Thursday, September 29, 2011

To every thing there is a season (turn turn turn)

We're coming up on the last week with birds out on pasture (besides the egg layers). Our last chickens will be gone tomorrow and our turkeys will be gone next week. We are so thankful for these animals for providing food for us. This post is dedicated to animals...especially since 2 little lambies were born this week on the farm. Though they are not our sheep, we are great friends with them and we probably see them more than anyone. They are finally used to us and they come up to say hi.

This last month has been super fun as far as farming goes. It has been a lot of work as usual, but it's also included a fun farm day and two more days at the downtown farmer's market, where we get to meet a lot of you. That is one of the highlights of farming! Thank you for being a part of this adventure.

We're excited to have a little bit more time on our hands to do stuff like this!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

McDowell Family FARM day

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 8am-11 am

Come see the Utah farm being modeled after Polyface Farm in VA, which is featured in the movie Food Inc. & the book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

Nestled on the banks of the upper Weber river in beautiful Wanship, UT.

Don’t forget your water, hat, snacks, camera, a light jacket, hand sanitizer and farm shoes (aka crap kickers). Come prepared to walk around. There are also sheep, cows and horses on the farm (not ours).

Appreciate & respect your food. See how your birds are raised. Know where & how they lived before coming to your home!

Directions: From SLC, go east on I-80 approx. 30 miles. (10 miles past Park City exit) Take the Wanship/Kamas exit (#155). Turn right at the exit and immediately turn left into the grassy field to park. Look for the egg-mobile, several moveable white chicken shelters, and a bunch of birds! It’s almost directly across the street from the Rafter-B gas station.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cooking your Turkey

I promised directions, so here they are. I will be cooking our turkey on Sunday and will let you know how it goes!! Good luck with yours! Check out the entry before this one to see all the yummy veggies we will be roasting with our bird. And...if you read this soon, come see us at the Farmer's Market tomorrow 9/3/11.

If turkey is frozen, place the wrapped turkey in the refrigerator for 3-4 days to thaw (allow 5 hours per pound of turkey to completely thaw) OR placed wrapped turkey in a sink and cover it with cold water – allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey to thaw. Change water frequently.

Once thawed, brush turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs. Place turkey, breast side down, on a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan, about 2 inches deep. Some like to add 1 cup stock to the bottom of the pan before cooking, which creates some steam and helps keep the turkey moist but doesn’t prevent browning the skin. Turn the turkey over to breast side up during the last hour or so – this results in moist, white meat. The turkey is done when a meat thermometer (inserted deep into the thickest part of the thigh next to the body, not touching the bone) registers 165 degrees F. and drumstick is soft and moves easily at the joint.
If you want to stuff the turkey, spoon prepared dressing loosely into body and neck cavity just prior to roasting. Remove stuffing immediately after roasting.

Approximate Roasting Time (at 325 degrees F. oven) - PLEASE NOTE: BOTH VARIETIES OF OUR TURKEYS TAKE SIGNIFICANTLY SHORTER TIME TO COOK, SO GO BY TEMPERATURE TO GUARANTEE IT'S NOT OVERCOOKED (ours was done about 1-1.5 hours before we thought it would be).

Weight Roasting Time Roasting time(stuffed)
6-8 lbs. 2 ¼ to 3 ¼ hours 3-3 ½ hours
8-12 lbs. 3-4 hours 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours
12-16 lbs. 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours 4-5 hours
16-20 lbs. 4-5 hours 4 ½ to 5 ½ hours
20-24 lbs. 4 ½ to 5 ½ hours 5 to 6 ½ hours
24+ lbs. 5-6 hours 5 ½ to 6 ½ hours

Begin checking for done-ness about one hour before end of recommended roasting time. Time is affected by type of oven, oven temperature, & degree of thawing.
When skin is golden brown, shield breast loosely w/ foil to prevent over-browning.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The 'veggies' of our labor

Thanks for a successful chicken pickup. Our first turkey pickup is today. We processed about 30 turkeys. We can't wait to fix ourselves a nice turkey dinner with our fresh garden veggies...

You too can have a completely local turkey dinner. Order your turkey now!! Tell your neighbors and your friends. We're having a farm day on Sept. 17 (changed from Sept. 10 because that day was becoming way too busy). Come see the animals in action!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Processing Poultry: A little story about Ole McDowell & Mr. Bird

Once upon a time, there was a chicken farmer. He wanted to raise egg-laying and meat chickens and turkeys naturally, running around on pasture - but he didn’t know how he would process them. He met a nice man who was a butcher by trade, who also had all the equipment for a mobile poultry processing facility. The first year, the processor, Mr. Bird, drove out to the chicken farm and in the most clean and humane way possible, ‘processed’ the chickens. The chicken farmer was then able to sell them to his friends and family. The chickens were nicely plucked and their innards were properly removed and disposed of. All was hunky dory.

Then one day the chicken processor learned from some (state)government people (what a mess) that even though he followed all their rules, he was being shut down and could no longer process chickens the way he had been doing all along. So the chicken farmer was left scrambling to find someone to process the rest of his birdies. Thankfully, a temporary substitute was found, but the farmer still missed Mr. Bird. In time, Mr. Bird built a small, local, chicken processing facility in Utah – the first of its kind. He made sure to talk with higher (federal)government people so he wouldn’t all of the sudden get shut down again. They inspected and approved his facility. He called the farmer to inform him that he now had a USDA approved custom-exempt processing facility. Not a moment to soon since their chickens were getting bigger by the day.

Now the farmer and his wife are very happy. This was causing them big headaches. The processor said he’d have to raise the price of processing chickens by $1.50 per bird and turkeys by $3 per bird in order to pay for this facility and feed his li’l wife and kids. This makes the farmer have to raise his price on poultry by the same to help make farming worth it.

Though he hasn’t turned a profit yet, the farmer knows that there are many ways to measure success. Supporting the local farmer, the local processor – shortening the distance the food has to travel, knowing what is put into the food he raises for his family and friends, and respecting the land and animals are just some of his measures of success. Ole McDowell and Mr. Bird get to work together again. The end.

This is a picture of Mr. Bird and his mobile processing facility...the 'before' if you will. The 'new' pic will be up soon.

The EGG-mobile

After much ado, I am finally able to post a slideshow of the process of building the egg mobile. What a project! Enjoy...and stay tuned because we're hopefully planning a farm day for the last Saturday in August (27th) - a day to bring yourself and kids to see the farm.

About the egg-mobile: Danny was gifted a trailer from a friend – and used his creativity to dream up this egg-mobile. Shawnee’s dad is a builder and an artist, so he helped design the thing, and her brother helped on the labor too. Between the three of them, this is what they came up with. And I can tell you, the chickens LOOOOOVE it! It’s like the Marriott of chicken hotels. It’s a moveable structure that holds about 32 egg laying boxes lined with hay. The boxes can be closed at night so the chickens don’t sleep and poop in them. The sides open giving easy access to the eggs each morning. It has an Aluminum shingle roof, compliments of Alumilife and the Aluminum Shingle Company. Thanks to all who designed, built, and transported this beauty!(which included a flat tire that left the egg mobile on the side of the freeway overnight!!) We have so many pictures, (none of the flat tire experience though, they were too graphic for a family blog!! Or was that the audio that was too graphic?) enjoy the slideshow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Since we have the egg-mobile up and running, and more of our chickens are starting to lay, we can offer eggs regularly now. We have a weekly pickup at our house so contact us to begin getting delicious, beautiful pastured (not pasteurized) fresh eggs. Here is our favorite article: Why is eating pastured eggs so good for you?

And this is where our eggs are laid.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Trials & Travails of farming

Hmmmm….where do I start? We decided yesterday that we probably need to do a post on the travails of farming. Lest you think it’s all free sailing, let us share some of the setbacks we’ve had this year. We’re not looking for sympathy here (but if you want to send us a sympathy card, we would display it on the fridge), but since you are our community and our friends, and you are the reason we farm, why not share it all?

First, there was a lot of thought that went into deciding whether or not to even farm this year. A few things fell into place at the right time which allowed us to do it, and here we are. We value hard work and have definitely grown closer as a couple and family as we work together. One of our favorite things is chicken pick-up days, when we get to see you all. Since we haven’t had one of those for awhile, we are very much looking forward to seeing you all at the next one (mid-August).
Anyhow, my fingers are rambling now. So…there was the project of moving up to Wanship. The egg-mobile took 2 days to pull up there, with one flat tire and 2 borrowed trucks and lots of family help – all of which made us a day late to Danny’s family reunion (but not a dollar short). We had to wake up at about 3 am to go catch the birdies in the dark (trust me, it’s much easier this way) for the big trip. We had to borrow Shawnee’s uncle’s big trailer and her dad’s big truck (good thing they work in the construction business) to haul the shelters up there and thankfully they all made it with little damage.

Saffron has had her own share. She was scratched by a rooster (not one of ours) a couple months ago :(

Then, we’ve had some processing wrinkles to iron out and are now waiting to hear that a stand-alone processing plant has been built and inspected, ready to use for our next batch!

Yesterday, we found out that a pipe had burst in the Wanship field resulting in a flood that took 100 chickens out on the pasture. Thankfully it wasn’t more, but it was a setback nonetheless. We helped ourselves feel better by driving up Millcreek canyon and going on a beautiful hike in the pouring rain. If you haven’t been up the canyon yet this season, you must…it looks like we live in a bright green rainforest!

So why do we keep doing this you ask? Well…we value raising our own meat, love seeing the birds out on pasture really doing what birds do and eating what birds eat, and connecting with our local community as farmers. We realize that certain risks come with this type of farming, but so many benefits come as well – including seeing the sun rise most mornings, satisfaction of raising and eating our own locally produced food, building relationships with individuals and local businesses within the community, and being able to say “chicken sheeeit” on a very regular basis with a long drawl. Thanks for reading – hopefully some of you are reading this and getting some information and enjoyment out of it. If not, it’s kind of fun typing it anyway!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We've mooooooved to Wanship

It’s high time for another update…and this one is a big one. Big for us anyway. We moved everything from Draper to Wanship. Everything. Brooders and equipment, chickens, turkeys, shelters, watering and feeding equipment, fences, solar chargers and the eggmobile (that requires a whole post itself, so look for that later). Danny has been working like crazy and luckily we’ve had family to help watch Saffron on those long farm days. We are so thankful to have been able to use the land in Draper (thanks to Bell Organics) to get our start. It worked great while we needed it, and we are also very excited to be in Wanship now. Here are some things we love about Wanship.

1. Same distance from our house as Draper.
2. Beautiful, scenic drive to and from our home.
3. Surrounded by farm land – horses, cows, sheep, and manure.
4. Running (irrigation) water!
5. Cooler temperatures on those hot days.
6. Lots more space.
7. Long term availability.

With the help of a few saintly volunteers and some kind family, we are officially moved. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
And now for the best part…pictures!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

We're back in full swing!

On being a farmer's wife: One day my parents' neighbor asked me where Danny was. I replied "he's in Logan picking up chicks," and thought nothing about it. At least I didn't say picking up ON chicks, but my neighbor still looked confused.

We have been busy...with what, you say? Well, just keep on readin'.

1. Our first processing for 2011 took place on June 14. We sold out quickly and of course were excited about that. One of our favorite parts of this whole thing is the pickup, when we get to meet people and converse about our farming experience and other things. Thank you for making this fun by sharing your thoughts & feedback with us.

2. We have all the turkeys out on pasture. They are loving the greenery! They are also very curious animals and will spend lengthy amount of time pecking at shoelaces, rivets, buttons, & ties on our clothes and hats, and even our wedding rings - I guess they like bling. We are still taking turkey orders for August (broadbreasted breed only) and October (broadbreasted and heritage breeds). Orders are made by emailing us and sending a $20 turkey deposit.

3. Our hens are starting to lay. We are now able to offer fresh eggs to a growing list of people. Danny has been working on an egg-mobile, which is a moveable shelter for the laying hens. Inside there are 32 laying boxes. This is a 5 star hotel for chickens. Thank so much to Shawnee's dad and brother for helping with this project. It is quite amazing and we're happy to be about finished! We'll post more on that later.

4. We are beginning the process of moving all of our birds to pasture in Wanship. The pasture is beautiful, it's more like real farmland and will hopefully be a permanent place for us. Wanship is about equal distance from our house as Draper. It is quite a bit colder there so the hot months will be more tolerable (and the cold months, well...we might have to shorten our season but we'll have to see).

5. This year we have added 2 geese to the mix. We heard geese were good at being guards - like a guard dog, only a guard goose. So if you think you see 2 geese in some of the pictures, you're not mistaken. So far we think they are working, except a few times when we saw the turkeys (the guardees) chasing the geese (the guarders). Go figure.

6. Our next processing will take place in about 3-4 weeks and then again in August. This year we are sticking with red rangers, and a few cornish cross in our first couple of batches. The cornish cross are bred to eat and grow and though they enjoy being out on pasture, they struggle with any variance in the weather so we are likely going to stick with red rangers long term.

7. We have been meeting chefs of local restaurants. We sold chickens to two local restaurants. Luganos and Log Haven each purchased chickens from the first batch and will be offering them on their menus. Go check them out this month! We're excited and hopeful, and thankful the chefs are meeting with us to help give us pointers in working with the restaurant side of things. We love the idea of being able to work with local chefs. Food that is raised within 50 miles and cooked by a professional that's exciting. Thanks for following our blog and stay tuned for more!

Friday, May 13, 2011


Just an update from the McDowells and the birdies. We have chickens and turkeys out of the brooders (just a reminder, those are the heated enclosures in which baby chicks start out) and onto the pasture. It is so fun to watch the birds right when they get out- curiously pecking around, eating the grass, and then running around flapping their wings and screaming ‘freedom’. We speak chicken now after being around them so long, so we know what they are saying…yes, we know.

We have several volunteers who are taking shifts on the farm. Each day, the birds need to be fed, watered, and have their shelters moved one length. Volunteers are helping anywhere from once a week to once a month, with a few coming just once to check it out. We are so appreciative of our volunteers. The work takes about 1-1.5 hours and is quite emotionally relaxing and entertaining (and can be a little bit dirty…after all, it is a farm). A big shout out and thank you to our volunteers. If you’re interested, send an email and let us know.

And finally, I will close with a picture of two curious chicks checking each other out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring is near!

This winter passed quickly! The highlights and lowlights are: Danny had two surgeries right around Christmas, Saffron turned one, and Shawnee purchased a new bike to commute to work.

We went to Arizona to see family, and drove down to Mexico for New Years. We were stopped at the border because of a suspicious looking empty egg carton in our car - we won't do that again!

We just finished a much needed hybernation and are ready to kick off another year. If you are on our email list, you should have received a survey, as well as an email with information about turkey orders.

We get our first turkeys next week. They are quite a friendly bird, so we are looking forward to having these beautiful nob-nosed creatures around again.

Broad Breasted Turkey .
These turkeys are the traditional breed raised industrially, so we’re anticipating them to weight between 14 and 24 pounds. They are a cross breed of a European and a US bird and are generally produced through artificial insemination only. Last year our biggest was 28 pounds! These turkeys grow faster and bigger than the heritage breed, which is why we can offer them in August and/or October. This breed of turkey will be $4.95/lb. Fresh, moist and delicious – and why not have a turkey before Thanksgiving?

Heritage Turkey.
Heritage turkeys are a product of natural mating (not genetically modified or bred) and have a slow to moderate rate of growth. They take approx. 28 weeks to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass ( The Heritage turkey will be $5.95/lb. and will range from 8-18 pounds.

Please email us your order with your name, month of pickup, type of turkey, & number of birds. In order to complete your order, a $20 deposit is required through mail or in person. Thanks for supporting our farm, and stay tuned for chicken info.