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February 22, 2023

Winter is a time of promise because there is so little to do — or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so. ~Stanley Crawford, A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm, 1992


Around the Farm

Track Shoes and Taxes

Winter, the time when things on the farm are a little slower or seem to be, is coming to an end. Spring is about to spring. The guys are checking the cleats and laces on their track shoes in preparation for the season ahead.

Renovations to a couple of the shops are finished. Broiler chicks and turkey poults have been ordered and slaughter dates scheduled. Equipment and trucks are serviced and ready to work.

The sheep have had their winter wool coats sheared in preparation for lambing in a couple of weeks. The pens are being assembled in the lambing barn as our remote shepherd in Hong Kong checks cameras. He’s getting excited about watching for lambs.

Cherry, our oldest milk cow, and Mable, our little Jersey heifer, are close to having their calves, which we look forward to. There should be lots of milk for feeding lambs if their moms don’t have enough.

Something that isn’t exciting is taxes. However, Martin had an interesting observation the other day.

“You’re aware of the saying that there are only two things for sure…death and taxes?

“Well, the Bible says that there will be no more death in heaven and there won’t be any taxes, either.”


Organic Dried Fruit

When the variety of fresh fruits is limited at this time of year, it’s nice to have alternatives. We have a large selection of organic dried fruits that make great snacks or nutritious additions to your favorite recipes.

The essential options, which are used more often in prepared dishes, include: three varieties of raisins – Flame, Sultana, and Thompson, two varieties of dates – Medjools and Deglet, cranberries, currants, shredded coconut, and sundried tomatoes.

The following make great snacks: banana chips, blueberries, cherries, figs, ginger, and pineapple.

For something exotic, try: Incan berries, mango, and persimmons.

All our dried fruits are kept in the cooler, so they are fresher much longer.


Harvest Haven Pasture Raised Chicken

Martin explains the benefits of raising broiler chickens on pasture and why he has chosen the portable cages you’ll see in this video.

The birds are healthy because they get fresh air, sunshine, vibrant grasses, and real bugs, and they are not exposed to hazardous ammonia buildup in a confined barn. Portable cages on pasture provide a low stress environment resulting in a mortality rate that is nearly zero. The meat from pasture raised chickens is a richer color, tastier, and obviously healthier with no risk of salmonella or bacterial contamination.

The portable cages have a number of advantages for the birds and the farmers who tend the operation. The system is very simple to build and operate, and it’s not noisy or invasive in the environment. It only takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes a day to move the units morning and afternoon, and to feed and water all of the chickens.

Another major advantage to portable cages is the spreading of the chicken manure evenly over the pasture without the use of machinery. The fields explode in greenery after the chickens have done the job for the farmer.

Pasture raised chicken is the clean, moral, ethical, and right way of raising a bird.


Our Farm Favorites

Harvest Haven Pasture Raised Whole Chicken – Truly pasture-raised, these chickens are moved to fresh pasture daily where they get a diet of lush grasses, bugs, and certified organic feed. The result is plump birds that have tender, tasty, and moist meat. Perfect for dinner!

Simply Organic Smoked Paprika, 77 g – Nothing but pure, organic, ground Spanish paprika (Capsicum annuum) that's oak-wood smoked. Not irradiated. Deep, rich color, enticing aroma, and award-winning smoky-sweet flavor with a touch of heat. Pairs well with egg, bean, and potato dishes, as well as roasted and grilled meats.

Harvest Haven Butterball Potatoes, 5 lb and 10 lb bags – Creamy tender flesh with a smooth consistency and rich, buttery flavor make these potatoes a favorite. Mashed, baked, French fried, scalloped, whatever you fancy, this potato will please.

Avalon Organic Whipping Cream, 250 mL – There is no substitute for real whipping cream. So good simmered on fresh-from-the-garden veggies, poured on raspberries, blueberries, or other fresh fruit, or added to your cereal for a rich flavor. And what would pies and puddings be without a big dollop of whipped cream?

Organic Anjou Pears – When fully ripe, the Anjou is sweet and juicy. To tell when it’s ripe, you need to check the neck by gently pressing your thumb near the stem end of the pear. When it gives slightly, it’s ready to eat.

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Molasses, 662 g – Dark in color, this blackstrap molasses offers a rich, full-bodied, and robust flavor that perfectly complements gingerbread, cookies, bran muffins, chili, and BBQ sauce. It’s healthy, too, being rich in nutrients, including Vitamin B6, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium.


The Recipe Box

Please note, all ingredients in our recipes are organic.

Roasted Dutch Oven Chicken

4-5 pound whole Harvest Haven chicken
1 large Harvest Haven onion, peeled and quartered
5 cloves Harvest Haven garlic, peeled
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Rinse the outside and the cavity of your whole chicken and pat dry.

Stuff the chicken cavity with the onion, garlic cloves, and sprig of fresh rosemary.

Place the chicken, breast side up, in the dutch oven. Drizzle the melted butter over the surface of the chicken.

Combine the smoked paprika, black pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Mix well and sprinkle over the surface of the chicken, taking care to get the wings and legs as well.

Place the lid on the dutch oven and place into the preheated oven.

Cook for 60-90 minutes with the lid on, depending on the size of the chicken. If the chicken is on the smaller end, cook for 60, for chickens closer to 5 lbs, bake for 90 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Increase the temperature to 425ºF and remove the lid from the dutch oven. Baste the chicken with the drippings.
Once the oven reaches the new higher temperature, place the chicken back in the oven and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 180ºF in the thickest part, or at least 165ºF for each individual part.

Remove the chicken from the dutch oven to a plate, cool for 5 minutes, and then serve. You can also serve directly in the dutch oven if you have a sturdy heatproof trivet for your kitchen table.


Creamy Garlic Potatoes

4 cups diced Harvest Haven potatoes
2 cloves Harvest Haven garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups cream
1 tablespoon dried onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350-375°F.

Coat a 10 inch skillet (or baking dish) with butter.

Combine cream, garlic, dried onion, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese, use a whisk to combine thoroughly.

Transfer diced potatoes into your skillet or pan.

Pour the garlic cream sauce over and ensure all potato pieces are pushed under the liquid.

Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese on top.

Cover baking dish with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil, bake for further 30 minutes or until done.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3- 5 minutes.

Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.


Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake

4 firm medium pears
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup hot water (about 100°F (38°C))
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
for serving: whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Prepare the topping: Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Peel, core, and slice pears into 1/8-inch thick slices. Tightly layer the pears in the prepared pan. Set aside.

Whisking constantly, heat the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, vigorously whisk to ensure the butter is not separating from the brown sugar. Once it comes together (it will, keep whisking!), pour evenly over pears.

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).

Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together. Set aside. Whisk the molasses and hot water together. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer off and add the dry ingredients and molasses/water. Turn the mixer on low and mix just until combined. The batter will be a little thick.

Carefully pour/spread batter on top of pears. Bake for around 35-45 minutes or until the cake is baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If you notice the edges or top browning too quickly, tent the cake with aluminum foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then invert cake onto a serving plate. Cake will be moist! Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Down on the Farm

My Take Two Music Album by Victor

Imagine having a second shot at life, a Take Two!

“You’re kidding me, aren't you?”

Normally, you would think so, but I’m serious. It happens, believe me. I’ve seen this on various levels and aspects of our lives. Some of you have seen it and may have experienced it in a fashion.

As a child, I saw two struggling neighbor farmers in Manitoba experience new starts. The Preslowskis suddenly lost their large home and everything in it to fire – a painful event. Forced to uproot, they started all over again in Etobicoke, Ontario.

Years later, Ralph and his wife returned for a visit to their old stomping grounds and declared, “It was the worst and the best thing that ever happened to us!” He had built up a prosperous trucking enterprise in Ontario.

Another neighbor, Bill and Elsie Chaykowski, decided with their children Dennis, Diane, and Miles to pack in their rags, callouses, hard work, sweat, tears, long hours, and dismal earnings for Alberta. Alberta bound! Though they began new careers, it was like retiring!

The Chaykowskis also revisited us years later and told us of their pleasant, cowboy country, “cow town” home city of Calgary, the famous Calgary Stampede, the fabulous Rocky Mountains with their peaks, forests, rivers, and lakes. The icing on the cake for these former Manitobans was the periodic winter weather breaks with warm chinook winds to bring winter cheer for freezing souls.

I’ve seen “Take Two’s” in the Bible, too. Consider Joseph who was raised directly from years of humbling prison to the second highest position in superpower Egypt. Job is a classic example where God brought horrendous loss to him, right to the edge of the grave, only to raise him up again, replace his lost children, and double his wealth and years on earth.

How are those for examples of a Take Two in this world! There are others.

For me, it’s been a Take Two these past few years I hadn’t dreamed of. Music! Singing! From a life of struggles, tears, troubles, trials, and sorrows to a level of victory, success, and happiness I had never enjoyed in my life of 70+ years. I didn’t know that in all my life, singing was in me, longing to be expressed.

From when I was 6 years old, the Voice of Song quietly called, but it wasn’t until recently that I began to sing and record the music that was in my soul. And what better thing could I sing than the songs God has given me since 1975 to the present, telling the world what He’s done for me? My son declared he had never seen me in that state of joy. He marveled. So did I!

This music album is about my Take Two, starting life all over, a fresh start, an opportunity opened up from above, a time of compensation for a past life that I wouldn’t have chosen to live again but now a glad choice to do it “right.” So good. So much to talk, sing, and shout about!

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