Day old chicks are often the first animals to arrive on the farm in the spring, and this year the calendar has not even flipped to spring yet. We are pushing the envelope of season extension this year to try to keep our freezer full next winter. So our first batch of chicks arrived this week and we’ve had the heaters cranking in their little house to combat the wind and 15 degree temperatures. Our chicks hatch at Freedom Ranger Hatchery in Reinholds, PA on Monday, then they are packed into boxes with a layer of feed on the floor and sent with the Postal Service to our local post office here in Essex, NY. Wednesday morning we pick them up and bring them back to the farm and get them settled in their warm room that is called a “brooder.”
During their first week of life, chicks need temperatures similar to cozying up under a mama hen, which means around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. So we have a box with a layer of insulation in it and some heat bulbs that the chicks can move under to find warmth. They also have food and water under there for easy access, as well as a few hanging heat lamps and feeders outside. With these cold March days we also have a layer of plastic over the top of the brooder to keep the cold wind out. So far everyone looks warm and happy.
For those of you who have been a customer of ours for a while, you likely morn the loss of RRF sausage flavors, we certainly miss them in our own kitchen. So it has been a bit of an obsession of mine to find out how to have these recipes replicated in another facility that allows us to sell them to you. First I tried working with a spice company to blend custom spice mixes, but the minimum batch size was for 500 lbs of sausage…we’re not quite at that scale yet.
Then I thought we could buy the spices and mix them here in our commercial kitchen, which we can legally do, but after some figuring it was going to be time intensive and so I kept looking for other options. When I had given up, the answer came to me: I had found a small smokehouse down the hudson valley caled Mountain Products Smokehouse. They make an excellent uncured bacon (I’ll talk about that later, but very excited about that…) and when I was on the phone with the owner working out getting bacon made, he mentioned that they also do custom sausage!
The first step in the process of having someone else make your recipe for anything is to have a small test batch made, and I am very excited to announce we have the test batch back and we’ve already done some thorough taste testing:) Now it is time for you to do the same.
We did a test batch of Bourbon Fennel and what we called Sweet Italian. Bourbon Fennel speaks for itself, and we love it. Sweet Italian was my foray into sausage and is nothing like what most folks think of when they imagine Sweet Italian Sausage. So to prevent any confusion we are going to call this Italian Ragu Sausage, since that is how we think of it now. It is a bold sausage, with lots of paprika and garlic, great for adding to a red sauce or chili.
We only had about 20 lbs of each flavor made as a test batch and we’ve already eaten a few ourselves:) So order some up, test it out in your kitchen and send me an email with your thoughts. We will be making more of these sausages available soon so let us know your thoughts ASAP so we can pass along any feedback.
Farm Sampler Box has been updated, check out the new variety and great savings.
Our Pork Winter Sale Box just got better too! We’ve got the last of our Pasture Raised, Non-GMO pork to move before we get in our Organically Fed Pasture Raised Pork later next month. So help us clean out the freezers and the discount will keep going until it is gone!
We also have Smoked Ham Roasts for Easter.