June Greer Farm Newsletter

This is our June newletter. To subscribe please click on this link.

The Berry Season Has Started
This is the time of the year many of you await with as much anticipation as we do. In May, we start to get calls and emails asking when the berries will be ready.  Will there be blackberries this year? Did the freeze hurt the berries?  We are pleased to say that despite two freezes during bloom, we have a good crop of blueberries and for the first time in several years a very good crop of blackberries. 
The weather has affected lots of things on the farm and threw off the normal planting and growing cycle.  Two hard freezes while the blueberries were in bloom eleminate our early variety of berries and cooler nights led to the berry patch opening only this past Saturday instead of late May.  On the other hand, the weather was good for the blackberries and the bushes set a heavy crop that started to ripen last week.  These
photos tell the story.
Both types of berries are much larger than in the past.  This is especially true for the blueberries that are currently ripening.  We anticipate having blackberries for a few more weeks and blueberries until mid-July or a bit later.  We are open every day from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.  The price is the same as last year; $3.25/pound pick-your-own.  We have not done any pre-picked allowing our pick-your-own customers to have full access to all of the berries.  This may change over time and you can call and place an order and if we can fill it we will call you. 
Berry Season Cabin Special
Except for one night June 21, this Friday, our cabins and the loft barn apartment are fully booked all weekends until mid-July. Many Sunday through Thursday nights are available.  To celebrate actually having a berry crop after those freezes and to give our customers a price break, we are offering cabin/loft stays on the farm at 2012 prices.  There is a three night minimum stay.  This is for now through the end of July.  With berry picking, lake activities, hiking and nearby side trips, it is not hard to fill three days of activities and get away from your daily routine at a place not that far away from home. We think it's an affordable mini vacation.
The many kids that have been on the farm the past weeks seemed to really have a good time.  We no longer charge for water craft and on some days the lake is covered with canoes, paddle boats and kayaks.  Our bicycles for kids and adult mountain bikes have been popular for those that like hilly back country roads or our rough, but mowed farm trails. The birding season is wonderful and many different birds can be seen in the day and the late evening song birds are as sweet as ever.  Whether its a romantic few days or family time, a farm stay is a very unique get-a-way.
Re-Stocking the Lake
We will add more bass to our lake next week and the genetics are different than what we have.  Earlier in the spring we added sun fish, blue gill and minnows.  Conditions should be at there best for these little bass to quickly become big bass.  In the last month, several large fish have been caught.  One was a carp that weighed in at 25 lbs and the other was an 8 lb. catfish.  Photos  Every year we add Talapia to the lake to control moss and lake weeds and last year we added 15 sterile Grass Carp.  Judging from the number we saw in the spring, they were all not sterile, so we will be happy for you to catch a few.  For the catfish and carp, bread rolled up with canned corn on a floater is the best way to catch them. Most everyone that tries to catch fish in our lake is successful. The Talapia die off when the water cools in October and someone needs to figure out how to catch these very tasty big fish.
Farm to Fork Cooking Classes
Chef Eva's cooking classes are as popular as ever.  The June 8 class was featured in the Dallas Morning News.  This is the class where you go out and collect vegetables and herbs from the garden then use them in the class menu. Most all of her classes are participative with teams preparing the dishes.  The class this Saturday is fully booked using our farm raised blackberries and blueberries.  If there is enough interest, it can be repeated in July before the berry season is over.
On Saturday June 29, to celebrate the July 4th Independence Day holiday, Chef Eva has a very special class:
Independence Day Celebration.  It evolved from our watching a CBS program on the writing of the Declaration of Independence and what the delegates dinned on.  There is a tavern near Independence Hall that was there in 1776 and it is still serving period meals.  She found the most popular dishes of the day and those of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin.  Washington got his recipe for West Indies Pepperpot Soup during a visit to the west iondes where his brother lived. I find it hard it hard to imagine George Washington as a tourist prior to the war for independence.  The class is $85 and starts at 11:00 am at the farm house. There are a few slots available first come , first serve.

 Cornmeal Fried oysters with herb Remoulade

George Washington's West Indies Pepperpot Soup (Served to the soldiers at Valley Forge)
Anadama Bread with French butter (a Jefferson favorite)
Benjamin Franklin’s Romaine lettuce with burgundy wine Dijon vinaigrette
Beef & Pork pie with quick puff pastry
Thomas Jefferson’s favorite floating islands
Complementary ale (from Texas)

Greer Farm Meats

We have been selling grass-fed beef by the split quarter or larger portions for years.  A few years ago we offered individual cuts here at the farm (roasts, ground beef, steaks, etc).  We then started to pasture raise Red Ranger French chickens and we have those available also.  This last fall we added pasture raised pork.  We also offer the port more economically by the quarter, half or a whole pig.  It is always more economical to make a bulk purchase versus than buying by the individual cut.  You can do this and share with friends or family.  Our pigs and chickens, as well as our egg layers, are fed a non-soy, non-gmo feed.  This is obtained at a mill west of Waco. None of our animals or poultry are given any artificial substances.
We will shortly be harvesting a set of pigs and are offering these by the quarter, half or a whole pig.  Our Yorkshire/Hampshire pigs are free ranging on pasture.  You can taste the difference in our pork versus the grocery store pork from pigs raised in a huge barn on a concrete floors never touching a blade of grass.  Estimating the live weight of our pigs, we anticipate the price of a quarter to be $300 for about 40 pounds of all natural pork.  You select the cuts, but they can include ham, pork chops, ribs, bacon, ground pork, breakfast sausage, link and other cuts. The price of bulk pork is $6/lb. and we pay for normal harvest and processing/packaging.  Please call us at 903-645-3232 if you have questions are wish to make an order.
Our chickens are Red Rangers and are derived from French breeds imported into Canada years ago.  These chickens mature slowly on grass and take up to 11 weeks to reach harvest weight.  As a result, the meat has a lot more flavor than you are used to. Whole chickens are $4.25/lb.
We are taking orders for delivery of late summer bulk beef (split quarter, half, whole) at this time.  Price is $4/lb. hanging weight plus harvest and processing/packaging. This works out to about $4.70/lb. hanging weight. Depending on the live weight of the steer, a split quarter is $550-$650 for the beef portion. Packaged beef will be about 120 pounds. Call us if you have question or wish place an order. We believe our price for beef is very competitive.
Jams and Sauces
Eva is still making different variations of strawberry jam from teh hundreds of pounds picked a tthe end of the season. My favorite is firey habanero. She will soon will be making peach, blueberry and fig jams as these fruits become available locally or on the farm.  Habanero and Jalapeno variations will come later as these become available in our garden.  Jams and sauces are $6 for an 8 oz. jar at the farm.
Farmers Don't Blog
Since February 5, 2006 we have written a blog on farm life, our activities and any other subject that we wanted to blog about.  Karl, our son, started the blog and was a very good writer. I took over when he went to medical school five years ago and I am not as good a writer, but I try.  We invite you to look into this window on our life from time to time at this link.  Please be aware we have a serious glitch in our website program that will be corrected in July. The photos in the blogs often are not the ones we selected, but are ones the program randomy selected from our photo files.  This can be amusing and at the same time very frustrating to me.
A few years ago a national publication wrote about non-traditional blogs written by farmers and found ours to one of the most interesting in the country.  It could be we were one of the few that styayed with it.  Our readership varies from a few hundred at any given time to over 20,000. I have not figured out what causes the wide swings in readership.
We are getting a lot better at updating our Facebook page and adding photos to albums there.  This is a good source of current information on the farm and activities in addition to our website.  Take and look and follow us by liking our page or whatever it is you do to link to a page you wish to see again.  Over 15,000 folks saw our recent posting on the availability of blueberries and blackberries.  I have given up on Twitter.  A farmer/rancher/jack-of-many trades does not have enough time for this social outlet.
From Our Farm to Your Home
This newsletter is long enough and items we missed or wanted to include will be included in our July newsleter.  We are encouraged by the comments made based on our indication that we will consider having weddings at the farm.  If anyone wants a wedding in this setting, we are available. Time will determine if this is a good idea. 
Over the next four to sixweeks we will be consumed by the berry season.  It is also a great opportunity for us to meet many interesting people and share a small part of our life with them.  We are never so busy as not to answer your questions and perhaps show you some of the farm.
We appreciate your comments, your visits to the farm and most of all your support of our family farm through your purchases of our products or staying on the farm in a cabin or the loft. 
We want you to make our farm your farm.  All of us we wish you the
berry best,
Sid, Eva and everyone on the farm

It's June and on the farm summer has arrived.  We went from pleasant days in the 80's to a humid 98 last week.  This is the way it is supposed to be.  That allowed us to get our first cutting of hay (40,000 lbs.), the vegetable garden is finally responding and growing, calving and lambing is over and we will soon wean fall calves still on their moms, and best of all its berry season.  Summer may be hot on the farm, but there is a quarantee of cooler mornings to sit on the veranda with coffee (5:30 am is best) and plan the day and end it at dark in the same place with a glass of ice tea, listening to the evening birds, and being thankful for all that happened in the day.