That's not a typo in the title. Farmer Ronnie Farmer has sold literally hundreds of pounds of veggies from his three acres this year. He is harvesting about 700 pounds of tomatoes a week. I have been selling our organically raised eggs next to his stall at the market on Tuesdays. I bought a 1+ pounder of a tomato from Ronnie this week. Donald and I have had tomato sandwiches several days this week from that one tomato that I thought would never die. Today it finally did - but it was so good and good for us that I will probably get one again next week. I watched a lady stop at Ronnie's table today. She was curious about the enormous beets sitting on his table - about 2-3 times bigger than you normally see. She asked him what variety they were. Ronnie smoothly told her that they were "Tripover" beets. We never heard of that variety. Then he explained that he tripped over these beets on the way to the 'mater patch, got tired of stumbling over them and brought them to the market. It was a funny moment. Anyway she bought them and took them home to pickle - all 3 of them. You had to be there I guess.
Well, yesterday we checked our 18 day old poults (baby turkeys) into the "Poult Hotel". They are now stretching their legs in our sixteen foot cattle trailer - retrofitted temporarily for flying, developing poults. As you can see they have ample water (turkey basting pans) - [I know what I just wrote - but they don't know that.] I floated toys in the water to encourage their curiosity and drinking habit. There are water and feed at both ends of the trailer and Donald designed some adjustable "perches". The windows are screened in so the peepers don't escape to trouble. We derive simple pleasure by tossing them grasshopers - then kinda like watching a soccer game - up and down the field with one intent on their minds. Instead of running in a six-foot trough they now run the gamut of a sixteen foot trailer. If I can figure out how to download a video of their games from my new phone, I will post it. "Cheep" fun!
Well, our turkey poults (baby turkeys) arrived about 2 weeks ago. I picked them up at the post office. Nine did not make the trip. Though their new home was ready, some became ill. Air sick? Did not know how to drink? Not sure. We lost five more.After a week, they stopped dying. We did everything we could think of to strengthen them. Either they reached the seven-day mark and "took hold" or we gave them nutrition their feed and water lacked. I raided the refrigerator and boiled our hens' eggs. Poults love boiled eggs which probably provided protein and some hydration. They love yogurt and whey (for probiotics for their immature digestive systems). In case they had a germ, we added some apple cider vinegar, some colloidal silver, one of my Vitamin C tabs,and some electrolytes to their water. Then I read about sprouted grains - we have bags and bags of organic wheat seeds - the poults love the sprouted seeds which give them enzymes. Well - now they are growing well - so much so that they are outgrowing their brooder. Next week, we are transferring the poults to a roomy cattle trailer for two weeks and then we have an innovative home under a tree. More on that later.
A farm survives on it income. A small farm, like ours, derives its income from the food it raises - meats, produce and value-added goods. Each food source is small enough that daily we interact with each contributing creature. Whether it be a cow, bull, calf, chicken, turkey or the plant life, we find ourselves talking with them, watching them, addressing their needs.
Yet, decisions must ultimately be made to maximize the greatest return on each livestock member. Do we sell an animal at auction to protect our stores of grass (we are still vigilent for future drought)? Do we take cows in as bred cows? Do we bring back the open (unbred) cows from the auction back to the pasture? Which bull do we select for slaughter? What should the cutting order look like? Which bull do we keep for breeding? When do we dress 11 beautiful Australorpe roosters for the freezer?
My sister asked me recently if I find it difficult to take a bull to slaughter. She is a vegetarian. I said "Yes". Donald says he is used to it but I know he is not. Each time we take a bull to the butcher, we go with a heavy heart and also a resolute one. We have watched our animals grow up and cared for them through summer heat and winter ice. We are close to our food source. This is what it feels like to practice a centuries-old tradition.
We take turns writing about our experiences on the farm which teach us life lessons and expand our understanding of the universe. Enjoy.