Monday, July 28, 2014

Polyface Farm Tour Part 1 - Broilers & Chicken Tractors

Spent Saturday, July 19th at a Field Day at Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA.  this series will talk about some of the different parts of the farm i learned about, and how they all work together.

Part 1 - Broilers live in Chicken Tractors

75 cornish cross broilers are kept in each tractor. there is a handle on each side - on the back side, they pull it up just a bit and slip a dolly-like thing under it that has wheels.  they go around to the front side and DAILY move it forward the length of the tractor to a fresh plot of grass.  half of the tractor is covered with corrugated siding - the rest is just wire.  this helps both keep them cool in the summer and keep them warm in the winter.    there is a food tray under the covered side (to keep it dry, their feed is locally milled and GMO free).  there is a wire that runs like a "+" through the middle to keep the sides from bowing out.  it is otherwise made from wood and the size is 10' x 12' x 2'.

that red tray is a waterer - gravity fed from a bucket via tubing sitting on top of the tractor.

the back of the tractor has a spot for wire (can be covered with siding) for ventilation/cooling in the summer.

 moving the daily helps with sanitation.  it also is only 1 day-s worth of nitrogen/manure on each square of grass.

one would have to be committed to a regular moving schedule.  if you weren't as concerned with using no-gas, then it'd be cool to have an attachment on the front of the tractor that could make hook-up and moving quick and easy with a 4-wheeler.

polyface's fields are pretty even (not a lot of holes) and the ground is sloping.  so, i think you'd need relatively even terraine with slope for drainage. 

the salatins have dogs for pray control - hawks wouldn't be a real issue because the tractors are covered.  however, i'm not sure if they'd keep out a determined raccoon.  if one had to add a portable electric fence to the daily chore of moving, then that'd make it even more work.  

still, though, it's a cool idea.  and, it works at polyface.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Been a while and Vollmer Farms Blackberries

can't believe it's been so long since I blogged.  been both a lot and nothing going on all at the same time.

so let me start with something I've been doing over the past few weeks.  making jam.  blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, mixed berry.  first, though, I had to pick the berries.  blackberries are by far the easiest (when they come from a local organic farm).  tried picking wild ones but i'm going to say a big no to that one - I don't like briars!)

here are some of my shots. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Obsessing, Thinking, Wishing...

Obsessing over…Planning. Dates.  What if.  When? How? Why can't we find a church that keeps us coming back for more? Retiring. Homeschool preparations. Joining a pool for the summer.
Working on…
Staying focused (clearly not succeeding right now). Reading the Bible.
Thinking about…
Why my clothes don't fit anymore.  They are shrinking.  (perspective, right?) How to help people who need it.  How to give more than I have.
Surprising my mom with a trip to somewhere special from her childhood.  Hope the rain goes away for it!
Listening to…
You're already there by Casting Crowns
Just finished a coke and a sesame bar - and a relpax.  front coming through today = migraine.
money grew on trees.  less war and more peace.  people understood how important sustainable farming is!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stationery card

Joyful Moments Religious Christmas Card
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View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, October 12, 2012

roasted caulifower with bacon, mushrooms, and white cheddar cheese

this is TO DIE FOR! and pretty easy, too,

got the recipe from and made my own changes.  if you don't follow closet cooking, you should.  emails go directly to your inbox about once a week or so - and his recipes are always delicious (and usually easy and with regular ingredients, too!)

start by cutting up 1 large head cauliflower - cut into florets - toss with 1 - 2 T of oil and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes (they start turning brown - and stinking a little.  cauliflower is in the cabbage family so it has that smell.)
bechemel sauce: in a medium saucepan, add 3T butter and let it start to brown.  then add 3T of some kind of flour (i used rice flour).  mix with a fork or an egg beater and when that starts to brown, slowly add 1-1/2 cups of milk (i used 1 cup 1% milk and 1/2 cup half-and-half) using the egg beater to wisk away any lumps.  the first 1/2 cup will thicken what you already have in the pan, the last cup will become liquidey but will soon thicken.  add 1/4 tsp nutmeg, salt and pepper (i didn't measure), a dash of thyme, and a dash of onion powder - and then 4 oz of aged white cheddar cheese.  i did not shred mine, i just cut it into small squares.   i actually bought an 8 oz block and the conversion is 1 cup shredded = 4 oz on the block.  i did shred the last 4 oz and use it later... mix the sauce well and turn off the heat once the cheese is melted. it'll be pretty thick.
heat a skillet and add 1 T of oil and 8 oz chopped mushrooms (i buy mine pre-sliced, i just chopped them up a little more).   i added one of those 2 oz containers of real bacon bits (to skip the step of cooking bacon) to the skillet once the mushrooms wilted.  when it gets hot and all is sauted, then i added that to the bechemel sauce. 
when the cauliflower gets roasted, add that to the bechemel sauce too and stir gently to coat.  pour it in a baking dish (i used a medium sized one). i topped it with the remaining 4oz (shredded) aged white cheddar. 
bake in the oven for about 30 minutes on 350 degrees.  my cheese did not brown but it was all really bubbly.  it was DELICIOUS! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Family Photos, Photographer included.

When it comes to family photos - whole family photos - it is hard to do it when you're the one holding the camera.  Honestly, I am rarely in photos.  Not only do I hate my photo being taken (it is so awkward - yes, I feel like you do), I also rarely like the outcome (too fat?  too white?  too me.).  I'm not a big fan of editing-to-the-point-you-change-the-appearance so making myself skinny on photoshop is out of the question.  However, my kids need to remember me right now as much as I need to remember them.  I wanted a photographer that could capture how much we love and care for each other, as well as make me look like a model. 

Like most folks seeking a service, I got online and started browsing through some local photographer's webpages.  I had two requirements - that it not be too expensive and that I recieve digital files so I can print myself.  Most folks want that these days anyway, right?  As a photographer, I really want people to print because in 30 years, you won't be able to see your images on a DVD (our kids may not even remember what they are).  I will print my photos for sure.  Even plan to make Christmas Cards with them!

This all reminded me of how important your website is - because that is how someone gets to know you and first impressions count!  From this, I plan to make some changes to my own (this) webpage. 

I also have a goal of using our in-closet clothes to make coordinating (not matching) outfits for our shoot.  OK, so maybe  can buy one or two things, but I want the majority of it to be in-house.  That is one thing I try to tell customers is to pull from what you have first.  Pick one or two things and then go from there.  We'll see what I come up with!

Last, I love photojournalistic style of photography.  I used to love posed shots.  However, when Holly was almost 1 and we were as broke as broke can get, my friend, Gretchen, graciously took of our family-of-four portraits for free.  I was hooked on the way she captured natural poses... interactions rather than poses.  I still treasure those photos.

I chose Sara Davis Photography to do our 2012 family photos.  She is out of Durham and I loved all the images she had on her website.  She was recommended by one of my biggest local inspirations, Ginny  Corbett Photography (who only does weddings).  I simply cannot wait. 

And, so my diet begins today. 30 day shred, here I come!


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