Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas to me…

Boy loading hay with a tractor
Our old tractor, unloading hay in years past

Our old tractor is one that I repossessed against a bad debt from years ago. It had been ridden hard, and put up wet well before we ever got it. It was worn out before we ever laid eyes on it.

We went through it and got it running as best we could. Brakes, transmission, loader, all that stuff worked well. Lights, gauges, accessories. Eh, not so much. But it was our tractor and it did a great job, easily beating out the larger tractors and the smaller tractors that we have access to. I don’t know how many hours per year we put on it (remember the gauges don’t work?), but it runs every day, and does 95% of the jobs we do here.

Hog going into old time scalding tank
Hog going into the scalding tank

From lifting hogs into and out of the scald tank.

A pig being taken to the cooler
Heading towards the cooler
Pigs on a pig trailer
Pigs on the trailer, ready to be cross loaded onto the stock trailer

Loading pigs onto our hydraulic trailer to move to a new pen, or to load onto the livestock trailer

Cooking potatoes in our scald pot
Cooking potatoes in our scald pot

Cooking potatoes that one winter we ran out of food for the hogs.

Kids having a picnic in the pasture
The kids, having a picnic

Mowing the pastures to keep them manicured and healthy after the cows have grazed

Cutting the notch into the front of the tree
Cutting the notch into the front of the tree

Hauling out trees after we cut them down for firewood.

Tractor turned over and in a ditch
Tractor turned over and in a ditch

Even showing us we don’t want interns anymore. Our little tractor has done it all. But the tractor has one problem that we didn’t have a solution for.

About every 12-18 months, we had to put a new clutch in our tractor. We use it more like a forklift than like a farm tractor. Because of that, we are on and off the clutch constantly. And with that usage, comes wear. It costs about $2000-$2500 to put a clutch into the tractor that we had.

The back half of our tractor, with the clutch housing exposed.
The back half of our tractor, with the clutch housing exposed.

The tractor has to be broken in half to access the clutch and it usually takes about a week to get the job done. A week where we don’t have the tractor that we use DAILY.

With all this in mind, I set about getting a new tractor. I intended to get a used, hydrostatic tractor, meaning that it didn’t even have a clutch. But after much back and forth, I ended up with a new 5075M John Deere.

The new tractor, backing off of the delivery trailer in the rain
The new tractor, backing off of the delivery trailer in the rain

It has a hydraulic clutch instead of a dry clutch like our old tractor and it has a FNR switch like an industrial tractor instead of the full clutch and gear setup like our old one.

I didn’t want to spend the money. I didn’t want to go through the hassle, and I honestly didn’t want to see our tired old tractor leave because it has been good to us. But just in time for Christmas, our new tractor has shown up and it seems to be doing a good job. It meets all the modern emissions requirements and certainly has a few more bells and whistles than our old tractor. Only time will tell how it lives in our environment. I hope it is very well and for a long time.

 

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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.

More info on 2019 CSA signups

Jennifer made us a cool flyer for the store which shows all the pertinent details.

I need to hire her to make all my flyers. Sign up here if you are interested in fresh veggies next year.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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.

2019 produce CSA signups are available!

We continue to have great success with our CSA program here at the farm. As a reminder, this is simply a pass through program where we connect you, our customers, with a small, local, produce farmer. We don’t charge anything for the program and you sign up directly.

But you pick up your produce here at the farm each week, allowing you to get your veggies, your fruit, and your beef, pork, chicken, etc all at one place and at one time.

CSA vegetable box
An actual CSA box from last year

This whole idea was requested by multiple customers, and Jennifer has retained about 90% of her customers from period to period, meaning that she has a very high satisfaction rate. Something echoed by the customers I’ve spoken to when they stop by.

In fact, because of the high retention rate, I’ve not really talked much about the CSA because there hasn’t been any room for new people. But in 2019 Chickadee has been able to grow some and has opened up some more spots to us. For all of you who support local agriculture, this is exactly what you hope. We work together, support a small farmer, and they see growth and success.

As a result, there are more spots for more supporters. A win-win. Sign up today to get your name on the list for 2019.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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.

Closed for the snow today

I thought we might get a flurry this morning. It’s been snowing for hours now. It is supposed to switch over to rain this afternoon but I’m calling it. No sense in Jeanette trying to get here in this weather. We will be closed today, open as normal on Wednesday.

Have fun making snow cream!

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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.

New store hours starting January 1st

As we enter 2019, we are going back to our “winter” hours from previous years. The holidays season is our busiest time of the year, but January through March is our slowest. So knowing that slow down is coming, we are going to drop Monday from the schedule starting January 1st, and now be open:

Wednesday and Friday 2pm-6pm
Saturday 9am-5pm

Basically our hours are the same, but we are dropping Mondays from the schedule. This lets Jeanette have a day off.

We will continue to do our restocking on Tuesdays so that means Wednesday will be the day to pick up items you have pre-ordered or pick up milk right after it shows.

Little boy eating chocolate chip cookie
Mmm, chocolate chip cookies!

Saturdays will continue to be the day that the girls work, that we have most of our tours, and that we have fresh baked cookies.

If for some reason you just have to be here on a Monday, shoot me an email and I’ll try to accommodate you if I can, schedule permitting.

Again, this starts January 1st so keep on coming on Mondays till then.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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 fully stocked and ready for snow!

We are still full to bursting with inventory so instead of fighting the lines at the grocery store, stop by and get some real food for your pantry or freezer before the snow hits.

There are plenty of steaks available, as well as the bone in pork chops we were out of for a while (that was a mess, let me tell you).

There is even some milk and chocolate milk left in the store as I write this.

And don’t forget the vegetable soup base we sell. Easy and perfect on a cold winter day, especially if you add some hamburger.

And since you’re probably checking the weather as often as I am today, here is some insight into Southern weathermen.

 

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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.

Cookies, steaks, and everything else

Cookie bowl and implements
Just in time to lick the spoon

Today we are short staffed. Spork and the Princess have taken off with SWMBO to go to a practice tournament for public speaking. Yes there are tournaments for these things. No I had no idea.

So that leaves the wee one and I home alone to mind the store. This means I’ll be doing the tours today while my youngest daughter and Crystal will be running the store. That meant I was tasked with helping with the cookies this morning.

The last time I helped her with cookies, I had to explain teaspoon vs tablespoon and whatnot. This time I watched her flawlessly perform the steps, adding the wet and dry ingredients in the proper order, creaming the butter to the exact perfect consistency all while singing along with the music and only really paying attention to me to keep me from messing something up. 10 years old and a professional baker. But I guess she does have several years experience at this point so why am I surprised.

So we’ll have cookies in the store today, fresh baked as always. We also have new items like hot dogs and breakfast pork chops from a new processor. In fact, we have everything you could think of including steaks from the cow I just picked up. I’ve spent the past week doing nothing but driving. Dropping off a cow here, picking up bacon there. It has been nearly every day for the past 7 days of so. The freezers are stuffed to the gills with pork chops, bacon, steaks, hamburger, etc. Everything is here and ready for your new post Thanksgiving diet. You did finish the pie by now, right?

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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.

Beef is delayed

Despite several conversations about me coming today to pick up our latest cow, the processor was closed when I went this morning. So beef will be picked up now on Monday. My apologies. I wasn’t happy about it myself.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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.

Closed today, open on Saturday with fresh beef

Closed sign

Just a quick reminder that we are closed today during our normal store hours of 2pm-6pm so that our employees can enjoy their post turkey day couch sitting.

I put on 2.8 lbs yesterday, so I’m certainly not making fun.

But with that new found jelly roll around my middle, I’m up early to go pick up a cow at the processor. This will fully restock us on beef meaning we’ll be ready to see you on small business Saturday. Plus the girls should have cookies this Saturday. Last weekend we were celebrating the wee one turning 10 so unlike last weekend when folks were disappointed at the lack of cookies(yes Dustin, I’m talking to you) expect her to be up and baking tomorrow morning with fresh cookies for the weekend.

Enjoy your Black Friday shopping today, but save a bit for dinner this weekend and stop and see us tomorrow.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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.

Tuesdays are now our pickup/restock days

New welcome sign and store entrance sign

If you’ve been in our store one of the first things we point out is that not everything we carry comes from our farm. We are quite proud of the fact that we support other farms in our operation and we always share who everyone is that we do business with. This is actually unusual in our industry as a lot of people slip other peoples products into their offering and relabel it under their name. Even at the State Farmers Market this is allowed as long as it is less than 50% of the offering, if I recall the percentage correctly.

With all this “other” stuff in the store, there is a lot of meet and greet that goes on to meet these small scale farmers and exchange wares and checks. Jeanette spends a lot of her days off meeting people for crackers and whatnot. I don’t have the flexibility to meet on various days so what I do is try to make all my meets on the same day. My main pickups are to meet our chicken farmer, who I meet weekly, and to stop by our dairy operation and restock on milk and milk products. I can’t drive all the way to the other farm (it is an hour away!) for a few gallons of milk so going once per week and meeting other people on the same trip helps offset the gas and the time.

We had been meeting on Mondays, which worked out great because I could bring everything in before we opened on Monday. But then we had a scheduling conflict and now the pickup day has been moved to Tuesday. That works well because it takes the pressure off of me to be back before we open at 2pm, but it means now the new product shows up in the store on Wednesday. For those of you who want to be here when things are freshest or when you know we’ll be fully stocked, Wednesdays and Fridays are now your days.

We are continuing to process a cow once per month and pigs about once per month (not the same time of month) as well. I haven’t been posting when we receive a cow in like I used to. I’m going to try and remedy that so you have some visibility to when we have steaks in stock. In reality we’ve had a lot of our steaks pre-sold so I’ve been kinda lazy. But that is no excuse, plus we have an extra cow going this month so we’ll have extra stock coming shortly.

I just picked up three hogs worth of product so we do have the pork freezer stocked again. I’m sorry we got down so low, we had a series of problems that kept things from making it back to the freezer. But that is mostly behind us now (there is still a tractor issue, but that is getting resolved).

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, 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.