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OCTOBER ON THE FARM

Finally woke up this morning to some cooler temperatures.  It’s obvious that we weren’t the only ones to enjoy the break from the heat, all the animals were a lot more active and most of the chickens spent a good part of the day outside instead of heading in their houses late in the morning.  It’s not cool enough for the cows to stay out in the pastures all day but they are spending less time in the shade and staying out a little more.  It may sound strange but the cows really do prefer the winters and spend most of the day loafing under the trees during the hot months of summer.

The cooling weather and the shortening of the days tells us we better get going on getting everything ready for winter.  We actually started getting ready a couple of months ago but have more to do.  The new curtains we are installing on the chicken houses need to be finished in the next 3 or 4 weeks.  We have 4 houses complete and need to get 2 more done to be ready; an additional 2 if we want to have a couple of houses set aside “just in case”.

In one of the chicken brooder houses we still need to install winch lines for the feeders and the waterers.  We’ve had winches installed in the other house for over a month and really like how easy it makes adjusting the height of the waterers and feeders.

This week we will be building a platform to hold one of our 85 gallon hog water tanks and hope to have it in the pen, with the water tank installed and ready to go, by the end of this week.  Once completed we can move the first of 2 groups out of the farrowing house and into the grow lot; the 20 pigs will be 8 weeks old next week and ready to be moved out.  There is another group of about 20 pigs that are 4 weeks old and will be moved into the same lot 4 weeks from now.

About 3 weeks ago we started disking the 7 acre field in preparation of planting winter rye grass and oats for winter grazing for the cows; we finished planting the field last week.  A couple weeks ago we bush hogged the 12 acre field in preparation for planting winter rye grass.  Last week we planted the field and ran the bush hog through it again.  We mowed the field the second time just to put a light coating of grass over the seed.  This helps keep the birds from eating the seed and acts like a compost bed to help hold moisture when it rains.  This week we are bush hogging the remaining 2 fields and will plant them early next week.  As we did in the 12 acre field, we will mow it a second time to put a light layer of clippings over the seed.  Once these 2 fields are planted, we will have planted roughly 28 acres to help us cut down on hay this winter. 

Later this week we will wean the pigs off the last sow that is in the farrowing house.  The sow will be moved back into the sow group she was with prior to being moved into the house.  Though she will come back into heat 5 to 7 days after the pigs have been removed, we will not breed her for at least 30 to 45 days.  The pigs will be moved into the nursery pens, fed a special starter feed, wormed, and monitored to insure they are healthy and ready to be moved to the grow lots when they are 8 weeks old.

We are not scheduled to have anymore pigs until late November.  This provides us time to give the farrowing house a complete deep clean and to make some changes we have been discussing for a while.  Just like when you build a house, you notice things you wished you had done differently.  Though we really like the farrowing house, because of the way we divided the pens, and the fact that we use hay for bedding, it is hard to clean and disinfect between sow groups.  We are discussing several different ways to separate the pens and will make the changes between next week and the 3rd week in November.  We are also planning on running a trial using wood shavings as bedding instead of hay in 1 of the 5 farrowing pens.  The thinking is that the wood shavings will clump when wet and be easier to clean daily. We’ll analyze the cost of shavings vs hay and how the sow and pigs perform in both before making a decision on which way to go.

Annie and Amy picked up the first load of Thanksgiving turkeys from the processing plant.  The turkeys have been tagged with the customer’s name, logged in our records, and put in one of the walk-in freezers.  In the next week or so, Amy and Annie will head back to Kingstree to pick up the remaining turkeys and follow the same logging procedure before putting these birds in one of the freezers.  At this time of year our limited freezer space is a major problem.  We have looked at a budget for an additional walk-in freezer but a price tag of $30,000 makes it hard to justify just so we can store turkeys for a few weeks a year.  We’ll continue looking at options and try to come up with a solution before next fall.

If you have a turkey reserved, you should have received a request from Annie that you confirm your reservation.  We don’t ask for deposits but do ask that you confirm your turkey order.  Turkeys that have not been confirmed will be put up for sale.  Pastured Pantry will notify you of when turkeys will be delivered to your home.  Those that have listed the farm as they’re pick-up point can pick them up on Monday’s or Friday’s when the market here on the farm is open.

Pastured Pantry has been extremely busy the past several weeks.  Tela and Amy have needed 3 days to make all of the home deliveries every other week.  The current delivery schedule has been set up to coincide with our by-weekly dairy runs but is leaving little time to get all the orders packed and invoiced.  Jesse and I are more than willing to help out but have been tied up keeping the farm going and doing all of the chores and repairs required.  In the next couple of weeks we will meet and discuss options to help make the process easier for everyone.  Of all of the problems a farm can have, having too many orders to pack on any given home delivery week, is a great problem to have.  Thank you for your support of this program.

Have you seen the new dinner options on the website?  We’ve put together 6 packages that include almost everything needed to make a meal for the family (Pizza Night, Fall Dinner Party, Mexican Fiesta, Bare Necessities, Picnic at the Park, and Sunday Brunch).  Check them out and let us know what you think. 

If you’re following us on Facebook or Instagram you’ve probably heard about our Keegan-Filion Farm Fans Recipe Book that we’re putting together.  Plans are, when completed, to access the recipes digitally on our website.  It’s an ambitious project but one that we think everyone will enjoy participating in.  Don’t be shy, email us your favorite recipe and get it entered into our recipe book. 

In years past we’ve held an annual event called Family Day on the Farm.  Unfortunately, Covid and a lack of staff have left us unable to continue holding an event like that.  Planning and preparing for the event took weeks and we needed people to man the store, run the hay ride, prepare the food, and be stationed at the chick brooder and farrowing house to explain everything to our visitors.  During the daylong event we could always expect to see 300 or more visitors come out to the farm with many coming out annually.  We’ve missed hosting this event and decided last spring to hold an open house twice a year to show our appreciation to our customers and to provide opportunities for our customers to bring their families out and see how their food is raised.

The fall open house will be held on Friday November 12 from 10 am to 5 pm and on Saturday November 13 from 10 am to 4 pm.  During the open house you will receive a 10% discount on everything in the store except for the Happy Cow Creamery items.  We will be sampling our Happy Cow Creamery cheeses and other items.  We’re planning on having some fresh apples available along with all of our meats and Rio Bertillini products.  If you’ve ordered a turkey and want to pick it up while here, we’ll be happy to get it for you.  We’ll also have a few other turkeys available if we haven’t sold out by then; sorry the 10% discount doesn’t apply to the turkeys.  While here we invite you to walk around the farm, look at the animals, smell the fresh air, ask questions, and just slow down and relax; make sure the kids get to hold a baby chick; we’ll be more than happy to get one for you.  This isn’t a fall festival; there are no hay rides, pumpkin patches, or agritainment, just a laid back day in the country and an opportunity to see what happens on a real working farm.

Well I guess by now you can see just how busy and crazy it is this time of year. But as crazy as October has been, it doesn’t hold a candle to what we have in store for us in November.  The week prior to Thanksgiving is known around here as “hell week”.  The week is full of long days which include the normal daily chores, loading chickens for processing, taking the chickens to process, taking hogs to process, making restaurant deliveries, and making about twice as many home deliveries as normal.  Also in November we have a visit from a Clemson Extension Agent to discuss ways to increase our pastures carrying capacity and look at potential cattle loading facilities, and a visit from a longtime friend and chef to discuss how we can work together in 2022.  It’s going to be a month to remember for sure.

We thank you for being a part of our farm family.  Your support and encouragement mean more to everyone here than you know.  We look forward to seeing your recipes and getting them entered into our recipe book.  Hopefully you can make plans to be with us during the open house and we can all put a face with a name and get to know each other; that has been one of the greatest things about the open house, we actually have the time to talk and get to know each other.

Have a great month!

Annie, Marc, Amy & Jesse

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