Sunday, December 26, 2010

Word to the wise

    Well if you are going to start a new blog and try to post everyday, don't do it the week before Christmas. Things can get pretty tense this time of year, especially if you have a tendency to do all your shopping in the last two days. I'm glad that is behind us and we can start making plans for the new year. As in which way the farm should grow not which party to attend.
    There will a lot of things on the table this year. The farm is looking to expand in many ways. We want to increase our produce for the season. I feel this is the one area we really could make a great improvement in. So this means I must dust off my edition of FOUR SEASON HARVEST by Eliot Coleman and start putting into practice some of his great ideas. For the idea of eating local good food to work, there needs to be a supply of it either fresh, frozen or preserved. Yes we can all make hay when the sun is shining but we also need to save some of that harvest for later. I would rather eat home grown frozen green beans over all other options when it is below zero outside. We are also making plans to put out a larger specialized grain crop to increase our flour selections. Plans are being formed.
     I think marketing our products is going to get a good look at. How to expand our customer base without a lot more travel and idle sitting (Farmers' Markets). I'm going to have to enlist the use of others as this is not my area of expertise. 
    Dad and I walked out into the woods today with a couple chainsaws. We cut out some logs from trees that had blown over last summer. There were three aspen trees that will make good siding on one of the barns and a big red oak that at this point has no specific use. I would like to build a new grain storage barn that is a little more rodent proof. It is a pretty bad feeling when someone leaves the lid open on the feed barrel and half a bag is gone in the morning (@#$%^ing raccoons). The logs are cut out and now need to be pulled out so they can get cut up into boards. Michelle posted last week on her blog that we had gotten the sawmill running for the first time in two years which is really exciting. I'll post some pictures this week.
    I'll end here with some catch up on my egg counts.
             Wednesday 46 eggs
             Thursday 42 eggs
             Christmas Eve 43 eggs
             Christmas 50 eggs
             And today the ladies gave me 73 beautiful eggs

Hope everyone had a happy holiday, ours was pretty nice.

Later Chris


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A boring Tuesday

    Today thing just seemed to flow along with out much excitement. I did receive my latest issue of ACRES USA so this will be a quickie. Acres is a magazine that focuses on eco-friendly farming. Kind of like our source for continuing education.
    Our local Co-op (Purple Porch) is tomorrow and we have had a lot of last minute request for our customers holiday meals. We try to fill all requests but sometimes "oyyy" the questions we get. I'll try not to embarrass anyone here so mums the word.
    The shortest day of the year is over, winter is here and I can't wait for it to leave. I love SPRING.

STATUS QUO 43 eggs   

Later Chris 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did you here about Bob in accounting?

This is farmings version of morning water cooler talk. Sometimes it take place during morning chores or at a break in what we might be doing, but there is always chatter.  This week we will have a few different voices as the kids are on winter break. So naturally the conversation has turned a little more light hearted and usually packed full of challenges. Today Jack was challenged to carry five gallons of water approximately 200 feet. I will have to give him a lot of credit he did a pretty good job but by the time he got there the bucket was only about half full and his pant leg was pretty wet. At eight and a half pounds per gallon a five gallon bucket is  pretty heavy even half full.  

Yesterday I mentioned a little thing about sheep. To expand on that, we are thinking about changing the breed of sheep we raise on the farm. We have been looking into a mule sheep. Before you get some silly image in your mind, let me tell you that they are a cross between two established breeds. This creates a really a good female sheep that is known for their mothering abilities and multiple births averaging 240% or better.
The bonus, they are excellent foragers, no grain necessary. Which fits our farm perfectly. We will be talking to a few farmers already raising them and start the transition with this springs lamb crops.

Daily egg count - 43

Later Chris

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chores,Camp and a Conversation

    Sunday started off early as Dad and I met for chores and to load some pigs that were off to camp today. After chores I quickly helped Richard pull meat orders for Monday's deliveries.  We took eight pigs in today as we started running low on some of our sausages and a customer ordered a half hog. They take a two hour ride to Coopersville Mighigan to our butcher. Ken DeVrie and his team do a real nice job for us, and its been fun working with them for the past few years.
    After we dropped the pigs off we made a slight detour to talk to a local sheep farmer there in Coopersville. The folks at Beechtree Farms have been raising a breed of sheep that we think would work better for us than the current Suffolk we raise. They are a grass based breed that are excellent foragers and have great mothering abilities. After a little tour and a very informative conversation we left very impressed. There could be a big change coming to the farm as we look to expand the sheep operation.
    Earlier in week I got a call that someone had some poultry they were trying to get rid of. We decided to stop on the way home and take a look. Well we now have some new egg layers on the farm...... 

........Jackson is holding one of eight. We had a couple of ducks a few years ago but they never laid any eggs. When I saw these this afternoon, I had to give it another try. They are too cool ..... their walk, their quack and if I can get some eggs, well that's icing on the cake.  It might take a couple of weeks for them to adjust to their new home before they lay their first egg. Stay tuned.   
    The girls are getting a little better 57 eggs today.

Later Chris

Saturday, December 18, 2010

......and away we go.

    My intention was to start this daily journal of life and happenings that went on at the farm. Well no one ever said I was on time. The picture in the header is of my youngest daughter Jorja May the day I started to create this blog. She was about one and a half years old, she will be 4 in January. So from the time I created the header till I put up my first post ..... yep that's right about two and a half years. I promise my next post won't take that long.
    I guess my biggest fear was where do I begin. Some of you may already know about us and what we do and others will stumble across this and see a glimpse of my family. So lets set fears aside and just jump right in. Along the way I'll try to fill in as many blanks as possible.

    Green thumb, you bet. Dirt under my fingernails, to often. But I think the thing that makes me a farmer more than anything is my blood. It flows in my veins. I've inherited it from my ancestors and didn't even notice. It started to emerge once I got a place of my own. The first year I turned our urban backyard into a vegetable farm. My wife Michelle thought I had lost my FU*#@^^ mind. Then came the baby goat, then the back yard chickens. A few bottle fed lambs and spending a lot more time at my fathers farm. Add a few years, a few tears (mainly Michelle's, God bless her) and we are now making our living doing something my grandfathers did.
    I'm going to try and use this blog as a way to inform, enlighten and possibly educate. So feel free to ask any question you may have and I'll give it my best shot. Maybe we can all get a good laugh every now and then.

    Let's set the scene at the farm today, COLD.  Get the chores done fast and make the animals as comfortable as possible. Dad (Tony, Grandpa T or just "T") and I are becoming pretty efficient at getting the daily chores done fast. But, and there is always a but, something always causes a quick change of plans. Today it was just a simple frozen hose that didn't get drained correctly the day before. This not being the first time, was fixed by going down the road to the heated shop and grab the spare. hopefully he took the frozen one with him to thaw out.
    Right now chores consist of feeding and collecting eggs from the chickens in the morning. Evening chores we do that again and also feed, bed and water the hogs, hay the sheep and make a plan for the next day. Which at this point in time starts pretty darn early. especially for a Sunday the week before Christmas.
    Richard and Annette made a trip to the butcher today to pick up the beef from the steers that went to camp two weeks ago. The freezer should be full of beef for a while or at least a week or two.
     I'll try and give everyone a picture of the day. These ladies are out looking for something, anything to peck at. They have cleared away about three inches of snow in search of some grass.They are a part of our young layer flock. They were hatched a little later in the year than what we usually do. Thus they are just now starting to lay eggs. I'll try and give everyone a daily egg count from this flock as they are the ones I collect.
There are over three hundred pullets out here and today's count was 33 eggs.

Later Chris