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Posted 11/28/2017 7:39pm by Kinley Coulter.

     We Americans have become fairly immune to what used to be an innovative and disturbing approach to government… namely, our elected officials acting as surrogate parents to citizens whom they do not trust to make proper decisions about their own lives.  Since we, as citizens, are so prone to making unwise, even dangerous decisions about how to live, federal and state authorities feel duty bound to protect us from ourselves.   We make what they feel to be ill-informed and childish judgements about, for example, the food we eat.  

     Now, let me be clear; I am not opposed to the government putting itself between me and a murderer by incarcerating him (or her.)  I can even tolerate a peace officer pulling me over for driving without a properly fastened seat belt.  But… when a government that I pay for, and which supposedly works for me… starts telling me what I may and may not purchase to eat, I feel they have crossed a line from annoying nosiness into nutritional tyranny.   This same government that promotes gambling through a state operated lottery, and allows wine and liquor to be sold through their monopolistic ‘state stores’,  is asking me to believe that they are honestly concerned about my health when they legislate dairy products to the point that small farmers and their customers cannot carry out private commerce with each other… I’m sorry, I don’t believe it.
 
     I was thinking along this line over the past year, as I’ve witnessed our state and federal government enacting legislation against raw milk sales and raw milk cheese making.  We are not permitted to transport raw milk across state lines… even for animal consumption… It is literally a ‘federal offense!’  Supposedly, this is because milk that hasn’t been run through a state approved factory is so dangerous to our health.  I wonder if whiskey, assault weapons, fireworks, pornography, cigarettes and lottery tickets have any tendency to be dangerous to anyone’s health?  They are all not only legal… the state encourages and jealously guards the buying and selling of them, and richly pads its own coffers in the process.  
 
     Anyway,  we as a family farm have celebrated one tiny bit of liberty in the oppressive system of laws related to dairy products.   Namely, we are currently permitted to make cheese from our raw, organic, 100% grassfed milk,  and to sell it in 50 states, as long as we age it for a minimum of 60 days.  During that time, any pathogens that might be present in the raw milk (like e-coli, for example) would be destroyed by the acidic nature of the cheese.  In addition to the acid, the teeming population of beneficial bacteria in a living food like raw milk cheese tends to massively dilute the influence of any ‘bad hombre bacteria.’  Unfortunately, 60 day aged raw milk cheeses are receiving a lot of governmental scrutiny, lately.  Not because they have made anyone sick, but because the big, industrial dairy industry doesn't appreciate the competition.  Healthy, nutrient dense, farmstead, raw milk cheese has a limited shelf life and cannot be mass produced in mega-quantities like the sterile ‘cheeses' at the grocery store.  Here at Coulter Farms, it was mandated, by both the FDA and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, that we set up a certified and inspected laboratory at the farm, to test every batch of milk we process for antibiotic residue.  Never mind that we are an organic farm, and don’t even have a single dose of antibiotic on the entire farm… and haven’t since 2005.  Never mind that the government allows livestock producers to put ‘therapeutic’ antibiotics in the feed of healthy animals, just as a precaution against the devastating diseases that plague high-density, industrial, factory livestock production.  We spend countless hours, and an obscene number of dollars, testing and testing and testing our milk for antibiotic residue that will not (and cannot) ever be there… running up our cost of production, for absolutely no reason - other than to impoverish us and our customers, and to, ultimately, I believe, drive us out of the dairy processing business, and make us slaves, again, to shipping our milk, in enormous tractor trailers, off to giant industrial plants that do ‘who knows what’ to it. Taking our precious, living, sun-golden, nutrient dense milk apart and then reassembling it after exposing the pieces to massive abuses of temperature, pressure and mechanical maceration.  It’s no wonder no one likes ‘milk’ anymore.  I tell anyone that says that they don’t like milk that they’ve never tasted milk.      
 
     Anyway… my wife says I need to guard against spending a whole blog posting ranting against the government… lest I get lumped in with the rabid anarchists and flaming ‘flat earthers.’  :) I imagine that using the word ‘government’  too many times in a blog posting is inviting a visit from a black suburban full of scary looking men with mirror sunglasses and bulges under their coats… Yikes!
 
     I would like to take this opportunity to make a shameless plug for the raw milk cheeses our family makes here on our farm.  Until these cheeses are legislated out of existence, you have a unique opportunity to accomplish three important tasks with a purchase of our cheese.  First… you can speak powerfully with your grocery dollar to the powers that be… putting them on notice that you trust your farmer and want to eat real, whole, living food produced by farmers, not factories.  Second… you can do your body and its immune system, your heart, and your brain (and that of your family) a big favor by consuming real cheese made from real milk by real people on a real farm, and profiting from its amazing taste, its biological activity, its dense mineral and enzymatic riches, and its massive quantities of precious omega 3 fatty acids and CLA.  Thirdly… you can partner with us in preserving, promoting and prospering a family farm (and its irreplaceable heritage) that can be a beacon of food sanity in the midst of a tsunami of processed, factory food. Who knows… we may just be the virus that infects and brings down the whole ‘Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)’ colossus.

 
     Since we started shipping our cheeses with online ordering from our Home Delivery department, we are getting more and more orders every week.  Would you consider voting for what we are doing with your food dollar?  Why not order some of our cheese for your family?  Cheese makes a great Christmas present :).  We'll put in a card when we ship the cheese, notifying the recipient of your gift.    As an incentive, we have added a $10 off coupon to the ‘Home Delivery’ section of our website.   Baby Swiss, Monterrey Jack, Dill and Chive Jack, Garlic and Herb Jack, Hot Pepper Jack, five varieties of Cheddar, Tomme, Gruyere, Gouda and more are just a click (or three) away.  
 
     Perhaps, if enough people get on to eating real raw milk cheese... we won’t have to hang our head in shame and admit to foreign visitors that ‘American Cheese’ is actually made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and food coloring… Yuck!
   
     As always, thank you for supporting our family farm!

Kinley & Rebecca Coulter,

farming with our children:  Jared & Eunice, Jason, Jacob, Jessica, and 'the little girls'

www.CoulterFarms.net 

Posted 10/29/2017 12:51pm by Kinley Coulter.
Genesis 8:22...While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
 
 
     Someone with too much time on their hands has gone to the trouble of calculating how many blades of grass there are in an acre of pasture or hayfield.  Using the shockingly small amount of schooling that has stuck with me through the three or four decades since I graced a classroom, I determined that there are precisely 100 billion blades of grass frolicking in the October breeze on this bright fall afternoon, on the 300 Certified Organic acres that we farm in perennial grass.  October 31st is effectively the end of our grazing season here on the farm.  After a few hard freezes and the long nights that accompany them, these blades have given up and gone dormant, and all growth above ground has stopped.  Underground, however, frenzied preparation for winter is going on in earnest.  Our cool season grasses and legumes are busily developing their root systems in the still-warm soil… thumbing their vegetative noses at the cold air, and its threats of winter weather on the way.  When spring comes, these pastures will ‘spring’ to life with a vengeance… ready to richly feed another batch of lambs, beef cattle and milk cows with nutrient dense grasses.  
 

 
     This innate motivation to to prepare for winter is not limited to perennial grasses.   We farmers have been storing away what we need for winter as well.  Our barns are bursting… full to the rafters with the equivalent of 15 tractor trailer loads of sweet, crunchy, dry hay bales.
 
 
 Outdoors, safely wrapped in plastic, are another 30 tractor trailer loads of moist, sweet-smelling fermented hay, called 'baleage.’  
 
 
     Many tons of organic straw and corn fodder are waiting to be used to create warm, soft, dry, clean bedding packs for all of the animals.  The bedding from last winter has been carefully piled, composted, turned over and patiently composted again, throughout the spring and summer, until it has broken down into a dry, crumbly, pleasant, farmy smelling pile of about 1/3 its original volume.  This residual compost is no longer ‘raw manure’ but rather an almost magical, and exceedingly precious blend of humates,  soil nutrients, probiotics and enzymes  that we are currently spreading on our fields to restore their fertility, and activate their powerful biology in this critical, underground phase of the grass growing season.  
 
     We have also been replenishing our stores of firewood for the winter.  Our home is heated by the same firewood fired boiler that gently pasteurizes our bottled milk, and slightly warms our raw milk to body temperature for cheesemaking.  A lot of hot water is used for dishwashing in the processing room, and the eight of us still living here at the farm appreciate our hot showers when we come in at the end of a long day with a little too much ‘farm’ sticking to us.    Rebecca uses a lot of wood fired hot water doing (she says) loads of laundry that (unlike blades of grass) are beyond numbering.  So, the monstrous firewood pile is never quite monstrous enough, and by this time of year it's looking downright puny.  We mostly harvest trees that are ‘standing dead’ for firewood.  This opens up the canopy and forest floor for the next generation of woods.  
 
 
    With the end of grazing season, unfortunately, we need to face the end of farm market season as well.  Over the winter, we lean, heavily, on the meager finances we have stockpiled during the warm months.  Many times during the peak season - with four markets going and flush bank accounts - the temptation to make farm improvements or upgrade aging equipment has to be tempered with the sobering reality that bills and family expenses keep coming over the long winter, when the flurry of market sales is only a fond (and distant) memory.  We have been appreciating the one farm market that runs all winter.  It’s remarkable how much difference there is between 'a little income' and 'none' for 5 months :)
 
      Our animals are storing up for the winter, as well.  Their coats of hair have lost their summer sleekness, and they are starting to look shaggy and 'bundled up' to face the inevitable bitter cold of January and February.  The milk cows, beef cows and ewes are all pregnant (or supposed to be) so they are eating heavily and putting on ‘back fat’ for the winter.  Long winter evenings and less field and farm work can serve to put a little ‘back fat’ on a farmer, as well.  Never fear, he always manages to work most of it off in the spring :).
 
 
Posted 10/3/2017 11:19am by Kinley Coulter.

     

     About 6 years ago, we were raising turkeys outdoors in a fenced enclosure that we considered to be a ‘Free Range’ environment.  To be sure, they had lots of green pasture, bugs and sunshine.  This would be a pretty good life for a chicken, but we’ve learned that turkeys aren’t chickens.  A free range chicken is satisfied to fill his crop at the feeder and then go peck around at grass and bugs a little… then he is happy to settle down and take a nap in the sunshine.  Turkeys require a lot more ‘stomping grounds’ to satisfy their ‘turkeyness.’   A friend who raises his own turkeys saw my poor, penned up turkeys, and asked me why I bothered penning them up.  He exhorted me to ‘let them out.’  I had never heard anything so ridiculous, but I knew that his own turkeys ran wild.  So, we threw caution (and, perhaps, wisdom) to the wind and opened the fence, then watched in horror as the whole precious flock took off at a sprint for the woods.  Sigh… one more farming debacle to figure out how to pay for.  But… Wait!  When the exhilarated escapees got to the woods, they stopped.  ‘Hmmm…’ (Their itty bitty turkey brains did a little thinking)  'These woods are very dark...These woods are a little scary… These woods are probably full of ‘turkey eating’ monsters.  So, the whole flock stepped back from the abyss and set to happily chasing grasshoppers and gobbling up dandelions in the pastures where they belonged.  This was how our ‘Radical Free Range’  turkey flock came to be.  

 
 
     Every year we allow the turkeys to go farther in expressing their natural desire to forage 'far and wide.'  Last year I was operating a tractor and saw the flock had traveled almost a MILE from their ‘home’ feeding area… crossing our lane, and a township road, and ducking under four of our cattle fences.  I’m sorry… a mile is a LONG ways from home when you are only 18 inches tall… that would be the equivalent of you and I walking four miles to eat lunch!  I figured ‘this free range thing has finally gotten out of hand’… and I was brainstorming about how to get a livestock trailer out there and get these crazy birds loaded up and dragged home.  Anyway, I didn’t have time to mess with them, so I just mentally wrote them off as ‘hopelessly lost.’  Guess what!  That evening they were back, and we pulled their nighttime enclosure closed and all was well again.  The nice part about all of this is that the birds could have gone even further and still been on our Certified Organic Pastures… maybe this year they will go further.  I’m not going to waste any energy worrying about it until the first night they don’t come home.
 
 
      Did you know that Benjamin Franklin despised the Bald Eagle as a ‘scavenger’ that ate rotted, dead things?  He lobbied energetically for the nascent United States to name the Wild Turkey as our national bird.  While I admire our turkeys for their ability to consume up to 2/3 of their feed intake by foraging… the turkeys we raise are a ‘domesticated’ breed.  Although tremendously meaty birds, they seem to have most of the intelligence bred out of them.  I’ve not seen a turkey drown by looking up at a rain storm and forgetting  to close his mouth… but I have seen some other, impossibly foolish, turkey antics.  They seem to start their day with three goals:  1.  Stuff my gullet with bugs, grass and turkey food   2.  Digest the food.  3.  Use all of the energy from that food to cause trouble or make a mess for the poor farmer.   Our biggest problem with free ranging turkeys is that they like to come up on the porch at the house to hang out, and carpet it with a liberal coating of turkey manure.  Grrrr!  We have tried setting the Border Collies after them (bad idea...feathers fly), and shooting them with marshmallow guns (bad idea… they recover from the initial fright and then feast on the marshmallows).  We’ve thrown pillows, boxes, sneakers, magazines and even brooms and dustpans… but there is really no foolproof way to get them to abandon the porch.  The big boys have tried using a toy slingshot loaded with acorns.  Turkeys will gobble up the acorns, but it must hurt just enough that they wander off when the acorns are gone.  We also sic the little girls on them, armed with dish towels and looking as fierce as a 3 and 5 year old can look.   Anyway… if anyone has a better turkey repellent, we’re all ears.
 
      This year we have about 80 turkeys running around getting plump on our pastures.  We intend to process them on the Monday before Thanksgiving and have them ready for Tuesday, November 21.  They will be the freshest Thanksgiving turkeys available for your Thanksgiving meal.  If you’ve never had a ‘radically free range’ fresh turkey… you should try one.  You’ll be amazed at how good a fresh turkey, raised right, can taste… and I’ll have won a turkey customer for life.  We both win!  Pre-order yours at www.CoulterFarms.net, in our online store.
 

 

Tags: turkeys
Posted 9/20/2017 12:49pm by Kinley Coulter.

     I am often asked why Coulter Farms doesn’t produce so-called 'reduced fat' products.  Well, there’s a short answer and a long answer.  Any of you who know me very well already know that you’re going to be subjected to the dreaded  ‘long answer.’   I will defend my choice of the long answer because this is such an important issue, a pivotal issue that has suffered through almost 2 generations of ‘fake news’ from governmental ‘powers that be', causing incalculable misery and pandemic sickness in our society.  Cancer, diabetes, dementia, allergies, autism and countless other chronic ‘wealthy fat people’ diseases are being  incubated in the ‘low fat/grainfed fat’ mindset.  Isn’t it shocking that while much of the world is dying of too little food, we, in the west, are eating ourselves to death.  Shame on us! 

 
     For those of you that want the short answer so you can quickly delete this message and return to doing battle with the tsunami of messages in your inbox… here it is.  Here at Coulter Farms, we think far too much of our customers to subject them to the health problems that come with depriving you of any of the healthy fats in our Certified Organic 100% Grassfed dairy and meat products.  
 

     Our family would absolutely NOT eat reduced fat dairy and we refuse to subject you to it.  Not in the name of higher profits (it is extremely profitable for a dairy to find a sucker that will buy and consume skim milk as though it were fit for human consumption and let the dairy keep the precious, nutrient dense, sun-golden butterfat).   Also, not in the name of ‘science, falsely so-called’ that tries to sell us a bill of goods about the health benefits of ‘high protein, high carb, reduced fat' dairy.  A friend of mine calls 'reduced fat' milk ‘prisoner milk.’  It was related to me that during WWII, POW’s in Japan were put on an ‘all you can eat’ starvation diet of nothing but skim milk and lean meat.  The imbalance of fat and protein led to muscle weight loss, dementia,  deteriorating health, and ultimately, starvation.  The butterfat from the skim milk and the fatty portions of the meat went to the military, where it had the opposite effect on the combat troops.  I cannot, in good conscience, take money from my customers with one hand, and rob them of their health with the other… just to line my own pockets.  I’m glad to sleep soundly at night, not fretting about depriving someone of the enzymes, minerals and phyto-chemicals that are only available in 100% grassfed fat.  I even feel a little guilty feeding skim milk to our pigs… but they would SO miss it if we took it away from them.
 
     Just an aside… you need an attorney these days to navigate deceptive health claims of food producers.  I’m sure that you all know that the term ‘Grassfed’ has been rendered meaningless.  Technically, a single blade of grass in the mouth of a cow, at some point in its life, makes it ‘grassfed.’  It’s a clumsy term, but in our day, '100% grassfed’ is a crucial distinction.  Even feeding large amounts of grass and a little grain wipes out most of the grassfed health benefits.  Think of how tiny of a drain can empty an entire bathtub of water… grain acts precisely the same way.  Whether or not you choose to eat OUR 100% Grassfed meat and dairy… be sure you eat SOMEONE’S 100% Grassfed.  (Shameless and Biased Pitch for our Product… ‘Ours IS best!’)
 
 
     I often tell customers that full fat dairy is, contrary to popular belief, a diet food… for a number of reasons.  It allows your body to feel full, long after the ‘rush’ of fullness disappears from low-fat dairy.  The Omega 3’s and CLA fatty acids convince your brain (which is, after all,  a fatty organ) that ‘all is well’ with the world and it is safe to ADD muscle mass to your body.  That muscle burns energy, even when it isn’t working… raising your base metabolism and burning calories/lowering your blood sugar levels even while you sit in a chair and read a long, boring blog article :).   Then, when you are active, you burn more calories doing the same level of exercise you did when you had less muscle mass.  So, counter-intuitively, consuming healthy Grassfed fats actually REDUCES body fat, improves brain function, reduces inflammation and improves your immune system, heart health, and resilience against numerous chronic diseases that are plaguing our ‘sedentary low fat’ society.  
 
     I wish I had a nickel for every time someone at farm market asked me for ‘the leanest beef-cut’… I try to tell these people that not only is all of the flavor in the grassfed fat, all of the health benefits of 100% Grassfed (meat and dairy) are in the fat as well… ALL of the health benefits are in the FAT!  If you pressure a farmer like me to sell you 94% lean ground beef, it’s like buying apple cider that’s 94% watered down!  I never hear customers asking the orchard farmers at market for the ‘most watered down’ apple cider… why do so many people want watered down beef and dairy?  Sigh...
 
     The ‘good fats’ in Coulter Farms' dairy products are so digestible that many, many of you have told me that although you couldn’t drink milk for 30 years, you can comfortably drink ours.  In fairness, the good fats are also helped out by our A2/A2 milk genetics (sorry, no time to explain today… google it :)  ) and by our insistence on selling only non-homogenized cream-line dairy products.  The old proverb ‘friends don’t let friends drink homogenized milk’ has a lot of truth in it.  I have sold many bottles of milk to purportedly ‘lactose intolerant’ non-milk drinkers with the guarantee… ‘If this milk doesn’t agree with your stomach, I’ll gladly buy it back.’  That deal has sold me a lot of milk, earning me a lot of grateful new milk drinkers and never, ever have I had to buy back a single container of milk.  I feel like a lot of you that are not drinking milk for digestive reasons are missing a real blessing in your life.  
 
 
     I am truly fortunate to be able to support my family on our farm.  But an even more satisfying thing is that all of you, our precious customer base, appreciate that we not only farm, we farm RIGHT.  This is really a win-win situation for the farmer and the consumer.  The savvy consumer is willing to pay a premium for an exceptionally healthy food and the farmer gets to enjoy farming the way Creation was designed to be farmed… absent all of the toxic chemicals, genetically modified monstrosities, industrial farming practices and immorally high-density, indoor animal housing.  
 
     So, the next time you hear me sigh, audibly, at farm market when I’m asked for low fat yogurt, skim milk or lean ground beef… you can sympathize with me as I wonder, for the umpteenth time, why no one ever asks for eggs with no yolk.  Vive le Fat!
 
 
Posted 9/1/2017 5:30am by Kinley Coulter.

truck trÉ™k/ (noun) - a large, heavy motor vehicle used for transporting goods, materials, or troops.

     If someone told me that they were going to confiscate all but three of my earthly possessions and I was still expected to farm with only those three items… I wouldn’t hesitate about what to choose to keep: my tractor, my skid-loader and… last but not least… my faithful, trusty pickup truck. These three, indispensable tools are the 'Atlas’ shoulders' that support all of the rest of our farming operation. When Rebecca asked what I was going to write about in this week’s essay, the eyes of my mind wandered out of the dining room to the somewhat motley row of pickup trucks parked in a neat row outside of the farm house here at Coulter Farms. When we were new to farming, I used to wonder how a farm could need more than one pickup. Now, I know. Having 5 pickups guarantees that one is always running and available for service.

 'The Gray Truck'


     The first truck that would like to acquaint you with is really the only one fit to take out in public. Popularly known as ’The Gray Truck’, (for reasons that should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer), this mighty pickup is a 2016 Ford F-350 Crew Cab XL with a honkin’ big 6.7L Powerstroke Diesel engine. Doesn’t that sound impressive? Direct Injection? Oh, yeah! Twin intercooled turbos you say? Brrrr...I get goosebumps just thinking about it. This 3 1/2 ton work horse hauls our farm market staff and a 32’ gooseneck trailer loaded with our farm’s produce about 1,000 miles per week to our three farm markets in the DC area. Most of our fellow farm market vendors have a dedicated truck for market. We have decided to use this truck 3 days per week at the farm as a pickup and three days as a farm market truck. It makes us feel a little better about tying up so much money in sheet metal that it gets used every day but Sunday. The trip to DC has to be made with a highly reliable truck, because if we break down on the way to market… we lose a market, which is an unthinkable catastrophe. Breaking down on the way home is a little less painful but it’s no picnic. Stranded on the side of the road, in the dark, as six lanes of traffic roar past, in the sweltering 95 degree heat, with a trailer full of perishable milk, cheese, meat and ice cream? No, Thanks! The rest of our trucks have a variety of jobs that are important but not nearly as ‘mission critical’ as the gray truck’s work.

 'The Green Truck'


     Moving down the truck line from ‘the presentable’ to ‘the, frankly, disgraceful’… the next truck in the line is a well worn 2012 F-250. This truck is pushing 140,000 miles and was retired from the DC run last year after 500 round trips to market. Designated: 'The Green Truck,’ it has well earned its retirement work here at the farm. It might be pulling a 13’ wide hay mower or a gooseneck trailer full of firewood one day and then have 4 heifer calves and some 5 gallon buckets of calf milk in the back of it the next. The family would occasionally like to use this vehicle for personal purposes but the back seat and the bed of the truck are usually chock full of tools and supplies and a variety of debris that might come in handy for farm work but which leave no room for car-seats or groceries.

 'The Blue Truck'
   

     The next truck of note is a 2005 Chevy pickup with 240,000 miles. Known, affectionately as ’The Blue Truck’… this is the nicest truck that is allowed to be driven in pastures. Driving in pastures is a messy and lowly job because the truck will, for sure, come out of the pasture spattered with brown ‘fertility.’ Our rule of thumb is that any truck worth more than $1,000 will not be asked to muck around out with the bovine deposits. Unfortunately, the blue truck is on the wrong side of that thin brown line and is often invited to volunteer for hazardous ‘pasture work.’

 'The New Ranger'

     The last two pickups are both Ford Rangers. 'The New Ranger’ is a 1994 model… older than all of my children, but newer than the ‘old ranger’. 'The Old Ranger' is a 1991. It was wrecked once and later wrecked again… then, it was finally rolled over by a young married man in the Church. He traded it to us, with no title, in exchange for a little bit of backhoe work we did at his house. The windshield is half smashed out of it; the doors mostly close, but not really, because of the twisted frame; and you can see the grass passing by under your feet through the holes in the floorboards. After 10 years of service on the farm, to its credit, the ‘old ranger’ still has 3 of its original 5 transmission gears and mostly ambles around the farm at a modest 10 mph. It’s not much, especially when rain pours in through the vacant half of the windshield… but, it totally beats walking and it can haul a surprising load of fence posts for such a tiny truck.

 'The Old Ranger'

     My son thought it would be only fitting to pay my written respects to those trucks that paid the ultimate price in service to our farm. Every farm has a pickup graveyard. ‘The Black Truck’ was our first farm truck and bravely endured the battle blast of our early farming years. Today, when a tractor is stuck (and why did you need to get that close to the mudhole?), we pull it out with another tractor. Back in the day, we only had one tractor and when it got stuck, we were stuck.  So we got out a heavy chain and asked the black truck to march into the fray… and asked to perform many other life threatening jobs, as well. ‘The Gold Truck’ was our first diesel truck. It died a long, expensive death… after an anguishing year of $10,000 in repairs, we finally abandoned all hope and pushed it into the woods. ’The Nissan Truck’ served a short tenure here… Its frame rusted through, and on the way to the shop to have the frame welded, the engine blew up. Oh well, at least we didn’t waste any money fixing the frame.’The old dump truck’ and ’Tom’s old Truck’ are quietly watching the farm's seasons come and go from their own, protected, quiet vantage point in the woods. It’s hard to walk past these old friends, in their humble, neglected resting place and not stealthily pat them on the fender as I go past… fondly remembering their long, faithful service to me. 

Posted 8/15/2017 4:31pm by Kinley Coulter.

     After 17 years of adventures on the farm, we are, at long last, rejoicing in our first cool, wet July and August. Pastures and hayfields are growing explosively and our barns are full of hay, already. The dog days of summer are usually a brown, crispy, roasting, depressing time for man and beast… this year has been blessedly different.


     Thinking about rain and water blessings and challenges, as well as a question I received in an email, motivated me to write a little bit about water and how essential it is at our farm. In a pasture based farm like ours, getting water to any and all animal groups spread out across 90 acres here at home, 50 acres where we graze our beef and 80 acres where our sheep and dairy heifers graze requires a lot of infrastructure. We are still burying water lines to carry water to the far reaches of all of these pastures. This year alone we buried 3,000 feet of black 1” plastic pipe to a depth of 30 inches. At this depth, the bitter cold of winter is powerless to freeze our precious water supply to the animals.  In the photo above, Jason is backfilling the trench after the pipe is laid.

     We make use of 'freeze proof hydrants', like this shiny new one the boys just installed, to get the water above ground and into water troughs. When we shut off these hydrants, they drain themselves empty to keep from freezing. Overall, we have buried almost 3 miles of water line in our pastures. We finally broke down and bought a trencher attachment for our skid loader, which gouges out a 6” trench as deep as we need… up to 48”. Surface water lines are highly vulnerable to being damaged by farm equipment and animals, not to mention exposing us to bone-chilling frozen pipe repairs in bitter cold weather.  While the animals drink less in the winter, they still need fresh water every day.

     Significantly, during the summer the animals are much happier drinking cool, 55 degree water from underground pipes... compared to yucky, 110 degree bath water out of a long surface hose… animals appreciate many of the same things people do.

     One major problem we face, especially with cattle, is ‘crowd drinking.’ When Rebecca was homeschooling our 3 boys… if one decided to use the restroom, you can imagine what the other two immediately (desperately) needed to do. When it’s 95 degrees and one cow decides she needs 10 gallons of nice cool water… no problem. When the herd sees one animal ambling off towards the water trough… all of a sudden all 40 cows are instantly about to drop over dead from their life-threatening thirst. So, ‘crowd drinking’ is set off as the whole herd starts at a slow, meandering walk to the distant water trough. It only takes one cow to decide she would be glad to be first at the trough… (after all, who wants the other cows’ slobber in your nice clean water?)...so she starts trotting. Suddenly, 50,000 pounds of bovines are mooing, bawling, thundering and hurtling at warp speed towards the pathetic, trembling, 150 gallon plastic water trough. The first 15 cows get their 10 gallon drink. The next several get theirs as the beleaguered hydrant struggles to refill the trough. Then the remaining 22 incite an angry riot to be the next in line to drink. You would be impressed to see how effectively cows can climb on top of each other to get to a water trough before they succumb to (perceived) deadly dehydration. At some point, without fail, the doomed trough is upended, trampled and crushed and the water supply creates an extensive, sloppy mud puddle in the midst of the pandemonium. An experienced farmer can identify the bawling of cows in a water dispute from a mile away. Sigh….. ‘crowd drinking’ is highly annoying. We have learned, the hard way, that the closer we can have the trough to where the animals are grazing, the less of an issue ‘crowd drinking’ becomes. So, you see why we want to have buried water lines available in all of our far-flung pastures. 

     We have 5 wells on our 3 farms, supplying precious, life giving water to our animals. Actually 6, if you count the 500 foot deep 6” hole we drilled, and finally abandoned, after $4,000 worth of drilling produced nothing but dry dust out of the hole. It is baffling to me that we could move the drilling rig 100 feet to the south-east and hit water… go figure! The rest of our wells are all prolific… plenty of water for animals and the farmer’s family. But, sadly, not enough to do any irrigation… leaving us to the vagaries of natural rainfall. So, the next time you bend over at a water fountain for a refreshing drink, look around you and imagine having to elbow your way through dozens of people to get to the water… Thankfully, this is not a common occurrence… neither at the water fountain nor at the water trough.

Posted 7/25/2017 4:06pm by Kinley Coulter.

     Sweltering, humid weather descended on our farm with a vengeance this past few weeks.  July and August are always a challenge here at Coulter Farms.  Our pastures are a diverse mix of 40-50 species of grasses and legumes but they are nearly all ‘cool season’ herbs.  This means that they thrive in cool/wet weather (spring and fall) and desperately want to go dormant (sleep) in hot dry weather.  We do our best to keep the pastures awake and productive in the summer with carefully timed rotational grazing and fertility applications… but despite our best efforts… pasture quality declines precipitously in hot weather.  The Hereford beef animals, the Jersey dairy cows, the Katahdin sheep, and even the farmer and his family get kind of grumpy and tired when the long days get hot and dry, and the flies move in to pester us mercilessly.   Ragweed and thistles thrive and the rest of the pastures get crispy and brown.  Meat animals stop gaining weight and the milk cows’ milk volume drops off 20-40%… no one feels like eating in the heat.  

     Another challenge on the farm in scorching hot weather is refrigeration.  We have a 700 gallon chilled milk tank,  two reefer trucks, a walk-in cooler, a walk-in freezer and two chilled cheese aging ‘caves’ (actually converted semi reefer trailers).  One of those caves had me grumbling last week.  

     If we ever have a refrigeration failure… there is a 99% chance it will happen when we are sleeping.  There is no sound more depressing than that of our ‘high temperature alarm’ blaring at 2am at 130 dB.  

     The alarm sounds quite a bit like two chainsaws in locked in desperate, mortal combat…. jolting a poor, hapless farmer out of a comfortable but sticky bed.  Somehow, my boys sleep soundly enough to insist, the next morning, that they never heard the alarm.  So, dad stumbles out of the house into the humid pitch blackness, 130 long paces to the walk-in cooler and finds... 36 degrees… normal.  OK.  So he feels his way, in the dark, into the shop to reach the walk-in freezer… tripping over a floor jack and kicking over a pail full of gravel ("what in the world are those girls doing with a pail full of gravel in the middle of my shop floor?"…. he grumbles).  The walk-in freezer is humming contentedly at 5 below zero.  That’s the good news.  The bad news?  The cheese cave is,  obviously,  too warm.  Sure enough… 58 degrees when it should be 50 degrees.  

     This is a problem but not a crisis.  I spend a little time fiddling around with the controls, wishing I had brought a flashlight.  Squinting at the circuit breaker box to disable the alarm, I realize that my bleary eyes can’t read the writing on the breakers.  (Mental note to self:  next time, bring a flashlight AND glasses)  So, I’m reduced to blindly flipping breakers until the accursed alarm is finally, mercifully, silent.  Peace reigns again in the night!   I decide that the problem can wait until morning and stumble back to bed.  It could have been worse.  The next morning we found a defective temperature probe caused the problem.  People wonder why summer is not my favorite season…

     Oh well, the nights are getting longer and cooler… the animals and the farmer will survive August… September, and its cool nights, is coming. :

Posted 7/11/2017 8:54am by Rebecca Coulter.

     Yesterday the boys put the cows into a fresh pasture of Sorghum Sudangrass, which is a drought tolerant, heat loving annual grass that Jason seeded this spring.  In the morning it looked like this:

     This multi-purpose grass suppresses weeds and adds organic matter to the soil, and the roots loosen the subsoil.  It is also a delicious treat for cows.  By this morning the pasture looked like this:


     The next step is for the cows to convert it all to wonderful, healthy 100% Grassfed Organic milk.  Here they go to the milking parlor!

  

Posted 6/28/2017 9:36am by Kinley Coulter.

     Before we ever started milking cows, we began work on the ice cream recipe that we use today for our farm’s 100% Grassfed Ice Cream. I have a Chemistry background and am deeply suspicious of so-called ‘food'- with processing, additives, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, dyes and sweeteners that remind me of my Industrial Chemistry courses from back in the ’80’s. Back in the day, we made our family’s ice cream the old fashioned way, in an electric ice cream freezer that we bought for $2 at a garage sale. It made 4 quarts of ice cream in a long, noisy hour that required a lot of diligence to keep children from extending the process and reducing our yield with endless ‘tasting’.


     Today we use a much more elaborate batch freezer that, unfortunately, was not bought at a garage sale. On the positive side, it can make 24 quarts of ice cream in 10 minutes. We make the base for the ice cream right on the farm with our own milk, cream and eggs. We add organic cane sugar, gelatin, and vanilla/cocoa/coffee flavorings and end up with a truly old-fashioned, farmstead ice cream. We were told that we could not match commercial ice cream for mouth feel and flavor without a bunch of additives. While that may be true, we feel like ours is as close to a ‘healthy, no-guilt’ ice cream as you can get… It’s the only ice cream I’ll eat.

     We sell 90% of our ice cream in June, July and August. We don’t need to do a marketing study to figure out why… sultry hot summer days fairly ‘scream for ice cream'. It’s a bit of a challenge to keep it cold and hard at farm market when temperatures get into the 90’s. We have had very good success with a ‘cold plate’ ice cream cart that can hold ten below zero temperatures without electric for 12 hours. We are experimenting with dipping waffle cones this summer out of this cart. Dipping 100 cones makes market a little hectic but it’s very gratifying to see the entire farm market (or so it seems) walking around with ice cream cones in their hands and broad smiles on their faces. We also now have a small freezer that can run in our van off the cigarette lighter. (Isn’t it amazing that something designed to make heat can keep ice cream cold?)

     Ice cream is one of the products that we make just because we want to. It probably doesn’t sell enough volume to justify the effort and expense but we treat ourselves to making it simply for the fun of it. One of the side benefits of being in the ice cream business is having what we think is the best ice cream in the world handy in the freezer to melt over a hot dessert… Yum! You can have this ice cream in your freezer, too. When you are indulging in some Coulter Farms ice cream, you can remember that you are supporting our family and our cows. 

 

Posted 6/13/2017 9:47am by Kinley Coulter.

     The boys spent a long day last week worming our flock of 100 lambs and 80 ewes. It occurred to me that many of our customers have no concept of the difference between conventional and organic lamb. Of all the products we produce on the farm, Lamb is definitely the toughest to manage with Certified Organic practices. ‘100% Grassfed’ is easy. Our lush, nutrient rich pastures can easily produce stout, healthy 100 pound lambs during the green season… from March lambing until November slaughter. The difficulty is in managing parasites… specifically, intestinal worms. Lambs are highly vulnerable to these parasites which cause skinny, sorry looking lambs at best, and dead lambs at worst.

     Non-organic lamb production addresses this difficulty with a wide range of toxic, systemic wormers. These wormers are a veritable ‘witches brew’ of chemicals that end in the letters ‘cide’…. as in ‘pesticide’, ‘herbicide’, ‘homicide’, ’suicide' etc. Our English word ‘cadaver’ comes from the same root as ‘cide’…it means ‘slayer’ or ‘killer’. The nice part of chemical wormers is that they rapidly kill all the worms in a lamb’s gut. The ‘not so nice’ part is that wormers are not ‘specific’, they are ‘systemic’… that means they are ingested and spread through the entire animal. Wormers are given at a dosage that kills worms but (hopefully) stops short of poisoning the animal… much the same as chemo kills cancer but, hopefully, not the patient. A serious problem with worming is that there are only so many different poisons available to use. As flocks are dosed, over and over, with the same ‘little black bag’ of chemical wormers, the worms develop resistance to those poisons and require ever higher dosages. This upward spiral ends when the resistant worms can only be killed by a high enough dosage of wormer that the lamb gets sick (or worse) from the wormer… the supposed ‘medicine’ is worse than the worms. The ‘dirty underside’ of conventional lamb operations is that the lambs have been dosed three to eight times, during their lifetime, with poison that leaves a measurable residual in the meat. So, given a choice, would you rather serve your friends and family a lamb that was chemically wormed or not chemically wormed?



     So, how DO we produce strong, healthy lambs without any chemical wormers? We use a two pronged, natural approach. Several times a year, we feed the lambs a natural dewormer, which is nothing more than garlic, black walnut hull powder and diatomaceous earth (which is just finely ground up sea-shells). This produces a miserable condition for the worms in the gut but causes nothing worse than ‘bad breath’ in the lambs. The other weapon in our deworming arsenal is rigid rotational grazing. The lambs are constantly ‘shedding’ worm eggs in their manure as they graze on pasture. This soils the grass and, after 5 days, the eggs hatch and the little baby worms climb up the grass leaves and are ingested by the grazing lambs. We make sure that lambs are never, ever on the same pasture for 5 days and that they don’t return to soiled pasture for at least 45 days. After 45 days, all of the hatched worms have died and the pasture is safe to be re-grazed.



     When we started raising organic lamb, we were told it could not be done. I took that as a challenge… and, 13 years later, we are here to tell you that, while it is not easy, you can raise Certified Organic lamb on pasture with no grain and no chemical wormers. Try Googling ‘Certified Organic 100% Grassfed Lamb’… you will see how few producers there are and ‘Coulter Farms’ will be very high in the search results. I decided, as a young boy, that lamb was a strong, greasy, overall unpleasant meat. I was pleased to discover that ours is mild, sweet and delicious. I hope you’ll try some. But if not, at least you know a little bit more about what goes in to raising animals at Coulter Farms. I’m not sure I’d want to have been born a lamb… but if I was a lamb, I would want to spend my life here on thick, green, organic pastures with no ‘wormer-chemo’ treatments.

Tags: sheep