Entries in Grass Fed Beef (51)

Monday
Jul202015

the HEAT is ON!

 

This has been a summer for the record books.  We have had more rain on the farm than we have ever had in our short but intense farming careers. Although we have had a great amount of rain -- which has thankfully kept our fields green --  it has not been without the heat, just included even higher than normal humidity.  Did you know humidity affects our animals in much the same way it affects you?  It makes it more difficult for their bodies natural cooling to effectively keep them comfortable and healthy.  

As the farmers entrusted with their care, we do everything possible to reduce that stress.  The most important thing is always ensuring they have fresh available water to keep hydrated. (Have you heard about our exciting and extensive pipeline system designed to provide fresh on-demand water to every animal on the farm all the time?)  The next most important thing is to ensure our animals have protection from the heat. We do this with careful planning of their rotations.  Knowing July and August are going to be the hardest months in regards to heat, we always plan places for the pigs, the cattle and the chickens to be where they will have access to shade and if it's not there naturally, we add it.  An example is right now the cattle are at my Dad's nearby pastures grazing on his amazing sweet clover fields. However, there is not much shade available. So we use a 20-foot stock trailer as a mobile shade structure.  It gets moved with them daily to their new paddock giving them fresh clean shady places to lounge.  The pigs are given wallows, or their favorite -- access to the pond.  The chickens and turkeys spend the hottest part of the day in the shade of the trees scratching and foraging there, then coming out to the pastures to hunt the grasshoppers once the heat begins to wane. 

Even the farmers have to take special precautions.  We choose to live without air conditioning in our house which keeps us very in-tune with the cycle of heat that our animals experience.   We find ways of adjusting to Nature's rhythms as we plan our work schedules to be inside when it's coolest and outside when the house becomes too hot to enjoy. 

We know the same things the animals do.  The summer heat is essential for a thriving healthy ecosystem and as long as we do not get in the way of how nature has developed to keep our animals healthy and thriving during this time, they will do great and be ready for the next season which is inevitable and coming too quickly.

Friday
May082015

Seeing is Believing + spring tours

You follow Synergistic Acres because you care about food quality. You purchase our meat because you know it is naturally-raised, fed organically and raised without antibiotics.  You have seen that we are a pasture based farm and know this type of food is healthy for you and your family.

You buy your pork, chicken, beef, turkey and eggs in confidence that it was made from a happy animal—a robust ruminant that had the pleasure of living its life on verdant pastures, happily chewing its cud or an energetic pig that used its sturdy snout to plow up soft earth or even a chicken that enjoyed dust baths and chasing after grasshoppers and eating grass (yes, chickens eat grass!).  

BUT, how do you KNOW that is really how we raise our animals?  Are you confident that you can trust what we say on the blog or facebook?  Are the pictures we share online really from our farm?  Have you personally visited the farm to see for yourself?

KNOWING YOUR FARMER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY CERTIFICATION OR LABEL 

(especially when labels are so confusing anyway!)

Farmers (and advertisers) are keen on what consumers want, which is why most farm products are graced with images of green pastures and happy animals.  However, it is up to you to ensure the pretty pictures mesh with reality.  We believe there are all types of consumers and all types of farmers.  

  • Some consumers want Heritage meat and some farmers want to focus solely on growing Heritage animals.
  • Some consumers want cheap meat and some farmers want to produce meat cheaply.
  • Some consumers want organic everything and some farmers are certified to produce that way.
  • And there are some consumers who value naturally raised products and farmers that enjoy producing food in such a manner.

 Any of these situations, and many more, are valid partnerships.  It is the dissonance of a consumer wanting naturally raised meat that is swayed by a picture of a chicken on a lush pasture, when the farmer is really raising the chicken in a large indoor barn.  Or the consumer that wants grass fed beef and finds a farmer that purports their beef is grass fed but fails to mention that grain is also provided.  Small detail.  What about the consumer that believes 'organic' means raised in the sunshine and fresh air?

How do you know what animals are grown?  How they are grown?  Where they spend their days?  What types of food they have access to?  How they are treated?

Well, we think SEEING IS BELIEVING and we have commited ourselves to...

  • sharing our own pictures and videos on facebook, nearly daily
  • updating the blog regularly with pictures, thoughts and narrations on farm life
  • offering narrated hayride tours several times each year

 We believe if you see it with your own eyes, you can answer those questions!  Please join us in continuing the conversations about the ways in which we grow and produce food in the Kansas City area.

Spring Tours are Sundays, May 17 and June 7.  The hay ride leaves the gate at 4pm and the tour lasts about 90 minutes.  We will take you to see each of our animals and explain how we raise them on our farm.  We answer any questions and enjoy conversations about pasture raised food!  Let us know you are attending and we'll save you a hay bale!

 

 

Wednesday
Jan142015

the BEST slowcooker roast recipe

When you have such good meat, you want to do it justice by cooking it well.  As a farmer, I've had many opportunities to succeed and fail in the kitchen with our pasture raised products.  

This recipe is

FILLING

TENDER

MOIST

FLAVORFUL

WARM

NUTRITIOUS

and all this for about ten minutes work!

Simple, Tender Pot Roast with Holy Grail Gravy from Phoenix Helix

A customer, Keri, shared that she had success with the recipe, so I decided to try it as well.  My modifications were that I did not have celery or rosemary sprigs and I forgot the garlic.  I used beef broth instead of water and actually I used a brisket since that is what I found in the freezer first.  I have found 100% grass fed beef cooks faster than most recipes allow, so I put the veggies in the slowcooker on low at noon, added the beef at 3p and took it out of the slowcooker around 6p.  It was perfectly done and probably could have come out an hour or so before if I had needed.  

The gravy was easy to make and so warm and filling.  I liked it so much, I just put some in a glass to sip on while I finished up making the rest of dinner!  A gravy chock full of nutrition from 100% grass fed, pasture raised beef and organic vegetables that tastes wonderful is a SUCCESS in my book.

My appreciation to Keri for sharing this recipe with us!

Try out this recipe and let us know what you think.  Maybe you'll find a new family favorite, too!

Tuesday
Dec302014

Easy Bone Broth

You're going to be amazed making bone broth is so simple or frustrated you've never done it before.  There are many, many recipes available, but this one is simple, pure and nutritious.  

Not all bones are created equal - this recipe is for bones from the cattle, pigs, turkeys and chicken raised at Synergistic Acres, on pasture every day of their lives.  They are rotated daily, have access to free choice minerals and have a low stress life, all of which affect the overall quality of the product.  I'm biased, I know, but the proof is in the pudding, er...broth.

If you can put things in a pot, add water and wait, you are set to make your own broth!

Easy Bone Broth Recipe

Place Synergistic Acres bones in a stock pot.  Cover with cold water.  Add a splash of vinegar or apple cider vinegar (an acid to help leach out the minerals).  Let sit for an hour, then bring to an almost boil aka a rolling simmer.  Skim the surface if needed, reduce to low, let simmer for 48-72 hours.  This length is needed to fully extract the minerals.  Remove bones, transfer broth to jars and store in fridge.  After the broth is chilled, the flavors will be set and the gelatin in full effect.  Your broth will be thick and gelatinous, you will need a spoon to get it out of your jar!

you can use your homemade broth...

  • as a soup base
  • added to water when cooking rice, barley, noodles, quinoa, farro, etc
  • warmed, as a drink (flavor with herbs and salted if desired)
  • on your pet's food
  • to saute veggies
  • in a stew
  • for gravy, sauces or reductions
  • as the liquid when cooking in a slow cooker
The awesome thing about broth made from the bones at Synergistic Acres is that the broth gels amazingly!  I used to make broth from store-bought bones and even other small farm raised bones and never understood the 'gel' part that was described in recipes.  Well, now I totally get it as my broth is thick and gelatinous - which just means more benefits!

When you want to increase the depth of flavors, you can do one or two additional, easy steps.
1. roast the bones at 350 for about 30 minutes.  This will add a depth of flavor and richness of color to your broth.  This is especially useful for beef and pork bones.
2. toss in some peeled carrots or celery ends or a garlic head cut in half and let them simmer with your broth.  Strain them out when you jar the broth.  This will add nuances of flavors and some nutrients, too!

I hope you get to try your hand at making broth soon!
Friday
Nov072014

Visit your Farmer - More of a DEMAND than a REQUEST

When we first started our journey towards healthy food nearly a decade ago, we never thought about a farmer being the key to our food. We simply knew which store it came from. Then we decided that buying straight from the farm would be better. We did this. However, we were still naive and didn't ask many questions. For instance, we bought our beef in bulk for several years from a farmer we believed sold grass-fed beef. It wasn't until after visiting the farm after a few years of purchasing bulk beef that we found he does feed "just a little grain at the end." We were very surprised, for years the meat we thought we had been getting was not completely as advertised.

Fast forward 10 or so years and we feel we are much more sophisticated in seeing food choices. This afterall - is our life. This is why we were VERY DISAPPOINTED recently when we visited another local farm. We had heard they were having a family field day and we had followed this farm online and several of our customers have bought from them since they are very convenient and sell at a large local market.  We were SUPER EXCITED to meet fellow like-minded farmers.

We spent a very busy Saturday busting out an entire weekends worth of chores so we could spend the Sunday traveling and visiting the farm. The farm was over 2 hours away, but, as I said, we were excited to go.

Once we got there we were surprised at what we saw. This farm says it raises pastured pork, chicken and beef. However, what we saw was very different. Instead of pigs being raised on pasture, we saw dozens and dozens of pigs being raised in small mud lots with no pasture access. The only thing pastured about these pigs is that the pens they were housed in were close enough to see the pasture. These pigs have NEVER been on pasture. They lived in small dirt pens and were fed a diet solely of corn. Now, I am not making a judgement based on how the pigs are raised. The pigs didn't seem particularly unhappy, unhealthy or mistreated. However, they were not on pasture as advertised on their website, emails and in person. In fact, their website was particularly misleading since it included many photos that were not taken on their farm at all. A quick Google image search showed several of the pictures on their farm website were actually taken from other farms' websites.

Additionally, many of the items they sell at the market were not even raised by them. They sell "pasture raised" chickens and turkeys -- however, our visit showed no signs of those animals on the farm at all. They had a few egg laying chickens running around their farm that were in full molt -- nowhere near enough to sell the hundreds of eggs they sell each week at the market. Obviously, much of the food being sold under their farms name are being raised by other farmers.

It is not my intention in this post to disparage another farmer and I have intentionally been vague enough to not incriminate any particular farmer. There is not anything inherently wrong with the way these animals were being raised. However, customers are likely not buying what they think they are buying. In fact, I KNOW, several of our customers often buy from this other farm because their prices are a little cheaper, they are a little more convenient and they have more consistent inventory. However, these customers have VISITED OUR FARM -- seen how WE raise our pigs on pasture, in constantly rotated paddocks, seen our chickens who are moved to fresh grass 2x a day, seen our hens that lay our eggs -- AND THEN GO BUY FROM THIS OTHER FARM THINKING ITS THE SAME THING -- IT'S NOT!

It is IMPERATIVE that you insist on visiting any farm with whom you are establishing a connection. DO NOT rely solely on their website, their Facebook page or their slick talk. The only way to know for sure what you are buying is what you want to buy is to visit them. If they give any excuses as to why you cannot visit their farm, be immediately wary. Far too many farms hide behind claims of biosecurity, or liability insurance, or hectic schedules. However, visiting and seeing up close and personal your food being raised is one of the primary tenets that separates slow food from industrial agriculture.

We make a systematic point on our farm to ask every customer to come visit the farm. We have an open-door policy that encourages customers to come see our animals and our farming practices. When they visit, we are glad to show them exactly what we feed our animals, the areas they are raised in and the care that they are given. Our customers support the farm generously and giving them open and free access is part of what they purchase when they support our farm.  We give DOZENS of farm tours to HUNDREDS of customers every year.

In addition, we bring people to our farm virtually nearly everyday with real life photos. Every photo we share is of OUR farm. When you are looking at the pictures of farms, look to see if they are showing you wide views or only very close cropped pictures that are likely giving you a deceiving overall view. Video can also give you a more realistic view of what their farm is like. Ask questions about what you see. If you see a farmer is offering a product that you never see pictures of -- ask them about it. If you see the pictures don't show examples throughout their lifespan, ask them about them. It might be they are not on the farm their entire lives.

Ultimately, information is power. We have been trained to believe that farmers are trustworthy. However, I unfortunately know of MANY examples where farmers misrepresent the food they are selling. There are MANY great farmers out there as well. However, I can't encourage people enough to make the investment in time and energy to go and visit their Farmer. We are talking about one of the most important things in your life -- your food!

Know your farmer, know your food.

On a related note -- We will be having two tours coming up on our Farm in conjunction with people picking up their Thanksgiving Turkey.  (did you know we had made a few more turkeys available if you haven't preordered yet -- it's not too late!)    The tours will be on Sunday, November 16th, and Sunday, November 23rd at 3:00pm,  The tours will include a narrated hayride tour where you will get to see exactly how every animal on our farm is raised. Drop us a line and let us know if you are coming, so we can make sure we have enough haybales set out on the wagons.  We'd love to have you!

 

 

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