I can’t believe it is already 2008. New Years is always fun to me because it gives you a chance to make some goals for that year and challenge you to meet them if not exceed them. Over the last year, I have figured out that my true passion, other than Jesus (Sunday School answer, but true), is farming. Not just farming, moving cows and driving a tractor, but sustainable farming that pulls us away from relying on big agriculture to provide for us but instead being able to produce things that cover all of our needs. This means cows, pigs, chickens, eggs, fruits and vegetables. Not doing them the traditional way that most people do today but allowing nature to work its course. Everything in their natural state doing what comes natural to them. Working the land. The one thing I have really noticed is that God made this place to work like a clock and we spend more time trying to make it fit our needs rather than allowing certain “natural” things to help us along. I hope that in the near future, we are not just producing food for ourselves, but that we are able to provide for many other families, who want to know where their food comes from and show their children that the food we eat doesn’t just pop up at the grocery store. So being my first post, I feel that it would be beneficial to anyone that wants to read this to know what Yonder Way Farm will look like after 2008.
Land: Currently I have 31 paddocks for our cows to rotate on. In late October I planted my rye grass and clover on about 50 acres so hopefully it will really come into action early Spring. We will continue to rotate our animals using Managed Intensive Grazing combined with High Stock Density Grazing. This allows good grass consumption, large amounts of manure and urine on paddocks for fertilization, good “hoof” action, and for the land to receive plenty of rest. By the end of 2008, the plan will be to have approximately 40 pads for our cows to rotate on.
Beef: We currently have 31 steers and 5 heifers. Most of them are black baldies (Angus/Hereford) crosses. This month, we will get 10-12 more and I hope to have approximately 80 by the end of 2008. Come late Spring early Summer there should be 5-10 ready for butchering so news will come of that when they are ready.
Pork: This has become one of my new projects because it started off with me just wanting to produce pork for our family. However, who doesn’t like bacon and pork chops. Only those from France or Canada and maybe some Russians. After seeing how commercial pigs are fed out, eating slop, snack mix from Kelloggs and other processed food makers, I really want to offer a true, pastured pork product. Our pigs are able to root, roam, and lay in pasture 24 hours a day. In 2008, I hope to have about 10 acres set aside for pork alone, doing the same thing as our beef, rotating on paddocks. Pigs won't be rotated to the original pad for a minimum of 30 days. Upon finishing the pigs, they will be moved to an oak patch where they will spend the last 4-6 weeks of their lives. Acorn finished pork has a distinct taste unlike anything you will get at your grocery store. I have two Yorkshire females (Lucy and Ethel) ready for breeding that I raised from piglets, and I just purchased a Hampshire male as the proud man of the barn. His name is Dudley or the Dudster. I also have three barrows that are stocker pigs that should be ready in the next four months or so. I got dibs on one so I will have 2 ready to sell in Spring. Also in Spring, I hope to have two litters of pigs so we will take reservations for those when the time comes.
Chickens: I plan on producing about 300 chickens a year at this point but I know I will have some learning on broiler chickens. They take about 8-10 weeks to be ready to butcher so figuring out breed and feeding as well as having to build mobile houses will be high on the list of things to do.
Eggs: I love eating fresh eggs everyday and getting to gather them is very rewarding. It is the instant gratification product of farming. Cows take 12-14 months to butcher, pigs 7-8 months, chickens 8-10 weeks, but eggs, you get them everyday. I had about 115 chickens/chicks in fall so that by Spring they would be laying but there are things out there in the wild that sneak up on you and get you. First, I am rooster rich which cut my egg number down at least 30. Then came a hawk. That blasted thing killed about 25 of my chickens. And Rowdy my dog, he didn’t attack them but he chased 3 or 4 and gave them heart attacks. Along with some just dying I think I will end up with about 40-50 layers come Spring. However, we have a building that I am going to convert into a large hen house which can easily house about 300 birds, with electricity, lots of windows and doors so they can easily have access to the pastures around it. I am so excited about this one.
Garden: I enjoy to garden but my true passion is animals. However, I want to produce what I eat so it is vitally necessary. I am starting to get the ground ready in January so that I can have it good and ready by Spring. My hope is that we will have enough for approximately 10 families or so who can buy stock in the garden and have a fresh basket of vegetables in the Spring and Summer. We’ll see how that goes and I’ll let you know about a Fall garden.
These are a few of my thoughts right now for what I am planning in 2008. I want this to be what it says- a diary of my thoughts and days, so if they seem long and grammatically incorrect, so be it. I have a lot of stuff in my head and be glad you can just click your mouse to make it stop where as I have to listen to it all the time. Sometimes I wear myself out. Pathetic.
For more information on our farm and to order our products, please visit our website at www.yonderwayfarm.com or click on the link to take you there.