This is our fourth year of raising turkeys. Due to a cancelled butcher date our first year, this is also the fourth year of butchering turkeys on the farm. Customers drive to the farm and pick up their fresh turkey, works pretty slick.
Butchering turkeys is not my favorite job, but our closest poultry processor is about an hour and a half away, and that would require two trips, one for the live birds, and one to pick up processed birds, so more than 6 hours, plus customers would still have to get their turkeys somehow.
Turkey butchering day starts with early chores and starting by 8:30 am processing, done by noon, and then customers start rolling in. I don’t set an end time, but thankfully all the customers arrive before my bedtime.
The weather was miserable for turkey day this year with a snowstorm the night before, meaning I had to move snow in the early am, followed by snow and rain all day. But we had a great crew of friends to help butcher and a steady stream of customers all afternoon. The weather wasn’t able to dampen my spirits.
Twine threading through my New Holland square baler. We remove the last bale from the baler at the finish of haying season and have to rethread the twines at the beginning of the next. It doesn’t work unless its exactly like this, so I took this photo so I could remember, and save myself some frustration.
If I had to square bale every day I’m sure I would come to dread the job. But because we only do it a few days a summer, its actually exciting. We round bale a lot more.
Changing jobs frequently suits me well. Even menial labor can be pleasant if it doesn’t consume the whole day. This is one of the reasons I love farming. Often, my body is engaged in menial labor while my mind is busy working on a more difficult problem.
A new customer asked about the treatment of our animals from our farm to slaughter. I’m confident our animals are among the most humanely raised on the planet. We look at each species and strive to give them what they want: Pigs root, Cows graze in a herd, Chickens forage for bugs, etc.
And I deliver to our butcher and walk them all the way to the kill floor. I don’t stay to see them killed, but Avon wouldn’t have a problem having me stay as they kill as humanely as possible. I’m much more concerned with a slick walkway than with Avon’s slaughter technique, as hogs and cattle don’t understand they’re about to be slaughtered, but they definitely experience fear if they don’t have secure footing.
Another reason I like Avon is they’re changing jobs throughout the week just like my farming. They only kill animals a couple of mornings a week. The rest of the week they’re cutting up animals, or curing meat, or dealing with customers. Unlike threading my square baler once a year, Avon is doing jobs every week, staying proficient, yet changing jobs every day to keep things fresh.
UPDATE: Taking orders for delivery every other Saturday to Madison. Next date September 5th. Email Matthew with order and/or questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
We always eat well, but these next two weeks are remarkable. It’s sweet corn season!
Above is a corner of my sweet corn field I carved out for my friend Jeremy. He grows tomatoes, eggplant, and cowpeas, and the rent he pays is all we care to eat. This is the third year we’ve said yes to this arrangement and its delicious!
UPDATE: Taking orders for delivery every other Saturday to Madison. Next date August 22nd. Email Matthew with order and/or questions: email@example.com. Thank you!
It may not be easy, but it is heaven on Earth for me.
Spring always seem like a miracle, but this spring’s new births are especially welcome.
I marvel at the promise of a seed, all the instructions it needs, packed tightly inside.
All I do is drop them on the soil, and in a few weeks, luxurious green!
Saturday morning Dane County Farmer’s Market closed due to Covid-19. Making trips to Madison for meat drops every other Saturday. Next delivery April 25th. Contact Matthew for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Last weekend was a gorgeous weekend and all of our sows farrowed from Saturday to Tuesday, with 8 to 11 piglets each, and they are all doing fantastic. Tuesday afternoon was only 46 F, but the sunshine felt so good, some of the piglets were sunning themselves in the entrance of a hut.
Humanity’s health is not doing so well. The Dane County Farmer’s market is cancelled for this Saturday and I think its a wise move. When I heard that some people can carry and spread Covid-19 without showing symptoms, I knew we were in trouble. I’m reminded of some of the hog diseases that seem to sweep across the nation despite all our best efforts to prevent them.
So its all about flattening the curve now so that our health care professionals can treat everyone who needs attention. So no more large gatherings for the foreseeable future.
I am however, making deliveries to Madison this Saturday. If you would like something, email, and we will work out details. Thank you and stay safe!
As caretaker of our animals, our goal is a beautiful life, with one bad day. One bad moment actually, as Andrew and the crew at Avon Locker work to humanely kill the animals on butcher day.
Personally, we had a bad day the other day, as my Dad rolled his ATV. He’s ok, but recovering, as he’s sore all over and his ear needed several stitches.
We were trying to get a cow in and Dad was driving along side her on a side hill and the cow kicked the ATV and somehow it rolled over on top of him and continued rolling off him. I got to him shortly after and we took him to the ER to get checked out and his ear stitched.
One of the reasons we’ve needed to get cows in is we’ve had 8 sets of twins this year, blowing away the old record of 5 sets. Our cows have a difficult time keeping track of twin calves unless we get them in to a smaller pasture by themselves. If we are unable to separate the cow and calves, we bring in whichever calf ends up abandoned and bottle feed it until it can live on grass.
Below is a photo of a bottle calf we took to the library for a kids program and short petting zoo. The kids enjoyed petting the calf. And at the risk of anthropomorphizing, I think the bottle calf enjoyed the attention as well.
Spring has sprung! Two months of cold, snow, ice, rain, and flooding, and Mother Nature has wrought her miracles again with warm sun and drying winds. The ground is dry enough to drive on, so I frost seeded a bag of red clover today.
Earlier in the week we entertained a special guest. Derek Tonn is trying to be the first person to play 2,000 different disc golf courses. If you don’t think that’s possible, there are over 6,000 courses in the United States alone.
As a reference, I’ve played 78 different courses, which is great, but my course is the 1,498th course Derek has played. Its reassuring to meet someone crazier than myself.
2019 farrowing started well as Susie Q gave birth to 16 piglets yesterday, and after a cold night that dipped into the teens F, she still had 15 alive and nursing this morning.
I could see she was going to farrow yesterday morning so I put 2 straw bales and 1 hay bale loose where she could get to them and she spent a few hours building the giant nest you can see in the photo below. It works better if you let the sow build her own nest for some reason. All the women reading this are probably like, duh!
I wish all my sows were as good of mothers as she. And humbly, I tell you she wasn’t even chosen as a breeder. She was a runt that got accidentally bred, and after a first litter of only 4 piglets born, she’s had big litters since. I think this is her 4th litter.
November, the last litter of 2018. Cold as heck outside. Warmer next to your momma.
This gilt was featured in one of my farm videos last year. She is one of the piglets in the video. I made the video because I was excited for new genetics. This gilt and her siblings, were sired by Chester White semen I purchased from a boar stud in Iowa.
I wanted to try the Chester White breed because it is know for mothering ability and meat quality, two of the traits most important in my swine herd. Also, Chester White is an American Heritage breed.
I love eating “General Tso’s Chicken” at the Chinese restaurant in town. And I’m sure “General Tso’s Chicken” is heritage food to someone, but its not my heritage. Farmers, let’s make our own heritage!
Back to this Chester White experiment. I kept all five of the gilts from that litter and bred them to my Duroc boar. They have done well, good mothers. Interestingly, they don’t have as many piglets born as my Landrace genetics. They seem to be very similar to my Duroc genetics, as I always select for mothering ability and meat quality when I purchase Duroc semen as well.
What’s nice is that I was able to conduct this experiment in a relatively short amount of time as the generation interval in swine is about a year. The generation interval is the amount of time it takes for any species to reproduce itself. In cattle its about two years.
The generation interval is important to geneticists and animal breeders because it adds a time element to any “progress” that can be made in a species. I put “progress” in quotes because geneticists and animal breeders are people like you and me. And like you and me, its way easier to make change for change’s sake, than to stop and figure out where exactly you want to go and why, and if its going to be a good when you get there.
Okay, if you’ve made it this far, comment and let me know what you think about “heritage” and “progress”. And check out my youtube channel if you want to see more of our farm. Thanks!
Had a good time picking corn with my Father the old fashioned way. Dad said he used this New Idea corn picker 50 years ago to pick seed corn. My Grandfather and his brothers owned a seed corn business years ago.
When my family moved to Wisconsin in 1975, my Dad was able to take this machine which was considered old even then. He modified it by putting on a sheller attachment so you will notice the corn is shelled off the cob as it enters the wagon.
Even though its old, it works great. Its tough to get parts, though. And its slow. We only picked about an acre per hour.
We used this machine all through my childhood until we got our first combine. Recently we have hired our neighbor to combine our corn. Big machine, very fast.
Probably too big to fit through my woods as this field of corn is mine and is difficult to access with today’s large machinery. I didn’t want to have to cut trees to get a combine in, so we put our New Idea picker back in use. They didn’t really think the name through, I guess.
Thankfully the corn was only 18% moisture so I was able to put it in a bin with a fan and will blow air through it to dry it a couple of points more. That along with weekly use should keep the corn in good condition. If it was wetter, or I planned to sell it, I would have used gas to dry it down to 15% which is the industry standard.