As expected, this season started like a cannon-shot! Truth is, a big blast like that could go a couple different ways. One way can be pretty chaotic; scattered shots whizzing and flying in every direction, making a mess of anything out front. The other way can be a bit more calculated; a single shot, a single target. With the right preparation, a clean, direct hit is easier to realize. Our season resembles the latter…thankfully.
All of the work we put into the end of last season, and the diligent preparation for this season has paid off, for us and for you, and we are excited to tell you all about it!
Here is a tasting menu of some of the delectable delights to devour in the paragraphs below:
- How we have grown, and will continue to grow
- Heidi Tunnell Catering Company Barn Dinner
- Bite Of Eugene
- The moving on of a good friend
- The addition of a new member to the team
- Where you can find Our Family Farm chicken this year
- Preordering Turkeys
The Start To A New Season
When we get to whitness our wonderful Willamette Valley liberated from the bastardization of monocultures (like grass seed) and chemical abuse (my friend Chris calls them Killicides), we get to witness the true beauty of what it is to live in this part of the world as our fertile land naturally gives life in diversified abundance. Then, when we can partner with what nature already begs to do, we believe we walk in the stewardship bestowed to us; we embrace the great responsibility of giving to our children a world that is better than a world we have experienced.
It is hard work, but it is rewarding beyond description. With this said, without people like you, we would not be able to do what we do. Don’t get me wrong, we love to eat chicken…but 800 chickens a month is more than our family can eat. So thank you for eating our chickens!
Last year we started with one 10’X12’X2.5′ Pastured Poultry Pen and we ended 2010 with six (built similarly to Virginia chicken-farming guru, Joel Salatin’s pens). This season we are quickly headed toward a 12 pen operation and are butchering birds every two weeks (an increase from once a month last year). This is a pretty simple translation- more chickens for us all to share and eat. But the coolest thing for us is to watch the pasture being transformed, healed and greenified.
The dark green on the right is where our chickens have been.
Last year we had five acres, this year we have 11. Last year we used a wooded sled to move pens along the ground. This year we have two metal dollies to easily prop and move pens. Last year we used an old tool shed as a brooder. This year we have five mobile brooding houses. Last year we butchered at a great ODA approved facility in Corvallis. This year we are constructing a Mobile Processing Unit, the first of its kind in Oregon.
Our mission to heal the land, raise some of the best meat in The Valley, and contribute to the experience of thoughtful eater is becoming a reality, blade by blade.
Out On The Town
In addition to 6AM chores when we get to watch morning’s sun crest the sleepy, eastern Coburg Hills; in addition to the grueling but deeply rewarding Tuesday butcher days with a wonderful group of fun and dedicated people from all around the south Willamette Valley; in addition to tucking all the chicks into bed every evening as the expiring sun ignites the pasture with final rays of explosive gold, we occasionally get to put on clean clothes and hit the town. Two of our more fortunate adventures of the summer were when we were featured farm at one of the Heidi Tunnell Catering Company’s beautiful Barn Dinners. The other was an invitation from Eugene Magazine’s The Bite of Eugene to host an informative booth at their annual event to benefit the Willamette Valley Food And Farm Coalition. We were even lucky enough to have Our Family Farm chickens, livers, and feet featured in The Bite’s Iron Chef competition.
It was a perfect evening at the Heidi Tunnell Catering Company’s Summer barn dinner. A classic summer night full of live music, friends laughing, and everything chicken. The entire spread that Heidi and the crew concocted was made in-house; from the chicken sausage wraps to the chicken liver pate to the crouton for the salad (made from our chicken skins). The whole gastronomical entourage was happily washed down with the lovely wines from Boedecker Cellars from Portland.
If you are interested in enjoying one of the two remaining Barn Dinners you may want to know a few things. One- Heidi was the winner of the Iron Chef Eugene competition this year, wowing judges with her palatable blitzkrieg. Translation…if you get yourself to a Barn Dinner, every nerve and taste bud in your mouth will thank you. Two- a single word, Paelle. Three- Former Eugene livestock superstar, Aaron Silverman will be bringing one of Tails and Trotters super-swines into town for a pig roast. Get there. Eat. Feel good. Perhaps we will even see you there, share a table, and a story or two.
Bigger And Better Things
This is the sad part of our news letter. Actually, bittersweet is more accurate. Our dear friend Kyle Whitham whom we were fortunate enough to partner with in the daily operations of our farm has accepted and started a new adventure with a great farm further up The Valley. Kyle is now a key player of Afton Field Farm in Corvallis. His attention to detail, respect for order, charming character, and good humor will be great additions to the Afton team. It is a ridiculously sweet opportunity and if he hadn’t taken it we would have disowned him. It is the perfect step in his agrieducation and we are excited for him. However, he will be missed in more ways than one. We wish him great success!
A New Addition To The Team
Addison Hadley arrived March 24th in the early hours of the morning at the Peacehealth Midwifery Center in Springfield. Amanda made the choice to have our daughter as natural as possible which allowed for her to feel and appreciate every contraction… for 48 hours. Her attitude through it all is the kind of thing that still gives me chills. She would say, “I have to go through this to get Addison” and somewhere in that perspective she found the courage and will to allow our daughter the most natural entrance into this world as possible. Amanda gave into the whole process and owned every minute of it like a champion! Addison has been sleeping through the night since three weeks (all the sleepless new moms in the house give a collective groan) and she is a great eater (her two most important jobs). She is 95% in every growth category except one. She is 100 percentile in cherubic cuteness.
Now Go Eat Our Chicken
We feel honored to be partnering with so many great restaurants, markets, and buying clubs around the Eugene/Springfield area this year, as well as the PDX market. Here is a list of wonderful places you can find our chicken on the menu, or in the cold case. Now go eat.
In Their Rookie Season (with OFF)
Time To Get Serious
It is time to start thinking seriously about that bird you want to have on the table as the family gathers this holiday season. Seriously.
We are excited to be raising turkeys this year for you and your family. We have chosen to raise the Broad Breasted Whites, and they are raised on pasture like the rest of our poultry. They will be big, juicy, and make you feel all warm inside. The only down side is that we only have 100 birds for sale, well, actually there are already 11 sold so there are 89 left. We have just made the turkeys available to our buying clubs so let this be fair warning… PREORDER your holiday turkey as soon as you can. OK, enough of the serious farmer…shoot.
To quickly, but sincerely wrap this up, thank you everyone for sharing in this journey with us as we work to heal the land, raise some of the best food in Oregon, and contribute to a growing community of people (like you) making thoughtful, sustainable food choices. We hope your summer finishes strong with lots of laughs, great food, and plenty of hugs from the people you love.
Now, we’re headed back out to pasture to wrangle chickens and turkeys.