If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear; does it make a sound?
If farmer's work everyday producing amazing meats, but never take the time to update their blog post, can they still sell their products?
You may have wondered where in the world we have been lately !?!?
While we definitely miss talking with everyone on a weekly basis, we decided this year not to attend any of the local farmer's markets. This was not an easy choice to make, our success has solely been due to our loyal customers and their referrals but with the joyful addition of our littlest farmer we knew that something had to change.
Little ones only stay little for a short period of time and freeing up our weekends has allowed us to focus on family while continuing to work with our amazing Farm Partners. We are overwhelmed by the positive responses we have received about this program. Our Farm Partners report increased sales of their products when customers realize they can purchase a large majority of their weekly grocery needs in one place. Our customers love that they can shop at their own convenience and support multiple local farms without having to make multiple stops. It has been a WIN-WIN-WIN.
We know how fortunate we are to have your support. As we round the bend to our 9th Year of Farming and the arrival of our next littlest farmer we promise to continue working hard to offer Healthy Family Food - for your family and ours!
I am so happy it's finally spring because spring = calves and calves = fluffy and cute. We've had 4 born so far and are expecting many more over the next few weeks. The coloring of our Murray Grey bull is showing up in some of the calves - it's hard to capture on camera but they're almost silver.
Our TOBB grain bins finally arrived from Missouri this week. They each hold 3 tons and can be filled by our feed supplier, Stone House Grain. When we started buying feed for our pigs and poultry, we bought 50 pound bags. Once we started going through close to 200 bags per month, the plastic bags became an issue: not only an eye-sore stacking up in the barn throughout the week, but so wasteful, too. Stone House can now drive their bulk truck to the farm and fill these directly - no plastic involved! (You don't have to see many pictures of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch before you don't want to be responsible for a single shred of plastic going into the dumpster).
My brother called asking for a favor last weekend. His hairdresser saw someone abandon a duck and a goose at a park in Bristol, and after watching someone trying to entice their dog to attack them, she scooped them into the back of her car and brought them home. "They look just like yours, will you take them?" he asked. John has an affinity for poultry so of course we went and picked them up. This inseparable pair may have feathers, but they're really dogs in disguise. As soon as they see people they come running, squawking, to be pet and held. I've really never seen anything like it. So let me introduce Beetle (the duck) and Juice (the goose).
Lastly, I have to congratulate my brothers on the success of their new business, Litchfield Organic Land Care, LLC, and highly recommend them to anyone in need of environmentally-conscious land care. Their guidance has been invaluable for our orchard and they will be taking down some dead trees on the farm. Even if we weren't related, I would endorse their knowledge and skills!
Our solar electric system is up and running! This project was months (years?) in the making so it's almost unbelievable to see it completed. We can't talk about the panels without thanking the Connecticut Farm Energy Program for their assistance with the grant application. We applied for a USDA REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) Grant, and would've been lost in the paperwork if not for the invaluable guidance of CFEP.
We wanted to install solar panels on the farm for a couple of reasons: one being to cut down our electricity costs. More importantly, though, we wanted to switch to a renewable source of energy. We're constantly trying to improve the sustainability of the farm and this is an important part of that. Just as we collect manure and spent bedding to compost and then fertilize our fields with, it seems right to harness the sun that shines on the farm and use it to power the well, run heat lamps for the piglets......
Speaking of piglets.
Our pot-bellied mama had a litter of piglets last night. Unfortunately, she was completely disinterested in them, and without her motherly grunting the piglets couldn't figure out where to go to nurse. We decided to hand-rear this group, and by we, I mean Kelley had them in a laundry basket next to her bed overnight, and currently has them in a makeshift cardboard crib next to her desk at work. They need to be fed every 2 hours for the first few days, so for now they'll be her sidekicks until their feedings can be stretched out a bit and I can lend a hand.
I also wanted to quickly touch on something that John and I saw in the news recently. Within the last year, the Department of Agriculture has relaxed a ban on the importation of Brazilian beef. Brazil is just one of over twenty countries that the US imports beef from. In general, I take issue with such high importation because transporting all of that beef across the world creates a lot of pollution. Brazilian beef is particularly concerning, however, because cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Rainforests are vital in that they help stabilize the world's climate by absorbing carbon dioxide. Plus, there are 16,000 species of trees and 2.5 MILLION species of insects in the Amazon.
This is why it's so important to know where your food is coming from.
"We don't have to participate in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world." -Howard Zinn
A few customers have been asking us "what's new?" which reminded me that I haven't shared any farm news since last June! I'm not sure how time flies by so quickly, but we definitely have had many things to be excited about over the last 8 months (wow I'm a bad blogger).
Last summer was an absolute blast. The cows enjoyed their time on the beautiful land we're leasing down the road, and we enjoyed our morning and nightly visits to check in on them. My favorite check-in was July 24th when John asked me to marry him. We were sunburned, covered in dirt, and surrounded by cows - I couldn't imagine it any other way.
I think the main reason autumn and winter have passed so quickly is our investment in more Ritchie automated water fountains for the animals. I seriously can't praise these things enough. We had to run more water lines and electricity, but they are 100% worth it. Not having to break ice and lug hoses back and forth from the house has saved us so much time and frustration. If I had any advice for new farmers, it would be to automate your water as soon as is feasible so you can spend your valuable time caring for your animals instead of stressing about being able to get them enough water.
Of course we've had lots of litters of piglets since June, and are currently gearing up for our busiest time of the year as far as farrowing is concerned. Let us know if you're looking for spring piglets as our list is filling up quickly.
Looking forward into the next few weeks, we'll be busy with piglets, getting seeds started for the garden, and finally getting our solar panels installed! I am over the moon excited about getting the farm running on clean, renewable solar energy. I'll write another post and share pictures once they're installed.
We're happy to share our new relationships with Davis IGA in Kent and Sherman IGA in Sherman, which are both now carrying our beef, pork, and chicken. It's great when small, locally-owned businesses can work together to offer local goods to the community, and we look forward to expanding and meeting new customers in that part of the state.
Don't forget to visit us at the Norfolk and Winsted farmer's markets - details are on our homepage. And if you can't make it to a market but are craving your favorites like jalepeno-cheddar chicken sausage or maple-cured bacon, use our online shopping page to complete your order and schedule a delivery.
Thanks again for your support!
Real food enthusiast following nature's template