Free stuff this weekend!

So Miguel had an idea. We do so much work with our produce farmers that they take good care of us. The least we could do is help them out too. 

And we have such good customers that we should do something for them. So Miguel said, why don’t we buy a pallet of watermelons, the really good ones that you have to know someone at the market to get. Then we can give them to our customers when they come through one day. 

I thought it was a great idea. Especially since watermelon in the summer is my FAVORITE thing in the world. Besides a nice MLT, mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich (Who can name that movie?)

So this Saturday, anyone who stops by and purchases at least $50 worth of product gets a complimentary watermelon fresh from the market. We will be open from 8-5, no appointment needed. The girls will be back in the store and there will be fresh cookies as well (Dustin, I’m talking to you.)

And if you are like me and love watermelon and our farm fresh goodies, you can have two for $100 spent. Just make sure you leave a couple of watermelons in the box for my kids who will kill me if they don’t get some after staring at them all day. 

We still have steaks in stock and plenty of pork, chicken, lamb, honey, etc. 

As always, an appointment is appreciated but not required this Saturday for shopping. Tours still need an appointment. 

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Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

Isn’t raising cattle harming the environment?

I don’t actually get this question very often. Most of our customers are here for the cute animals, or they are here because they believe local is better. But not everyone who follows our blog stops by in person regularly and there is a lot of misinformation put out in the national press about raising cows.

Examples of this type of information are items like this article on why milk is cruel, and this article on why sustainable isn’t sustainable in the NY Times. To answer the NY Times article (and the headline of my post), I’m going to let the Godfather of sustainable agriculture, Joel Salatin, answer it. See Joel’s response here. It’s definitely worth the read. No really, click the link. It is way better than what I’m writing.

Are you back? Did you read the part about nutrient cycling? How cool is that? Of course animals are part of the natural system. To believe otherwise is foolish.

For anything you read about animal husbandry, animal farming, etc, understand that the author has an agenda. As a farmer, my agenda is I’m going to demonstrate to you that we are in fact treating our animals well. Probably better than you think. Do we treat them as pets? No. Do we treat them better than factory farms? Yes. is our product better than what you can buy at the store? Yes. Should you stop reading and make an appointment to get some quality meat? Yes.

So for the author of the milk is cruel article, what is her agenda?

Obviously this is a PETA type article so the author is looking for extreme examples to justify why we should never use animals for anything other than pets. Has the author worked on a dairy farm? Actually spent time with cattle besides a petting zoo? How about a humane farm? How about a homestead? From the author’s own byline.

Rachel is a recent graduate of the University of Maine. She is the blogger behind The Vegan Mishmash, has interned with Mercy for Animals, and is excited to continue working as an animal activist.

So she’s an animal rights activist and vegan. It doesn’t make her facts wrong, but it does make me question the motives behind her presentation, as it should you. If I want to mislead you, the best thing I can do is present you with a lot of information that is true, while leaving out a few key facts that change the slant of the story.

So are milk cows killed when they no longer milk? Yes. There is no milk cow preserve in Montana where milk cows go to retire. That’s the case for any food animal. There is no chicken preserve, or hog garden. And spoiler alert, Sparky didn’t go to live on grandpa’s farm when you were little either. He was put down because he was old. Death is a part of life. Pretending it isn’t is just that, pretending. That’s why we spend so much time educating our customers on what happens on a farm. You should know where your food comes from. Not because it will make you a vegan, but because it will make you a much better consumer.

On the flip side of Rachel’s article, our milker Erin recently toured a milking farm and the tour guide said that it was traumatic to the milk cow to leave the baby with mom after birth and that’s why they separate them so early. Huh?

Neither this lady’s article, nor that statement by this milk farmer make sense to me. We leave the baby with the mom allowing a natural relationship till the calf is 6-8 months old, which is PLENTY old enough to wean. We’re talking a “calf” that weighs 400-600 pounds at this point.

Game of thrones nursing boy
This is nursing till 8 months old

That’s the equivalent of nursing your child till he’s about 4-5 years old.

We only milk once per day and let Jr. have the rest so a natural relationship is maintained but we still get some of the milk.

On the Birth section. Moving to a feedlot at six months of age is absolutely true, if you are talking about a factory farmed cow. If you are talking about a grass-fed cow, grass finished cow, then not so much. Sunshine and green grass is all that cow will ever know. Note how the article is written as if there is no other option than factory farming. How naturally and sustainably raising cattle on grass doesn’t even exist.

I could go on and on debunking this article. Instead, come out to our farm and see how our animals are raised. See for yourself what local, sustainable farming looks like.

Dan Moore on sabtwitterDan Moore on sabgoogleDan Moore on sabfacebookDan Moore on sabemail
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

We are bringing in fresh beef this morning

Lucy and I are taking a ride to Siler City this morning to pick up our latest cow from the processor. When we get back, we’ll be stuffing the freezers full of fresh beef for sale. That means steaks, ribeyes, hamburger, ribs for the grill, the whole lot.

Beef and goodies for dinner
Isn’t it time you treated yourself to some quality meat?

We are open, no appointment needed, from 2-5pm today and again tomorrow from 8-5pm. Although we always appreciate you making an appointment so we can be on the lookout for you.

We are still offering our BOGO deal on bones, liver, kidneys, pork neck bones, etc. so you can stock up as well on goodies for making stock, dog treats, etc.

Supposedly we have the replacement part coming for our broken freezer in the next couple of weeks so hopefully we’ll be back to normal shortly.

Dan Moore on sabtwitterDan Moore on sabgoogleDan Moore on sabfacebookDan Moore on sabemail
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

You mess with the bull you get the… hoof?

We were finishing up our day last week when one of the guys noticed that Graham looked a bit worse for wear.

Graham, our registered Hereford bull
Graham, our registered Hereford bull

It seems that Graham had found a way to get to some potatoes late in the day and he was now paying for it by bloating. Because of the rich diet we feed, we deal with bloat with our cattle. We’re pretty good at avoiding it but sometimes things happen, like in this instance.

Since we deal with it often, we also are pretty good at treating bloat. However we had a few issues to deal with.

One. It was pretty hot, which is why he was bloating. So this was going to be no fun.

Two. Graham weighed, at his last weigh in, 1452 pounds. He does not fit in the head gate like a normal cow.

Three. It was already 5 o’clock. We all had places to be.

Oh well, farming comes first. So we rigged up a lane and ran the cows into the corral. Then we sorted out Graham and got him into the head gate, as best he could fit. He was inside, but the actual locking part of the gate wouldn’t fit his huge neck so he wasn’t secured in place where he couldn’t move around. This is important because in order to treat his bloat, we had to insert a trocar and it’s a lot easier if the animal is still.

Trocar inserted into cow
Trocar inserted into cow

Inserting a trocar means minor surgery and jamming something into his side that I’m sure, given his druthers, he’s just assume I kept to myself.

However, this is the best way to save his life so it had to be done. I worked on Graham and quite quickly I got my hand jammed between him and the steel top rail as he moved around. Graham was very calm and behaving himself, but he’s dancing around because I’m messing with him. On one of his moves, he popped two of the bars out, just like you see in the picture above. Except those were moved down on purpose my releasing steel clamps that hold the bars in place. Graham flexed and blew them out, and got his leg out too in the process.

So now we have a calm, but unhappy bull, mostly inside a head gate which is unlocked, standing on three legs and with one leg hanging out in the breeze on our side. A lot of times the cow will pull the leg back in the next time they move. Or I could tie his leg back to hold it where it is. But he’s almost done and we are too so let’s just get this over with.

As I finished up the prep and went to insert the trocar, I had to climb up on the head gate to get enough leverage to push it in. Graham decided he didn’t like what I was doing and, reasonably, kicked. Kicking would be no problem because he’s in the head gate. Cows kick all the time. So whatever.

 

Except Graham’s leg isn’t safely in the head gate. It’s hanging outside, with us.

But he cannot reach us, so no big deal.

Except, I’m standing on the head gate, just above Graham.

Now we have the final link in the accident chain. Too big of an animal, not secured properly, not inside like he’s supposed to be, and a farmer closer than he is supposed to be to the action.

Graham caught me right in the thigh with that one kick.

Bruise from getting kicked by Graham, the bull
Ouch!

I knew I’d been popped pretty good because Miguel didn’t make fun of me as I hobbled away. At least not for the first few minutes. Once he saw I was going to live, and so was Graham, then he started making fun of me. That’s when I knew I’d be ok.

Joking aside, this could have easily been a damaged knee, needing surgery and rehab.

So what went wrong?

I saw Graham’s leg sticking out.

I knew he could and probably would kick.

I had a rope already laying there I could have used to secure it.

I knew better.

I was in a hurry and didn’t take the extra two minutes to tie up his leg and I got a nice reminder that getting kicked is the result of carelessness. The head gate has adjustments, but nothing that will accommodate somebody as big as Graham. They make bigger, better head gates, but this one does 99% of what we need and it is paid for. I just need to take extra care when we have an overly large bull in there.

Dan Moore on sabtwitterDan Moore on sabgoogleDan Moore on sabfacebookDan Moore on sabemail
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

We have a new milk cow

One of our farming friends had an accident on her farm and is going through a really tough time right now with lots of trips to the hospital, multiple surgeries, etc. Things are not going to get easier for her for about a year and she has some really excellent milk cows that she wasn’t going to be able to milk. She decided she’d dry off most of her herd, and sell one of her cows. Erin and I talked and we decided that we’d get this cow from her because of how well we knew her, both the farmer and the cow.

Hedi, getting off of the trailer for the first time.
Hedi, getting off of the trailer for the first time.

Meet Hedi (pronounced Head – E), our new milk cow. Hedi is already bred back via AI. She was bred to Draper at ABS Global and her calf, if it’s a girl, can be registered. Draper is high bf and bb, kappa and beta caesin, A2/A2. (I don’t know what most of that means, that’s what I was told. Someday when I figure all this stuff out, I will come back and have these notes.)

What I do know is that Hedi is not shy about pushing me around with her head so the name fits. Although she is a typical Jersey and is gentle as a lamb. She’s out in the pasture with Betsy and Bernice, our other milk cows. She is also sharing space with Curious and now with the ninja calf, who, surprise, keeps escaping the paddock where all the other cows are. His butt is going back to the momma cows as soon as I have time to get him on the trailer.

Hedi checking out her new pasture
Hedi checking out her new pasture

Hedi has already made herself at home here and milked wonderfully this morning. That’s a huge deal as cows do not like a change in schedule or environment. And Hedi has had both in spades since yesterday. We’ll acclimate Hedi to the program here over the next few weeks and she’ll be part of the tour when you come out for a tour.

Dan Moore on sabtwitterDan Moore on sabgoogleDan Moore on sabfacebookDan Moore on sabemail
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

Is local food more expensive?

The USDA recently put out this article which summarized a study they performed comparing farmers market pricing and local grocery store pricing. The comparison is only for Vermont, and only during the summer, so it is a pretty limited data set but it does give a great comparison to retail food and farmers market food pricing.

But wait a minute, we all know that prices at the market are higher than at the store. How can this be? Note that this survey was done in the summer. The first watermelons, or squash, or whatever to come into the market are often expensive. In fact, they’ve probably ridden a truck from another farm in Georgia or Florida to be here. They are the first ones of the season and they are expensive. But give it 30 days and vendors are using watermelons as a door stop. They are everywhere and cheap.

This is the key to shopping at the farmers market. Shop in season! Not the edges of the season, the actual season. That’s when pricing is cheap. And unlike your mega mart, the local farmers don’t have huge drive in coolers to keep their produce sitting around waiting for the end of the season. When the farm is producing, it’s producing literally by the ton so it has to be priced to move.

When I was growing up, we went to the market to buy corn and beans every year. Always whenever dad decided it was time based on some agrarian clock in his head. We’d buy it by the bushel at that time, and then bring everything home and cut, snap, prep, and freeze. Then, when Thanksgiving and Christmas came, dad broke out the frozen bags of corn, peas, beans, etc, and we had our sides ready to cook for the 50 or so people who showed up for the holiday. Why did we do this? Because the corn in season was better and cheaper than anything you could buy in the winter. The key was to buy during the best part of the season.

Zone 7 (where we live) planting guide
Zone 7 (where we live) planting guide. The green is when you start seeds. The red is harvest time.

If you show up on the first warm March day at the farmers market and are shocked at the prices, understand that nothing is producing yet. Anything you see for sale has a story of how it got there and that story has a cost. If you don’t know about food miles, take a read here to learn what it is about. This is a great book about eating local.

If you come back to the market now (mid July if you are reading this later), you can see in the chart above is the heart of the season, and you’ll see the price of abundance. It’s pretty cheap.

Dan Moore on sabtwitterDan Moore on sabgoogleDan Moore on sabfacebookDan Moore on sabemail
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

What we get from the farmers market every day

If you’ve been here, you’ve heard that we don’t feed commercial feed to our animals. Instead we feed produce from the farmer’s market in Raleigh. Maybe you were lucky enough to pop in when the truck rolled up and see what we were talking about but usually we are out picking up produce and the food we do have on hand is already being fed.

Saturday I received a routine summer call from Miguel. “Can you bring the big trailer and come to the market?”

You see, we don’t often know what we’re getting till we show up. Sometimes we can get everything on one load. Sometimes it’s two loads on the regular truck and trailer. Sometimes we take the box truck for our second load. And sometimes I jump in my truck and take our 36′ trailer and get the additional load. On Saturday I got the call to come get a big load.

Big trailer loaded with produce
The big trailer, loaded all the way.

We stack the produce, and restack it, so we can get as much in every square foot as possible. This is 16 pallets of food on one trailer.

Big trailer loaded with food.
Adam’s last day, we got our money’s worth on this trip

In the distance, you can see our normal truck and trailer also loaded.

A regular load of produce, leaving the market
A regular load of produce, leaving the market

Here is a better view of that truck and trailer. This is another 10 pallets of food, at least. That gives us a total of 26 pallets of food, all of which would have gone to the landfill had we not come by and picked it up. Nearly all of this will get fed to the animals, and the pallets and cardboard will be recycled.

Just another day on the farm.

Dan Moore on sabtwitterDan Moore on sabgoogleDan Moore on sabfacebookDan Moore on sabemail
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

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