Our Family Cider Press

We are hard pressed to recall moments that are better than bright days filled with delicious, homemade treats crafted by thoughtful hands, assembled on festively adorned tables. Or days surrounded by good people, familiar and unfamiliar with their sweater slated babies running under foot. It is hard to recall moments that are better than sun faded evenings filled with warmed beverages, or the colder beverages that surely warm one through and through.

For the past four years Our Family Farm has hosted a fall cider press. We are happy to report each pressing has involved all of the aforementioned highlights…good food, good people, and dang good beverages. If you couldn’t make it this year we look forward to adding your smiling face to the good times next year.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Apple Presoak

Everyone Getting In On The Action

Cascades Of Sweet Cider

Kid Approved

Perfect Day

Good People- Hans

Good Food- YaYa's HummusGood To The Last Drop

Good To The Last DropSoup BreakGathering The Good Stuff For Hard CiderSoup Break

Soup BreakGathering The Goods For Hard Cider

Gathering The Good Stuff For Hard CiderWe Love The Local Orchards

We Love Our Local Orchards

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Mobile Poultry Processing- Oregon’s First

It all started with a phone call looking for raw milk.

After Brian Schack (of The Schack Farm) and I spoke for several minutes about raw milk and the likelihood of our family acquiring some of his white ambrosia, our conversation somehow turned to his need to thin out some of his expiring laying hens. Hmm, laying hens, huh? That was my invitation to tell him of the conversations Provenance Farm and I had been having with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) about a mobile processing unit (MPU) for poultry. After that, there were the proverbial fireworks and we decided to meet to discuss further.

That dark, winter night in 2010 at Full City Cafe in Eugene, Brian sat and listened to some of the finer details of the conversations Provenance and I had been having with the ODA. In short, we had hit the two big bench marks to see an MPU become a reality. We had received the ODA’s blessing to proceed with a design, and we had our financing. The missing pieces to get started at that point was a trailer to build on, and an experienced person to build it.

Brian looked me in the eyes and said two things I had not expected to hear, that made me shout with joy when I returned to my car to go home. “Derek, I have a 33′ goose neck trailer I can give to the effort. And, I can build it.”

We were in business!

It has taken longer to assemble than we planned (doesn’t it always work out that way?). And in fact we are not quite done. But I wanted to share pictures with you that show an evolution of the work we have been doing up to this point. Enjoy.

Brian and I discuss layout of internal equipment.

The first wall is erected with steel framing.

 

This shows our retractable kill floor in the "work" position. It gives us an additional 128 square feet to work on.

 

The kill floor in the "travel" position.

Brian welds windows and doors together. Three windows, two doors.

The first piece of exterior siding goes on.

 

Inside walls- 1

 

Inside walls- 2

 

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News Letter: Volume 2, Issue 1

KA-BOOOOM!!

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.

Returning Starters

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.

 

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7 Billion…And Counting

This is a big number evoking serious conversation, with an invitation for the serious to listen and contribute.

9,000,000 people are expected to inhabit Earth within the next 40 years. Currently there are 7 billion people populating the planet!

We recently had the privilege to listen to James McWilliams, the “Contrarian Agrarian” as he challenged our assumptions about eating sustainably. We were faced with some serious questions:

  • Do “food miles” tell an accurate story about the impact of our daily food choices?
  • Is “eating locally” always the most responsible thing to do?
  • Is being a “locavore” even possible for more than just a small portion of Earth’s inhabitants?
  • How can we feed the Earth’s rapidly growing population in a way that is just and sustainable?

The context for these questions was the biggest query of the night, and perhaps should be the biggest question for us all as our species moves forward, “How do we feed 9 billion people?” (and I would like to add) “…and not kill the planet?”

I don’t have answers to any of these questions, but they are worth letting stew in our intellect, discussing with others, and listing to what our hearts tell us as we decide how we want to respond. I don’t know how we will feed 9 billion people, but I can tell you I don’t feel responsible to feed them. I feel a connection and a responsibility to our people here, in the Willamette Valley and Oregon. Therefore, we will continue our work raising great food and cultivating meaningful relationships. We are thankful to live where we do and be a part of the community we are connected with, of which you are a part. We will continue to look to the old mantra, “Think globally, act locally”, and hope the rest of the world does the same.

If you are interested, here is an intriguing video by National Geographic taking a look at our current population realizations. Thanks for sharing, Kody Paine!

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Our Family Farm CSA

It doesn’t stand for the all too common Condiment Servicing Agent.

It isn’t the modern and affluent Chilean Swimming Academy.

Nor is it the fine spirits and tobaccoery of  Chortle & Snort Associates.

It is the one thing that grasps at the strings of our hearts, causing even the strongest of us to consider the close placement of an epinephrine pen in the event of faintness. IT IS <play music from 2001 A Space Odyssey> COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE (smile and sigh).

Please see Year Of The Local: A 12 Step Program- Part 2 for a quick look at what this wonderful opportunity is. Or if you are already familiar with how CSAs work, enjoy the details of participating in Our Family Farm’s CSA for 2011.

How It Works

Our CSA season runs mid May through mid October, with turkeys for the holidays.          

Our full share is $375 and equates to two chickens per butcher (4 a  month) and a turkey.

Our half share is $225  and equates to one chicken per butcher (2 a  month) and a turkey.

We have a drop site downtown Eugene.

Please email us with questions, or to sign up.

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“When ‘Organic’ Food Isn’t”

Uh oh! We read an article in our local paper, The Register Guard several days ago confirming some long-standing concerns we have had about the label “ORGANIC”, and others like it. The article is worth a glance when you have a moment.

The reality uncovered therein is that we simply have no guarantees when it comes to our food. In other words, the labels can, and will lie. We understand this is a huge generalization, but when it comes to the food we put in the mouths of  our families, and the extra cents we carve out of our already tight budgets to spend on better quality food, DAMN IT, that food better be what the labels say!

We will come back to it again, then…and again, and again, until we are satisfied with the integrity of the people behind the food we spend our dollars on. Can I get a ‘WOOT’?

Our strong recommendation is to make some time to get to know the people behind the food you eat.

In the case of Our Family Farm:

  1. Take some time to come and visit us
  2. Meet our animals
  3. Ask questions about the feed we give our animals
  4. Understand out process, from start to finish
  5. Take control of the food freedoms we have

All of this said, we are happy to report that our 2011 season is under way and perhaps the most exciting piece of spring’s prelude is the conversation we have been having with Union Point Custom Feed outside of Brownsville. That’s right. We are working to control the recipe and inputs for feed we give our animals. It is exciting stuff, something we will talk about in more detail with our next post. Until then, we look forward to hearing from you soon with questions about your food.

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Year Of The Local: A 12 Step Program- Part 2

Originally, we thought we would take this month to crack open THE PERFECT FOOD- The Egg. However, as events have unfolded over the past several weeks, and as we have gained a better understanding of Nature’s time-lines as they are grafted into producer’s time-lines, it seems that NOW is the time to chew on something that has a very exciting seasonal impact on our ability to eat locally- Community Supported Agriculture, or The CSA.

First, let’s look quickly at the problem: As we are faced with a hyper processed, heat-n-serve, genetically modified, corn infused, pesticide ridden, nutrient deficient, tasteless, drive through, menu of  consumables (dare we call it food anymore), there is a growing number of us hungry for something real to eat. That’s it. Are we right?

MeatCSAAccording to the web’s omniscient historical source, it seems as if Community Supported Agriculture really gained popularity about 50 years ago when people and farmers formed cooperative partnerships to ‘fund farming and pay the full costs of ecologically sound and socially equitable agriculture.’ What an idea! Actually pay a farmer near you to grow and provide fresh, natural food, instead of giving your money to the grocery store that offers food from far away, that has gone through the processing and distribution gamut.

The questions to ask yourself are:

“If I could mix more fruits and vegetables into my diet, would I?”

“Am I interested in knowing where and how my food is grown (without being too Portlandia)

“Can I handle an experience that will add flare and flavor to my life?”

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we strongly recommend you investigate some of these local farms, and sign up for a CSA programs this year, whether by yourself, or to split a share with another family.

For Produce:

For Meat, contact us to discuss our beginning CSA provisions for this year.

If you live outside of Lane county, here is a neat tool to locate a CSA program in your area.

This is perhaps one of the easiest steps in making a transition to a local diet. Cut your friendly farmer a check early in the year to help cover the cost of growing food, for you. Let us know who you support. Share your experience with friends.

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