We’ve Got a New Blog!

Hey friends! Now that Judah and I are married and starting our own farm, we wanted to make it as “real” of a farm and business as we can. Hope Farm was just that – a short-term farming venture I had because of my hope to continue farming and growing in the future! So we decided our new farm needed a new name. We have named our farm (in northern KY, where we are living) Chadwick Grass Farms because almost everything we’ll be raising will be grass-based. In 2017 we are planning on raising 600 meat chickens, 6 pigs for meat, and some produce! In fact, we already have 202 chicks and 1 pig! We have a new blog, a Facebook page, and an Instagram to help you connect to our new farm. So check them out, and especially subscribe to the new blog for updates. 🙂

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This blog is going to get lots quieter, as I’m not sure how much more I will post here. I truly appreciate all your support in the year I’ve had this blog! I hope to see you around!

P.S. You can also order meat chickens through our new blog!! If you’re in Ohio and would like chickens, we can possibly make arrangements. Just shoot me a message and I’ll get back with you!

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She loved God, farming, writing, and the outdoors. She didn’t quite know what to do with her life, but she was willing to give it her best. Then she found a boy with a quick wit, a passion for farming, and a loud pickup truck. So of course they started talking – about farming, theology, work, and everything in between. She helped keep him grounded, and he strengthened her passions.

He made her a knife, built her a fence for her garden, and built her a chicken shelter. They weren’t exactly your average 18 and 19-year-olds. 20160529_201632.jpg

Instead of going to the movies they went hiking and canoeing and read Acres U.S.A. and Stockman Grass Farmer and the Bible. Instead of eating at restaurants they cooked their own food.

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They processed the girl’s first batch of meat chickens together, and actually enjoyed it.

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They also enjoyed this.

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They perched on the hood of the pickup truck and watched the stars. They asked hard questions and prayed for each other through hard times.

And eventually, on the night before the girl’s second batch of chickens was to be processed, they went for a walk. It was a full-moon night.

In the light from the moon and the pole barn’s security light, the boy got down on one knee and asked his best friend to be his wife. He gave her a diamond ring and she said yes with all her heart.

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The next day they spent processing chickens – all day. They enjoyed it this time too, although they were a bit distracted at times…

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But they (with the help of the girl’s family) got the job done in one day and put 67 chickens (averaging 6 pounds! Goodness.) in customers’ coolers!

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They’re falling more in love with each other with each passing day, and can’t wait to process many more chickens in the future together. 😉

Of Saving Seeds and Preventing Seeds

 

9/3/16 – 9/14/16 | Headlines of the past week and a half:

  • Making pumpkin pie
  • Learning how to save tomato seeds
  • Mowing the buckwheat so it won’t go to seed

In case you missed it, last week I made a delicious pumpkin pie from a huge pumpkin Jan and Andy gave me! 20160909_125252

I’ve also been saving seeds for next year. Here you can see two types of tomato seeds in little glass jars (I typically have the paper towels on top of them but I set them underneath for the picture). This is to ferment the seeds, which is the most common way of saving tomato seeds. On the plate I have seeds that are drying out after fermenting. Then the big seeds are pumpkin seeds from this project. But perhaps what I’m the most proud of is my little seed packets I made! They’re exactly the size of regular seed packets.

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Since I didn’t want the buckwheat I planted in the new garden spot to go to seed and become a weed next year, it had to be mowed. The only (working) mowers we have are a push mower and tractors with bush hogs, so Judah mowed it with the tractor. And I may or may not have tagged along… 😉

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And now for the chickens! Here they’re enjoying their non-GMO grain, hanging out in the shade, or pecking for bugs in the grass. Now that’s life! (for a chicken, that is)

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These guys will be ready for processing the weekend of October 15th, so if you’re near Logan County, Ohio and would like to order some shoot me a line on my contact page!

Oh Hey, September is Here!

8/23/16 – 9/2/16 | Headlines from the past week and a half:

  • Canning tomatoes and banishing weeds from the garden
  • School…
  • Chicks are getting big! (and sorta ugly, depending on what kind of person you are…)

So I actually didn’t have many tomatoes this year. I didn’t plant enough plants for some reason… but thankfully Jan was willing to give me her seconds! Tomatoes with splits or bug bites are awesome for canning. I ended up with 14 quarts!

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The chicks are getting big! I graduated them from their little plastic chick feeders to this one that they’ll use for the rest of the time. They’re starting to walk and look like meat chickens already! Do you see their huge legs? Goodness.

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I’ve been working on school some too. For those of you who don’t know, I’ll be graduating with a BA in English in December! Since I enjoy both writing and farming, I’ve loved this blog where I can combine the two. Anyway. This is a neatened version of what it looks like to write a paper on social media farm marketing. I’ve actually been doing surveys at the market for this paper – trying to learn what people like to see in social media posts from farms and what kind of posts are effective in helping farmers sell more of their produce/goods.

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Also. My garden was a mess yesterday afternoon… for some reason I’d neglected the weeds for too long. The plus side is that when I finally got out to pull them, they were tall enough to get a good handle on! They also made nice mulching material. Here’s my garden right now. See the flags in the background? I’ve had problems with rabbits or coons or something nibbling off the tops of my tiny bean, beet, and spinach plants in the past. So when I planted my last row of beans I stuck flags among them, and the varmits seemed to respect the colors enough to stay at a distance. Now the flags are standing guard over my fall crop of spinach. (I’m not sure it’s the most respectful thing to do with flags, but I didn’t have any other similar scary objects. Maybe I should make something…)

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And finally, Jan and Andy gave me a huge pie pumpkin!! It’s got a bite on the side, so it can’t be sold at market. But it will get turned into pies (and maybe cheesecake? We shall see) instead! Here’s a post about how to prepare a pie pumpkin, and another with my pie recipe is in the works. Fall is coming, guys! And so are the pumpkin pies.

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My Second Batch of Chicks has Arrived!

8/16/16 – 8/22/16 | Headlines of the week:

  • Getting chicks in the mail!!!
  • Jandy’s Garlic Festival
  • Carrots and buckwheat

On Wednesday of last week I got chicks in the mail! The post office must have called around 8:30am, but I was already gone for the day so the chicks didn’t get picked up until 4:30pm. Definitely not the best situation… so I had more chicks die in the first three days (of dehydration and/or stress) than I did with my first batch, which I was able to pick up early in the morning. But I learned my lesson, and next time I’ll plan better so I can pick up the chicks ASAP.

That said, I now have a brooder full of yellow puffballs!

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This year I was experimenting with growing carrots. We have clay soil, so carrots have never done well. But this year we turned our old sand box into a cold frame and raised bed, so I planted half of it with carrots to see if the looser soil would be kind to them.

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I think it worked! I definitely could have let these guys get bigger, but I was too excited. The cat was also excited… she looks awful proud for not having grown the produce, no? Cats will be cats, I suppose.

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On Sunday Jan and Andy had their Garlic Festival! It was super fun – bluegrass, good food, gorgeous weather, and great people.

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I spent the afternoon cutting up garlic for the garlic taste test (although I admit that I didn’t taste all 7 kinds. Raw garlic is something else!), dishing out samples of tabouli, and giving farm tours.

Also, back at home I have buckwheat in my new garden spot! I planted it about two weeks ago, but wasn’t sure it would do so great because it was super dry the following week. It’s pretty cool to see the sequence of events (using livestock and cover crops) that I’m using to prepare that area for planting next year!

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April 2 | Put fence posts (previously known as dead ash trees) around the new garden spot
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June 16 | Ready to spread fertilizer (otherwise known as chicken manure, applied by moving their shelter to a new spot of ground daily)
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August 5 | Fertilizer was applied and chickens are in people’s freezers
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August 5 | Buckwheat is planted
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August 22 | Buckwheat is growing!

Chicken Processing

Hi, I’m Ariel, and before last week I hadn’t processed a chicken.

I’d done bits and pieces of the procedure, but not the whole messy deal. However. On Saturday I had 61 broilers waiting to be turned into smart-looking packages of meat! Thankfully quality meat isn’t hard to sell around here, so I managed to sell every bird (actually, because of my tragedy two weekends ago I’d pre-sold more than the 61 I ended up with… poor planning on my part), and the people I had the privilege of selling chicken to were awesome!! Honestly, the community that came together through this whole process was one of the best parts of this endeavor.

But anyway. Here’s how processing went down!

Friday night Judah and I organized our thoughts, gathered supplies, and set up. We made killing cones out of 5-gallon buckets, which worked pretty well. Next time we’ll make them a bit bigger, though.

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I managed to get soap suds all over me when we cleaned this out for a chill tank… wonder how that happened? 😛

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The next two afternoons we had friends helping with processing, which was a huge blessing! Here you can see Judah scalding a bird in the background and Kristi and I eviscerating (i.e. gutting) chickens.

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Here’s Hannah and Luke, playing with chicken feet and hauling chickens from the shelter to the processing station, respectively.

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Lauren braved the messiness of the chicken plucker, and Keri did a great job with quality control at the chill tanks.

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Then Judah and I brought the chilled birds inside to weigh and package.

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The whole process took longer than I expected, but we were definitely getting faster as we went! It was fun, messy, exhausting and exhilarating all at once. It was the coolest thing to know that this food I’ve raised will help bring health to people! These chickens were raised without an ounce of antibiotics or hormones; they ate only non-GMO feed, bugs, and grass/weeds/seeds. And the ground where their shelter covered are greener than ever before! How’s that for improving the land and the health of its people? That said, I’m really looking forward to my next batch of chicks, which will arrive in about two weeks.

Field Trips (aka Farm Tours and Other Lessons Learned)

7/24/16 – 8/1/16 | Headlines of the week

  • Heat and chickens don’t play well together. Who would have thought?
  • Farm tours!!

It’s been an amazing week, despite the fact that this crazy heat killed 12 of my broilers last Saturday! That was a disappointment, but I learned about the importance of shade and ventilation and the benefits of processing the birds at 8 weeks instead of 9 (if I’d done that, I would have been able to sell all 74 chickens! Ah well…).

I visited some friends last week and got to see their homestead and go to two other farms close by! I visited Hiland Naturals, who are known for their high-quality certified non-GMO feed, and Hand Hewn Farm which focuses on renewing the land with their farming practices. For some reason I didn’t get any pictures at Hiland, but I did get a bunch at Hand Hewn Farm!

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Isn’t this garden beautiful? They have raised beds and also used interplanting to confuse the bugs. It works because the bugs who like, say, kale don’t see a big section of kale… and so they don’t camp out there and cause a big problem. The kale is all still there, it’s just spread out. This makes it harder to harvest, but the produce is healthier.

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Their pastured poultry shelters were made a lot differently than mine, and this design allows for a lot more airflow. Plus, these shelters can house turkeys (shown here) as well as chickens.

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Three of the four mama pigs are in the first picture (you do see all of them, right? Check the wallow – their happy place), and the 27 young’uns are in a separate pasture, in the second picture. Pigs do a great job of tearing up ground, and these little guys had been in this section of the woods for a week or less. Another neat thing is their fencing. Pigs have a reputation for being able to escape, but the mamas were held in by two strands of electric fence and the little ones by three strands. Isn’t that neat? To train them to understand the electric fence they put the little ones in a pen with actual sides and electric fencing running around the inside. Then if the pigs got into the electric fence and got shocked, they would learn to back up instead of keep moving forward and out of the pen. I guess it works! 😉

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At Hand Hewn Farm they have hog butchering workshops, which would be pretty neat to attend someday! I’ve been learning about the importance of signs and making your product and brand look professional and appealing, so I thought this sign was pretty cool.

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How about pastured rabbits? The branches on top are mulberry branches that have been thoroughly chewed by the rabbits. The leaves have lots of protein in them, and the branches provide something for the rabbits to chew on so their teeth stay short.

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Then I got to visit Local Bounty, which is a year-round indoor farmers market that’s open most of the week. It was basically like a grocery store with all local, quality products! Awesomeness.

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Huh, what’s this? A hint at something awesome to come. 😉 We processed all my broilers on Saturday and Sunday! A post about that will be coming soon. But until then, remember that your friends and family are truly wonderful. And good food tastes lots better when you’ve been working hard all day. So love on your people, work hard, and eat good (real) food!