How Much Rain to End Drought - A Lot

The weather channel had insight into the amount of rain needed to end the drought in Texas. In our area, we need 18-24 inches in a single month or 24-28 inches over a six month period. We seldom get monthly rain fall like that, but in normal years can get the 24 inches in a winter. It appears there will be no hurricane or tropical storms to give us instant relief this fall.

The two inches of rain we received over the last week have had an amazing rusult. There is a slight green tint where the grass is starting to come back to life. We cut back the berry irrigation 50 % and other irrigation from seven days a week to three. The nights in the low 60’s upper 50’s and mild daytime temperatures will help us retain the moisture longer.

We can cope with buying our hay, bu twe need to get our lakes back to normal.

Map Basket

When you clear out your office and find a stack of out of date state maps there is a good use for them. Settle the kids down and turn off the TV. Make a map basket. Thanks to the Sierra Club for this.


Drought in Texas: Life & Death in Agriculture

This is an excellent, depressing, article on the extent of the drought in Texas and what is both behind us and ahead. Despite almost 2 inches of rain in the last week, we are very concerned about what actions we should take on our farm to be prepared for another dry year. Having irrigation water for the blueberries is our greatest concern.

Scary Blowouts - How Not to Move Cattle

A photo can tell a story.

We have sold a number of our breeding cattle and are in the process of delivering them to the only place in Texas that is green; north of High Island near Trinity Bay on th eGulf of Mexico. One load went down on Friday, round trip of 600 miles, and no problems. Saturday morning it started differently. Before we loaded we noticed one tire on the trailer was low. It had a nail in it so off to town and get a patch. Then we saw that a herd bull was not with his ladies, but had gone through a fence to eat in our vegetable garden. So he had to be persuaded to go home. We got off 2 hours late.

Off we went happily and got 50 miles. As we exited interstate 20, on the ramp, bang!#@# A tire blew in half on the trailer. Smoke everywhere. We got to the edge of the road safely and started no grass fires. NO ONE stopped to help. Eva and I managed to jack up the trailer with the cows in it. Perhaps 14,000 lbs. Tire changed ,we consulted our GPS and a tire store in Kilgore was 2 miles away. We got there just before noon closing. They were very nice and we bought four new trailer tires, and an extra spare with rim just to be on the safe side.

All went well after that. The cattle were delivered and we spent Saturday night on galveston Island. Late Sunday afternoon, as we traveled on the toll road in north Houston on a bridge, Bang !#$@# The front right tire on our 1 ton pickup shattered. Nothing was left of it. We slowed and rolled off the bridge to the side of the road- sparks flying. I figured the rim was toast (it wasn’t).

A nice fellow stopped and with two jacks we got the turck up and chnaged the tire. Using the GPS again the only tire store options were 5 miles away. We found Sam’s Club an hour before closing. There jacks were messed up, but they were able to get the front of the truck up. We got two new tires and went on our way getting home before midnight.
The next day we got two new tires for the rear of the truck and ordered a rim so we have two spares.

Amazing in the past year we have hauled cattle over 6,000 miles and had no problem. I guess it was our time to be challenged. In any case, we have a few more loads to go and will have good tires to roll on.

September Newsletter

Our primary blessing is the wonderful customers that continue to visit us and stay in a cabin, take cooking classes, order beef, buy jam, vegetables or free range eggs.  Without this support it would be difficult to remain in business.  Thank you for your support.
Farm to Fork Cooking
Being a traditional family farm, most all of our activities in one way or another, relate to food.  Chef Eva is well known in culinary circles for the development and preparation of unique dishes using non-traditional methods and often unusual ingredients. 
Private dining for groups at The Greer Farm has always been special. There is a wide variety of menu items possible.  Online we only offer a few menus to give you an idea of what is possible.  Our selections and parings can be unique to your dinner or lunch by discussing your needs with Chef Eva.  The farm is a great place to host a holiday event, birthday parties, small private business meetings or a gathering of friends. There is some availability for Christmas parties.  An extra special event can be planned around a weekend stay on the farm in the lakeside log cabins with dining.
Farm to Fork Cooking Classes at The Greer Farm are all participative and hands-on, a lot of fun, and you get to eat what you prepare.  The remaining classes this year make great gifts for someone special, and for Christmas giving, we can provide a special gift certificate for classes in 2012.
Chef Eva is offering a unique selection of Farm to Fork Cooking Classes for the fall.  All classes start at 11:00 AM and are held at the farm house. Classes are $75 except November 5th which is $90.
This Saturday, September 17,  is Breakfast with a Twist.  How many times do you have guests or family in for the weekend and rather than going out for an IHOP breakfast wish you could come up with something that is easy to prepare and special.  This cooking class will provide you with several delectable options.  There is even something for those on a gluten free diet. 

Crispy bacon with hash brown quesadillas

Huevos Rancheros with three pepper tomato chili sauce
Spelt blueberry pancakes with fig syrup and lemon honey butter
Macadamia nut French toast with candied bacon
Crispy gluten free waffles with salted caramel sauce
Whole wheat blueberry muffins with lemon cream cheese filling

October 8 is Greens and Grains.  This class will utilize a variety of grains, such as quinoa, farro risotto, wheat berry and forbidden black rice from a small farm in South Carolina.  The vegetables are ones that are easily obtained in the fall, but may intimidate those that are not familiar with them..

Whole wheat bread

Roasted red peppers stuffed with kale and forbidden black rice
Heirloom squash farro risotto
Rainbow chard and radicchio and nut sauté
Quinoa salad with baby spinach and Moroccan spiced lemon dressing
Zesty wheat berry black bean chili with spicy whole grain crackers

October 22 is earl enough to slim down before the holidays. The Low Carb Weigh menu will help you prepare recipes that are savory and tasty, yet healthy for you.  With this  menu, you can eat worry free.  For those concerned about sugars, you will be able to enjoy the pumplin mousse and pecan nut pie crust. 

Winter salad with roasted squash and pomegranate vinaigrette

Cauliflower popcorn
Curried chicken salad with homemade crème fraiche
No noodle zucchini lasagna
Wild mushroom quiche with pecan nut pie crust
Pumpkin mousse

Sid's favorite class of the year is on November 5th.  This year is much more than roasting meats, it is focused on Healthy Grass-Fed or Free Range Meats either from our farm or available from other North Texas farms.  This class will utilize grass fed beef, pasture raised pork, free range chicken, free range eggs and spring grass fed lamb.  There is a slight twist to cooking these meats versus those traditionall found in the grocery store.  The emphasis will be on slow cooking and lower temperatures.  This is an excellent opportunity to try grass fed and free range meats.

Fall greens with blue cheese and pastured pork bacon and pumpkin seed brittle

Carne asada (roasted beef) with pickled onions and habanero tomato salsa
Grilled citrus free range chicken under a brick
Jalapeno pastured pork roast
Lamb chops with fresh mint pesto
Lavender Crème Brûlée with free range eggs 

The last class of the year, November 12th, is Chef Eva's traditional focus on fun foods; Healthy Holiday Appetizers.  Just in time for the holidays, this year she has menu items that are easy to prepare and healthy.  This class will give you exciting new recipes to share with your guests.

Fresh organic spinach and artichoke dip with homemade flatbread

Zucchini and goat cheese pinwheels
Tomato caprese bites
Sweet potato and black bean empanadas
Endive Stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts
Fresh mushrooms stuffed with sundried tomatoes and organic spinach
Coconut meringues


Jams, Sauces, Preserves and Syrups
Chef Eva makes a variety of homemade jams, sauces, preserves and syrups from fruit grown on the farm or available from local farms.  Many of you have purchased these when you visited or picked berries.  The selection this year is a bit different than in the past and we think that you will enjoy these for yourselves or as gifts for others.  Texas' new Cottage Food law allows us to sell at the farm both jams and baked goods.
Chipolte Sauces  8 oz ($5)  Blueberry-Chipotle, Blueberry-Habanero-Chipolte. Served over cream cheese or used as a BBQ baste.
Jams & Preservers 8 oz ($5) or 12 oz ( $8)  Blueberry-Peach, Blueberry, Pear with Lemon, Peach, Cinnamon Peach, Old Fashioned Pear, Fig Preserves with Lemon
Triple Liqueur (Brandy, Cognac, Grand Marnier)( Peach Jam, Grand Marnier Pear Sauce, Grand Marnier Peach Jam, each 8 oz. ($6)These are great over crepes or ice cream.
Pickled Pears, mulled Pears, each 16 oz ($9)
Syrups 8oz ($5) Blueberry, Fig
Grass Fed Beef:Time to Order the Very Best Beef One Can Buy
Every few weeks we read or hear about a meat recall for one reason or the other.  The drought in the southwest has brought record numbers of cattle to market.  All kinds of cattle in many different body conditions. Do you know where your beef comes from? If you buy from The Greer Farm you know where it came from, how it was raised and how it was harvested and processed.  We give you peace of mind.
The drought has presented to us a great challenge.  How do you finish cattle on grass without grass?  We fertilized in the early summer and had a very limited number of heat showers, but enough for the minerals to work and send the roots of the grass we had deep into the ground seeking moisture.  These fields are still slightly green, compared to our neighbor's fields that are winter brown, but they do not have the nutrition we need to finish our steers.  Every year we bring in alfalfa hay from the Missouri river valley east of Kansas City.  This year we doubled our order; two 18 wheeler loads.  In addition to the grass hay we raised last year and have stored in barns, we brought in more 18 wheeler loads of hay from near Tulsa.  Collectively, we have the hay, with the right nutritional balance, to finish our steers.  Our target date is November for the first harvest and then every few months into early Spring 2012. 
Our cattle are raised naturally on our farm; not others.  They receive a lot of tender loving care and are never fed antibiotics, growth hormones or any artificial supplements.  We welcome you to visit the farm any time to see how we raise our cattle.
Grass-fed and finished beef is sold by the hanging weight (whole steer, half or split quarter). The cost of the beef, including harvest and packaging, is about $4.25 per pound.  The cost of a split quarter averages $550 to $650 depending on the size of the steer.  A split quarter, cut, packaged and frozen, is around 120 pounds of beef or about 2-1/2 shelves in a upright freezer. 
Grain finished beef is available, but you have to buy the entire steer or find others to split it with you.  The grain consumed is charged at cost to you plus the same costs as grass-fed beef (add $600 - $800 more or less for the cost of the grain).  We have a source of all natural grain.
If this is too much beef, but you want to order, share a portion with friends or relatives.  It is easy to split the frozen packages after you pick-up your order. 
We offer the following discounts on the beef cost portion of an order.  Harvest and processing are fixed cost by the packer.  5% for purchase of a whole or half. 5% for being a repeat customer (any order size), and 5% if you bring to us a new customer who has not purchased before.  All our beef is harvested and processed in a facility with full-time USDA inspectors present.
We are taking orders at this time.  a $200 deposit is required. 
Additional information is available on our website.
Lakeside Log Cabins in the Fall
Fall has traditionally been one of our most popular seasons.  Our farm will be featured in the November issue of Texas Highways magazine as a place to go during the fall in Texas.  The weather will be cooler and the mornings crisp.  We have already had a few nights in the 50's.  It is time to savor a cup of steaming coffee on the veranda of a cabin early in the morning or enjoying a glass of wine as the sun sets across the lake. 
The holiday periods of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are also good times to get away.  Our rates for weekends remain the same in the fall ($135/night for two, $10/night each additional person, max 4 adults/cabin) and there is a two night minimum on weekends.  From September 15 through year-end, excluding holiday periods, we are offering 15% off any three night stay (Sunday-Thursday nights).  The bunkhouse is again available, but it has a real set of bunk beds in it now ($80/night).
It has been an exceptionally hot summer and many of you have not had the opportunity to get away from the city.  Bring your bicycles and ride our back country roads, hike the trails on the farm, visit re-opened Daingerfield State Park, take a barge tour of Caddo lake or help out during feeding time in the late afternoon; including feeding Salt and Pepper- the Shaker Sisters (our zebras).
Free Range Eggs & More
Our chickens are finally laying eggs and will move this week from the old barn near the house into the pasture to free range and spend their evenings in our egg mobile.  All natural eggs will be available at the farm for $4/dozen.  Currently we have pullet eggs and they are $2.50/dozen.  All our chickens are heritage breeds including New Hampshire Reds, Black Australcorps, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Rhode island Reds, both Blue and Silver Polish and Americanas. 
Our plans for a fall garden were nothing more than plans.  Excessive heat changed everything.  We set out hundreds of seed starts and nurtured them outside until it was apparent they would not thrive in the heat.  We moved them into an air conditioned building (85 degrees) with grow lamps and they did grow, but one day the power failed and when discovered hours later they had cooked at 114 degrees. Since we have purchased all the seeds, and it is supposed to be cooler, we will go over what can mature prior to a mid to late November frost and perhaps still plant now.  The October newsletter will give you the status of this effort. 
Farm Life 
Everything we do on the farm now is centered on the drought and response to it.  We just finished grass and weed trimming all the blueberry rows.  While the grass consumed valuable water during the summer, it also served as a buffer to the sun on the shallow roots of the blueberry plants.  We will next start on the mature blackberry rows.  They are in terrible condition and will require major re-planting this winter.  We will prune out all the canes that had berries this summer (precious few) and prune the canes that came up this year (next year's berry canes).  The irrigation emitter lines will all be changed out while we do the pruning.  The acre of blackberries planted last winter survived so far, but needs cleaning up. We allowed the grass to grow to shade the young plants and until it is removed cannot determine how many plants died. 
Our main herd bull, Riddler, was restored to his necessary vigor to breed.  You will recall we had a lot of difficulty in the summer when his sperm count hit zero.  A treatment regime of special herbs, regular service on cows, and chiropractic treatment worked.  He is now in a bull stud having his semen collected (frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen).  He has serviced all the females in our herd and has been sold.  
To cope with the lack of hay, we sold two-thirds of our goats and about 20 percent of our cattle.  We are hauling the cattle to the Texas coast north of High Island. This weekend we had a blowout on the trailer (full of heavy cows) and the front right tire on the pick-up.  I am not fond of such exciting weekends.  Now, with eleven new tires, we are ready to haul more cattle.  
One of our new Canadian cows broke a leg and has nothing but problems now.  New x-rays were taken and sent to the vet school at Texas A&M to determine what can be done.  We will not know for 30 days if she is bred.  If not, we will plan on flushing her eggs. 
We still have to round up heifer calves weaned in the summer to tattoo them and there are more calves to wean this fall.  Calving season will start in two weeks and we will start our round-the-clock cow watch to assist with birth if necessary. 
Life on the farm continues. 
From our House to Yours
Make our farm your farm.  Come and visit us.  Take advantage of one of the remaining cooking classes this fall, buy some jam or eggs, order beef, or stay in a lakeside log cabin enjoying the cooler days of fall on the farm. 
From our family to yours we thank you for supporting our family farm.  Please forward this newsletter to anyone that may find it interesting. 
All the best,
September is normally a transitional month into the fall as farm work and activities change.  This is not the case this year.   The drought just keeps on keeping on and we change and adapt to meet this historic challenge.  No matter what the weather, we continue to get up early and take care of what nature has provided us.  Some days are easier than others.  It is a time to stay focused and not get trapped into thinking about what might have been. We are blessed in many ways and it is our obligation to use these blessing to share with others not as fortunate.