A note of thanks- At the start of a new year we are excited to share with you our plans for growth, but first it seems fitting to thank our customers for supporting us through this past year. It is only because you choose to spend your "food dollar" with us that we are able to look forward to another season. Having customers that are so invested in what we do here makes what we do so very enjoyable. So, thank you!
A need for seasons- Since we started farming five years ago we have become more keenly aware of the seasons. Much of our farm management is dictated by the seasons. For example we only raise broilers during the summer months when the grass is growing and the bugs are abundant, as these things are such a large part of their diet. We time the breeding and farrowing of our sows during the more mild spring and fall months. We plant forage such as chicory that grows well into the winter months to provide feed for our pastured hens. While it is often frustrating farming in a place with four seasons, one benefit for the farmer must be noted- forced vacation every winter! For most farmers, ourselves included, we find it difficult to slow down, but 15 degree temperatures and inches of snow makes the decision to stay indoors easier. It is during these months that we evaluate the past year and formulate a plan for the coming season. We look at our management systems to develop better and more efficient ways of caring for our animals. We evaluate our marketing efforts to see how successful they were while also considering new ways of distributing our products. We look at what it costs us to raise the animals that produce our products and the time we spend caring for them to see that our prices reflect the full cost of production, balancing our needs with the needs of our customers. We look at each enterprise (species) one at a time to see what areas we need to grow in and what things we shoud cut back on. At the end of these discussions is a roadmap for the season. New ways to purchase- *CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) *Bundles *Bulk The plan for 2010- While we have raised hogs for several years, we have neve produced enough to consistently meet the needs of our customers. This year, we will. Hogs are great foragers, gleaning much of their diet from the pasture. We plant chicory, turnips and pumpkins in their pastures for them to self harvest later in the year. Our goal with hogs is simple- to raise happy hogs that produce wonderfully flavored pork with low outside inputs (grain). Our pork products may be purchased at the various markets we attend as well as through our CSA, in bundles or in bulk. We have also raised cattle for several years, but just like pork, we have never had enough to meet the needs of our customers on a consistent basis. Our beef herd has increased four-fold this year. Our cattle are raised solely on pasture, without any grain. It is good and good for you! Our beef is available at market, though our CSA, in bundles and in bulk. In past years we have raised enough broilers during the summer months to meet the needs of our customers throughout the year, but unfortunately this came with a high freezer storage bill. This year we will raise fewer birds and offer a "stock up sale" in late fall with the hopes that customers will plan in advance for their winter needs. We have come to love checking our email the day after Thanksgiving. We have so many wonderful compliments on our birds waiting there for us! We agree- they are fabulous. So what makes them so much better? Plenty of lush pasture- it's that simple! We will begin taking orders for turkeys when we begin raising them in July. The hens, all 550 of them, remain on pasture through the winter months. With special forages that grow well into the fall, these stockpiled treasures provide green matter for the hens when nothing else is growing, producing rich orange yolks. We provide a shelter for them to get out of the wind, a water heater to keep their water from freezing and our guard dogs, Olie and Savannah, to keep them safe from hungry predators. In 2010 customers can purchase our eggs at market or through our CSA. The 2009 season will be our first and last year for waterfowl. We did not enjoy raising the ducks and geese, were not happy with the processing and found that on such a small scale, it was simply not profitable. While sheep may have been what led us to farming, they will not be what keeps us farming. While chemical management has become the standard of lamb production in this country, we refused to use them as a crutch for our flock. Despite trying every management tool and alternative homeopathic treatment, we were not successful. Being believers in the saying "if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well", when we finally admitted that we could not raise them well, we sold off our flock in 2009. Although it will be strange to go through a spring without lambs running around, we are excited about what we can do with the added pasture and time that we will have without the sheep. Market Schedule- Bloomington Winter Farmers Market- Saturdays, 9-12, January 23rd through April Indianapolis Winter Farmers Market- Saturdays, 9-12:30, now through April Bardstown Road Farmers Market (Louisville)- January 16th, February 13th, March 13 (10-12). Beginning in April, every Saturday, 8-12.