Saturday, March 24, 2012

Maple Syrup Making 2012

Maple Syrup Season is something we always look forward to every year around the farm.

The steam coming off the evaporating sap smells so so good! Its my favorite.

This year was a good year for those of us who are impatient because the season started about 2 weeks earlier than normal due to the warm temperatures.
For 3 weeks, our family and friends tapped, gathered, boiled, and canned almost 300 gallons of Maple Syrup!

Some of the future Syrup makers in front of the Shanty!

A friend of mine, who is a great blogger, came out to visit the end of February and documented her experience at the Sugar Shack. Click here to see photos, video and lots of details about the Syrup Making process.

Some older posts on Maple Syrup making at SwissLane:
Family Bonding...So Sappy!
The Sugar Shanty (behind the scenes)

Dinner in the Shanty! We cook on Old Cookstoves with wood(no gas/electric and believe me it's tricky!) and there's nothing like it! This is Blueberry Pancakes with syrup straight from the pan and to top it all off...a glass of MILK.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Planting Alfalfa (and its still winter?!)

I know that as farmers the weather being strange or changing patterns is supposed to be normal.  That's just part of our job.  The risk we take.  And one of the big reasons why so many of us realize how we need to rely more on God than our own understanding of "Mother Nature."
As the old saying tells us: The only thing that stays the same is everything changes.
So why do we continue to worry and make a huge deal when we see record highs, lows, rainfall, etc...?
Well, I don't know why. But we do.
80 degrees and sunny for a whole week in the middle of March is just CRAZY!
We are not really sure if we are making the right decision but one of the Core Values of our business/farm is Make Hay While the Sun is Shining. And boy is it ever!
So here you have it...planting alfalfa before the calendar even says Spring.
Another fun fact for you:
This feild shown here is right behind our house and for the past 5 years it has been corn. This is what we call Crop Rotation. Changing things up to replenish the soil. When you plant alfalfa the seed usually lasts for 4-5 years- not like corn or soybeans that we have to plant every year.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

pink Slime

I just spent most of my night reading through several reports and many comments on the Pink Slime stories from ABC and Huffington Post.
Why do I do this I ask myself? Well...
1) I am passionate about my work. Producing food for people is my family's responsibility and our livelihood- not a J-O-B.
2) I didn't have time (or any fresh fruit in the house) today to pack my kids a lunch. They all had hot lunch and I never gave it a second thought.
Enter in the facebook and twitter posts that force me to view pictures of raw (and gasp! PINK?!?) meat. Now I am guilted into believing I have put my children's health in jeopardy.
No... I am tired of the media using a couple of gross buzz words and close-up shots of raw meat to make me doubt both my parenting and livelihood all in a 2 minute timeframe.
Just 3 points that I came up with tonight so I can sleep and once again, not think twice when kids walk out the door in the morning with no lunch sack.
1. This is a comment that I really appreciated from "pjcamp"

" Have you seen what is in a chicken nugget?

Connective tissue gelatinizes under heat. That is what makes pot roast and barbecue so lip smacking good.

Ammonium hydroxide is chemically related to sodium hydroxide which is an essential ingredient in making hominy, lutefisk, green olives, canned mandarin oranges, pretzels, Cantonese moon cakes, zongzi dumplings, Chinese noodles and ramen noodles. So it isn't intrinsically hazardous, and is used in some pretty tasty things. The FDA classifies both as "generally recognized as safe."

None of that means this stuff is nutritious. But it doesn't mean it is bad for you either and so it shouldn't be used in scare stories.

When we hear terms we are not familiar with it can be scary. Do a little bit of digging before you freak out! What if they started spraying everything with Di-Hydrogen Oxide?!? (AKA H2O)

2. Pretty much this "slime" is fat that is cooked and cleaned and added back in. Not artificial or substitute. When we send our deer to be processed I ask for beef fat to be added in to the burger! The venison will be too chewy for my high class taste buds- texture is important when it comes to my chili.

3. So this 7 million pounds of pink slime that are going to schools should now go where, Jamie Oliver? In the dumpster? To the dogs? I don't want to be the one to tell the starving children of Africa.