Austin Area Spring CSA – Week 3

For the week of April 13-18, here’s what we’re harvesting and delivering throughout greater Austin to our Blessing Falls CSA members. (If you’re not a member, we invite you to join)

Full share:
Cauliflower, Lettuce, Kale (double portions of each), Broccoli (triple portion),
Spinach, Microgreens, Dill, Broccoli flowers, Swiss Chard, Mustard or turnip greens

Half share:
Broccoli (double portion), Cauliflower, Lettuce, Microgreens, Spinach or Swiss Chard, Dill, Broccoli flowers

(Share contents may change slightly throughout the week depending upon harvest availability.)

Spring Week 3 Full Share: rainbow chard, broccoli, sunflower Microgreens, white and green cauliflower, mustard greens,  lettuce, dill, broccoli flowers, spinach, kale

Spring Week 3 Full Share: rainbow chard, broccoli, sunflower Microgreens, white and green cauliflower, mustard greens, lettuce, dill, broccoli flowers, spinach, kale

Meet Your Farmer

Sam is Michael’s 15 year old brother and our right hand man in the garden. He helps us with almost every gardening task. He’s an expert at planting, harvesting and packaging CSA shares. He’s also the Blessing Falls beekeeper! He’s the hardest working 15 year old I’ve ever known. He loves family and sports and his favorite thing to grow is broccoli!

Nutritional Facts

Quoted from Microgreens: Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts.  We encourage you to read the whole article to learn more about microgreens and their amazing health benefits!

Turns out microgreens are not just a plain good-for-you food or a healthy garnish on salads and soups. Scientific research now proves that these tiny seedlings harvested and eaten when they are just a few inches tall are a real superfood packed with antioxidants and other health-promoting nutrients.

A team of scientists from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture analyzed the nutrient composition of 25 microgreen varieties. They discovered that in general microgreen cotyledon leaves had considerably higher nutritional densities than their mature counterparts (cotyledon leaves refer to the embryonic first leaves of a seedling). This microgreen study was published in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Young edible seedlings are a superb source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals. The 2012 study on microgreens reported that even the microgreen sample that had the lowest levels of vitamin C contained a whopping 20 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams – that’s almost twice the amount of vitamin C found in tomatoes!

Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, are thought to reduce the risk of disease, particularly certain types of cancer and eye disease. Turns out that many microgreens are also a good source of this important nutrient.” Microgreens also include many other nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin E, vitamin K.

Recipes

We enjoyed trying these kale and broccoli smoothie recipes this week and hope you do too! Follow Blessing Falls on Pinterest to see more tasty recipe ideas!

Kale Smoothie
1/4 c. shelled pistachios
4 pitted dates
1/2 c. water
2 c. almond milk
1 Tbl. coconut oil
1 c. kale leaves
2 frozen bananas, cut in chunks
1 Tbl. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 handful or so of ice

Heat the water in the microwave or on the stove until boiling. Add pistachios and dates, and let soak for 5 minutes. Blend other ingredients, except ice. Then drain water from nuts and dates, and add them to the blender. Blend until smooth. Add ice until it’s the texture you like.

Broccoli Smoothie
1 c. broccoli
1/2 an apple, chopped
1 1/2 c. almond milk
1 frozen banana
6 oz. pineapple-orange juice
1/2 avocado
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 T. honey
1 handful or so of ice

Blend all ingredients until smooth, adding ice last.

We hope members enjoy their shares this week – we always value your comments and suggestions.  And our CSA program remains open for new members.  Sign up this week and you’ll get your first share next week, delivered right to your door.  It’s that easy.

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New Bee Hives

We’re expanding in all areas this spring – bigger garden, more calves, more berries, another flock of laying hens.  And we’re adding a new bee hive. Our experienced beekeeper Sam now has his brother Noah as an apprentice.  Here’s what they been up to…

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Current “Tigger” hive, we hope to extract honey in June

Building the new hive

Building the new hive

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Hive painted to fit the “Hundred Acre Wood” theme of the other hives.

"Eeyore" hive ready for 'bees'-ness

“Eeyore” hive ready for ‘bees’-ness 

Bees enjoying our lavender.  So many wildflowers this spring should make for wonderful honey.

Bees enjoying our lavender. So many wildflowers this spring should make for wonderful honey.

As extraction proceeds later this season, we’ll let the Blessing Falls CSA members know how they can add this local, all natural honey to their weekly delivery.

 

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Austin Area Spring CSA – Week 2

Here’s what we’re harvesting and delivering throughout greater Austin this week to Blessing Falls CSA members.  Members, April 6 you should receive your weekly email reminder with your specific delivery date and address verification.

Full share:
Broccoli, Kale, and Lettuce (double portions of each)
Swiss chard or spinach, Parsley, Thyme, Shallots
Cauliflower, Asparagus, 2 boxes of Strawberries

Half share:
Broccoli and Kale (double portions of each)
Lettuce,  Swiss chard or spinach, Parsley, Thyme,

Update April 11 – Members receiving a half share can double their food by upgrading to a full share.  Only $12 a week for the rest of the season. The harvest is expanding and we need your help in eating it all!  Just let us know before Monday noon and you can start your upgrade that same week.  And thanks for telling friends and neighbors about available shares.

As last week, the Strawberries are from Bernhardt’s Farm.  Some of the asparagus is grown here at Blessing Falls and some at Bernhardt’s.  Also remember the washing instructions we mentioned last week.

(Share contents may change slightly throughout the week depending upon harvest availability.)

Full Share Week 2 - Top: Lettuce Asparagus Shallots Chard Cauliflower  Broccoli Thyme, Bottom: Parsley, Strawberries (boxed), 2 types of Kale

Full Share Week 2 – Top: Lettuce Asparagus Shallots Chard Cauliflower Broccoli Thyme, Bottom: Parsley, Strawberries (boxed), 2 types of Kale

Meet Your Farmers:

Michael and Emily (Owners of Blessing Falls Garden) : Michael and I started gardening, soon after being married, with the hope that one day it could become a successful family business. Now, three years later, the garden has grown and so has our family! We have two cute kids, Lily (2 years) and John Mark (9 months) who keep us busy and entertained every day! Michael does all of our driving. He drives the tractor, tiller, lawn mower, and delivery truck! He also helps out with the planting, harvesting, spraying and any other odd jobs around the farm. His favorite thing to grow is tomatoes. I (Emily) make the plans for the garden, plant, harvest and package CSAs, weed, and take care of garden related research and communications. I also write your weekly email contents and enjoy making gift items for our Etsy Shop. My favorite thing to grow is… well, I can’t decide! We really enjoy growing food for you and thank you for supporting us in this gardening venture!

Blessing Falls Main Garden April 5, 2015.  Broccoli with Kale and  Lettuce in background

Blessing Falls Main Garden April 5, 2015. Broccoli with Kale and Lettuce in background

Blessing Falls Main Garden April 5, 2015.  Lettuce (left), Cauliflower (right)

Blessing Falls Main Garden April 5, 2015. Lettuce (left), Cauliflower (right)

Nutritional fact:

Your parents knew what was up when they told you to eat your broccoli. This verdant vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients. It’s reputed to benefit digestion, the cardiovascular system and the immune system, and to have anti-inflammatory and even cancer-preventing properties.” Read the rest of this interesting article on the incredible, nutritional benefits of broccoli!

Recipes

Remember the ideas from last week are useful with many of this week’s items.  Here’s another that has long been one of our favorite family recipes and it tastes even better with home grown broccoli!

Broccoli and Bacon Salad:

2 heads broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces
5 slices bacon, cooked crisp
1/4 c. red onion, chopped fine
3/4 c. raisins
1/2 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
Dressing:
1 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbl. white vinegar

In a large salad bowl, mix broccoli, bacon, onion, raisins, and cheese. In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix well and serve or chill a few hours before serving. Serves 8-10.

First week in CSA Shares, More in Coming Weeks . . . .

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Blessing Falls Main Garden, April 5 2015. Cauliflower heads forming, should be ready for harvest soon.

 

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Austin Area Spring CSA – Week 1

The first week of the Blessing Falls CSA spring season is finally here! We are so excited to share the fruits of our labor with you!  Deliveries are Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. On March 31, Austin area CSA members should have received their weekly email reminder with your specific delivery date and address verification.

Share contents for this week:

Week 1 - Full Share

Spring Week 1 – Full Share

Half share:
Shallots, Broccoli flowers, Cilantro, Carrots, Lettuce (double portion), Kale, Swiss Chard

Full share:
Shallots, Broccoli flowers, Cilantro, Carrots (double portion), Lettuce (double portion), Kale, Swiss Chard, Strawberries, Asparagus, Broccoli, Micro greens

(Share contents may change slightly throughout the week depending upon harvest availability.)

More Details on This Week’s Share

Our vegetables are never sprayed with any toxic or dangerous chemicals. We try to clean your produce as best we can before delivery, but you may want to give them a rinse before using them. Some vegetables don’t store well after being washed so those may have small amounts of dirt on them since we try to deliver the freshest veggies possible.

The Asparagus and Strawberries were grown by our good friend and fellow farmer Alex Bernhardt. We have learned so much from him over the past few years. Bernhardt’s Fruit and Veggie Farm is located just a few miles from us in Elgin.

Microgreens are tiny lettuces and other mixed greens just past the sprouting stage. Use these on salads, in sandwiches, or as a quick snack.

You may be unfamiliar with fresh shallots, so here is a helpful bit of information on them.

Shallots are interesting little vegetables. Some people describe them, in terms of taste and function, as a cross between an onion and garlic, however they are indeed a member of the onion family. Shallots have a really nice way of incorporating themselves more fully into sauces or custards (such as a quiche) whereas onions, even if chopped finely, will largely maintain their shape so you’ll have little bits of onion in your recipe. Shallots caramelize like an onion, although their mild flavor is closer to garlic. One nice thing about shallots is that they do not give one bad breath, the way onions and garlic do and they are more easy to digest. Once you cut into a bulb of shallot you often find two, or three cloves. This is where it gets tricky when a recipe calls for a certain number of shallots, rather than a specific amount like “2 tablespoons, minced.” A general rule of thumb is that “one shallot” refers to one shallot bulb, regardless of how many cloves are inside once it has been cut.  (Source)

Our shallots are harvested fresh so they don’t have a dry papery skin like those you would buy at the store, however you can use them in the same way as dried shallots. Fresh shallots can be stored in a cold, moist place for short periods and won’t keep as long as dried shallots. They can also be chopped and frozen in freezer bags.

20150330_142943_resized

Kale Salad with Sauteed Apples

Kale is one of our favorite vegetables to grow. It has a long season and countless health benefits. We’ve tried many kale recipes and this is one of our favorites: Kale Salad with Sauteed Apples. This recipe also uses shallots, another veggie in your share this week, and would be great with some microgreens on top to add an extra crunch.

Swiss Chard can be used just like spinach and is a great substitute for any spinach recipe. It’s also great stir-fried. Here’s one interesting idea for chard and carrots. We haven’t tried this one, so let us know how you like it if you decide to try it.

We hope our CSA members have fun trying a few new things this week.   After the months of preparation, we’re excited to start the season and look forward to sharing a wonderful harvest in the spring and summer to come!  We welcome new members to join the CSA, where you’ll receive fresh local produce weekly delivered to your home or workplace, available throughout the greater Austin metropolitan area.

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Greater Austin CSA Deliveries For Spring and Summer 2015

Blessing Falls LLC grows natural, safe, healthy fruits and vegetables using organic methods and practices and delivers the harvest throughout the greater Austin area. Our family farm was established in 2010, each year adding more garden space and different varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, berries, and animals.  For 2015 we’ve greatly expanded our garden space and we hope to have plenty to share with the whole Austin area.  Partner with us and enjoy the health and taste of natural produce along with the ease and convenience of delivery right to your front door.

“Community Supported Agriculture”, or CSA, means farmers and supporters partnering together for the sake of healthy, nutritious food. Supporters join as members, paying the farm expenses early in the season when costs are highest. As the crops mature, all members enjoy sharing in the harvest. This community of farmer and members benefits everyone – costs and risks are shared and none of the harvest is wasted but goes directly to waiting members as soon as it’s harvested. You may think of it as a subscription to fresh, natural food. Costs are paid early and the bounty is enjoyed every week.  Click here to join our CSA now or continue reading for all the details.

Season Schedules

In the greater Austin area throughout 2015 we plan 3 seasons:

Spring: 12 weeks March 30 – June 19
Summer: 10 weeks June 22 – August 28
Fall: 12 weeks August 31 – November 20

Details on the Spring and Summer continue below.   More information about our Fall plans will be available in June.

Weekly Shares

Members decide if they want a full share or just a half. The full share works well for 3 to 6 adults/teens, while the half share works best for couples and families with only young children. Here’s a full share from last spring.

Typical Spring Season Full Size Share

Typical Spring Season Full Size Share

Here are last year’s summer shares. All these shares were “medium” sized. 2015’s full shares will be bigger than these and the half shares will be smaller.

LateSummerShare30USD

Summer Season Medium Size Share. Full Shares are Bigger.

SummerShare30USD

Summer Season Medium Size Share. A Full share might have another melon, several more large tomatoes and another basket of potatoes.

We hope these photos help you select the best share size for your needs.  The harvest varies throughout each season.  Here’s what we’re planting this year, shown in the order they mature from early in the season through the end.

Spring: lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, micro greens and sunflower sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, cilantro, peas, potatoes, onions, dill, cucumbers, yellow squash, blackberries, tomatoes, garlic, sweet corn, zucchini, green beans

Summer: potatoes, onions, dill, cucumbers, yellow squash, tomatoes, garlic, sweet corn, zucchini, green beans, cantaloupe, jalapeños, Italian peppers, basil, various squash varieties (spaghetti, lemon, scallop, acorn), eggplant, honeydew, watermelon, okra, bell peppers, sweet potato leaves

Delivery/Pickup

We’ll deliver your weekly share to your home or workplace in the greater Austin area! From downtown to Liberty Hill; Lakeway to McDade; South Austin to Georgetown and points between we’ve got you covered.  No need to meet us at a specific time and you do not need to be home.  If you won’t be home or don’t want to be interrupted just leave an ice chest and we’ll deliver your produce between noon and 5:00pm on your scheduled day. If you’d prefer to pick up your share, we do have sites we can meet you. Most items you’ll receive will have been harvested within the previous 24 hours. Some are harvested the same morning we deliver so your share is as fresh as possible.

Cost

Weekly cost for a full share is $36 and a half share is $24. Delivery is $4 per week. We offer substantial discounts when you sign up for more than one season and also for early payment. You can mail us your check or go online and pay with your PayPal account or any credit card.

Before the Spring season began, we offered discounts from 8% to 13% for those who signed up early and helped with our pre-season expenses.  Now that the season is underway, we offer a 3% discount for those who can pre-pay for the Spring season in progress and a 6% discount when you also pre-pay for the next season (Summer, in this case).   The CSA sign up page is updated weekly to reflect the remaining weeks in the season and available discounts.

Ready to Join Us?

Simply fill out this form and we’ll get right back to you with a confirmation and details on how to make your payment.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

If I am out of town for a week, can I skip my delivery or pickup?
Since the harvest keeps coming, we cannot skip shares. We will gladly deliver your share to an alternative address within our delivery area. Your share could be a welcome gift to a local friend or you could have them pay you for it. We can also donate your share to a community food pantry.

Where exactly can you deliver?
Any address in these zip codes. If you are just outside these areas, contact us and we’ll probably be able to work something out.

Austin 78701 78702 78703 78704 78705; 78710 78712 78717; 78722 78723 78724 78727 78728 78729; 78731; 78741 78745 78746 78748 78749; 78750 78751 78752 78753 78754 78756 78757 78758 78759

Pflugerville 78660
Hutto 78634
Coupland 78615
Taylor 76574
Thrall 76578

Lakeway 78734
Round Rock 78664 78665 78681
Georgetown 78626 78628
Cedar Park 78613
Leander 78641
Liberty Hill 78642

Manor 78653
Elgin 78621
McDade 78650

Our current pick up sites are the farm (located halfway between Thrall and Elgin) and the Round Rock Post Office parking lot. More may be added depending on the locations and schedules of members who join.  If you switch from delivery to a pick-up site we’ll refund the balance of your prepaid delivery fees.  When you sign up, we’ll ask you for convenient times/locations for possible pick-up.  Even if you initially sign up for home delivery, we’d like to have an idea of what drop-off locations might work for you in the future.

Am I guaranteed plenty of produce each week?  What if crops fail?
Our goal is to deliver an abundance each week, so that you have plenty and even some left to share with friends and neighbors.  However, the harvest can vary according to weather, insect pressure, etc. It could even fail due to a hailstorm or other uncontrollable events. In our 5 year history we have not experienced a large crop failure but it’s always possible. If the harvest is low on a given week, it will usually bounce back the next. A cold front or storms can affect the harvest but it usually comes back strong. If we have a really bad week, we’ll supplement shares with healthy, safe, natural produce we’ll buy from other local farmers we know and trust. If we were to have a significant failure affecting the whole season such that we are unable to continue deliveries, we will credit your undelivered shares toward the next season.

Can I pick and choose what I receive in my weekly share?
Members do not choose specific varieties for their share but will receive an assortment of whatever is ripe for harvest during the week.   We’ll make sure you have enough of a particular variety so you can prepare a whole dish with it.  We focus on growing the usual, typical, mainstay vegetables and also some that may be unfamiliar.  We trust you’ll enjoy the adventure of trying a few new things each season.  In the rare event that you receive something you don’t like or can’t use, please share those with friends.

What other farm products are available?
We have farm eggs and grass fed beef that you can add to your weekly share. We have baked goods and honey on some weeks and are planning to raise holiday turkeys to be ready in November. Our members will be notified when these extra items are available. Simply mail your payment (or pay online) to cover the cost and we’ll deliver these when we bring your weekly share.

Can I visit the farm?
Certainly! As a valued member and partner you are welcome to come see your produce as it grows and the farm cattle, chickens, and turkeys. Some days and times are more convenient than others so we ask that you contact us first. You can always come pick up your share at the farm, even if you are normally receiving deliveries, and have a look around while you’re here.

What if I’m not home to receive my delivery?
20150122_184519_resizedNo problem at all! Simply leave an ice chest near your front door or some other designated shady spot. A medium sized 48 quart chest with a couple freezer packs or frozen water bottles will hold a full share comfortably and keep it cool all afternoon and possibly even overnight.

How do members and the farm stay in touch?
In addition to the farm website and Facebook page, we’ll email our members weekly reminders. The email will remind you of your day of delivery and give more details on the items in that week’s share. It will also indicate any balance coming due and your recent payment history. To contact us you can simply reply to these emails or contact us through the website or call the phone number we make available to all our members.

More questions?  Just let us know.   When you’re ready to join us,  simply fill out this form and we’ll get right back to you with a confirmation and details on how to make your payment.

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Starting the Spring Garden for 2015

Main spring garden work is underway on the major expansion. After delivering to Austin area friends last year, we decided to expand so we could offer more vegetable harvest shares in 2015.  Last summer we tilled the plot several times to disrupt the pasture grasses and prepare the sod.  In the fall we tested the soil and added natural minerals and amendments to balance the soil.  We also planted a cover crop of oats and peas.  The last couple months we fenced it to keep out deer and wild hogs, and added a new underground waterline.

Today we began pre-planting fertilizing, tilling, and laying irrigation drip tape and plastic mulch.  We plan a total of 20 rows, each 350 feet long and 4 feet wide.  We finished preparing the first 4 rows today.  Recent rains made the soil a bit heavier than we would prefer.  So we finished only what we need to plant immediately and will resume preparing the rest in a couple days after the soil dries out more.

Organic fertilizer from a local company.  We add 20 lbs per row.

Organic fertilizer from a local company. We add 20 lbs per row.

Mixing lime and soft rock phosphate.  These natural rock powders provide the essential minerals calcium and phosphorus.

Mixing lime and soft rock phosphate. These natural rock powders provide the essential minerals calcium and phosphorus.

Fertilizer and lime/phosphate spread by hand and in front of the tractor/tiller.

Fertilizer and lime/phosphate spread by hand and in front of the tractor/tiller.

Tiller is removed and plastic mulch layer is attached to the tractor

Tiller is removed and plastic mulch layer is attached to the tractor

Starting a new row of laying plastic.  Drip irrigation tape/tubing is layed as well, under the plastic.

Starting a new row of laying plastic. Drip irrigation tape/tubing is layed as well, under the plastic.

Finished product - 4 rows ready to plant.

Finished product – 4 rows ready to plant.

Hundreds of organic cauliflower seedlings will be planted first, as they take longer to mature

Hundreds of cauliflower seedlings will be planted first, as they take longer to mature

Over 1500 onions - just a small part of the spring planting underway

Over 1500 onions – just a small part of the spring planting underway

We expect the first harvest from this new expansion around the end of March – about 9 months after the work started on this garden.  We’ll be delivering the harvest across the Austin area.  Let us know if you’d like to join our farm community supported agriculture (CSA) effort.  Your payments help fund our fertilizer, seed, and equipment and provide you with a share of the harvest.  Please contact us if you’re interested.

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Tallow From Grass Fed Beef

One advantage of buying a whole or half calf is that you can tell the butcher exactly how you want the animal processed.  You can get the bones for your pets.  You can also have the butcher save the extra beef fat from which you can render tallow.  The extra fat comes bagged and frozen like the other beef so will keep for a while until you’re ready.

Last month we successfully rendered tallow from the fat of our most recently butchered grass fed beef cattle.  We made candles and saved conveniently sized portions for cooking.  Tallow is a great cooking oil to use in place of shortening or vegetable oils.  It’s stable at high temperatures.  Grass fed beef tallow is particularly loaded with vitamins and beneficial fatty acids.

The rendering process is straightforward.  Several online articles were helpful, particularly this one.  Technically, beef tallow is made from fat surrounding the kidney area.  We requested the butcher save some “fat for tallow”.   The butcher did not seem to distinguish types of fat and simply saved us some extra fat.  The quality was excellent in our case, regardless of where the fat came from.

Setting wicks in tallow for candles

Setting wicks in tallow for candles

Let the tallow cool

Let the tallow cool

Perfect candles from beef tallow

Perfect candles from beef tallow

Recipe sized blocks of tallow ready for cooking

Various sized blocks of tallow ready for cooking

 

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Our Grass Fed Cattle Breeds

We currently raise two breeds of cattle:  South Poll and Devon.  Both are renowned breeds for grass fed beef.  They thrive on grass alone, have a gentle nature, and finish out tender and well-fattened.

South Poll are a 4-way cross between Red Angus, Hereford, Barzona, and Senepol.  The breed was established about 25 years ago in Alabama.  The Angus and Hereford contribute beef flavor and tenderness.  The Barzona and Senepol are heat-tolerant breeds.  Their influence helps these cattle thrive in the summer heat common to Texas and the deep South.  South Poll are well known as great ‘mama’ cows that nurture their calves well and rarely have trouble during calving.  Visit SouthPoll.com for more about this breed.

Pure bred South Poll cow

One of our pure bred South Poll cows

Some of our cattle are pure bred South Poll and others are cross bred with Devons.  Devon were brought to the American continent by the first English settlers.  For centuries they have thrived on grass alone.   Continue reading

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Reserve Your Grass Fed Beef for 2015

Update: (December 17, 2014) All 2015 calves are reserved.  Please contact us to be added to the waiting list.  We may have additional calves available in 2015 depending on our need for retail packaged beef.

We’re now accepting orders taking requests for the waiting list for 2015’s all-natural, healthy, 100% grass fed beef.  We expect our calves to be ready for processing in May through July. Whole or half calves are available at $4.65 a pound, based on hanging weight, plus processing costs.  We’ll deliver your calf to a long established, locally owned butcher shop, where it will be custom processed for convenient customer pick-up in Hutto, near Round Rock and north Austin.

Short summary of how it works:
When you’re ready to order, simply contact us and we’ll respond with details on how to pay the deposit.  Your deposit reserves your beef and you simply wait for the calf to reach optimal size next spring/summer.  When the calf is ready, we’ll take it to the butcher and contact you with the hanging weight of the calf which determines the final cost of your half or whole calf.  You’ll send us payment for the balance owed and contact the butcher to let them know how you want the calf prepared (or we can tell the butcher for you).  The beef is ready for you to pick up about 3 weeks after it’s delivered to the butcher.  You pay the butcher their processing costs and they will help you pack the beef for home.

Here are many more details – please let us know if you have any questions.

From our ranch to the butcher
As your calf nears the best size for processing, we’ll contact you so you can start organizing your freezer space.  When its size and condition are right, we’ll take it to the butcher.  The next day we’ll call the butcher and get the hanging weight (the Beef Weight section below explains “hanging weight”), which determines the price of the beef.  We’ll contact you and you pay the balance of the beef cost.  We’ll then call the butcher and have them assign you as the new ‘owner’ of that beef and give them your phone number.  You call the butcher and let them know how you want the beef cut.  You can ask them to save bones for your dogs and extra beef fat for rendering into tallow.  If you want a standard cut scheme and would rather we talk to the butcher, we’ll call them and also tell them the packaging you want.  The calf will ‘hang’ and dry age for about 2 weeks before they start the cuts and packaging.  The dry aging adds tenderness and flavor.  This is a special benefit of privately processing your beef with a smaller local butcher.  After packaging, the meat is frozen for a couple days.  The whole process takes about 3 weeks.

Our grass fed cattle graze during winter.  During growing season, we're careful to reserve enough grass so they rarely need hay.

Our grass fed cattle graze the pastures all winter. During growing season, we’re careful to reserve enough grass so they rarely need hay.

From the butcher to your home freezer
The butcher will call you when the beef is frozen hard and ready for pickup.  Within a few days, you’ll visit the butcher and pay their processing charge and pack the beef into ice chests you bring.  One medium size (48 quart) ice chest can hold about 50 lbs of beef.  It will be frozen very well so if you pack the ice chest tightly, you don’t need ice.  It will stay frozen hard several hours at least.  Then you’re off to stock your freezer and fire up the grill!  Freezer space for beef is typically about 1 cubic foot per 30 pounds.  If the half calf’s packaged weight is around 150 pounds, you’ll need about 5 cubic feet of space.  A large chest freezer is typically 20 cubic feet, an upright around 16 and the freezer compartment in a typical kitchen refrigerator is around 4 cubic feet.

We use the Westphalia Market, a local family run butcher that’s been around since the 1960’s.   They’re a state inspected facility located 15 miles east of Temple – about an hour from Round Rock.  They can also move your beef to their shop in Hutto for an added fee of $25.

Beef weight – live, at the butcher, in your freezer
Calves are commonly weighed 3 ways – live, hanging, and packaged.  The live weight is the ‘on the hoof’ animal completely intact.  The hanging weight is the reduced weight after initial processing.  The hide, head, entrails, have been removed and calf hangs in a refrigerated space for several days before final processing.  Packaged weight is the weight of processed ‘in your freezer’ cuts.  In processing and packaging, excess fat is trimmed, some bones are removed, etc.  The most convenient time to weigh the calf is in the ‘hanging’ stage.  All butchers do this and they base their processing cost on this weight.  Some also weigh live or at packaging, but not always.  Weight is removed during processing and packaging.  The amount varies depending on the type of cuts desired, whether bones are left in, etc.  In our recent experience, the packaged weight is around 70% of the hanging weight.

Processing cost
In addition to the cost of the calf itself, there is a fee for the butcher’s work.  This is typically between 55 cents and 80 cents per pound of hanging weight and depends on paper vs. plastic packaging, tenderization, etc.  Since all butchers weigh at ‘hanging’ and base their costs on this weight, it’s easiest to price our beef according to this weight.  We allow you to pick the cuts you want and the type of packaging, so the final ‘packaged’ cost varies for each customer.

An example for a half calf
Our recent calves have had hanging weights around 400 to 480 pounds – let’s use 440 for an average.  Let’s also assume an average processing cost of 67 cents per pound.  The half calf hanging weight would be 220 lb. So our price for that beef would be 220 x 4.65, or $1023.  Processing cost paid directly to the butcher would be 0.67 x 220 = $147.  So your total cost would be $1170.  The packaged meat would weigh around 70% of the 220, which is about 154lb.  So the average cost of the packaged beef would be $1170 / 154 = $7.60.  Remember this is a rough average.  You could get more or less weight depending on bone left in the cuts, how lean you want your ground beef, etc. and the processing cost could be more or less .  Depending on these customer choices, the final packaged cost per pound can vary plus or minus 10% from this estimate, from a low of around $6.80 to a high of about $8.40 per pound.  The price of basic organically raised, grass fed ground beef at Whole Foods was over $8.00 per pound recently. With our current pricing, you’ll have not only ground beef but all the premium steaks, roasts, brisket, fajitas, etc. – at an average cost less than the price of supermarket grass fed hamburger meat.  And from a local family farm where you know the cattle were raised cleanly, humanely, with no grain or medicated feed; and processed humanely at a local family facility rather than a factory feed lot and packing plant.

Too much meat?
If a half calf is more than you can store in your freezer, consider splitting your half with a friend.  The half calf will have several packages of every beef cut – roasts, steaks, soup meat, fajitas, stew meat, hamburger, etc. and can be evenly divided quite simply.  Of course, if you choose to process the calf differently, your cuts will vary.  For example, you may want only roasts and steaks and have all else ground for hamburger.  There would still be several packages of each of your chosen cuts which can be divided easily with a friend.

Deposit
A $200 deposit per half calf will reserve your beef.  When we confirm your order, we’ll send details on how to pay the deposit.  You can mail a personal check or pay online using a Paypal invoice we email you.  When your calf is delivered to the butcher, you can pay the balance owed with either a check or through Paypal.  If something happens to the calf such as illness or escape, and we are unable to deliver it to the butcher in top condition, we will refund your full deposit.

We hope all these details answered most of your questions.  Please let us know if you need more information or would like to reserve your grass fed beef for 2015.  You can learn more about how our beef is raised and cooking ideas in these articles on our website.  Thanks for your interest!

Update: (December 17, 2014) All 2015 calves are reserved.  Please contact us to be added to the waiting list.  We may have additional calves available in 2015 depending on our need for retail packaged beef.

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Home Delivery of Farm Produce in Austin, Round Rock, Hutto, Elgin

See our Spring 2015 update for current delivery schedules

We’re delivering farm fresh vegetables to homes in Elgin, Manor, North Austin, Round Rock, Hutto, and Taylor.  Deliveries are Wednesday afternoons between 1:00 and 5:00.  You do NOT need to be home for the delivery.  Just leave a medium size ice chest out and we’ll drop by sometime Wednesday afternoon and fill it with fresh, organically grown vegetables from our family farm.

These deliveries are part of our expanding CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) efforts this year.   Our CSA began this spring and now resumes for the fall and winter season.  We have 2 share sizes available – a $36/week full share and a $20/week half-share.  Normally we charge $5 extra for home delivery but for this season, there is no delivery charge.  We realize the busy holiday season is here and we want to simplify your schedule and still provide healthy, safe, tasty produce to your home.

Our current harvest includes several heirloom varieties of winter squashes and pumpkins, sweet potatoes, peppers, radishes, rosemary, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, kale, green cabbage and Chinese cabbage.  We’ve planted other varieties and expect to be harvesting pak choy, Swiss chard, turnips and carrots in the coming weeks, as well as many root vegetables, greens, and other crops further on into the season.

Contents and quantity will vary from week to week depending on harvest availability.  Here’s an example of a recent $36 box:
4 large sweet potatoes
4-6 squashes/pumpkins
1 bunch radishes
1 Chinese/Napa cabbage
1 handful peppers
3 small heads broccoli
1 bag spinach
1 handful tomatoes
1 green cabbage

Our delivery route takes us from downtown Elgin, along 290 through Manor and into north central Austin (Austin delivery map).  From there we head north to Round Rock, then turn east on 79 toward Hutto and Taylor.  If you live or work near these areas, we’d love to include you in our deliveries!  If you’re not sure that you’re on our route, just ask and we’ll let you know.  We work hard to deliver to everyone interested in our farm produce.  We can also deliver to your business or office.

To help with our planning, we ask that you sign up and prepay for a month at a time.   If you will be out of town and want to skip a delivery for the week, we will apply that week’s credit to the next month.  So you never pay for vegetables that are not delivered.  Also, if our harvest diminishes due to extreme weather conditions, we will refund any prepaid deliveries that we’re unable to make.  Winter is a challenging time for farmers so we appreciate your flexibility.  In turn, we are flexible to work around holiday travel plans.

Please let us know as soon as possible if you are interested – we have a limited number of shares to offer.  We’ll get back with you regarding payment and your home’s delivery details.  You can contact us from this page or with a Facebook message.  Thank you!

 

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