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Results from the 2017 CFSA farm fall tour

The CFSA farm tour 2017 brochure cover page
The 2017 brochure cover page

136 people. That’s how many folks we had through here that were directly related to the farm tour. If you figure that the average visitor visited three farms on their tour that would mean we could do a bit of interpolation and say that the overall farm tour had 1,179 people all combined. Considering we’ve had solo events with nearly double the people, that would make our participation on the farm tour a failure.

However, that is not the case. We can host the farm tour with little effort on our part. We are already set up for tours nearly every day so there isn’t a bunch of running around cleaning up for company.

Getting our new signs was something we needed to do anyway so no sweat there. This just forced me to finally get them ordered.

Having everyone on the farm up for a farm event, and then dinner and booze afterwards, is good for the community and the soul. Sadly it wasn’t too healthy for the liver, nor the head the next morning. But overall it was fun.

Cousin Cody came over for the weekend, much to everyone’s pleasure. He helped prep, work, and was the one parking cars if you happened to stop by. On Sunday we had  real treat as my brother-in-law came over to help work as well. I placed him in direct charge of “being an adult” and helping direct traffic if he were so inclined. It was his first time being here when we were open for business so it was neat to have him here to see what we actually do.

Jennifer from Buck Naked Farms was here on Saturday and Mark from right here on the farm was here Sunday to teach people about bees. They had a lot of good activity and questions for the number of people we had.

The Clark kids were here both days with their pet chickens. Said chickens  were sporting leashes and walking around. You’ve never seen anything till you see a chicken on a leash.

Jason was here to man the sample booth. We sampled our Pork BBQ and I know a good amount of them went out the door because looking in the freezer I need to send a pig for BBQ on Thursday. That is success.

Lucy spent Saturday walking around doing a bit of everything, including garden tours until she reminded me she was supposed to be giving actual tours. After that she and Spork handled all the tours for the day leaving me completely unencumbered.

Crystal ended up spending the night on Saturday which meant the girls had a friend over for a sleep over (they were super excited). Since work didn’t start till 12:30 on Sunday (tour started at 1) there was time for sleeping in and then dad’s famous pancakes with home made whipped cream.

I spent the two stunningly gorgeous days sitting beside my darling wife, talking to customers, talking to my brother-in-law, talking to my kids, and generally relaxing as people came and went. The pace was steady but sedate. No real excitement, no real worries.

The results in the store were not bad for a Saturday. We saw a number of new customers, including a bunch who were not here for the tour but simply stopped in because of the road signs we put out. Hopefully we’ll see those folks back again now that they know we are here.

Expect to see us next year on the farm tour. Maybe we’ll have a few more people next year, but not too many more. I don’t want to miss my vacation.


The CFSA farm tour starts today!

This afternoon, starting at 1pm, we’ll be part of the Eastern NC farm tour coordinated by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Of course we are open our normal hours today from 8-5 so feel free to stop by this morning as usual.

The CFSA tour runs today and tomorrow, from 1-5pm each day. Tickets are $35 dollars PER CAR and allow you to see as many of the 26 farms as you can during the time period. They are also good for both days so you can see farms on Saturday and Sunday and really get your money’s worth. Before we were on the tour, we attended as often as possible and really enjoyed it every time. It really is a great tour with some fabulous local farms.

This is I think our third year on the tour. The first time we did it, I remember being a bit freaked out by all the people that were coming. We had all hands on deck here, ready for any eventuality. After some of our other events, it’s now just another Saturday/Sunday around here.

But, we have improved our ability to host people. This was based on what we’ve learned from other events. Number 1 was signage.

New welcome sign and store entrance sign
New welcome sign and store entrance sign

We also have signs for where you can’t go without an escort and one for where the tours start. They weren’t cheap, but I do think they will be worth it. It certainly dresses up the front of the store. I’d been meaning to get them forever, thankfully they are finally in place.

New freezer in the store
New freezer in the store

Inside the store, Lucy has been slaving away all week. She’s been ordering and picking up products like crazy getting us back to normal stocking levels. We also moved out of a fridge/freezer combo unit in the stock room and instead have moved it into the store where it is in freezer mode ( I LOVE these combo units, which are now discontinued. It’s so handy to be able to switch them back and forth.)

Having another freezer in the store allowed us to finally organize the goodies from Weeping Radish which up till now had been buried and hidden in the pork freezer.

Fridge and display shelf, fully stocked
Restocked and ready

We pulled a lot of new items into the store this year. Over the course of the past few months, we’ve been watching what sells and what does not. As products have finally sold out, or aged out, we’ve not replaced them if they were not good sellers. What we didn’t do was reset our stocking so that our shelves were full of popular items. Some of that was due to our farmers not having items available, some of it was we just didn’t get it done. But Lucy has worked very hard the past few weeks getting everything back in the store and now our shelves are fully stocked again. It looks much better.

I of course, have been picking up pork, beef, chicken, ice cream, etc, etc. My normal stuff. Oh, did I mention we just picked up a cow yesterday and we have ribeyes in the freezer unclaimed? See how I slipped that in there for those of you who actually read these posts? Yep, you get the gold star, swing by this morning. We have all the steaks in stock. Shh, don’t tell anyone.

The stock room finally looks good. The stock room finally looks good.
The stock room finally looks good.

We’d save the old bakers rack that used to be in the store because I didn’t want to throw it away (it was my mom’s) but it didn’t have a place. Lucy pointed out that if we moved this, tossed that, and stored this, we’d have room for the bakers rack in the stock room and finally have some shelves. It was a perfect idea. The problem with the bakers rack is small items fall through. But boxes of stock? They fit perfectly. The entire stock room was able to get some attention and it looks much better. Everything is off the floor and up on shelves and you can actually get around in there.

Our new wash table from CFSA
Our new wash table from CFSA

Normally when we are on the CFSA tour, they loan us materials for the event, then we give them back after it is over. It’s absolutely fine as they are a non-profit and every dollar counts. However they apparently received a grant this year and were able to purchase wash tables for the farmers to use and to keep. Woo hoo! Free stuff!

We’ve been meaning to get a wash table for a long while so this worked out perfect for us. We always end our tours with feeding the cows so folks always want to wash their hands before entering the store. Now we finally have a real wash table where they can do so. Of course, I didn’t use their soap they provided, I set one of ours out so people can get a free sample and clean hands at the same time. Plus now they smell lemony fresh!

This morning will be spent getting everything ready for the tour this afternoon, plus seeing all of our normal customers as well, oh, and actually running the farm because everybody still wants to eat. Starting at 1pm, we’ll be in full tour mode. If you haven’t already bought your tour button, you can get them at any farm on the tour, including ours. Just load the kids in the car and stop at the first farm and pay your $35.

Welcome to our weekly summary email

If you are receiving this email for the first time, then you are one of the 700 people I just imported from our point of sale system into our weekly newsletter.

Now before you look for the unsubscribe button (it’s there, at the bottom of the email) know that this email only comes out once per week. It’s a simple summary of all the weeks posts. No pushy marketing, no crazy buzz words.

This list is also how I let everyone know when we get something special in, like ribeyes, or lamb, or turkeys. Or maybe we are having a customer only sale which isn’t uncommon. We don’t post anything in the store, we just send the news out via this list so our customers know to ask about the sale when they come in. Everyone not on the list doesn’t know.

If all those reasons are not good enough to stay around, well the unsubscribe button is at the bottom of the weekly email. Just click unsubscribe and we’ll never email you (at this email address) again.

So why 700 people all at once for the import? Because I just didn’t get around to it and next thing I know it’s almost October and I haven’t done an import since April. Oh well, maybe one day I’ll get caught up. 

Or not.

It’s not just September, it’s mid-September

I stopped at a little store Sunday while picking up Spork and the retailer noted that they had pumpkin spice something or other in stock. I’d just seen this.

I started giggling to myself. I had a smirk on my face for the next 15 minutes, which I’m sure worried Spork. Usually when a parent is inexplicably happy, it means we have some new, unknown torture planned for the kids.

Luckily for him, not this time.

Thank you Irma

So my post yesterday was basically a big whine about why I can’t get anything done. And that took me two days to complete. I was feeling a bit like this. 

But today, my plans were cancelled due to Irma freeing up the entire day. And it looks like tomorrow will get cancelled as well. That means that in all reality those two days worth of things I was to do were just deferred but for now, it leaves me with blessed quiet and office time.

I have the windows open, a cool breeze blowing through, and time to get things DONE!

Step one, post the picture of the chicken with the crazy head feathers. CHECK!

Today is going to be a good day.

Where I’ve been

This past week you’ve only heard from Lucy with new and tasty recipes. I’ve been MIA on the blog. There are a few reasons for that. First, a lady named Irma had everyone scrambling to get ready, both on the farm and with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP)

On Sunday, I normally cover the farm along with Spork. Miguel and Vicente have the day off. Having half as many hogs has made Sunday a lot easier but it still occupies a good chunk of the day. That and regular farmer/dad stuff kept Sunday pretty busy.

Monday was Labor Day, and for once my guys didn’t need to labor. I gave them the day off and instead Spork and I covered the farm again.  Monday afternoon I interviewed a person to begin working for us as a part time book keeper here on the farm. A successful interview that I feel really good about. I know I can use the help!

Spork and two other cadets at the airport on our work day
Spork and two other cadets at the airport on our work day

Monday afternoon and night we had a special work detail at the airport for our CAP squadron. We are in the middle of “moving” into a new place. Oddly it’s the old place but everything has changed so we had to move back in to be ready for our weekly Tuesday meeting. It was a bit of a mad scramble getting everything handled but as usual, it was fun working with all the folks who showed up.

Tuesday, I flew with CAP down to SC to check on an airplane that was being worked on.

The panel, all torn apart and ready to start being put back together.
The panel, all torn apart and ready to start being put back together.

Nothing dramatic but it also occupied a good part of the day.

Wiring harness made up and ready to be installed
Wiring harness made up and ready to be installed

Tuesday afternoon is the day that I teach science to Spork, which is a new thing for me this year. Normally SWMBO does all the teaching and I do all the other stuff. But this year’s science is Aviation and for once I’m qualified to do something around here. Science lasted till dinner time, where we then loaded up and headed to our weekly CAP meeting, which puts me home about 10:30 (I go to bed at 8:30 normally).

Wednesday, finally some farm work! We loaded up 10 piglets into the trailer and I hauled them to Mt. Olive to sell. These are the piglets you saw on the tour if you came through in the last couple of months and all the piglets we had on the farm currently. As we bring our hog numbers down, we don’t want piglets on the ground getting bigger till most likely this spring. That means that we will sell off any late fall piglets as well. Late winter piglets to spring piglets will be our next batch of keepers.

I’m going to watch closely as we have our first keeper batch of piglets this spring to get a better handle on our ability to push hogs through the system. I’m shooting for 8 months from birth to market weight. This compares to 6 months for a commercial operation. I’m not sure I’ll get there but we are going to try. At 8 months, that means we can keep the 40 or so hogs we have and have normal turns of pigs. Since we have 9 paddocks that means only 4 paddocks are in use at one time, with 5 fallow. This is how we are going to eliminate erosion. Thankfully the hog smell is already gone. I couldn’t be happier about that.

Thursday is my normal crazy day where I drive to pick up pork, chicken, milk, rabbit, lamb, etc. It’s our big restock day and I spend a good portion of it driving every week. Thursday afternoon I had a meeting back at the airport to finally secure our facility once and for all for the CAP squadron. This allowed us to have a home that is OURS, as opposed to borrowed. This is a huge deal for us and something I’m proud to have been part of. The meeting took a few hours and had me home at basically dinner time.

Except with Irma bearing down on us, it was imperative that we get our communications equipment installed, which involved mounting an antennae on the hanger, on the top. This involved drilling holes in steel way up the air. Thinking I’d make things better and quicker, I grabbed our bucket truck and headed down, hoping to knock this thing out in just a few minutes. About 10pm, after the truck had broken down, been fixed, and broken down again, we gave up. Bucket truck – 1. Farmer Dan – 0. I wasn’t happy. I got to bed about midnight.

Friday dawned bright and early. Actually about 1:30am. Wildflower came in crying that she was sick, and indeed she was. The only option was to take her to the doctor with no appointment first thing Friday morning. I’d taken the entire morning off to pack for a planned trip with Spork, his cousin, and my brother-in-law. This trip had been on the books for a several months. Instead of packing, I spent the morning at the doctor’s office, then dropping Wildflower off at school in Cary, then dropping off a prescription, then coming home to empty out the bucket truck from all the tools and whatnot I had packed in there from the previous night’s failed mission.

In unpacking the bucket truck, I shoved a bunch of stuff into the back seat of my truck to take back to the house, which I figured I’d take inside Sunday when I got home. Then I had to go back to Cary to pick up Spork from the same school where I’d dropped off Wildflower earlier. I was on a tight time table at this point as we had to leave my brother-in-laws at 3:15pm.

When I grabbed Spork and was loading him in the truck, I asked him where his sleeping bag was. “Uh, I forgot it.” It was going to be in the 40s where we were going. No way could we go without a sleeping bag. I high tailed it from Cary back to Garner, then headed back to Pittsboro, still arriving 6 minutes before our scheduled departure! Whew, that was some driving.

I began tossing gear out of the truck, only to discover that I had at least one of everything, except my own backpack with my gear for the trip. It was safely sitting at the house!!! Argh! I packed Spork into the truck and bid the guys goodbye. My planned trip was no more. I headed back home from Pittsboro, trying to find someone I knew with an airplane who could fly be to Western NC that evening. No luck. My vacation didn’t happen, and my trip with my son didn’t happen because I shoved 10 gallons of to do into a 5 gallon bucket.

But at least I had the weekend to get caught up, right? I started this post first thing Saturday morning. After all but showing my rear to my family so I could get 45 whole minutes of office time, I’m finally rushing it out just before dinner on Sunday evening. No, I didn’t get caught up this weekend.

But thankfully this week is… Well Monday is toast, but Tuesday…. Ugh. No, not Tuesday. Wednesday though will be…awful. Thursday is always crazy…And there goes Friday, it’s already booked.

Yeah, no. This week will not be a week of catching up. But I do hope to actually do some farming at some point and do some posting. We are busy here on the farm and I have material to get out there. I just need about 40 hours uninterrupted in the office. At the rate I’m going I’ll get that about 2019. How did I used to do this and have a job?