Many thanks to writer Steve Bender and photographer Roger Foley for the beautiful article in the recent issue of Southern Living magazine. I picked up a copy in the airport and read the article on the plane. You two sure know how to make a guy look good!
The top dog at Moss Mountain Farm is not a dog at all but a rooster named Amos. Amos is a Buff Orpington you’ll find strutting around the front lawn with his entourage. I like to think of them as the welcoming committee.
Amos is one of my favorite characters at the farm. I would even go so far as to say he’s a pet, which will not come as a surprise to those who have raised chickens. Their plucky personalities can be very endearing. In fact, some folks treat their poultry with as much love and devotion as the family dog.
Thanks to products like chicken diapers birds can live indoors and special leashes allow Foghorn Leghorn to join his person on a stroll around the neighborhood. I even hear tell of chickens wearing sweaters and scarves to protect them from the cold.
Now, I adore the poultry at the farm, but I think we are all better off not being roommates. And Amos probably prefers life in the buff to wearing anything that would cover his beautiful feathers.
What about you? How do you pamper your chickens?
I asked members of the Chicken Chat community to share pictures of their beloved roos and hens. Click on an image to enlarge and read about the chickens.
I first fell in love with poultry when I was a kid and my mom was my biggest supporter. Mom would load the station wagon down with birds and off we’d go to the poultry show with my little brother in tow. She was kind of like a pageant mom without the sequins and she facilitated a passion that has never faded. That’s why it’s important to me to do the same for other youngsters who have been bitten by the poultry bug.
Poultry shows are a fun way to encourage a child’s interest in poultry. It’s a great venue for learning solid breeding practices, discovering heritage breeds and finding a community of peers. Over 100 years, let’s them compare their birds and breeding practices with others. It’s like an art critique allowing breeders to get insights from more experienced breeders and learn how to improve their birds.
I recently returned from The Ohio National in Columbus, Ohio. It’s an event that is considered the Westminster of poultry shows where breeders show the best of the best. This year there were close to 6,000 entries including chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and even pigeons.
Good to Know
The American Standard of Perfection is the poultry bible for poultry judges and entrants alike. It explains how each breed and variety should look from the angle of their tail feathers to the color of their beaks. It’s a great gift for young poultry enthusiasts. You can purchase the latest edition of the American Standard of Perfection from the American Poultry Association.
Arkansas farmers aren’t the only people talking about soybeans in spring. For the second year in a row we’ve held two events at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home to help spread the word about the importance of agriculture and soybean farming in my home state. Both events were born out of my partnership with the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.
First up on the calendar was Soybean University. Students from the Brinkley FFA and Arkansas 4-H visited the farm to learn about careers in agriculture and soybean farming.
More than 30 students attended.
Rhonda Carroll lives on a soybean farm with her husband Jim. She showed the kids how to make soy milk with raw beans. If you don’t have soybeans growing outside your back door like Rhonda you can purchase them from a feed store, a health food store or online.
Students then test tasted soy milk with soy nut cookies. Get the recipe.
We walked up to Poultryville to discuss the importance of soy in animal feed.
Moose was in heaven.
As were Smudge and Squeak.
Ben Thrash, a student at the University of Arkansas is an Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board Fellowship recipient. He spoke with students about careers in agriculture, the impact of agriculture in Arkansas and his background as part of a farm family from Conway, AR.
Students planted Arkansas Kirksey Edamame seeds, which were developed as a part of an ASPB research project and are now grown throughout the river valley region of Arkansas.
We ended the day with an ice cream social featuring soy ice cream and candy-coated soy nuts.
Mid-May the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and I put together a day of workshops focusing one of our state’s most valuable assets – the soybean. All the attendees were Arkansas women bloggers so we got to celebrate a talented group of women too.
The bloggers heard from West Higginbotham, Vice Chairman of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and an Arkansas farmer, about soybean uses and farming life.
Tamara won the Bean2Blog ticket giveaway on Facebook and arrived at the event looking for ideas for the farm she recently purchased. I think the highlight of the day was holding Amos.
Once again Moose was the center of attention.
Lockstars was on hand again this year to demonstrate how to make soy candles.
I demonstrated how to make edamame hummus.
We asked each of the bloggers to come up with a new catch word for soy. Soy-licious, soy-tisfying, soy-percalifragilisticexpialidocious, soy-ragious, soy-lovely, soy-izzle, and soy-tastic are just a few of the creative words they suggested.
During a round table discussion we got to learn from the bloggers about their industry and receive feedback about the day’s events.
Everyone took home edamame seeds to plant.
The 2013 Bean2Blog group!
Here’s a list of the participating bloggers with links to their blogs.
- NWA Foodie – Lyndi
- Chino House – Alison
- Jolly Goode Gal – Jerusalem
- Living the Home Life – Cara
- Aunt Nubby’s Kitchen – Anita
- In Arkansas – Lauren
- In Arkansas – Blair
- The Park Wife – Stephanie
- Dining with Debbie – Debbie
- Desperately Seeking Gina – Gina
- A Growing Season – Angie
- The Food Adventuress – Beth
- Eggs and Herbs – Julie
- Approaching Joy – Paige
- Boots McBlog – JoBeth “Boots”
- The Dramatic – Sarabeth
- A Familiar Path – Melissa
- Heather’s Dish – Heather
When I was growing up, it wasn’t unusual to know where your food came from. I don’t mean which grocery store or restaurant- I’m talking about food that went from the ground onto your dinner table, I’m talking about farms and farmers, gardens and gardeners. I’ve spent most of my life on a farm, but I know that this isn’t the reality for most Americans.
My social media coordinator Anna Claire really cares about food systems- in fact, that’s one of the reasons we get along best. But she didn’t grow up on a farm, in fact she just started gardening this year. During one of our discussions I suggested she take advantage of a local resource – Heifer Ranch, a division of Heifer International. Located just outside of town, it’s a great place to learn about community supported agriculture and pick up a few pointers for her garden. I thought you might be interested in hearing about it too.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a combination of knowing your farmer, growing your own, and going to a farmer’s market… all in one. At its most basic level, a CSA allows a farmer to offer a certain number of “shares” to the public and in return for buying that share, shareholders receive a box of vegetables (or flowers, eggs, bread, or whatever else was produced at the farm that week) each week throughout the farming season.
The model has taken hold across the nation- tens of thousands of families hold shares in CSAs and in some areas there aren’t enough farms to support the demand. It just so happens that Heifer Ranch has a one acre vegetable garden that serves a CSA of about 60 members that each pay $350 a season, or about $20 a week for a basket of approximately 10 items. Some weeks you’ll get more – when Anna Claire visited the CSA drop-off, shareholders were getting 12 items and a $40 value- and some weeks you’ll get less. But each week you know that you’re getting fresh, typically organic produce because you know your farmer and you know your farm.
And that’s not the only advantage- because you receive only fruits and vegetables that are in season, you get exposed to new vegetables and ways of cooking. And the farmer benefits just as much as the consumer – instead of spending a couple of days a week driving to and sitting at a market just hoping that someone will stop in and buy something, they spend time marketing their food earlier in the season so that when the longer days in the field begin, they don’t have to worry about cash flow because the food is already purchased. Therefore, you’re supporting local business, too.
On the flip side, there is a sense of “shared risk” when it comes to CSAs. When a shareholder buys in, they’re agreeing to accept whatever food is offered. Last year, the Heifer CSA had a tough spell when a flash flood left them cabbage-less after months of tending the garden. CSA baskets for consumers were lighter for the next couple of weeks. This year, there seems to be an endless supply of broccoli, so consumers may be getting more of one thing than they like. But there is a sense of community between the members and the farmers that springs from that shared risk.
Heifer International is a global non-profit that I plan to write more about in the future, but the Ranch itself is what I find most fascinating. The average age of American farmers is 57, but to visit Heifer Ranch it’s easy to see that the face of agriculture is changing. A young man named Ryan heads up the CSA and has two full-time volunteers, Brittany and Kenny. They both are giving a year of unpaid service to learn – and teach – about farming. One of the main projects at the Ranch is to offer sustainable agriculture training to farmers from impoverished areas in the US. Right now, the focus is on Hughes, a one-diner town in the Arkansas Delta. The practices that Heifer is teaching this community were learned and perfected on the Ranch.
Another major task involves teaching young students about food and farming. Groups of students on field trips or summer programs will visit the farm almost every day and part of their visit gets the students’ hands busy harvesting beans or other easy-to-pick items. While the extra help is valued, Brittany, Kenny and Ryan also get the chance to share their farming experiences and teach an even younger generation about knowing where their food comes from. For the rest of their day, Brittany, Kenny and Ryan spend long days in the hot Arkansas summers working to produce healthy crops for the CSA and learn enough to run their own farms, and maybe CSAs, someday soon.
Half of Heifer’s shareholders are new this year, so it’s likely that they’re learning about or getting involved with a CSA for the first time. One new share holder got involved because a close friend swore by it, and now looks forward to trying a new recipe with seasonal vegetables each week. Another woman loves the convenience of the CSA, but also loves that she knows her farmers and is supporting a good cause. It may not be the best option for everyone, but I think a CSA is a great way to support a local food culture and eat well throughout the year.
You may be familiar with Julia’s illustrations, wall papers, notecards and pattern designs. She has been featured on the blog Design Sponge DesignSponge.com and in magazines such as O At Home, ReadyMade, and Domino.
This book is right up my alley. Not only does the subject matter interest me, but it’s a visual treat. Whether she’s discussing plants to use for
natural dye or how to plow a field, Julia relies on illustrations with just a bit of text to convey the information. This makes otherwise complicated
topics pretty darn easy to understand. Makes me wonder why other books aren’t written this way.
Of course, the clincher for me is the spread on heritage turkey breeds. How can I not love a book that includes heritage turkey breeds?
So how about a copy of Farm Anatomy for your library? Post a comment about what you would raise on a farm for a chance to win Farm Anatomy. A winner has been selected. Thank you to everyone who participated! Love the comments!
Excerpted from Farm Anatomy, text and illustrations (c) by Julia Rothman, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
*Winners limited to the continental U.S.