March 2017 Newsletter
What's Going On at the Farm
For March 2017
Realizing that spring is coming and the farm market season is beginning soon, our focus has been on completing as much of the winter project as possible. Due to the size of this years project, we knew there was no way to complete it, but had to have about half done by early April in order to finish by June. I think we are pretty close to being on schedule. The new brooder building is up, electricity has been run, and the propane lines have been installed. When installing the propane lines the installer found a problem with the 2 new heaters and took them to the shop to fix; they will be reinstalled early next week allowing us to move chicks in later in the week. We have started painting the exterior of the building and will have it done in the next day or two time permitting.
We are continuing with our equipment repair projects. The John Deere 900HC is back together and running after a complete motor overhaul. We are replacing the oil pump and the seat but the tractor is running. The oil pump will be here next Monday and installed. At that point the tractor will be back in use daily.
We are preparing for the clutch and brake job on the John Deere 2355. This will requiring breaking the tractor in half to get at the clutch. We also have a PTO issue with this tractor that we will address while the tractor is broken apart. While the tractor is down we will also move the tires in and narrow the tractor up to fit the equipment we use with it. Hopefully we can have the tractor back up and running in 2 weeks after we get started. The major amount of time will be spent waiting for the parts to come in since we can't order them until we are sure of what we need.
With 3 refrigerator trucks to contend with, it seems that something is always broke. The largest truck has been at the shop for 4 weeks while they try and determine why it doesn't have power and where the engine skip is coming from. Jesse put new belts on the smaller Isuzu yesterday and will do an oil change soon. Fingers crossed, we haven't had any problems with old green since we had new U joints installed a few weeks ago.
One of the things that has made this farm successful is the people. I don't have a mechanically inclined bone in my body while Bubba can fix most anything; Jesse is learning fast and isn't afraid to try anything. Bubba wants to be on the farm all day and doesn't want to do farm markets which I like doing, or making deliveries which Jesse enjoys; Annie handles the books. We all know our strengths and are not afraid to admit our weaknesses. That is what makes a strong team no matter what business the company is in but is vitally important in a small business like this farm.
By the time you read this newsletter we will have processed the last of the Cornish Rock Cross chickens; from here on out everything we process will be our red broilers. We have a good amount of chicken breasts, thighs, legs, and wings in the freezer that came from the last few processings of Cornish Rocks. These should last us until mid April or so. We also processed a large number of birds that we will use to make our ground chicken and chicken sausages.
If your wanting a turkey for the Holidays, please order it now. By the end of March we will have to have our turkey order placed with the hatchery for the year; this order must include Holiday birds as well as the turkeys we need for ground turkey and turkey sausage. A lack of storage space at the packing plant means that I will only be able to process what we can store here at the farm or take directly to the customers. We have very limited space here at the farm so will not be able to order a large number of extra turkeys to serve customers that wait until September and October to order for the Holidays. I will estimate the number of birds we will need and keep my fingers crossed that we will have enough for everyone. Please order on our website today if you haven't already done so.
We are signing up for our second quarter, 3 month only, meat share. The drops begin in April and run through June. We will have sign up for both 3 month and 6 month shares beginning in June. Please let us know if this is of interest to you. Those that have signed up will be seeing their Pay Pal invoices in the next week or two.
One of the things I have always wanted to do was to build a strong market at the farm. Up until this year we have only offered our pastured meats, Happy Cow products, and our Amish jellies for sale in the market. This year we will plant a field of Peaches and Cream sweet corn that will be sold at the on-farm market only. We can't be sure if it will be raised organically or not since corn is a large user of nitrogen but we can assure you that we will raise it sustainably and not use Round Up or other chemical weed and grass killers or insecticides. We may also raise and offer a few other vegetables for sale but this will be on a limited basis. All of this hinges on the deer cutting us some slack this year and finding somewhere other than our garden and corn field to eat.
The success of the market at the farm is very important to me. One of the most important goals of Annies and mine has always been to be a part of this community and to help the community whenever and however possible. Every day a few hundred cars pass this farm. They see animals, green grass, and, at times, vegetables. We have a sign out front that says who we are and what we raise. The people that do stop and come to the store often leave because our prices are considerably higher than what they would pay at the local IGA or Foodland. We can't compete with 40 lbs of leg quarters for $20.00; the local community can't afford pastured, antibiotic free, meat. The local farmers market in Walterboro is known as a voucher market; a majority of the customers purchase their fresh vegetables using govt supplied vouchers; when the vouchers are used up, or when the redeeming period has expired, the customers go back to purchasing at the grocery store because they can't afford the market prices.
What we can do is provide high quality, sustainably grown, vegetables and that is where the sweet corn comes in. As the cars drive by they will see the corn growing. A sign out front will tell them when the corn is ready. With the gate open, we will set up a self serve table and sell the corn at a reasonable price on an honor system basis. If we can provide even just a small change in our neighbors eating habits, it will be a success. You never know, this may grow into something that will surprise all of us and be more successful than we could have ever dreamed. But right now we will settle for helping to get good, healthy, fresh food to one neighbor at a time.
We will be hosting a tour of the farm on Monday March 27 for the Farm to Table class of the Culinary Institute. We always look forward to Chef Carmels class and their fall and spring visits.
The Summerville Farmers Market will open for the 2017 season on Saturday April 8. The hours will be 8 until 1. This year the market will close for the year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving like it did up until 3 years ago when they extended the season until Christmas. Jesse, Annie, and Hunter will man our booth at this market this year.
The Port Royal Market is open every Saturday, year round. The hours are 9 until noon. Marc mans this booth and is helped by a local girl, Faith.
Thanks again for your continued support of our farm. We look forward to seeing you at the markets and always like hearing your comments. If you have some extra prayer time this month, please keep the farm in mind and pray for some much needed rain.
Annie, Marc, Amy, & Jesse