Wisconsin farmers are truly optimistic visionaries! Unlike the rest of us cowering inside complaining about single-digit temps and 5′ snow drifts, Wisconsin farmers are readying for the summer growing season. They’re busily fixing machinery and ordering supplies. They’re convinced that winter will end.
Yesterday I caught their spring fever when I opened the letter from farmers Dan and Catherine Kleiber of Anisoptera Acres. (Even the name, Anisoptera, is hopeful. Anisoptera is the sub-order of insects that includes dragonflies – some of the first insects to take to the skies millions of years ago!) Catherine and Dan are putting out the word that they’re ordering the chickens, ducks, hogs, and steers which they’ll be raising this spring and summer for the Hilldale Farmers’ Market. They’re giving their regular customers a chance to put in orders for their free-range, natural meats. I appreciate this heads-up because last year their meats were so popular that they sold out.
Dan and Catherine Kleiber typify the Wisconsin farmers who sell high-quality meats at the farmers markets. The young animals they raise are hatched or born down the road on neighboring farms. The chicks come to the Kleiber farm when they’re a day old; the hogs and steers arrive after they’re weaned. Then the animals live out their lives in 5 acres of open pasture. The combination of fresh-air, exercise, and eating field vegetation supplemented with an all-natural livestock feed produces healthy animals, (which are probably pretty happy too!) Wisconsin farmers and their customers swear by the superior flavor of these home-raised meats. And these meats are typically leaner and contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids which are not naturally found in purely grain-fed animals. (Click here to read about the health benefits of grass-fed livestock.)
Locally-raised meats are becoming ever-more available at Wisconsin’s farmers markets, – so move over fruits and veggies! In addition to chicken, beef, and pork, some farmers are selling duck, goose, turkey, trout, buffalo, venison, lamb, and even goat meat. (My daughter won’t touch fillet mignon, but she LOVES Dan’s ground goat meat! It sounds funny to hear her plead, “Please Mom can’t we have goat tonight?” My friends ask “How do you cook ‘goat?” I tell them to treat it like ground beef.)
Every summer day, somewhere in Wisconsin a farmers market is happening. Many of them begin in late-April and continue through October. Madison residents love their Capitol Square Farmers Market so much that the market keeps going through the winter (inside of course, – we’re not crazy).