Dead Cold of Winter is here …Brrrrr

Winter has come in with a roar this year, seems as though the transition was non-existent…one day 70 the next -3 kinda hard to get used that.

But we have hay under cover and every winter brace ourselves for what-ever Mother Nature has in store.

There’s all a bounty of chicken, turkey, and pork to get us through this tough winter.

Lambs will come early this year as 90 % of the 23 ewes were bred late August,

Last nights storm dumped another 12 + inches on top of the 8 inches we already had, the wind was howling and I could feel the house shake when the gusts hit 50 + mph. Was going to plow out last night but it was too ridiculously brutal and the tractor does not have a cab.

I spent some time during the storm with a shovel digging out around the sheep enclosure to make sure the sheep has access to hay and fresh water. The snow drifts were patterned around the sheep enclosure so that I was able to throw up the snow and make a nice 6 foot wall of snow to block the fierce winds blowing at -10. They were happy to see me and “Bum Rushed” me when they saw I had some sweet grain for them.

The 3 -500 lb sows and the 350 lb boar are still in the barn, I think it’s just too extreme out there this year and even though they have plenty of fat on them and they have a nice little hut out there…I just don’t think they’ll do well in these extreme temps.

Cows are like giant snow plows, they had a 6 foot snow drift in front of their door and the bull smashed threw it..they also have access to the barn and come in at night and sleep. The bull is way past his “Expiration Date” as he is going on 2 years old, his horns are razor sharp…he’s using the outside of the barn to sharpen them daily, while removing the cedar shingles..windows..doors…he’s a one bull demolition team. We’re almost out of beef so I’m going to have to get ready to butcher him here on the farm…this will be a first. I’ve butchered every other animal except for a beef.

Even though I built two well insulated dog houses for the Large Guard dogs and they are really well suited for the cold, this cold is super extreme…they spend their nights downstairs near the wood stove ….they are super fluffy and complete piles of mush just dying for attention…they absolutely adore Johan who at 2 years old loves to hug and get kisses. As soon as there is an unfamiliar noise they go into “Guardian” mode and bark so loud that your ears ring.

The extreme cold makes getting around the farm a little more difficult as you have to wear so many layers of clothing. Twice a day the water troughs have to have the ice removed or you’re going to have a 500lb block of ice frozen to the ground, if you try to unstick it, then the waterer shatters. Anything with an diesel or gas engine needs to be warmed up or it’s no dice…tractor has the be plugged in for at least 3 hours to start and then another 20 mins running to get the hydraulics warmed up.

Retrieving hay is rough, as you need the tractor, the round bales weigh like 500-600lbs. the snow drifted up against the tarp and the tarp is so brittle when it’s this cold, if you’re a little rough with it, it tears like a wet paper bag. So far the tarp is still intact, last year I lost about 20 % of the hay because the tarp ripped in half, right up the middle.

The tarp has to be left in a state where it doesn’t become a 60 foot x 30 foot sail as the wind can make it quite dangerous when it’s flapping around and you’re trying to tie it down. I made sure to pile the hay up so that it didn’t have any valleys to catch the snow and water when the tarp was tied down. This year I will have to build a decent sized hay loft to store the hay away from the elements, tarps are a temporary solution that are risky, expensive, and time consuming.

This year is all about building up the infrastructure to make our lives easier and more pleasurable, each project brings us closer to accomplishing our dream. The floor of the barn needs to be jack hammered out, this is a huge job, as I can’t pour over what’s there and it’s cracked uneven, uninsulated and prone to flooding in the spring. Plan is to take it down about 12 inches, put in 3″ foam board, drainage, stone, 1″ or 3/4 pex for the radiant floor, wire ..and then cement. Going to have to redo many of the columns holding up the barn as well while I have the floor opened up…will not be able to pour cement until the spring.

Stay tuned and stay warm !

Divine Protection

A lot has been going on in our little community lately we had a very tragic event last week.

I was on my way to The Unity Farmers Market yesterday and I prayed for God to protect my family and to protect our farm, since  we have bears, coyotes, Fischer cats, weasels, and at times Homosapiens that don’t always have our best interests at heart.

After returning back from a very successful day at the Market (cooking and giving out samples) We had the most beautiful and intense double rainbow.

I took this as a sign that God is blessing us and protecting us.

Turkeys are here …

Turkey’s flew in from Iowa this morning a day early..first time using Hoovers Hatchery, they were the only hatchery not sold out..I will use them again all the chicks are healthy..the next 24 hours is key..they will grow to 20-25 lbs in the next 5 months if I can kept them safe from the many predators….as soon as their perm feathers come in they go outside in their moveable pen…eating grass, bugs, and yes frogs, small snakes..
If you have not tried a fresh farm raised turkey , then you have never eaten and tasted what real turkey tastes like…I promise your ” Butterball” days will be over !

Barn Renovation Project 2017

We’re turning much of our efforts inward this year to have the opportunity to bring people to the farm to purchase goods.

The old barn needs a roof and some structural framing replaced, which I am doing on my own. I used to help frame houses in my youth 🙂

So if you’re all wondering why we aren’t doing as many markets this year, it’s because we are improving and expanding operations so we can better serve the public.

This by far has been the most challenging project I’ve ever taken on.

   
 

Western Maine Online Market Open House

Had a wonderful experience meeting our online customers at the Rasmussen farm in Freeman township this past Sunday, it was great to hear how people prepare the gourmet meat that we sell them.

I set up my little cooking station and was able to cook up some breakfast sausages, hot sausage, and our awesome kielbasa. Johan had learned the word “delicious” that day due to all the people coming in and trying the samples of sausage. He was saying delicious all the way home after the event.

My favorite thing to do at these gatherings is to prepare the dishes that are the ones I like best for example our pulled pork.

Preparing pulled pork is extremely easy and has only a few ingredients but the main secret to making the dish success is to cook it for very long time in the crockpot on low.

What sets aside our recipe from other recipes that I’ve tried is the type of vinegar that we use.

Rice wine vinegar has a crisper, lighter taste and goes extremely well with pork. I discovered this by accident one day when I ran out of apple cider vinegar.

Palemoon Farm Pulled Pork

4 pounds pork shoulder

One and a half cups brown sugar 

One and a quarter cup rice wine vinegar 

For cloves of garlic smashed

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper black
Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl and add to pork shoulder that has already been placed in the crockpot.

Set crockpot at low setting, Cover, and cook for minimal six hours, you’ll know it’s done when the pork falls away from the bone. 

Make sure the Pork Shoulder is not frozen when placed into the crockpot, it should be at room temperature.

After a minimum of six hours, Next step is to take the bones out and to ladle out any of the excessive fat and liquid left over from the cooking process. You don’t want to take out all of the liquid but you do want to take out most of the fat.

You can then add your favorite barbecue sauce and let it cook an additional 20 to 30 minutes, best bet is not to add the barbecue sauce too early because it will caramelize and burn around the edges of the crockpot.

We have approximately 15 to 20 pork shoulder roast’s remaining and they weigh approximately 4 to 6 pounds each.

Pulled pork is the summertime favorite super easy to prepare and awesome as leftovers as well.

I hope you enjoy the delighting  your guests with our pulled pork recipe and feel free to share it with others as it’s here on the our website.
Sincerely,

Jonathan 

Pale Moon Farm

Recipe for Thai Chili Meatballs

One of our most loyal customers that has been with us since we joined the Unity Market requested I post the recipe for the “Thai Chili Meatballs” I prepared for the Taste of the Market event we had recently.

For Mike 🙂

The Meatballs

1 lb Palemoon Farm Ground Pork

1 duck or chicken egg

1 cup Panko Bread crumb unseasoned

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger ( use a cheese grater )

1 tablespoon finely chopped Garlic 

2 teaspoons of Chinese 5 Spice Seasoning 

http://www.mccormick.com/gourmet/spices-and-flavors/blends/chinese-5-spice-blend

The Sauce

1 cup water

1/3 cup of Organic honey

4 tablespoons of Pickled Thai Red Chili. 

http://importfood.com/pkco1603.html

1/8 cup Rice wine Vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt
The Method



Combined Meatball ingredients into a bowl, make sure the meat is nice and cold, if the meatballs are a little dry when forming add a tiny bit of water. I used a teaspoon to scoop the meat out and roll with wet slightly wet hands.

Sesame Oil into a skillet pan with plenty of room for turning , just enough to leave a coating , don’t pool the oil (add too much) or it will overpower be mindful not to burn the sesame oil as well.

When you initially drop the meatballs into the pan they tend to stick when carmelizing, the first time you turn the meatball you must be cautious not to break them, after a few turns and they get brown on like 50 % then they become less fragile.

After they are brown on all sides take one out and eat one..Damn you think they are good now ..wait untiLyou add the sauce!

Turn down the skillet to lowest setting and add the sauce…cover for about 5-10 mins and your ready to serve.

Best when served over White Jasmin Rice.

If you can’t wait to get the pickled chili’s and want to cheat on the sauce you can pick up Thai Chili Sauce in most supermarkets in the ethnic section.