Tag: News from the Farm

  • Local Producer Spotlight: White Deer Ranch | 01.01.2016

    White Deer Ranch

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    Lee and Roxanne, the owners, during a farm tour 2015. Photo credit Casey Paige, Billings Gazette.

    PHILOSOPHY
    Lee and Roxanne , the Owners of White Deer Ranch, believe that if they take care of the earthworms and the honeybees with proper earth stewardship, everything else will thrive. They grow micro-greens in their historic ranch building converted to a greenhouse. Pick up these highly nutritious and tasty plants at the Good Earth Market in the produce section in 2.5 oz clamshells. Micros can be used in salads, smoothies, topping your favorite dish savory dish. A fantastic ingredient in pesto, dips, stews and more! Its fresh and its local!!

    MICROGREENS
    What is is? A microgreen is a tiny vegetable green that is used both as a visual and flavor component or ingredient primarily in fine dining restaurants. Fine dining chefs use microgreens to enhance the beauty, taste and freshness of their dishes with their delicate textures and distinctive flavors. Smaller than “baby greens” and harvested later than “sprouts” microgreens can provide a variety of leaf flavors, such as sweet and spicy. They are also known for their various colors and textures. Among upscale markets, they are now considered a specialty genre of greens that are good for garnishing salads, soups, plates, and sandwiches.

    Edible young greens and grains are produced from various kinds of vegetables, herbs or other plants. They range in size from 1” to 3” including the stem and leaves. A microgreen has a single central stem which has been cut just above the soil line during harvesting. It has fully developed cotyledon leaves and usually has one pair of very small, partially developed true leaves. The average crop-time for most microgreens is 10–14 days from seeding to harvest.

    TOURS AND ON-FARM STORE
    Lee and Roxanne invite you to come visit them at their ranch/farm, which is organic certified for hay, pasture and foraged plants, to learn more about the animal systems that integrate with farming and ranching systems to renovate and regenerate the land. You can buy free range eggs, microgreens, dried herbs, mushrooms, Roxanne’s natural creams and potions and MORE at the Farm Stand located on the porch of the Yellow House where they live.

    Schedule a tour for individuals or for groups. The tours are very affordable and might include all or any of these topics, a demonstration or a classroom setting and can be set up to suit different age groups and interest levels. Fun sights to see anytime of year are the microgreen production in the greenhouse, beehouse, pastured pigs, mobile chicken coop, dwarf goats, Jersey/Angus cross cattle and the farm store.  They often include some refreshments or tastings of their homegrown goodies.

    FARM STAYS
    This is agricultural tourism in motion! See how we experience a back-to-the-land approach to vacationing, which is authentic, relaxing and educational. Two different rental houses to choose from that fit many family sizes or couples.

    Contact them and learn more through Facebook or their website.

    TURKISH DIP

    Known in Turkey as cacik, this garlicky mixture of green vegetables, fresh herbs and yogurt can be served as a salad or as a dip with pita and raw vegetables.  Traditionally, cacik is made with a number of vegetables, including cucumbers, cabbage and beets.

    2.5 oz. clamshell of sunflower microgreens
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint or 1 teaspoon dried
    2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
    1 cup thick greek style yogurt
    1/4 cup chopped fresh scallions (optional)

    Preparation:
    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and use short bursts to chop the sunflower into small bits and to mix the ingredients together.  To prepare without a processor, chop all ingredients finely and mix together.  Refrigeration only makes the flavors combine better, so make a double batch and save it in a lidded jar in the refrigerator.

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    This is the inside of the beehouse. One of the many features of White Deer Ranch. Photo credit: Tracy Konoske, visitor.

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    China the Meishan Sow is a pastured pig living her life as nature intended loving being a pig. Photo credit: Roxanne Dunn.

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    The goats are really friendly and love petting. Photo credit: Alexis Brill, visitor.

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    Lee explains the benefits of the behooves to a tour participant in 2015. Photo credit: Tracy Konoske, visitor.

     

     


  • Local Producer Spotlight – Wholesome Foods Farm | 09.24.2015

    MargeuriteWholesome Foods Farm is a multi-generational collaboration between land-owners Dick and Patricia Espenscheid and farm manager and owner Marguerite Jodry.

    When Dick and Patricia began farming their land south of Bridger, it was always with the intent to someday pass on a sustainable farm and ranch to a young person willing to continue the business and the practices for years to come. At the end of 2014, they were able to realize this vision by passing on the business of Wholesome Foods Farm to their former Assistant Manager, Marguerite Jodry. Marguerite now leases the land, equipment, and buildings from them and continues to raise vegetables and free-range hogs for markets in the Billings and Red Lodge areas.

    When asked about the challenges and lessons she learned as a newly minted farmer, she says, “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is about the undeniable role of healthy soil in producing good food. Coming to think of myself as a farmer of soil, first, and of food, second, is an ongoing and transformational paradigm shift.”

    In discussing her role as a business owner and player in our local food movement, “The most valuable lesson I’ve learned so far is that my success is interconnected with that of other small growers, businesses, and individuals in our community. By understanding community demands and desires while working with other farmers to best fill that need, we are working together to create a more resilient local food system.”

    Wholesome Foods Farm provides a wide range of vegetables to the Good Earth Market. “We feel our products are appreciated by a growing number of people who see the value of supporting local food and farming businesses that prioritize sustainable practices,” Margeurite says. “Selling at the Good Earth Market not only allows us to reach this valuable customer base, but helps us be a part of a local food system that builds health and wealth in our community.”

    Wholesome Foods Farm sells direct at the Gardeners’ Market, Thursdays at South Park in Billings, the Red Lodge Farmers’ Market, Fridays at Lions Park in Red Lodge and the Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market, Saturdays in downtown Billings. You can also find their produce and hogs featured in Red Lodge restaurants such as Honey’s Cafe, Hope’s Artisan Bakery and Mas Taco to name a few.

    Follow Montana Wholesome Foods on their Facebook page!


  • Jersey Cows & Mozzarella | 06.18.2013

    Doug rescues Jersey cows and trains them for placement with families.

    Hi, my name is Doug and I live with my sister and her husband  on a small ranch, Greasy Grass Ranch, nine miles north of Lodge Grass, Montana.  Two years ago, a relative phoned and said that he had bought us two jersey cows to add to our homestead. 

    Thus started my love affair with Jerseys. They were so gentle and had so much personality that I could not help but enjoy being around them.

    We are now in the business of rescuing Jerseys from large production dairies and training them to love people and enjoy interacting with them. I always say:  “Jerseys love beans — they love Human Beans.”  The typical Jersey cow would sooner take her own life than throw a kick at a human being.

    Jerseys also have a strong herd mindset. Many cows have been bought by families that have no other cattle. These lonely cows will adopt their new humans as their herd mates. There are many hilarious stories of Jerseys playing with their new herd mates by stealing tools, playing hide-and-seek or being jealous of dogs and cats that get too much attention. Jailbreak and tag are two of their favorite games.

    One lady told me the story of her cow named Mommacow who snuck up behind a carpenter who was doing some work on her barn. She looked out just in time to see the carpenter running across the lot chasing Mommacow. Mommacow had a bag of screws in her mouth that were flying in all directions as she ran. This would be an example of Cow Tag.

    Jackie, the grain-stealing Jersey

    Sometimes it gets so comical that I accuse my cowgirls of making me run a dairy daycare center.  One day, Jackie had been in the barn trying to steal some grain out of the grain bag when her nose got caught in the coffee can I use as a scoop to measure her grain.

    She came running up to me for help all wide-eyed. I asked her if she had been stealing grain and she, of course, denied it.  She had to wait for me to get the camera before I would take the can off her nose.

    Sometimes in the process of gentling and distributing Jerseys, we wind up with some newborn calves and I have to milk because Jerseys give more milk than one calf can possibly drink. Last year, I had 10 gallons of milk per day – more than we could use.

    That explains why I now know how to make cheese. Our freezer has much mozzarella cheese in it and our basement has about 30 – 8lb. wheels of cheddar and Parmesan.

    This learning curve taught me to hate authors who publish the “how to make cheese” books. What I hate most about these books is that the authors tell you how to do things, but never tell you why you have to do them that way. They don’t tell you things like the reason rennet works best at 101 degrees is because that is the temperature of milk from the cow and also the temperature of the calf’s stomach. So if a recipe calls for adding the rennet at 85 degrees, they should explain to the reader that this is to slow down the curdling process to give the cheese maker a larger window of opportunity to get the timing just right. This helps the cheese maker break the curd at its optimum state.

    To learn more about adopting cheese making and adopting a Jersey cow, Doug can be contacted at (406) 639-8919.

     


  • The Goat and I | 05.20.2013

    Bonogofsky GoatThe Goat and I

    By Alexis Bonogofsky

    Seven years ago, I moved back to the family farm south of Billings and decided to raise goats for meat and weed control. Goats are amazing, versatile creatures that can provide high quality lean meat, milk, fiber and control weeds. Goat meat, or chevon, is the most widely eaten meat in the world and well-managed goats are easy on the land.

     But there are moments – ok, many moments – where I question the wisdom of this decision. As one Wyoming goat rancher put it, “if you can build a fence to keep in water, you’ve found yourself a fence that will keep in a goat 80% of the time.”  I tell most people that our fences are more like suggested guidelines.

     The Wandering Goats

    Goats are unique. They are different than any other type of livestock and will test your patience daily. Why? Goats are browsers, not grazers and act more like bison than cattle. In fact, when looking for a fence that could keep them in I found that goats have the same electric fence requirements as bison.

    Browse makes up about 60% of a goat’s diet but only about 10 to 15% of a cow’s diet.  That means that my goats take a few bites from a plant, move five to ten yards, take another bite and so on. If they had their way, they would be three miles up river by sundown. The neighbor to the west of me came home numerous time last summer to see my goats lounging on his porch with his newly planted flowers eaten and the goats contentedly chewing their cud in the shade, feet dangling off the side. The neighbor to the west of us has at least benefited from the goats quite voracious appetite for leafy spurge.

    But this very characteristic is the reason that goats will continue to grow as a livestock of choice for many producers, large and small. Their browsing characteristics make them ideal for land rehabilitation and weed control without having to use herbicides or other heavy-handed methods. Seven years ago, leafy spurge was taking over in many places on our property. Now, we can’t find a single plant. They also love Russian Olive trees that use tremendous amounts of water and choke out native cottonwoods. They strip the bark and will eat the new shoots until nothing comes back.

    Goat Meat

    But on top of all of the benefits to the land when goats are properly managed, the meat quality and characteristics are phenomenal. It is low in fat, cholesterol, calories, and saturated fat and high in protein. But I’m not going to lie. This part of the business has been the hardest for me. The first time we took a group of goats to the butcher, I cried the entire way home and thought about it for weeks. I kept waiting for that day to get easier but it hasn’t. There is a struggle that I think many producers face on shipping day but there is a need for sustainably and locally produced meat.

    And that is what we can promise our customers. Our goats are happy, healthy and definitely free-ranging.  If you would like more information about raising goats or goat meat, please feel free to contact me at abonogofsky@gmail.com

    Resources:

    How I Learned to Love Goat Meat http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/dining/01goat.html?

    Editor’s Note:  GEM does not carry goat meat due to low demand, but you can meet Alexis and have a taste of got meat at the Early Season Farmer’s Market this June!

     


  • News from the Farm – Negaard Produce and Greenhouse | 08.14.2012

    Daniel, Obadiah and Leah planting onions

    Here at the Negaard’s farm it has been a very busy year so far:  planting tomatoes in the greenhouse the 1st of February, starting calving the sixth of February, planting and starting seeds to go out in the gardens when it is time, Rachel making jams and syrups in her spare time with Leah helping when she can, calving finishing and now time to start planting the gardens.  With that comes the weeding and water (which is a non-stop job).

    This spring found us to be very busy with starting the clean-up from the flood of 2011, which made quite a mess.  Daniel spent a lot of time moving gravel that had washed up on our flats and trying to re-level one of our gardens that had a lot of damage.  We couldn’t get in there last year because it was too wet.  We also rebuilt a walk bridge that had washed out so that we could get to the garden easier.

    Daniel also spent some time building new tools to go on the garden tractor to try and make things a little easier.  Daniel and Joshua are building some cement forms to go around our large greenhouse so that we can put new plastic on it.   This has to be done every so many years, and it is well past due.

    We started picking tomatoes the end of April and each week we have new crops ready to start picking.  Just this week the zucchini and snow peas are ready. We also grew some new produce this year, including kale, tomatillos, colorful carrots, and turnips. 

    Obadiah and Leah are very busy picking and getting the orders ready for Rachel to haul to market.  When they are not picking, they are busy weeding and watering.

    Daniel is on the constant go working tomatoes, hoeing, and making sure everything gets watered when needed.  Rachel concentrates on calling for the orders each week, delivering, selling, and baking bread for the Good Earth Market Deli, bookwork, plus all the other things that a mother and wife have to do to keep up. 

    The middle of June we started putting up our hay and were pretty much done by the 4th of July.  This was early for us, which is good, because usually we do not start until the  first of July and this puts us into the time that we get very busy picking produce.

    This time of year on the farm we put in very long hours – 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning until dark.  Sometimes, like today, when the temperature reaches the 100 plus mark, it is nice to come in during the hottest part of the day and take a little rest and get out of the heat. 

    Joshua is also home from college this summer and helping – it is always nice to have an extra hand.  Last fall when he returned home from being deployed to Iraq, he put up a nice building for us to get our produce ready for markets in.  (Of course, with the help of Obadiah and Daniel.)  This sure has been a blessing for us because we always did this outside in the heat or cold.

    This pretty well brings you up to date on what is going on at the farm so far in 2012.  We enjoy working and being a part of the Good Earth Market and enjoy getting to know each of you as time goes on.  As always, we look forward to working with all of you in the years to come.

    by Rachel Negaard, Negaard Produce and Greenhouse


  • News from the Farm: Wholesome Foods | 05.03.2012

    By Dick and Patricia Espenscheid

    As the days grow longer and the earth wakes up from winter, our thoughts turn to the bounty of summer. To prepare for the coming months of growth and productivity, our local producers have already begun planning, planting, and calving. The Local Producer Committee decided to bring the farm to you so that you can participate in the excitement of the season. We will be highlighting a number of local producers in our new feature “News from the Farm”. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the love and labor of their lives.   –  Heather Ristow, Board Member and Local Producer Committee Chair

    Greetings from Wholesome Foods and the Espenscheid Ranch!  We were delighted to be asked to share “News from the Farm” for the spring newsletter.  Life at the farm really picks up speed this time of year.  Planting has already begun indoors for the season – it is a joy to see the small green sprouts growing and waiting to get outside.  This year, because we purchased a high tunnel hoop house, the plants will be outside six weeks earlier than usual, enjoying the warm spring sun and secured at night in a protected environment.  Because of the intense winds we sometimes experience in the valley, we’ve taken the extra precaution to set the hoop house poles in cement just to keep it at the ranch!

    The winter project of building an insulated chicken house is completed. The new structure has a “nursery” for the 100 baby chicks and turkeys arriving in mid-april.  After they feather and develop sufficiently, the new chicks will be introduced into our flock of 50 laying hens, two roosters, 10 geese and four Moscovy ducks.  It is a fun day to watch the baby fowl meet their elders!  To expand our herd of free-range cattle and hogs, this year we have added an additional 305 acres to our ranch for them to roam and have fun (check out our delicious pork and eggs at GEM).  As of now, we have 12 new calves romping with their moms.  By the end of April we should have 22 new calves. 

    The most exciting news is that the Espenscheid ranch will be at Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market this summer with other GEM producers, selling our beef, veggies and eggs.  We have added a farm manager/partner to our staff to help make this all possible.  Andrew Riedel, MSU Bozeman alumnus and agriculture major, joined the Espenscheid Ranch in January and we are very fortunate to have him.

    Over the last five days, our pond has thawed and the sun is bright and warm.   What a lovely sight to see our geese enjoying the natural beauty of our ranch.  Happy Spring, everyone!  See you at Good Earth and the Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market!

    Dick and Patricia Espenscheid of  Wholesome Foods operate a sustainable ranch near Bridger, MT.