Farm Journal, Page 5
Late Spring/Early Summer 2005
Well it’s been a very cold and wet spring, fifth coldest on record. The pastures have grown slowly but the House Pasture is great. We got all the brush piled up, and most of it burned. We had 8 tons of lime spread and then 75 pounds of grass seed and it was well worth it. (These links are to the farm "tour". Please be sure you have turned off any pop-up blockers, as this tour uses pop-ups.)
I moved the cows in there on Memorial day. As I led them from the Four-Acre Lot and into the North Five-Acre Lot where they started to run, passing me half way through. All were in the tall fresh grass before I even got out of the Five-Acre Lot. What a beautiful site seeing all our happy cows knee deep in green grass.
Business is great although we are not charging enough for our Pastured Poultry. Next year we will up it to where it should be, somewhere around $6.00 or $7.00 per pound. We talked to the folks at CCC Feeds and they mix our grain specifically for us, to our specifications. It isn’t organic and I am still uneasy about that (organic) label. We have to buy a ton and a half as a minimum order and since I can only fit 1,500 pounds into the box in my truck, we had to bag the rest. It is a hour drive one way to the grain mill. I THOUGHT only 1,500 would fit in the box but we jammed in 1,650, the rest was bagged and hauled by my cousin Bruce. We took it slowly coming home and we both were really front end light.
We need to purchase a bulk tank, actually we need two, one for chickens and one for hogs. We also need a couple of round bale feeders so we don’t waste so much hay over the winter but we can’t afford any of this right now.
We processed 23 chickens on Sunday and by Wednesday they were all gone, with an increasing waiting list. One customer who had his first bird, came to me a couple of days ago and said ”Your chicken was great, it tasted like butter, so rich and tasty, when can I get more?”
We are certainly glad to have gotten in to this project, even though with 74 chicks on pature in chickent tractors now and 100 more on the way, it has increased our workload by 200%.
We need to make 3 more chicken tractors so we can raise about 800 broilers next year. I also have purchased the wood needed to make two new brooders. I learned of the design at the Pastured Poultry Conference and will take some pictures when I am done.
The most important thing was to get the chicks out of the basement because they make tons of dust and stink. The new brooders are up-side-down boxes with warming lights, and the chicks seem much happier outside than in the basement.
Processing day saw my brother Curt and his son Avery helping out, feathers were flying and birds were done faster than ever. Avery got a good taste of the chicken business and he plans on being back for more. Our oldest son Jeff has been a big help and enjoys the catching and beheading part (they are stuffed into an upside-down cone for processing).
We have designed a label to put on the bag for each chicken, along with a nice card that allows us space to pass a message to the customer. In the future we will include recipes: Cody’s rubs, Curt’s honey, etc. We also want to try the shrink-wrap bags for better presentation.
Avery has taken over the night time chore of feeding and watering the chickens and he is doing a fine job. I do the morning chores and moving the chicken tractors.
The Bourbon Red Turkeys are really growing fast. Next year we MUST have more, say 200 or so, and their price per pound will also increase. I was told at the Pastured Poultry seminar that I should charge $9.00 to $15.00 per pound. While I won’t do that I will up our price some. The poults in the small chicken tractor in the front yard are eating and growing like crazy. I must get them on to pasture in the North Five-Acre Lot.
Our purpose is to first make some money at this but equally important is to provide good clean food for the public. The public is KILLING themselves with the stuff they buy in the supermarket and most people don’t even want to hear about it, very sad indeed. I get a kick out of the people who tout “we buy certified organic chicken from ____ ”; I always reply nicely, “that’s great but how is it processed??” They have no clue what the are really putting in their mouths.
Our chicken processing area has worked out well. Sheryl bought a couple of stand-alone plastic sinks and a couple of counter tops. I put these on taller-than-normal saw horses and they work well. Our scald area is a 200 year old cast iron 35-gallon pot that really maintains temperature. This sits on a propane burner and Curt has the scald temperature and time down pat. From there the chickens go to the Whizbang Chicken Plucker.
For a chill tank we were using a clean plastic bath tub now but we’re getting a used chest freezer that doesn’t work anymore that will still hold and maintain iced water at temperature. Each station has access to a hose with a spray attachment so we are constantly spraying not only the birds as they go through the process but also the work areas.
We are also considering trying to add a sage tea mixture to the chill tank, while the birds chill. We thought it might be nice to try something different, we’ll let you know how it works. For now, we are sharing some of our Testimonials with you, and will add more as we get them (please tell us what you think about our products!).
Thelma (one of our Tamworth Hogs) the pig lost all 8 of her piglets, she was too young. I had told myself to move Perry the boar out of the girls' area but felt sorry for him as I didn’t want him to be alone; guess he wasn’t too alone…
Petunia had 6 piglets and 5 survived. They are small due to their Mom being small but they are doing fine indeed. Sold two girls and castrated the two boys.
Just as soon as Mark is done making cordwood and piling up the brush in the Ox Pasture we can fence it in and move the hogs in there. Once they are in there we will clean up the area they are in now, pile up all the stone, brush, stumps, etc. and then lime the area, seed it, and get it ready for winter pasture.
We have reseeded the paddocks with forage turnips and they are growing fast. Good thing, since Perry the Boar has been right on top of his breeding chores.
Eight feeder pigs have been sold and we have taken 3 grown pigs to be processed. Customers are buying pork by the half and are getting about 80 pounds of meat which includes sausage, all their smoked items like ham, bacon, shoulder, etc. and then the rest in chops, steaks etc. I processed 40 pounds of sausage last night and clearly need to get better. It is tiring work and my sausage doesn’t come out all the same. Sheryl calls them “dinky links.” This last time the sausage was too big around, lots to learn for sure.
We are also trying to make bratwurst by combining our grass fed beef hamburger and pork sausage plus some other spices.
Two new calves were been born in May and one in June ... all boys… it must be the water. We mentioned Max in the last Journal entry, so we have 3 new Highland Cattle born this spring. We haven't named the two new ones yet but Monique's calf should be named “Mud” as he seems to enjoy aggravating me by running through and breaking the fence. Penny had her calf about mid-May, and we've named him Alexander.
Greg the log guy has finished his work on the 45 acres jointly owned by my 2 brothers and I to the east of us. We will use our portion of the profit to order hay from George for next year. His price has gone up, but is still reasonable. I have asked for 2nd or 3rd cutting, for better quality and to have it all delivered around the same time so we can store it all at once. We will order 60 round bales this year.
I haven’t done any clearing lately at all, no time. I must get in to the South Five-Acre Lot and the Four-Acre Lot and get them done so they can be limed and reseeded by next February. I am almost considering over-wintering the cattle and hogs in the Four-Acre Lot as they do such a good job of mucking it up for planting. I just can’t get over how good the House Pasture looks and it is all thanks to our animals. The drawback is it doesn't have a water source and is further from feed for the hogs. Actually I guess the smart thing is to concentrate on the Ox Pasture and work in the Four-Acre Lot when time allows. (Remember to take the Tour of our farm if you haven't already.)
This past weekend I got 20 new 4X4’s sunk and cemented into the ground to replace those that had rotted off, causing me to have to completely remove the fence. Hopefully, I can get the fence back up this weekend, and get the garden tilled and planted. Our garden area is 130’ by 35’.
We have decide to completely replant the asparagus bed, it just isn’t as full as we would like so the only answer is to replant. That bed is about 15 years old.
The berry bed, which of late has been used to hold two pigs, has been cleaned of all weeds or anything else that lives by the pigs. We can now plant potatoes in there. The other end has blueberry bushes which seem to be doing fine except for the weeds.
Cody helped a lot this weekend by weed whacking the Four-Acre and South Five-Acre Lots. I mended all the fence and have ordered more tighteners.
We have come up with a letter to send out to our family to give them all a reduced price for our products, it is important to take care of family and we enjoy the visits by the cousins, uncles, nephews, nieces, etc.
Bob Marley is alive and well. He was last seen and heard from on West Mystic Ave in Mystic; I heard that is at 5:00 am EVERY morning. When I was asked if I could save Bob, I didn’t know that was his name, I was told he was large, white and living under the house. The owners of the house fed Bob from time to time but the neighbors couldn’t stand his racket so early in the morning. On the Tuesday following Memorial Day Bob Marley was escorted to our farm by a very sad but grateful resident. Bob was put in confinement for two days so he wouldn’t roam. The well-known celebrity started singing his tunes first thing on Wednesday—after all, being confined with 50 ladies eager for his attention isn’t a bad thing.
Oh by the way, Bob Marley is a three year old, White Leghorn rooster, and very content in his new home.
Sunday June 5, 2005
Finally got the garden fence back up, the garden tilled and planted for the first go around, as soon as the seeds come up I will mulch with seaweed, got five truck loads so far to put down. Jeff and Kevin were a big help with the fence panels, we had cut the nails off when we took it down and then just laid the 12’ sections down, they were heavy to get back up and in place but it’s done now.
Got the herb bed on the south side of the house all tilled, weeded, replanted and a heavy layer of seaweed put down.
All that’s left to do this weekend it put up the new signs we had made to keep out of our front yard those who “want to see where the road goes”.
Remember, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW and
MOTHER EARTH OWES YOU NOTHING, WE OWE HER EVERYTHING !!