Beating The Summer Slump
Moving Past The Midseason Malaise
A typical growing season for us includes 20 delivery dates. We just passed delivery #10. Does that mean we are halfway through the season?
Remember, this farm season started about 25 weeks ago when we began all the pre-season work. Our first few weeks of “farm work” -- getting the greenhouse ready, ordering tools and supplies, getting the bunkhouse ready for workers -- set the stage for the rest of the season. Then, before the first delivery date in early June, there was 10 weeks of extensive soil prep, laying out the garden beds, intensive greenhouse seeding, planting and transplanting (for several weeks running).
The biggest project was the backbreaking effort of distributing several truckloads of compost. Getting that done without falling way behind our garden schedule, was simply remarkable.
And that is just what happened in the garden. We also raised hundreds of broiler chicks, managed several hundred laying hens and established our extensive water and irrigation system. And finally, received and managed the largest herd of beef cattle that we have ever attempted to raise. It was a massive push.
So while we are now halfway through the delivery season, our team has overcome many potential setbacks and accomplished more than might have been expected. If it wasn’t for their commitment to our cause and admirable work ethic, this season could have very easily been a bad experience.
To be honest, we are not out of the weeds yet. There are still a few challenges ahead of us (that’s the nature of farming in many ways). We know our labor is not in vain. We believe what we are doing is important. We are glad that our work is blessing others.
It will take a lot of hard work to finish well. Thank you to all who share our vision and support us week by week.
Even The Chickens Hit A Slump
If you have enjoyed our delicious eggs, you know that treating chickens in a humane way and raising them in a protected, natural setting is worth it! Our free-range, cage-free, rotational strategy takes more effort, but it produces eggs that are indisputably healthier.
But sometimes our best efforts can’t sustain consistent egg production.
Chickens prefer temperatures between 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit. And we think the hotter-than-usual summer has caused a drop in egg production. Simply put, they use a lot of energy to stay cool. That extra energy takes away from the energy used to produce eggs. It’s hard work being a chicken! We often have a dip in production after the peak of summer and this is no different. But this year we tried something different...
As egg production dropped, we wanted to keep up with the demand for our eggs, so we purchased some mature layers. But just adding birds to the flock is not that simple.
Chickens actually have a social network – it’s where we get the term “pecking order” – and until the flock figures out how the new chickens fit in, it can cause lower egg production as well. Usually peace prevails in only a week or so, so we expect to have enough eggs for everyone.
It is always tricky to find the balance so that we can keep production in line with sales. It would be great if every customer ordered a dozen eggs each week, but since that doesn’t happen, we do what we can.
Again, our farming methods are out of the ordinary. We don’t cut corners. Our time-honored rotational animal management and intensive soil/plant supervision can’t be sustained on a big scale. But because our customers value what we are doing, they make it possible to have better meat and produce. They want to be better stewards of earth’s resources, and the result is healthier options for everyone.
Goodbye to Jerram
Last week was the last week for our intern, Jerram. He worked hard and was a great asset and we are thankful for all he did for us.
While that leaves us one less worker at this point, we should be okay. We hope that once these peak summer days pass, and as the weather cools, the growing season will naturally slow down. That means less growth (both in produce and weeds!) so we should be able to handle the workload without him. Since he is from the Twin Cities, and his family purchases from our farm each week, he will still be able to enjoy our fresh and tasty produce each week!