Children are our most important product.

Yeah I know, children aren’t a “product”, but of everything that comes out of our farming endeavors, our kids (or the adults the will become) have the highest value. I don’t say that just because they are my kids and I’m biased. It’s a sentiment that is common throughout agriculture. Farm kids as a whole become some incredible people. This didn’t become evident to me until I heard it from a dairyman I was buying a cow from several years ago. He’s the one who told me the most important thing we produce is children.

Even if none of them choose the farm life, I’m confident that we’ll have raised some of the most honest, ethical, and compassionate people.

Here’s a few photos of our kids at work.

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No More “NON-GMO” Feed

As of 2018, we will no longer be feeding feeds that are NON-GMO. Oh, we’re not switching to GMOs if that’s what you’re thinking, we’re switching to Organic.

Some folks make the mistaken assumption that because Genetically Modified Organisms aren’t permitted in certified Organic products, on equates (or comes close to) the other. That’s far from the truth. I’ve recently learned the truth and it makes me sick. I have long believed that organic feedstuff contains far superior nutrition and would be the best choice for our animals, namely the ones we would be eating. We actually fed organic feed several years ago and suffered a financial loss when one of our freezers that was packed full of organic fed, pasture raised chicken quit working. We estimated that we lost about $3000 and for a very small operation, that was a huge loss. It was a loss big enough that we became hyper-cautious with our budget and sought out an alternative.

When I found Non-GMO feed from Tucker Milling, I thought I had found the holy grail. Well not holy but I believed this was the answer to all of our feed problems, but not just ours, this could be the answer for all small livestock producers. There’s no gmo corn, gmo soy, gmo cottonseed, gmo rape (canola) and it was so much more affordable! I thought that I would never look back, but here I am. After feeding it for several years, I can definitely say that it does not deliver anywhere close to the nutrition that an organic feed does. First of all, the birds we raised did not perform as well as the organic fed birds we raised in the past. They seem to be much more susceptible to environmental extremes and were not as robust. Plus, I have been able to do a near side by side comparison between the birds we raised this year and the ones raised by a friend who feeds organic.

Now when I first made the decision that we were not going to use feed from Tucker, I initially considered other Non-GMO feeds. Both Hiland Naturals and Resaca Sun Feeds are certified by the Non GMO Project. I was speaking with a friend about this and she shared with me an experience she had while picking up feed from Resaca’s feed mill. While sitting in their parking lot, she observes a tanker truck pull in, on that truck is the name  Monsanto. This tanker is delivering Glysophate (Roundup) and she watches as they fill the tank of a spay rig on a tractor, which then goes out into Resaca Sun’s fields and starts spraying. After hearing this, I called the Non GMO Project to ask if they certify products regardless of pesticide/herbicide use. Their answer, “Yes we do.” So even though they certify a product as being GMO free, it very well could (and probably does) contain grains that were sprayed with Roundup prior to harvest. Here’s a video I did on our YouTube channel about this.

So what are we supposed to do? How can I feed something I now know to be poisonous? I can’t. There is no other choice but to go Organic.

Companion Planting Information and Chart – The Permaculture Research Institute

It’s never too late to start a garden, but you have to arm yourself with knowledge first if you are like me and you don’t have an elder family member to go to who grew up gardening. We’ve gone from a nation of vegetable gardeners, who would never starve provided we have land and seed, to a nation full of lemming-like simpletons who don’t know what to do if left to our own devices. We’ve lost valuable knowledge in the course of a hundred years and now we must seek it out. Below is an excerpt from a good website about companion plants, this is extremely important for a successful garden. Are you ready to get dirty?

An updated chart of basic companion plants we’ve grown successfully over the years We recently received an e-mail from a gentleman in China looking for… … what plants you may have in your garden that you can transplant next to your rose or your apple tree to see how they nurture each other over time. As a result I thought I would post our own updated list of companion plants […]

Source: Companion Planting Information and Chart – The Permaculture Research Institute

A Walk Around the Farm 

Sarah and I took a walk around the farm this afternoon after the rain. 

   
    
    
    
   
Moments like these are priceless. 

So You Want to be a Farmer… Revisited

Today a friend of mine shared a post by a small farmer in West Virginia on Facebook. It was about the passion and ideals that drive one to farm, and about what to pursue and what to let go. Small sustainable farming is starting to gain popularity as a new way of life for suburbanites, city folk, as well as those who think of themselves as country but have decided to start growing food. Sadly there are a number who jump in without realizing just what it is they are getting into, and within a couple of years time they dust themselves off after falling face first more times than they can bear and go back to their old life. Maybe to try again later but they are definitely changed with a greater understanding that farming isn’t for everyone, namely themselves.

So here’s a list of free advice from a guy who is still something of a newbie with 4+ years under his belt.

#1. Consider your family first. Not mom, not dad, or grandma or grandpa (unless they are considering joining you), but your spouse if you are in that stage of life. If your spouse is not on board, just don’t do it. Garden, keep a rabbit hutch, get a couple of laying hens, but don’t move her or him onto a farm. Unless mom and dad are going to GIVE (not loan) startup money or land, keep them out of the picture too. Hopefully they’ll at the very least support you by buying your products and not expecting a family discount.

The Seedorfs

The Seedorfs

#2.Pick a passion. A passion, not several. Pursue it, perfect it, and you will profit from it. After that, add to it. I believe the very best farms are multi dimensional but don’t try to be Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms over night or in the next decade. What I mean is, pick one, maybe two products to sell (I suggest veggies and eggs). Get a milk cow and or pig for yourself, but only if you’re really able to.

Our pasture produced, free range eggs.

#3. Be brutally honest with yourself, but don’t be afraid to fail. It’s all a risk so be ready to fall flat on your face. Hopefully you’ll fall in manure instead of fire ants.

#4. You don’t NEED a tractor. Life is easier with one, but life is even better without debt. So if you buy an old $2000 Ford Jubilee (just an expample), know that making repairs will be a regular occurrence. Friends of mine got a nice big tractor with a front end loader on a trade but it was months of mechanic bills before they could use it reliably. You do need a truck.

Tilling the first garden.

#5. Find someone local to hire for tractor and heavy equipment work. You can get a lot done for $500-$1000 if he really knows what he is doing. 

#6. Before you do any of this, find a few local farms to support and volunteer your labor. You will learn more than any book, class or seminar can ever teach you.

Help from friends.

Help from friends.

#7. Be frugal but don’t buy cheap. Cheap hoses bust so get commercial grade. Rubber boots at Walmart are $20 but farmers live in boots, so get some that will last a year (I wear Bogs).

#8. Your first livestock should not be breeding stock. Dairy cows/goats are an exception, you have to breed them to get milk, just make sure that first few you buy are already bred and hire out a bull or buck or an AI tech.

#9. Price appropriately. Don’t try to match the grocery stores. Be familiar with what other farmers who’ve been around a while sell for. Anyone selling eggs for $4/doz isn’t even paying for their feed.

#10. Do not expect to be 100% grass fed or to produce all your own feed unless you have 100+ acres. We

Chaffhaye Alfalfa.

don’t feed grain to our milk cows, but we import a lot of hay and alfalfa. If you are raising any animal for production, you will have a significant feed bill.

#11. Expect discouragement, disappointment, and sadness. But take heart. There is nothing more satisfying than to hear someone say “thank you for what you do” and then to bite into that first morsel of food that you produced.

#12. Be transparent. Tell people what you do and why. Be ready to answer lots of questions.

#13. Fence. No matter how good your fences are, add electric fence. Electric fence is invaluable in keeping your livestock in, and protecting them and your garden from10306480_852392631496767_5349172154882013398_n predators and vermin. You will get shocked, I’ve lost count of the jolts I’ve received. You can build good strong fence from pallets.IMG_0975

 

 

 

 

#14. Make your own compost. No commercially produced product will ever compare to what you make yourself. Wood chips are free, leaves are free, and manure is

Making Compost.an invaluable byproduct of eggs, milk, and pork chops.

 

 

 

There’s really so much more I could say but this is a fair summary I think. Farming is a lot of work (think 12 to 18 hour days, 365 a year). There will be critics. There will be as many dissatisfied customers, or more, as loyal ones. Some folks just don’t get it. You are already brave, daring, and courageous. Make sure that you are also wise, fair, and industrious. You can do it.

Oh, one last thing, close the gate.

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Fun for all ages

Pastured Pork

Source: Pastured Pork

We are now taking orders for 20 lb boxes of our pastured pork. Please visit the Pastured Pork page for details. The order form is at the bottom of the page.

No more chicken for 2015.

We have sold out of pastured chicken for 2015. We do have whole and half pigs available to reserve for the end of October. Send us an email at eastwestfamilyfarm@gmail.com to reserve yours today. Be sure to sign up for our emails (click HERE) and be ready to order your birds for 2016.

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