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Farming for Fun and Profit: a farmer’s winter thoughts

Mangalitsa pigs in the winter

It’s been a while since we’ve posted, but the farm continues to be busy.  The winter is quieter, more of a maintenance time, a reflective time.  So, is farming worth it?  Is it for fun, or for profit?  Hopefully the answer is “both.” Mark talks in this video about what we’ve learned about marketing and what it takes to raise Mangalitsas for both fun and profit.

Mark’s been making videos and you can check them out on our Baker’s Green Acres YouTube channel.

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Integrity Matters: know or learn to be your farmer

Keith moving beyond organic chickens on grass in chicken tractors on pasture.

“Trust is the combination of intelligence and integrity.”

“Husbandry, which is not replaceable by science, nevertheless uses science, and corrects it too. It is the more comprehensive discipline. To reduce husbandry to science, in practice, is to transform agricultural “wastes” into pollutants, and to subtract perennials and grazing animals from the rotation of crops. Without husbandry, the agriculture of science and industry has served too well the purpose of the industrial economy in reducing the number of landowners and the self-employed. It has transformed the United States from a country of many owners to a country of many employees.” ~Wendell Berry

This summer has been a new venture in food for us.  We are redesigning our business model.  We are assessing what’s important and what we can do without or outsource.  We are seeking to keep our business and life in integrity with our personal values and choices.  We increasingly find that there are aspects of where we live in the midst of big agriculture country are out of integrity with how we want to live.  The land, it’s soil, grasses, trees, and waters, are part of our lives.  They are a collective to be collaborated with, not brought into submission.  That’s been our approach to how we raise our food, be it squash or chicken, apples or pigs.  #IntegrityMatters.

Farming with the season is part of that integrity.  As we transition from summer to fall, we move out of chicken season and into pig season.  Chicken is a “cooling meat.”  It’s light and doesn’t tax a digestive system that is getting plenty of nourishment from the abundent veggies of summer. Grass fed poultry is full of the  nutrients of grass and contain a balance of Omega-3’s and 6’s as well as lots of vitamins A and E.  They aren’t so high in the vitamins so plentiful in the rich, dark veggies summer provides us.  As the grasses get frosted and the natural grains ripen, the grazing animals come ready for harvest.  The nutrition in the grasses goes to the roots, the animals harvest the grains, and the cold drives the animals’ fat into the muscles in preparation for winter.  The dry grasses help to dry out the fat, making it more storable and dense, Rrich with the stored nutrients of summer.  Fall and early winter are the time for harvesting these animals.  Historically, the flies were gone and the pastures done for the season at animal harvest time.  The crisp chill of fall would cool the carcasses of the pigs and cows so they could be processed.  This would be winter meat.  The rich red meat would help provide the iron and other vitamins and minerals lacking in the veggies of winter.  The seasons worked together and the farmer collaborated to make the most of what nature offered.

Now is the time to get your whole or half hog spoken for.  We are planning for our fall harvest as we look at the frost on the fields in the mornings and break out the sweatshirts and vests in the mornings and evenings.  We don’t have to worry about flies so much thanks to the wonders of refrigeration and fly spray, but it’s time to start thinking of hog harvest.

The Homestead Hog Harvest class is coming up in November.  There is still room for you!  This is a great weekend to experience the magic that happens when hogs are harvested with integrity and care–and you can take that skill set home with you!  From field to freezer, you can harvest a hog, or at least have the experience of doing it.  PLUS, you get to take some fabulous Mangalitsa pork home with you.

Integrity matters.  Know your farmer.  Anyone can farm!

Check out these articles for more farm philosophy:

Hay and Philosophy

Pasture (Grass) plus Chickens: goodness to share

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Spicy Chicken Rub: spice up that grilled chicken!

Grilled chicken, GMO free, pasture raised, free range

Spicy Chicken Rub: spice up that grilled chicken!

This past week we harvested most of this batch of chickens from the field.  The nutrients from the green grass make all the difference in the chicken.  We’ve had a lot of rain this summer and the grass is very rich.  This chicken tastes fabulous!  We like it without any added seasoning, especially if it’s cooked on the grill.  But, if you like a little seasoning on your birds, this recipe makes a great rub to spice things up.  It’s written for a whole roasted chicken, but works fine as a rub on chicken parts, too.

Spicy Chicken Rub
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 10 mins
 

Roasted whole chicken is easy as anything, and this rub will liven it up!  Easy and tasty!

Course: Main Course
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken, about 4 lb.s
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. thyme, dried
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Combine all the spices in a bag or bowl.

  2. Rinse the chicken inside and out.  Rub the spices under the breast skin and on the skin of the whole bird.

  3. Place bird breast up in a covered pot (roasting pan or crock pot) and bake at 325 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours. Bird is done when the drum stick meat starts to pull away from the end of the bone, or the juices run clear when you poke the thigh.

  4. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

This can be used on chicken parts as well!  Rub the mixed spices onto the parts.  Lay the parts flat in a baking dish.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour.

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Oven-baked Chicken Chimichangas

GMO free, free range chicken chimichanga

Oven-Baked Chicken Chimichangas

This recipe for Chicken Chimichangas was a big hit with the Baker family!  It calls for chicken breast, but is a great way to use leftover chicken, as well.  For superb flavor and to up the health quotient, consider making your own refried beans.  Beans really need to soak for 8 or more hours to neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors and breaks down hard to digest complex sugars so they are more digestible.  I soak up to 5# of them at a time overnight, then cook them all up at once.  They freeze nicely in recipe sized amounts, providing me with several meals of soaked, ready to use beans.  To “refry” them, I simply warm them in a pan with a quantity of lard or bacon fat.  Sometimes I add garlic, onion, banana or jalapeno peppers, and other seasonings (taco seasoning is a great all-purpose one).  When everything is warm and moist, I use my hand blender to make it nice and creamy.  That’s all there is to making really healthy (soaked beans plus nutrient dense fat) refried beans.  Beans and fat.

Let us know how this recipe works for you!

Oven-Baked Chicken Chimichangas
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 c. chili powder
  • 16 oz. salsa
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 6 9 inch flour tortillas warmed
  • 1 c. refried beans
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425°F.  Grease a rimmed 15 x 10 baking sheet.  

  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Dice chicken breast into small bite size pieces.  Stir fry in oil in a frying pan.  Remove from pan and set aside.

  3. Add onion and garlic.  Cook 4 to 5 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.  Stir in chili powder, salsa, water ,cumin and cinnamon.

     Pour mixture into blender container or food processor and process until smooth. 

    Pour back into pan and stir in chicken.  Add salt to taste.

  4. Working with 1 warmed tortilla at a time and keep remaining tortillas wrapped, spoon a heaping tablespoon of beans down center of each tortilla. Top with about 1/4 c. chicken mixture. Fold up the bottom, top and sides of tortilla; secure with wooden picks if necessary.  Place chimichangas in greased baking pan, seam-side-down.  Brush all sides with oil.  

  5. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, turning every 5 minutes. Serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

You might also like this great recipe:
Mexican Chicken with Jalepeno Popper Sauce

And read here about why we raise our chickens on pasture (a.k.a. green grass):

Pasture (Grass) plus Chickens: goodness to share

Boneless skinless chicken breast, GMO free, Free range and pasture raised
Get your GMO free, pasture raised chicken here!

Learn about soaking beans, refried beans, and lots of other traditional healthy eating tips here:

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“Is chicken butchering fun?” Find out from this Northern Michigan poultry processor

Michigan poultry processing at bakers green acres marion michigan

“Do you like butchering chickens?”  We get asked this question fairly often through the summer.   The answer, in a nutshell, is

“NO.”

So, why do we do it?  I made a quick video recently asking the kids that question:

The simple answer is that we take pleasure in helping you grow your own chickens by performing this task, and we take pride in doing excellent work at a “dirty job.”  There are few things more edifying than sitting down to dinner with your family and feeling confident that you are feeding them food that will build their bodies, strengthen their minds, and satisfy their hunger because you grew the food on the table.  Growing the animals is one thing, but butchering isn’t for everyone.  I, personally, can’t take an animal from one moment to the next.  I’m blessed with lots of boys who, while not taking pleasure in the task, are able.  Likewise, many of our customers are grateful to be able to drop off feathered, squawking/quacking/honking/gobbling animals and come back a day later for a packaged bird ready to go in the freezer.  We’re glad to help with that part of Anyone Can Farm.

Another gratifying part of the custom processing (we process your animal for you) business is the great conversations we have with so many interesting people.  We learn things about different walks of life, and we share our farming know-how when folks hit issues.  It’s a great exchange and makes the business feel like a small community, especially when we see people year after year.

So, that’s why we do what we do.  Not fun, but gratifying for many reasons.

If we can’t help you farm, that’s OK.  We’re happy to be your farmer (shop now!), or we encourage you to find someone to be your farmer.  Anyone Can Farm!

Poultry Processing at Bakers Green Acres Michigan
The crew hard at it, more or less.