We're No. 1

Edible Houston Magazine sponsored a contest asking Houston metro area residents which is their favorite farm serving Houston. And the winner is…Jolie Vue! We are overwhelmed by that news and thank all of you for your support. Makes all of our attention to the details of growing healthy, humanely-raised and sustainably-grown complete proteins worth all of the effort expended over the last 12 years worth it. And, I should mention, improving our regional environment’s air, water and soil while doing so.

I want to give posthumous thanks to my father for starting us on the right track. Dad was a lifelong restauranteur and he always taught that getting the food right came before profit because only if you did that would the sustainable business follow. Thanks, Dad. We miss you but are ever thankful for your wisdom.

State of the Farm

Our winter grazing was not as commensurately bountiful as the effort we put into planting it. We had one complete grazing of the oats and rye before the first, early, hard freeze came on us in late November. Very unusual to have it that early and that hard; and even more unusual that it was followed through in December and January by more hard freezes. All of that to say that we had no more grazing opportunities after the first grazing in early November - until February. Our creatures were limited to standing hay - the tall grasses that go dormant in freezing weather — which may maintain them but will not grow them like the winter grasses will.

But here is the rest of the story. February, often our coldest month, turned us from Arctic freezes to balmy weather, sometimes warming into the low 80’s, frequently reaching the low 70’s but always returning to cool nights. Average 24 hour temps were probably calculated into the 60-65 bracket, perfect weather for growing winter pasture, and the grasses responded with a vengeance. Jumping out of the ground, we were quickly overwhelmed with beautiful dark green pastures of oats, rye and clover by late February through March. The calves and pigs went from barely holding on to growing grass-fat! Big smiles all around.

The lesson? Never give up on Mother Nature. She’s a balancer.

Speaking of Clover

Those of you who have been with us for more than a few years will remember efforts to restore clovers in our earlier years. Clover is a soil balancer and enhancer. Makes a real difference in grass production and while it is reciprocally expensive, it makes up for it in nearly perpetual life.

So it is with great appreciation as we work around the farm to see it replete with clover of several varieties. We know it is working 24/7 to make us better.

…In the Kitchen

We used to raise meat chickens. Tough enterprise, very time intensive, predation can be severe if not guarded against, and harsh weather on either side of the gauge can be killing. We finally had to throw in the towel and went and found farmers who did chicken exclusively. Trying to do beef, pork and chicken was too much.

After a couple of false starts, we found Jill and her boys at Jolly Farms near Alvin. It’s been a downhill glide since then. They figured out how to raise Big Fat Hens year round with no loss of quality. Fat, tender, juicy every time. Not every member takes chicken. Big mistake in my opinion.

Here’s why: whether you cook it in the slow cooker, rotisserie or oven, you get nearly 4 pounds of delicious, juicy chicken. For Honi and I, that means three meals and a meaty carcass to make soup stock for another 2 or 3 meals.

Try the Jolly chicken if you haven’t. You’ll never look back.

State of the Farm

We sure are making up for last year's "non-winter" in a hurry. In fact, it is 32 degrees this morning as we approach Valentine's Day. Valentines marks the last average freeze day in Washington County but I suspect we will see more freezing weather before this winter is over.
Hard freezes came early and often this year and the result has been a dampening of our winter pastures' recovery. After grazing our oat and rye pastures just once, we have not returned as the winter grasses were stunted by the cold waves which have included snow and sleet. We hope that will change as the weather warms so that we see a final burst before the spring grasses show up but that is hope only - not expectation. In years like this one, all bets are off. We shall see…
 

Peachy

You may remember that last year our peach orchard grew no peaches at all, a first in 15 years of ample peach production. The previous winter was so warm that the orchard blossomed early but our one hard freeze came after that and snuffed out the flowers — so, no peaches for our porkers. I'm not worried that we will have an early bloom, but I am anxious that we may have a late freeze after normal warming occurs. If so, we could see our second year without peaches. I can hear the pigs grumbling already. They like their peaches.

Brenham Festivities

Old Town Brenham will celebrate 5 years of its renewal plan with an April 21st festival of music, local spirits and local foods. JVF will be there with a pig roast offering. This festival will also mark the last good weekend of the wildflower tour so its a can’t-miss opportunity to see the county seat in its renewed form while celebrating spring ’18!

All proceeds go to local non-profit organizations that promote Texas farms and ranches.

Himalayan Salt

We have added many new members as we rebuild from our members who were lost in Harvey. After much study, we have contemporaneously added a step at our butcher shop procedure, the light pre-salting of many of our cuts. So for all of you who have not been informed of this addition, here are the "hows and whys" of this improved process.

  • Salt is an essential mineral, providing the necessary sodium that our body demands for good health (Honi and I have a family member who suffered a stroke for lack of adequate sodium in his body).
  • Especially in this hot humid climate that we all experience, we need salt to replace our supply that is sweated out.
  • We chose Himalayan salt because it is considered the purest form of all of the salts.

THE BENEFICIAL EFFECT OF SALT ON MEATS:

  • So long as salt is given time to work its magic, salt penetrates the toughening tendons in meat and dissolves them into a liquid form through the osmosis process. The result: enhanced juiciness and most importantly, enhanced tenderness.
  • One last and not to be overlooked advantage: the tendons that are broken down by salt are pure protein - so your proteins are increased as you enjoy them in their converted, edible form.

HOW TO MAXIMIZE THE EFFECT OF HIMALAYAN SALT

  • osmosis begins when the salt is applied to the individual cuts at our butcher shop but is halted as the cuts are frozen and vac-packed. So you will get the maximum benefit from salt by thawing the cut for 24 hours in advance of cooking. You can speed up the thawing process by leaving the cut on your kitchen counter until you see the juices start to emit. Return to the fridge until you are ready to cook.