As we get closer to the month of May, we get closer to getting plants in the ground. We are working with our friends at Green Gardens for this part of the year. They have amazing infrastructure for starting seeds, and we are just not quite prepared for that aspect yet.
A few nights ago, we stopped by their farm and picked up our sixteen trays of onion starts. We are growing five types of onions this year. The two of us are HUGE onion lovers, and we use them in many of our meals. We also have some plans for making dried onion products this year, if we manage to find enough hours in our days.
The varieties we are growing are as follows: Walla Walla, Redwing, Cortland, Sierra Blanca, and Nabechan. This gives us a wide variety of types and purposes. Walla Walla is a sweet white onion that is great for many dishes. Redwing is a delicious red storage onion that will last through the winter, allowing us to extend our selling season. Cortland is also a storage onion. Nabechan is a tasty green onion that we have grown in the past.
This is just the first round of plantings we are doing in the garden. So far, one bed has been planted, with the rest hopefully happening this weekend, as long as the weather cooperates! If these sound tasty to you, and you enjoy onions as much as we do, our CSA might be a good idea! Read about it here, and send us an email to sign up!
Over the last few years, we have seen more and more local farmers offer CSA shares for their customers, and we have decided that this year, Frontière Farm House will join in!! Here is some information on how it works.
What is a CSA? CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.” Farming is an expensive endeavor that requires a lot of upfront investment, and the returns take a while to show. Having a CSA means that farmers can get an influx of capital up-front, and customers usually get a discount for making that investment early on.
What makes our CSA different? We are asking for a purchase of a CSA membership upfront in a set amount of $100, $250 or $500. This will get you what is essentially a Frontière Farm House gift card loaded with that amount that you can use at any of our markets. There is no expiration date on the card, and it can be topped up whenever is convenient for you, in those same amounts. You can spend as much or as little as you want, when you want. You do not need to pick up weekly, and you get to choose exactly what you receive.
What do you get with the membership? With this purchase, we are offering a bonus on loading and reloading the card. If you make the initial purchase before April 30, 2019, the bonus will be as follows: $100 purchase gets you: $115 (an extra 15%) $250 purchase gets you: $292.50 (an extra 17%) $500 purchase gets you: $600 (an extra 20%) After April 30, 2019, including any reloads, the bonus will be as follows: $100 purchase gets you: $110 (an extra 10%) $250 purchase gets you: $280 (an extra 12%) $500 purchase gets you: $575 (an extra 15%) This bonus amount will remain the same for all of 2019. We may change the bonus percentage in the future.
What can you get with the CSA? In short, anything we sell! This year, we plan on offering: Chicken, duck, and goose eggs; and chicken, duck, goose, and turkey meat. In addition, we will have a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers; our delicious spice blends and infused salts; and a selection of Nicole’s hand knit and handmade items (at most markets). We will send out an email and/or a Facebook update with what will be available at the market weekly. If something is only available in a limited quantity, we will let you know ahead of time, and offer the option to reserve a small number
What can you not get with the CSA? The only things that the CSA cannot be spent on are wholesale orders, and our Egg CSA. Basically, you cannot “double dip” the discounts.
Now that the rush of summer is gone, we were truly hoping that autumn and winter would be a little easier and calmer. So far, we have been wrong.
Our final batch of chickens for this season was brought to the processor last week. They are now in the freezer awaiting their new homes in the ovens and soup pots of our customers. This batch of chickens finished a little smaller than previous batches. We aren’t sure if it’s due to being later in the year, and the pasture not being quite as nutritious, or something else. That being said, they are just as delicious as the previous birds sent to the processor. We had to acquire an additional freezer to store these birds in. We are hoping to have it emptied out by the end of the year. Or at least have one of the meat freezers emptied out by then.
We have acquired several new animals recently. We have three Jacob sheep that we purchased from Sweetgrass Jacobs back at the end of October. One named Limerick, who is a two horned ram born in April of this year. We also got one two horned female and a four horned female, named Haiku and Tanka respectively. They are all quite skittish, but they are slowly warming up to us.
In addition to the sheep, we’ve acquired five goats. They came from a farm that was downsizing. We have three wethers and two does. The wethers are named Taco, Milkshake and Nugget, and the does are Curry and Fudge. Yes, we named them all after foods that goats can be made into. But we don’t plan on eating these ones any time soon.
Our chickens and ducks have slowed their egg production. We are still getting a dozen or two a day, but that’s a far cry from the overflowing baskets we were getting for most of the summer. It will pick back up in the spring. Everything has a season, and egg season is definitely early summer!
We will be processing our own turkey for Thanksgiving, and we are really looking forward to that. We have two really large males that we will choose between. The second one will be served up at the December holiday dinner. We hope the rest of the turkeys will lay eggs for us to hatch and raise up for next year’s holiday dinners.
All of our tasty products, and some of Nicole’s knitted items will be available at the Marshall Farmers Market at the B.E. Henry building. We hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, feel free to send us a message to make arrangements to get some eggs or chicken. Happy almost-winter!
It’s hard to believe that a month ago today, the two of us were at the wedding of Robert’s sister Elaine and her husband Dan. We were honored to arrange the flowers for the ceremony and reception. We had initially planned on growing them, but we got a little ambitious with our garden plans, and the weeds got away from us. With help from Green Gardens, we pulled everything off amazingly well.
A little before the wedding date, we placed our order with Trent. The day before the wedding, we cut some flowers and greens from our property. Much of it was trimmed off our trees that needed pruning, or were actual weeds (they were primarily Queen Anne’s lace) from our lawn. They worked beautifully with what we ordered. A little later in the day, we got in touch with Trent and he let us know that he had our flowers and filler cut and waiting in buckets for us. The arrangements consisted of zinnias, a few dahlias, multiple types of basil, a couple types of celosia, gomphrena, sunflowers and cosmos. There were a few other flowers that we had in small numbers as well.
They were stored overnight in the basement at Robert and Elaine’s parent’s house. It was cooler there, and they would likely hold better. We were very happy with how that worked out. Robert spent much of the morning with the groomsmen while I did the flowers with the help of Elaine’s friend Gretchen. She was a lifesaver! It can be said that I don’t do well under pressure, and an extra set of hands and eyes, and a kind voice were so welcomed.
The flowers started with the bouquets for the bridal party to carry. I wanted to make sure I used the prettiest flowers first. Elaine’s bouquet took some work, but eventually I got it. Gretchen wrapped the stems with twine and gave them a great polished look. We trimmed the stems so that Elaine’s bouquet was a little longer than the rest. It looked amazing.
After the important bouquets were finished, we worked on the 55 or so centerpiece arrangements. Elaine and many family members and friends had been looking for small bud vases and jars for almost two years before the wedding. They looked lovely together, and were fairly easy to arrange.
All together on one table, they were a sight to see! I got so many compliments on them, and I really enjoyed myself. It was stressful, as I didn’t want to disappoint Elaine and Dan, but in the end, it went really really well. Other than the flowers, vases and twine, the only things we needed were loads and loads of floral tape, and some super sharp flower snips. Arranging flowers isn’t the most complicated thing in the world, but it definitely takes some practice. I look forward to more opportunities to work on it.
Something super exciting is happening at Frontière Farm House very soon! Our first batch of meat birds is going to the processor tomorrow, and we can’t wait to share them with all of you.
Back at the end of March, we received a shipment of Red Ranger and Husky Ranger chicks from The Chick Hatchery. They were so tiny when they first arrived! We struggled a little at first, and a few didn’t survive, but since that initial issue (which we’ve worked out for future batches) they haven’t had any health troubles. When we first got them, they grew so quickly. In fact, if one of us didn’t see them for a couple days, we noticed their growth very easily.
We are getting close to processing time, and we wanted to share more information about these soon-to-be delicious birds. As said previously, they are Red Ranger and Husky Ranger. These are both chicken breed crosses that have been selectively bred to grow fairly quickly. They are slightly slower growing and have far fewer health problems than the traditional Cornish cross, which was very important to us. In addition, the Ranger types are better for free range/pasture raising (hence the name). We have our birds in a mobile chicken coop, often called a chicken tractor, which we move to fresh grass every single day, and sometimes twice a day. They can eat all the grass, weeds, bugs and dirt they want. More than once we have seen them chase flying insects in the tractor and eagerly gobble them up. This is what chickens are meant to do! In addition, we feed them a high-quality meat bird grower feed which is blended at a local mill. It doesn’t contain any hormones or antibiotics and is made from grains grown local to us. Supporting local farmers is something that we do as often as possible!
Red Rangers and Husky Rangers mature in ten to twelve weeks. It is a short life, but our birds are very happy every single day they spend on our farm. We have a goal of making sure none of our animals have more than one bad day. We will be bringing them to a USDA inspected facility where they will be processed. We have heard nothing but good things about this processor, and we are confident that they will do a great job of minimizing suffering for our birds. Once they are killed, plucked, and cleaned, they will be wrapped, weighed, labeled, and we will bring them home in coolers. We will have them available fresh for the first day at the market, and then we will freeze them shortly after. We are taking pre-orders for the birds. For just $5, you secure your whole bird. That will go towards the total cost. They are $4.50 a pound for the whole birds, and if we end up doing halves or eight pieces, the price will be slightly more.
In addition to picking them up from us, we will have chicken available through our friends at Green Gardens Community Farm! The pricing will be the same, but pre-orders will not be available.
We already have our second batch of birds started, and these will also be ready in ten to twelve weeks. If you miss out on this first round, you don’t have too long to wait for more!
Summer of 2017 was a summer of next to no rain. It made for a difficult first year of gardening for us on our new property. We got a soil test done last year which told us what our garden was lacking. One of them was organic matter. Back in September 2017, we plowed the garden and seeded with winter rye and forage radish. The radishes have long roots which helps aerate the soil, and the rye helps build up organic matter when it’s tilled in.
Last weekend, Robert went through our careful orchestration of acquiring the tools we need to do large scale garden work. We borrow a cone spreader from our friends at Green Garden, and a tractor from our friends Dave and Nancy. He also had to borrow a van to transport all the bags of fertilizers home.
Our garden is about 3/4 of an acre. Because of the large size, and how poor our soil is, we needed large quantities of everything. It started with 1500 pounds of lime. Lime helps raise the pH of the soil. Most plants want the soil between 6.5 and 7, and ours was at 5.4. In addition, 400 pounds of 19-19-19 fertilizer was added. This adds nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. And finally, our soil was especially poor in potassium, so 40 pounds of potash was mixed in, which is 0-0-60.
So far, so good with what has been spread. We still need to till in the rye and spread our plastic mulch. But, it’s progressing, which makes us both happy. We can’t wait to share what we are growing with you!
We’ve been told that spring is coming, but we beg to differ. We’ve had alternating days of wonderful weather, with clear skies and reasonable temperatures, and complete garbage. This morning, I woke up to snow dusting the entire yard. Luna wasn’t super impressed with it when I took her out to do her business and care for the animals.
First thing every morning, we let the flock out of the coop. The chickens, ducks and muscovies spend the night in the coop, and the geese stay outside. They are too large, and just too mean to keep in with the rest of the flock overnight. Plus, we have them as “guard dogs” so we want them to make noise if something is amiss. This is what “Unleashing the Feather Beasts” looked like back in the fall.
In the last month or so, we’ve added several birds to our flock. The first were a pair of male muscovies. We got a white, as well as a lavender. Shortly after, we got a trio of females to go with them. We plan on breeding them to raise babies for both egg and meat production. We also acquired three female Toulouse geese, which seem to have bonded with the trio of American Buff geese we have. The plan for those is also raising babies for meat production. Plus, we’ll enjoy some eggs while we wait for the ladies to go broody.
We have also ordered more layers, as well as our first batch of meat birds. The layers are going to be Easter Eggers, to add a little color to our cartons for the market. The meat birds are Red Rangers as well as Husky Rangers. The Easter Eggers will be added to our laying flock after brooding in the barn for a few weeks. The Rangers will be put into tractors to be moved around our pasture. We have several reasons we’ve chosen Rangers as opposed to the usual Cornish Cross meat birds, which we will go into more detail in a future post. Keep an eye out for that one!