Sunday, June 19, 2016

attrition

There is a certain amount of attrition in farming. Some intentional. Some accidental.


Laying hens are one thing that we bring on the farm every year. Some losses we can account for. Others remain a mystery.

Today our most recent additional flick was split up. When they first go out from the brooder and onto the field the girls are small, and need each other to stay warm.

But time has passed, each gen has grown and they each need more space.

Today about half moved themselves into a new pen. Each door was opened, feed added into the new pen, and doors were closed when about half had moved. 

We used to pick up and hand carry each bird. Food is a much more effective method to move livestock.

Double the amount of space for every hen. After the photo the pens were relocated onto fresh grass. A good life!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

agricultural chatting

The Farmers Market at Hershey started up a few weeks ago. We have been vendors there for years, and enjoy all there is to this market. The patrons, other vendors, the venue: it is lovely.

Each year there are a few changes to vendors (this year there is a goat cheese vendor weekly, last year a different farmer was there every other week with goat cheese) and to the structure. Years ago we each had to bring our own umbrella or easy up. Now there are large, beautiful white tents and we are all under the same cover. The locations of each vendor will vary slightly from year to year.

A new vendor joined us this year. They bring their kids along, there seem to be many of them of assorted ages.

When I set up my table I put out one dozen eggs while keeping the rest in a cooler.



Two little girls from the new vendors family stopped in front of the open carton of eggs. With eyes about level with the eggs, they stood and spoke to each other about the dozen before them.

After length discussion they began a conversation with me.

Their questions were about the breeds of chickens we raise, production level, if feed makes a difference: all reasonable, thoughtful questions. They pointed at specific eggs, described what type of eggs they have on their farm, the size of their flock, why and when they need to replace their hens... conversations I usually have with other farmers. Usually other farmers that don't  have a mouthful of baby teeth, but conversation topics I have all the time.

When they walked away (they had begun the conversation with informing me they are farmers, and would not be purchasing, just chatting) the vendor next to me (not a farmer) was busting to talk about our exchange.

"Did you just have a full on agricultural conversation with those two little girls?!"

Yes, yes I did.

"They knew their breeds of hens, production level, lifetime of birds, housing, predators?!"

Yes, yes they did.

Not once did these two girls try and poke or touch the eggs. They did not lean on or erase the chalkboard. They were respectful in every possible way.

Even the farm kids I know who swear up a storm are just like this. They do enough work with their hands and minds daily that they are not restless. They know textures. They know a gentle, soft touch, a firm strong touch, how to hold an animal to keep both human and animal safe. They are fearless of dirt and of injury. Calm in what make adults hysterical. Understanding of how reproduction, birth defects, death, decisions that are necessary for medical care, treatment, administration of medications. Clear-headed and thoughtful and measured as a result.

To me it was just what I expect from little kids raised on a farm. The first time a 9 year old kid showed me their book filled with costs, expenses, profits and losses on his egg layer flock I was surprised. His records went back for years, and his writing and math skills had improved over the years of keeping his journal. Meeting young kids still with only baby teeth who can participate in this type of exchange no longer surprises me.

The original entrepreneur, with little fanfare, IPO or wall Street journal coverage? 

Farmers. And it's still happening if you listen, quietly. And observe what they are up to...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

shares commence!

We are starting our CSA shares. This year we offer two: eggs weekly. And flowers: 6 bouquets over 6 months, farmers choice.

Our egg production has been very steady. The hens are happy and producing at the rate they should be, and we have another 40 hens that should begin egg production in June. The shares that are purchased help us get through the winter when egg production wanes. Thankful for those that support us during the darkest time of the year!

Flowers. We started years ago adding flowers to our offerings. Each year we learn more. Last week I brought a beautiful bouquet to Towson, for delivery to the mother of our CSA member. In transport the container fell over, broke a bunch of stems, ran water out...so no delivery. Today. We are determined to get to the nursing home and deliver this mix of iris, allium, cockle, bleeding heart, anemone and ferns. Wedged firmly this time there is no falling allowed...

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