Tag Archives: food

The first harvest!

We’ve officially had our first harvest here at the Raymond Homestead. I was able to pull out about 80% of my radish patch two days ago. The haul was great and tasty! The down side? I’m the only one that likes radishes. Oh, well. More for me!

In other gardening news, all the beds are doing well. We’re having a bit of an issues with the cucumbers this year as we tried a new location for them. Given that they’re not taking too well to it, I think we’ll be adding yet another garden on the south side of the house. The lettuce seed and beets seem to have all washed out early on, so I’ll be replanting those soon as well. (Most likely tonight or tomorrow.)

The most ironic part: the second bean and potato bed that we planted is doing well. When we moved our shed to a more stable and less floodable location we decided to throw in left over seed potatoes from this season and bush been seeds from two years ago into the dead area from the previous shed location. The only prepping we did was to till up enough of a workable hill to get the potatoes into the soil. The soil, by the way, is about 90% clay. It’s the type of Maine clay that you could sculpt out of, leave it in the sun, and then never break it. It will be really interesting to see what we get for a yield from it.

backyardjune2014

We’ve also come to the point where the chicks needed more room and have been separated into the two tractors. Five of them were a bit beaten up from the three bullies, so we put the bullies by themselves. Before long we’ll need to have a run between the two tractors…or figure something else out for space.

On an interesting note, the past two days we’ve been awoken to crowing by one of them. We think we have it narrowed down the most beaten of the five in the larger tractor. The comb on that one is much larger and redder than the others, not to mention the feathers have a bit of a luminosity to them that the other birds lack.

 

We’re Expecting

Chicks_1_2013

That’s right. Tonight we’ll be bringing home octoplets, if all goes smoothly. We decided that a good starter meat/layer combo for us would be speckled sussexes. They’re known to be very docile, which is great since this will be our first time raising them from chickhood. The game plan is to keep one, possibly two, for layers and have the rest butchered this fall. Here’s hoping my emotions don’t get too tangled up in these birds. It’s easy for others to say “don’t get attached” where they’re not the ones raising them.

Chickens, GMOs, and Doing What We Can

As we try to take more steps in becoming self-sufficient/local-sufficient homesteaders, one of the ideas on our plate for this year is raising chickens to have slaughtered by a local butcher. As much as we would love to raise the chicks all organic there is a huge problem: organic feed is super expensive and would really make it so raising these birds would not be feasible. So, unfortunately, they will be getting a run of the mill grain from our feed supplier that is not certified organic. However, these boys and girls will have much more love, attention, and freedom than any chicken you could buy at the grocer’s. They will have fresh air, room to run, and a place to sleep that isn’t a 1ft x 2ft battery cage with five other roommates.

Given the most recent, and disturbing, news that the FDA is right on the horizon to approving genetically modified salmon, I feel that we’re in an even bigger time crunch than before to set our priorities straight and eat even more local and home grown as possible. The idea of eating an animal that is a new species, created by science, and the repercussions on both human and Gaian health we have no idea about is something out of a nightmare! How anyone could see this as acceptable is beyond the realm of this family’s ability to understand. It looks like, unless we can be promised that our fish is non-genetically altered, we’ll have to either take up fishing or find that local as well. For now, I’ll be picking the brains at the local Hannaford to see as to what the plan is for if and when the GMO salmon hits the market.

In the meanwhile, let’s talk chickens.

Right now we’re trying to figure out what breed we want to order as a dual purpose bird. Our layers are all roughly around two years old. (These girls will live out the rest of their lives as the “old ladies” as we originally got them with the idea of them being pets, not being eaten later….or at least I did. Joe says differently.) So, depending on what it looks like we’ll have for room, we’ll be keeping one or two of the birds that we get specifically for laying. The others will be freezer birds. The only stipulation that Joe has placed on the chickens is that he prefers a pea comb. Well, that doesn’t leave us many options – pretty much just some more Aracunas. However, here are soem of the single-comb varieties that we’re debating on. (All photos from mypetchicken.com.)

Speckled Sussex

Chentecler

Delaware


Another idea would be to order two of what we want for layers, and the rest (probably six more) as a meat only bird.

Any ideas?

Four Maine farmers head to D.C. to challenge Monsanto in court on patents — Business — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

WASHINGTON, Maine — Four Maine farmers are on their way to Washington, D.C., this week to take part in a lawsuit a Maine-based farmers association has brought against Monsanto, the giant agriculture and biotechnology firm.

On Thursday morning, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington will hear oral arguments in a case brought by the Washington, Maine-based Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association against St. Louis-based Monsanto. It represents a second chance to have their concerns heard after a federal judge initially rejected the case last February.

Jim Gerritsen, owner of Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater and president of the organic seed growers association, was in Baltimore on Wednesday morning and said he would arrive in the nation’s capital later in the day.

Joining him will be Holli Cederholm, general manager of the organic seed growers association and owner of Proud Peasant Farm in Washington, Maine; Aimee Good from Good Dirt Farm in Monticello; and Meg Liebman from South Paw Farm in Unity.

In Washington, the four of them will join 28 other farmers from around the country who also are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Gerritsen said.

The organic seed growers association, along with 82 plaintiffs, in March 2011 sued Monsanto in federal district court in New York. The lawsuit challenges the validity of several patents the company holds for genetically modified crops, and seeks protection for the farmers from patent infringement lawsuits Monsanto could file if its genetically modified seed inadvertently contaminated their crops through natural causes such as seed drift and cross pollination.

“That’s why we’ve gone to court,” Gerritsen said on Wednesday morning. “It’s a basic question of property rights. We have the right to farm the way we want to farm, and Monsanto should respect our rights, and certainly not accuse us of patent infringement when we want nothing to do with them.”

A Monsanto spokesman on Wednesday denied Gerritsen’s claims that the company pursues patent infringement lawsuits against farmers who inadvertently are found to have Monsanto’s patented seed products.

“The district court ruling dismissing this case noted it was simply a transparent effort by plaintiffs to create a controversy where none exists,” Tom Helscher, Monsanto’s director of corporate affairs, said in a statement provided to the Bangor Daily News. “Farmers who have no interest in using Monsanto’s patented seed products have no rational basis to fear a lawsuit from Monsanto, and claims to the contrary, to quote from the district Court, are ‘groundless’ and ‘baseless.’ As was stated in the court, it has been, and remains, Monsanto’s policy not to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patents are present in a farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means.”

Helscher said Monsanto respects farmers’ rights to farm in any way they choose, whether organic, conventional or with improved seeds developed using biotechnology.

“All three production systems co-exist and contribute to meeting the needs of consumers,” Helscher said. “Since the advent of biotech crops more than 15 years ago, both biotech and organic crop production have flourished. We have no reason to think that will not continue to be the case.”

The 83 plaintiffs in the case are made up of independent farms, seed companies and agricultural associations from throughout the country. Plaintiffs from Maine also include the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association in Unity and Fedco Seeds in Waterville. Gerritsen said the plaintiffs collectively represent approximately 300,000 people and probably 25 percent of all certified organic farms in the United States and Canada.

Gerritsen said he was anxious to get into the courtroom.

“When we filed the lawsuit two years ago, we understood this was a three- to five-year process. This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Gerritsen said Wednesday morning. “We’re anxious to get this case to court. Every day Monsanto stalls and prevents farmers from gaining access to the courts is another opportunity for farmers to be contaminated by Monsanto’s seeds, and another opportunity for farmers to be pursued for patent infringement.”

A ruling could be issued in a couple of days, but Gerritsen said it’s more likely to take one to two months.

The travel for the farmers was supported by the Farmer Travel Fund. Gerritsen said the fundraising was very successful, but declined to say how much money was raised.

via Four Maine farmers head to D.C. to challenge Monsanto in court on patents — Business — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine.

Freezing and Food Safety

I am a very excited girl! Last year, when our hens were producing like mad, I had the forethought to freeze some eggs. They continued to produce over the winter, so we never used them. This winter, however, not only did I not freeze any in advance, but NONE of the three ladies are laying. I was thinking this morning that I should probably throw out the frozen eggs that were never used. But, I came across this piece of information from the USDA:

Freezer Storage Time Because freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only. Refer to the freezer storage chart at the end of this document, which lists optimum freezing times for best quality.

If a food is not listed on the chart, you may determine its quality after thawing. First check the odor. Some foods will develop a rancid or off odor when frozen too long and should be discarded. Some may not look picture perfect or be of high enough quality to serve alone but may be edible; use them to make soups or stews.

While I’m not a huge USDA fan, they are a great source for information like this and have just made this girl’s day! It looks like we might actually get to have eggs with our turkey sausage patties tonight.