Monthly Archives: November 2016

We’re Into Leather

We’re into leather! The White Oak Pastures Leather Department was created to utilize our cowhides in a way that is continuous with our zero-waste protocol.

The journey of our cowhides to leather is a labor intensive one. Hides are removed by hand in our red meat abattoir, then there are three avenues for our hides once they are removed from the carcass. Hides are either A.) used by our leather department, B.) hand crafted on our farm into pet chews or C.) sold to a pretannery in Kentucky.

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We learned the hard way, but now, we only save cowhides during the winter months because this time of year is cool enough to preserve them. At the end of each day, the hides are transported to an on-farm barn where they are salted and stored. We create a hide-salt lasagna layering hide, salt, hide, salt. We use about 200 pounds of salt per hide. The hides are stored here for 4-6 weeks. After this, we shake the excess salt off the hides, fold them onto pallets and load them onto our trailer which we personally drive to a multi-generational family-owned tannery in Sebring, FL: Sebring Custom Tanning. About 6 months later, after the hides are tanned and ready for pick up, we make the drive back down to FL and bring them back to White Oak Pastures. We have a great relationship with the tannery and they do a wonderful job with our hair-on and hair-off cattle hides. The product returned to us is a Full Grain Leather, which means the suede and the top grain layers remain together to create a quality product and feel.

Our leather craftsman, Alena, is self-taught in the art of measuring, cutting, dying and sewing leather into beautiful finished products. We create patterns that we like and want to wear or carry, and in return, our customers appreciate these same patterns as well. Although we use the same design every time, each hide is different, and as such there are no two identical items in our store. The spine of each hide is thickest, this is where the sturdiest leather comes from. We use this section for our bigger bags (totes), coasters, mouse pads, belts, dog collars and keychains. The edges of the hide (the belly) are thinnest and most flexible and we use this section for our smaller bags, new cross-body bags, bracelets, earrings, and wallets.

Come see us in our newly opened White Oak Pastures General Store. In the far corner, tucked away, you’ll find our leather workshop.

With the holidays quickly approaching, keep in mind our leather products make great gifts and are available in our online store. Look forward to new patterns, color palates and craftsmanship in 2017!

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Categories: Zero-Waste | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Teenagers With Nose Rings

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We are trying a new type of weaning this year: wean rings. This is a plastic ring that clips inside the calf’s nose like a clip-on earring. We think wean rings are the least stressful and most natural way to wean.  When the calf tries to nurse its mother, the ring’s spiky points make it uncomfortable for the mamma to nurse her calf. She’ll then initiate the weaning process. These rings may look drastic, but they are safe and cannot hurt the mamma cow. Our calves are still able to have all the physical contact that they want with their mammas. They can still nuzzle, follow around, and get licked on by their mammas.

Deer, bison, and other non-domesticated ruminants will kick their babies away from the teat when the time comes for them to be weaned. Humans have domesticated cattle to the point where this instinctual behavior was lost and now it is necessary for the stockman to intervene. Weaning is a very stressful time for the calf and the cow. Both are clearly bonded to each other. However, weaning must occur.

We wean calves around 7-9 months of age. The mammas are pregnant with their second calf at this point.  At this time in their lives, calves are steady eating grass and drinking water, so mamma’s milk is just a treat. It is crucial that our calves fully transfer to grass before their sibling is born. The mamma cow needs to spend all of her nutrition growing the fetus calf, as opposed to making milk in her last trimester for the older calf.

Once the younger calf is born, the older calf would out-compete it if both calves were to suckle. Additionally, this would impede the younger calf from getting adequate amounts of colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk produced by a mamma cow during the first few days after birth before her body switches to making normal milk. Colostrum is a unique kind of milk rich in antibodies, fats, and proteins. Calves do not passively receive immune support from their mothers across the placenta as humans do. They must get their antibodies from colostrum. It is imperative to calves’ health that they drink colostrum in the first few hours of life. The wean rings ensure our young calves have a healthy start to life while allowing the older calves a low-stress introduction to their adult diet of grass.

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We are excited about our new system. We look out at our pasture and see a bunch of teenagers with nose rings and we couldn’t be happier. We’re respecting the mother-calf bond and the herd-mentality of our animals while still ensuring the health of future generations of cattle.

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Categories: Animal Welfare, Uncategorized | Tags: | 2 Comments

How to cook a perfect pasture-raised turkey

We are grateful for the opportunity to provide you and your loved ones with a delicious pastured turkey for this special time of the year. Cooking a whole pasture-raised bird can be intimidating, and we want you to feel well-prepared to cook our turkeys this holiday season.

Our turkeys are athletes. They spend their entire lives roaming our lush pastures, hunting, pecking, scratching, and dustbathing as nature intended. Because of their diet and exercise, our birds are lean animals. When cooking them, keep in mind they have less fat than commodity turkeys. We have found that cooking with a wet, slow heat yields a more tender turkey dish.

Check out our recipe and tips to cook the perfect pastured turkey for your holiday meal, as well as our five-part video tutorial where Chef Reid walks you through the process step-by-step.

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Ingredients

White Oak Pastures pastured turkey
White Oak Pastures pastured poultry bone broth or water
Olive oil
1 large onion
1 carrot
4 stalks celery
1 bay leaf

Butter Mixture Ingredients
10 oz butter (about 2.5 sticks) at room temp
4 tsp fresh rosemary
4 tsp fresh sage
1 tbsp fresh oregano
4 lemons (2 for juicing and zesting and 2 whole lemons)
3 fresh garlic cloves
¼ tsp allspice
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Preparation

Receiving and Defrosting
Your turkey will arrive frozen or very cold to the touch. Allow 3-4 days to thaw your turkey slowly in the refrigerator. After the turkey thaws, remove the bag of giblets from the body cavity and set them aside. These are great for making gravy. There may be paper between the turkey breasts to soak up any juice; remove this, too.

Herb Butter Marinade
Combine butter mixture ingredients in a mixing bowl. Loosen the turkey’s skin with your hands, and rub the butter mixture over the whole turkey, under and over the skin. Tip: Use a piping bag to get the mixture under the skin more easily. If you have time, cover and refrigerate the bird overnight to allow the flavors time to penetrate the meat. We’ve found you don’t need to brine pastured birds because they hold moisture and flavor better than conventional birds.

Making Mirepox
Roughly chop celery, carrot, and onion and place them in the bottom of a roasting pan along with bone broth or water and a bay leaf. Use just enough liquid to cover the vegetables. This mixture will add flavor to the bird and keep it moist. Set aside a few pieces of onion for roasting inside the cavity of the turkey.

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Ready to cook
Remove turkey from refrigerator 30-60 minutes before cooking, and preheat oven to 325F. Place turkey on a roasting rack, breast up, and set in the roasting pan over the mirepox. Loosely place 2-4 lemon halves and a few pieces of onion inside the cavity. Truss the bird loosely with butcher’s twine and drizzle turkey skin with olive oil. Place the pan into the oven and cook, basting the bird with pan juices every 10-15 minutes. Remove the bird once the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh registers 160F (approximately 8-10 minutes per pound). Please note that our pastured turkeys cook more quickly than conventional birds. Lastly, it is important to allow the turkey to rest 15-20 minutes before carving so you don’t lose all the delicious juices.

Photos by Laura Mortelliti. 

Categories: Kitchen | Tags: | Leave a comment

What’s in your Jeep, Will Harris?

We’ve all seen blogs or magazines featuring the contents of movie stars’ handbags, with sunglasses, lipsticks, and fancy electronics on display. Here at White Oak Pastures, we are similarly fascinated by what’s inside Will Harris’ Jeep. When you hop in to take a ride around the farm, you invariably have to clear away guns and knives, tools, and things Will collects from the woods in order to make room to sit down. In the spirit of a “What’s in your handbag?” article, Will was a good sport and let us go through his stuff and take photos of it to put on the internet.

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Will’s Jeep is his toolbox. He has a rope because things need tying, a chain because things need pulling, a crowbar because things need prying apart… you get the picture. The hammer is Will’s key to every door (like the John Denver song), and he has a pair of gloves because there are a few things out there that are tougher than he is.

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A golfer carries a bag full of different clubs for different shots. Will does the same with guns. He uses a shotgun to keep varmints away, and pistols to avoid arguments and end debates. Pictured is an Outback 12-gauge over and under shotgun, a Ruger 357 Magnum snake charmer, and a Ruger 357 Magnum debate winner.

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The inscribed whip was made by the father of a former employee, a real Florida cowboy. The primary functionality was never to strike the animal; the loud crack that the lash makes has the desired effect of turning animals away so that they can be herded. Notebooks are for recording field observations of the animals and the land. The old bottles were collected in the woods around the pastures. Will says that he has never taken a dose of speed, but he cannot imagine that it is a stronger stimulant than a chew of Red Man. The corkscrew and the Yeti are companion items that receive daily usage.

Items photographed by Laura Mortelliti. Photo of Will by Angie Mosier.

Categories: Staff Spotlight | 5 Comments

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