What’s In Season?

If you’ve seen our display at farmers market you know that the “Whats’s In Season” sign is part of it! This is our way of sharing with you when certain products are available. This chart is unique to our farm!

Many of you have been asking about chicken. For Apple Creek Farm this is a seasonal product. We begin raising our meat birds (broilers) in late March so they are fully feathered and ready to go out onto pasture when the grass is green. We raise broilers March – September (when there is fresh grass) and offer them fresh each week through the summer and frozen throughout the winter.

Each year we raise an increasing number of these chickens for weekly processing and the last two years we’ve sold out of our supply before our processing begins in Mid-May. So our lack of chicken is not because of the corona virus, rather due to it’s popularity!

FRESH CHICKEN available each week beginning mid-May

We’ve also sold a great deal of beef this winter. We’ll be restocked in two weeks and look for both greater variety AND the return of your favorite cuts including chuck roasts, meaty soup bones, stew meat and more!

What about Spring Lamb? Isn’t that in season?

Nope! Our lambs are born in February and March allowing them to nurse from their moms (our ewes) until May. This gives them time to learn to eat hay and then head out to pasture with their moms to learn about what plants are good to graze and how to be model farm residents by responding to our claps and daily moves to fresh pasture. We train the lambs to come when we clap so that they can easily be moved from one field to the next.

The lambs spend their summer growing while grazing. This is a slower way to finish them (by this we mean prepare them for eventual harvest) and is what makes our lamb lean yet tasty (never gamey). Our lambs stay on the farm until September or October when we choose which ewes (girl lambs) will be kept for our breeding flock (moms) and which will be harvested. This is why lamb generally isn’t available until September at the earliest.

Our goat kids are born in early to mid-May. They spend six months with their moms (our does) out on pasture and in the woods eating lots of deep-rooted perennials and invasive plants such as bittersweet. At six months the kids are weaned and join the lambs in their daily pasture moves. Our goats take a full two years to finish and as a result goat cuts are generally not available until September or October.

We're Here For YOU

Thank you for the outpouring of support, it has been heartening to hear from you!

Our dedication to raising the best tasting, highest quality meats and eggs for our community remains unchanged. As we grapple with tough decisions and conversations, as we weigh the options of feeding our community alongside the advice to stay at home- we are thinking of you.

Our conclusion is that the best thing for our community (wonderful eaters, fellow farmers, your family and ours) is to remove ourselves from spaces, indoors or out, where 10 or more people might gather. As of this morning, Brunswick Winter Market is closed for at least two weeks as the steering committee evaluates how to better serve both member businesses and customers. 

CAN I BUY DIRECT FROM THE FARM?  YES!
Apple Creek Farm will continue to take orders via our email- info@applecreekfarm.meVisit our website for our list of products and pertinent details. Please share this with your neighbors and friends.

Wishing you our best,
Abby & Jake

Are YOU a Local Foods Investor?

Chances are good that you are!

Whether you know it or not, choosing to do any one of the following more than once a week means you are a local foods investor!

Buy Direct

This means you buy products directly from the person(s) that produce them. If you buy our organic eggs each week then you’re buying direct!
Buying directly from a farmer means that you get the greatest value for your dollar AND the farmer receives the greatest return.

These purchases happen at the farmers’ market, an on-farm store, through Community Supported Agriculture or a buying club. When you purchase directly from a farmer know that you’re getting the freshest products and that the majority of your dollars stay at the farm to be recirculated through wages and purchases from other local businesses. On average we retain about 48 cents of every $1 our farm produces.

Photo by Liz Clayman

Buy Local

Maybe you bought our eggs at Morning Glory Natural Foods or another local foods retailer.

Perhaps you did so because you saw on our carton that the eggs come from a place nearby, a town you know. Indeed this is a perfect reason to buy our eggs. Purchasing local foods from a locally owned grocer means that your dollars stay in that community up to five times longer than if you shopped at a locally managed grocery chain.

Social Capital

Influence and connections are social capital. A person or entity who has ‘good social capital’ can ask favors, influence decisions, and communicate efficiently. Social capital is of primary importance in politics, business, and community organizing.

Ethan Roland, 8 Forms of Capitalism

Another means of local investing doesn’t cost anything at all! Social capital is one of the 8 forms of capital that help explain how value can be exchanged through means other than physical currency. Every one of us hold standing in our community that we can leverage to benefit local businesses.

One of the most straightforward examples of this is “word of mouth.” Even in this digital age making a referral or endorsing a product to your friends can have a sizable impact.

Every week at the farmers market we have at least one new customers who heard about our farm from a friend, or co-worker – that’s amazing!

This effect can be multiplied when you share one of our social media posts or when you “tag” our farm in one of your own posts. The same is true when you provide feedback or a testimonial, you’re contributing social capital!

Social capital and the other 7 forms of capital are used in combination with holistic management. The trust we build with you is important to us and that’s why we aim to be consistent with our market presence and quality of our products.

And the return on this investment?

In a traditional sense any investment demands a return. So how do farms provide a return on your investment? GREAT FOOD!

In addition, farms employ local people, purchase supplies locally and support other small businesses. When we buy shavings for our chickens they come from the feed store just up the road. Our favorite nest boxes (pictured at top) come from a small business that is thriving due to the support and growth of small farms just like ours!

Farmers collaborate so much! We order seeds, minerals and other supplies together. Our eggs are included in CSA shares, in on-farm stores and in value-added products around the state- all because we want to support other farms and farmers.

All these farms keep your neighborhood looking beautiful by retaining open space and habitat for wildlife and building community through weekly events such as farmers’ markets. Creating these spaces for us to connect over food may be the best return we could anticipate.

Open Farm Day 2019

We’re really excited to be part of both Bowdoinham’s Open Farm Day & Art Trail & Maine’s Statewide Open Farm Day again this year! Our farm will be open on Sunday, July 28 between 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. We hope you’ll join us!

Let’s us know you’ll attend by visiting the event page.

What type of activities can you expect?

  • Self guided farm tours all day
  • Farmer led tours at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Farmer led tours are about an hour, involve walking over uneven ground, will include visits to all our animals and cover various aspects of farm production.
  • Children’s Activities including feeding the chickens, adventures in the “Grasshopper Field,” grasshopper ID and coloring.
  • Meet & Greet with our canine crew including Ida & Rye
  • Get to know our friendliest goats & sheep
  • Delicious snacks and treats from Turtle Rock Farm
  • Shop at our Pop-Up Farm Store (All sheepskins & goat hides ON SALE!)
(this is a photo from last year, I promise they are still adorable)

Be sure to pack a cooler to pick up some meats for the grill, or stick around for the Barbecue, 3-6pm at the Mailly Waterfront Park. The meal will include Apple Creek Farm chicken along with veggies and strawberry shortcake made with ingredients from Bowdoinham farms.

Things to consider Our farm is a working farm. We’ll mow the lawn but don’t expect everything to look picturesque! Please bring appropriate gear such as close-toed shoes or boots, a water bottle and snacks for your children. We’ll have a boot wash and ask that if you are coming from a farm with any critters that you wash up before you walk around. Likewise if you’re headed to another participating farm, we suggest you rinse off before heading out.

What won’t you see when you visit? Dogs! Having three on-farm dogs, we ask that you make other plans for your canine friends.

Open Farm Day 2018

Open Farm Day 18 (1)We’re really excited to be part of both Bowdoinham’s Open Farm Day & Art Trail & Maine’s Statewide Open Farm Day again this year! Our farm will be open on Sunday, July 22 between 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. We hope you’ll join us!

Let’s us know you’ll attend by visiting our event page.

What type of activities can you expect?

  • Self guided farm tours all day
  • Farmer led tours at 9:30 am, 10:30 am and 11:30. Farmer led tours are about an hour and will include visits to all our animals and cover various aspects of farm production.
  • Children’s Activities including adventures in the “Grasshopper Field,” coloring and games
  • Meet & Greet with our canine crew including Ida & Rye
  • Get to know our friendliest goats & sheep
  • Delicious snacks and treats from Turtle Rock Farm
  • Shop at our Pop-Up Farm Store (All sheepskins & goat hides ON SALE!)

Be sure to pack a cooler to pick up some meats for the grill, or stick around for the Barbecue, 3-6pm at the Mailly Waterfront Park. Catered by the Texas Barbeque Company the meal will include Apple Creek Farm chicken along with veggies and strawberry shortcake made with ingredients from Bowdoinham farms.

Things to consider Our farm is a working farm. We’ll mow the lawn but don’t expect everything to look picturesque! Please bring appropriate gear such as close-toed shoes or boots, a water bottle and snacks for your children. We’ll have a boot wash and ask that if you are coming from a farm with any critters that you wash up before you walk around. Likewise if you’re headed to another participating farm, we suggest you rinse off before heading out.

What won’t you see when you visit? Dogs! Having three on-farm dogs, we ask that you make other plans for your canine friends.

What’s a Pullet?

Pullet comparison
Our eggs are always labeled as a dozen of “mixed sizes” and with good reason! With three groups of hens of different ages the size of the eggs we collect vary on a daily basis.

If you’ve visited Apple Creek Farm’s booth at your local farmers’ market lately then you’ve seen a stack of egg cartons labeled, pullet. Enough visitors have looked across the table at me and wondered, “What’s a pullet?” that I figured a public explanation is in order.

According to the dictionary, pullet is a noun meaning a young hen, less than one year old. The origin of the word is from 1325–75: the Middle English polet; the Middle French poulet, diminutive of poul cock; Latin pullus chicken, young of an animal.

IMG_4754Our 500 organic pullets (nicknamed “The Laceys” for their lacy white tail feathers) were purchased at 16 weeks of age. Since pullets begin laying anywhere between 16-24 weeks of age, our girls are also called a “point-of-lay” hen.

We use the word pullet on our egg boxes to communicate that our young hens are laying, yet not quite producing a full size egg. Why is that?

Well, making an egg is complicated and the whole process takes 24 hours. This short video gives a concise overview of chicken anatomy and helps explain why.  A variety of factors (including nutrition, weight, and genetics) influence how quickly an individual hen will lay eggs of normal size. It’s interesting to note that the older a hen the larger the eggs they will lay and the fewer in number they will lay.

So, whether you love these tasty little eggs or choose to pass until they size up– you’ll know exactly what pullet means! For the backstory on how we found ourselves with 500 pullets check out our previous post, Hatching An Eggs-Pansion!

Nest Box View.jpg
Our new “roll-away” nest boxes allow for easy egg collection. Note the various sizes.

 

 

In our house, dinner is often discussed over breakfast. The dreaded question, “What do you want for dinner?” usually elicits a heavy sigh. Despite being farmers and enthusiastic cooks with access to seasonal vegetables and a wide variety of meat on hand, meal planning isn’t any easier for us than it might be for you.

Don’t wait for the perfect tool! We use a weekly calendar to identify daily activities on the farm, including tasks for the week and supplies we need to purchase. This tool takes that one step further, with space to note what you’ll be cooking and the ingredients you need – meat, vegetables, etc. Simply print one each Friday and bring along to your favorite farmers market on Saturday.

Begin defrosting meat on Sunday to avoid meal prep panic. Pull all the meat you’ll be using in recipes throughout the week and corral it in a shallow glass pan or bowl on the lowest shelf in your fridge.

Choose recipes that use what you may already have on hand or in your freezer. Rather than selecting yummy recipes at random consider what the recipes have in common. For instance, you could cook a whole chicken that is served first with roast potatoes, then as a chicken pot pie and later in the week as an egg drop soup. Ideas by type of meat can be found here.

Prep as you plan. As you look at your week’s menu identify items that you can prep on Sunday afternoon. These might include chopped or sauteed onions or garlic, grated cheese or the whole roast chicken that will be the mainstay of your week’s menu.

Make Mondays easy! In order for meal planning to work, make it achievable. Having Monday’s meal be one that is simple to put together or has been prepped on Sunday will increase your likelihood of success.

Consider using themes to inspire your recipe selection. Sometimes called “meal themes” this is one way to give your meal plan some structure and familiarity without becoming as mind-numbingly predictable as the school cafeteria.

Meatballs
Mini Turkey Meatloaves – not quite a meatball per se, but pretty darn close!
Jumbo BBQ Beef Meatballs

Related imageEggs
Shakshuka – as easy as breakfast for dinner, but with a bit more adventure.
Baked Eggs with Spinach & Mushrooms – can be 100% local year-round in Maine.

Soups
Green Curry Pho
Egg Drop Soup – one of my favorite ways to use local, seasonal veggies and cracked eggs.

Low & Slow
Classic Roast Chicken – Ideal for making chicken the keystone of your week’s meals.
Chicken in Milk – My “go-to” recipe to change my approach to roasting a chicken.

Meat Lite – eating more better meat is our goal.
Stuffed Burgers
Turkey Shanks – versatile to work with a variety of shanks from lamb to turkey.

Spicy Turkey Tacos VerticalTacos & Nachos
Spicy Turkey Tacos
Three Cheese Chicken Nachos 

Burgers
Italian Turkey Burgers
Cheddar and Onion Burgers

Building from any one of these ideas consider pairing prep for two meals. Plan-overs can also ensure you have a meal ready for the next night. See Christine Burns Rudalevige’s delightful cookbook, Green Plate Special for more ideas!

October Newsletter

October weather has run the gamut from typical frosty mornings following bright, clear nights to balmy, tropical feeling days. It is strange to have the varied hues of fall while the temperature feels like July. Like every fall, I have to retrace my steps at the day’s end to collect cast off long sleeve shirts or the lightweight down jacket that seemed necessary when I first stepped out the door. Another hallmark of the season is that the light fades early, this allows us to get inside hours earlier than in the previous four months and for me it means a return to books. I just started, The Shepherd’s Life which chronicles the life of the author, James Rebanks in England’s Lake district. I’ve included a brief excerpt here that I think captures the essence of why I farm.

There is no beginning, and there is no end. The sun rises, and falls, each day, and the seasons come and go. The days, months, and years alternate through sunshine, rain, hail, wind, snow, and frost. The leaves fall each autumn and burst forth again each spring. The earth spins through the vastness of space. The grass comes and goes with the warmth of the sun. The farms and the flocks endure, bigger than the life of a single person. We are born, live our working lives, and die, passing like the oak leaves that blow across our land in the winter. We are each tiny parts of something enduring, something that feels solid, real, and true. Our farming way of life has roots deeper than five thousand years into the soil of this landscape.

Calving continues and we have three healthy bull calves out on pasture. Evening chores now include a few minutes to watch the calves frisking around together, tails straight up and long legs stretched into an ungainly gallop. We have four more cows to calve and hope all arrive as healthy and without incident as the three so far.

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Jake has been busy with all sorts of projects including groundwork at our new property for our walk-in cooler and freezer, setting water and electric lines for the hoop house and egg washing area in the garage, and building a third moveable hen house for our growing flock. After a week with the excavator the property has gone through another stage of transformation, bringing us closer to having our hoop house and cooler/freezer completed by year’s end.

What’s in Season?
We’ll have LAMB & GOAT this weekend at the BTLT’s Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm. It has been a wait and thanks for your patience. Our pasture-raised lambs are slow-growing and with the warm fall we wanted to maximize our opportunity to keep them on pasture as long as possible. Our goats spent their 18 months with us browsing on the field and road edges of the farm. They visited Whatley Farm in Topsham to do some work clearing up the gullies bordering their crop fields. Knowing these animals will nourish your families reassures us as we let them go. We’ll miss the individuals in each of these groups while taking solace in the bonds of trust and care with the animals who remain.

We’re nearing Halloween and this has traditionally been the deadline for ordering your holiday birds. Having scaled up the number of turkeys we produce, there are still birds available. Enjoyed yours? Spread the word to your friends and family by sharing these links to reserve turkey or goose.

IMG_3511MARKET SCHEDULE
Tuesdays through November 22nd
8 AM-2 PM Brunswick Farmers’ Market on the Mall Brunswick
Saturdays through November 4th
8:30 AM- 12:30 PM BTLT’s Farmers’ Market  Brunswick
Saturdays beginning November 11th
9:00 AM – 12:30 PM Brunswick Winter Market Brunswick

 

 

September Newsletter

IMG_9282As the days get shorter the tempo of the farm keeps picking up. Though our daily chores take less time our project list remains lengthy. We’ll be installing a new walk-in cooler/freezer on the farm this fall as well as putting up the hoophouse for our laying hens. These pullets (at right) will be the first residents!

Despite the lack of rain in July and August we are feeling good about the season overall. Two major accomplishments are the amount of hay produced (3,000 + square bales and 175 round bales) and the clearing & seeding of 12 acres.

We are eagerly awaiting calving season, which should begin in another 10 – 14 days. The mama cows are especially loved. The corn husks from the garden and apples gleaned from around the farm are welcome treats. Unlike many of our other animals the calves are pretty elusive. After their first week they are wary of us and jealously guarded by their mamas and aunties. So, once they arrive we spend their first few days seeking them out and stroking their soft, clean hides.  Visit the blog for some calf photos designed to tide you over.


IMG_8702We had some excellent help in August and you may have seen us at market with our nieces and nephews who hail from Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. It as much fun to have help feeding birds as it having these visitors get us off the farm and out to have fun!

What’s in Season?
We’ll have BEEF this weekend at the BTLT’s Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm. It looks like there will be more grilling days in our future, so be prepared with some of our certified organic and 100% grass-fed beef. We will have a full range of steaks as well as roasts and slow-cooking favorites for the inevitable rainy days.  Our cows perfectly express our ideals of land management as they harvest sunshine in the form of grass and transform it into delicious, healthy meat.

Though the holidays seem a safe distance away, they will come sooner than you think! Please plan to reserve your Holiday Birds! Your thanksgiving turkeys are growing rapidly and keeping us entertained with their antics. Geese are ready now and will be available frozen for Thanksgiving or fresh the week of December 19th. These birds are raised on grass, supplemented with certified organic grain and vegetables. Follow these links to reserve your turkey or goose.

IMG_9064MARKET SCHEDULE
Tuesdays through November 22nd
8 AM-2 PM Brunswick Farmers’ Market on the Mall Brunswick
Saturdays 8:30 AM- 12:30 PM BTLT’s Farmers’ Market  Brunswick

August Newsletter

We’ve almost crested our summer peak! Our final groups of chickens will be harvested over the next two weeks with geese and summer turkeys following soon behind. This is welcome news as another hot, dry summer has left us wishing for more grass. We are turning those wishes into action by using the Maine Grass Farmers Network (MGFN) no-till drill to seed our newly cleared 12 acres.

 

A no-till drill is a piece of equipment that allows you to add new species of plants to an existing field or to seed a brand new field (like ours) more effectively. The drill rolls across the ground, uses coulters to slit open the soil, drop in a seed and then another set of coulters and rollers close up the slit over your seed. The advantages of using this tool are that the seed goes just where you want it and the chances of germination are much greater given that it is in contact with soil.

IMG_7863
Just after clearing

IMG_8251
After clearing and sub-soiling

As many of you know we own 70 acres adjacent to the home farm. Over the course of just 4 weeks we worked with Comprehensive Land Technologies to open up two existing pastures, the area for our new barn and to selectively thin for silvopasture. We are thrilled with the results and very excited to see the grass grow. Stay tuned for a blog post that will chronicle the clearing.

What’s in Season?
Goat is back in stock!  If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to do so. You can find recipes here. Our cashmere goats are raised on pasture and browse for a lean, mild flavored meat very similar to our lamb.

By the first weekend in September we will have additional beef and turkey. Our beef sold in record time this year, so if you are waiting for steaks, thanks for your patience. For now, enjoy the burgers! If you prefer a turkey burger then you’ll be in luck too.

IMG_7160IMG_2085

 

 

 

 

 

Since we’re talking turkey-  you can now order your Holiday Birds!

Your thanksgiving turkeys just went outside and are enjoying a summer forage crop of millet. We call the turkeys the “goats of the poultry world” meaning they are always scheming about ways to upend our expectations. Whether by escaping from their brooder, roosting on the cords of their lights or chirping with delight – these birds are never boring!

The first group of geese will head to harvest at the end of the month, so if you’re contemplating one for the holidays we encourage you to test one now. These birds are raised on grass, supplemented with certified organic grain and local delicacies like our just ripe green apples. The geese are gorgeous and we’re looking forward to sharing them with you.  To order, follow these links to reserve your turkey or goose.