local food

Pork!

Our happy pig pile

Dropstone Farms, with Erik Lindbergh and Laurel Powell of Wardwell Farm, has a limited amount of pork available, which will be ready in the next few days. The pigs have been happily pastured at Wardwell Farm, and fed organic grains, kitchen scraps, cider- and beer-making leftovers, and garden residue.

We are selling by the whole or half only, with custom butchering (and sausage and smoked meats too) done by Heritage Meats.

The cost is $5/lb hanging weight (carcass weight before butchering). We estimate that they will be about 90 pounds per side hanging weight, which would equate to about 65-75 lbs of meat to take home. The $5/lb is paid to us. You will also pay the butcher directly for the butchering, smoking, or sausage-making you choose. This will be 55¢ per lb for butchering (aka cut and wrap) and 75¢/lb for smoking (like bacon and ham). I’m told that some sausage flavors are included with the cut & wrap fee, and some are extra.

For more info on what a side of pork entails, here’s some info about the breakdown of a whole hog. Of course divide everything in half for the totals for a side (a half carcass).
And scroll down on this page to get an idea of the volume of a side all cut and wrapped

If you’re interested, please get in touch via email as soon as possible for further details on getting your order in to the butcher!

And as always, please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions or concerns. You can contact us at farmers@dropstonefarms.com or at 206-855-5493.

Update on Territorial Seed and Seminis (Monsanto) — GOOD NEWS!

Our third most popular post is “The Relationship Between Monsanto and Territorial Seed (Not As Bad As You Think)”, a January 2009 post about the news that Monsanto had acquired Seminis, which at the time was a supplier to Territorial Seed. Territorial is a popular source for home gardeners and small farmers on in the Pacific Northwest, at least; I have no idea about its popularity in other regions.

We like their products because they trial all their seed in a climate similar to ours, with similar pests as well. We have continued to buy from them, focusing on Open Pollinated varieties, but not because of the possible Monsanto connection — just because I’ve been trying to move to OP whenever possible anyway.

Still, the connection to Monsanto was disappointing, even if only as another sign of Monsanto’s inexorable acquisition of the entire planet, apparently.

So we were very happy to hear in a comment from Tom Johns, owner of Territorial, that as of the 2012 catalog, they are no longer carrying anything supplied by Seminis. (We verified this by contacting Territorial’s customer service before posting.)

Great work, Territorial. We’re glad to hear the news.

On learning to cheese

(Yeah, “cheese” is a verb now; why do you ask?)

In late November, I made my first goat cheddar.

Pressing my cheddar cheese

It looked awesome, but it had several mishaps. First, the dog got into it while it was sitting curing on the counter (in a place where I didn’t think he could reach it, obviously). I washed and trimmed it and then left it so the bits I had trimmed could continue to cure and get the crust called for in the recipe. Then it got a moldy bit, and so I trimmed that, and waited; then there was another moldy bit — repeat, etc. Eventually it had been over two weeks, and I took it down in preparation for waxing it, and faintly saw a vein of mold running just under the skin. Trying to trim it away would have meant losing most of the cheese. That, plus the prevalence of the mold in general, and the fact that by now it had been air-drying for too long, probably, and had lost too much internal moisture, meant that the whole cheese was pretty much not in great shape.

So we hucked that one, and started a new one!

I started this cheddar on Dec. 4. It also had some mold issues, so I ended up trimming it completely just before waxing. This may have been a huge mistake; we’ll find out in two months.

Second cheddar, waxed 12/17

Last call: chickens for pickup, Monday 9/26 at Day Road Farmstand

We have about 30 chickens left to sell. They were processed today, so with the WSDA’s 48-hour pickup requirement, we can make them available for pickup on the farm at the Day Road Farmstand on Monday during the day. Six dollars per pound. They will be a mix of sizes, some small fryers and some larger big-family roasters, but mostly in the mid-4- to mid-5-lbs range; some have giblets and some do not. If you can, email us at farmers@dropstonefarms.com or text or call 206-855-5493. You can also just show up and see what you get … but that is first-come first-served, obviously.

More details are here.

This batch is nice-looking birds! You will not be sad …

This is the last batch of chickens this year, but if you want to be notified of our turkey orders for this November, and chickens for the future, please sign up on our mailing list for poultry notification and other news. The mailing list always gets first dibs.

Last batch of chicken for the year — order now!

We’re now taking orders for our last batch of chickens for 2011, which will be ready to pick up on September 25. As usual, the details are described on our Ordering Poultry page, and you can order here: http://tinyurl.com/chickens2011-2

Please let us know if you have any questions, and order soon!

Turkey ordering will open soon … we lost a bunch the other day, so have to try to get a count of them so we know how many we can sell.

Peanut hearts for poultry — who knew?

Yesterday I saw this Lehman’s blog post about feeding turkeys with peanut hearts, which are apparently the little tiny nubbins that you find between the two halves of the peanut. I immediately thought of CB’s Nuts up in Kingston, so I emailed to see if they have surplus peanut hearts. Turns out they do, and can give us a hundred pounds or so per week. I have no idea if we can use that much, but we’ll find out! I’m betting the goats will like them too.

CB’s is currently using organic nuts, but in about 5 weeks or so they will be switching to non-organic due to costs. (Not surprising — fuel costs are hitting all the growers and producers really hard this year.)

So I wanted to see if anyone has concerns about us supplementing the turkeys’ and chickens’ feed with non-organic peanut hearts. Their primary feed will continue to be either Canadian- or Washington-grown grains (the Canadian company is certified Organic; the Washington company is not), and they will definitely continue to be on untreated pasture at Day Road/Suyematsu Farm(s).

Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions or concerns about the non-organic peanut hearts as a feed supplement. You can always comment on the blog, anonymously if you prefer, or you can email us at farmers@dropstonefarms.com.

Dark Days 2010-2011: Intro

Despite the fact that I didn’t finish last year, I signed up to do the Dark Days Challenge again this year. The goal of the challenge is to make and post one meal a week that is as Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical (SOLE) as possible. Since this is something we do pretty naturally at this point, my personal sub-goal is to get back in the habit of posting regularly, too.

As last year, I rearrange the criteria a bit, though. Though it’s not as pretty an acronym as SOLE, we aim for:

  1. Homegrown
  2. Grown by people we know (this is amorphous and more or less has the same borders as “grown on Bainbridge Island”)
  3. Grown in Washington OR grown in Cascadia
  4. A specialty of another region — like Parmigiano cheese, or true balsamic vinegar, or small-batch maple syrup from Vermont, or Beaujolais Nouveau wine. This is to do with the idea of terroir, and though it’s clear it violates some of the goals of local eating, such as the desire to eliminate resources used in shipping, it is also very delicious, and I am unashamed.

In all categories, we prefer organic or organic-ish. Certification is not important; intent is. I also have a fondness for heirloom/heritage varieties or breeds, and definitely a strong opposition to GMOs. Fair-trade and other human-, animal- and environmentally-considerate methods (the “ethical” of SOLE) are also strongly preferred.

Most people take some exemptions for things like oils and spices. Ours are pretty standard:

  • Olive oil — though I try to use alternative fats, like lard, duck fat, or homemade butter
  • Vinegars — I made some apple cider vinegar this summer, but it’s pretty sweet and not suitable everywhere, though it is great salad dressing
  • COFFEE and TEA! I am going to try to make my own coffee at work instead of going out, but I’ll also pressure my normal coffee shop to carry organic/fair trade beans.
  • Flour — our flour is organic, but comes from Utah. Sometimes we can get a few pounds of wheat berries from a more local source; I may experiment with grinding grains.
  • Sugar — bulk organic from Hawaii
  • Spices: salt, pepper, etc. I have grown some fennel this year, and lots of hot peppers, and we have some coriander a friend grew, but beyond that it is all from the organic bulk bin at the grocery store.

    So that’s the beginning. Soon I’ll have a pictureless, delicious chicken noodle soup to post.

Pushing a boulder uphill

These California farmers are giving up their land and quitting farming. Most of the reasons they cite for getting out of farming could be things we are saying next year or the year after, or the year after that.

Think hard about your food and your sources, and what it takes to support them. Farming is hard on mind and body, and land is expensive, and organic is expensive, and farmers too need health care and homes and a bit of time to relax. If you eat, you should consider these costs.

Roundup of other chicken vendors

Since we sold out for our last batch of the year, we’ve gotten a few inquiries about other farms who might have chickens like ours. I thought I’d round up all our recommendations. Some, but not all, are raising the slower-growing, more chickeny breed we prefer, or other breeds alternative to the fast-growing Cornish Cross; some, but not all, are feeding organic grains; some, but not all, are pasturing their birds. And a few are in Kitsap, for those of you who are concerned about distance.

I’ve tried to highlight what we feel are the relevant characteristics of each farm’s birds — but just because I haven’t said that any given farm is organic, for example, it doesn’t mean it’s not — just that I don’t know about it. As usual please get in touch with your farmers and ask about their practices!

  • Harley Soltes at Kingston Farm has Kitsap-raised, non-fast-growing, organic-fed, pastured birds — this is the closest to what we raise. We’ve been to Harley’s and can vouch that the chickens look great. Harley says:
    We will continue to process batches till January or February.We usually sell out to our regulars, but we will have more than usual in late October … Our birds are heritage breed Marans and Delawares raised on Organic grain and grass pasture. We call our birds culinary chickens as they have more taste and texture than typical broilers. Price is $5/pound and I use an email list to announce the periodic “Fresh Chicken Friday” when folks pick up birds they reserve via email response.

    To get on the email list, contact harley@kingstonfarm.net.

  • Red Rooster Farm in Poulsbo has some Kitsap-raised broilers left. They’re a slower-growing breed, raised on pasture and fed the same certified Organic grains we feed. Call Shawna & David Lambert at 360-394-1686. They’re processing on October 10, so call soon!
  • Similarly, I’ve heard that Karen Olsen at Blackjack Creek Farm in Port Orchard has some South Kitsap-raised, pastured chickens. She also sells raw milk, fresh eggs, and pastured beef! 360-731-3382 or bljkvalleyfarms@aol.com.
  • Nikki Johanson at Pheasant Fields Farm may have some Kitsap-raised chickens left. Visit Poulsbo Farmers Market or contact her at 360-697-6224 or info@pheasantfields.com.
  • Skagit River Ranch goes to several Seattle markets with Organic-fed, pastured chickens raised in Sedro-Woolley. Garth has toured their operation and we are definitely stealing some of their ideas — for instance, their chicks, from day one, are allowed to wander as far as they are comfortable, in what’s called a hover brooder.
  • Farmer George at Seabreeze Farm on Vashon Island brings their (fresh only! never frozen!) pasture-raised, non-fast-growing, probably organic-fed chickens to market. They run smaller than ours usually do but are handsome-looking birds. You can find Seabreeze products at the farm on Vashon or at several Seattle farmers’ markets.
  • The U-District market in particular (our favorite for food only, a very different experience from Ballard or Fremont) has a few other vendors that often have chickens, though they come from all over the state: Growing Things Farm; River Farm; Stokesberry Sustainable Farm (organic).

A couple of other resources that might be useful are the Puget Sound Fresh list of Puget Sound farms raising chicken (though we’re not on there! must figure out how to sign up) and Sound Food’s Quick Start guide to eating locally.

Thanks, everyone, for your support! As always, we’re thrilled to be part of an exciting and growing network of delicious local agriculture.

More customer feedback

Subj: NEED MORE CHICKEN!!!

[We] are in ecstasy over here, post roast chicken. Do you have any more we could purchase? Also, could we sign up to order more now? How many can we reserve? We LOVE your chicken!!!

On being told the 48-hour deadline has passed so we can’t legally give them any more:

The chicken was *INCREDIBLE*. We had it last night.

And

And seriously the guy we ate last night was amazing. We roasted w/ 2 lemons (Marcella Hazan recipe) — nothing else — and it knocked it out of the park. We’re converted!!

Aw, thanks! (And thanks, chickens!)

I assume they’re using this recipe, Chicken with Lemons from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. It looks wonderfully simple, which I find to be my favorite method of cooking these chickens, who have plenty of flavor of their own. (My current obsession with HF-W‘s barbecue sauce notwithstanding. [I can't find the recipe online but it consists of garlic, salt, ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and brown sugar, and a smidge of apple cider vinegar.])

Chickens, round 2

Our first batch of chickens this year went pretty well. We didn’t lose very many of them, and they had a good and uneventful life. Processing went smoothly too, once we resolved three different electrical issues (wrong extension cord = another trip to Lumberman’s; tankless hot water heater not working = trip home for a bucket with a spigot; fuses blowing at the house = trips back and forth to flip the breakers).

That batch of 75 birds all got claimed by existing customers, blog readers, or via word-of-mouth, so that was nice too — less work for us to market them!

Coming up soon here we have another smaller batch. These guys are the ones that the raccoons got into when they were still at home, so the flock is small. We will take reservations for about 35 chickens, then a waiting list beyond that. Eight are already claimed, so get your name in soon if you want chickens! They will be ready on July 31.

Sign up for this batch here: http://tinyurl.com/chickens2010-2. Don’t forget that the WSDA requires you to pick them up from us within 48 hours of processing — so you’ll need to be around on the 31st or Aug 1-2 for pickup.

Unless we sell out more quickly than I expect, I’ll be down at the farmers’ market next week (the 24th) taking reservations and meeting new customers. You can bring deposits to me there, if you like.

As always, thanks for your support!