Getting a Milk Cow

We’re 6 years into the farm experience and our practice has been to not start too many new farm/ranch ventures at once.  We started in 2010 with a small garden, added a few laying hens, then three beef cattle a few months later.  In 2011 we planted our orchard and focused on the beef herd with 3 calves being born that year. 2012 saw our first major garden expansion, with another in 2013.  We started raising turkeys in 2014 and 2015, and finally pigs in 2016.  With this years’ turkeys having been served for Thanksgiving and the pigs (grown to hogs) off to the butcher and safely in freezers (our own and several customers), we are looking toward 2017 and ready for the next project.

One of the most demanding animals to add to a family farm is a dairy cow.  The rewards are great – fresh, healthy milk daily – but the requirements are rigorous as well.  Daily milking, supplemental feeding of hay and dairy ration, a location for milking that will work regardless of weather, susceptibility to illness, plus breeding and calving.  So we waited a good while to take on this adventure, studied it quite a bit and waited for the right cow. This week we finally did it.

milkcowWe now have a 3 year old Jersey cow and her 5 month old calf.  She was already a family milk cow and not your typical commercial dairy cull cow.  She’s been a delight so far and we are learning to milk her and adjust her feeding.  It’s been a big help to have several years of experience with beef cattle.  This dairy cow is much tamer than the beef cattle (though they are really gentle and easy-going) and is almost like a pet.  But we already know how to fence her, read her body language, tell if she hungry/stressed/content, and understand how she relates to her calf.  We’re enjoying about 3 quarts of milk daily, leaving the calf with her for about 6 hours a day to ‘share’ the milk.

We’re thankful to be off to a good start.  Our beef cattle experience has been helpful but these videos help too – especially with the milking and care for the milk.  The book Keeping a Family Cow is a great resource too.   If you’re thinking about getting a milk cow, definitely check out these videos and get the book first.  And visit a farm to see how the cows respond to interaction with the farmer, how they are fenced, fed, etc – even see if you can milk one.   It’s definitely a big commitment so do your homework first and you’ll be much more likely to have a great family experience.




Keeping a Family Cow: The Complete Guide for Home-Scale, Holistic Dairy Producers

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Austin 2016 Fall Farm Share/CSA – Week 10

This is the last week of our 2016 Fall season.  We’re ending 3 weeks later than originally  scheduled.  We suspended the harvest for 2 weeks in early October to let the greens mature after being held back by our warm September.  Then the storm damage a month ago knocked all the greens back again.  We’re glad all the typical late Fall crops recovered and it looks like we’ll be able to deliver all 10 weeks of the Fall season as planned!  Thanks again to all our members and your patience and understanding during this unusual season.

Here’s what to expect in shares this week:

Full Share: Lettuce (double portion), Kale (double portion), Mizuna (double portion), Chard, Broccoli greens, Broccoli or tomatoes, Cabbage, Cilantro

Half Share: Lettuce (double portion), Kale, Mizuna (double portion), Chard, Broccoli greens

Blessing Falls Week 10 Fall Farm Share: Cabbage, mizuna, lettuce, broccoli greens, kale, Swiss chard, cilantro

Blessing Falls Week 10 Fall Farm Share: Cabbage, mizuna, lettuce, broccoli greens, kale, Swiss chard, cilantro

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Austin 2016 Fall Farm Share/CSA – Week 9

We hope everyone enjoyed a great Thanksgiving holiday last week.  Thanks again to all who bought vegetables, eggs, a turkey, grass fed beef, or pork from us recently.  We’re glad to be part of your festivities and trust these added to your celebrations.

Here’s what to expect in shares this week:

Full Share:  Cabbage, Swiss chard, Tomatoes, Lettuce (double portion), Mizuna (double portion), Kale, Broccoli greens, Rosemary

Half Share: Lettuce (double portion), Mizuna (double portion), Kale, Broccoli greens, rosemary

Blessing Falls - Week 9 Fall Season Farm Share: Kale, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli greens, cabbage, rosemary, mizuna, chard

Blessing Falls – Week 9 Fall Season Farm Share: Kale, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli greens, cabbage, rosemary, mizuna, chard

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Austin 2016 Fall Farm Share/CSA – Week 8

The garden is slowly healing from the storm 2 weeks ago and we had a decent harvest this week.  We harvested beans and tomatoes before the Saturday night freeze and the greens are coming back.  This week’s bok choy, arugula and endive are from our friends at Bernhardt’s farm in Elgin.

We’re thankful for all our members and your patience as we recover from the storm.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Here’s our expected harvest this week, though shares may vary:

Full Share: Mizuna, Beans, Tomatoes, Kale, Arugula, Bok Choy, Endive, Rosemary

Half Share: Mizuna, Bok choy, Beans, Tomatoes, Kale, Rosemary

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Fall Season – Week 7 Storm Damage

Yesterday afternoon a severe thunderstorm hit our farm.  4 inches of rain in 45 minutes, fierce winds, and large hail.  Thankfully the large hail did not last very long and did not seem to damage structures.  Our laying hens, turkeys, and livestock are OK.  The wind and hail  did cause significant damage to our fall garden.

All greens are a loss at this point.  Maybe they will come back since the roots seem OK.  We were able to harvest some of the squash, tomatoes, peppers, okra and eggplant that were not too badly damaged.  We’ll deliver those this week to our farm share/CSA members.  The harvest will be much less than usual and we appreciate your understanding.  We will assess over the next few days and keep our members informed.

Here’s a look at some of the damage

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Yellow Squash leaves twisted by high winds

Yellow Squash leaves twisted by high winds

Lettuce chopped by the hail

Lettuce chopped by the hail

Chinese Cabbage, hail and wind damage

Chinese Cabbage, hail and wind damage

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Squash

Squash

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Austin 2016 Fall Farm Share/CSA – Week 6

Here’s our expected harvest this week, though shares may vary:

Full Share: Swiss Chard (double portion), Mizuna (double portion), Kale (double portion), Okra, Onions, Tomatoes, Sweet potatoes or pumpkin, Peppers (double portion), Rosemary

Half Share:  Swiss Chard, Mizuna (double portion), Kale, Okra or tomatoes, Onions, Peppers

Peppers this week are courtesy of our friends at Taylor Farm in Lexington.

Blessing Falls Week 6 Fall Season Share: Rosemary, onions, okra, tomatoes, chard, peppers, mizuna, pumpkin, kale, squash

Blessing Falls Week 6 Fall Season Share: Rosemary, onions, okra, tomatoes, chard, peppers, mizuna, pumpkin, kale, squash

Recipe

Here’s a delicious recipe we love to make with our kale! You can substitute linguine for the bucatini pasta and bacon for the prosciutto if you can’t find those items. You can also add onion or tomatoes to this recipe.

Creamy Kale Pesto Bucatini

FOR PESTO
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 cups kale, roughly chopped and packed
¼ cup pine nuts
½ cup olive oil
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ tsp. kosher salt

FOR PASTA
1 lb. bucatini
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 pieces prosciutto, thinly sliced and chopped into fine pieces
½ oz. heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
Kosher salt
Black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
2. To a food processor, add garlic cloves. Pulse until finely minced. Add kale and pine nuts. Pulse until combined. With food processor running, slowly stream in olive oil through the top chute opening. Once mixture is combined, transfer to a bowl. Add ricotta cheese and salt. Stir to combine.
3. In a large sauté pan, heavy olive oil over medium heat. Add prosciutto bits and cook until slightly crisped, about 4-5 minutes. Add heavy cream, stirring constantly. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the heavy cream bubbles up slightly.
4. Meanwhile, cook bucatini until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving about ½ cup pasta water. Add pasta directly to sauté pan with prosciutto and cream. Add ½ cup of the kale pesto and a few splashes of pasta water, stirring until combined. Add more pesto or pasta water if desired.

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Austin 2016 Fall Farm Share/CSA – Week 5

Here’s our expected harvest this week, though shares may vary:

Full Share:  Mizuna (double portion), Chard, Kale, 2 Onions, Rosemary, Sweet potatoes (double portion), Chinese cabbage, Pumpkin, Winter squash, Tomatoes, Okra

Half Share: Mizuna (double portion), Chard, Kale, Onions, Rosemary, Sweet potatoes, Okra

Blessing Falls week 5 Fall season share: (clockwise from top left) Kale, mizuna, okra, onions, Rosemary, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chard, pumpkin, Chinese cabbage

Blessing Falls week 5 Fall season share: Kale, mizuna, okra, onions, Rosemary, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chard, pumpkin, Chinese cabbage

Recipe

Mizuna is an Asian green and works well in a chopped salad or stir fry.  We also featured a recipe for Mizuna back in week 3 of the Spring season.

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Austin 2016 Fall Farm Share/CSA – Week 4

Here’s our expected harvest this week, though shares may vary:

Full Share: Sweet potatoes (double portion), Sunflower sprouts, Rosemary, Pumpkin or melon, Eggplant or tomatoes, Malabar spinach, squash, Basil, Peppers, Onions, Okra, Black eyed peas (double portion)

Half Share: Sweet potatoes, Pumpkin or melon, Rosemary, Basil, Peppers, Onions, Okra, Black eyed peas

Sweet Potatoes are from our friends at Fruitful Hill Farm.

Blessing Falls Farm Share, Fall 2016 Week 4: Onions, sweet potatoes, sunflower sprouts, tomatoes, squash, Rosemary, peppers, basil, black eyed peas, okra, Malabar spinach, melon (or pumpkin)

Blessing Falls Farm Share, Fall 2016 Week 4: Onions, sweet potatoes, sunflower sprouts, tomatoes, squash, Rosemary, peppers, basil, black eyed peas, okra, Malabar spinach, melon (or pumpkin)

Recipe

Sweet Potato Pie!

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Austin 2016 Fall Farm Share/CSA – Week 3

Full Share: Basil, Rosemary, Sunflower sprouts, Okra, Black eyed peas, Pumpkin, Peppers, Onions, Squash or Cucumber, Winter squash,

Half Share: Basil, Rosemary, Sunflower sprouts, Okra, Black eyed peas, Pumpkin, Peppers, Onions

Blessing Falls - Farm Share Fall 2016 Week 3 (clockwise from top left) Pumpkin, sunflower sprouts, tomatoes, okra, Malabar spinach, melon, winter squash, onions, black eyed peas, squash, basil, Thai chilies, Rosemary

Blessing Falls – Farm Share Fall 2016 Week 3 (clockwise from top left) Pumpkin, sunflower sprouts, tomatoes, okra, Malabar spinach, melon, winter squash, onions, black eyed peas, squash, basil, Thai chilies, Rosemary

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Pasture Raised Pork Available – Fall 2016

redwattle

Red Wattle Heritage Breed Hog on Pasture at Blessing Falls Farm

October 4 update: Our fall pork is sold-out.  Please contact us to be added to the waiting list or to be notified early about our 2017 pork.

Our heritage breed, pastured hogs are about a month away from being ready.  These are the Red Wattle breed and have been raised with full time access to our pastures where they can graze, root, run, and just lay around – to be a true pig.  They are kept in with electrical fencing which we move regularly to give them access to fresh grass.  Pigs cannot live on grass alone so we supplement their food with conventional (non-organic) corn and hog feed.

As with our beef, our pigs are free of antibiotics, synthetic hormones and implants.  These are not vaccinated and have had no drugs of any kind.  They are handled gently, never hit or abused in any way. They were born a few miles away on a local farm that practices these same humane, natural, sustainable methods.

We expect these to weigh around 250 pounds.  We’ll sell them by the half or whole.  A half should give you about 60 pounds of packaged pork in your freezer.  You can have the half processed any way you like, including cured ham and bacon, pan and link sausage, along with pork chops, ribs, roasts, hocks, lard, etc.  We offer halves at $4 per pound (plus processing costs paid to the butcher), based on hanging weight.  A half hog’s estimated hanging weight should be around 75-85 pounds.  When your half is ready, you’ll pick up directly from the butcher – at either their main shop in Westphalia (15 minutes east of Temple) or from their Hutto shop for an additional convenience fee.  For more on processing costs and hanging weight vs. live or packaged weight, see details on our grass fed beef.  The processing costs are similar to beef though hogs yield a higher percentage of packaged pork vs. hanging weight than beef does, typically about 75%.  You’ll get even more usable pork from a pig if you can use the feet, lard, head, and organs.

We have a very limited amount of pork this year (it’s our first year, and if it goes well we hope to raise more hogs in 2017).   You can reserve a half with a deposit of $80.  Just contact us and we’ll get back with you regarding the deposit details.

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