Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cattle Clean-up Crew and a Looming Concern

It is no secret that it has been dry this year. I am very happy to say that we got 1.7 inches of rain last night. This following the 0.9 inches of last week is the most rain we have seen since the big rain storm in December. This storm also brought some wind and dropped a few trees here and there. One of the trees that fell was an ancient and battered silver maple.

Lost a Chuck of One of the Old Silver Maples

There is an old grove of these ancient silver maples just west of the house. There are also two old depressions in the soil on either side of the grove. What we know about this grove is that there used to be a pioneer farm out there. Some of the community elders remember being told as children that there used to be a farm on that hill. We believe the depressions  in the soil to be old root cellars or ice houses. I have encountered a square headed nail while planting service berries in the area. 

With the cows only grazed for two months before I decided to pull them back to the lot and let the grass recover. These last two storm have me hopeful that we can continue to catch rain and we can get back to grazing within the next two weeks.

Send in the Clean-up Crew

We just got beef back from the locker and are starting to do deliveries. I am a little concerned about sales this year. Having moved once before, I know that sales take a big hit after a move as our customer base adjusts. I am a little more concerned because of our lack of real internet. It makes it hard to reply to customer emails, update our webpage, update pictures of our product on the Iowa Food Cooperative, create blog posts. In general it makes running our kind of business very very challenging, as if it was not hard enough. It is still early, and we will see what comes of the next few months, but I would be lying if said I was not a little worried.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Round One Leaves & Round Two Arrives

I must admit that in nine years of raising poultry I have never had a batch of chickens as challenging as this first batch of meat chickens. After talking with other producers who have had similar problems, we believe it is probably pneumonia. This was likely brought on by the cool spring and rapid temperature fluctuations that followed. The subsequent heat only aggravated things as the birds developed. All told 79 birds made it to the locker from a starting batch of 183. Those that did make it to the locker we smaller then I would have liked even after eleven weeks of development, where a normal batch is completed in eight to nine weeks. Couple that with the incredibly dry conditions, which has now forced us to start feeding the cows hay, and this year pretty disappointing so far on the farm side of things.

Rolo (our white dog) Playing With the Locker Dog on Processing Day

There is still a lot of the production season left, and I hope things can correct themselves. Our second batch of birds arrived this week, consisting of 60 turkeys and 37 layer pullets. The turkeys are the same number as last year and will be with us for at least the next sixteen weeks. This is the first time we have had laying chicks around since before our Son was born.  We are finally trying to get our layer population back up so we can sell eggs as freely as we used to.  It will be six months before they start really laying eggs, so they will likely start right around Christmas (the first time our first batch of layers laid an egg was Christmas Eve). I also have to build a permanent structure for the birds, that I still would really like to get a start on yet this Summer. 

Brooder Tanks Sterilizing in the Sun

Chicks Have Arrived

Sixty Turkeys in Their Tank

Thirty-five  Layers in Their Tank

Elsewhere on the farm, we did take two beef to the locker two weeks ago, so we should have a nice selection of beef and chicken available at our July & August delivery days, which start next weekend. If you are interested in ordering and have not done so yet, hit us up here. I hope to see all of you soon at a delivery site in your town. Until then, take care. 

Chicken Inspector

Tired Little Guy