Milk and eggs are good. Chicken, not so much

I made my rounds today to pick up milk, chicken, pork, eggs, and lamb. Everything went as planned, except for chicken. Actually I guess chicken did go as planned because I was pretty sure we wouldn’t get much. And I was correct. We’ve tapped out our chicken farmer for at least 2-3 weeks when some new birds are ready and on the ground.

But milk and eggs are in good shape. Both coolers are full and look good. We also got some more lamb in, and pork BBQ and kielbasa sausage.

So overall we are in good shape. But chicken is going to be thin for a few weeks.

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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 pork to the processor

In my continuing efforts to keep you up to date on our product, I’m letting you know that we are taking hogs to the processor again today. It takes most all day to get there, unload, and get back. That doesn’t count loading the hard headed things, which at this point is nearly impossible.

You see, we had about 140 hogs on this farm at one point. We’d gotten them in an effort to supply a wholesale customer who then went out of business, leaving us holding the bag (guess what my answer is when wholesale people call me). The hogs we have here now are the last hogs on the farm from that lot. They’ve lived here for a long time, and they have watched other hogs get on the trailer, never to return. They don’t know what happens when you get on the trailer, but at this point, they know they don’t want any part of it.

And they are huge.

And they have a bad attitude.

And they are four wheel drive.

So loading is an adventure and we get what we get most days. It isn’t, get that hog over there, and this one here. If we want two, and we get two, then we are thankful. If three get on? Bonus! Only one. Ugh, best we could do.

So assuming we get two loaded today, I’ll haul them to Acre Station to get them processed. Should take about 1.5 weeks to get the original processing done. Then I haul the primals (think huge hunks of meat) from Acre Station to Dean Street to get the value add stuff done. The pork chops and regular cuts will come back home after drop off at Dean Street as they don’t need any additional processing. The stuff I dropped at Dean Street is another couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I’m picking up chicken, milk, buttter, etc. tomorrow so that we are stocked for open on Wednesday. Dunno what Christy will be able to magic up for us in the chicken department. It isn’t like we are in mid-summer and she has lots of birds on the ground ready to harvest. I expect we’ll have lean times for a bit on chicken before she has more to process for us. But know that she is doing the best she can, which is a far sight better than I could do.

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.

Farm fresh produce, CSA signups are open!

Normally I have to get peoples attention to even read something about food. But with all the craziness going on right now, everyone is talking about food, except when they are talking about toilet paper!

In the middle of all the corona craziness, I get a call from our Jennifer, our produce farmer and now long time CSA partner. We’ve been a drop off point for her for several years. We don’t charge her, or you. The idea is, hopefully you like the convenience of picking up here, and you’ll buy some meat while you are here. Not everyone does that, but enough do that we still like to be part of it. Plus we like Jennifer and her product so that helps.

So Jennifer says, “Hi, howya been. Etc, etc. Do you still want to be a part of the CSA this year?”

I’ve got people climbing the fences trying to buy product and she wants to know if I want fresh produce for customers? Um, yeah.

This is her advertisement. Legit that is just a pic of one of her drop offs. I’ve seen plenty to judge

So as usual, the signups go to Jennifer directly at chickadeefarmsnc.com. Just select that you want to pick up at Ninja Cow Farm and you’ll be on the list for veggie goodness. If there has ever been a time to support your local farmer, and secure your supply from that farmer, this is it. Thousands of you get these posts. I don’t know how many spots she has but if you are thinking about it, I’d go ahead and do it before your neighbor does. Know you have fresh food coming to the house this year.

Any buy a pork chop when you stop by.

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.

Hand washing and social distancing

When you are a farmer, a welder, a machinist, or a mechanic, hand washing is what you do before you eat lunch. Maybe. Depends on which end of the cow you were working on. I’m all those things, so it isn’t unusual that when I wash my hands, the water comes off brown or black. That just comes with the job. There isn’t much hand washing till lunch because whats the point, you are just going to grab the next cow anyway. You just learn to scratch your nose with another part of your body.

But now we have hand washing as a national pastime thanks to this virus. And while we’ve always had the ability to wash your hands when you visit the farm, in our conveniently located bathroom (go back outside, turn right, no the other right, last door on the right, in the shop, past the box/wall thingie, turn left, turn left again….yeah, that’s not exactly obvious) We decided (Jeanette told me to) maybe it would be prudent to get our hand washing station from the CFSA Farm Tour back into operation and put some of our soap and water out front.

Step one, find the girls. One was working, so that was easy. And conveniently she was able to summon the other one with promises of warm weather and splashing with the hose.

Before they had drenched each other, but after they had gotten it mostly clean

Step two. Clean all the gook from sitting outside all year to you don’t end up dirtier than when you started.

Step three. Fix the drain. “Fix” may be a stretch. I bodged the dodgiest collection of random plumbing parts I had. And threw in a flower water jug for good measure. Just so the water wouldn’t splash on your feet. I’m working with random scraps here. I didn’t want to leave the farm to go to Lowes unless I absolutely had to. Cut me some slack.

The Princess is going to make a sign that says, “Stop. Wash your filthy hands before you come inside.” Or something like that. There really is no telling with her. Jeanette will probably fix it to be more welcoming when she gets here Wednesday. Whatever it says, please wash your hands before you come inside.

It will also say something about social distancing and no more than 6 people in the store at a time. That usually isn’t a problem, but for you Wednesday at 2pm people, it will be. Enjoy the sunshine and hang out outside until someone else comes out.

But for today, please wash your hands before you come in. The weather is beautiful and of course we have real soap (the thing that actually works on this virus) available right there in bar form the way God intended it. (Can you tell I hate those foamy pump bottle things my wife keeps scattering around?)

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.

The beef made it

Yesterday I posted that I was going to pick up pork from the processor, and then high tail it to the beef processor to pick up beef. That plan worked just as I described, except I arrived at the store 30 minutes after our opening. There was already a line of happy people social distancing outside in the warm weather, enjoying an impromptu bee show since our bee keeper Jennifer had shown up to home a swarm she’d picked up from Cary. We’ve never had posh Cary bees before, so I hope they can adapt to the redneck lifestyle.

I picked up our beef right off the cutting table (figuratively of course, they had to package it). It was cold but not even close to frozen yet. Into our trailer freezers it went as quickly as we could and then we headed straight for the farm.

Jeanette and her son Cody grabbed the beef off almost as soon as I stopped rolling, and started handing it out to people who were waiting. In the words of Jeanette after it was all over, “That is about as farm to table as it gets!” She wasn’t kidding. The meat hadn’t even had time to freeze!

But not to worry. It is frozen now and we are well stocked with beef. The Princess will be working the store today and we are open from 9am-1pm. Unlike what is going on in the grocery stores, we won’t be having any hoarding in our store. If you need a few pounds of hamburger, we are glad to see you. If you want 10, 20, 30lbs, The Princess is going to call me. I’m going to stop what I am doing and walk over. And I’m going to be grumpy. This cow needs to last us till next month and everyone gets a fair shake. If you are looking to put some meat back, I suggest roasts as we still had roasts after the last cow and we received a number back again. So instead of 10 lbs of hamburger, get 3lbs and a couple of roasts. That would be no problem and feed you just the same.

I will be dropping off two more hogs Monday, and then picking up BBQ and kielbasa on Tuesday. Along with whatever chicken is left (that is becoming a problem), milk (business as usual), and hopefully lamb. So Wednesday we should be well stocked again for your needs.

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.

Bad news and good news

I’ve avoided posting anything about our beef being here today because I have to wait and see if our processor will have it done in time to pick up today. Usually I can pick up Friday morning, but sometimes it isn’t done yet. And with all the craziness going on, if it was ever to be not ready, it would be now.

So I called first thing this morning. Ring…Ring…Ring…Ring…No answer

Crap! Did they end up shutting down? They are in a different county than I am and I don’t know what weird orders the county may have imposed. Wake County has exemptions for our business (food and farming both) so we are free to come and go. Maybe they aren’t? I can’t imagine they’d be shut down.

Wait 30 minutes and call. Ring…Ring…Ring…Ring…Oh no! Really?!…Ring…Hello?

Oh thank God!

Hey, good morning. Just checking to make sure you guys are open and my cow is ready for pickup?

Uh, not yet. It is gonna be late. Will be this afternoon at best. Sorry.

Argh!!

So I hopped on here to let everyone know, because we’ve been telling people all week that we are restocking on hamburger, steaks, etc this Friday. But before I could get halfway started.

Ring… Hello?

Yeah, I know I said this afternoon, but I think we can be done with your cow by lunch.

No problem. That is great since we open at 2pm. Thank you.

Now, onto the pork. I also haven’t told you that our pork processor was able to get some of our pork done earlier than expected. They said yesterday that if I came by this afternoon, I could get everything but BBQ. So originally the plan was I would have already been on the way to the beef processor first thing this morning (that is 3 hours at best), and then reversed course to go to the pork processor (2 hours) and then been home in time for all that to be onsite before we opened at 2pm today.

Now I’m heading to pork first, I’ll get what is available, which is still most of it. Then I’ll head to beef and be sitting there at lunch time when my cow comes off the floor. Then I’ll high tail it to home to try to get here before we open.

So other than missing kielbasa, and BBQ, and making my day crazy, I think it will all work out for getting things here before 2pm. That DOES NOT mean we’ll have it all unloaded before 2pm so please don’t plan on walking in the door at 2 and getting beef and pork. We’ll be working to download the trailer as best we can, as we can also deal with each and every customer through the door.

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.

So much for that

I travelled from early dark to lunch today. Picking up milk, chicken, lamb, whatever. I won’t be getting my beef restock till Friday but at least pretty much everything else will be well stocked.

Jeanette came in 1.5 hours early just to stock up and get things ready.

Between all the loot I hauled home, and Jeanette stocking and restocking everything, we were loaded for bear.

I headed to the house to feed the family, and then looked back through the window and saw this.

Cars all along the parking lot at Ninja Cow Farm
It is hard to see them all but there are cars from one side of the picture to the other

This view was 15 minutes before we even opened! We are normally busy on Wednesday, but wow! I started scarfing my lunch down so I could get free, and headed over to the barn.

Cars all over the store parking lot
Each time I’d take a picture, two more cars would pull up. I finally gave up and just went with this.

I ducked in the back entrance to the store, something I’ve never even needed to do before. There were people all over the front waiting to get in at 2pm sharp.

Line of people in the store
Lined up to the entrance

The last time I saw it this busy was when we had the pet a pig day. We did 4x a Saturday’s volume (a month ago) in ONE HOUR. Yikes!

We sold out of eggs and most of the raw milk and the chicken got a good hit. We also worked the beef roasts and pork products pretty good. And the lamb, which we just received in this morning, went out seemingly with every other customer.

I’m writing this just one hour after that first hour. Things have calmed down now and you can get in and out. But kuddos to Jeanette for making it happen during a crazy busy 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.

Corona Virus and the farm store

The last few weeks have been interesting to say the least. First, the world effectively goes crazy, then shuts down. We are just doing our thing, fat, dumb, and happy. I go get some milk and chicken, drop off a hog or two, pick up some pork. Tra la la, happy little farmer just doing normal stuff.

A truck load of porky goodness
A truck load of porky goodness

But Jeanette is placing bigger orders with our partner farms, like an order of magnitude bigger than we’ve done in the last year. And we are still selling out of stuff more than normal. I’m still kinda doing my thing, talking to our farmers, dropping off a cow at the processor, watching the stock market plummet, just merrily driving around and seeing everyone, dropping off animals and picking up meat. Everyone is sorta wide eyed or shaking their head at all that is going on, but everyone is still working, everyone is open. Farmers and their related businesses don’t have days off, and don’t stop. Animals have to eat every day, that is just part of being a farmer.

food for animals from the farmers market
Food for the animals on the farm

Then this week, we had about 3-4 times normal volume in the store on Wednesday. Wow. Jeanette is some sales lady, she really must have had somebody decide to stock up. Shame she’s gonna be off the rest of the week and the girls are gonna cover for her.

two business men looking at a chart with growth that goes off the top
Business is off the chart

I casually mention to the Mrs that she might want to grab any hamburger she needs for dinner this week because with these sales, I could see us running out of hamburger. Which is saying something because the last cow we processed was heavy on hamburger (read: we were well stocked), and our restaurant customer, Brew N Que isn’t really ordering any hamburger right now since everyone is shut down. Wifey grabs a few pounds of hamburger and a couple of gallons of milk for us before we open on Friday.

The Princess and Myla sweeping up
The Princess and Myla sweeping up

Friday the 11 year old, and her friend Eva work. They can run the register, but they aren’t the sales people that Jeanette is. We have to do a lot of educating of our customers. “Oh, yes we are out of that roast, but this roast can be substituted, no problem. It comes from the same primal.” Things like that. Don’t expect an 11 year old to know that level of detail. They have an even larger sales day than Jeanette did on Wednesday.

Girls playing apples to apples with Alarita
Crystal dealing out the next hand

Then Crystal works the store on Saturday and it is a huge sales day again. It wasn’t as big as Friday, but by this point, we are out of hamburger, out of milk, low on chicken, low on pork. You get the idea. It is hard to sell out of an empty basket.

Busy vintage telephone operator
A good problem to have

While all this is going on, my phone has been blowing up. In the past week, I’ve turned down the sale of at least 6 whole cows. Not everyone wants a whole. Some want 1/2. Some want 1/4. But if I add them up, it is at least that many cows. We only process 1 cow per month so we are talking about nearly half of our annual sales I’ve turned down. My answer to everyone is, “We are selling by the cut, in store only. ” They mostly go away with that response. The store and our regulars is our focus. I tell myself that as I watch tens of thousands of dollars go away.

I was at the beef processor (where we take cows to become steaks) and they were telling me that farmers are just backing up and dropping off cows with no notice. You see, it takes about 90-120 days to get on the schedule to have a cow processed. But farmers are getting so slammed for demand, they are desperate. I marveled at the audacity of someone making their demand problem the processors problem. You don’t just drop a cow off with no notice. That is a living animal and the people on the receiving end have to have a plan or the animal suffers. Luckily we keep a standing appointment with the processor every month so we are in and out like clockwork. Also luckily, we just processed about 900 lbs of pork because we are moving through some other stuff related to the pork products. And mainly because Jeanette told me to go process some pigs, she needed product!

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

We are just a little farm store, run by kids and one kindly lady who takes pity on us and works here. We are doing about 4-5 times normal business right now, and turning down sales on 1/2 and whole animals daily. Luckily everyone has been super nice, our regulars understand what we are going through, and our new people are just happy to find us in this dire time. I’m hauling more meat than ever, and I don’t see if changing in the next few weeks.

We are surprisingly well stocked for the level of business we are doing. We are going to do our dead level best to keep the store well stocked for everyone. But obviously we are going to run out of things. We do that even when things are slow.

Tuesday I will be picking up chicken, lamb, milk, and maybe some pork products. Friday I will be picking up a whole cow that we just processed replenishing our beef supply. Then next week, it will be chicken, milk, and pork.

Know that we are doing our best to keep you fed during these trying times.

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 open normal hours today and Saturday

I’ll be dropping off a cow today, so that we can have a restock of fresh beef next Friday. So we should be open as normal, with lots of beef and still pork remaining from our pickup earlier this week.

One thing we don’t have yet is our sausages. I dropped off about 300 lbs of pork at the sausage maker last week and they are working through it now. Thankfully they are still open. Hopefully I can run over there today to drop off one last bit of pork I missed (duh) and they can start cooking BBQ next week.

The girls will be working instead of Jeanette both Friday and Saturday. That means there may be cookies. Maybe not. Depends on what mood the wife is in. With all the craziness going on, she’s not keen on extra cleaning in the kitchen. She is however interested in some spring cleaning so if it looks like we are having a yard sale in the front yard, that is just the wife doing her thing. I’m going to hide in my truck today and stay on the road picking up and dropping off meat.

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.

Yes we are open

With all the crazy in the world, we are faced with a simple question. “Are you open tomorrow, Wednesday the 18th?”

The quick answer is yes. Yes we are, our normal hours from 2pm-6pm.

In addition to just being open, Jeanette was busy restocking literally hundreds of pounds of chicken, pork, lamb, and goat today so she’d be ready for you all tomorrow. We also restocked milk and milk products today as well.

So come and see us tomorrow for all your food needs. Jeanette will be looking for you.

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.