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Cornbread with vegetables

July 4, 2015

1 1/4 cups of cornmeal
1 cup wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped mustard greens, kale, collards etc.
1 cup corn kernels
1 chopped red bell pepper

Preheat oven to 350˚. Mix the dry ingredients and beat the eggs with the milk in separate bowls. Melt the butter in an iron skillet. Then stir the milk/eggs and the butter in with the dry ingredients. Mix in the vegetables, pour into the buttered skillet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Of course you do not have to use an iron skillet, but it is what I use. If you do not melt the butter in the baking dish you will have to grease the baking dish. Experiment with different vegetables.

Local, Pastured, Organically fed Chicken

July 4, 2015

IMG_3679I would like to introduce our LFF organically raised red broilers, aka freedom rangers. The chickens free range all day on pastures and in the woods. They are not confined in “tractors”. At night they go in the electric netting and portable huts that are periodically moved around our pasture. They eat bugs, seeds and grass, and we supplement with duckweed from our pond and farmed soldier fly larva.
Like our laying hens, they are also fed soy free organic chicken feed from our friends at Coyote Creek Organic Feed in Elgin, Texas. We do not use the “natural” feeds, feed that is not free of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and additives. All certified organic feed is also gmo free.
The red broilers were developed for France’s famous Label Rouge organic free-range chicken program. We follow the Label Rouge standards for raising chickens which include:

• All birds have access to the outdoors from 9:00 am until dusk. (I let mine out before sunrise and close the door at dark).
• Each bird must have at least 22 sq. ft. of outdoor grazing space. (They have a lot more grazing space than that).
• Trees and brush are available for shade and browse. (No problem here)
• Feed must contain whole grains and not be medicated. No animal products, growth stimulators, fishmeal or synthetic amino acids are allowed. Grit must be available.(Thank you Coyote Creek)
• No pesticide use is permitted (Never happens)
• Birds must be grown a minimum of 81 days.
There are also regulations about the maximum size of flocks, 4000 birds, and I will only have about 200 in a flock.
We cannot follow the requirement that the birds be sold fresh, not frozen, due to local regulations and our distribution methods. Our birds will be sold whole and frozen, with giblets, necks and feet sold separately
The first birds will be available at the farmers market on July 11, 2015. The whole birds mostly weigh between three and four pounds and cost $6.95 per pound.
Feet: $3.00 per pound
Necks: $3.50 per pound
Liver: $4.50 per pound in approx. 1 pound packages
Heart: $4.50 per pound in approx. 1 pound packages
Gizzard: $4.50 per pound in approx. 1 pound packages
They will be available in very limited quantity beginning July 11, so please contact me if you want to reserve one or more. When we run out we will not have them again for at least 81 days.
We will be at the Eastside Farmers Market on second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

Texas, religion and the law.

June 29, 2015

Texas’s governor and attorney general, in response to the supreme court ruling on gay marriage, have said that if a ruling or law conflicts with your religious beliefs, you should not be legally required to obey it. That, of course, would pertain to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, American Indians, Baha’i, Taoists, etc., and I would assume it means any law. I wonder what Scientologists, Wicca, Vodun, or Atheists can do with this newfound freedom.
I am reminded of the civil rights era when issues like school segregation and interracial marriage were met with bible verses that “proved” that blacks and whites were never meant to be equal or together. “Religious liberty” was many people’s code for racism then. I remember the posters that a “religious” group stapled all over Berea College in December of 1971. They quoted scripture that they said “proved” that black people (not the word they used) were not human, and therefore without rights.
The use of pieces of scripture, searched for and plucked out, while ignoring the rest of the bible, is not the true basis of Christianity, no matter for how many centuries you repeat them.
Islamic fundamentalist militants use the same method to justify their actions.
After many people searched 31,173 verses in the bible (thanks google), some found six or seven passages that could be interpreted to support discrimination against homosexuals. There are more verses about figs than homosexuals. People love to quote one line from Leviticus, but you seldom hear the one on shellfish or mixing fabrics, much less all that stoning of people.
Many couples choose for marriage to be a religious union, which no one is objecting to and this ruling will not change, but marriage is not solely an institution of your religion. People with no religion get married in America.
This does not mean you need to approve of gay or interracial marriage. I do not approve of much of what we Americans do and I can find passages in the bible to support my beliefs, including our consumerism, wars, and the mass incarceration of the poor. I do not like the fact we subsidize monoculture and the inhumane treatment of farm animals, both condemned in the bible. But I do not stand in front of the supermarket to castigate people buying cruelly raised meat and quote Deuteronomy 25:4 or Proverbs 12:10.
In the meantime I will look at the bible for a solution to the smothering effect the state of Texas has on my farm requiring a nursery permit, a food establishment license, an aquaculture permit, and heck even a fishing license for my own pond. I know I can find a passage in the bible to back me on these core beliefs of my religion.
Then I will move on the bigger things like funding those wars. I think this new direction the state of Texas is taking will be a fun ride. Start reading your religious texts.
If I can only find a religion that says we should not pay taxes.

The Owl in the Hen House

June 18, 2015

great_horned_owl3.jpgTuesday’s encounter with a great horned owl, caught in my electric netting as he tried to grab one of my hens, brings me back to the question of predators, a place all farmers visit occasionally. As a permaculturist I try to mimic nature in my gardens and pastures. I mob graze the sheep through small diverse pastures in an attempt to copy the movement of the wild herds. My gardens are not monoculture, but include diverse plantings with fruit trees nearby, and borders of grapes and berries. We introduce a predator, chickens, to roam around the gardens catching the grasshoppers and beetles.
We welcome predator insects and insect eating wild birds.
The question is not how we can rid our farm of predators, but how we can protect our animals from the owls, hawks, coons and coyotes.
Kenan “nosed” that the owl in question, who rode in a dog crate to the Wildlife Center of Texas for rehab, had recently been eating a skunk, another chicken predator. Did that owl save a chicken from a skunk before he tried to kill one? The owl will eat baby possums, who, when grown, will eat my chickens as well, but possums also eat copperheads and roaches. It is a complicated system.
We have manipulated the system for many years without observing and understanding it.
We consider our a farming practice regenerative permaculture. To regenerate the ecosystem, we have to cooperate with nature, not control it.
The smallest predators, the microbes, live underground. The anthropods eat the nematodes, who eat the protozoa, who eat the bacteria. The chain goes on with earthworms, insects and birds, until you get to the king of the forest.
I do not want to fix mother nature.
That does not mean I want wild hogs and coyotes on my property. I need to protect my animals. I work to discourage the predators and fence them out.
But let’s face it. If we want to get rid of the most effective and destructive predator of all, we would have to kill ourselves.
The owl was doing fine at last WTC report.

Sheep wool for sale

June 16, 2015

When we sell eggs we label them as ungraded eggs from pastured chickens fed an organic diet. So this would be ungraded wool from pastured sheep fed an organic diet. Our sheep have been sheared and we have fleeces for sale. This is unwashed wool from Gulf Coast Native Sheep. It came straight off the sheep, into the bag. There will be vegetative matter in the wool. The sheep were not coated and they browsed in the woods at times. These sheep do not have facial or belly wool. The fleeces weigh between 2 pounds and 4 pounds each and we have 26 available. Fiber lengths vary. The price is $10 per pound. I will have some with me at the market on June 27. Please contact me if you are interested in seeing them before that. I would prefer not to ship. I want spinners and felters to see the wool before purchasing it, because I do not know much about wool, just sheep. All wool is from our flock here in Hempstead, Texas.

Random fiber sample 2015

Random fiber sample 2015


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skein of spun wool from 2014

skein of spun wool from 2014

Sheep shearing day

June 15, 2015

Today, Danny the shearer, gave 27 haircuts in two hours. The girls mostly lined up nicely. I only had two jump out of the shoot and three that I had to carry all the way. Not bad if past experience is my gauge. We now have wool for sale.
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Searching for higher ground

May 27, 2015

IMG_3328

IMG_3411 I do not mind feeding my chickens in pouring rain, especially when it is warm, but I will not move electric net fencing in a lightening storm, so the sheep are going to have to stay in where they are for a while. The sheep and chickens are soaked, like I am, and the prognosis for drying out within the next week is dismal. So far the flowing sheet of water across the pastures has drowned only one 8 week old broiler chicken–one too many. Even our well adapted Gulf Coast Native Sheep do not like having their hooves wet all the time. We spent the evening yesterday doing Famacha testing for internal sheep parasites that thrive in warm wet weather and can be deadly to sheep. The gardens, our June income, are gone, sitting in standing ( and sometimes running) water most of the month, and much of the road is impassible.
Additionally, we suspect the sheep are not getting as much nutrition out of the grass because the rain has leeched so much from the soil.
Farmers are always working in a tug of war with the weather, but this season has been especially challenging. Since Jan 1 we have received over 40 inches of rain, half of it here in May and 9 inches in the last 36 hours. On the bright side this morning at 8:15 am, as I was hooking up the battery/inverter power to the freezer, electric power returned and I expect the internet will return soon and I will post this.
Kenan and I are some of the lucky farmers because we have the opportunity to take decent paying part time off farm jobs. Many farmers do not have that choice. But we still have to work long hours at the farm to keep the animals as happy and healthy as possible and to maintain the systems we have in place for the future of the farm.
This weather calamity to local farms is coming at a time when ethical and health concerns abound from industrial food sources. Your chicken might be from China, your pork may be from pigs that have never been able to turn around in their cages, organic vegetables from foreign countries might have no regulations. The problems go on and on. You have to know your farmer. The farmer has to stay in business.
At Laughing Frog Farm we are going to be fine, but it will take time for us all to recover from this. We all appreciate the customers who continue to support us.
Buy local, healthy, ethically raised food direct from the farmer whenever possible. I want to thank all my customers, past, present and future–and I will see you at the market.
We farmers plan to be around for you in the future.

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