Planning ahead for 2015.

One of the challenges of being such a small farm who direct-markets everything is the planning ahead. Right now we are planning everything we'll raise in our 2015 season. We only plan on raising what we have a high degree of confidence that we can sell since there are huge costs to raising animals. Moreover there is something so sacred about the life of an animal that we are unwilling to risk having old product go to waste (we can't just feed/compost excess like a veg farm). That is why this time of year, fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, we are tight on our products and CSA spots. It's also why I probably sound like a broken record when I say that it's never too early to put in an order for a quarter/half/whole animal.

If you know that you would like to order any beef/lamb/pork by the side, please go ahead and fill out the order form here (especially if you want beef, as our 2014 beef was all reserved by May this year).

In the comments section, you can note about what, if any, time-frame you'd prefer (early summer, late summer, fall, etc) and we'll do our best to match you up with an animal from that window. In the 3 months leading up to your order's butcher day, we'll request a $100 deposit to finalize your reservation. If you cancel before then there is no obligation on your part (though, again, we are trying to mitigate our risks of over-supply so please don't order until you are fairly certain you'll follow through).

Fun fact: we've calculated that you could pay for a 7cuft chest freezer within about a year from the savings you get by purchasing by the side. While we love our CSA program, we will always champion for side-sales too and if you are a current CSA member who is looking to save some money or supplement your share in an affordable way, this is a great way to do it.

If you have any questions about how buying by the side works, please just give us a call or email. I am also working on an information & FAQ sheet which I will post as soon as it's available.

Thanks for reading and here's to healthy, responsibly raised food in 2015!

Gratitude

DSC_0092 The days have gotten shorter and our 'busy' season has come to a close. We've been winterizing the farm, tucking away all the broiler pens till next spring. The turkeys, cows and our new layers (not yet laying) have been keeping our attention but things are definitely quieter. Which gives way to more time to think and reflect on this almost finished growing season.  It's definitely been the best one yet and our hearts are overflowing with gratitude.

Grateful for this land, both productive and wild, with so much potential just waiting to be tapped into.

Grateful for our animals who grace us with their presence and peaceful spirits, bringing us joy, connecting us with the natural world around us, and ultimately nourishing our bodies.

Grateful for our faithful customers, some of which have been with us since day one, as well as new faces each day that are seeking out the most nutritious, responsibly raised food possible.

I can't help but recall this time last year, a period of such great uncertainty and angst as we struggled to finalize the farm purchase, which makes us all the more thankful and counting our blessings.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for being a part of our farm community and joining us on this journey toward a new food system.

Farm Party!

This is a bit delayed, but thank you to each and everyone of you who came out to our first farm party. We had a blast and could not have asked for a better way to celebrate our 2014 season. When we purchased our Fisher Road property, a major selling point was its proximity to town because a big part of our mission is to connect people with where and how their food is grown. To begin to see that vision come to light is beyond exciting for us. Here are a few pics to commemorate the occasion. Thanks again for everyone who came as well as to our grill-masters, Kyle and Robin, the ever-talented Wootchie Band, Falling Sky Brewing and Sam Bonds Brewing for their contributions and the numerous friends and family members who helped us pull this off. We can't wait to do it again :)

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Spring Projects!

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With the daunting task of moving (mostly) out of the way, our attention has turned to spring projects! The countdown to the new season has started and thus comes the urgency of setting up shelters and water lines.

We have a batch of Berkshire pigs arriving next week, so our first priority is to set up their spot in the barn. These little 8 week old pigs will start out in a comfy, strawed area in the barn where they can learn how to use their feeders and waterers as well as get 'hot-wire trained'. Since we use hot-wire to section off paddocks in the woods and pasture, they have to learn by experience that touching the wire is not something they enjoy. Don't worry, the shock is not painful (we know from experience), it's just uncomfortable enough to encourage the pigs to stay in their paddock and not break out to go exploring.

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Our fall pigs respecting the wire even though they'd love to rub up against their dear friends on the other side of said wire.

After a few weeks learning the ropes, we'll move the pigs out to the wooded areas of the farm where they can root to their hearts desire, helping us clear the underbrush in the process.

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Pigs - you've got a job ahead of you now!

Another important project that lies ahead will be constructing our brooder. We get our chicks when they are a day old and far too delicate to be outside in the elements. They spend their first two weeks in the brooder equipped with heat lamps to keep them warm and toasty until they grow all their feathers and are ready for the pasture. We are still figuring out our brooder plans, but considering our first batch of chicks will arrive in April, this is high on the to-do list!

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Another spring project will be running our water line through the pasture and woods. Since our animals are constantly on the move, we have to be able to get water to every corner of the field & woods. We do this by running a very long mainline which is equipped with valve stations that we can attach water hoses to, allowing us to reach every section of the pasture.

Meanwhile we've started clearing many a blackberry around the orchard and barns. For some reason I have a weird love of hacking blackberries. There is something so fulfilling about the immediate gratification of seeing those suckers gone. I love berries as much as the next gal, but not when they are literally engulfing the property. Here is a before (from back in Feb) + after from yesterday's efforts.

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So that's how we've been spending these lovely spring days! 

2013: Looking Back

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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