Friday, April 30, 2010

Two more shelters being assembled today!

Darrell and Tom are assembling the other two Port-a-Huts today - this time using air hoses and impact wrenches, rather than doing it all with muscle power. They have saved a lot of time and effort!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Great excitement today! Darrell and a friend assembled one of three Port-A-Huts he bought to use for sheep and pig shelters! This first one will be shelter for the lambs we are about to wean. The other two will be used for sheltering feeder pigs for the summer. Darrell was thrilled at how easily the hut went together - says they did a great job of engineering them!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Asparagus season is upon us!

A week or so ago we started getting enough asparagus out of our little patch to make meals with. This past Christmas someone gave us a jar of pickled asparagus (commercially done), which we thought was quite yummy, so Darrell searched out a recipe for pickling asparagus on the Internet and decided to try it. It's a simple little recipe for processing small amounts at a time, so perfect for home canners who aren't trying to do a whole bunch of asparagus at a time. You can find the recipe here: Pickled Asparagus. I had a slight issue with the amount of pickling liquid the recipe provided and had to augment with additional vinegar to fill my jars to within the 1/2 inch of the rim needed. Darrell also found a recommendation from a user to add a garlic clove to each jar, so I did that, too.

I tasted an onion cooked in the pickling liquid and found it to be excellent - now we are waiting for 2 weeks to open a jar and sample the results, as dill, garlic and red pepper flakes were added to the jars after the asparagus was packed and before the hot pickling brine was poured into the jars - should be even more flavorful and spicy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Action item to protect "direct from farm" food options

As you are no doubt aware, the government continues to look for ways to control things - sometimes there is an overall societal benefit, but often it just adds costs and limits options.

Below is an excerpt from this month's LocalHarvest newsletter. In it, you will see brief info about a Senate bill that is in process that will put onerous costs and reporting burdens on small producers and could, in effect, eliminate your options to buy your food from local, known sources. There are links for calling or emailing your Senators to object to their supporting this bill without exemption for small farms and direct sellers. It's easy, and will only take a minute or so. There's also a link to another organization that might interest you, as well.

In part, the letter they have drafted which you can use or amend to suit yourself reads: "Direct market sales are immediately traceable, transparent and inherently accountable. State and local health agencies already have the authority to protect public health, and exercise that oversight." This is a key point - one that you take into consideration every time you elect to buy food from a direct source.

Excerpt from LocalHarvest:
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a sweeping overhaul of the food safety laws very soon! S. 510 is a "one-size-fits-all" approach that will unnecessarily burden both farmers and small-scale food processors, ultimately depriving consumers of the choice to buy from producers they know and trust. Please contact your Senators to urge them to support Senator Tester's amendments, or oppose the bill entirely. Senator Tester's amendments would exclude small facilities and direct marketing farms from the most burdensome provisions of the bill.

To call both of your Senators. You can find their contact information at, or call the Capitol Switchboard toll-free at 877-210-5351. Ask to speak with the staffer who handles food safety issues. To send an email, click here.

For more information, we recommend the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliancewebsite.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Our farm name - how it came to be

In case you're curious about our farm name . . . our property was once a coach stop on the "corduroy road" (logs laid side by each) across the muck lands between Grand Rapids and Holland Michigan. Another stop was east of us on the other side of the "muck", and teams of horses were kept on both sides to do nothing but haul heavy coaches across the boggy land. (The muck lands in our area are alleuvial soil which is between 6 and 12 feet deep; farmers on this land grow garden vegetables like celery, onions, lettuces, leeks, bok choy and parsnips.)
When we first moved to the farm, a friend sent us a postcard to "welcome" us to our new place. She addressed it to "Conni and Darrell at the Coach Stop", and the name stuck.

Setting up our blog for Coach Stop Farm

We've had a farm web site for years, but blogging seems to be a better way to connect people with people directly - that's the beauty of the Internet, isn't it?
We decided we wanted to blog about food - we raise most of our own meat, lots of vegetables and some fruits in season, and also search out sources for bulk fruits (Michigan is SOOOO lucky with the choices we have for fruit!) that we can or otherwise preserve. While we are not adamant about "no processed foods", we have gravitated over the years to a diet that s primarily made from scratch - fresh food, prepared for a meal or preserved for future use, the only additives being seasonings. Can't tell you the last time we bought anything "processed" at the grocery store, with the exception of peanut butter and ketchup - and that last only when we run out of the home-canned stuff!
So, we hope to share some of our activities through the seasons here on Coach Stop Farm, recipes, ideas, resources for like-minded people - food is fun, and we hope to make this blog a fun place to visit and become inspired. We realize not everyone is able to raise so much of their own food, but together we can promote the basics of how to become more self-sufficient even living in a city apartment.
We're just getting started in this world of blogging, so things will evolve. Please don't hesitate to offer constructive comments about what you see here (or what you don't, and would like to see!)