Sunday, September 30, 2012

Muscovy Ducks - Mmmmm!

Now available from the Genuine Faux Farm:
Pasture raised Muscovy duck.

Muscovy are preferred by many chefs due to the low fat content and excellent flavor.  In fact, Muscovy duck have less fat content than Peking duck, turkey, lamb, beef and pork.  These ducks also have higher protein levels than other ducks, lamb, beef and pork.  Muscovy's have an average of 50% more breast meat than other ducks. 

Our birds are raised humanely.  In addition to foraging, these birds are provided with a feed mix with organic grains by Frantzen Farms in New Hampton.  The birds love to dunk their head in water and have very sharp claws on their feet that make catching them a challenge.  The drakes (males) are usually about twice the size of the hens (females) at maturity. 

We have hens that average 4.5 pounds and drakes that average 8.5 pounds.  These are available to all who are interested.  You may reserve a bird and indicate whether you would prefer a hen or a drake.  Price for hens is $6.75/lb and drakes are $6.50/lb.  You may reserve a duck by signing up at Hansen's Outlet or by sending an email to

Ducks are available for arranged pick up at this time.

Edible Portion

% Protein
% Fat

Guinea Hen




Muscovy Drake

Muscovy Hen




Peking Duck

 (source: USDA handbook #8 and circular #549, leclercq 1985)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Collateral Damage - About 8-9 Weeks Later

It has now been several weeks since the aerial spraying incident on our farm.  And, of course, we have moved on with our work on the farm (and Tammy at school).  We are fully aware that there are so many things that happen in the world that are so much worse and we have worked hard to keep our perspective and to maintain a positive attitude.

But, even now, we are discovering how this event effects us.  And, we are bothering to share this with everyone because we believe it is important to share how we feel so you can understand how this can impact farms and farmers who do what we do.  Again, it isn't because we like the attention.  It isn't because we want sympathy.  It is because we you need to learn what misapplication of chemicals does to those who are victims when it happens.
The weeks immediately after the spraying were filled with earnest discussions between Tammy and I, all of them orbiting around a careless action that resulted in a bit of heartache for us.  What did we need to do next?  Were any of the crops going to be edible?  What do we do with our poultry?  Does anyone know what the next steps are?  Can anyone confirm anything with respect to food safety and this spraying?  Are there health issues we need to be aware of?  What will the lab results be?  If we meet our farming neighbors at the store, will they acknowledge us or this event?  How will we adjust the CSA shares?  How does this change our budget?  Our plans?  Will we have energy for the extended season shares?  What do we say to people when they ask us about this?  Is it even fair for us to be this upset when others we know are dealing with far more serious situations?  How can we take this situation and turn it around into a positive action?

I could probably bore you with a list of questions we grappled with that is two to three times longer than the sample above.  Some of the questions have answers that we are comfortable with now.  Others are still being asked and researched.  Others may never be answered.

Recently, I had the opportunity to show our legal representative around the farm.  I must admit that I've avoided the Southwest field since I last picked in order to get some records and pictures.  Why spend time on a lost cause when there is so much to do?   As I took my guest to that field, I was prepared to simply see lots of weeds.  Which I did.  But, I also saw lots of fruit on those pepper plants.  Even after the picking I did a few weeks prior.  It's about at that point that I realized that I'm no where near being "over it" and "ready to move on" as I thought I was.

I was able to pick a picture perfect yellow bell pepper.  I saw purple bell pepper plants that were covered.  The Jimmy Nardello's Frying Pepper plants are loaded and the eggplant looked like we could have been giving everyone a couple each week for the past few weeks.  I noted that the dry beans in that field are covered with pods asking to be picked and the green beans would have made our quest for 1000 pounds for the year be more likely to be a quest for 1500 pounds.  I saw all of this while knowing that we had made arrangements to secure peppers from Grinnell Heritage Farm and G It's Fresh(thank you to both!) so that we could give some to our CSA members. 

I don't know anymore if I'm angry, depressed, disappointed or what.  Maybe all of the above.  But, I do know that something is wrong when so many people I meet have their own stories of encounters with aerial sprayers that cannot seem to contain their spraying to the fields they were hired to cover.  There is something wrong when farmers can contract with someone else, who then hires someone else, to do chemical applications in their fields - and it isn't done with increased precision, efficiency or care despite the argument that this should place the application into the hands of an 'expert.'

But, this is neither here nor there with respect to how things are going on the farm right now.   Here are some answers to some of the questions we have been asked:

1. How is Rob doing?  We understand he was hit with chemicals.
Thank you to all who have been concerned.  There were some symptoms, including breathing issues immediately afterward that made it very difficult to do work.  However, there are no chronic issues.

2. Is someone going to compensate you?
At some point, we expect the legal process to complete and hope that our losses will be compensated.  We are expecting the process may take around 2 years to complete.  For the time being, we'll just have to deal with the financial shortfalls and do what we have to do.

3. Were you able to harvest any of the sprayed crops? 
No.  We harvested some for record keeping (to show we had a crop to lose).  Then threw it all in the compost pile that was also sprayed.  This included the loss of all of the crops in the high tunnel.

4. What does this do to your Organic Certification?
We lose certification in the fields that were sprayed ONLY.  WE lose it for three years.  This means we lose the Southwest fields, the high tunnel and the area around it.  Our pastures will not be certified organic either.  Happily, the majority of our field production is in the East fields.  These we will be able to certify as before.  What this DOES mean is that we will have to track both organic and non-organic crops.  We'll have to clean things that are used in both areas and make sure labeling is clear.

5. How are the birds?
We have lost a few birds since the spraying.  However, we are not willing to spend the money to have autopsies done to confirm loss due to the spraying.  This might have been a different story if we'd lost many birds.  But, the small number of losses could be due to anything from old age (older laying hen) to clumsiness (a turkey fell off of its roost).  The birds were moved off of the sprayed pastures and we are just now moving them back onto their pastures.  The toxins should now be worked out of their systems and we are now selling eggs again.  The turkeys will be available for sale at the end of October.

6. Is there anything we can do?
Yes!  Continue to support our farm by purchasing our product and continue to support local food sources and certified organic food sources of all sorts.  Ask questions about how things are raised and grown wherever you get your food.  Challenge yourselves to do a better job of eating well - even as we do the same., understand and be ready to help make positive changes.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gotta Love Heirloom Tomatoes

 Amish Paste

 Black Krim


German Pink

 Gold Medal

Golden Sunray

 Green Zebra


Nebraska Wedding


Ponderosa Red

Powers Heirloom

Red Zebra

Redfield Beauty


Speckled Roman

Tasty Evergreen

Tommy Toe 

Wapsipinicon Peach

Wisconsin 55

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Upcoming Events

A very direct news post (how terribly rare!)

Waverly Farmers Market
     200 block of 1st Ave SE.  From 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM on Saturday, Sept 22.  We will be there.  Please come visit us.  We will have tomatoes - probably lots and lots of them.  We should have some kale and cabbage.  We will pick whatever we have of summer squash and zucchini (low temp of 30 forecast for Sat night).

Tom Sawyer Day with Food
     Saturday, Sep 22.  2pm to 5pm (or so).  We anticipate feeding workers - but we need an RSVP so we know who is coming.  Plan is to harvest dry beans.  If we get enough workers we will do some other things (like pull the cucumber vines out). 

Ducks Go To Park
  Monday, Sep 24 - available to you Wednesday, Sep 26.  Time to reserve the birds.  Price is $6.75/lb - same as last year. 

Sign Up for 2013
  We'll make it easy for you if you are a CSA member.  We'll have a list at the distribution.  You check off that you want to join for 2013 and make a $25 deposit.  then you have a spot reserved.  If you are not a CSA member, we'll have material for you to fill out and reserve a spot if you wish.
   Sign up for next year will begin next week and go until we have filled all slots.

GF7 - Genuine Faux Farm Fall Festival and Fetid Fruit Fling
  Our fall festival is Saturday, October 6.  Mark the date on your calendar.  More details as we get closer.

Final Farm Share CSA Week
  Week 20 falls on the week of October 14.  So, the last scheduled delivery dates are as follows:
Waverly, Oct 16.  Tripoli, Oct 17. Cedar Falls, Oct 18.

Extended Fall Season CSA
   We are still working on how this will work this season.  Events this year threw a wrench into the works and we're still trying to figure it out.  There will be something, interested persons, please be patient and keep an eye out for details.

Turkeys To the Park
   I believe they are scheduled to go at the end of October.  It would not hurt to reserve your bird at this time.  Price is $3.75/lb.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Iowan

Our friend, Josh Dolezal, recently had an article published by The Iowan.

It just so happens that Genuine Faux Farm is one of four farms featured in this article along with Blue Gate Farm, Grinnell Heritage Farm and Scattergood Friends School Farm.

Faces familiar to those of you who follow us, are CSA members or know us somehow, will be on page 6.  But, we encourage you to read about each farm.  We are honored to be included in an article with these people.

If you are trying to figure out why you may have heard of each of these farms prior to this point, you may have read that we have farm visit days with three other farms.

These be them!

And, CSA folk, you have received produce from Scattergood and Grinnell Heritage this season.  Both were able to help us out when we lost crops to the spraying.  And, since we lost most of our garlic seed this year to disease, we will be buying Blue Gate Farm garlic.  So, you get a little bit of each farm through us.

Rob & Tammy

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where the Wind Blows (and other things farm related)

We must be moving out of Summer and into Fall.  The winds are starting to get their bite back.  Yesterday, the prediction was for winds at 5 to 8 miles an hour.  I really should know better than to accept the forecast at face value.  But, I did.  Just wasn't quite prepared for the wind (yep, that was my hat that went by...again).

Fall is also a time for some introspection and/or reflection.  For example, I was just trying to remember if I chose to lead with my left or right leg when I tried the hurdles in junior high school in our gym class track unit.  Before you laugh at me too much, you need to realize that there are a number of things I do, or have done, where I've actually had to decide which side of my body would be the dominant side.  At one point I played racquetball and I had no backhand.  Why?  I swapped hands so that I was always hitting forehand.  The problem with that?  What happens when you don't decide fast enough which hand you will hit the ball with?

And what, pray tell, does this have to do with the farm?

Chumley, our new truck, is a bit higher off the ground than Grover was at the tailgate.  To crawl into the truck, I have to stretch a bit and it reminds me of the trailing leg in hurdles.  So far, I've favored going up on the left leg first.  But, that may have to do with the bruise on the right knee.

Hey, you wanted to know!  (now you may laugh at me all you want)

Farm News Shorts
  • We can now honestly say that we have harvested over a half ton of green beans on our farm this season.  "half ton" and "green bean" in the same sentence.  Cool.
  • Ducks will be going to the processor on Sep 23/24.  Who wants one (or more)?
  • We also crossed the 5000 cucumber barrier this week for the year.  That is another landmark to indicate a crop with a good year.  No where near our record year, but that isn't the point.  We managed to keep the cucumbers going through the hot and dry and we were rewarded.  That's a very good thing.
  • We get to go see family and help lay some sod this weekend.  So, we will not be at the Waverly Farmers' Market this Saturday.  If you want or need some tomatoes, we DO have them.  Let us know what you want and we'll figure out a way to get them to you.
  • Speaking of tomatoes... (we were?)  We've got alot of them coming in and they are in prime condition right now.  If you want to can or freeze tomatoes, now is the time to get some from us.  We do not want any of these to go to waste.  We grow 32 heirloom varieties and can provide you with an excellent mix.
  • 2013 Farm Share CSA.  Yes, we will return in 2013.  Why?  Because we don't know when to quit!  Or, perhaps, more accurately, we care too much to quit.  We will be taking deposits to reserve spots very soon.  Stay tuned for instructions.
  • Thank you!  Grinnell Heritage Farm for the sweet, bell and hot peppers for the Thursday distribution (today).  They were much appreciated.  We are honored and humbled to have friends that provide a helping hand when it is needed.
  • Thank you part 2.  For the gift of a hat (you know who you are).  For the gift of weeding time on the farm (several of you, we hope you also know who you are!).  For the gift that helped us pay for some additional labor hours - it went to a 'starving college student' - we may not have been able to afford hiring him without that support (we hope you know who you are - but if you don't, we'll say thank you directly too).  
  • Thank you part 3.  To those who helped us get some construction projects going!  We mean well.  We know we could do these things - but it is amazing how quickly the time gets eaten up by everything else on the farm.  Without these helpers, we'd be lost.
  • Thank you part 4.  To all our Farm Share members who are patient as we frantically unload and set up.  Fall is always very difficult for us when we lose most of the farm help.  Your willingness to stay positive and avoid collisions with frantic farmers in a frenzied and frenetic, yet focused, unfettering of the truck of all its fruit is appreciated.   

Saturday, September 8, 2012

News Shorts

Farm Crawl
The farm crawl is tomorrow (Sunday) from 1pm to 5pm.  Feel free to include our farm on your list to visit. 

Chumley the Truck
Only if you've read the Skeeve series will you have an idea as to why we chose it.  But, the funny thing is, we know we have the right name when both of us smile when it is suggested.  Welcome, Chumley the truck.  We'll try to share a photo at a later time.

Grover the Truck - RIP
Yes, that likely means Rest In Pieces.  That truck did alot for us and we are grateful.

Turkeys CAN be klutzy
The turkeys have shown they like some fencing that is in the middle of their current pasture by roosting on it.  However, they no longer roost there.  One of the members of their flock dismounted improperly and is 'no longer with us.'  Turkeys may not be the smartest animals in the world, but they've all stayed off the fencing since then.

How do you do it all?
Simple.  We don't.  We're still adjusting to the new schedule with many fewer worker hours in the fields.  The lists just have to be made shorter by giving a few things up.  Just the way it is.

Remember the recipe pages?
We've collected a number of recipes over time.  Some from CSA members, some from family, some Tammy has written down in an attempt to capture what she does.  In any event, we have a number of recipes here:  Feel free to use them.

'Tis Tomato Season
And we do have some decent pages with reviews of many of the tomatoes we grow here:
This Winter, we hope to edit these pages with more information.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Count

ONE! One Cucumber!  Ah Ah Ahhhhh!  (*thunder* *lightning*)

I fully realize that I may be a bit obsessed with numbers.  At the least, I seem to care about numbers more than many people do.  But, consider this - if I have 114 families in the CSA and I want to try to grow crops in a way that everyone gets a certain amount of produce every week for 20 weeks, I have no choice but to count.

A simple example:
    Fifty families will pick up shares on a given day.  I want to give everyone 3 cucumbers.  Therefore, I must pick 150 cucumbers at a minimum, but ideally, I will pick about 175 so the people who pick up later still have some choices.  Thus, it is important that I have a count as I pick so I know when I can stop and move to the next crop.  And, if I'm going to count them, I might as well record it so I can use the data for planning.

How does it help?
The more data I have, the closer I can get to figuring out exactly how much of a crop I must plant (and when) in order to get as much as I might want.  This would include Farm Share CSA needs, our own use and direct sales.  I suspect people who have been in our CSA for several years can attest to how much more balanced our shares have become - with reasonable amounts of produce nearly every week.  A big reason for this is our counting and our record keeping.

Numbers help us determine which varieties of crops are worth keeping (assuming yield is an important part of the reason to keep or remove a variety).  With some crops, such as tomatoes, it helps us determine how much of each variety to plant.

And, as it turns out, keeping good records can be useful when bad things happen.  We'll be able to show what our normal pepper crops are and what this one was looking like before it was sprayed.  This allows us to determine value with more objective measures.

Some Interesting Numbers This Season

4847 Cucumbers
The goal for the farm is to pull in 5000 cucumbers.  We would consider that a good year.  We should easily be able to pull in 153 just for Saturday's farmers' market in Waverly.  We actually split our cucumbers into the small white/yellow cucumbers (True Lemon and Boothby's Blonde) and larger green cucumbers (Marketmore, Parade, Green Slam, A&C, etc).  We set our initial goal as 4 each for large shares and 2 each for standard shares for approximately 8 weeks.  Then you add extras for choice at the end of distribution/donation and a few more for our own use or direct sale.  There you have it.

935 pounds of Green Beans
We've had a good year for green beans.  Five hundred pounds is probably more typical - if only because they can be labor intensive and we don't always get to the crop in time to keep them going.  We just *might* eke out 65 more pounds of beans to hit the half ton mark.  We're not sure why that matters.  It just sounds cool to say "green beans" and "half ton" in the same sentence.

We were thinking this year was truly exceptional, but here's where records can help when memory fails.  2009 was also a good green bean (and broccoli) year.  We managed to pull in 896.5 pounds of green beans that season. 

72.8# of Broccoli 
Speaking of broccoli.  We've fought to find a replacement for the defunct Early Dividend broccoli that did so well for us in 2009 (and years prior).  That variety gave decent sized first heads and many side shoots after the harvest of the main head.  We haven't had very good broccoli crops since Early Dividend's demise until this year.  Thank you Gypsy!  Yes, it is a hybrid, so it doesn't exactly fit with our tendency to prefer open-pollinated varieties.  But, none of the OP varieties did much for us this year.

The 72 pounds of broccoli were harvested in one day (this last Thursday).  There is a bit more out there to pick, then we'll see if they keep at the side shoot production.  The amazing thing is that many of the side shoots were of a similar size to the main head.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Different Kinds of Tires

Or perhaps, it is different sorts of tired?

We've been hearing a clicking noise on the front left wheel on one of our green carts the last couple of days.  We had an idea that the weld wasn't holding.  But, of course, this was the cart that had the correct pins for pulling behind the lawn tractor during picking today.  Since Rob was the only person on the farm today, he may have been a bit more focused on doing and less on things such as....
...well... keeping an eye on how the cart behind the tractor is doing.
The wheel is now resting somewhere between the field and the packing area.  Happily the swiss chard that was picked was not also strewn along the path.

I did kind of wonder why the cart snagged the hose as we went by.

These green carts are important tools on the farm.  But, they are also representative of what seems like persistent shoddy work on equipment such as this that a small farm, such as ours, might want to purchase and use.  This was a "new" wheel that replaced an older wheel that had also lost its weld.  So, in a way, it has been tired twice...

In any event, if you rate a cart at 800 pounds, then the cart AND the wheels should handle 800 pounds.  Now ask the question.

How many times have we actually put 800 pounds on these carts?
Answer: never.

I was not prepared for today to be as warm as it was.  And, it was a bit more humid than I expected as well.  The result was a three t-shirt day (of course).  Needless to say, I attempt to clean up my attire just a little bit for the CSA distributions.  But, sometimes I wonder I should even bother.  Today, being a prime example.

Setting the scene:   It's been dry (yep, again).  Our road was just graded with some new gravel in places on one of the roads we take to get to Waverly.  We have a new truck and the topper has even more places to let dust in than it did before.  It was hot and humid.  I had to load what probably turned out to be half a ton of produce into the truck, then unload it and set it up for distribution.

I was wise enough to try to change shirts AFTER I loaded the truck.  But, if you've worked outside on days like today, you'll understand what I mean when I tell you that I didn't see much of the loading today.  Hey - my shirt was soaked through.  I had no dry place to wipe the sweat out of my eyes.  So, I was just guessing.

I guess the truck is here.  I guess I set that crate with cucumbers on the tail gate.  I guess I'll pick those cucumbers up since that wasn't the tail gate.

Then, of course, I had to take OFF the offensive, wet shirt and put on a new shirt.  I was in a hurry by then.  But, how do you put a nice clean shirt on when you are still stinky AND damp?  The A/C was not on in the house, so I went and stood in front of the fan.  Sorry kitty cat, I know you were downwind.

Once you arrive at the distribution, you have to unload.  Containers are NOT any lighter at this point.  so, you work up a sweat.  Once you get a bit sweaty, all of the dust that has accumulated all over your truck finds you more attractive.  In any event.  Water + Dust = Mud.  Suddenly, the nice clean shirt is sweaty and a bit muddy.  Whatever.  Please take my word for it.  I tried to improve my attire at the CSA distribution.

But, it begs the question - should I retire from improving my attire or should I tirelessly work to improve it?

Just Tired
This is perhaps the biggest reason for this silliness.  I am tired.  There are a number of things that could be done.  But I don't want to do them.  So, I wrote a blog post!