September 2017

Where have I been?

Working.  When I started this year, my goal was to figure out how to have it be more sustainable.  Not in the ecological context, but in the my-life-is-too-crazy context.  Why am I beating myself over the head about all of this?

Mama and one of our 2017 calves

Back in May I made the decision to really simplify things.  Not an easy call for sure, but it was something that had to be done.  We are getting out of the cattle business.

So now we are down to laying hens only, plus a few freezers full of meat to sell.

Once the meat sells we will simplify to ‘projects’ only.  A few pigs sometimes.  A group of meat chickens on occasion.  Maybe some sheep again?  I will graze other peoples cattle on our pasture twice a year for 1-2 months each.

Not an easy decision to make.  But over time I have learned that the farm breaks even financially, my income comes from my brewery work, and the farm prevents us from living the kind of life we want.  For instance being able to do overnight camping trips.  So rather than fight it, I will focus on my brewery work and enjoy a less hectic lifestyle.

What do I do for breweries?  I work from home as a consultant and equipment provider.  My specific niche is the wastewater side of brewing.  Depending on where they’re located, wastewater can range from a non-issue to a deal breaker.  Or somewhere in between.  Or they might not even be in a town and they need to dispose of all wastewater on site?  That just barely scratches the surface, but it can be a big deal.  And being what it is, they don’t want to deal with it.  And I have a lot of experience in this field.  I like helping people.  I don’t like being my own accountant:)

At this point I still own our cattle but will be selling them this fall to a local pasture based rancher.  Ahhhh, relief.

I will remain heavily involved in the Montrose Farmers’ Market.  I am currently board president and will probably remain in that position for awhile.  2017 will be my last year as a vendor however.

Spring 2015 Newsletter

Welcome spring!  It’s a busy time around the farm.  Seedlings have been started for awhile now, chicks are in the brooder, and the grass is freshening.  It’s time to start thinking about your grass fed, humanely raised, and pasture raised meats.

What’s the difference between grass fed and pastured raised?  Grass fed means the animal eats grass only.  Ruminants can do this (cows, sheep, goats), non-ruminants can’t- in our case that would be pigs and poultry.  Our pigs and chickens live on the pasture, eating some grass, clover, insects, mice, etc.- but mostly they eat feed.  Corn, barley, oats, soy…  The birds get non-GMO feed.  Pasture raised also means no confinement animal houses, no antibiotics or growth hormones.  The animals live outside enjoying the sun, wind, and rain like they always have.
Our cows eat grass year round, fresh off the pasture or as hay.  They are treated humanely, and get sea salt and kelp free choice.  That’s it.  Our pasture gets no commercial fertilizer or herbicides.  I call it non-certified organic.  We’re probably not going to get organic certification, it’s expensive and there are lots of rules- which only makes things more expensive for you.  Grass fed animals also have tremendous health benefits for humans.  But that’s a subject for another time.
I’m not planning to raise pigs this summer for fall harvest.  For us, raising pigs over the winter makes a lot more sense.  In the summer we don’t want the pigs to do what they do best.  Dig.  In the winter we can encourage the pigs to dig.  So why fight it?  In the summer we irrigate, which means lots of wet soil- a prime pig playground.  They would tear up our pasture.  In the winter we can put the pigs in garden areas, or have them build new garden areas, and they can dig to their hearts content.  Let’s put the pigs to work doing what they do best.  Anyway, that’s the plan at least, we’ll see if I stick to it or not.  Pigs tearing up pasture isn’t necessarily bad, it gives us an opportunity to increase variety out there with alfalfa, more clover, chicory, field peas, etc.  But it takes a lot of special attention with irrigation to get these little plants started.
We are selling at the Montrose Farmer’s Market this summer, meats only is the plan at this point.  It’s my first time selling at the market and of course there are lots of little details to prepare for ahead of time.  One of the tricky parts is I have no idea what the demand will be.  Another hard part is it’s every Saturday morning, and we like to camp and hike.  We’ll see how it goes.
Please, everyone who receives this email feel free to make requests or preorder whatever you may like.
I know it’s hard, but I’d like you all to plan ahead if you’re interested in some grass fed and/or pasture raised meats later in the year.  Here is what we’ll have available with approximate dates.  As usual, if you want in on any of these please let me know.
  • Pasture raised chicken, non-GMO fed.  At this point we are planning 3 batches of chickens.  Availability dates of May 30, June 27, and Aug 29.
  • Grass fed beef.  I will be selling beef by the pound at the Farmer’s Market beginning in late July.  I have a lot available, but I need to sell by the pound to generate revenue- to buy more cattle.  It’s a vicious cycle:)
  • Grass fed lamb.  These will be available by half, whole, or by the pound in late October.  This is my first time raising lamb, they’ll be raised with the laying hens out on the pasture.  That’s the plan at least.  I don’t plan to sell this at the farmers market.
  • Pastured Turkey.  We’re trying it again.  We haven’t had a lot of success with turkeys here, the fox are persistent and the turkeys aren’t that bright.  We’ve even had mink get our turkeys!  But we’ll try again, these will be ready in early November.
  • Natural pork.  Ready in May 2016.
  • Pasture raised eggs, non-GMO fed.  We have a limited quantity available now, our young chicks now will start laying more this fall.  We have nothing but positive comments about the flavor of our eggs.  Current cost is $4 per dozen, but this may change in the fall.

If you are interested in a whole or half beef, let me know.  Cattle is a long term commitment and advanced planning is needed- especially for a small operator like me.  Cattle prices are insane right now and I would need you to pay for your portion of the calf up front.  We are a debt free farm, which means we don’t have a lot of liquid assets for major purchases.  Availability of this beef would be summer 2016 and each summer thereafter.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me while I ramble.  As always I appreciate your patronage and let me know if you are interested in any of our grass fed and pasture raised chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, or pork.  Feel free to ask questions, and of course feel free to forward this email to whoever you think shares our values.  This will be to only ‘marketing’ email you receive from us until the fall, get your orders in now before you forget:)  Also, reply to this email to unsubscribe if you’d like.

We have eggs!

The following was our email newsletter sent out to customers in October 2014:


 

How many ways can we say this?  Finally.  At long last.  With relief, we finally have eggs for sale.
Farming/ranching/growing is certainly not an instant gratification thing.  Deciding what to do.  Doing the research.  Saving money.  Purchasing the seeds, stock, or getting on a waiting list.  Receiving the youngin’s, raising them as best you can and hoping to get many returns for all of the work.
Happily, we are at a point where we have eggs for sale.  These are pasture raised, non-GMO fed, pig fightin’ hens.  Hens start laying eggs at about 5 months of age.  After 3 weeks in the brooder as little fluff balls, they spent the entire summer on pasture with daily moves.  Fresh grass, fresh insects, fresh things to dig in every day.  With the days getting shorter they have been moved in to their winter quarters.  This means the are free range all day long, all winter long.  Also means we have to remember to close their door every night to keep the sharp toothed critters away.  Every night.
New for this year is we have a rooster in with the ladies.  So far he has been alert and friendly.  And noisy.  A good rooster is good to have, he warns if a hawk flies over, rounds up the gals at the end of the day, and theoretically points out tasty treats.  Generally a protector.  Staying nice is a key component too, they can get mean (towards us).  We’ll see how it goes.

So how many eggs so we have for sale?  Keep in mind these are animals, not machines- we should have about 7 dozen eggs to sell each week.  Cost is $5 per dozen.  Pasture raised, free range, non-GMO fed…
Something to think about heading in to winter, and spring(!).  We will be raising pigs this winter for sale around May 1.  In the winter the pigs do the heavy gardening work for us.  They will dig down about 2 feet in their mobile pen.  We fill the hole with leaves and old hay, then they bury that material as they dig a new hole (looking for roots).  The can take compacted, weedy clay soil and turn it in to awesome high organic material garden soil in 1 winter.  One of their favorite treats is bindweed root!  We have plenty of that around here.  We’ll be selling this pork at the Montrose Farmers Market in the spring, but if you preorder a half or whole pig the cost will be much lower.
Looking further ahead, we’ll have pastured poultry in the summer, grass fed beef in August, and grass fed lamb and pastured pork in the fall.  And hopefully eggs every day year round.
Let us know if you’re interested in eggs, or if you want in on any of the goodies coming up next year.  Thank you!