The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Cider Donuts

September 29th, 2014 by Ed Bruske

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One of the local specialties here in Upstate New York is something called a cider donut. Count yourself lucky if you find a reliable source, and even luckier if you find them freshly made.

Lucky for us, one of our local farm producers, Stannard Farm, makes these delectable little pastries on a regular basis at their store on Rte. 22. You can find all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables there and now they have a deli counter as well. We stopped for some fresh corn on the cob and were greeted by the aroma of donuts emerging from the fryer.

The “cider” in cider donuts refers to the apple cider used as the liquid in the dough. At Stannard’s, they use cider from their own apples. In this case, the apples had been pressed just two days earlier.

The donuts come out of the hot oil slightly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. Then they’re dusted with sugar–impossible to resist.

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Chicken Integration

September 28th, 2014 by Ed Bruske

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For the past four months, we’ve been raising Rhode Island Red hens to replace the layers that were snatched by foxes in the spring. Like the broilers we raise, these new hens have been traveling around our pastures in big cages or “tractors” toward a date when they would be big enough to join the established flock.

Well, that moment has arrived. But since I had never co-mingled chickens of different ages before, I consulted the highest authorities I could think of to avoid a debacle.

I got great advice. Even Joel Salatin, the pasture livestock guru, replied to my query, suggesting I provide separate feeders, separate waterers, even separate living quarters to avoid a culture clash among the hens. “The point is to not force them to integrate,” Salatin advised. “Let them do it on their scheduled comfort level.”

I was especially concerned because the coop we use is just a big box on wheels. I could not imagine tossing in unfamiliar birds and closing the door behind them. So in the dark of night we gathered a few of the new hens at a time, clipped their wings so they wouldn’t flee over the temporary fencing we have set up in the orchard, and delivered them to their new home in our arms by flashlight.

We placed them in the grass under the coop and left the door to the coop open, hoping they would all be I one piece the following morning. They were.

So far, we’ve introduced 10 new hens to the established flock without any casualties. The new birds do tend to stay to themselves, but at night they hop into the coop with the others. Though, unlike the older birds, the young hens haven’t yet figured out they’re supposed to spend the night on one of the roosts we built into the coop.

I’m sure they’ll learn soon enough. It’s almost time for them to start providing us with eggs as well.

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