An update from your favorite farmers at Farmcraft Farm:
The darkness is upon us! 6pm to 7am – dark! That’s okay. The trees are beautiful, endowed in yellows and oranges and reds, the temperatures are ultra pleasant, and the limited daylight keeps a person from physical labor workaholism.
We raised, and processed on-farm, about 500 meat chickens this year. That’s 2500 pounds of chicken, maybe 1.75 million calories, and about 100,000 grams of protein. A good amount human life-sustaining, and even life-enriching, vital and clean, chemical free, mineral rich, vitamin full, muscle building, metabolism enhancing and absolutely simple and delicious food for our customers.
We produced enough chicken to meet the caloric requirements, for a full year, of about 2 people, eating nothing but Farmcraft Chicken. Or the protein requirements of about 5 people, solely eating our chicken. That’s cool, that's a nice start. (How many people I think the farm should feed – that’s another blog article for another time). We’ll hopefully keep raising and selling and distributing more in the future. A couple thousand chickens per year, maybe. Pasture raised meat chickens is not an easy money-maker or a really big money-maker. I’ll write about those economics in the future, too. But the meat chicken enterprise does at least (usually) turn a profit, it’s good fun, and it does produce wonderful food for our customers and community while at the same time providing outstanding fertility benefits to our land. So, we will continue to raise, process and sell meat chickens. We still have 150 or 200 of these beautiful pasture raised Farmcraft Sunshine Chickens in the deep freezers, and we will continue to deliver them to subscription customers this Winter and also have chicken available for pickup from the farm.
We have 8 pigs out on the pasture. Right now they are enjoying weekly-moved paddocks in Field 1, where we planted daikon radish, annual ryegrass and sunflowers this year. The daikon radish seed pods and sunflower seed heads are consumed with great gusto. 5 of the pigs will be processed in January/February, when they are 220-240 pounds. (They are for sale by the quarter and half on our website right now). I am stoked to eat this pork – these pigs have flavorful heritage pork genetics and are being raised in an incredibly nutrient-dense, fresh-air, low-stress and happy environment. It feels questionable to assert that a pig is happy. But these pigs sure seem happy. I do not think I am anthropomorphizing the pigs. Come see them munch sunflowers, eat fresh clover or nap in the sunshine and shade – it would be hard to say anything but “happy pigs”. The other 3 pigs – Boris, Goldie and Peppa – are our breeders. We hope they will breed just before the New Year, and then to have two “farrows” of piglets in April 2023, and additional “farrows” about every 6 months thereafter.
We had our wedding here in August! Andrea and Luke are in it together. I’m real thrilled about being married to my best friend and partner in everything. The wedding was fun. We had a big tent in the yard (real big), a beer trailer, a caterer with our pasture raised chicken, music, black suits and a white dress - all the wedding things. I love that it was at our house and farm. It makes this time and this place that much more special.
There is plenty on the to-do lists. A lot of projects are in progress. Some of the big ones before Winter sets in – finish the deep buried water lines, finish the hoop house, get the wood stove installed in our house.
Deep Buried Water Lines: Water freezes during the winter, unless you put it 6 feet under the ground. If you do that, hopefully, you can walk out to the animals, pull the handle on the yard hydrant, and liquid water will flow out right where you need it. We rented an excavator, bought rolls of large diameter black poly pipe, various fitting and three 6-ft bury yard hydrants. Now we have 750 feet of water lines buried 6-ft under, providing winter livestock water to Fields 1 and 2, and summer water without tripping/driving over surface run pipes. The water is on and I use our new lines to water the animals every day. All that’s left for this project, hopefully, is to make permanent some indoor plumbing and grade/flatten the backfilled trench.
Hoop House: We’ve built a 20’ x 60’ hoop house (greenhouse in a hoop shape) in Field 1. It’s about two-thirds finished and just needs a day or two of work before it is ready to be covered in plastic. A hoop house is relatively quick to build, relatively inexpensive, and remarkably versatile and effective for all sorts of farm enterprises (I hope). We will use it to house our hens in the winter. Deep woodchip bedding, wind protection and daily solar warming should provide a lovely environment for the hens to be comfortable and continue to lay high quality eggs. And the protected environment and in-the-hoop-house yard hydrant should make the winter chicken chores enjoyable for us farmers. The hens will go back to mobile housing on pasture in Spring, and during the Spring/Summer/Fall we plan to use the hoop house to grow heat-loving vegetables – mostly tomatoes.
Less Than One-Day Projects: Seed winter rye in 2023’s garden for winter cover and organic matter. Build 2 more pig A-frame houses. Build a couple more pig feeders. Process the 20 or so remaining old hens and sell them as stewing hens. Move the pullets to the hoop house. Mow Fields 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. Install tree cages on the new orchard trees. Put in the cellar ventilation. Clean up 2022’s garden. Separate the boy and girl pigs. Et cetera.
Wood Stove: Our house has heat. Really good heat – these hyper-heat H2i Mitsubishi mini split heat pumps are marvels of technology and engineering. But we also want the reliability, simplicity, tradition and beauty of an indoor wood stove. I need to create a new hole in our masonry chimney, re-line the chimney with rigid stainless steel liner, fasten stove to stove pipe and stove pipe to chimney liner and chimney liner to hanger and cap. Soon enough we will be toasty warm in our living room, sipping beverages, feeding the life-giving wood stove with timber cut, chopped and stacked from and on our own Farm.
The wood stove is more of a house project, rather than a farm project. But the line is blurry – what’s work, what’s farming, what’s living? It’s all fun and it’s all kind of the same.
But speaking of The House – one last update – it’s great! It’s about the same as in April, when the ground thawed and outside work started. I am excited for when the Fall projects are done, the ground freezes, and it is time to don the toolbelt for finish carpentry, tile and all sorts of other finish projects to make this a functional and beautiful home.
That’s that! Thanks for reading. Come see us some time – I’ll be here! Buy a delicious chicken and cook it in the crockpot! Get your money down for a portion of flavorful, nutritious and happy pork you cannot find anywhere else! And look forward to a greatly increased 2023 Farmcraft pastured egg supply! Thanks, and be well.