All The Farm That Is Fit To Print

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hubbell Farm Newsletter February 2011


Farming as if your life depended on it.

“No greater purpose has any man,
Than to tend the herd or till the sod,
Yet leave behind him, richer still,
Those acres leased by him from God.”
Author unknown

Do what you can,
With what you have,
From where you are.
President Theodore Roosevelt

February 2011

Welcome to our newsletter for 2011. We had a very successful 2010 and look forward to our continued adventure. We have some exciting new goals this year which we think you will really like.

A recent report by Canadian based ETC Group entitled Who will feed us? Questions for the Food and Climate Crisis points out that 70 percent of the world’s food is presently being raised by local small scale food producers and consumed within national borders or eco-regions. We are better served by a web of small producers than an industrial food chain. Better than anyone else we peasants feed the hungry today and will continue to do so in the future.

Some of the conclusions of this report are that the industrial food chain uses an average of five breeds for each of the five livestock groups. Small producers protect 7,616 breeds of 40 livestock species. Further, the industrial food chain requires 4 units of energy to produce 1 unit of food. The small producer uses 1 unit of energy to produce 1 unit of food. The report concludes that if the world is to feed itself in 2050 it will need every one of us peasants producing food and delivering it through regional distribution.

By joining us as our customers you join us in our farming adventure. By joining us you will be taking an active role in producing the food you and your family eat. We ask that your role be not only making a decision early in the year for how much food you will need but to trust us enough to put a deposit towards your purchase. We ask you to buy your food in bulk, to work with us on the scheduling of your food production and make the effort to travel to the farm or the butcher shop to pick up your meat. This allows us to concentrate on those aspects of husbandry which we enjoy the most and which are the most difficult for you to do.

We have set our deadlines tor ordering on the Order Form which accompanies this Newsletter. If you miss that deadline we will try to fill your order but cannot guarantee it. The deadline dates are chosen so we can plan our production and purchase the livestock and feed in an efficient manner.

In return we promise to raise the best quality food we can, to produce it at a reasonable price and to open our farm and our farming practices to you. This shared responsibility allows us to be able to expand our offerings, attract new customers, and create a viable income base for our farm and our children.

We encourage you to visit and see our operation for yourself. We only ask you let us know beforehand so we can be sure to be available to answer questions and conduct the tour.

Family Report

Our children continue to become more involved with the farm and its mission.

Katy Braden, the oldest, took on much of the marketing last year and many aspects of that showed a lot of improvement. Katy is having a baby this spring (a boy this time) but hopefully will be up and about in time for our Spring party. We look forward to further improvement in our organization and customer assistance as we go forward.

Chad, Katy’s husband, made substantial progress last year in developing our own hatchery program for the meat chickens. Unfortunately the local coyote pack broke into the coop for a dinner engagement. We will continue this experiment (with coyote proof coops) and are very excited about its potential.
Meaghan Hubbell is in charge of the upgrades in the landscaping and design of the farm. Meaghan has a big job ahead of her (trying to clean up Dad’s landscaping) but she is attacking it with gusto.
Theresa Hubbell is continuing her horse training and riding lessons. The lessons are a big hit with the youngsters. We would be willing to explore a birthday party or other get together where the kids could get the chance to ride a horse (in a controlled environment of course). Theresa’s horse skills are a great compliment to the other components of the farm. Theresa is becoming a very accomplished horse trainer so if you or anyone you know has a horse with training needs please let her know
Mike Hubbell has taken over the pig production. He is excited about the opportunity that it presents and he really likes pigs. Mike does the daily moving and feeding of the poultry and will also be taking a lot of the responsibility for haying and pasture management this year.

In addition, Toni Hill, who shares our farm with her daughter, Eleanor, has begun to raise and sell cut flowers and arrangements. Toni has an eye for this and we know that if you bought from us last year you enjoyed the bouquet of flowers you received when you picked up your order. Toni also takes on a great deal of the day-to-day chores during the school year.

We have enclosed a self-addressed envelope and order form for your convenience. If you have an email address and are willing to receive this via email please let us know. We can save a stamp, save a lick, and save a tree all at the same time.

We ask you to:

1. Take the time to fill out the enclosed Order Form so that we can plan our year’s production.

2. Make the commitment to travel to pick up your products either here at the farm or at the butcher facility at the scheduled time. We will be willing to make limited deliveries but we will be charging a premium for that service based on our time and mileage.

3. Make a financial commitment (deposit) to reserve your order. This allows us to plan our production for specific customers. We will likely not have any animals available except those which have been ordered.

4. Plan your purchases to allow you to stock up with products so save time and travel costs.

“Organic Status”

We are often asked – “Are you organic?” The answer is not exactly. Our reasoning is:

1. Organic certification grew out of the desire for large scale agribusiness to profit from the concept. The “official” reason given was that producers and consumers wanted to have some measure of standardization so as to allow inspection to assure compliance with “organic standards”. Of course if that were the real reason the news wouldn’t be full of stories of “organic mega dairies” where the cows have no reasonable access to pasture. The organic standards are so full of holes that benefit mega-culture that the concept of organic isn’t even recognizable anymore.

We, on the other hand, are “customer inspected”. Our farm and production methods are an “open book” to you our customers. We encourage you to come and visit (please call ahead so we will be sure to be home) and ask questions about your food.

2. Organic certification is a pass fail system which seeks neither excellence nor common sense. For example, if I or a member of my family becomes ill, we see a doctor and if antibiotics are prescribed we take them (along with holistic treatments) until we recover. I suspect the same principle applies to you and your family. The reality is that our animals get sick just like we do sometimes. We choose to treat them in a humane and responsible manner. We do not sacrifice their lives to some artificial production model but at the same time we raise them in a way which promotes their health and yours.

2. Organic does not necessarily mean humane. There are now “organic” fecal concentration camp farms just as hideous and inhumane as those in conventional agriculture.

3. God (however you perceive he [or she for that matter] to be) has designed a wonderful system which we call nature. Each animal and plant has a nature and lives in nature. We have found that the methods where each species can interconnect with others and most fully express itself to be the most practical system of farming. Unfortunately, we understand so very little of the natural world and in the compromises necessary to be economically viable we do not believe it to be wise to be a slave to any specific model or method. The journey we have embarked upon is much broader than that and much more interesting.

The term “Pasturized”

We are often asked about the term we use to describe our products. The obvious play on words leads to the confusion that we somehow destroy pathogens through some industrial or chemical practice. However the term as we spell it – pasturized not pasteurized (the process of Louis Pasteur to destroy harmful bacteria) is wonderfully accurate. The reality is that by providing your food with the daily opportunity to be on clean ground and fresh pasture we remove much of the opportunity for contamination as well as creating an environment which provides increased doses of natural vitamins and minerals which help to create health in a holistic manner.

Broiler Chickens. We have been raising broiler chickens for over 25 years. We use the portable floorless pens which we move daily. The chickens are fed whole grains and ground soybean meal free choice as well as the green pasture salad and bugs which are available. We also had some great initial success in moving the pens across a field of grain at harvest stage and allowing the birds to harvest the grain directly.

The health of the birds is substantially better (we have found almost no “bad legs” or breast lesions (which look like warts and are from the birds not being in a clean enough environment). The taste has also improved dramatically – as you have experienced yourselves.

Your birds are fed a mix of whole grains and a commercial protein and mineral concentrate. Frankly we have found that raising chicks artificially (that is without their mother) is an unnatural model which sometimes may require minimal antibiotic treatment until they are strong enough to leave the brooder and withstand normal temperature variations. (Usually about the first week or two of their life.) We continue to explore options to improve this model but in the meantime we try to strike a balance between humane care and reasonable volume and price.

Depending on the orders we receive we will schedule our batches for butchering. Once we collect the responses from this newsletter and present our orders to the hatchery we will start your birds. Approximately 2 weeks before slaughter we will send you a postcard or call you notifying you of the date of butchering. If there is any problem with that date please let us know immediately so we can try to accommodate you.

We will offer to cut your birds up for you for an additional cost. This saves substantial freezer space but we also encourage you to save at least some whole to roast.

Our cattle are finished solely on our pastures. We have strive to encourage locally adapted plants on our pastures and hayfields. This has lowered the volume produced but greatly improved the quality. On our farm the cattle and the horses follow each other. This mimics nature and nature’s way is always the most efficient. The pastures are typically dragged after the herbivores to spread the nutrient load more evenly and then approximately a week or two later they are foliar fertilized with a mix of cold processed sea kelp (which contains all of the essential minerals) and a fish fertilizer (for its nutrient content). The result is a healthy pasture community which is diverse, productive and lush.

Butchering Information

Remember hanging weight is the weight of an animal when it has been gutted and skinned. We use this method of measurement because it is convenient and is the standard that the butcher uses in charging to cut up your beef. Processing the meat will result in a further reduction of approximately 25 percent in the final product depending on how you have it cut up.

We know many of you may be new to buying in bulk. We are happy to explain the process and what to expect as well as sending you information to further explain the cuts and yield expectations.

Here are some general recommendations for those buying our bulk beef.

A family of four will get between 100 and 130 meals of beef from a half beef. Eating beef two times a week will take a family approximately one year to eat a half beef. Frozen beef should keep at a very high quality for up to 12 months. There are two simple ways to thaw meat: 1) take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator at least 24 hours in advance or 2) place vacuum-packed meats in cool water and it will thaw quite fast (paper wrapped meats can thaw in a leak proof plastic bag). Change the water every 30 minutes so that it continues to thaw. Small packages may thaw in an hour or less; a 3-4 lbs roast may take 2-3 hours.

Steaks: Typically 3/4 inch thick and two to a package. (You can get them thicker but you will get fewer.) Please bear in mind that we typically butcher at a younger age so they are somewhat smaller than industrial size beeves and the steak diameter will be less than industrial standard. Also Tenderloin is from the loin area -- the same area where Porterhouse and T-Bones come from. If you ask for Tenderloin you won’t get these steaks.

There is one Flank steak per side. If you don’t want Flank steak, it is usually put into hamburger as is the Brisket.

Rib Steaks vs. Rib Roasts: There are 4 rib roasts to a beef (2 to a side). This cut can be made into steaks or roasts. Again because your beef is not industrial size the roasts will be smaller.

Regular Roasts: Chuck, Arm and English (insert here fat – lean from roger’s order form) These can also be ground into burger.

Packaging recommendations:
Hamburger 1 lb. (because our beef is more naturally lean we recommend that you not request it be ground without fat)
Stew Meat 1 lb.
Short Ribs 1.5 to 2 lb.

Box of Beef: We are offering for the first time direct cuts of beef in a prepackaged format. We are calling it Box of Beef. This is for our customers who, for one reason or another, are unable to take a whole half of beef at a time. Each Box of Beef will contain about 35 lbs. of beef and will sell for $195.00. This should fit in your refrigerator freezer ( 50 lbs. of meat will fit in about 2.25 cu. ft. of cooler/freezer space).

The Box of Beef will contain:
2 New York strips – ideal on the grill.
2 Rib Eyes – ideal on the grill.
2 Boneless Sirloins – ideal on the grill.
18 lbs. of ground beef – whatever way you wish to fix it this will taste great. You can taste the sunshine and fresh air with every bite.
3 Beef Roasts – place the frozen roast in a crock-pot with a little water and seasonings and you will have the perfect roast for supper. Cut up any leftovers and combine with BBQ sauce for a great sandwhich.
2 lbs. Stir Fry – just thaw and it’s ready to make your favorite dish.
2 lbs. Kabob – perfect marinated, skewer with your favorite vegetables for Kabobs or use in stews, soups or stroganoff.

Pork. We will offer pigs again this year. Our pigs are four footed rototillers. We use them to break up the sod by penning them in a floorless pen outdoors and moving the pen on a regular basis like with the chickens. This model actually takes advantage of a pig’s natural qualities and virtues. This mimics nature where animals such as the badger and the prairie dog burrowed the native prairie to keep it healthy and to recycle the nutrients.

Pigs will be available by the half or whole. They will be marketed by their hanging weight like the cattle but the dress out percentage for a hog is approximately 90 percent of the hanging weight.

Turkey. We are again offering the opportunity to purchase a turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner. They are raised in portable, floorless houses, moved daily just like the broilers. These houses provide protection from predators and the weather but offer the birds a fresh smorgasbord of salad bar pasture each day.

Turkeys actually eat more grass and clover than chickens producing an even more profound difference between the taste and texture of our birds compared to those raised in the factory fecal concentration farm facilities. We expect the birds to average 16-24 pounds at butcher time. Unfortunately we can’t promise a specific weight because we don’t raise any excess and it is impossible to predict with exactitude the harvest weight while working within our limited production and processing model. We will try to provide a range for you to choose from if you wish.

We butcher them the Sunday before Thanksgiving so plan on coming out that day to pick up yours. That assures that you do not have to freeze it and can have fresh “pasturized” turkey for your holiday. The earlier you arrive to pick up your order the better size selection will be available.

Thanksgiving Chicken: Many of our customers do not want a traditional 18-24 pound turkey for Thanksgiving. We tried raising some smaller ones last year but frankly I didn’t like the result. The birds were younger so they didn’t fill out as well but still were as tall. In other words the bone to meat ratio was too high for my standards.

As a result we are offering to raise chickens to dress out about 10 lbs each. They will be about 12-14 weeks old (vs. 7-8 weeks for a 5 pound bird). We will have them available at the same time and the same price ($3.50/lb) as the turkeys. If the traditional turkey is too large for you we urge you to try this product instead. (We actually have done this before, just not for Thanksgiving and I still have customers asking me to do it again) The chicken is still very tender but HUGE!

Horses. As many of you know we raise and train both draft and saddle horses. We have decided this year to offer beginner riding lessons to our friends and partners. The lessons would be individual lessons, an hour at a time and taught by our able equestrian daughters. The cost is $20.00 per lesson per person.

Farm Access. We encourage you to visit the farm and your animals. We know this runs contrary to conventional thinking but we feel real people recognize that real food was once alive. If you come to visit you can assure yourself that your livestock is being appropriately cared for and humanely raised.

Political Rants vs. Persuasive Factoids

Jan and Theresa (my editors) say that my outrageous political rants scare customers and drive people away. I believe, to the contrary, my persuasive factoids are neither outrageous nor rants and help educate my customers . However to satisfy those who might agree with my editors I am putting this section separate and at the end so you may skip it if so inclined.

What you may be buying:
Time Magazine reported in 1994 that up to 10 percent of the weight of supermarket chickens is due to their absorbing the fecal soup present in the chilling tanks used to cool the birds down after butchering and during processing. We have found that the “pasturized” chickens have a much firmer flesh, without losing their tenderness, which we believe prevents them from absorbing this amount of water during processing. You will be able to taste the difference.
A brilliant idea from the USDA:
The Truthful Labeling Coalition estimates that American consumers spend an estimated $2 billion for added salt water in commercial grade chickens the Wall Street Journal reports. The USDA allows such chickens to be marketed as “all natural” or “100% natural”. Untreated chicken has about 45-60 mgs of sodium per four-ounce serving whereas “plumped” chicken has between 200 and 400 mgs of sodium per serving. You might consider these facts when comparing prices between farm direct food and “cheap store bought food”. Stockman Grass Farmer June, 2009

Another brilliant idea from the USDA:
Apparently industrial beef processing was running into a problem with what to do with all the scrap meat and trimmings from slaughterhouses. So the USDA now allows companies to grind the scrap into a mush-like substance, treat it with ammonia and freeze it into blocks for shipment (sounds like pink slime doesn’t it). It is now estimated that 50-70 percent of all hamburger n the company is comprised of this appetizing product. Acres USA May 2010

We hope to enlist each of you in this partnership of production. Thank you for entrusting us with the awesome responsibility to raise your animals for your food. Please know that we value the trust you have shown and welcome your participation.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are important.”
Calvin Coolidge.

The Hubbells

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