Entries in Laura (133)

Thursday
Oct232014

Ugly Pumpkin Round Up

 Halloween will be over and the pumpkin patch will be full of ugly, misshapen and unwanted pumpkins. They may not be the perfect jack-o-lantern, but they will make an incredibly delicious treat for our always hungry pigs.  

Our Heritage Pigs feast on this natural treat for many weeks. To gather them though, we need your help! 

Meet us at a local Pumpkin Patch on Sunday, November 2nd at 10:00am. We will have trailers ready to load with hundreds of pumpkins. Any age can help toss pumpkins into the trailers so bring the family, help a farmer and have fun! We will go though their fields picking up as many pumpkins as we can find. 

After loading the trailers, we invite you to come back to farm with us and help us feed them to the pigs. They will love their first pumpkin treats of the year.

Please comment, call or email and we will make sure to meet up with you there.  Thank you!

Friday
Oct102014

4 questions to ask about your Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is near and stores and farms are starting to strut their stuff.  There are many, many options for your Thanksgiving Turkey and it can get a little confusing as to what is really available and what’s the difference in all those labels anyway.

Consider these simple questions to help you decide which Turkey is right for you

Heritage Turkeys at Synergistic Acres are raised on fresh pastures1.  How is the turkey raised?  Possible answers are inside a commercial poultry house, in an open-air building, outside on dirt, confined to a small outdoor area (often dirt from overuse and often called "free-range"), in a pasture and truly free-range.  

Don't assume that the breed of turkey is indicative of how it is raised either.   Not all Heritage Turkeys are raised outdoors and certainly not all Heritage birds get to roam lush fields.  A Heritage bird raised on pasture is a wonderful pairing that ensures the turkey lived a life appropriate for a turkey.

2.  What does the turkey eat?  Don’t get tricked by hearing what they don’t eat - find out what they DO eat.  Soy-free or gluten-free or vegetarian fed might mean all the turkey ever ate was corn.  Is that what you want your meat to be made from?  The meat that you will be consuming was created from the nutrients and minerals that went into the turkey’s mouth.  Is the feed organic or non-GMO or conventional?  An organic turkey might sound great, but that often means it was simply raised in confinement but fed organic feed.  If the turkey was raised outside, did it have consistent access to grass and forages?  Are the pastures sprayed with anything? 

3.  Who raises the turkey and where?  Do you want a local farm?  A family farm?  A large scale farm?  An industry raised bird?  Store-bought turkeys will be labeled as to their origination, but you’ll need to ask farms directly if they raise their turkeys or buy them from another producer.  Turkeys take a long time to grow and not every farm can devote the time or resources to raising them.  It is always best to go visit the farm.  However, if you can't visit, look for pictures from throughout the growing season to ensure your Turkey is raised how you desire.  Turkeys are more than a majestic meal, they are live animals that deserve a respectful life.

4.  What kind of turkey is it?   An industrial bird will have different characteristics than a Heritage bird.  Heritage birds are generally smaller in frame and have a higher percentage of dark meat than industrial birds.  Industrial birds take longer to cook and will usually have a different texture of meat.  The type of Turkey you get will influence which recipe you use to prepare it. 

Here at Synergistic Acres, we answer all these questions and more and always invite people out to the farm to see the animals up close and personal.  You can also read many blog posts about how we raise our turkeys or watch a short video to see how farmers entertain themselves while raising turkeys.  We’d love to hear what additional questions you have.  

There are as many ways to raise a turkey as there are feathers on one.  No one way is perfect, you have to decide what is important to you.  Ask questions! 
Know your farmer, know your food.

Tuesday
Sep302014

Bonfire and Tour Fun on the Farm

 

It was our genuine pleasure to visit with so many of you at the recent Fall Customer Appreciation and Bonfire.  There is definitely an energy with the community of support on Tour days!  People are excited.  People are asking questions.  People are thanking us for the work we do.  We think it is critically important to know how your food is raised and we are honored to share with you what we are doing here at Synergistic Acres.

One of my favorite conversations at the Bonfire was when we asked a guest about her experience.  She relayed that she was actually surprised that what she saw so closely matched what she saw in online pictures, videos and blog posts.  She shared about other visits to local farms in which what she saw online and what she saw in person didn't match up.  The power of cropping photos and adding filters or simply the lack of showing the 'real' side of things can be quite discrepant.  Being transparent and open is a key value for our farm and we are so pleased it is noticed and appreciated.

An evening Tour did present some challenges...namely the dark!  Next time, we'll aim to start a bit sooner so we get to see all the animals without needing flashlights.  Black pigs in a large pasture can be hard to find in the dark!  The bonfire was more appropriately dark and we had a great time making s'mores and seeing the connections deepen between not only us and our supportive customers, but also as a community of support for great food.  

I want to thank you and Jeff for doing the right thing every day.

Comments like that are extremely encouraging and motivate us to continue farming with a natural, pasture-based model.  If we were just farming for ourselves, we would certainly not be working at this scale!  But, with your support, we are able to do so much more and provide your family with the best nourishment possible.  

You are the reason we are farming and we love connecting with you to make it all a bit more REAL.  Real food comes from real farmers and real people that support pasture based farming!

Thank you for being a part of Synergistic Acres!

Friday
Sep052014

a newborn Galloway

Bishop joined the herd on a 100 degree day.  Jeff noticed one of our cows was standing separated from the herd.  This is unusual and generally a sign of something awry.  Jeff thought she might be getting ready to calf.  However, on the way to investigate he saw a limp pile of black fur in the middle of the cattle pasture.  We had two cows due to calve and this one appeared to be her calf, but he wasn't doing well. Usually, a calf will try to stand within minutes and begin nursing, but this little guy wasn't able to and we think he got dehydrated due to the extreme heat and his inability to stand up and nurse.  His mama, Ulani, was concerned but unable to help.  A healthy and active calf is a joy to watch and a testament to the amazing power of nature.  A weak or struggling calf is an emergency on the farm which suddenly stops all other farm work and demands complete attention from everyone involved.  Unfortuantely, this was not going to be one of the joyful ones.

We got to work.  It is always our preference for a calf to get its sole nutrition from Mama.  However, the window of time that a calf needs to get important beginning nutrition is small, and in this case we weren't sure how long Bishop had been without fluids.  He was already too weak to stand and nurse on his own. We mixed up some powdered colostrum we keep on hand and bottle-fed the calf right away.  It took some work just to get him to suck the bottle, but progress was made and he gained a bit of strength.  This became our routine every few hours -- night and day.

The heat continued the next day and unfortunately, the cattle left their designated pasture in search of coolness.  Ulani chose to stay with the herd rather than her calf. (Jeff did not have nice things to say about Ulani as we were taking care of her baby and she was soaking her udder in the creek.)  She was away from Bishop nearly the whole day.  We checked on him every few hours and continued giving him a bottle, at the same time encouraging Ulani to be with him and establish a bond with her calf.  While it's not unusual for a newborn calf to rest away from the herd, they need to nurse every few hours so the mama at least needs to be nearby!  

On the third day, after getting him to take half a milk bottle (really thankful for our raw milk farmer!), I was able to get Bishop to nurse and from then on, he nursed exclusively - with encouragement.  This didn't reduce our workload much however since every few hours, day and night, we would trek out to the cattle pasture and rouse him toward his mama.  If we could get him in the proper position, he would nurse.  We worked with him to stay nearer to the herd and were hopeful that as his bond with Ulani and the herd grows, we would need to do less searching for Bishop!  It's amazing how difficult a little calf can be to locate.  Ulani was usually our first clue, we would watch to see which direction she mooed and start searching there (this is how the video starts).  At one point, we couldn't find him at all, so we let her out so she could help find him!

 

By the fifth day, he was staying nearer the herd, responding better to Ulani, and starting to frolick around a bit!  We were so encouraged by his progress!

 

At almost a week old, I took this video of Bishop.  I wanted to capture the cow/calf bond.  Bishop takes his time, even taking a bathroom break, but I chose to not edit it as I think the video is also...

--- a peek at the peaceful environment in which our cattle are raised

--- a snapshot of calm, sometimes mundane daily afternoon chores

--- a glimpse of the farm conversations we have

--- real life!

We hope you enjoy this virtual visit to the farm and that you get to meet Bishop soon!


 

Friday
Jun202014

a farm shoe solution - with pallets

On the farm, we find that we like a variety of footwear to suit our needs.  All those shoes have to be stored somehow and mostly that ended up being scattered on a couple of mats.  In looking for a solution, I saw adorable shoe shelves, cute shoe baskets and cabinets that held two pairs of shoes (we'd need a lot of cabinets).  None of which seemed a natural fit for our needs.  Then, I saw this little number which resembled a pallet.  

- image from funtimesguide.com

I have pallets!  And also lots of shoes.  So, I made a much larger version and it has been a wonderful solution to our shoe issues.  I chose pallets with a variety of slat spacings to fit the different sizes of shoes we have.  Dirt from our shoes quickly dries and falls down where it is easily vacummed.  By securing 1 2/3 pallets together, our shoe wall holds a lot of shoes.  We use it as a screen as well, as it hides some of our utilities.  A pallet shoe rack could be secured to a wall, but I like ours with a little base so it is freestanding and we can move it to access our utilities when needed.  After I took the picture, I added a few nails at the top to hold hats and accessories.  I love the rusticness of the pallets and the ease of storing our shoes.  

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