Posted by Farmer Sam | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-07-2010
Well, we had the worst flooding of the season last night. In what felt like a gentle rain (yes, I was up at 4:30 checking on it, but determined it to be safe and so went back to bed), all but 14 of my 115 broilers were killed.
I know what you’re thinking, “How stupid are you, to let this happen again?” The quick answer is, “I’m not sure.” The longer answer is more complex. I only have so much room, and our whole field is quite low compared to the surroundings. In this flooding, well over half (maybe as much as two thirds) of it is under water. Keep in mind that even just a couple inches is enough to kill young birds like mine.
It appears then, that I should just get the chickens to that bit of ground that is highest. The problem is, I’ve already used about half of it for chickens earlier this year, and cannot yet use it again without risk of the chickens getting sick and dying…or worse, getting sick and living (when that happens, they eat all the way to processing day, and then when I open them up, I find out they are not edible – the most costly failure of all). The other high land is all the way in a corner and when the weather threatens, I cannot just move the pens to the high ground and then back out. Chickens typically aren’t willing to walk that much, and I would probably damage them along the way. Complicating this is the fact that the high ground at the back is exceptionally uneven; I would likely lose many to predators getting underneath the pen’s edge.
The third issue is past performance. Last year we never had any flooding during poultry season, and so I keep thinking that we can’t go from no flooding to multiple floods in a year. And maybe this will hold true in the future…but this is no typical year. According to Tom Skilling, this is the third wettest July in the last 140 years, and I believe him.
Anyway, all of that to say that this has been a rough year. In order to make up for this loss, I’m going to have to charge $24/lb for the 14 broilers that remain. That shouldn’t be hard, these are premium birds, after all:)
Posted by Farmer Sam | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 02-07-2010
Finally, two floods and a date-change later, the chickens are ready to fulfill their destiny. I and my faithful crew of volunteers (2 or 3 new ones this time) will be processing them this Saturday (7/3/10). I am hopeful that we will have them ready for pickup around noon or one…but since this is the first processing we’ve done this year, it may be a bit later. Feel free to call to find out if we are done, or just come on over and bring a lawn chair. Depending on how much work is left and how many customers are here at the time, we may be able to do a bit of touring about the farm. If you can’t this time, don’t fret…I’m planning on having a FarmerSam open house later this summer – after the pigs and turkeys are out and about.
The chickens will be cleaned, eviscerated and bagged. I would recommend bringing an iced cooler in which to put your chickens. I will have their temperature nice and low by pickup, but still, you want to keep them as cool as possible and get them in the refrigerator quickly. For best taste and texture, you’ll want to store your chickens in the fridge for two days before eating or freezing. Make sure to eat or freeze them within a week (I personally do this around day 4 or 5, just to be safe).
If you want feet, necks or liver, please let me know ahead of time, if possible, and I will do what I can to facilitate this. They will be billed at the same rate as the chickens themselves ($3/lb).
Posted by Farmer Sam | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 23-06-2010
Farmer’s log: earth date – 6/23/2010
This is what you call a narrow escape…or God taking pity on a slow learner. I woke at 5 am, before the rain began. It was still a little dark, and the meatbirds don’t like to be moved before the sun has been up for a bit, so back to bed. By 6 am, when I woke again, the rain was coming down hard. Lightning was dancing all around and I thought it was a bit foolish to go walking out in the wet field, so I drove my 4×4 out to them. There was no water pooling within a hundred feet of them, so I went back in the house to do some of my online work for TEDS.
Within a half hour, Celeste called to me from one of the rooms facing the field, “Hey, you ought to take a picture of this for a post and call it, ‘a near miss.’ “ This disturbed me, since I had just been outside and there had been nothing close about the miss. When I got to the window, I saw that they were actually standing in water. I rushed out and found them in water about 3 inches deep…deep enough that they didn’t want to move with the pen. You’ll notice the trail of chickens in the second picture above…they just sat there and let the chicken tractor go over them. In the end, I got them moved to higher ground, and I believe they’re safe for the night…though we have another flood advisory on. I’ve gotta dig a pond….
Posted by Farmer Sam | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 14-05-2010
It is with great sadness that I write this post. Starting on Wednesday night (May 12), sometime between 11 pm and 6 am, our field flooded. All the broilers are dead. There was no warning (or at least none that I was aware of), and our field has never flooded this much this late in the year (at least since we’ve been here). When I went out I was holpeful that one or two chickens might be alive. After pulling the first chicken tractor to land, I discovered I was wrong.
Celeste took some pictures of me trying to rescue the chickens. The white things in the water around me are the broilers. I picked a couple up (also pictured) to see if there were any vital signs. I later took a couple clearer pictures and one of Nora surveying the loss.
Our family garden also flooded. I do not yet know the extent of loss there. The next week will reveal more.
The bit of good news is that we just got our next round of broilers in as chicks. They are set to be processed on June 26, assuming fire doesn’t descend from Heaven and consume them.
Posted by Farmer Sam | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-05-2010
The first round of broilers for 2010 will be available on May 24. They will be seven weeks old on that day, so I am anticipating an average weight around 4 pounds. The cost is $3 per pound. I am hoping to bring almost 90 to market, but I’m already getting orders in, so if you want some, be sure to reserve yours soon. I have already ordered the next set of chicks…they will be available on or around July 3 (just in time for Independence Day grilling).
Regarding processing: I am trying something different this time, namely, same-day-pickup. More details will be coming within the next couple days…stay tuned!
Posted by Farmer Sam | Posted in Arguments for Local Food | Posted on 05-03-2010
I am not saying that we should boycott Whole Foods. I shop at WF for things I cannot produce myself or find locally…but we need to be careful that we don’t just assume everything we find within its doors is good for us.
For the last several years my wife and I have been finding local farmers who raise natural or organic meat and produce. When we buy from a local farmer, we actually go to the farm and see how the food is being raised. When you, the consumer, do this, you become the inspector, and the farmer who has integrity is proud to show you around his or her place.
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Posted by Farmer Sam | Posted in Cullinary | Posted on 12-02-2010
I didn’t do a lot of cost research this time, but my guess is that it is about the same as onion in the store ($2-3). I bought my garlic from Trader Joes in what were labled 3 ounce bags of organic garlic. I bought four packs (at $1.8 each) and it turned out that they were actually 4 ounces , so I began with one pound of garlic. After processing and drying I was left with 5.5 ounces. This means that garlic is about 66% water, and that, in this case, I paid $1.3 per ounce for my final product. This is higher than I had guessed, but not bad. Again, I’m sure one can find less expensive organic garlic along the way. In fact, last fall I took 16 square feet of my herb garden and commited it to garlic. So right now I have 25 cloves of garlic just waiting for spring to usher them above ground. If they all make it, that’s almost 140 ounces of garlic powder!
Farmers Note: This took way longer than the onions. I thought I’d knock out the 8 heads in 10 or 15 minutes by myself, but after one, I begged the Farmer’s Wife to help. Even with both of us working I think it took the better part of an hour to get them peeled, crushed and spread out in the dehydrator. On the flip side, that gave us an hour to talk about our garden this summer. Time well spent.