Friday, September 25, 2009

Chicken recipes

Pastured Chicken Recipes

These simple recipes will fill your house with the great smells of aromatic herbs. Leftover chicken can be used for other dinner dishes or shredded for chicken salad. The pan juices are wonderful served plain or poured into a soup pot to make the most delicious chicken broth. Recipes are from The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook, by Shannon Hayes.




Herb-Roasted Chicken
Serves 3-4
1-2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Herb Rub (see below)
1 whole chicken, approximately 3-4 pounds

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Rinse the chicken, and pat it dry with paper towels. Dice the garlic and mix into the olive oil. Brush or rub the garlic and olive all over the chicken. Sprinkle and rub the Herb Rub over the chicken. Roast the chicken in a roasting pan for about 20 minutes per pound, about 1 hour and 20 minutes for a 3.5 pound bird. Check the meat for doneness by cutting a tiny slice of the meat and look at the color of the juices. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear. Remove the chicken, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
The breast usually cooks more quickly than the thighs. If you find the breast meat done before the thighs, place a small piece of foil over the breast and continue cooking.

Herb Rub
1 tablespoon sea salt or coarse salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon oregano
Mix together and store extra in an airtight container.

Delicious Chicken Broth
The best chicken broth is made from flavorful chicken! Use it as a base for delicious soups. Freezes well and defrosts easily on the stovetop.
2 medium carrots, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped into quarters
1 bay leaf
4 quarts water
1 leftover chicken carcass and pan drippings

Place all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the broth for a minimum of 6 hours- the longer the broth simmers the richer it will be. Strain the liquid, discarding the vegetables. The meat on the carcass can be picked off and returned to the broth or used for a chicken and rice dish. Place broth in a container, cover tightly, and refrigerate. When it is chilled, skim the fat from the surface.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicken orders and Pick-up

Greetings from Bluebird Farm!

Everything is growing very quickly at the farm, and we can almost watch our garden and grass grow! Our newly arrived chicks are absolutely adorable.


Our pastured chickens are available at Bluebird Farm beginning next Friday the 25th. See below for directions. This first group of chickens will be available at the farm until they are sold out. Call or email to place an order or to check for availability. They will be sold as whole, dressed birds for $3.50/lb, and they will weigh approximately 3-4 lbs.

Our chickens are raised on pastures with continuous access to fresh grass and grains. Pastured animals have high quality meat that is more flavorful, low in saturated fats, and higher in essential omega 3 fatty acids than conventional meats.

Chickens are available fresh on Friday and Saturday, and then they will be frozen after that. Enjoy a visit to the farm when you pickup. See how your chickens were raised, where the fresh eggs come from, walk through the garden, and visit our chicks.

Friday 25th 1-7 pm, Saturday 26th 10-5, and Sunday 27th 1-5.

Delivery:
A Morganton pick-up location will be available if a group of people order 10 or more chickens. This would be at Gisella’s house on Sunday 27th from 1-5.
A Hickory delivery will be available if a group of people order 10 or more chickens.

Please call to arrange these options.

We look forward to meeting you. Thank you for your support!

Marie Williamson and William Lyons
Bluebird Farm
4178 Bluebird Dr.
Morganton, NC
828.584.7359
BluebirdFarmNC@gmail.com
BluebirdFarmNC.blogspot.com

Directions: 4178 Bluebird Dr. Morganton, NC 28655
To get to the farm, take exit 100 (Jamestown Rd) off Interstate 40. Head south (away from town) on Jamestown Rd. After a long downhill take a left on Conley Rd. Go 1.8 miles down Conley Rd. On Conley you cross a bridge and pass Delta Dr. on your right. Take the next right onto Bluebird Dr. (Look for a small Gazebo at the head of the driveway.) Stay right on the paved drive, the driveway turns to gravel, stay left on the gravel. We at the end of the driveway (about 1/2 mile), near Silver Creek.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Chickens



A comfortable, active life? Delicious food? Count me in! Our chickens have the good life! The broiler chickens are enjoying the pasture around our towering black walnut trees. We currently moving them to a fresh piece of the pasture twice a day. The broiler chickens know that we bring them delicious food. They wait for us at the door, squawking with excitement. They know human visits= exciting new food. As we pull the "hoop coop" forward to fresh grass, they line up along the fresh grass and jostle each other for the best spot.




Currently, most people see how the animals they eat are raised, and that allows industrial systems to raise animals not on a farm but in a warehouse or in a feedlot. Our farm is open to visitors. Everyone can visit our farm and see what a good life our animals have.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Compost


Organic matter is the basis of any sustainable agricultural operation. Broadly speaking organic matter is anything in the soil derived from living or once living creatures. The rest of the soil is minerals from broken down rock.

Organic material in the soil works wonders. It mediates chemical, physical, and biological processes and creates a more stable soil structure. Each tiny piece of organic matter is actually not solid at all, but filled with pores. The tremendous surface area acts a sponge for plant nutrients and water. During dry periods it holds moisture for plants. In wet periods it better retains and releases water to prevent surface runoff-in other words it helps in both flood and drought. Likewise, the sponge holds all kinds of plant nutrients.

Perhaps the most amazing component of soil organic matter is the living component. In a tablespoon of healthy soil the organic matter holds more than 7 billion organisms, as many creatures as there are people on the entire planet. This living soil literally builds more soil by breaking down dead plant matter, manure, and minerals. As minerals and dead matter are broken down nutrients are released for crops.

Some soil organisms form beneficial relationships with plants. For example, fungi in the soil can extend the effective root area of a plant by several orders of magnitude. This allows the plant to absorb water and nutrients more effectively.

The best part is that we can make this soil organic matter! Perhaps you know it as compost. Compost is the foundation of sustainable crop growing. To make compost we combine fresh plant matter and manure with dry matter like straw or leaves. Within a few days a properly built pile will become warm to the touch as microorganisms whip into a feeding frenzy. After only a few weeks or months (depending on season, ingredients, and pile management) what was once a pile of horse poop, straw, and cucumbers will turn into a rich, dark, sweet smelling, crumbly substance.



Fresh compost on the garden

Unfortunately, we can also destroy soil organic matter. The excessive use of synthetic plant nutrients, excessive tillage, and the use of poisons for both insects and weeds will kill soil life. Without the living component of the soil organic matter no new dead plant matter is ever incorporated. Leaves will stay leaves and corn stalks will stay corn stalks, for many months. Eventually, the soil will be reduced to a hard, lifeless medium used to hold plants up and receive the chemical fertilizers the producer sprays. Additionally, without the structural support of organic matter soil easily erodes with excess water. Soil becomes highly susceptible to compaction by machinery. As the soil is degraded crops require more and more inputs to produce. The additional use of fertilizers and machinery generally speeds the process of soil degradation. In the end soils can be turned into lifeless dirt. One that is extremely difficult to grow anything in.

At Bluebird Farm we strive to build our soil organic matter through the use of compost and rotational grazing techniques. As organic matter improves we will see a decrease in our water needs and an increase in yields. As the process continues our land will only improve in its food production ability and the food will be of higher quality.

For more information on compost read
http://www.rodale.com/compost-and-organic-gardening

For information on organic soil management check out
http://www.attra.org/soils.html

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Arrivals

We have had some exciting new arrivals at the farm!


Our greens, radishes, and carrots are practically exploding out of the ground. Some of the lettuce germinated in only two days! We look forward to eating fresh greens in a few weeks.



We also received over 100 baby chicks! We ordered several dual-purpose breeds. These are breeds that are good as both layer hens and for meat. Almost half of the birds we ordered are cockerels, or young males. We will use them for meat and breeding.

We chose these heritage breeds because we want to eventually use less and less of the industry meat bird-the cornish cross. The cornish cross is a large breasted white bird that is extremely overbred for rapid growth. Essentially the are designed to stuff their faces and become obese. This breed suffers from a wide range of health problems including a tendency toward heart attacks and lots of leg joint issues. Additionally, their breasts are so large that they can't naturally breed. By choosing these other varieties we can keep some of the males for breeding our own chicks. This way we can maintain control of our breeding animals and avoid shipping chickens from half way across the country.

Monday, September 7, 2009

September Newsletter

Hello!

William and I, having returned to North Carolina to farm, have hit the ground running. Our new enterprise is called Bluebird Farm. We are very excited to farm in beautiful North Carolina! Thank you to all of our customers who have enjoyed the farm fresh eggs from our hens on green pastures. As you know, our family has been helping us by raising our young laying hens. A big thank you goes out to them for all of their hard work. William and I have been busy with farm work. We will produce chemical-free vegetables and hormone/antibiotic-free meat from animals on pastures.

Picture a farm where your eggs come from. Are the hens raised humanely, outside eating grass? Or do they live in a crowded warehouse with thousands of other chickens? Even “cage-free” and “free range” hens live in conditions like these. Our hens can always eat fresh grass and roam around eating insects. Our farm fresh eggs are flavorful, low in saturated fats, high in essential omega 3’s and vitamin D, and low in cholesterol.



Raising healthy hens in a way that protects the environment and provides a living for local farmers requires some higher costs. To reflect these costs, our eggs are $3.50/dozen. This money goes directly to the farmers and back to the raising of healthy, happy chickens and our labor.

In addition to our eggs we will have delicious produce this fall. We will have baby salad mix, stir-fry greens, spinach, and other fall vegetables at the end of September. These greens are full of flavor, fresh harvested, and you know they are environmentally safe. Our vegetables are produced using organic methods (not currently certified), so you know that they are always chemical free. We build the health of the soils to ensure high nutrition in our vegetables and the grass the animals eat.



Our animals are raised on pastures with continuous access to fresh grass and grains. Pastured animals have high quality meat that is more flavorful, low in saturated fats, and higher in essential omega 3 fatty acids than conventional meats. Our first pastured meat will be whole, broiler chickens. Our broiler chickens are out on the pasture enjoying grass and insects. These chickens will be butchered at the end of September. Order now to get whole, dressed chickens. The meat does not contain any water or salts from processing so you purchase meat not water! Available for $3.50/lb.

We would love to have your email so we can keep you updated as the farm grows and we have new products. The best way to learn about the food you eat is to visit the farm where it is grown. We would love for you to visit. We are just outside of Morganton. Please email for directions or questions at bluebirdfarmNC@gmail.com Look for updates and more photos about the farm here on our blog at: bluebirdfarmNC.blogspot.com

Pastured Meat and Eggs

This fall we have our pastured eggs and pastured broiler chickens for meat. The key word in both products is pastured. The word lets you know, as a consumer, that our birds have continuous access to fresh grass. Chickens, like most birds, are omnivores, so in addition to the grass in the pasture the chickens hunt insects and find weed seeds. Taken together this pasture diet is extremely important to the health of the animals and so to our health.

Because of the pasture diet meat, dairy, and eggs from pastured animals carry an almost endless list of nutritional benefits. In general pastured animal products are low in bad fats, high in good fats, high in vitamins, and rich in anti-oxidants.


In addition, we raise our animals without antibiotics or hormones. This is important because 70% of antibiotics used in this country are used on animals that aren’t even sick. The medications are given as a preventative measure because the production system is so unhealthy undedicated animals would quickly sicken and die. This widespread use of antibiotics in animals is contributing to the rise of drug resistant diseases.
A great source for information on the benefits of pasture raised meat, dairy, and eggs is:

http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm

Working in the Garden

We have arrived in Morganton!

The last two days have been spent working in the garden. Larry, Victor, and Vivian kept a very nice garden so we arrived to minimal weeds, nice tomatoes, and gorgeous peppers. One of the highlights of the garden are four huge basil plants. As I write Marie and Vivian are making some pesto. They have more basil than they know what to do with and you can't even tell that the plants have been harvested from!



Today we planted carrots and greens. The carrots are an experiment to see if we can squeeze in a fall harvest. If not, they should be an early spring crop. We planted a first round of lettuce mix, stir fry mix, spinach, and arugula. It is wonderful to have my hands in the soil and work with seeds. Seeds are such wonders. Each seeds contains all the information for a new plant with its own set of fruit and some more hundreds or thousands of seeds. Amazing to think about.





Being back in the east is a little bit of a shock for us. Everyone has been remarking how cool and nice the weather has been. But as we work our shirts cling to our bodies and our pants are damp from sweat--dry? Of course in the west sweat evaporates immediately, so we are adjusting.