Rain and rain and some more rain. This late summer and fall have seen some improvements here on the farm. The rain has been a damper on some of our activities, but we haven’t let it stop us from getting stuff done. This last week of unexpected warm drier weather has given us a couple extra days to get some paint up on the Ovid self-serve farm shed and the picnic tables here in Rock Stream. Most importantly we were able to get the last of the hay in. Over the past couple months, a litter of piglets born in Ovid and Cherry the Calf’s leg has healed. Though we miss her by the shop she was able to rejoin the herd! We were also able to get off the farm for a soil health conference which was incredibly informative. We were also delighted to be a part of Schuyler County Open Farm Weekend. Now we are switching gears to cooler weather and thinking about updates to the retail shop and creating our holiday offerings!
One of our biggest goals has been to add to our farm experience and food offerings. Expanding our flight options and adding more take and go options has been at the top of the list. Our cheese flights include our cheeses and now some of the locally produced items we carry, including honey, pickles, our cured meats, or jams. These flights include 6 items and are constantly changing, you might even see some of our prepared items on there to sample! Our gelato flights feature YOUR choice of 6 sample scoops of our Cow to Cup Gelato. We currently have over 20 flavors to choose from including some seasonal fall flavors like apple cider, grape and pumpkin that are not to be missed! Beginning November 1st, we will be rolling out farm fresh Grab and Go Breakfast options. Think breakfast sandwiches made with our eggs, cheese, and sausage. Homemade baked goods, yogurt parfaits, sausage gravy & biscuits and maybe even gelato for breakfast!!! We are delighted to have Seneca Coffee roasters as our coffee option. We are really looking forward to our own Eggnog!!! It should be available the second week of November and will be bottled into pints, half gallons as well as into gelato! We are also thinking Fondue with the cooler weather. Well have that ready made in our retail shop and look forward to our very own Crosswinds Fondue recipe!
The Trumansburg Market finished up for the regular season last Wednesday. We will miss all our market friends and will be looking forward to next season. Keep an eye out for us at the Thanksgiving and winter holiday markets! Our homemade cheesecakes and cheese balls are not to be missed. And our hams are always a big hit! We will have turkeys available from Bieber Farms again this year.
Local artist Annie Lowns created this lovely Face in the Hole Board for us, and we are just over the moon about it! Stop by the shop and you can be the cow or the cheese. Don’t forget your cheese and gelato flight!
It’s fitting that it’s pouring rain as I finally sit down to write this, after 6 weeks without any significant rainfall. The rain is violent; so very welcome yet coming hard and strong enough to cause damage. It was a cold, soaking rain last fall on the day we laid my father to rest.
I had a grand plan of monthly installments in 2023 sharing the history of our 20 year farming adventure, and the story of my family’s farm that laid the foundation before that. Here we are in June, and only one installment has been completed. We are in a season of life that is hard work, and lots of it, right now, and as much as I should spend more time communicating - jobs like building fence, making cheese, making hay, raising kids, always seem to fill my days to the brim.
I had decided back in January that the next installment would tell the story of my parents and the debt of gratitude that I owe them, and to be honest I knew it would not be easy to put down on paper and that has not helped my procrastination. I’m sorry that my dad is not here for me to say thank you and tell him how much I’ve appreciated the life I was granted, but I want to take the opportunity to give my mom this recognition while I can.
My dad passed away unexpectedly last fall at 68. He was largely healthy his entire life, so it came as a shock. For me it’s been a reminder to cherish everyday – yet note the above season of work that we’re in – which has led to a lot of personal conflict this year as we struggle to get to a place where work is balanced with actual living – heck, anytime for living would be an improvement right now. So many factors impact this situation – a topic for another day.
My dad spent his whole life farming. From him I get my work ethic, my eyes for opportunities and new enterprises. My family’s farm has survived in an increasingly urban area because it was diversified – milk, beef, pork, feeder pigs, hay, straw, shavings, hauling, seed sales, baling twine, fence posts, used equipment dealing and more – all of these have contributed over the years. He graduated from SUNY Cobleskill in 1974, driving a cattle truck to and from school weekly, hauling sawdust or animals on his trips back and forth. Years later, I spent many hours riding along on hay deliveries (labor in exchange for ice cream). I learned to take in all the scenery while driving, keeping it between the lines while observing everything around you, and always able to find my way by landmarks.
It’s not fair to give my father all the credit by any means – my mother is the one who has kept it all organized. Dealing with the peculiar customers and the bookkeeping. The one who hauled us and supported us as kids at all of our school, church and 4H activities, and led and organized all of those events. Who taught us to cook, can, bake, sew, craft, garden and so much more. Who packed for and stayed with us at the fairs and scrubbed our white show clothes clean. Who runs for parts or seed deliveries or has delivered calves and piglets in the trunk of the car. And now cherishes the role of grandma and is here whenever we need her, to share all of this knowledge with the next generation. She is and has been just as much the heart of the family farm as my father.
My parents have lead by example and taught us to work hard, to do your best and what’s right, to earn respect through a job well done. Both have been leaders in their community. I can only hope to someday earn the same level of love, respect and appreciation that I hold for them.
January 2023 marks 20 years since what you know today as Crosswinds Farm & Creamery officially began! Time sure flies, when you’re having fun and when you’re not – it’s been an evolution for sure. But do you know the story of how the family bringing the milk, cheese, and meat you enjoy each week came to be? Throughout the coming year, we’re going to bring it to life for you right here!
First, let me introduce myself – I’m Sarah! I’m the face you usually see in our market booth and the driving force behind this crazy adventure of a life our family has. One of our customers recently asked “you farm, you make cheese, you go to markets, you homeschool – you’re not really busy, are you?” Nope, not really! Those things are my life in a nutshell right now.
I grew up in the town of Catskill, on the Hudson River in eastern NY, where my family has farmed since 1680. How did I get here?
Looking back, it’s been a string of serendipitous connections that have made all the difference.
I fell in love with all things farming (especially big brown cows) earlier than I can remember. Greene County is not a strong agricultural area; there were only 2 working farms in my school district at the time. I was often singled out as a farm kid, but it was always something I was proud of. When I was 6, the whole 1st grade toured our farm, with the current county Dairy Princess assisting. I declared that someday I would be a dairy princess too!
The highlight of my summers growing up was showing our cows at county and state fairs, which is where I met other kids who were like me & loved farming just as much! At 16, I was the first Dairy Princess our county had had in 10 years. On a whim, I entered a scholarship competition with an interview component. One of the fellow competitors I met there would later be my college roommate, and the event connected me to the 4H dairy quiz bowl program in a neighboring county. We earned a trip to the state competition – held at Cornell – which also included a behind-the-scenes tour from a current student, which made me feel at home at a place that would otherwise have overwhelmed me.
Dairy quiz bowl took me to national competitions in Louisville and Columbus, all the while learning, and meeting more people whose life revolved around agriculture. After high school, I chose to come to Cornell for Animal Science, and then had an opportunity to complete an MS in Farm Business Management as well. In high school, my exposure to “business” was the DECA club which sold pencils and candy in the school store. At the time, I had no interest in selling pencils – the irony of now owning a retail store! When I got to Cornell, I was exposed to the world that is business and business management and realized that I loved working with numbers as much as animals. I chose to finish my masters because I knew once I left school to farm, I would never go back.
After teen years full of extracurricular activities (but NO basketball) and working on the farm, I was bored at college. So I took crazy course loads, worked multiple jobs, and tried not to get into too much trouble! I don’t think I ever seriously considered a career other than farming, though at the time I certainly did not foresee what our business would look like today. I defended my master’s thesis in December 2002 and started milking my own cows in January 2003!
In our existing beef & pork CSA renewal emails, which I originally drafted in 2020, I close with the sentence “Join us and give yourselves the peace of mind of knowing that our family will be feeding yours, no matter what craziness the rest of 2020 (and beyond) brings!” At the end of 2021, I considered changing that phrase, thinking that the “craziness” of the world had calmed quite a bit. But now it’s only been a few short months and yet we find ourselves with more uncertainty than ever before. The need for a strong local food supply does not diminish.
Our “why” as farmers is to nourish our community, both nutritionally & spiritually, with the abundance that our farm generates.
We are excited to offer a growing diversity of products, with new space (land & processing) available to add even more. We want to continue to create & grow connections with the people we are feeding.
We are wrangling with the best means to make all of this available, to fill your needs & desires and to create a financially stable framework for our farm’s future. Our family has been farming for over 300 years, and we farm today with the intention to continue for another 300.
Which brings us to the concept of a whole diet, year round, free choice CSA membership model.
It’s a big concept. What might that look like? Let me lay out some possibilities with the intention of gathering your feedback on how you’d like to see it work.
We would offer our members free choice access to everything our farm produces – and YOU choose what you take each week. Your share could include our 100% grassfed dairy products, grassfed beef & pastured pork, and pastured eggs. We could also offer seasonal vegetables, fruits, chicken, maple syrup, and grains/breads produced on our farm or sourced from other like-minded local farms.
You in turn make a commitment to eating from one place, wholly & seasonally. You are committing to supporting a small, sustainable family farm. Can we completely replace the grocery store? No. But the majority of your diet would be produced on our farm or farms nearby.
What would the logistics look like? A weekly window to come to the farm in Rock Stream and choose your meals for the week from our existing inventory. A standing offer as farm members to enjoy the natural beauty of the farm, put your hands to work in the soil if you’d like, visit the animals. Picking up at the farm opens up the possibility of offering raw milk in the share (in addition to our pasteurized options).
You could also place a weekly pre-order, which we would then pack and deliver to your home or neighborhood.
Pickup at the Ithaca or Trumansburg Farmers Markets or at our farm in Ovid is also possible.
Pricing would be a flat monthly fee per person for all members of your household, with discounted rates for children and a sliding scale for those who need it. Payment could be made annually, quarterly, or monthly.
Please take a few moments to give us feedback on this concept, whether you are interested or equally important, not interested. If this is an idea you’d like us to move forward with, we need to know!
Sarah & Charlie, Lyle & Hannah
No doubts, Charlie is the pro when it comes to cooking steaks at our house! I'm better than I once was, thanks to his guidance, but I leave the grill to him!
It might be 40 outside today, but the forecast is looking mighty chilly for New Year's Eve! Fear not - you can still master steak on your cooktop!
Here are Charlie's secrets - follow them & you can make the perfect steak every time :
Steak Doneness Temps:
Medium Rare 135
Medium Well 150
Please don't ever cook a steak to well done....your mouth will thank you!
It seems our world relies more and more on connectivity via the internet. We farm because we value connections, but not those involving technology.
Connections we have to our animals and land.
Connections with the rhythms of life and weather and seasons that cycle endlessly.
Connections with our heritage and ancestors who have farmed before us.
Direct, strong connections with our customers who understand the importance of knowing the hands that have raised & crafted the food on their tables.
Connections with our children whom we share this life with.
These are connections that will transcend all the unrest our world is facing. They are connections that will prevail when many may take them for granted. Our life's work is to provide food for our community. We invite you to share in the power that strengthening our local food network creates for our future - all of our futures.
We ask that you spread the word. Share your connection to us with your neighbor, your co-worker, your family member. Give them the opportunity to make these connections and source their nourishment direct from a farming family.
Above all, food direct from the farm Just. Tastes. Better.
1 1/4 C honey
1/4 C soy sauce
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground black pepper
6 14oz pork chops
Bring honey, soy sauce and garlic to a boil in small saucepan, reduce heat to simmer for 5 min, until garlic is cooked. Remove from heat & whisk in black pepper. Set aside. Lightly salt chops.
Heat grill to 450. Sear pork chops on all sides, turning frequently to develop a crust on all surfaces, about 7 minutes total. Lower the heat and cook through, continuing to turn, 15-20 minutes more. Cook until internal temp is 140. Brush the chops with honey garlic glaze, and serve with additional glaze.
Recipe adapted from foodandwine.com.
For Sale: Used SunshineUsed sunshine, huh? What the heck am I talking about?
Our farm philosophy is fairly simple: Use plants to capture solar energy. Use livestock to turn human-inedible plants into tasty, nutrient dense, dairy & meat products. Really, the stars of this system are the microbes that exist both in the soil and produce nitrogen, and in the cows' rumens (stomachs) that turn plant fibers into protein.
Beyond this basic philosophy are a million logistical details that influence how the process is completed. Our management focuses on minimizing inputs onto the farm as much as possible. For the cows, that's only salt and minerals including selenium, which our soil in the Northeast is deficient in. We do need to harvest a good portion of our acres for winter feeding because of the layout of our farm, so there are inputs required to do that.
Pigs are not ruminants; they have a simple stomach that functions the same as yours and mine. They don't have the benefit of rumen bacteria and therefore need more essential amino acids supplied in their diet. Their diet includes grain which is an input to our farm; we include excess milk & whey from our dairy which reduces the amount of grain required.
Time on the tractor gives me a chance to catch up on podcasts, and lately I've been binge listening to "Working Cows", a podcast focused on all things related to regenerative farming & ranching with livestock. I believe it was Steve Kenyon in episode 95 that said farmers and ranchers are one of two things: used sunshine salesmen, or earth miners.
If you're not taking full advantage of soil and rumen biology, you're either depleting soil nutrient reserves or need to add nutrients in the form of fertilizers, most of which are petroleum derived. We'd prefer to manage our soils, grass, and livestock in ways that allow us to focus on being used sunshine salesmen! We think you can taste the difference, as well as reaping the health benefits of nutrient dense foods!
Tis the season for Pork Carnitas – the Mexican version of pulled pork! Our pork shoulder roasts are perfect for this tasty dish and if you've never tried them you're missing out! Our roasts have a thick fat cap which will render out as you’re cooking it low & slow, keeping the meat moist & juicy. Traditional carnitas are deep fried in lard, but if you use a cooking vessel close to the size of your roast, you can accomplish the same outcome without adding any lard. I love this explanation behind the science of this cooking technique! (PS We also offer rendered lard if you'd like to try the authentic technique!)
The key to carnitas is crisping up the pork after shredding it – you can do this in a frying pan or under the broiler. Serve carnitas as tacos, enchiladas, burritos, over rice or on a salad. They store well refrigerated or frozen (before crisping) and used as needed!
Rather than reinvent the wheel, here are links to recipes I can recommend: this one uses an oven, and this one offers options for slow cooker or insta pot! Enjoy!
Meet Sam. Sam was born five years ago, the day my grandfather Sam passed away at 96 years young.
My grandpa Sam was born in 1918 and walked to a one room schoolhouse. He provided for his family on the farm, having asked (told?) my grandmother (the new college-educated county extension agent from the city) to marry him on their first date.
He was a Brown Swiss lover, and much to the rest of my family’s irritation and my gratitude, he lit the fire for Brown Swiss in me at an early age & supported it as I grew up. We made an annual pilgrimage to the Eastern Breeders Sale every year together, and more than once went halves on a purchase to expand my cow herd. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his influence on my life.
At his memorial service, our family & friends told stories of my grandfather’s “riches,” despite his modest life as a farmer. So Sam the cow, sired by Richard, was registered as “Crosswinds Rich As Sam”. She actually descends from a maternal line that moved here from Catskill with me, and has my grandfather’s breeding, and it is an “S” named family. This irony of her birthday touches me daily, as I’m a believer in things happening for a reason.
As a rule, our cows don’t kick when we milk. They have no reason to. Sam is a miserable exception. She’s always been a bit, shall we say, flighty. But since she calved most recently, she has been absolutely awful in the parlor. Downright violent. Reaching into her wingspan is putting your life in danger. We have tricks and tools to prevent a cow from kicking, but they barely slow her down. Some days it is a two person operation (which is completely opposite of our philosophy here, with everything set up to flow with one body).
A normal soul would have sent her for a career change long ago. But every day, somehow I have managed to milk her. We are truly blessed to live the life we love, farming. We witness the rhythm of the seasons and the cycles of new life, growth, and harvest that accompany them, and are proud to share the products of our labors with you, our customers. The riches of farm life have been even more poignant in the last year. But there are certainly times that cause you to question your sanity.
I’m sure her attitude is intended to tell me something. I haven’t decided if the message is to persevere when the going gets rough, or to quit while you’re ahead.
One thing is for sure: Sam is lucky that the stubborn gene is as dominant in the brown cow farmer as it is in the big brown cows!
I'm half of the Crosswinds farmer duo bringing you farm fresh cheeses, beef, and pork from the heart of the Finger Lakes! Stay tuned for our daily adventures growing a family & a farm, and food for your table. We welcome your questions & comments, but please keep them respectful! For the latest updates, please follow Crosswinds Farm & Creamery on Facebook or Instagram!