Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Winter 2006 Newsletter

Vancalcar Acres
Winter 2006 newsletter
392 Elwood rd Ft. Plain, NY 13339

Late Notice!!! The Winter Newsletter is a bit late this year, and we apologize. We do have a good reason though… we have had an unexpected winter lambing from some ewes we purchased that we THOUGHT were not bred! As of the first of March, we have 56 new lambs in the barn. 4 sets of triplets!! An awesome thing for us, but reminders about why we prefer spring lambing on pasture when freezing temperatures aren’t going to risk the little lambs. A couple had to come in by the fire to warm up, but everyone is doing fine. Well, we’re a bit tired but the sheep are fine!

What an odd winter for weather! It’s February now, and we had enough warm weather in January to completely thaw the ground and start grass growing in some places! Maple syrup was running, and the trees were thinking about budding. We were even able to put up some temporary fences and graze the sheep up by the pond for a couple of days. They were thrilled and we saved on some hay. Of course, reality set in this month with minus 10 wind-chills. The Native Americans didn’t call this the crying month for nothing!

Fiber: We’ve invested in some Patrick Green Carding Equipment for fiber processing this winter. This has really sped up processing time, as well as shown vast improvements to the quality of our roving and batts. I’ve been carding some stockpiled colored fleece, and blending the last of a gray/brown corriedale with silk. The results are a beautiful honey-colored roving with a sparkle from the silk. I have some lovely things hanging around here for blending; angora, camel down, mohair, cashmere, bombyx and tussah silks, spin-able acrylic (spins like silk), and can’t wait to see how they all turn out! We’ve been washing and dying the last of the lamb fleece from last year in an effort to make space for the coming shearing in March. It’s going to be a bit overwhelming around here at that point as we’re shearing 300 this time instead of 130! We’ve included a sample of roving from our new equipment for the spinners (custom hand-spinning available of our fibers). Other colors available in the acrylic, as well as an acrylic/wool blend, just give me a call.
We’re thrilled to offer Jagger Brothers full line of yarns for the knitters & weavers. All worsted spun, these are great for warp as well as weft, and knit wonderfully. Color cards are on our website in the woolroom under yarns. Currently available on the cone by the pound with discounted prices for our minimum order of 2 cones (mix & match from any style), contact me for pricing depending on the style of yarn. Limited colors/styles currently available in 400yard skeins, check our website for those details at www.nysfarm.com.

Pork: We have fresh pork in the freezers now, available in limited quantities. While pigs do need a portion of grain in their diets, they are grazers and love to eat grass, roots, and hay, and we let them have all they want! They produce lean, flavorful pork here, something unheard of from the grocery store.
All cuts are $6.00per lb
Bacon, ham, & ham steaks are $5.00per lb
Sausage is $5.00 per lb. (sweet italian)
Sausage comes in either link or in 1lb-ground packages for frying up loose or slicing into patties. Hams are not just for holidays anymore! We have 4-5lb hams perfect for everyday dinners. Send an email or call to check availability. Shipping is available to most areas, contact me with your zip code to get a shipping price. Check out the recipes at the end of the newsletters for perfect easy ham glaze and what to do with leftovers. If you miss out on pork now, we’ll have more available around June.

Lamb: We also have some limited lamb available, contact me for availability, selling by the cut. We have ground lamb and lamb sausage available in 1lb packages as well. Shipping is available to most areas, contact me with your zip code to get a shipping price.
All cuts: $5.00per lb
Ground Lamb: $4.00per lb
Lamb Sausage: $4.50per lb (packaged loose like ground beef)
Organ Meats: $2.00per lb (heart, liver, tongue)

Beef: We will have beef from our farm available this summer, June timeframe. We’re planning on mostly ground beef with just a few cuts and some awesome beef jerky. This means the ground beef will be very lean and flavorful since it won’t be made up of just ‘trim’, it’s made from all the cuts together. Ever had Filet Mignon ground beef? Well, this would be as close as you can get! More info on this in the spring newsletter.

Poultry: We always have pastured/free-range chickens on hand for fresh eggs. We are planning on adding broilers to the farm this summer, but we’re not sure how many yet, so check the spring newsletter for updates on that one. We’d like to get pre-orders on Heritage Breed pastured turkeys for your Thanksgiving dinners now so let me know. You may think it seems early to think about this one, but there is a timetable for these things and you can’t rush Mother Nature! Heritage Breeds are slow growing, and more flavorful. They take about 6 months to reach maturity, so we can’t wait until August to think about birds around here, we hatch them ourselves from our own small flock and they start laying in March. Just let me know if your interested, and that will give me a good idea what to keep here to raise for our customers.

Pelts: Currently sold out, but we’ll have more available late spring/early summer. If you’d like to reserve one, we have several colored (moorit) lamb fleeces being processed. They do go fast though!
Well, that’s all for now! Thanks so much for letting us keep in touch with you,

Eric, Jennifer, Nora & the animals.


Ham Glaze for Baked Ham:
¾ cup packed brown sugar
3tbsp pineapple juice (optional)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup orange juice
1tbsp sweet-hot mustard or dijon
1/8 tsp ground clove
Combine ingredients in small sauce pan, blend well. Bring to a low boil stirring frequently for a couple of minutes without scalding (low boil). Set aside, it will thicken slightly. Bake ham on 325 covered with 1/4c water and a splash of orange juice in the bottom of the pan for 2 hours. Remove ham from oven and brush generously with glaze. At this point, I raise the temp of my oven to 350 for the last 45 minutes and leave the ham covered. I don’t think my oven temperature is accurate, and the ham should finish in the next 45 minutes, so adjust your oven temp accordingly for this entire recipe. Apply more glaze several times in the last 45 minutes of cooking time. Be sure to test ham for doneness with a meat thermometer! Left over glaze is excellent drizzled over sweet potatoes as a perfect side dish, or as a gravy on smoked ham steaks.
After you’ve munched on sliced ham for lunch the next day, take what’s left and make the best split pea soup you’ve ever had!

Split Pea Soup:
In a large pot add 16oz split green peas (2 cups) and 4 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil, stir well then turn down to medium-low with a lid (should be a low simmer/boil). Take the bone from the ham and cut a couple slices off, and dice into very small pieces, almost shredded ham. Add that to the soup, along with the bone. I shoot for about a cup of diced ham, but you can do more or less, but don’t skip the bone! That’s where all the flavor is. Stir your soup periodically, the peas are turning to mash. Add about 1/8tsp pepper, ½ - 1 tbsp dried onion flakes and about ¼ tsp powdered garlic. Salt shouldn’t be needed with that ham in there. Allow the soup to simmer until dinner time, peas should be thoroughly mashed. Feel free to modify seasoning to taste. Goes great with sourdough bread, and the leftover soup can be frozen for quick meals later.