Uncategorized

No Chicken This Year

Dear friends and customers,

I just wanted to write a quick note to let you all know that our family will not be selling chickens or turkeys this year.

After the passing of my mother last month, we need to cut back on some things this year and take time to heal.  We hope to start again in 2020.

Thank you all for supporting our family business through the years.  It has been wonderful serving you.

For those who ordered feeder pigs for late summer/ fall, we are going to do our best to fill those orders.

Thank you,
Sarah Smith

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

 

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 King James Version (KJV)

 

 

 

 

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Grass Farming, Uncategorized

Took a Little Road Trip

So yesterday I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger. I know, I know, I’m so mean.  So here is how the day unfolded…

We rushed through our chores yesterday morning and started loading up our farm truck.  A large dog crate with straw in the bottom was secured in back.  A cooler with bottles of water thrown in the back seat.  And since farm trucks are notorious for breaking down when you least expect it, I also threw in a tarp,  jumper cables, a crowbar, a bucket of water and a lot of other junk I thought we might need.
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What? No air conditioning?
A little after noon, we three girls started off on a road trip, and a little under two hours later we ended up at a barn full of, you guessed it, SHEEP!
Seven weeks ago, I had reserved a ram lamb, sight-unseen, after finding an ad in a farm paper.  Goodness sakes, I didn’t even have any pictures of this lamb!  I wanted a ram that was a 50/50 Katahdin/Dorper cross, was 100% grass fed, and highly parasite resistant.  Everything the farmer told me over the phone matched what I had been searching for, so I went with my gut feeling and reserved myself a ram.
Seven weeks is a long time, though, and I began to doubt my gut feeling more each week.  Yeah, I’m a worrier….
At the farm, we followed the farmer over to the stall where he had separated my ram and his mother, a registered Katahdin. And here they are:
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And here is his sire, a full blooded Dorper:
Grass Fed Dorper
He then showed me the rest of his flock.  I wish I had gotten a picture.  These grass fed, organic sheep were exceptionally nice.  I just wanted to take them all home.  These sheep were not wormed with conventional deworming chemicals, just free choice kelp.  No grain, just grass and hay.  As I was standing there trying not to drool, the farmer pulled out another ram lamb from the flock for me to look at.  He had told me about this lamb on the phone, but I had decided against him because he wasn’t pure white.  But looking at this second handsome lamb, I made another rash, gut-driven decision: “I’ll take both, please.” I think I shocked Anna. LOL
lams in truck
Yes, I bought two rams.  One ram lamb would have been awfully lonely all by himself…..

Here are some pictures of my two handsome boys under the crab apple tree.

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And for the record, the farm truck got us there and back without a hitch.  Also, it’s a good thing the truck has a cap.  It took the white lamb three whole seconds to smash the front off the dog crate.  Lambs are strong!  So the dog crate and all my “junk” ended up on the back seat and the lambs rode loose in the enclosed truck bed.
So that is the latest farm news.  I will try very hard not to buy any more sheep this year, but I don’t promise anything!
Sarah
Hay & Grain, Uncategorized

Farm Girl Chores: Grinding Feed

GMO Free Feed Chicken Sunbury PA
Grandpa’s 175 MF Ready to Work!

Anna, Laura, and I spent part of yesterday afternoon grinding feed.  It’s one of those farm jobs that I’m not crazy about, which is probably why I tend to put it off till the last minute. Yesterday’s fresh-off-the-grinder menu included turkey feed, layer feed, and pig grower.  All three feeds share just about all the same ingredients, but different amounts of these ingredients based on each animal’s needs.

One nice thing about mixing your own feed is the ability to adapt the ration to fit your current needs.  Say the weather suddenly gets a bit chilly at night and the turkeys look a a little stressed; we can add a few more pounds of Thorvin Kelp to their feed to give their immune systems a bit of boost.

 

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All the grains are added, so Anna and Gyp head to the barn to add the minerals and supplement.

Fertrell & Thorvin Kelp for Healthy Animals

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After the minerals are added, we auger out a few buckets of feed to dump in the mineral box.  This makes sure all the minerals are pushed into the the mixer.  (Is Laura standing on something, or am I really THAT short?)

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Once everything is mixed together, we put the feed in the appropriate barrels. And there you have it, freshly ground, GMO Free feed.

Stay cool today everyone. We gals have a busy day today, and hopefully, if everything goes as planned, I’ll have some exciting news to share with you tomorrow.  🙂

Sarah

Uncategorized

The Pastured Broilers Are Growing

 

Pastured Chicken Sunbury Pa Northumberland County

Our meat chickens love being on pasture!  You should see how they gobble down the grass each morning after we move their shelters to a fresh square of pasture.

Northumberland county Pa Pastured Chicken

The grass is growing faster than the chickens can keep up with it.  Since meat chickens don’t like tall grass, we are grazing the grass shorter in front of the shelters with the goats and sheep.  The goats and sheep are enjoying the grass, and the chickens are happy: win, win!

Pastured Chicken For Sale Sunbury PA

We are still accepting orders if you are  interested in trying pastured chicken.  You’ll be amazed at the flavor! Click here for this year’s order form.

Uncategorized

Spring Chicks

The first of the spring chicks are here! There are 153 Cornish Cross chicks and 10 Reich’s Golden Reds layer pullets in the brooder.

Pastured Poultry Chicks Sunbury Pa
Day One

I called the post office a little after 6 this morning, and confirmed that our chicks were there. The chicks must have been creating a lot of noise because the lady that answered the phone didn’t need to go check, she knew!

After Mom and Anna brought them home, Anna carefully transferred them from their shipping box into the brooder. She told me these chicks are very lively and healthy looking. Yay! (And why aren’t I out there seeing for myself? Half our family, including myself, is down with the flu.😕)

Future Pastured Poultry Sunbury PA
Future Pastured Poultry

At this age, the chicks don’t need much fussing over. In fact, too much fussing over them is stressful, and stress is amazingly detrimental to baby chicks. They just need a warm, dry place with plenty of food, water, and grit.

It’s now officially spring in my mind. There are chicks in the brooder.

~Sarah

Uncategorized

First Year of Sheep

One year ago yesterday, I brought my first sheep home to the farm.

It was the day before Easter, and Anna, Laura, and I took off early that morning in the mini-van-turned-sheep-hauler. Of course, sheep were the topic of discussion on the drive.  I kept coming up with reasons why this was a bad idea, and Anna kept telling me these sheep were the perfect fit.
At the farm, we entered a small shed, and there they were: a lovely white yearling Katahdin ewe and her three day old twins and an eight week old chocolate colored ewe lamb.  It didn’t take me long to say I’d take them.
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Heading Home

 

The ride home was pretty uneventful; we only took one wrong exit. If you get stuck in holiday traffic (because you took the wrong exit) with two sheep looking out your van’s back windows, you are going to create a bit of a stir.  Bored, sleepy looking children suddenly come alive, bouncing, pointing, and shouting.  Teenagers whip out cell phones and take pictures, and some people just look at you like you’ve lost your mind.
My little flock settled right in to their new home.  I had been worried that the stress of traveling would be too much for the newborn lambs, but they took it in stride.
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Welcome Home Sheep!
It took me over a week to pick out the girls’ names.  I knew the yearling ewe was going to be the matriarch of my future flock, and I wanted a name that would fit that position. I finally decided on Olga.  Good Old Olga.  The chocolate ewe lamb I named Sabine, and Olga’s ewe lamb I called Estella.
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Enjoying the Spring Grass
Now, one year later, I admit Anna was right: these sheep are the perfect fit. They are wonderful!
sheep
Olga, Estella, & Sabine

 

Olga is my steady sage of a ewe.  Most of the time she is dignified and queen like.  Occasionally she forgets herself and leads the younger ewes on a wild charge across the pastures, her tail flying wildly behind her.
Olga will walk up to the fence to see me, allow me to pet her a few times, but then steps back; royalty must keep its distance from the commoners.
Sabine is more easy going than Olga, but still has that lovely sheep dignity about her.
Sabine has been wary of me from the start, but over this winter, I’ve won her approval.  It never ceases to thrill me when I’m able to win an animal’s trust.
And then there is Estella.  Estella grew up here on the farm hanging out and goofing off with the baby goats.  Now, she acts like a goat.  She is demanding like a goat. She is quirky like a goat.  She possesses none of her mother’s dignity, whatsoever!  And I love it!  She’s the perfect sprinkle of humor in the act!
Grass fed sheep Sunbury PA
Grazing with the Goats
All three of them are due to lamb starting in mid-May.  I know Olga is a good mother, and I really think Sabine will be, also.  But Estella…oh help!
I have one year of being a shepherdess under my belt.  I’m highly anticipating year two.
~Sarah
Uncategorized

There Are Animals In The Garden

There are animals in the garden, and for once, they are actually supposed to be there.

 

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Photo by Laura: Goats & Garlic in the Garden

I’m experimenting with housing animals in the garden while it is in its winter dormancy. I’d love to say the idea came while trying to find a way to increase biodiversity, mimic nature, and increase fertility in our garden soil.  The truth is, I desperately needed a place to put the goats over the winter, and the tomato patch was the only place that wasn’t flooding. So to make lemonade out of a lemon, I’m calling it an experiment station.

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In the fall, the tomato patch had about 6+ inches of wood chips on it so the goats didn’t have direct contact with the soil. Deeply bedded calf hutches protected them from elements.

In the typical goat fashion, the does managed to spread a nice layer of waste hay mulch over the whole tomato patch. I’m hoping with the wood chips, hay, manure and urine, we will have a nice fertile layer into which we can plant our tomatoes.

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The “goats in the garden” experiment led me to try a second experiment: chickens in the garden.

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Yesterday, Anna and I threw some cow manure on the garden with the manure spreader. This morning the whole gang helped us move our mobile chicken coop on to the garden. We surrounded the area we wanted “chicken tilled” with electric poultry netting. The hens are loving scratching through everything. Happy hens = yummy eggs!  They don’t realize they are actually working, tilling the cow manure into the top layer of the soil.

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I’m only planning on leaving the chickens here for a week or less. By then, the chickens will be ready to move on to their next job.

~Sarah

Uncategorized

February is for Butchering

We are currently being held in the icy grip of February, a memorably cold February.  Sunday night’s temp is going to be in the negatives!  But I’m not too unhappy about it.  In fact, I’m thrilled.  Before you think I’ve got a frostbitten brain, I should explain that there is one awfully large beef hanging in dad’s meat cooler AKA garage. Large is an understatement.  HUGE!   While we were skinning it out on Monday, we once again considered breeding smaller cows in the future. 😜 Cold weather like this is wonderful for chilling meat.  Actually, it’s a bit too cold, but we have a heater on a thermostat to keep the garage just above freezing.

02-2016 beef

So this weekend, we will be cutting roasts and grinding burger. A lot of it.  We will drink way too much hot coffee.  We will probably get lost as we try to find the different cuts that are in our butchering book. (But hopefully we are better at cutting roasts this year. Last year after searching in vain for the chuck roasts, we cut some odd roasts from the rump that we labeled Rump Chucks. Bet you never had one of those before!)

It’s going to be fun. 🙂