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Genuine Faux News of the Farm

Vol 3 Issue 10 - October 2007

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Another Reason for Cooperative Buys

Watermelons & Squash pic by RFaux 2007

Important Dates
Ten Things
CSA Endgame (please read)
2008 CSA
Wanted
Special Report: CDSF
Research Grant Ideas
The Fall of the Ottoman Empire (Turkeys)
Recipe of the Month
Garden Report
Life on the Farm: October
Bye Bye Boyus (Chickens)
Tammy Recommends
Freezer Available
Beef and Pork Coop Buys
Introducing Our Board of Advisors
Cooking Squash
As Easy As (pumpkin) Pie

Another Reason for Cooperative Buys

I find that I usually focus on encouraging everyone to buy from local producers of food, but I forget to encourage support for the other parts of our local food system. I was reminded of this by a recent thread on the Practical Farmers of Iowa listserve.

The number of meat processors/lockers in Iowa is dwindling. Yet, if we want a healthy local meat production system, it is imperative that these businesses continue to exist and remain profitable. The job is not highly lucrative and the work is not glamorous. So, it is not surprising to learn that it doesn't take many additional roadblocks to stop someone new from entering the field or many problems to encourage someone to leave it.

One of the things we can do to support lockers and local meat processors is to maintain a healthy demand for their services. If we continue to support local growers that use local lockers we help maintain a consistant demand for their business. So, when we sponsor cooperative buys, we are not only supporting the local grower, we are supporting the local processor.

We also support our local processors by being willing to pay fair prices for their work. While this is, in part, our job as producers, it is also your job as consumers. If the consumer continues to demand the lowest possible price for food, then pressure is exerted on all parts of the chain. And, at present, I suspect the processors are under the tightest squeeze.

At present, there appears to be 4-6 processors for poultry (only one does ducks). The nearest locker that will do organically certified beef processing is in Cannon Falls, MN. If this part of the chain breaks, then you will see a number of small producers cease production.

Rather than assume the worst, we can look to the past and the future. Prior to WWII, Iowa grew widely diverse foods. (Did you know Iowa was the #3 apple producer at one point?) We have the natural resources in our land and the remnants of an infrastructure that can be revitalized. The demand for locally produced and sustainably grown foods is increasing, especially on the coasts of the United States. But, it is here, in rural Iowa, that we should lead the charge for redeveloping our local food systems.

Our Board of Directors

Let us introduce our board of directors - and you know them well. Well, yes, this was a trick announcement. YOU are our board. We are soliciting suggestions for next year from our share holders. Do you have feedback for us on what went well or how we could do better? Let us know!

We would appreciate ideas or thoughts on the following:

  • Addition of a high tunnel (unheated greenhouse)
  • Limited CSA 'work shares'
  • Removal or changes to part season shares
  • Intern possibilities (suggestions on possible interns always welcome)
  • Research grant possibilities
  • Ideas to make Tom Sawyer Days more successful
  • Vegetable type or variety feedback
  • CSA volume and delivery methods feedback

Important Dates

  • Oct 4 - Turkeys processed and available
  • Oct 5 - Waterloo/Cedar Falls Market 4-7pm
  • Oct 6 - Tripoli CSA pickup at farm 4-7:30
  • Oct 7 - Waverly Market 9-11:30 am
  • Oct 7 - Tom Sawyer Day 2pm - dark
  • Oct 9 - Last Tuesday Waverly Market 3-6pm
  • Oct 10 - Chickens processed and available
  • Oct 11 - Waterloo/Cedar Falls Market 4-7pm
  • Oct 11 - Coop Beef in for processing.
  • Oct 12 - Tripoli CSA pickup at farm 4-7:15
  • Oct 13 - Last Saturday Waverly Market 9-11:30am
  • Oct 15 - Rob, chapel talk at Wartburg College 10:15
  • Oct 15 - 2008 CSA Signup Opens
  • Oct 16 - Waverly CSA pickup 4-6pm Science Center lot Wartburg College
  • Oct 18 - Waterloo/Cedar Falls Market 4-7pm
  • Oct 19 - Final Tripoli CSA pickup at farm 4-7pm
  • Oct 20 - Visiting group from St Louis, Missouri
  • Oct 20 - Harvest Celebration at Seed Savers in Decorah
  • Oct 22 - Coop pork in for processing.
  • Oct 23 - final Waverly pickup TBA???
  • Oct ? - final W'loo/CF pickup TBA???
  • Jan 11 - PFI Annual Conference
  • Feb 21-23 Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference

Ten Things

Things people can do to support local agriculture and sustainable practices:


1. Support vendors at your local farmer's market or join a local CSA
2. Ask your local grocery store where the local produce and meats are located in the store. If there are none, ask them to consider carrying them.
3. Identify your local Buy Fresh, Buy Local organization and use their resources to help find meat lockers, restaurants and retail outlets that use local products.
4. Try to eat more food that is in season. If you don't know what is in season, go to your local farmer's markets and begin asking questions!
5. Work with friends and family to acquire local produce while it is in season and can or freeze it for later use.
6. Be willing to pay fair prices for local, organic and sustainably grown foods.
7. Give feedback, make suggestions and participate in activities that support local producers.
8. Advertise for your local producers by referring others to them.
9. If you go to farmer's markets, welcome new vendors and periodically try new products or vendors you don't always patronize.
10. Select a favorite vegetable or two and try to grow it yourself or volunteer some time at a local farm. Reconnect with the land and help you and your family appreciate where your food comes from.

Vol 3 Issue 10 - October 2007

CSA Endgame Part Deux

Once October is reached, we have to begin expecting that deliveries may have to cease when the produce gives up. At this point, we WILL deliver shares during the weeks of Oct 1, Oct 8 and Oct 15. Any deliveries after that point will be announced as we know what will be available. This set of deliveries will put Tripoli at 20 weeks and Waverly and Waterloo/Cedar Falls at 19 weeks.

Tripoli Delivery: Will continue at the farm from 4pm until 7pm on Oct 5,12 and 19

Waverly Delivery: Oct 2 & 9 - normal location. Oct 16 Parking lot directly SOUTH of the Science Center at Wartburg College from 4 to 6 pm

Waterloo/Cedar Falls Delivery: continues at same location/time on Oct 4,11 and 18.

Remember - we do not leave farmer's markets even though the weather is bad. We will remain during the advertised times in order to get you your produce. The exception, of course, would be severe weather. We may be forced to take shelter in that instance. We will be happy to throw a share into bags for you while you sit in the care - after all, we don't ALL have to get wet!

In your shares this month:

  • peppers
  • brussels sprouts
  • broccoli
  • turnip greens
  • winter squash
  • potatoes?
  • onions/leeks
  • eggplant

Wanted

  • A group of people to help with field cleanup
  • Persons to tear down the old hog building.
  • Feedback from 2007 to use in 2008

2008 CSA

The current plan is for us to return in 2008 with our CSA subscription service. We are unsure as to whether we increase the number of shares from the 42 sold this season. We will be developing 2008 brochures this week.

  • We will no longer advertise part season shares. Current part season share holders will be 'grandfathered in' and allowed to continue. We would like to encourage people to split shares if possible.
  • We will look for a maximum of 3 workshare participants. A work share will result in a reduced payment for a small or large share in return for work on the farm. Contact us if you have interest.
  • Early signup discount will be removed in lieu of any price increases for 2008.
  • We will hold a firm limit of 60 CSA members.
  • We plan to distribute at the same three locations and days of the week as we did this season (Waverly, Tripoli and Waterloo/Cedar Falls).

 

page 2


The Fall of the Ottoman Empire

The "turks" have surrendered and are now cooling off in the freezer. As of October 8, there were 8 to 10 birds still available for purchase. Available sizes range from 15.5 lbs to 23 lbs. Our smallest bird this year came in at 14.51 pounds, equivalent to last year's largest bird.

We attribute this success largely to our willingness to give them the run of the pasture sooner in their lives. We may have been a tad bit overprotective last season. Also, they have feasted daily on GFF produce.

Again, these birds are free range, fed organically certified feed and were treated humanely. Cost of each bird is $3 a pound. The following weights are still available:

18 18.06 18.33 18.49 18.58 18.92 18.98 19.17 19.34 20.03 20.49 21.61 22.47 22.6 22.93

Birds are not injected with saline at the point of processing, so you will get more meat per advertised pound. Many commercial birds are injected with up to 20% solution. Please also note that these birds have less fat content. We would like to encourage you to cook them at slightly lower temperatures and use a foil cover to help maintain natural moisture in the bird.

Our turkeys were processed by Martzahn's Farm in Greene. As always, they have done a fine job!

Recipe of the Month

Harvest Squash and Apple Soup

  • 1 med onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 small carrot, sliced (1/3 cup)
  • 1 3/4 cups apple cider or apple juice
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

Cook onion & carrot in cider covered for 12 minutes (or until very tender). Do not drain. Stir in other ingredients.

  • 2 cups acorn or butternut squash, cooked & mashed
  • 1 cup milk

Transfer cider mixture to blender bowl. Add squash. Cover and blend until smooth. Place mixture in saucepan. Stir in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes (until flavors blend - stir periodically).

Optional - add sour cream and chives to top each serving.

from Farmer's Market Cookbook - Better Homes & Gardens

Vol 3 Issue 10 - October 2007


As easy as (pumpkin) pie!

Most winter squashes can be made into a pie. However, we can safely eliminate acorn and spaghetti squash from possible candidates. Varieties that are particularly good at being adapted to pies are Long Island Cheese, Amish Pie, Musquee de Provence, Australian Butter and Kikuza.

If you find a recipe calling for a can of pumpking just remember this:

1 can = 2 cups cooked pumpkin / winter squash.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

  • 1 envelope Knox gelatine
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbs cinnamon

Mix the above on low heat and stir in

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 egg yolks (save the whites)
  • 2 cups cooked pumpkin

Mix well. Cook, stirring occassionally until gelatin dissolves (approx 25 min). Chill until the filling can drop from the spoon.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat 1/4 cup sugar into egg whites.

Fold egg white mixture into pumpkin filling. Place into large baked pie shell.

page 3


Cooking Squash

The following works for any winter squash - from acorn squash to pumpkins. Acorn squash, being smaller, will take far less time to cook. Excess squash reheats readily and can easily be placed in a freezer bag and frozen.

  1. Carefully cut squash into halves or quarters
  2. Empty seed cavity of all seed and 'stringy' goo
  3. Place face down in cake pan
  4. Put 1/4 inch of water in bottom of pan
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F until a fork easily goes through entire squash (30 to 60 minutes depending on squash)

Cutting Squash

Many squash have extraordinarily hard skin. Use a large, sharp knife and use common sense when cutting open a squash. If you are unable to cut a squash in half, you may soften it by puncturing holes in the squash and using the microwave.

Research Grant Ideas

We are looking at a couple of grant opportunities. If you are interested, or know of someone who might be interested in being a resource or partner in one of these projects, please let us know.

  • Develop easy navigation web material for companion plantation and rotation of veg crops for multiculture production (such as ours). May include survey of other CSA/small producers quizzing on their rotation/companion approaches.
  • Build a database to help with recording for organic certification requirements for multiculture vegetable producers
  • Radish/Squash companion planting results. 2-3 year project, perhaps with other organic producers trying same thing. Multiple years to replicate results and increase sample size for statistical analysis. Includes soil, pest level testing.
  • Creating a new wheel hoe. Includes mechanical design and force/drag testing.

Vol 3 Issue 10 - October 2007


Special Report: CDSF

by Sudsbury Six

The Chicken Decoding Special Forces has been in operation for some time and we have requested the opportunity to report recent findings. It is our duty to sort through and decode the shredded materials provided to us on a semi-regular basis. We have discovered what we feel is important information and submit it for your review:

"the do is what from Saturday then once is until was it due bee dew."

Clearly, something is afoot and we are hopeful our willingness to decode these materials and report them will help someone.

Tammy Recommends

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver

Yes, yes, we know we recommended something by Kingsolver in August. However, consider this: Tammy read this in September. If this does not impress you, let us remind you of what September means to us. September is when Tammy starts a new term teaching at Wartburg College. In short, she does her best to lead two lives during that month. Yet, she still couldn't resist reading a chapter or two each evening.

This latest book introduces us to her own family's effort to raise their own foods using sustainable methods and to support local food networks. The book is full of anecdotes that Tammy and I can relate to personally and will give others insight into what we (and others like us) deal with on a daily basis. Kingsolver includes good portions of facts and opinions to go along with the personal stories. You will be alternatively annoyed, amused and amazed (I couldn't help it, I MUST alliterate).

Perhaps most revealing are the contradictions Kingsolver finds within her own pursuits. Visit her website: http://www.kingsolver.com/home/index.asp to get a brief taste by reading the first quote in the book description.

page 4


Bye Bye Boyus

Our meat chickens will be taken to the processor on October 9 and will be brought back and available beginning October 10. We estimate that there will be approximately 80 birds available at $9 a bird ($10 if you want a cut up bird, otherwise, they are whole). As of October 9, there were 30 birds still available for purchase.

We estimate that the birds will be from 3to 5lbs in size once processed. These birds are free range and have been fed GFF watermelons and certified organic feed. The organically raised insects are just a nice bonus for their diet!

The breed is a type called Freedom Rangers, meat chickens bread to be able to thrive in free range conditions. We have found that these birds appear to have better natural immune systems, they are more intelligent (which isn't saying much) and are much more active and interested in the world than the Cornish Cross bread everyone grows for meat.

This is our second batch of birds of this variety. We found that the taste of the meat was far superior to the Cornish Cross. Though, admittedly, there is slightly less white meat, the overall quality more than makes up for this loss.

Our chickens are also processed by Martzahn's Farm.

Beef and Pork Cooperative Buys

The current beef and pork buys are full. However, we are still taking requests from interested parties. If we get enough requests, we will execute additional buys as soon as we are able to do so yet this fall.

At present, we have arranged to buy a side of grass fed beef from David Burns in Lawler. We have also arranged to buy a hog from Pat Menenga of Plainfield. We will be in contact with participants within the week with more details on each.

Vol 3 Issue 10 - October 2007 page 5

Garden Report

Current Garden Status:

  • tomatoes are done, it would be surprising to see more
  • green bells continue, other sweet peppers are slowing
  • most hot peppers died in the frost or flooding, some cayennes remain
  • eggplant should continue to produce for awhile
  • brussel sprouts and leeks are beginning harvest
  • butternut squash are all that remain to be picked
  • some cilantro and basil remain available
  • broccoli sideshoots produce about once every 10 days
  • fall lettuce, spinach, radish and chard are started
  • all other crops are done

Production for the year:

  • over 3300 sweet peppers
  • over 3600 cucumbers
  • over 4700 tomatoes
  • over 1200 eggplant
  • over 2800 summer squash
  • over 2100 zucchini
  • over 500 watermelon
  • over 300 melons

Putting some of these numbers in perspective. If every CSA member is to receive 2 cucumbers for small shares and 4 cucumbers for small shares, we need well over 100 cucumbers in a week.

Life on the Farm: October

The month of October marks the transition from harvest to fall cleanup at the farm. We are usually still picking winter squash, brassica, leeks and whatever crops have not died due to frost (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc). However, the average first killing frost is October 2 in our area, so we expect to lose most of these crops at some point during the month. We nurse fall short season crops and maintain low tunnels (plastic cover) for late spinach and lettuce plantings.

Farmers markets usually end in October in our area and our last CSA deliveries for the season occur in this month. Our turkeys and our second batch of meat chickens are taken to the processor and the laying hens breathe a sigh of relief as their lives become less hectic.

All of those outdoor building and equipment projects begin to bubble to the top of the priority list. The weather is still nice enough for plenty of outdoor work. This fall will see us fixing numerous doors on outbuildings and the roof on one of them. The fields can be prepared for next year without doing things that promote erosion. Fences and gates will be easier to create and repair without the birds getting in the way. And, maybe a few house repair projects could even occur - what a concept!

Freezer Available

We have decided that our freezer space is no longer adequate for what we do. Even if we are able to sell turkeys and chickens quickly, they take a great deal of space. Add all of the veg that we've frozen and there is definitely a crowding issue.

As a result, we are purchasing a new, energy efficient freezer that is larger than one of our current freezers. The smaller freezer is now available for sale. Perfect for someone who wants to start freezing veg or participating in more cooperative buys.

  • Brand: Frigidaire, Heavy Duty Commercial
  • Cu ft: 8
  • Yearly energy cost rating:
  • Purchase price $299 - 2 years old
  • Asking price $150

Greystone Inn cartoon by Brad Guigar