Happy Summer! We hope this finds you well- enjoying the springtime temperatures in July. The pastures have responded well to all the rain and sunny days we have had recently and the animals are all doing their part to utilize the lush grasses. We are in full swing this summer with 1600 day old broiler chicks in the brooder as well as another 1600 broilers on pasture, along with 950 hens , 60 hogs, and around 20 head of cattle. Market Schedule- Indy- Broad Ripple Market, Saturdays, 8-12:30 Bloomington- Bloomington Community Market, Saturdays, 8-1 Louisville- Bardstown Road Market, Saturdays, 8-12 Schacht Farm products around town- Bloomington- Stop in to Upland Brewing Company to enjoy dinner prepared using meat from our farm as well as from other local producers. Louisville-Plan to attend Mayan Market Mondays this summer atMayan Café to sample some of the creations prepared by chef/owner Bruce Ucan, using our meats as well as those of other local producers. Can’t make it on a Monday? That’s ok…go anytime. You will find that Mayan Café is committed to using local products every day. Indianapolis- Not able to get to the market for eggs this week? Stop in to Goose the Market where we keep them well stocked with our fabulous eggs. While there, check out the recently opened Enoteca. Gobble, Gobble, Gobble... I love each species we raise (now that the geese are gone!)…but all for very different reasons. With turkeys, I love their incredible instinct to find their own food. To see a flock of turkeys literally mow down a field lush with grass and legumes is quite impressive. Not only are our turkeys good grazers but they are also quite amusing, as their curious nature gets them in all kinds of trouble. But... we don’t raise them for entertainment or to keep the pasture mowed, we raise them for the end result- fabulous flavor for the centerpiece of our holiday meals. Find out more about how we raise the birds and how to order here. Additional CSA shares available in September- I absolutely love the CSA model. I love making my list of goodies to hold back for each share. I love lining up the insulated totes and going down the row adding a nice slab of baby back ribs to each, then back the other way, dropping in a well marbled flat iron steak, then back again adding a pound of flavorful jowl bacon (my favorite!). Packing the shares, I think about the members we grow for, the critical role they play in what we do here and the connection we help to forge in knowing the source of what nourishes their bodies. Interested in becoming a part of the CSA? We are now filling shares for those beginning in September. Find out more here. Egg Cartons...please!!! With 950 hens calling Schacht Farm home....we have eggs, around 400 dozen a week to be exact! With our Indiana egg license we are allowed to reuse egg cartons but unfortunately we never have enough cartons for all the eggs. So, before heading out the door to market on Saturday morning, grab that stash of cartons. We are happy to accept cartons that hold a dozen eggs. It is fine if they have store labeling, either cardboard and styrofoam, as long as they are clean. "If you eat meat, something had to die." This is a line that many customers have heard me say over the past few years. In the past month I have taken 1600 broilers, 3 steers and 27 hogs to be slaughtered. I have a lot of time while transporting them to mull through the issues surrounding the taking of a life to nourish our bodies. Even before we started raising animals for meat, I decided that the only way I could eat meat with a clear conscience was to know that it had a good life. For this reason our customers will hear us talk about how we care for the animals we raise, they will see pictures of them on our table at market and on our website and they are invited to open farm day to enjoy time with the animals. We base this idea of openness and transparency on what we looked and listened for in farmers when we were still customers. Every few weeks I get an email, phone call or question at market inquiring about how our animals are killed. Folks always seem reluctant to ask the question and I am always quick to thank them for caring enough to ask. It lets us know that they are conscious consumers and to us, as folks who cared enough about the issue to change our professions and lifestyle in order to farm, it is a welcomed conversation. Below I will lay out how each species we raise is transported and slaughtered. My hope in this is that it will answer the question that many customers have cared enough to wonder about but have not yet asked. Chickens and Turkeys- The chickens we raise are butchered around 2 ˝ months old. The turkeys are 5 months at time of processing. Chickens go to sleep when the sun goes down, so we go out just before dark and load the birds in to crates and place them in our stock trailer. They sleep through the night and I leave at around 3:30 a.m. the next morning to take them to Illinois (the closest custom USDA inspected facility to us). The processing facility is owned and operated by an Amish family and is located on their farm. I arrive as the sun is coming up and the chickens are waking up, something I believe minimizes the stress to the birds. The birds are unloaded by hand, inverted and placed in cones. The main artery is cut and the blood drains out. They die in less than a minute. From there the feathers are removed, then innards and finally they are cooled and packaged. A note about how I choose the processor we work with- before I ever brought a bird there to be processed, I showed up unannounced one morning and walked right in the back door. I figured if they had something to hide about their methods, I would see it. Thankfully, the best word I can use to describe their actions is “reverent”. The workers were calm and quiet and handled the birds with care. I watched for several minutes before they noticed me. I asked for a tour then scheduled my processing dates for the season. Hogs- Our hogs are pastured heritage breeds that grow more slowly than conventional hogs. They are butchered at around 8 months. Our hogs are loaded right out of the pasture. We simply pull the truck and trailer into the pasture, open the trailer door, pour out some feed in the trailer and close the door after they walk in. We generally take 10-14 hogs at a time. The hogs are processed at a facility in Celestine, about an hour and a half away. It is a small, family run processing facility. While there may be processors closer to us, we have a good relationship with these folks and trust that the meat we get back is always meat from animals we produced. The hogs have never seemed to be all that bothered by being in the trailer so we take them either late on Sunday evening or early Monday morning. The hogs are unloaded, weighed and put in a stall with water until processing. They are brought into a room where they are quickly and calmly killed- more specifically for those who will later ask, they are shot in the head. Cattle- Our cattle are grassfed only (no grain!) and are processed between 20-22 months of age, generally in the late spring and late fall. The cattle are used to being rotated to new pastures, grazing all over the farm. At processing time, we rotate them to a small paddock and funnel them into a chute and into the trailer. We generally take 3 at a time to the same processor we work with when processing pork. Cattle don’t seem to calm down in the trailer near as much as the hogs, so we like to load them early in the morning and take them right to the processors so they don’t have the stress of being in the trailer or an unfamiliar stall at the processors overnight. The cattle are killed in the same manner as the hogs. I think food tastes better when you know the story of how it came to be. In the case of our products, I hope knowing that the animals were raised in an environment where they were free to express their species-specific behaviors as well as treated humanely at processing time by folks who consider their well-being allows you to enjoy dinner with a clear conscience.