#83 had a little girl, #142

Just on the heels of our calf born on Thursday, we had a new calf born to one of our newer moms, #83. Another pretty little spring calf. This little girl should be here to stay as well, with a lifetime of being a mom herself.

A pretty little spring calf, #142
A pretty little spring calf, #142

As long as she behaves, that is. We do have some moms who haven’t been doing so well that will be culled next week. The younger moms especially seem to have the most trouble. But that is part of having cattle, sometimes they are excellent, and sometimes they struggle.

More honey bee swarms, and a reversal of fortune

So last time, we had honey bees swarming on a low fence and my bee keeper was out of town. I heroically saved the day by sidling up to the bees and knocking them into a box. It was an amazing bit of bee work, standing there on the ground with my box. I could have gotten a paper cut. Very dangerous.

The Mrs. and I had a meeting with two different companies in Myrtle Beach, SC. We drove down midday, met the first people, grabbed dinner, slept, woke, met the second people, then drove home. It wasn’t the most relaxing trip, but that wouldn’t stop me from rubbing it in in the below exchange.

Text conversation about a bee swarm

I’m sitting at a restaurant with the Mrs. We’ve just sat down when I receive the text from my neighbor with the picture of bee swarm. Like last time, I thank God that I have a bee keeper who takes such good care of us. But I’m wary, last time she was in Utah. Will she be there this time? Ahh, “I can be there in an hour.” Perfect, just what I wanted to hear, (Waitress! One more drink please.), especially since I’m three hours away at the moment. Then the next exchange happens a bit later, oh about one hour later when she arrives.

Text conversation about being at the beach

I am a bad person. Rather than just say no, I have to rub it in that I have a “tropical” view. I mean, she was in Utah when I needed her last time, right? So I owe her one. Plus it isn’t unusual that I’ll answer the “Are you around?” question with a picture rather than a statement. This is another answer I’ve sent to that inquiry.

View of left wing and the ground from a Cessna 172

A picture says a thousand words. Plus, I’m flying. I’m like…busy. I don’t have time to type out a whole message. Instead I have time to take a picture and forward it. Totally not the same thing. Stop looking at me like that.

So back to the bees. Apparently the lower branch, which was already 10 feet off the ground, wasn’t good enough for these overachieving bees. They’ve moved to another tree, and to a higher branch during the hour of transit time for Jennifer.

Bee swarm very high in a tree

Normally what we’d do in that situation is fire up our bucket truck and put Jennifer way up in the air to get these bees. It would really be easy, as they are sitting just above the drive way. All I’d need to do is to walk over, crank the truck, drive about 100 feet, set the truck up and raise her right where she wanted to be. I mean, she’s terrified of heights, so there is that, but overall not a lot of work to be performed. Instead, the guys are gone and I’m sitting in South Carolina. Jennifer had to adapt and overcome.

To be honest, I don’t know how she did it. She’s on the largest A frame ladder we have, and she’s not even half way to these bees. Maybe she levitated using some bee magic? Girl magic? Bee girl magic? I don’t really know how any of that works, especially the girl part, but somehow she captured about 1/2 of the swarm, 30′ off the ground, with a 10′ ladder and a stick. She managed to get the half with the queen because the next day, all the bees had decided to move into her hastily provided bee hive and were merrily going about bee duties enjoying the spring weather.

These bees most likely came from our hives. That means that in the end, this is kind of like picking your kid up from jail. You are glad to have him back, but all you did was get your own troublemaker back in the house, with no small amount of trouble for yourself in the process. Capturing someone else’s swarm, now that is a net add to your bee population.

But rather than having to do a split, these bees have made their own split so we have added two new hives to the apiary the past few weeks. With the spring weather, they’ll all be pouring in the honey as fast as they can go.

A sure sign of spring

Jennifer from Buck Naked Farms has blessedly been our beekeeper for years now. She tends to the girls and keeps things right, so I don’t have to.

So when I was walking back from the barn last Sunday and saw this.

A swarm of honey bees
A swarm of honey bees

I didn’t have that sinking feeling of, “Oh, not something else that needs to be done today. I have enough.”

Instead it was, “Oh, I’ll text our wonderful beekeeper and this can be her problem.”

Then this happened.

text message about being in utah
Who goes to Utah?

Um, she ain’t gonna be here in time to get these girls traveling from Utah. Ugh, I claim to be a former beekeeper on every tour I give. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t catch them. I also couldn’t face Jennifer, regardless of her permission to “let them go” if I didn’t try. I did say they’d be an easy catch.

I clopped back over to the barn, to uncover my beekeeping gear. It was conveniently located behind the paint booth, a shaper (weighs about 5000 lbs) that I was going to rebuild 10 years ago, and a pile of airplane parts I haven’t gotten to yet.

With bee gear in hand, I set about catching the swarm in a box I had laying about. Not a fancy beekeeper box, mind you. I’m talking a cardboard box that probably contained breakfast sausages at some point.

The bees were a bit more sprightly than I’ve encountered before with a swarm and I ended up getting Spork to help me because of course I’d not lit my smoker. In fact, I didn’t even have it with me. But with his help, we got some smoke going and the bees to settle down. I then rehived them in the box that Jennifer references in her text and everyone settled down for the night. Jennifer has already been by to check on them now and they appear to be moving in nicely.

Score one for the old beekeeper! I haven’t completely lost my touch.

Raw Goat milk is in!

We have a small supply of goat milk in today. We will be open today from 2-6 and tomorrow from 9-5. While here, stock up for the weekend!

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I need a quick meal

I am always searching for quick meals to prepare on the fly for my family on those crazy schedule days. Last week happen to be one of those weeks. We had one package of defrosted bbq pork left over from the open barn day. I decided to make southern nachos…I call it southern since it’s vinegar based and I’m a northern girl who loves my sweet bbq.

My nachos are always prepared in the oven on a cookie sheet and of course with mamsita.  I jokingly tell everyone who asks my opinion about Mamasita’s tortilla chips that they are “crack in a bag”. Once you open that bag, you will eat them all…lol. Lay the chips evenly, top with bbq pork and cheese. Another layer of chips, meat, cheese.

Pop in the oven set at 350 for less then 8 min. As every oven varies, keep watching so not to burn. I pull out and top with more cheese. Divide up and top with more deliciousness like salsa, tomatoes, sour cream, jalapenos, olives, avocado or even guacamole.  I’ll share with you one of my cheats….mash avocado, pour some salsa and stir to desired consistency.

Whole Duck Now Available

Lucy here on the actual non- recipe part of the blog. We’re still having some internet issues here on the farm.   The store is open tomorrow 2-6 p.m. & Satuday from 8-5.  Erin & Crystal will be running the store while Dan gives tours. SWMBO & I will be off picking up our kiddos and hosing them down after a full week of sleep away camp.

Ninja Cow Farm has a  wonderful new product in stock. DUCK!!! Seriously, we now have Duck thanks to Blue Whistler Farm over in Bahama, NC.  Blue Whistler is a wife and husband owned 5 acre farm. It may not seem like much land, they work it and are producing some great products.

Last year I was introduced to Amy at Blue Whistler Farm. I followed her for a while,  light facebook stalking in truth. What drew me to her was the amount she loved and cared for her animals while they were on the farm. How she is able to provide with love and care yet realize this is a business and you must follow the rules of it to be successful.

Look at those happy faces!
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She has tried several animals on her 5 acre farm.  Amy shares her triumphs and successes along the way. Now we can share her ducks with you. Blue Whistler Ducks are pastured raised, while receiving conventional feed rations.

As you can see though they stay in the pasture not in a closed in cage on a factory farm.  Amy is hoping this winter to bring us Duck by the cut as well. Blue Whistler ducks are currently sold whole in our store for $8.45lb. Drop by and see us for a new flavor on your table.

Results from back to back testing part 1

Last week I told you about our mad scientist plan to see how our marketing was working. After a busy day on Saturday, the results are in.

First, a recap. Two weeks ago, on a holiday weekend, we had free tours with our traditional schedule. Spork gave one on one tours and I gave one on one tours. Both ran concurrently. This gave us 15 spots in the schedule for tours. We had 3 cancellations so we did a total of 12 tours. We had 40 total transactions in the store. For dollar volume, we totaled what would be a traditionally good Saturday. Not off the charts but on the upper end. That was sample one.

Last weekend, it was not a holiday weekend. Rather than two concurrent tours for 15 total per day, we ran three spots at once for 24 total per day. We also had the tours for free as well for a direct comparison. We advertised the weekend exactly as we had prior. To the same demographic, for the same dollar amount of advertising.

We had about 4 no shows (grr! I hate those) but one walk in unscheduled tour which took the spot of  a cancelled tour. We also had a couple of notified cancellations so we probably did about 18-19 groups total vs. the 12 of the previous weekend. We had 54 transactions in the store vs the 40 of the previous weekend. The average ticket was less than the previous weekend but overall we did better than upper end dollar volume. In other words, we set a new top of the chart Saturday dollar volume (for a non-barn day, special event, etc.)

So what worked with our test?

  1. Free tours and relatively inexpensive targeted Facebook advertising works.
  2. Group tours worked very well. People didn’t mind touring together and often quickly began interacting with one another.
  3. Even with three combined groups, our group sizes were by and large manageable. Most people are 4-5 per group so we stayed below our normal cap of 20 people per group.
  4. No shows were not as much of a problem. When you book a normal one of one tour at 10am, and then no show/don’t answer your phone/blow us off (RUDE!) I generally wait till 10:15 to see if you’ll show. Then I call and probably get your voice mail. I give it five more minutes to see if you will call back. That’s 10:20. Then I figure you aren’t coming. I try to be available 10 minutes before the next tour, which would be 10:50. That means I have 30 minutes wasted, and 30 minutes to do something. That’s generally not enough time to really do anything meaningful so I end up doing next to nothing. The end result is I waste an entire hour for a no show, when I have a million things I could be doing. With multiple tours at once, I wait till 5 after, then whoever is here gets a tour. If you show, catch up. If you don’t, whatever. My time is utilized. Multiple tours mitigates the no shows.
  5. People seemed to be just fine with group tours. They didn’t mind taking the tour with others and some even seemed to interact and connect. It worked better than I would have thought.

More on what worked, and what didn’t, in our next post.

Lemon Basil Broccoli Chicken

Weeknight activities are the bane of my existence. By 6 p.m. at night I want  dinner on the table with my family around it followed by Jeopardy & Wheel of Fortune.  Yes, I’m a thoroughly middle aged Mom & nights as I described are rare.  That is where Lemon Basil Broccoli Chicken comes into play, this has been my child’s favorite meal since she was a toddler.  

In the NCF Farm Store we carry Boneless Skinless Breast from Brittany Ridge Farms for $11 lb. The birds are pasture raised and taste great.  The color of the meat will show you the difference before the flavor.  Once you taste it you will notice a difference between our chicken & large scale production.

Lemon Basil Broccoli Chicken over Pasta
A fast go to meal ready in 20 minutes to get the family fed and out the door. This meals packs in the flavor while delivering fast & easy.
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings

Metric
US Imperial
INGREDIENTS
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Season Chicken with Salt
  2. In a large skillet on Med Hi add EVOO
  3. Add Chicken & brown about 5-7 minutes
  4. Add liquids & Basil bring to a simmer on med heat
  5. Stir in Broccoli & Pepper cover & cook for 3 minutes
  6. Add Pasta & serve with your favorite cheese

HERB CRUSTED LONDON BROIL WITH RED HOOP CHEDDAR GRITS

Yesterday was a fun day in the store.  Our clients for the first time received a taste of my cooking.

Most folks loved the London Broil, this time I cooked it Sous Vide style to make sure everyone got a delicious tender bite. Somewhere around 11 am my Sous Vie changed temp from the 120 degree holding temp to 299 degrees. One person got a very rubbery overcooked piece & I apologize.  At this point I rushed out to slice up the 2nd London Broil & make a fresh batch of grits. Instead of relying on my counter top model Sous Vide I brought up my real deal Anova Model.  Yes I’m a kitchen gadget junkie who owns 2 type of Sous Vide. Go with the Anova, I wish I had the first time. If using an oven please find instructions in the recipe notes section.

My favorite moment was when a woman who hated grits didn’t realize she was eating grits. She kept jokingly telling me I was lying as there was no way she enjoys grits. She bought a bag, I hand wrote the recipe so she could make herself a batch this morning.

We recently began carrying  Yellow & White Corn Meal from Yates Mill. The Mill is less than 10 minutes from the farm & has wonderful classes for families throughout the year.  Once a month they grin Corn Meal on the old mill. A few high end restaurants  in Raleigh serve it and now we sell it. Most store charge between $10- $15 for Artisan Local Corn Meal. Here at NCF we sell a 2lb bag for $5. Not bad, eh?

I promised many folks the recipe would be up today.  Please look in the note section for the traditional method on cooking the London Broil. There are no photos as I did this as a last minute demonstration and began cooking late Friday Night.

Herb Crusted London Broil
A savory marinated London Broil crusted with Rosemary cooked Sous Vide style. This recipe uses Tamari a Gluten-Free type of Soy Sauce.
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 8-10 hours
Servings
8 oz servings

Metric
US Imperial
INGREDIENTS
Herb Crusted London Broil
Red Hoop Cheddar Grits
INSTRUCTIONS
Herb Crusted London Broil
  1. Heat a Large Skillet on High, Heat Sous Vide water bath to 135 degrees
  2. Sear each side of London Broil
  3. Season each side of meat with Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, & Crushed Rosemary
  4. Combine Liquids place in vacuum seal bag with London Broil
  5. Seal bag place in Sous Vide bath for at least 8 hours.
  6. Remove from Sous Vide bath slice and serve over Cheddar Grits
Red Hoop Cheddar Grits
  1. Combine Liquid in a 4 Quart Pan
  2. Heat on Medium Heat until simmering
  3. Slowly stir in grits with a whisk. Lower heat to Low and stir often Cook for 10 min
  4. Stir in Cheddar Cheese
  5. Season with Salt & Pepper
RECIPE NOTES

Below is a Steak Temperature Chart from Google

Rare 130 to 135°
Medium Rare 140°F
Medium 155°F
Well Done 165°F

To cook London Broil in the oven

 

  1.  Season meat add marinade  place in bag with marinade for 8-10 hours
  2. Heat Broiler to 500 degrees
  3. Place meat on rack over jelly roll sheet pan
  4. Cook for 10 minutes on each side  for rare meat (add 2 min. to each side for each additional level of meat temp)
  5. Let sit for 7-10 minutes
  6. Slice thinly opposite the grain of the meat.