Friday, January 11, 2013

Thoughts on 2012 and plans for 2013

The hot, dry summer of 2012 battered us a bit- our pastures were stressed and our hay yields were down a bit. BUT- we'll take a hot and dry summer over a cold and wet one! An old-timer once told me "A hot and dry summer will scare you but you'll starve in a cold and wet summer!" How true!! We were able to have a full harvest at the farm- from our vegetables and greens to dry hay with fair ease to boot! In wet and cold summers- no tomatoes or dry, mold-free hay!! There is something afoot on the issue of climate change......the signs are hard to ignore! Thankfully with our rich soils and still adequate rainfall, we should be able to get by. With some tweeking that is......

The implications of climate change have forced changes in our pastured broiler program. The new weather patterns have thrown us some very hot and dry conditions earlier in the season, when the broilers are are busy growing. During this stage, the added heat stress presents us a management challenge. We have to reserve our shaded spots for chickens. During high-summer, there are few of those shaded field borders! And we will be postponing much of our production into the late summer and fall, when conditions are markedly better for growing chickens.  Just when you think you have a system in place..........

We brought chicken parts to market this year with a very warm reception, thank you! We'll bring more in 2013 for sure!

Do you want other convenience items such as pre-marinaded beef kabobs and steaks? How about low-fat chicken sausages with fun ingredients such as sun-dried tomato and feta cheese? We can use your thoughts and ideas as the marketplace seems to demand more and more convenience.

The farm shop has been busy with lots of fabricating! We now have a new BIODIESEL reactor....all custom made in the shop! Our feedstock- used vegetable oil, is from local restaurants. We also have a new hay grabber/stacker to replace a lot of the hard manual labor of putting up our hay. And coming up for 2013 will be plans for a high capacity in-line bale compressor and wrapper for high quality grass silage and this high quality forage will be key for happy and steadily growing cows in winter. This will be another farm-shop invention!

And if we have time, we'll start up a corn and soybean patch for growing some of our chicken feed. Not only is chicken feed becoming expensive, an on-farm production program might be cost effective too. The soybeans, being a legume, can help us incorporate nitrogen into our soils as well. And when brought into a rotation program with all our other cropping systems, we should be able to sustain good yields and improve soil health at the same time. This system of crop rotation is not new, but has been side-lined in modern agriculture as a means to feverishly pursue ever increasing yields in our corn and soy-based society. Livestock (cattle, horses and chickens) will be a key component in a pasture/soybean/corn/small-grain crop rotation.......and it should be fun! Read more on crop rotations here, a no-brainer concept but very well presented in this article- Marsden Farm USDA study.

Thank you for your support of our style of farming- a sustainable road map to the future of healthy food production!

Let us know how we're doing and what you'd like to see!

Bon appetit!

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