As could be expected, 2013 has had its ups and downs, but overall it was a great season! For my own sake I thought I'd write down some memories from the year before I completely forget :) Our 2013 season started ramping up in March, with the addition of a few St. Croix lambs and Berk/Duroc cross pigs. We waited until March this year, for the ground to dry up and the grass to take off before stocking any animals.
As April arrived, we started gearing up for our broiler chicks to arrive. This year, we grew nearly double the amount of broilers, and as such our spring was busy with building new pens and planning all the logistics that came with more birds.
More birds meant we'd be covering more ground, since we move the broiler pens daily, so our attention turned to dealing with the scotch broom that had overgrown parts of the pasture. After two very long, hot days, along with the help of some friends and family, we transformed the field and unlocked many new acres.
Meanwhile, we welcomed our angus stockers and some hampshire/cross lambs to the farm as well. The animals continued their rotation around the pasture, enjoying the lush grass and adding natural fertilization via their manure.
The low point of our season was in June, when we realized our feed supplier changed his ration without telling us (causing the chickens to not gain weight properly). The bright side of this realization was that it caused us to finally pull the trigger on something we'd been wanting to do for a while: switch to a corn-and-soy free feed ration. The previous feed was corn-free but still included some soy for protein, and while the supplier tried to source non-gmo soy, the only sure-fire way to avoid gmo's is to avoid the use of ingredients like corn and soy which are overwhelmingly grown using gm seeds. Our switch to Union Point has certainly been a high point of our season.
With the summer came the start of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers' Market. We enjoy the market so much, and the community it brings with the neighborhood, local businesses, and the other vendors, Sweetwater Farm and Tiger Lily Art Company. In July, we kicked off our CSA program, which has been a great success!
This summer was very hot and very dry! Thankfully, we had plenty of shade for the animals and the only downside of this heat was less grass growth through the summer. But as a tradeoff, unlike last year, we got earlier fall rains, resulting in a nice second growth of grass in Sept/Oct.
With the coming of fall, our attention turned to our Thanksgiving turkeys. Between the higher quality feed and the way the calendar fell vs. the hatchery's schedule, 2013 turned into a year of plenty as far as the turkeys were concerned. They were certainly healthy little buggers and as such ended up a bit bigger than we anticipated. Thankfully, all of our customers were understanding that we are a farm, not a factory, and looked to the bright side of getting a few more leftovers.
December brought lots of snow and many of you have asked how that affected us. As we are seasonal right now (we stock young animals in the spring from other local farmers and raise them to finishing weight throughout the year), we were thanking our lucky stars that we didn't have to worry about any of our animals out in the snow. Even though we look forward to adding a breeding program in the future (and thus keeping animals year round), there are definitely times we are thankful for this seasonal approach.
One of the things we'll personally remember the most about 2013, however, will be our attempt at purchasing a permanent home for our farm. We haven't mentioned it at all because of how uncertain it has been, and in fact it looks like it won't work out after all. However we've learned a lot in the process, not only all about farm financing but also life lessons in patience and resilience. But most of all, we're reminded that the heart of our farm is actually our customers, not a plot of land or brick and mortar building, and for that we are very thankful.
We are already itching to plan for next year and look forward to continuing to provide the best pastured pork, poultry, beef and lamb we can through our CSA, the farmers market and by the side. All in all, it's been a really great year and we look forward to seeing what 2014 has in store.
Thank you so much for supporting this vision - whether by being a customer, friend or encouraging from afar - we truly believe we can change the system together. Wishing you a joyous holiday season and happy new year!
<3 Scott and Jenni