Fresh From Our Farm

Demystifying Wine


glass of wine_rec

Since we’ve started this new venture in making our own wine, we are often asked – isn’t this hard to do? Don’t you need a lot of special stuff? Doesn’t it take a lot of time?

Our best way to answer those questions is to use a process that everyone understands – making apple cider. Most of us have visited a cider mill and watched as the presses squeezed every drop of juice from the apples, sent the juice through a maze of tubes, and the finished product was bottled by the gallon, quart or pint.

So, how does this relate to wine?

The product

Dandelion field

The cider mill picks or purchases bushels of apples to make the cider.

As a wine maker, I have a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers that I can pick for my wine in addition to the traditional grapes. Unlike the cider mill, that can only produce cider with apples are in season, a winery, such as ours, can start a batch of wine selecting from the produce that is in season.

Both are so similar – they rely on produce that is in season.

The juice

pulp

The apples in the cider mill are pressed, usually in a cloth sandwiched between wood that exerts a tremendous force on the apples. The result is the juice.

The wine process is similar. Grapes, apples, and other fruit can be pressed in order to obtain the juice for the wine. Vegetables are often cooked to release their juices, and flowers are steeped like tea. More delicate fruits, like strawberries, can be run through a juicer.

In any case, both the cider mill and the winery rely on a method of juicing the produce.

Processing

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Here is one area where there is a difference in the process. At the cider mill, once the juice is flowing, it goes right to bottling.

A winery needs to add sugar, other optional ingredients, and yeast to the juice of the selected produce. This is the step that transforms ordinary juice into an alcoholic beverage. The amount of sugar determines the level of alcohol in the finished product. This process typically takes four to six months to complete.

Packaging

HeavenlyPeach r

The standard containers for apple cider are plastic jugs in gallon, quart, or pint sizes.

Wine can be bottled in the standard 750 ml bottles or the one-serving 187 ml bottles. The bottles can be clear or tinted and labeled accordingly.

The products are now ready for purchase.

The wine making process is not extremely difficult and it doesn’t need a lot of “special” equipment. Yes, it does take time to process, but, we guarantee you, it’s worth the wait.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

 

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Natural or Organic


organic-labels

Advertising agencies know that how a food is marketed and the perception the public has about certain words can command a bigger profit in the grocery store. Both “natural” and “organic” grab the public’s attention. But the real question is, do either of these words mean that the food is any more nutritious than the foods that do not have either of these labels.

Natural

The term natural can be confusing. Most of us feel that natural means not artificial. But what, exactly, does it mean for our food?

According to USDA, natural can be used on foods that do not contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, or chemical preservative AND minimal processing was used to make the food edible or safe for human consumption.

Natural methods of preparing foods include freezing, drying, smoking, roasting, pressing fruits for juices, grinding meat, and separating eggs. Canning could be a natural method only if no chemical preservatives is used in the process. The use of solvent extraction, acid hydrolysis, and chemical bleaching is not considered a natural method.

Prepared foods can be labelled “natural” if an ingredient used is does not significantly change the character of the product. In this case, the label must identify that ingredient. For example, “All natural ingredients except dextrose and modified food starch.

Organic

The government has identified substances that can and cannot be used when raising foods that are organic. Most of us would like to think that organic means natural or non-synthetic, but, it does not. This is how it is stated on the Nation List web page.

“In general, synthetic substances are prohibited for crop and livestock production unless specifically allowed and non-synthetic substances are allowed for crop and livestock production unless specifically prohibited.”

So, exactly what is allowed and what is prohibited? For the complete list, you need to look at the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

And, to increase confusion, the list is reviewed every five years so some substances that were not prohibited could end up on the prohibited list and, of course, some substances that we thought should not be used, can now be used.

In addition, some of the prohibited substances could be used on certain crops or up to a certain amount.

Even if a product is labeled “organic” it may not be certified as organic. Organic farmers whose sales are less than $5,000 are exempt from certification.

But the bottom line is – is organic food better for you? Yes, if you are concerned about GMOs. But, if your organic fruits and vegetables need to be shipped in, you may be better off by purchasing fresh, natural foods from your local farmer.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses

Wow! A Double Yolk!


doubleYolk_ours

It’s happening again – we are finding double yolks in our eggs. My mother always thought it meant good luck, but does it?

Myths

With the odds of cracking open a double and triple (yikes!) yolk eggs are about one in one thousand, it’s understandable that there would be myths and superstitions surrounding this event.

Wiccans believe that the double yolk is a sign of good fortune, but the Norse thought it was a sign of doom – death was imminent for someone in the family. The most common myth is that someone in the family will get pregnant and have twins, or someone in the family will be getting married soon because of a pregnancy.

None of these occurrences have a time limit on them, and all could happen in a reasonable amount of time. But to attribute it to a double yolk egg, well, seems like a bit of a stretch.

Facts

Double yolks are caused the same way twins happen. The ovary releases two eggs too close together. In mammals, the result would be twins. For hens, the closeness of the release allows one shell to form around the two eggs forming a double yolk egg.

This typically happens in young hens whose system is not synced up properly or in older hens that are nearing the end of their egg laying days. In either case, it is the metabolism of the hen that causes this occurrence.

If the egg were fertilized, the result would probably be two dead chicks instead of twins since the egg shell itself could not expand to meet the growing demands of the chicks. The hens, themselves, could become egg bound or suffer from a vent prolapse.

There are some hens that have a hereditary trait to lay double yolkers. This would be more common in heavy breeds such as the Buff Orpington.

Safe and healthy?

If you get a double yolk egg consider it a protein bonus and scramble it up, but, if it happens when you are baking, it would not count as two eggs because the amount of egg white is less and could alter the taste of whatever you were baking.

In any case, enjoy your eggs and don’t be overly concerned about the superstitions surrounding double yolks.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Milkweed and Your Hay


milkweed

Without milkweed, the monarch butterfly would become extinct as this is the only plant that the monarch caterpillars eat. But, what about other animals, birds or insects? Is this a plant we want in our pastures or hay fields?

Toxicity

Milkweed is toxic to poultry and some livestock including sheep, goats, cattle, and horses with cattle, sheep and horses being the most susceptible. Milkweed contains two toxins: cardiac glycosides and an unidentified neurotoxin. Both of these can cause death. While the neurotoxin is the most lethal, the cardiac glycosides can produce digitalis-like signs that can contribute to death.

The amount of milkweed that your horse would have to eat to become ill or die is uncertain. A lot is dependent on the horse but, it could be as little as 0.0005% of your horse’s weight to as much as 2.0%. For a 1,000 pound horse, the amount could vary from ½ pound to 20 pounds.

Dry milkweed that has been baled in the hay DOES NOT lose its toxicity! While the green plant is more toxic, the dry plant can still make a horse sick or even die!

Symptoms

The symptoms of cardiac glycosides include depression and reluctance to stand, irregular heartbeat, colic, dilated pupils, muscular weakness or tremors and uncoordinated gait, and labored breathing. Death typically occurs within 24 hours.

Neurotoxins affect the nervous system. The symptoms include severe colic, dilated pupils, muscle tremors and falling down, incoordination, violent convulsions, and respiratory failure. Death occurs within 24 hours of ingesting the toxin.

Prevention

For the most part, milkweed is not a vegetation that a horse would eat unless there is no other grasses around. If your horse is on pasture, be sure to monitor how much grass is available to your horse. Check to see if there is any milkweed growing in the pasture and eradicate it immediately.

The greater threat is in baled hay. The whorled-leaf milkweed has a finer stem and leaves that make it harder for horses to separate the weeds from the hay. Always inspect baled hay for the presence of weeks, especially the toxic weeds.

Even though milkweed may not be a “favorite” feed for horses, the potential for death is high. Always take measures to make sure that milkweed is not growing in your pastures or baled in your horse’s hay.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Vineyard, Winery, Vintner


The English language is confusing enough without variations of words that seem to mean the same thing but don’t.

wineglasses

As we are embarking on our journey to become a licensed Small Wine Maker on our farm, we hear different comments. The most frequent is – “Where are your grapes?” Wine without grapes was covered a few blog posts ago – Wine Gone Country. Today, we’ll attempt to clear up the confusion between some of these other wine terms.

Vineyard

A vineyard is an expanse of land that grows grapes. These grapes may be used for wine, but vineyards can also grow grapes for grapes for raisins, non-alcoholic grape juice, or plain old eating. It’s the type of grapes that determines what it is grown for.

Wine grapes

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Many of the wines that we enjoy are named after the grapes that are used to make them – Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape used to make white wine; Riesling is a white grape that can be used to make white and sparkling white wines.

Chablis is made from chardonnay grapes in the Chablis region of in France; champagne also uses the chardonnay grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. Each variation has a different taste based on the soil is was grown in as well as the method of fermentation.

Yield per acre

Because of the picture that we see of vineyards, we have been led to believe that a vineyard must have a lot of good, land to make it worthwhile. This is not true.

The saying “the worst the soil, the better the wine” is true. Many vineyards are in areas that are unsuitable for other agricultural products. But, this doesn’t mean that there is no or low yield. Vineyards, on average, produce 2 to 10 tons of grapes per acre! Here’s the math – one ton of grapes can produce 60 cases or 720 bottles of wine. So even in the poorest soil, an acre of grape vines can produce about 1,440 bottles of wine!

Winery

winery

A winery is a building or business that produces wine. A winery may be associated and/or be part of a vineyard, but that is not always true. Many wineries want to focus on the production of the wine and not have to worry about growing the grapes.

Wine making locations

In addition to the well-known European winemaking regions, Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in California, New York’s Finger Lakes, and certain areas in the northern part of Michigan, like Traverse City, are known for their grapes, vineyards, and wineries.

But, a winery doesn’t have to be adjacent to or even near a vineyard. The grapes can be shipped anywhere and some wineries use different fruits and plants to make their wines. Wine can be made out of almost any fruit, select vegetables, and some flowers – like dandelions and lilac blossoms.

Farm, Micro, and Urban wineries

Wineries can be located almost anywhere. Farm wineries use the produce from their farm or other local farmers, micro-wineries are similar to micro-breweries where the amount of wine produced is limited, but often varied. Urban wineries have been sprouting out like micro-breweries in major cities around the country. The ability to make wine anywhere give the public the opportunity to try new and different flavors without having to travel far.

Vintner

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A vintner is a winemaker. Being a winemaker can be an occupation for a person, or it can pertain to a winery that produces custom wines for others. There are some “wineries” that do not actually make their own wine, but hire another winery (vintner) to make a select number of flavors and put a label on the wine for that particular winery.

No matter where the fruit is grown, where it’s produced, or where it is consumed, wines have become a very popular drink over the past few years.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Waiting!!!


Calf watch is officially on!

Part of our farm dream is to establish a quality herd of cattle. We are well on our way. Our two heifers were impregnated in November and are due at the end of this month. Similar to humans, the gestation period for cattle is about nine months. Like any pregnancy, the due date depends on a lot of factors and first births can be as early as two weeks before the due date.

Pregnant heifers re

Today, both heifers look very pregnant. Callie seems a bit bigger than Cherry. We hope both births go smoothly and the calves are a good weight for a first birth.

The bull, Pedro, is a calm, laid-back Black Angus. Our heifers are Red Angus. Cherry is a Maine-Anjou cross and Callie is part Shorthorn. Based on their genetics and their dispositions, we should have some very nice calves soon.

Just like women who are pregnant, we’ve been watching their feed. Plenty of good hay is always available. They are on pasture, so they can graze if they want. And they get supplemental feed to make sure they don’t lose weight, but not so much that they get fat.

Once the calves are born, we will have a whole, new routine here. But mostly watching the young calves being introduced to their world and just having fun!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

An egg a day – or there about


Egg_nest

Our customer base for our eggs is like most businesses – our regulars, our occasionals and our drop-ins. Some of our customers understand the egg production process and others are surprised.

No rooster?

We are often asked how we can get eggs from our hens without a rooster. Really? You are really asking that question? Okay, let’s do sex education 101 here. The hen will lay an egg every 26 hours. The reproductive system starts forming the new egg once an egg has been laid. The entire cycle take 26 hours. The hen’s body does not care if a rooster is present or not. The rooster is only necessary to fertilize the egg if we want to hatch more chicks. Want the eggs to eat? No rooster, no need to worry about scrambling a fertilized egg.

No eggs?

Yeah, the hens went on strike this week. No, but their body may have. After about ten months of laying eggs the hens go into a molt season. They lose a lot of their feathers, their bodies take a break, and then, they go back into the business of laying eggs. Of course, all the hens don’t molt at the same time because the all didn’t start laying eggs on the dame day.

We have Rhode Island Red hens. This breed usually starts laying eggs at around five months old. Ad, although we would like to think the entire group of hens that we purchased were born on the same day, they probably weren’t. And just like other mammals, their body cycle may be faster or slower than the norm. So they might start laying eggs a few days earlier than their feathered sisters and may go into molt sooner or even later than the rest of the hens in the coop.

One thing is for sure, I see a drop in the number of eggs that I collect each day. Once the molt is over, normal production is resumed.

More hens?

Every 18 months or so we purchase another set of chicks. Even though we are still getting eggs, with each molt the hens produce less eggs. So, we may get 14 eggs a day from a young group of hens, the number of eggs that we collect each day can drop significantly after the first year and each year thereafter.

We could cull the hens by removing the ones that are not producing or have slowed down, or we could just add more hens. Rhode Island Reds do make good eating hens, but, they need to be culled by the time they are three years old. Otherwise the meat may be stringy but still make good soup!

Other elements

The weather can also affect the ability of the hens to lay. We keep a light on during the winter to simulate longer days. We also keep the temperature in the coop above freezing. This has helped with continued egg production during the winter. We have a fan in the coop for the sticky, hot summer nights as well. But continued storms or high winds also affect the hens and drop egg production.

So, in all, we try to keep our hens happy so they produce almost an egg a day, but weather and their normal body functions will sometimes cause a decrease in production. It’s just the nature of things!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

 

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Contact Information

9160 Eagle Road
Davisburg, MI 48350
248.634.7276

KeiLin Farm website