Thoughts from the Farm
The cut-off day is here again and I just haven't found a moment to send an email until now...(Crazy!!) but here's a little up date on the farm happenings...
As you probably noticed, they completely sold out before Thanksgiving Weekend! Our own family just about didn't get to eat turkey, but one lady forgot about that she ordered one and said we could keep it!
Next year, some very good friends of our our moving back from Ontario and will be raising more Free-range Turkeys to add to the pool :)
Geese and Pillows...
After processing the ducks ourselves, it became very apparent that we raised FAR more geese than we really had the man power to butcher! 250 geese doesn't sound like much, and they are fun to raise but when compared to butchering 4000 pastured-chickens, the processing time is is almost the same!! So many steps.- bleeding, steaming, hand-plucking, waxing, cooling, waxing again, cooling again, peeling the wax off, scrubbing the wax bits off in hot water, evicerating, and picking picking picking feathers and pin feathers still left, final cooling and then bagging - we just couldn't take 8-10 days out of the fall for that, when there is so many things to do!
So in the end I talked REALly nice to the people at the Quill Lake Hutterite Colony, and they finally agreed to process our geese... ...the right set-up, 43 people and 6 hours later, it was done! What really struck me was the wonderful color they had to their skin...it was very noticable compared to the hutterites own non-pastured geese they did that morning. I am so looking forward the rich, moist, delicious once-a-year-taste (atleast) of a Free-Range Holiday Goose. There are a total of 210 geese left as I write... I hope all who want to try this old European tradition take the opportunity do it this year because we are probably only going to do a few dozen next year!
But I also want to mention something else... The ladies did keep most of our feathers and down and they are allowed (i think) to have a little side-business of making down pillows and duvets. After buying a set of piilows this spring for our neighbor girls wedding present, I am totally in love with the quality and would highly recommend them to anyone... They are $250 for a 90x90 queen duvet and $150 for queen pillows. I'm not marking them up at all, just happy to help arrange delivery if anyone wants. Send me an email if your interested or want different sizes.
It's that time of year again and egg production has kind of bottomed out...the chicken are doing their semi-annual molt (change of feathers). We may actually have to cut back on some of the orders, just so you are aware. The new chickens should be laying soon though.
We did half of the last batch of RedBro chickens on Monday and Tuesday...they were beautiful chickens, but we cut almost all of them up for pieces because the pin feathers and pigment of this breed is really a royal pain to deal with...Skinless-Thighs are in abundance now! But I think you will be really happy with the quality - the breasts are longer and narrower than the standard Cornish chicken but much more even thickness, so they are a dream to cook properly! They do taste excellent and while they were growing we had virtuallly no leg problems. But they took a lot longer to grow and a lot longer to process which kind of took the profit out of them. While we may raise some of these next year, the price of them may have to be higher to compensate. We actually had very good sucess with the Cornish Cross chickens by hand feeding them on the ground twice a day, to slow down their crazy fast growth a little and give them all enough space to eat at once. we will probably concentrate on good mangagement of the easy-to-process white chickens next year.
ps we made lots of "Broth Making Packs" for those of you who have come to value the mineral and collegen-rich, flavourful warmth of real chicken soup stock!
Read this very informative Weston A Price Foundation article on to understand why broth is a super food and why you don't want Chicken OXO in your cupboards!!
Grass-Fed Beef and Pastured Pork...
Finally, we have found another butcher that should be here in a month or so!! He's relatively young, fast and experienced, so we are hoping this takes the pressure of of Dad and he'll find life a little more enjoyable at 60!
We do hope that we'll be able to keep the beef and pork "stores" much better stocked and be able to offer more bulk quarters and halfs!. Dad can concentrate on heathy sausages and maybe some other Charcuterie! More on this when it happens :)
I thought it wouldn't be that hard to find a bigger winter delivery location but it is turning out to be a bit of a challange in Saskatoon. If anyone has connectons to a an easy-access building with a large parking lot, such as a church or community center, please let me know asap!! We may have to tough it out one more time in the at the Field House, but I'd rather not! :)
Hope this find you getting winterized!
for the CSR famlies
Just want to remind you that the Free-Range Turkey department is open until Oct 3 and they are going fast!
(The other departments are not on...we are just taking turkey orders right now)
This year we raised raised white Nicholas turkeys, feeding local grains without, of course, any antibiotics or chemicals added to the feed. But most importantly, they spent the whole summer being rotated regularly to fresh pastures! Turkeys are EXCELLENT foragers and a pasture-based diet really influences the flavour and quality of the meat, not to mention the nutrition! These turkeys also have generous amount of white breast meat, and will make an awesome centerpiece for your Thanksgiving dinner!
We are anticipating the turkeys to weigh between 14-20 lbs with a few more on either side of that. The price is $3.75/lb. We will be making all our Fresh Turkey deliveries on Friday October 5 to both Saskatoon, Regina and stops along the way.
Hope this find you getting all your fall harvesting and preserving done in this gorgeous weather!
Thank you for supporting our farm!
for the CSR team
ps Quick question to you all...Because it will be a Friday, and most people work, would a 4:00 - 6:00pm delivery time work for most of you in Saskatoon and Regina??
Well school has started and if there's one thing I'm grateful for it's the imposed routine it puts on us. Some "school new year's" resolution have been started... For 5 years now, since I was introduced to the book Nourishing Tradtions, I've been slowly adding healthy cooking practices to my kitchen. When I first started, I thought "How would any sane person have time for all of this??" But as I look back, I'm suprised at what actually HAS become normal at our house and not a big deal anymore... making all our salad dressings, making bone broths, rendering lard and making butter, cheese, yogurt, creme fraiche. But there are still plenty of things that need work... I stuggle to get in the habit of making sourdough breads and to keep a varied supply of fermented veggies around. But I'm going to master it this year. I've got good grains from Daybreak Mill, and my garden is bursting...no exuses! Wish me luck :)
Speaking of trying new things, Free-Range Duck is finally listed in the store!
If you've never had Duck, I hope you get a chance to try it ...as I'm not sure if we will be doing it again next year or not. There's been sort of a "Love-Hate" thing with waterfowl here on the farm :) As babies, they sooo blasted CUTE, following you where ever they heard your voice! As they got bigger, oh what a mess they could make... had to bed the brooder twice a day! Then as we moved them outside, we found out just how much grass they actually consumed and we had to take down and set up their electric nets WAY to often! The great thing was that they were so easy to move, staying as a flock all the time. But the NOISE could be deafening at times...until they got their adult voices, and then it wasn't so bad. Then came processing day and that JUST about sealed the deal that we would NEVER raise these things again...they say it is 5 times harder and slower to clean a duck than any chicken and but I think it's much more actually... the moral of the team totally crashed doing ducks!
But then...Remi (from Calories) introduced us to Duck Confit at our Farm-to-Fork Dinner and I fell back in love!! Maybe somethings are just worth the pain! :)
I actually just finished cooking up a pan-full tonight and I have no idea how I'm going to wait 2 weeks to eat it!! (the carmelized garlic cloves are such a teaser!!)
Confit simply means to immerse meat in fat, slow-cook with herbs & salt for flavour and preservation (up to 6 months) You can technically Confit any meat, but Duck and Goose legs and Pork are the usual meats used. So in case you don't know a thing about Duck Confit, here's a link that is very close to what Remi taught me. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!
Fresh Thanksgiving Turkey can be reserved from now until October 3
We will make a special delivery for them on Friday October 5
I am predicting that we'll be sold out of Turkeys after Thanksgiving, "un-thankfully" due to the Turkey Police who limit all non-quota holders to only producing 99 turkeys, so I invite you to experience the European traditon of a real Christmas Goose! You can look for them in the in our "store" October
That's all for now :)
for the CSR team
Well it was a hectic week of getting ready for the Farm to Fork Dinner, and in 6 hours the tour and the food was all over... and I'm happy to say it was so worth it!
We're so thankful for the great neighbors, family and friends that pitched in to help. What ever we needed done, there was willing hands around :)
And I am so grateful and amazed at the generosity and talent of the Calories crew in putting on such a beautiful feast!! Remi and Uwe, with their partners, Edyta and Annya came out just for the joy of cooking for a very special group of food lovers (and sleeping on cowhide rugs on hay in the barn loft!) and I hope Edyta won't mind if I share part of a message she wrote back to me...
"We feel very privileged to be able to be a part of the community you have been able to create over the last couple of years. No thank you is necessary. I am pretty sure I can speak for Remi in that there is nothing better than cooking and sharing a meal with a community of people who understand and appreciate the work required to put the food on the table. We would do it all over tomorrow, and the day after that... In fact, brief moments like the one when you watch the long rows of tables covered with burlap fill up with people sharing a meal grown and cooked from the heart is what makes all this hard work worthwhile;-). Thank you for all that you do."
Isn't that great??
In conversation with them on Friday night, I learned just how MUCH more time, effort, and money it is to source quality local food from many farmers, vs the Sysco truck doing a once a week, one-stop shop of all thing commercially produced. And that it's especially unrewarding that maybe only 5% of people really care who or how their food was raised. But for a handful of chefs, the love of good food and a pride in their craft drives them to work with the best in real food. They do it for the people that can appreciate the difference..and that is why they came to cook for our dinner...100% of you know the differnce!
You ARE a special group of people... you've done your homework and, for many reasons, know what kind of food you want to eat, you are willing to change from convenience shopping at superstores (where you really don't know anything about where it came from or how it was raised) to meeting your farmer in random parkinglots at specific dates and times to pick up very "unbranded" but REAL food! ...and on Saturday, 150 of you made the trek up to 300+km out to the farm to see how your food is being raised! I'm humbled, honored, and thankful to know there is people like you who CARE!
For the CSR families
Just a quick email to mention that the store will be closing tonight, for those of you who wanted to order but didn't get a chance yet...
We are totally excited to finally have 100% Grass-fed Beef Burgers! We have changed the spices around a little and taken out the smoked pork, as we mutually agreed that it's just better to add real Bacon to your hamburger when you eat it! Let us know what you think...
We just porcessed half of our 2nd batch of chickens on Monday (these ones were called Bergs's Grazers") We were really happy with the liviability and lack of leg problems, but a little disappointed at size of them at 3 months old. We decided to leave the other half out on the pasture for another 2 weeks.
Another fact to note is that a percentage of them (not all) have some black wing and tail feathers, which can leave a pigment under the wing skin. The big processing plants HATE these colored breeds, for exactly that reason and it's also why Heritage Turkeys have all but dissappeared - apparently people are FUSSY and it's cost us a lot of "breed diversity"! But it is just COSMETIC and does NOT affect eating quality!! (on the contrary, actually) Now that you know that...you will happily embrace the nuances of a more traditional French Chicken... RIGHT?? :)
The plus-side is that at 4-5 lbs, they make the most flavourful, tender "beercan" Free-range Chicken you'll ever eat!!
Farm-to Fork Dinner update...
Please NO more late RSVPs...we have to work with numbers we have as of August 5 which is around 150 people!
I feel silly doing this... but many of you have asked "what is the cost? you can't do this for free!!"
Well it IS free - we really DO appreciate the detication of you have to consciencely shop in an unconventional way to eat well and support what you believe in - but if you really want to donate something, we would put it toward a hamburger patty machine. The dinner IS IN APPRECIATION though, so don't feel obligated to give anything...seriously!!
I'm super excited about the Remi, Edyta, Uwe, Anaya, Lea and Micheal coming! Spent one day at Calories, preparing the Duck Confit, and I learned so much - it was a great time!! They are all so enthused about good food, it was highly infectious! (In another life, I know what I would be doing!) So many texts and phone calls later, it's all coming together and I'm really looking forward to August 18th!
For the main Regina delivery, we are at Wascana Place again at 12:00 - 1:30pm. It seems to be great summer location, don't you think?
See you Saturday!
(for the CSR families)
ps we will have some Dairy Pet Milk along...speak for it in your order notes, if your like some
Farm to Fork Dinner
Saturday, August 18
We hope to increase awareness about the value of nourishing our bodies with grass-fed, non-toxic and nutrient-dense food, to strengthen local communities & economies and to help demonstrate the vital importance of preserving and restoring farmland for the next generation.
Join us for a memorable experience in the company of friends, neighbors, and those supporting us in producing your foods! Arrive at 2:00pm for a quick appetizer and then a tour with a close look at how we raise our animals. At 5:30 we will all sit down together and enjoy a delicious family-style dinner, made entirely from healthy ingedients produced on the farm or close to it!
This year we are very excited to have some special culinary help... Chef Remi Cousyns from Calories Restaurant in Saskatoon, who has been a long-time lover of real food and a personal patron of Cool Springs foods, has generously volenteered to come with a crew of chefs to assist in preparing the meal!
The menu will feature...
Free-Range Duck Confit & Smoked Duck Breast
Fresh-dug Baby Potatoes, Carrots, Salads and other organic veggies
Baked Organic Garlic
Artisan Breads from the Farmhouse Restaurant with Raw Summer Butter
Fresh Raw Milk Cheeses and Creme Fraiche
Chicken Liver Pate
Homemade Raw Icecream with local berries
Grass-fed Raw Jersey Milk
Fresh Mint Tea
Coffee (the one non-local exception)
Duck Bone Broth
RSVP by August 5 via email or on our Facebook Farm-to-Fork Dinner page
We are not serving alcohol, but feel free to bring your own drinks.
All activities will be held our side (unless it rains) and evenings can be quite cool on the farm, so please dress appropriately.
Happy Summer Solstice!!
First off, I have to share the exciting news that the pesky Meat Inspection Bylaw in Saskatoon was finally repealed at last Mondays City Council meeting!! It's now LEGAL, as it is in the rest of Saskatchewan, for a Regional Health Inspected butchershop like ours to sell meat to restaurants and healthfood stores, which will mean more access to NON-factory farmed, pasture-raised foods!! Not that we would be able to fill all the demand, but the FREEDOM to do it is the principle I value so much... the freedom for small sustainable farms to have the ability to provide good food to people that know exactly what they want (and don't want!) in their food!
And what everyone had been waiting for...Pasture-Raised Chicken is back in the store! ...and if you haven't placed an order earlier this week, you still can until tomorrow.
We processed a few hundred of our first batch of RedBro chickens on Monday. (We didn't have all of our usual processing crew and Sam and I had to finish up packaging last night - I must say we are a little bluery-eyed today from crawling into bed when the sun was just about up and the robin were singing! Won't do that again!)
Many of you who like a smaller chicken, will be happy with these as they averaged about 4-5lbs.
We are totally impressed with the "foraging ability", the "livability" and carcass quality of these RedBro chickens! You can tell that they eat more grass just by the color of the fat, and they grow at a much more "normal chicken pace" than the regular Cornish Cross (the breed 98% of the chicken industry uses) - their organs and immune systems can keep up to their growth! What a concept, eh?
After the success of last years Farm Tour and BBQ, we are going to do it again...
Mark your calandars for August 18!
I will start collecting RSVPs closer to the date, unless of course you know your already coming :)
The summer season is in full swing here, insanely busy with multiple batches of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, cattle and pigs all out on pasture, plus our gardens, which means precious little time to sit at this laptop! So I'll keep this short and sweet, and sign off here!
Hope YOUR gardens are doing great!
for the CSR team
It's cut-off day but I'm extending it one day since it's a bit of a short notice if you had planned to order but hadn't remembered. This is a painful month for you and me both - we're sold out of many things items and not-so-patiently waiting for the animals to finish. Please bear with us!
I'm happy to annouce that we will have our first batch of pasture-raised chicken next month though! They are a French breed called Red Bro which is a cross of 4 heritage breeds. (They have other names hatcheries call them - Freedom Rangers, Grazers, etc.) and are brand new to Canada. The chicks are more expensive and they take longer to get to a finished size than the too-fast-growing Cornish-Cross (the only meat breed we used to be able to purchase) but we are wildly happy with them! In general, they're very hardy birds, they really do love to graze, they don't develope leg issues, or get "green tenders", (that's a whole other story but you'll know what I'm talking about if you've ever had one!) So far Red Bros are everything we could hope for in a pasture-raised meat chicken, and we'll have the total picture when we process the first 10 week-old ones on June 4 and 5th.
If you are interested in learning the chicken processing process, you are welcome to come WWOOF at our farm for a day or 2! The first day is the actual "dressing" and the second day is cutting up chicken parts (which is a handy skill to have even in the city) and packaging. I know it won't be everyone's idea of a good time but it actually is a fun day working together as a crew and of course there's always good food to eat! call or email if you want to join us :)
What is WWOOFing?? For those that don't know, read all about it on World Wide Oportunities on Organic Farms. We have Julie and Xavier, a couple from Belgium, here right now and we've had 2 couples from France. They found us on WWOOF Canada site this winter. It's been awesome to have their help plus learn so much about their cultures and of course the new foods they introduced us to! I wish I would have know about the organization BEFORE we bought a farm and had kids! Alas, my dream vacation will have to wait another 10 years or so when the kids can manage the farm while we're gone!
Hope this finds you well, with your gardens all planted! (before the rain!:))
See you Saturday at the Field House!
for the CSR team
What a busy crazy time! Here it is, the order cut-off day and I haven't found a moment to write a quick email!!
Somehow we've managed to attract some incredibly talanted energetic WWOOFers to the farm - 4 from France (pics on Cool Springs FaceBook) and 2 from Belguim who just arrived 2 days ago- and things are really getting done! When you have great help like this, there's not much time to get to the computer! (If you don't know about the WWOOF program, it's a great way to travel and get experience working on all types of organic farms all over the world - I wish I had know about it before we bought a farm- oh well, must be tabled 10 years and then we'll go! :) )
They've tinned the barn (which I've been waiting for 4 years!), modified the chicken shelter to move sideways in the pastures and then moved the chicks out there, welded up some much needed improvements on Donny's (our handicapped boarder) wagon. The girls have been baking Frech bread every second day and cooking and cleaning, playing with the kids, and looking after the ducks geese and chicks.
Victor who raises the famous Label Rouge chicken in France and who's Grandpa is a butcher, showed us how to make the famous Boudin Noir or Black Pudding (aka Blood sausage) a traditional treat just at hog killing time and Rillettes du Porc (ree-yet) which is a delicious appetizer of spiced, potted meat that is thickly spread on bread....soo good!!!!
Has anyone had this type of "Charcuterie" before?? Would you be interested in seeing them in the store??
In other new... 300 Duckling and 250 geese are doing fantastic...soon to get out to pasture as well!
Next delivery (in June) we will have a new batch free-range chicken in the store! They are a NEW breed called Freedom Rangers or Red Bros, which are actually a slower-growing, red-colored French chicken designed for the Label Rouge progam in France. We got them from a Pennsylvania hatchery and although they are new to Canada, they look just like normal French chickens to Victor! We won't be ordering them outside of Canada again, since we where stung with 238% duty on them, but by next year we will probably switch entirely over to them since there are Canadian breeder flocks starting this year... YAY!!!
The orders have been pouring in and we are sold out of a LOT of products, so I apologize if you didn't get your order in or get what you wanted! The combination of the mailing list growing... and... this being the time of year where we are running out of the stock pile but not ready with the new crop, is PAINFUL for you and me both!
Bear with us as we get stocked up again!
If you have been telling people about us (someone must be!! :), LET US KNOW so we can give you your $10 referal credit! I'd far rather give it to YOU that GROUPON!!
We'll see you Saturday...
(for the team...Sam, Lyle & Grace, and Kate. Emma, Tess and Beau)
I've been a Joel fan long before he became famous. I found his first book "Salad Bar Beef" in McNally Robinson in Saskatoon in 2000. As I flipped through it, it I wondered "WHY did I not learn one STITCH of this stuff in College??"
I took it home and read it cover to cover that night...and my course in "farm-life" was forever altered! My "agrculture college knowledge" suddenly became almost completely useless. A new paradigm began to shape a new dream... a farm were animals had a life and actually HEALED the land, where food was nutricious, where local food systems where the norm, where there was a future for families on the land!
Over a decade later, the journey of the dream is well on it's way - it's still exciting for me, and Joel's writings still inspire me, from his articles in the 2 best Ag magazines out there, The Stockman Grass Farmer, and Acres USA and all the way up to his 8th and most recent book "Folks This Ain't Normal"!
I'm not going to try to give you an elequent book review (there are plenty online) but "FOLK'S THIS AIN'T NORMAL - A Farmers Advise for Happer Hen, Healthier People and a Better World" is a book I hope EVERYONE can read!! It's intense, it's entertaining (as Joels writing always is!) and not easy to put down! It WILL make you think about many things you never realized were ABNORMAL and you WILL come away with a new perspective!
(I'm going to place an order for a case lot of these books to sell at cost - if you are interested let me know)
One of the chapters is called "The Church of Industrial Foods Unholy Food Inquisition" and it's so applicable for most of Canada as well as the US. The "ain't normal" point he wanted to make is...Never in history has food safety been a concern in local and neighborhood operations. It was born out of food industrialization, period. And it's being kept alive by the well meaning public that is so sure that stricter regulations will solve the food-borne illness epidemic (but they are barking up the wrong tree) The big retail stores now follow the "CYA" policy (Cover your ____) and want only "inspected" meat. The big guys USE the publics' fear to lobby for laws that guarentee them the market access they want. The little guy was never the problem, but he gets kicked in the teeth anyway!
"The single biggest reason local integrity food does not enjoy a larger share in the modern American marketplace is due to these non-scalable regulation. Farmers are ready and willing to produce for local markets, and they have the knowledge to do it. Consumers (or coproducers as Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, calls them) are ready and willing to buy. But between these two parties exists a labrynth of capricious, nonsensical, malicious, rediculous - let's think of how many adjectives I can think of - asinine, unreasonable regulations that preclude commerce. Make no mistake, these regulations are not about food safety. They are about market access."
I am happy to say that Saskatchewan is the ONLY province that is blessed to have relatively liberal meat laws. (our Regional Health Inspected butchershop would not be even close to legal in the rest of Canada) We can sell to EVERYONE in the province... except retail stores that have a CYA policy, and... the CITY OF SASKATOON that has a bylaw that says "only Carcass-inspected meat can be sold in city limits" (lobbied into place in the 1970's by the big packer Intercon)
The good news is that the city is currently revisiting this by-law!! and NOW is the time to put your opinions on the table! PLEASE DO!!
- You can write to the City Council
- Like and post on Saskatoon's FaceBook page
- Talk or email councillor Charlie Clark, who is Pro-local food and working on this issue
- Talk or email the other councilors who may not see the complete picture yet.
- Send a quick email to the chefs at the Saskatoon Culinary Federation that there are other options for quality food in this province than local CAFO's if they want it...just help us fight for it! Apparently they have a big impact when they show up at a Council meeting in their "whites"
-Tell them you want more local, pasture-raised chicken and duck and pheasant, etc on restaurant menus and in the health food stores. The only reason it's not there is that there only 1 provincially inspected chicken abbitoir in the province (that does their own chicken only); Smaller scale pasture-based farms are out there but the "embyo" required to birth the "required" abbitoir is too big!
-Tell them to let the marketplace decide what food they want, who they trust to grow and process healthy, safe food. The city doesn't need to dictate this.
-Tell them that the Health Authorities are "finding no evidence of any issues with meat from Health Inspected abbitioirs elsewhere in the province." ...Quoted to me this morning!
As fans of "access to REAL Saskatchewan food", lets stick up for it together! (and I'l love to hear what kind of reactions you get!)
A little farm news...
We have a batch of Freedom Ranger chicks in the brooder!! There should be fresh pasture-raised chicken for the 2nd week in June!
We've ordered 250 geese and 300 ducks!
Sam and I will not be along for the trip to Regina this week but Lyle and Grace will. Kate is in her first year of Light Horse 4-H She has made her way to the Provincial 4-H Public Speaking Competition on Saturday and we wouldn't miss it for the world! Her speach is titled "Life on My Farm" :)
for the CSR team