Spring 2018: Farm Update

May 1, 2018



Braden finished his movable chicken pens and I helped him move his broiler chickens out to pasture.  We have had the coldest April on record, so there isn’t much pasture, but the chickens seem happy in their new home.

Braden put his own spin on a Salatin style, movable chicken pen.  I hope to post with more detail in the future.  The pens are moved daily to fresh pasture.  The pen is keeping the predators away from the chickens, and the chickens are really thriving.  He is still planning on having freshly frozen chickens for the May 26th market.



I helped Daniel rototill the garden and she has started moving her indoor started vegetables outdoors, and also started direct seeding some of her crops.

I rototilled the sweet corn plot and plan to plant next week if the soil continues to warm. We should have delicious sweet corn around the first of August.



Winter/Spring farrowing has gone well, and I have lots of healthy feeder pigs.  My fall-calving herd has wintered well on our home-raised hay, and are chomping at the bit to get on fresh pasture.

Cattle aren’t particularly smart, but they are masters at body language.  They know exactly what it means when they see me repairing electric fence.  I’m sure they are salivating as much as when Pavlov’s dogs hear a bell.


Jeremy’s Ham and Bean Soup

April 19, 2018

This is a guest post from longtime customer and friend, Jeremy.  Jeremy is a professional landscaper, and amateur chef.  I asked him to share his ham and bean soup recipe.  Thank you, Jeremy!

We will have plenty of ham available this Saturday at market.




Ham and White Bean Soup
Nothing says home cooking like a good ham and bean soup. Ham, as with bacon, elevates practically anything it’s with into tasty territory. It’s versatile and works in many different ways; with pasta, casseroles, stuffed in cordon bleu, baked with vegetables, as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And boy, ham is wonderful, especially from my farmer who raises happy, healthy, acorn fed hogs. I give him money and the occasional garden vegetables. I get his meat and eggs. I’m lucky to have him as a friend.

2 Cups Dry White beans; Cannellini, Lima, or other
1.5-2 lbs Smoked Ham or Smoked Pork Hock, bone in preferable, fat trimmed and diced
2 small Onions, coarsely chopped
1 Celery stalk, coarsely chopped
2-3 small Carrots, coarsely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
Bouquet Garni: 1 Bay Leaf, 2-3 Thyme sprigs, and 2-3 Parsley sprigs, tied with kitchen string (or dried herb equivalent; about ½ teaspoon each with a dried bay leaf.)
½ Cup White Wine
2 Cups Stock, Pork or Chicken
2-3 Cups Water
White pepper, Salt to taste


1. Sort and rinse beans. Soak overnight in cold water. Or if pressed for time, in a separate pot bring beans and water to a boil and then simmer for an hour or so while prepping above ingredients.

2. Trim excess fat off of ham, dice into small cubes and fry in soup pot. Stir and cook until fat is rendered and you are left with fried ham cracklings. Drain cracklings on paper towel and reserve.

3. Fry vegetables in rendered fat. Stir occasionally until onions and celery become translucent.

4. Add wine to vegetables to de-glaze pot. Boil off alcohol for a minute or two and add whole ham. Drain beans and add to pot with herb bouquet, pinch of pepper, salt, and stock. Add just enough water to submerge beans, vegetables and ham. Bring to a boil, cover and then simmer for 3-4 hours or until the beans are tender and the ham begins to fall apart.

5. Turn off heat, remove ham with bone, herb bouquet, and about half of the beans. Pull ham apart into pieces and strips reserving the beans and ham. Blend slightly cooled soup with immersion blender until creamy and smooth. Place reserved herbs, beans and ham bone back into pot and reheat, season with more salt and pepper if needed. The ham bone and herbs continue to add flavor as it reheats.

6. Serve soup, topped with pulled ham and cracklings




2018 Dane County Farmer’s Market

April 14, 2018



Thank you to all who ventured out on a very cold, wet, windy Saturday for the start of the 2018 Dane County Farmer’s Market!  Despite the weather, it was a great day reconnecting with old friends, and making new ones.  We are looking forward to a new season.

Thank you to my buddy Jake, for assisting me at our stand and photo credit.  And thank you to Sarah Elliot, DCFM market manager, for all her help as we start our new venture as Curiousfarmer, bringing you the same great beef and pork some of you have grown to love.  Braden and Daniele have started their enterprises and are excited to bring you pastured poultry and vegetables starting about Memorial Day weekend also.

We plan to be at every market this season.  We will try to set up near the same spot we are in today.   We enjoy our neighbors at the DCFM.  If any of you want to make sure we have something saved for you, email me with a preorder and we can be sure you will get it.

Thanks again!

Matthew Walter


Braden’s Chicks

April 3, 2018



I rode with Braden last week to Abendroth Hatchery to pick up his chicks.  Braden got a couple hundred broilers and some red pullets for layers.

They are off to a good start, although its been cold this first week of April.  Braden plans to build movable pens and start them on pasture as soon as the chicks are big enough and the weather moderates.

We have a butcher date for May 22nd, so we plan to have chicken available at the Dane County Farmer’s Market on May 26th.

Danielle has started vegetables in trays in her apartment.  She says they are off to a good start as well.  My young partners are excited to start farming!



Red-winged Blackbird Returns

March 12, 2018

Red-winged Blackbird Eggs


My old friend, the Red-winged Blackbird, has returned from his winter home, March 11, 2018.  There is usually a male who sits in the apple tree in my yard as I practice my disc golf putting.

While he probably isn’t the same bird, there is a chance, as the longest living wild Red-winged Blackbird was nearly 16 years old when scientists studied him.  If he isn’t the same bird, I’m sure he’s kin.

The photo above was taken in June or July, five years ago.  You can read more about Red-winged Blackbirds on my blog, here,  and here and here.

Winter 2018

February 4, 2018



Winter 2018, mild, mostly frozen, animals and people doing well.  Above is one of the hogs exploring, and below are some of the cattle resting on their bedding pack, with hogs exploring at the left of the frame.

I wrote that last week.  Winter has decided to come back hard in February, with below zero wind chills and several inches of snow last night, February 3rd.


Thank you to everyone who has purchased meat, or boxes, or halves, this winter.  Your business is appreciated.

I added several new products, (Brats-links and patties, Breakfast sausage patties, Cottage Bacon, Canadian Bacon, Ham Hocks).

I also tweaked the Classic Pork boxes.  Check them out and let me know if something interests you.



I am farrowing several litters in one of the hoop barns with farrowing huts.  The sows get to choose which hut to farrow in, and also make their own nest inside the huts.

When it is this cold, I never have any trouble with a sow choosing to farrow outside of a hut, which can be a problem in the warmer months of the year.

I haven’t lost many piglets, even though its been colder than I would prefer, (below 20 F).

Except for one very big Landrace sow who chose to carry way too much bedding into her hut and farrowed on a very cold night.  All her piglets died.  My theory is whereas the other sows made a nest with at least a little room for the piglets to nurse, see photo below, this sow was so big with so much bedding, the piglets were simply unable to start nursing due to lack of room.


Denizens of the Night

January 20, 2018



The idyllic farm of daytime turns into the stuff of nightmares when the sun goes down.  If you are a chicken who missed your farmer’s shutting of the door, you’ll have to search for a safe roost to spend the night.  But beware, some of these creatures climb.


I noticed a deer carcass, so I put up a trail cam and captured these images one night last week.


What’s interesting is the times recorded on the trail cam.  It looks like the raccoon came out early in the evening and the coyote stayed until after daybreak.