Summer this year has been a beauty or a beast depending which side of the fence you are living on in Ireland.
For the beach loving, holidaying folk it has been the best summer since Grandad wore shorts as a young tacker.
If you’re farming, it’s the Beast who reared it’s head long after you thought it had died a death in the East.
A bleak winter. (let me rephrase that). A diabolically wet, cold, snowy and miserable winter at least ensured there would be brilliant grass and crop growing in the spring and summer. Only problem was, someone turned that hot dial a little too far to the right.
Spring never really emerged. Summer burst on to the scene with all guns blazing. The sun shone and shone and shone. And sadly for all the farmers relying on growth to stock up on supplies for the winter, there may well be another fodder crisis at the end of 2018.
The joys of farming!
We are blessed here in Moyglass to have cut hay on half of the farm this year. As I kept saying to anyone who would listen, “this must be the best hay in Ireland”. Or so it felt to a first time hay baler staring at a shed full of organic hay like a parent beaming at their first born.
We sold most of our hay to help fund our fencing project for the hens and kept a stockpile in our barn for ourselves. We will have considerably less large stock on hand this year.
One thing we will have more of though are hens and chickens!
The demand for our eggs had grown organically (so to speak) and word of mouth reviews and referrals meant we could no longer keep up to the demand at our local markets. To cater for this, we have now completed a new shed and 300 new hens have joined our enterprise.
We fenced off an area of the farm which we had previously been unable to utilise as it was pure limestone base and almost impossible to get posts into. It has 1 acre of naturally occurring compost and woodland. Absolutely perfect for hens to scratch, dig and explore. As well as fresh organic pasture which they love so much.
Our new ladies have settled in happily and begun to lay - more healthy pasture range eggs and hopefully lots of happy customers.
Our chicken bone broth was put on the back burner so to speak.
We’ve done lots of reading and researching on the benefits of bone broth. If you haven’t already, just ask Dr Google. After our family drinking bone broth the whole winter long without a cold or flu (I’m already touching wood as I say that for next winter) we were dedicated to the cause.
We started out using your regular shop bought free range chickens to make the broth. We also added in carrots, onion and celery from our local markets in Cahir. Apples and apple cider vinegar from The Apple Farm, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Seaweed from Wild Irish. Tasted great. Looked great. People loved it.
At the request of one of our lovely customers (who has a very sensitive family of coeliacs), we began to raise our own chickens. Unlike the 4-6 week old life of the confined supermarket chicken, our chickens lived out to 16 weeks and spent the last 12 weeks on fresh, organic, Tipperary pasture. With clean water, outdoor air and a new patch of grass to peck at every few days (as well as a more active exercise regime). The resulting chicken surprised even us.
They. Tasted. Amazing.
Of course the next step was to add these to our bone broth. Guess what? The resultant bone broth tasted completely different to the original version. The colour was different (more yellow) and the consistency is gelatinous when cold. There is much less fat and the taste? Does it sound ridiculous to say it’s just so chickeny?
It makes sense to us to only use our own chickens. Ones that we can stand by. Ethically raised as close to how our grandparents might have raised them. Ones that we know have had life on fresh, untreated pasture and always in the clean air of the great outdoors.
The main benefits of bone broth have been widely marketed as:
Rich in Minerals
Improved Immune System
Protects against the common cold and flu
The benefits of bone broth as opposed to a stock (made over a shorter time) come from cooking the bones for a much longer time allowing the minerals to be released.
So you want the best minerals and the best nutrients to be in those bones when you start cooking.
Don’t like the thought of drinking something with the word “bone” in it?
Then do what we do for the younger members of our family who might be averse to drinking or eating anything they may consider to be in the “healthy” basket.
Pop it into your next soup. Throw it into a risotto. Toss it into a spaghetti bolognaise. Cook pasta in it. Basically you can use it in anything that calls for a liquid in cooking. You can even add it to smoothies!
And if you have a poorly or elderly person in your life? Do them a favour and make them up a light broth with it. Add some poached chicken and a few soft vegetables they like and they will be forever in your debt.
We always welcome visitors to our farm. Stop by to pick up some eggs, chicken bone broth or check out Alan and Steve - our Alpaca Hen Guardians. We’d love to meet you.
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