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Whats happening Down on the Farm
Posted 2/28/2015 6:52am by Missy VanWormer.

TOAD HALL FARM CELEBRATES NATIONAL CSA SIGN-UP DAY FEBRUARY 28 EMMETT, MI (February 23, 2015):

Toad Hall Farm is pleased to join other farms from around the country for National CSA Sign-Up Day on February 28. The day encourages food consumers to buy a share of their local farm’s harvest for the 2015 season, a buying model known as Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. CSA has become an important model to support local agriculture since it was introduced to the United States in the 1980s and since grown to over 6,000 farms across the country. To join a CSA, members buy a share of the harvest in the Winter and Spring and then get a box of local produce each week throughout the growing season. “CSAs are the most authentic connection between a farmer and eater available. CSA members get the freshest, high quality, seasonal local produce, but they also get a direct connection to their farmer. This model is economically important to farmers, especially small and beginning farmers, because they can grow with confidence knowing that they have a market for their produce ahead of time.”, says Simon Huntley from Small Farm Central, a technology company that works with CSA farms across the country, and the creator of National CSA Sign-up Day. February 28th was chosen as National CSA Sign-up Day because this day is the most popular day to sign up for CSA shares according to the 2014 CSA Farming Report. Buying a CSA share in late winter is important because farmers are making the capital investments for this year’s harvest now and the CSA model means they do not need to finance these costs with costly credit. To encourage local food fans to buy in on National CSA Sign-Up Day, Toad Hall Farm is offering $10 in THF Market Bucks, to be used at their market booth, to members who sign up on National CSA Sign-up Day. “Our CSA has been offering fresh fruit and veggies to our members for 4 years now,” says Missy VanWormer, owner of Toad Hall Farm. “We deliver to Port Huron's Vantage Point Market, Lexington Heights and Harsen's Island. THF also offers special programs to employers who want a fresh produce option for their employees.” To learn more and to join us for the 2015 season, you can reach us at www.toadhallfarms.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ToadHallFarm.”

To learn more about National CSA Sign-Up Day and the CSA model, visit www.csasignupday.com.

About Toad Hall Farm: Toad Hall Farm is a small family run farm and orchard in Emmett, MI that specializes in growing vegetables and fruit using natural practices.

Contact Toad Hall Farm: www.toadhallfarms.com 810.887.7814 www.facebook.com/ToadHallFarm migreenthumb@yahoo.com

For information about National CSA Sign Up day visit: http://csasignupday.com or contact the organizer:Small Farm Central Simon Huntley simon@smallfarmcentral.comhttp://www.smallfarmcentral.com 412-567-3864

Posted 2/1/2015 4:02pm by Missy VanWormer.

Are you a THF CSA member? Would you like to get an egg share for free? 

Refer a friend to Toad Hall Farm and when they pay for any size veggie share, I'll give you both a free egg share. All that's needed is for two separate shares, both your share and theirs, to be paid for and be from the 2015 season. If you already paid for an egg share when you signed up, you'll receive a credit back for the full amount. Or you can choose to have an extra egg share. This offer expires soon so don't wait. 

Posted 1/5/2015 10:53pm by Missy VanWormer.

This is my new favorite mustard recipe. I find it sweet and tangy with the texture of a whole grain mustard. It's very versatile too. I used brown sugar for a sweetener but you could totally use a honey or maple sugar depending on the type of mustard you wanted to make. You could also substitute the cider vinegar with your favorite local beer for a nice beer mustard perfect for dipping pretzels. It's definitely an easy recipe to play around with and customize.

Ingredients

1/4 cup dry mustard powder

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon Himalayan pink sea salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup pickle juice *I used McCluer's Brine but homemade works too

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup mustard seed

Directions Use a microwave-safe bowl and whisk together the dry mustard, brown sugar, salt and garlic powder. In a separate bowl, combine the pickle juice, water and cider vinegar. I used a mortar and pestle to grind the mustard seed to keep it a bit more rustic, but a spice grinder will work well too just pulse for about a minute. Once mustard seed is ground to your liking, add it to the bowl with the other dry ingredients and whisk in the liquids. Microwave for 1 minute on high to soften the mustard seed and blend flavors. Use an immersion blender to further blend the mustard. This also gives you that familiar mustard consistency. Keep in a glass jar or container and allow to cool to room temperature uncovered. Once cool, you can use it right away or you can cover and leave over night to really get a nice flavor. Then store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

 

Posted 12/30/2014 1:38pm by Missy VanWormer.

I love getting fresh milk from a neighboring farm. Being a cheese maker at heart, fresh milk is my canvas and the different molds, bacteria and cultures are my paints. There is a level of milk processing that anyone can do, with almost any kind of milk. Today I'll show you how to make a Bulgarian style yogourt. 

Here's the kicker, one of the only types of milk you can not use is Ultra-pasteurized milk, also known as Organic milk. Because organic dairy products are considered specialty products, they ultra-pasteurize them to increase shelf life and cut down on waste. This process kills all possible bacteria, leaving nothing let to make cheese with. On the flip side of the same coin is Raw Milk, or unprocessed milk as its defined by the state of Michigan. Raw milk is alive with it's own ecosystem of bacterium. The good bugs keep the bad bugs in check, as long as they're not over run, but the good bugs can also keep outsiders from gaining a foot hold in the milk. So if your making something like yogurt with raw milk, like I am here, that requires you to introduce a different type of bacteria into the ecosystem, you may be met with resistance by it's current inhabitants, causing you to end up with runny yogurt. So for consistency, I like to bring the raw milk up to 180°F to kill off some of the bacteria that may try and kill off the bacteria I'm trying to use. If your using store bought milk, I would heat the milk to about 110°.

Heres some step by step instructions for making a basic Bulgarian Yogourt.

Step 1- boil a kettle of water to use for sterilizing pans and utensils. Wash then sterilize anything the milk touches with boiling water. Get your yogurt maker out and do the same to the jars and lids. If you don't have a yogurt maker, you can use clean ball jars and a slow cooker/crockpot.

Step 2- fill a sink 6" or so with cold water, if using raw milk. You'll use this to rapid cool the milk back down to 110°f. Using a double boiler, heat milk to 180°, remove from heat and place pot in cold water until thermometer reads 110°F. 

If using store bought milk, heat to 110° and remove from heat. 

Step 3- while staring add your yogurt culture or two tablespoons of store bought plain yogurt. 

Step 4- add milk to jars, place lids on jars, put filled jars in yogurt maker and turn it on. Leave in maker for 7-12 hours. If using crockpot, place filled balls jars in crock, add lid to crock and use the keep warm feature  Also leave set for 5-10 hours depending on jar size. If you open one of the lids and poor of the whey or mix it into the yogurt, you'll be able to check for consistency. If it's too runny, put it back in the yogurt maker for a few more hours. 

Step 5- 

when finished, place in refrigerator and enjoy with fresh fruit, homemade granola, honey or maple syrup. Be sure to save back at least two tablespoons to inoculate your next batch with.  

 

*important  note. When cleaning up your tools and pans, rinse them with cool water first to get rid of the milk residue. This will help slow down a substance called milk stone from forming on the surfaces, which, over time, can add bad bacteria into your milk. 

 

Posted 11/30/2014 3:50pm by Missy VanWormer.

I just may be one of the only women I know who gets excited about fat. I love the stuff. Go crazy for it even. I shed tiny tears when it's all gone. It has so many uses and it IS better for you the vegetable fat (vegetable oil). It has less saturated fat (bad fat) than butter, while it also has more than twice as much monounsaturated fat (good fat) than butter. If you make it yourself then it won't have been hydrogenated. 

We cook and bake with it, if a cookie sheet needs greasing, just scoop a little out of the jar with some wax paper and you're good to go. Lard is rendered from pig fat and Tallow comes from beef. We raise Mulefoot hogs and know a few people who also raise pigs if we need to trade for fat. You can ask at your local butchers or talk with your local pig/beef farmer to see if they'll save you some when they next take an animal in for processing. You'll need about a pound of fat to get a pint of lard. It reminds me of the old rhyme, "A pints a pound the world around" 

Step 1- pull out the Electric Crock Pot 

Step 2- cut the fat into pieces 

Step 3- add the cut fat and 1/2 cup water to the crock pot and turn it on low. The water is a must. It will keep the fat from burning/catching fire and evaporate away. Once the fat is melted, poor it through cheese cloth into a wide mouth ball jar and allow to cool. Keep it in the fridge. 

*note- there will be pieces of "fat" that will now melt. The left over bits are called cracklings. Save them back and fry them crispy in a pan and you have yourself a nice treat for all your hard work. 

 

Posted 6/6/2014 5:51pm by Missy VanWormer.

Hello everyone! 

We will be closing registration to join the 2014 CSA program very soon. We opened up extra shares instead of joining another market, so we do have a few shares of every size left. We will be holding a couple of the singles shares back to sell at Vantage Point market to people who would like to pay with their EBT. If you would be interested in paying for a share with your EBT, please email us your information and we will have a separate sign up form for you to fill out at market. Shares paid for using EBT can not be paid in advance, so you will have to pay weekly at the time of pick up. 

We would like to thank all our new and returning members, were looking forward to a great season! 

THF

Posted 5/10/2014 11:30am by Missy VanWormer.

Hello every one! We have been busy here at THF getting ready for planting. The seed house is full of pretty green seedlings waiting for the soil to warm up enough to get planted in the field. We're itiching to play in the dirt! The new high tunnel came yesterday too, so stay tuned for more information on that. 

I wanted to take a minute and answer a few questions that we've been getting about our shares. Yes, we do still have a few left of everything. At this time we only have one full share left though and two eggs shares. The egg shares have been very popular this season. If you are on the fence about getting a share, please don't hesitate to contact me and I will help you determine which size is right for you. But hurry before there all sold. :-)

We have also had a lot of people asking for a half share in the farm raised chickens, so we have added one. The half share will get you 6 whole chickens, raised by our fellow farmer the Pelletier's.

We are looking at starting the Farmers Market on May 24th at Vantage Point. We should have dry goods and veggie starts, but it will be a few weeks yet on veggies ready to eat yet. Will make sure to keep you posted on when they'll be ready. 

If you haven't already signed up for Farm Fan, I encourage you to check it out. Not only will you get updates on what we're brining to market and when we're bringing it, you'll also earn points for shopping with us and those points add up to some pretty cool prizes. Check us out at Toad Hall Farm Fan! Remember, we will always respect your privacy and never share personal information. No data mining here folks. Now potato mining is another story.

Well I'm off for now, gotta get back to work. Happy Mother's Day tomorrow for all the moms out there, hope you all have a good day!  

Posted 4/22/2014 9:38am by Missy VanWormer.

Join Farm Fan and get text messages from THF once a week to tell you what we're brining to market. It will also keep track of what you buy with us so you can earn rewards from the farm or free money to use on purchases! 

Are you a Toad Hall Farm Fan? http://www.farmfanapp.com/toadhallfarm/signup

Posted 2/10/2014 12:42pm by Missy VanWormer.

This winter has been long, cold and crazy! Im sitting here at my desk planning the spring growing season and its a balmy 12 degrees outside. How are you supposed to think about spring when its 12 degrees out? Its not easy, but if you look around you'll see that mother nature is thinking about it as well. The little birds and coming back, the days are starting to get longer, and pretty soon it should start to warm up. So with spring on its way, its time to think about veggies. Veggies=CSA shares! 2014 Shares are on sale now. We are offering returning members a special discount, so if your planing on coming back this season, shoot me an email before you sign up and I will send you out an electronic coupon. There is still a nice discount for new members too when you pay using pay-pal, no coupon needed.

New for 2014! We are adding an egg share. You guys asked for it, so we're brining to you. The egg share can be added to your normal veggie/fruit share or be on its own. The egg shares will be VERY limited this year, while we fine tune this new program. They will run from July-October, approximately 16 weeks, and of corse will come from our free ranging, soy free hens. We will still try to have eggs available at market throughout the season for those who are not looking for a dozen eggs each week.  

We have a lot of exciting things planned again this year, I can't wait. 

Posted 5/7/2013 10:07pm by Missy VanWormer.

The farm has been crazy busy these last few weeks. From moving and trying to get fence set up, to getting ready for our first Dandelion Festival this weekend. We added two new residents last weekend to the THF family. They are a pair of Mulefoot Hogs named Elmo and Hilde, and for those of you who don't know what the Mulefoot Hogs are, I would invite you to check out the discription at http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/mulefoot.html They are a very rare type of pig, prized for their lard and meat. We are very lucky to be able to add them to our herd. 

Soon we will be planting and getting ready for our main growing season. We are working on tilling the old corn field from last year to make room for the CSA garden. We will put out an update soon for the potato and onion plantings in case anyone wants to stop out and volunteer for planting, We would be happy to have you.

The new run of Micros look like they are going to be late. I didn't get my replacement seeds when I was hoping I would and then they were started late. So, while they may not be ready for the weekend, they will for sure be ready later that week and we do not predict any lull in production after that. We will be going to market saturday, May 18th, and should have the micros there.

Last but not least, THF is still looking for a farm intern for this year. If you or someone you know would like to give farming a try, please send us an email and tell us about yourself. We have quit the project list this year, so I would anticipate a vaired learning experience. Contact us for more information.