May 2016 Newsletter
What's Going On at the Farm
For May 2016
April was a busy month around here and it doesn't appear that May will be any different. As we have been doing for the past 3 or 4 years, we are participating in 2 Saturday farmers markets every week. In order to get everything ready for these markets, Hunter begins packing pre-orders on Thursday morning. This allows time to pack the items that we will sell off the truck to be packed Friday morning before the market at the farm opens at 1. This makes for a very busy 2 days since Jesse and I are out making deliveries and unable to be here to handle the daily chores.
Both Annie and I have been complaining about not having any time to do anything for ourselves. It seems that every day around here is a work day with most days having us work in excess of 12 or 13 hours. This leaves us no time to spend with family or even spend an afternoon with a fishing rod in our hand. At our age we should be slowing down a little and enjoying the precious family times that we all work so hard for. Jesse and Amy moving to the farm has helped but it is still not enough to allow a day a week off. They have Emily and need to spend weekends with her doing family things. Deliveries every other weekend cuts down their family time as well.
We have decided to take another leap of faith and hire additional help. This has been easier said than done but we have managed to find a few good people to help us in different ways. We have a new face at the Summerville Farmers Market. Chase will be helping out regularly at the Summerville Farmers Market and may help out some at the farm. We have also hired Orchid to help Hunter pack meat shares and market pre-orders at the farm.
We currently have 2 high school students that have been working for us on weekends so we could attend markets. Both Sydney and Max will continue to work for us through the summer and will be in charge of 2 new hires that we are bringing in from the local FFA chapter. Our plans are to have teams of 2 work 4 days and be off 4 days weekly. We want to provide a work opportunity for the kids but don't want them working their whole summer away.
The summer help should allow us time to make sales calls to existing restaurants as well as make sales calls to other restaurants in the area. Our goal is to serve more chefs in the Beaufort, Bluffton, and Hilton Head as well as additional chefs in our current coverage area. We are also looking at participating in an additional farmers market or two on a weekly basis.
Our silent farm partner of 16 years will retire from the State in mid September and begin working on the farm full time. This comes at the perfect time with school starting and the weather getting ready to turn cooler. Bubba will help with the daily operation of the farm but wants to leave the sales and delivery task to Jesse and me. Without a doubt there will be enough winter projects to keep all 3 of us busy.
The large hog pen project we anticipated having complete in 4 weeks is now behind schedule. We do have the center run built but need to finish the loading shoot. Jesse has 1 of the hog shades complete but has 7 more to build. The water assemblies are here and ready for us to put in the field. Bubba has the 8 individual pastures marked off and is ready to seperate them with electric fence. We can easily have 2 of the lots complete after a days work; the problem is finding a day that isn't already booked solid and complete them.
I headed out of state this past Friday to pick up some new breeding stock we purchased. We brought home two new boars; an old line Duroc and a Berkshire. The Duroc is known to put muscle on quickly while the Berkshire is known for the red color of the meat and its marbling. Both of these traits will fit in well with the meat quality of our Tamworths. We also brought home 4 Hampshire gilts for the breeding herd. Hampshires are known to be good, but protective, mothers. They have a larger number of pigs per litter than a Tamworth sow and normally wean an extra 2 or 3 pigs. We will keep some of the females off these breedings and breed them back to our Tamworth boar which allows us to expand our breeding herd considerably over the next 18 months. You can view a few pictures of the new breeding stock on our facebook page.
In Annies last weekly pre-order reminder, she mentioned that all of our feed is now non-GMO. We did receive FDA approval to label the feed non-GMO but are waiting for USDA to approve the label that must be on every package of meat we sell. We had hoped that this approval would come quickly but it seems that it will still be a few more weeks if they approve it at all. I don't understand why you can put all sorts of stuff in the feed you give the animals and don't have to label it, but ask to put a label that says what you don't use in your feed and everything changes. I'm still confident that this will be moving forward especially with the growing sentiment against GMO's amoungst a large number of American consumers.
We are working on the new prices reflecting the higher cost of the non GMO feed. We had provided some rough pricing estimates when we first announced this move. We are hoping that those estimates were a little high and that we will be able to make this move with a smaller price increase than first anticipated. Working out the new prices is taking more time than we expected but we still hope to have the new prices worked out and on the website by months end.
Eggs from our non-GMO fed hens are now available. The new egg price is $4.50 a dozen which is considerably less that we first thought we would have to charge.
Several people have signed up for a Holiday turkey before we moved to non-GMO. We will work out the new per pound price, change the website, and send out an email to the customers within the next couple of weeks. Since we don't ask for a deposit anyone that decides the price is too high can cancel their turkey at that time.
We will hold our annual Family Day on The Farm this coming October. The actual date hasn't been set but will as soon as a list of participants is obtained (they are hoping to secure a local chef or two). We will partner with the Low Country Food Bank with a goal of raising money for their kids feeding programs. The farm will provide the food and the food bank will handle the cooking and serving. 100% of the proceeds from the gate will go to the food bank. The Low Country Food Bank will set the admission price once everything has been scheduled and let us know how tickets can be purchased. This program provides backpacks with good healthy food choices for children from needy homes. There is a lot more hunger in the Low Country that any of us realize. I know this is a high goal but it would be great to have 400 or more visitors that day which will provide enough revenue to make a difference in our community for our kids.
We thank you for your continued support of our farm. Please spread the word of our move to non-GMO feed and let them know the quality of the items you are already purchasing from us.
Have a great May and a safe Memorial Day weekend.
Annie, Marc, Jesse, and Amy