This week’s blog entry is from a guest writer. Jacob Goldstein is a high school Freshman and supplied the lamb for the winning team at our Artisan Cup & Fork Chef Competition in September.
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By: Jacob Goldstein
Hi. My name is Jacob Goldstein, I’m 14 and I live with my family on our farm called Base Camp. I have three brothers (I’m the middle) and we all have our chores. Mine is all the animal and livestock care which I do every morning and night, 7 days a week before school and again before bed. It’s a lot of hard work and I love it a lot, but I’d really like to understand why morning comes earlier on the weekend.
We bought our farm about three years ago, and I immediately had to buy a book and start reading about chickens and how to properly raise them. Well, either the books miss a lot, or my chickens just did not read them because it’s a lot trickier than the books say. For one thing, they don’t have any interest in staying in the nice big pasture we built for them — they duck under the electric fence like its not even there, and they seem partial to making nests and laying eggs under the lamb feeder! But that’s ok — they always come back to their coops at night.
In addition to chickens I have a variety of ducks and guinea fowl, a rafter of heritage turkeys, 3 very big dogs -two hard-working Great Pyrenees and one very lazy black lab – and about 10 barn cats/kittens who keep the mice out of the feed and the bunnies out of mom’s garden (we were only supposed to have 5, but one of the cats was pregnant when we got it). You wouldn’t think all these animals would get along but I promise one morning I came out and my dog was lying down with the lamb, a chicken on its head and a kitten curled up on its tail. I love my farm and my jobs.I now have about 40 laying hens of a variety of breeds and I have my license and sell the eggs every week to neighbors. I say “about” 40 hens because my animals are completely free range and counting them all up is harder than it’s worth. Also, the hatchery seems to love slipping extra chicks into my orders for warmth – I ended up with 10 extras, all roosters, this spring, which led us to learn how to process chickens for the first time. It went so well that I immediately ordered 50 meat bird chicks, which have done great and will be ready to process the end of this month. We process the birds ourselves, but don’t worry – the lamb all goes to professionals (which is probably better).
Like my chickens, my lamb is free range and well-loved. They have lots of acres of pasture and a nice shelter we built that they can go to when it rains or the sun is high. It’s fun to watch them get big and healthy, and to watch them play and come running in the morning or evening when I go out to check their water or put extra hay out for them. The most hilarious is sometimes they jump practically straight up in the air when they’re playing! Right now, I’m working to earn enough money to buy a couple of bred ewes this fall so I’ll have them from birth.
A lot of people say, “how can you raise them and then eat them,” but after living this way I wonder how people eat meat when they DON’T know where it comes from. I know my animals got great care and company and love and fresh water and lots of space to forage naturally. I took good care of them, and they take care of me and my family by nourishing our bodies in return.Our great friends, Chefs Jordan and Aurora own our very favorite restaurant in Springfield, American Harvest. If my mom’s too tired to cook, it’s the only place we ever want to go because it’s as good as eating at home, plus they’re kinda like more family anyway. They are the best chef’s I’ve ever known – don’t tell my mom I said that.
When I heard that Jordan and Aurora were competing in the Artisan Cup and Fork, I was so excited! They asked if they could buy MY lamb for the event, which made me really proud, and my mom and I drove up to went to support them at the competition. I had a great time trying all the amazing dishes and meeting people who really seemed interested in the farm. That was cool. A lot of my friends don’t really understand what – or why – we do this, and it was neat to talk to people who seemed excited and wanted to know more.
The best part of the competition was the FOOD! There were many great dishes to try, and I really love good cooking. I have to say – it was a very close call, and I even had to try some of the dishes multiple times. After several minutes of thinking about it and several tries I was totally convinced that American Harvest had the winning dish! I felt a little bad because we were competing with our friend Chase from Sugargrove Farms, and his beef is awesome too (we buy half a cow from him every year). We were very worried about who was going to win, but we sighed with relief (and cheered) when we were driving home and got the news that Jordan and Aurora had won first place in both categories!
I had a really great experience with all of this, and I learned a lot going to the competition (even though I missed the homecoming dance in order to attend!). It was an amazing time, and I hope that I get to come back soon – I had fun meeting everyone and learning about what other folks in the area are raising and growing. Thanks for listening and for supporting small, local farmers like me!
Glenwood High School Freshman
Base Camp Farm