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    Chicken you can feel good about eating

    Our chickens eat feed that was never sprayed with chemicals, and they run around outside living chickenly lives and munching on clover. We rotate our chickens’ yard so they always have fresh greens, making them healthier and more delicious. You’ll be able to taste the difference. If you want a deeper relationship with your food, you can follow what’s happening at the farm on Facebook. (You don’t need a Facebook account to see it!)

    We sell mainly whole, frozen chicken but also have a limited number of frozen packaged parts. See our Orders and Prices page.

    We deliver frozen chicken to Minneapolis, and we welcome you to our farm in the Northfield area.


    Half and Whole hogs available

    September 13th, 2015

    We’re still taking orders for half and whole hog. These hogs ate certified organic feed (meaning non-GMO and no sprays) and were raised outside with a varied diet. The pork will be available in mid-November.

    To put down a $150 deposit to reserve a half hog, contact us via phone or e-mail, or use this Paypal button. (If you use the Pay Pal button, please e-mail us at auntieanniesfieldsATgmailDOT com with your contact information!) The remainder of the cost will be paid when you pick up your pork at Dennison Meats in November.

    Deposit on pork

    How much does it cost, and how much pork would I get?
    A whole hog would cost VERY ROUGHLY $915 including processing, and a half hog would be VERY ROUGHLY $458. A whole hog would yield very roughly 145 lbs of meat, and a half hog would be around 73 lbs of meat. This breaks down to roughly $6.30/lb for the packaged pork.

    How is the final cost calculated?

    We charge $3.35/lb hanging weight plus processing cost, which is estimated at $230 per hog. Here’s an estimate of how that breaks down for a whole hog:
    Live weight: 300 lbs
    Hanging weight: 204 lbs
    Packaged weight: 145 lbs
    So, a whole hog might cost approximately $915 ($3.35 x 204 lbs plus $230 processing cost) and a half hog would be half that amount.

    That price will vary depending on the size of the hog, and also on what you ask the processor to do with your meat. If you want just fresh cuts but no prepared sausage or smoked cuts (like bacon and ham), you could save on the cost of processing the hog. If you wanted more than the average amount of sausage and smoked cuts, you could pay more.

    How are your hogs raised?

    We feed them:
    • Certified organic feed,
    • Hay from our own land,
    • Eggs from our organic-fed chickens
    • A small amount of leftover fruits vegetables as a little treat (some organic, and some not).
    They are raised in a small herd of 10 hogs. We’ve never given them hormones or antibiotics, and they have an old-style pig pen with a shelters and a yard where they like to wallow and play around and sometimes sleep under the stars on nice nights.

    What kind of cuts will I get?
    If you order half a hog, you’ll get the right or left side of a particular animal. Within that, you can get as creative as you like or keep it simple. The processor can give you a pretty standard set of cuts, or you can take this on as a creative work. For example, if know you love brats more than roasts, the processor can talk with you about your choices for brat recipes, and then cut your animal accordingly. Want extra-thick pork chops? No problem. Love bacon? There’s only so much on each side of an animal, but most bacon lovers also adore cottage bacon. Want everything packed up for a family of 2? OK! Setting up a cutting order for your hog can be a fun process.

    A HALF hog would yield something around: 23 pork chops, 3 lbs Spare Ribs, 9 lbs ground pork (maybe for sausage?), 15lbs ham (for a great potroast or smoked for big hams or ham steaks), 8 lbs bacon, 14 lbs roast, 5 lbs Stew Bones, 8 lbs unrendered lard. Again, it’s possible to play with these amounts sometimes to have more sausage, etc.

    I need to avoid gluten and nitrates! I am delighted that Dennison Meats can work with you to avoid nitrates, gluten, and most other ingredients that one might be avoiding. If that’s the case for, you should talk directly with the processor about your needs. She is fabulous at guiding you through these choices.

    When and where will the pork be available?We’ll be processing the hogs in early November. If you order smoked meat, your pork will be available a couple of weeks later. The fresh cuts will be available sooner. When you pick up your hog at Dennison Meats, (109 Farm Road, Dennison, Minnesota 55018,) you’ll pay both the processing cost (to Dennison ) and the remainder of the cost of the hog (to us). If you like, click to see Dennison Meat’s website, or call them at 507-645-8734

    Fulton tomorrow

    September 5th, 2015

    We’ll be at Fulton farmers market tomorrow (9/5/15), and they’ll be sampling our brats! Unfortunately, we can’t bring any eggs. Our flock isn’t laying as much as we thought they would be this summer. We have 300 young hens that we hope will help us keep up, but they aren’t laying yet. Thank you guys so much for your loyalty to our eggs. If all goes as expected, we’ll bring more next week to the markets.

    August 28th, 2015

    We had a hard time one morning this summer, but the story has a happy ending. As Ian was driving 600 chickens to be processed, a wheel popped off his trailer. All the chickens were OK, but they were set up for a fairly brief morning’s drive, not a day sitting in the sun. Ian was 20 miles away from his destination, and he assessed the situation.

    After consulting with a friend on the phone, he decided to limp the last 20 miles with the trailer’s remaining 3 wheels, but the missing wheel shifted the weight of the trailer onto one of the fenders, and that fender now pressed against a tire. Ian hacked at the fender, but without the right equipment, he made little progress and walked up to the closest house to borrow some tools.

    Not surprisingly, the people in that house were well aware of the situation. They’d seen him working and had even seen a big cloud of black smoke puff off the trailer when the wheel fell off. As someone who lives in the country too, I can appreciate how carefully they had been watching this stranded vehicle.
    They didn’t loan Ian any tools though. Instead, they loaned him their trailer. They also helped him transfer most of the birds from our trailer onto theirs, which is not a quick or easy task. It is a job that one likes to follow immediately with a shower and a change of clothes, but these folks were not deterred and did it with the cheerful energy of people who know they’re doing something good.

    Still not all the chickens fit on the borrowed trailer, so Ian headed into the processor’s, planning to unload and return with extra crates. Even with all this help, the processor was still paying a crew of people to stand around waiting for us, so time was very tight. Another farmer who was dropping off chickens stepped in to help as soon as he understood the situation. This other chicken farmer drove his own trailer on a 40 mile round trip and loaded the rest of our birds into his own crates.

    All the chickens made it to their destination, and Ian finally returned the borrowed trailer. The man who had helped him had left to go cut some hay, but the woman of the house gave Ian a can of pop (which he appreciated because he hadn’t taken time to eat or drink). With the weight of the chickens gone, the trailer worked, and Ian made it home just fine.

    I’ve been telling people how this couple lent their valuable trailer to a stranger who walked up to their door, and most other people who are farming said they think they would’ve done the same thing. I believe them. When a crisis happens in this job, people seem to pitch in. I’m so grateful.

    Getting ready for next year (already!)

    May 20th, 2015

    Ian planting

    Everything happens at once in the spring! In addition to caring for the birds this year, we have to think ahead about some of the things they’ll need next year.

    One of the things we’re doing for them is planting more pasture. Earlier in the spring, Ian planted 3 acres that we are transitioning from a conventional corn and soy rotation into pasture. We’re very excited to be doing this as it means more wonderful greens for our birds, less erosion and more life in our soils — not to mention less spraying of chemicals close to our house.

    Now Ian is replanting the area where our layers will forage next year. This is land that we have been working since we moved here six years ago, but we’re replanting it because we want mostly clover and rye grass for our birds. Our hogs were on some of that field last year and did a pretty good job of turning up the earth and taking down any clover that was still growing there. Some day, we’d love to use hogs to prepare the soil instead of a tractor, but we have enough irons in the fire this year to keep us busy!

    Our layers took a great interest in Ian’s work. I expect they were finding some worms in the turned earth. You can see one of our golden hens finding something delicious to eat. (Or maybe that should be qualified as saying she’s finding something delicious to eat from a hen’s point of view, anyway!)

    Wrestling with a miracle in the mud

    April 23rd, 2015

    We’ll be bringing chicken and pork up to Ian’s parents’ house in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis this Sunday (April 26) from 12:30-1:30. We’ve got all things chicken except thighs, and we have lots of pork roasts, pork steaks, chops, ham and ham steaks. E-mail us to place an order.

    We’ll also be having work -day weekends on the farm every weekend in may starting Sunday May 3. We’ll be preparing summer housing for the chickens, cleaning the brooders out when our baby chicks graduate from them and generally taking care of business. Let us know if you want to come be part of the action!

    As spring unfolds, everything has to happen at once. It’s an amazing time with so much to do and appreciate, but it’s also enough to drive us a little batty if we try to do it all by ourselves, (kind of like parenting that way).

    I am fully aware, as I do chores under the bright spring stars, that I am witnessing miracles. The smell of wet earth and growing things tells me there’s a song of praise rising up from the land and singing in me. Chicks chirp and sing, bouncing with bubbly life. Slowly, the trees’ leaves swell with buds, and the hogs celebrate beautiful days by grabbing mouthfuls of hay and shaking it around the way a playful dog might shake a toy.

    Our farming work at this time is like the land, and the trees. Everything has to change quickly to be ready for summer, and a tremendous amount of creation must be accomplished in a short time. First the chicks need the infrastructure to stay clean and warm and dry, and then they need infrastructure in the field so they can enjoy the greens when they’re old enough to feel comfortable in cooler temperatures. Our extra three acres of pasture need to be planted. The bounty of eggs coming from our newly laying spring chickens must be cared for and put to good use. We need to prepare for more hogs.

    So promise and exhaustion hold hands in spring. We stomp around in our muddy boots carrying buckets, drills, lumber and water as the limitless joy of the season presses against the limits of what we can do in a day. We wish each day could be a week long at this time of year.

    Each day we go out again to wrestle in the mud with a miracle. I get hurt and tired and cranky while all the while knowing that I am wrapped and pressed by the divine. Ideally, we might tenderly hold hands with something of breathtaking beauty and share lovely words with it. We’re not doing that, but wrestling in the mud with something glorious has its advantages. It’s a full-body experience, for one thing, and there’s nothing theoretical about it. It’s real. I like it that way.

    Let us know if you’d like to come join the wrestling match of spring preparations or if you’d like us to bring you anything on Sunday!

    “New” machinery at our place

    April 14th, 2015

    Ian's purchase at the auction

    There was big excitement around our place last week. Ian bought a new tractor at an auction. I should qualify “new.” It’s a 1959 Case tractor, but that’s a decade younger than our other tractor — a 1949 International Harvester.

    When Ian pulled into the driveway with that tractor on a trailer behind him, he was marking the victorious end of an epic quest. This spring, in pursuit of the most useful machine at the best price, he visited a wonderful elk farm, got stuck in a treacherous driveway out by Waconia, and choked on smoke in a huge machine shed in Iowa. He’d spent countless hours doing research. He had decided he wanted this tractor that would be sold at this auction, but bidding was growing close to the price he was willing to pay. Then, the other guy stopped bidding, and the tractor was ours.

    Now all we need is a machine shed to go with our tractors. In the mean time, our new machine is sitting out by the driveway, waiting for some repairs. I teased Ian that he was announcing our good news to the community by parking it there, just as certainly as if he were to mail little “new member of the family” announcements to all the neighbors and the people who drive down our busy country road. Nothing goes unnoticed, so parking something in such a prime place for viewing seemed quite forward to me.

    Ian responded that he wasn’t trying to make a statement. He was just trying to find a place for everything. Besides, he said, he had obscured the view of the tractor by parking our poorly functioning minivan between it and the road. So our modesty was being maintained.

    We also bought a mixer mill and placed by the driveway as modestly as possible, obscured from the road by one of the big metal gravity wagons we use to hold chicken feed. Our mill is also covered by a large blue tarp to keep the rain from dripping inside it and rusting out the mechanisms. The enormous, billowing blue tarp gives a sense of mystery to the thing, which is a full story high. Our friend John, who helped wrap it in the tarp, said it looked like a prize on a game show. A game show host could clap a smiling winner on the back and bellow, “For your fabulous prize, you can choose to open Door 1, open Door 2, or take whatever is under this enormous tarp!”

    I would willingly choose the thing under the tarp. At the peak last summer, I sometimes was carrying 700 pounds of feed in a single day. As much as I love exercise, we decided our operation had reached the size when we should consider using machines to move that feed. The mixer mill, together with our “new” tractor, will help us do that.

    It wasn’t easy to find the mill because our small scale of farming is so old-fashioned. Our good friend Chuck knew an elderly gentleman who owned a mill though, and the guy was willing to sell if Chuck came down to see him. So Ian, Chuck, and a friend with a bigger pickup than ours met up in southern Minnesota to eat pie, drink coffee, and buy the mill. Then, they drove home at about 30 miles an hour because they were hauling such large, awkward equipment. I don’t think the slow pace bothered Ian because he was chatting the whole way home.

    Who needs to invite friends over for a party when you could take a road trip and buy a feed mill instead?

    The feed mill will eventually need more protection from the elements than our tarp can provide. We will eventually need a machine shed, and we’ll be working toward it too, a little bit at a time, just like we worked toward the purchase of all this equipment.

    In the meantime, we’ll manage with what we have, knowing that our machinery is not just there to make our farm run more efficiently. It might also be a source of entertainment for the whole community. And most importantly, it can occasionally be used as a reason to eat pie with friends.

    New Year on the farm

    April 7th, 2015

    Here’s a video of our Baby chicks, early April 2015

    For us, the New Year started Thursday April 2 this year, with an early morning call from the post office. The post office clerk didn’t need to say a word because in the background, we could hear 600 baby birds peeping. We retrieved the birds, brought them home to their warm brooder and dipped each little chick’s beak in water in case any needed help figuring out how to get a drink. They’re already growing fast and our new season is literally off and running!

    We’ll be raising chicken, pork and eggs this year. We thought hard about adding beef. I picked up our friend Chuck last month and toured a pasture where we could have grazed cattle. It was an absolutely beautiful pasture, lush and shaded by wonderful walnut and chestnut trees, but Chuck reminded me how many irons we already have in the fire. We decided that the timing isn’t right yet. Chuck grew up in farming on an old-fashioned diversified farm, and we’re constantly asking him for advice.

    Always before, when I’ve talked to Chuck about our farm, he’s been talking directly to me. When we went to see the pasture, though, Chuck mentioned our farm to the man who was showing him around. Chuck squared his shoulders very slightly and his voice grew just a tiny bit deeper. I’m sure I was the only one who noticed, and I was silently delighted. Of course he should feel proud of the farm he has been helping to build. I don’t know what kind of farm we would have without him.

    Just like we wouldn’t have much of a farm without Chuck, we wouldn’t have much of a farm without our customers. My relationship with my farm fills part of my heart that nothing else fills, and that’s a feeling that I would love to share widely.

    So with a new year upon us, we want to keep in better touch with people. I’m planning to send out an e-mail every other week, update our blog weekly and update our Facebook page a couple times a week. Be in touch with us if you have any questions or comments or need to take a break from our e-mail list.

    On a practical note, if you want to see us in person, we’ll be doing a drop-off at Ian’s parents’ house in the Longfellow neighborhood of South Minneapolis on Sunday, 4-26. E-mail us to let us know if we should bring something for you. We’ll have a pretty full selection of chicken and pork.

    For farmers markets, this season, we’ll be at Fulton every Saturday morning starting May 16; at Midtown every other week starting May 9 (the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Saturdays of the month); and at Nokomis one Wednesday a month during the summer. If you want to visit the farm, let us know!

    Ham and ham roasts

    March 28th, 2015

    We have both smoked ham and ham roasts on sale — 10 percent off — until Easter. Our hams taste great because our hogs are raised the old fashioned way, in small groups, playing around outside and eating grain that was not sprayed with chemicals, hay, and table scraps.

    With either of these, start by thawing the ham in the fridge for a few days. If you’re cooking it on Sunday, I’d refrigerate it starting Thursday night.

    This is the best pot roast because, of its marbling and smooth texture. You can use it like a shoulder roast, or if you want to really play to its strengths and get absolutely awesome with it, here’s a recipe from the New York Times. They have you baking the roast and basting it often with a balsamic vinegar and maple syrup glaze, and showering it with pecans and candied ginger. Wow. Here’s the link.

    Our smoked hams are already cooked, and they taste delicious cold, but if you’re having company, you might want to do it up fancy.

    Heat it: Because your ham is already cooked, you’re trying it heat it through without drying it out. You could do it in a slow-cooker with a cup of broth, water, or your own tasty liquid concoction. 3-5 hours should do it. Or you could do it in the oven. If you have a roaster pan, put some water in the bottom of the pan, place the ham on the rack — out of the water — then cover the whole thing with aluminum foil. Leave 15-20 minutes per pound. If you don’t have a broiler pan, use whatever pan you have and follow the general guidelines of keeping the ham moist and covered while heating.

    Score it — if you want, and you have the time, and you want to be extra-festive — cut a diamond-shaped pattern all over the ham.

    Stud it — if you want –push whole cloves into the centers on the diamonds you cut.

    Glaze it — with maple syrup OR with a glaze of 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 T mustard and 1/2 t ground ginger OR with whatever glaze you want

    Bake it again — at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until the glaze looks burnished.

    Growing chicks show time passing

    February 23rd, 2015

    Note: This article I wrote showed up in the Northfield News last week!

    In less than two months, our youngest batch of layers changed from adorable fluff balls to gawky little birds that are still growing their feathers, leaving bald patches here and there. They darted around their coop as I filled their feeders today, and it seemed like a whole era had passed since they were cute baby peepers.

    We had a power outage in the brooder a couple hours after the babies first arrived in December, which knocked out the heat lamps that kept them warm. To survive their first week, chicks need heat. Thankfully, we discovered the problem quickly and replaced a fuse to bring the lights back on, but we lost a few more than usual that first week.

    In a way, the chicks that didn’t make it will always be little fluff balls while the rest of their flock has moved on into a new stage of life without looking back.

    Unlike chickens, people look back. In my mind, I can see a perfectly clear picture of those cuties. Maybe because I worried about them so much after their heat lights went out. The picture of those baby chicks seems almost as real to me as the young birds that are darting around their coop with their newly grown feathers.

    My life before farming is preserved in my mind like those long-gone baby chicks. When we visit my husband’s parents in our old Minneapolis neighborhood, I see houses that I passed hundreds of times while we lived there, and feel as though we’ll be pulling up in front of our old home any minute.

    The life that I imagine stepping into is almost six years out of date. The blonde preschooler who toddled those sidewalks is on the verge of middle school. Some of the friends who kept our old house sociable and warm have faded from our lives, and people that we didn’t know six years ago have become like family. I can almost see myself walking those sidewalks, preoccupied and dreaming again about whether or not I’d ever be able to farm.

    I’m so grateful I could make those dreams reality by moving away with the family and raising some chickens. The dreams of farming were adorable and cuddly, and the reality is gawky and awkward, but I’m OK with that. It shows me that things are moving along the way they should be. Chicks that never make it past their cute phase don’t survive to run around in the clover. They’ll never squawk, or tilt their funny heads to get a better look at me, or run around proud with a worm. They’ll never give eggs or meat.

    In my memory though, the chicks will always be bouncy balls of fluff. Some of those memories will stay with me for a long time, and others will slip away unnoticed, maybe when all my thoughts are busy with work and the riot of spring.

    Holiday Ham is on Sale

    December 5th, 2014

    Let us help you celebrate the holidays. Our beautiful hams are on sale through the month of December — 10 percent off. You can pick them up at our farm almost any time (just be in touch with us to be sure we’re available), and we’ll be dropping them off at Ian’s parents’ house in the Longfellow neighborhood of South Minneapolis on Tuesday 12/9 from 6:30-7:30.

    These hams are the real thing. Our hogs were running around outside, eating greens, transitional organic feed and table scraps. The hams make a fabulous main course for a family celebration and could also be a great gift that you know will be enjoyed.

    The hams cost $6.19 a pound, before the 10 percent discount. We have a few large ones — running from $30-35 before the discount, and some that run around $20 or less before the discount. The smaller ones are from guinea hogs, an old fashioned breed that’s on the Slow Food Arc of Good Taste, which is for rare foods that are absolutely delicious.

    We also have a pretty full supply of our regular offerings — chicken parts and whole birds of both breeds we raise. We have many pork cuts left as well but are out of ground pork and pork chops. We’ll be sending more hogs to the processor in early January, and then we’ll have all the cuts again.

    We’re well here. We’ve expanded our laying flock, but they’re not laying much yet. We expect they’ll kick in during the spring when 300 of our birds are old enough to lay and when the senior hens are inspired by the longer days. We’re actually thinking of getting another bunch of chicks this month. Thanks again to our friends and customers who helped us prepare a brooder that can help keep those babies warm in the coldest of weather.

    E-mail or call us to let us know if you’d like some meat for the holidays or just for everyday good eating!