Lots of beef coming to the store, plus pork and chicken to boot

Sorry to tease you on the steaks
Steaks and burgers, ready for the fire.

Friday morning I’ll be heading to the processor to pick up not one, but TWO COWS worth of beef. Normally we get one cow per month, but with the fourth of July coming up, we elected to get two cows. That means we will have twice the ribeyes, twice the filets, and even twice the hamburger. So if you stop by Friday between 2-6pm, or Saturday 9am-5pm, whatever you want should be in stock.

I’m also going Thursday to pick up pork, chicken, and dairy, so we will be freshly stocked on other products as well. Stop by this weekend and pick up your goodies for the fourth of July. We’ll look forward to seeing you.

Open Barn Day was a success

Last year, we had the kind of success that you want to have, until you have it. Over 2000 people visited the farm! It was crazy, and too much!

The mantra for barn day this year was “keep it under control.” We did a small ad on Facebook, and I really didn’t talk about it on the blog at all. We didn’t approach any of the local media outlets nor advertise at Angie’s. Basically we kept it quiet hoping for a more relaxed and in control event.

Prior to opening, we had about 360 people on Facebook who said they were coming to our event. Traditionally, I heavily discount whatever Facebook says but since it was the only place we had any kind of a count going, it was our best guess.

At 10am, cars started arriving but unlike last time, it was never overwhelming. We had plenty of parking staff and plenty of capacity. In fact is was a little slow, but that was a good thing. This open barn day was exactly what we wanted, a nice steady flow of people and an opportunity for new people to find out about us. 

Our plan was the same as last time. Invite some of our partner farms, show off the farm with our normal tour conducted every 1/2 hour, and get a chance to visit with customers one on one as much as possible. We also added in $5 for parking, which was one of our control measures. Some people simply won’t pay for parking. Good, we didn’t want to get overwhelmed.

Jason and Ru handing out samples
Jason and Ru handing out samples

We also had samples again, once again manned by Jason and Ru who live here on the farm. This time it was our delicious pork BBQ.

Spork giving a tour
Spork giving a tour

Spork , The Princess, and I took turns giving tours. We averaged between 10 and 40 people per tour so the group sizes were such that everyone could hear. Much better sizes than last time.

Samples from KW Collards
Samples from KW Collards

We had our vendors here as well, setup under the shade trees in the front yard. People were able to sample their wares and purchase the product in the store or if it was something we didn’t currently carry, right there at the booth. It was great for us as well, as we could bring in some new products we hadn’t tried. 

It was also an opportunity to do a little business with our partner farms. I think I wrote a check to just about everyone present either for something they delivered as part of visiting or something that was already owed and we’d just settle up when they were here. It sure saved a lot of stamps, and more importantly, it was great to visit with our farmers and catch up.

I promise we’ll post a better picture, Jennifer.

I’m trying to get this post out this morning before everything kicks off. SWMBO will get me a better picture of our good friend Jennifer from Buck Naked Farm. Sorry your eyes are closed!

Jennifer, as always, did a fantastic job with her booth and with educating people about what she does.

Aaron from Buck Naked Farm doing a lathe demonstration
Aaron from Buck Naked Farm doing a lathe demonstration

A surprise last minute add was Aaron from Buck Naked Farm. He has been teaching himself lathe turning since last year. Jennifer asked if we’d mind if he brought his lathe and did a demonstration? Of course he can! The wood lathe is my favorite tool. I love doing lathe work and grew up doing it from a very early age. I was excited to see what Aaron was doing. He did not disappoint!

All in all we had an excellent day. The weather was forecast to get bad in the afternoon but all the storms missed us. We had benign weather and good turnout. We counted cars, and then estimated people based on the cars. We had about 180 people visit the farm for Open Barn Day 2018, a number we were happy with. It was actually a little slow, but we really tried to limit our numbers after last year. We undershot, and that was on purpose. Now we know that for 2019 we can put a little more effort into getting the word out and maybe have that 300-400 number that keeps us hopping but under control.

This event is just the warm up though. We have two mud race events scheduled for this fall, one in September, one in October. One is expecting about 350 people, and one is expecting about 2000!! However we will be prepared for these numbers this time. Plus we won’t have vendors here, just the event, so there is a bit less for us to manage. 

But for this event being in the books, we are all smiles.

Update to pet milk availability

The problem with getting info out as fast as possible is that it changes.

We will have milk till Friday of next week. Erin has agreed to do some extra milking to get through till then. We will still be limiting milk to one gallon per family from now till we run out.

Raw milk will be temporarily out of stock starting Saturday

No sugar coating today.

Raw milk, with NC required warnings
Raw milk, and all its warnings

We are going to be without raw milk for about 2-3 months starting this weekend. We had an unexpected personnel change, which has prompted some overall changes here on the farm. Our entire milking operation is moving to our leased farm and that is going to take a couple of months to happen and be back into any sort of production. Once we are back in production at the other farm, milk will arrive once per week, not the every day delivery that we receive now.

Milk will be on allocation until we run out. That means one gallon per family.

We are still working on the details of all this as it is a work in process but for now this is the plan. We will be stocking up on Simply Natural Dairy milk for our own family as well as our customers who still want to get good milk from a small farm. For those who have to have raw, please come back and see us once we get resettled in August/September.

Fall CSA is open (and almost full!)

This is my fault, not Jenn’s. She texted me the first of this week about her fall CSA. By the time I got to it today, she is down to five spots left. We had about 20 spots for the Spring CSA so things obviously went very well for Chickadee this year.

I’ve stopped in the store and spoken with customers picking up their CSA boxes. The people here have been very pleased with the quality of the produce they’ve received and I’ve heard nothing but good things.

To sign up for Chickadees fall CSA, follow the link for information.

As before, we don’t take a cut of the CSA business. We offer it as a convenience for our customers and as a way to help another small farmer  succeed.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t bring in another CSA as well so if you try to get in on this one and it is full, let me know and I’ll put you on the wait list.

We have all cuts of beef in stock

I just picked up our latest cow at the processor this week, just in time for the holiday weekend. We have steaks, roasts, hamburger, everything you need in the freezer.

We also have normal stock of pork, chicken, rabbit, etc.

Ribeye steaks, ready for sale
Ribeye steaks, ready for sale

We are open today from 2-6pm, and tomorrow from 9-5pm. We will be open on Monday from 2-6pm as well.

What a nice surprise

Yesterday was year end testing day for our home school year. There was of course some tension as tests were taken, questions were questioned (I couldn’t figure them out either, who writes these things?) and overall it was a head down, stay busy kind of morning. I was at the house, post lunch, doing a bit of work on the laptop while the kids were doing kid stuff. I was basically waiting for Spork to finish his testing so we could work together the rest of the afternoon on the plane.

As I sit there quietly, I hear a very slight knock on the front door. Must be a kid who walked up I guess. I head over to open the door it is our lovely beekeeper from Buck Naked Farm, Jennifer. She’s holding two combs of honey in her hand, dripping honey. While working the bee hives she ended up needing to remove two partial combs and hey, Mr. Farmer, would you like some? Boy would I!

I thanked Jennifer and quickly made my way over to grab a plate to set the honey comb onto so they honey didn’t drip on the floor.

Honey comb from the 2018 season
There is no honey better than surprise honey

I used to bring this kind of thing to the kids back when I was the beekeeper. You just take a slice of the honey comb and shove it in your face and chew. The wax acts like chewing gum and the honey gushes out as you chew. It is a short lived experience, which makes it all the better. I quickly grabbed the kids from all over the house and very soon they were fighting over the last scraps and licking the plate, the stress of testing day quickly forgotten.

What a nice surprise to just show up at the door. Thank you Jennifer!

Humpty dumpty fell off the wall, almost

Anyone who visits regularly knows that we deal with a lot of wood chips here on the farm. We are a dump site for the tree service companies in town, where they can dump their wood chips rather than taking them to the land fill. This saves the environment, the tree service company some money, and gives us fresh organic mulch to use wherever we need on the farm. It has been a great system for the past several years and we have tens of thousands of yards of wood chips here to work with wherever we need. We’ve only ever had two problems. One guy backed into our gate, smashing the gate and the expensive controller. We fixed that and all has been well, until this week.

I’m in my office and hear one of the chip trucks rumble by. Then several minutes later I hear a horn blowing, beep, beep, beep. There is no good reason for the horn to be blowing, especially at 7:30 in the morning, unless something is wrong. I jump up and head out to see what is wrong and discover this. 

Well not exactly this. There were no tractors with chains, keeping the truck from falling over on its side. We quickly grabbed both the backhoe and the farm tractor and hooked them to the truck to secure it from rolling. This allowed the two guys inside to carefully slide out as prior to that they were afraid to move or change the weight in case it might tip. Based on how it was wobbling, they’d made a good choice.

Once we had the chains secure, and the tractors well in place, we tried giving the truck a tug forward to see if we could get it headed back uphill. It only slid farther. I looked at the hapless driver and explained a few things:

  1. You need to call your boss. I’m not doing anymore till he signs off on it. Sorry
  2. All the chips are weight that is trying to pull the truck over. The chips need to come off of the truck
  3. The only way to get the chips off is to hand shovel them off
  4. Yes, really

The two guys started slowly shoveling the chips out of the truck. Vicente tried to jump in to help, but we were already down one man with Miguel sick that day. We don’t get paid to shovel chips so as harsh as it seems, I needed him doing farm work. The chip guys could handle their own chips.

Eventually another crew showed up, along with the Jefe who seemed a great guy. By this point I did have Vicente back because we brought another tractor down, our full complement. The tree guys dug all the chips out of the truck, then dug the tires down to somewhat level the truck, digging out the high side tires. During this time, SWMBO called me and asked if I was ready to go? I was supposed to take her plant shopping for her Mothers’s day present. It went like this.


“Hi Honey. Are you ready to take me shopping?” she said happily.

“Look out the front window.”


“Look out the front window, into the pasture. What do you see?”

“Um….A truck. It is falling over.”

“Does that answer your question?”

“Um, ok. So are we going or not?”

“Yeah, but it is going to be another hour.”

Sorry, even moms have to wait for stuff like this. 

Eventually we had all three tractors, with chains attached to the truck. We used the green tractor to apply upward pressure to the front end so it wouldn’t slide off. The backhoe was used to keep the truck from rolling, and the skid steer was used to pull backwards and hopefully uphill.

It didn’t work.

The skid steer just couldn’t get enough traction in the wood chips. We tried several ways and it was a no go.

By this point there were about 8 Mexicans working around the truck and the Jefe was doing all the directing. I was simply running the backhoe. Not my circus, not my monkeys. After some more digging, and some conversation in Spanish that I didn’t follow (I can order a taco or a beer, that is about it) the entire group decided that we were instead pulling the truck forward with the green tractor. That was a great idea, except nobody told the gringo in the backhoe. I quickly figured it out and was able to follow along as we pulled the truck back onto level ground so it could continue on its way.

Vicente did some quick work with the skid steer to dress the road back into a level path and I took mom out for Mother’s Day shopping, only about an hour late.

Crisis averted.

Big tour groups on the farm

YMCA bus with kids
They care coming in by the bus load

It was so busy on the farm yesterday that this picture isn’t even the correct one. This one is from our last YMCA tour earlier in the year. I never had time to take any pictures yesterday.

We started off the day with payroll and a bit of office work. Just a normal start to the day on Wednesday, the same as every Wednesday.

Then I left the office to take an empty grain box to Mule City Feed for a refill. I only do this every few months, as we only give the milk cows a scoop of grain in the morning for a treat. But the box was empty so off I went to Benson and back. That took 1.5 hours.

While I was in Benson, waiting on the box to be filled with our custom blend, SWMBO called me and casually mentioned that the house was on fire. Well, not quite on fire but there was smoke coming from an electrical outlet in the floor. The wooden floor. Wood burns. Uh oh. Unable to diagnose the problem from the phone, I had her turn off every breaker in the house till I could get there. That entailed explaining where the load centers were in the house and telling her how to turn off breakers.

When I returned, the bus you see above pulled up and disgorged a full load of kids eager for their tour of the farm. The power would have to stay off a bit longer.

Tours take about an hour, and large groups take a bit longer so this group took me to around lunch time. During this time, I received a phone call from my friend Dale with Wake County Soil and Water. Apparently I’d been randomly selected as a spot check of our processes, and she was letting me know that she and some board members would be stopping by around lunch time.

Our processes set the standard so having a surprise inspection is no big deal. In fact, I was glad she was coming because I was doing some new things she hadn’t seen and I was glad for a chance to show her and her board members around.

Girls on John Deere Gator
The girls, enjoying a break and acting silly

I retrieved the Gator from where the kids had left it last and took everyone around to see the farm. With Dale taken care of, I went back to the house to find the Mrs. eating lunch and all the power turned back on. However the problem receptacle had not been addressed.

I located the proper breaker for the receptacle and turned it off. Then addressed the fact that the internet didn’t come back online after having the power off. Sigh, of course it didn’t. Some rework and changeover of hardware and Wildflower had her computer going again.

Young girl picking apples
Wildflower, just before she ate the next apple.

You see, today is Spork’s birthday and Wildflower needed her computer to make art for his special day. “Daddy, can you please fix my computer?” Sure honey.

With the power on, the fire out, and the internet restored, the house was in decent shape. I headed back to the barn after grabbing a piece of cheese for lunch (I’d skipped breakfast). That is when the first of two Exploris tour groups showed up. I wasn’t sure how big these groups were, but as the cars kept coming I grew concerned. There are two types of groups that are hard to give tours to. Kids groups. And groups larger than 20 people. This was a kids group much larger than 20 people. Uh oh.

Generally we limit our tour groups to 20 people max, but this time I had not. The first group had 34 people, the second group had more I think. I didn’t count. And they were kids. I like kids, I have a few of my own. But kids are hard to settle down and get quiet. And with large groups it is hard enough to talk loud enough for everyone to hear. Add kids that are scampering about, talking, laughing, and cracking jokes, times nearly 40 people, and it makes for a tough tour. Couple in the fact that I’m getting over one cold, and beginning a second one (thanks SWMBO for sharing) and I started loosing voice part way through the second tour. We had about 100 people come through on tours today. Since my typical Wednesday average is about 2, this was a busy day for tours.

During all of this day, and for some reason especially during the tours, my phone was blowing up. I had 30 inbound calls yesterday. That isn’t counting the outbound calls I made which were probably another 10 or so. Some were just a quick minute. Some were rather in depth as a few were to and from my lawyer going over some important details. I had to take these calls in spare moments when I could. The other spare moments were spent answering my approximately 100 emails I receive a day.

Sound like I’m complaining? Nope. It was 80 degrees and there was not a cloud in sight. It was a stunningly perfect day and everyone was happy and laughing.  I was “at work” in the sunshine making people happy for a living. The milk cows were hand fed two cases of bananas, for which they were very thankful. Lots of kids went home telling stories of the cool farm where they saw animals. And hopefully they learned a bit about where food comes from.


Once I was done with the last tour, I hopped in the truck to head to the airport. A new plane (to us) had shown up after being rescued from the back of a hanger where it sat unused and unable to be flown. A group of us at the airport had gotten involved and gotten a ferry permit to get it over to our airport to breath some life back into it.

457MC sitting outside after being washed
Sitting outside after a bath

It is a 1976 Citabria. It is about as basic of an airplane as I will ever fly. No navigation source, two seats, one in front, one in back. It is aerobatic but I have no experience in aerobatics and no real interest at this point.

Citabria sitting in the hanger
Washed and tucked away in the maintenance hanger

We spent some time washing the years of dirt and bugs off of it and then wedged it into the maintenance hanger to get it ready for the mechanic to go over it since it hadn’t been annualed in a couple of years. That will be for another day. For now at least it is clean and safely put away.

Sunset at the farm
Sunset at the farm

Once I finished at the airport, I headed back home where the Mrs. was waiting on the front porch watching the sun go down with dinner already made. We sat in Lucy’s borrowed chairs in front of our house and talked while the sun went down.

It was a glorious end to a busy day.