JJR Farm quitting organic meat & egg sales

John & Julie Rice of JJR Farm face an uphill battle trying to produce certified organic meat & eggs in central Missouri. There are no reliable local sources for organic grains; John’s often had to drive to Kansas or Iowa to get his bulk feed (our bagged feed is shipped in from Wisconsin). The only organic-certified slaughterhouse is in Illinois, a 600-mile round-trip every time they have to process an animal for legal sale as organic (the only way to justify the price of organic feed). 1200 miles, actually, one trip to drop the animal(s) off and one to pick up the meat once it’s ready. Unfortunately, the prices they can get for local organic meat & eggs don’t really relate to the cost of production and certification. Now, after seven years of organic production for local sales, they’re calling it quits. Continue reading

North Missouri day trip

We don’t take many days off during the growing season, but when we do we often like to explore the back roads of rural Missouri to see what we can find. As farmers, landscape geologists, history buffs, and railfans there’s more than enough to keep us occupied. Such road trips let us sit down, listen to music, see scenery, and take lots of short walks/hikes that don’t tire us out, since the idea is NOT to expend energy. Past short trips have included NW Missouri, the Niangua River, Royals baseball, lots of birding days, and in mid-May this year, north-central Missouri. Continue reading

Adapting a great Mexican pumpkin-seed sauce

Rick Bayless has a great recipe for a Green Pumpkin Seed Sauce using lots of fresh ingredients that are generally in season in spring. Its complex flavor is fantastic with meats or vegetables, and is well worth trying; it’s quite easy to make vegetarian if desired. The link above is to a rather poorly formatted Readers Digest version but will give you the idea. However, like many recipes, we often adapt it to meet the ingredients we have on-farm, since we don’t grocery shop on a regular basis and prefer creativity to targeted purchases. The original produces a thick green sauce that looks & tastes quite nice. The version we present below results in a equally good, but far more hideous-looking, brown sauce that doesn’t photograph well. The major difference involves replacing green pumpkin seeds, which we don’t normally have around, with organic Missouri pecans, which we order in bulk as our basic house nut (other than me). Below we’ll present the original and our latest adaptation of it, to illustrate how you can be creative with interesting recipes and items on hand. Continue reading

Ribs & borscht

We’re eating a lot of salads, sautes, stir fries, and other seasonal dishes lately that make quick & easy use of the produce on hand during our long and busy days. Tuesday’s dinner, though, was a nice treat based on a more even mix of fresh product and still-preserved items, highlighting the quality and diversity of foods we’re able to prepare and eat year-round sourced primarily from just this farm. All on-farm ingredients listed in italics. Continue reading

Shakir Hamoodi and the meaning of justice

Many local readers will have already heard the latest news regarding World Harvest and its owner. This is another case, like the recent raw milk story, where we don’t really have time to get involved yet feel very strongly about standing up for personal freedom against overzealous authority. Thus, I present some thoughts in the following post on a situation I find very unfortunate, and hope can be remedied before further harm is done. Continue reading

Home yogurt making

As non-fans of drinking milk on its own, we love making fresh yogurt as an alternative. It’s quite versatile in the kitchen, usable for everything from breakfast to dessert, and we easily go through 2 quarts a week or more. Before we established our own year-round milk supply, we found that we could make a batch of yogurt from local organic milk for about half the price of buying the equivalent volume of organic plain yogurt, with what we considered superior flavor and not shipped in from far away. Whether with our goat’s milk or your own preferred source, learning to make yogurt at home can be a really rewarding and cost-efficient process if you have a little time to spare. Continue reading

E. coli and raw milk paranoia in central Missouri

The recent news of an E. coli outbreak in central Missouri, supposedly tied to raw milk, has gotten us quite annoyed at the way it’s being handled and covered by both the Boone County Health Department and the Columbia Tribune. Given that our goats are now kidding, and we’re just a few weeks away from raw milk being available from our farm, this topic is on our mind. For background on our position on raw milk, read here and here, but the one-sentence version is that we produce and sell limited quantities of raw goat’s milk, but do not drink it raw ourselves and require anyone taking raw milk from this farm to sign an agreement not to consume it raw either; we do this because raw milk is the only way we can legally sell any dairy products without impractically complicated and expensive dairy facilities and licensing requirements. See also the wording about raw milk sales in our CSA information. That being said, we are strong proponents of the personal right of adult Americans to purchase and use raw milk as an ingredient no different than raw meat or raw eggs, both of which also come with health bureaucrat warnings and are risky to handle and consume but are nevertheless legal to be stupid take risks with if you want to. We especially don’t support feeding raw milk to children, but then again we don’t support exposing children to junk food or tobacco either, and those unsafe activities are legal and unregulated at the individual level. But here’s why we’re annoyed with this story and how it’s being covered: Continue reading

Weather & farm planning

Weather and crop management will always be inextricably linked; this has been especially true in the screwy recent weather patterns. As we transition, at least temporarily, from record spring warmth to a series of seasonal frosts/freezes, here’s a discussion of how weather considerations have affected both short- and long-term planning on the farm this spring.
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Bird list & other natural events, March 2012

March was the warmest on record for our area, but we’re not alone. The Washington Post notes that many other parts of the country had it far worse; for example:

In Marquette, MI, Wednesday’s record-crushing high was 81 compared to the old record of 49, which even the morning low of 52 topped. The same day Grand Rapids, MI scored its all-time record temperature departure (for highs) soaring to 87, 40 degrees above normal.

I guess it’s comforting that we were only 30 degrees or so above normal? Of course, then we had a pretty good frost Thursday night with multiple more to come next week, judging by the forecast. We’ll be covering the strawberries just about every night this week.

Lots of flowers, birds, and animals have become active over the last month. Both crop pests and beneficial predators have been showing up in force. We feel we’ve had far less time to actually enjoy March this year, due to the early warmup and the associated farm workload, and thus have been missing some of the natural signs and events we like to track. But here’s a look at some things we have documented. Continue reading

Making and using crepes

Crepe-making is a wonderfully diverse kitchen skill to have; crepes are easy to make and can be used to improve so many different dishes. I’ve used them as spring roll wrappers, pseudo-tortillas, and even as a reasonable substitute for Ethiopian njera (see below). A batch takes so little time that crepes can be an easy meal for a busy night, simply stuffing them with whatever you might have on hand. We learned to appreciate the diversity of crepes through restaurants in Montreal and western New York state (such as this one), and have yet to run out of uses for them. Here’s a look at several different ways to make them, and some of the uses we’ve put them to here on the farm. Continue reading