Friday, April 22, 2016

First 150 turkeys in the oven!

Finally, after 3 years of skipping thanksgiving, we put the first 150 or so turkeys into the incubator! There is room for about 40 more, and then we will have a pause while waiting for replacement parts for the third incubator.

It took a little "creative repair" to get these incubators back in service. I didnt think soon enough ahead to order necessary parts to bring them out of storage and into service. But hey, duct tape, some fish line tubing, some careful patches and they are working!

At this point we are on target to get about 100 to 120 turkeys for thanksgiving. When we are more sure of the hatch rate we will start taking deposits for thanksgiving turkeys.

The best news is, this starts our year round fresh turkey! Plus all the add on like that delicious turkey stock, organs, bone broth.. yum!

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Meat price restructuring is now complete! Enjoy the lower price!

As promised a short while back, we have drastically reduced our meat prices. DRASTICALLY! There are two reasons why this was possible.

First, we went through our yearly review of profit center cost and production, and discovered that  changes we had made to purchasing feed allowed an across the board 35% reduction in pork selling price.  yes.. 35%!

But wait.. there's more.. we have now completed our transformation from the current meat pricing model of "price cuts for what they can sell for" to a more farm style "price the meat based on what it costs to produce".  Basically we stopped comparing price to "everyone else" and instead based our price on our own farm,  and figured out what it takes to make this profitable. period.  Where most meat sales is based on the cut individually, we now base our totally on the cost to produce the overall animal that the cut comes from.

For instance, we have only 3 price levels:

1. Farm direct in bulk - $5 per lb (hanging weight)
 This is the price for buying a whole animal direct from the farm, in bulk, and paying separately for the butchering. This is the least expensive way to do it if you can handle the quantity of meat all at once.  Traditionally called "farm kill", it is where you have total control over what you get, save the most, and end up with a lot of meat all at once.

2. Plentiful USDA packaged cuts - $8 per lb (individual packages)
This price is for cuts that come "plentiful" like ground pork, chops, etc. Cuts where the cut produces much quantity.

3. Limited USDA cuts  - $10 per lb (individual packages)
This price is for cuts that come in very limited quantities, like ribs. There is only 2 full racks of ribs per animal. Due to the smaller quantity, the price needs to be slightly higher to cover expenses that cant be spread out across many buyers.

To make life even easier, we sell meats in approximate weights, not exact quantities. We round each package to the nearest half pound or quarter pound. Over time it all balances out and it saves a vast amount of time over individually priced packages.

So, please do browse through the online store. Some prices have dropped in more than half with the combined effect of both changes.  We are committed to bringing you the highest quality nutritious meats raised humanely, and at reasonable prices that allow you to save money while the farm is reasonably profitable.

Time will tell how this new pricing model works out, but we feel comfortable that it will be best for everyone!

Little Sprouts Eggs improving!

The good news about our required reshuffling of the animals is an improvement in egg quality!

As you may recall, we purchased a young flock of birds to add to our existing flock, effectively doubling their number. Unfortunately we didnt have time to think through where to put all these birds in a pinch, so they all went together in the existing egg laying spot.

It didnt take long, and all the green grass and plants were eaten or trampled. Too many birds in a smaller area does that.  But now, with the reshuffling, the birds are back out on green pastures with plenty of grass and weeds, and of course, bugs!

What does this mean? you can expect the eggs immediately to take on a deeper orange color. The color of the yolks is directly related to the amount of greenery in the bird's diet. The more living green foods, the deeper orange and thicker the yolks are. The effect is almost immediate.  So expect to see a change in the next delivery!

Here is the shot of the new locations, if you look way back in the center, you will see the chickens are now placed (in their laying trailer) right between the sheep and goats! There they have access to both pastures freely, and the abundance of bugs that both herds bring.

The grass back there is about 4 to 6 inches tall, so it will last a while!  The trailer will move back and forth within that protected paddock to spread out the "fertilizer" and provide new grass continually.

While there is no verifiable health benefit of eggs that are grass fed from eggs that are grain fed, there is a noticeable difference.  We are going to do out best to keep these girls on tall grass for the duration of the summer. And hopefully bring online our "bug barn" and its designed in supply of 100,000 mealworms per day! (stay tuned on that!)

Garlic! The miracle food with a strong and laaaassstttiiinnnggg flavor

Garlic, perhaps the single most important plant to support health. Its good for SO many things in man and beast.  For the latter, one thing it does quite effectively is kill internal parasites naturally.

It does, however, have quite the flavor....

We routinely treat the animals for parasites, as parasites are ubiquitous in our world.  While most farms use harsh chemicals (i.e. poisons) to treat the animals, we have chosen a different route... herbs and plants.  We rotate through a set of herbal parasite control throughout the year. This not only effectively treats parasites, but actually increases the animals health in the process.

It does, however, have quite the flavor....

So yes, this time the garlic parasite treatment of the goats was very effective but, well, tended to linger on... and on...  We had timed it so that the treatment started in between all herdshare milkings, with expectation that the flavor (which does get into the milk)  would dissipate before the next herdshare milking came around.  Well, yea. That didnt work out.  The flavor lingered.

So for 2 weeks now, the milk has had a distinct and lingering although decreasing taint of garlic / onion flavor. Some days it was stronger than others. But always there. Sometimes it would take two or three drinks for the flavor to build, but it was there!

For herdshare members: as we said in email... if you find the milk objectionable, we offered a $20 credit on your account to compensate for any inconvenience. 

We are happy to announce that it is now all clear! after two weeks, the milk is back to its sweet creamy flavor!

Next time we will keep this in mind when doing a parasite purge with garlic!

The mighty tiller that... quit

I like our roto tiller. A land pride 5 foot reverse tine tiller that plows through just about anything. Yes, it is the best tiller we have ever tried! it can take a decent plot of land and turn it into a beautiful seed bed in one or two passes.

but, alas, sams valley soil is giving it a challenge.

In the middle of a bunch a bailing twines, you can see the break through the pipe.

Last year you may recall we tilled up about 2 to 3 acres of the back pasture to grow pig food, and in the middle we lost the main bearing.  Well, this year we were tilling up a new area that the garden is moving to and, the main shaft split in two. a solid pipe, not even a weld, and it split right in two.  This is some HARD ground!

We attempted to weld it back to keep going between the rains, but no. Where it broke was right next to the weld of a tine plate, so there is no room in there to line it up straight. IF we attempted to weld it, and were off just a little, the wobbling would surely take out a bearing again, or worse.

So, replace. But there is only 1 spare part in all of north america! and they are not cheap.

So next week will be tilling week.

The unexpected reshuffle, refencing, relocating

We had a visit last moth, from the county.  It turns out that in the middle of all the EFU (exclusive farm use) land at this end of the valley, is small blocks of RR zoned land (rural residential). And of course, RR land is not approved for farm use.  SO, to make a long story short... we reshuffled the farm!

The primary offenders were the chickens and the sheep.  Both had to move. So basically we swapped the garden area with the sheep pasture and chicken spot.  It worked out well in the end, perhaps even an improvement, but that was a chore.

the county was nice enough about it, giving us plenty of time to make the change, but mother nature wasnt so kind. a planted garden does not move well, and we must get seeds in the ground soon, so this whole reshuffle became an emergency so that we could have a garden this year.

So, a little fencing later, some late night hours moving chickens (who only move efficiently after dark) and everyone is settled into their new homes.We still need to figure out all the access routes for feeding and such, and get a couple thousand feet of water hose restrung, but the animals are resting happily in their new spots.

The lesson here? never assume anything!  We assumed that the land around us was zoned the same, but surprise!

Look closely, you can see the chicken trailer in the middle back, the sheep are on the pasture on the right, and the goats in the far back left behind the pigs. 

Busy Busy!

The lack of blogging here might seem to be representative of.. not much going on to talk about. BUT in reality, its exactly the opposite. When there is no blogs created is becasue there simply isnt time to write about everything that is going on! it means SUPER BUSY!

I'll try to catch up a bit this afternoon to fill you in, but lots has been going on, mostly good. And in the background there is plenty of personal stuff, including another family wedding :)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Eggs now available for sale!

Starting this week, we will have eggs available for sale to new customers. We have reached the end of the waiting list, and filled everyone's desired quantities, so we can now take new customers!

Our chicken eggs are, what I like to call "ALL OF THE ABOVE". That means we do all of the "good things" that you see on egg labels, all together so you don't have to choose between. Organic, pastured, etc etc. Ours are:

Organically fed
Soy free
Pasture raised
Heritage breed
Humanely treated
Antiobiotic free
Vaccination free
Chemical free
Multi colored
Farm fresh
And just plain yummy!

There are two ways to buy eggs: alacarte, or subscription.

Subscription simple means you are "subscribing" to a certain quantity of eggs delivered with each delivery, every other week. You don't have to do anything except set how many you want, and until you cancel, the eggs will show up every two weeks on your door step. No extra cost, no upfront payment. If you need to skip a delivery, there is a vacation hold for that. All we ask is that you remain on the subscription for a minimum of 3 months.

The advantages are:
1. Savings! Subscription prices are always a bit lower
2. Filled first. If anything happens to the available quantity, we always fill subscriptions before ala carte orders.
3. Automatic ease. Do nothing and the eggs arrive every other Saturday. Billing happens the night of delivery

Ala carte ordering means you go online before the cutoff day for each delivery and order eggs for that delivery. if supply is sufficient, orders are filled on a first come first served basis.

Either way, we are happy to be able to offer the best eggs to you and your family, and now your friends!

posted from Bloggeroid