Market · Not Farming Related · Product Review · Tutorial

Being Farmers Market Vendors: How We Set Up

Lately, we have had seen several people asking about setting up at farmers markets, and what sorts of tents/tables/signage work the best. We are in our third year of vending at our local market, but I have been doing handmade markets for over a decade. I have seen many different setups that work, and many more that just… do not… We are going to share some of what we have for our market setup, and why we’ve chosen them. What works for us may not work for you. Consider this a jumping off point for your market booth.

We forgot our tablecloths this day. They were in the washer. This is why we suggest having two sets of tablecloths!

The most important item, for us anyway, is a really good, sturdy tent. We used to have a cheap canopy from Kmart, but we upgraded this year to a 10 x 10 Eurmax brand tent. It’s heavier, but it’s way sturdier, and looks much more professional. It’s available in a bunch of different colors. However, the downside to this is that the sun filtering through is tinted the color of the tent, and can make some of your products look weird and unappealing. You can purchase the tents that come with the side walls, or buy them afterwards. We bought one when we realized the sun was roasting our veggies while still on the table! The only thing we don’t use from this pack are the leg weights. They are heavy! You absolutely need tent weights though. Our “cheat”? Five gallon buckets filled with water! They come to the market empty, and weight next to nothing. We fill them with water at the market, and use a bungee cord to attach them to the top of the tent.

The next most important item are tables. We buy ours on sale from Menards, Home Depot, or wherever we find them. We like to buy them in person so we can see how heavy they are. Folding tables are easiest for us, but standard tables might work for you. They get set up in a T or L shape, depending on where our booth is located, and how much stock we have. Most customers don’t want to enter your tent, so having the tables at the front of the booth is ideal. However, if it’s really hot and sunny out, they will often appreciate the extra shade. Make sure your tables are sturdy, the same height, and able to support the weight you will put on them.

The tables will look best if covered. We ordered some inexpensive grey tablecloths off Amazon that look great against our products. Again, you can get something more colorful, but keep in mind that the sunlight might make your products look a little weird. I would personally stay away from white, black, or anything patterned. You want your products to be the focus, and you don’t want them sitting on a table that will look filthy (white cloths) or absorb all the heat and cook everything (black). This seller has a ton of different table cloth options, in different colors and sizes. They are easy to wash, and we hang them to dry. They are polyester, so they dry really fast. We definitely suggest having at least one spare table cloth, or even an extra set. We seem to forget them at home a couple times a season, and having a backup set in your bin of market supplies can be a lifesaver!

Our market banner is from Staples. We used their online design option, and picked it up in store a couple days later. This is something we have been complimented on more times than I can count. We are planning on getting another one made that is a little more colorful, but this one was made in a rush, and we didn’t have time to find the photos we needed. The good thing is, it’s inexpensive enough to just have a handful of them for different markets. We have it attached to the tent frame with bungee cords. We can never have enough bungees on the farm, and both of our vehicles have a handful stored in them at all times. You never know when you need to hold something in place!

We also decided to splurge on a chalkboard sign. It isn’t super expensive, but it’s definitely a nice bonus item that has helped us out a lot. I spent an afternoon putting our social media links on one side of it, and we have the other side as our actual advertising side. At some point, we are going to have someone redo the permanent side, and seal it with clear coat. We also suggest using chalk markers instead of actual chalk. It is easier to read, easier to clean off, less likely to be smudged by people or in transit, and just generally cleaner. The pack we got has colors that are easy to read when it’s bright out, or not so bright.

The rest of our set up changes depending on what we have for sale. We have a couple coolers with ice packs for our frozen meat. We will be upgrading to actual freezers in the near future. We also have a cooler for our eggs, with ice packs. For this one, we made sure that egg cartons would fit in without too much wiggle room. This keeps the eggs secure while driving to the market. We have brought egg cartons into stores to test fit. It looks silly, but the peace of mind knowing they won’t slide around and smash everything is totally worth it.

We have picked up a few wooden crates, canning jars, as well as pots and pans to hold produce on the table. We like to have enough where it looks like a full display, but it isn’t so full it’s going to topple over. Many types of greens do best when kept in water, so we do that as needed.

For our own comfort, we usually bring a chair, and squishy stress relief mats to stand on. This, along with comfortable shoes, makes the market day much more bearable. We are also sure to stay hydrated with water, and try to eat something somewhat healthy. It’s easy to fill up on pastries from the other vendors, but we try to also have some fruit or veg, and protein.

Finally, one of the most important things: SIGNAGE! We have laminated some cards with our farm logo, and we use a dry erase marker to put the prices and item name on them. This looks neat and tidy, and makes it easier for people to see what the prices are and not have to ask us. We either weight them down with the items we are selling, or tape them to the table/cooler.

In addition to all these big things, we have a couple bins with market supplies. Some of the supplies include:

  • Locking cash box filled with small bills and quarters
  • Our Square readers
  • A box of business cards
  • Bungee cords
  • Produce bags
  • Shopping bags (we reuse the ones from the grocery store)
  • Pens
  • Markers
  • Scissors or a knife
  • Duct tape
  • Roll of paper towels
  • A rag
  • Snacks
  • A bottle of water

This is just a little peek into what we bring to the market every week. This changes slightly depending on weather, which market we are vending at, and if we remember to pack everything. We keep everything stored in one spot in the barn, so it’s easy to go out and grab all of it early in the morning before market days. Look at this post as more of guidelines rather than instructions to follow. What you bring to the market will be different depending on what you sell, but this seems like a good spot to start. We hope you find this helpful, and we wish you success at your markets!

Frontière Farm House is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon. If you click a link in this post, we may earn a small commission. This does not cost you anything, and helps us cover the costs associated with farming.

Animals · Chickens · Ducks · Product Review · Turkeys

Bugs for Birds! Black Soldier Fly Larvae for Backyard Chickens: A Review

We raise our animals as livestock, but we still enjoy spoiling them with tasty treats now and then. Recently, we were asked to review Bugs for Birds! and our flock was more than happy to oblige.

First thing’s first: Do you know how hard it is to photograph a bunch of birds? I swear this is 80% luck, 15% skills, and 5% avoiding all the beaks and bills. For every photo I share on the blog, Instagram, Facebook page, or elsewhere, I have probably taken an additional 15. I am picky when it comes to the photos I share. When I have fistfuls of treats, this makes it more difficult, because everyone wants to be all up in my business even more than usual. These snacks were no different. The birds seemed especially aggressive once they all got a taste for them.

First off, I started with the whole bag, hoping to get this awesome photo of the birds surrounding it. Something Instagrammable, you know? And then the turkeys did what turkeys seem to do best… acted dumber than I thought possible. “What’s this? Can I eat it?” to literally everything. And the cute logo didn’t stand a chance.

PECK PECK PECK! Please deliver snacks!

So I quickly gave up on that idea. Thought I should put them in a feed pan. Maybe I’d get something nice of a few of them pecking from outside the bowl… That was a big nope. They actually ended up flipping this onto themselves, and freaked out. I left the pan there for a minute while I put the bag down on the outside of the fence. By the time I got back, the two birds that were trapped under it had eaten every last crumb!

Fine, I will just throw them on the ground and let the birds go to town. Well, you can barely see them in the grass. And I didn’t want to waste these treats. They’re too precious! That concern was pretty much pointless as the birds scratched and pecked to find every last morsel of these weird little bug larvae.

Finally, I settled on dumping some out on the dirt. The turkeys went ballistic, and squeezed out most of the chickens. This was fine, because I could make a second pile for the rest of the birds. We wanted to make sure the layers got some, as these little snacks have a TON of calcium and protein to help produce delicious, healthy eggs. They also have added probiotics which help keep birds healthy. And clearly, the birds loved them, considering I was concerned I would lose some fingers at certain points.

Overall, we really liked these treats. They come in compostable packaging, ship quickly, are affordable, and the birds love them. If you have pet chickens, a flock of layers, or any other birds, these are a great way to spoil them and give them extra nutrition. You can learn more about Bugs for Birds on their Facebook page. If you order some, be sure to let us know what your birds think!

The four pound bag of Bugs for Birds! BSFL was provided to us in exchange for a review. This is our honest opinion of the product, and we were not compensated beyond the cost of the product. This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through that link, we make a small percentage of the sale which helps us keep a roof over our heads. Thank you for supporting a small farm.

Animals · Chickens · Tutorial · Video

DIY Tutorial: Building a Nipple Drinker for Poultry

Today, we are going to share instructions on how to build a nipple drinker for your pastured poultry. We use these primarily with our chickens, but it also works well for turkeys. Keep in mind, waterfowl need to dunk their bill into the water, so this doesn’t work for them. This project takes under 15 minutes, and is cheaper than the poultry fountain drinkers you can find in most farm stores, plus they are much easier to fill.

First off, let’s talk about what a poultry nipple is. We like these awesome side mounted drinkers from Lovatic. They don’t leak, work well even when it’s below freezing, and keep the water cleaner. They have a little metal center piece, a small lip on the bottom edge for the water to collect on, and they easily screw into the bucket. We have had these for a couple seasons, and they’ve outlasted one of the buckets. They can easily be removed and transferred to a new bucket should the bucket crack or otherwise be made unusable. The birds seem to figure them out pretty easily, but we show them how they are used several times over the course of a couple days just to be sure.

Materials needed:

  • Plastic bucket with lid
  • Nipple drinkers
  • Drill
  • 5/16 drill bit
  • Optional: Pliers to help screw in the nipples

If you have any questions on how to build this drinker, let us know in the comments!

Collaboration · Green Gardens Community Farm · Recipe

Recipe: Easy Asian Chicken Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

Earlier this month, we did a special farm event with our friends at Green Gardens Community Farm. We had several people ask for the recipes, so here is one of them! And I won’t give you a novel before I tell you how to make it. Asian chicken tacos with cabbage slaw are quick and easy, and can be made ahead of time, and assembled later. The measurements are approximate, so don’t worry too much about getting it precise.

Asian chicken taco with cabbage slaw
We aren’t food bloggers. This imperfect photo is all I could manage before scarfing the tasty taco down

Ingredients:
One whole pasture raised chicken
Salt and Pepper
Corn tortillas

Cabbage Slaw:
One head of cabbage
1/4 cup thin sliced green onions
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Set oven to 375F. Spatchcock the chicken. If you don’t know how to spatchcock, get yourself a pair of poultry shears, and watch a video. It’s super easy, and reduces the cook time of the chicken tremendously. Flatten the bird onto a sheet pan lined with aluminium foil. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Stick in pre-heated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until food thermometer reads 160F when stuck into breast meat. Once finished, set aside to cool slightly. After chicken has cooled enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone. Chop it into chunks less than 1 inch.

While waiting for the chicken to cook, prepare the slaw. Quarter and core head of cabbage. Slice the quarters into 1/8 inch ribbons. Combine in large bowl with onions and cilantro. In smaller bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar, both oils, and soy sauce. Pour over the cabbage mix, toss together, and place in fridge until ready to serve.

To serve, throw some chicken and some slaw on a tortilla. It’s easy. I don’t think you need instructions for that. Serve it with a side of pea shoot salad (Recipe coming soon!)

This post contains affiliate links. If you click them and make a purchase, we make a little money. Doing this helps keep our farm running.

Animals · Meat · Production · Turkeys

Let’s Talk Turkey

As I sit and write this, Thanksgiving is the furthest thing from my mind. However, we run a farm, and we are constantly thinking about the next seasons, and following years.

A couple weeks ago, an acquaintance of ours found some turkey poults for a great price. He contacted me and let me know. I contacted a few friends to see if they would want to get some with me. A couple friends were available, but the first person to jump at the opportunity was Janice. She is part of the fantastic family of folks who came to install our high tensile fencing, Sitting Bull Fencing and Agriculture Solutions. She finished up her chores, and we, along with her twin daughters, headed to Family Farm And Home.

The girls found some pretty Plymouth Blues, and we decided to get the rest of them. We split them between us, and we are all quite happy with that. They also picked up a few Cornish X, which were discounted pretty heavily.

Finally, we got to the turkeys. Initially on the phone, the employee told me they had about 40. Once we got there, there were only 30 in the bin, but he was willing to honor the discounted price for as many as we wanted. We came to the conclusion that it would be irresponsible to not take all of them. So into the boxes they went! All 100+ of them.

Janice was VERY happy about what we picked up!

We did split the turkey purchase, and they took home about 30 turkeys, in addition to their Plymouth Blues, and Cornish X. They will have some full freezers and lots of eggs soon!

Unfortunately, we did lose a few of the poults early on. We couldn’t get the temperature of the brooder to stay consistent, and we think that stressed them out. Once we got that worked out, they’ve been doing really well.

Twelve juvenile broad breasted bronze turkeys crowd around a feeder at Frontiere Farm House
The bald “elbows” are normal on Broad Breasted varieties of turkeys. A week and a half after taking this photo, they are fully covered.

As with all of our animals, they are eating a feed ration that is from a local grain mill. They use locally grown grains, so this helps strengthen our local economy, and reduce the carbon footprint of our animals. This is something that is very important to us. In addition to being fed the feed ration, they will be on pasture, with access to grass, bugs, seeds, and fresh air. They will be free to be turkeys and do what turkeys are supposed to do!

So now, onto the exciting part for all of you! Turkeys for the holidays! We will start getting these processed in late August or early September. We plan on staggering the butchering dates so they are a variety of sizes. They will be priced at $3/pound, and sold as whole birds with the giblets included. It will look a lot like what you get in the grocery store, but not pumped full of preservatives, water, salt, sugar, modified food starch, or “Sodium Phosphate to enhance tenderness and juiciness”.

This was our personal holiday turkey last year

If you are interested in ordering one of the turkeys, please send us a message and let us know about how large of a bird you would like to purchase. Since this is our first year, we are anticipating a wide range in our weights, and we will do our best to accommodate all size requests. Please understand that raising poultry in small batches is not fool-proof, and we cannot make any promises on sizes.

As we get nearer to the holidays, we will share some suggestions on how to enjoy pastured turkey.

Not Farming Related · Uncategorized

We’re On The Front Page!

Last week, we got a message online from a writer at the local newspaper. He was interested in interviewing us about the unseasonable weather we’ve had in our area lately, and we were more than happy to have him come and visit.

Photo by Brooks Hepp

Brooks Hepp, from Battle Creek Enquirer, came over that evening and we chatted while sitting on some inverted five gallon buckets, in our incredibly untidy garage. He had done some research on us, and asked some great questions. We then walked around the property so he could meet the animals and get some photos.

A few days later, super early in the morning, we received a message via Facebook. We found out we were on the front page! This was way more than we expected, and was really, really cool. We jumped out of bed and headed to the local gas station. We bought them out of Enquirers, and headed to another location as well.

The article was incredibly well written, and had some great information about us. We are so grateful for this opportunity to share more about us. You can find the full article from the Battle Creek Enquirer here.

Not Farming Related · Uncategorized

We Hate Helium Balloons

Pretty intense title, right? Well, we chose to omit some more… colorful… language from it. This should be sufficient to get the point across.

The GRAD balloon we found in the pasture, where the sheep and goats live

So, why do we hate balloons? Several reasons actually. Balloon waste has been found in the great lakes. We’ve rid ourselves of microbeads in most of our cosmetics, but the waste from balloons is going to end up in our fish. It’s killing our birds. Mylar balloons can short out power lines, and electric fences. And the worst for us? Our animals could eat them, and die. There have been several farmers worldwide who have lost livestock because they ingest a balloon. This is a long, drawn out, painful death. They can either suffocate, or the ribbon can get wrapped up in their digestive tract. Could you imagine the pain of having the circulation cut off to your intestines, and then having them ripped open, spilling digestive juices into your body? Gross.

The HAPPY BIRTHDAY balloon we found in our garden

In addition to all the pollution, there is a global shortage of helium. Several party stores have closed because they can’t acquire helium anymore. That sucks, right? Want to know what other industries use helium? Healthcare. Military. Nuclear power. Space exploration. Digital device production. [Source] So not only are we saying goodbye to balloons, we could be saying goodbye to SO MUCH technology, and lifesaving healthcare.

What can you do? STOP BUYING HELIUM BALLOONS! This removes the possibility of accidentally, or intentionally, releasing them. Balloons never make it to heaven, they end up in the pastures of your local farmers. Blow bubbles or sprinkle wildflower seeds instead. Encourage your loved ones to do the same.

Please note that I am not trying to call out any individuals. This is meant to make you think about your impact on the planet. If you feel personally attacked, it’s probably time for some introspection.