September 2016 Newsletter
What's Going On at the Farm
For September 2016
Things are really beginning to get cranked up on the farm, as if they weren't busy enough. By now everyone knows about the upcoming Family Day on the Farm Fall Festival that we will be hosting on Sunday October 2. This is our 4th annual Family Day on the Farm and the first that we have held in the fall rather than the spring. It is also the first event that we haven't prepared the food ourselves, and the first event we have held that 100% of the proceeds go to charity; the Low Country Food Bank feed the children program.
I guess the feed the children program is important to us for several reasons and some of the reasons are very personal. Children don't have a choice of being born well off or poor. They don't have a choice of being in a home with both parents or one that is broken through divorce. They don't have a choice of being the son or daughter of an alcoholic or drug abuser, or any other choices regarding the family they were born in. And they don't have the ability to go to work or do anything else to change their situation at this young age; they are totally dependent on the care provided by adults.
The farm often donates food like chicken legs and wings along with ground beef and sausages but the food bank needs more, they need cash to help implement programs, like the back pack program, and get the food to where its needed. Please help us raise funds and make some children lives just a little better.
Tickets can be purchased at www.lowcountryfoodbank.org.; we have a link on both our Facebook page and our website. Tickets are $25.00 for adults an $15.00 for children 6 and up. The ticket price includes food prepared by Craig Deihl (Cypress), Tito Marino (Monza), Brian Waters (Saltus), and Penn Ten Eyke (Sweet Grass). Music by the Sometimes Later Band from Beaufort (John Denver, James Taylor style music), hay ride farm tour, pumpkin patch,and an opportunity to walk around the farm and see how your food is produced. We will also have the market open at the farm in case you decide to take home some meat or possibly purchase some and donate it to the food bank.
Along with preparations for the Fall Festival, we are busy preparing to plant winter grazing, cut the last of the seasons hay, and do the farm repairs that just seem to be required day after day. Just last week we had a blow out on a trailer (decided to replace all the tires), had a tire separate on the F-250 that we use to pull the stock trailer (replaced the tire and redid the brakes), and had a tire separate on the Isuzu refrigerated truck. We also had problems with the Thermo King unit on the Dodge. Whenever you have machinery, you can expect to spend a lot of time and money repairing it and you can also expect everything to breakdown at once.
Not sure what it is with the 2 small groups of hogs we have in the field next to the house, but it seems like almost every day we have to repair the electric fence that keeps the 2 groups separated. A couple of trees that fell on our barb wire fence in the back field during the first tropical storm still need to be cut off the fence and the fence repaired. Luckily this field is being disked and will be planted in winter rye so we have several weeks before we will have to turn cows back in.
Bubba tore down the John Deere 900HC with plans of replacing the worn pistons and rings. While tearing the tractor down, he found that the crank shaft was worn and needs to be repaired or replaced. This will require the tractor being broken in half, the crank shaft being taken to a specialty machine shop for repair, and an additional several days to a few weeks to get in all the parts and get the tractor back together. This will require us using the 2355 to move the chicken tractors every day. Not a big deal but the 2355 is a 68 hp tractor and can pull the chicken tractors too fast if not careful.
Jesse has been working on the hog farrowing house remodel project when he has had the time. He has almost all of the crates finished but still has the rewiring and replumbing of the house yet to go. We have 5 sows and gilts that will need to use this house in the next few weeks. I doubt the project will be completed in time forcing us to work around the sows and their litters.
We had been putting a weekly listing of restaurants that we made deliveries to on Facebook every Thursday evening or Friday morning. We have gotten lax and missed the listing for a couple of weeks but Annie did post this weeks deliveries Friday morning.
The restaurants seem to be enjoying our beef. The Lot got a whole cow 4 weeks ago and has ordered another one from us; we will deliver half this coming Thursday and the other half the following Thursday. Sweet Grass on Dawtaw Island got a half steer 3 weeks ago and is serving the different cuts nightly on their menu. Butcher and Bee will begin using our ground beef for their hamburgers starting in early October; the beef is aging now. Down in Beaufort, Old Bull Tavern will also begin serving our ground beef on their hamburgers beginning in early October. We also have interest from several other restaurants but need to make sure we can supply their desired cuts without taking away from our farm market customers before we begin selling them It was our farm market customers that have supported us with their beef purchases for the past 10 years; we won't forget that.
Farm, a new restaurant in Bluffton will be opening in the next 2 to 4 weeks. Farm is owned by a farmer, Ryan Williamson, and chef, Brandon Carter. The menu will be constantly changing with food supplied by several small farms in the area including us. At this time we will be supplying some of their chicken, turkey, and pork requirements but may also supply some beef. Make sure to check Farm out when in the Bluffton area.
We have been processing a lot of chicken since the first of September. The heat in August had their growth rate slowed a little and forced us to miss a couple of processing, or at least put them off a week. Since the first of September this all changed and we had to schedule 2 processing in 1 week for a total of 800 birds and an additional 300 birds last week. We will have to process again this Monday and expect at least 300 to 350 birds on that trailer. We also processed 80 turkeys the first week of September. These turkeys dressed 30 plus pounds and will be used for our sausages and ground turkey.
Hogs continue to grow slow because of the heat. We are seeing a little more eating during the day time but the majority of their eating is done at night while they lay in the shade or in the wallows during the day. It still appears that their growth is running 3 to 4 weeks behind normal and may have us running low of pork for the next few weeks. I've checked with several farmer friends all the way to Virginia and they are experiencing the same thing. Its just been too hot for too long.
With Thanksgiving just 2 months away, we are beginning to be concerned with the weights of our birds and have our fingers crossed that they all remain healthy. Unlike some farms, we give our customers an opportunity to tell us the size bird they need. We make every effort to grow them to the required size but don't have anyway of knowing if we hit the right size until after the bird is processed and weighed. If we were wrong, and the bird is either too big or too small, we can't put the bird back to grow more or cut parts off to make it weigh less; the bird is what it is at that point. This is probably the most stressful time of year for us with the stress level increasing every week until the week of Thanksgiving and we have all the birds delivered. We will begin processing turkeys for thanksgiving in the next few weeks.
Bubba retired from his off farm job last week and will start full time on the farm this week; we're excited about this. Because we all have different skill sets, we decided it would be best to let each of us concentrate on the areas of the farm that we know best. We are hoping to be a little more efficient, which will provide us some extra time to complete projects and to finish new projects on schedule. We are also setting regular business hours and plan to stick to them. We realize that there are days that we will need to work until 9 pm but that should be the exception, not the norm as it has been. And lastly we are changing our chicken processing day from Monday to Wednesday. This move alone means that we can actually take Sundays off since we won't have to spend 4 or 5 hours loading chickens and hogs. We have the high school workers that can feed and move chicken tractors which will allow us to go to church,check up on everything, and then relax for the day; Jesse and I are hoping to do a little fishing a couple times a month.
We announced last month that Amy is expecting again and is due in mid February. We found out this week that it will be a boy. We have told Jesse to make sure the insurance is paid up; I see go karts and dirt bikes in their future.
We thank you for your continued support of our farm. We hope that you can make it out to the farm on October 2. Its not every day, or every farm, that opens the gate and lets the farm be yours for the day. come on out and enjoy yourself while helping those less fortunate.
Annie, Marc, Amy & Jesse