New Saturday hours

Today is the last day we are going to be open all day on Saturday. Starting next Saturday, 28 December, we will be open from 9am till 1pm instead of traditional 5pm.

This will allow us to get to Saturday night church without committing any number of sins just crashing into one another trying to get out the door after work on Saturday. Plus this more closely matches our hours the rest of the week, meaning whether you work Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday, it is a four hour shift either way.

Lastly, it means the girls, who are older now and want to go skating with their friends, or have sleepovers, or whatever, aren’t tied to the store all day. They can work the morning, and get off just after lunch and still see their friends.

So please still come and see us, just do your grocery shopping first, then go to the park.

Standing rib roasts are still available

Just a reminder that we still have a few slots available for standing rib roasts for Christmas. They cost the same as a ribeye steak, no premium paid. But you have to order them. Don’t be like the people calling me the day before Thanksgiving and asking if we still had turkeys. Get your order in so we can have an awesome centerpiece for your Christmas dinner ready when you are.

Call the store during store hours, and Jeanette can get your information.

Herd Share renewals

Raw milk in refrigerator

Once per year, we need to update our herd share memberships and now is the time for those of you who are part of our program.

If you don’t recall (and all the original details are here in this post), it is simply the cost of a gallon of milk to be a member. We try to make it as painless as possible for you. But it is an important membership, as it allows us to be compliant with NC laws, Senate Bill 711 to be specific.

You just just pay in the store when you come in, so it isn’t complicated. We are required to renew this membership once per year under NC law.

Raw milk, with NC required warnings
Raw milk, and all it’s warnings

If you don’t want to be a member, that is fine. But you will have to buy your milk under the old NC law which allowed for selling milk not for human consumption. The milk will cost a few dollars more, and it will have a large sticker on it to comply with that law. We also will want to know that you are feeding it to your goldfish, not to your kids.

Thanksgiving hours and turkey pickup

Next week is the big week. I’m already feeling big because I’ve been eating too much this week already and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. Ugh. By next week I’ll look like this.

Fat sea lion laying on concrete
I wonder if there is any pie left?

Because of the holiday, we have different hours and days this coming week. Instead of being open Friday from 2-6pm, we will be open Monday from 2-6pm. This will allow me to go pick up our fresh turkeys Monday morning and bring them back and keep them in the fridge for all of our customers. Pickups will be Monday for Turkeys, period. Otherwise we’d have to freeze them and none of us want to have a fresh turkey that is then frozen, to then thaw. Kinda defeats the purpose.

Wednesday we will be open our normal hours, from 2-6pm.

Friday, as I said we will be closed so you can go get your Black Friday on.

Saturday we will also be closed. Spork and I have to be at a school in Virginia and with all the Thanksgiving goings on it is better to just be closed.

The following week we will return to our normal schedule.

Standing rib roasts

Standing rib roast

Every Christmas we forgo our normal ribeye steaks and instead have our cuts made into standing rib roasts. These are always very popular and we always sell more than we can produce.

The way the process works is you call into the store (919-322-0197) during store hours and talk to Jeanette. You tell her how many pounds of rib roast you want. She will take a deposit from a credit card over the phone. She will put you down for that amount in her book and when we process our Christmas cows, we have the butcher cut your roasts to spec, or as close as we can get it. Then we call you when I go get the meat from the processor and you swing by during store hours and pick up your beautiful rib roast. Unlike our turkeys, your roast will be frozen so there is no rush to get the roast or worry about it spoiling if you are traveling for Christmas.

The price is exactly the same as if you’d ordered that many pounds of ribeye steaks, because effectively that is what you did. We don’t up-charge just because the steaks are now magically a roast instead.

We always sell out of these roasts so get your orders in early.

The time for fresh turkeys is now and special new hours for Thanksgiving

I just stopped in the store to talk to Jeanette and she informed me that we are getting to the end of our allocation for fresh turkeys. If you want a turkey, you need to call her at 919-322-0197 during store hours and put a deposit down. sooner rather than later. Once we are out, we are out.

Thanksgiving turkey.

I’ll be meeting our turkey farmer on Monday the 25th to pick up the fresh, never frozen turkeys. I will haul them back on this special run so we can get them to you earlier in the week for your Thanksgiving prep. We will be opening the store Monday, from 2pm-6pm so that all of our turkey customers can swing by and pick up their Thanksgiving bird.

Then Tuesday I’ll be making our normal milk pickup from our dairy farm. This is important because the turkey needs to be out of the fridge so the milk can go in. They cannot share a space and we don’t have room for both. All turkey pickups need to be Monday from 2pm to 6pm. Of course you can buy other things on Monday as well.

Then we’ll be open our normal hours on Wednesday, 2pm-6pm.

Closed sign

Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, we will be closed.

Tours are changing

For the past several years we’ve had two types of tours. One is a free Saturday tour traditionally given by my son, and a paid tour during the weekday that is traditionally given by me. All of these tours are booked directly via our online booking calendar.

Starting today, we are going back to the old days of when you had to email me to book a tour. This is for several reasons.

  1. The calendar app that we use on our website for booking tours has some issues. I’ve posted about this in the past. However I keep having people book when I’m supposed to be busy somewhere else. This leads to me sending an apologetic and embarrassing email, so rather than continuing to chase the problem, I’m just going back to manual booking.
  2. The reason we do tours is changing. When we started giving tours, I had a 12 year old kid who was nervous talking in front of people. Now I have a nearly 16 year old young man who is a veteran of speech and debate club, and public speaking with the Civil Air Patrol, on top of the many, many tours he has given. He doesn’t need practice speaking in public anymore.
  3. When Spork turns 16 shortly, he is going to get a job off farm. That is the planned end of his giving tours, always has been. So instead of trying to pump tours through here to keep a kid working, now I need him working his new job and excelling there. Tours are no longer a learning opportunity, they are a distraction for him.

So we are now going to charge for any and all tours, including Saturday tours. Because like my schedule, Sporks is busy and if we are giving a tour, we are not doing something else that needs to get done. And we are going to manually book the tours, which means a little more scheduling work for me and a slower response for you.

It may sound like I’m describing this as a negative, but the purpose of what we do here, as I’ve said on pretty much every tour I’ve ever given, is to grow our children into responsible, and productive adults. That process is working and working well, and things are adjusting based on the people employed here.

Welcome home girls

Convincing the girls that they do indeed want to get on the trailer

Every spring we take the momma cows, the baby cows, and the bull over to our other farm so that they can graze their summer away in peace and solitude. It isn’t that big of a deal to get them onto the trailer as we have full cattle facilities here at the main farm. Loading ramp, head gates, scales, basically anything you need to work with cattle.

At our other farm, we had nothing but fencing. We eventually figured out that what we needed was a portable corral, something the AgriSupply conveniently sells. We leave the corral setup all year long and just let the cows wander around wherever they want to go.

Come fall, we need to get the cattle back into this corral so that we can load them on the trailer and move them home. Of course, after a summer of doing just exactly what they please, they are as happy to get into a corral as a 5th grader is to go back to school.

So the trick is to start taking the cows food to our other farm. This means that someone has to load extra food, cart it over, and hand feed it out since we may not have a tractor over there when we start doing this. The cows, who are creatures of habit, start expecting food and showing up at the corral each day. After a week or so, we can take our last load of food, a loading ramp, a tractor, and a truck and trailer. With all the cows in the corral, it is just a matter of herding cows into the trailer and bringing them back one load at a time.

Of course, we always have some summer babies roaming around, so the last load of cows ends up being the elementary school bus load of kids. We don’t want one of the big cows to accidentally step on one of the calves while packed into the trailer, so the little ones ride separate. You’d think that a bunch of little calves would be easy to load but oh no. It is the old momma cows that are easy. They’ve done this 100 times and walk right onto the trailer with maybe some gentle coaxing. The kids? Dumb as rocks. They will go behind the fence, over the gate, walk backwards up the ramp. Anything that makes no sense whatsoever. Luckily they are little so they are easy enough to manage but it is always amusing watching the little calves try to figure things out.

Four trailer loads of cows brought everyone home Monday. Now the finishing herd and the brood herd are together again. There was some pushing and shoving at the pecking order was reestablished but after an afternoon of that everyone has settled down and is happily munching grass.

Before long, we’ll be feeding hay and complaining about winter. Summer is gone already?

We have seafood!

No, I didn’t convert our ponds to catfish farming. Or the funniest story I ever heard, a guy who converted to prawns. Some sort of Australian tiger prawns or something. Supposed to be big, according to the ad he saw in a magazine. They followed the instructions, threw food out in the water, and waited. When the time came, they drained the pond and had the biggest shrimp they’d ever seen. Like something out of a horror movie, wriggling and squirming in the mud. The owner, who was telling the story, looked over at his right hand man and said, “Ok, go down and collect them.”

“Uh uh, boss. You want ‘dem things. You go get ’em.”

This is the PG version of the story. I assure you, standing at the counter, having this 6’4″, 280 lb man act out the story along with the voices and and mannerisms was funny. I nearly peed my pants.

That is why I’m smart enough to instead find someone who brings the seafood in already ready for the pot. We (by we, I mean Jeanette) have worked hard to find the best seafood we could get and last week I made the first pickup. Just a small order to get started. Just peeled and ready to eat shrimp and lump crab meat.

But why seafood do you ask? I live on a beef and pork farm. We are lucky enough to have a wonderful chicken farmer (Hi Christy!) so we have beef, pork, and chicken. My life looks like this.

Monday – Chicken
Tuesday – Beef
Wednesday – Pork
Thursday – Chicken with different sauce
Friday – Beef, but this time with lettuce
Saturday – Pork, but the cuts that didn’t seal properly and were freezer burnt (you know we eat all those right?)
Sunday – Chicken, we were out of thighs? Ugh, ok, I guess breasts are sorta the same.
Monday – Beef, didn’t we have this yesterday, or the day before?
Tuesday – you get the idea.

When we go out to eat, I almost always get seafood because it is the one thing we don’t have here on the farm. Now we can mix it up and have some fresh NC caught seafood in our (and by our, I mean SWMBO’s) rotation. Our fish monger is the same supplier to NC Seafoods at the NC State Farmer’s Market so if you’ve had their seafood, you’ve had ours.

Seafood freezer
Our snazzy new (to us) seafood freezer, thanks to Miguel’s awesome work on Craigslist

You regulars may have noticed we added a new freezer. This is technically the “seafood” freezer although it will likely house steaks, pork chops, and seafood. Basically the prime items. We are still sorting (and by we, I mean Jeanette, are you sensing a theme here?) out what will be where.

Lump crab meat and shrimp, all from North Carolina
Lump crab meat and shrimp, all from North Carolina

Of course, step one when we got our first shipment in was to have SWMBO take a crack at making something. All of her recipes are for anything but seafood so she started off easy and made shrimp tacos.

Shrimp tacos ready to be put together
Shrimp tacos, some assembly required
Farmer Dan with a shrimp taco
Farmer Dan with a shrimp taco

I don’t know if you folks like seafood, but I’m keeping some around. Those shrimp tacos were AWESOME!

Jeanette has been busy bringing in some other products as well. More about that stuff later. For now, know that if you want surf and turf, we can finally fulfill that need.

The calendar is fixed, mostly

I think I finally figured out the booking calendar. At least, mostly. We have the ability for you to book your own tour here at the farm. That saves a lot of back and forth trying to coordinate schedules. If we are here, come see us. If we are not, sorry. However several months back I noted that the calendar availability was almost non-existent. Since our normal calendar looks like the pic above, I kinda thought it was just we were too busy.

But then I’d find a day when we were all here, and nobody booked a tour. A look at our calendar showed it blocked. Huh!? I tried poking and prodding at the blasted thing several times and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Today I finally figured out what was happening.

You see, we link our Google calendars to the scheduling app. That way when I book something on a day, it automatically blocks the schedule for the farm. Say I need to deliver a cow to the processor on a Friday. I put that on my normal calendar for the hours it will take me, and automatically, nobody will book a tour that same Friday. Works great.

Except it doesn’t.

When I originally set up the calendar, I had a secretary who managed my calendar for me. I also had everything tied to my individual calendar. Then I added SWMBO, so I’d have her on the same calendar. Then I added Spork, and moved the Saturday bookings/calendar synch to his calendar. Then the two girls got old enough to have their own calendar. Then the Civil Air Patrol calendar for our squadron became my responsibility so that got added. Then I became part of two partnerships, and their calendars got added. And I needed to keep up with who was at my mom’s property. So now my calendar looks like this.

This isn’t even a busy week. Seriously.

So now I have some weird cross contamination between my calendar, Sporks calendar, the farm calendar, and I don’t know where the conflicts are actually coming from because it doesn’t tell you WHY it is blocked. It just blocks it.

So I went back to the original plan. Weekends are now tied to my calendar. Now I only have one source of trouble.

Then I found another problem. We normally only allow you to book an appointment two months in advance. This way if something happens in our lives we need to attend to, we don’t have farm appointments clogging the schedule 5 months out. But I couldn’t figure out why this current month was now working, but next month was still blocked. Aha! A bit of digging and I realized the setting had reverted to a one month in advance setting. By moving it back to two months, suddenly October is alive and available as it should be.

It has only taken my several months to figure this out. I do apologize to those of you who have had trouble booking an appointment. Assuming I can keep ahold of this tiger’s tail, it should all be fine now.