Our Priorities
  • Provide our community with healthy, organic food.
  • Use nature's ways to care for our animals and crops.
  • Contribute to a greener tomorrow.
  • Support those who want to grow healthy food.
Our Mission
To provide healthy food to our community in a way that also fosters positive growth within our community both for the earth and the people.
Our Promise
  • Feed our animals organic feed only.
  • Maintain the health of our pastures and keep them free from chemicals (organic)
  • Treat our animals with dignity and provide as natural an environment as possible.

Would love it if you join us for a dinner of fantastic food, fine wine and good people like yourselves.

Ray’s Boathouse is having a farm dinner each month this year.  The month they have graciously set aside for us is June – the third to be exact.  We are looking forward to this fun night out.  We are not sure what our role will be, but we will be glad to be there with people who like to know where their food comes from.  It is always an honor to have our food at Ray’s and this is an extra special honor for us.  Please join us if you can.

The menu will be :

Poached chicken egg – yakima asparagus and black sheep creamery pecorini

Grilled duck heart and liver – caramelized onions and balsamic aioli

Red Wine Braised Chicken – saffron onions, apricots, italin couscous

Slow roasted duck – wild rice fritters, cherries, rose reduction

Roasted Apricot tart- almond frangipane and cardamom ice cream

$60 per guest (beverages, tax, and gratuity not included)

For more information about Ray’s special events, visit

www.rays.com/events

Finally!  I have been trying to write about events in our life that make me smile.  I mean literally stop what I am doing and smile from my heart.  Yesterday the third thing happened, so now I can write about it.  For some reason, I needed to have three examples of where our smiles come from on the farm.

The first thing – it happens several times per week.  The chickens (broilers) must be moved between pens.  I went out to check with Jerry about something; he didn’t see me.  He and Jon were bent over trying to convince the chickens to go in the direction of their new pen.  Because they don’t want to stress the chickens, they open the doors of both the old and new pens to allow the chickens to walk from one pen to another.  As you can imagine this could take all day and more likely many weeks to wait for the the chickens to decide they like the new pen.  We don’t have that kind of time, because we use the aisle to do all our chores.  So here the guys are bent over (chickens are pretty low to the ground), side be side, rattling empty plastic bags the shavings (bedding) comes in behind groups of birds.   These big strong men, who are use to throwing bales of hay and lugging buckets of feed and water, being so gentle to and ignoring their own discomfort for the comfort of  the chickens warmed my heart and made me break out in a huge grin.

The second thing that happened was on a day my granddaughter was visiting.  Every time she comes to visit, I have her help Jerry or me with something.  She always drags her feet because she would rather be visiting the chicks or reading or doing art.  Sometimes she helps Jerry wash and box eggs.  Sometimes she helps me package up chicken.  I love working with her because even though she is ready to quit long before any adult, she always jumps into any task with both feet – and hands – and heart.   Well, she is getting taller so I had her wash dishes in the processing room.  Just before she plunged her hands in the water, she looked at me with a broad smile  and said, “I think I got the best job ever, because I just love suds!”  Her joy was infectious.

The third thing just happened yesterday – like I said.  Daylight savings time.  We didn’t pay attention, and left the house for the farmers markets over 1/2 hour late.  Already stressed we turn onto the main road by our house/farm, and I start talking aloud about how could we have missed the time change.  Jerry replies by saying, “Is that elk?”  I search for the elusive animal that we have been hoping to find around our place for the last 30 + years we have lived here.  One time – probably 20 years ago I reported that I saw elk way off in the distance at the same location on the grassy plain, but was convinced that I mistook deer for elk.  I was willing to believe that because I am not a long time game “ofcionado” like my husband.  I look out in the field and then finally scan the road closer to us.  Yes, it is elk – at least two on our side of the road and one on the other.  All are off the road, but one is trying to cross to our side.  We are silent as we pass them due to being awestruck and afraid the animal could dart towards the truck any moment.  As soon as the magnificence and the fear are gone, Jerry lets out a huge, “WAHOO!”  That’s all I need to feel that joy in my heart again that cannot help but come out in a gigantic smile.

May we all find where at least three of our heartfelt smiles come from. :)

Wedding

You may already know that our daughter (Jolene) is marrying a wonderful man (Jayson) during the last weekend of February.  Thank you for  all your best wishes and congratulations!Because the people who help us at the market will be at the wedding, no one will be available to sell you that weekend.  We will be able to make our Wednesday deliveries, though.

Butchering Class

We have been thinking hard about have a class on butchering poultry.  We have finally come up with a date.  If at least 6 people can attend, we will have it.

Butchering Poultry 101 – Monday (our only day off) March 29th                                                                                                                        10:00 am to 2:00 pm

You will learn how to weigh a live chicken and determine final dressed weight.  You will have the opportunity to perform the kill, scald, pluck, and gutting by hand.  You will learn a few different techniques to accomplish the same things, and will able to re-create this at your own farm/home without fancy/expensive equipment. You will learn how to care for the carcass for maximum tenderness and taste.

- provide your own food

- wear clothes that can get dirty and bloody (I use rain gear) – you will be outside the whole time

- bring a cooler with ice for the one chicken’s (that you slaughter) ride home

- email us your desire to participate and then send a deposit – 1/2 of tuition

Class is restricted.  6 -12 participants.

Tuition – $60 per person

Yes, this blog is going to be about new items we are or will be offering.  It is total marketing, so if you hate commercials feel free not to read this one.

We are excited that things have become routine enough on the farm that we can start making changes.  We have been able to streamline our processing, packing area and our feeding and watering routines.  Now we are looking at what else we can offer our customers, so you have more variety from which to choose.

Some of you may know that we have added Organic Chicken Sausage to our list of products we sell at the farmers’ markets.  We have four flavors:

Sage & Garlic            Maple            Sweet Italian            Hot Italian

We are planning on having samples of these sausages  for you at the Ballard Farmers Market this Sunday (Jan 17th).

Even more exciting news is that we have gotten permission from the health department to bring our chicken fresh to 2 of the markets:  U District on Saturday and Ballard on Sunday.  If all goes well, we will have some fresh chicken at both those markets this weekend, as well.

But that’s not all!   We have ducklings!  They are 2 weeks old, and by our calculations, they will be ready for harvest around the beginning of March.  Keep in mind though that this is the first time we have raised these kind of ducks – Peking.  Our current idea is to have duck available once a month.

Of course, we still bring beef when we have it, but we are really looking forward to pork!  Jerry is meticulously reviewing every add in Craig’s List and The Capital Press to find the perfect pigs from farmers who care for them as we would.  We prefer organic, but at minimum they must be allowed on the earth with natural surroundings.   Once we get them, they will receive only organic feed and have a good amount of wooded area in which to root around.  We are looking into a couple of different breeds, but availability and conformation of the individual pig will be the deciding factors.

Oh ya, rabbits!  Jerry is still determined to make rabbits happen this year as well.  Notice, I said year.  Given all the changes we are making, it is difficult to determine when this will happen, but know that we are still planning on going forward with this project.  I even heard Jerry talking about rabbit pens the other day, so I know it is getting closer!

To sum up:  we still have chicken, beef, and eggs, and we have added chicken sausage, and fresh chicken.  We are still planning on adding duck, pork and rabbit this year.  How exciting this year is becoming here on our small farm!  Can’t even imagine what next year will be like!

Hope you had/are having a good holiday.  I was raised to say, “Merry Christmas” because everyone else around me did.  There are many celebrations/traditions this time of year.  I will not show my ignorance by trying to list them all, because I do not want to leave anyone out.   But if I had to choose a holiday that I truly rejoice over, it would be The Winter Solstice.  As a farmer, you live by daylight.  (Tip:  If you really want to contact a farmer-call after dark.  But not too long after dark s/he will be asleep.  Farmers can’t sit still very long without snoring and drooling.)

The whole concept of telling time is not really important to us.  (Farmers Markets are probably the one exception.)  We prefer to get up just before light and go to bed shortly after our world goes dark.  In the winter though there is just not enough daylight hours to do everything.  Of course those of us who milk usually milk by the clock in order to provide year-round milk etc. to you.  Like our dedicated milking friends, many of us are determined to get as much work done in the winter as summer, so we hook up all kinds of lighting around our animals and buildings so we can do more. So when Mother Nature starts to give us more light (which is always better than electricity), we simply are thrilled and use every second of it.

Today I had a most lovely start of the day.  I got up early (4:30) to prepare for the market as usual.  The exception was that Jerry is doing the University District Farmers Market for me today.  I am going to visit my siblings and their families for the day. (Holiday – you know!)   I decided to feed the chicks to help our helpers out, before I settled into getting myself ready.  I walked into the chick area while it was still night.  They have lots of light because we use lights to keep them warm even in the summer.  I had a fun time with the little peepers:  shooing, and watering, and feeding, and spreading bedding.  When I walked out it was dawn!  How wonderful!

Dawn is my favorite part of the day.  If you sit ever so still you can witness predictable events.   After the poultry all stop their cooing and the hens all say hello to each other,  the fog starts to clear, then a few animals begin talking and walking around.  Soon wild birds are flitting about, and the sun is shining full-on (when the clouds are gone).

I just sat on the porch and watched and listened.  I was so warm from being in the chick house, that I stayed for 15 minutes before I  noticed the freezing weather.  Eventually our last worker showed up and I had no more excuses for sitting and needed to get on with my day.  For those few minutes I sent thanks to Mother Nature/ God/ Goddess/Whom or whatever for those extra minutes of daylight that I could enjoy.  It makes me happy to know that tomorrow there will be a few more minutes of daylight, and the next day a few more, and the next day a few more, etc.   I will enjoy every minute!  Hope you get a chance to enjoy them, too.

Happy Belated Solstice!  If you didn’t do the Happy Dance yet, I hope you do it soon.

Almost all the turkeys are delivered (just a few more people will meet me on my Wednesday delivery or pick up from our farm), and I slept for 10 hours last night.  Now I can really think about what Thanksgiving is really about.

Hopefully most people think about family and friends (or friends that have become family) when they think about Thanksgiving.  I know I sure do.  We are so fortunate to have the most wonderful children who support everything we do, even though sometimes it means we cannot come to every family get together.  We have been blessed with wonderful volunteers who work with us without complaint.  (Janet hope you are home with your family and enjoying this Thanksgiving!  We miss you.)  Some of you met Laura on Sunday at West Seattle.  She worked for us there (what a blessing she is), while Jerry helped Janelle at Ballard.  It was a busy day handing out turkeys.

What really amazes me is how quickly working at the markets has made me thankful for our customers.  Some of you buy our chicken almost every week.  Some of you make sure to tell me when you are going on vacation, so I don’t worry about you.  Some of you introduce me to your family when they come for a visit. (Megan hope the delivery was easy and quick and you are now holding your new baby while s/he sleeps)  You have quickly become part of my family, too.  Thanks for listening to my silly stories and welcoming my family (daughters and Wwoofers) to our booth.  I get cold and hungry and tired when I work the markets.  I think it’s harder than working in the fields all day, because I have to stay in a small area and not move so much.  But, when I get to talk to customers,  see the same customer almost every week (even if we don’t talk), or meet someone new who has decided to eat only locally grown meat that has been grown responsibly,  I am filled with gratitude.  I am so grateful to know so many people who care.  They care about how animals are treated.  They care about how the earth is cared for.  Most importantly, they care about each other.

To help explain how important you are to us, I have to tell you a story (that’s what I do best).

When I started selling at the markets and meeting customers, I was surprised at the questions I was asked.

How do you roast a chicken?

How do you cut up a chicken?

How do you defrost a chicken?

I must admit, I became frustrated with the lack of knowledge.  I really wanted everyone to cut up and cook their own chicken!  I was determined to change people to utilize a whole chicken, so I did not cut up chicken.

I told Jerry, “They can just learn how to cut up their own chicken.  They need to do it for themselves.”

I soon came to understand that everyone is at a different level of knowledge about cooking- no matter how young or old.  I then (especially after last winter) began to admire my customers’ determination to buy good food when I watched them week after week come to the markets in spite of  harsh weather and prices that are higher than unhealthy food prices. They never complained – sometimes they would move more quickly because the rain or snow was blowing sideways- but they never complained.

Now I am cutting up many chickens a week and also talking to customers about making things like stock and pate.  I have even started making chicken sausage (my version of convenience food)  for my customers – because I love/admire you so much.

THANK YOU!

Fall is here, and with that comes changes.  One of our WWOOFers (Jack) is moving on today.  He will be missed.  While he has been here, he shared his talents for repairing equipment, baking (especially appreciated his shortbread – thanks Mom!) and practical jokes.  We wish him well on his new adventure.

Turkeys are getting bigger and our list of people who want them is much longer than the number of turkeys we have.  We will take orders for next year AFTER Thanksgiving.  It’s too confusing to keep track of this year and next year at the same time.

Jerry just put in the order for new laying hens.  As always, we are not satisfied with staying with the norm.  Constantly looking to improve what we have; we are going to try a new breed.  I know that I’m suppose to now tell you what that new breed is.  Well, I would if I could, but I don’t remember what Jerry told me and he isn’t available right now.  Rest assured I will know the new breed by the time their eggs reach our markets (some time in June).

In January we will get our first batch of ducks.  It is especially exciting for us because we have NEVER raised ducks before.  Since the early ’70s when we first met and started raising our own food, we have raised many animals – especially foul.  We always thought ducks would be messy or too hard, but encouragement from fellow farmers and lots of reminders from chefs has persuaded us to dive into raising ducks as well.  You might be able to find them at the markets or at a restaurant by early April if all goes well.  We will keep you posted.

Have you found our chicken sausage at the markets yet?  Yes, it is finally happening and it is yummy!  Our Sage & Garlic is the same recipe that I started with years ago.  We eat that or the new Maple breakfast sausage every morning here on the farm.  I especially like the ease of cooking it.  I just drop a few patties directly from the freezer into the hot cast iron pan.  It’s the closest thing I’ve come to making convenience food.  The Hot Italian and Sweet Italian we use for quick meals like spaghetti or S.O.S.  – I have discovered I love the taste of fennel, so you can definitely taste it in the sausage.  It’s great to have people returning to buy more sausage.  We will do our best to keep a steady supply, I know what it’s like to run out and that’s no fun.  It doesn’t happen often, but there have been a few mornings of stumbling around trying to make the eggs look extra big or desperately pulling out a steak and frying it (grill is too complicated for mornings), and always being disappointed that it doesn’t taste like sausage!

Have a wonderful fall, and thanks again for caring about how you spend your food dollars.  Every time you spend money, you are making a statement about how you want our future to be.  A dollar spent on organic, local food is paving our path towards a healthier planet.  Thank you!

I just happened upon an article about how Tyson is revamping  Ghana’s local poultry industry.  It got me to thinking.

At our farm we believe in using every part possible of the chicken.  That is the ultimate way we show respect to our animals by not wasting any nutrients they provide us.  We, of course, use the meat – whole, breasts, legs, wings -  (as our customers know), but we also try very hard to ensure the other parts are used as well.

We routinely bring backs, bones, hearts, livers,  necks, and feet to the farmers markets with us, and make those available to our chefs as well.  (In fact, I was very happy yesterday when we actually brought all the livers to chefs that we harvested on Tuesday, and not one liver was left to freeze.  That means no possibility of them getting old and having to compost them later.)  We will bring gizzards to our customers if they submit a special order for them.  They are just too hard to process to bring them routinely and have no one buy them.   Because we still have left over parts, currently we are working on developing a market for pet food.

At times we have too many bones and backs which comes from providing the chicken parts that our some of our customers appreciate.  (I’m hoping to provide  stock in the future.)  We also have gizzards which we having been selling whole, thus providing the pets with grains as well as meat.   The extra feet, heads, and birds that do not meet our standard for human consumption are saved for pets as well.  All of these tactics help to reduce the amount of parts that end up in our compost.

The compost is the last place we want to put any part of the bird, but when all other options have been considered and not found suitable,  we will.  At least when the chicken remainders end up there, we know that the nutrients the chicken has provided will still be reused.  We will either use the compost on the pastures or sell it to someone who will use it on their garden.

We are happy with the cycle we have created here on our small farm.  That’s one of the reasons we call ourselves sustainable.

Site I found the article at:

www.meatpaper.com/articles/2008/0620_wollan.html

10-1-09

WOW!  What a day yesterday was!  It started at 5 a.m.; I hurried out to the processing room to start working on packaging up orders for the restaurants, while Jerry started breakfast for the volunteers (we eat big breakfasts because you never know when the next meal will be).  I came in while breakfast was being prepared and announced that the scale had died and retrieved a hair dryer from the bathrrom.  Jerry left before he could eat breakfast to go to the butcher shop (45 minutes away) to pick up 3 beeves.  (That means beef at the farmers markets again – yahoo!)  As Jerry drove to and from the butcher shop we kept in phone contact brainstorming how to work around the scale situation and where to put all the meat (freezer space was limited).   Things like estimating weights, using the bathroom scales,  using the field scale (too unreliable), and having Jerry stop by a kitchen supply store to buy a new one were considered.  Things like keeping some meat in the refrigerator or composting some of the pet scraps that we are saving were kicked around.  During this time, I was training a new person (Seneca) on how to prepare the meat for packaging (only her second time in the processing room), preparing labels, trying to fix the scale with a screwdriver and a hair dryer, and creating invoices.  Finally they can no longer find anything else to do other than start weighing meat again.  I walk up to the scale to turn it on and say,  “Come on.  Work.  We need a miracle here.”   And it worked!  We rush to finish readying the restaurant orders.  Jerry gets home to unload the beef (with help from Jack) while he cooks his breakfast.  As soon as they finish that, Jerry hurries to the post office to pick up the chicks while Jack shovels out old bedding in preparation for the new chicks.  While Jerry is gone, Janelle and Seneca load the orders and get them into the truck (again with Jack’s help).  Jerry gets home in time to tie down the load while I finish making a sandwich (which we share on the ride to Seattle) and make the invoices.  Finally we are off, and only 2 and 1/2 hours late.  (Keep in mind that while all this is going on Jon, Laura, and Janet are feeding, watering, and moving birds.)  I quickly call the people at the special stops we had planned to let them know that the time planned for delivery has changed.  They are all wonderful and understanding.  This is the first time in probably about a year that we (Jerry and Janelle) have both done deliveries.  This part goes well.  Jerry gets to meet some new customers and chat with the old ones.  We get to the final stop: a home owner that is purchasing the entire beef.  All goes well there until… the truck won’t start.  Just one click per turn of the key.  Not looking good.  After a cursory jump and banging the starter with a hammer, our mechanic Mike from Mike’s Auto in Lacey, explains to Jerry how to work some magic (I think he said something about stealing cars) to get it started and we are off.  Of course we can’t stop the engine, so we take turns sitting in the truck while the other runs into Marlenes’ (great health food/grocery store if you haven’t tried it – one in Tacoma and one in Federal Way) and uses the bathroom and orders food from the deli.  We arrive home around 6 p.m.  Jerry hurries off to the pastures to pull feed from birds that will processed the next day, and I head off to the processing room to finish what Seneca did not have time or labels to do.  Jerry gets back, and we need to have a meeting with all the volunteers.  We do that – the most fun part of the day.  I head out to the processing room, and Laura offers to help (how wonderful).  By 9 p.m. we are finished and I head off to bed.  Not bad for such a busy day.

What a day!  Thank goodness that we survived it with no serious consequences to our animals, people we work with, or our bottomline (after all we have pay bills to be able to continue bringing our products to people who care).  This is what we call a good day.  A good day is when unexpected things happen, but everything works out fine.   Today we will bring the truck to the shop and I will finish the processing we didn’t have time to do last night, and we will start the routine over.  Life is good.

9-17-09

WAHOOOO!  We now have a website!!  Thanks to Francis Maile and his wife Jennifer (customers/now friends).  She came up with the idea and put the wheels into motion.  He has been great to work with and made it so easy for me.   He took  info he found on the internet about us and put it on this site for me, now it’s my responsibility to update it.  Sooo, I guess I’m saying that because, I want you to know that you will be seeing improvements to our site for some time to come.  As the days get shorter, I will be able to spend more time indoors at the computer, and the site will look better then.

In the meantime, I just want to say thank you to all those people visiting this site.  It probably means that you are a customer or are thinking of becoming a customer.  Either way, you are someone who is concerned about health of yourself (family) and/or our planet and are willing to invest your time to find it.

Be looking for chicken sausage soon – keep in mind farmer time is different than other people’s time.  It’s kind of like dog years.   So, I can’t give you an exact time, but it will seem soon to me.

Jerry and Janelle Stokesberry - Owners
Jerry and Janelle Stokesberry   Owners
chicks

Environmentally friendly farming of chicken and turkey.