Progress on the store expansion (with pics!)

One of the joys of being gone is that we get to come home to lots of progress on the store expansion. It’s like magic seeing so much done at once. 

This was how the store expansion looked just before we left to go on vacation. The new walls were framed. The door you see in the distance is the current back door to the store. 

This is how it looks now. The walls are in, insulated, and dry walled on the inside. The interior wall is gone and plastic hangs in its place. The new custom doors we ordered are in (leaning on the left) and waiting to be installed. The new storage area above is also floored and roughly ready for use. 

The view inside the store. This is the area that will be the new expansion. Drywall is in and mudded. The ceiling and electrical are in. Now it’s sand, clean up, sand clean up, then finally paint. Our old freezers and the new store expansion

Another shot of the inside. Note the support beam in the center. Those beams are structural so we had to leave them in place. I’m sure they’ll be in the way of something, but I think they add to the rustic, barn look of our store. We’ll hang some cool stuff on them, I’m sure, once we start decorating and moving in product. Store expansion from 2017

Just another peek behind the plastic. There is still a lot of work to do.

Construction always takes so little time compared to all the interior work. But once we move the freezers out, move the random stuff out and get it stored, and paint. We should be pretty close to usable. Then we get to organize and decorate which will be its own process. Plus I’m looking at all kinds of new goodies to bring into the store so that will be a process as well.

Hopefully by March we’ll be up and running. That seemed like an easy goal when we started this back in January. Now March is right around the corner!

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means

Gold star to whoever knows what that title is from.

The word I’m referencing is VACATION!

Wait, what? Farmers don’t take vacations!

This one does.

Ever since I sold my company in 2015 and started farming full time, I’ve been trying to make up for all the years where I would not, under any circumstance, take a vacation. Maybe a couple of days at the beach. If I wasn’t busy. And no promises, because I may back out at the last minute, which I did about 95% of the time. I probably made it on our “planned vacations” about once every three years, maybe.

Now, since 2015, we take a vacation somewhere warm and take the whole family. It’s our annual/semi-annual treat. However, we couldn’t do it without help. LOTS of help. So thank you Miguel and Vicente for running the farm and keeping everything not only running, but actually improving while I was gone. A special thanks to those guys because they had to deliver a cow, and pick up kefir, two things they’ve not done before because I always do it.

Thank you Lucy and Erin for not only keeping the store running, but Lucy for making all of my farmer pickups, calling on our restaurant customers, feeding our fish, picking us up at the airport, etc.

Thank you Erin for keeping milk flowing and in the store.

Thank you Tamryn for keeping milk flowing from our other farm.

Thank you Christy from Brittany Ridge Farm for not only keeping our chicken and eggs flowing, but for letting me pay you when I got back (Farmers don’t give terms, it’s COD baby!)

Thank you Dustin for getting my mail, dropping us off at the airport, and generally keeping an eye on things.

While I was gone, we learned that my new cell service provider doesn’t provide cell service where we were. That meant I had no access to voice mail, texts, etc. I did get internet, sometimes, so I was able to reply but if you texted me and didn’t hear back, that’s why. My apologies. I hadn’t expected that issue.

Crazy picture lady (also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, SWMBO) has somewhere between 1.2 and 1.3 million photos which are to be processed. I had 1. So here is my picture of our vacation.

A fish jumped into the boat.
A fish jumped into the boat.

We had fun. But we are GLAD to be home. So glad that the kids are going to be in the store today, all day, like normal. Spork has multiple tours lined up and Crystal will be in the store as well so it’s a normal farm day for our first day back. It’s also going to be gorgeous so stop by and stock up on goodies and ask the kids about their vacation. I’m sure they’d love to tell you about it.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie?

I hereby interrupt the replay of recipes from the past few months for something new.  The windstorm that took away our February 70 degree days, got me in the kitchen.  One of my husband’s favorite dishes is Shepherd’s Pie.  What is the difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie? Meat, Shepherd’s is made with Lamb while Cottage is made with Beef.

After you decide which type of pie to dig into then it is time to discuss vegetables. The mixture will be topped with mashed potatoes there is no crust however.  For veggies I use onions, mushrooms, celery, carrots & peas. A few folks I know use green beans instead of peas, I prefer the peas.

In the NCF store Ground Lamb ( we also have ground mutton) is $10lb, Ground Beef is $9 lb.  If you would like a steakier flavor the choose Ground Chuck for $10.50 lb. With the other ingredients this will still be an under $20 meal yet it will feed 8-10 people. Erin’s husband stopped by and grabbed 2 serving. One for right then, I got a text the next morning he had the other for breakfast instead of waiting for lunch.

Calorie Count, It is February as New Years Resolutions are still on the mind I am not making a bottom crust from Mashed Potatoes.  Only the top of this pie with have Potatoes. Traditionally the crust is top and bottom is made from Potatoes.

For today’s recipe I’m going to use Ground Lamb, making it a Shepherd’s Pie.  My husband would eat Lamb for every meal if allowed… shh I would too.

 

Store Manager and resident chef at Ninja Cow Farm LLC
Lucy lives and works on Ninja Cow Farm. Most days you'll find her tending to the garden or working in the store. She's cooked in restaurants and as a Personal Chef.

Lemon Chicken Bake

School is back in session full swing & while we homeschool year round  this means our school year activities are keeping us busy.

Monday – Friday afternoons we race from horse back riding, girl scouts and art lessons.  That mean we need dishes we can prepare ahead of time then throw in the oven while the little one takes a bath & we do evening chores. It’s a farm ya’ll, there are always chores.

Store Manager and resident chef at Ninja Cow Farm LLC
Lucy lives and works on Ninja Cow Farm. Most days you'll find her tending to the garden or working in the store. She's cooked in restaurants and as a Personal Chef.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Red Wine

Fall has finally arrived here in North Carolina, the past few days I have been at the NC Choices Women in Meat Conference. The Conference was held at a camp over in Efland, NC. There the leaves were beginning to change slightly. I came back with many new ideas full of inspirations from the talented women I was surrounded by.

With cool mornings and crisp sunsets it is time for some heavier flavored dishes. Lamb can be a finicky creature but the shanks are a great part to start with as a beginner. They can take a bit of abuse with cooking times and still turn out melting in your mouth. Lamb Shanks are a cool weather treat when braised with Carrots & Prunes. My braising liquid will be Red Wine. The wine lifts the flavor of the lamb and the prunes add a sweetness without leaving the savory realm.

Store Manager and resident chef at Ninja Cow Farm LLC
Lucy lives and works on Ninja Cow Farm. Most days you'll find her tending to the garden or working in the store. She's cooked in restaurants and as a Personal Chef.

Beef Stew

Every Sunday, my Grandmother was quite predictable she either made us a Pot Roast or a Beef Stew. My Grandmother was one of my main cooking teachers growing up. Both of my Grandmothers were really, they both believed I had a special talent and would instruct me from behind as I began cooking. This Beef Stew has varied little from the time my Great-Grandmother Rumsey taught my Grandmother Hill. Beef Stew is an American tradition, every family has its own special recipe and this is mine. Unfortunately few pictures were taken of this dish as it was Halloween and the family descended on the pot before I remembered I didn't have a final picture. The recipe provided below few 5 adults and 2 children with no leftovers. The Boneless Beef for Stew price at the NCF store is $8.99 lb. Combined with the veggies you're running about $15 for a meal that easily fed 7 with no empty stomachs afterward. Boneless beef for stew can take time to become tender. Long cook times are recommended. The processor uses leftover that is not being turned into ground beef to make boneless beef for stew.
Store Manager and resident chef at Ninja Cow Farm LLC
Lucy lives and works on Ninja Cow Farm. Most days you'll find her tending to the garden or working in the store. She's cooked in restaurants and as a Personal Chef.

Wow! That’s a lot of cardboard!

Tractor trailer loaded with cardboard bales
Not even finished loading yet

Recently I’ve been trying to figure out ways to free up time here on the farm. You always have to look at what you are doing and if it adds value or not. Does it make sense for me to do things that Miguel does when there are things only I do that everybody is waiting for? No. Does it make sense for Miguel to do things that we can have someone else do? No. It’s all about pushing tasks down the ladder and making sure everyone is doing the things that provide the most return for their time (and payroll).

One of the things I was doing routinely was driving our monthly cardboard to the recycler. It took about 1/2 of a day, all in. That’s if everything went smoothly, which sometimes happened, sometimes not. It also sent me down major, busy roads with a huge trailer that was loaded to the max, and honestly beyond. What if I had a wreck? What if I blew a tire? Was this really the best way to spend my time when they offer a pickup service, even though there is a charge? Nope.

So we started collecting more than our normal cardboard, knowing that there would be a minimum amount for a pickup with a great big tractor trailer. But not really knowing what that minimum was we just kind of guessed. Miguel was guessing 30 bales, which sounded good to me. At 24 bales I finally bothered to call them and see about a pickup. It turns out, as usual, I should have called first. They will pick up 10 bales, no problem. As in, once per month like we’ve been doing. Oops. But they’d come get our 24 bales and clean us up and we’d go forward from there.

Once the truck driver got here and loaded the first few bales, he commented, “Those are some heavy bales.” Yeah, about 1900 lbs each. He’s driving a tractor trailer, I figured he’d load all my cardboard and make another stop.

“Yeah, I’m going to be overweight with this load.”

Uh oh. I guess we are packing our bales a little bigger than the normal farm, or even factory. I seem to recall they wanted a minimum of 500 pounds per bale when we first started. We are at 1900 lbs. Sometimes 2200 lbs. I always forget we have an unusually large compactor compared to, well, normal people. I guess sending 45,000 lbs of cardboard on one load may have been a bit much.

Oh well, it all worked out, and I didn’t have to take it myself.

Now! What else can I get out of around here?

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

7125 Old Stage Road Raleigh NC