Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Made in the Shade

It's really hot here at the farm. The sun has driven the gang into the shade of the trees, barns, and even onto the porch for some. Don't worry, everyone is drinking plenty of fluids, taking frequent breaks, and keeping movement to a minimum to avoid any fatigue that may come with such exposure. We've posted some great pics to show how laid back things have gotten during the heat wave.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Name Game!

Cow names are important features on the dairy farm. It makes it easy to say "Doctor, Belle has a sore on her leg", instead of saying "Cow X has a sore on her leg, no I mean the other Cow X". We also attempt to try to name in a series so we can quickly recall who is the calf of whom. In much the same way a horse farm might combine names of mare and sire of elite racing horses.

Having said this, I'd like to introduce two new calves on the farm. Gladys's daughter Gladiola, and Peanut's daughter, Snickers. Welcome to the farm little ladies!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ask a Farmer!

It is often the case that we overlook the obvious. There is normally a simple, and expedient solution to problems laying within 10 feet of us at all times that we neglect to use in most situations that we find ourselves in. We as a culture love to find these little shortcuts and exploit them. They are recurring themes in our magazine articles, on cable TV shows, and even blog posts. So if you are looking for a helpful hint, look no further! Here is a little tidbit that is so simple you may have been in plain sight, without your notice: When you are at the farmer's market and you are curious how to prepare a new vegetable variety, cut of meat, or food product, ask the farmer for a recipe!

See I told you it was painfully obvious, and utterly simple!

How often have you asked, "what kind of vegetable is this" or "what do you call this cut of meat" at the farmer's market? More importantly, once you found out you were holding a garlic scape, or a piece of ossobuco have you followed up to find out how to prepare it? New culinary adventures are just within reach, that you may have passed up. Just think, your local farmer has probably prepared all the products at their booth, at their own home to great results. Many of the farmers I know are also fantastic cooks, who have access to great fresh food and are constantly coming up with amazing recipes to feed their family every day. Unlike the modern grocery store experience, farmer/producers have an intimate knowledge of their products and are more willing to share that know-how. Also adding a new recipe or expanding your knowledge of new foods makes you a better cook. Asking for recipes at the local farmers market will not only add to your food encyclopedia, but instruct you on how to cook with the seasons, and cook what is grown in your local area.

So next time you have a chance, ask a farmer!
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To Market!

One of the original of bastions human civilization is the marketplace or bazaar. The open air farmer's market is the forerunner of the modern mall and even online retailers. Producers coming together in one spot to sell their wares to help meet the consumer needs of a local populace is almost as old as agriculture and commerce itself. As small traditional farmers it is our pleasure to be participating in so many great farmer's markets this year. If you haven't been out to one of these communal gatherings, now is a time to pack a little cash and a basket for food and head out to one close to you!

If you are looking for us, these are locations that currently feature Stone Cross Farm and Cloverdale Creamery products!

St Matthews Farmers Market at Beargrass Christian Church 4100 Shelbyville Road Louisville KY 40207 Saturdays, 8 am to 12 noon 2011
Dates: May 14—October 8

Douglass Loop Farmers Market at Douglass Boulevard Christian Church in the Highlands 2005 Douglass Blvd Louisville, KY 40205 Market Times: Saturdays, 10am – 2pm Regular Season: April 16 - Sept. 24 Fall/Holiday Season: Oct. 1 – Dec. 17

Lexington Farmers Market at Blue Moon Farm's Garlic Booth, outdoors in Cheapside Park near the Old Courthouse, Lexington, KY – Saturdays – 7:00 am – 3:00 pm

Lexington Farmers Market at Blue Moon Farm's Garlic Booth, Southland Drive near Slone’s Market, Lexington, KY – Sundays – 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What's Good About Local?

I love our farmer's market customers. They come week after week to spend their hard earned cash, sometimes in foul weather, on our farm's bounty. They are enthusiastic and share their encouragement for the job we do. That always means so much to self employed small farmers who work hard to bring quality products to customers, friends, and families.

I hope you loyal readers, lovely customers, and local food enthusiasts take this memorandum as intended, to remind you what is so good about buying from a local farmer.

Local is the buzz word du jour in food and increasingly in retail circles. There are many attributes that are espoused and touted as the reason to "buy local". Freshness, food miles, carbon footprints, supporting local producers, ethical practices, the list goes on and on. When it comes to food, I think all of these attributes are secondary concerns that ultimately point to one central reason why you should buy food from a local farmer. It's so simple and obvious once you stop and think about it that it becomes difficult to argue anything else. It's the same thing that is the main focus of all reasons to purchase one food over another. The painfully simple focus of all food purchases, especially when choosing a local product is taste! Taste is the king attribute of any food, and should be the soul reason one would purchase a local food product over it's mass produced cousin.

A quick anecdote that sparked this rambling post: At a recent farmer's market a young customer came up with a full reusable bag of goodies and was delighted to see we were featuring our cheeses. She said she just "loved local food" and wanted to buy our cheese. When I asked if she wanted a sample she declined saying that as long as we were local she wanted it. As I've said earlier I loved her enthusiasm and always feel proud to be a local farmer, I was still hurt that it didn't matter how our food tasted. It felt as though the thing you should value most about food was second fiddle to where our farm was located. I didn't have to work at all to be located in lovely Spencer County, that was pure happen stance. However the hard work and time I put in to bring that sample of cheese to that market seemed like it wasn't important.

To that customer I say thank you, for your love of what we do, and your trust that we were making a delicious product. Next time you try a delicious piece of locally farmed produce, meat, cheese, honey, or jams enjoy it fully as that customer did. But remember this little article and think not of how close that farmer is to your house, but how darn good that product tastes!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tall Grass!

Spring has brought us a great deal of rain. We have so much grass and clover growing that sometimes it's easy to get lost. The guineas and the the cows took to the field for some tasty bites the other day, and I was there with the camera to document. Enjoy!

Friday, May 6, 2011


Last night we had a chance to try out the new Harvest on East Market. A really awesome dinner was had by all. Very cool to eat at a restaurant with a singular focus of delivering fresh, local, sustainably grown food in a great atmosphere to every customer. They use classic southern comfort food as the basis of there entire menu and serve it up with a micro gastronomy twist. We enjoyed an entire fried chicken picnic on a single plate, and a whole barbecue cook out in one bowl. We even had to give the sorghum cookie with bacon a try. We loved our meals, and are as always so pleased to be supplying such awesome restaurant partners with our product!

Bon appetit!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Liquor Barn!

Working your product in to an established retail chain is like solving a jig-saw puzzle with no picture on the box. After a chance meeting with the cheese buyer for the Liquor Barn in St. Matthews at The Kentucky Crafted the Market show I found a new foodie friend, and a new retailer to carry our farmstead cheeses!

Since we started making cheese, getting on at the local Liquor Barn chain of stores, has been a top priority. Their cheese selection is fantastic, and their beer and wine selection (obviously) is top notch. They do a lot of tastings, local events, and are the destination du jour for all your party needs. We are happy to be doing business with the best liquor store chain in the market finally!

If you are in the neighborhood, swing by grab a sixer, and some cheese! Tell Jackie we said hi!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Peanut, from farm nuisance, to media celebrity!

Our friends at Grasshoppers Distribution did a great story about one of our favorite ladies here on the farm in their latest newsletter. Peanut made a splash for her ornery ways and fence defying personality. Take a bow!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Big Brother (or sister) is Watching

Every single move here on the farm is closely supervised, monitored, and recorded by a very specialized team. Nothing you can do goes without close scrutiny. There is not a single act, or instance that occurs outside of most of the buildings here at Stone Cross that is not closely followed by our resident flock of chickens.

For over fifteen years we have raised a flock of various breeds of hens. These birds were at first brought on for their superb egg laying ability and we launched our farmer's market career with a steady stream of all natural, free range eggs. With much modern suspicion placed on the term free range with the crazy legal loopholes and technicalities exploited by major factory farming practices I should stress how free these birds are. These birds are never caged, or quarantined. Though they do have a roost with laying boxes that are always open and available, they often prefer to lodge in the rafters of the barn and lay their bounty behind bushes and tool sheds. There is nothing to tie these birds down. They spend most of their time monitoring our cheese creamery hoping for dropped morsels or minding the small grain bin where we keep extra feed for the cow's when they have a sweet tooth and desire a change from there regular pasture salad. To be painfully honest they also enjoy rummaging through the pasture and picking through our herds droppings, a strange act for the non-farm initiated I'm sure, but none-the-less and natural act that provides wonderful egg laying nutrients.

They are constantly following all the human members of the Stone Cross staff around hoping a scrap or tidbit might fall from a bucket or hand into their waiting beaks. The bird with it's side mounted eyes has a strain judgmental look about it as it eerily watches you cross the lawns, fields, and pastures. Their propensity for constant chatter amongst themselves lends to the notion that they may be comparing notes about your activities amongst themselves.

They are odd creatures at times, yet still beautiful, and with a valuable place on the farm. They are always fun to watch, but just remember, they watch back.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meet Percy Nacho...

On a recent visit to the farm sponsored by feed supplier Alltech, several of their international clients were surprised to discover Percy Nacho. Alltech was taking dairy farmers from Ireland, England, Germany, and Australia around to unique dairy farms in Kentucky to highlight different farm models. The Irish contingent was shocked to discover a dairy farm would have one lowly donkey in with it's Jersey herd. We had to explain that Percy was a vital part of our strategic farm plan. Here in Spencer county the influx of coyote to the area makes for a situation where the herd needs constant protection from intruders. Enter our handsome coyote alarm Percy. A "rescue" donkey from a neighboring farm, Percy sounds his loud honking alarm whenever danger is near, not to mention literally putting his foot down on any would be predators who may enter the field.

He lives and feeds amongst the herd as if he was one of them. Often staying close to the fence, he knows that if he let's you pet him he can be rewarded with an apple or carrot for his vigilance and long hours. Keep up the good work Percy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Companion's Creek Farm Merger

We are really excited to have our good friend (and cousin) Lee Lafferty and his wife Pat take on the Stone Cross Farm name this year. Lee and Pat's Companion's Creek Farm, has been selling not only their own farm fresh goodies, but also our beef and pork for years at local farmer's markets. As we approach the 2011 market season and take on a third booth at the new Douglass Loop Farmer's Market we have all decided to unite under one banner! This exciting new step for the family will see the Stone Cross brand coming to more hungry mouths here in the Bluegrass while still bringing the great products and charming customer service from Companion's Creek Farm.

Also yours' truly, Adriel Gray (Louisville sales rep, cheese wrangler, head of marketing, web guru, and all around fun guy) will be heading off to the St. Matthews Farmers Market at Beargrass Christian Church to help expand our presence there. I'll be bringing our farmstead cheese for the first time to a farmer's market. It should be a lot of fun, and if you play your cards right I may give you a free taste!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter Work

The cold dark days of winter signal a slower pace here on the farm. The chickens spend more time in the coop, cow's huddle close in the field, the cats mound up in a little furry pile in the shed, and our giant farm dog, Bruce, stays close to his blanket draped bed in the back of the barn. This is the time when us old farmers move down to the basement and begin a Stone Cross winter tradition of making our herbal soaps.

We start by heating and stirring lye with rich natural oils like palm and coconut. This oil blend forms the cleansing base to all our soaps. Adding in the specific all natural ingredients that give each of our soaps their unique character we continue to stir mixture. Trust me it takes a lot of elbow grease to make soap, just ask our forearms!

 As the mixture cools and thickens we pour the taffy-like soap into large lined wooden forms. We add the subtle artistic touches here that, once cut, will give each soap a different color pattern and texture. The forms are left to dry and allow the new soap to solidify.

After a few days of drying we empty the large soap cakes from the wooden forms. The cakes are measured, scored and cut to increase the surface area and left for continued drying. The more air reaching the soap the faster the essential oils will dry and stiffen to the eventual bar of beautiful handcrafted soap.

So as you think of the snow covered fields here at Stone Cross this winter, just imagine us keeping warm over a hot pot of fragrant soap, stirring the chill away!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mayan Cafe!

We are very excited to be selling pork to our good friends at the Mayan Cafe. Head Chef Bruce Ucan is known for his amazing Mayan-Mexican cuisine, and his love of local products. We are happy that Chef Ucan and the gang are featuring our favorite local pork, OURS!

Visit them the next time you're on Market!

Bon Appetit!

Monday, January 17, 2011

High on the Hog!

Here is a great article with Chef Joe Frase of the Blind Pig from this week's Velocity.

Blind Pig is a pork eater's paradise housed in the heart of Louisville's historic Butchertown. Exotic pork recipes, a killer wine and cocktail list, all mixed with a bare bones (pun intended) presentation makes BP the hot new Louisville meat eaters destination du jour. Not to mention it's currently featuring the best local pig's money can buy from right here at Stone Cross Farm!

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Boar's Head!

We here at Stone Cross Farm were very excited to be asked to supply the guest of honor at Midway Christian Church's Epiphany Dinner. Our good friends at Holly Hill Inn did a fantastic job preparing this beautiful 150 pound beast for the celebration of the Boar's Head Feast. We love when our product is cooked perfectly and used for fantastic occasions. It's what good food is all about.