Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos Paleo/ Keto Friendly

Fall recipes are looming in my brain. I see blankets of leaves with my family bouncing through them as they come in to have a mug of warm butternut squash bisque.  Then I open my eyes and realize that is not my family just the one that resides in my head.  Dinner party season is just about to start up though. Short easy recipes to take an appetizers are a must.  Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos are a delicious apps to make ahead of time, throw in the oven as you’re getting dressed then retain enough heat to stay warm on the car ride to a friends house.  This recipe is in honor of Mark & Jeanette who have used about 90% of the Jalapenos I have grown this year.

Earlier this spring Jen from Chickadee Farm began visiting the Ninja Cow Farm Store. One day she showed up with pepper plants for me explaining she had more than she could plant. She asked if I would want them. “Sure” I said knowing full well my family does not eat spicy food. We are a thorough blend of Scotch, Irish & Norwegian, are any of those cultures known for their spicy foods? Nope.  I planted the peppers and poof they have produced like no plant ever before.

This spring  we also began having Weeping Radish Butchery pick up our pork and beef to make Niche Market meats with. Their sugar free bacon recipe mixed with our pork is AH-Mazing!  In the store it sells for $12.50lb. W won’t be using too much int he recipe today. There will be plenty left over for a BLT for a midnight snack.  Sugar Free Bacon Wrapped around a Jalapeno filled with cream cheese and a dash of Smoked Paprika creates a fabulous appetizer.

Always ask what is growing in the garden. I’m always glad to share the bounty.

 

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.

The cows have come home

Our momma and baby cows spend most of the grazing season at a farm that we lease near our farm. Usually we like to leave the cows at that farm till late October to early November but we’ve been short on grass over there this year and this week we received a call from our property owner that the cows were out. Fortunately our landlord, despite being a successful doctor now, grew up as a farmer. He had the cows back in before we could even get there.

One way to make your landlord your ex-landlord is to have him chase your cows with any frequency. We love our landlord so we try to make his life as easy as possible. Regardless of how much grass was left (not much) we decided to go ahead and bring the girls back here and start prepping for winter feeding.

We still have a weeks worth of grass here (with everyone present), maybe a bit more. We’ll graze the rest of what we have, then start feeding hay and produce instead of grass and produce. That will last till April of 2018. That means we are going to have an expensive winter but some of that time they’ll be getting grass, hay, and produce so it all balances out.

Yesterday we took the trailer, truck, backhoe, ramp, and everyone who was present to our leased farm to haul cows. The process is we start about a week prior feeding produce near or in our portable corral. The cows love the produce and they’ll happily walk into the corral to eat it. After about a week, they have the habit down and on moving day we simply bring one load of produce, drop it in the corral, and everyone walks in. Close the gates and viola!

Except it didn’t work that way, of course. The cows had already wandered off by the time we got there so we took the produce and drove across the farm to lure them back. Once we had them back, we dropped the produce and closed them in. Yeah! Success!

That’s when Vicente noticed that they weren’t all in there. A few minutes later some of the younger cows came wandering up. We opened the corral and they scurried in to be with mom. Ugh. Kids! Always late, always causing trouble.

Then a couple more wandered up. We scooted them inside as well. Stupid kids, why wouldn’t they listen and come with mom when called.

Then three more wandered up. By this point the food in the corral was running low which means the moms are ready to go back out. That means we can’t just simply open the gate because now somebody will come squirting out. Also, one of the young cows was obviously not going to behave. You could see it in how he acted immediately. We chased these three cows all over the woods and they went everywhere and anywhere except where we needed them to go. Why is it always the kids who cause the trouble? The moms I could just about verbally tell what to do and they’d do it.

Teenagers, there is a lesson here. Sometimes you are too smart for your own good. We were trying to move the cows back to food, water, and comfort, and these knuckleheads were stopping the process.

So after several attempts we finally got the cows in the corral and loaded onto the trailer. But not before a whole gaggle of young cows couldn’t figure out how to get onto a trailer and blocked the ramp entrance with their idiocy. Once again, the moms had walked right on. The kids were clueless. We walked a mom back off, then walked her back on to show the dummies how it was done. Then we pretty much just pushed the young ones on the trailer because they still didn’t get it. 

Once we had a trailer load of cows we’d drive the five minutes to our farm, back into the pasture, and simply open the gate. The cows hop off and realize they are back home. They immediately go over to see all the other cows already here and have a big running around party. There is some pushing and shoving as the pecking order is reestablished. You can almost hear the, “Mom’s home!” from the cows as they assert their roles as herd leader.

Cows coming home from Adams farm, heading towards beef cows in light fog
Heading over to rejoin the beef cows.

We took 30 cows to our leased farm last time we offloaded this summer. We brought back 33.

It’s nice to have everyone home.

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.

Making something good out of a mistake

We don’t sell whole hogs very often. 95% of what we sell is by the cut, in our store. But occasionally we sell a hog here or there. That’s not to say I don’t get calls often for people wanting a BBQ hog. Usually it’s Friday morning, and after 10 questions from them, I ask when they need the hog.

“Today. The party is tomorrow.”

Um, No.

Who plans a pig picking and then starts looking for the hog the day of? It’s not like we are talking hamburger at Food Lion here.

However a few weeks ago I received a request from our friend Mike who runs Brew ‘N Que in Cary and Apex. He had a catering job and needed a hog for the event. Mike’s been a customer and a friend for years now, and he also understands what it takes to get a hog from hoof to spit, so I jumped through some hoops and made it happen. He asked for a 150 lb (that’s hanging weight) hog. I passed along this request to Miguel and he selected and loaded a hog I thought weighed about 240-250, which would put his hanging weight about right. Then Mike updated me that he actually needed a 120 lb hog. Ugh, we already had our hog loaded. But I like to be a little heavy rather than a little light if I can so it’s all good.

When this hog hit the scales at the processor, its hanging weight was 248 lbs! 100 lbs roughly over our target weight, 130 lbs over the updated weight! And when Mike picked it up, he told me it was too big to fit on the cooker. Ugh. We’ve been processing 400+ lb hogs so long that our sense of scale must be off. This guy looked little to me and to Miguel. We pride ourselves on picking the right hog and getting as close to target as possible and usually we are pretty good at it, and now we’ve screwed up our customer and his event. I apologized profusely and Mike said no worries, it’s all good. I told him I’d only charge him for the 150 lbs he ordered so I gave away 100 lbs of premium pork. Expensive lesson.

But that isn’t the story. It’s just the setup.

I figured Mike would use the pork in his two restaurants. I mean, he does run a pork based operation and some free product would certainly help the bottom line. Then I received this a few weeks later.

First the link.

Family trying to get home after hurricane Irma.

Then a quick shot from the reporter.

Michael Markum helping out hurricane Irma victims
Michael is in the foreground with the awesome beard.

So Mike ordered a pig for an event and his farmer (me) screwed up. Most people would yell, threaten, refuse to pay, whatever. Mike says, no worries, I got it handled. He then BBQs the free meat and holds a quiet fund raiser for hurricane victims. He did all this just to try to do some good. Yes, he’s on TV. No, he didn’t know that was going to happen and he doesn’t really know how it happened. They just showed up. Kuddos to Mike for thinking beyond himself.

People wonder why I don’t worry about much. Because I’ve learned that the Lord’s plan is so much better than anything I could cook up. I was frustrated we’d let Mike down when I found out the weight, but look at the end result. Our mistake in estimating a hog’s weight, led to a customer having extra pork, which he turned into a way for a family we’ll never know to get back home. If we hadn’t screwed up, those folks might still be here struggling. You don’t think they were praying for a little help in their situation?

“Lord, please help us find a way home?”

What would we expect from that prayer? An Uber to pull up. Money to fall from the sky? How about a farmer who suddenly can’t estimate a hog’s weight.

I looked at that hog myself, after Miguel had. It’s not our first rodeo. We both know he weighed 250, maybe 260. Think maybe the Lord put his thumb on the scale when we were estimating and got us a hog big enough to make all this happen? I don’t know, but I hope so. It’s pretty cool being part of something bigger than yourself. Thanks Mike for sharing the end result.

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.

Announcing Free Tours on Saturdays

Effective immediately, we are changing the way we handle our tours on the farm. Saturday tours, which are conducted by my son Spork, will now be free of charge. This is the same tour that we’ve given for years and charged for. The only change is that we will no longer charge for them. (We always reserve the right to change prices in the future, of course.)

Tours on Wednesdays and Fridays used to be $20 per booking, with sizes up to 20 people max. Now tours will be $20 per booking, up to 7 people. After 7, we will charge $2.50 per person (not counting babies.) This means a 10 person weekday tour will cost $27.50

All tours, regardless of price, require an appointment.

Why the difference in Saturdays and weekdays you might ask? 

I give the tours during the weekdays. Spork, my son, gives the tours on Saturdays. We run this farm by and large for the employment of our kids. As I sit here this morning, we have had about 30 minutes without any customers. We were slammed starting at 7:59 and have been till just now, but I want a steady pace for the kids to stay busy all day on Saturday. It keeps them busy, interested, and NOT BORED! Tour groups give me just that, a steady group of people coming through the store. I like tour groups on Saturdays.

Wednesday and Friday, we have tours as well. However the kids are busy home schooling so I do the tours. I enjoy giving tours, having time to meet and talk to our customers and learn about them. However I’m a farmer and I have a lot I need to accomplish each day. Routinely, I need to go pick up a part, go out of town for a day, work cattle, whatever. Invariably when I look at my calendar trying desperately to find a day when I can get X done, I have a tour on the schedule, at 2pm (basically the middle of the day).

As often as not, it’s a mommies group (or school group, or whatever) with 15 kids under 5. I don’t have another tour the rest of the afternoon but because of one tour at 2pm I can’t go where I need to, get done what I need to, get back for this tour, and have enough time for everything. It’s routine that I have to look two weeks or more out to find a weekday where I can schedule an entire day. Work backs up, trips can’t be taken. You get the idea.

So in the best example of capitalism at work I can think of, we are going down on our Saturday tour price to free, and up on our weekday tour prices (if you have a larger group). If folks want to come to the farm, there is a strong incentive to do so on Saturday which is when I have the boy giving tours and the girls working the store. Exactly when I need people here.

If your schedule says it has to be during the week for a family, no problem, it’s our normal $20 fee. If it is a large group, we’ve taken the 20 person maximum limit off and added a per person charge for over 7 people. If you have a 35 person group, bring ’em on. We’ll do one big walking tour with your entire group and you’ll be in and out.

Pushing more folks to visit on Saturday will allow your farmer to farm more, which I think everyone wants.

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.

Results from the 2017 CFSA farm fall tour

The CFSA farm tour 2017 brochure cover page
The 2017 brochure cover page

136 people. That’s how many folks we had through here that were directly related to the farm tour. If you figure that the average visitor visited three farms on their tour that would mean we could do a bit of interpolation and say that the overall farm tour had 1,179 people all combined. Considering we’ve had solo events with nearly double the people, that would make our participation on the farm tour a failure.

However, that is not the case. We can host the farm tour with little effort on our part. We are already set up for tours nearly every day so there isn’t a bunch of running around cleaning up for company.

Getting our new signs was something we needed to do anyway so no sweat there. This just forced me to finally get them ordered.

Having everyone on the farm up for a farm event, and then dinner and booze afterwards, is good for the community and the soul. Sadly it wasn’t too healthy for the liver, nor the head the next morning. But overall it was fun.

Cousin Cody came over for the weekend, much to everyone’s pleasure. He helped prep, work, and was the one parking cars if you happened to stop by. On Sunday we had  real treat as my brother-in-law came over to help work as well. I placed him in direct charge of “being an adult” and helping direct traffic if he were so inclined. It was his first time being here when we were open for business so it was neat to have him here to see what we actually do.

Jennifer from Buck Naked Farms was here on Saturday and Mark from right here on the farm was here Sunday to teach people about bees. They had a lot of good activity and questions for the number of people we had.

The Clark kids were here both days with their pet chickens. Said chickens  were sporting leashes and walking around. You’ve never seen anything till you see a chicken on a leash.

Jason was here to man the sample booth. We sampled our Pork BBQ and I know a good amount of them went out the door because looking in the freezer I need to send a pig for BBQ on Thursday. That is success.

Lucy spent Saturday walking around doing a bit of everything, including garden tours until she reminded me she was supposed to be giving actual tours. After that she and Spork handled all the tours for the day leaving me completely unencumbered.

Crystal ended up spending the night on Saturday which meant the girls had a friend over for a sleep over (they were super excited). Since work didn’t start till 12:30 on Sunday (tour started at 1) there was time for sleeping in and then dad’s famous pancakes with home made whipped cream.

I spent the two stunningly gorgeous days sitting beside my darling wife, talking to customers, talking to my brother-in-law, talking to my kids, and generally relaxing as people came and went. The pace was steady but sedate. No real excitement, no real worries.

The results in the store were not bad for a Saturday. We saw a number of new customers, including a bunch who were not here for the tour but simply stopped in because of the road signs we put out. Hopefully we’ll see those folks back again now that they know we are here.

Expect to see us next year on the farm tour. Maybe we’ll have a few more people next year, but not too many more. I don’t want to miss my vacation.

 

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.

Calf #82 has died

One of our new moms, #45, has lost a calf. We noticed when we were tagging another new calf that #82, the calf,  looked skinny. The moms and the calves are at our leased farm so we aren’t able to keep as close of an eye on them, only checking them every few days. Miguel texted me (I was delivering a cow to the processor) and asked what I wanted to do. We talked the next day and agreed that we’d either get the calf by himself or if possible get mom and the calf. This was complicated by the fact that the backhoe was down with a blown boom cylinder.

Backhoe cylinder off and ready for repair
Backhoe cylinder off and ready for repair

We use the backhoe when we load cows as we have to move and place a ramp we built that allow us to load cows from the ground up to the height of the trailer. With the backhoe down, we couldn’t place the ramp, so we couldn’t load the cows. Ugh. Well maybe we can load her from the ground. I’ve done it with milk cows, but they are a lot easier to deal with.

So let’s catch the calf, truss him up and place him the corral. Then when mom comes to be with him, we’ll lock them both in the corral. Then we’ll take junior and place him in the trailer. Then hopefully she’ll jump on to be with him and off we go. If not, we’ll have to force her on which will be no fun but maybe doable. I had to go another direction that day but Miguel and Vicente could handle if all went well. Ok, we have a plan.

While I was on the road, I received a phone call from Miguel. The calf was caught, and the mom showed no interest in him at all. She just walked off. The calf was very weak and minutes later died while in the back of the gator.

#82 dead in the back of the Gator
#82 dead in the back of the Gator

It was if the mom already knew.

From what we could tell, the mom had dried off and the calf wasn’t nursing. I don’t know if this is a result of the calf having a problem, or if the mom had an issue. At this point, it doesn’t matter. “Love your family, forgive your enemies. Do neither for your cows.” The calf is gone and the mom will now be marked for culling. She is #45, one that we were pretty happy about when she was born. Now she’ll be transferred into the beef cow category and be used for hamburger.

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.

The CFSA farm tour starts today!

This afternoon, starting at 1pm, we’ll be part of the Eastern NC farm tour coordinated by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Of course we are open our normal hours today from 8-5 so feel free to stop by this morning as usual.

The CFSA tour runs today and tomorrow, from 1-5pm each day. Tickets are $35 dollars PER CAR and allow you to see as many of the 26 farms as you can during the time period. They are also good for both days so you can see farms on Saturday and Sunday and really get your money’s worth. Before we were on the tour, we attended as often as possible and really enjoyed it every time. It really is a great tour with some fabulous local farms.

This is I think our third year on the tour. The first time we did it, I remember being a bit freaked out by all the people that were coming. We had all hands on deck here, ready for any eventuality. After some of our other events, it’s now just another Saturday/Sunday around here.

But, we have improved our ability to host people. This was based on what we’ve learned from other events. Number 1 was signage.

New welcome sign and store entrance sign
New welcome sign and store entrance sign

We also have signs for where you can’t go without an escort and one for where the tours start. They weren’t cheap, but I do think they will be worth it. It certainly dresses up the front of the store. I’d been meaning to get them forever, thankfully they are finally in place.

New freezer in the store
New freezer in the store

Inside the store, Lucy has been slaving away all week. She’s been ordering and picking up products like crazy getting us back to normal stocking levels. We also moved out of a fridge/freezer combo unit in the stock room and instead have moved it into the store where it is in freezer mode ( I LOVE these combo units, which are now discontinued. It’s so handy to be able to switch them back and forth.)

Having another freezer in the store allowed us to finally organize the goodies from Weeping Radish which up till now had been buried and hidden in the pork freezer.

Fridge and display shelf, fully stocked
Restocked and ready

We pulled a lot of new items into the store this year. Over the course of the past few months, we’ve been watching what sells and what does not. As products have finally sold out, or aged out, we’ve not replaced them if they were not good sellers. What we didn’t do was reset our stocking so that our shelves were full of popular items. Some of that was due to our farmers not having items available, some of it was we just didn’t get it done. But Lucy has worked very hard the past few weeks getting everything back in the store and now our shelves are fully stocked again. It looks much better.

I of course, have been picking up pork, beef, chicken, ice cream, etc, etc. My normal stuff. Oh, did I mention we just picked up a cow yesterday and we have ribeyes in the freezer unclaimed? See how I slipped that in there for those of you who actually read these posts? Yep, you get the gold star, swing by this morning. We have all the steaks in stock. Shh, don’t tell anyone.

The stock room finally looks good. The stock room finally looks good.
The stock room finally looks good.

We’d save the old bakers rack that used to be in the store because I didn’t want to throw it away (it was my mom’s) but it didn’t have a place. Lucy pointed out that if we moved this, tossed that, and stored this, we’d have room for the bakers rack in the stock room and finally have some shelves. It was a perfect idea. The problem with the bakers rack is small items fall through. But boxes of stock? They fit perfectly. The entire stock room was able to get some attention and it looks much better. Everything is off the floor and up on shelves and you can actually get around in there.

Our new wash table from CFSA
Our new wash table from CFSA

Normally when we are on the CFSA tour, they loan us materials for the event, then we give them back after it is over. It’s absolutely fine as they are a non-profit and every dollar counts. However they apparently received a grant this year and were able to purchase wash tables for the farmers to use and to keep. Woo hoo! Free stuff!

We’ve been meaning to get a wash table for a long while so this worked out perfect for us. We always end our tours with feeding the cows so folks always want to wash their hands before entering the store. Now we finally have a real wash table where they can do so. Of course, I didn’t use their soap they provided, I set one of ours out so people can get a free sample and clean hands at the same time. Plus now they smell lemony fresh!

This morning will be spent getting everything ready for the tour this afternoon, plus seeing all of our normal customers as well, oh, and actually running the farm because everybody still wants to eat. Starting at 1pm, we’ll be in full tour mode. If you haven’t already bought your tour button, you can get them at any farm on the tour, including ours. Just load the kids in the car and stop at the first farm and pay your $35.

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