Rettland Farm

Rettland Farm

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thanksgiving Turkeys, 2013

Look at the calendar, folks. We are ONLY 10 weeks away from Thanksgiving! Can you believe it?

I'll bet you haven't even given a thought to your Thanksgiving Day Turkey, huh?

Lucky for you, your friends here at Rettland Farm have been thinking about your Thanksgiving Turkey for about 3 months now, and we're all set to get you an INCREDIBLE bird for your holiday table.

Meet Earl

If you've been around the farm on Saturdays, you may have already seen or had the chance to say hello to Earl Keiser, a longtime member of my slaughter crew here. In addition to helping me harvest our chickens, Earl is also a farmer himself.

And lucky for all of us, Earl took on the task of raising Thanksgiving turkeys for us this year, on his farm in Glen Rock, PA.

So here's the deal:

We are accepting pre-orders for Thanksgiving turkeys, starting today. The turkeys will be available on a first come basis. You can reserve your turkey by calling Earl directly at 717.968.0659. HOWEVER, in addition to calling Earl, you MUST send a deposit of $20 for each turkey you order. YOU"RE RESERVATION IS NOT COMPLETE UNTIL YOUR DEPOSIT HAS BEEN RECEIVED! Earl will provide you with the mailing address when you call.

The turkeys are pastured, broad breasted white turkeys. They have been fed antibiotic free, all vegetarian supplemental feeds since birth.

We are expecting the final dressed weight of the turkeys to be 20-25 lbs. If this is too large for you, we can harvest your bird early at your desired dressed weight, and then freeze the bird until Thanksgiving week. Please let Earl know if you'd like to go this route.

The price for these turkeys is $3.00/lb of dressed weight.

We will process your turkey here at Rettland Farm during the week and weekend before Thanksgiving. We will work out exact scheduling as we get closer to the time, but your turkey will be fresh, not frozen, and slaughtered not more than 7 days before Thanksgiving Day.

You will be able to pick up your turkey here at the farm in Gettysburg, for your convenience.

As we have done in the past, you are welcome to come watch and/or help us to process your turkey, if you'd like. We started this tradition a few years ago, and we'll gladly continue if you'd like to participate. Just let Earl know when you reserve your turkey, and we'll schedule a time that works for you.

So, that should cover it. If you have further questions, please contact Earl or myself and we'll get them answered for you right away.

And don't delay! We have a limited number of these beauties available, and when they're gone, they're gone!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In Your Kitchen: Amy's CSA Chicken

So we'll use this as a first post in a new feature here on the Blog, called In Your Kitchen. I'd love to share your pics and/or recipes of the cool creative ways you use Rettland Farm products in your kitchens. Send em my way, and I'll put em up.

Our first entry comes from Amy.  Amy is one of our Chicken CSA members, and she sends me pictures occasionally of the dishes she's prepared with our products. 

Amy sent me this picture of last week's CSA share, which was pastured chicken halves.  Amy's preparation:  "Rosemary and garlic roasted on the chicken and when it cools slightly we will pour on some balsamic vinegar. Soooo delicious!! "

No doubt.

Thanks for sharing, Amy!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Season 2 of The Larder Begins

The Larder at Rettland Farm is Open for the season, starting Saturday, May 11!

As a quick reminder, the Larder is a self-serve farm stand where you can purchase our fresh pastured chickens and frozen heritage pork products.

The Larder is open between 1pm and 7pm every Saturday, here at the farm. Our address is 920 Barlow Two Taverns Road, Gettysburg PA, 17325.

When you arrive at the farm, there is a small shed located by the picket fence near the parking area. (Please excuse the clutter here at the beginning of the season. We've got some cool stuff in the works this summer, but we have to deal with a little unkempt-ness to get there!)

Inside the shed is a refrigerator/freezer, which has the meat available for the week. Be sure to check both the fridge and freezer for all of the possibilities! However, please don't take any chickens from the drawers/shelves marked "CSA". These are for our Chicken CSA members only.

All prices will be clearly marked on each package. You can leave payment by cash or check in the soon-to-be-famous metal "Care Bear" tin in the refrigerator side.

There will always be someone around the farm to help if you need it.  If you don't see anyone, just beep your horn a few times, and we'll come to help.

Hope to see you at the Larder someday soon!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Share-A-Swine, Month 4 (and Another Recipe!)

So here we are folks, at the fourth and final pick up day for the Rettland Farm Share-A-Swine program. 

Our little group has gone through about 400 lbs of Rettland Farm pork in the last 4 months, the equivalent of about 2 whole animals.  That's pretty impressive!

So to wrap it up, here is what you'll find in your share bag this month:

Loin/Rib Chops:  Eat "High on the Hog" one last time.  Maybe sneak them on the grill one of these warm days!

Shoulder Steak:  We had this once before in a previous month's share.  These do best with slow, low heat.  They would be excellent in a stew or braise, or dry rub them and slow cook them on the grill or in the oven.  Don't let their shape fool you!  They look like a steak, but they need time to tenderize.

Regular Sausage:  For any occasion.  Simply amazing grilled (are you noticing a pattern here?), served on a bun with mustard and cheese.

Sweet Italian Sausage:  Our friend Christine (she of Lard Making Fame) sent out a recipe via email to the group last month using sweet italian sausage.  You can find it again here.

Ground Pork:  I'd mix this with lean grassfed beef and make some killer guessed it...on the grill.

Minute Steaks:  Back again, since we love them so.  Stir fry, tacos, or cheesesteak.  Or whatever novel ways you've come to use them.

Thanks for all your support, Share-A Swiners! 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chicken CSA, Charm City Edition

Heads up, Bawlmer.  We're bringing our Chicken CSA to your town, Hon.

Thanks the generosity of Spike and Amy Gjerde, the owners of Woodberry Kitchen and Artifact Coffee, we are going to have a drop off point for a weekly Chicken CSA, right there in Hampden. 

This means that you can get your hands on a fresh, pastured, sustainably raised broiler chicken, from the same small farm that provides chickens to Woodberry Kitchen, and then take that sweet luscious bird home for your family dinner table. 

And you can do this EVERY WEEK for 30 weeks this summer and fall.

The drop location and day/time is TBD, but will most likely be at the Union Mill where Artifact calls home, probably on a Friday afternoon/evening.

So, if you are a member of the staff or a loyal customer of either Woodberry or Artifact,

OR if you live close by,

OR if you drive by on the JFX on your way home in the afternoon...

then, you should probably check out our CSA, and then sign yourself up today!

You can jump over here to get the basics on the CSA in general, contact info, etc.

And then CONTACT ME right away, to get your name on the list.  We have a limited number of spots available, and you need to be sure to get yours.

Your whole summers worth of personal chicken satisfaction may depend on it!

Friday, March 15, 2013

In My Inbox Today....

This was in my inbox this morning, from J.B, a longtime friend of the farm. 

It made me smile.  Proudly.  The wheels are starting to turn, folks, right here at home.

Hi Beau-
I just wanted you to know that I am spending the year on a research leave in Copenhagen DK. supposedly it is the food hub of Northern Europe, but The Danes are rapidly growing tired of my complaining about their absence of farmers' markets. I knew this all along, but going away from it definitely has reinforced what [a nice] food culture is in place in SC PA. Agri-culture, eh?
Hope all is well and best wishes for continued success. I look forward to getting on the meat share when we get back.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Share-A-Swine, Month 3. (With Recipe!)

So, it's time for our third monthly pickup for the Share-A-Swine Program. 

And check it out.  We have a RECIPE!

First, this month's haul:

Chops:  Mostly rib chops this month, which are my personal favorite.  Love that fatty little tail on those suckers!

Bacon:  Most of you will find bacon in your Share this month.  However, we came to the end of the bacon supply for these two animals before all of the shares were filled.  So, for those who didn't get a share of bacon this month, you received an extra pack of pork chops as a consolation prize.  And we should have bacon again for the grand finale next month.

Sausage:  Three kinds of sausage this month.  Regular, Sweet Italian, and Hot Italian.  The regular works great in literally any dish, at any meal.  The Italians are generally used in pasta dishes around our house, but would love to hear how they are used in yours!

Minute Steaks:  We have these versatile little steaks again this month, representing the ham portion of our animal.  How did you use yours last month?  Read on to check out how one of our members used her Minute steaks.

We're really fortunate to have a recipe this month, from Amy L.  Amy is one of our Share-A-Swine members, and she sent me the following recipe that she developed to prepare the Minute Steak. She also mentioned that the recipe works just as well using plain ground pork that was in your share last month.  It sounds DELICIOUS! 

Here it is, courtesy of Amy:

2# pork chip (Minute) steak or ground pork
2 TBSP minced garlic
1 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP oregano
1 TBSP minced pineapple
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground Annatto ( Goya brand in the ethnic section of grocery store. It is an orange box. There are small pouches inside the box)
1/2 tsp pepper

If using the chip steak, place the steak in a large mixing bowl and add spices. Coat the pork with the seasonings,  (If using ground pork, mix all the ingredients together and shape into patties.)
Slice meat. It will crumble as you slice it. Heat a skillet on the stove with some olive oil. Add the chip steak and stir fry until cooked through. (If using ground pork, grill your ground pork patties until cooked through.)

You can add it to wraps or taco shells. Top with grilled pineapple, guacamole and salsa. You can also top it with sour cream.  (Amy makes a chipotle sour cream by chopping up one chipolte pepper in adobo sauce and mixing it into the sour cream.  Which sounds pretty tasty.)

There you have it, our first ever recipe shared by a SAS member.  How bout you?  Have you found any great recipes since we started Sharing the Swines?

Hope you all enjoy your shares.  See you next month!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Joint Lard Adventure, Part 2

A few weeks back, you may remember, I mentioned a little partnership we had gotten into with our friend Christine, who had been interested in getting her hands on some lard.

You might also remember that Christine, after learning that we didn't sell lard for several reasons, willingly, innocently, agreed to make her own at home.  And as an added bonus, she agreed to document the process for all of the rest of us.

Confession time.  I have made lard before.  I KNEW it wasn't quite as easy peasy as all the rustic homesteader or the foodie snob websites made it out to be.  And I also knew that it was a little...odiferous.

Stink?  No, not really, at least not to me.  But imagine the most intense musky, meaty, porky smell you've ever experienced.  Now double it.  And NOW you're in the ball park.

Throughout history, lard was probably rendered outside in the summer kitchen of the farmstead or even in the open air, in the dead of winter (cause that's when hogs were butchered), in a big open kettle over an actual fire.  No intense odors in the house while rendering it, or lingering of said odors inside said house for days thereafter.  Trouble is, most folks these days don't have a summer kitchen, or feel the urge to cook pioneer style in a cast iron kettle over open fire.

So I had the idea of modernizing the process and using that ubiquitous household appliance, a slow cooker, to slowly render the lard.  By doing so, we'd be able to put the whole operation and all its' intense eau de porkiness, outside.

I made this suggestion to Christine, and she RAN with it.

And I have to say, I think she has written some of the best Food writing I've ever read. I sincerely hope that this post of hers gets thousands of hits, because it's the real deal when it comes to rendering lard.  Her theme of "Hey, making lard ain't pretty, easy, or fun.  But it's worth it." is spot on, in my humble opinion. 

Check out her full post here. And then add it to your favorites.

And one last note:  I've been playing this as some kind of partnership or joint venture between Christine  and I.  It's not.  She did all of the research and all of the work.  She was the one jarring up liquid pork fat at midnight a few weeks ago, not me.  I'm just some farmer guy who gave up some pork fat.

Thanks Christine!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chicken CSA, 2013

It's hard to believe, but we are exactly one week away from the first day-old chicks arriving on the farm, which signals the official kick off for the 2013 Chicken crop here at Rettland Farm.

One of many jobs that has to be done to prepare for the season is to roll out and fill up our CSA 2013. You might remember that CSA means "Chicken Subscription Arrangement" here at Rettland Farm. (For the full story of our CSA, check here.) We put the CSA idea together for the 2012 season, and had a nice number of brave souls who gave it a shot. I think I can say that it was an overwhelming success, and that it was a really great experience for both the members and for me.

After getting some feedback from last year's members, I've made a few minor changes for this year. Most notable will be that we will provide the chickens in different forms this year, instead of just a whole bird every week. This should provide a nice little element of suspense, as you pull open the CSA fridge door and see just what form your bird is in this week! 

One thing that DID NOT change is the price per share. We are offering the CSA shares for the same weekly cost as last year, and guaranteeing the same minimum weight. Thought you might like to know that...

So, without further delay, here's the nitty gritty for CSA 2013:

1. Why are we offering our chickens this way? I want to operate a CSA that provides fresh chickens for my members on a weekly basis. It ensures my members a supply of fresh food, and provides me with a stable, known quantity of products that I have to grow every week. I also think that this arrangement will strenghten relationships between farmer and eater, which is something that is important to me.

2. How does it work? Each "share" in the CSA will entitle the member to 1 pastured broiler chicken each week, usually unfrozen, and packaged in plastic bags. The bird may be whole, in parts, halved, or otherwise cut to provide variety in the share. The form every week will be at my discretion, and all shares will be the same.

3. What are the specifics on the chickens? This CSA will produce pastured broiler chickens, weighing approximately 4.0 lbs or more, but not less than 3.5 lbs. These chickens will typically be commercial white broiler chickens. The diet for the chickens, besides pasture, will contain whole grains (excluding corn), oilseeds, and vitamins and minerals. All processing of the chickens will occur on the farm, and be done by the farmer and/or farm employees.

4. When will the CSA begin? End? The CSA will provide fresh food to the members every week from early to mid-May, run for 30 weeks through the summer and end sometime in November.

5. Where is the pick up location? The member will pick up their share at the farm, located outside of Gettysburg, PA once per week, every Saturday from 12pm until 7pm. We are also in discussions to have a drop location in the Baltimore metro area, specifically in or near Hampden. If you are from the Baltimore area and are interested in this location, PLEASE let me know. We will need a minimum number of members to make this location work, so let me know EARLY if you are interested!

6. What is the cost? The cost for 1 share in the CSA for 2013, with the share being picked up at the farm will be $14 per week for a period of 30 weeks, for a total cost of $420. For the Baltimore location, the cost for one share in 2013 will be $16 per week, for 30 weeks, for a grand total of $480. (The extra cost is needed to cover the cost of refrigerated transportation). The total cost of the share will be paid by April 1, 2013, with a minimum 50% deposit due by March 1, 2013. If you are interested in the CSA, but will have trouble complying with this schedule, please contact me. We will consider all offers for alternative payments and payment schedules.

7. One share not enough? So your family eats more than one chicken a week, eh? OR, you are a planner and want to stock up on chickens for the winter while we are actively growing them in the summer? Good for you. Simply order as many shares as fits your needs. If that is TOO many chickens, there will be additional chickens available for purchase at retail prices when available.

8. Other benefits? Some CSAs do cool things like share recipes for harder to cook items. I'd like to teach people how to break down chickens into pieces, as some families prefer. Share tips for making stock (a must when you have access to fresh, flavorful whole chickens). Spend an hour with us on a harvesting day. Get a personalized tour of the chicken pastures. I'd be willing to do any or all of these things, if the interest was there. Anything to build a food community around our humble little chicken enterprise, and a sense of ownership for the members. What ideas do you have??

So what do you think?

Can you dig a fresh, premium, pastured chicken in your oven every week this summer?

Yeah, thought so.

So send me an email and get yourself on the list!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Teaming Up for Lard, Part 1

I sometimes get requests from home cooks for lard.  We haven't had a processor that was willing to make lard for us for several years, and when we did, we couldn't guarantee that the lard we received was from OUR hogs.  That's a deal killer for me (for many reasons, some of which you'll soon learn), so we stopped having lard made.

So a week ago I got a similar request for lard from Christine, a great friend of the Farm.  I gave her the standard answer. "No, we don't sell lard.  But I have pork fat, and you can use that to make your own."  After I give most people that answer, they usually thank me kindly, and that's the end of that.

But not Christine.  She was up for the challenge. And further, she was willing to document the WHOLE process for me, so I could share it here for other people to use in future lard-rendering excursions.

And that added bonus is that Christine is a blogger herself, and so she knows all the cool tricks about inserting pictures and hyperlinks and all the other blogger tricks that make reading a blog more interactive.  (You might notice I'm not so good at those things myself.  But I'm working on it.  Promise)

So, check out Christine's first of several posts on the what's why's and how's of lard making. 

And stay tuned.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Share-A-Swine, Second Month

We're already doing our second monthly pickup for the Rettland Farm Share-A-Swine program.  Below is the email I sent to the members, describing what is in their share this month.

I posted it for two reasons.  First, to show you what a typical monthly share looks like, in case we decide to do it again in the future, and in case you might want to participate then.  (Wink, wink.  Nudge, nudge!)

Second, to illustrate that there is so much more to eating pork than chops and tenderloins.  The pig is a culinary dream, and we as a society have been taught to accept lean, dry, flavorless meat based on an irrational fear of fat. 

We need to get back to eating "everything but the squeal!"

The Email:

Greetings everyone,

I thought you might like a preview for tomorrow's CSA pickup (here at the farm, 11am-2pm). I just finished packing it up, and we have some new things in there to share!

Sausage--Same variety as last month. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! New variety (ies) next month.

Bacon--Enough said.

Pork Shoulder Steaks--These steaks are cut from the very flavorful, but slightly tougher shoulder of the pig. They will be best if you cook them SLOWLY and with some liquid, like in a stew or braise.

Ham Hock, smoked--A few of you may find these in your package instead of the shoulder steaks. They are definitely a soup/flavoring item, and will make some insane ham and bean soup, or use it to braise greens like collards (I just made these last week with Northern White beans and they were AWESOME) or cabbage.

Ground Pork--We love to add this to our lean grass finished ground beef, and make a mean meatloaf or some burgers (Super Bowl Party idea!) Or, use it as a blank slate to make your own sausage at home, just add salt and spices. Also a nice alternative to beef in a weeknight pasta sauce.

Minute Steaks--These are one of our original products, so far, so you may not have encountered these yet. We slice the meat paper thin so it will thaw and cook in no time, great for weeknight meals when you're rushed. It is incredible when cooked with garlic and onions, salt, pepper, and/or cheese. We use them at home for a twist on Philly Cheesesteaks, or chop them for pork tacos or stir fry. They are a fun product, and I think you'll really enjoy them!

Hope this helps. See you all tomorrow!

Rettland Farm

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Has Social Media Reached It's Peak?

I've become more and more frustrated by the declining number of people I am reaching on the business Facebook page.  On my little stats that FB loves to bury me with, it appears that only about 25-40% of my followers will see any given post.  I know that personally I've started using Facebook less, and I think that maybe a lot of people are right there with me.  The fad is beginning to pass.

And Twitter?  Don't even get me started.  Twitter ALWAYS feels like shouting into a large, dark room.

So, in a post-Facebook world, how will you, the loyal Rettland Farm reader and customer, keep up with what's going on at the farm? 

I feel like I should get back here to the Blog more often for sure.  Though the stats aren't as detailed, I can tell that lots of people check out this blog, often daily.

What about email?  Should we be doing more frequent email blasts to keep you up to date?  I know from my experience, sometimes lots of email just gets trashed without so much as a glance.  Would you be likely to read our emails, or trash them unopened?

Along that same line are email groups, where everyone on the (voluntary) list receives the emails, and when you reply it replies to everyone.   I'm a member of several of these groups, and they're pretty cool when a discussion gets going among members.  More of a community feel, which I obviously like.

What's your opinion?  How do I get you all the news you want to know about goings on here at the farm, without bugging you to death?  Comments, please!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thank you, Sheppard Mansion

Today I have to pay tribute to a group of people that I owe so very much to.

My original intent was to let this milestone pass in silence. Not because I don't have strong feelings about it, because I do. But because it's "business", and we aren't supposed to be affected by "business" because,'s just "business". The band plays on, the sun rises tomorrow, the show must go on, etc., etc., etc.

I also didn't want any tribute to sound like a eulogy, because no one died. And I suck at goodbyes, but I'm not saying goodbye to anyone, so I don't have to worry about that little issue at this point, either. The deck is just being reshuffled, the cards are being redealt. But everyone is still in the game.

Last night brought the final dinner service at the Sheppard Mansion restaurant, in Hanover. After more than 6 years of providing a dining experience that most of the diners in this area never even knew existed before, the restaurant is closing for good.

So it's well past time for me to say a few thank yous and pay tribute to the folks who made Sheppard Mansion what it was.

First, thank you to Chef Andy Little. Thank you for taking that phone call from a frustrated farmer some 5 years ago, a farmer who was looking for a new way to operate. Thank you for saying "Yes" when asked to buy a whole, heritage breed pig, thereby beginning MY farm-to-table career. Thank you for neatly embroidering "Reserved for Rettland Farm" on the coattails of your Chef's whites, because that is where I've been comfortably sitting for these 5 years. Whether it is mentions in The Washington Post, countless promotions on your blog, shout-outs on TV morning shows, or simply listing Rettland Farm on so many menus, you've taken me along for the ride. I am eternally grateful for this. Thank you.

Thank you to Karen and the house staff. You folks are the front line for all of us in the rear, telling the stories of our products, making the sale to the folks paying the checks that we all depend on. I have certainly gained an appreciation of how important you folks are to our collective success. And Karen, thanks for keeping Andy sane. And as sociable as you possibly could.

Lastly, thank you to Kathy and Heather. Like Chef Andy, you have both been so willing to support local farms in general, and my farm in particular. Thank you for backing the concept of farm-to-table with dollars, a feat that CAN NOT be easy, given that:  F2T is in it's infancy;  that there are so many absurdly cheap, albeit poor quality, alternatives; or that the economy in which we ALL have existed through the last 6 years is the worst in 80 years. As a group, the enlightened foodies of the world clamor about chic it is to support small farms and local food, but it is another thing entirely to put your money where your mouth is and actually DO it. You have, and I hope you feel nothing but pride in what Sheppard Mansion has accomplished in the last 6 years. I am eager to continue to supply The Carriage House Market as it carries on the joint missions of "Eat Like You Live Here" and "Local is Luxury" for the loyal customer base that you have built in this area.

Best of luck to you all. I hope to be a part of the next chapter of your careers, whatever or wherever that may be.

And thanks again.