Entries in Laura (133)

Monday
May232016

Yummy, Delicious -- AND HEALTHY -- Chocolate Milk



Looking for a way to make chocolate milk with only natural sweeteners and an added boost of protein, we came up with this recipe which has become a family favorite.

With an immersion blender, blend
4 T raw cacao powder
2-4 T maple syrup (depending on sweetness desired)
2 T raw honey
4 eggs
dash salt
splash of vanilla

Blend in milk to fill a half gallon jar.  Chill and serve.  

This recipe uses raw eggs.  So only use if you buy eggs from a producer you trust to be selling you fresh, clean, healthy eggs from healthy hens.

Monday
Feb082016

3 girls, 22 cattle and 40 acres...and some unexpected lessons in our day

In the barn, gathering up orders for city delivery, I hear a suspiciously close 'moo.'  Sure enough, as I emerge from the frigid freezers, I spy cattle right next to the barn in the front pasture.  NOT where they are supposed to be.  Actually, about the furtherest spot on our farm that they are supposed to be.  If you picture a box and number each corner, the corner by our barn is #1.  The cattle are supposed to be in #4 - but 1 and 4 are separated by 40 acres, a steep bluffs area and a creek - there is no direct path from 1 to 4!  Moments later, my 6yo joins me outside just to say hello and I mention the cattle are out as I finish loading the car.  On her own accord, she runs inside, gets her 10yo sister and they return minutes later all bundled up and ready to wrangle cattle together.  How great is that, they came out dressed and ready!?

 

We three girls actually decided to do regular chores first because we knew we had a deadline as we have scheduled city deliveries and as long as the cattle were on our property, there was no emergency.  If all the animals were tended, we could spend any extra time working with the cattle.  If the cattle were still out when we left, instead of meeting us at our daughter's music lesson that evening, Jeff would go to the farm and tend to the cattle and we could assist as soon as we got home.  

 

After tending our two pig pastures, front yard flock, dog, cats, layers and turkeys, we turned out attention to the cattle pasture.  We inspected the paddock they had been in and quickly determined the fence had been knocked down (probably a rowdy calf) and probably got caught on someone's foot at which point it got pulled all out of whack and everyone decided to go find greener pastures.  We restrung some of the wire (we use simple step-in posts and poly wire) to rebuild the main area, yet also left some low spots so the cattle could get back in.  Goodness knows, I didn't want to get the cattle all the way back where we needed them and have them unable to get in and decide to run off again.  

 

Our fencing assessment complete, we zipped around in our UTV to locate the herd.  They had wandered up to the current layer pasture (that would be corner #2 so good progress) and were not very interested in moving further.  The chickens didn't mind the visitors as their weekly rotations usually follow the cattle anyway.  My 10yo (with her 6yo sister co-pilot and moral support) drove behind the herd while I walked, clapped, waved my arms and scooted close to the cattle which activitates their desire to move away from me.  Once we got them on the move, they generally stayed together.  We were not in a rush and hoped to avoid a stampede so we took it real slow.  Things were going well.  The only thing I wanted different was a ponytail holder.  It was windy and my hair kept blowing in my face but I had just planned to load the orders, not do chores, and there was no time to tend to such a small detail.  

 

Mara, our livestock guardian dog helped out a few times, running up to the cattle to get them to move forward.  She's quite aware of where the animals are supposed to be even though we rotate them to new pastures as often as daily.  She also doesn't mess with them so at one point, when mama Ulani and her calf Cadmus were slow, Mara approached them and then quickly backed off as Ulani gave her a 'don't mess with my baby' look and started to wag her head in a head-butty way.  We all know the power of a mama!  At another point, Winchester, our bull, paused to rest by a tree.  Mara knew he should stay with the herd so she ran up to him to startle him into action.  He was startled, but not impressed and Mara quickly retreated.

 

We slowly walked the cattle across the back edge of our 40 acres and then they turned, corner #3.  Over the years, I have learned the cattle always know their way home and will usually take the exact same path in reverse.  So, instead of trying to move the cattle a certain way, I just try to keep them moving and together.  They choose the path.  I was surprised they didn't go down through the woods or the shortcut hill, but instead went all the way to the last pasture area and finally turned towards 'home,' corner #4.  We remain calm and call out encouragment as they move along.  "Good girls, keep moving!"  "That's the way, stay together."  The cattle don't need or appreciate rowdy yelling or chasing.

 

At the bottom of corner #3 is our current boy pig paddock and I sure hoped that wasn't the route.  I didn't want cattle and pigs on the loose!  The cattle gathered near the pig pasture and had two main options.  One, walk along the pasture road which is long and windy, but would lead them back to the proper pasture.  Two, cross the creek and go directly into the proper pasture.  Apparently, there was a third option to go into the pig pasture and as some cattle got close to doing so, the girls and I hurriedly waved our arms and told them to turn back.  Thankfully, they did!  In a few minutes, the cattle started to cross the creek and we zipped down the pasture road to meet them on the other side.  However, they did not emerge on the other side.  We had some former pig paddock fencing set up and they wouldn't cross it (yes, I do find that ironic).  Several went back into the pasture and we three girls went down to the main creek crossing and called the cattle to follow us.  They didn't so we instead crossed the creek on foot and traipsed into the pastures again to encourage forward motion.  

 

My 6yo stayed by a bramble to call the cattle in the right direction.  My 10yo and I worked as a team to flank the herd like cattle dogs and get them to keep moving.  Ulani finally took charge and headed towards the creek.  Walking right next to the pig pasture (please don't knock any poles down!), the cattle slowly moved in the right direction.  Everyone followed Ulani across the creek and we cheered the forward progress!  No time for celebrations though, the cattle can definitely outrun us and we wanted to keep them moving in the right direction. 

 

Recrossing the creek and discovering a hole in my boot (brrr!), I asked my 10yo to drive the UTV behind the cattle.  Her sister joined her and I walked alongside the herd to discourage any side adventures.  As we approached the proper pasture, I ran ahead and pulled open the end fencing.  My daughters continued following the cattle and after a brief minute of the cattle not being quite sure how to get where they were supposed to go, they entered the proper paddock.  I called for my 6yo to take the fence end and follow behind Lass, the last cow.  My daughter waited patiently for the cow to meander by and then ran like the wind to pull the fence closed behind the herd.  I asked our 10yo to drive ahead and restring the low wiring we had left as an entry point.  In the UTV, she was kinda stuck in some muck, but she knew what to do!  She went into reverse to gain solid footing and then gunned it through the muck.  I later told her about the 10 foot fountain spray of mud she shot up!  While she did that, I ran up and restrung and tightened the current fence paddock.  

 

All of a sudden, we were done.  The cattle were right back where we wanted them.  We had all played huge parts in making it happen.  The cattle were contentedly getting a drink and laying down or eating hay.  We had the biggest smiles on our faces!  I gathered the girls in a little huddle.  We crossed our arms and held hands, giving a 1-2-3- cheer for GIRL POWER!  They giggled and we instantly reminisced about the experience.  Laughing at Mara charging our bull - from the safety of the other side of the fence.  Shaking our heads at the 'roadblock' of the old pig fencing.  Smiling at the accomplishment of successfully wrangling the cattle such a long distance.

 

As we returned home to finally get ready for our city deliveries, I reflected on a blog post I had read that morning.  It was a lovely homeschool weekly schedule featuring lots of focused study time, planned lessons, and scheduled group activities.  I chuckled thinking of the discrepancy of that schedule and our day!  I shook my head thinking our homeschool would never be quite like that.  

 

Yet the lessons my daughters learned today surpass anything I could have planned.  They learned about problem solving and working together.  They practiced communication skills.  They experienced treating others kindly even under stress and the thrill of accomplishment.  They demonstrated helpfulness, initiative and critical thinking.  They believed in their own power to make a difference.  I love that these lessons are a natural part of our lives.  They are lessons I hope stick with them through the years!  Thankfully, the cattle don't usually go adventuring and we do have quite a few idyllic days in which homeschool, life and farm happily co-exist.  But even when things don't go as planned, a lot of important learning is being done.

 

So, when you see us in the city for deliveries, if our hair is a bit wind-blown, our jeans have a mud spot or we have dirt under our nails, please know that we are real farmers working together as a family to make a difference, one cattle wrangling at a time.  And often, that difference isn't necessarily evidenced as a great meal of pastured meat on your plate, but in empowering a young girl to be anything or do anything she desires.  And that is an amazing lesson of which we can all be proud to play a part.

Wednesday
Nov182015

Beneficial Bone Broth in the News

Bone broth is making the news again.  It's that time of year when a warm cup of tasty goodness starts to sound good to many people again.  I pretty much have a pot of broth simmering on the stove most days of the week.  If you haven't tried bone broth yet, this is a great time!  Not only do we have beef bones and pork bones, but we also have a few chickens available - so after you enjoy a great meal, you can use the bones to make a nutrient dense broth!  Yes, you can mix bones!

In this first article from Craig Fear guest posting to Azure Standard, he reviews the basics of making broth, how to store it, and shares a couple recipes that use broth.

The next article by the same author, featured on The Healthy Home Economist, details how to incorporate broth into your breakfast routines and why that is a good idea.  He shares more recipes and even shares a way to add broth to your oatmeal or eggs.  

My favorite way to include broth is so simple and filling.

1.  Fill your cup 2/3 with broth and then pour it into a saucepan to warm that amount on medium-high.  This usually takes less than 3 minutes for mine to warm up.

2.  While waiting for it to warm up, sprinkle a little salt, pepper and optional desired spices into your cup.

3.  Pour the warmed broth into your cup and top the final 1/3 of your cup off with cold broth.  This gets the broth to drinkable temp right away, while still providing that deep warmth.

4.  Stir and enjoy!

Yes, homemade broth is more nutrient dense and yes, pasture raised animal bones are, too.  Get the best for your broth and enjoy the amazing benefits of a wonderful broth!

NOW AVAILABLE Pastured, Heritage Pork cuts, 100% Grass fed Heritage Beef and Pasture Raised Chicken

And of course, make amazing broth from our Heritage, Pasture Raised turkeys!!!  Order your Heritage, Pasture Raised Turkey Now

 

==============================================================

AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW

We will be taking some of our very special fall Heritage Pork in for processing.  You can read all about it here and place your order.

 

Tuesday
Nov032015

5 EASY Steps to Roasting a Chicken

Every time I share my favorite way to cook one of our pasture raised and organic fed chickens, people look at me like I am crazy.  Considering I use this method every week of the year, I know it actually works!  This is my go-to, quick and easy way to enjoy a delicious dinner.  I even took pictures one day to show how super simple and easy this can be.  Spoiler Alert: one of the steps involves placing a lid onto a pot - I'm talking EASY!!!  You can do it!  No need to be afraid of cooking a whole chicken - and especially not when there is such goodness at the end!

1. Unwrap frozen chicken.  Yes, FROZEN!  Easy enough so far, right?

2.  Place frozen chicken in a large pot.  Either side up.

3. Place lid on pot.  Still with me?

4.  Place pot into the oven.  Set temp to 350.  Smaller (3-4 pounder) chickens will cook in about 90 minutes.  Larger (4-5 pounders) will cook in about 2 hours.  My oven is nice and wafts yummy chicken smells into the air when the chicken is done so I pull it out when it smells good.  You can pull it out after 90-120 minutes (see size notes above) and check for doneness visually or take a quick temp reading (around 145 in the thigh).

5.  This is the best step because you get to sample!  Pull off the meat from the chicken (if you're not sure how, Jeff offers a chicken cut-up class, check out YouTube or come visit me someday when I'm cooking chicken and I'm happy to show you) and you are all set to enjoy moist and flavorful pasture raised chicken!  Because of the way we raise them on pasture and with organic feed, the meat is tender and delicious without any fancy additions.  I don't have to be a fancy cook because the meat I start with is exceptional by default.  Just don't overcook it or it will dry out!

Really, there is a sixth step - take advantage of those great bones and make a nourishing bone broth.  That's just more value for your money and the nutritional benefits are awesome!

Try an oven roasted chicken this way and let me know what you think!  Right now, we have a few Cornish Cross and Prairie Ranger chickens available.  Pasture-raised, of course!  

NOW AVAILABLE Pastured, Heritage Pork cuts, 100% Grass fed Heritage Beef and Pasture Raised Chicken

 You can do this, right?  Five easy steps and you'll have an amazing dinner for you and your family!

 

Sunday
Oct252015

Pastured Chicken Season Comes to a Close + chickens & beef available!

This weekend marked the end of a wonderful Pastured Chicken season for Synergistic Acres.  We raised and processed several hundreds of chickens this fall!  Though it is a ton of work, we gratefully appreciate being able to process our own poultry, knowing that our chickens had a quality life, superior food, natural living conditions and a humane end.  We heartily thank our many processing helpers - from friends of the farm, curious eaters, to friends and dedicated family.  

 In particular this weekend, ALL our parents helped with processing and it was an awesome day!  Every step of the process was enhanced by the capable and knowledgable hands.  It was truly a family effort!  My dad helped with household upgrades including some additional lighting in the barn.  No pics of me because I did not take a selfie while eviserating chickens ;)  All told, we processed 102 chickens on Saturday.

The best part of that news is that we have some Cornish Cross and Prairie Ranger chickens available for YOU!  We pre-sell most of our chickens, but, depending on the growing season, sometimes we are able to grow a few more than we pre-sell.  Head on over to our Natural Meats ordering page and scroll down to the bottom to order your chickens today.  Limited supply!

We've yet to make an official announcement, but we also have select cuts of 100% Heritage Grass-fed beef available.  Again, you can check it out on the ordering page near the bottom of the form.

On-farm pickup is available or I'll be in Lenexa on Wednesday.  Thank you for your support of another great season growing chickens on pasture!

 

Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
Keep in touch with the farm
* indicates required