Welcome to Painted Hand Farm

Painted Hand Farm is a 20 acre Civil War era farm located in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. We raise meat goats, veal calves, turkeys and organic vegetables using humane and sustainable agricultural practices.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day 2008

You've seen the birds as day-old poults and watched them grow since arriving at the farm in mid-June. Since Governor Palin was so kind as to offer the American public a ringside seat for turkey slaughtering, I'll spare everyone the details. But understand that to get them from the pasture to the kitchen required a very long day consisting of loading all the birds into the stock trailer (getting the entire rig stuck in the mud), taking them a few miles down the road to the farm where the automatic plucker is located and then spending several hours in the snow & rain processing, bagging and tagging. This is one of those rare days when I miss living in southern California when it was always sunny and 70 on butcher day. A big thanks to all our customers who purchased their holiday turkeys from us this year. The birds weighed between twelve and twenty pounds, with the majority being 15 & 16 pounders. This is the 15-pound bird I cooked today for my family.
I started out brining it for twelve hours in a solution of 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup Pennsylvania maple syrup, 1 gallon of water, 1/2 gallon of Toigo apple cider, fresh ginger, some juniper berries and a few peppercorns.

Next, I creamed together maple syrup, my home-made cultured butter from Emma the Jersey Cow and some dried rosemary I got from the flower, mushroom & herb people who were next to me at the Bloomingdale Farmers Market the first few weeks I was there. I carefully separated the skin from the breast and pushed the mixture between the two, smooshing it throughout the top of the bird. I slathered the remaining butter mixture on the outside.
This is the bird about half way through cooking. This year I was able to talk several of my customers into taking the feet and using them to make stock. This is the difference a few feet make in the stock. Notice the thick, silky, gelatenous texture. When it comes to making turkey gravy, nothing beats stock made from turkey feet that have been simmered until they fall apart. I do not stuff my bird when I roast it. Instead, I make dressing and bake it in the oven while the turkey is resting. For stuffing, I used a stale baugette, our onions & shallots, celery and locally-grown shitake mushrooms (thanks Jim!) sauted in my butter. It was all tossed together along with a few cups of that rich turkey feet stock and a pint of fresh Cheasapeake Bay oysters, topped with grated Ewe's Dream sheep cheese from Otterbein Acres and baked.
When I was growing up, it seemed like every year my grandma would forget to put the cranberry sauce on the table. That was just fine with me since it was the canned kind and not very appealing. When I began cooking at Wheeler Hot Springs Restaurant many, many moons ago, I was introduced into making real cranberry sauce to accompany turkey. It's quick, simple and so worth it. For mine, I used a bag of organic cranberries, a fresh pear, a handful of local cherries I had frozen earlier in the summer, some minced ginger and a half cup of raw sugar. Some people like to add nuts like pecans or pistachios. Simmer the whole mess until it starts to bubble & spit, stir a few times and put in a serving bowl. Don't refridgerate it since that really detracts from the flavor.
The other lucious goodies included in our Thanksgiving dinner were fresh brussel sprouts and purple carrots with a balsamic & white truffle reduction glaze (a gourmet prize from BB's), steamed brocoli and romanesco, mashed yellow sweet potatoes, a seven layer salad (thanks Mom), fresh biscuts made with the Carpenters' awesome lard and some quince butter I made a few weeks ago. Oh yes, and turkey feet gravy!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Ok, so they didn't all come flying off the back of the truck when Mel took off one, but sometimes that's what I think when we're stacking them high and rolling down the highway. When one does occasionally fly off, however, then it becomes a Freeway Picasso which is actually more like a Jackson Pollack.
Today was our last day at the Bloomingdale Farmers market in Washington DC. I've really enjoyed breaking into the metropolitan market scene. The people are all so nice! I'm really looking forward to going back next season.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Can't Help It

I'm sorry, but this is just too good not to pass up or post. Yes, the election is over and yes, Obama won so just why am I posting this Sara Palin interview? Because this is just too crazy!!!

According to the Huffington Post, "Some videos you just have to see to believe. On Thursday, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin appeared in Wasilla in order to pardon a local turkey in anticipation of Thanksgiving. This proved to be a slightly absurd but ultimately unremarkable event. But what came next was positively surreal. After the pardon Palin proceeded to do an interview with a local TV station while the turkeys were being SLAUGHTERED in the background!! Seemingly oblivious to the gruesomeness going on over her shoulder, she carries on talking for over three minutes. Watch the video below to see for yourself. Be warned, it's kind of gruesome."

So, I'll armchair quarterback this video. See the guy in the background with those big silver things? They're called "killing cones". You put the bird in the top and its head sticks out the bottom. Below the cones, that's a 50-gallon Rubbermaid livestock water tank. The same kind we use here out in the goat pastures. It's there to catch the blood after the arteries in the turkey's neck is severed. He takes an obviously dead bird out of a cone and brings in a live one. See the bird struggling toward the end of the interview? That's the tell-tale "flap of death". He slaughtered the bird while she was giving her freaking interview? So much for a pardon. I think this video is indicative of the entire GOP--all smoke & mirrors while they slit your throat in the background. Oh, by the way, is that $275 Burberry scarf one that the RNC missed when they took back all the Neiman Marcus booty? Maybe it was a consolation prize for Miss Sarah.

First Snow

Today, we woke up to our first winter dusting that covered the ground
The sage and Swiss chard appear to have weathered through it. After all, got to have that fresh sage for Thanksgiving!

Pax & El Jefe are in their element.

One more reason to be glad the turkeys will be GONE within a week. I hate breaking ice and slogging buckets of water.
Not enough to weight down the pine boughs or completely blanket the fields. You can't really see it in this picture, but our compost pile is steaming nicely...hence, no snow on the pile to the right. Ralph has yet to incorporate all the leaves into the main pile, plus we'll have some bedding and manure to add to the mixture once the turkeys are GONE. {Can you tell I'm ready for Thanksgiving?}

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ten Days & Counting

Yep, that's right you snood-faced relic from the age of dinosaurs. In just a little over a week, I'm going to pluck you, gut you, whack off your head, stuff you neatly into a plastic sack and put you on ice. A few days after that, you'll be the guest-of-honor for some lucky family who understands just how wonderful farm-raised Heritage turkeys really are, especially if you're a fan of dark meat. Notice these birds still have their full beaks & snood (that little thingy that sticks up on top) and haven't been shamefully mutilated like their commercially-raised brethren.
Similar to all other animals here on the farm, the turkeys are watered via a gravity-fed rainwater harvesting system. Remember the rain barrel Ralph installed earlier this year? Well, he ran a hose down to a secondary barrel which feeds the turkey waterer. Unlike those bell system, we have an open bucket with an automatic float. Too keep the turkeys from fouling their water, Ralph attached a wire cage around the water bucket so then can only get their heads through. It works great!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

It's not only the bull calves who come running in the morning when I head out to the barn with buckets of milk. The Rodent Patrol that Ralph acquired earlier this year has been working in full force. The plan was for two, but he brought home six thinking that two would fall victim to the road, two to predators and that would leave us with two. But they were smarter than expected and only one has been squashed by the local NASCAR wannabees speeding up over the hill.
That's Spitty, Turtle Head, Smokey and the Shy Guy. Three Spot hasn't realized that breakfast has arrived. Turtle Head is doing his Sarah Palin imitation.
And just where are the two usual felines of the farm these days?
With the new crew, they've taken it upon themselves to defend the house. Megs covers the downstairs and Bugs' territory is the upstairs. In addition to keeping mice and crickets at bay inside, they also function as foot-warmers now that the colder weather has set in.
Ah, the joys of seniority.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What's Going On at the Market

Now there's something you don't often see at the Carlisle Central Farmers Market--Melanie and Jess! They're usually down in Washington, DC on the weekends, however, this weekend was special. Jessica roasted her 4-H market goat project at the market and sold sandwiches and tacos as a fund-raiser for her trip to the Presidential Inauguration in January. There were also three new vendors at the market this week. One that makes prepared foods like cheese steak sandwiches and fresh-cut fries.
Here's Hutch from Toigo Orchards and all their wonderful products.
And Torchbearer Sauces was back for the day. The sauce guy was really nice and gave Jessica a bottle of awesome Honey BBQ to serve with her goat sandwiches.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween, Newburg Style

Long live Captain Jack Sparrow! He's alive and well and the pirate lord of the dairy farmers right here in Newburg. [NOTE: he's wearing a Pirates for Obama button] Instead of swinging from the mast of Black Pearl, his looks out over the fields from the uppermost rails of a hay wagon pulled by an International Harvester hot rod tractor driven by the Big Bad Wolf. We had an awesome hay ride that included several trail hauntings.
The crew for the star-lit hay ride included a working class stiff, Indiana Cheesy Jones and Caution Man.
Some of the other characters included.....
Jimmi Hendrix & Frosty the SnowmanThe Abdominal Snowman
A bush (complete with bird) who cooked up some mean venison tenderloin.
A witch & a werewolf.
While little miss faerie may have been prepared for the party, she wasn't too enamored with her uncles' "ugly teeth" and preferred the protection of daddy Caution Man.