Entries in Laura (133)

Friday
May222015

Who laid THAT egg?

Have you ever had an egg that didn't come from a chicken?  I remember an Easter egg hunt my grandparents did where we had to find goose eggs.  Those were huge!  I was sure they couldn't be real because they looked so different than the eggs I was used to from the store.

On our farm, we have several species that lay eggs - guineas, chickens and turkeys.  Our laying chickens are our biggest flock and they lay seasonally, starting in spring when the light increases and declining in fall as the light decreases.  Because we choose to raise several different breeds, we have several different colors of eggs.  They vary in size but they ALL taste wonderful as they are all raised on regularly rotated pastures and provided organic grains.  Most of our chickens will lay an egg every 2-3 days except in winter when they naturally have a rest period.  The yolks are a rich yellow-orange and the shells are strong.Pasture raised hens follow our cattle to distribute the 'fertilizer'

We also have a large flock of guinea fowl.  They are also pastured raised, but they are more guests than livestock.  They stick around and hatch out new keets every year, but they definitely do their own thing.  They generally roost in one of our trees and roam our property (and beyond) each day.  We choose not to confine them in any way and they naturally range much farther than chickens.  Due to their extreme free ranging, we do not have regular access to their eggs.  However, in spring and late summer, we often discover a few laying areas that are not being brooded and are able to enjoy those eggs.  Our guineas seem to lay more in spring and late summer whereas they don't lay in winter or as much in the heat of the summer.  Our guinea eggs are about 2/3 the size of a chicken egg, have a more pointed end and a very thick shell.  The yolk is nearly the same size as a chicken yolk so the albumin ratio is more equal as there is only so much room in the shell!  Generally, I notice more nuances of the forage in the guinea eggs - it's a depth of flavor I really like.

our pasture raised turkeys are joined by a guinea as they search out the best greensOur third egg layer is our Heritage Turkeys.  They lay for about two months in the spring and we incubate most of our turkey eggs as we raise Turkeys for meat.  Our turkeys range on pasture all year long and finding eggs can be a challenge.  In our efforts to collect eggs, we have restricted their ranging during laying season and alternatively tried continuing their free ranging and seeing if we continue to get good fertility and a high enough egg number.  Our turkeys often range near our chickens and they sometimes choose laying areas nearby so we have become familiar with these spots.  Our turkey eggs are about 30% larger than a chicken egg and have a sturdy shell.  They have a deep yolk color and the few we get to eat taste wonderful.

This year, we had at least one of our turkeys 'go broody.'  After laying over a dozen eggs in a hidden-to-us nest, the turkey hen sat on the nest and brooded it for a full 28 days.  While broody, she only got up once or twice a day for a quick food, water and bathroom break.  Otherwise, she hunkered down on her eggs day and night through any type of weather and incubated her eggs.  I happened to come across her one day, so we kept an eye on her progress.  She successfully hatched out 9 poults and they are dutifully tottling after her as she shows them what it means to be a turkey!  

We also had a front yard chicken, one of our personal flock, go broody this spring and is currently tending her chicks.  We had two other hens from our front yard flock take up residence in our nest boxes.  You can check in with us in late May to see if they had success!  It is certainly awe-inspiring to see a bird naturally hatch out babies.  

We appreciate the variety and synergy the different species bring to our farm

Pasture raised, organic fed chicken eggs available!  Pick up on farm or at our convenient weekly city delivery site.  Email or text or call to order.  Reserve your egg goodness today!

Pork- Italian Brats, Ham, Bacon, Breakfast Sausage.  We make FREE weekly deliveries to Lenexa, KS if you are interested in trying any pork.  

 

 

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!
Saturday
Nov292014

What does 1/2 a Pig look like?

This week, some of our VERY SPECIAL pork will go on sale by the half.  This is from our rare Heritage Breed pigs that have been raised in continuously rotated woodlots and fed a diverse diet that includes whey, apple pomace, acorns, walnuts, and pumkins in addition to everything they forage from the forest floor and a supplement of 100% Organic grains.  

When buying them by the half, we want people to feel comfortable with exactly what they are buying, so we created this simple guide. 


Americans don't often have to think about buying meat in animal units.  We have become accustomed to going to the store and buying the one cut of meat that we want for dinner tomorrow night instead of buying entire animals.  Therefore, when you decide to look at buying our wonderful meat in bulk it can be intimidating.

Buying meat in bulk is convenient, economical and very rewarding.  It allows you to buy a large supply of meat at one time that will always be ready and waiting for you in the freezer - no more worrying about going to the store to decide on the which cut is the best for your family.  No more wandering up and down the meat aisle deciding which cut to choose.  Instead, you'll simply go to your freezer and pull out the cuts you desire and you're ready to cook.  The best part is, you know that ALL the meat you are using is grown the way you can feel good about.

When you buy pork in bulk, you typically are buying 1/2 a pig.  This means you will be getting all of the meat and other treats from the left or right side of a pig.  These will include your typical cuts like bacon, pork chops and shoulder roasts.  It will also include, if you want them, things like trotters, tails, skin, lard, etc.  

How Much Meat Do I Get?

Let's look at a couple recent 1/2 pig orders so you can see exactly what you can get.  Prior to processing, Jeff will visit with you over the phone and discuss your cut options so you get the types of products you want.

Here are two pictures that show the pork from 1/2 a Pig.  One pic shows the left side of the table and the other the right side of the table with some overlap in the middle.

 

This customer is a chef and so she will be curing her own bacon using the unsliced belly.  She also chose all ham steaks instead of any cured hams.  

Cuts Number Pounds
Pork Chops (1" Thick) 20 16.9
Ham Steaks 9 17.99
Bone-in Shoulder Roast 4 18
Sausage 4 4
Ground Pork 4 4
Lard 2 2.71
Country style ribs 1 1.82
Pork season (stew meat) 1 2.05
Bacon ends 1 1
Jowl bacon 1 1.5
Pork bones 1 1.2
smoked ham hocks 1 4.13
spare ribs 1 4.56
Pork belly (to cure and slice your own bacon) 1

11.29

 

In this example the customer received 91.15 pounds of pork.  

Another customer had a slightly different order.  

This customer order cured hams, cured bacon and ground pork instead of sausage.

Cuts Number Pounds
Porterhouse pork chops 24 14.51
Jowl bacon 2 2.04
Bacon ends 2 1.5
Bacon 7 7.2
Ground Pork 6 6
Shoulder Roasts 5 19.97
Ossobucco 2 4.3
Pork season (stew meat) 1 2.13
Country style ribs 1 2.15
Spare ribs 1 5.14
Lard 2 4.19
Ears 1 0.5
Tail 1 0.25
Trotters 2 3.55
Cured hams 2 23.42

 

This customer received 97 pounds of pork products.   The difference in the two customers amount of meat came primarily from the differing sizes of their two animals.  However, the types of cuts you order will also affect your final weights.

How Much Space will I need for 1/2 a Pig?


The meat from 1/2 a pig will "nearly" fit into one large cooler.  This photo shows 1/2 a pig in a 70 quart cooler.  As you can see, it did not quite fit.  In a freezer it will take up about 1/3 of typical stand-alone freezer.

How Much Does a 1/2  a Pig Cost?

When you buy 1/2 a Pig, you pay based on the hanging weight of the pig.  This refers to the weight of the pig after it has been slaughtered but not yet cut into pieces.  Your final cuts will be about 20% less than this due to trimming and bones.  Your pork will cost $6/pound of hanging weight.

Looking at the two examples above:

Customer #1 Had a hanging weight of 116.5# which yielded 91.15# of cuts.  Her cost was $741.99

Customer #2 Had a hanging weight of 127.5# which yielded 97# of cuts.  His cost was $765.00

Both customers now have a freezer full of delicious healthy meat that they can rely on being there. A ready store of the best pork you can get without the hassles associated with weekly shopping at the meat counter each week.  Buying Synergistic Acres pork in bulk is definitely the most hassle free way to ensure you always have the highest quality meat to serve your family. 

Be on the lookout for an order form in your email inbox soon with all the details to order your half!

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