JSK Cattle Company

by Anne Maxfield on December 17, 2018

Accidental Locavore JSK Cattle SignOn a back road outside of Millbrook, you’ll find JSK Cattle Company.

Don’t let the name fool you, there’s much more than just cattle at this farm.

Heather Kading and her husband Jason oversee a menagerie that includes a welcoming committee of 5 goats, 2 flocks of chickens (one for laying eggs, the other for dinner), some pigs (loving this mud-producing fall) and cattle.

Heather originally trained as a massage therapist but got side-tracked and is now trying to figure out how to meld that with farming.

“The goats are really good therapy. Anyone who goes out there and plays with them starts smiling and it relaxes them. It’s really cool.”

Accidental Locavore JSK Cattle GoatsThey’ve built a farm store where you can find all their pork, chicken, and beef. If you’ve got freezer space, they’ll happily sign you up for a half or quarter of a cow or pig. Don’t worry, if you’re dealing with a standard freezer, there are plenty of good cuts to take home and enjoy and they conveniently tell you how much freezer space a ¼ pig will take up (about 2 cubic feet, if you’re curious).

“We met showing cattle in 4H when we were 12.” Heather says. Jason grew up on a farm close by. They both went away to school in different locations and got back together running the local 4H club and the rest is history.

When they started to have children, they became concerned about where their food was coming from—what they were feeding them. They started raising more cattle for beef and selling it in halves and quarters from their basement freezers.

As you can imagine, loading and unloading large (heavy) parts of cows up and down stairs was a lot of heavy lifting. So, they built the farm store, selling at first just their pasture-raised beef (hormone and antibiotic free), adding in 2017 grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, chickens and eggs. Last year they even decided to take on turkeys, but that turned out to be too much at one time, but it might be a project for 2019, so stay tuned.

Accidental Locavore JSK Cattle ChickensAlong with their meats and eggs, there are local products too, like yummy Cara-Sel, Zoe’s ice cream, local sodas and maple syrups.

And keep in touch with them, goat yoga may make its way onto the farm soon!

Besides the farm store, you can find their meats at several local restaurants, and the Taste of NY Store on the Taconic Parkway and other local stores.

JSK Cattle Company

150 Chestnut Ridge Road

Millbrook NY 12545





A Visit to Four Legs Farm

by Anne Maxfield on August 31, 2015

Accidental Locavore LeannaWhile most people are familiar with the CSA (community sponsored agriculture) model for vegetables, where you essentially pre-pay for your summer’s produce, the same idea for meat is just starting to catch on. Leanna Mulvihill of Four Legs Farm is betting the farm that you’ll soon be looking to buy your rack of lamb or pork chops the same way.

Accidental Locavore Four Legs FarmThe Accidental Locavore had a chance to tour the farm recently. You drive through the hustle of New Paltz and suddenly find yourself in the middle of fields of sunflowers with mountains and rock formations in the background. The farm is part of an interesting and much needed incubator program for Hudson Valley Farm Businesses sponsored by Glynwood, whose mission is to “ensure that farming thrives in the Hudson Valley”. There are 330 acres available to the participants, of which Leanna has about 63 of them.

Accidental Locavore PigsThe 23 pigs, “mutts” according to Leanna, are on a hill behind one of the barns. They’re a mix of breeds but, covered in their favorite mud, it was a bit hard to distinguish one from another. They were very happy to see us, bearing food, having eaten most of the weeds and brush on their hill and even happier when she turned on the water so they could really splash around in the mud! What was interesting was that it’s not quite as easy as ordering a few piglets; “buying piglets is really hard, you have to have connections.” And before you even work your piglet connections, you have to book a slaughterhouse. Because there are so few in the area that work humanely, they get booked up six months to a year ahead of time. She “was booking dates for animals that hadn’t been born yet.”

Accidental Locavore Four PigsWe left the pigs, fatter and muddier, and went down to the sheep pastures. She’s got them segregated by sex so that there’s no distraction from the business of grazing in the flower-strewn pastures. Accidental Locavore Guard CowEach flock is watched over by a large cow (or two) and these ladies take their duties seriously! They’re there to protect the sheep from coyotes and on occasion, from Leanna. She told me that one day when she was trimming the hooves of one of the sheep, something happened and the hoof was bleeding. Sylvia, the 18 year old watch-cow, came over to see what was up and ended up licking the sheep’s bleeding hoof clean!

Accidental Locavore Sheep EatingIf you had a chance to see her operation, you’d be cleaning out your freezer and sending a check for your share of lamb or pork or even an “Adventure” share (odd bits for sausages and stocks etc.), but do it quickly or you’ll miss out on this great opportunity. If there’s enough response from people in Manhattan, she’ll arrange a group drop-off point in the fall. And, while this is still in the planning stages, Leanna might be doing a special offering for the holidays with roasts and racks and all that fancy stuff to impress your friends and family. In the meantime, do it because we need to support local farms and especially women like Leanna who are striving to be the “best stewards of the land and animals possible.”Accidental Locavore Flock of Sheep



Gone Hunting: In Search of (Elusive) Truffles

by Anne Maxfield on June 1, 2015

Accidental Locavore White TrufflesThere were so many great experiences that the Accidental Locavore had in Croatia, but one of the it-probably-only-exists-in-your-fantasies ones was the morning we got to go hunting for truffles.

Accidental Locavore Plate of Black TrufflesWe met early one morning at Karlic a large truffle purveyor supplying to a number of restaurants. They produce both black and white truffles, depending on the season, and employ a team of 250 local truffle hunters to keep them well stocked. Because it was April, we were going to be looking for black summer truffles.

Accidental Locavore Grappa BreakfastBefore we took off we were treated to brunch–all dishes featuring truffles (naturellement). After a welcome drink (at 10:00 AM) we enjoyed appetizers, including pâté with white truffles, cream cheese on toast, also with white, a lovely local cheese with black along with salami studded with more black ones. That was followed by scrambled eggs with black truffles.

Accidental Locavore Truffle SnacksWell-nourished, we went out to start the hunt. They have a pack of eager dogs (no one uses pigs anymore), mostly females because “they listen better” and we took three of them, Betty, Candy and Blackie out to the woods with us. For a tiny village (population 42), Buzet has a dog population of over 100. Yes, they take their truffle hunting seriously! And even though these are generally mixed breeds, they are not your run-of-the-mill rescue dogs. The dogs go for anywhere from $2500 to $5000 depending on their background and take a year to train. Blackie is one of the most successful truffle dogs in the area and her owners have been offered over $10,000 for her (and turned it down).

Accidental Locavore Scrambled Eggs With TrufflesWith Ivan, our guide, appropriately attired in camo, we took off for the woods. Although the woods are public property, the field we started off in belongs to Karlic and they have begun what they hope will be a lucrative truffle plantation. Eight years ago, they started planting 1200 oak and hazelnut trees, hoping to cultivate truffles. Although it generally takes ten years to start to find truffles, they found their first one last year and have already found over eighty this year, so it looks like their gamble will pay off.

Accidental Locavore Truffle PlantationPast the plantation, we followed Ivan and the dogs into the woods. The dogs took off immediately, frolicking around, running up and down the hills. Suddenly Ivan would start running after one of them, usually Blackie, and we would try to catch up, eager to see if she had found anything. If she had something she would start digging and Ivan’s job was to catch up to her before she started to eat whatever she discovered. That’s not as easy as it sounds, as the dogs were often way up in the woods, and running up and down steep terrain is a workout! We learned too, that Blackie has been known to eat about a kilo (2.2 pounds) of truffles in a season – literally eating into the profit margins!

Accidental Locavore Found TrufflesWith the dogs, we found five truffles in a little over an hour. That was the good news. The bad news was that none of what was found was edible. Who knew there were red and yellow truffles?

On our way back, we tried to find out from Ivan if any of the stories we had heard about the nefarious (truffle-related) doings, like poisoning dogs or slashing tires, were true. He did admit that he’s heard rumors, and like any successful truffle hunter, would never brag about his discoveries. All the prime locations are carefully guarded secrets, which made this cynical New Yorker wonder if Ivan was still saving the good spots for himself…Accidental Locavore Giant Truffle