We Can Back It Up!!

“Humanely Raised, Caged Free and Natural”  isn’t just talking points for us.  We can back it up!!  

There is a trend among large grocery chains and commercial meat producers to throw out terms like “humane” “free-range” “natural” “cage-free”, but is that real?  Are they being completely honest or just giving a half-truth.  You’re going to have to decide that for yourself, but please do your research.  Knowledge is power.  You can find pro-articles and non-pro articles on each animal raised for meat when it comes to commercial practices.  I can’t speak for any other farm–small or large.  But, I can assure you how it is done here!!  And you’re more than welcome to come and see for yourself.  Try that at a commercial factory farm and see what kind of open house you’ll have.  At some facilities you won’t even get on the farm much less inside where the animals are housed.

Since it’s the Thanksgiving season I’ll speak first on our turkeys!!  We only raise one flock a year.  We take orders for the Thanksgiving turkeys in March so that we can get on the Hatchery’s list and get the baby turkeys in around the end of July.  It takes a few months for them to reach the ideal weight for your table.  We practice strict bio-security with the baby turkeys due to diseases they are susceptible to, so they stay healthy.  We keep them in the brooder for several weeks until their immune system is ready for them to go outside on the pasture.  Once on the pasture they are contained in a poultry netting that is electrofied to help keep any predators out.  We also keep one of the Livestock Guardian dogs with them for protection.  The turkeys will take about 40% of their diet from grasses, leaves and insects giving them and us the benefit of higher Omega 3’s, Vit E, Vit C and Beta Carotene.  We move the netting every 2-3 days giving them fresh access to new grasses and insects.

Our chickens that we raise for meat are housed in mobile units that we move across our pasture twice daily giving them access to fresh pasture and it helps keep them clean and out of their own waste.  The mobile units are to keep them protected from weather conditions and keep them safe from predators.  We also keep one of the dogs with them in the pasture to watch over them.  We’ve never lost a bird to predators when the dogs are there.

Our pigs are NOT housed.  They have access to shelters to sleep and relax in but that’s it.  Our sows when it is time to have piglets will come in a stall so that we can monitor them and have access to the piglets when they are born.  We have several pastures set up for the pigs giving each group plenty of room to socialize, graze, root and wallow at will.  They are separated in groups by ages and gender. 

Our sheep flock is moved to different pastures throughout the year to keep them access to new grasses.  In the winter we have about 15 acres of woodland that we put them in for protection from the elements and this gives our pastures a rest for a few months.  The cloven hooves of sheep can do a lot of damage to wet ground so we keep them off the pastures during the winter months.  This is a time that the ewes are pregnant with next years lambs so they are fed with a high quality hay over the winter and if they need grains they are fed a locally milled grain mixture.

Last but certainly not least is our laying flock of chickens for our eggs.  They have access pretty much to the entire farm.  They roam around our yard, barn and pastures at will.  They keep all the bugs and spiders from getting into my house!!!  They dust bathe, sun bathe, peck and eat whatever they want—they’re slightly spoiled, but make the best eggs!!!

I welcome you to stop by and see how we raise our animals—cage free–YES, naturally–YES, free-range–YES, humane—YES and we can prove it!!

Farmer Amy

Our Security Team…whatcha gonna do when they come for you??

Junior

I’m asked a lot about whether we worry about predators with our sheep flock and chicken /turkey flocks and the answer to that is “No”.  We have three Security Guards that are on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week.  They have proven they can handle their jobs so we rest easy knowing our flocks are well taken care of.

First I’ll introduce you to Junior, the big male of the Team.  He is actually Lily’s pup from her one and only litter.  He is a Great Pyrenees, a breed of dog known for their protection of livestock.  Junior is a character who adores ladies, but not so much fellas except for Kent—he loves Kent.  Junior will protect anything we put him with.  He has taken out an opossum or two trying to sneak in with the chickens, he patrols the fence lines and you can hear him barking from a great distance especially when the coyotes start hawling.  He is also very good at watching the sky and barks at any and all buzzards, hawks, and geese that happen to fly over.  He is intimidating to look at and weighs in about 135 lbs.  He’s frontline of defense.

Lily— the oldest and wisest of our Security Team.  Lily is the Boss-Lady.  To look at her, you would think she is a lazy loafer that couldn’t protect an old shoe, but you would be wrong.  Lily works smarter not harder.  Lily sets up advantage posts where she can see as much of her guard area as possible.  Whether that is a corner or smack-dab in the middle of the pasture.  She is ferocious along fence lines , daring anything to come in her area.  She is gentle with the lambs and routinely makes checks of her lambs.  Lily also is our teacher and Emma Jean spent a great deal of time learning her job along side Lily.

Emma Jean—our craziest and youngest member of our team.  Just about to turn 2 years old.  Emma Jean has proven herself well already.  The most ferocious when she spies a flying predator and will leap in the air barking to run them off.  Emma Jean is comical and ALWAYS in your pocket.  It’s an ordeal just to gather the eggs when she’s on chicken duty.  Her face has to be in your face.  We are hoping that one day soon she will be able to pass some of her great protective traits to a litter of pups.  But, that will be a while off.

We sure couldn’t run this farm without them.  There is no telling how many tragedies have been avoided because they were on duty.  They are a vital part of the farm.  Most of the time visitors won’t see them because they are working.

We love them and will keep you posted on their jobs.

Chlorophyll!! I love you!!

Chicken…..fried, baked, broiled, grilled,hot, cold or just about anyway you can think of….we love chicken!!  We especially love our chicken.  Mainly due to a little thing called Chlorophyll….What’s that? You ask?  It is, in a nutshell,  95% pure sunbeams.  Chlorophyll  makes plants green and gives them their energy to grow and turn carbon dioxide into clean oxygen…..and, it is a natural detoxifier.   It cleans out all of the impurities from our chickens making them taste extraordinary!!

  Here’s a group after moving them, enjoying some fresh grass and the occasional unlucky grasshopper that dares to cross their path.  Hey! It’s protein.Katherine and Griffin are seen here taking the 2 week old chicks to the chicken tractors.  We wait until all the chicks have their feathers in before we move them to the pastures.  We move the tractors once or twice daily.  It all depends on how much grass and how much litter the chickens have deposited.

You can’t find chicken that tastes better, juicier or tender than a pasture raised chicken.  Sunshine provides a host of vitamins like Vitamin D, the chlorophyll helps to keep the chickens healthy, the insects give them protein.  They can socialize, sun bathe, dust bathe and grow into a delicious and healthy product you can feel good about eating.  They taste like “Grandmaw’s Sunday chicken”.  Below is one of my favorite recipe’s!

Thames Farm’s Herbed Butter Leg Quarters

Tools Needed:

  • Roasting Dish
  • Paper Towels

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack Thames Farm Leg Quarters (2)
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp each Rosemary, Dill, Ground Sage, Marjoram, Salt, Pepper( you can use other herbs you have on hand substituting any above except the salt and pepper)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Take 2 tbsp of the softened butter and smear in the bottom of the roasting dish.  The rest of the butter place in a dish and add in all the herbs, salt and pepper.  Using a spoon combine until mixed thoroughly.  Pat the leg quarters dry with a couple paper towels.  Take the back of the spoon and smear on the butter mixture all over the leg quarters.

Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees then lower the temperature to 365 degrees and continue baking for 30-35 minutes longer.  You want the internal temperature to be 165, make sure you test temp in the thickest part of the leg taking care not to touch the bone.

I served with mashed potatoes, pan gravy and Ginger/Honey Carrots.

To make the carrots

Take 3 large carrots and peel and slice into medallions.  Place in a saute pan on medium high heat with 2 tbsp butter.  Stir to coat in the melted butter.  When carrots are coated and start to cook, pour in half of a 12 oz bottle of your favorite Ginger Ale, (I use Canada Dry).  You may need more ginger ale you just want to cover the carrots.  Cook on medium high heat until liquid is reduced and carrots are tender.  Add in 1 tbsp of good local honey and cook 3 minutes longer.  

These are the best carrots!!!

Hope you will try these recipes!!  Come by the farm and pick up your leg quarters.  If you leave me a comment—you’ll get a discount on the leg quarters!!!

Love Ya!

Farmer Amy

 

Preacher, My Son

If you’ve been to the farm then you know that face.  Preacher is my pride and joy on this farm.  He’s 11 yrs old and for all 11 yrs has been the best boy.  A friend found him on the side of the road in Sumter County as a 5 week old puppy.  He was in the middle of the road jumping at the cars.  In the culvert was his 7 siblings.  I think he was trying to save them and was the only one brave enough to seek help.  That’s the story I like to believe anyway knowing his character, cause that’s the kind of thing he would do.

He once charged and rolled a neighbors dog that started chasing one of the farm cats.  He loves his little sisters.

His favorite place in the whole wide world is the back of our farm truck.  He once got so excited that he was going to get to ride that when he jumped in the back of the truck he tinkled…..here’s a picture of his face after I asked him “Son, what did you just do?”

He’s a huge helper around the farm he watches over the chickens, pigs, cats and has even helped lead Spot back out to pasture…

He always, and I don’t know why, surprises me on Farm Day.  That’s when we have so many people, strollers, activity and excitement going on around the farm.  He always seems to take everything perfectly.  He’s not around children that much, but tolerates all the petting and fur-grabbing with gentleness.  

I know he won’t be here forever and that’s why I cherish each and every day with this sweet boy.  I love him beyond words.