What kind of crazy name is Ninja Cow Farm?
I get asked about our name all the time. First, the origin of the name is well documented here.
Second, all the “normal” farms sound the same to me. Happy Valley Farm, Rolling Meadow Farm, Shady Oak Farm. All very nice sounding, all very forgettable. Cows with swords? That one sticks around in the noggin.
What are your hours? Can I just stop by?
It depends. On Wednesdays and Fridays we are open to shop in the store between 2-6pm. On Saturday’s we are open to shop in the store between 8-5. Other days, and tours, require an appointment. You can easily book an appointment online.
What is the tour like? What do we do?
One of our customers has a video production business and was extremely generous and produced this video to answer your questions.
This is an example of our riding tour. We also have walking tours for large groups and people who book with Spork for a tour. More info on what you will see is in the next question.
What will I see on the tour?
What you will see will depend on the time of year and what we have going on at the farm. Winter is different from summer, obviously. Sometimes we have cute new little piglets, sometimes we’ll have animals in the barn being treated for something so you see them up close. Sometimes we’ll show you the momma pigs, sometimes finished hogs. It all depends on what we have at the moment and what makes the most sense for your enjoyment and your safety. We always have our milk cow, Betsy, onsite and you’ll get to go out and feed and see her up close. If the beef cows are here, we may go and see and feed them instead.
The important thing to know is that we are a working farm, not a petting zoo. That means that our animals will be doing what they need to do for our soil health and their health. We are giving you a tour of what we have at the moment. We do not stage animals for visitors. If you want to see a real farm, this is it.
Is it safe to be around the animals?
Our animals are managed to be gentle. That means we eat the crazy ones first. However they are livestock, not pets. I routinely walk through the middle of our cows with no concern, but I’ve been doing it all my life. Listen to your guide, keep your kids under control and at hand, don’t hand feed the pigs (they bite), and you’ll be absolutely fine. We give about 30 tours per week and our goal is that everyone sees what farming is about, knows where their food comes from, and leaves here happy and safe. Just understand we are a working farm, not a petting zoo, and these animals are livestock, not pets.
Can I take pictures?
Absolutely! We want you to enjoy yourself and capture the moment. We also want you to be comfortable where your food comes from. Getting out and meeting the animals, and recording it for later is what you are here for. Thanks for asking, but snap away freely.
How do I schedule a visit?
We’ve installed a handy booking program on our website. Simply go to our online booking page, enter your information, and you are on the schedule. You will receive an email reminder before your visit. Don’t worry about coordinating with me. If I’m busy, the time slots aren’t listed as available. That lets me do things like go to dinner with the Mrs, take cows to the processor, pick up supplies. Normal stuff.
I have special needs. Can you accommodate me?
Most likely, yes. However we are a working family farm, not Disney. The ground is rough and we only have so much manpower. If walking is a problem, we can give you a tour on our John Deere Gator (see the video above). If you have special needs, you need to:
- Email or text Dan to book directly with him.
- Communicate your needs to me directly prior to your visit so I can be prepared for you.
- Let me know what your needs are so we can tailor the tour around you.
What are your hours?
We are open on Mondays and Tuesday from 1-5 by appointment. We are open Wednesday and Friday 2-6 for store hours, by appointment for tours. We are open Saturdays 8-5 to shop, and by appointment for tours. We are closed Sundays and Thursdays.
What do you sell on your farm?
If you click on the link at the top of our page that says “Buy products” you will see a drop down list of all the things we sell. If you click on the item that interests you, you will see information about that individual category.
Are all of the products in your store from your farm?
We are proud to say, nope!
While all of the pork and beef is from our farm, we are proud to support other small farmers like ourselves by bringing in their products and selling it in our store. Many small farmers cannot be a producer and a retailer both. They don’t have the size or the manpower to be both on the farm and at the farmers market. They also usually don’t have access to a market like we have in Raleigh because most farm land is out in the country.
By carrying their products in our store, it helps our customers because they have access to more selection. It helps us because it allows us to have a wider range of products to sell and because it makes our personal grocery store much better stocked. And it helps the other farmers because they can sell their product without having to sit in the cold at a farmers market hoping somebody will buy something. It is a win, win, win.
I’m scheduled for a tour. Can I bring my (kids, grandparents, neighbors, friend) along?
Sure. We do tours for individuals, school groups, and everything in between. As long as your group is 5-6 people, just come on. We are ready for you. If you are above 6 people, it means we have to do the tour differently so just let me know ahead of time. We limit our tours to 20 people maximum per tour.
What forms of payment do you take?
We take it all. Cash, checks, and all credit cards. Some of our regular customers bring cash because they know it helps us by not having to pay the credit card fee, which we sincerely appreciate. However, I find that customers who aren’t worried about having enough cash buy more when they visit so the net result is pretty much the same from our end. So pay however you like.
Do you have (insert cut of meat here) in stock?
Our availability varies by the day. We try to keep our different meat pages updated monthly for the big movements in product. You can view our beef, pork, or chicken pages to see the updates however we have customers daily and there is no telling what they might have just wiped us out of. If you really need that one cut, just give me a call before you come to make sure we have it. If I know you need it, I’ll put it aside for you so it is ready when you get here.
Also, we are routinely short on steaks. We keep a signup sheet in our store so that our customers can reserve cuts of meat they are looking for. These orders are filled on a first come, first serve basis. That means when an animal is first processed, I bring the meat home and put it away. I then pull the order list and pull orders one by one till all orders are filled or we run out of that cut of meat. Then whatever is left over is what is for sale in the store. Getting added to the signup sheet is easy, but you have to be in the store, or a regular customer to do it. We don’t take reserve orders from first time customers.
Don’t see the cut of meat you are looking for? Need beef tendon? A rib roast? Something special? We take animals to processing routinely. Just give me a call and we can order whatever piece you need from our next animal to be processed.
Who is SWMBO, Spork, etc? What is with all the names?
SWMBO is actually an acronym. It stands for She Who Must Be Obeyed. Sadly, SWMBO will tell you I don’t actually obey her all that much but it is the nickname that stuck.
We don’t use our kids real names online for security reasons. I’m not sure it’s really effective but it is a requirement of SWMBO (see I do obey sometimes). I don’t actually call her SWMBO except online. It’s honey, sweetie, wifey, mom. Pretty much everything but her actual name.
Spork is my son, my oldest child. He works the farm with me when he isn’t homeschooling. I actually do call him Spork in real life.
The Princess is my middle daughter. She will introduce herself as Daggers ( a play on her name) or by her actual name. She and her sister do the baking and work the farm store.
Wildflower is my youngest daughter. She will introduce herself by her actual name but we call her Wildflower online because she’s pretty and WILD! At home we call her Taco or Bok Bok. She pinch hits wherever we need her, mainly working with her sister when they both are not homeschooling.
Can I buy 1/2 of a cow from you?
You can, but you probably don’t want to. To learn why, read this post.
Can I bring my dog/cat/alpaca with me to run around?
Sorry, no. We have a livestock guardian dog and she doesn’t like new animals on the farm that she doesn’t know. People are fine, but not animals.
Is there a charge for the tour?
We believe the best thing you can do is get to know your farmer and where your food comes from. The best thing we can do is to encourage that experience. We do charge a nominal amount of $20 per group because just giving tours takes about 40 hours a week around here, in addition to running the store, working with animals, cleaning stalls, sorting produce, and all the other things that come with being a farm.
Can I be notified when you get (insert cut of meat here) in stock?
You can. Whenever we do pretty much anything here on the farm we post it on our blog. By signing up for our weekly newsletter, you can get a summary of all the weeks posts and see what we’ve been doing. If we restock on something, we always post it out for everyone to see and you’ll get notified when we have your special cut back in stock. Also, if we have a special announcement we can send a quick email to all of our customers letting them know the good news.
Are your animals given …(insert bad thing here i.e. GMOs, anti-biotics, bone meal, chicken feathers, etc)
Short answer, no. Our animals are fed via their own foraging and produce from the State Farmers market in Raleigh. That’s it. No silos of corn, no feed trucks backing up. No organic grains (which is still grain with all its own issues.)
For antibiotics, we treat animals if they are sick. When we do so, we publish that information on our blog for all to see. We also tag that animal if they don’t already have an ear tag so that we can always tell which animal was treated.
Can you speak to my (church, business, moms, nutrition, business) group?
Dan is an accomplished speaker and over the years has spoken to many groups, both large and small. To discuss a speaking engagement, it’s best to reach out to him directly with details on what you have in mind. He can be reached here.
Can I stop by and pick up steaks for dinner tonight?
You can stop by and pick up steaks, no problem. But if you want them for dinner tonight understand that they are frozen. We do not keep meat thawed and in the cooler like a grocery store. We do this for freshness (the grocery store meat was frozen, they thawed it for sale). We also do it because we are inspected by the NCDA and have our meat handlers license. They want to see our meat safe, and frozen properly.
If you know you are going to need steaks tonight, call or text me in the morning and I’ll pull them for you and put them in the fridge. That way you are ready for dinner tonight.
I need a special cut of meat. Do you have it?
That depends. We get more cuts of meat than the grocery store. We keep things like feet, tongue, liver, bones, ox tail, etc. Not your typical cuts of meat. Do you need a steamboat for a party? A beef tendon for pho? An uncured pork belly for some home bacon making? Something I’ve never heard of? We can get pretty much anything if we don’t have it. You just need to wait till we take our next critter to the processor and have your order in before hand. We take a cow once per month, and pigs usually twice per month. Just reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request and we can usually make it happen.
Are you members of any groups or do you support any organizations?
We are members of the NC agri-tourism networking association, Carolina Farming Stewardship Association, and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Dan is President of the Wake County agribusiness council and an active member of the Wake County Farm Bureau Board of Directors. Dan is also on the advisory board for North State Bank.