farm new york

Learning to love the thing I've always been scared of

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I have a confession to make. I've always been a little (maybe more than a little) scared of fat.  Since marrying someone who became a livestock farmer and becoming a farmer myself, I've been curious about where this fear really comes from. 

Growing up, I was extremely body conscious and acutely aware of anything that was perceived as “bad” for you. Back then, the messaging was as clear as day.  Low fat milk, fat free yogurt, margarine, lean low-fat meats or no meats at all were the "good" foods, and then there were the "bad," fatty foods. 

I'm guessing that I was never explicitly told all about these distinctions, or at least I don't remember such a conversation occurring back then.  It was just sorta implied, it was a "truth" I learned from all the messaging and marketing at home, at school, and at grocery stores or restaurants.

But as I'm sure you've noticed, the tide has shifted here. Healthy simple fats from high quality sources are now IN and low-fat and highly processed foods are OUT.   Nowadays, we can hear chefs on the Netflix foodie docu-series say that fat is where the flavor is and actually celebrating fat. And the nutritional gurus and keto enthusiasts saying that fat is where the most important nutrients are.

The full fat yogurt was the first step in my journey to feeling more comfortable with fat. Then came the introduction to our pasture raised ducks (a notoriously fattier meat), and then pork chops with the caramelized fat cap around the edges. All these things challenged that old "truth" of mine and actually made my taste buds do a happy dance. But pork lard, rendered from our own pigs, was at one time, a HUGE stretch for me. 

That is, until Greg started slipping it into basically everything he cooked. From fried eggs in the morning, to weeknight stir-fry dinners, to pie crusts. He started cooking with pork fat almost every day and along the way I learned that cooking with really good fat just tastes so much better.  The giant plastic jugs of organic olive oil shipped in from California started looking a lot less appealing, too. 

So, maybe it’s the flavor, or the nutritional properties, or the obvious environmental reasons, but we've officially made the shift in our household and there’s not turning back now. We still use other oils, too, but when it comes to frying, sautéing, or a fair amount of our baking, pork lard is now our go-to ingredient. 

Cooking with pork fat is not for everyone, that much I know for sure. If this whole concept scares you to death, as it once did for me, don't stress. Take a deep breath, and know that wherever you are in your food journey we support you, too. 

But If you want to go back to your roots and use the ingredient your grandma probably used in all her cooking back in the day, come see us at the Brighton Market this weekend because we're bringing our first batch of perfectly rendered, snow white lard from our pasture raised pigs this week!  

Your Farmers,
Jenney and Greg

Are your dogs barking, too?

The weeks around Thanksgiving are without a doubt, one of the busiest times on the farm.  All the planning and prepping for Thanksgiving turkey distribution feels sort of like coordinating a wedding...though we might not be the best people to make this analogy since we eloped :)

Our goals every year are to make sure everything and everyone is taken care of on the farm, that distributing turkeys to 125 families goes smoothly, and that our customers feel welcomed and appreciated.  

We are the first to admit that we haven't always achieved entirely "smooth" turkey distributions.  Sometimes it was our doing, like in 2015 when pickup was at Mud Creek Farm and we forgot to bring lights. This was the year that we had to distribute birds and take payments in the dark until someone realized about 1/2 way through that we could use our car head-lights for illumination. Then there was 2016, when the weather threw us for a loop and gave us a full-on blizzard midway through turkey distribution. Yeah, that was fun for....noooboooddyy. 

But this year, we are happy to report that despite the cooler temps and snow, turkey pickup went off without a hitch. For the first time EVER, we welcomed families into our 200-year old barn (the one we moved to our farm last year!).  There was hot apple cider, music, and twinkling strands of lights over-head. The birds were sorted by size, the numbers were just right, and the distribution area inside the barn looked beautiful.  Our customers looked happy and comfortable, which made these two tired farmers very happy.

Thank you to all of you who chose to purchase their food from us and other local farms for your Thanksgiving feast this year. It means the WORLD to us and our farmer friends.

Your farmers, 
Jenney and Greg

The D Word

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When you're a livestock farmer, you get pretty comfortable with life and death.

The life part is almost always a ton of fun. It doesn't get more exciting than watching a litter of piglets be born or seeing a new batch of day-old chicks arrive in the mail. They are fragile and the work can be tiring, but watching animals grow and helping them thrive is one of the greatest joys we experience here on the farm. 

Death is the thing nobody ever wants talk about, but is an inevitability on a livestock farm. We are always aware that our animals will die and that their bodies and all the energy within them will go on and nourish our community. Losing an animal before it's time is difficult, though, and this is where we've been this week. 

Our boar "Boris" who you might have met at one of our farm tours or seen on our social media had some serious health issues develop, and under the recommendation of our Vet, we had to put him down this week. Burying our boar was difficult and not without conflict, tears and grief. But the experience validated what we've always known deep down inside....that as farmers, we have a special bond with our animals and that it's okay to love them and miss them when they're gone. While some might see this as a weakness, we think it is one of our greatest strengths.  

The deep respect and love we have for our animals serves as a guiding principle on the farm. It helps us do right by the animals every day, even in tough situations like these. We are compassionate, humane livestock farmers. It is who we are, it is what we stand for, and it is part of the legacy we are building here at Stonecrop Farm.

What would the world look like if all farmers cared about their animals this way?
 
Your farmers, 
Greg and Jenney

The Real Reason We Write This Blog Every Week

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I went for a walk with a friend this week, and after she mentioned how much she was enjoying reading our newsletters she paused and asked me what a lot of people ask us....Isn't it scary?  I sighed and thought OH MY GOD, YES! 

Her question made me realize that even though we might make this look easy, in reality, it's not.  It takes a lot of vulnerability to write these suckers. 

For example, it took us several months to finally summon the courage to send this newsletter called  "3 Things We Are Most Embarrassed to Admit. "  After we pressed send, we were so nervous to read all the responses that poured in that Greg and I went around and turned off every electronic device in the house (Thanks to all who reached out-your kindness and words of encouragement meant the world to us once our adrenaline finally came down!).

There was another time a that I got cold feet a few minutes before we sent this newsletter out. I called a good friend for reassurance and made her listen while I literally read the newsletter out loud to make sure that admitting that my family skinny dips didn't make me look too crazy (Thanks for listening Mariah!).

So, to answer the question you've probably been wondering: Yes, speaking our truth here can be scary for sure!  But, we do it anyways and here's why:

We show up because we have a hunch that the connections we're building through this newsletter are in service to YOU and OUR community. We want our stories - whether they're the ones that are entertaining, silly, embarrassing or messy - to help connect you to food, to farmers, and to farming.

To our detriment, these connections have become rare these days and have gone missing in most of our lives...and we feel called to do the work to build them back up again, even if it means we have the occasional Friday night freak-out. 

Since we are overcoming our fears, we have to think that you can overcome your fears, too. What is that conversation in your life you're scared of having? Or that next step that you're afraid of taking? We're a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit ourselves for. You might find, like we have, that taking that leap of faith and being vulnerable is SO worth it.

Your farmers, 
Greg and Jenney

A perfect pair: a livestock farmer and a vegetarian

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Last week, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!

Every year on our anniversary, we spend a little time looking through our wedding photos and re-reading our vows. It's a little thing that has become an important tradition, giving us an opportunity to reflect on the year and remember what is most important to us in life. 

Looking back on our wedding this week, we realized that while our vows were different in a lot of ways - Greg talked about the pillars of our love and I cracked jokes about how I was rethinking my vegetarianism - one thing that was the same across both was the promise to support each other in achieving our biggest dreams.  

This farm is by far, our biggest and craziest dream yet. Becoming farmers and life-partners has taught us so much about love and life and we can't wait to see what another 5 years will bring! 

Your Farmers, 
Greg and Jenney

PS- Any marriage/relationship advice you'd like to share? Hit reply to this email and share them with us. We love hearing from you!  

PPS- I know you're wondering if it's true... and I really was a vegetarian for over 15 yrs before I married Greg!

We have a "situation" here on the farm...

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You know that one spot in your house that drives you nuts every time you think about it? It's the place you put all the random stuff you don't know what to do with. It houses all the things that you probably should have donated or just put in the trash years ago but somehow, you've deluded yourself into thinking that it might come in handy someday.

As you probably already know by now, we are pretty tidy people. We keep our house and our farm pretty organized but...it's time to admit that we have a "situation" on our hands.

We have a section of our farm, that is about a quarter acre in size, (cringe!), that is packed with farm stuff that has been accumulating for the past 3+ years. We have an old chicken coop, a manure spreader, two antique grain-drills that are in disrepair, and lots of construction materials from the barn projects and hoop houses...I could go on. 

What we've realized more fully this year is that there is a cost to keeping this stuff, even if it's just the time and mental energy that we spend thinking about it!  So, we are turning over a new leaf.

We are working to purge the farm this fall of the stuff that we no longer need and are working on finding the right spot for the items that are rarely used but we need to hold onto for one reason or another. 

It's a big job that always finds its way to the bottom of the to-do list  But, we are looking forward to having the mental relief of knowing that this little section of the farm is as clear and purposeful and vibrant as the rest of our farm. 

Anyone else up for a fall cleaning challenge in their own home this year?  

Your Farmers, 
Greg and Jenney

PS-Thanks for another great ginger and turmeric season! We are sold out for the seasons. Please share your favorite ginger/turmeric recipes with us and if you post to social media, don't forget to tag us so we can see your creative cooking masterpieces!  We love seeing you enjoy the food we grow!

How the farm has changed our marriage

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This week, we hosted 3 separate tours on the farm (phew, that's a new record for us!). So, it's fair to say that this week, we spent a lot of time sharing about the progress we're making here.  We moved a 200-year old barn from down to the road to our property, we've transformed brush and brambles into beautiful healthy pastures, we've improved our farm systems and grown our business faster than we ever could have expected. We are proud of these accomplishments, for sure. And yet, what is probably more impressive and less obvious to even our closest friends and family is all the ways the farm has changed us. 

Our bodies were probably the first thing to change. Callused hands and body strength came within a few weeks. Aches and pains from the near constant physical exertion came within a few a months. Every now and then, there are the blisters, cracking skin, bruises, or tick bites to attend to. Yoga has become a required activity,  instead of a leisure activity.

The other changes are more subtle. As two world travelers who used to spend their savings on overseas adventures, I thought we would eventually get stir-crazy staying put. The truth is, that we find more joy in being at home with our animals than we ever would have imagined.  

We are natural introverts and usually re-charge by spending time alone. But the farm has brought us out of our skins and given us this incredible opportunity to share, educate and inspire. The farm pushes us to show up and be present in our community, even when our deepest instincts tell us to go it alone.

The farm has affected our marriage in ways that we probably can't fully comprehend just yet. Running a business with the person you love most in this world isn't always easy. But it has brought us closer, helped us understand each other more wholly, and appreciate each other's strengths and weaknesses and limitations. It has taught us how to listen to one another and honor those hunches (or gut feelings) we get in the middle of the night that a fence is off or a pig might be farrowing (farm lingo for delivering piglets).

If what Eckert Tolle says is true, and the energy you put out in the world comes back to you, then I think we are in for a pretty spectacular life together here at Stonecrop Farm. Thanks for being on this journey with us. 

Your Farmers, 
Greg & Jenney

PS- We absolutely love hearing from you! What did you think of this newsletter and what would you like to hear more about in future newsletters?

Why Nerds (Like Me) Love Farming

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Farmer Greg, here. As you may already know, I came from a science background before I started farming. While I no longer dwell on the minutiae of analyzing the components of regional air quality, my experiences in grad school still influence how we think and farm here at Stonecrop.

When I started out farming years ago, I remember looking at the farmers I knew and thought to myself "Huh, well, Rich worked for GE, Andy was an engineer, Fred used to work at Kodak...why did all of these former science minds get into farming?"  

I quickly learned that it was only by chance that so many of the farmers I met early on also were former engineers/scientists. However, as I thought about it and started becoming a more experienced farmer myself, I came to the realization that farming is essentially a series of great big, year-long experiments and that in this way,  it makes perfect sense that all these science-minded people like me were drawn into this field (yes, pun intended).

I approach farming with that same scrupulous scientific approach that I relied on in my chemistry days. We have fancy equipment (like tractors, manure spreaders, cultivators, spring-tooth harrows) that, similar to my old lab equipment, seem to always need a little tinkering here or there. We spend a lot of time thinking about our pastures, figuring out which type of forage to plant for certain animals and when (This week, for example, I planted fall forage for pigs to graze over the winter. I'm hoping I seeded at the right time so there is plenty of growth but not too much, before the cold weather hits in the fall.)  We have intense spreadsheets for every enterprise (another takeaway from grad school) and even track data on our iphones while we're out in the field. My grad school advisor would be proud...   

Assuming we farm until we're about 65, we will only get another 30 trials at this great experiment.  We intend to make the most of them and will keep sharing about the lessons we learn along the way.  Thanks for being on this journey with us.

Your Farmers, 
Greg & Jenney

PS- Our next Farm Tour is in 2 weeks! On the tour, we will start with our barn and share about how we moved the 200 year old timber-frame to our farm, then we will share about our pig breeding program and show off a new litter of piglets. We will check out the laying hens, Thanksgiving turkeys, meat chickens and our ginger/turmeric high tunnels as well.  The tour will last 1-1.5 hrs and is 5$ per adult (CSA members are free!) Click here to RSVP and get more details.