Monday, December 10, 2012

A Month of Sunday Dinners

We have a lot of customers who ask for recipe and meal suggestions using our meat cuts....cuts they may be somewhat unfamiliar with as we have a somewhat old fashioned butcher who believes that 'hearty' is the best  description for a shoulder or ham roast. Thus, some cuts may be less 'trimmed' than the commercial pork you see in the supermarket. Now the issue of whether animal fat is good for you or not, is still being debated in health circles. It would seem to me that the human body does require some fat and better it comes from an organic pig than from GMO modified soybeans or canola. We render our extra pork fat to make lard which I use for baking and for making pan-fries or pancakes or eggs. Tasty!

Now to the month of Sunday dinners.  This months packages included;
One chicken
Organic pork ribs
Organic pork shoulder roast
Organic pork chops
Organic lamb sausage
Organic leg of lamb roast

Here's what I have prepared with our package (We use the same one for our own menu, so I can try out the various cuts in different recipes.)

Roast chicken: thaw and rinse chicken. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with generous amounts of chopped rosemary, thyme and oregano. Roast at 350 till done. Alternatively, sprinkle with Montreal Steak Spice which makes a nice peppery skin.  Serve with favorite side dishes.

Chicken soup:  break apart left over chicken carcass. Cover with cold water. Add some chopped onion and carrot. Simmer for two hours. Remove carcass, keep left over bits of meat, return to pot. I add a box of organic chicken stock at this point for more volume.  Add finely chopped vegetables, rice, potatoes or noodles and season to taste. Delicious chicken soup!

Organic Pork Shoulder Roast:   thaw roast overnight and if cooking in crock pot, set on medium, add meat, seasoned with salt and pepper and a cup of water. Cook until pull apart tender. Remove roast, shred meat. Cover with BBQ sauce of choice and reheat. Pile on buns or serve with favourite side dishes. Instead of a crock pot, use oven and cover roast in a pan and cook until very tender (approx 3 hours at 350.00). Shred and mix with BBQ sauce.  A delicious easy to prepare supper if you serve it on crusty rolls with coleslaw or a salad.

Organic Pork Chops:  my favourite quick way to do chops is to thaw them overnight and layer them with bottled saurkraut in a covered roasting dish and bake them in the oven for approx 90 minutes. Absolutely tender meat and easy to serve with the saurkraut, a baked potato and a salad or vegetables.  Alternatively, you can put them on the BBQ or grill in a pan on the stovetop. I usually season them with rosemary and thyme. Tom prefers them sprinkled with Montreal Steak Spice. After grilling or frying, you can also slice into thin strips, stir fry some green, red and yellow peppers and onions, season to taste with Tex Mex spices, add the meat, pile generously into tortillas and serve with guacamole and black beans.  You can also use your pork shoulder roast the same way.  The key to tender pork for burritos or fajitas is to cook the chops or roast until very tender and then slice or shred to add to the dish. If you cook small bits of raw pork they get tough!

Leg of Lamb:  Nothing simpler!  Thaw lamb and take sharp knife and remove thin transparent 'fell' from the meat. It comes right off if you insert a sharp knife blade and just slide it along the surface of the roast. If you don't want to do that, just cook it as is.  I marinate the leg with olive oil and rosemary and thyme, oregano and minced garlic.  If you haven't planned that far ahead, season with salt and pepper.  Roast, uncovered in a 350 oven until done. (about 20 minutes per lb).  I add about half a cup of water to the pan so the drippings don't burn. Remove roast and set aside under foil while you add a cup of water and half a cup of red wine (if available) to the juices and simmer, stirring the pan to loosen the drippings. MJix a forkful of flour into a half cup of cold water and stir until smooth. Add slowly to the pan (while drippings are bubbling) stirring to mix in smoothly. When mixture is as thick as desired, simmer for one minute and strain if neccessary. Slice roast, plate and ladle gravy over meat.  Serve with mashed potatoes or rice or couscous or your favorites.

Morrocan Lamb Stew:  if there is any lamb remaining after your roast lamb dinner, you can have roast lamb sandwiches, or if there is a lot left, I usually make a quick Morrocan lamb stew. Remove meat from lamb bone and cube. If you are particularly thrifty, put bone in cold water, chop in an onion and couple of cloves of garlic and set it to simmer.  For the stew:  Chop one onion, one carrot and two cloves of garlic and saute in saucepan in whichever oil or lard you prefer. Add half a level teaspoon of the following: cinamon, cumin, turmeric, ground ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, alspice and cardamom. Add one eight teaspoon of cayenne, cloves, ground corriander. Mix well into onions and garlic. Add cubed lamb, one can of drained chickpeas and one can of stewed tomatoes.  Simmer all for half an hour to an hour. Serve over rice or couscous or quinoi.

Now back to the lamb bone. Once you have a nice lamby broth, remove bone, trim any left over meat and return to the pot. Peel and dice two or three large potatoes, three or four carrots and add to the pot. Cook until tender. Use immersion blender or put into blender or food mill and whirl until smoothish. some chunks remaining are okay. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Organic Lamb Sausages: grill or fry as is. (Put a little water in the saucepan and a lid until sausage is almost done, then remove lid and fry until brown on outside or slice up (frozen) and add to stir fry.

Organic Pork Ribs:  Thaw,  lay flat in roasting pan, add 1 cup water and bake until tender (approx 1.5 hours) Cover with your favorite BBQ sauce, return to pan for an additional 40 minutes. Alternatively, a quick way to make ribs in the crock pot is to thaw, add a jar of your favorite pasta sauce and let the whole thing cook at medium until ribs are tender. Or you can make your own mixture of tomatoes and herbs and spices and add that to the crock pot.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gift Certificates for Christmas

Yes, you can now order  gift certificates for any amount between 20.00 and 500.00!!!  The perfect gift for your health and food conscious friends or family. Certificates can be redeemed at any time by the recipient...all at once or over a period of time. (perfect for those with small freezers). Recipient can choose any cuts or meat variety they wish.  email us at or call 1 613 649 0239.
We will send you (or directly to the recipient if you wish) a lovely card with the certificate included.

and more of us on CTV

Donegal Heritage Farm 2 - YouTube

Our farm on CTV

Donegal Heritage Farm 1 - YouTube
Donegal Heritage Farm 3 - YouTube

Monday, October 1, 2012

and the chickens

Piggies enjoying their fresh grass

Grass-fed on organic pastures

Despite the drought this summer, our use of rotational grazing has kept the sheep happy in fresh grass. The chickens and pigs also thrive on being outdoors although both chickens and pigs are also fed organic grain from Homestead Organics. These organic grains are completely free of pesticide residue and are not genetically modified.
Needless to say, the drought has pushed up grain prices so our feed is much more expensive than it was at the beginning of the summer.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Organically raised roasting chickens

Our delicious grain and grass fed roasters are ready for delivery on September 25. price is 5.45 per lb and birds range from 5-8 lbs. Call or email now to reserve your birds. We are delivering in the Ottawa area on Tuesday Sept 25. 613 649 0239 or

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How to order our lamb, pork, chicken or eggs

Our organic lamb, pork and chicken is freshly frozen and ready for your freezer. Or just thaw and prepare in your favorite recipes. You can call us at 613 649 0239 to order. You can email us at with questions or an order. We are at the Pembroke Farmers Market until Thanksgiving. (no market attendance on sept 22 because of family wedding) We are members of the Ottawa Valley Food Co-op and you can order from us and other fine producers through the co-op. We deliver every two-three weeks in the Ottawa area so email and we will add you to our customer list. We'll deliver to your home or arrange to meet you in a central spot. You are welcome to arrange a farm visit or pick up by phoning or emailing us. We have NO minimum order!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Solomon, our lovely rooster gazes over his flock. He is a good tempered bird unlike many mature roosters who become evil and dangerous.

Tom's pasture chicken houses

We are pasturing our meat chickens in a new enclosure this summer and so far it is working well. The electric poultry netting hopefully deters predators like skunks, coons and foxes. The birds are fed their organic grain and are free to roam about eating insects and grass. When the patch gets bare, we move  the fence and they are back in fresh clover again.  After about three months, they should weight between six and eight pounds and are ready for the freezer. Completely organic. No GMO.s. No antibiotics. No medicated feed. Tastiest chicken ever.

Summer grazing in the sheep pastures

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Early July and the hayfields are brown and the corn and field crops are suffering in this drought. Most farmers did get a first cut of hay baled successfully but the second cut is just not happening. And the pastures are burnt and there'll be lots of cattle going to the salesbarn soon if we don't get some moisture.

Our hay is mostly down and three fields baled with the rest slated for the end of the week. The sheep are definitely benefitting from our new rotational grazing system. We move just over a mile of Electronet fencing every three to five days so they move between eight pastures.  Also has worked wonderfully for parasite control and no coyote losses (knock wood) so far. This morning we took our first four lambs to the abbatoir: always a sad occasion which I never get used to. Lambs had their revenge however. I was severely kicked in the eye by the horned ram we were trying to wrestle into the trailer. I've learned to keep my head away from the horns but this guy launched himself into space and his back leg caught me right in the eyebrow.

We have about 135 meat birds growing in the barn and ready to go to their pasture and another 100 baby chicks under the brooder light.  And six piggies, all black charmers, rooting around in the back pig field. Five more are arriving on Thursday.

And I've ordered a dozen new laying hens as our old girls are entering retirement. Tom shot a skunk last week who had figured out how to get into the run. Predator control is an ongoing challenge on the farm.

We are doing two weekly markets: Tom drops me and my freezer off in Pembroke by 7:30 on Saturday mornings and then he continues on to Killaloe with the second freezer. At one pm we do the reverse. And then at five pm, I go off to my part time job as a server at the Granary Restaurant. Helps pay the farm bills.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hola from Espagne

I've been enjoying the fabulous Manchego sheep cheese of Spain and missing my girls. Excited to get home on May 2 and see how the lambs have grown. And I'll be bringing a nice bottle of Rioja as thanks for Tom who kept the home fires burning while I've been away.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Welcome Spring!!

I've been enjoying the fabulous Manchego sheep cheese of Spain and missing my girls. Excited to get home on May 2 and see how the lambs have grown. And I'll be bringing a nice bottle of Rioja as thanks for Tom who kept the home fires burning while I've been away.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rejected lambs and Seedy Sunday

After an easy winter we've been lulled into believing spring is just around the corner. "Seedy Sunday" on March 4 is always a busy day with all the gardeners and food growers enthusiastically sharing and swapping and buying stuff for the upcoming season. Last year we had a huge blizzard. This year we had a cold snap! Minus 25 overnight. The chickens water line froze. The lambs are huddled to keep warm.

I went to the barn Sunday morning at 6:15 and all is calm and quiet. When I returned at 8 a.m all was mayhem. A ewe was lambing in a corner and angrily butting away other lambs who were curious to see what was going on. (she had chosen the corner with the heat lamp which is where the lambs usually gather overnight.) Then is see a tiny newborn lamb staggering around way out in the middle of the barn. Aha, here's her first lamb which has wandered off while she has her second. I catch the lamb and take it over to her, but she's doesn't greet it with any enthusiasm and the lamb immediately scrambles away. Two or three more times I return it, I put up a couple of temporary panels around her, but no luck with mom and lamb bonding.

Then suddenly it dawns on me. Maybe not her lamb. So I make the round of the barn in the dim morning light, examining tails for signs of recent parturition and yes, here is a young miss
who was round as a cotton puff yesterday and looks substantially thinner this morning. But she shows no interest in the lamb either. But I KNOW this is her child.

Fortunately Tom has just arrived in the barn as I have my hands full with tiny lamb, am busy fending off the bottle babies who are dancing around me, the cat who is twining herself around my ankles and the cacophony of bleating, clucking, meowing is deafening as I realize I have a headache from a too enthusiastic celebration of the successful completion of our first Writer's Workshop at Collaborations Retreat the previous evening.

Tom helps move a ewe out of a lambing pen and we catch young miss and install her with tiny lamb but she wants nothing to do with it. Then we find ANOTHER tiny lamb wandering around in the feed room. "Not my kids" young missy says. And backs it up by fervently bunting them out of the way. So I spend the next hour down on my knees, pinning missy in the corner and trying to get both both tiny lambs to nurse.

Repeated attempts eventually work and I know that if I can get them sucking, mom's oxytocin will kick in and she'll feel maternal. So with some trepidation, I leave the little family
alone while I go to seedy Sunday and to deliver eggs and when I return two hours later, all is domestic harmony. Just another Sunday on the farm!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Stacia enjoying the view out the dining room window. Little Bandito asleep in the hay. Favorite folk art rooster in the kitchen window.

Relaxing with Madonna's babies

Madonna is one of our original Navajo-Churro girls. She had two lovely white lambs this year but won't let me put coats on them so they often look chilly. That's good enough reason to bring them inside for a cuddle and to warm up by the stove. and maybe just a little bit of warm milk in a bottle in case they're feeling snackish. I had made a little plaid coat for this lamb, named Scotty, but his mother hates the plaid design and although i removed it promptly, she has never felt the same about poor little Scotty since. I had no idea she was such a fashionista. Luckily, auntie Nanette who has only one baby, has decided to allow Scotty to eat at her house. Sometimes it feels like life in a sheep soap opera. The drama, the hostilities, the greed, the baby snatching and pregancy intrigues. and always lots of mammary glands in sight.

afternoon sunshine on Family Day

Almost fifty lambs now and only 14 ewes left to lamb. Better luck lately (knocking on wood here) and although I delivered two earlier in the week, both with one foreleg turned under, mom and babies all did well. Warming up now in the afternoons with the sunshine in the barnyard and some days there's a whole lot of sheep lounging in the sunlight. It's their version of the Dominican Republic, complete with buffet hay feeders and lots of other young uns to keep the kids amused.

fashionable lamb coat

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lambing problems galore

We are seeing a great deal of our vet "Terrific Tony" these days. After he delivered Chopsy's sideways lambs, he was summoned again a few days later for a ewe who had two dead lambs, then for Nanette who had a twisted uterus. I've learned that sheep lamb fairly quickly so when I see a ewe moping about for a day and/or straining with no result for a couple of hours, it's time to get professional help.

It's easier here as we aren't as far off the beaten track and our vet is based in Cobden which is just a few miles up the road. So when Nanette continued to push and no lamb was forthcoming after an hour, I called Tony and he came right out. We had her in a lambing pen and he did the usual disinfectant and lubrication routine, reached in and said "we got a problem here!". I said something not printable. A twisted uterus occurs in cattle but Tony said he had never encountered it in a ewe. He decided to try to maneuvre things back into place and to deliver the lambs. The alternative would have been a Caesarean. I held Nanette's head while she bleated piteously as he worked inside her. A few moments and a live lamb emerged, dunked and thumped and laid on a towel. The second lamb was alive when it was born but took a few gasps and expired. We tried pumping its sides, trying to get a breath rhythm going but to no avail. Gave the live lamb to Nanette who immediately started licking it.

I was in the barn off and inn the rest of the day and evening as Nanette was still lying down and the lamb couldn't find the udder. So I got him on but he was too confused to drink. I milked her by hand into a jug and then put the milk in the bottle and fed baby a good long drink. By this morning ewe was up, lamb nursing and all is well.

BUT, while all this was going on, I noticed Nanette's sister also starting to mope around. When a sheep mopes, she stands with her head down, her ears drooping and pays no attention to hay and even grain. Tony had taken a quick look at her yesterday and pronounced her not yet
ready to lamb.

One of our problems this year is that some of our sheep are thin and not in excellent
condition. We couldn't milk this summer because we had to move farms so we left the lambs with the ewes for four months. We stopped feeding grain on the advice of an older shepherd who knows dairy ewes and said we would have to try to dry them up or we'd have mastitis problems. And because it wasn't a good grass year, the pastures weren't as lush at the end of the summer as they should have been. AND because we had the coyote problems, we had to limit their roaming to the large field AND because their wasn't as much grass, they also had to compete with my brothers cattle at times. All in all, the result is that some of the ewes are thinner than they should be and none of them were flushed for breeding.

When ewes are too thin and carrying twins, they can develop pregnancy toxemia which will kill them in short order. We've been feeding a pound of organic grain each and all the hay they can eat for months but it's hard for them to get back in condition which they are pregnant. I know now in hindsight, that dairy ewes HAVE to be milked and maintained as dairy stock. The equivalent would be to put high producing Holsteins out on grass with no grain and let them each keep their calf. You would have fabulous fat calves, just as we had fabulous growthy lambs, a cow with udder problems, thin and in no shape to be milked the following year.

So red 69, Nanette's sister, is one of the thinner girls because she raised two huge lambs last year. I gave her a milkshake of eggs and corn syrup intermittently throughout the day and she started brightening up. She started having some contractions but no lambs forthcoming. So Tony was summoned again and he delivered a dead lamb followed by a healthy live one.

Both were big lambs and there was no reason the first one should have been dead. Last year, we lost one of this group of ewes to a lambing problem and one other had a dead lamb. And they were in prime condition last year so whatever the reason...

So I was relieved when I made my six ayem trip to the barn this morning, to find a new healthy large happy lamb born to another ewe, safely and without vet assistance!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chopsy lambs.

Baby lambs are arriving daily. So far we have eleven black scamps with blue eartags and only one little princess with a pink tag. Everyone so far obviously fathered by our Navajo rams. The vet had to be summoned for Chopsy who is a large dominating half wild unsheared braying harridan and had been labouring for about four hours. Of course she wouldn't let me help her or even examine her nether regions. So we hauled her into the 'hospital' pen and when our vet, who I call  Tony the Terrific, arrived, I was able to pin her head by the hay feeder while he did the elbow length surgical glove examination. Two lambs, trying to emerge sideways. He was able to twist them around and pulled both out in short order. Both alive and breathing after being dunked in cold water to kick start their breathing and swung by the heels to remove mucous and get the gunk out of their mouths. Chopsy started licking them and we left them to bond for an hour or so. When i went back to the barn, both were up and nudging around in that dopy way newborn lambs look for the udder. However because the woolly beast had jumped the fence at shearing, all they were finding was dirty fleecy dreadlocks. So we pinned her down again, and i used a huge set of clippers to remove most of the wool from her undercarriage and then managed to latch both lambs in turn onto a teat.
By this time, I was thoroughly smelling of sheep and had been kicked and peed on. We turned on the heat lamp as lamb number two is the second tiniest lamb we've ever had; only half as big as lamb number one.
Back out later and both were nursing. Chopsy tolerates being given water and hay and grain, but she is no fan of humans. Even kind and loving ones such as ourselves.
And by the way, the reason she is called Chopsy is short for mutton-chops, as in the sideburns because she does have woolly sideburns. When she's being evil, I think it could be short for mutton chops as in the frying pan.

These are the first lambs born. First mom is Aretha and the little black and white tykes belong to Anastasia. I will take a picture of Chopsy and her infants tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winter snow days

January 2012

I'm having all sorts of design problems with this blog and it is getting frustrating, not being able to write my posts and then drop them into the proper spaces.
I'd like to spend less time on the computer. Actually, I love spending time on the computer but I'm starting to have shoulder problems and I think it is from using my IPad as much as I do.
I feel much healthier when I spend more time outside and in the barn, except for my gluten allergy which is really aggravated by pouring out grain and the dust inside the chicken pen.

Weather has been so easy this winter. Some freezing rain intermittently but not much snow and blessedly mild for a Canadian January. Water pipes in the barn are fine (we have them wrapped with heat tape) and although the lambs are wearing their little fleecy coats, they scamper around in the barnyard happily.

Snowy January day

Thursday, January 12, 2012

a blessedly easy winter so far

Halfway through January and very little snow, no major blizzards and only a few cold nights. It's been an easy winter so far: the sheep lounge about in the barnyard, the chicken water doesn't freeze, we still have about half our firewood left in the basement. Lets hope it continues thus!!!

Winter pictures 2011