Farm update

  • We’ve been enjoying a wonderful stretch of cooler weather—lows 60 or below, highs in the mid-80s—but it continues to be extremely dry in this part of Kentucky. I doubt that we’ve gotten more than a few inches total of rain since early June. (I suppose I could go add it up, since we keep track.)

  • The dryness hasn’t killed our garden, but it has required a lot of watering, something we aren’t set up well to do. Right now we have drip tape on the tomatoes, a critical crop, and we’re keeping an eye on the squash, which was nurtured through the early stages with hand-watering but now seems to be managing OK with the occasional rain we’ve received.

  • Our crops are late, partly by design and partly by accident. We’ve only just had a few things ready for sale—cherry tomatoes, garlic, some extra onions. But we should have various tomatoes (romas, New Girl, Carolina Gold) from now through the end of the growing season, and the winter squash (acorn, ambercup, delicata, blue hubbard) should be ready in a few weeks.

  • Sliced tomatoes now make a regular appearance at lunch and supper. We eat a lot and never get tired of them.

  • Our freezers were nearly full, and we had seventy-five chickens scheduled for slaughter within a week or two, so we started talking about getting another freezer; we already had one 10 cu ft chest freezer, a 20 cu ft upright, and the freezers of our two refrigerators. We had pretty much settled on a new 20 cu ft chest model, when Debbie discovered that our fifteen-year-old upright was no longer maintaining its temperature. So one new 20 cu ft chest freezer became two. One was delivered today, and the second will come at the end of next week. The second will have to go in the basement.

  • We raise some broilers to eat, some to sell, and some to give away. The original plan was to keep fifty of this year’s seventy-five, give fifteen to one of our pastors (the other raises his own chickens), and sell or give away the other ten. But now we find that we still have twenty-five chickens in the freezer; we ate fewer than we expected, and we slaughtered some unneeded roosters this spring. So we will only be keeping twenty-five broilers, and sell or give away another twenty-five. (And some of those will go to our other pastor, who we learned does not like to slaughter his own flock.)

  • We welcomed home our pigs from the slaughterhouse with a delicious grilled pork chop supper. Earlier that day I took the four hams and four slabs of bacon to a different slaughterhouse where they also cure and smoke meat (I would have liked to had the pigs slaughtered there as well, but it is about fifty miles from here, too long a drive to subject the animals to.) Tonight we will be having pork roast with homemade sauerkraut.

  • We sold one-half of one of our pigs to a neighbor, about sixty pounds of pork. They will also be buying one of the two cows we will have slaughtered this fall.

  • Since both of our calves this year were girls, we will be looking for one or two male calves this fall to raise for next year’s beef. But we don’t want to overwinter a full-sized cow like we did last year (lots of hay eaten without any weight gain), so those calves would be slaughtered at twelve months or so, after a summer of fattening on pasture. Next year we need to find our male calves in the late spring (if we need them).

  • After three years at this, the most important thing we’ve learned to this point is that we’ve barely begun to learn all that we need to know in order to be successful homesteaders. But God is merciful, and it turns out that even the little we’ve learned so far has been enough to feed us well and transform our everyday lives for the better.

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4 thoughts on “Farm update

  1. In what way do you sell your vegetables (farmer’s market, direct)?

    Christo,

    Right now we sell most of our produce through our friend Jerome Lange to Good Foods Co-op in Lexington (it was originally a real co-op, but is now more like a local Whole Foods Market, still cooperatively owned); they are taking our garlic and cherry tomatoes, and will be taking other tomatoes (romas, Carolina Gold, maybe New Girl) and winter squash (blue hubbard, acorn, ambercup, delicata) when they are ready. The overall quantities aren’t large, but it is all we can handle right now, since we’re still very much in the learning stage.

    There are two farmers’ markets we might sell at eventually, if not this year. Obstacles include: distance from home (one is twenty miles away, the other thirty); having a sufficient variety of produce to offer; getting organized enough to supply and operate a table during market hours; having a plan that will make the effort profitable (eventually).

    Sooner than that we will probably have a small stand by the road in front of the house, just a table with a few things that will be at least partly self-service. Even though our location isn’t great for it, we do think that such a stand could eventually draw enough business to be a significant part of our sales.

    We also sell a little bit directly to neighbors. Not produce yet—we have to figure out how to mix sales into all the giving away that occurs between neighbors—but we sell eggs (at a loss right now), and have sold some meat as well.

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