would find at the grocery store?  What if the package says they are cage free or free range. I hope to show you that if you are buying any egg from the store in Kansas City then you are likely not getting the same quality egg you would be getting by buying eggs from a LOCAL farmer who truly free ranges their hens on open pasture. 

As the picture above shows, there is a dramatic visual difference between eggs that come from chickens who have a a natural diet that included a large amount of grasses, bugs and weeds.  The two dark orange yolks come from chickens who spent their days wandering around the pasture eating all that nature provided and then supplemented that with grains provided by the farmer.  In addition, they are continuously exposed to cleansing sunshine and fresh air.  This leads to inordinately healthy and robust chickens – which in turn lay healthy and robust eggs.   The yolk on the right was from a store bought egg that had a diet that consisted only of industrialized chicken feed.  This includes such yumminess as ground up chicken parts, arsenic and low-grade antibiotics. In addition, chickens living in confined housing are also breathing in and eating an incredible amount of their own feces which is also digested by the hens.  The lighter color is simply a visual indicator showing a difference in the diets of the two birds and is not a direct indication of health however. 

The real difference is in taste and nutrition.  A pasture raised hen lays eggs that have 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene than eggs raised from industrial chicken farms.  This is according to a study done in 2007.  So they are clearly better nutritionally, but why?  It is their diet.  Nearly every egg bought at the store comes from hens that were fed a nearly identical diet based primarily on corn and soybean and then "enhanced" with things that will keep them alive and laying more eggs. Even store bought eggs that say “Free Range” or Cage Free” are not nutritionally better and you might be surprised how those chickens live.  Cage free for example does not mean that the chicken is living its life out on pasture.  Instead cage free chickens live their life inside confined houses with as little as 60 square inches of space per bird (for comparison - a piece of paper has 88 square inches of space) and adding free range to the label simply means that the hens have an opening to an outdoor area.  On most commercial chicken houses, this is an opening the size of doggie door that goes to a small concrete pad outdoors. A larger space is not needed because few hens ever find that opening in their crowded condition and because there is not food or water on the concrete pad they do not stay long. 

So....the moral of the story is find a local farmer and buy eggs from them. Try to find one where their hens have access to as much pasture and outdoor space as possible.  You eggs will not only taste better -- they will be better for you.

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