Monday, March 1, 2010

LOTS of Changes coming in 2010!

We've been reasonably happy with how the events of the meat recall at Adams this winter. For those who have purchased from us recently, we now have lot numbers on every package of beef we sell. And, the this recent lot was tested and found clean of pathogenic E. coli. Phew.....we squacked and squeeked and something different has been done....hurray! We are not complacent, though. We hope that enhanced testing will continue at Adams Farm.

Our planning for 2010 has many new projects in the pipeline. First, we are not going to sell at the Barre Farmers' Market this year. Whoa...why you may ask? Well, as our business grows and we need to be ever careful on how and where we spend our time, a harsh reality broke over us. The Barre Market is a great venue for getting out with our friends, neighbors and colleagues, but it creates a business sink. We really did very little business there...and have done so for years. And since my wife works off the farm Monday-Friday, I'm loathed to have to spend over half a day away of the only two she has off with me. Don't despair, we will look to address the issue of local access by setting up a day and time that we'll be at the farm to meet your needs. We will let you know and we will also advertise as well. I could use your input on days and times for our open farm sales day in the summer and fall of '10.

On the production side of farming for an ever widening marketplace, we've been confronting two "ghosts in the closet". We've been loading up our home farm with a wide range of critters from cattle of various ages and sizes to an ever burgeoning flock of layers and broilers. The first ghost is that we're getting close to the carrying capacity of our farm and are on the lookout for more land to rent. In the meantime, we are working with a retired dairy farmer who is converting his crop base to grass only (away from corn) to help us with a supply of young stock and properly finished beef according to our specifications. This is a HUGE leap for us, a bit scary too, as we need to think about so many more things now. We built our reputation on transparency and quality based on sound environmental, financial and animal welfare tenets that we also need to reflect on the facts that we cannot do it all. And we need to use our time to make darn sure things are done right. So we swap a manager's cap for our farmer's cap from time to time.

The second ghost is about us having so many animals on the farm...and what they leave behind. We've got our animals in moveable loafing sheds and the pack they leave behind is manageable when we have a modest sized herd. When we need to clean up, we move the shed and scoop up the barn yard gold and get it our to our hay fields and grazing land (in the off season). Its manageable for a modest sized herd.....

For a herd size that we now have, we need a different system. We need an easier system for the farmer and we want to make sure we capture as much of those nutrients as possible to get them back on the land. We are planning for a small composting facility to help us better safeguard water quality and minimize fertilizer needs.

No small endeavor........nor cheap....but necessary. We "gotta walk the walk" not just "talk the talk" so to speak.

For these reasons, we need to adjust our prices from time to time to reflect the realities we are faced with. We qualify for virtually no USDA price support programs, so we are pushed into self-financing any and all improvements, and at our small size, our costs do fluctuate. We feel that the prices we charge are a true reflection of what it truly costs to bring our products to you.

We're working every angle as hard as we can to do things cleanly, effectively and as affordably as possible.

Cheers...spring is here!