Sunday, November 26, 2006

Fall 2006 Newsletter

Vancalcar Acres
Fall 2006 newsletter
392 Elwood rd Ft. Plain, NY 13339 518-993-4326

Time has been flying by here. It’s late fall on the farm, and we’ve officially begun supplementing stockpiled pasture grass with large round hay bales. The girls number 282 right now, just shy of our goal of 300. It was a difficult summer here, and we have decided not to purchase any replacement ewes this winter. We will strive to build our numbers next year from within our own ewe lambs born this coming spring. We are planning our breeding groups this December for a mid-May lambing start. We are NOT expecting a February lambing group again!!
We went to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in October this year as a vendor, and met several of you face to face. We had a great time, we hope you did as well! We introduced 5 sock kits with designs by Tsock Tsarina (Lisa Grossman) at Our hand-dyed sock yarn and her patterns were a hit and we’re backordered now on yarn to fill after-show sales of those kits. If your waiting for yours, I expect the yarn to arrive around the 15th of December. I’ll be up all night dyeing yarn J Pictures of the sock kits are on the website under ‘sock kits’ and there will be a sock club beginning in January, details will be online in the next couple of weeks.

Fiber: As some of you know, we lost the majority of our fiber clip this past spring. Because of that, there has not been much roving available around here this year! Occasionally, I’ve made special purchases of superwash merino fiber, wool/silk blended fiber, wool/mohair blended fiber to dye and card. I am expecting more wool/silk in the next week, and have just gotten merino top roving for dyeing. Watch the website for the fiber to go up for sale. We will be shearing the flock in mid-April this coming spring, so our own fleece will once again be available soon after.

Grassfed Meats:
Lamb currently available by the cut in limited quantities.
Pork orders are on hold here. We have a new group of heritage-breed piggers out in the garden doing a good job of roto-tilling things now, but they are not ready for butcher yet.
Taking reservations on freezer lambs, availability of mid-December, and mid-January.
Grass-fed ground Beef in 10, 25 and 50 lb sets. **This is not typical ‘trim’ ground beef! We’re taking the whole steer and making ground beef and a limited number of prime cut steaks (filet mignon etc). This is extremely lean lean ground beef, I find no grease left in the pan when browning this ground beef.
Poultry: We raised out about 20 broilers this summer. Processed here on the farm, they were very flavorful and it was good to know where they came from. So much poultry in the grocery stores is raised in caged or at the minimum, indoor penned environments and fed low doses of antibiotics and other additives in efforts to maintain them under these conditions… well don’t get me started! We will be raising at least 3 groups of broilers next summer for our customers.
**If you want more information about current standard commercialized growing and processing of beef, visit and read her articles and scientific references. Sobering information!
Pelts: I have 3 white good-sized pelts available right now, these are machine washable.
What’s on Sale: Going to be driving out this way? Bring a cooler and stock up. 25lbs of ground beef from our grass-fed steers, made from the whole cow… not just trim! Just back from the butcher, get 25lbs at the 50 lb price of $4.00/lb, packed in 1lb tubes.

Eric, Jennifer, Nora & the animals.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'm in denial about winter's fast approach here. I pretend it's not as cold as the thermometer says, and continue out the door in a sweatshirt... but it's not working very well anymore. I had to spend serious time scraping ice off the car the other day, and there was definate snow covering the grass that stayed way longer than it was welcome while it warmed up.
I'm almost overwhelmed by the desire to start knitting with large needles and thick yarn to make huge warm 'things'. With little time to spare from other required projects, I'm afraid that will have to wait. Why don't we have these desires in the months when we don't NEED those heavy warm 'things', when we might have time to work on them?? Looking back now, it seems I wasted good knitting time on silly eating & sleeping. I could have had so much more done by now!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stopping to catch our breath around here!

As you can see, I'm a bit behind in posts and newsletters. The summer newsletter took 2nd place in the schedule when the flock had some health problems battling the constant wet weather we had this year. Things are finally under control, and I realize that it's time for the fall newsletter! It's on the to-do list here now for this week, and will be posted when finisehd.
I had a wonderful time at Rhinebeck this year! I teamed up my dyed yarns with designer Lisa Grossman (aka Tsock Tsarina) to introduce 5 amazing works of art disguised as sock kits. One even has pre-beaded lace for the cuff! They have been very popular, and a sock club is forming.
Nora turned 4 and has started pre-school. She loves every minute of it and doesn't understand why she doesn't go on the weekends.
Several new Butcher Block CSA monthly subscribers, welcome to the family!
Tons of new sheep in the rental program... and tons of them already rented!
I've been making soap again, and have a nice sheep's milk soap recipe that we really like.