Our “Farmer Barn” is really coming along, the roof is now fully shingled, the first windows have been installed, there are now stairs going to the 2nd floor, and the front door is on and the electric line is getting hooked up this afternoon. My husband and his Dad are working their tails off, we’re so glad for George’s vast experience and knowledge and help! With the urgency of winter’s arrival pushing them to get the little cabin done, comes my part of the deal- making soap to help pay for it. We’ve now spent the lion’s share of the money it’s going to take, and it’s all on a credit card. The hope is we’ll be bringing in profit as the year comes to a close- with our pork, chickens, turkeys and geese, as well as the newest layers adding into the egg production. We don’t intend to live with the debt for too long, if all goes as planned. We’ve gotten a bunch of awesome supporters to sign up for our “Year of Goatmilk Soap”as well as some unexpected generous donations to the cause. Thank you thank you thank you, we are going to be warm this winter!!!!
For the past couple of months I have been a soap making machine, crafting soaps in quantities I only imagined possible. I just finished my 3rd batch of soap for the day. That makes 19 batches in the last 2 months, which is more than I made in total the past 2 YEARS! Each batch is about 13 pounds of soap, approximately 90 bars. That is a whole lot of soap! Today’s selections include Creamy Marjoram, Lemongrass Cumin, and Cinnamon Swirl. I am really excited to start sending them out in December!
Other news- My third and final article in the New Farmer series published in the October ACRES USA arrived, and boy oh boy does it look fantastic. Kind of crazy to remember obsessing over every single word I’d written, rewriting and rewriting it again, wondering if I’d be laughed at by the editor. And there it is, out in the world! Feeling very blessed.
Our turkeys and goslings are growing huge and doing very well. I know they are probably large enough to not need to go into a solid shelter at night, but we don’t want to take any risks. It’s adorable to watch them all in a row each evening, climbing into the horsetrailer. We have roosts in there for the turkeys and the geese sleep on the hay bedding. There are two birds in this group who need a bit of assistance each evening- a straggler Bubster who was a runt and we kept on instead of harvesting him with the others a month back, and a (I think) blind gosling who needs a lot of help getting into the trailer at night. The eggs keep coming on strong, no doubt this fantastic weather is keeping the ducks very, very content and comfy. Our investments and risk taking over the past years are finally paying off, and that feels awesome. In late fall, if things are still looking good egg-wise, I plan to be doing lots of duck egg demos at the stores.
Our friends, the new-to-dairy-farming couple who we’d bought our calves from this spring, came over for lunch last weekend. I really wanted to share with them how deliciously their bull calves raised as pastured veal turned out, so Andrew made gorgeous veal meatballs with homemade marinara and spaghetti. We also wanted to talk to them about their calf situation for next year. Sadly, it looks like they are facing a bit of a crisis with most of the young cows they’d expected pregnant for next spring to not be preg-checking positive. She said they suspected one of the bulls running with the heifers was shooting blanks. Uhh oh. Since they are a seasonal dairy, they need cows to calve in spring, so that their main lactation is during the grazing part of the year. Now they are having to deal with a very challenging situation as they plan for next year. Heifers take over a year to grow before they can be bred, and then have a 9 month gestation period, so a dairy farm always has to be thinking WAY ahead to ensure consistent milk supply. What do you do if your next generation of heifers isn’t going to be joining the milk line when you thought and had planned financially for? They are meeting with consultants to talk over the options. That’s got to be one of the best things about farming a “commodity” product, that there ARE experts to talk to, banks and lenders who understand the terms of your farm world. We’ve tried twice to get agriculture loans and have literally been greeted with glassey-eyed stares and nearly gaping mouths from the loan officers when we said “duck eggs,” That’s ok- they can keep their money and their grip out of our life, and we’ll do it the bootstrapping way. The down side of raising a commodity farm/food product is that you are very susceptible to market swings in the price you receive. It is just fascinating to me that commodity farming is this whole other side of agriculture that I really know very little about, and it’s what produces most of the food in stores in this country.