Instant Experts

And he’d given up on ecology when the ecology magazine he’d been subscribing to had shown its readers a plan of a self-sufficient garden, and had drawn the ecological goat tethered within three feet of the ecological beehive. Newt had spent a lot of time at his grandmother’s house in the country and thought he knew something about the habits of both goats and bees, and concluded therefore that the magazine was run by a bunch of bib-overalled maniacs. From Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman I was listening to Good… Read More

Terrace Farming

We had a bulldozer in yesterday cutting a couple of terraces on the steep hill behind the house, making room for a few new chicken brooders. If I could have all the money I’ve spent on terracing over the years, I could buy about four extra acres of flat land. But extra acres aren’t on the market, so we’ve got to make use of the land we have. After creating the terraces, we dumped and spread six loads of gravel, moved two shipping containers into position, and graded the area to make… Read More

Home Delivery Improvements

We’ve been revamping our home delivery options and we’re glad to announce a few big changes. Many customers have trouble meeting us at specific dates and times for neighborhood deliveries, so we’re trying to make home delivery more convenient. Here’s the summary: Free home delivery on all orders over $99. Orders under $99 will have a $9.99 flat fee, which is also lower than our previous fee. Two delivery dates every week. Packages will arrive Wednesdays and Fridays except when there are conflicts with holidays. We are now including eggs in home… Read More

Brooder 2019

The first chicks of the season should be here on Thursday. To prepare for their arrival we’ve been running shakedown testing on our newest chicken brooder. A brooder is a controlled environment where chicks spend their first few weeks until they develop the ability to regulate their own body heat, after which time they can go out to pasture. Every year I end up building new brooders, both to accommodate larger flocks and to overcome design flaws in earlier models. I’m feeling pleased with what I’m seeing in this setup, but I… Read More

Return of the Geese

Last year a Canada Goose couple adopted our pond as their nesting site. We see large flocks of geese passing through, but this is the first breeding pair that have settled here. The pond is still iced over, but a few inches of open water are now showing around most of the perimeter. Soon enough they’ll be swimming in open water. We keep an old bale of hay on top of the connections for the pond’s siphon plumbing as insulation, and the geese used the bale last year as their nest. The… Read More

A Renewal

As the snow releases its grip on the fields, the laying hens are ranging farther afield each day. There are tantalizing little hints of green among the brown thatch of grass. It is instructive to watch the hens forage at this time of year. Surprisingly, their first objective isn’t to eat all the tiny green shoots. They actually are eating a lot of the old dead grass. But their favorite thing is to scratch through matted leaves and sticks that have been plastered to the ground all winter. Under the leaves they… Read More

Command and Control

This year I’m making efforts to approach our farming operations more systematically to make things easier on everyone. Chicken production is the focus since that’s where we’re putting the most work these days, and that’s where things have always been the most chaotic. I finished wiring the newest chicken brooder trailer today. Our brooders have evolved steadily, but the system for controlling heaters, ventilation, cooling fans, and lighting schedules has gotten out of hand. I’m adding more electric controls to the system, but in doing so my goal is to reduce the… Read More

Send Me Dead Flowers

I’ve had Townes Van Zandt’s rendition of Dead Flowers stuck in my head all day, ever since I came across a patch of dried Black Eyed Susans in the hay I was feeding the cattle. I suppose the combination of the dead flowers and the “little Susie” reference made the connection inevitable. There are a bunch of other Black Eyed Susan songs in the folksy or rootsy that could have been contenders, but today Dead Flowers just seemed to demand that I keep humming it as I fed the cattle and worked… Read More

Beef Sticks Are Back

Last fall we tried a small batch of beef sticks and we completely underestimated just how popular they’d be. We sold out in a few weeks. We’ve restocked with a bigger stock of beef sticks. We also tried a small test run of a slightly spicier beef stick. Individual sticks and ten-packs are listed on the storefront here. The beef sticks are produced with traditional charcuterie techniques using lactic acid starter cultures and allowing the meat to ferment briefly. This is the same bacterial fermentation process employed when starter cultures are used… Read More

The Old Man and the Sea, and Me

“You give me much good counsel,” he said aloud. “I’m tired of it.” Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea The hoophouse roof was whipping in the wind and the building’s framework hummed and shuddered while I held onto the corner of the tarp, scrabbling to keep my feet under me, to prevent the roof lifting me with it. I had the end of a parted anchor cable wrapped around my hand. I could feel capillaries busting in my finger tips, but after a few minutes the loss of circulation made… Read More