Wyebrook Dispatch

Category Archives: General Farm

Searching for Talented & Energetic individuals

Wyebrook Farm is searching for talented, energetic individuals for all 2015 restaurant positions.

The positions include:

Front of House: Server Host/Hostess, Restaurant Busser & Market Cashier

Back of House: Line Cooks, Pastry Cook, Food Runner/Expediter & Dishwasher

Please send your resume to Wyebrookrestaurant@gmail.com with your inquiries specifying the desired position. Or leave a message at 215-546-1521.


Photo Friday

Photo Friday

Guess what I did? I went wandering with my camera! Finally. One of these days I’ll actually start doing this consistently. One of these days…


A New Game

A New Game


While I miss having Steve around and am looking forward to the day when his back is better, I have enjoyed working with Ryan these past few days. He is a good boss and a generally fun person.

Today was chicken slaughter day. One of today’s tasks was catching some of the moulting layers to be slaughtered as stewing hens. Catching broiler chickens is annoying, but not unmanageable as they live inside the broiler houses. Catching layers is a whole different story.

Our layers are truly free range. They have a coop and most come back to roost there every evening, but they have the full run of the farm. They run between pastures and under gates. They hang out in the woods by the compost pile and even down at the market from time to time. Which makes catching them…complicated.

I went up to get eggs around 11:00 and Ryan came along to catch our stewing hens. He actually did pretty well, better than I could have managed. But after he caught a few the chickens started to catch on and began dispersing away from the house. That’s when I came up with a mildly brilliant plan.

Chickens love eggs. Weird, I know, but they do. If you crack an egg in a flock of hens they go crazy trying to get at it. As I gathered eggs, I gave Ryan any cracked ones I came across. He’d identify a moulting hen and toss the egg towards it. As soon as the chicken attacked the egg, Ryan attacked the hen! Success! I’m sorry I don’t have a video of this. I was too busy looking for cracked eggs for him to throw.

While it was fun and incredibly entertaining, I think next time we need stewing hens, we’ll just grab them late Wednesday night while they are roosting.



A friendly public service announcement: as part of the government shutdown, all routine FDA inspections have been halted. Should you be concerned? Possibly.

At the moment, most food safety inspections have been put on hold until further notice which means all food imports are going straight to the shelves without being quality checked and approved.  The overwhelming majority of our seafood is imported. Half of our fruits are imported and one-fifth of our vegetables are imported. None of these products are being inspected at the moment.

Do you know where your food comes from?

This is yet another reason why you should buy local! You can’t call the farmer down in Chile to find out if the pepper you want to buy meets FDA standards for pesticide residue; you can ask the guy at the farmers market if he uses chemicals like Roundup. Who do you trust more? With the FDA on furlough, the only one who can assure you of the quality and safety of your food is the person who grew it. Get to know them! If ever there was a time to start buying locally, now is that time!

The Center for Science in the Public Interest published a list of the 10 riskiest foods regulated by the FDA. Riskiness was determined by food-related illnesses resulting from eating the foods in question. You can check out the whole study here if you are interested. If nothing else, buy these items locally or avoid them altogether if you don’t have a reliable local source (listed from least to greatest risk):

  • Berries
  • Sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Ice cream
  • Cheese
  • Potatoes
  • Oysters
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Leafy greens
For anyone concerned about meat products, those are monitored by the USDA, not the FDA. Because slaughterhouses cannot legally operate without a USDA inspector present, those inspectors are still at their posts.




I never thought I’d say this, but I am ready for winter. Winter means cold. Cold kills bugs. And I am so over bugs. The flies. The mosquitos. The thousand leggers. The spiders.

I’m not one of those girls who screams for help when she sees a bug. When you live on your own, you learn pretty quickly that you either have to kill the bugs yourself or learn to cohabitate peacefully with them. I have a general rule when it comes to bugs. If they are outside, I leave them alone. If they are in the house, I squash them. Seems fair, right? Well, this morning, before I’d even had my coffee, I exterminated seven spiders. Five points of you read “exterminated” in the voice of a Dalek in your head. Doctor Who fans? Anyone? I killed several more throughout the day. I am over it.

What else happened today? It rained. It has been raining non-stop since Wednesday. Everything is saturated. The pastures look like swamps. We needed rain, but not this much! A little rain is good. A lot of rain can be problematic. Whenever you put cows in a pasture, you expect a certain amount of grass to get trampled and wasted. That’s just the nature of the grazing process. That grass then becomes decaying organic material which becomes a form of compost for the soil. However, when it is really wet like this, a lot of grass gets trampled and we end up having to move the cows from pasture to pasture faster so they always have access to good, edible grass. Right now we are running low on grass and were hoping to slow the cows down a bit to keep them out on pasture as long as possible. Once the grass runs out for the year we will put them in the barn and feed them hay. No such luck on the slowing down thing. Although next week’s warmer temperatures may actually stimulate a late-season grass growth spurt which would be great!

The rain revealed another problem. My boots leak. I don’t know when this happened, but now I have to find a time to take them back to get them replaced or repaired as they are less than a year old and covered by a warranty. That’s nice, but still inconvenient. I really do have the worst luck with boots.




Today was Chester County Day. Every year on the first Saturday in October 30-40 private homes open to the public and people caravan about touring these homes. Proceeds from tickets go to support the Chester County Hospital. To keep things more compact, the county is divided into quadrants and the quadrants rotate hosting the event.

This year’s focus was the northwestern quadrant and Wyebrook was the 18th stop on the tour (though people don’t necessarily go in order). We expected 1,000+ visitors and had been preparing for the event all week. The market was stocked, burgers were made, and a pastured was mowed to make room for the overflow of cars.



Lauren and I missed out on a lot of the craziness as we spent the morning in Malvern at the farmers’ market. It was a slow day at the market. A lot of people must have taken advantage of the warm weather and headed off for one last weekend at the beach or something. We passed the time embroidering (me) and making friendship bracelets (Lauren). And playing with my iPhone lenses.



I always forget I have these

Malvern vendor friends!

We returned to a state of controlled chaos. Ryan and Ethan were directing traffic and parking was well-organized but there were cars everywhere! I’d been thinking we could just take the wagon around a different route and still do tours, but there was no way I could maneuver through the maze of cars. Instead I took over for Ryan who, at 2:00 p.m., still hadn’t eaten lunch.

Cars everywhere!

As cars pulled in, we asked if anyone was handicapped or disabled. If so, we directed them to park in the lot closest to the market. Everyone else was sent up the hill to the pasture. People baffle me. At least every other car when I asked “Does anyone require handicapped parking?” responded with “Mentally!” This joke got really old by the 50th time I heard it. Also, being tired, having sore feet, and/or really having to go to the bathroom don’t get you a better parking spot. Sorry.

I’m not a people person. Is it obvious?

Ryan and Ethan spent most of the morning directing traffic so they hadn’t gotten around to moving the cows or collecting the eggs. I volunteered to get eggs while the handled the cows. You know things are bad when I’m actually excited to go hang out with the chickens because it means I get a break from the people!

Now it is time for this introvert to recharge for tomorrow. I am off to curl up with a mug of cinnamon vanilla tea and an episode or two (or four) of Doctor Who.




Sorry, boys. The party’s over. Breeding season is at an end and the bulls are now facing 10 months of celibacy before their next hurrah.

We do open breeding with our cows which is where you put the bull in with the herd and let him have at it. The other breeding method is controlled breeding where you only allow the bull in with select females. You’d do this if you are breeding for certain traits or are looking to raise and sell show animals. We aren’t and open breeding is a much easier option.

The bulls joined the herds back in July and had their two month fling. A cow’s gestation period is 10 months so the calves should be born between the end of April and June. Then the bulls go back in and the cycle begins again.

I was pretty nervous about working the bulls. Things went well last time, but we were taking them to the females. This time we were removing them so I was worried they’d be a bit more testy. Bulls and boars are two animals you don’t want to mess with. Thankfully both of our bulls are calm and they cooperated perfectly. We didn’t have any trouble loading them on to the trailer. Then Ryan carted them down to Lundale where they joined the steers.

Today was Thursday which means chicken slaughter day. The only difference was that Brian and Caleb had a big job this afternoon so they arrived at 6:00 a.m. Ryan, Steve and I were out catching chickens at 5:30. In the dark. That was fun. Ryan had a headlamp. I meant to bring mine back to the farm, but forgot it in Delaware. Yes, I own a headlamp. It’s awesome. It has a strobe light setting. But actually the dark helped us out. The chickens couldn’t see and were still half asleep. It was probably the easiest chicken catching we’ve done.

After all the birds had been nabbed and caged, I made breakfast for everyone, Brian and Caleb included. I figured we were all up early and needed a good start to the day. Nothing fancy. Just scrambled eggs. But they were just what we needed to really get going.

I kind of like being up early because the farm is so beautiful first thin in the morning. I always get the best photos then. One of these days I’ll take my real camera out. I keep saying that. Maybe it really will happen soon. Until then, phone photos will have to do.

Ryan and I headed down to Lundale to move the steers to a new pasture while Steve started on chores. I helped him finish up when we got back and Ryan set to work making check lists for us for next week. He’s getting married on Saturday and will be gone on his honeymoon. Steve and I will be on our own for a whole week! I’m sticking around Monday and Tuesday to help.


After that it was time to clean the chick brooders. For the last time! Cleaning the brooders is my least favorite chore. Chickens are gross, even when they are babies. The shed can just be shoveled out in between batches of chicks, but the brooders have to be scrubbed. It isn’t fun. But we moved our last batch of chicks from the brooders to the shed yesterday. Now the brooders are squeaky clean and will remain that way until next spring. Thank goodness!

Does anyone know what these seeds are? My boots and pants are covered in them after walking through the pastures. Whatever it is, it goes to seed this time of year because this is the first I’ve seen them.

20130918_0021Also, Modern Farmer has declared this week Goat Week. In honor of that, enjoy these photos of our sweet goats. I got to hang out with them today! We’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to spend much time with them. And, yes, that is a goat climbing a tree in the 2nd photo.



Friday Night Dinner, June 7th

Wyebrook Farm
Friday Night Dinner, June 7th

In our continuing effort to redefine the farm to table concept by placing the table right at the farm, we are happy to announce this Friday’s dinner.  In response to requests, we will offer a vegetarian option this week.  In case of rain, we do have about 75 covered seats both inside and outside.  The three course meal is $25 per person plus tax served anytime between 4-8pm.  As always, we will not require reservations but an email to info@wyebrookfarm.com to let us know you’re coming is greatly appreciated.


Tomato Gazpacho: cucumber, rhubarb, lime garnish

Roast Beef: Grass fed beef roast, bacon + mustard potato salad, farm arugula, shaved radishes, horseradish cream


Vegetarian Option: Spaghetti with roasted eggplant, pickled cherry tomatoes, pesto and Parmesan breadcrumbs.

 Strawberry Pie with fresh whipped cream


In the Food World Lately

In the Food World Lately

Post by our Farm Girl Becca; Girl Gone Farming

It was an interesting week in the food and farm world. Some interesting (and troubling) developments have come to light.

Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. purchased Smithfield Foods Inc. for the bargain price of $4.7 billion. Smithfield is the world’s largest pork producer and China is the world’s largest pork consumer so it seems like an ideal match, especially given China’s recent domestic pork production problems. You can read more about the purchase in any of these articles.

Most articles focus on food safety and national security concerns, but no one seems to be questioning the very existence of a global food supply chain. Should we be exporting pork products to China? Is it efficient? How many calories of fossil fuel does it take to grow, slaughter, package and transport a pig from the US to China? And how many calories does that pig yield? Wouldn’t it be better for Shuanghui to invest that $4.7 billion in developing and growing their own domestic pig production market? It may be easier to buy out Smithfield, but is it practical and sustainable?

I have a personal interest in this story as Smithfield ham is my heritage. My grandparents raised and cured ham in Smithfield, VA long before Smithfield Foods became an international pork producing giant. One of these days I’ll do a post on the history of the Smithfield ham and how it went from a small town tradition to a household name detached from the town that birthed it. But that is for another day.

In other news, while pork exports may be about to explode, wheat exports are headed in the opposite direction. A farmer in Oregon found unauthorized genetically modified wheat in his fields and many countries that import wheat from the U.S. are putting the brakes on those imports. The EU, Japan, & South Korea are all considering regulations and restrictions on U.S. wheat imports until confidence is restored that any imports are GMO free.

Monsanto pioneered the wheat back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but it never made it to market because farmers were afraid that foreign consumers were reject it, a fear that is quickly becoming a reality. Monsanto had planted trial fields in Oregon during the testing phase, but the project never went further than those tests and they burned fields where the wheat was tested to destroy any remaining plants.

Recently a farmer founds wheat in a field where it didn’t belong and he tried to get rid of it by spraying Roundup. The wheat was unaffected so he sent it off for testing. The results came back positive that the wheat was genetically modified to withstand Roundup. That’s the problem with plants. They are alive. They breed and reproduce and once something is out there, it is hard to control. The USDA has an entire page dedicated to invasive species – plants that have been introduced to a non-native region, intentionally or not, and have taken over by reproductive force. Think kudzu in the south.

Whether you buy into the health risks posed by GM foods or not, a product that cannot be controlled is something that should give us all pause.

For more on the GM wheat issue, check out these articles:

Farmers Breakfast, Friday Night Dinner & Chef Dinner

Wyebrook Farm
Farmer’s Breakfast

Coming up this Saturday, June 1st, we will offer our second Farmer’s Breakfast here at Wyebrook.  We will take all aspiring farmers on a egg collecting expedition to wherever the laying hens happen to be!  It may be on foot or in the hay wagon depending on the distance.  The newly qualified farmers will enjoy a hot breakfast of fresh eggs, sausage and bacon back at the cafe.  The cost is $15 for adults and $8 for kids and we will get started at 9:30am on Saturday, June 1st.  Again, no reservations are required but an email would be helpful for us to get a head count. Oh, and bring boots in case we go for a walk, our animals don’t always clean up after themselves.

Friday Night Dinner May 31st

Well, you really can try all you like to plan for all contingencies but then along comes last Friday night.  Thanks to everyone for being flexible as we were forced indoors with temps in the 40′s in late May!  Oh well, lets hope for better weather this week but the same great food.  As usual, feel free to come anytime from 4-8pm without reservations.  We really appreciate an email to info@wyebrookfarm.com to let us know you are coming though so that we can have enough food!

Green Salad: Shaved zucchini, snow peas, asparagus, chives, green goddess dressing

Pork “Crepinette”: Caul fat wrapped pork sausage, lentil and radish salad, caper mustard vinaigrette


Fried Chicken “Korean Style”:  Wing joint and leg, sesame pickled cucumber potato salad

“Creamsicle”: Panna cotta, orange jelly, whipped cream

Chef Dinner, Sunday June 23rd

I am so excited for the return of Chef Andrew Wood of Russet for a southern Italian inspired al fresco dining experience here at Wyebrook Farm.  For those of you that missed his last Chef Dinner, Andrew always puts on a great show and has talent for explaining his food and how it is prepared.  He wants to cook as much of this meal as possible outside on the infernillo so feel free to come early to watch him cook al fresco.  If the weather is nice, we can sit outside but if it gets hot and muggy we will plan to dine in the stone barn as usual.  For the menu and more details please visit our website here.

spacerFarmers Breakfast, Friday Night Dinner & Chef Dinner – Wyebrook Farm