Farm News

 

June 2015

Long before the great hunger, the Irish knew they were in trouble. Most of their working population were unemployed, the country’s religion had been torn apart and the Catholic church, which had acted as their social services, had been outlawed. In addition to the general lack of a governing body at the time the Irish aristocracy, most of whom lived in England, had no desire to be in Ireland and thus were unaware or ambivalent of their subjects’ plights. Long before the disaster Britain’s government had commissioned many studies on the Irish economic situation and while they were all different as to the cause of the mess, the conclusion was the same, Ireland was headed for disaster.  In 1845 the disaster descended and Ireland was plunged into what is now known as the great hunger. Over the course of the next 7 years 1 million people starved to death and another million emigrated out of Ireland for a loss of  between 25 and 30 percent of the population. It was the worst human catastrophe, not caused by war, that the world had seen in that period.

How is it possible Ireland could have escaped their fate for so long? Ireland’s agriculture had become completely dependent on one vegetable for the production of food, the potato, and potatoes were so easy to grow and so plentiful that the government was able to mask their other socio-economic troubles. Potatoes are nourishing enough so that even the poorest people could subsist on a diet of only potatoes,  indeed Irish peasants were considered to be better off than their British counterparts who were living on lentils, corn, and grain at the time. The crown repeatedly warned the Irish that they were close to a disaster but the potatoes were so easy to grow and their yield was so plentiful that even though the country had a 75% unemployment or underemployment rate the government did not have to deal with the effects of its impoverished situation because there was enough food for everyone. The day of reckoning came in the spring of 1845 when the potato crop had a total failure and continued to fail for the next 7 years.

The fallout for Ireland during and after the disaster changed their course of history. There was huge civil unrest during and after the great hunger with 19 of the 21 counties breaking away from the United Kingdom. The disaster affected Anglo Irish relations and created a rift that continues to this day and Catholicism, once outlawed,  came back to Ireland as a direct consequence of the great potato blight

Today we are again being funnelled into one type of food for nourishment but unlike the Irish we believe we are at the table of cornucopia because the food industry has masked its importance in our food system. The crop we are so heavily reliant on is corn, genetically modified, heavily fertilized, and heavily subsidized by the government it grows faster and produces more than at any other time in the world. We put it in everything, from animal feeds, to cosmetics, fuel for our vehicles, and we even eat it right off the cob. When you shop at the supermarket there isn’t one can or bottle or box of food that doesn’t have some form of corn in it.  There are about a hundred different products that factories can make out of corn which is then used as sweeteners or fillers or eaten straight. What would happen to our way of life if all corn was suddenly wiped out? Prices of all foods would sky rocket as there isn’t a processed can of food today that doesn’t have some form of corn in it. Processed food which is designed to be cheap for people who can’t buy fresh would become unaffordable. Animal feeds would triple causing meat prices to go up.

If corn crops were to suddenly fail our society would look a lot like the Irish during the time of the great hunger, hungry people would not sit idly by and let their children starve and social upheaval would occur as the cheap food people depended on would become too expensive for people to buy. Governments which are notoriously slow to respond to these types of disasters would be hiding behind the free market and telling people that the next year would be better.

The cause of the Potato disaster remained a mystery for over a hundred years. Some people blamed the English for destroying their crops while others said the Crown stole the potatoes although I’m not sure how the King could have stolen 8000 tons of potatoes a year for 7 years. Food supplies can be fragile especially when you become too dependent on one type as the Irish found out  in 1845, when, an unknown fungus which killed nightshade plants was unknowingly transported from the new world  on British ships back to the UK and touched off one of the largest humanitarian disasters of all time.

Farm News

Pigs
Our baby large black pigs are growing and looking fantastic. We think we will be able to process them late October or early November. We want to make a number of old style country hams ready for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and these pigs look great. The large black piglets are being moved from their large pen to the small pasture where they will begin their new work lives of guarding the estates sheep. We took one of our pigs to the love Winnipeg festival where it was a big hit. Apparently no one knew that pigs could be black. Reuben and Dawn are doing a great job raising these little guys for us. Townsend made its first sell-able pancetta and we would like to thank Earl’s meat market for producing our pancetta and Crampton’s market in Winnipeg for purchasing it.

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3 1/2 Months Old

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Romney Dorset Cross

Horned Dorsets
We just purchased 2 horned Dorset ewe lambs and Sophia will be going to the all Canada classic to purchase another. We received 5 bottle babies and will keep two ewes back for our flock this year and the rest will get fed and go to customers for Christmas season.

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Pheasant looking for his next meal – Velocil Raptors

Poultry

Hyrum processed his first batch of 300 chickens and is working on the second batch. Hyrum sold his poultry to Crampton’s in Winnipeg and Natures farms in Steinbach. Also for the first time Hyrum has taken his free ranged chicken and cut it up into pieces. You can now purchase chicken legs and backs or chicken supreme (breast and 1/2 a wing)Hyrum is also raising 100 pheasants this year. Hyrum is getting his egg incubator running and it appears that we may have some eggs hatched in July

Farm News April May 2015

You know the old saying that pigs will eat anything?? Well apparently this is true because swine feeding practices have hit a new low. Just when you thought everything that factory farms could stuff down this poor animal was being fed to pigs we find out that pigs are given other pigs’ blood as well as the blood from dead cows. The blood is collected at the time of slaughter and sent to a plant where the plasma from the blood is then; separated out, dried and then fed back to the animals who are awaiting slaughter. CFIA is warning large farms about deceases that can spread to pigs in their food due to the plasma but the bigger question is should we be feeding farmed pigs any blood at all?? There is a big difference between what science and technology can do and what it should do. Is it right for our system to become so efficient that we feed a species of animal parts of the blood of its own species during the slaughter process??

At Townsend Farm our large black pigs live a very natural life, they root for their food in green pastures as well as scrub brush on the property. The large black pigs on the estate also provide 2 very useful services here on the home farm. They guard our small but growing Horned Dorset flock of sheep from predators such as the wolves and bears on the property, and they clear brush and keep the scrub down to a minimum. Our first pasture was completely overgrown and now between the pigs and the sheep it is cleared out. This symbiotic relationship between farm, nature, and the environment is what makes pork at Townsend fine foods taste so fine. Our pigs work on the farm hence their muscles are more developed, they live outdoors, so their fat is more marbled, and they forage for their own food which is why pork from Townsend has a taste quite unlike pork tasted anywhere else.

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As stewards on this farm we feel a responsibility to treat our animals with respect. Pigs would never be fed any type of another pigs blood they get a ration free of GMOs, Animal by Products, and Hormones. This is how we feel we can raise the quality of our pork. Generally it takes us 90 to 120 days longer to raise one of our large black pigs but we feel the quality of our pork is worth it. You get what we believe to be the finest pork available in Manitoba.

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Farm News

As I was in northern Alberta for the past 3 weeks Tyler, Reuben, and Hyrum planted the parsnips, rutabagas, beets, and carrots for me. This was Reuben’s first year at being in charge of the layout of our garden and he did a great job

Sophia oversaw the shearing this month and we will be sending the wool to Alberta where it will be carded and made into wool duvets for cabins. Our lambs are growing very well and we will have a load to take to the processors soon. Our lamb can be found at Crampton’s market in Winnipeg

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Annastasia added a couple of new goats to her now growing herd. We are expecting milk and cheese next year!!

Hyrum’s chicks are now 5 weeks old and have switched from starter to grower feed. He also received a belated birthday present in the form of an egg incubator so we should start having all kinds of poultry here on the farm.

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Reuben has 11 piglets which were evicted from their home in the chicken coop to live in the open air barn only to be ejected out by the guinea fowl to the outdoor pens. We weighed the little porkers and they have reached the 50 lb mark

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Dawn is just about ready to begin a new enterprise for the farm as she is going to be at the Ste. Norbert’s farmers market every Wednesday. She will be selling pork and then chicken and our farm made soap products at the market this year.

 

Spring 2015

Just this last week King Richard III was interred at the Leicester cathedral by the archbishop of Canterbury. Richard is said to have killed his own nephews which he had locked up in the tower of London and was in turn killed by a mob led by his cousin in law Henry the VII at the battle of Bosworth.  An old anecdote says that family and business do not mix, however, whether you are part of the royal family or a humble family farm sometimes we do not have a choice about who we get to work with. Stresses on and off the farm can pull families apart instead of bringing them together in spite of our best intentions and, unlike normal business partners, everyone sits around the family table in the evening. I am grateful that my family does not treat me like the children of King Henry II whose family chased him out of the country on his deathbed. The motto beneath our coat of arms is, Familia Aeterna Est which is Latin for, families are forever. I’m sure that my wife and kids feel sometimes like they’re trapped on this enterprise which is lasting forever. Then we have success and good times and the sun shines on our happy farm again.

Farm News

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Poultry
Hyrum’s pheasants have begun laying eggs we are all very excited to see how many pheasants we can get. Nothing yet from the Guinea Fowl. Hyrum has ordered his first 300 chickens and Townsend is hoping to be at the Ste. Norbert’s farmers market on Wednesdays this spring and summer. Hyrum’s chickens will be able to be found at Cramptons market in Winnipeg and at Natures Farms in Steinbach.

Lamb
Sophia has almost finished lambing for the year (only 3 more left to go) and we have a bunch of rambunctious lambs running around the back yard. We have only barely enough lambs to fill our orders and so Sophia is planning on increasing the size of her herd. A special thanks to Tyler and John who worked the night shift and during the days while Sophia was at school. The  two helped Sophia during the hectic lambing period.

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Pigs
Our two large black pigs have farrowed and we now have 11 piglets running around the barn. They will be weaned off their moms and then put out to pasture we’re looking for some great pork in December.

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Dawn
Dawn will transport our new chicks from Russell to Townsend April 9th. She is currently arranging for the farm to participate in the Ste. Norbert farmers market this year.

Goodbye 2014 and Hello 2015

2014 was a busy year for our little farm that came with many successes challenges, and changes. In 2013 the farm decided to use social media to provide customers with an easy way to order our products and follow events on the farm. Chez Koop had designed and maintained the Townsend website which went into use for the first time this year. We still maintain most of our customer relationships via phone and email but the website is fun and keeps our customers posted. We had a great visit from 2 of our local health inspectors this year after Dawn, Reuben, and Tyler had passed their food handling course. The farm and our delivery trailer are now government inspected and approved. This year will be our first foray into a farmers market and Townsend products will be available at the forks farmers market starting in may of 2014.

Reuben had a tough year this year. We had a brutal winter that was very hard on the pigs. As you know all of our pigs stay outside even in the cold and last year was hard on all the animals but especially the pigs. To top that all off, the genetics of our pigs were terrible and were just not growing the way we had hoped. Reuben and his mom went to the US and imported three new sows into Canada which was extremely interesting for all parties involved. Dawn had to stand in the Canadian vet’s office and cry to get the pigs across the border but all went well in the end and we are all smarter for the experience. Reuben has a boar in Ohio and we will be importing another batch of pigs in 2015. We did get some pigs to the butchers and have made some wonderful sausage, hams and bacon. We are perfecting our recipes and we are going to have pork this year to sell.

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Traditional Hams Hanging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sophia raised lambs and brought them to market. She did a very good job under very trying circumstances last year due to the weather being very uncooperative. She started the year with 10 ewes and ended it with 14 and so we are expecting a very good crop of lambs for sale this year. Besides her regular customers Sophia has a contract to begin supplying Crampton’s Market in Winnipeg this year with an initial order of 10 lambs. Thanks to Earl Funk for the wonderful butchering job for our lamb.

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Annastasia was busy raising her custom steers and processing them for her customers. It was a sad year for our Galloway herd as our pregnant cow lost her calf due to a birth defect and the bull (who is now in the deep freeze) wasn’t growing properly. On the bright side all of our customers are happy with their beef, many thanks to Earl from Steinbach for his incredible help and patience. Annastasia has a new bull (The Grand Nagis) named after the Startrek Ferengi leader, and the cows seem to be pregnant and so we are expecting a crop of calves this year.

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Hyrum was the powerhouse of the farm and raised and distributed close to 500 chickens last year and expanded his poultry business from chickens and turkeys to pheasants and guinea fowl. We were going to do ducks and geese as well but our water fowl processor backed out at the last minute. We have our products in a couple of stores, Natures Pasta, and Crampton’s Market in Winnipeg. Deluca’s from Winnipeg have also placed an order for his pheasants. We are going to the Forks farmers market this year for the first time and so he is planning on raising at least 800 chickens this year. Hyrum is wishing for an incubator for his birthday

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Dawn was extremely busy teaching children, being a wife, tending to the needs of small animals managing the farm under adverse conditions and generally tending to everyone’s needs but her own. Taking small animals to the processors is always hard especially when each animal is loved and has a name. She will spend every day doctoring animals and then children doing paper work and calling customers. If you ever come to the farm and see a beautiful woman racing around with a wild look in her eyes, slipping in the muck, getting attacked from the sheep and generally keeping the whole place from going to hell in a hand basket then I guess you will have seen the driving spirit of Townsend. Thanks to all of you who have supported our farming adventure and to those who eat good food sourced locally.

King and Queen

The Ultimate Steak Townsend Style

Whether your preference is a butter-soft fillet steak, tasty sirloin or thrifty cut like bavette or skirt, care and attention should be paid when cooking your beef. With only a few minutes leeway between rare and well-done, timing is key. We’ve put together some tips to help you from start to finish.

1. Buy a good meat thermometer – If you have an expensive cut of beef DO NOT GUESS the doneness of the meat, use the thermometer.

2. Do not cook your steak until it has warmed up to room temperature – thaw a frozen steak in the refrigerator the night before you wish to cook it and then pull it out of the refrigerator a half an hour before cooking

3. Select your best frying pan – We recommend frying your steak, although you can grill it if you prefer. A heavy-duty, thick-based frying pan, ideally with a non-stick coating, will achieve good results, as will a heavy griddle pan or skillet. These types of pans get really hot – ideal for getting that slightly sweet, charred finish to the outside of your meat. If the pan isn’t big enough for all your steaks, don’t be tempted to squeeze them in anyway. Cook them one or two at a time then leave them to rest as you cook the remainder of your batch.

4. Pick an oil – the kitchen at Townsend suggests using groundnut oil for cooking steaks – it has a mild flavour and can withstand very high temperatures without burning. Never use butter, unless you want to add a knob at the very end for a creamy finish. The jury’s out when it comes to how you apply the oil. Some chefs like to oil the steak then add it to a hot dry pan, while others add a splash of oil directly to the pan. Once the oil starts separating, it’s hot enough to add the steak. Whichever method you use, the important thing is to get an even spread of oil. Don’t be tempted to put your steak in early – if the oil is too cool, your meat could turn out greasy and under-browned.

5. Dressing your steak – Beef purists may prefer to take in the unadulterated rich flavour of a quality steak by adding nothing other than a few twists of salt and pepper. However, don’t season too early – salt will draw moisture from the meat. Our chef suggests sprinkling black pepper and sea salt onto a plate, then pressing the meat into the seasoning moments before placing it into the pan.

Our cookery team have outlined what you can expect from each category of steak.
• Blue: Should still be a dark colour, almost purple, and just warm. It will feel spongy with no resistance. 130 °F
• Rare: Dark red in colour with some juice flowing. It will feel soft and spongy with slight resistance. 135 °F
• Medium-rare: A more pink colour with a little pink juice flowing. It will be a bit soft and spongy and slightly springy.  145 °F
• Medium: Pale pink in the middle with hardly any juice flowing. It will feel firm and springy.  150 °F
• Well-done: Only a trace of pink colour but not dry. It will feel spongy and soft and slightly springy. 160 °F

Get cooking
1. Your pan must be extremely hot

2. It’s very important to consider the size and weight of your steak before calculating the cooking time. If you’re unsure how long, take advantage of the thermometer.

3. Flip the steak every minute – this will ensure that the steak cooks evenly

4. When the steaks have been in the pan for a couple of minutes add some garlic and thyme to the pan

5. After a couple more minutes add knobs of butter to the pan and begin basting the steak with the butter, thyme, and garlic

6. Flip the steak on edge to ensure the fat is brown and crisp

7. Take the meat out of the pan 3 degrees before the desired doneness

Leave it to rest
A cooked steak should rest at room temperature for at least ten minutes – it will stay warm for anything up to 15 minutes. Here, pure science comes into play – the water moves away from the heat to the centre of the pan, when the meat rests the water moves back toward the surface of the steak.

Coriander steaks with tomato & rocket salad

8 Tips to the Ultimate Pork Chop

There is a huge difference between a dry tasteless chop and a juicy mouthwatering one, here’s 8 secrets the kitchen at Townsend uses to produce the best pork chops ever

Chops
For the fall BBQ there’s nothing like a great chop, however we’ll come out and say it: Cooking pork chops is not an easy task. But we promise—you can definitely cook a tender, juicy chop, says senior chef Dawn Nesom—as long as you avoid these eight common mistakes. Here’s her advice.

Pork is Pork is Pork
This saying is untrue for all meat and fish, but especially with pork: There is a huge difference in taste between your typical grocery store pork and well-raised, well-fed heritage pork. It’s worth the extra couple bucks. Here’s why.

i.
Heritage-breed Large black pigs come from genetic stock that pre-dates industrial farming. These porkers are brawlers—big, fat, and hardy enough to thrive outdoors, where they roam and forage. Strong genetics and better living conditions mean they don’t need the cocktail of antibiotics that factory-farmed swine are given.
ii. 
Whether it’s a chop or a roast, this pork is juicy, well-marbled, and insulated by a layer of firm, creamy, super delicious fat. And check out that colour! The flesh of heritage pork should be a beautiful, deep shade of red, which means a rich, pronounced, pound-the-table-it’s-so-good flavour to match.
iii.     
All that fat is a cook’s best friend. You can get an extra-crusty sear on a thick-cut chop and it will rival the best rib-eye steak you’ve ever had. You can braise that shoulder until it falls apart when you look at it—all without fear of drying out the meat.

Boneless is Better
Generally, we like our meat and poultry to be bone-in. There are a couple of reasons: First, it slows down the meat’s cooking, so it gives you a little more leeway to get a good, crispy sear on your chop. Second, the bone gives the meat a richer flavour. Yeah, you should keep that bone in

A Little Salt, a Little Pepper
No. A LOT of salt. A LOT of pepper. As with all meat, you want to season that sucker so much that you can see the salt and pepper on the surface when you’re standing a couple feet away. This will make your crust incredibly flavourful—the combination of salt, caramelized meat, and fat will push your chop over the top.

From Fridge to Frying Pan
Let your chops sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before you begin to cook them. If the meat is too cold, the outside will overcook while the inside comes to the right temperature. Giving the pork a little time to warm up will ensure a nice crust on the outside, with a tender centre. (Well, if you follow the next few pieces of advice that is)

Let That Pan Rip
For chops, we like to get our pan screaming hot…then take it down to medium. That first blast of heat helps get a good golden crust. But, if you keep it that high, the chop won’t cook evenly through the middle. Medium heat helps keep the outer edges of the meat tender while the centre reaches the perfect temperature.

Trust Your Recipe’s Cooking Time
With all meat and poultry—but especially pork chops—use your thermometer to tell when the meat is done cooking. A recipe’s timing is usually a ballpark estimate. Cook your chop until it’s around 135 degrees, then transfer it to a cutting board—the residual heat will bring it to the CFIA’s recommended 145 degrees. Pork is pretty easy to dry out, so making sure it’s not a degree over 145 is the best way to get juicy, tender meat.

Trim the Fat
Most pork chops have a little layer of fat around the perimeter—take advantage of it! Instead of cutting it off before or after the chop is cooked, stand the chop on its side in the pan with your tongs and get that fat rendered, brown, and crispy. Trust us, you won’t regret it. Remember you don’t have to eat the fat but you definitely need to cook with it.

Dig Right In
After you get your pork on the cutting board, don’t touch it for 10 minutes. If you cut into it right away, all its juices will run onto the board instead of getting redistributed into the meat. Don’t let all that delicious liquid run away!

August 2014

64 years after Columbus discovered the new world Queen Elizabeth was pushing for England to compete with the Spanish for the new found wealth in the American continent. Sir Walter Raleigh was commissioned by the Queen to find a way to begin colonizing America for England and in 1584 the first British colony was established at Roanoke Island. The Queen insisted that the colonists take with them pigs from Britain with their other provisions. Unfortunately the colonists were not farmers but city folk from England’s over populated urban areas. Most of the colonists were chosen based on their religious beliefs instead of their ability to survive in an unbroken wilderness. Their governor John White was a painter by trade and really had no Idea how to manage an expedition. The pigs and chickens soon escaped from the early settlers and they were soon starving. Elizabeth gave strict instructions that the animals from England were not to be eaten, the idea being that they could be bred and provide a steady stream of food however the pigs escaped and the new settlers released the chickens into the wild. The settlers subsisted on what the natives would bring for food and stole food from the natives out of desperation.
 
One account is told of how a native who had been tried for blasphemy, the puritans were a lot better at religion than they were at farming, and was sitting in jail. The now starving colonists made an agreement with the youngster that if he would bring them food he would be forgiven of his transgressions. Unbelievably when they let him out of jail he came back with one of the pigs who were now roaming the island quite freely and were not being molested by starving colonists. In what would become the most productive land in the world White left the colony to return England for more supplies in 1587.  On his return in 1590 he found that the colony had completely disappeared. Too late did he realize what we at Townsend already know, that settling land and farming is not for the faint of heart. At Townsend we know one thing that those early colonists did not – farming is not easy. Animals constantly require care to ensure their health, comfort, and safety. All this care is required with no guarantee of a successful crop. To farm one must be; a mechanic, a carpenter, a boiler maker, a welder, and of course a grassier. Our family also recognizes that after all we can do and with the help of family and friends it still requires the unseen power of God to help our little part of the world become the success it has been.
 
Several expeditions were taken to try to locate the Roanoke colony but they were never found by Sir Walter or English search parties later on. Even the Spanish tried to locate the colony if only to destroy it but the colonists had completely disappeared. – Maybe the pigs got them
 
Farm News
 
Townsend free range Poultry
Hyrum harvested his first crop of Guinea fowl this year and delivered them to his customers. He will have raised close to 400 chickens this year along with guineas, pheasants turkeys and ducks. We are so proud of his efforts and grateful to our customers. From now on all chickens should come in a cryovac bag with the Townsend label. Townsend would like thank Chez Koop for the fantastic labels and design of our logo and the Walders for doing such a wonderful job with our chickens.
 
Townsend Lamb
Sophia is shipping her first lambs. Sophia is learning so many skills that will help us out on the farm.
 
Manitoba Grass fed Galloway Beef
Annastasia made the hard decision that Quark really was more of a love bull than the reproductive machine that we were hoping for. He may be destined for the deep freeze. She purchased a new bull, The Grand Nagus, who will be coming to the farm at the end of the month.
 
Townsend Pastured Pork
Reuben is travelling with his mom to the US to import some more of his large black pigs. We have a Charlotte, a Matilda, and a Prudence entering the Canadian Quarantine facility later this month.

July 2014

In 1066 William the conqueror crossed the English Channel in what would be the last successful invasion of England. His army was weak with dysentery, fever, and ague. In medieval time disease in the military accounted for almost half of an army’s total mortality. One of the leading causes of death in the army at the time was food poisoning. Due to ease of storage, cured meat products – normally pork, made up the bulk of an armies protein requirements. In the third century the Romans codified salt curing when Cato wrote the recipe for salt curing of ham. At that time meat was cured with salt for a specified period time and then eaten or smoked. Curing meats with salt was an accepted way of extending the shelf life of meat in an era that was without refrigeration. The problem, for people who relied on preserved meat as a dietary staple was that food poisoning from eating cured products was rampant. Sailors in the Royal Navy had more chance of dying by food poisoning than by fighting pirates or the French. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the early settlers in America discovered that meat cured in the sea water allowed people to eat cured meat with much less worry of food poisoning.

Sea water contained an important element that was overlooked in previous curing attempts – sodium nitrate which at that time was called salt peter. Today we know that some bacterium can survive in a salt environment and the use of nitrates, along with proper sanitation, is the only guaranteed way to ensure cured products are safe. Like all living organisms bacteria produces waste products as it synthesizes food. Bacterial wastes can be quite toxic to humans and some of them such as botulism are deadly. Botulism is so deadly even a minute amount can kill or make people violently ill and the symptoms are stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Once the toxin has infected the meat it cannot be destroyed. Cooking will kill the bacteria but not the toxin the bacteria produces. This is why it is so critical when curing products to kill the bacteria immediately through the use of salts and nitrates.

In the 1970’s there was a question about whether nitrates could be carcinogenic and several tests were conducted. Although there was never conclusive evidence to prove the carcinogenic claim the Canadian Food Agency moved away from the use of nitrates and instead used nitrites which produced the same bacterial killing results.

One of the ways that the early settlers knew that their meat was “safely cured” was that it had a pleasing rosy hue to it when cooked. Today the government has specified that all cured products must have various quantities of nitrite in it during the curing process ensuring that the cure will kill all bacteria. Various vegetables such as celery or beets have natural sodium nitrite in them and the CFIA has made allowances that allows producers to use quantities of the natural nitrites. The kitchen staff and chef at Townsend looked into using the natural nitrites however because no two vegetables will hold a definitive amount of nitrite the government specified quantities are greater than if we just put in straight sodium nitrite. Today there is a chorus of health activists and farm producers who claim that nitrites are not necessary and that eating meat without this important mineral causes only a slim chance of illness however, like King Harold found out when a Norman arrow found its way past his heavily armoured body through the eye slit in his helmet, even small chances can have fatal consequences.

Large Black Pigs at Townsend
We are awaiting a new batch of pastured pigs from the US. We are getting a Defender boar piglet, a Matilda sow, a Prudence Sow, and a Charlotte Sow. It should make for interesting combinations.
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Poultry
Hyrum is busy with another year of free range poultry. He is halfway through his next run of chickens, they’re 3 weeks old, and he is also busy with his Muscovy ducks, guinea fowl, turkeys, and pheasants.
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Sheep
Sophia’s lambs are almost ready to be processed she will start to call her clients about their cuts.

Belted Galloway
Townsend’s small herd of grass fed cattle are enjoying the summer in the field however the angus’ time here on earth is becoming short. We will be switching their diets shortly to ensure good marbling in November.
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June 2014

In 1192 King Richard the Lion heart left his crusade in the holy land bankrupt and without an army. Many of the countries he had to pass through to get back to England were ruled by Monarchs who were either unfriendly or a bitter enemy of the King. To disguise himself while passing through these unfriendly territories the King dressed himself as a poor peasant travelling in search of work and lodging. The disguise worked well until Richard was captured in Vienna because he refused to stop eating chicken which at the time was a food too expensive for any but the wealthy. Someone saw a poor peasant eating chicken and thinking it was odd reported it to the marshal who arrested Richard and took him before the King of Austria. The Austrian King recognized Richard, put him in jail, and then demanded a large ransom from his brother, John (the one from Robin Hood), who was ruling Richards Kingdom in the Kings absence.

Today, unlike medieval times chicken is one of the cheapest types of meat available for purchase at local markets. Chicken per pound is cheaper than beef, fish, lamb, and pork; oddly though it is one of the poorest animals at converting grain to meat. This means that the same chicken which uses more grain per pound of meat to raise than the other animals is cheaper than all other types of meat per pound. The ability of stores to provide cheap chicken comes at a high cost to the health of the birds as well as the potential health to humans as consumers of chicken. Chicks are fed a steady diet of antibiotics and hormones from the time they hatch until they are processed as well to keep costs down producers only allow for chickens to be raised in one square foot of living space. Chickens are genetically modified to ensure they grow the most muscle mass per pound of grain eaten and chickens are fed animal by products for higher protein. At Townsend our free ranged chickens are not given any antibiotics and no growth hormones. Just like in medieval times they are allowed to roam freely and graze for what they will eat. Our birds are fed a natural vegetarian diet supplemented by whatever they find in the pasture.

It was said that King Richard could eat four or five chickens per day and at Townsend we try to produce a chicken that tastes good enough to lose a kingdom for. Speaking of losing a kingdom, when Prince John received the ransom demands from Austria, he promptly responded to it by offering to pay the Austrian King even more money to keep Richard in jail. John must have wanted all the kingdom’s chicken to himself.

Townsend Free Ranged Chicken
HIMG_0737yrum was very successful raising chickens this year. He has finished producing the first round of birds and is now in the process of delivering them. The chickens came out great and he is meeting with all of his customers. We had 40 pheasants come to the farm and so we will see if we can keep some game birds here on the farm. Our guinea fowl are growing and we received a new batch of Muscovy Ducks

Grass Fed Beef
Our Belted Galloway herd received a tragic loss when the cow which was expecting had to be rushed to Dr. Hamilton’s office for an emergency C Section. We lost the calf which had a rare congenital defect but we managed to save old Bessie and we will have to see if she can carry a calf again.IMG_0721

Manitoba Lambs 
Our lambs are all growing. We have a Horned Dorset lamb entered into the all Canada Classic competition in Toronto this year and we are waiting to see how she will do. Our Horned Dorset flock

IMG_0714is growing and Sophia is looking after the lambs very well. Dawn, the farms head chef, was attacked last month by the ram – he’s in the deep freezer now.

The Rising cost of Meat

Has anyone noticed that the price of meat is on the rise? With last year’s record supply of cereal crops and the resulting drop in price for feed grain I would have thought that the price of meat would have been going down and not up. We believe there are two reasons for this phenomenon the first is the lack of small farmers with a product they can sell. The poor beef prices  that has plagued farmers for years caused mainly by the BSE scare and the country of origin labelling in the US has forced many small producers to get out of the industry and the resulting lack of product means prices will go up.  Secondly pork producers have suffered through terrible prices for their product and many of the smaller producers have also found other easier ways to find a living. Last year was particularly hard on all meat producers as the cost of feed had risen from droughts the year before. All of these factors have combined into a perfect storm come barbeque season because meat has risen dramatically and does not look like it will come down anytime soon. I have talked to the two independent butchers who do business around Townsend farm and they are both struggling to get their orders filled due to the lack of pigs. The price of pork and beef has gone up approximately 20 – 30 percent in some areas and does not look like it will come down any time soon. In addition the PED virus that has struck Manitoba pig producers in recent months means increased production costs with the resulting increase of prices at the store not to mention the lack of pork due to pigs dying before they can be processed means high prices are probably here to stay. On a happier note spring has finally arrived on the farm and everyone and everything is happy to see the end of the long winter. Our Manitoba grain fed lambs are now eating an oat/corn/barley grain ration as well as grass and an occasional drink from their mother. We are still waiting for the grass on the estates meadow to get a little longer before we turn the belted galloway cattle out until the fall. This spring the farm has purchased four registered horned dorset ewes and a registered horned dorset ram and Sophia will begin breeding horned dorsets.

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DSC05519Hyrum has had a very successful start to his chicken business and will be processing his first batch of free ranged frying chickens June 6. Hyrum is starting to be able to look after the chickens all by himself this year and we hope that you will enjoy your chickens as much as we enjoy raising them. All our chicken is sustainably raised with no hormones or steroids of any kind. In addition we use no medications in our chicken’s diets and they are free to roam around the yard if they choose. In addition to chickens and turkeys Hyrum is raising geese ducks and guinea fowl and we should have some ring neck pheasant on the farm sooDSC05573n.

Townsend Grass Fed Beef
We have bought another registered belted Galloway cow from Alberta who will be having a calf shortly. Our future bull will be turned out with the cows this September and hopefully in about 5 years we will be able to sell our own beef. Our bull Quark will be on the line come September and Annastasia is getting him prepared for his big moment. He is now knee deep in straw, hand fed, has his own watering bucket, and getting one on one; attention, scratches, and massages from the beef manager. At the end we should probably name him Kobe

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Manitoba Grain Fed Lamb

Sophia’s first year of lambing was a learning curve for the whole family. We have lambs for sale as well as for ourselves which is good for our family and yours. We have decided to produce a heritage breed of sheep called the horned dorset mainly because the dorset will breed out of season and we want to have lambs ready for the easter market. The lambs are starting to get their grain ration and are gaining rapidly in size.

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