Wyebrook Dispatch

Wyebrook Farm Wins 2015 OpenTable Award

Wyebrook Farm Named a Top 100 Al Fresco Dining Restaurant in America, Wins 2015 OpenTable Award

Wyebrook Farm is pleased to announce that we’ve won a 2015 OpenTable Award for Top 100 Al Fresco Dining Restaurant. Determined by more than 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners over the last year, the top al fresco honorees each bested more than 20,000 restaurants.

Thanks to all the diners who have helped Wyebrook Farm earn this accolade in the U.S. Now that the word is out, be sure to reserve your table in advance this summer. Your al fresco table is waiting! http://wyebrookfarm.com/make-a-reservation/

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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.


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#MadeWithWyebrook Contest

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#MadeWithWyebrook Contest

 

The hashtag #MadeWithWyebrook was created to encourage everyday gourmets to think about their eating habits and to practice sustainability. Here at Wyebrook Farm we are committed to raising the healthiest animals and using only natural farming practices. We believe the only way to guarantee that the food you eat is healthy, safe and nutritious is to know the farmer who produced it.

 

Now, with the aid of social media, we want to treat our valued customers to a seat at our table, our real farmer’s table. From April 1-4, 2014, we are asking our loyal Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followers to tell or show us your favorite way to incorporate Wyebrook into a delicious meal by posting a picture or describing what you would make. The follower with the most captivating post will win two seats to our sold out Chef’s Dinner with famous celebrity chef and TV personality Ian Knauer on April 12, 2014 at Wyebrook Farm.

 

To Enter:

  1. On Twitter: Craft a tweet using the #MadeWithWyebrook and tag @WyebrookFarm
  2. On Facebook: Write a post using #MadeWithWyebrook and tag @WyebrookFarm
  3. On Instagram: Upload an image and use the #MadeWithWyebrook and tag @WyebrookFarm
 

We are also encouraging contestants to tag our friends and co-sponsors @TheFarmTV and @IKNAUER whenever possible.

 

A winner will be selected on Monday, April 7, 2014 and notified via the same social media platform they used to enter the contest. The winner must accept prize within 24hours of notification, otherwise another winner will be chosen. Please note that the prize cannot be exchanged for cash or product and is only valid for the dinner with Ian Knauer on April 12, 2014.

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SNOW DAY!

SNOW DAY!

Just kidding. Like holidays, the animals don’t take the day off for bad weather. It was chores as usual. However, today’s big plans were thwarted by the snow. We were going to bring the bulls back to the farm for ear notching and vaccinations, but it was too slippery to be working cows and maneuvering the trailer. So much for that plan!

Instead we took extra hay to all the different groups since the little grass that is left was completely covered. We also checked waterers multiple times to make sure everyone had water and nothing was frozen over. Once the cows were situated, we moved on to the pigs (and goats).

The piglets are doing well. Everyone had food, water and huts filled with warm straw. The grown pigs and goats were not so fortunate. Their huts were muddy messes! Ryan and Steve had just put 3 bales of straw in each hut yesterday, but today you couldn’t tell they’d ever had straw inside. Something was wrong. We aren’t sure, but I suspect the pond lining is leeching water into the pig area. It’s the only explanation for the sheer amount of mud and water in the huts. Since we couldn’t fix the pond problem, we got the skidsteer and moved the huts to a nice dry section and filled them with fresh straw. The pigs were much happier!

The last big task of the day was treating calf 67. She is one of the yearlings, born late last fall. Yesterday she laid down on a hill and then rolled on her side in such a way that she couldn’t get herself back up. Ryan and Steve found her and got her situated, but by that point she was pretty stressed. When a cow gets over on its side like that, it can quickly develop bloat because the pipe that releases gas from the rumen becomes blocked by fluid. It isn’t good. They moved her into the barn, covered her with straw and blankets, and made sure she had plenty of hay and water.

She is standing up now, but the biggest concern at this point is dehydration. She still seems to be in shock and isn’t really processing what is going on around her. Steve held her head while I tubed her. This involves inserting a tube into her mouth and down her throat to force food or liquids into her. We gave her 3 big bottle of water, one with added electrolytes and two plain. At first she just stood there, but by the last one she started fighting a bit which is a good sign. She also went to the bathroom while we were with her (#1 and #2) and everything looked normal. No diarrhea or signs of severe dehydration. She’s not out of the woods yet, and this weather certainly isn’t helping, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for her!

BROCCOLI

BROCCOLI

Snow makes me crave soup. Not just any soup. Broccoli cheddar soup. Growing up this was the only way I liked broccoli. In rich, creamy, cheesey soup. Other kids wanted hot chocolate when they finished playing in the snow. I wanted broccoli soup!

Now is the season for broccoli. Just last night my dad harvested some from his garden and I steamed it for our dinner. Broccoli is one of those foods that has no negatives. It’s low in calories, high in nutrients, and, if cooked right, really delicious. The key is to cook it properly.

English: Broccoli and its cross section isolat...English: Broccoli and its cross section (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You can eat broccoli raw, but I personally don’t like it. It’s too chewy and I’m not a fan of the bitter bite it has. My favorite, and the easiest way to prepare it is to lightly steam it for 5 or so minutes. Just long enough to soften it and remove the bitterness, but not long enough for it to get mushy. It also works well roasted or in stir fries.

Recipes:

WINTER WONDERLAND

WINTER WONDERLAND

Let it snow! An unexpected storm caught the mid-Atlantic off-guard today. Six inches of snow later…

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get the white Christmas I’ve waited on for 27 years! Winter

WINTER MARKETS

WINTER MARKETS

The cows and calves have stopped their balling and everyone seems perfectly content with their new found freedom. It took exactly 3 days, just like Ryan said it would. All is quiet on the farm once again.

Lauren and I headed to the farmers’ market for the first time in two weeks! They didn’t have a market last week because of Thanksgiving and the weekend before I was out of town and Wyebrook went to a holiday market in the city instead of Malvern. We were glad to be back and so were our customers. However, it was cold. Really, really cold. And we had this misfortune of setting up in a shady wind tunnel. This only made matters worse. Lisa and Donna, the market coordinators, took pity on us and helped us relocate inside the pavilion which was ever so slightly warmer.

Our customers clearly have not read my post about what not to say to someone who works outside. “Stay warm” is not a helpful suggestion. How am I supposed to do that when I have no choice but to be outside and it is 35F with a windchill of 27F? Staying warm isn’t really an option. I have a much deeper respect for all the lovely vendors up in Brooklyn who showed up every Saturday year round, sun, rain or snow. Not only are they 100 miles further north, the market ran 4 hours longer than the Malvern one! I can’t even imagine how cold they must be. Next time I am in NYC on a Saturday I plan to take coffee or hot chocolate to all of them. They are a tougher breed than I am. Thankfully next week we move inside a local church!

Things at the market have slowed down a lot in the past few weeks. Most of our customers today were regulars. Now that it is cold out, people don’t come to the park for a Saturday morning stroll or play date. If you are lucky enough to live near a year-round farmers’ market, show the vendors some love by shopping there. And tell your friends to do the same. We really do appreciate it!

WEANING

WEANING

I mentioned yesterday that we weaned the calves. It made for a very loud few days as both babies and mamas “cried” for each other. As hard as it is to listen to them ball, it needed to be done.

Why wean? In theory, if left to their own devices mama cow should stop baby from weaning shortly before she gives birth to her next calf. In theory. This doesn’t always happen and sometimes mama ends up nursing multiple calves which isn’t good for any one. Also, weaning a few months before the next group of calves are born allows the cows to put weight back on and develop an optimal body condition. Letting nature run her course isn’t really an option.

There are several ways to wean calves.

The most stressful is immediate, full-out separation. Calves are removed from the herd and taken to a location without any proximity to their mothers. In a single day, calves lose nourishment (milk) and comfort (mother). This is stressful for both mom and baby. Not only is it emotionally stressful, it can also be physically detrimental to the calves growth. For several days they will cry and pace, searching for their mother. In doing so, they neglect eating and drinking. Calves can start to lose weight and become susceptible to illness.

Another option is weaning rings. These are simple plastic devices which clip on the calves’ noses and prevent them from nursing. It’s like a bull’s nose ring, but weaning rings don’t actually pierce the nose. Think of a clip-on earring. (Do those still exist?) The ring has dull spikes that make nursing very uncomfortable for the mother which prompts her to kick baby off as she would do if weaning naturally. This is another one of those “works in theory.”

Name: Bos taurus with a nose ring of the type ...Name: Bos taurus with a nose ring of the type that is used to wean calves. Family: Bovidae. Location: Münster, NRW, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several of the yearling calves were weaned using weaning rings. The rings were put in around the time I arrived at the farm. Devons are a very docile breed. Some of the mothers simply tolerated the discomfort. For those calves whose mothers did kick them off, they found other cows who would let them nurse. Some managed to pull their rings out and one actually managed to pierce his own nose with his ring. An impressive feat given they are made of dull, thick plastic. Weaning rings also work best in a confinement situation as the calves must be worked through a handling system to insert the rings and then again a week or so later to remove the rings. This is always stressful for the animals. Sure, they aren’t stressed by the separation, but you are simply replacing one stress with another.

The option we went with on Wednesday is fence-line weaning. Fence-line weaning is pretty self explanatory. Cows and calves are separated by a fence. They can still see each other and even interact. They just can’t nurse. You are removing the milk, but not the mom. Not completely. Cows and calves imprint to each other’s call which is why they moo so much during fence-line weaning. They are letting their other half know they are still there. When immediately fully separated, they even lose the comfort of that familiar sound. By allowing continued, though limited, interaction, fence-line weaning significantly reduces stress for calves and cows.

YESTERDAY

YESTERDAY

Clearly I was tired yesterday. So tired I forgot to give my pathetically short post a title. Whoops!

Everyone remember where all the cows were as of Tuesday afternoon? That was the easy part. The real work started Wednesday.

The vet was scheduled to come at 1:30 so we took and early lunch and regrouped at noon to start working the various groups. First we ran the yearlings into one of the large holding pens (there are two total). Next we ran group 1 into the lane that leads into the 2nd holding pen. From there we sorted the calves from the cows. The cows went into the barn and the calves went in with the yearlings. Next we brought group 2 into the lane and let them hang out for a bit.

By that time the vet had arrived and was ready to get started. Ryan needed to be with the vet to keep all of the records straight so Steve and I were in charge of all things cattle. We started with the adults from group 1. Everyone was vaccinated, ear-notched, and gave a blood sample. The vet also checked all of the females to see who is pregnant.

Once group 1 was all situated in the chute system and under control for the vet, Steve and I set about sorting group 2. Ryan makes it look so easy. However, let me assure you, there is nothing easy about sorting cows. The group was too big to be sorted in the lane as we did with group 1. We were worried they’d bunch up in a corner and start pushing until they broke a fence. That would’ve been a disaster. Instead we worked batches into the holding pen. From there Steve and I sorted calves back into the lane. One we were down to adults only, we took them down into the barn and got them set in the chute system.

After the vet finished with a cow, he sent her out into the small pasture behind the barn. When he’d seen all of the cows, Steve and I pushed them out into the pasture where group 2 had been on Tuesday. With the barn lot cleared and all of the gates closed we were ready to start on the calves.

Calves are annoying. Calves are irrational. And they are afraid of everything. By this point it was getting dark and Ryan turned the lights on in the barn. Steve and I worked the calves in groups of 15. As we brought them down to the barn, they inevitably panicked when they saw the electric lights. Then they panicked when the saw the chute system. Then they panicked when they saw the door at the end of the chute system. Each time they panicked they tried to turn around and run back they way they’d came. Steve and my job was to not let them.

We have almost 90 calves between the yearlings and this year’s calves. Ninety calves taken in groups of 15. Each group balking 3-4 times from pen to pasture. All of this done half in the dark (there are no lights for the holding pens where they calves were hanging out). Any wonder why I was exhausted? Thankfully, the calves just needed to be ear notched and vaccinated. No blood samples and no pregnancy tests. Things went quickly.

We finished up around 7:00. The cows were in the pasture and the calves in the barn lot. We didn’t put mamas and babies back together because it is time for the calves to be weaned. They all balled all night long. And all day today for that matter. There’s been quite a cacophony here on the farm. Concerned (annoyed?) neighbors have been calling to make sure everything is OK.

It was a long day, but a good day. So many things could have gone wrong. But they didn’t. Steve and I managed the cows which freed Ryan to work with the vet. Would things have been more efficient with Ryan’s help? Absolutely! But we did it! No one escaped. No fences were trampled. And no one got kicked. What more could you ask for?

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

The vet is coming tomorrow to vaccinate the calves and check if the cows and heifers who were in with the bulls are in fact pregnant. That means we’ll be running everyone through the barn. Today’s task was getting everyone moved to a convenient location. Welcome back!

There is a pasture behind the barn which we use as a holding area for steers that have been marked for slaughter. We typically keep 4-10 steers in there at any given moment. Currently there are 5 steers residing in said pasture. They had to be moved to the pasture directly south of the barn to make way for cow group 2.

Cow group 2 is the group on the far side of the creek. We needed to run them across the creek into the holding pasture, but before we could do that we needed to get the yearlings out of the woods. They’ll be spending the next 48 hours in the barn. To get them from the woods into the barn we ran them through the holding pasture. Don’t worry. I have a drawing to help make sense of all this. Just keep scrolling down.

So, step 1: move the steers. Step 2: move the yearlings. Step 3: move group 2.

Moving the steers was easy. They are a pretty cooperative bunch and can often be moved by just one person. This morning one must’ve still be sleeping because he kept dropping behind the group so I had to walk him up while Steve drove the other 4 on the ATV.

Next we moved the calves. My favorite task! Thankfully Ryan was here. All but one cooperated. They had to go through a gate and turn left down the lane. Well, one guy turned left before exiting the gate. Everyone else was in the lane, but he was still in the pasture walking along with the herd, but on the wrong side of the fence. Luckily there was another gate that we’d opened in anticipation of this happening. Steve and I worked him towards that gate and he reunited with his friends in the holding pasture. From there we worked them into the barn. Again there was one laggard who I had to walk up. At least I got my exercise!

Finally we needed to bring group 2 across the creek into the holding pasture. Last time we did this we had calves running amok in the creek and no one was in the mood to deal with that today. Ryan called them through to the creek and Steve and I jumped in behind to keep them moving in the right direction. The key was to keep them moving, but not push too much so they panic. Last time the group got too spread out. The cattle at the front of the group spooked at the gate and had too much room to turn around. This caused the rest of the group to turn, but with people behind and in front, they had no where to go but into the creek. The goal today was to keep them tight so no one would try to turn and to keep them moving forward.

It worked! They cooperated beautifully. Right at the very end we had about 7 calves stop in the creek for a drink so Steve and I also stopped. We waited for them to notice us and as soon as they did they ran to rejoin the herd.  Now everyone is where they need to be for now. Tomorrow we’ll have to sort cows from calves, bred cows from unbred, etc. But that is tomorrow. Today we can sleep well knowing all the groups are right where we want them.