Monthly Archives: January 2015

GooTurkEn?

By now you have probably heard of Turducken, the roast with a chicken inside of a duck, inside of a turkey. What you might not know was that Turducken was not just a brief obsession of John Madden, but a sucessor of a long line of multi bird roasts. The turducken is a rather grand three bird roast, but the royalty of yore had 5, 7, 12… one cookbook from the 1800s even included a 17 bird roast “Rôti Sans Pareil” (roast without equal) going from Great Bustard down to Warbler. A modern farmer though decided to one-up that with a roast of 48 birds of 12 species (serves 125). You can even buy one if you live near her farm.

A sliced roast
Hen-Hen?

We’re only a family of two, so although I have dreams of a grand feast for 30, I started learning about this dish with a more modest Engastration. A deboned chicken, lined with bacon, then inside a cornish hen, then onion, apple, cornmeal and egg stuffing. Overall not bad for a first try! Husband definitely approves of my new hobby, even though I did spend a couple hours making dinner. (It should go faster as I learn how to debone correctly. Jacques Pepin says it should only take a couple minutes to debone a chicken.)

So what does cooking have to do with farming? Everything. Everything you eat has to be grown by somebody, and I’d like to have an increasing role in that growing. I’ve challenged myself to grow a larger percentage of my Christmas dinner next year, and I hope to have some surplus to share with all of you as well.

I’ve also become rather interested in geese. They have a lot of advantages being decent guardian animals, able to live primarily on grass (chicken and turkey must have a protein source), fairly dependable weeders, and also decent eaters of garden pests like slugs. From a business perspective, the grocery store price to duck is a more reasonable goal for my poultry sale price than the (unprofitable at small scale) grocery store price for chicken, and the initial outlay is considerably less than getting into beef or pork.

If I’m serving a bird for Christmas, it needs to go into this year’s farm plan. And that farm plan is shaping up rapidly considering my first indoor seeds are going in trays next month.

So what do you think we should have for dinner this year? Turducken? Goturken? Gooducken? Gooturducken? Would you want to give it a try yourself? What if we found a butcher to debone and roll the roasts for you?

Still avoiding GMOs

Despite the expanding evidence that GMOs are not inherently dangerous, our farm will continue to avoid them as much as possible.

  1. We believe each new cross-species gene insertion should be independently studied for safety. The actual process of gene splicing is not inherently dangerous, but poor choices can be made in choosing which genes to splice. Even independently safe compounds can have dangerous reactions in combination.
  2. We support heritage varieties of plants as well as heritage sheep, helping to preserve the diverse genetic bank that may someday be invaluable to saving a species or increasing the nutritional value of our foods. Growing a limited number of varieties of each species can lead to disasters such as the Gros Michel banana extinction. Even if we do not save seed ourselves, our patronage of heritage breed vegetable suppliers funds the maintenance of their seed banks. (Just as your patronage of our farm funds the maintenance of our Cotswold gene pool.)
  3. We don’t use herbicides on our crops, so we have no reason to use herbicide resistant varieties.
  4. We support wildlife and diversity on our farm, and will not spray our fields down to replace the diverse meadow with a monocultured GMO.

Conversely, we are not so afraid as to avoid GMOs at all costs, and will make some compromises as needed to keep our farm sustainable:

  1. We will not spray our pastures down to get rid of potential GMO contamination from possible prior owner’s seeding. The risk of the sprays far outweighs the risk of having some GMO grass strains. With time native grasses should replace most of the seeded grasses, and this is definitely already happening in our diverse fields.
  2. When we run out of non-GMO vegetables grown right on our farm or by other local farmers, we will supplement hay with commercial beet pulp or alfalfa/timothy pellet as needed for the nutritional status of our sheep.
  3. We will do business with our neighbors rather than burning large amounts of fuel to buy certified non-GMO crops from further away.