Feeding your family like our own

Farm Life

For The Meat-A-Holics

As many of you may have guessed, my family loves meat. We love it so much that my dad insists upon having some with every meal! It is here where the question must be asked, is there ever point where there is too much meat??
A couple of weeks ago we were celebrating a family birthday, and the best way to celebrate? With meat of course! This was indeed a special occasion, for the birthday meal requested was a pizza. But not just any ol’ pizza, it was decreed that it shall be… The ‘Meatzza’. That’s right, a pizza made entirely out of meat! The idea originally stemmed from a youtube video, “Meatzza”, by Epic Meal Time. [Catch the original masterpiece here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYhDthbBrrU (It does contain some mature content)]
Gathering all of our resources, we put this idea to life! We began with our ground beef base (3lbs) mixed with our Special Rub. We left them to bake on our stone pans in the oven, meanwhile taking on the challenge of cooking the bacon strips (and bacon strips, and bacon strips, and bacon strips), grilling the sausages and preparing the other ingredients. Another great way to bake the ground beef bases is on stone pan on the BBQ! (You may have to adjust cooking times.) Instead of using an entire sausage as the crust, we cut them in half length-wise. Just for your knowledge, we used Pork Fine Herb sausages; we found the flavouring was a nice compliment.

Adding the final layer of cheese

Adding the final layer of cheese

After applying the ‘crust’ we then covered the ground beef base with our tomato & fine herb sausage sauce. Veering farther away from the original we used the meat from braising ribs to add to the meatzza, rather than the Flank Steak. We added the chopped up bacon strips to the mix too. Then came the cheese, “’Cause this is Pizza!” We used a Tamiskaing cheese from Thornloe. And last, but certainly not least came the pepperoni and the last dab of cheese.

The Final Product

The Final Product

The result? A fantastic, flavourful, and extremely filling meal. The whole family enjoyed the Meatzza and not a scrap was left over! For anyone that needs a different, fun meal, try out your own versions of the Meatzza! Happy Eating!

Enjoying the Meatzza

Enjoying the Meatzza

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Poor Adele

It seems that bullying is a massive problem these days, you hear about it when you get together with friends and it rears its head almost daily when something tragic is splashed across the media, a devastating result of bullying. We all know someone who has been impacted if in fact it hasn’t touched our own lives personally.
It is a horrific act large or small and it is rampant. While you probably know the issue plagues our young people, thanks to the anonymous veil of the internet and social media, but the issue is not uncommon with adults and even our vulnerable elderly as well. Let’s face it even though as adults we know better, we too unfortunately fall into the role as the bully; be it shouting from the bleachers at a kid’s sports event or simply by not allowing a car to merge in front of us followed by an assortment of hand gestures. Though I try hard, sadly I too have fallen into that role. These behaviours affect our animal world here on the farm too. With different personalities and pecking orders unfortunately the meek are prey for when establishing who the top dog (or sow) is. P1350307aa
We only have 6 sows, a rather small number, and these girls all have names and personalities to match. Working closely with the girls each day I have had the pleasure to form and nourish relationships so when pigging time arrives I am a welcome helping hand. After the mom has given her best to the piggies she is rewarded with a sabbatical to regroup and regenerate with the other moms. For some it is a kick up the heels event (kind of like finishing up breast feeding) and for others they have a difficult time adjusting. Adele was one such sow, a first time mom that gave her all and did a great job with her 8 piglets. The day we moved her to her new home, within an hour she fell victim to bullying from 3 other sows. We broke up a nasty situation with great effort and sat pondering just what we could do for this 375 lb. dolly. Adele was near death after being held down, trampled and bitten by the other sows to the point of not even being able to hold her own weight and stand. In a conventional barn these injuries would have been too substantial and deemed not economical to fix. The only reason we can think of is the other sows sensed her withdrawn state having just been separated from her piglets. Was she confused so to speak, showing separation anxiety as she tried to adjust to this massive change that had recently occurred? Do animals get depressed? Do these animals fall prey to bullies just as people do? I am not a pig, nor do I speak swine so we will never understand what really happened. I do know what when we found her she was in a sad state, clearly beaten down and felt pretty much like giving up. She had been bitten and had large bites and scrapes from her attackers that are too horrible to describe or show. Astounding for ladies that know one another and had always gotten along. Needlessly bullied. After great pains and a few pulled muscles we got her to back safely into the barn where she was visibly shaken, her chatter was agitated and almost desperate.P1350322aa She could not stand and seemed to struggle just to find comfort as we started to clean her up and address her injuries. It may sound odd, some of you may say “it’s just a pig” but with healing hands, comforting words, some extra attention and a peaceful environment we healed this poor Adele and eventually under a watchful eye reintroduced her to the other sows. Obscenities flew but no one threw the first punch. All appears well to this day.
The whole incident brought home the question yet again; why does bullying have to even happen? Do we really instinctually seek out and try to destroy mammals that are different, weak or troubled? I know the whole (do on to others) circle of life thing…. Only the strong survive, etc. etc., but why does it seem that mammals easily prey on those that are already hurting? Is it because their weakness disgusts us or are the weak inferior? Or are we afraid that exposure to weakness will bring out the weakness in ourselves? It’s a thinking subject for sure, makes me stand back, take a deep breath and pray for patience and understanding for those in life that are different or down.P1350321aa


Fall

Fall….Its that time of year when even though the sun is shining bright there is a brisk feeling to the days. Where we live the breezes are filled with the smell of onions drying and the cutting of fields and occasionally if the wind is just right at dusk you’ll be treated to the smell of a fireplace beginning to take the chill off the evening.   There is a hum of urgency all around. We farmers are no stranger to Old Man Winters frosty fingers, eager to change the morning dew to a shimmering frost.  I love fall, the smells, the sights, the colours, the feeling and of course the food.    We puImaget a lot of food by and I try to make jarring and pickling a family event.  There is something very rewarding about a pantry stocked with jars of the food you’ve grown. There’s something more to be said about cracking a jar open in the cold of March and the smells and colours of your garden in August flooding your senses. We can a lot as the foods come into season but the fall brings an abundance of veggies just begging to be preserved to serve another day.

Fall also means work and lots of it. The farm garden is big but the work there doesn’t compare to bringing in the harvest that will feed our animals through the winter. The work starts with the first light of the sun across the dewy grass and finishes only when Mother Nature draws her starry drapes across the dimming sky.  It’s quite a sight to see as all the tractors drone towards home, seeming almost as weary as the farmers who ride them. Image

Fall days call for a special kind of dinner. It has to be easy; no time can be wasted on fussy foods. It has to be able to cook itself….with the aid of a trusty slow cooker or slow roasting in the oven.  It has to be able to wait. The first plate may go out at 4pm to hungry kids heading for farm chores but the last plate for Dennis at 9pm has to be just as fresh tasting as the first. And last but not least it needs to replenish you body and soul, head to toe….soothing aches and warming toes, a good fall dinner should do all that.

One of my favourites for fall is meatloaf, yes meatloaf.  It’s been a staple in most families for generations and everyone has a recipe from Mom or Grandma. It’s so simple, so economical. A chameleon of sorts, you can start with virtually any kind of ground meat and take it in any direction you would like by varying the ingredients.  Traditional beef with fresh tomato sauce, try lamb, feta and spinach or delicious bacon wrapped pork meatloaf. I make a few at a time and pop them in the freezer but is easily made a day or so ahead of time and popped in the oven or whipped up an hour or so before you need to feed the family. And it’s simple enough for the kids to make if you’re tied up. It’s a hearty dinner served with potatoes or rice and a salad from the garden. And there is no mistaking the enjoyment that comes from a thick slice of meatloaf on a crusty bun with some garlic mayo for lunch the next day.  Although old fashioned meatloaf is considered an oven dish, we dare you to take it up a notch and cook your master piece on the BBQ. Again is looks after itself and there’s something to be said about the addition of those smoky bbq flavours. So when you’re raking up those fall leaves make up your favourite meatloaf recipe of try one of ours from below or at http://www.facebook.com/dingofarms  light up the bbq and pay homage to the passing summer, moving from burgers to warm your soul fall and winter dinner staples. I promise that the wonderful aroma of the meatloaf on the bbq will take you back and hopefully slow you and yours down enough to enjoy the beautiful fall season. No need to be afraid of ground meats when you know where it’s coming from

Easy and economical, it’s that simple

Bacon wrapped pork meatloaf and apple chutney    Image

Meatloaf Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken low fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, freshly ground if you have it
  • 2 pounds Dingo Farms ground pork
  • 1 pound Dingo Farms pork sausage, removed from casing and broken up
  • 1 cup crushed saltine crackers (about 20)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 Dingo Farms double smoked bacon strips

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and arrange a rack in the upper third. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Over medium heat add oil, onion, garlic and thyme and cook until soft

In a large bowl, add the eggs, buttermilk, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Whisk until the eggs are broken up and evenly combined. Add the onion mixture, ground pork, sausage, cracker crumbs, and parsley. Mix until thoroughly combined, do not over work the mixture.

Form the meat into a 9 by 5- inch loaf.  Arrange the bacon across the top of the loaf and bake until the internal temperature is 155 degrees F, on an instant-read thermometer, or about 55 to 65 minutes. Pop under broiler for about 5 additional minutes. Remove from the oven to a cutting board and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving. It is important to let the meatloaf rest so the juices aren’t lost all over your cutting board

Adapted from Aida Mollenkamp recipe on the food network

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Apple Chutney Ingredients

  • 2 large tart cooking apples (such as green Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and choppedImage
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins (or dried cranberries would be good too!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice shopping list

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 50 minutes. Uncover and simmer over low heat for a few minutes more to cook off excess liquid; let cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.


Where did the Blog go?

Where is the Blog???? Is that what you’ve been asking yourself?  We apologize. The farm as you may well imagine is a busy place, but there are a number of things that impact how a day, week or even a month play out. Some drastic and some just annoying like a 750lb boar that chooses the only day of rain in weeks to unhinge the gate and go for a joy ride around the farm amid the lightening and apocalyptic downpour.  I swore…. that he was smiling.  Some things like injuries can stop your day on a dime and unfortunately a lot of these things we have no control over since we work daily in a high risk environment.  And then there are the disasters like losing acres of land at harvest time to fire, a spark from a combine or a grass fire out of control.  This is life on the farm, for the most part all the surprises must be dealt with first and as many entrepreneurs we struggle to keep balanced between work and family. Not an easy task when the office is in the house, and there is no time clock in the barn or field, the cows just don’t get it!.  Perhaps this explains why making wine is a popular endeavour.  With a family of 7 too it presents some interesting days, between animals, kids and crops well a day off at least every 2 weeks or so is pretty important!. We are a farm family after all. We appreciate our customers respecting our no Sunday sales policy.

The time and chores necessary to keep our farm functioning can be at times a painstakingly slow wheel and even slower in 40 degree weather!.  Honestly hats off to everyone working outside this summer, even the animals!.  With few times of the year allowing for breaks we did take one after that crop saving rain on Sunday. The animals had an almost a peaceful expression as our world took a breath and soaked up moisture.  Unfortunately the rains were sporadic throughout Southern Ontario and some were left un quenched, we were one of the fortunate ones.  However the crops are not out of the woods yet or in the bin so to speak.  Hay for example has suffered so much this year due to drought that right now in southwestern Ontario one round bale is double the cost it was at the beginning of this year! With no real break in sight and not much of a second crop coming who knows where the hay will come from to over winter all the animals? How will farmers feed these animals?.  What will the cost of meat do in the stores? Something to ponder.

This year we have planted about 1900 acres. Corn, Wheat and Soybeans and hay.   We rent fields in our area from land owners, fellow farmers and from developers who have bought up the farmland in speculation.  Some of the fields we work are several km away, and some are here in Bradford and the time spent manoeuvring the streets, traffic and back roads of Bradford to get there is becoming increasingly challenging.  This may sometimes include crossing a finish line of a bike race all in the name of getting to the field before the rain did!  Many thanks to the consideration the locals that aren’t annoyed or impatient when they see the “cultivator”, tractor with hay bales on a wagon or “combine” crossing through an intersection or down a back road.  Truly, the patience and caution some drivers exhibit on the road does not go unnoticed and is most appreciated since at the end of the day we all want our loved ones to make it home safe and sound.  Farmers do help feed cities, and towns, did you eat today? Then give the tractor the right of way!.

These crops take many months to grow and harvest time is get r done while everything else waits and this does include answering emails in a timely manner unfortunately. This is our job, our life and our love.  Most of the crops supply the conventional markets and some we grow for our animals, i.e. non GMO corn, and hay.  Field work is but a cog on the ever spinning gears that make up the inner workings of our farm and an incredibly important one.  All consuming in our thoughts especially in a weather year like this one.

The biggest of our challenges is Mother Nature herself.  Some hail global warming some say just history repeating itself, regardless unprecedented heat and lack of moisture are setting records for 2012 and it’s not over yet.  Many forward thinking farmers market their own crops as we do by relentless market watching, sound marketing advice and when all else fails as Mom said, trust your gut!. No one hits every market high and hopefully lands a few upward trends all the while praying for the success of harvesting your crop.  High prices are just that unless you have a crop in the bin. Value should be placed on every hour a farmer spends marketing, even the 3 O’clock run to the DTN computer to ease your mind about a marketing decision.  Drought in the corn belt of the U.S.  and  parts of Ontario have set crop values  soaring.  July 19th 2012 as the markets closed it set a new all time high record for corn, never before seen.

Record high crop prices are just that if there is nothing in the bin. What does it all mean?


TVO’s Get Involved! Segment on Dingo Farms

     Our farm on TVO’s Get Involved!

via Dingo Farms | Watch | Get Involved!.


Dingo Farms in an Upcoming Episode of The Fresh Life!

   See us and many other great Holland Marsh producers on this season of The Fresh Life! Here’s a preview & we’ll be in an upcoming episode on Sun TV.

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via FL Season 2 Show 3 on Vimeo.