Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Building Better Bread: The Bake


I am privileged to be married to a man as obsessive about things as I am. He built this wood fired brick oven for me to bake my artisan breads and pizza. Really, nothing compares to baking in your own hearth oven. Unfortunately, my oven has been in a state of repair since we moved to our farm. I now use a commercial gas oven lined with the same type of fire brick we used to build our masonry oven. The results are very similar. 

Brick, steam and heat are three elements of hearth baking that artisan bakers try to replicate in their home ovens. The brick really seems to make all the difference. If you can't put bricks in your gas or electric oven, unglazed quarry tiles are a good option. When using the brick oven, after pulling the fire, we mop the deck. If misting or using steam pans aren't giving you the results you want and you have brick or very thick unglazed quarry tiles you can try mopping it to add moisture to the oven. Another lesson I learned baking in my brick oven is that artisan style breads bake better with high temperatures. It is helpful to set your preheat temperature well above the required baking temperature, then drop it after a few minutes to the temperature stated in your recipe. Since every oven is different you will have to judge which methods will give you the best results.

Tip: You will never question if your bread is done if you use a thermometer. The interior temperature of a well baked loaf should be between 180F for soft loaves and rolls to 210F, for crusty artisan breads, and should never exceed 212F 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Building Better Bread: The Grain



While many grains lend themselves to bread making, there is one that rises above the rest, wheat. This is because wheat contains more gluten protein than any other grain. It is gluten that gives bread structure, strength and texture. In the Untied States wheat flour is classified by the amount of gluten protein it contains.

Cake flour (6-7% gluten)
Pastry flour (7.5-9.5% gluten)
All-purpose flour (9.5-11.5% gluten)
Bread flour (11.5-13.5% gluten)

Wheat is classified as hard or soft, winter or spring, red or white. Soft wheat has less gluten and is used for pastries while hard wheat has the high gluten content need for baking good bread. Spring wheat generally has a higher protein content than winter wheat. White wheat is lighter in color and notably sweeter than red wheat.

When it comes to finding quality wheat for baking, find out what is available to you locally. With wheat farms all over the country, the eco-conscious baker needn't look far to find a source of locally grown wheat. You can search for a local source for wheat and many other items at Local Harvest

Sunday, May 29, 2011

3 Reasons to Plant a Three Sisters Garden


It's the end of May and you might feel your opportunity to create a charming little garden plot slipping away. But if you have a 10' X 10" area to dedicate to the three sisters corn, pole beans and squash (and a few sunflowers) you can cultivate an interesting, productive little area. Here are 3 reasons planting a Three Sisters Garden will bring you a feeling of satisfaction.

1) Historic Significance 
I love to draw from ancient wisdom. The American Indians, who taught us about the three sisters were in tune with nature and the earth and developed many legends to pass their beliefs on to future generations. The sisters are planted together in one mound with the understanding that to grow and thrive, they would need to depend on one another. They need to see that each is special and each has great things to offer on her own and with the support of the others. The Three Sisters can never be separated but must stay together working, helping and loving one another.

2) Ecologically Friendly
Companion planting is an instrumental feature of organic sustainable gardening. It is based on the knowledge that certain plants benefit others when planted close to each other. For the Three Sisters this is represented by the fact that the beans provide nitrogen for the corn, the corn provides a pole for the beans to climb which in turn, helps to stabilize the tall corn as well. The squash rambles among the rows providing a living mulch and a prickly deterrent for unwanted pests. 

3) Easy to Maintain
Because of the natural effects of companion planting, and with only three crops which happen to thrive together, once established this garden requires minimal care.

For more information and planting instructions for the Three Sisters Garden visit Rennee's Garden

Friday, May 27, 2011

Posies or Prozac?

 


 “If you have two loaves of bread, sell one and buy a lily” 

Chinese Proverb


Up until recent history flowers were not considered a luxury but a necessity. From the middle ages through the Victorian era even the very poor would buy less food in order to purchase fresh cut flowers. The early pioneer women treasured their flower gardens, using their precious time and energy when they had to produce every necessity for their families by their own hand. These people often lived excruciatingly hard lives but they seemed to know something intrinsically that we as a society have forgotten. What bit of wisdom have we lost and what has it cost us as a culture?

Creme Fraiche


Because goat milk is naturally homogenized it wont develop a deep cream line. If you want to tap into the wonders of a true artisan creamery you will need a cream separator. When you separate the cream it will be a very heavy manufacturer grade. Since there is no way to standardize the fat content I just add whole milk back to the cream until it is the consistency I need.

Half and half (10.5-18% fat)
Light, coffee, or table cream (18-30% fat)
Medium cream (25% fat)
Whipping or light whipping cream (30-36% fat)
Pegs of cream (15-20%)
Heavy whipping cream (36% or more)
Extra-heavy or manufacturer’s cream (38-40% or more) 

Creme Fraiche is a heavy bodied cultured cream that originates from the Normandy and Brittany regions of France. It is thicker than sour cream with a mild flavor closer to unsweetened whipped cream. Versatility is the hallmark of Creme Fraiche which is why this velvety, rich delicacy deserves a special place in the home dairy.

Creme Fraiche
2 quarts of heavy cream
1/4 tea aroma mesophilic culture
1 drop of rennet diluted in one cup of water (optional)

Warm cream to 84F, sprinkle culture on the surface of the cream allowing it to rehydrate before mixing. Add 1/8 cup of diluted rennet if a firmer Creme Fraiche is desired. Set at room temperature 12 hours until very thick. At this point you can refrigerate it or drain with muslin until it reaches desired thickness.

Creme Fraiche Pesto
I am already harvesting basil this year and used Creme Fraiche to make a wonderfully creamy pesto. I don't have a real recipe. I just threw a small handful of walnuts, a large handful of fresh basil, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a scoop of Creme Fraiche in the blender and processed until fairly smooth. Fantastic!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chevre Tips and Techniques

Herbed Chevre


Chevre is a wonderful, fresh goat cheese that all dairy goat owners should be able to make and enjoy. This delightful little French cheese should be kept small, 8 ounces or less. Shapes can vary from logs to discs to pyramids.

1. Sanitation
Fill a clean stainless steel cheese making pot with hot water, bring to a boil, add all cheese making instruments (except the thermometer) and your cheese cloth, boil 5 minutes, drain into SS colander.


2. Milk
Of course your milk should come from a healthy properly fed doe milked with strict attention to hygiene.

For Chevre you can use freshly drawn milk or milk that is up to 36 hours old. I prefer mixing the previous evenings milk (which had been quick chilled and refrigerated) with warm morning milk. Chevre can also be made successfully with thawed frozen milk.

3. Milk Temperature
Temps for Chevre range from 84F to 86F. Pour milk into your SS cheese making pot and check the temp with your thermometer. If you need to warm the milk use a water bath. You can do this by filling your kitchen sink half way with warm water then setting the cheese making pot in the sink until the correct temperature is reached.

4. Culture
Although good Chevre can be made with buttermilk, MM100 (s.lactis, s.creamoris, biovar diacetylactis) really gives a much better flavor. While not traditionally used for Chevre, some people like to use Flora Danica, an aromatic culture that lends a buttery flavor to the cheese.

5. Rennet
Liquid animal rennet is the best but most expensive rennet for Chevre. Chymostar Classic is a microbial rennet that performs like animal rennet. Vegtable rennet is double strength. It is difficult not to use too much when making Chevre. Put 1 drop of rennet into 1/2 cup of cool water use 1/4 cup of the rennet water mixture per gallon of milk.

6. Setting the Curd
Usually it will take about 6-12 hours for the curd to properly set. If your room is cool, or your starting temp was on the cooler side it will take up to 12 hrs. Do not drain your cheese until you get a clean break. The first thing to look for is a thin layer of whey on top of the curd. Also you can tip your cheese pot to see that the curd holds together and moves cleanly away from the side of the pot. Finally, insert your thermometer at an angle into the curd and lift straight up. There should be no curd clinging to the thermometer and whey should fill the crack left in the curd.

7. Draining the Curd
I like to set my SS colander over a clean 5gal bucket. Put a muslin cheese cloth over the colander and ladle in the curd. It is tempting to pour the whole pot of curds and whey into the colander but trust me that is not a good idea. Not only does it get messy it is difficult to get a good drain. So just take your time with it. Once the curd is ladled into the cheese cloth you can lift the corners and tie them carefully together. At this point take a large spoon or a dowel and slide it through the knot at the top of the cheese. Lift it up, remove the colander and allow the handle to rest across the top of the bucket. Now your cheese is ready to drain. About three hours after the cheese has been draining lift it from the bucket, put the colander back on top of the bucket and set the cheese in it. Remove the handle, untie the knots and open the cheese cloth. Gently flip the cheese over. This will promote even draining and even moisture all the way through the curd. Tie the cheesecloth again, insert the handle, remove the colander and allow the cheese to drain for another 3 to 6 hours.

8. Working with the Curd
Once the curd has drained I like to let it set undisturbed in a dish, covered with plastic, in the refrigerator over night. In the morning I weigh the curd and add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of cheese. Then put it through a mixer or food processor. This will give you a nice creamy texture.

9. Working the Cheese into Logs
You now have a bowl of creamy delicious Chevre!! If you want to make logs put the Chevre back in the fridge to firm up while you get everything ready. Assemble your scale (if you want to weigh your cheese as you work) plastic wrap, herbs, spices etc. Season the Chevre if you desire. Pour the herbs or spice to coat the log onto a small plate. Place plastic wrap over the scale scoop 8oz of Chevre on to the plastic, fold it over the cheese and roll it into a log. As you open the plastic unroll the cheese onto the plate with herbs or spice. Roll and shape the log. Wrap the log in plastic and refrigerate.

Equipment I use when making Cheese. Culture and rennet are from The Dairy Connection

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Building Better Bread: The Grind


The low drone of the stone grinder has been humming away in my kitchen for 15 years. Stone grinding has long been considered the superior method to uphold the highest nutrition, flavor, and texture of milled grains. It is a very slow process which keeps milling temperature low enough to maintain the integrity of the grain. You can adjust the grind from very fine to coarse for cracked wheat or corn. Stone grinders are the oldest type of mill. They are extremely durable and last for generations. Burr grinders have steel burrs which shred grain into flour. While this type of grinder is great for making nut and seed butters but it can be difficult to get a very fine grind for flour. The impact mill is characterized by the rotating blades which pulverize the grain. While they are capable of producing a very fine flour some impact mills produce too much heat which destroys the vital nutrients. The best start for any bread is freshly ground flour.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coffee Talk: The Art of Doing it All

  

People often ask me how I get so much done everyday, managing the farm and family and seeing to all the things produced on our farm. I stare back at at them, wide eyed, over the brim of a steaming cup of coffee and shrug innocently. Seriously, nothing makes you feel like you can conquer the world like a fantastic cup of gourmet brew!

Awhile back we were caught up in micro-roasting green coffee beans. If you were up around 4:00am any given morning and happened to drive by our farm the robust smell of freshly roasted coffee beans would completely overtake you. We loved roasting coffee but after awhile it was more of an effort than a passion so we went back to store-bought coffee beans. Now, when we are really pressed for time, we'll have a Starbucks Via. Whoever thought I could love instant coffee. You just have to let go of some things for awhile to make room for something else. I truly believe that I can do it all, I just know that I can't do it all at once.

My friend asked what I do in a typical day. Inspired by the poem, Mama's Mama in the beginning of Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living, this is what I did today.

I milked the goats and gave them hay,
I chased some chickens that got away,
I brought in the milk as sweet as you please
And turned it into a wheel of cheese,
I ground some grain and baked a few loaves,
I fed baby goats that came at me in droves,
I boiled some eggs that were piling up high,
I cooked and I cleaned with nary a sigh,
I gave my children some lessons for school,
I made two batches of soap that turned out really cool,
I gave kisses and hugs
And identified bugs,
At the end of the day when the house was still
I sat down here, my blog to fill.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Artisan Style Pizza Dough


It was a warm sunny evening in late August. We were talking and laughing, a typical family pizza party. I had ground the wheat and begun the build on the dough three days before. The feta had been in the brine for over a month but I had milked the goats to make mozzarella and ricotta one day prior. The herbs and vegetables were just picked that morning.  That night as we enjoyed our meal, my little son said, "You know what would be good on this pizza, olives! We should plant an olive tree." It was in that moment I felt like he had truly connected with the joy of artisan farmstead living. I live for moments like that.

This is my true artisan style pizza crust. You can make it with 100% freshly ground wheat, a high quality unbleached bread flour, or any combination of the two. The long, slow, cold ferment builds flavor and develops a crisp crust with a large open crumb.


Artisan Style Pizza Dough
This recipe makes 4 pounds of dough that can be baked over a two week period, or all at once if needed

3 Cups Lukewarm Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Instant Yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
6 1/2 Cups Flour

Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F. Add the yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl. Mix in the flour, no kneading is necessary. Add all of the flour at once, mixing with a wooden spoon until the dough is evenly moist. It should look a bit shaggy, not too wet.

Lightly cover the container with plastic wrap and allow the mixture to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.  Refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before you try making the pizza. Refrigerate the unused dough in a lidded container for up to two weeks.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Charismatic Crepes


Ah yes, the thinner, classier, more sophisticated sister of the American pancake. Who isn't impressed by the crepe? It is truly a beautiful food. When milk and eggs are abundant on the farm we make these a few times a week on a flat round cast iron griddle. Served with an array of sweet or savory toppings such as pure maple syrup, farm fresh fruit, jam, honey, ricotta, or chevre and topped with whipped cream, a sprinkling of berries or nuts. The diversity of this thin buttery delight is virtually endless.

Crepes 
6 eggs
1 1/2 C. milk
1/2 t salt

Optional
1/4 C. butter
1 t vanilla
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon

Preheat griddle on medium-high heat. Put all of the ingredients into the blender. Lightly butter the griddle. Pour 1/4 C of batter onto the center of the griddle use a swirling motion to spread out the batter forming a thin pancake. When the top appears dry carefully flip the crepe and roll it up. Add fillings and toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Greek is Chic


Greek yogurt now claims 19% of all yogurt sales. Long before Greek yogurt appeared on the scene as one of the trendiest new foods of the decade, savvy artisan cheese makers were making Labneh. Popularized 8,000 years ago in the Middle East, Labneh is simply the strained yogurt we now know as Greek Yogurt. Its high protein content and probiotic affect make this superfood a staple for the modern health conscious connoisseur. Steer clear of low fat and fat free varieties. Products made with whole milk are whole foods.

Yogurt should not be made with raw milk. Yogurt culture is noncompetitive and easily taken over by natural bacteria. Sterilize all equipment in boiling water or a solution of 2 Tbsp bleach per gallon of hot water. I use two stacking stainless steel stock pots as a double boiler to heat the milk. For a thick bodied, mild yogurt use ABY-2C Yogurt culture available through The Dairy Connection . You can also use natural, plain store bought yogurt with active cultures, 4 Tbsp per half gallon of milk. I make this every few weeks with ABY-2C and our goat milk. It lasts well in the refrigerator and can be served with honey and nuts, fruit, granola or used as a substitute for sour cream.

Greek Yogurt

Heat whole cow or goat milk to 180 °F Hold temperature for 30 min.
Chill milk in an ice water bath to 115 °F  
Add yogurt culture. (Culture usage: 1/8 tsp for up to 1/2 gallon of milk or 1/4 tsp for 1-4 gallons of  milk.)   Stir in gently until dissolved.
Hold temperature at 105 to 110 °F for approximately 8 hours.
This can be accomplished by setting the pot on a heating pad set on medium covered with a towel or in a cooler half filled with 110 °F water. Of course a yogurt maker can also be used.
Set a stainless steel colander over a stock pot and line it with muslin. Allow the yogurt to drain until it is reduced by half. Tie ends of muslin and suspend it over the stock pot with a large spoon 8 hours. Refrigerate.

Setting Up a Beehive Part 3

 Sometimes it's not the idea of the project itself that keeps us from a new venture, it's all the stuff we need to get started. When your new you don't know what is necessary and what is hype. Because bees can seem so unapproachable, people tend to go overboard at least in the beginning. Personally, I prefer not to look like a spaceman so I don't where a suit or gloves, just a simple veil. The advantage of working without a suit is that it's no big deal to check the hive so you're likely to do it more often. The advantage of working without gloves is that you are less likely to squish bees and aggravate the hive. The overall advantage is that you will handle the hive very carefully which allows the bees to accept you and develops a productive working relationship between the beekeeper and the bees.


So what is the basic beekeeping equipment you need to get started? Obviously the first thing you need is a hive. The basic hive components you'll need for your first year are, the hive stand, the bottom board, two hive bodies with ten frames each, one queen excluder, one super with ten frames, inner lid and outer lid.


You'll want a veil to protect you face and eyes. Some veils attach to a helmet, just get one you can easily see through,







You will need a smoker to calm the bees before opening the hive.




The bees will build comb that glues the frames together so it is necessary to have a hive tool to pry the frames apart every time you get into the hive.

That's all you need to get started. Once you're ready to harvest honey you might want more equipment but for now, you're all set.

Bees are kind of mysterious and intimidating but the promise of sweet golden honey and the privilege of protecting the sustainability of our ecosystem makes it worth getting to know them.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Setting Up a Beehive Part 2


The ancient art of hunting for wild honey involved capturing foraging worker bees, marking them, releasing them from different geographical locations, then using simple trigonometry equations to locate the distance and direction of the hive. This strategy takes advantage of the bees built in homing device. Because the instinct to return to the hive is so powerful you need to make sure your hive is placed in a prime location from the start. As the adage goes, you can only move a hive less than two feet or more than two miles. The best location for the hive is where it will not be disturbed and the bee flight patterns will not be annoying. The hive should be somewhat sheltered and  receive morning sun and afternoon shade.



Once you have determined the location of your hive your need to begin the initial hive set up. Start with a hive stand to get the hive up off the ground a little. Place the hive bottom on the stand then set the hive body in place. If you are getting bees from a fellow bee keeper, just remove three of the center frames and replace them with three frames full of bees. If you purchase bees you will get instructions for adding them to the hive. I acquired my bees from a friend via the frame exchange method.



If you purchased bees, the queen will either be in with the swarm or in her own box. If you got your queen in a box or if adding a new queen to bees you got from a friend you'll need to add her to the hive. The queen box is placed between the frames with the mesh facing out.


After three days check to see if the bees have excepted the new queen. If she is still in the box peel back the mesh and release her. If the bees chewed the box and released her make sure she is still in the hive. Replace the frames in the hive body.





Replace the inner cover.


Use one super, without frames to hold the lid above the feeder Jar. Feed the new hive a syrup made with half sugar and half water. Just poke a few small holes in the lid to allow the bees to feed. Make sure the syrup doesn't drip onto the bees. Inverting the jar creates a vacuum which will prevent leaking if the holes are small.


Now put the lid on and check the food every few days, add more syrup as needed. Once the bees are occupying seven frames set the second hive body in place over the first hive body, under the inner lid. When the second hive body has seven frames occupied you can add the queen excluder and a super with ten frames to start collecting honey.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Setting Up a Beehive Part 1


The art of backyard beekeeping began with the Skep beehive. Hopeful beekeepers would capture a swarm a place it in an upturned dome shaped basket. Because the bees have to be killed when harvesting the honey Skeps have become illegal in the United States. The familiar stacks of white boxes, the modern Langstroth hive, make beekeeping and harvesting honey safe for the bees.

Bees may seem intimidating but it really isn't that hard to produce your own honey. In a good year you can expect about five gallons of honey from a productive hive. Beyond typical culinary and medicinal uses, there are many wonderful products you can produce from honey and bees wax, candles, bath and body products, mead and wine just to name a few.



The first thing you need to do to get started with bees is set up your hive. Figuring out what all of those boxes are and which ones you need to get started is the first step. We'll start from the bottom and go up.

At the base of the hive is the Hive Stand. The hive can be set on a wood base or cinder blocks. The Bottom Board provides an entrance for the bees into the hive. The first and deepest box is a Hive Body. To get your hive established you'll eventually want two hive bodies. The hive body is where the bees live and you need a large colony to make enough honey to feed them and you. Within the hive body are ten Frames. The frames hold a wax or plastic Foundation which the bees will use to build their comb. The Queen Excluder is a screen that keeps the queen in the hive body while allowing the workers to pass through. The Honey Super looks just like the hive body but it is not as deep. The honey super is where the bees store the excess honey, the honey you will harvest. The supers also contain ten frames with foundation. The Inner Cover provides space between the hive and the bees. It provides some isolation and and a buffer which makes it a little easier to get into the hive. The Outer Cover is simply the roof of the hive.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fabulous French Loaves

Authentic French loaves transport me to a European street side cafe. A chewy, crusty slice of french bread beckons me to cut into a wheel of Artisan Cheese and pour a huge glass of delicious wine. Nothing says 'I know how to live and eat well' than a meal like that!

The biggest complaint about American bread is that it is too much like cake. This rustic version is easy to make and requires no pre-ferment. Start to finish it takes about two hours so if you start by 4:00 you'll have fresh bread to serve with dinner. Light summer meals can easily contain only salad, cheese, bread and wine. In cooler weather substitute soup for the salad. Now you have no excuse not to turn every day into something spectacular.

Here are some of my Rustic French loaves cool and ready to package for the Farmers Market.


Basic French Loaves
3 Cups Warm Water
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Instant Yeast
8 Cups Unbleached Bread Flour
1Tbsp Salt
1 Egg White

Combine the first three ingredients, set aside until the yeast becomes frothy
Add flour and salt
Knead with an electric mixer for 7 minutes
Let rise until doubled in size, about an hour
Shape into 2 loaves, make four or five diagonal slashes on each loaf
Preheat oven to 400F
Let rise half an hour, brush with egg white
Bake 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown

Monday, May 16, 2011

Making Mozzarella

 Mozzarella is traditionally made with milk from the water buffalo. Personally, I'd rather milk a goat. The cuteness factor, small size and sweet personality make it the obvious choice for me although the American Water Buffalo Association may beg to differ.

So you can get with this,

Or you can get with that,
This is the recipe I make every week. When you work with farm fresh milk you'll notice that it changes throughout lactation. That is why I offer a wide variable with the amount of citric acid. You can find everything you need at The Dairy Connection

4 gallons whole raw goat milk (2 warm and 2 cold)
¼ tsp Thermophilic culture and ¼ tsp Mesophilic Culture OR ½ tsp MA 4001 Farmhouse culture

2-4 tsp Citric Acid
1 tsp liquid animal rennet
cold 20% saturated salt brine ~1 part salt to 5 parts water


1) Warm 2 gallons milk to 96 degrees, sprinkle culture on the milk, let culture rehydrate for 5 minutes, stir in, Allow milk culture for 45 minutes.


2) Dilute citric acid in ¼ c cool water, add to the 2 gallons of COLD milk
3) Combine the warm cultured milk with the cold acidified milk, warm to 92 degrees

4) Dilute rennet in ¼ cup of cool water, stir into milk, let set for 15 to 1 hr till firm curd forms.



5) Cut curd, let set for 5 minutes to rest.

6) Begin heating cut curd, over course of 1/2 hour, till it reaches 105 degrees, stirring gently. Do not heat too quickly. Turn off heat and let sit for an additional 15 minutes, stirring gently to prevent curds from matting.
7) Drain whey, let curds set for 15min to 3 hours in colander, kept at 102 degrees, flipping curd mat every half hour.

8) Cut curds into 1" strips

9) Put curds into stainless steel bowl, cover with water heated to 180 degrees

10) Using heat resistant gloves, form curd strips into 4 balls remove from water and begin stretching and pulling it until cheese is smooth and shiny

Wind into a ball

Dip it back into the hot water, shape into a ball

11) Immerse cheese into cold brine for 5-8 hours.



Enjoy!

Equipment I use when making Mozzarella. Note: I've switched to the Taylor Digital Thermometer because it's waterproof. Culture and rennet are from The Dairy Connection




Sunday, May 15, 2011

In Search of an Authentic Lifestyle

More and more these days I'm meeting people who long for a connection to the substance of their life. A desire to know where their food comes from and how it is produced often leads them to small farms like ours.

As a culture, we have lost some of our most basic skills and for a variety of reasons we are drawn back to our homestead roots. Within the past fifteen years there has emerged a new breed pioneers. Carving out a lifestyle from small plots of land and becoming more self reliant as a means of diminishing the need to rely on mass produced goods. Today we don't have to do it all in order to survive, we have the luxury on knowing if a project fails we can just go to the store. It is with this freedom we gain the courage to try anyway, to see just how much we can do on our own. As society moves closer to a more authentic lifestyle perhaps we can begin to restore our cultural identity.