All posts by Rachel Hust

Let the Growing Begin

The tail-end of April is an exciting time for all of us in New York  as the weather turns for the better and the earth comes to life.

Our big excitement at the farm this spring has been our Weekly Produce Program which we launched a few weeks ago. We are currently supplying our customers with produce from a local distributer, but before we know it, we will be able to add our own garden produce to the mix.

In our gardens, we already have radishes, peas, sweet onions, red onions,  spinach, beets and carrots planted in the ground (thanks to Cathy). These crops can stand the colder nights of April, though we still have to watch for frost.

We also have peppers, basil, and kale started under lights indoors.

Little radishes.
Rows of peas.
Onions popping up. And dandelions.
Baby kale under lights.

Meanwhile, we sit back and watch the perennial crops come up! Garlic, Rhubarb, and Asparagus. We already put in the work for these crops last year–planting garlic bulbs, pruning the rhubarb, and transplanting asparagus.

The Garlic is growing strong.

 

In the background, Rhubarb. In the front, Asparagus.

And then we have our fruit trees and bushes. We pruned these a few weeks ago before they started to sprout leaves. We currently have blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grape vines, apple trees, peach trees, and cherry trees. The orchard may produce its first handful of fruits this year!

Blueberry bushes.
Apple blossoms!
A peach tree getting tall.

Meanwhile, more than just the plants have been growing…

It’s an exciting and busy time at Hust Roost Farm! In it all, we remember that the Lord is the author of all of this new life. In all the busyness, we want to always be able to take a step back and thank Him for all He provides, ask for His wisdom and sustenance daily, and trust Him with every outcome.

They grow up so fast

Well, spring has finally sprung and it’s a great feeling! The only sad part about the change of season is that our goat kids, who were born in February, are already ready to fly the coop. They’re 8 weeks old now and eating solid food (while sneaking swigs from their mothers, of course) and they are more than ready to move on.

Actually, we are keeping the one female (Beauty) but we sold the three males (Beast, Bolt and Biscuit) about 4 weeks ago. They are going to become pets to a nice family in Norwich!

Now that the weather is nice, they’re running all over the place! At their new home in Norwich, they are going to have 5 acres of pasture to romp across. We are very happy for them!

We are going to miss them, too. They’ve become a staple on the farm. When you look across the yard to see them leaping and skipping in their pen, it always provides a smile.

(Below: Beast is a good eater, just like his mama).

Thankfully we are able to keep one of them, our little Beauty cutie (the pure white one below). That means that next year we will, Lord willing, have 4 mama goats and lots of goats milk. We are hoping to start a “herdshare” program to sell the milk next year!

(Below: We love her pointy ears!)

While it is hard to part with our farm’s first goat kids, we are very happy with how things turned out, and thankful for the fun time we had with them.

Bye little guy! Have fun at your new home!

Getting to know our produce distributor

A few weeks ago, we announced the opening of our Weekly Produce Program (if you haven’t heard about it, you can read up here). Thank you SO much to everyone who has signed up so far!

Can you believe that it’s just days away from April and only 2 weeks away from the start of our Early Season phase of the Produce Program?!

The Weekly Produce Program offers fresh produce from our farm as well as from our produce distributor, Mento Produce. Mento is a family-owned company based in Syracuse, NY which distributes fresh, high quality produce from G.A.P. certified farms (abiding by high standards of safety and quality–but not Organic).

Since this is our first year with Mento Produce, we decided to do a “practice run” before the program started.  Last week, we asked 10 of our close family and friends to join us to place a minimum order, and we ordered a variety of fruits and vegetables including sweet corn, romaine, spinach, oranges, grapefruit, cucumbers, tomatoes and red peppers. All of this produce came from the Southern states but was guaranteed to be much fresher than the grocery store.

And… it was! The lettuce and spinach haven’t even started to wilt (a week later). Everything tasted great with the possible exception that the tomatoes and cucumbers were not quite as flavorful as they might be from our garden. Everyone who participated agreed that even the non-local Sweet Corn was surprisingly good. It was a new experience to eat fresh corn-on-the-cob in March…

The other encouraging part was the price. We were very happy with the amount of produce we received for the price we paid (and we expect the Regular Season prices to be even better because the produce will all be sourced locally!)

In short, we are thrilled with how our first order with Mento went and we are already dreaming about the fresh produce we will get to eat and share next time…

 

The 2017 Weekly Produce Program

We are very excited to announce that Hust Roost Farm is opening sign-ups for our new “Weekly Produce Program!”

We have been carefully designing this program for months, bringing together what we learned from our C.S.A. trial run in 2016 and looking at new ways in which we could make this program better for our customers–and also open the opportunity to more people in the community.

Let’s take a look…

In summary, if you and your family decide to sign up for the program, you will be committing to buy a “box” of fresh produce ($5-$10) once a week for the length of the program. The program will start up in early-to-mid June and run through the end of September. We also have an Early Start Option for those who are itching to get fresh produce sooner!

What will you get in exchange for your commitment? In your weekly produce box, you will receive top-quality locally-grown produce at reasonable prices. You will know and trust your produce sources: Hust Roost Farm as well as this list of NY state farms–all of which are G.A.P certified (Good Agricultural Practices). Most of the produce we receive from these local farms will go straight from the field to the distributer to our farm in about 24 hours, ensuring that your produce will be super fresh!

Why did we decide to partner with a local produce distributor? Simply, we wanted to expand the option of fresh, local produce to more people in the community than our gardens could support.

How does it work? After you sign up, and once the program begins, you will receive a weekly email describing the options available to you in the coming week. Every week you will need to choose from this list of options:

  • Salad Box (greens & toppings)
  • Vegetable Box (other than salad)
  • Fruit Box (when in season ONLY)
  • A list of additional add-on items

You can choose one of the boxes, multiples of one box, or more than one type of box. You will also have the option to add-on other items. Think of it as shopping from home on your computer!

We realize that you cannot hand-pick your items as you would at the market, but we will do our best to provide you with your favorite fruits and vegetables. Please take our product survey, which automatically comes up after the sign-up form. We cannot please everyone but will design the boxes based on the survey responses and seasonal availability.

What is the weekly timeline? You will receive your weekly email on Sunday evenings and you must reply to that email by Monday night to receive your box. Produce boxes will then be distributed on Wednesday afternoon. We will have a downtown pickup spot at Oakdale Mall (Johnson City) on Wednesdays from 5:30-6:30PM. Produce boxes may also be picked up at the farm Wednesday afternoon through Saturday. The earlier you pick up your produce, the fresher it is!

What else is nice about our program? Payments will be made as you go, rather than up front. If circumstances do not allow you to get a box in a given week (ie. emergency, vacation), you will be allowed to miss a week.  However, whenever you do place an order with us, you must pay for what you ordered to be eligible for the next box.

When can I start? The Early Season Option will start in mid-to-late April and the regular season will start in early-to-mid June. The early produce will be out-of-state but still abide by the same standards of freshness and quality. The regular season will start your selection of seasonal, local NY produce and will continue all summer long!

Ready to sign up? Talk to your family about this fresh and healthy opportunity, and feel free to ask us any questions you may have. We are excited to connect with you!

Beauty & Beast: The Birth Story

Meet Beauty.

And meet Beast.

Aren’t they cute?!

Beauty and Beast were born to their mother, Cammie, on Wednesday of last week, exactly one week ago. I remember that it was a Wednesday because Casey and I had Bible study later that night, and we ate a speed dinner on the way there because Cammie had just birthed her babies. Days like that make us feel like real farmers!! 🙂

If you read last week’s post about Rosie’s babies, Bolt and Biscuit, you’ll know that we missed the whole thing (our FIRST farm birth, and we missed it!). We were expecting Cammie to go into labor first because she was HUGE, so we weren’t watching Rosie as well. Well, you better believe we were watching Cammie this time. Even though 90-95% of goat births go off without a hitch, we still want to be there for those 5% of cases.. and to support our mamas!

Biscuit (one of Rosie’s kids) says hello!

Back to Wednesday…  Casey and I went up to the barn at lunch time and found that Cammie was definitely in labor. How could we tell? Her backside was glazed with a very light pink liquid. (Sorry, folks, for any TMI) We really haven’t been able to tell they’re in labor by behavioral changes yet. It’s weird– the goats act like this whole labor process is “normal,” even though they’ve never experienced it before. Maybe us humans should take a cue?

Well, the labor could have lasted any number of hours at this point (up to 12 hours) so we went back inside where we could monitor her on the “TV surveillance system” rigged up in our bedroom.

Casey had to go back to work, but I stayed within earshot of the TV and worked on a few things before I went out to the barn to sit with Cammie. I grabbed my camera, the birthing kit and jacket and went out to join her. Luckily it was one of those random 65-degree days in February, so it was quite a pleasant day for a goat birth!

When I first got out there, I tried to time her contractions. To the best of my perception, I timed them at 5 minutes apart. Did that mean she was close or still had a while? Sometimes you realize you haven’t done your research…

Then she started pushing–I knew that sign! So I called Tyler to come out. (Casey’s brother Tyler was visiting from Michigan that week, and lucky for us, he had some experience birthing calves on a dairy farm! We were counting on him if anything went wrong… just kidding… Bahhhha.)

Here is a video of the final moments of Cammie’s labor. (If you don’t like viewing goat backsides or see slippery creatures come out of them, don’t feel you have to watch!!) My favorite part is Cammie at the end of the video. This was her first birth, so she seems really confused by this new little creature who suddenly appears in her stall! It actually took Cammie about an hour to warm up to her babies–but once she did, she became a professional mama: super attentive and a super protective. Way to go, Cammie!

Cammie with her little Beauty and Beast.
Beast is our biggest goat baby, and great at nursing.

We would very much welcome visitors to the goat barn at any time. We had a bunch of people come by last weekend, and we hope to have more people out this weekend! They’re so much fun and we’d love to share them with you! But hurry… goat kids grow up incredibly fast.

Bolt and Biscuit: The Birth Story

If you haven’t heard, we’ve had our first goat birthing at Hust Roost Farm! We’ve been waiting for this day for what seems like forever! Last year, our breeding wasn’t successful (whether it was our technique or a “dud” buck) so we waited and waited and the babies never came. This year, we knew the goats were pregnant because (1) They got HUGE and (2) One of the goats, Pepper, miscarried in January (sadly) but at least we knew the breeding worked.

Goats carry their babies for 5 months. So we measured the due date to be exactly 5 months from the day we brought Chief (our buck) in to run with our ladies.

When the due date was getting closer, we had several meetings to make sure we were ready to deliver our babies. We put together a birthing kit of everything we might need. We cleaned the stalls. We set up a camera which gives us 24/7 surveillance on a TV in our bedroom. We watched birthing videos. And we waited.

We were pretty sure that Cammie was going to deliver her babies first. Her stomach was huge and her udder was “bagging up” with milk. So we kept a close eye on Cammie and locked her in a stall, while we let Rosie stay out in the common area. Little did we know that Rosie was going to be the first momma….

Saturday afternoon, Casey’s mom stopped by the farm with her niece. They asked if they could visit the goats even though there were no babies yet. So we went on up to the barn.

When we walked into the barn, what did we see but TWO BABY GOATS standing in the corner of the barn!!! After all the preparation for birthing, we had missed the whole thing!

   

Rosie had already licked and cleaned the babies, and she had just moved away from them to eat some straw (mama was hungry!) While Casey’s mom called Casey on his cell phone, Rachel closed Rosie in her stall with some food, then brought the babies to join her. Now that they were taken care of, we tried to get our bearings. “Isn’t there something we’re supposed to do!?” The only thing we had to do was clean and trim the umbilical cords, and make sure the babies were drinking their mother’s milk. All of it went off without a hitch! What a gift that the first delivery was so easy.  🙂

Now you probably want to meet the babies!

Here is baby “Bolt” named for his facial markings that remind us of lightening.  He’s also very lively, so it fits!

And here is baby “Biscuit,” also a male goat. He is a little smaller than his twin and a little more cuddly, but just as playful!

Mother and babies are doing great and we are welcoming visitors any time! (Just send us a text so we can make sure that Cammie isn’t in labor) Come and visit soon! They’re at the perfect age for both cuddles and cuteness and they grow up fast. But it will be just as fun to watch them frolicking around the yard in just a few weeks! We’re going to enjoy this season. 🙂

   

 

Making Greek Yogurt (Crock Pot Edition)

I wasn’t really “into” yogurt growing up. I tried them all– Trix, Go-Gurt, Dannon, Yoplait– but the runny textures and fake fruity flavors just didn’t do it for me. I would often trade away my yogurt at the lunch table, and eventually my mom stopped packing it. (Thanks for packing my lunch, though, Mom!)

But… the tides turned completely when Greek yogurt hit the market later in my teen years. No longer was yogurt runny and fake-fruity– this was the real deal. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love Greek yogurt?! (I haven’t met a hater… have you?)

The only downside to Greek yogurt is the price. It’s a high quality product, yes, and healthy and delicious… but did you know that you can make your own for a small fraction of the price? And not much work?! All you need is a crock pot with the “Keep Warm” setting, a kitchen thermometer, a 1/2 gallon of milk, a 1/2 cup of yogurt, 1/2 hour of time, and 1/2 an ounce of inspiration. 🙂

Here is what you need exactly:

-1/2 gallon of dairy milk (you can even use Skim Milk but you’ll have to strain more liquid at the end )

-1/2 cup of pre-made or store-bought yogurt (I think Greek works best)

-Stovetop saucepan

-Crock Pot, preferably one that has a “Keep Warm” setting

-a kitchen or candy thermometer (must include the range 100F to 190F)

-clean glass jars with lids (preferably 2 quart-sized Mason jars)

You can also make yogurt without the jars, right in your crock pot! It looks even easier so I want to try this next.

The method:

  1. First, pour your half gallon of milk into the saucepan. Put it on the stove and turn to Low heat. Put your thermometer in the saucepan, submerged in the milk so that you can keep an eye on the rising temperature. You want it to reach 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit (no higher). This should take about 10 minutes on Low heat. (Note: If you’re at all curious, the reason you heat the milk is to disrupt some of the protein structure so that it coagulates better, yielding a thicker yogurt!)
  2.  As the milk heats, prepare your jars and Crock-Pot waterbath. Wash the jars and lids with hot water and soap and set aside. 
  3. As soon as your milk reaches 180-185 degrees, turn off the heat. Now you will need to let the milk cool back down to 115 degrees. This will take 20 minutes unless you want to speed it up (put the pan in the fridge, surround it with ice, or put it outside if its winter time!)
  4. Meanwhile, fill your Crock Pot with warm tap water and check the temperature with your thermometer. The Crock Pot water should maintain at 90-110 degrees Farenheight (not more than 115). Adjust with hot or cool water to bring to temperature.
  5. Then turn the Crock Pot on to the “Keep Warm” setting. *If your Crock Pot does not have a “Keep Warm” setting, there are many other ways you can maintain an incubation temperature of 90-110 degrees. You can turn off your crock pot and cover it with a towel which should do the trick if it’s warm in your house. You can also use an oven, an insulated cooler, a dehydrator, or a nifty yogurt maker (about $20-$50 on Amazon). You can also find a warm place in your house, like on top of your wood-burning stove. Before trying any of these other ways, make sure your method can maintain water at 80-115 degrees for a few hours!
  6. While you are waiting for your milk to cool, you can get your yogurt “starter” ready. Take a 1/2 cup of pre-made or store-bought yogurt out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature.
  7. Finally, when your milk has cooled to 115 degrees, add your pre-made yogurt “starter” to the milk. Use a clean fork or whisk to stir it into the milk. Now your milk is ready to pour into your glass jars and get cookin’.
  8. Place the jars of milk in your Crock Pot water bath. The water should come up as high on the jars as possible. Now you just have to let them sit undisturbed for 6-10 hours. No babysitting required!  You can leave the house, go to bed and let it incubate overnight, whatever you need to do, as long as you are sure the temperature will stay below 115. You can check on it a few times if its your first batch.
  9. After 6 to 10 hours (watch for thickness) your yogurt will be ready! You may notice some clear liquid surrounding the yogurt. That’s called “whey” (think whey protein) and you can easily pour it off (or use it to add protein and calcium to other recipes).
  10. Put your yogurt in the fridge to thicken up. If it’s still not as thick as you want it, you can strain it. Place a soft, clean cloth (T-shirt material works well, or 2 layers of cheesecloth) into a colander and pour the yogurt over it. Place the colander inside another large bowl and let it strain in the fridge for 2 hours. Wahlah! You’ll have the thick yogurt of your dreams.

How do you use your Greek yogurt? My favorite way is to use it as a topping on savory soups… or salad or tacos! Casey’s favorite way is to flavor it up with vanilla, fresh fruit, graham crackers, or chocolate chips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me know if you’re interested in trying it and if you have any questions whatsoever. Just comment below or contact us here. Happy yogurting!

Go(a)t Milk?

Having a farm, even a hobby farm, has its high and low moments. Some projects turn out to be more than we can handle and some end in disappointment, but some things go just like they’re supposed to, or even better than expected! Let’s just say that we are on one of these farmer “cloud-nines” this week.

We just started drinking our own farm-raised goats milk!!!

We started milking one of our goats 2 weeks ago but we weren’t able to taste any of it for the first week and a half. This is because the first milk produced, called “colostrum,” does not taste… quite as good (Casey did taste it). We also had to treat our goat with penicillin when she had a fever, so we had to wait five more days to drink it. When we finally got to try it…

DELICIOUS!

What’s to love about goats milk?

First, the flavor. We were surprised to find that it tastes almost identical to cow’s milk. Just a creamier, unpasteurized version– like whole milk from the grocery store but somehow with a greater depth of taste because it’s FRESH!

Goat’s milk is thought to be one of the most “complete” foods known to man, meaning that you can drink a glass as part of a meal, and you’ll have almost all of the nutrients and vitamins you need in your diet. In general, goat and cow milk have a similar protein, calcium and fat content–but goats milk has less lactose and cholesterol, and significantly higher levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, and Riboflavin. The nutrients found in goats milk are more readily absorbed by the human body, and the proteins and fats are easier to digest than in cow’s milk. And it’s also interesting to note that goat’s milk does not contain A1-casein, the protein which is most often the culprit in dairy allergies.

All of that aside, it just tastes good!

So what are we going to do with it? Right now we’re getting 7 cups of milk a day, and that is from one goat. Two weeks from now, we should be milking 3 goats! That is a lot of milk!

For starters, we’re becoming milk-sufficient. Even Gramps stopped buying it at the grocery store (we were surprised, as he is a man of habit!) Next, we will stop buying yogurt because it is very easy to make (we’ve made it before). Finally, we are excited to master the art of cheesemaking so we can even stop buying cheese… I don’t think we will ever be able to keep up with our ice cream habit, though. 🙂

What’s next after that? Well, next year we may consider a “share” program.  Raw milk cannot be sold by retail in New York State, but this program is one legal way to offer it. People interested in a regular supply of milk or cheese could purchase a small “share” of our goat, making them a part-owner of the goat.  Say someone wanted a log of goat cheese once a month, we would figure out what percentage of the goat expenses they would cover and make up a contract. This is all still being figured out, but we are pretty sure we’ll have it up and running by next year. We can’t wait to share this wonderful treat with you! 🙂

Mmmmmmmmmilk.

 

 

The Summer Produce Program

Photo courtesy of il raccolto di oggi.

Isn’t it nice to see the word “summer”  and a picture of fresh garden produce in the middle of January? One of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to start bringing together your summer plans now. Here is a sneak peak into one of our summer plans–and get this–you may be able to get involved and make this one of your summer plans, too!

Last year’s summer produce program:

Last year, we successfully ran our first organized program of selling fresh garden produce. We patterned it after the widely known C.S.A. program, meaning that we had our customers commit to buying a weekly box of produce (whatever we had available in our gardens) to help support the farm. This really helped give us a consistent outlet for our produce, and we rewarded our faithful and beloved customers by giving them the best of our produce at lower prices. And they loved knowing that it came right out of the garden, literally hours before they received it. 🙂 The only difference we had with most C.S.A. programs is that we did not require a payment up front, but rather had the customers pay by week as they received their produce bundles. This made it a much easier commitment!

This year’s summer produce program is going to be even more unique, with more modifications made to the traditional C.S.A. We are currently working on our own distribution model based on what we think really favors the customer, and will also allow us to offer the opportunity to a wider audience (think 50 spots instead of 12!)

Here is a basic summary:

-STILL a weekly box of fresh garden produce.

-STILL no up-front cost; rather paying weekly as you get your box.

-NOW with the more variety and input into what you get in your box.

-NOW with more FRUIT–not just vegetables!

-NOW offering produce from other NY/PA farms in addition to our own.

In fact, a great deal of the produce we are offering will be from other farms in New York and Pennsylvania. Instead of being just a grower, we will now also be a produce distributer. We are excited to partner with other farms so that we can expand our program to a wider audience and ultimately provide you with the produce you really like and enjoy, rather than whatever happens to be available from our garden (sorry last year’s folks for all of the beets!)

There will be many more details to come, but hopefully this has whet your fruit-and-vegetable-appetite. If you are interested in receiving more information about this program as it becomes available (more to come in late February!) you can sign up to receive emails about this program here.

We can’t wait for summer and all of the opportunities for health, family, and fun that it brings. The snow may be cooping us up for now, but we will be outside in shorts, munching on fresh vegetables, before we know it.

Recap: The Honey Harvest

Hey, thanks for stopping by! We thought we’d post a quick update on a project we recently finished working on. We’ll keep this update short and sweet, emphasis on SWEET.

We’ve got honey!!!

That’s it. Short and sweet, right? Just kidding…. We’ll go a little more into depth in case you are interested.

If you didn’t read our previous post about our honeybees, we sadly lost both hives to a merciless wasp invasion in early November. There were two positives we found in the situation: 1. We learned how to prevent that from happening next year (I mean, we thought we knew- now we really, really know!) And 2. We were able to save the honey! Forty-two pounds of it!

Over the next month, we harvested and packaged the honey, just in time for Christmas gifts. The reason it took a full month was because we processed the honey the slooow way, filtering it through strainers rather than using an extractor to spin the honey out with centrifugal force (….we’ll use that next year).

We still have plenty of honey leftover for selling throughout the year and at the store. For now, if you would like to order, you can do so through this contact form here. Pickup would be from the farm in Glen Aubrey OR from Casey & Rachel in Rochester if you can coordinate with one of their trips.

We are selling the honey for $7 in 1-lb glass jars, with the honey being raw (unpasteurized) and unfiltered. This means that the honey still contains all of the natural pollens, unlike the ultra-filtered bottles at the grocery store. The pollens are thought to have anti-allergenic properties if you have seasonal allergies. Some people buy pollen as a health food! Why take out the good stuff?

     

Any questions? Feel free to ask or comment!

We are very optimistic about next year’s honeybee operation…  We finally found a local source for our honeybee nucs, rather than farming them out from South Carolina. (In general you have to purchase your honeybees, though we have tried to catch them in the wild… it’s just harder that way!) We hope that the local bees will be much more resilient to the cold valley winters.

With the more resilient local bees and applying the hard lessons from the past two years, the third time should be the charm for getting our honeybees to survive. Until then, we’ll count our sweet blessings and share them around. 🙂