April 2017 Newsletter
What's Going On at the Farm
For April 2017
I guess we are "old folk" after all. For a couple of weeks we have been working on giving the farm a spring cleaning. I know a lot of the older people used to do a major house cleaning in the spring. They would clean everything including taking the mattress outside and beating the stuffing out. Once done beating it they would let it air out a few hours before bringing it back into the house and putting it back on the bed. Not a part of the house wasn't touched by the time the cleaning was over. We aren't that bad but we still do some extra spring cleaning chores.
Spring cleaning on the farm means burning scrap wood that is too small to use on our projects, throwing away empty jugs or cleaning them and reusing them if possible. The same holds true for 5 gallon buckets, we clean them and put them back in use to carry feed or store things in. Totally unusable items are taken to the dump and discarded. Limbs are burned, down trees are cut up and used as firewood or burned. Ideally this type of cleaning is done on a daily basis but we all know how that goes.
Jesse and I spent 2 days in one of the chicken brooders. We cleaned the ceiling with bleach and disinfected the water equipment, the propane heaters, and walls. Old shavings were taken out and put in the compost pile (shavings are removed between every flock that goes in the brooder and new shavings put down). The fans were all cleaned and the feed dust was blown off to make sure we are getting the best air flow possible. We installed a new florescent light fixture and made sure everything was in working order and ready for the next flock which will be here in a few days. Come fall, we will do it all over again and make sure everything is ready for winter.
Bubba and Hunter tackled the tractor shed. After completing the rebuild of the John Deere 900HC, all the tools had to be cleaned and put away. Blocks and jacks that were used when the tractor was split in half also needed to be put aside and will be used when we begin work on the 2355. The work tables we set up were cleaned off and taken down. Everything that didn't belong under the tractor shed was moved to where it was supposed to be or thrown out. When I walked over to the shed to ask Bubba a question, I saw the John Deere 2355 had already been moved into the shed, turned sideways taking up 2 bays, and waiting for us to begin working on her. I'll pick up the degrease tonight and start the project in the next few days.
Bubba and I are planting sweet corn in a field that was used for turkeys last year. We chose to plant Peaches and Cream which is a yellow and white corn mix. This type of corn has become very popular over the past few years and is a really good sweet corn. We'll make several plantings a week or two apart to try and lengthen the harvest window. Since we don't use any insecticides on our corn we can expect to see ear worms if the corn is harvested too late in the summer.
I planted part of the garden with my nephew Elijah. We planted tomatoes, both heritage and modern cultivates, squash, cukes, green beans, and butter beans. We still want to plant watermelon, okra, pumpkins and more green beans. Should be fun picking with the grand kids and nephews.
Work continues on our winter project. The new brooder is complete and is now in use. We started working on a new pasture house and should have it complete by weeks end. That will give us 4 of the 8 houses needed to complete this phase of the project. We are making plans to double the number of poultry pastures to allow 8 weeks rest between flocks but doubt we will be able to build the additional pastures until next winter.
Last week we sold 5 of our older sows to an upstate farmer. We are culling the older sows in order to make room for new replacement gilts that we will be bringing in soon. We are very excited about making this change in breeding stock and expect larger litters and excellent meat quality.
We hired 2 additional FFA students to help with rebuilding our sow lots. They are working after school for the next few weeks and all day once school is out or until the project is over. They will dig post holes for 4x4 posts, pound in T-posts, install hog panels, and string barbed wire. Once the lots are rebuilt they will run underground water lines and build new hog shades. Once the sow lots have been finished they will head over to the other farm and help build new hog growing lots or pastures. This ground is now being prepared for planting so really won't be ready for them to run electric fence for several more weeks fitting perfectly into our schedule. Bubba will work with them while Jesse and I continue building chicken houses. Stay tuned to Facebook for picture updates on these projects.
After closely looking at our work and delivery schedules, it has become apparent that we can't finish our winter project in the length of time scheduled. With farmers markets season on us, the amount of time Jesse and I can work on the new pasture houses has been cut to 2-1/2 days every 2 weeks. At this rate we will still be working on the houses come next winter which is totally unacceptable. To eliminate this problem we have decided to hire someone to make our restaurant deliveries for the summer and occasionally stand in for us at the Summerville Farmers Market. His name is Ian Dillinger. He lives only a few miles from the farm and is starting an organic vegetable farm of his own. The additional money he will make by driving and working markets for us will help him transition from an off farm job to full time farmer, and the work he will do for us will allow us to concentrate on the important project we are working on. He will start deliveries for us in early June.
We have a visit scheduled for tomorrow morning from a photographer taking photos for an upcoming cook book by Chef Chris Stewart from The Glass Onion. Chef Stewart purchases chicken from us weekly and has used our turkeys in the past. We also supply him with all of the pork for his Belle's Country Patties and Links that he supplies to all the Callie's Biscuit locations. If your in the area for lunch or dinner, stop by and tell them we sent you; you won't be disappointed in the food they serve.
Next Wednesday we have a visit scheduled from the SC Department of Agriculture. They will be inspecting our farm and market and will determine if we meet the criteria for being a Certified South Carolina Roadside Market. Except for the Amish jellies and jams, Larry's organic coffee, and Happy Cow products, we raise everything we sell in the market and hopefully will add a few vegetable items this year. We have had the market here at the farm for over 10 years and decided it was time to take this step. We have our fingers crossed.
With the farmers market season in full swing we would like to remind everyone that farm market pre-orders are due by noon on Thursday and that we pack orders on a first come, first serve basis. We try to do all of the pre order packing on Thursday to allow us the time on Friday to pack the other items we will take to the market as well as get our trucks packed and serve the customers that buy from us at the farm.
We would also like to remind everyone that has a standing milk order with us to please send us an order so we know you will be at the market to pick up your milk. Several times this winter and during the first few weeks of the market, we have had to bring pre-ordered milk home because no one came to get it. We have a very limited market for milk except for the farmers market. If you can't come to pick up your milk, let us know and we will try to sell it at the market rather than throw it away.
We are planning to hold our annual Family Day on the Farm this fall; the date has yet to be set. Unlike the past few years, we are planning to make this years event free admittance. We will supply the food to a local charity or organization for them to cook and serve. Attendees will be able to purchase the food from the charity with all proceeds going to the charity or organization. We feel by doing it this way, everyone will be able to afford to attend. We will post updates in future newsletters and on Facebook.
Thank you for your continued support of our farm. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you every Saturday at the farmers markets.
Annie, Marc, Amy & Jesse