Great Taste!


We love venison sausage, and we also enjoy making it.

Besides the seasoning, the taste of the sausage depends on a few other factors, like where the deer was harvested, how it was dressed out, and the processor.

Location

We are in a nicely populated but rural area. The deer here are plentiful and graze on an assortment of soybeans and other crops. Like cattle that are fed grain in addition to grass/hay, the deer in our area aren’t as lean as the deer that relied on acorns and twigs. The venison cuts from our local deer tend to taste less gamey as well. Even with the best seasonings, gamey deer can result in a gamey tasting sausage.

Dressed Out

A deer that hadn’t been dressed out, cooled and cleaned properly, can produce meat that has an off taste. We always stress that a properly handled and cleaned deer will produce the best tasting meat. If you are not sure on how to field dress your deer, PennState Extension provides a detailed description of field dressing. Check out Proper Field Dressing and Handling of Wild Game and Fish.

Processor

We always hang the deer in our cooler for a few days. These properly tagged deer are processed one deer at a time. Any deer that shows signs of disease is rejected before it is brought into our building. We have heard of some processors who tell the hunters to just stack their deer with the others on a slab of cement outside the processing building. Not a good idea. You have no idea how those other deer were dressed out.

Now how about that sausage? Will your deer meat be mixed with that other deer meat when the magic number of 25 or 50 pounds is reached? Go back to the first element of good taste – what buffet did those other deer visit? The same as yours? Did the hunter take the same care that you did when you dressed out your deer?

We believe that your sausage you receive should come from your deer you brought in without any risk of contamination from another deer. Five pounds of meat provides a nice amount of sticks and if you want 10 pounds, you should be able to select 2 different flavors is you want.

If you are taking the time and skill to harvest a nice deer for your family, the venison you serve should be from the deer you bagged.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services including deer processing.

Cool It


Proper field dressing – that includes getting ALL the organs out and the skin off – is critical to quickly cooling your meat down and preventing it from spoiling.

FACT:  The number of bacteria on your meat can double at temperatures over 40 degrees.

FACT: If the temperature is between 70 and 120 degrees, that bacteria will double EVERY 20 MINUTES.

FACT: If the air temperature is over 50 degrees, you need to find that deer quickly. The meat will start to go bad in 3 to 6 hours.

Bacteria

Bacteria will spoil your deer meat. It’s up to you to find that deer quickly, dress it out, and cool it before the bacteria has a chance to ruin in.

The internal temperature of a deer is around 100 degrees. A good shot means the deer will drop quickly, usually within 100 yards, and you will find it in 15 minutes or so.

Once it’s properly dressed out, get it on ice. The deer cavity needs to be cooled down as quickly as possible.

Ice Tip

The best way is to come prepared with milk jugs – 1 gallon or ½ gallon – filled with frozen water. 2-liter pop bottles work too. The advantage to using ice containers instead of packing loose ice into the cavity, is your meat does not get water-logged. Water-logged meat is not ruined, but it is harder to cut and vacuum seal.

Another advantage of using frozen water containers is the ice will stay frozen for several hours, giving you enough time to get the deer home or to the processor when it can be hung and skinned.

Act quickly

If you did not have a good hit and it takes a while to find the deer, be sure to check it, especially if you hit it in the liver or other organ that could contaminate the meat. This is especially true if you spent several hours or waited over night before finding the deer.

Deer meat doesn’t turn real fast, but if the organs are hit, the organs will, and that can ruin the entire deer. Good deer meat is dark red. If it looks tan, it’s beginning to turn, and it it’s green – leave it for the coyotes!

Most of this is hunting common sense. Field dress your deer as soon as possible, removing ALL the entrails. Cool it down quickly and keep it dry. Bad meat is bad meat and not worth keeping or serving to your friends and family.

If you are not sure about the correct way to field dress your deer, talk to your processor. Most are happy to give you some tips so you will bring in deer that isn’t questionable.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services including deer processing.

Don’t Push that Deer!


Looking for great tasting venison? Here’s one reason why you shouldn’t push that deer.

You have him in your sight. It’s the perfect shot but as you release the arrow (or pull the trigger), he moves!

You got the shot, but you nicked him. It’s a marginal hit at best.

Now what?

Every hunter I know has his own theory on whether on not that deer should be tracked. More likely, you’ll be pushing that deer rather than actually tracking him.

Yes, pushing a deer does elevate the heart rate and cause more bleeding. Ultimately a faster death, but a marginal hit may not bleed fast enough to cause a quick death.

The longer the deer runs, the further away it gets. Nothing like a long walk with no blood trail to find that deer. And the faster it runs; the more adrenaline builds up in the animal’s muscles.

Why it matters

If you are hunting with the goal of serving great venison steaks and roast, you don’t want to be tasting adrenaline. When a large amount of adrenaline is released by stress, it uses up the glycogen in the animal’s system. The lack of glycogen used by the adrenaline makes your meat tough and will go bad quicker. After death, the glycogen is turned into lactic acid. It’s the lactic acid that helps keep the meat tender, pink, and flavorful. So let the marginal hit go. You want something that tastes good. In truth, your best meat comes from a quick kill where there is a minimal amount of adrenaline released.

On the other hand, if you want the trophy – that 10-point rack – then by all means, track it, push it, do whatever you have to do to find it.

Your choice

It’s your choice to push or not but always think of the end product that you are going after before the adrenaline pumping through your system sends you on the chase.

Adrenaline – a hormone excreted at times of stress
Glycogen – stored form of glucose or sugar that is an animal’s main source of energy.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services including deer processing.

It’s Farmer’s Day


Working the field

We have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Secretary’s Day, Personal Trainer Day, even Pharmacist Day, so why shouldn’t we have a Farmer’s Day?

Farmers are, without a doubt, the most important people in the world!

I saw a post once that said something like this:

We need a doctor when we are sick,
We need a lawyer when we are in trouble,
We need a minister when we need guidance,
But we need a farmer three times a day
– for our food!

Most of us take our food for granted. We go to the grocery store, and we can select from fresh, to frozen, to canned produce and other foodstuffs that we want.

Farming is food, farming is more than food.

Farmers produce the materials for our clothes, whether it’s cotton or leather. There would be no textile industry without the farmer.

Grocery stores and restaurants need the farmer to supply the public with food.

Many industries that package food would not exist without the farmer.

Truckers and railroads would have less to ship.

I wouldn’t want to go so far as to say our economy rests on the shoulders of the farmer but think about it. Everything that grows is planted, maintained, and harvested by a farmer.

Think about it. Really think about it. Where would we be without the farmer?

Thanking a farmer is a great way to celebrate the day, but what are we doing every day?

Here are some ideas.

  • Buy fruit and vegetables at your local farmer’s market. You are buffing direct from the farmer!
  • Visit a “pick your own” farm and experience harvesting your own produce.
  • Support the festivals that feature farm grown produce. In my state we have Strawberry Festivals, Cherry Festivals, Potato Festivals and more! Make it a family affair!
  • Visit farms. Some have Farm-to-Table events, others provide tours of their facility. It’s a learning experience to find out how much work goes into

And always, support your local farmer.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services.

Let’s Get Grillin’!


grilling burgers

Memorial Weekend starts the picnic and grilling season for most of us. From hamburgers to steaks to chicken or ribs, nothing is safe from the flames.

But we need to do it right to keep it safe for everyone.

Wash your hands

That goes without saying, you have to keep clean around food and that includes your hands. But do you wash them between handling different types of meat? Put the chicken on, then wash your hands before picking up the burgers or ribs. Bacteria can spread easily between as you touch the different meats without washing. And use a different cutting board or wash the cutting board for each type of meat.

Use a thermometer

Good chefs keep a meat thermometer nearby. That chop may look done, but is it? Here are the three temperatures you should remember:

  1. 145 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks, roasts, chops, fish, and other whole cuts of meat
  2. 160 F for ground meat, including beef, pork, and lamb
  3. 165 F for poultry

To read the temperature accurately, put the point of the thermometer into the center of the meat but never touching the bone. Thinner cuts, like burgers, insert it from the side.

Keep meat cold

Keep your meat in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. Room temperature is an invitation for bacteria to form. If you need to bring it out, due to the distance of the grill and your fridge, don’t let it sit out for more than 30 minutes.

Keep hot and cold cold

Many grills have a warming rack where you can keep those extra burgers until they are eaten. I make an ice tray, but filling a cake pan with water, then freezing it days before the picnic. Place the salad bowls on top of the ice pan. Any cold foods will stay cold but won’t soggy.

And, of course, promptly move the leftovers to the fridge so they will stay good. Just plan to eat them within 2 or 3 days.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get grillin’ and enjoy ourselves this summer.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork,  and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services.

A Chicken in Every Pot!


This phrase was the Republican campaign slogan in the late 1920’s but its origin goes back to France in the 16th century. Henri IV had “supposedly wished” that every peasant, no matter how poor, could have chicken every Sunday.

Chicken? Why chicken? Why not a nice juicy Angus T-bone steak?

Until the 1940’s chickens and eggs were luxury food. Most chickens were raised by small farmers or individuals. They were very expensive to feed since they needed grain. Even a small homestead might raise some chickens, but they could easily raise a cow on grass and a pig or two by feeding them scraps and having them browse the orchard.

Chickens were a commodity that most people enjoyed but few could afford. But during both World Wars it became patriotic to raise chickens. Chickens helped supplement the family with eggs and then the chicken dinner. Some were raised for the troops as well.

It wasn’t until the 1940’s that chickens because plentiful and affordable for most families. And in many families, the food of choice for a variety of reasons. They are no longer a luxury.

I can’t promise you a chicken in every pot or chicken every summer, but I can tell you that our chickens are housed in large living quarters, protected from predators, and feed non-GMO feed.

Farm fresh is naturally delicious. Be sure to order your chickens today!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, turkeys, broiler chickens and eggs, is located in Rose Township, Michigan. It is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Nectar of the gods


golden-wine-sun-3059935

I was always intrigued by fruit flavored wines. Yes, I know, grapes are fruit. But, I gravitated to the cherry – preferably spiced – raspberry, or other fruit flavors that I could find at the store.

It was only natural, then, when we started making wine to make fruit wines rather than fruit-flavored grape wines. They all turned out nicely. I liked to clean, crisp flavor of the fruit wines. We fermented them dry and never had any bitterness at all.

Then I heard of dandelion wine. I remembered my father saying that he had a friend who would make wine out of dandelion. A weed! Wine from a weed! Okay, I have to admit, I loved picking dandelions as a child and making flower wreaths out of them for my hair. That was acceptable. They were weeds! My mother would never let me pick her daisies, phlox, or other flowers from the garden. But, a weed? Sure, go ahead. Just make sure you wash that gluey stuff off your hands when you’re done.

I found a recipe for dandelion wine and tried it. Absolutely delicious. I made a triple batch and shared it with some friends – they loved it. It was sweet without being sugary.

Well, if dandelion wine tastes so good, what about other flowers?

Next was lilac – another hit. The only problem with lilac wine is the time it took to get the flowers off the stems. Dandelion wine is time intensive. It takes about four hours to get enough flower petals for one gallon of wine. But, lilacs wine took 12 hours to get the right amount of petals. Yes, you read that right – 12 hours of pulling petals off the branches for one – only one gallon of wine. If I were selling it, the price would be astronomical! But the taste was exquisite!

Now I think I’m on to something – how about marigolds, sun flowers, rose petals, rose hips. Could I have a garden of wines to drink?

I did some research and found out that any flower that is not poisonous can be made into wines and started to experiment. Every flower wine that I’ve made so far is sweet – without any additional sugars. I will add that these wines do not ferment out dry either. I kept a one-gallon carboy for a year – the wine still had some residual sugar. Same thing with sunflower, rose hips, and butterfly pea.

My conclusion – if the bees love these flowers for their sweet nectar then I will love them for their sweet wine!

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.

Putting Strawberries to Bed


Strawberry boxes r

Now that winter is here, it’s time for us to make sure that our strawberry plants are properly bedded for the cold. Timing is critical. We need to wait until the plants have gone dormant for the winter. Bedding too early can smother the plant, too late and the crowns of the plants will be damaged and not produce fruit the following year. The rule of thumb is to mulch or bed the plants when the temperatures are in the mid-twenties for a few days and the ground has not yet froze.

Straw

Most people bed their strawberries with straw. Straw is the preferred bedding over hay because straw is light, will allow some air flow, and does not smother the plants. Hay, on the other hand is very dense. It does not allow air flow and it can smother your plants. But even worse, hay contains seeds! That bale of hay could have grass or even weed seeds. These seeds can fall off and germinate in the spring. Now you have a host of other plants to get rid of in your strawberry bed!

Pine

Another way to mulch is with pine needles and pine wood chips. This is an environmentally sound way to bed strawberry plants. Strawberries thrive in slightly acidic soil. What better way to preserve the plants over the winter and feed the soil at the same time! We mixed pine needles with the soil when we initially prepared the strawberry beds. Now that we need to mulch for winter, we will spread a layer of pine shavings over the plants.

Like straw, pine shavings are light so they allow some air flow and will not smother the plants. Once the pine needles or shavings disintegrate, they will add acid back into the soil.

A word of caution. Freshly shipped or shredded pine, or any other wood, may still have moisture and toxic residue. The toxins are removed from the shavings by heavy watering or weathering. It’s best to use old, well weathered mulch products on your plants.

Once the strawberries have been bedded, they are protected from the winter cold and we can wait until next summer for another delicious harvest.

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.

Not my rural


rural

Over the past 30 years we’ve heard comments about how we live a rural lifestyle. Some people envy what they consider a “simpler” lifestyle, others wonder if by increasing the number of businesses will detract from the ruralness that we experience.

Mostly it depends on how a person defines rural versus what rural really means.

My comments here are based on the article “Where is ‘rural America,’ and what does it look like?” by Kenneth Johnson, Professor of Sociology and Senior Demographer, University of New Hampshire and my personal experience of living and working on our farm.

Rural means agriculture

If you think of open fields when you say rural, those fields better be planted with crops Montana Highriseor be home to cattle. We look longingly on pastoral settings as calm and almost devoid of life. But pastoral is really the life of a sheepherder who lives with and for his herd, moving them from place to place in search of food and water. And the “Amber waves of grain” that we sing about in “America the Beautiful” need to be harvested and processed if anyone is going to eat.

Cattle, sheep, pigs, hens, all need food, housing, and care. All of which mean a lot of work and machinery; none of which are cheap.

Rural mean low population

Another draw to country living is the population. There are several different ways to determine if an area is considered rural or urban. The easiest is to measure the number of people in a square mile. The Census Bureau states the urban areas have at least 1,000 people in any given square mile where highly-urban areas have less than 7 people living in a square mile. Anything between those numbers are considered rural.

But even in a rural community, there are still areas of dense population and places where you can neither hear nor see your closest neighbor. If you want a rural setting but like neighbors, you will have to look for a more developed area within that municipality.

Rural means industry

Bottling plantA rural area cannot be devoid of industry. Factories billowing smoke should never be part of a rural community but, areas where the food is processed, stored, and then shipped, would certainly be part of the community. Some rural communities remain rural (low population) because of the industry that supports that community. Coal mines come to mind as well as other ore mines.

Trees are an integral part of home construction, furniture manufacturing, flooring, and paper. It only makes sense that timber and pulp mills dot the landscape of the rural forests. The trees are harvested and milled on site, then shipped to the manufacturing companies.

Rural – a place that many urban dwellers dream of, but rarely understand all the aspects that encompass the rural lifestyle. So if you are looking for a place with open spaces, few people, and nothing else, you may be thinking of a ghost town – and that’s not my rural!

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.

Knowing your GMOs


nutritionlabel

If you’re like me, you spend more time in the grocery store reading labels than putting groceries in the cart. We check for the amount of sugar, carbs, and fat. We check for GMO, antibiotics, and hormones. But are those labels accurate or are they sales techniques to make your think and feel that you are getting a higher quality food?

High risk GMO

Some agricultural products are high risk for GMO. This means that they are currently in production and except for yellow summer squash and zucchini, over 85% of these products are GMO. How many?

There are only nine. They are alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, yellow summer squash and zucchini. I bet you thought there were more. Nope, just these nine. And, corn, even though we think of it as a vegetable, it really is a grain.

Canola, corn, and soy are used in the production of cooking oil. The healthier oil profiles, like high-oleic or low-linoleic levels in soy oils, are a result of GMO.

Low-risk GMO

Other agricultural products are at low risk or have a monitored status. This is because they could potentially become genetically modified. The products in this group include acorn squash, beets (table), bok choy, chard, Chinese cabbage, Siberian kale, delicata squash, patty pan, and turnips.

No long GMO

Sometimes a fruit or vegetable had genetically modified varieties, but, no longer due. This would be the tomato and the potato. It turns out the genetically modified tomatoes didn’t ship well and lost flavor. And the potatoes? They were rejected by the fast-food establishments.

Animal Products

Since animals are often fed grains (corn), they are in the high risk category for GMO. But also consider how much grain that animal has consumed. Grass fed or minimal grain fed beef will not contain as much GMO as corn-fed feed lot beef. Here it pays to know your farmer and understand what the animal has been fed.

Everything else

As I read the list, I see that our favorite vegetables – carrots and broccoli are not mentioned. Neither are peas or cauliflower. So as I read the labels in the store, unless the food falls into the first two categories, telling me it’s a non-GMO is a marketing ploy. So, don’t charge me more to keep me as a customer.

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.