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GrassRoots Meats Newsletter  May 2016

Getting Ready for the Irrigation Water 

The weather has been a bit crazy this past month. I took these pictures on my way to Pagosa Springs two weeks ago, and on this past Friday it was raining, sleeting, snowing, and hailing in Pagosa, while at the ranch in Arboles we barely had a drop of rain. That being said, we have been getting a fair amount of rain at the ranch and the grass is looking very healthy.

Allan and crew have been busy getting the irrigation ditches cleaned out and ready for the water, which has already been turned on. He even had me harrowing the pastures, which I actually enjoyed doing. It's a simple job of just dragging the harrow behind a vehicle, breaking up all the manure piles and fertilizing the grass - as opposed to spreading costly fertilizer over the fields. While chemical fertilizers can actually do damage to the fields, manure is a perfectly balanced amendment that in every way enhances and in no way destroys. 

Dry Ice Maker

As many of you in our hotter areas are aware, there are times when getting your meat to you still completely frozen is challenging, to say the least. We can only get dry ice in Pagosa from Memorial Day till hunting season is over, but there are months in between when it is already hot in the areas to which we are shipping. 

However, I recently began working with a company, Polar Tech, that makes a device that when attached to a CO2 tank creates dry ice. We have been testing it out and while we still have a few kinks to work out, it looks like we have a wonderful solution to our problem. We can relax a little more, and you can look forward to meat arriving still frozen. Please know that we could still have a little defrost in the boxes during the hottest time of the year, but it is absolutely safe to refreeze the meat.

We would really appreciate your help over the next few months. Would you please let us know if there are any traces of dry ice left in your box of meat, and/or any defrost? What we hope to hear is that all is well, but your feedback will help us to improve the system and gauge the amount of ice needed for each box. Thank you SO much.

Farm Fresh Eggs 

You might remember me telling you about the movable hen house Allan was creating from an old fifth wheel camper. Well, it is now out in the pasture and working beautifully. All the feed is stored on the "back porch," with an entry door into the house. The chickens lay their eggs in boxes that we can access via doors from the outside. It is a great system, and a tribute to Allan's incredible ingenuity. We are getting about 4 dozen eggs a day right now so if any of you local folks are interested in organic pastured eggs please give us a call to get on the list. The eggs are $5 per dozen.

New Solar System

Allan and I had some IRA mutual funds that we were getting tired of losing money on, so we decided to cash them in and go solar on the ranch - something that is certain to yield a positive return. Jonathan Dobson, of Dobson Solar out of Pagosa Springs, did all the work - in a very professional manner, I might add. It has been creating electricity for about a week now and we are very excited about being a little less dependent on "The System." It has three inverters and if the grid ever does go down we will still be able to divert the power to the house and bypass the grid, powering up everything as long as the sun is shining. It's a good system and we look forward to many years of "free" electricity.

Fruit Trees in Bloom

The orchard is in full bloom and we are hoping we might get some fruit this year. The trees are very young but looking quite healthy, so we are expecting one of these years to be putting up lots of fruit. 

We have two cherries, a few apples, a peach, and lots of chokecherries.

In the greenhouse I am going to plant some dwarf apricot trees.

Our Grandson Teeg with Gabe, Our Anatolian "Pup"

Hard to believe he is a guard dog. He is amazing with the kids, yet goes into action when predators try to invade his territory. Love this dog!
Sprouted Wheat Bread 
Last month I wrote about making artisan bread and I wanted to update you on my progress. I am working on sprouted wheat sour dough artisan bread, with pretty good results. It is more challenging but much more nutritious than using processed flour.

I soak about a cup and a half of wheat seeds in water for at least a day, drain them, and let them set in a lightly covered bowl, rinsing twice a day, until they have a nice quarter inch sprout. This can take a few days. Once sprouted I put them in my Vita Mixer with enough water to keep the mixer from bogging down, and process them until I have a nice, thick batter. I use about two cups of this mix and add flour (at least a cup, maybe more), as well as a quarter cup of sour dough starter, and two teaspoons of salt. I gauge the amount of flour by adding enough to get a very soft dough - not enough to be able to shape it yet. 

I set this all aside for 8 to 18 hours, depending on how sour I want the bread to be, then I toss the dough onto a floured bread board and add enough flour to be able to create a soft loaf. Place in a bowl lined with parchment paper, cover, and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat a dutch oven in a 425 degree oven for a half hour. Place the parchment loaf in the pan and bake covered for a half hour. Take the lid off and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

This is a fairly moist bread and heavier in texture than the standard sour dough artisan loaf, but absolutely delicious. If you try it let me know how it comes out.

May Specials
In honor of Mother's Day take your choice of any of the following:
  • 5 pounds Loin Chops for $80
    - a $95 value
  • 5 pounds Lamb Kabob for $63
    - a $70 value
  • 5 pounds Beef Chuck Roast for $35
    - a $45 value
  • 5 pounds of Beef New York Steaks for $80
    - a $100 value
  • 5 pounds of Beef Chuck Eye Steak for $40
    - a $45 value
  • 5 pounds of Beef Bottom Round Steak for $40
    - a $45 value
  • 5 pounds of Beef Top Round Steak for $40
    - a $45 value
  • 5 pounds of Beef Liver for $20
    - a $25 value

And like always, if your order comes to $200 or more you will receive an additional 5% off these already discounted prices, and if it comes to $300 or more you will get 10% off.

In Closing . . .    

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there. While I worked full time for many years, juggling being a working mother and a housewife, I am reaping the rewards of all those years and have a much easier life now, something I am grateful for every day.

Keeping your family well nourished is a priority of every good mom, and we hope that in some small way we are helping to make that job a little easier. God bless each and every one of you incredible mothers, and thanks for all you do.
Lois & Allan

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