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Wet and Cold and Downy Fluff

Chicks arrive via the post office!

Capricious March weather means lots of layers and a steady stream of hot tea and coffee when available. The one place on the farm that will be consistently warm over the next few weeks is our baby chick brooder!

250 yellow fluff balls arrived at the Fairview Post Office this morning. We had to clear out the brooder and put in a nest of fresh hay for the little guys’ home for the next few weeks. It’s always difficult to tell how March weather will affect our first batch of chickens.

Last year we scheduled our first group of chicks just two weeks earlier, at the end of February. While they were fine in the brooder, once we moved them out onto pasture the weather turned nasty. We had several frigid March weeks full of sleet and snow. Because our birds are pasture raised and we have a system set up that doesn’t have a lot of provisions for cold weather, we lost far too many chickens to the freezing temperatures. Chickens will crowd together in the cold to share body heat but they are overzealous in their push for warmth and often smother several of their fellow birds during a frosty night.

Unfortunately for us, Walker decided to go on a two week Vacation to Germany that coincided exactly with our chicken debacle. Jake (the intern at the time) and I had to deal with the daily frustration of frozen fowl without the reassurance of our fearless farm manager. Every morning was the same. We’d slosh our way up the pasture to the house and peer gloomily inside. If there was a dark mass of birds in a corner of the structure, it meant that several had been smothered. We would tally up our losses and make a report of how many we had lost that day, each time bemoaning the dwindling number that would be left for our customers.

We were beginning to give up hope for that first batch, to the point that I remember sending Walker emails apologizing for the fact that we probably would lose the entire group in his absence. The damage wasn’t quite has bad as we’d anticipated but, but the time we sent that first group of broilers to the processor, they were a bedraggled and scrawny few.

We pushed our schedule back for this year in hopes that we won’t run into this problem again, but it’s difficult to tell when winter will release Fairview from its grasp entirely. In any case, the babies are cozy and dry for now, cheeping happily in their new home and bathing in the warmth from the heat lamps. By the time they go out on pasture,  I hope all the vestiges of cold have vanished. I hope the winds are warm, the sun bright, and the nights balmy. I hope spring comes in earnest!

best,

Sweetbread

Warm and Happy to be out of the box!

 

Open House and Farmers Markets

Sorry for any confusion about the April date that appeared here earlier. May 18th is the new official date for the Open House.  If you’ve been telling yourself for months that you need to make it out the farm but you just haven’t had the time or found the right occasion, look no further. We are having an Open House on May 18th at the farm, which is located at 57 Sugar Hollow Rd. in Fairview. The event also includes a  Farm Tour at 3pm and free samples! 

Come check out our farmstore where you can buy fresh 100% grassfed beef, pastured pork and poultry, plus tons of other local food and craft items. Go on the Farm Tour with Jamie Ager and romp around the farm to see how we raise our animals and learn about our vision as a farm and local business. Try some of our cured pork and fresh cooked meats. No need to reserve a space or rsvp, just come on out and enjoy a little springtime on the farm. Hope to see you soon!

Just don’t have time to drive all the way out Fairview? Come visit us at our farmer’s market venues. We will be selling our products on Saturdays at the North Asheville Market on the campus of UNCA and at Asheville City Market, which is located at 161 South Charlotte Street in the parking lot of the Public Works Building. We’ll also be at the West Asheville Market on Tuesdays. Hope to see you there!

Happy as a Spring Chicken

That’s right, the weather is warming up and that means we’ll have fresh chicken soon. Starting April 24 you can come out to the farmstore or visit us at our farmers market venues and buy fresh, never frozen chicken. We raise our poultry out in the pasture so they have plenty of space to knock about in the dirt and enjoy the fresh green clover and the warm sunny days of spring.

Pastured chicken is consistently found to have higher levels of vitamins A,C, and E, as well as much higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene. Not only that but it tastes great too! This year we’ve come up with a new pasture rotation system for our poultry so that we will have fresh chicken all summer long. We will also bring chicken to our Market locations starting this weekend, 4/6/13 at the Asheville City Market.

Turkey Time

Updated in October 2016:

Order your pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free Thanksgiving Turkey from Hickory Nut Gap Meats!  From their curiosity for shiny belt buckles, shoe brads, and diamond rings to their amazing ability to communicate, turkeys are always a pleasure to raise. Although they do have their challenges. We have had years that all but 5 of our heritage breeds went to roost in the trees and flew away, freezing temperatures on processing days and birds that wieghed in at 30 lbs, hanging over the pan and barely able to fit in the oven. We hope this year will be very predictable so far so good… we estimate having 12-20 lb birds available at $4.50/lb.

Here is how it works: there is a $20 deposit required to place your turkey order. Turkeys will be available fresh and frozen on November 19th, 20th, and 21st from 9am – 6pm. First come first serve on size. Let us know if one of our pastured raised birds can grace your family’s table this year, we’d be honored if so.

Keller’s Roast Chicken Recipe

This recipe is one of our regular customer’s FAVORITES!
Keller’s Roast Chicken Recipe
The chicken must be at room temperature before it goes in the oven, or the chicken will not cook evenly. What Keller recommends (and what we do) is leave the chicken in the refrigerator, uncovered (on a plate and not touching anything else in the fridge), for 1-2 days after buying it, so that the skin gets a bit dried out. It will roast up crispier this way. Then 1 1/2 to 2 hours before it goes in the oven, we put it on a plate on the kitchen counter to come to room temp (about 70 degrees). Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken before you set it out to come to room temp. (Save for stock.)

Ingredients
One 4 to 4 1/2 pound chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (smash with the side of a chef’s knife, makes it easier to peel)
5 thyme sprigs
About 1/3 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil (Keller uses canola oil, we prefer olive or grapeseed oil)
4 Tbsp butter, room temperature (spreadable)
A large (11-inch if you have it) cast-iron frying pan
Kitchen string

Method
1 Preheat oven to 475°F.

2 Use a paring knife to cut away the wishbone from the neck/breast area of the chicken. You will probably have to use your fingers to feel around for it. This is a little bit tricky, but if you can remove the wishbone first, it will make the chicken easier to carve after it is cooked. (This ease of future carving is the only reason to take the bone out, so you can leave it in if you want.)

3 Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add three garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of the thyme to the cavity, using your hands to rub the thyme and garlic all around the cavity.

4 Truss the chicken with kitchen string. To do so, start by cutting a 3-foot section of cotton kitchen string. Place the chicken so that it is breast up, and the legs pointing toward you. Tuck the wing tips under the chicken. Wrap the string under the neck end of the bird, pulling the string ends up over the breast, toward you, plumping up the breast. Then cross the string under the breast (above the cavity and between the legs). Wrap each end around the closest leg end, and tie tightly so that the legs come together.

5 Slather the chicken with oil and season well with salt and pepper.

6 Place the chicken in the pan. Slather the top of the chicken breasts with butter.

7 Place the pan in the oven and roast the chicken for 25 minutes at 475°F. Then reduce the heat to 400°F and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 160°F on a meat thermometer and the juices run clear.

8 Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving to serve.

9 Cut the chicken into serving pieces.

Serves 4.

Bring your Class to the Farm

We are hosting school groups again this year and hope that you will consider Hickory Nut Gap for your students agricultural experience. A typical farmer guided fieldtrip includes an apple tasting, touching and feeding the animals, pollination activity, time for the maze, the trike track and hay pile. Cost for tour is $5/student and chaperone. Teachers are free. Call to schedule your classes tour today!

Turkeys for Thanksgiving

As always we are raising pastured turkeys again this year. See Walkers video from their first day on the farm. Turkeys are some of the most curious animals we raise on the farm, while some doubt their intelligence, we admire their curiosity and vocal socializations. Soon they will be moving out to pasture to graze on insects and clover. Put your order in today for a frozen pasture raised turkey. $4.50/lb, approximately 12-25 lbs frozen.

Season Passes to HNGF

If you are one of our many customers who frequent the farm and are activities during the fall we invite you to purchase a season pass for you and your family. The farm is open to the public 7 days a week in September and October from 9-6pm and is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with your children or entertain your out of town leaf watchers. We have a picnic area by the creek and other family friendly areas that will allow you to supervise your childrens play while engaging in actual adult conversation with your friends and family. Adult Pass $20, Child Pass $14, Age 2 and under FREE.

Exciting Additions for the Fall

We are gearing up for our 6th season of inviting families to our farm for fall activities and are excited to have expanded our offerings for 2012. Come check out the renovated barn which will include the famous hay pile, new trike track, expanded animal area and performance space. We have food trucks lined up to serve lunch and snacks and have diversified our products with in the farm store to include more beverages, local artists and crafters, pickled good and much more. The organic apples and raspberries continue to ripen and the bale maze is under construction. There are alot of new things in store for you this year, stop by and see us. Current hours are Wednesday- Friday 1-5 and Saturday 10-5. Starting September 1st we are open 7 days a week from 9 am – 6pm.

Join our 6 month Meat CSA

Our first CSA year has been a success! With that under our belts (or suspenders, you might say) we are ready to expand the number of shares we offer for next season. Next season runs from April-September 2012. We offer two share sizes 10 lb ($70) and 15 lb ($100), monthly billing, two pick up locations, and 10% off any other meat purchases the day of pickup. A monthly CSA shares includes our grassfed beef, pastured pork, and this year pastured poultry. Each month your CSA share comes with a variety of meat cuts, facts about where they come from and fun recipes to try. Pair this with a vegetable CSA from our cousins at Flying Cloud Farm and you are all set for the month! All th is and your food all origianates in the valley of Fairview, probably a mere 20 miles from your house. Now that’s local!

Prime Rib, Sopressata, $100 Holiday Box

They holidays are here. I can’t stop thinking about what I get to eat next. There is so much amazing food everywhere I go. Yesterday for an Open House we made an appetizer tray with our very own Sopressata, Granny Smith apples, Looking Glass’ Chocolate Lab cheese and Roots and Branches homemade crackers. Everyone raved AND it was so simple and fast.
Whether you are entertaining or just feeding your family and guests consider us for your meat needs.
This years holiday specials include:
Beef Prime Rib: $12.50 /lb
Whole Beef Tenderloin: $19.oo/lb  quantities limited
Sopressata and Pepperoni: $8/pack
Holiday Box of Meat: $100  mixed grassfed beef and pastured pork box that will last all week

One more chance for CHICKENS

The season is winding down and we are beginning to put the farm to sleep for winter. We have harvested the Thanksgiving turkeys (on a nice warm day) and the last batch of pastured chickens (not warm at all). If you’re the planning type come on over because now is the time to stock up on $3.50/lb, pasture raised, freedom rangers. I count on two chickens per month for our family which amounts to 14 birds coming up to our chest freezer to keep us fed over the next 7 months! The first chickens of 2012 will be ready to harvest in June. Chicken is the perfect reason to turn on the oven and warm up the house.
Other end of the fall season tasks include making the last of the cider, which will be available frozen through the winter, getting the barn ready for the pig herd to help us turn bedding into compost, putting the cows out on the stockpiled fescue to graze on our Rutherford County farm, mulching the blueberries, and of course getting more firewood. The always at the back of your mind task of firewood.