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.

Chickens · Collaboration · Green Gardens Community Farm · Market · Meat

Check Out Your Chicken!

This spring has been a wet one. Our garden is delayed, and we are scrapping some of our plans altogether, unfortunately. We are hoping for some not-so-wet weather in the coming month so that our fall crops will do well. Cross your fingers for us!

The wet weather thankfully hasn’t affected our meat production. Our first batch of chickens is going to the processor on June 27. They are Red Bro Color Yield Broilers, from The Chick Hatchery. We really enjoy how they look, and they are doing really well on pasture.

First batch of Frontière Farm House chickens going to the processor in 2019

We will have them fresh, never frozen at the Marshall Farmers Market on June 29. They will be ready for the grill that afternoon! Any birds that are not sold that day will go into the freezer.

A few days later, we are having a special event at Green Gardens Community Farm. July 1, which is Canada Day, those fine folks will be hosting Check Out Your Chicken. We will be preparing some chickens so you can taste them before purchasing. They will be available as whole birds for $4.50/lb. We will not be offering cut ups for this first batch, but we might in the future.

If you have any questions about these birds, our process for raising them, or anything else, feel free to contact us!

Uncategorized

Social Media and When Your Friends Let You Down

The last couple weeks have seen some really intense releases on the big and small screens. People have been talking about the movies and television episodes obsessively, and it’s gotten to the point where I have given up on reading anything online without those topics sneaking in. I don’t really care about either Game of Thrones or Avengers: Endgame, but I’m fine with others finding enjoyment in either or both. What I am not fine with is the amount of free publicity everyone is giving to both of those powerhouses, and getting nothing in return.

Running a small business is difficult. Robert and I are simultaneously farmers, veterinarians, publicists, marketers, landscapers, housekeepers, and so much more. We wear so many hats in one day, in addition to Bob’s full time job, that it’s shocking we manage to get any tasks completed. One of the only things that we can crowd source is our marketing. We have a small handful of friends who share our posts on Facebook, retweet us on Twitter, or leave us comments on Instagram. But the number of interactions we get across a month of posts on all platforms is eclipsed by the number of memes I’ve seen about Game of Thrones in the last week posted on just Facebook. And what are you getting in return for sharing some GoT related posts? Nothing.

We get it. You love these forms of entertainment. That’s awesome! But you know what is more important than entertainment? Your food. We are trying to grow and produce food that is healthy, free from growth hormones and weird antibiotics, and as good for you as it is for the planet. We are trying to make a small impact in our area. And we would really love if you gave the local businesses you support just a little bit of that energy you give to sharing posts from a literal multi-billion dollar industry. Businesses like ours depend on our fans and friends to help us out. We often don’t have a budget for marketing, and hope that something will gain some amount of traction and get noticed. Going viral can take a small business from something that barely pays for itself to a full time income. We don’t expect to go viral for anything we do, but we would appreciate receiving a little love from you.

I don’t want to come across like I am begging for attention. But I am hoping something I say resonates with some of you. Leave a thumbs up or a love on a post from a local business. Leave a Google or Yelp review for a place you really enjoyed. Shop at your local farmers market. Support the people who are helping to build your community. Not just for our sake, but for every small business trying to get a little bite of the pie.

garden · Production · Vegetables

Growing and Growing: Starting Seeds

As we get closer to the month of May, we get closer to getting plants in the ground. We are working with our friends at Green Gardens for this part of the year. They have amazing infrastructure for starting seeds, and we are just not quite prepared for that aspect yet.

These are mostly starts that belong to Green Gardens. Our onions are in the back, and look a lot like grass at this point.

A few nights ago, we stopped by their farm and picked up our sixteen trays of onion starts. We are growing five types of onions this year. The two of us are HUGE onion lovers, and we use them in many of our meals. We also have some plans for making dried onion products this year, if we manage to find enough hours in our days.

The varieties we are growing are as follows: Walla Walla, Redwing, Cortland, Sierra Blanca, and Nabechan. This gives us a wide variety of types and purposes. Walla Walla is a sweet white onion that is great for many dishes. Redwing is a delicious red storage onion that will last through the winter, allowing us to extend our selling season. Cortland is also a storage onion. Nabechan is a tasty green onion that we have grown in the past.

This is just the first round of plantings we are doing in the garden. So far, one bed has been planted, with the rest hopefully happening this weekend, as long as the weather cooperates! If these sound tasty to you, and you enjoy onions as much as we do, our CSA might be a good idea! Read about it here, and send us an email to sign up!

Animals · Chickens · Goals · Sheep

New Beginnings: Life And Death On The Farm

As of March 31st, I quit my off-farm job, in order to pursue farming full time. Robert is still working as an engineer full time, and he is enjoying his job. But with the way things have been growing at home, we figured having me available more often would be best for the business, and our animals.

Way back on March 18th, our Jacob ewe Haiku gave birth to a happy little ewe lamb which we named Verse. This little lass is quick on her feet, and loves running around with the goats and the chickens. She has learned that the geese are to be avoided, and if anyone gets in her way, she can easily dart around them.

We’ve been waiting since then for our other ewe, Tanka, to have her baby. We came home last night from Fiber Expo, and visiting family, and she had done just that. She gave birth to a beautifully marked ram lamb, who unfortunately was born too early and didn’t make it. If it hadn’t been so cold and wet last night, or if he’d had just a little more time in the womb, things may have been different. However, we cannot dwell on things we cannot change. We can learn from them, and hopefully be better prepared for next year. We talked to our sheep mentors, and after a lot of reassurance, we will have better plans in place the next time around.

This whole ordeal was a huge blow to my confidence. I want everything to be perfect this year, since this is the way I will be contributing to our household. But the only thing I can control is the way I react to things. I am trying to be really objective with everything, but it’s difficult. We have made a decision on what to do with the baby that didn’t make it, and hopefully that will work out. Either way, we will be sharing it here.

We have so many projects planned for the next few months, and we are looking forward to pushing forward and gaining momentum. Our first batch of meat birds is arriving this week. We have thirty brown leghorns in a brooder that are due to head outside any day now. Keep an eye out for more regular blog posts now that I am home more!