Just a quick reminder…

It’s turkey pick up day at  the following locations on Saturday 11/18/17

Lane County Farmers Market (Eugene) – located at the Fairgrounds

Hollywood Farmers Market (PDX)

PSU Farmers Market (PDX)

and Sunday 11/19/17 at Montavilla Farmers Market (PDX)

There will be a pink information flyer attached to your paid invoice with tips on How to Take Care of Your Turkey

Happy Holidays Y’all!

The One Thing

It’s hard to pin down where my interest in food, farming, and particularly pasture raised meats started. Like most people, I have always loved tasty food. As a child, I rarely put anything in my mouth unless it tasted good. Unfortunately at the time those were almost all highly processed grains, meats, and dairy products. I would eat some fruit and the occasional handful of carrots, but wouldn’t have anything to do with vegetables otherwise. I had never heard of grass fed meat or pasture raised eggs; I was never well educated, as many of us aren’t, on what to eat, why and when to eat it, or where to get it.

During high school I began to gradually shift my food paradigm, which eventually brought me here, to Deck Family Farm. I did sports every season of every year during my childhood, including high school, and so never really had a lack of physical activity. Yet I remained an overweight child and never truly prospered at any of the sports I played beyond a certain level due to my overall level of physical fitness. At age 16, I begun working out hard almost every day, restricting my caloric intake, and changing the things that I ate (I still didn’t eat vegetables besides carrots, corn, and lettuce). I lost a lot of weight and grew stronger, but the diet was unsustainable and included processed protein drinks, supplements,
and did not resemble a diet that I would consider balanced, and made of real, quality food that I try to eat today.
During my college years at University of Oregon, I had a few major breakthroughs related to diet. I watched the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and showed it to my family and multiple friends. I was excited about it so I immediately went out and bought a juicer. I went to the store and bought a slew of vegetables that I then juiced and drank. It went down okay when I plugged my nose, I figured, and was ecstatic that I could heal and nourish my body by consuming loads of vegetables that I had spent most of my life completely avoiding. I later took Urban Farm class at U of O which taught me how to grow produce, how good it could taste if it was high quality, freshly picked, and well prepared. The juicer taught me that I could feel great from consuming vegetables, and the Urban Farm taught me that quality, freshness, and basic cooking skills turn plants and animals into foods that please our mouths, bodies, and souls.

I spent the past two years working a job that wasn’t very fulfilling, a bureaucrat job vaguely related to food quality. During this period I developed my skills at cooking, especially pasture raised animals for friends, family and myself. I also spent my spare time at work and at home reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching videos about topics including philosophy, health, and pasture based animal production. A specific self-help type book I read was called The One Thing. The book posed the following question, specifically in regards to bringing myself closer to my dream life: “What’s the ONE
Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” The answer for me was to get an internship on a farm that fit with my values. It was the clear road to learning pastured livestock farming, handy skills, small business experience, and living in community. So I applied, saved up some money, and was accepted! I’ve been at Deck Family Farm for almost two months now, and I’m thriving! I’m learning from all the beautiful, enthusiastic people all while becoming farmer and friend to the plethora of animals, all here among these fields of abundance. It’s a place of gratitude, love for people, animals, food, the environment, and much more. Come down and see me at Eugene Saturday farmers market. I’ll have a smile on my face because I’m happy to sell products that I truly believe in.

Full Farm CSA Live!

After years of dreaming, and months of planning, we have our first official Full Farm CSA boxes ready for delivery. Congratulations especially to Ella and Christine, who have made this happen through countless hours of planning and effort: talking with member farms, meeting with potential members, designing the full farm store, and putting together the program.

Ella and Chris showing off the full farm CSA boxes ready for delivery, May 5, 2017

Providing vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, honey, nuts, and grains in one CSA can only happen with a close-knit collaboration between multiple entities: Deck Family Farm (meat, eggs, dairy), Lonesome Whistle Farm (beans and grains), Sweet Leaf Organics (vegetables), and Beetanical Apiary (honey). All of these farms are located within a 15 mile radius of each other in the Southern Willamette Valley and are proud to having been farming here for a combined 50 years, each gaining a reputation for providing tasty, organic, ethically raised foods during this time. Now we get to share in the effort of distribution and delivery. Special thanks for making this happen go to RJ for building the website, the EarthKeepers Association for their ongoing support, the Deck Farm interns for generally being awesome and hosting a grand kick-off dinner, the member farms, and countless others for valuable feedback.

Contact the farm by calling 541-998-4697 or emailing to deckfamilyfarm@gmail.com to become a member or find out more.

A Farmily Gathering: this week featuring Beer and Honey Braised Spare Ribs

Gathered around our table this last Wednesday, we had our weekly community night, consisting of farm family and interns, better known as our “Farmily”.  Amidst talk of organizing who is taking out the trash and compost and arranging who will be cooking over the coming week, we also regularly express our appreciations for each other and the greater world, an important part of living together in community.  The OTHER important part of our community evenings is sharing a meal, which encompasses so much for us, as it always features at least one or two items we produce on the farm.  Over the years, this has led to many fun and interesting meals.

This last Wednesday, Kaeden Novotney was head chef, and came up with this recipe, which we’re sharing with you (click HERE to download a PDF of the recipe itself).  This recipe features Deck Family Farm Pork Spare Ribs which are always a family favorite, with a great combination of flavor from the pork itself and tangy notes of mustard, balanced by Deck Family Farm honey, cumin, garlic, and a dash of tabasco.  Fee free to download the recipe itself and visit our farm stands this weekend to purchase both the Pork Spare Ribs and the Honey from one of our market booths.

Beer and Honey Braised Spare Ribs (as appearing at DFF table on April 26, 2017)

 

Pork-loin & bacon sandwiches with home-made mayo sampled this weekend!

Deck Organic Pasture-Raised Eggs, April 1, 2017

Have you ever wondered what homemade mayonnaise tastes like? (its a whole lot better with fresh spring eggs from Deck Family Farm​) Come to our market booths this weekend at the Lane County Farmers Market, PSU Market, or the Hollywood Market, for a sample of our roasted pork loin and bacon sandwiches and pick up a recipe card so that you can make the whole sandwich from scratch (including the mayonnaise!). Specials this week are Organic Pasture Raised Spring eggs: 2 dozen for $12 and Pasture Raised Heritage Pork loin at $15 each.

Sandwich: done!

Sliced, Smoked Turkey Breast and Turkey Sausage on Sale this Weekend

Deck Family Farm Turkeys in October, 2016

Every Thanksgiving, we sell over a hundred of our pasture-raised turkeys to families up and down the Willamette Valley. We raise a variety of heritage turkeys, including Bourbon, Narraganset, Blue Slate, White Holland, Bronze, and White turkeys. Our birds are typically available a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving in a range of sizes.

Why are we talking about turkeys in March? Well, we know that we are not alone in enjoying turkey products year-round so we saved some breast meat to make sliced, smoked turkey and used the thighs, drumsticks, and trim to make sausages (following a new Italian-style recipe)! This weekend at market, you can re-live those glorious gobble-gobble days by eating products from the whole bird!

Italian turkey sausage and sliced turkey breast, both $8/pack at our market booth!

Perfect Pork Chops

Cooking a delicious pork chop doesn’t have to be hard. This week’s recipe (click for a PDF file of the recipe) features pork chops that can be cooked in under 10 minutes and is a regular favorite at our farm’s dinner table. This recipe really does rely on quality pasture-raised and hazel-nut finished pork, as the simple salt and pepper spices are designed to bring out the existing flavors instead of hiding them.

This Saturday, March 18th, we’re offering a special on our pork chops, buy 4 chops for $20 at our PSU, Hollywood, and Lane County Farmer’s market booths.

Deck Family Farm red wattle pigs grazing Owen’s Valley field, March, 2017

Shepherd’s Pie: Deck Family Farm Market Special for March 11th

In honor of St. Patty’s Day we have put together a Market Shepherd’s pie dinner (click for PDF of Recipe), using all Deck Family Farm Ingredients! Come visit us at our market booths at Lane County Farmers Market and PSU Farmers Market this Saturday, March 11th, and receive the ingredients you will need like:
a pack of Lamb Sirloin Steak, a pack of Walnuts and a quart of our New Meat Stock, all for $20

Deck Family Farm “shepherds” guarding our flock. Pictured January, 2017

How to Make a Simple Broth With Deck Family Farm Chicken

Having chicken broth handy is an essential ingredient for so many soups, stews, and grains. We always make a quick chicken broth after cooking our chickens and following is both a quick recipe for chicken, inspired from the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and a quick introduction to making chicken broth.

I like to use 4.5 lb or less birds for this recipe. The recipe calls for lemons, but we used limes. Puncture at least 20 places and insert two inside each chicken. Rub salt and pepper all over chicken and in cavity. You can also put some butter under and over skin. Cook the chicken breast side down for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Turn chicken over, and cook for another 30 to 35 minutes. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and cook for another 20 minutes. Use a meat thermometer in the breast bone to check for desired internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Remove the chicken to cool and save the juices, pouring them over the top of the chicken. From this point, you can carve the chicken and eat it at the moment it comes out of the oven.

The final part of this post is about the stock. Just take whatever you have not eaten and put it in a large stockpot, covering with water. Add some onions for flavor. We cook the stock for 24 hours on low, turning it off at night so we don’t accidentally boil all the water off. Sometimes we bring the stock to a boil several times and let it sit for several hours in between. When you are done with this step, let the broth cool and pour the broth through a colander, composting the bones and onions. Any extra meat we pick off the bones and set to the side and use it for chicken & rice casserole. With careful planning you can extend the useful portion of the chicken to 3 more meals, using it to enhance the flavor of rice, polenta, stews, and form the basis of many different soups.

A brief of history of Owen’s Mid-west/Mid-east


A beautiful day for a walk yesterday. The pigs are grazing the Owen’s valley field called “Mid-west” and “Mid-east” and busy turning up the ground as natural plows. The biennial grasses we planted several years ago are reverting to more of their annual habits, meaning they are going to seed sooner than we like and not as productive in the late summer. To renovate this field, we are inserting two years of pigs alternating with annual crops: we will be planting this as Sudan grass this summer and back to a cover crop next Winter, followed by pigs in late fall or early Spring of 2018. In Spring of 2018 we will be reverting this field back to a permanent pasture. After this, it will be at least 8 years before pigs again visit this field.

For this particular field, this has been our rotation:

2006-2009 Vegetable ground
2010 Planted to a biennial pasture. Hay/Sheep/Cow rotations
2014 overseeded with biennials (rye grass and red clover)
2011-2016 chicken and turkey grazing. Hay/Sheep/Cow rotations
2016-2018 pig grazing. Summer annual/Winter Cover.
2018 plant to a permanent pasture

In tune with farming

Note: This is a post from Shannon Walker, written in late summer but finally posted here on this blog.  Shannon was an intern for 6 months on our farm.
My name is Shannon Walker and my husband and I ventured onto the Deck Family Farm around 6 months ago. Driving from Los Angeles, newly married, and a recent college graduate, I was so excited, but also nervous for the commitment I was making, and the work I would be doing for the next 7 months. For so long I have been wondering at my passion. The tug on my heart for a life outside, a desire to work with animals, and the need to fulfill the potential of my body, my mind, and my heart, lead me to farming. Arriving in the wet winters of Oregon was challenging, but to use my intuition, my energy, and my intellect so readily and in such diverse ways was exhilarating. Still, even as the days are hot and dry, I so enjoy what I’m doing.

In March, only a week or two after we arrived, the farm was in the middle of lambing season. I immediately became part of the lamb crew, tending to the sheep, and caring for the lambs that couldn’t seem to brave the weather. Soon after this the whole farm became a nursery; from calves, to piglets, to chicks. And I have fallen in love with the lot of them. I have learned so much about tuning in to my intuition and about how to work different animals based on their energy, or even their personality. I’ve gotten a scope on the entire lifecycle of a farm in just one season.

Now, as we approach the fall, there is an excitement and an expectancy for what Deck Family Farm will experience this next winter and spring. Having lived a life that is seemingly unpredictable in many ways, and now having worked on a livestock farm that can feel the same way more often than not, there is a reassuring calm to always having the seasons come and go when we expect them, to keep the lifecycle of the farm moving forward in the same circular motion it’s already traveling in. Although my internship is coming to a close I’m feeling small tugs from the ties I now have to the rainy weather of the winter, the mud and the muck, the warm belly of a dairy cow as the sun comes up, and the bah’s of the slippery new born lambs looking for their mamas at night.

Being on Deck Family Farm has prepared me in so many more ways than I could have imagined it would for the coming journey of starting our own farm in Virginia. I’ve gotten a chance to fall in tune with the land and the animals here, to understand the immediacies and the long term goals of farming, to grow in comprehending the larger scope of a farm as well as the small intricate details of growing and farming livestock and grass. I’ve become skilled in fixing hoses to sorting beef. Yet there is so much more to learn.

I am so thankful for the many lamb kisses I’ve received (and for that last moment with Eve, my favorite foster lamb), the cow hugs, especially from Rosie, and the roosters and cows and sheep all calling their good mornings when the sun is coming up. I am even more thankful to the Deck’s, their hospitality not only as homeowners, but farmers, and teachers. I have never encountered a community of people more eager to pass on all they know, all they’ve experienced, and all of their learned-from mistakes to the younger generation than farmers. I am grateful for the community of the interns and all that we’ve learned together, and are still learning in this daunting but exciting feat to become farmers or work on farms. Although our generation is itching for even more change and even better tactics, we have so many good things to look back on and learn from those still farming, and those that have farmed before. Blessed, Deck Family Farm!

Learning English and Learning About Animals

20161024_1726451The following post was written by Julien Vallejo, an intern from Colombia who has been with Deck Family Farm for 5 months. Julien has been learning English and learning about animals on the farm. We encouraged Julien to write this post in Spanish. It is always a great experience meeting and working with young farmers from around the world!

Recomiendo a las personas provenientes de latinoamerica la granja “Deck Family Farm” a todos los estudiantes agricolas o zootecnistas, o aquellas personas que estan interesadas en aprender o hacer su practica estudiantil con todo lo relacionado en produccion animal. La granja ubicada en Oregon ofrece un mayor conocimiento por medio de la practica en diferentes clases de animales “aves ponedoras y de carne, cerdos, ganaderia lechera y de carne” los cuales seran de gran utilidad para todas las personas interesadas en adquirir nuevos conocimientos, no solo en el area de produccion animal sino tambien poder practicar el idioma ingles. El ambiente laboral es amigable rodeado con la familia dueña de la granja mas el personal que se haya trabajando como, supervisores y otros practicantes provenientes de Estados Unidos u otras partes del mundo, haciendo de la granja un entorno agradable e interesante.

At: Julian Vallejo.

Sunrise #102 — Post by Geoffrey Van

img_4501new life in minutes
death in familiar stillness
family supper

 

rain abstain; sustain
rivers warm in summer last
wind in blood-lost breath

 

we question god hands
walking meat in chore absence
ah, humility

 

changes in grassseed
silver cylinder alight
i too need to feed

 

how many baskets?
five-gal buckets days go by
to buy more fly strips

Working in Agriculture and being a foodie — post by Victoria Ruffin

victoria

Victoria working the Deck Family Farm Farmer’s Market booth in Eugene

Born in New Jersey and raised in North Carolina, I found Deck Family Farm looking for work after my stent serving with the Peace Corps. What luck finding this gem tucked within the Willamette Valley! I had two years experience working on organic vegetable farms prior to Deck, but never worked with animals. I was enlightened by the work. The tenacity it takes to run and work an organic animal farm is immeasurable, but incredibly rewarding. I enjoyed learning and understanding the animals on the farm. Knowing where and how my meat and dairy are raised is a learned value that I will uphold. Food is nourishment for our bodies what we put into them should be treated with respect and care. Deck Family Farm serves as a great source of wealth in my life. The communal aspect required my active engagement allowing me to let down my guard, enabling me to tap into a reservoir of openness within myself. Its rare to work within a community that fosters open communication, knowledge, work, and play! Countless days passed where I would reflect and the morning felt like another day, but there in lyes the beauty! There is so much to be done in a day why waste time romanticizing what life can be and just live it! Deck Family Farm is a great place to enjoy working in an idyllic environment (hello 320 acres of forested wonderment!) while learning about organic farming and yourself. Ok, this post is supposed to be about me but I had to gush for a minute. While here I worked with all the animals, milked, performed administrative duties, and worked markets. I was fortunate enough to gain experience in several aspects of the farm. Markets were my favorite! Traveling to Portland or Eugene to sell our product at market is beyond fun! Sampling may be the best part. You get to cook, eat, and share Deck products all in one go! Another activity I enjoyed were the educational farm “walk-abouts”.  Weekly we choose a topic and get a lesson on the subject paired with a venture out into the field to put what we learned to practice. These tours sometimes took us off farm and we gained access to different restaurants, businesses, and farms in the Willamette Valley. Working in Agriculture and being a foodie I loved being able to see and learn about the different business structures in the Lane County food system. This area is one of the best for Agriculture. The County is uber supportive (not literally, no Uber here #justsayin) of slow food, local food, organic food. So if you enjoy good food, good music, and good people, try Deck.

Pathway for Personal Growth — post by Peter Nagy

My name is Peter Nagy, and I am in my last weeks of a 6-month internship at Deck Family Farm. I will look back at my time here fondly – the people, animals and landscapes I have been so closely intertwined with over the past half year will always stay with me. It’s been a transitional time, and not without its trials and tribulations, but the community I have found here has helped me make every passing difficulty a step on the pathway of personal growth. I came to Deck Family Farm in April of 2016. I had been working for several years in property management and was disenchanted with my job and to a degree city life in general. I wanted to try a fresh start in something totally different, and after a couple years of exploring local agriculture and permaculture, I decided to take the plunge.

It wasn’t always easy, but it was always rewarding. After living by myself and working a 9-5 for years on end I was suddenly living with a dozen strangers (soon to become family), in an industry and setting that was largely alien (soon to become a place of solace), doing work that was often dirty, smelly, and physically rigorous (still better air quality than the city, and free gym!). It was a sea change, and one that I’m unendingly glad for. It has reframed my views on a host of societal issues, given me a new appreciation for how tight knit a community can become after working and living together in such proximity and with such stakes at hand.

The Decks do a wonderful job of welcoming and integrating new folks into their extended farm family. They provide more than an introduction to farming – team building, homesteading and stewardship of the land are all hallmarks of their vocation here. Their mission, to provide healthful and humanely raised meats to the greater Willamette Valley community and beyond, has provided a great example of a present and mindful business. Their dedication to the animals, the land and the people who live and work here as well as those that comprise their customer base, is nothing short of inspirational. I feel lucky to have seen their operation so closely over the past 6 months and look forward to continuing my relationship with the farm and all the folks I’ve met here.

Feeds and Feeding at Deck Family Farm

At Deck Family Farm, our task is raising animals on pasture: building soil fertility by practicing rotational grazing and cycling nutrients inRJMilledGrain
an efficient manner.  We also have a milling program, driven by a 2 ton mixer mill, where we combine a blend of ingredients for those animal groups that cannot break down plant fibers.  Simply put: where beef cows and sheep can get 100% of their nutrients from grass and silage, pigs and chickens can only get up to 20% of their nutrition from grass (and then, only in the best of times).  We ask alot of our dairy herd and also feed grain to our dairy, 5 lbs of grain per day per cow.  We mill over 10 tons of feed per month.  We source grain as much as possible from the Willamette Valley and supplement only when necessary from outside of Oregon, for example: organic corn or peas grown in Washington.

About GMO and animal feed
turkeys1When a feed is certified organic, then by definition the feed is non-GMO.  When a feed is not certified organic there is no way in guaranteeing that it is non-GMO.  So, for example, Deck Family Farm layers have been certified organic since 2012 and thus have been GMO-free since 2012.   As our dairy, broilers, and pigs are not certified organic we haven’t been able to say that they are “GMO-free”.  However, we have recently (in January, 2016) switched all of our milled corn to certified organic and now say that our feed for our dairy and our pigs, as well as our layers is GMO-free.  Wheat, barley, and peas are not grown as GMO crops.

Many operations in one farm

Why not feed all of our animals, corn-free, soy-free, organic, locally sourced grain?  This would be a laudable goal and many folks ask us about this.  The answer comes down to price.  Everything is possible given time and money, but simply we cannot make the cost calculations work as a corn-free, soy-free, organic, locally sourced feed will be at least double the cost of an equivalent feed, not to mention the hit on energy and protein from removing soy and corn.   The end result is roughly double the cost of production, not to mention competing against obscenely cheap pork on the commodity market (but who wants to eat that!).   The feeds and certifications for our farm products we have today are the result of years of introspection, sweat, number-crunching, while maintaining a consistently high quality product.  We encourage you to refer to our Feeds and Certifications page when you have questions about our various products.

 

Intensive grazing and weed management

Curly-dock-768x1024Chickens on pasture are great: lots of sunshine and bugs for the hens, they deposit their manure on the pasture, and it couldn’t be a starker contrast than their industrial counterparts that live in dark, smelly, and noisy indoor facilities.  However, one side effect from grazing laying hens on pasture are the bare patches where the chickens take their afternoon dirt baths.  These bare patches are invitations for weeds, so we re-seed them. However, in some cases we’re left with a mix of grass and clover species we want, along with some weeds that we don’t want.  For instance, the photo above shows dock, which is a typical weed we see in our pastures following grazing with chickens.

While dock is a nutritious plant, it is not as palatable as our typical forage grasses.  In a situation where cows are set-stocked, or left in one large spot for a long period of time, the cows will ignore the plant while it takes over much of the pasture.  We manage dock by increasing the stocking density of our beef herd.  Increase stocking densities of grazing cows is a practice many grazers practice with a goal of forcing cows to eat a broader range of available plants in a given area, along with directing the flow of nutrients from the cow itself: in short, we want to force them to eat the dock along with the good stuff.  We found that at a stocking density of at least 80,000 lbs to the acre, the cows will strip the leaves off most of the dock plants.    The photo below shows our cows in the pasture with most of the dock grazed down on the right (where they were the previous day) and the cows on the left (note the fiber-glass posts holding up our electric fence-line in the foreground).IMG_3098

The pasture shown in the photo is a dry-land pasture and was used to raise pullets (young laying hens) last summer and fall and consequently the grass was stressed on this paddock last season.  The recovery this Spring was somewhat slower than other pastures so  we were not able to feasibly put more than 80,000 lbs to the acre on this pasture.  However, after the first grazing 10 days ago, the pasture is recovering nicely and already has re-built a nice stand of grass, ready for grazing in another 2 weeks.

I should note that we are an organic operation so our options for managing weeds are limited to what is in the organic toolkit.  Dock is not the only weed we battle.  The worst is canada thistle, and while i’ve seen intensive grazing slow its spread and discourage it, it is not enough to entirely manage it.  Timed mowing (first week of July, or just at bud-break), annual rotations (e.g. Sudan timed to compete effectively), and when necessary hand-weeding are effective complements to high stocking densities.

A final note for this blog post is that we’ve been working with our interns on calculating stocking density and factoring in associated times, areas, and dry matter.   A tool for working with stocking density and other grazing resources are available at our Intern resources pages.