Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall Blitz

Phew!

We spent two days this week helping our friend Hilary get her first batch of fall turkeys processed, and now are headed out to get some delicious fall crops harvested. Earlier in the week, we picked over 300 lbs of potatoes and our pigs are FINALLY headed to the butcher on Sunday!

Our batch of turkeys are outside, the barn and brooder are cleaned, and the fall crops in the lower garden plot are doing pretty well. We have a bunch of greenhouse work to do and it's about to be crazy canning season with a bumper crop of apples. We're hoping to team up with another neighboring farmer for some serious apple cider making in the next two weeks.

We're crazy busy, and promise a longer, more exciting update soon. And, soon it will be cold and winter out there and we will have much more time to share our thoughts with you all!

in the meantime, enjoy these quick farm pictures!

Kim's best goat impression


Fall flowers still blooming


These goats can't get enough hugs. 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pork Pack Promotion!

Pork Pack Promotion!



There is a limited availability of some of our prime, heritage, pastured and ethically raised pork for sale for those folks who didn't order a 1/2 or whole pig! We only have a few of these ‘pork packs’ available, so don’t wait to order yours!

What’s included in a Pork Pack:

3lbs of any the following (your choice in 1lb packages! mix and match!)
*Breakfast sausage
*Hot italian sausage
*Sweet italian sausage
*Ground Pork (versatile in any recipe!)

1 package of delicious 1 inch pork chops(2 chops per package)

Price: $30

How to order: Send us an email at reisenshinefarm@gmail.com before 9/17 (or until we are sold out) and we will send you an order form and a paypal invoice. Delivery will be the first weekend in October!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Beginning of Autumn

Most people today, when they comment on the weather, it's just in passing- or a minor inconvenience. For farmers, it's a little more dramatic and crucial. Sure, many people dislike carrying umbrellas, or opening/closing windows- but very  few people left actually work outside for much of the day- let alone watch the weather bring forth great joy or massive disappointment,

It's been chillier and darker in the morning hours, and we're still combating the effects of the strangest summer on record (in some ways, even more so then last year's drought). Extreme temperatures have taxed us, but we are so grateful for a nice crop of tomatoes, green beans that are FINALLY making a proper recovery, and the best crop of potatoes I've ever seen. The chilly air has invigorated some of the cool weather crops, and we're worried as the temperatures will climb from 40 degrees up yesterday morn to 85 tomorrow afternoon we'll see another round of crop challenges. We can do very little to mitigate the effects this stress will have on our plants, so we must just try to mitigate our emotions. I am becoming more aware of why so many of the older farmers I know (and respect) are so very hard to read. It's years of roller coasters, huge highs and the lowest lows. I think they twist their face into a non-committal mask to cope with the absolute pleasure of hard work paid off to a field of death that there is no recovery from. If you tried to feel it all, I don't think it would be sustainable.

But Autumn is coming, and she is so beloved on our farm. There are turkey chicks, now several weeks old, in a moveable pen outside on fresh grass. They're not as hardy as last year's group, and have required a bit of coddling, but we are relieved to hear undoubtedly 'happy' chirps coming from their direction in the fading light. Autumn means the end of a very long meat chicken season, and the last of the tender birds will be tucked in the freezer before November 1st. We've one more week with the 8 pigs, and then they too, will close out this part of the season. There will be two new piglets for the winter, so we can get a jump on production and markets for next year- but that's a far cry from the herd of beasts we're now tending.

Today, having a cup of tea with a relative of Kim's- I described this season in a way that can sum it all up. The spring and the autumn are the busiest, we spend the spring getting everything in the ground, and the autumn getting everything out. We will be packing the root cellar, insulating the greenhouse, and picking every last summer tomato. The long wait for next year's tomato is nearly upon us, and so we eat the summer fruits with every meal, hoping to grow tired of them (we never do). As the field work slows, the inside prep will pick up, with a summers worth of berries to melt into jam, and pickles still to make. There's also the heating season to start tending to, cutting firewood, cleaning chimneys- and two farm helpers who need homework assistance several days a week. We're so excited to have our summer visits from Kim's younger cousins roll into the school year, there are few things more fulfilling then watching a 10 year old kiss the nose of a bunny while her brother learns to 'speak chicken'.

Autumn, please come, and bring your apples and cider, your pumpkins and sweaters. Be kind, and long, and full of color. Bring a healthy harvest and fat turkeys. We'll trade you a summer's tomato for your good graces.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

If, Then

The thing about farming is that Every little decision affects something down the line- and it's your job to try and figure out if it's to the better, to the worse, or just manageable.

For example- in the spring, we planned to sell the small pick up, use that money for a larger pick up, and then find a trailer to move pigs when they hit butchering size. We budgeted for a trailer with the assumption we wouldn't have to pay for field work, as we got a team of horses and new equipment.

The horse team was a struggle, and we ended up paying for some field work, thus pushing the trailer purchase down the road. And the small pick up ended up costing a small fortune before it could be sold, and thus we were stuck with it (couldn't sell it for enough to recoop repair costs and put down a big payment on a new truck).

So, we then booked an appt with a  butcher close to home for the pigs, and planned to pay someone to move them since we couldn't do it ourselves. But- we then heard some disconcerting things about the butcher, and had to switch facilities- to a nicer one further away. We called around and had 2 plans in place to move the pigs.  Yesterday, we cancelled one of the plans, because we didn't need two trailers to show up for the pigs. And then guy didn't show up this morning.

That's right. We now STILL have 8 butchering size pigs in the pasture. And we missed our butchering appt. Which we booked months ago- and everyone we know is booked solid. The earliest appt we have found is in December. That's not going to work.

That and some other farm negotiations has left us a little flattened.

We will find a place to get the pigs done (hopefully quick! we have customers expecting product!!), and things will work out. But right now, it's a stressful time. We've put six months into these pigs, and aren't really budgeted to go much longer on top of customer satisfaction worries. For a small farm to allow for incremental payments from customers, AND use organic feed AND only have the highest standards of care AND keep the lights on... everything has to run in a cohesive manner. There's always sticking points, but right now it's a glue soup, too many sticking points.

This isn't a complaint, it's just reflecting on how two decisions at the beginning of the year snowballed into this very moment.

If, then. Now it's time to show what we're really made of, and get it to come together. Come hell or high water.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our Porcine Pals

Well, today is the last full day with the litter of 8 little (BIG!) pigs. It's bittersweet for sure. This is the first time I've raised pigs and gotten to be close to them as an animal. They are great, super entertaining! Nothing is more amusing than feeding a pig a peach, pits and all. They love them.

All 8 are heading to the processor tomorrow morning at 5am. My great Uncle Charlie called in a favor for us and hooked us up with his friend Tim, who hauls livestock for a living in CT. Tim will come early and help us load them into his trailer and then he and Ejay will take them to Altamont. We'll of course be getting breakfast and coffee for our helper/hauler and a HUGE thank you to Charlie is forthcoming. We are really very lucky to have a host of resources in the area, family and friends alike. Charlie has been a farmer for all of his 80 years, first at his parents beef operation and later at his own farm in Pawling. He raises beef and lamb, keeps draft horses and a lot of laying hens. You couldn't ask for a better resource on all things livestock related and he's been working in the area for so long that he knows all the players on a first name basis. So when we were having a hard time finding someone to haul the pigs (we don't have a truck and trailer that could haul all 1600lbs at once), we put in a call.

The pigs have been at the farm for about 6 months, all 8 having come from the same litter in April. It has been a real learning experience for me, especially in the way pigs test your intelligence. They have always found all of the vulnerable places in our electric fencing, no matter how well we thought we had it configured. At one point we had about 7000 volts running through 3 lines of electric fencing and the pigs couldn't have cared less, the crawled right underneath like it was nothing. We eventually had to switch them to electro-netting, which was just enough of a barrier to keep them in their pen.

In any case, I'm thankful that these creatures have been so enjoyable and that they are providing food for us and for our customers. They have been great pals for the past 6 months.