On The Farm
What's Going On at the Farm
For October 2015
Fall Is In The Air
A lot of talk at farmers markets revolve around the weather and how things are on the farm. When I mention how dry it is I always get the "are you nuts" look. The midlands of South Carolina are in a severe drought even while the coast seems to be getting a good amount of rain. Farmers in Orangeburg that normally harvest 120 to 125 bushel per acre corn are harvesting 25 to 30 bushels. Fields of cotton outside of Manning that would normally be waist high or taller are a little over knee high. We abandoned the 14 acres of Pearl Millet and Sorghum Sudan that we planted at the new ground. The lack of rain allowed the weeds to grow but stunted the crop we were planning to harvest for winter cow feed.
The storms we are anticipating this weekend will help the situation but will bring too much rain too fast. We expect to have hog pastures that will pond and turn muddy; feeders will clog. The chicken pastures will be too wet to move the birds daily like we always do as will the turkey pastures. We're lucky not to have any sows that are close enough to give birth; moving them to the farrowing house would be tough and letting them farrow in the field would be suicide for the newborns. The excess moisture in the pastures will stop us from planting our winter grazing for about a week assuming we have several days of dry weather to dry the pastures out. Even with all of the trouble this heavy rain will cause, it is still a very much needed blessing for the farm.
The last of our hay was cut and baled a couple of weeks ago. We ended up cutting our Coastal field and a 10 acre pasture of Bahia. Normally we would have let the cows eat the Bahia field but decided to let it grow and cut it for hay; we need it to help get us through the winter months.
In a normal year we will plant 2 of our pastures in winter grazing for the cows. This year we decided to plant 3 pastures and our hay field in winter grazing due to our lack of hay. We were able to plant the hay field this week and will start planting the other fields are soon as we can get in them. We also planted a small field in grazing for the turkeys and another small field in grazing for some of our sows and boar.
The work on the market has been slow at best. We have put up a ceiling and completed 2 of the interior walls. We are hoping to complete another wall today and possible the last wall this weekend. That would leave us with installing new lights and staining or painting the room. It is very hard doing this type of project when the market is open 2 days a week. We only have Tuesday and Sunday morning available to do any work in the market and have to spend a good amount of time cleaning up the mess we made. Things should move quicker once the wood work is done.
Bubba was finally able to get the old farm truck running again. He replaced the water pump, computer, and thermostat. This will be a big time saver since the truck carries our 100 gallon fuel tank in the back that holds the diesel fuel for the tractors. We also use the truck to haul feed to the chickens at this farm and the hogs in pastures 2 miles away. I'm getting too old to lift 5 gallon cans of fuel over my head to put fuel in a tractor.
Our sows have been busy the past few months and our fields are full of pigs and hogs. This is allowing us to sell some BBQ hogs and a few whole and half hogs for the freezer. If interested please contact us and we will explain how purchasing whole animals work.
We have gotten some good reviews on our 2 new pork sausage flavors; Homestead Pork Sausage Links and our Onion Sausage. Both of these flavors are made using all organic seasonings. We are considering moving to more of these seasonings for some of our existing flavors but will take it 1 or 2 flavors at a time. The organic seasonings are more expensive but we are enjoying the fresh taste.
A few weeks ago we recieved 350 new laying hens from our Amish friends and are expecting another 150 in November. These birds have begun laying but will not supply what we need to meet demand. The birds left from our old flock will be going away in the next few days. Our flock of 1,200 birds will be reduced to 350 to 500 and will stay at this small number for the foreseeable future. The labor required to manage a flock of 1,000 plus birds is more than we can provide at this time. It takes 3 hours a day to gather, wash, and carton the eggs from the 1,200 birds we had. With Annie's sister expecting a baby in December and the difficulty we have had in purchasing 18 week old laying hens, we decided it would be best to drastically cut our flock. We will discuss the future of our egg enterprise in upcoming farm meetings.
Changing temperatures mean more care will be needed for the broiler chickens. The cool nights mean we will have to close the chicken tractors up in the evening and open them up in the morning. By November we will be putting propane heaters in the houses at night for all of the small birds and on nights of 32 and below for the large birds. In some respects raising chickens in the winter is easier than in the summer but it takes more time to do it and keep the birds comfortable.
We have another group of our red alternative broilers in the pasture. These birds should be ready to harvest in another 4 to 5 weeks. The last group brought us some very good reviews by market customers and chefs. With this group we are experimenting with a new pasture managment system. Pasture management is extremely important to us since the chickens are providing us the fertilizer for our cow pastures and hay field.
We are completly sold out of 18 lb and larger turkeys for the Holidays. We do have some 12 to 17 lb birds available but they are selling fast. If interested, go to our website and get on our waiting list. Annie will be confirming turkey orders in the next few weeks and will begin finalizing the pre-ordered turkey list. Delivery dates will be announced later in October or early November.
We appreciate everyone using the new ordering system on the website. This has made filling orders so much easier than the old method and seems to have cut down on some of the packing errors. Changes have been made to the system to try and make placing an order easier. Thanks so much for your feedback. We are planning on adding some new pages in the future that might be of interest along with some updated pictures.
Thanks again for your interest and support of Keegan-Filion Farm. We look forward to seeing you at a local farmers market or at the farm soon.
Annie & Marc