Friday, January 23, 2015

We get by, with a little help...

We are preparing to go into our biggest year of production to date, and need to get our poultry processing set up in tip-top shape. Now that we have a permanent spot- it's time to build a facility that can help us produce poultry in the way we believe in at a quantity that will keep the farm solvent.

Right now, using NYS regulations, we can process up to a number of poultry without a state inspection. Of course, we still use all of the same safetly and health procedures, we just don't have to have a formalized license from NYS to do what we do. But this also means we can't sell our chickens in stores or restaurants in the same way as larger producers- and we certainly can't grow the amount of chickens and turkeys we need to keep the farm afloat. And, because we can't grow the number of poultry we would like to, we can't afford to buy the equipment that would make processing easier. It's a vicious cycle. It's also a big reason why we've run of our poultry for the winter, and are no longer at your favorite markets. There are operations near by that we could ship poultry now that we have moved, but previously it was at least 2.5 hours to the nearest facility- which did not get in line with our ethical considerations for meat production and just wasn't practical. It's substantially more expensive to pay someone to process your poultry then to do it yourselves, and didn't make sense given our land size, staffing capability etc.  

We've always planned that when we had a permanent location we would put in a NYS inspected facility that would allow us to sell more wholesale, provide rabbit at farmer's markets, and generally- just make life a little easier. With new equipment we can triple the amount of chickens we can process in the same amount of time- leaving more time for us to spend tending the livestock and doing the rest of the farm work (oh, and writing a blog post or two!). It's not a luxury for a business of our size, it's a necessity- it will keep our farm able to produce poultry for the foreseeable future. Plus, it will give us a really nice space to train great staff to help us process poultry, and will solve many of our turkey processing woes (frozen hoses, improper scalding water temps etc). If you asked me to choose between keeping our tractor or getting this facility done- I would choose the facility hands down- that's how important it is. 

As we made some mention of in previous posts, our move into the farm was quite disastrous. On November 1st, 2014 we took over the new place, with the amount of glee and excitement you may have come to expect. Mary and Josh brought their first load of belongings that first weekend, and we met them up here with a load of farm equipment. We celebrated with cupcakes and looked around at the potential of what was to come. 

Unfortunately, that was the least stressful moment we would have clear until after Thanksgiving. 

It was a downward spiral of mishaps. The electricity here started failing immediately, and we were having problems with the main well as a result. We had all kinds of minor projects to take care of, and realized that there were a bunch of unexpected repairs even to get appliances into Mary and Josh's kitchen. Meanwhile, the farm was still in full swing back in Copake, with a herd of turkeys to usher to the table- and a huge move to organize. I was driving up to the new farm a minimum of three times a week (2 hours each way), after finishing work in Copake- staying up at all hours working with Josh trying to get the house habitable, and then driving back in the wee hours of the morning to get home in time to get the livestock chores done. Kim was frantically trying to help me keep up at home, go to her full time job--we were both trying to pack--and things just were not falling into place here. Mary and Josh were spending time here, but having to patch-work sleep at their old apartment because the house just wasn't functional. Josh nearly froze on a ladder one night, as we finally discovered we had lost an entire 1/2 of the power to the house and we tried to repair a corroded coupling in failing sunlight. We did fix it, finally. 

The damage was done though. The electrical issues ruined our main well pump, and we ended up having to re-plumb the house to the farm production well- which is rather fragrant with sulfur. As a hilarious side note, the sulfur well water was recently described by the offspring of a friend as smelling like "spicy farts" as he washed his hands. That may be an understatement- but it's certainly better than not having a back-up well to use.

We persevered, and the physical moving of the farm was equally as challenging- but a story for another day. Someday, we'll look back and laugh. And of course, it was a bad month- but just a month in what we hope will be years of good times. Still, the sheer amount of repairs ate up most of our winter reserves and we still have a main well that needs a major overhaul. 

We've decided that it's time to ask for help. We are using the amazing Kiva loan program- which is like crowd-funding- only it's crowd lending! We are hoping to borrow enough funds to cover the cost of our well repair (we need both wells to keep the farm running) and get our poultry operation set up. In order for us to qualify for their wide community of lenders and reach out goal- we need to get 20 people from our community to lend us at least $5. Once we hit that mark, we will be able to be public on Kiva- and hit a much bigger pool of lenders other than the people we know. 

So if you like what we do, and you would buy us a cup of coffee- consider following the link provided below and lending us at least $5. AND- as a bonus- if you're new to Kiva (and we think many of you are), Kiva will match your loan amount!! So if you loan us $5- it's really $10 to us! We only have 15 days to get 20 people to lend. If you can loan us more (and don't forget, we will be paying you back over the term of the loan) please consider doing so. Programs like this take all of the power out of big banks and put them back in the hands of all of us, as community members. 

We know there are a lot of you out there who have supported us from the very beginning, and we can't thank you enough. This really is the precipice of success for us - we are consumed with getting this farm into shape so we can grow, long term. We want to be able to provide our wonderful customers with the delicious meat we grow- for many years to come. We also want to grow enough product that it will be a little easier for us to keep up with the demand. We're not becoming a huge business, just keeping the 48.5 acres we are now tending in production, as a small but sturdy little farm.

Want to help us?

You can first check out the full details of our Kiva Zip Loan HERE.

Then, to be come a Kiva lender, you can follow these instructions:

(1) Click the following link:
(2) Select the amount you would like to lend in the panel on the right-hand side
(3) Click the orange "Lend Now" button
(4) Click the white "Register" button
(5) Enter your full name, email and desired password in the appropriate boxes. Check that you have read the Kiva Terms of Use
(6) Click the orange "Register" button
(7) You should be redirected back to your checkout basket. Confirm the amount and click "Checkout"
(8) Choose to "Pay with your PayPal account" or "Pay with a debit or credit card"
(9) Fill out your payment information and click the orange "Pay" at the bottom of the page

We know times are tight, so if you can't swing it- we hope that you will consider sharing the link at least with folks you know. The more this is shared, the quicker we can get this little farm fixed and at full running speed! 

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