Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Herd

Its still darkPicture outside when I hear the quiet thump of a tail on the bed, this is followed by a cold nose on my cheek.  I usually role over trying to continue sleeping, at which point the regal Border Collie in bed with me just lays on my face.   I try to remember he is doing it out of love… I hope.  At this point, the overly large Maine Coon we own hears the commotion.  While still trying to breath through my Border Collie, I now have a 17 pound orange cat kneading my pillow (which includes my hair).  By now the bed is quite lively, little Olive in her crate has noticed we are all awake (but still in denial) and voices her protest of being left out.  At this point, its very hard to ignore all this and we (my husband) gets up to deal with them.  I would not have my life be any other way!  When we go out to feed the rabbits Pete stands on his hind legs greeting us!  If I have managed to stay in bed for all of this when Jeff lets the dogs back inside I am quickly greeted by a border collie covered in snow and now hold no hope in sleeping in…ever again.


Sweeney Homestead

​Written by Kate Morrison
PictureSarah Sweeney and I spent time together growing up at her grandparents’ house in Scottsville. Sarah is the seventh generation of the Stokoe family in Scottsville, New York. Sarah grew up on her family’s farm that has diversified over the years to include cash crops, heifer boarding and an agritainment business that opens for the fall and Christmas seasons. The farm celebrated 200 years of family farming in 2012 and she is very proud of that legacy and heritage. She personally has an associates degree in agricultural science from Alfred State College and a bachelors in agricultural business from Cornell University. Sarah and her husband Donny met through mutual friends and were set up on a blind date at an Eric Church concert. They quickly discovered that they had the same passions and came from similar backgrounds. Donny grew up on a dairy farm in Parma, New York and went to college at Morrisville where he received an associates degree in agricultural engineering and his bachelors in diesel technology management. Together they have begun building their own farm. They currently have a large, diverse garden which is 30 feet wide and 250 feet long. It began as a way to supplement their summer produce and quickly became their sole source of produce year-round. They can and freeze a lot as well as store squash, potatoes and onions, allowing them to enjoy the fruits of their labor long after the growing season has ended. In the coming year Sarah and Donny are excited to begin their own CSA (community supported agriculture). They keep a variety of produce in the garden, but are going to start by offering a limited number of shares to make sure they don’t bite off more than they can chew as they get started. They’ll be planting; kale, swiss card, peas, green and wax beans, summer squash, zucchini, several varieties of potatoes, cabbage, a mixture of peppers and tomoatoes, cucumbers, beets, sweet corn, and several varieties of winter squash. Sarah and Donny have found many advantages in diversity- in terms of both the garden they keep as well as the poultry they raise. Sarah offers a explains; “It not only allows us to maximize productivity when faced with different types of weather conditions, but it also minimizes the risks of total production failures if one crop is destroyed”.   As far as poultry goes, the Sweeneys purposely chose to select a few different breeds for their laying hens. Each breed they chose has its strengths and weaknesses and with that in mind “We hope to maintain a more steady supply of eggs depending on the elements and the environment.” They currently have Buff Orpingtons, Waced Wing Wyandottes, Black Australorps and a Partridge Rock. Their beloved rooster, Athelstan, is a Black Cochin. “We had to hand feed him for the first week of his life, so we have a special attachment to him” Sarah tells me. I’ve consulted Sarah several times to learn about her personal experience with pastured poultry, since I’ll be raising and selling my own this Spring. Sarah and Donny experimented with the traditional Cornish crosses for meat birds as well as the Pioneer. For their first batch they did 5 of each to compare how each breed would perform. While the Cornish crosses grew very quickly, they didn’t forage as well as the Pioneers and were prone to dying from heat exhaustion and at times for no apparent reason at all. By the time they were scheduled for processing they only had two of the Cornish crosses left. The Pioneers, however, were very active and supplemented the feed that was provided with insects that they would catch themselves. They were extremely hardy and thrived on the pasture. While they didn’t grow as quickly or finish as large as the Cornish Crosses, they all made it to the finishing weight in good health. Sarah said that “The quality and taste of the meat was preferred by both Donny and I.” I’m excited for Sarah and Donny and what this year will bring them as they expand; even adding two hives of honey bees to the farm in the coming Spring!

Kate Morrison

PictureI am the 6th generation of my family in Scottsville, New York. The Hallock (my middle name) family farmed approximately 200 acres here for over 100 years. I currently live in the same house I grew up in, on about 30 acres just outside the village, just a few minutes from the original homestead. I’ve always had an interest in animals and farming and was fortunate to have a taste of that life growing up. We raised chickens, ducks, geese, and even orphaned raccoons. My parents raised a few pigs every year when I was very young, and when I was about eight years old my dad bought me a Holstein heifer who I named Betty. For the most part our farm animals were considered pets. I’ve kept my own laying hens for years and have loved being able to collect farm fresh eggs daily. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years ago, I started doing more research into what food I was eating, where it was coming from, and how it was grown or raised. I wanted to be able to do everything on my part to make sure I was doing the right thing for my body in order to deal with this disease. Raising my own meat just made the most sense- this way I can ensure they are raised humanely and get to live the lives that they should before they provide sustenance to me, family and friends. This year I’ll be selling pastured pork, poultry, and farm fresh eggs. All of my hens are free range; they have full access to over 20 acres of lush grass where they get to enjoy variety of insects and plants. The pigs will be rotated on several different pastures, and the meat chickens will be moved daily in 10’x12’ portable pens, commonly referred to as “chicken tractors”. I’m in the beginning stages of starting the farm now but the feedback I’ve had thus far has been wonderful. I’ve connected with so many amazing people who all somehow share the same interests as I do. I love hearing about how they have their own personal connection to farming in some way. Whether they currently farm, they used to, or they spent time growing up on a farm- the stories are all heartwarming and there’s always a lesson to be learned. I was thrilled when Kim invited me to write a weekly guest post for her blog. I’ll be sharing my own personal experiences (often quite comical) as well as interviewinglocal, small farmers; many of whom are young like me. My intention is to be able to share these stories for you to enjoy, as well as hopefully connect more people who are interested in farming themselves. I welcome any questions or feedback and I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in agriculture!


Written by Kate Morrison

Take a risk…

When you come to the edge of all the light you know,
And are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown,
Faith is knowing one of two things will happen:
There will be something solid to stand on,
Or you will learn how to fly.
​~Barbara J winter

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  Being a farmer and especially a woman farmer is a HUGE risk.  I will be the first to say that there are women out there that put me and my tiny farm to shame, I aspire to be more like them.  In an industry and lifestyle that is mainly made up of men, being a female and doing this job is amazing.  We as female farmers are making up more and more of the industry.  We may be small or quiet but we are amazing because we are farmers.  I can’t thank my family enough, especially my husband, for the love and support that they give me.

IslandTopCustomTags

     When we decided to get another dog, we decided to get a girl since Gus gets along better with girls.  I wanted to get her a special name tag, well really special everything (embroidered towels, collars and special toys) I didn’t go overboard at all.  I found a store on etsy that had the most adorable name tags!  I ordered one for Olive and will be ordering ones for Gus and sheba today as well.  The tag is very well  made with lots of options to customized it.  I had them put her name on the front with my phone number on the back.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for custom pet tags!

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese
Makes One Pound 

1 Gallon Whole Milk
​1/4 tab Vegetable Rennett (Dislove in 1/4 cup cold water)
1 1/4 t Citric Acid (Dissolve in 1/4 cup cold water)
1 1/4 t Cheese Salt

Add citric acid to milk in large pot.  Stir while heating to 90F, once milk reaches 90F turn heat off and add Rennett.  Stir for 30 seconds.  Let pot sit for 30 minutes.  Cut curds with knife 1 inch by 1 inch by 1 inch.  Separate curds from whey I usually scoop them out with a slotted spoon.  Once curds are all in cheesecloth I hang the curds from a cabinet doorknob over the sink.  Once drained place curds into a microwave safe bowl.  Heat for 1 minute in microwave then drain excess whey.  Heat for an additional 30 seconds, drain excess whey.  Wearing plastic gloves as molten mozzarella is very hot begin to stretch your cheese.  As you are stretching your cheese add salt.  Stretch the cheese until it is shiny and smooth.


     We love to have home made pizza on dinner date night.  Last night I posted the pizza dough recipe tonight you get home made mozzarella.  I hope you enjoy your pizza nights!

Pizza Dough

Easy Pizza Dough
Makes one 9×13 pizza crust

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c warm water
1 1/2 t room temperature yeast
1 1/2 t sugar
1 T oil
1 T ground basel
1/2 t ground oregano
1 t salt
4 c flour

Stir water, yeast and sugar together in bowl.  Let sit until foamy on the top (5-10min).  Add spices and oil.  Add flour one cup at a time.  Once formed into a ball of dough knead for 8-10minutes (I use my kitchenaide mixer).  Place dough in a greased bowl allow to rise to twice its size.  Spread dough on the metal cooking sheet.  Add ingredients on top that you like and bake for 15-20min at 420F

      I made the cheese myself and we bought the breakfast sausage when we bought half a pig from a local farmer.  Its feels wonderful to eat a dinner you made and know where it came from.

Rabbits

     Rabbits they are soft and furry as well as tasty and delicious.  When I tell people I raise rabbits followed by we eat them, many people find this offensive.  We raise Giant Chinchillas for meat mostly for our own consumption.  The meat of a rabbit has more protein, less cholesterol, and less fat than many other meats including chicken.  The money that we save in buying meat pays for the food for the rabbits.  Knowing where my food comes from is something that is very important to me.  I raise these rabbits so I know how they were treated as well as the quality of food fed to them.  The first question people ask is “How can you eat them they are so cuddly!”.   Well, we have two bucks and two does all four of our adult breeders have unique personalities and I love them like pets.  The babies on the other hand, are like a pile of little food monsters with Giant ears.  I don’t often socialize the babies as they are intended as food which make it a lot easier to eat them.  I will admit that I would have a very hard time eating any of our adult rabbits as I do love and snuggle on them.  We are looking forward to Annabelle having another litter sometime this week, stay tuned for photos.

One More…

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She waltzed into my heart the second I saw her picture, I fell in love with her over pictures and texts.  When she walked towards me, I knew she was made for me. Olive is not just one more dog for us, she has already attached herself to both Jeff and I’s hearts (it took only seconds).  Olive, also know to me as Squish because she is so incredibly fluffy and squishy is an Australian Shepherd.  Gus and Olive hit it off immediately!  gus was trying to play it cool while Olive just wanted to play (which she expressed by continually running into him).  Olive was at first a little leary of Sheba, because when she first went to meet her she got smacked in the face by Sheba’s tail.  Being the brave little girl she is it didn’t phase her for long!  I am quite certain that sheba has agreed to co-run the house with Olive.  Olive had her very own coming home party (with Greek food since her name is Olive) with our family.  She did great through the night and we are so happy with our little girl.  Check out Great Oaks Aussies they have wonderful dogs!