March 03, 2015 - 09:03 PM
|Welcome to spring in northeast Texas. We have an 80% chance of snow and ice tomorrow night and next week it may be in the 60's for Spring Break. Perfect timing for us to send you our irregular newsletter. Good intentions of a newsletter every few months are a faded memory. I used to think that winter was a time for a farmer to sit back by the fire and relax, read seed catalogues and nap in the afternoon. That is only an image Norman Rockwell one could come up with in his native New England where the snow is roof top high. Here at our farm the chores seem to never end, the list of tasks get longer than the hours in a day and days in a week. We hope you find a few items of interest in this newsletter and if you have any questions please call or email us.|
Farm to Fork Cooking Classes
Chef Eva again has an outstanding number of cooking classes here at the farm this year. The complete list March through July is at this
. The first class is this Saturday, March 7. It's a celebration of the arrival of a cold spring and starts with a light celery soup. April 11 we move into warmer weather and Jalapeno and Monterrey jack cheese grits waffles with warm tomato salsa headline this class. Celebrating graduation in May, mother's day and other events is easy in the class May 2. Strawberries are in season and this one starts with a strawberry lime basil lemonade. June is berry season on the farm and traditionally this month's class June 6 focuses on our blueberries and blackberries. It is still the berry season in July, but also our vegetable garden is in full production. The July 11 class puts a twist on using vegetables. Starting out with a savory French onion grilled cheese sandwich, each item on the menu is a dessert made with vegetables. Did you know stressed spelled backwards is desserts?
All of Chef Eva's classes are hands-on. Be prepared to learn, laugh and eat. Check out the link and give us a call to make a reservation. We will shortly have our classes posted on the website so you can enroll online, but for now just give us a ring. Classes are at the farm near Daingerfield and start at 11:00 AM. Classes for the rest of the year will be posted later. We offer gift certificates and a cooking class is a great way to give a friend or family member a special gift. To make your cooking class experience really special, consider staying in one of our lakeside log cabins for the weekend. There is nothing like a nice cozy nap after a class where you have devoured all that you have prepared.
Private Gourmet Cooking Classes
While we have your attention to cooking, we want to point out the opportunity to have a private Farm to Fork cooking class here at the farm or perhaps at a venue you select. Over the last decade and more, Chef Eva has developed many unique class menus. A list of 122 of her favorites is at this
. A private class is a great way for family and friends to have a relaxed good time and then enjoy what you have prepared. It is also a great team building experience where you share this experience together. You do not have to use one of these menus, but can work with Chef Eva to create a class menu that meets your particular needs. For a really special event, stay at the farm in one of our cabins and the barn loft and make it a cooking retreat. Private classes start at $450. This covers the cost of up to five persons. The rate for other participants depends on the number of participants and the menu.
Private dining at the farm is another option to enjoy Chef Eva's gourmet presentations. Dining in the 1850's dining rioom is quiet an experience. You can meet in the great room fo the farm house then retire to the dining room for total privace as you and your friends enjoy a menu that you have developed with Chef Eva. Morre information on private dining is at this
We are on the cusp of Spring Break for most schools and we still have some availability. We have posted our openings on our home page in the
Latest Updates box
. The fall and winter rains have re-filled the lake and I am sure with warmer weather the fish will be easier to catch. A stay at our farm can be what you want to make out of it. Some just relax on the porch of their cabin and take a lazy stroll on one of the farm trails. Others have a full day of activity on the lake, fishing, horse shoes, tether ball, volley ball, bocce ball, shooting baskets and then relaxing by a camp fire under the stars. Your can buy some of our naturally raised pork, beef, lamb or chicken and eggs from us, bring your own food or shop local, or eat out in a local establishment. Both wineries in our area offer gourmet dining or light snacks with wine. This is the list we sent to our guests with their confirmation
. Over the years more and more families return to the farm and often its with friends taking a few or all of our cabins and the barn loft. Plan ahead and make reservations for berry season, a late spring or summer get-a-way or a special time in the fall.
Special Farm Events
So far the only weddings that have been on the farm were for our daughters. If your are interested in having your wedding at the farm get in touch with us and let us see what we can do to meet your requirements. We are very open to your own ideas and flexible in meeting your needs. Having family reunions on the farm is also possible if we can accommodate your date so you utilize all the cabins. For those of you that want to have a retreat, we are very flexible and can generally make most any retreat idea work. Use of the farm house is possible for retreats. As an example, in November we had a photography retreat for a group from Australia that used the loft, cabins, farm house and farm for their week-long event. We furnished all the meals and snacks. It was great fun.
Greer Farm Natural Foods
One of the most important things we do on the farm is grow food naturally. Click here for our extensive list of
. We do this to have farm products to sell, but also to have food for ourselves that we know is grown safely and naturally. Chef Eva's jams and sauces are a by-product of our growing vegetables, berries and fruit. Some of our jams are made using fruit from local farms and from friends that have a surplus. This includes peaches, strawberries, muscadines and pears. Our Meyer lemons are from our son's backyard tree in northern California carried several times a year to Texas in our luggage.
Our laying chickens are in a 3-1/2 acre grass field occasionally shared by a few steers. They have free access to supplemental natural feed and all the grass, bugs and worms they can find. They lay in one of two pasture houses where they also roost spending their nights safe from predators.
We raise our chickens as naturally as we can. They arrive as day old chicks and stay in a warm brooder for a few weeks. They are then transferred into one of four large moveable pens that are open to the ground. We move each pen every day so the growing chickens have access to bugs, worms and grass. They have plenty of room to roam around. The pigs we raise are birthed at the Stephen F. Austin University farm and when weaned we pick them up and leave them in the barn for a month before putting them out on pasture. Both the chickens and pigs are fed a supplement feed that is all natural from
Texas Natural Feeds
. It is based on Non-Soy and Non GMS grain. This feed has the minerals and vitamins needed along with free range forage on pasture.
Our lamb and beef cattle are only grass-fed. They never receive any type of grain supplement. Their entire life is free ranging on pasture and in winter supplemented with either hay we raise or alfalfa we purchase from a trusted source we have used for over a decade. Some question why grass-fed meat is so much more expensive that meat available in the grocery store. The simple answer is in how we raise our animals versus those raised on a factory feed lot. It takes us over 25 months to raise a steer from birth to harvest weight. Feed lot steers are barely 8-9 months old, after consuming 2.5-3 tons of GMO and soy based grain while standing in a wet, dirty feedlot.
Both our chicken and meat products are processed under Texas Health inspection services with an inspector on site. The facilities we use only process a few animals a day and not that many chickens. In contrast, the USDA has inspectors in chicken and animal kill factories, but perhaps only 5-10 inspectors in a plant processing thousands of animals a day or perhaps a million chickens. Some facilities are just self-inspected and not full time inspected. Ever wonder why there are meat recalls?
The bottom line is all of our chickens and animals have an abundance of tender loving care.
For those of you in northeast Texas close to Longview we sell all our products at the Historic Longview Farmer's Markets. There are two markets in Longview in the summer, ours and one that is a commercial operation allowing resale of wholesale fruits and vegetables sourced from Dallas produce wholesalers. Our market has vendors that grow or produce their own products. The market in downtown Longview (Cotton and High streets) is every Saturday from April 4th this year to early November. The Wednesday market is in the parking lot of the Institute of healthy Living off Hawkins street and starts April 9. Both markets operate 7:30 - 11:30 AM. No matter where you live, we encourage you to shop at your local farmer's market and be sure and ask the vendor if they actually raise what they are selling.
This newsletter is perhaps already a bit long, but we always like to share what is going on at the farm. Calving is over and we have a wonderful crop of calves that are now running about the pasture and playing with each other. Our summer pigs are still in the barn, but as soon as it warms up they will be outside on pasture. The fall layers we started as day old chicks are in the pasture hen house and will start laying in April. Unfortunately we lost over 100 due to extreme cold. Ouch! The lambs from last year have been harvested and we will have more lambs born in the spring.
Most exciting is what we have done in the berry field. We only marginally pruned our blueberry plants and if we avoid a late frost, we expect to have a wonderful crop in June and July. We dug up eight rows of mature blackberries (the ones with thorns) and last fall replaced them with Osage blackberries. We also planted the berry garden area with Osage blackberry. We planted last fall Triple Crown and Osage which will have limited production this summer. The berries we plant are not just root cuttings, but are from
from the original plant propagated at the University of Arkansas. Our Ouachita and Natchez blackberries are mature and we expect a good crop this year. All of the mature berries have been trellised. The entire nine acre berry field is now planted. This has been an exciting project started in 2005. We look forward to a great pick-your-own season starting in late May or early June. Check our website for updates in May.
I know you wonder why we are mentioning fencing, but we have a good crew that build really good barbed wire and woven wire fences. Feel free to contact us about any need you may have. We have a fence design that will virtually eliminate wild pigs if you have that problem.
Make Our Farm Your Farm
Like all farms, everything we do is on display every day. If you are nearby please call and stop by and visit us. We are so grateful for you supporting our family farm in so many ways from purchase of our products, attending a cooking class, private dining, farm stay or an encouraging word. We especially appreciate the positive feedback you give. We look forward to seeing many of you in the months ahead,
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All the best from all of us on The Greer Farm
Sid and Eva