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Haelen Farm – Spring 2012 Newsletter

February 21, 2012

Dear Friends and Patrons,

We ended last year weary and ready for rest and now find ourselves invigorated and getting prepared for the coming season.  I mentioned to a friend that I was preparing my farm calendar (planning when chicks arrive, processing days, etc) and he mentioned he had never heard of a farm calendar.  I can’t boast since I hadn’t either not so long ago, but it reminds me of how much goes into producing great food.  It doesn’t just happen, it takes planning, diligence, and a little savvy and elbow grease.

I just finished watching a new documentary called “Fresh” ( and commented to my wife that it reminded me vividly of why we are doing this farming thing.  The final line in the file is something like “Food is the basis, but really it’s about life”.  I’ll be the first to say that there is a lot more to life than food, or even simply being alive, but the comment strikes at the core of the clean food movement.  We live life in our bodies and whatever we do is affected by them. We were given food to sustain and nourish our bodies, so that we can use them to accomplish our life work.  It seems the ultimate mockery when the food we ingest is not only unable to nourish us, but in many cases is working against us.  Real food should be common, an afterthought to the broader vision.  Perhaps we can move against the flow of our culture and correct our perspective to see fresh, wholesome food as normal again.

This is a big season for Haelen Farm as we expand existing areas and experiment with new ones.

  • Pastured Eggs – We are rapidly expanding our egg flock.  We learned the ropes with a flock of 25, expanded to 75, then learned some tough lessons and found ourselves back in the 50’s. 100 Black Astralorps will begin laying in March, bringing us to 150+, which will double next fall with the addition of another 150 Barred Rocks.  Farm fresh, pastured eggs are delicious, nutritious, and a staple to your daily diet.  Here is an article from Mother Earth News doing some comparisons if you would like some additional information:
  • Pastured Chicken – We will get our first Cornish Cross chicks in March to take advantage of the early spring grass.  I am building a second “chicken tractor” to expand the fleet moving across the field, giving fresh grass to the chickens as they grow and keeping them moving away from the soiled grass.  I’ve been eating my chicken for the last year now and it has become “common” to me, just the way that chicken is supposed to taste!  Sometimes, though, I pause to enjoy the flavor of the broth or the tenderness of the meat and appreciate the difference.
  • Pastured Pork – We raised two pigs last year and put one in our own freezer.  This was a first for us and it really surprised me.  We have traditionally avoided commercial pork more than most other meats due to quality issues.  Seeing pork in our house was unusual, but it is now common and I can’t go back.  The flavor, tenderness, even aroma of the pork sausage, pork chops, roasts, and BBQ has opened up my horizons.  We are expanding our initial pilot to include a few more pigs and a pastured environment (sadly lacking in our efforts last year).  Availability will be limited unless pre-ordered early in the season.  Let us know if you are interested.
  • Pastured Beef – As a side project, we plan to get at least one calf for our personal beef supply, but it will be the start of a new species on the farm and will contribute to the bio-diversity and overall health of our operations.

A major obstacle to eating seasonally from the farm is the necessity to store food for more than a week.  Many of us have grown accustomed to picking up a chicken at the store the same week we are going to cook it.  Commercial poultry producers run year round and modern grocery stores constantly cycle through product, making fresh, if vitally deficient, chicken a convenience item.  Real life on the farm is not so convenient, highlighting the trade off between quantity vs. quality.  Farm fresh food is available in cycles and requires a different perspective.  My wife and I got our first chest freezer the year we were married.  Last year we purchased a large upright to go with it and packed them both tight.  It has been a good winter of chicken, pork, and a little venison, thawed and cooked as required.  I often tell my kids that they can’t buy the food we eat anywhere (which is also to highlight the quality of the cooking!).  Just like seasons of old, we store up the produce of the summer to eat over the winter, until the green of spring brings new life.  Mostly this required some commitment and planning, but is well within the reach of most and ultimately very rewarding.

We are excited about the coming year and look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  Please keep us informed with feedback and input as to how we can serve your needs better.

God Bless,

Haelen Farm

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lanlan permalink
    February 22, 2012 10:04 am

    You are making big progress! I wish my research will keep moving forward in the same pace!

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