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Four Fields Blog
Posted 9/10/2016 4:48pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,

You're cordially invited to our first annual Open Farm Day.  While our farm is always open to visitors, we'd like to make a special day of celebration & thanks for a great season and to all our friends, customers, and family who've supported us in getting our new farm established!  Bring the kids, spend an afternoon in the 'country,' we have some really good kite flying spots on the farm if it's windy...


We'll be getting a keg from Manskirt Brewing in Hackettstown, have local apple cider from Best's Fruit farm, and be giving farm tours so you can meet the animals & bees, see how they are raised, ask any questions- or, just hang out and have a beer!


Saturday, September 24th 2-6PM.  129 Alphano Road, Great Meadows NJ 07838

See the invitation here.

Ryan & Liz                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 9/2/2016 4:53pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,
We just got our first lamb back from the butcher, and it looks gorgeous (tastes that way too!).  

Our lamb is 100% grass-fed, meaning they are never given grain (which can lead to a greasy taste).  Not only does this lend to a cleaner taste, but it means that they were raised on pasture, eating what they evolved and nature designed them to eat, grass & pasture, and behaving naturally, they really do frolic, and not stuck in a fed lot for fast, cheap weight gain.

We will bring some of each cut to our farmer's markets on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  We will also bring extra pork chops, sausages and pork cubes for all your Labor Day grilling needs.

You can also add the lamb onto a Fall CSA share- this means the you will get first dibs on the lamb, which is expected to sell out quickly.  Because CSA members pre-pay for 3 months worth of meat, they get priority over Farmer Market sales.  Our first CSA delivery is on September 8th, so don't delay:


Join The CSA Here!

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Posted 8/20/2016 6:01pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,

Just 2 more days until the 5% early bird discount ends for our Fall CSA subscription.  We have tons of new options, as well as 5 different pick-up locations to choose from!

You can read more about how our CSA works here.

As always, if you have any questions, shoot us an email or give us a call (970.946.6377), and we'll be happy to help.


Sign-up for the Fall here


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Posted 8/15/2016 6:03pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,

Join the Fall CSA

I can't believe that it's mid-August already, and it's been quite a year on the farm so far!  We've dealt with a blizzard (remember that??) and a month long heat wave, piles of rain, then a few months of drought.  Despite the crazy weather, we've kept plugging away with the cool Fall in our sights.

CSA signups have begun for the September-November season, and you'll get an automatic 5% discount if you join before next Monday, August 22nd.  Returning members get 5% off no matter when you re-join, as a thanks to your ongoing support!

Get a free chicken!  We'll give you one of our pasture raised chickens as a thanks when you get one of your friends or family members to join as a new CSA member.

Some new additions and changes for this Fall:

  • Nitrate-free Bacon add-on: choose 1lb or 2lb a month to an existing meat share
  • Grass fed Lamb add-on: choose 5lb or 10lb a month added to an existing meat share
  • Raw Honey add-on: choose 8oz or 1lb a month added to an existing meat share
  • Heirloom Garlic add-on: choose 3 or 6 heads a month to an existing meat share
  • The Crewe Hill pickup time is now 11am-12:30pm

CSA membership helps both the customer, you get a month's supply of meat with minimal effort & shopping time, and the farmer, paying for your order in advance significantly helps farm finance!  CSA members get priority on our products- you get first dibs on eggs, bacon, and other common items we sell out of at farmer's markets.

Some Farmer's markets end in mid Fall, but CSA members continue to get our local, naturally raised products delivered to a central location once a month into November. 

Sign-up Here

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Posted 8/4/2016 10:37am by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,

Some very exciting news- we now have Long Island (aka Pekin) duck ready for your dining pleasure!  

I'll be honest, we roasted one in the oven the other day, and it was so good that I was tempted to be selfish and not sell any- it was one of those meals where there is not much conversation, just the occasional "****, this is good!" as you stuff your face.

There are a LOT of crazy recipes out there when it comes to roasting a duck- all with the goal of rendering out the extra fat that waterfowl have to achieve a nice crispy skin.  I've read recipes which say boil, or steam, even use a hair dryer to help soften the fat before roasting!  Crazy!!

Also, you don't have to make a complicated glaze, or marinate it for days- let the duck shine through and keep it simple!

If you can roast a chicken, you can roast a duck- all you need to do is tweak your technique a little bit.  Rather than high heat and short cooking time, turn the oven down to 350 for 25 minutes a pound (or 2 hours for most of our ducks).  Another must-do duck trick is to give the fat an escapee route- either score the skin, or poke holes in it while a tooth pick or the tip of a knife.  I prefer to score the skin in a cross hatch pattern, as it makes for a really nice presentation.  Be sure to only cut the skin, and not into the flesh as you'll dry out the meat if you cut too deep.

Pour off the rendered fat into a jar and save it in the fridge for other meals- roasted potatoes, use it to sauté veggies in, or duck confit.

Jaime Oliver has a great video on duck technique- you can ignore the tea spice rub if you like and only use salt and pepper.

Cutting up a duck is a little different than chicken, as you don't carve duck- here's a good video on that technique. 

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Posted 8/4/2016 10:15am by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.


We have received a few questions about cooking a whole chicken, so I figured I'd open the discussion up to others who might be out there in the same boat.  It might be a new culinary skill to learn, as we probably have gotten used to buying chicken parts at the grocery store, but don't be intimidated, it's not as hard as it sounds, and its' worth the effort!

If you do want to break down a whole chicken into parts, here's a great tutorial from the New York Times.

To cook a whole bird in the oven, there are two general schools of thought: high heat, or low heat.  High heat typically roasts the bird at 450 or higher for an hour, while the low, or 'slow and low', typically starts out with high heat to sear the meat, 425, then lowers the temperature to 300 to finish cooking, for a total time of 1.5 hours.  

Each has is pluses and minuses- the high heat method gives you crispy skin, and a richer flavor, but might be a little smokey in the kitchen; the slow and low ensures an evenly cooked bird, but takes longer and gives you less crisp.

One of the challenges of roasting a whole bird (chicken or turkey), is that the breast and thigh meats cook at different rates, with the thigh/leg taking a little longer because of the bones and joints.  This is especially true when roasting a whole bird because the legs are tucked in and under the breast. 

High Heat

Low and Slow


The method that Liz and I prefer is a mix of both worlds- consistent high heat with crispy skin and fast cooking (45 minutes), but an evenly cooked bird.  We "spatchcock," or flatten, the bird, where we remove the backbone (we save this for stock) and neck using a pair of kitchen shears or strong scissors.  The bird then gets flipped breast side up and flattened with a push of your palm.  By spreading the bird flat, more heat can circulate around the leg joints and they finish cooking at the same time as the breast meat.  

I roast a 4.25 lb. spatchcocked chicken at 400 convection for 1 hour.  A little bit longer for a bigger bird, little bit less for a smaller bird. 

Dry and salt

Be sure to pat the chicken completely dry, inside and out, before roasting.  If you leave any moisture on the bird, it will create steam while roasting, which will leave you with a more bland, rubbery skin with less browning and flavor.  Plenty of salt also helps dry the bird and crisp the skin while cooking.

Temper and Rest:

Temper the chicken by taking it out of the fridge for 45 minutes before cooking- this allows it to come to room temperature and ensures even cooking no matter which method you use.

Resting is extremely important no matter which method of cooking you prefer- this allows the heat evenly distribute after roasting, the bird will finish cooking outside of the oven, and the juices will go back into the meat.  If you carve a bird straight out of the oven, most of the juices and flavor will end up on the cutting board!  Remove the bird from the oven uncovered (tenting it with aluminum foil softens the crispy skin), and let it sit on the counter for AT LEAST 10 minutes, 15 is better.

When is it done?

The trick here is that the temperature of the meat will actually continue to rise once you take it out of the oven, typically 5-10 degrees!  So, if you take the bird out of the oven at 165 degrees, it will actually finish at 170-175, which means over cooked, dry meat.  Take the bird out at 160 degrees, measured at the thigh meat, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

Try out the different methods, and let us know which one works best for you- we'll pass on the tips to other customers.  All these recipes, in addition to others, are posted on the recipes section of our website.

Ryan & Liz


Posted 7/12/2016 6:35pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

A little before and after, for your veiwing pleasure!


Believe it or not, there are 12 lambs in the photo...


48 hours later...

This is only from 48 hours of grazing in a small paddock, sectioned off by the white electro-netting you can see behind Liz in the 'after' picture.  The lambs disappeared into the 5' tall grass when we moved them into it, and quickly went to work eating all they can get their mouths on.

We practice what's know as 'mob grazing,' where the livestock is fenced into an area where there is only a day or two day's worth of forage, and moved accordingly, usually daily.  This changes the behavior of the herd, where they form a grazing mob, or tight group, and graze more intensively (eating more) and extensively (eating a wider variety) than if they had access to the whole pasture.  Anything they don't eat gets trampled into the ground because they travel in a tighter group- weed control!

We use portable electric netting to set up a daily ration of the pasture, and move our lambs every afternoon.  Mob grazing, though it's a little more work than simply turning the herd loose into a field, has many advantages:

  • Longer peroiods of rest: moving the herd onto a new piece of pasture allows the previously grazed area to fully recover.  We usually don't re-graze an area for 40 days!
  • Builds soil: we plan to have the herd trample around 30% of the available forage into the ground.  This helps feed the soil microbes and worms, building better soil health, leading to a more lush growth in the future.
  • Natural weed management: We don't use chemicals on our farm, and rely on mob grazing to trample unwanted plants such as thistle and wild rose.
  • Natural parasite control: Most internal parasites are passed, lovely as it sounds, through an animals feces.  By quickly moving the animals away from previously grazed (and pooped on) pasture, and not returning for at least 20 days, we help break the parasite cycle.
  • Better nutrition: By eating in a mob, the animals simply grab all the food they can, rather than walking around and picking their favorites (clover, timothy grass etc.).  A broader diet means better nutrition and healthier animals- it's like getting your kids to eat everything on their plate, vegetables too!

Mob grazing works for more than just ruminates (cows, sheep etc.)- we mob graze our chickens and ducks as well!

Posted 6/29/2016 8:57pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,

Just a quick note to let you know where we'll be this holiday weekend:

Thursday- The Long Valley market is taking a vacation for this week, so no market Thursday.

Saturday- The Washington Borough market is happening as usual, between 9a-2p.

Sunday- The Chester market is happening as usual, between 10a-3p.


We are fully stocked again- pork kabob cubes, sweet & hot Italian sausage, pork chops, shoulder roasts, chicken, and more local and naturally raised meats for the BBQ to celebrate the holiday!


Ryan & Liz                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 6/11/2016 4:33pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,
Just a quick reminder that the Crewe Hill CSA drop off is tomorrow, Sunday the 12th, between 11AM-2PM.  We will also be having a regular market, so you don't have to be a member to purchase.  Our freezers are fully stocked with pork and chicken.

Plus.....we have BCAON!  Our first batch of cured and smoked pork is back from the butcher, and there was much rejoicing!  We have belly bacon, as well as jowl bacon (made from the cheeks), smoked hocks, and cured ham steaks.  The jowl bacon is fantastic, and can be bought either sliced, for pan frying, or whole, which would an amazing addition to some baked beans.

It's not too late to join the CSA, and remember that returning members get an automatic 5% off.

Join the CSA here

Ryan & Liz                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 6/3/2016 6:05pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All-

Fully stocked Pork Freezers:
It's that time of year for us at the farm, when we get the first fruits of our labor- make that 410 pounds of fruits!

And by 'fruits', I mean forest raised pork...

We now have pretty much anything your culinary heart could desire- pork chops, sausage (sweet & hot Italian, and country), bone-in loin roasts, fresh belly for braising, boneless shoulder roasts for pulled BBQ, hocks, and more.  We even have some more adventurous cuts for those cooks who want to try to utilize the whole hog.

Looking for something different?- just ask!  Our butcher is great, and wants to work with us to satisfy our customers (that's you).

Bacon & Ham Steaks:

Bacon- We will have nitrate-free bacon and ham steaks available starting next week (it takes a few days extra to cure/smoke than the regular pork cuts).  Liz and I are looking forward trying them as much as you all are!

New Markets Starting:

The Washington Borough market starts tomorrow, Saturday June 4th, between 9AM-1PM, with pony rides and face painting!  

The Chester Market begins Sunday June 19th, between 10AM-3PM.

CSA Begins Soon:

Our first CSA drop off's begin next week (June 9th at Long Valley, then June 12th at Crewe Hill)!  There's still time to sign up for a monthly share of local and responsibly raised meats.  We offer a huge variety of chicken, pork, and egg shares to choose from, and have 5 different pickup options!

CSA Signup Here


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