6/16/16: My phone rang right on cue this morning to let me know that our turkey poults were at the post office waiting to be picked up. We get baby chicks in the mail every month during the summer, so it's generally no big deal when they arrive. The turkey poults however are a whole different story. Their arrival is like the Queen coming out of the Buckingham Palace. It's all hands on deck to make sure they are comfortable! If you've been following our farm blog for the last two years, you surely remember the great turkey fire of 2014, or the great turkey flood of 2015. I feel like baby turkeys only have one goal in life, to kill themselves. It's almost like they are trying to do it some days. From fires, floods, electrocutions, hypothermia, and drowning. Baby turkeys have a death wish. They will literally fall into 1/4 inch deep puddle and drown. They will walk away from the heat lamp and forget to go back and get warm. That's not to say they are not comical to watch. Their antics can be quite amusing at times, but frightening if you stake your livelihood on them. We can't wait to see what the 2016 Turkey season has in store for us.
You may also be wondering why we are starting our Turkeys 6 months before Thanksgiving while a full grown turkey is ready in about 4-5 months. This year, as with the rest of our meat, the turkeys will be frozen. If you've ordered a turkey from us in the past, you know that our sizing system is a complete crapshoot and we are usually either way over or under your requested size. While we care very much that you ordered a particular size, turkeys do not. Nature has its' own ideas. To alleviate these problems, we will be processing our turkeys well before Thanksgiving in an effort to give everyone the size Turkey that they want. Another reason we are selling our turkeys frozen this year is because of the weather. Having Turkeys out on pasture in late November opens up a whole world of problems. From early snow, to frozen water lines. November is not always a nice season for us to be working outside, or the turkeys to be living outside. And last but not least, there is just no longer enough time during the week of Thanksgiving to process our turkeys and lambs, package the orders, make deliveries, run the farmers markets, and take care of the cows, pigs and chickens that stay with us over the winter.
Thank you for your understanding in our decision.
5/14/16: Chicken is officially back! We are fully stocked with all cuts and whole birds.
5/12/16: Today's newsletter: After Monday's long chicken processing day, I spent a few days finishing up my winter project of land clearing at our new farm in Blairstown. This field was nice pasture up until about 20 years ago. Now it had a few hundred cedar trees growing in it, plus mountains of brush.You can still see the piles of brush in the photo to the right. I could have just left the field how it was, fenced it off and brought in our pigs. They love the woods. But right now, we have enough woodland for pigs and not enough pasture for cows, sheep, and poultry. For any of you farmers out there who have ever tried moving a chicken tractor through the woods, you know it doesn't work very well. With the help of the Kubota Tractor Corporation,and the Farmer Veteran Coalition. We now have an outstanding tractor to help make this dream of ours a reality. I wouldn't have undertaken a project like this without the proper equipment. I am eternally grateful to these two organizations for their commitment to our farm.
5/26/16: It's been a busy week on the farm. From banding (castrating) and tagging our young steers, to moving the big guys out to summer pastures, finishing the fence on the lamb pasture, and moving the pigs to their summer pasture. There is never enough time in a day.
We band the young bull calves at about 2 months old. This gives them time to grow a bit and for us to ensure they are healthy. Banding them is important, mainly for safety. A 100 pound bull calf is not really an issue, but when that animal is 1000 lbs and full of testosterone he can become a bit of a loose cannon. Cows don't realize how big they are and can easily hurt you, even if they are not trying to. It is a non surgical procedure and takes the calves only about 20 minutes to recover. The ear tags we give them actually bother them more than the bands. It takes them a few days to adjust to a piercing in their ear. We tag them for identification purposes, so we know who is who, and if they do get loose, it tells us that they belong to us and not a neighbor. The ear tag is just like piercing your ear. It takes 2 seconds, then we spray them with a disinfecting wound spray. While not as glorious as turning cows out to pasture, banding and tagging is an important aspect of farming the way we do. Good animal husbandry is vital to our farms success.
Shade is always important to livestock, especially this time of year. Most mature animals can handle the rain and cooler temperatures, but they do not do well if they have to bake in the sun all day. For this reason we have a whole fleet of temporary shade facilities for all the animals on our farm. This place looks like a motor pool sometimes, with random shade "vehicles" parked all over the place.
6/30/16: We made our own hay for the first time this year. In the past, we have just bought any hay we needed. Thanks to developing some strong connections around our community, we were able to rent a friends equipment to make our own hay from our fields. In the past we've always just trimmed all our pastures back when they've gotten overgrown. It always seemed like a waste to me though. Our poultry and their manure help create some beautiful pastures, and I hate to see it just get turned into mulch when our cattle could be eating it. We put up just over 600 bales this week but we need to make another 400 bales to get us through the winter. The plan is to rotationally graze our poultry over the entire farm one more time, then, hopefully we will get enough rain and we should be able to make enough hay to get us through the year. While making hay sounds difficult, modern technology has made it pretty simple. It's mostly tractor work, except for putting it away. At the end of the day, each and every 50 pound bale needs to be thrown off the wagon and put into the barn by hand. It's the kind of work that makes you fall asleep in your driveway before you even get out of the truck, but its worth it.
We moved the lambs to fresh pasture yesterday. Right now we're on a two day rotation. The lambs get as much grass as they can eat for two days, then using electric wire, we create a new paddock for them and move them down the line. This ensures the lambs don't just eat their favorite grass's and ignore the rest. It also helps them stay clean of parasites by staying away from their manure. Yesterdays move went a lot better than our last move. The last one took us about 2.5 hours, from broken wire reels, to run away lambs. It was a disaster. This next move only took us about an hour. We are getting better at moving the fence, and I think the lambs are getting a feel for what we're doing also. When we first started to rotate chickens, it took us 3 hours for 100 birds. Now we have it down to about 30 minutes per 700 birds. Like I've said before, farming has a steep learning curve. But once you figure things out, its not so rough.
6/9/16: The lambs have finally arrived. As most of you know, we don't breed animals on the farm. I feel that a lot of farmers have a lot of different skills and instead of us trying to go out on our own, why not work with our community of farmers to do great things together? These lambs are about 3 months old and come to us from our friend's farm in Sunbury PA. We will grow them on our pastures this summer and bring them to market after Thanksgiving. Lambs easily fold into our current model of production. By rotating them around the pastures with the cows, they will forage other plants that the cows won't while helping to mow the grass short so our chickens can properly forage, aerate and fertilize. Six years after we started the farm, everything is really falling into place!
It's funny, I remember 2 years ago telling customers they would have to wait another 4 months to buy bacon from us again. We've come a long way in a short time. We are truly blessed to have a 40ft freezer full of our chicken, pork, and beef. We are even more blessed to have all of you waiting for us every weekend to get your share of real food. We can't thank you enough for allowing us to follow our dreams of producing amazing food and giving our community year round access to pasture raised meat and eggs.
6/23/16: We've been so busy this season! I looked at the calendar and just realized that this season is half way done! With 700 meat chickens on pasture, 700 meat chickens in the brooder, 600 laying hens on pasture, 200 turkeys in the brooder, 60 pigs on pasture, 15 lambs on pasture, 4 yearling steers on pasture and 4 young steers getting ready to join them, I don't know where these last 6 months went. Its already time to stockpile hay and plan for the winter!
Yesterday was our first paddock rotation with the lambs. They came to the farm two weeks ago, so we put them into a staging area to get them acclimated to us and ensure everyone was healthy. From there we loaded them back into the trailer and moved them upfront to our recently fenced pasture. They are currently in two day paddocks. They will graze what they want and trample the rest, before moving on to fresh pasture. This keeps them away from their manure, helps spread the manure evenly where it can be properly utilized by the soil, and ensures plenty of forage for them to eat. A lot of lamb producers in our area either supplement with hay year round, or grain. We are avoiding feeding the animals anything extra other than what the land has provided by rotationally grazing them. Our first rotation went a lot like you would imagine. I opened the fence up so they could walk through and graze the next strip, and sure enough the lambs just kept walking and hopped over the half fence that I put up. After about 1.5 hours of moving the electric fence and herding the sheep back into place, we got it done. Like anything else on the farm, there is a learning curve. There is nothing we can't do though, only things we won't do.
6/2/16: The 2016 Farmers Market Season is in full swing this weekend! Our growing season never really stops on the farm, but it definitely ratchets up a bit when all the markets are around. Not only do we have to juggle all the feeding, watering, and rotating of the animals, but we also have to be at farmers market 4 days a week. It makes farm life a little more challenging, but in a good way. Sure, waking up at 4AM every weekend isn't anyone's idea of fun, but we've been working very hard to grow you some outstanding food and we have to make sure its accessible to you. The days of buying mystery meat from a large supermarket are over. We are entering a new era of food knowledge and discovery. Consumers should demand to know who raised their food, how it was grown, and where it was grown. Keep your food dollars close to home this year and support your local farmers.
5/2/16: All Chicken Cuts are back up on our Shopping Site! Place your orders now and they will be filled on May 14! Click Here!
4/19/16: We will begin taking pre-orders for chicken cuts on May 1. Check back then to place an order online. Orders can be picked up beginning May 14th.
3/24/16: We are no longer taking sign ups for new CSA members. All current members - payment is due by June 4-5, 2016. Thank you to everyone who signed up!!
3/21/16: Thank you to everyone who made the Ramsey indoor market season a success! The outdoor market starts up again on June 5th, but until then, we will still have a strong Bergen County presence to make sure we can still get you all of the delicious pastured meat and eggs you need! Fill out a "Contact Us" request to be added to our weekly mailing list.
**IMPORTANT: During the lull in our market season (April & May) we will not be carrying any Trickling Springs or Maple Hill Dairy products. Unfortunately we will be unable to meet the minimum delivery threshold, but we look forward to carrying their wonderful product line again starting June 4th!
3/17/16: Broilers have arrived!! We will be fully stocked on all chicken cuts in time for your Memorial Day BBQ's. Check back in early May to pre-order any cuts you may need!
We are currently taking sign-ups for our Chicken CSA. This CSA entitles you to one whole pasture raised chicken per month and runs June through November. The cost for joining is $100.00 and gives you six chickens for the price of five!
We are currently taking names for our Egg CSA waiting list. Please place an order online for the Egg CSA and once a spot opens up, we will call you to arrange payment.
*****The Ramsey Summer Market resumes June 5, 2016 and will be a strict pre-order only meat market again. You must place an order online, via text, phone call, email, or through our weekly newsletter in order to receive any meat at this market. Dairy and Eggs are always available without preordering, however, it is strongly recommended that you pre-order anyways, especially if you can't usually make it to the market until later in the day. We will also be able to take orders at the market for the following week's market. We look very forward to seeing you there!*****Type your paragraph here.