Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sorry I Have Been Away

I have been trying to decide what to do. I now have a website that I can blog on, and I have been trying to figure out whether to move the whole blog over to the website, or just start anew from here.
I think it is too confusing to have 2 blogs- Don't you?
So come on over to gingersnaphollowfarms.com to follow our farming journey.
I will start blogging their tomorrow! Tonight I am off to sleep!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Antibiotic Soapbox

I just watched this CBS News report and thought you might be interested in seeing what big factory farms are doing...... and the risks involved in eating food that comes from these big corporations. You can see the video here:


One of my New Years Resolutions was to eat local meat- Meat that I knew the person growing and taking care of the animals. I want to know that what I am putting in my body is from antibiotic, steroid, and hormone free animals. We the consumer have been led to believe that the ONLY way to farm is to add to what nature provides. Big business has come in and convinced the farmers to add fertilizers, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals to our food system.
What did farmers do before the invention of these chemicals? They farmed in a way that was in harmony with nature. They planted in rotational beds. Perhaps one year in bed 1they grew corn but year 2 in bed 1 they would rotate and grow beans. This kept the pesky bugs confused as they had a hard time following where you moved their favorite vegetable. They rotational grazed their animals so that they had fresh grass to eat everyday. This cut down their need to feed them anything else but grass and hay. These animals were meant to eat grass- God didn't say Grass and Antibiotics, No he just gave them grass.
Our problem really lays in the fact that in order to make any money farming in this manner you have to produce large quantities of product. We as consumers want cheap food. Unfortunately cheap comes with a cost! The farmer cannot absorb the costs of losing half his crop to bugs and is forced to use a pesticide to keep them at bay. In order to make any money in raising hogs he needs to raise hundreds at a time in close quarters. Eventually one gets sick, and before you know it they all are sick and need medications. Because in most cases these animals are not out on fresh grasses all day, every day, but instead locked in small paddocks with way too many bodies to a stall. Not exposed to the freshest air and food. Why on earth would we think they would be healthy animals? Would we allow our children to be treated this way? Definitely not! Animals need the same things we do. Food, shelter, and to be treated with respect and love.
It is a shame that most conventional farmers are so far in debt trying to make a living and failing because they cannot compete with the big corporations that are now running a huge percentage of our countries farms today, that they are getting out of the business.
There is a better way! I am convinced of that! Eat locally- Eat food that you know where it comes from. Get to know your farmer and what he stands for. Visit the farm and see how he treats his animals. We must make time in our lives to do these things. It is for the welfare of our bodies and our children's bodies and the future of our planet.
Let me know what you think.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Things Are Coming Right Along

My dear husband finished putting up the shed last night. It is a cute 7x7 plastic model that we got on clearance from Home Depot. Now I need to build the brooder boxes and get them in there. Chicks will be arriving around the 17th of this month. I am so excited I can hardly stand it!

I am pasting a picture of what I think the boxes will look like- although this picture DOES NOT belong to me, I just wanted you to see what I am thinking about.

We will be making a shelving unit first and then making the boxes a separate piece so we can remove them and clean them out. I anticipate our boxes being 6.5ft x 4ft which will give us a little over 25 square feet. Supposedly you can fit 100 chicks in 25 square feet of space. Sounds small to me, but I am taking the experts opinions on this. So we will be building 2 units to begin with and then adding a third unit later on when we are ready to start turkeys. Gone are the days of the pool in the kitchen with little chicks in it.

I will miss having them so close by, but not the stink that they created. I am also moving to pine shavings, as I have read that these will decompose quicker and help with the smell issues.

I am having some issues finding farm insurance and it is starting to stress me out a bit. Part of my contract with Farmer D is that I have insurance on the property but also product liability too. I would have gotten both on my own, but now it is a necessity. Most companies say I do not have enough stuff for them to cover for what I want protection on. Let me clarify..... I do not want to insure a chicken house, a farm house, a tractor or any other big ticket item. I just want them to cover liability on 2 little acres and product liability. Big insurance companies want to cover the big things- but I don't have anything big. See my problem? I still have some companies looking into it for me- and I do have one bid, but it is high $$$.

I am off to plan my brooder boxes now- Hopefully I will have pictures of my boxes to you soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We Have Land!!

We have officially signed the lease on our 2.08 acres. Yes, you read that right- I guess I wouldn't know 5 acres if it smacked me in the nose. Farmer D assures me that it is 2 acres and not 5. Oh well, 2 is plenty to start with.

My next hurdle is to find farm insurance. This is a must in order to fulfill my lease agreement with Farmer D and also to be allowed to sell at Farmers Markets. Most insurance companies that I have spoken with have said I do not have enough land/equipment to insure for what liability I am asking them to assume. So wish me luck- I will keep looking.

I have officially ordered the chicks, all 200 of them. I have ordered:
100 Cornish Cross Broilers,
80 Rosambro Broilers (no picture available yet) and 20 Red Broilers.
I am experimenting a little to find out which Breed I prefer.
Ray and I are now working on brooder plans. The brooder is the warm home the chicks will stay in for the first 3 weeks of their lives. We want to make it as cozy and comfortable as possible.
We continue to plan for our gardens as well. We measured out and dreamed a little about our garden today after we signed our lease. It will be a lot of work, but beautiful and productive.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Am Back and Inspired!

I am back from Chattanooga, and I am ready to tackle the world! Well at least my small little part of the world.
I took several classes on pastured poultry, a few on gardening, and even more on marketing. I met so many nice people who were willing to listen to me and give me advice. I have come home with plenty of grandiose ideas- most of which Ray has put the kibosh on. He is much more realistic than I am. Me..... I want it all! Chickens, Ducks, Cows, Sheep, Turkeys, and a huge (acres upon acres) garden. Well, what I am getting are chickens, a few turkeys and a small garden. Ray said so! That is it! He is right, I should just start slow, and move up if we can handle that.
I came home late Saturday night, but was up early and ready to order seeds on Sunday. I have ordered so many wonderful seeds- I can't wait to get them in the ground!
Here is what I will be growing (or attempting) this year:
*Spring Potatoes- will arrive first week in March
Purple Viking
Dakota Rose
Irish Potatoes
Beans- I love Beans and hope to can enough to make us through the following year
Blue Lake
Kentucky Wonder
Beets- One of our household favorites
Flat of Egypt
Carrots- several varieties to make a colorful bouquet of carrots at the farmers markets
Napoli Carrots
Purple Haze
Rainbow- whites, yellows, and oranges
Corn- Hoping to plant several types
Kandy Korn
Silver Queen
Millionaire a deep purple eggplant
Fairy Tale a striped version
Lettuce & Spinach I ordered lots of different types- I do not want to have to eat anymore store bought lettuce.
Okra- bought just for my husband- I do not like Okra (it is not in my western genes)
Peas- will be going in soon
Peppers- I have never grown these before- will be fun to try these out
Pumpkins- I want to make my own pumpkin pies this year
Baby Pam
Charisma-Eric wants to grow these so we will have our own jack-o-lanterns this year.
Zucchini- Eight Ball & Cash Flow
Waltham Butternut
Sweet Meat Hubbard
Tomatoes- Trying different types this year, but really want to can enough to make it through the year
Salsa- ordered 3 plants
Mortgage Lifter Heirloom
Moon & Stars- A pretty melon with yellow star spots and one big yellow moon spot. Jonah is going to grow this for ME!
Carolina Cross- Supposed to get to 200lbs
Big & Tasty Seedless
Wow- I think I left some off too. Now you get the idea of what we are going to plant, and how crazy my husband thinks I am.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

So what else do you do when you turn 40 and are looking at a new path for your life?

Plan your gardens for the year- Duh!

I couldn't sleep last night because I found this great site that helps you plan your gardens. It includes freeze dates (for your area, by zip code) and when to plant indoors and out. It even tells you when to harvest! What could be better!!

Here is what I have created with it so far:
East Side of Garden- Where the chickens are in their Coop. I currently have 3 8'x4' beds on this side and a corner 5'x5' bed where we put our potatoes. We will be expanding our garden again this year by adding an additional 8'x4' & 4'x4' bed on this side of the garden. As you can see nothing is planted on this side as this is where the chicken coop started its rotation. The chicken Coop sits on a raised bed for one month and then that space lays fallow for 2 months while the chickens move on to the next bed.
West Side of Garden- This is where all the action is! Right now it has row covers over 2 of the beds. Currently all that is in them are onions, but that will change in the next few days when I will plant broccoli, carrots, beets, spinach and lettuce. As you can see we will also expand this garden with an 8'x4' & 4'x4' bed.

I would love to add another 2-4 beds but have not figured out how to accomplish this yet. If we had 12 8'x4' beds the chickens could rotate to a different bed every month thereby leaving all beds in a usable condition 9 months out of the year.
Here in Georgia, we have a pretty long growing season, and I think I can possibly grow all year long with the addition of the row covers on 2-3 beds.
I have yet to finalize my plans on seeds to plant, but today is my Birthday and I can play with seed catalogs if I want to! Do you hear the music playing?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Finally Found It!

So here is the areal view of the land that we will be leasing.

We will be using the southern (bottom) 5 acre paddock for our chickens. Farmer D's house sits in the middle of the farm and he has a small garden in the back yard. I am very excited to be working with Farmer D. He has been very honest and interested in our plans to farm. Although he is not currently farming his land, he still wantis to maintain the integrity of the farm. I will do my best to ensure we are farming in a sustainable way. Taking care of the land for future generations to farm.

The land has been sitting fallow for many years, while Farmer D has had family health issues to deal with, but it used to be a working cattle farm. This is actually a good stroke of luck for Ray and I, as it tells us that there have been NO chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides put down on the pasture in many years. Good News for the chickens!!

We still have a few more items to work out before we can get chicks, but we are well on our way now. Our timeline is to have chicks by mid February and have them out on the pasture in the first few weeks of March. If all goes to plan we should have chicken for sale the first week in April. It is all so exciting!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Farm Planning- Pastured Poultry

I lay awake at night and in the early morning planning the farm in my head. Ever have a dream or goal like that- where all your free time is spent envisioning your future? I feel led to do this, for the health of my family. I have been consumed with finances, business plans, and learning as much as I can about chickens to make my dream a reality.
I thought I would give you all a picture of what we want to do.
Keep in mind that the following pictures are NOT our own- just close to what we want to do.

Pastured Poultry defined: Chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese that are raised on pasture, most often they are supplemented with some grains. While on pasture, the poultry eat the tender grass, scratch the ground, and eat bugs, meanwhile they are fertilizing the fields they are on with their manure which is high in nitrogen.
Why is pastured poultry better for you? Our #1 reason for eating pastured poultry is there are No Antibiotics, No Hormones, and No Steroids added to the poultry. Birds that have been raised on grasses out in the field are HEALTHIER BIRDS. They do not need any extra pharmaceuticals to be healthy. They are eating what God intended them to eat. A bird that is eating grasses and bugs is going to have higher Omega 3 fatty acids (good fatty acids) and up to 50% more vitamin A. The birds will be leaner, because they have had room to move, and are eating a healthier grass/grain diet. It also tastes more like chicken. Flavorful, no added pharmaceuticals, and leaner meat, not to mention the quality of life for the birds.

What would you rather eat?

A Chicken that has been raised on fresh grass pasture, eating all the bugs, seeds, grass, and grain they want. Being moved to new grass every day, opening up a whole new salad bar for them. A healthier bird means a healthier meat.


A bird that has been raised in confinement. Thousands of birds raised in one long building that allows almost no room for the bird to move. They are sitting in their own feces for 6 weeks, causing all sorts of conditions requiring medical pharmaceuticals to rectify. These birds are fed a feed that has had arsenic added to it. Arsenic helps rid the animals of some of the diseases that close confinement has caused, but it is added mostly to increase the appetite of the birds, making them gain weight faster.

Consider what you are putting in your body for a moment- Do we really need to be putting arsenic, steroids, hormones, and antibiotics into our bodies? If we are eating this type of meat- factory raised poultry- then we are eating what the bird has been given.

Our goal is to raise a happy healthy bird that will be nutritious for our bodies. We want to raise enough poultry to satisfy our families needs and those of the health consious consumers. I would love to hear your comments and if you are interested in becoming one of our customers in the near future.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year- New Plans

Here we are in the New Year and Ray and I have some very exciting plans afoot. We are going to start farming. I have no idea how all of this came about- I guess just a natural progression..... from buying food in the grocery store and not know or caring where it came from... to wanting to eat healthier, wanting to know who grows my food, and being concerned about our enviroment.
We have plans and ideas about what we want to do, but the first thing we need to do is find land to lease. We are already farming our 1/4 acre suburban home with rabbits, chickens, and a large-ish garden, but we would like to step it up a notch and produce a majority of our food for our family. By growing in a larger garden I hope to have enough vegies to can, so we can eat our own produce throughout the winter season. We are planning on raising our own chickens and rabbits for meat, and we should be getting our own eggs from our back yard hens next month.
I have been reading everything I could get my hands on about small sustainable farming. I took a class on farming from a local successful farmer, and plan on attending a conference on organic farming this month.
So I plan on changing the format of this blog from crafty to farming, with our adventures, here at the house and on the "farm" when it comes into being. I will still be crafting and creating, and I may even show some things here, but it probably will not be my main focus. I hope you will stay and enjoy our journey.