Posts Tagged ‘duck’

Hello, Spring!

Last year was challenging for us with both the Grade Fire and Redwood Valley Fire, evolving the flow of the farm to work with new market channels and land, and trying to juggle it all without sacrificing family life. We made it through, and now that we’re adjusting to life with two children (baby boy was born Dec. 27!), we’re excited for this year of farming more local food.

On the one hand, the wildfires were horrible in that they destroyed livestock fencing and set back the grazing for a year or two. On the other hand, working with our landlord, Golden Vineyards, we can work with a “clean slate” and expand the rangeland pasture available. We are especially excited for the prospect of raising more sheep and goats!

Egg layers in BD olives & vines 2018

Until then, we are focusing on pastured heritage pork and poultry production. We continue to purchase inexpensive organic and non-GMO food manufacturing byproduct that cuts our feed costs on raising meat chickens and pigs. This helps us stay competitive at our scale – much smaller than larger, vertically integrated operations. (We also purchase organic feed to ensure a balanced ration.)

Last year, we rented irrigated summer pasture for our hogs which we will continue to do this year. We plan to bring our sheep and cows there, too, as buying hay is not sustainable. By late spring, we should have those animals moved from Heart Arrow Ranch and to summer pasture.

We also just raised out our first batch of Pekin ducks! This was an experiment for us. It happened that the USDA-inspected processor was able to give us a date to custom process, so we jumped at the chance. As long as we make a few improvements on any subsequent batches, the duck enterprise can be profitable for us. So…if you are looking for local, pasture-raised, organically-fed duck, we have it available now!

Pekin ducks 2018

Throughout the year, we will be raising our pastured, organically-fed broiler chickens. The plan right now is to raise both Cornish Cross and Freedom Rangers. Forget what the difference is? Cornish Cross chickens have a more tender texture and more delicate taste and are ideal for dishes that are cooked quicker and at a higher heat. Cornish cross chickens are raised to 8-weeks old. Freedom Ranger chickens have a firmer, developed texture and richer, fuller taste. They are best for slow-cooked and braised dishes. Freedom Ranger chickens are raised to 12-weeks old.

We also just wanted to put in a plug for roaster hogs! Word is starting to get around that we sell amazing whole hogs for parties, like weddings. Adam can even come out and roast it for you if your event is not too far away. Roasting and eating a whole hog is a mouth-watering experience if done right.

Right now, you can find our chicken and pork on the menu at SIP and SAVOR at The Golden Pig in Hopland. We’re also helping them with eggs. Stop in to try their fresh, delicious fare. They have a full bar with many locally-produced spirits, wines, and beer. They even have a beer on tap from Moonlight Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, where we get spent brewery grains for our pigs.

Pork production slowed a bit last year, but by summer we should have cut-and-wrapped pork available again for filling your freezers. Also, we’re hoping to raise holiday turkeys this year! We will let you know when we start taking deposits on turkey. As always, it helps us immensely when we have orders confirmed before we start raising or producing something, and pre-payments help us cover input costs. Our days of running a traditional CSA (community-supported agriculture) have stopped, but the spirit of having co-producers is still crucial for us to continue farming delicious, healthy food for our community.

Have a blessed Spring!

-The Gaskas

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