Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Seeking Help

OK, this is difficult for us to do, but we've done it. I was raised with a work ethic that if you want something, you work for it. We work are arses off on this farm. We invested in some great equipment in order to process poultry. Over the years, we have discovered that poultry processing is becoming a dying art. So we started butchering for other folks, too. We started lending out our gear for others to rent, folks who might not afford the equipment to purchase or even see the benefit of owning it when they only need it once a year.

It was a sense of community, of teaching and sharing that lead us to expanding our poultry processing to others. To help folks be able to raise their own meat, to keep us all with a little more food independence and more local options.

Over the years the gear has had a workout. We were able to afford the original purchase, assuming it would pay itself back, and it has. Now we know our scalder and plucker are essential pieces of equipment for our farm. Worth every penny, and they need to work when we need them to work. We thought they were indestructible!

A few years ago, we started having issues with the scalder. A friend used an air compressor and cleaned the carbon build up off many of the burner orifices. I replaced the thermocouple and it started working again. The year after that, out of winter storage, issues were happening again. A new thermocouple fixed the deal again. This year, I pre-emptively replaced the thermocouple right out of winter storage.

The first renter couldn't get it to light. Again, cleaning the orifices, fumbling with the thermocouple, it hobbled along for a bit. Came back from the next renter, and the thermocouple failed again. The last renter - it never worked at all. Now, with an ignition switch busted off, some piping bent, and a propane leak in the pilot assembly - the scalder may be down for the count.

Keep in mind, each time we discovered it wouldn't light, which has been at least 6 times this year alone - this is happening at 3AM when trying to prep for the day. Not getting it functioning until 7AM sets the entire process back 4 hours and makes me a very grumpy person. Having plans to start butchering at 7AM to be done by noon or 1 is common. Not getting started until 11AM, and not being done until 5PM? That's a rotten day for me and we've had many disappointed customers as well.

Again, it's difficult to ask for help. But in the year of flying solo on the farm, I've gotten better at it. We are a community, and I am reaching out to the community. The farm is not in a financial situation to be able to afford this purchase right now. But it's needed. We are looking at putting up hay for the winter, and filling a grain bin with organic feed to get us to spring. Finances are already tight for us to be able to do that. At the end of last year, I assumed my investment in the scalder would be an extra $15 each year for a new thermocouple. We hadn't planned on 4 thermocouples, a new pilot assembly and the possibility that even with those repairs, she won't light again. We can't butcher turkeys without our scalder. We have at least 100 turkeys this year, plus another 100 meat chickens - and without a scalder, I'll never get through butchering them.

So, with that long, piteous story, here is our plea: any bit can help. With a fresh scalder, we can continue to provide our community with home grown pastured chickens. We can continue to teach others how to butcher their own birds. We can help other farms butcher their birds. It's not just for us, it's for a lot of folks - from those with 1 or 2 roosters, to other farms with 100+ chickens. We want to keep processing.  If you can help, it'll keep us running through this fall and beyond. We really appreciate those who already have contributed and anyone who will. Humbly, I thank you.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Turkey Reservations are now open!

Turkey reservations are now open. You can reserve online here.

We have about 80 birds available so far, that number will likely increase as we get closer to the holidays, as we get a better count of how many birds will be big enough to harvest. We butcher all the birds the weekend of November 22-23. If you want one for a subsequent holiday, we can freeze them for you, and you can make arrangements to pick them up.

We will have a handful of small turkeys available prior to Thanksgiving, as first-come, first-serve, that you can purchase if you want them beforehand.

Details are in the form linked above, but here are some more details:

 Like always, we can't promise an exact size, but we really do our best. For reference, they generally state that you need 1 pound per person eating. Realizing that some of the weight of the bird is going to be bones and such, so that doesn't mean each person is eating a pound of meat, though I know a lot of folks could! You can round that up or down based on how many leftovers you would like to have.

Some info about our birds - we raise 2 types of birds. One is called "Heritage" which means they come from a long line of registered breeds that can breed on their own, and have some traceability back to wild turkeys. There are 6 recognized breeds by the American Poultry Association, and we have a few of those on the farm - Bourbon Reds, Black Spanish, White Holland, Narragansett, Blue Slate and Royal Palm. If a heritage bird is what you want, keep in mind that the hens are usually 6-11 pounds in size, and the toms are typically 12-18 pounds.

 The other breed of bird is called a broad-breasted, or double breasted turkey. These guys are genetic hybrids, just like our chickens, bred specifically to grow an extra breast muscle. These are the big turkeys that have that big round chest and look great on your holiday table. I struggle with getting the size just right on these guys. Three years ago, they grew way too big, and no one wanted 30 pound turkeys! Two years ago, I overcompensated and got them way too late, and most never topped 20 pounds. Last year we did better, and I am hoping the toms will come in around that perfect 20-25 pound size that a lot of people want. It's too early to tell, as they are still quite small, but they grow so much faster than their heritage cousins.  

The second change we have here is that we have some birds raised certified Organic this year! What does that mean?  It means that all the turkeys were raised on pasture. The ones at Long Shadow Farm were raised on conventional feed - it's non-medicated feed, but the feed is not certified Organic.  Our friends at WiMo Farms are raising double-breasted turkeys this year on certified organic feed. That means no chemicals sprayed on the grains in their feed, and no GMOs in their feed. The prices are different. 
  • Pastured, conventional feed turkeys : $3.75/pound
  • Pastured, Organic turkeys: $7.00/pound
You can make your selection on the reservation form.

We are looking forward to providing your holiday turkeys for you this year. The reservation form will be taken down when all reservations are full. Last year, we sold out on November 1st!

We are also looking for extra volunteers this year. Long Shadow Farm is down one operator for the turkey harvest. We would love some volunteers for November 21, 22 and/or 23. You can sign up on our volunteer sign up form. Any help would be appreciated! You won't be asked to do anything you are not comfortable doing, and can include butchering, scalding, plucking, cleaning, bagging the turkeys - cleaning up at the end of the day, or even helping with some other chores while Turkey Processing is happening. However you would like to help would be appreciated!  We'll need help on November 21, 22 and 23.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Berthoud Farmer's and Fleas Market

We had so much fun at the market, that we signed up to finish the season. Oh yeah, we'll be on for next year for sure. Berthoud Local is doing a great job of organizing, marketing and getting it set up. Some have squabbled that being at the bank is outside of town and not a great location. Well... it's a nice open space, plenty of parking, and I think it's great!

Shannon made new friends, and particularly loved Chicken Bingo. I brought home some yummy tomatoes for canning and some corn for dinner tonight. Our great friend Margaret sold some scarves and wash cloths, too!

If you haven't been yet this year, you need to come to the market! Saturdays from 9-1 in the parking lot by the Adams Bank at Hwy 65 /Mountain Ave and Cty Rd 17.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Turkey Deposits

The forms for turkey deposits are coming soon... I have a few final details to get straightened out, and trying to get a decent head count on the birds.

We are selling birds from Long Shadow Farm for $3.75/pound - raised on pasture with non-organic feed. We are also selling pasture-raised, ORGANIC turkeys from WiMo Farms, for $7.00/pound.

Forms will be posted soon, I have been getting a lot of requests!