You know it’s good (for SO MANY reasons) to have cows outside grazing grass, right? But do you picture them grazing in a wide open field? Or do you picture them grazing under trees? And why might this matter?
While the pace of outdoor work is a tad bit slower in the winter, your farmers get the chance to stock up on workshops & seminars. One of the most intriguing topics we’ve listened to this year is the idea of adding trees to existing pastures, and not just a few, but a lot of trees. This is one of the ways to create silvopasture, which is the intentional incorporation of trees into pasture. Sometimes wooded areas are thinned to promote grass growth, and sometimes trees are added to established grass.
Benefits of silvopasture are many:
-shade for livestock & also for grasses, both of which suffer from intense hot sun
-potential for added animal or human food crops (for example - willow, honey locust pods, and mulberries are all tree crops that cows can gain a diversity of nutrients from!) More diverse diets = more nutrition & more flavor in milk & meat!
-increased carbon capture
-increased biological diversity & wildlife habitat
One tree in a field is a problem, because the whole herd will congregate under that tree depositing too much “fertilizer” in one spot, and ruining the grass that might be growing there. Planting a regularly spaced grid of trees in a field will provide lots of shade so that the herd continues to move & graze throughout the space, evenly distributing nutrients and mowing off grass. Specific species of trees fit different scenarios, but ultimately trees that have high and thin canopies work best, so that grass still gets adequate sun. Also, trees that leaf out later and drop leaves earlier allow grass more exposure to sun in the spring & fall when heat is not a concern. Then there’s the whole strategy of how to protect young trees from cows (& deer) that will think they’re a delicious snack until they get established!
Trees are an investment for the future, but we are excited to consider what our farm might look like in 5, 10, or 20 years based on what we are starting to plan out now. We are still learning and need to fit together the pieces of sourcing trees, funding them, protecting them, and more! Our decisions are always made with the future in mind, so that we can continue to provide a reliable supply of delicious, nutrient dense food for you and yours, and the future looks bright - make that shady!
If we’ve piqued your curiosity - check out www.treesforgraziers.com/learn !
Stay tuned for updates as this plan unfolds - we look forward to extending an opportunity to come out & help us plant trees!
If you want to stand outside in 0 degree weather and grill - you are way more of a Bills fan than me! But have you discovered how easy it is to make fantastic ribs right in your oven? Ribs always intimidated me until I learned this technique - now they come out perfectly every time! This will work for baby backs or spare ribs, whichever you prefer.
Here's what I do:
1. Preheat oven to 275.
2. Season the ribs to your liking. In our house it's usually just salt, pepper, garlic & onion - but if you have a favorite spice rub, now's the time to use it.
3. Place the ribs on a pan and cover with foil. Leave them in the 275 oven for about 2 hours.
4. Remove the foil and top the ribs with your favorite sauce, then slide under the broiler for about 5 minutes.
5. Let rest for just a minute - and voila - fabulous ribs in the middle of winter!
Harvesting wood was absolutely beautiful today, and caused me to pause and reflect on how my attitude toward heating with wood has changed. Growing up, I hated that our house was heated with wood. I hated waking up to a mostly cold house, until someone got the fire going again. I hated that the room where the stove was located was generally roasting, and all the rest were chilly. I whined about having to help cut & stack wood outside, to age or “season” and dry out, and I complained about having to help move it to our porch where it was stored in winter for easier access. From there, it had to be carried inside to the woodbox beside the stove on a daily basis. Then there’s the continuous mess, needing to clean the chimney and take out the ashes…the list goes on.
When we built our house on the Ovid farm, we put in a high efficiency propane furnace. We didn’t have any woodlands, so heating with wood really wasn’t a realistic option - and I was so thankful for radiant in-floor heat that made for toasty toes in the mornings.
Now we find ourselves back in a gigantic old farmhouse, on a farm with quite a bit of wooded acreage that we are able to harvest dead trees off of. And somehow my perspective on heating with wood has shifted. Is it still a lot of work? For sure! But being able to check one more box of self sufficiency off of the list is extra gratifying.
One of the overarching goals for our farm business is to be as self-sufficient as possible - to reduce our reliance on outside inputs, thereby also reducing our community of customers’ reliance on those inputs. There’s satisfaction in knowing that the land we have the privilege of stewarding is able to provide not only our food but also a heat source that will be renewed for future generations. We can cook & heat water on the wood stove if needed, creating resilience in the case of power outages. Our civilization’s escalating reliance on a fragile power & fuel supply is alarming, and we are grateful to be in a more secure position if that were to become unavailable.
Heating with wood is a personal security choice for us, but it’s in alignment with all of our farm philosophies. We let the cows harvest and fertilize their own grass as much as possible - rather than importing synthetic fertilizers and bringing the feed to the cows. And by feeding our local community, we reduce dependency on gigantic food corporations that are also fragile.
Even though sourcing food locally is often more work and less convenient than getting grocery store delivery, the gratification is immense. And yes, I’m fully prepared for my kids to hate helping with firewood as they get older, but also hopeful that they can one day appreciate the comfort it provides.
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.
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!