So way back when, my parents had a tan station wagon. It had trouble making it up big hills without overheating and it was a really ugly color tan, but boy did we love sitting in the big open back. One of my most vivid memories of that station wagon was going to a drive-in movie theater, sitting in the back with a bag of popcorn and watching Gremlins. Now, I am not ashamed to admit that I was terrified of Spike and his clan, but that the bar scene with the Gremlins going crazy, swinging around on the fan, made us younger kids laugh.
Last year with our broilers, I had a flashback to that movie. At the time, it was a little too cold at night to release the layers and the broilers outside, which we had delivered within days of each other, yet they we getting a little older than we wanted in the coop. For some reason, those batches of chickens were a crazy group. They refused to stay in their pen and thankfully we could tell the difference between the birds based on their different feather color. But when I walked by the coop and saw them making a ruckus in the chicken coop, I had to grab the camera and take some pictures. They were EVERYWHERE, just like those Gremlins in that bar scene! Needless to say, there was a lot to clean-up after we moved them outside! Here are some pictures from then about 10 months ago.
This year, with not having as many chickens coming onto the farm, we will get to miss out on this "fun" this summer!
Paper Roller Video
As we talked about in an earlier post, we want to avoid being a farm that uses plastic when planting our seeds and crops. There is enough plastic in the world filling up our landfills and the amount of plastic needed for all of our crops result in a lot of waste. Compared to the amount of crops planted on most farms, we really only plant enough for our family and some extended family, though not enough to really sell anything on our corn stand. We tried some new ideas last planting season to hopefully allow us to change that. We used "paper mulch" to help keep weeds down around our plants and in between rows and found it to be a huge success. So this year we are excited to announce that you will be finding many different new vegetables on our cart this August.
In order to cut down costs, we asked for my father-in-law for some help to build a contraption to unroll it using a tractor and would also bury the sides so there would be less labor and time on our part. Like Thomas Edison, my father-in-law didn't fail many times, but found many ways in which it didn't work, or at least didn't work to his liking. We would hear him coming up the field (as it is next to my house) on the tractor, watch him in the field for about 5-10 minutes, then watch as he made his way back to his garage. This happened many times before we had an official "paper laying" ceremony, if you will, in which Dave recorded what his father successfully built, to save us more money than I want to actually think about! This year, we will be expanding our crops now that there will be less weeding and upkeep. With the addition of a many-acre deer fence, we will offer more vegetables on our cart this season. We have had other produce on our cart last year, however, as soon as we put those products on the cart, they are sold almost immediately. And again, thank you so much for your support of our farm and farming philosophies, by purchasing our products and visiting our farm.
*One question I have received many times from callers or those visiting our cart and buying our products..."Are all of these products from your farm or do you buy it from other farms and resell it?" The short answer is, if it is on our cart, it is from our farm and picked within the day (as our products never stay on there longer than that due to customer demand). We do not buy products from other farms and resell it on our cart or at our butcher shop. We want to ensure we know exactly what went into the growing/raising of that product and be able to tell you about that product, should you have any questions. There is nothing wrong with farmers that buy from others and resell it; it enables products to be available and sold to consumers that wouldn't have those products available otherwise. We actually sell our products to other farms and businesses and are happy that they are made available to those that cannot drive hours away to purchase our products. But we do not buy products grown or raised by others in order to sell here.
I hope you are looking forward to this growing season as much as we are. And remember, our products are being grown without chemical fertilizers and without ANY kind of pesticide/herbicide/insecticide sprays!
Laying hens...we have lots of them. About 500 before we sold 100 to another nearby farmer. This time last year we could not keep a single egg on the property. We had a waiting list for those wanting to purchase our eggs. Our healthier, tastier, and more nutrient-filled eggs were actually cheaper than store brand white eggs in the store. This year, a different story is unfolding. We have an abundance of eggs and have been feeding dozens to the pigs. We have donated tens of dozens of eggs also. We are taking a severe loss, one that most farmers, including us cannot afford.
The turn has been because stores can now charge $0.69 for their eggs. Factory farms may get subsidies from our government to produce eggs and therefore prices can remain low in the stores. We cannot look at our production costs and figure out how to lower them. We do not get such payments and have to charge higher prices. The only thing Dave and I take into account in our price are the cost of cartons and feed. We do not include cost of the labels and ink to print them, the cost of gas in our vehicles and tractors to move the chickens and collect eggs, the hours each day to wash, dry, and package the eggs (don't you also work for free at your job?), the gas Dave's cousin Cindy uses to transport the eggs to Warren, the electricity used to wash and store the eggs, and water inputs for our chickens to drink. Not counting all of those things we charge $3.25. Imagine if we had to include those expenses in our eggs? Looking into various sites and getting information from different sources (the most recent being from onpasture.com), we should be charging at least $4.50 up to $5.60 a dozen just to BREAK EVEN. So you can see for each dozen we sell, we are taking a big loss, potentially a forty percent loss.
Unfortunately, as a result, things need to change. You probably saw on our home page that we are looking to sell 100 more chickens. We have sold about 150 already. A loss of 250 chickens means a huge decrease in the number of eggs we sell. We will continue to sell eggs to some of the stores we do, but may need to pull eggs from other stores as we simply will not be selling as much as we had in the past. We will do our best to continue to provide all of our customers with eggs during this transition and especially during times in which the chickens molt. We are sorry for any inconveniences that may occur, but we honestly cannot afford to lose money week after week on our eggs. The ladies have been very good to us, and we have ensured that the homes they go to will mirror the luxurious life they have lived here on Riverview Farms.