2019 – Week Two



Winter chow. The bulls of Auburn Meadow Farm

This week, we have run the gamut from 60-degree sunshine, rain and mud, to our first snow. So, apparently, really-real winter is here.

Which is okay, I will take some frozen ground for a while. 

The holiday roll out helps me to break down the terrors of winter into bite sized chunks. My eyes are turned at the moment towards Valentine’s Day, followed by St. Patrick’s Day, then Easter, then whew! Home free! Hell-o spring grass! Please don’t correct me on this one, lol.

On the good news front, we had been approved for a grant with NRCS to help with installation of water lines and interior fencing to help improve our grazing system and lord help me, cut down on the four-hour a day summer watering ball and chain.

On the still-a-challenge front, this grant is not like the lottery where they hand you dollars, so lack of dollars is still a very real obstacle. The project still requires personal investment, and is set up as a reimbursement with strict budgets so cash out-of-pocket, which has been a real rarity the past two years is still needed, and remains a struggle.

Plumbing and infrastructure are a couple of the ares where my inexperience truly shines.  Having never had the opportunity to work on other grazing farms and actually using different watering and feed management systems, I have been slower than others would have been to take action. Well, that and dollars. 

At times I rail against aspects of government, mostly with regard to corporate overreach, and over-regulation of the wrong things, combined with under-regulation of others. 

But there are good things too. The recent Farm Bill is not perfect, and will never be perfect for every single farmer. But while I was not feeling optimistic about the aspects of the Farm Bill designed to support beginning and disadvantaged farmers plus conservation efforts, in that I was mistaken. The programs have not been eliminated, and in some ways have been improved.

We are fortunate to have a great and proactive NRCS team in my region, and I am very grateful for their energy and gumption. They are sincerely concerned about soil restoration and conservation, and are definitely making a difference, and inspiring change.

So, I’m trying to not be mired in overwhelm and panic about the really-real and scary things, focusing on getting the work done in a proactive way, expecting the best and looking forward to the joys and pleasures to come in 2019. 

The recent beef boxes I did have been a great success, and a great way to kick off a new year. The most heart warming encouragement I have had recently was this comment from our new customer Jenny: 

“I have to tell you, and part of me hates to admit it, but here’s proof that your meats are superior. I had store-bought frozen meatballs over the holidays….The other day, I made my Bolognese. I used your ground beef, and added the leftover meatballs because I didn’t want to toss them. Your ground beef added the perfect flavor to my meat sauce. I had a friend over and he complimented me on my sauce. I told him about Auburn, “But the meatballs are store-bought.” We both took a bite of the meatballs and spit it out. Tasted gross compared to your ground beef. When I ate the meatballs over the holidays, I didn’t think anything of it until I ate them with your beef. We are an advocate for “happy” meats, but were floored at the big difference (not a little difference) but a huge difference in flavor. Love Auburn Meadow Farm.”

Thank you Jenny, Auburn Meadow Farm loves you too :D

And then, next day, this one from another Jen:

“ On a side note that ham was quite possibly one of the most amazing things I ever tasted in all my life. I don’t usually eat pork/ham but I did last night because of where it came from @auburnmeadowfarm where they do everything the absolute right way and the animals are treated with love and kindness. I have such great respect for this farm and the woman behind it.”

Well now. Maybe I need to name my next heifer Jennifer :D

Here’s an update about where you can find us at the moment, and what we have available. 

Beef Boxes:  More are coming, if you would like to reserve a box. This is a great special deal, and are available while supplies last only.  

The details:  Twenty pounds of grass-fed and finished ground steakburger, and two steaks, either filet or Delmonico (boneless ribeye), cut 1-1/2”.  

Boxes are a straight $5.00/lb, no complicated hanging weight biz to figure out, so average $110 – 120 per box. Additional roasts may be added on for the same price, as supplies last.  

I will be doing boxes all first quarter, first come, first serve, next one is scheduled for mid January, to be ready for your freezer early February. I have a reservation form if you are interested, email me and I will send you one.  The forms are important so I can keep track of extras you would like, calculate the poundage and keep track of the order reservations are received. 

Pork Cuts: I have a nice selection of individual pork cuts in-house now, including bacon and sausage, roasts, chops both bone in and boneless.  Plus some really nice hogs ready for bulk orders, whole, half, and group purchases. 

Group Purchase: What is a group purchase?  If you would like to take advantage of the bulk price, but think a half hog is too much, gather some friends, four is probably ideal, but up to eight will work, and I can organize a group buy where everyone will get a sampler of a fraction share of the basic cuts, including chops, roasts, and bacon.

It is nice, and educational, and a great way to get an introduction to purchasing direct from farmers and working with small butchers, and ask any questions to the farmer who actually raised your food. Like a Tupperware party, only delicious, and no pressure on your friends to host another one. 

Rancho Gordo Beans: Another unique Auburn Meadow Farm thing. I know, it is crazy. I  am the beef and pork raising bean evangelist. I love these beans, and love to tell you why. A new shipment of Rancho Gordo beans is on it’s way. Four new varieties: Garbanzos, Moro, Royal Corona and Eye of Goat. Whatever you are making, I’ve got a bean to make it better. You will not find beans like this in the store. 

Our satellite location: Did you know we keep a (very) small freezer in the North Hills? I stock it with a random selection of seasonal items I think you might like. 

The freezer is at Fit America PA, 8501 Perry Highway Pittsburgh PA 155237.  Our friend Wendy, the owner,  is focused on total wellness, and to better serve her customers makes nutritionally dense pastured meats available. She offers some other great services like Infra red sauna and protein forward snacks, all available without membership. 

I deliver to the spa biweekly or as needed, and if you wish to have an order delivered closer to your home or office, I can deliver for you to the spa too. You may walk in and buy from the fridge anytime during Spa hours, but I do recommend calling first. It is a one-woman operation working by appointment, and sometimes one-woman runs business errands during empty moments on the schedule, so confirm before driving any distance. 

Host us: And lastly, if your office, church or community center would like to consider hosting an Auburn Meadow Farm freezer of your own, I would be happy to set you up with a delivery site sharing foods raised by myself and like-minded local farmer friends.  It is my passion to make local foods easily available, so if that is part of your New Year’s ambition as well, let’s talk. 

I am as always deeply grateful that you choose to use your food dollars to fuel this frightening and delightful venture, Auburn Meadow Farm. Please spread the word, we have room for more hungry people wishing to keep their dollars at home, supporting bona fide, hands in the dirt, home raised food. 

What’s cooking in your house this first week of really-real winter?