Farmer Matt

Matt spent his whole life dreaming of farming. As a youngster he would make tracks in the carpet as he planted his “fields” with his John Deere tractor. As he entered school he received the pat response “you don’t want to farm; your smart”. He worked on area farms big and small and looked for ways to farm. In Minnesota you don’t farm without a thousand acres you inherit with the hundred thousand dollar combine to go with it. He had no farm to inherit so he pushed his dreams aside and went to school. As he entered college it was the same. He pursued as career as an educator. After teaching high school science for one year he went on to graduate school at the University of Maryland where he received his degree in Analytical Chemistry with an emphasis in Environmental Chemistry. In 2003, he got a job teaching at Southeast Missouri State University. That was when his wife read a book by Joel Salatin and the farming inspiration was rekindled.

They bought small property just outside of town and got a few hogs and hens later that year and Family Friendly Farm was born!

Garlic Lime Chicken

 This is an adaption of the recipe from Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely. We have been using this since the book first came out some time ago. She doesn’t specify using pastured chicken but to get the health benefits we consider it essential. She suggests boneless skinless chicken breasts but I have used all the different parts with equal success. I would specify the butter should be from grassfed cows for the vitamin K2. Since it is hard to find many of our customers make their own from the cream on the top of the jar of milk. We have the recipe online. We have great success with schmaltz (rendered chicken fat–it tastes similar to butter and has a high smoke point) or lard from pastured hogs rather than olive oil as the original recipe suggested.

Pastured chickens can be a bit larger. The trick is to lower the heat a bit and increase the cooking time.

*If you are buying whole chickens for the cost savings but don’t know how to cut them up check our website. You will find instructional videos there soon this fall.

Garlic Lime Chicken

Serves 6
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
6 pieces pastured chicken
2 tablespoons butter from grassed cows
2 tablespoons schmaltz, lard or suitable fat
1/2 cup chicken broth (homemade, if possible)
4 tablespoons lime juice

In a bowl, mix together first 7 ingredients. Sprinkle mixture on both sides of chicken pieces.
In a skillet heat butter and olive oil together over medium high heat. Sauté chicken until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes on either side or until no longer pink in the center.

Remove chicken and add lime juice and chicken broth to the pan, whisking up the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking until sauce has reduced slightly. Add chicken back to the pan to thoroughly coat and serve.

This is what all of us at Family Friendly Farm call a five star recipe! I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know if your family loves it as much as we do!

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The Courage of Farmers

Last night, I endeavored to do chores with my husband Matt. We filled buckets of feed, fed chickens, collected eggs, etc. We had a good time catching up and problem solving. As we were leaving I realized I hadn’t spent time with my first pup, Daisy. She isn’t a pup any longer, she’s nine or so years old. But she was my first and still is my favorite. So as we were leaving I asked Matt where Daisy was. He replied with the broilers. Oh, that made sense. We didn’t go out to that part of the field because he would be catching them in just a few hours for processing.

I believe that was the problem, I had been out to the field, she heard me out there, heard the truck leaving and realized I didn’t spend time with her. Before 60 seconds had passed she was at the gate with us. That means not guarding her chickens. Ugh! We put on the leash and started to walk her back. It is a quarter mile or more back there and was getting dark now. I was holding Matt’s hand. I don’t like walking in the dusk on uneven ground and if I am honest I don’t care for walking in the dark anyway. 

We get a short distance and the bull comes snorting and prancing at the dog. Ack! I am uncomfortable walking the the dark unknown but I am terrified of mean bulls. This bull isn’t really mean. He was just protecting his ladies. That was pretty uncomfortable to me since Daisy wanted to be her me. Matt chased him away. He came back. Matt chased him away. Now, imagine this. When I say chased him away you need to picture Matt running after the bull, shouting and waving his arms while the bull snorts, stomps the ground and jumps up and down as he slowly backs up. As Matt returns to me he says It’s ok. I’ll keep you safe; just stay by me. 

At this point we were near the pullets and the bull came running toward us again; I hop in the chicken yard with its wonderful electric fence. Safe. I am not interested in chasing the bull off every 50 ft on a 1/4 mile walk and back. Matt walks Daisy back with the whole herd of cows sniffing and following him along. I get busy tidying up the yard and visiting Tundra. 

When he returns, the bull and cows follow him back. I finish up my work and we start leaving. We weren’t 50 ft and the stinker Daisy comes back! The bull gets feisty. I panic! Quickly jumping through three wires of hot electric fence straight into the dark forest full of critters, snakes and poison ivy. I was ready to climb a tree if need be.

Matt handles the situation with like it is no big deal; putting the dog away for good and comes back to get me. He sees me on the other side of the fence, deep in the poison ivy and is surprised. He wants to know how I got there. I didn’t know. He helps me get out. and we head home.

I have one thing to say about all this: Farmers have a lot of courage. Handling all the ups and downs of weather, the uncertainty of crops, the unpredictable nature of animals, and so many other daily variables with courage and grace are part of what make them awesome. I am impressed.

I am glad to be a part of our farm. But it is obvious to me; I am not a farmer!

Matthew carrying egg basket.

Matthew is a hard worker from morning to night. He loves that his work produces such good results and knows that people depend on him.