As part of our ever expanding vision, we were looking at ways to meet and serve more people from the area. We love the fact that so many of our Warren buyers can make it to the Defrees Center to get eggs. But, that is all they can currently purchase right now. CSA (community sponsored agriculture) shares are a big push in some areas right now. We briefly thought about entering this trend, but I am not comfortable with people pre-paying for a crop. Crops are definitely like the stock market. The idea with the CSA is that you buy a share and get part of it all summer long. If a crop fails, then you (the consumer) are out of money. The idea is you are part of the process and share in the goods and bads of it. I am not comfortable in putting my customers in that position.
Option B is where we are leaning right now. It is called a buying club. It works very simply. Weekly you will get an order form of what we have available. You will need to fill it out and send it back by Friday. We will process the orders and deliver to a central location in Warren on Saturday or Sunday. This is much more appealing to me as a producer and makes it easier for our customers to order as we will deliver.
If you are not from Warren and have a group of people who would like to start a buying club, we will work with you too. Just get some friends together and give us a call. We can set up a meeting spot.
For this year we are looking to deliver every three weeks (to correlate with our chicken processing dates). This would be a testing year. I think this arrangement could work out well for us as it gives us the ability to serve more people our high quality products more often. If all goes well, next year (or even later this year) we could make the delivery more frequent.
What we need: opinions. Are you interested in this arrangement? Would you be willing to agree to buying through the club. In order for this to work, we need to have consistent involvement. Financially it would be difficult to deliver for just one person (not that we don't want to, but it just won't work). Each delivery you would be entitled to order anything we have and as much as you would like, but we would like you buy each delivery.
Products available will be broiler chickens, eggs, beans, corn, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and anything else we put in this year. We are still sorting out the legalities of offering beef and pork cuts, but are not sure if that will pan out.
Please let us know if this is something you would be interested in. Formalities will be finalized after we decided if there is enough interest to move forward. You can use our contact page, email, call, or stop by.
This is a rarity in our household, but last night we dropped the kids off at Grammy's and went to the Hummingbird Cafe in Tidioute for a fantastic meal. Grady and his crew have done a great job providing home cooked meals and desserts. The meal was anything but a processed meat slapped on a grill and served. They take extra time to make their meals fresh and serve them in a timely manner. Grady (the owner) is also making his own dressings and desserts. You will not get a Hidden Valley ranch that fell out of a bottle, but his own special blend of herbs and spices. Arguably the best ranch dressing I have ever had. The cafe provides for a nice, quiet atmosphere for socializing before your meal arrives. The service was great. I had the bacon/bleu burger and Margie had the sirloin. Both were fantastic. But the sides were what made the meal. Her baked potato and my fries were not just ordinary. They were seasoned and delicious. For dessert, Grady decided to surprise us with his homemade bread pudding. I had never before had bread pudding, neither has Margie, but it could be my new favorite dessert. The best part was knowing that Grady only buys our eggs. Being able to produce a product that so many people can enjoy is what keeps us going. We would love to be able to supply more local food establishments. As our herd of beef is growing and we are working out the kinks in our pig program, that is the direction we would love to go. It has been a struggle to make contacts with willing establishments. Many restaurants are stuck on getting their one big shipment a week and done. Local farms are producing some great products! I don't think enough restaurants are searching for local products. I wish it were easier for farmers and buyers to meet. That may be the biggest hurdle we face....
Last night we finalized our broiler orders with Moyer's Chicks of Quakertown, PA. We have ordered a few extra birds each processing date, but not a lot. If you have not yet reserved your chickens, I would suggest you do so soon. They disappear fast as we get closer to processing dates. All of our birds are raised on pasture and moved daily. We process on Saturdays and shrink bag the birds to keep them fresh. This year we had great luck with the birds we packaged. We even began parting our birds out and sorting them by meals (legs, thighs, breasts, and so on). That was by far the best way for us to go. We just had to pull out a bag and cook it. No need to thaw a full bird and use the whole thing in one sitting. If you would like to discuss parting the birds for your order, please give us an email or call. We would be happy to help you out. A full bird can be parted in about a minute. We have smaller bags to put the sorted parts in. By parting out, 2 birds can easily become about 5 separate meals.
So I am at it again. I'm thinking about bringing on dairy. I've always said no to Dave when it comes to bringing on dairy and frankly, never gave him the option to even debate it. Our friends/customers ask all the time and though I'm not so blunt with them as I am with Dave, I do explain my concerns and reasons for not wanting dairy on the farm. But, here we are again. Recently, I saw an article on the internet (we don't have television, so the internet is my way of getting the news) on the dairy industry wanting to add artificial sweetners into milk, without notifying the customers of this ingredient, in order to make it sweeter so more kids will drink it. I personally think milk is sweet enough and there's nothing like a glass of milk and cookies (what I am drinking right now as I type this...along with some Thin Mints...thank you Girl Scouts in Dave's class). As soon as the Pediatrician gave me the okay to give David milk at a year old, I started giving it to him with every meal. We LOVE milk! We go through 6-7 gallons a week for the three of us that are allowed to drink it. Can't even imagine how much we will go through when the little one starts chugging it down. We spend about $1200 a year on milk alone. That's a lot of money. I could put that towards a new lawnmower instead of driving the one that we have around where I have to stop periodically to fill up the front tire with air, or give it a jump everytime I want to start it.
I am bothered by the possible addition of artificial sweetners to milk. I make sure to avoid them at all costs if possible. I try my best to grow/raise all of the food we consume so I know what I am putting into my children's bodies. Dave and I were only going to raise beef, then we really researched how chickens are raised and what is being put into them. The same goes for pigs, which is why we have both now. I know I can't avoid all the junk that goes into our foods. I'm no different than anyone else; I enjoy a good healthy serving of Oreo cookies or Fudge Rounds for a snack. I'm not going to stop enjoying store bought snacks periodically, but I do want to have as much control over what we eat as much as possible. Besides, I don't think I have the talents to make my own cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc. that they are going to add sweetners to as well.
One would wonder why I am going crazy over this, something so simple as artificial sweetners. Perhaps this is just the proverbial straw the broke the camel's back? This might be the thing that simply sends me over the edge...