News and blog
The summer has been quite pleasant so far and the crops and animals are growing quite well. If the rain continues we have the potential for a record yield with our corn. That is something we are very excited about. We've been so busy working outside I almost forgot to send out a reminder about pre-ordering pasture raised chickens. There were supposed to be two opportunities for pre-ordering chickens but somebody purchased the entire first group of chickens I produced. This whole group is also for sale so don't be shy.
The chickens in this group will be processed this coming Thursday 7/24. I will be picking them up Thursday evening. The pickup times for you to come and claim your birds will be Friday evening 6-7, Saturday morning from 9-11 and Sunday morning from 10-12. If those times won't work for you let me know. Those are the times that I know I will be around this weekend. Because it is pre order you can customize your order to fit your preferences. Whole birds, half birds, leg and thigh quarters, gizzards, livers, etc. We will also have chicken bratwursts, chorizo in full supply and I have about 5 packages of sweet Italian sausage also. For pricing please click on the following link: http://www.reserverunfarm.com/pricing-for-pastured-poultry
To order your birds please just send me an email with your order and the day you think you will be picking them up. I will try to have everything packaged for you when you come to the farm. The farm address is 5450 Stillwell Rd. Oxford, OH. 45056
As always, if you have any questions please let me know. For right now, this will be the last group of chickens I raise this year. If I have some freezer space open up later this summer I may raise another group but I doubt it.
All the best,
It's been a while since I sent out an email. I hope this finds you well. We have been busy as ever on the farm. Planting is behind schedule, but everything else is going well. We recently added another member to the farming family, her name is Lucy Elizabeth Johnson. She is in great health and we are very happy to have another helping hand around.
As you have probably noticed, we haven't been able to attend the Oxford Farmer's Market last season or this season as well. Our schedules haven't permitted us to commit to the market on a regular basis. Because of that we have been sending all of our products through the Moon Co-op for retail sales. We are happy to partner with them and we are looking forward to a great future with them. After one summer season away from the market I feel that only going through the Moon Co-op, we were neglecting some of our customers.
This season we are going to try something new. I am going to send out emails in advance of processing dates for the chickens. The birds will be processed according to the orders received in advance. The birds are processed on a Thursday and they will be available for pickup an the farm the following Saturday afternoon and most of the day Sunday. Those are the only days I can promise right now for picking up the birds. We won't be able to hold the birds after that due to limited freezer space.
We received our first group of chicks on the 14th of this month and we will have our second group on the 29th. The birds are going to be processed on July 10th and July 24th. That means that pickup for those orders will be July 12th-13 and 26th-27. The first group of chickens we won't have the Sweet Italian Sausage, Bratwurst or Chorizo back from the processor in time for that weekend's pickup. All other pickups we will have the sausage available. Pricing and available cuts are listed on our website: www.reserverunfarm.com. Here is the direct link to the chicken price page, beef will be posted in the near future. http://www.reserverunfarm.com/pricing-for-pastured-poultry
As we get closer to the pickup time I will send out reminder emails. Beef will be available at the same time for pickup. If you are only shopping for our beef please send me an email or call me and we can set up a time to meet at the farm. We look forward to seeing you again and we thank you for your support, past and in the future.
All the best,
I have had two spots for freezer beeves come available. The cattle will go to the butcher on December 20th and will be ready for pick up at the butcher's sometime shortly after the new year. These are going to be reserved on a first come basis, so please let me know if you are interested. They are available as whole, half or mixed quarters. This is the most economical way to buy our high quality beef. Prices will be the same as they have been this whole year. I am anticipating a slight increase in future pricing once we get into 2013. Feel free to contact me with any questions or to reserve your portion. More info is also available on our website: www.reserverunfarm.com
All the best,
As you know, it's getting colder outside. The colder weather around the farm allows us more free time to clean up, organize and reload for next year. On Thursday we had our last group of chickens processed for the year and we finished shelling corn about two weeks ago. Things are winding down outside and warming up inside. I am timid and also excited about the task of cleaning up my office and getting the administrative side of the business in order. The rigorous schedule we work during the growing seasons doesn't allow for much office work, although as much as I curse myself during the winter, maybe I should force myself to to quarterly office work.
As mentioned previously, our last group of chickens were harvested on Thursday. In hindsight we should have started growing these birds about two weeks earlier than we did, but we only had a hand full of mornings when the water for the chickens froze. In comparison to last years production, which was our first year raising pastured poultry, we doubled our production. We previously raised 600 birds and we finished up this year with 1,200 total. I can't thank you, our coveted customers enough. All of us deeply appreciate the decision you make to allow our product to be served in your homes.
We are constantly tweaking our production methods to make a better product for you. This year we made a few decisions that I feel helped our chicken stand out as the most healthy and flavorful chicken you can purchase. This year we created our own style of feeder for the birds while they are in the brooding house. This feeder is longer, holds more feed and has a cover over the feed to keep the feed dry. These feeders allow more birds to eat at one time which ends up delivering more birds that are uniform in size.
We changed our custom blend of feed to include more dry yeast while cutting back on the amount of fish meal we feed. This allows the birds more variation in their diet so they consume a few more vitamins and minerals than they were previously getting. The main vitamin we were concerned with was Riboflavin. The chickens need riboflavin in their diet to ward off a problem called curly toed paralysis. We had a few isolated cases of this problem, which attacks the nerves in the feet of the chickens. It makes it painful for the birds to walk, and if it goes untreated, it makes their feet unusable. We have used water soluble vitamins and minerals to combat the issue in the past, which has worked well. My reason for adding the yeast was that in the extreme heat in the summer, some of the water soluble vitamins and minerals volatilize and aren't as effective. I didn't want the issue to arise when the birds were already stressed by the heat, so we blended yeast into their feed. It worked like a charm.
The last noteworthy change we made with our chicken production was that we are harvesting our birds one week earlier than we did last year and the first part of this year. By doing this, we reduced the weight of a whole bird by 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound. This makes for a more tender bird if you choose to grill or roast the bird. It also makes the bird a little more affordable at the checkout counter. We like this size because it gets a package of 2 boneless skinless breasts very near one pound, which is a good portions size.
There isn't much to report on the beef side of things. The wheel isn't broken and our products continue to be more widely accepted every day. We have no intention of changing our blend of feed, even though the cost of the grain we harvested is astronomically high right now. A lot of beef producers are cutting their input costs by blending in commercial byproducts. We haven't changed our feed blend in 70 years. We aren't going to mess it up now.
Next Saturday is the last of the weekly markets at the Oxford Farmer's Market Uptown. If you need to stock up to get you through until the next market, this is your chance. As always, you can find our products at the Moon Co-op 7 days a week. If there is something of ours you would like to see that isn't there, let me know or someone at the store and we will do our best to make it happen. Have a great weekend. As always, if you have any comments or suggestions please let me know.
All the best,
Tomorrow at the OFMU we will have our last group of chickens for the year on sale. These birds were processed yesterday. They are currently residing in my freezer, where they may or may not be completely frozen by Saturday morning. My guess is that most of the birds will be frozen by then. We will be selling them first come first served. The market opens at 8:30 and will close at Noon.
I did deliver whole birds and boneless skinless breasts to the Moon Co-op last night. I know that they kept some of them in the fresh meat case. If you would like to treat yourself to an exceptionally fresh cut of chicken, I know that they will have some that haven't been frozen.
At the market tomorrow we will have whole and half birds, leg and thigh quarters, split chicken breasts, boneless skinless breasts, wings, liver and chicken backs. The backs are excellent for making stock, broth or adding extra flavor to your soups. We also have our full assortment of all natural beef, including roasts, hamburger, corned beef, flat iron steaks and tenderloins.
At the market tomorrow we will be featuring our freshly processed chicken wings for $3.75/lb. Just let Dan know that you received this email and he will extend the $.50/lb. price savings to you. We look forward to seeing you at the market.
All the best,
The end of September is drawing near and the sights and scents of Fall are upon us. Fall is my favorite time of the year. It is the time of year where we give one more good push to wrap up the field work before we finally get to rest for a little while. I am very excited to wrap up our corn harvest and get this growing season behind us.
We are anxious to get the combine rolling this fall. We have two varieties of corn left in the field after chopping silage and one of them is ready to harvest. It is a cruel dose of irony that rain is now keeping us out of the field this week. When it does dry out, we will begin our task of bringing in the grain.
On a positive note, we harvested our second to last group of chickens yesterday. They will be available tomorrow morning at the Oxford Farmer's Market Uptown. If you get there early enough you will have the opportunity to choose between frozen or fresh birds. This is one time when fresh really does mean fresh. These guys were eating grass yesterday. You will never have a bird that fresh from your average grocery store.
After listening to recommendations from many customers, we decided to harvest this group of birds a week earlier than had in the past. The end result yielded the vast majority of birds in the four pound range, and boneless skinless breasts around 8 oz. each. Please give us feedback on this group of birds. If it is a size that pleases most people we will stick with it.
We have wrapped up our vending at the Loveland Farmer's Market for this year. Our increased demand for beef products to our wholesale clients limited our retail inventory to the point that we couldn't sufficiently support a second market. We are pleased to be exploring new opportunities to grow our beef herd. We expect to have the issue resolved by the beginning of next market season. We enjoyed the Loveland farmer's market, and were grateful to be accepted by the Loveland community.
I hope to see you at the Oxford Farmer's Market Uptown and if you need anything in the meantime feel free to call or email.
All the best,
August has been another hot and dry month. It was fairly slow at the beginning of the month around the farm, but things have picked up in the last week. We finished up making hay for the year and we cleaned up the hay equipment and put it away until next year. Earlier this week we got out all of the equipment to chop corn. Yesterday was the first day of chopping corn. So far it looks like we are a little below half of the overall tonnage of silage and way below normal yield for the amount of grain on the stalk. Regardless, we will chop until we have sufficient silage to get our cattle through another year.
Earlier this month we were happy to host a summer class from Miami University, the theme being, global foods. We were happy to be asked to host the group of students. We were also lucky to have Larry Slocum from the Oxford Farmer's Market, to be our surprise guest. He did a far better job of entertaining the class than I. We showed the class how we raise our animals and more importantly, why we use our current methods. I had a great time and I hope they did as well.
We also formed a new business partnership last month with Miami University. They are focusing their efforts on offering local food products to their students. We were thrilled when they told us they would be featuring our beef and pasture raised poultry around campus. We will be regularly featured on the menu at Panache. Besides that, we will also be featured at two special dinners. The first will be this coming Tuesday at Harris dining hall. The next will be September 20th at Butterfields Farm Market on st. rt. 73, east of Oxford. The meals will focus on the connection between local producers and students and faculty at Miami University. We are absolutely thrilled to be a partner with Miami University. It means a lot to our family to be doing business with our Alma Mater. When I was in school, I was the fourth generation to receive my education at Miami. If you happen to know someone at Miami, please let them know that they can find our products around campus. Also, if you happen to know someone involved in the food and dining side of things, please thank them for supporting local farmers.
I hope to see you at both of our farmer's market locations. As fall arrives, our work load increases significantly. There may be a few markets here and there that we miss. I apologize in advance. If there are any items you need in particular, feel free to contact me and we will find a way to make sure you get what you need. Also, we are scheduling freezer beef into October as of now. There is a very good possibility that beef prices are going to get crazy next year. If you want to lock in your price for meat, the best way to do that is to buy freezer beef. Please let me know if you are interested and I will be glad to explain the process.
All the best,
Since the last update in June things have really dried up. The drought we are experiencing has a firm grasp in our area and seems to be worsening by the day. Two nights ago we got a half in of rain at the farm and that was the first measurable rain in over two months. We have already lost around 20 acres of hay that we seeded this spring. It died before we could get any hay off of it. Our corn is next in line. It tasseled last week, which means it will be setting an ear this week and next. The little bit of moisture we got helped some to get an ear, but that water is already used up. Without more moisture the plant won't finish making an ear, which means we will have no grain to feed, let alone to sell. We plan on chopping more corn than usual for silage, but without an ear on it the feed value is 25% of what it normally is.
With that out of the way, the cattle are still doing well. The benefit of feeding silage is that we always have something of good to high quality to feed. Even though we may be chopping lower quality corn in the near future, it is still a better quality feed than dead, dried grass. Currently the silage they are enjoying is from last year and from rye we chopped this spring. This is a great time to mention that we are scheduling dates for freezer beef for the fall and winter. We are currently into September. I can't begin to fathom what the drought is going to do to retail food prices, but I know it isn't going to be pretty. Locking in a price right now for meat that will potentially last you a year is good insurance.
The chickens are doing well. The group we have out on pasture right now is one of the best looking groups we have raised. We added a little bit of yeast to their diet on this group and they have responded well. The yeast added a little more riboflavin to their diet which has helped with the occasional foot problems that a few of the chickens would come across. I believe this tweak to their feed blend is something we are going to stick with.
As usual, we will be at the Oxford Farmer's Market Uptown on Saturday mornings and at the Loveland Farmer's Market on Tuesday afternoons. If you have any suggestions for cuts that you would like to see that we may not be offering, or any comments in general please let me know.
All the best,
June arrived quickly. The month of May came and went at an exceptional pace. Since the last update we have planted all of our corn and sorghum/Sudan grass. We also made all of our first cutting of hay and chopped rye for silage. Needless to say, we have been busy. Now we are catching up on maintenance, cleaning up around the farm and getting ready for the next round of hay to make in two to three weeks.
The first group of chickens were processed about three weeks ago. They must have been delicious because they are all gone. I was very happy to see that we are starting to get more uniformity in the size of the chickens. The average weight of a whole bird was between 5 and 5.5 pounds. As always we did have some that were lighter and some that were a little heavier, but it seems that the sizing is tightening up. We have been focusing our attention on uniformity. I think it is important for our customers to have some predictability ahead of time when they are planning out their purchases for the week or weeks ahead.
We have made strides in uniformity by focusing on access to feed in the 2-4 week age group. That is the age when they are still growing their feathers and getting prepared for life on pasture. In the past, they had enough feeders to eat if they took turns at the feeder. It wasn't an issue because we fed them around three times a day. What we found was that the larger birds constantly pushed the smaller birds out of the way. That "pecking order" stayed with the group of chickens throughout their life cycle. It seems obvious to add more feeders to solve that problem. The issue is, for each feeder you put on the ground, you lose that space for the chickens to roam around. After some thought and discussion my father created a new style of feeder that would hold more feed than the previous feeders we had in the pens. The new feeders were also longer to allow more birds access to the feed at the same time. The system we have now allows more birds access to feed at the same time. We have seen the young birds grow at the same rate, which helps them for when we put them out on pasture at the 4 week mark. This has eased the issue of the larger birds pushing out the smaller birds while on pasture. It has also created a more uniform finished product that you see when purchasing your birds from us.
We had our second group of chickens processed yesterday. They looked very good when I picked them up. If you can make it to the Oxford Farmer's Market Uptown tomorrow morning there will be fresh birds available, unfrozen. There will be some that have frozen already, so you can have a choice if you get there early enough. If you can only make the Tuesday market in Loveland, they will all be frozen by then. That is, if there are any left. I look forward to seeing you at the markets. If you need anything in the meantime, or have any questions feel free to call or email.
All the best,
Just a quick line to let everyone know that our sweet Italian chicken sausage and beef franks have arrived for the first time this year. Pair these items on your grill with our hamburger ground fresh this week, and you will have a cook out to please everyone. We will be at the Oxford Farmer's Market Uptown tomorrow from 7:30-noon and at the Loveland Farmer's Market in the center of town on Tuesday from 3-7. I hope to see you then.
All the best,