Weekly pasture-raised roast chicken: Endless possibilities

 

Let’s face it, we could all use more time. I often daydream (when I have 5 free seconds) of all the relaxing moments to come - I’ll sit on a front porch, overlooking some tranquil body of water, reading a good book or just taking in the view. I’ll sip coffee in the morning and wine at night because I won’t be pregnant or nursing or just plain exhausted from mothering little ones!

 

But, back to saving time… One way I do this in the kitchen, and also provide a simple nutrient-dense food for my family, is to roast a pastured chicken about once a week. First of all, who doesn’t love roast chicken? Second, the leftovers can be transformed into lots of other dishes, and done so in a pinch. Whether the night you cook it, throughout the week for lunches on the go, or food for the little ones – I have come to absolutely adore this dish. To make matters even easier, I use the simplest recipe for this wonderfully versatile staple. It takes a whopping 10 minutes to prepare and about 60-90 min. to cook.

 

Ingredients:

  • Local pastured whole chicken – I love Tyner Pond: they usually run 3-4 lbs.
  • Real salt – Himalayan or Celtic. Salt is good for you! But only if it’s unrefined, because it still contains vital trace minerals.
  • Pepper, fresh ground
  • Twine, if you want to truss (Trussing means to tie the legs and wings close to the body, which keeps the meat succulent and juicy). Tyner Pond birds come pre-trussed – this is the first time I’ve ever seen this, and let me tell you, it’s amazing! Less work for you and you get a perfect roast every time.

 

Instructions:                                                                                                                                                                                                  

  • Preheat oven to 450F
  • Rinse chicken under water, though this might not be necessary depending on how fresh your chicken is or where it came from.
  • Pat dry, especially inside the cavity. Get the sucker as dry as you can! Excess moisture will essentially steam the chicken while it cooks, which can produce a less than juicy outcome. Sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me.
  • Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the carcass and liberally salt (and pepper too, if you like) the outside. I like to see the salt crystals.*
  • Place bird in Dutch oven or roasting pan (uncovered) and set in oven for 60-90 min. depending on the size of the bird.
  • Once properly cooked (meat thermometer should read 165) remove to plate to cool.

                                                                                                                                                                  

*If you’re looking for even more flavor, or to change things up a bit, consider also stuffing the cavity with a whole head of garlic, sliced in half horizontally, a small bunch of fresh thyme, rosemary or other herb, or a whole lemon, halved. Heck, you could add all of these ingredients!

 

Of note, contrary to popular belief that you must rub the bird with a fat, like butter or olive oil, this is one (very rare) time I don’t add fat. The drippings you get are full of nourishing fat (also called schmalz), the skin will be crispy every time, and frankly, it’s just not necessary. The result will be a delicious and buttery bird. Also, olive oil and butter have lower smoke points (approx. 350F) so cooking at 450F can destroy the natural goodness found in those fats and turn them into free radicals. Not good!

 

When cool enough to handle (but still warm as it’s easier to pull apart the meat), remove meat to glass container. Or, if you’re having a traditional roast chicken dinner, take it to a whole new level: slice for fancier presentation, make gravy from drippings (gluten free is simple here, if you can’t digest wheat), whip up a delicious batch of mashed potatoes and greens, serve however you like!

 

LEFTOVERS. You can make chicken salad, add meat to homemade soup, turn “shredded” meat into tacos with simple seasoning, add chopped pieces to a fresh green salad, or use cold chicken for a quick and healthy toddler lunch. Though I have to say, my 1½ year old prefers to eat the meat fresh from the oven and straight off the bone! The possibilities are literally endless.                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

P.S. Don’t throw those bones away! The precious minerals found deep in the marrow (including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, and trace minerals, as well as chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, which are sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain) will make a delicious, nutrient-rich bone broth that will add depth and flavor  to countless meals, not to mention simple soups and stews. I’ll talk about the importance of bone broth made from pasture-raised animals in my next post. If you’re not ready to make broth, throw all bones including whatever you stuffed into the cavity into a freezer bag and freeze. Until next time, enjoy the chicken!

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Sustainable Farming Methods: The Ways of the Past Now the Ways of the Future

sustainable farming methods include moving cattle to new grassIt's so funny when you read about sustainable farming methods as a "new" way to farm and realize that wait, this is the way it used to be done, if not by farmers, then by nature.

 

Like the method you see in this picture. This picture is from Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, IN, where they practice sustainable farming methods like this: moving cattle to new grass as part of rotational grazing. 

 

Rotational grazing is how you take care of your cattle and your grass both. Using fences, you keep the cattle on a smaller area of land and let them eat down that vegetation while the rest of the land gets a rest. Then you move them on to the new ground with the new vegetation, and let THAT ground rest and the grass to regrow. (See Joel Salatin talk about this, starting at 2:30 minutes in.)

 

As the cattle are moving around, they are "fertilizing" for the farmer at the same time. 

 

Now, in some ways this does not look like sustainable farming methods of old because--if you're like me--you grew up thinking all beef cattle were raised in the old West free range on millions of acres. And in truth, some cattle are still raised that way. But that's an inefficient and even damaging way to raise cattle, because it requires so much land, and because the cattle can be so hard on the natural vegetation and native wildlife. 

 

But the way Tyner Pond Farm does it using sustainable farming methods uses less land and only gives back to the soil. They mimic nature by keeping the cattle grouped together in small areas, just like wild herbivores like zebras do in nature. The animals naturally stay grouped together for safety from predators, and fencing mimics that behavior. The animals naturally move around while eating, and rotational grazing mimics that behavior. 

 

The electric fence used to keep the cattle on a small area is the only thing high tech about sustainable farming methods like these. And yet this low tech method yields grass fed beef that's better for you and your family, and without the environmental damage done by grain fed cattle methods. 

 

Yep. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways, especially when it comes to grass fed beef! 

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All Natural Meat...What Does That Even Mean?

all natural meatAll natural meat... Isn't saying that kind of like saying Rio Grande River, meaning River Big River? Shouldn't meat be natural without us having to specify? Not any longer. 

 

In a way, I guess all meat is all natural meat, unless it's like a Boca Burger or some other kind of vegetarian meat alternative. Because meat comes from animals, and animals are natural, right? 

 

Right. The challenge is how those animals are raised. That's when we move from nature's version of all natural meat to the industrial world's version. 

 

For me, it comes down to two things: 1) what the animal eats, and 2) how the animal lives. These can be natural or un-natural, and these two things WILL affect the nutritional value as well as the taste of your meat. 

 

First, what the animal eats: Let's talk about beef for a minute. Most of the meat consumed in this country (97% of it, according to one statistic I found) is grain fed. Grain fed, in this case, actually means corn and soybeans even though soy isn't a grain, just FYI. Feeding grain to cattle is unnatural. They aren't made to eat it. Do they get fat on it? Oh yea, and quickly too. That's why we do it. Is it good for them? No, not at all, nor is it good for us when we eat grain fed beef. In fact, the health benefits of grass fed beef vs. grain fed beef are striking. Then you have the GMO issue too, because the grain fed to cattle in feedlots is typically genetically modified. Why does this matter? You know that saying, "You are what you eat?" Well, so is a cow what it eats. And if a cow is eating genetically modified grain, chances are that's going to get passed along to you. Finally, you've got your drugs. Cattle fed grain are more likely to get sick plus they are raised in confined areas, crammed in together with not a blade of grass in sight, which also contributes to the likelihood that they'll get sick. So they're given antibiotics, which in turn means you're given antibiotics. 

 

Does that sound like all natural meat to you? Sure, it might look all natural sitting all shrink wrapped in the cooler at the grocery store, but it's what you don't see that's scary. 

 

Second, how the animal lives: Let's switch to pork for a minute. The pork industry made major headways into America's eating habits a few years ago by touting pork as "the other white meat," putting it in direct competition with white chicken meat. But pork isn't supposed to be white. The pork that comes from pastured pigs that are free to move around and like--well, pigs--is dark. That "other white meat" is also dry and flavorless, because the poor pigs that supply you with that cheap pork live a horrid short life in an extremely confined environment, unable to move around, never feeling the sun on their faces, and constantly stressed. That confinement and stress combine to give you a dry, flavorless meat. (Oh, and there's America's obsession with lean meat, which means pork producers have bread a leaner hog which in turn means it can't live outside in the elements anyway, nor does it have any fat or flavor to speak of.) 

 

That doesn't sound natural at all either, does it?

 

Yet this is how most meat in our country is raised. This is what we typically eat. This is what passes for "all natural meat" in the U.S. And it's not natural at all. 

 

The only way you can find all natural meat and be sure that's what you're getting is by buying directly from a farmer or rancher. If you're in the Greenfield, IN, area, buy all natural meat from Tyner Pond Farm (whose cattle are pictured in the lush grass above). If you live somewhere else, visit your local farmers market or use an online directly to find someone you can buy from. 

 

All natural meat is the only kind of meat you want to eat and feed your family. But it's up to us as the consumers to make sure that's what we're really getting, no matter the label. 

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Overcome a Dislike for Lard by Rethinking the Fat...and Baking a Chocolate Cake

Why are we so anti lard in this country? 

 

Well, for lots of reasons. We're anti lard for the same reason we're pro breast meat: We're disconnected from the realities of food production and we've let marketing fill our brains with untruths that we don't even know enough to question. 

 

And it turns out that just like dark meat is the more flavorful meat (and the health benefits of white meat were grossly exaggerated), it's the hydrogenated fats like shortening that are killing us, not the natural, wholesome fats like lard. 

 

So the reason we don't like lard is simply that we haven't been paying attention. We've let advertisers and industrial ag tell us what to eat and not eat. We've believed them about white meat (good) and lard (bad), even as we've become heavier and sicker as a society. 

 

Another possible reason for our dislike of lard is the word itself. Lard. Say it out loud. It's kind of rude. It's abrupt. It's not a pretty word, like butter. You can't prettify it up either. There's only one way to say lard: Lard! Lard, lard, lard...it's just a clunky, ugly, kinda gross word. 

 

But seriously, we don't like lard because we've been told it's gross and bad for us. We've been convinced that chemically altered fats like shortening and margarine are better for us than natural fats like lard and butter. And that's all wrong. 

 

So we change our thinking, and we bake a cake. Seriously, bake a cake using lard and you'll become a believer. More specifically, bake this easy chocolate cake. You'll find out lard doesn't smell weird, has no taste, makes for the silkiest cake, and is a helluva lot easier to clean out of a measuring cup than shortening! 

 

A caveat, however: Don't buy hydrogenated lard at the grocery store. Try to find a local farmer like Tyner Pond Farm and buy your lard that way so you know it comes from pastured pigs (and will therefore be better quality). Ask at your local farmers market if you don't know whom to buy from. Just don't buy the stuff that's sold mainstream at the grocery store, because it won't be as natural or as good as plain ol' wholesome lard. Plus it's not made from pastured pigs but from caged factory farmed ones, and they're too lean to make good lard.  

 

Now, get some lard, bake a cake, and learn to love lard!! 

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Pasturing Chickens: Why It's the Better (Tastier) Way

pasturing chickens at Tyner Pond Farm

When you're at the typical grocery store looking at the shrinkwrapped pieces of chicken, it's hard to think about how that chicken was raised. In fact, it can be hard to picture it as a chicken at all, with feathers and feet and a beak. Maybe that's why it's so easy for us to disregard how it was raised? Maybe that's why we don't think about it? 

 

But think about it we should! There are many reasons to consider how a chicken goes from hatching out of an egg to simmering in your soup pot, and there are many reasons to accept that pasturing chickens is the best way. Chief among these reasons are health and taste.

 

Whether for raised for meat or eggs, pasturing chickens simply means healthier. Chickens raised on grass lay eggs significantly higher in Omega 3s. And Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to your health. Studies show these fatty acids might help with: 

 

  • Lowering your triglyceride levels, a blood fat that puts you at risk for heart disease
  • Reducing effects of ADHD
  • Easing arthritis and boosting the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Helping with depression
  • Easing asthma
  • Reducing risk of cancer

 

(Note: While we've been told for years to eat more fish in order to increase our intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, we're also warned off of fish because they're polluted and toxic, because they're ingesting the crap we're putting into the oceans. Pasturing chickens means having a supply of Omega 3s without these risks.) 

 

Then there's the taste difference. If you've eaten eggs laid by pasturing chickens, you know the color and flavor are beyond compare to the factory farmed eggs you get in the grocery store. The same goes for meat chickens raised on grass. There's much more flavor when pasturing chickens is the technique used. 

 

The chickens in the photos above are raised on pasture at Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, IN, where they've been pasturing chickens since day 1, knowing raising chickens in the cramped confinement of typical chicken farms was NOT an option. And the result of that? Rave reviews from customers about the taste of the meat! Just check out their Facebook page for all of the wonderful comments customers make about the pastured meats. 

 

Then there's the added bonus of knowing your chickens were raised in a natural manner, on grass, eating bugs, in the sunshine (kids are an added bonus). The chicken you're buying in the grocery store wasn't raised like that...at all. Just sayin'. 

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Is Grass Fed Beef Better for You? Uh....YEAH!

is grass fed beef better for youPeople wonder sometimes if all this grass fed stuff is just hype or if it's the real deal, asking "Is grass fed beef better for you?" 

 

And I get it! When food labels like "natural" are so misused, and free ranging is a cover up for chickens still cooped in a building, just not in cages, of course consumers are skeptical of the grass fed beef claims. 

 

But unlike the misuse of words like natural and free range, grass fed beef really truly is better for you and the facts prove it. Grass fed beef is lower in fat and calories, and higher in Omega 3s. Plus it's higher in plenty of other nutrients beneficial to humans, like beta carotene, vitamin E, certain B vitamins, and minerals including calcium and potassium. 

 

Perhaps the biggest health benefits (in answer to the question "is grass fed beef better for you") come from the obesity and cancer fighting properties of grass fed beef.

 

Regarding obesity, grass fed beef is higher in Omega 3s and lower in Omega 6s. I'm not a scientist so I'm putting this into layman's terms as I understand it (you can read about it in detail to make sure I'm right), but taking cattle off of grass and feeding them corn and soy instead dramatically lowers the Omega 3s in the meat, while increasing the Omega 6s. Omega 6s make us fat and not just us, but succeeding generations of us too. To quote EatWild.com

 

Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for health, but the amount consumed by most Americans increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Omega-6s are most abundant in vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, and cottonseed oils...grain-fed animals are also a major source of omega-6s. Meat and dairy products from animals fed a high-grain diet, which is the typical feedlot diet, have up to ten times more omega-6s than products from animals raised on their natural diet of pasture. 

 

My takeaway? Sounds like protein-rich ways to lose weight, like the Atkins Diet, are going to be more successful and keeping America trim if America switches to grass-fed beef. 

 

As for cancer, scientists are studying the cancer-fighting effects of conjugated linoleic acid acid, or CLA. A very small amount of CLA given to lab animals has reduced the size of tumors, and grass fed beef is one of the best sources of CLA. If you raise that same cattle on grain, however, you dramatically reduce the amount of CLA. To quote EatWild.com again: "When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets." (i.e. corn and soy)

 

There's also strong evidence that eating grass fed beef (rather than grain fed) can help fight breast cancer. That's because one of the Omega 3s in grass fed beef is alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Quoting EatWild.com (which is citing the British Journal of Cancer), "A study of breast cancer survivors revealed that the women with the most ALA in their tissues—and therefore the most ALA in their diets—were one fourth as likely to have their cancers return as women with the least amount."

 

So, are you still wondering is grass fed beef better for you? Or are you ready to give up the grain fed for good? Oh, and that delicious looking burger in the photo? Grass fed beef, baby, grass fed beef! :-)

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Want Some Quality Family Time? Stay on a Farm This Fall

stay on a farm at Tyner Pond FarmLet's face it: Family vacations are sometimes more work than rest. There's the packing and the driving and fitting in all of the activities, and at the end of it everyone's happy but tired! That's why I suggest you stay on a farm this fall for a mini vacation that will rejuvenate your family...plus connect your kids to local foods. 

 

Farm stay vacations are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. You can stay at a guest ranch with the cattle and horses, or a working farm complete with trucks and tractors. Some farms are now set up more like resorts with plenty of guest amenities, so don't worry: A farm stay doesn't necessarily equal farm work! You can choose the kind of farm stay you want, from one where you're pampered to one where you're worked. 

 

If you're near or in Indiana, or want to be, here's a great way to stay on a farm: Rent the farmhouse at Tyner Pond Farm. The farmhouse is brand spanking new with all the modern amenities and loads of privacy (because the farm's owners live up the road). And outside, you'll find all of the barns and outbuildings sparkle and shine too. That's a photo of Tyner Pond Farm above. The farmhouse is to the left, and all of the red buildings are the outbuildings. 

 

Stay on a farm at Tyner Pond Farm and you'll not only enjoy peaceful mornings and quiet days--you'll see how livestock can be raised in a sustainable, natural way. Tyner Pond Farm practices sustainable farming methods, and the cattle, pigs and chickens are all raised on grass, outside where they should be, not in confined indoor pens pumped full of antibiotics. 

 

You'll get the rest and relaxation and family time you're craving, but you'll be educating your kids too about the future of farming (which is really the past), and what it takes to raise food in a natural and humane way. 

 

Then stock up on the beef, pork and chicken the farm sells before you head home, and you'll be tasting the Tyner Pond Farm difference for weeks to come! 

 

And the next time you ask the kids, "Where do you want to do for our next trip?" don't be surprised if the answer is a resounding chorus of "Stay on a farm!!"

 

Book your visit to Tyner Pond Farm today!

 

 

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Of the Heritage Hog Breeds, Berkshires Are the BEST!

heritage hog breeds--BerkshireWhen industrial agriculture came on the scene a few decades ago in the U.S., breeds of livestock that had been around for generations and even centuries started to disappear, replaced by cross bred versions that would grow fast, like the poor Cornish Cross developed to raise chickens to size in just a few weeks. 

 

That was a blow to breeds that had been around for a long time, but thankfully most heritage breeds have survived and some are even enjoying a revival. I, for one, would love to be a collector of heritage chicken breeds! I've got a whole mix of chickens running around our farm, but I really want to add two breeds to the mix: the Dominique, and the Sussex. Oh well, maybe next year.... 

 

And when it comes to cows--if we ever get our farm to that point--I have my heart set on the Devon breed, which is the breed that came with the pilgrims way back when. How cool would that be? 

 

At least when it comes to heritage hog breeds, we've got our Berkshires. And despite the good points of all those other heritage hog breeds, like the Tamworth and the Gloucester Old Spot, I think I like our Berkshire pigs the best. 

 

For one thing, the flavor of Berkshire pork is supreme. For another, the Berkshire pig breed grows to only about 600 pounds (compared to 1,000 for some other breeds!). They are the smartest of the heritage hog breeds (that's what I've heard, anyway), which makes them extremely entertaining (and challenging!) to raise. And they have a really nice, docile personality. That's a Berkshire pig in the picture above, checking out a young visitor to Tyner Pond Farm, where they raise Berkshires as their heritage hog breed of choice (having started with Large Blacks). 

 

If you live around Greenfield, IN, and you want to know more about the heritage hog breeds they've raised at Tyner Pond Farm and why they settled on Berkshire pigs at last, visit the farm...and pick up some delicious Berkshire pork while you're there! Then you'll agree than when it comes to heritage hog breeds, the flavor of Berkshire pork trumps them all!

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Grass Fed Chickens Is a Misleading Label? Give Me a Break!

grass fed chickens at Tyner Pond FarmWhile looking up some information on grass fed beef, I just found a website that said don't buy grass fed chickens because chickens eat more than grass so the label has to be a lie. 

 

Hello??? Grass fed chickens are not a mislabeling! It indicates that they are free ranging as opposed to crammed into a building eating feed. And if chickens are eating grass, they're also eating bugs and worms and things like that. (I've watched the chickens at our farm eat frogs and snakes! If they can catch it, they will eat it!) 

 

That's so silly, to somehow think the label "grass fed chickens" means the chickens weren't raised naturally. I'd call our chickens grass fed because they run around outside all day eating grass when they feel like it, but also eating the aforementioned bugs, reptiles and amphibians, plus the chicken feed they always have available to them in their coop if they want it. Even when we raise meat chickens in a chicken tractor, they are on grass...we just move the chicken tractor around on the grass in our orchard. 

 

Last summer while the Hubby was deployed and I had some old fencing torn down, I realized just how much grass chickens will eat, even when they have other food available. The chickens had started crossing the road, literally, en masse into the neighbor's yard, and seemed to concentrate their bug-finding efforts in his flowerbeds. He asked me to please keep them in, so I bought some portable poultry netting and set that up around the outside of the chicken yard. In no time at all, they had eaten down all of the grass within that fencing EVEN THOUGH they were never without chicken feed as an option. 

 

The chickens at Tyner Pond Farm are grass fed chickens too, as the picture above shows. But they always have feed available to them, and all those heads bent down in the picture tell me they're as likely to be looking for bugs as they are to be eating grass. 

 

Don't buy grass fed chickens? What a silly thing to say! 

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Buying Grass Fed Beef: What You Need to Know

buying grass fed beefIf you've been hearing about the health benefits of grass fed beef or maybe you're making a commitment to buying animals raised humanely, you might be feeling a little intimidated by the idea of buying grass fed beef. 

 

You're not alone! It's new territory for lots of folks. How do you know what to look for? How do you find someone raising grass fed beef and how do you know they're reputable? How much does grass fed beef cost? Heck, you might even be wondering how to cook it! 

 

Below are a few tips for you if you're new to buying grass fed beef, tips that I hope will make it easier for you and a lot less intimidating. 

 

First off, beware the label "grass fed." As with so many labels associated with food, this one gets mis-used. Cattle can be grass fed for most of their lives but then grain finished. If you want to avoid the side effects of feeding cows corn, you want grass fed, grass finished beef. A lot of farmers only feed grass, not grain, but don't label their beef as such (since they're farmers, not marketers), so ask. 

 

Second, either know the farmer or know someone who knows the farmer. This is easier than you think! Try reaching out to your social network, like Facebook, to ask for referrals. Or if you have a farmers market in your area, ask there. Someone somewhere will know about a farmer raising grass fed beef. If you can't find a farmer that's recommended by someone you trust and you're starting cold, check Google or local food directories, and then make the time to visit the farm. Trust me: You will feel much MUCH better about eating beef raised by someone you've met in person. Plus you can see how the animals are raised, the kind of pasture they're turned out on, the condition of the animals, and if they're treated humanely. If the farm or ranch is a long distance from your house, that's okay. You only need to make this trip once if you are buying grass fed beef in bulk. 

 

(Another cool bonus to this: Telling your friends about the farm or ranch where you bought your grass fed beef while you're serving them their steaks!) 

 

Third, do some research to find out how much grass fed beef costs in your area if you're going to be buying a quarter or a side of beef. Different parts of the country have different kinds of costs for things like fuel for tractors and property taxes and the like, and all of these things will affect a farmer's costs. Know ahead of time what to expect so you don't feel like a vulnerable newbie. 

 

And once you're done buying grass fed beef and it's time to cook it, read up on the difference in how to cook it and the difference in flavor too, so you won't be surprised. Grass fed beef doesn't taste like grain  fed, and it typically needs a longer slower cooking time. So, just know what to expect. 

 

If you're lucky enough to live near Greenfield, IN, then go visit Tyner Pond Farm and see what life is like for the grass fed beef they raise there. Or place your order online, and have that grass fed beef delivered to your house for free! Another nice thing about Tyner Pond Farm is you don't have to buy a quarter or a side of beef. You can buy individual cuts. Buying grass fed beef couldn't be any easier! 

                                                          

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Indiana Grass Fed Beef Available at Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield

Indiana grass fed beefAre you shopping for Indiana grass fed beef? If so, you've come to the right place. Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, IN, raises grass fed beef, as naturally and humanely as possible. And an added bonus: If you live or work within 50 miles of the farm, you can get your grass fed beef order delivered to you for free! 

 

It's a bit of an irony. After all, Indiana is known for corn...acres and acres of corn. Before the current owners bought the property that is now Tyner Pond Farm, corn was raised here too. And corn is what is fed to grain fed cattle in feedlots, to fatten them fast, even though their bodies aren't made to process corn (and soy, the other typical feed). A corn-based diet leads to health problems in cattle, including diarrhea, liver disease, ulcers and a weak immune system. And those are "fixed" with drugs. Yum! 

 

But here's a farm smack dab in the middle of corn country feeding cattle the way nature intended: free ranging on grass. And one look at the farm's Facebook page will show you that the flavor is winning people over to grass fed beef in Indiana! 

 

To buy some of these Indiana grass fed beef, you have three easy options: 

1. You can visit the farm and buy beef on site. 

2. You can find them at the Greenfield Farmers Market and buy beef there. 

3. You can order online and have grass fed beef delivered right to your door! 

                                                     

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Berkshire Hogs: Can't Wait to Taste the Flavor!

Berkshire hogsIt has been almost 4 months since we brought home our little Berkshire hogs...who are now huge. Although they were piglets at the end of April, one is over 200 pounds as July comes to an end. Sheesh! 

 

That's the male in the photo about a month ago. He's huge! And this is coming from a woman who is only 5'4" but has a hundred pound dog and two very tall horses. I'm used to big animals, and he still seems huge to me.

 

I looked it up: If we didn't slaughter him for meat and he kept growing, he'd reach 600 pounds!

 

(OK, this picture...he's not too big to stand up to drink his water, just so you know, so don't judge me. I don't know why he was sitting down to drink it this time! They are total goobers with their water, and we are constantly checking it during the day because they knock it over, sit in it, toss mud into it...you name it. If we ever do pigs again, we are investing in a watering system for sure!)

 

Anyway...I digress. Slaughtered he will be, in about 6 weeks time, and we are really looking forward to finally tasting the world-renowned flavor of Berkshire hogs

 

Berkshire hogs produce meat that's...

  • More flavorful
  • Juicier
  • Darker (which means more flavorful)

 

(In fact, Berkshire hogs are called kurobuta pork in Japan, meaning black, in reference to the darker meat.) 

 

I'm especially anxious to taste this meat because raising these Berkshire hogs has been far more work than I could have anticipated, with their many escapes and voracious appetites and constant knocking over of their water (already mentioned). But not everyone has to go to the trouble and expense of raising Berkshire hogs in order to taste this pork. You can simply go find a farmer who's raising them instead!

 

And if you live around the Greenfield, IN, area, you can buy Berkshire hog pork from Tyner Pond Farm, plus have it delivered to your door for free! (You only have to live or work within 50 miles of the farm for free delivery.) Or you can go to the farm to buy the pork, and see for yourself the natural way these Berkshire hogs are raised (which means even better flavor!). 

                                                          

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One Huge Benefit of Grass Fed Beef: Peace of Mind!

benefit of grass fed beefFor people who are wondering about grass fed beef vs. grain fed, there's a lot of information out there, and it can perhaps be overwhelming. Just read about the health benefits of grass fed beef and I can pretty much guarantee you'll be reaching putting your head into your hands, feeling overwhelmed. 

 

But there's one huge benefit of grass fed beef I want to emphasize: peace of mind. 

 

See, when cattle are raised on grass instead of corn, they live a natural life. To feed cattle grass means to have them out on, well, grass! To feed cattle grain means confining them to a small, grass-less area. Confining them to a small area and feeding them grain means: 

 

  • They eat something they aren't made to eat, i.e. corn.
  • Feeding them corn leads to E. coli for you. 
  • They don't get to munch on fresh grass and roam around. Instead, they are confined to dusty (or muddy) feedlots, crammed in together by the hundreds or thousands, with eating the only activity available to them. 

 

I don't know about you, but I'd rather eat all natural meat from an animal that led a normal healthy life. Humans have always eaten animals, there's nothing new in that. What's new is eating animals raised in such inhumane conditions as a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO). 

 

I choose the all natural meat because with that comes peace of mind. I choose to pay a little more in order to get that benefit of grass fed beef.

 

Do you live in Indiana, anywhere near Greenfield? Then go visit Tyner Pond Farm and see what life is like for the grass fed beef they raise there. (Hint: That picture above is one of the cattle at Tyner Pond Farm.) Go see the green pastures and bright sunshine and open air and fat, happy cattle. You won't find ANY of that in the feedlot that delivers the cheap beef to your supermarket!  You will only find that unique benefit of grass fed beef at a small farm or ranch, never EVER at one of the big corporate places that produce most of the beef in this country. 

 

Think this kind of benefit of grass fed beef is worth a little more? Me too. 

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Baked Pork Chops...Southern Comfort from Tyner Pond Farm

Looking for recipes for baked pork chops just now, I get the sense that maybe these are a southern specialty! I included "old fashioned" in my Google search so maybe that's why? 

 

Regardless, there are a lot of recipes for baked pork chops! 

 

You might be wondering why I'm looking for baked pork chops recipes in the middle of July. It's because of REALITY. Despite all of the articles that come out touting BBQing and summer cooking and grilling and eating outside...omigosh they make it sound like summer is one long stay at a vacation home. The reality is, at our house at least, summer is simply hotter weather and more to do outside at our farm. The Hubby and I both have day jobs, so it's not as if one of us is home firing up the grill every night. We still need dinners that are "set it and forget it," especially since he's working swings or graves most of the time, meaning I'm doing evening chores and cooking dinner both. 

 

So that leads me to baked pork chops. And since I love old fashioned recipes anyway, I'm tickled pink to see all of these old fashioned recipes for baked pork chops! I haven't made any yet, because I'm simply meal planning, but below I have links to the ones I think sound the best: 

 

 

Those are my top three baked pork chops recipes that I plan to try in order to make sure we're still eating well at our place this summer, despite the heat. And I know one way to ensure this pork chops will be delicious: buying all natural pork to start with! 

 

If you're lucky enough to live in the Greenfield, IN, area, you can buy AMAZING pork chops from pasture raised pigs...and have those pork chops delivered to your door FOR FREE by Tyner Pond Farm. So buy now, cook tomorrow, and know your baked pork chops will be a hit with your family this summer. :-) 

                                                             

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All Natural Grass Fed Beef: What Does That Mean Really?

all natural grass fed beef"Natural" is sadly a word that has been much abused and mis-used in the food industry in recent years. Heck, I can pick up a bag of snack food with a list of ingredients as long as my arm and still see the word "natural" plastered across the front! When I suspect there's nothing "natural" about what's in that box or bag!

 

Unlike the label "organic," the natural label is not regulated and has no meaning. It doesn't even have any requirements to meet to be used as a label, the way the term organic does. In fact, if you ask the FDA to define natural as a food label, this vague reply is what you get: 

 

From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.

 

I think this is silliness. It's easy to know if a food is natural: You simply look for food with minimal ingredients and as close to it's original state as possible! A steak is obviously more natural than a chunk of undefined ground beef that appears smothered in a grayish sauce in a can of stew, right? 

 

And if it's all natural grass fed beef you're looking for, it's even easier to ensure you're actually getting all natural meat and not something passed off as such: Head to a farm or ranch to see for yourself. Because even that steak might not be as natural as you think. A steak might be all natural in that it's free of dyes and processing. But how the animal was raised has a lot to do with just how natural that steak is. An animal raised on a feedlot, fed corn, and pumped full of antibiotics is obviously going to produce meat that's less natural than an animal raised on grass, in the open, like the cattle in the picture above. 

 

Chances are, you live close enough to a farm or ranch that sells all natural grass fed beef to go see for yourself just how "natural" it is. Even if it's a drive of a hundred miles, isn't it worth it to know what you're feeding your family? And it's a drive you need to make once if you can buy your meat in bulk, or get it delivered. 

 

For example, if you're in the Greenfield, IN, area, you can visit Tyner Pond Farm to see how naturally they raise their all natural grass fed beef. That picture above, of the cows and calves grazing, that's a picture from Tyner Pond Farm and a scene you can see for yourself in person. Then--if you like what you see--you can buy this all natural grass fed beef online...and have it delivered to your home or work FOR FREE, if you're within 50 miles of the farm! 

 

I look forward to the day when "natural" is no longer needed as a food label because we're all eating real food once again. But until that day, I'm glad there are farms and ranches raising meat right, so we can see for ourselves how the animals are fed and treated, and know for certain what's in that meat we're going to feed our families!

                                                          

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Best Cattle for Grass Fed Beef? Tyner Pond Farm Cattle

best cattle for grass fed beefAs Americans start to learn more about the benefits of grass fed beef, they also start to learn that the taste of grass fed beef differs from that of conventionally raised meat, and, in fact, it differs from farm to farm and season to season because the flavor is impacted by what the cattle eat. And that can lead to asking the question, "What is the best cattle for grass fed beef?" because we've been so conditioned to think Angus for so long. 

 

At Tyner Pond Farm, they didn't ask what's the best cattle for grass fed beef. They asked, what's the best cattle for raising grass fed beef on our Indiana farm? And the answer was to create their own kind of beef. That was the only way they could breed beef for the flavor they wanted from cattle that would thrive in their Indiana environment.

 

The farmers at Tyner Pond Farm started with the South Poll breed because they can handle the higher heat and humidity of the region. They were bred to do well on grass and produce tender meat. Plus they are known for being fertile cows, with gentle dispositions....and a cow is a big animal so a gentle disposition is a definite plus! 

 

But they also had to consider the Wagyu, a Japanese beef cattle, because Wagyu meat is world-renowned for its flavor and tenderness. The challenge was, Wagyu were not bred to be raised on grass. So the farmers at Tyner Pond Farm took the best of both worlds, combining the durability and grass-fed qualities of the South Poll breed with the tenderness and marbling of the Wagyu breed. The result? Quite possibly the best cattle for grass fed beef is all!  

 

Tyner Pond Farm is one of only a handful of American farms raising grass-fed Wagyu, because grass fed is the way they believe beef should be raised. Cows weren't made to eat corn or soy, so why feed them that way? Raising grass fed beef means raising the healthiest beef possible in the most natural way. 

 

Ready to find out if this is the best cattle for grass fed beef, Indiana? Place your order today, and get it delivered FREE to your door if you live within 50 miles of the farm! 

                                                          

 

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Not Many Are Buying Grass Fed Beef...Yet! Are You?

buying grass fed beef from Tyner Pond FarmHow many Americans are buying grass fed beef now that it has been in the news for several years? Sadly, not that many...yet! 

 

I got curious about the numbers after reading that grass fed beef accounted for only 3% of U.S. beef production in 2010. Although the number of grass fed beef has been growing by 20% per year (another stat I read), 3% is still a minuscule number! 

 

It's funny, because I read all these articles about how grass fed beef is getting more popular, and farmers are switching to the grass fed model because it's more sustainable long term. But then only 3% of the beef is grass fed. I wonder if that's because of the fast food industry. Could it be that such a huge percentage of the beef consumed in this country is consumed in the form of a fast food hamburger? I don't know. I only know I want to watch that 3% number rise, rise, rise...to 13% and then 33% and then someday I hope it gets to over 50%! Imagine if half the beef consumed in the U.S. was grass fed...how much healthier our bodies and our land would be! And all that corn could be used to feed hungry people instead of fattening cows, perhaps!

 

Are you buying grass fed beef yet? If not, why not? I'm not going to delve into the reasons why you should. Plenty of articles will explain to you the grass fed beef benefits, from the healthier meat to the healthier environment (not to mention the healthier way of living for the cattle, as you can see in this photograph!). But I hope you've done enough research that you are willing to give it a try.

 

If you live in the Greenfield, IN, area, buying grass fed beef couldn't be any easier! That's because Tyner Pond Farm not only sells at the local farmers market, but also delivers grass fed beef right to your door! That's a herd of Tyner Pond Farm cattle in the picture above, grazing contentedly in the evening light. (To compare the lives of these cows to those that provide this nation's cheap meat, check out this photo of a feedlot.)

 

To buy grass fed beef, Indiana, start here! And help make that 3% a 4!

                                                    

 

 

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Real Farmers Don't Let Their Chickens Do Drugs--Choose Grass Fed Chickens Instead!

 

choose grass fed chickens over those given drugsEver since I learned that industrial "farming" of chickens started when businesses were able to raise chickens indoors in crowded conditions thanks in part to the use of antibiotics, I have been a bit freaked out by what might be in the meat consumed by so many Americans. I get even more freaked out when I read about chickens sold in the U.S. being raised in China, where the regulations are...let's just say a "little looser" when it comes to food production. 

 

We've been pumping chickens full of drugs for so long that Americans don't even think about it, or the side effects. All they know is they get cheap meat. But here's the rub: You don't have to give chickens drugs to raise them as meat. Not if you raise them in a natural way, as grass fed chickens with room to roam. And having cheap meat is not cheap if you end up sick later from eating it! Can you say "medical bills"?

 

There is a healthier way to raise chickens, healthier for the chickens in the short term, and you and your family in the long term. Take the Tyner Pond Farm grass fed chickens, for example. They are raised without any antibiotics to pass along to you because guess what? They don't need any antibiotics! They are raised outside, on grass, eating bugs, soaking up sunshine. That healthy, open air way of living eliminates the needs for the antibiotics required for the industrial "farming" of chickens. The result? They are the healthier choice for you and your family!!

 

And they taste better too! Give grass fed chicken a try! If you're in the Greenfield, IN area, you can order chicken online from Tyner Pond Farm and get it delivered free to your door (if you're within 50 miles of the farm). 

                                                            

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Local Food Systems and Backyard Gardens Are Ways to Fight Droughts and Rising Prices


local food systems through home gardensThis morning driving to my office, I happened on an NPR piece on water, the drought in California, and the effect on food production in the U.S. As I said, I happened on it, and it was more than halfway over by the time I started listening, so it's not as if I got the full gist of the conversation. But...it got me thinking. 

 

Issues like the drought are one big reason I'm adamant about local food systems. When we rely on a faraway place to grow our food, and something happens in that faraway place--like a drought or disease or other disaster--what's our fallback plan? Oh, right. We don't have a fallback plan, because we lack local food systems. 

 

This drought and the effects of it on food availability and prices are a wakeup call that we can no longer concentrate our food growing to only certain regions of the country. We simply have to go back to a local food mindset, and to get the infrastructure for that into place. 

 

To me, the drought also suggests we should be growing vegetable gardens again. Our country is well over 200 years old, and for most of that time, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and hen houses were commonplace. Not any more. We've gone from having half of the fruits and vegetables consumed in this country come from backyards to I don't know what. Even where I live in a rural area, very few people have gardens. 

 

These homegrown hyper local food systems were encouraged by the government, as part of the effort to win World War II. Only 7 decades ago, our government published countless posters as propaganda to encourage Americans to grow our own food in support of the war. And now our government is in cahoots with Monsanto and departments like the FDA seem to be opposed to homegrown food.

 

Not only has the government's position changed. As a society, we've gone from enjoying the self sufficiency of the garden (and time in the kitchen) to relying heavily on buying not only our vegetables and protein, but even buying it already cooked for us as processed foods! 

 

And even if we don't see a revival of the victory garden, we're going to have to see a revival of the small farm and local food network. This drought isn't the first disaster to hit, and it won't be the last. Do you really want to be that vulnerable? Do you want your family that vulnerable? We're not talking about a shortage of sneakers or sweaters here, but a shortage of food...something we can't live without. 

 

The issue is, the time to start growing food and buying local is now, before there's a complete breakdown of the infrastructure, before food prices skyrocket. We have to have the local food infrastructure to replace the industrial food infrastructure. We can't wait for the one to fail to realize we need the other. 

 

And the small farms and farmers exist. It's simply a matter of finding them, supporting them with our dollars, and making local food part of your way of life. (Because it is a little different. You can't do a one-stop shopping at the supermarket if you want to buy local.) Farms like Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, IN, exist to start creating this kind of local infrastructure, and they make it easy to buy their pastured meats, with online ordering, a farm store, and a stand at the weekly farmers market. Not only that, but they offer free delivery to anyone within 50 miles of the farm! If you're in the Greenfield, IN area, you're in luck, and you need to start buying from Tyner Pond Farm now. If you're like me and you live elsewhere, it's time to get online and start looking for some local food sources. 

 

Start small if you need to: Plant some rosemary in a pot on your deck and find a local farmer or even a neighbor to buy eggs from. And grow from there (pun intended). The point is, start. Because it's only through local food systems like small farms and backyard gardens that we'll be able to weather the disasters yet to come. 

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The Real Taste of Real Food: My Brother's Reaction to Farm Fresh Eggs

pasture raised chickens with rooster in front of barnLast week we had a wonderful vacation with my brother's brood. He had found a vacation home for us to rent for the week, complete with kitchen, so I arrived stocked with several bags full of food. I didn't want to have to go grocery shopping while on vacation, so I came prepared! 

 

Among those many bags of groceries were three dozen eggs from our pasture raised chickens. We were a group of 11 with several growing teenagers, and I figured scrambled eggs would make for filling and safe breakfasts on the mornings we had time to sit and eat. I was right. The kids loved the taste of them and wolfed them down. We went through every single egg, and could have used another dozen! 

 

My brother's reaction to these farm fresh eggs from our pasture raised chickens, however, was what delighted me the most. Plus it's one more indication of the difference between food raised locally and naturally vs. that raised in confinement, pumped full of antibiotics. While eating scrambled eggs one morning, he asked me, "What did you put in these eggs?!" I answered, "Just salt and pepper...and I cooked them in real butter." 

 

He didn't believe me. He couldn't get over the flavor of the eggs, and couldn't believe that the flavor came ONLY from the eggs. But it did! 

 

In fact, as we were packing up to leave--us back to our farm, and my brother's brood back to our mom's before leaving for the airport the next day--he asked if I had anymore eggs with me that he could take to our mom's and cook there. This from a man who never asks for anything and rarely shows enthusiasm for anything!! (Let's just say, if he were to take up poker, the professional gamblers would be in trouble.) He was that smitten with the eggs that he asked for more. 

 

Of course, it's not only the eggs from pasture raised chickens that taste better. I can offer you a comparison of local vs. not-local strawberries too. Prior to the trip, I sliced and sugared strawberries for shortcake and put them in the freezer for the trip, knowing strawberry season would be over before our vacation started. During that week, strawberries from "far away" sat on the kitchen table at almost every meal, and no one touched them. But the last night, when I made the strawberry shortcake, the only sound you heard during dessert was the sound of spoons scraping the insides of bowls. Seriously, no one spoke during dessert as they had during dinner. They just ATE. And then asked for more. Why? Because an out-of-state strawberry can NEVER compare with a locally grown, in season one, that's why!

 

Just like a factory farmed egg will never have the wonderful flavor of a farm fresh one laid by pasture raised chickens. 

 

The Hubby wanted to tell my brother all about the health benefits of the free range eggs, but that wasn't what sold my brother on them. It was the taste and the taste alone. Because the real taste of real food will win every time. 

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