Is Winter Already Over?!
Can You believe it! Looks like the Winter is about over and we are only four weeks away from the Start Up on Thursday on March 1st when we begin making CSA Deliveries again. As before we'll be there at 3 Pm and remain till around 6Pm until all the deliveries are picked up.
If you are a Half share Member please advise when you would prefer to start your deliveries; Odd or Even weeks. I may need to contact some of you to make a few changes in order to balance the load of coolers. This is because this year for the First Quarter we only plan to deliver with the Suburban because of the reduced Memberships; to save a little work and energy costs.We are hoping for more Memberships by the Summer Quarter and then we'll us the Box Trailer again. The CSA Program has been great for Many Years and we are hopeful we can continue it much longer. It is our preferred way to make sales. We are very Thankful for all of those who have supported the Program all these years. I believe it is the only program that really works anymore for Small Farms!!! We have observed that sales of local farm fresh produce and meat have drastically declined at local markets.The so called Farmer's Markets have increased in size and number but with less actual Farmers. Currently there are many food delivery services and fake CSA Programs that are not operated by individual Farmers.Also most corporate grocery stores and new more Specialty Grocery Stores draw the Consumers in with the shopping conveniences and fancy deceptive packaging..I do not believe the food they offer is the same as Small Local Farmer's provide!
Food Nutrition and Health Issues:
Thanks to our many Nutrition and Health concerned customers over the years I have began to be more conscious of their concerns. At first we farmed and raised our plants and animals in ways that seemed more Natural ( Now Called Organic.) and Humane also for the critters. Much like the farms did 50 years ago when we lived on them as children. Strange we never heard about as many food and nutrition health issues back then.You could even buy fresh food from local farms at the local grocery stores so there wasn't much need for Farmer's Markets then.I was one of the first to do retail sales of local grown beef and pork in the Spokane Area. The majority of the produce and meat sold in grocery stores today is imported from beyond the Spokane Area and in some cases from outside the U.S.A. The reason this is important is that no matter how much refrigeration and storage preservatives are used the freshness is not the same as local food!!! Every day after produce is harvested the nutrition level declines. Many so called fresh produce and fruits are harvested before they are ripened by maturity to make them last longer in storage. These items will always have less flavor and nutrition. Fresh frozen meats are flash frozen at about -20F degrees to truly preserve the freshness. Meats on display in a cooler for two weeks or so at a grocery store or meat market don't match this. There are so many health and nutrition factors I'm afraid I could go on for pages as some actually do! So I'll just say we do our best to only supplier healthier food and continue to try to improve the healthiness of what we grow. I will include this segment in future News Letters in awareness to the fact that of it's importance!
We also will be making Special Order Deliveries from the ON-Line Store and E-Mail or phone requests. Currently a revised Web Site and On-Line Store are in progress to make it easier for Special Orders. Actually we have delivered quite a few orders since last Fall. Seems On-Line Ordering is even becoming the choice of many for fresh foods. During the last two years we have experienced drastic declines in Farm Stand Retail Sales. We are going to try the Farm Stand Retail Table Sales again this Summer but may suspend it if there isn't more sales than last year. Keeping busy doing this also helps our health so we have no desire to stop and retire although I have to admit we may have to do a little less!
Farm News: All the heated Hoop/Green Houses are in full production.. The Hot House, we call it, ( A smaller greenhouse kept warmer) is full of new starts to transfer into the unheated hoop houses around the end of this month. We know we don't have as many fresh veggies to start but where else can you get truly fresh harvested veggies this time of year? Must admit the storage veggies have lost a little freshness but they were all originally harvested fresh and have had no preservatives or refrigeration used on them. Even have a few things like onions and leeks growing outside. Needless to say all were grown organically.
Have had 7 new baby calves born so far, one just yesterday. More on the way. My wife's pet cow "Curly" is due to calf soon and another one is so big in the belly I'm suspecting twins! We increased our herd size by five more Heifers/Cows this year. Gradually we are developing a herd of Wagyu (Kobe) and Low Line (Original Aberdeen Angus type) Cross bred cattle.that I think are very promising for top quality free ranging all pastured beef.The regular full size Black Angus are excellent but for truly all forage fed beef I believe we are developing an improved version. Have two in the freezer now but some cuts already sold. Scheduling two more for processing around the end of this month. The mild Winter and good hay from last years wet growing season have enabled me to keep them all in great condition.
The piggies born last Fall all doing fine. Have 24 of them about half grown and 7 more nearing processing size. Hoping for some Spring Orders soon!. Have plenty in the freezer as well; about eight of them all ready for CSA and Special Orders.Just moved the smaller guys out of the barn but not before they dug a hole under the main water supply line and caused a major leak. They were also able to run around outside but the unfozen dirt floor was a lot easier digging for them I guess. The leak created a big mud hole in the barn several feet deep. Kept me busy several weeks as I did my own digging 5 ft down to fix it. Felt like a human gopher digging under the concrete slab . Have to admit without a neighbors help I don't think I could have done it! We already had experience doing this last Summer but the pigs didn't cause it. We now have better water pressur than for years. Maybe the pigs were drawn to moisture down deep that was already down there but they surly made it worse with bad timing!!! Had an annual heart Exam and the Dr. asked if I was getting any exercise. After hearing this story he had nothing further to say.
Have about 125 new Layer Pullets. Used to start 400 every year but the demand for truly healthy fresh eggs has declined! Guess many consumers think those eggs with the fancy labels at the grocery are the same or better than ours. Still also have about 250 Layers left from last year laying nice Larger size eggs now. Expect more Pee Wee size eggs by Spring. We'll be dropping eggs from the CSA Program next year. We'll still have some for awhile longer but most likely just enough to fill current orders. Still have Broilers, Ducks and Geese in the freezer. Also have some grown up Lambs to be processed soon. They live with the cattle this year instead of the Hogs. Had to make this change because they kept sneaking in to eat the pig grain feed. They are pretty resourceful. I am feeding large round bales of hay this year about 4 ft high. I get to watch the sheep jump up on top of the bales and eat while the cows are eating around the sides. Have some lamb on hand from late last Fall in the freezer as well.
Well guess I'll sign off. We are looking forward to seeing you All again soon!!! Gary and So.
NOTE: We had our 40th Wedding Anniversary on Jan 16th last month. Hoping the weather will warm up enough to visit that Hot Spring Resort in Montana for a deferred celebration before March. We did celebrate a little locally and "SO" has a lot of new stuff she surely deserves!
PS. "Buddy" our beloved Border Collie Dog is still doing well at about 18 years old. He acts a lot like me though as we are both getting pretty old.