Monday, September 18, 2017

Turkeys on Pasture

It looks like we may be in for a rather warm week. You didn't think a Georgia summer was gonna go quietly into the night did you. Summer around here usually doesn't end without a fight, so I thought a picture of our growing turkeys out on pasture would be a good reminder that Fall is just around the corner. Once they are big enough to go out to pasture, they only need shelter from the rain and sun, and a roost to sleep up off of the ground. We built these mobile turkey shelters a few years ago, and the turkeys love them. We can hook to them and pull them to different areas of the pasture, giving them a fresh portion of pasture each time. Unfortunately we lost one shelter due to a wind storm last year. (not during the growing season, so no turkeys were injured). That's why you can see the orange straps in the picture anchoring this one down. 

Monday, August 28, 2017


Once or twice in the last week we have felt that crisp bite of fall air in the early morning. I'm sure summer will not give up without a fight, she never does down here. But, the season change is quickly approaching. What is my favorite season you ask? Well, that's a tough one. On the farm each season brings its unique blessings and challenges. I'm thankful to live in an area where we have distinct seasons. Summers are hot, winters can be pretty cold, and spring and fall are usually to short. As someone that works out in the elements, but also enjoys the cycle of nature, my favorite season is the next one. 
In Winter I'm ready for the farm to awaken in the spring.
Spring is great to awaken the farm, but after the cold of winter and cool of spring, the long growing season and warm summer sun is surely welcome.
Summer days are long, and hot. By early September we are ready for that cool crisp morning air of Fall. 
Fall is fabulous, we like to share it with the public through farm tours, corn maze, and hay rides. After the farm tours and the fall harvest season we are ready for a rest. Winter provides us an opportunity to slow down and recharge. 
Then the cycle repeats. See, there is always something to look forward to. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse

Sometimes mother nature gives us a "teachable moment". O.K., on the farm we get those almost every day. Today we get one as we look skyward. The kids and I will be driving north to see a farmer friend of mine in Tennessee. That is assuming we don't get stuck in snowmageddon type traffic. If successful we will post our experiences on social media. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fresh Faces on the Farm

As the driver of the Carlton Farms Mobile Market, I often get the title of farmer Chad. I do my share of farm work, as well as managing all of the deliveries. Sometimes I get the feeling that folks think I get up at 2 am to milk the cows, gather eggs, plow the field, then drive to Atlanta. In reality, we have an awesome family and team that keep the farm running. I am simply one cog in that wheel. ( I want to add a staff/team page soon to the website) As our farm grows, we can occasionally add new people to our team. Today I am happy to announce that my sister-in-law Andrea is starting to work with us. She is funny, with a positive personality and very smart. I can't wait to see what we will accomplish with her on board. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Back to the Grind

Today I put on a real pair of shoes for the first time in over a week. Our little family spent a whole week on St. George Island, Florida.  It was a week of sand castles, swimming, shelling, wave riding, and seafood eating. It was wonderful. 
The farm stayed together while I was gone, it even ran pretty well. I have a long list of things to do, but somehow it seems a little more achievable after a week at the beach. 
As I returned, I got a sense that fall was not far away. Turkeys are on the farm now, and the corn maze is starting to take shape.  Those are sure signs that fall is around the corner. Enjoy this last stretch of summer folks. Soon we will be breathing the crisp cool air of a fall morning.      
Jersey, Chad & Atticus

Monday, July 24, 2017

Hay in the Barn

This year's unusually high amount of rainfall has led to excellent pasture conditions. The cattle are looking good, even in the heat of the summer. Sometimes summertime can be as hard on the condition of cattle as the dead of winter. This year, however, they are happy to lay in the shade all day and graze the plentiful grass in the morning and evening.  You may also conclude that the great pasture conditions would make for an excellent hay production year. In one way you would be right, but the devil is in the details. True, there will be lots of hay produced this year. Our farm is no different, we are making very good yields in the hay field. However, looking closer you will find that it has been hard to find a window in which to cut and dry hay. We, like many others in the area, harvested some hay last week. It was the first dry window we had had to do so. The bad news is that the grass was much older than it ideally would have been. As grass gets older, the carbohydrates convert from their tender digestible form into their more structural form called Lignin. More mature grass that is high in Lignin will produce more tons of hay, but the hay is of lower quality and less digestible for the cattle.  Its still worth harvesting, just not as good as it would have been under ideal weather conditions. But then again, when have we had ideal weather. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Missionary Visit

A few days ago a friend's brother, Davis, visited the farm to tell us about his mission work in the middle east. He was recently in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Israel, some of the most war torn corners of the earth. The conversation was mostly about the children he had worked with, the relationships he had built with some citizens of those countries, and of course the tense moments he experienced in those tumultuous areas. The first trip he was part of was a couple of months, but now he has committed to go back for two years to help a family in Jordan. I don't use this space to get political or religious. I will provide his information so that if anyone wants to read about his mission work or donate, you can do both by clicking here.(if donating designate for Davis Knowles)
Many things struck me about this conversation, but one thing resonated above all else. It was the ability of this young man to:
- Recognize his desire to serve in this way
- Face a real danger and fear
- Decide to fulfill that calling regardless of the fear and danger
I'm thankful for our encounter with Davis and I'm glad we have folks like him around the world. Building bridges and relationships with people that don't look like us could go a long way toward a more peaceful existence.
It made me start to wonder if I would be able to look fear right in the face to accomplish a mission that I felt strongly about. I would like to say, yes I definitely would. However, the reality is that most of us rarely, if ever, will encounter a life threatening situation to accomplish a calling. But remember, we all have a calling. There is usually a fear of some kind standing between us and our calling. What I saw in Davis is someone that recognized the danger, felt the fear, but moved forward anyway.  
In some ways running a family farm is like taking a baton from the previous generation, running for a while, and then (if you are successful) handing the baton to the next generation. My calling right now is to continue the success of our family farm, and to provide our customers with best clean food available. I will do this in the face of whatever uncertainty arises. However, I think back to the fear that must have been ever present when my grandfather started our dairy in 1946. He was just back from the war and decided to take on a big debt load to enter what was a fairly new industry. We have handwritten letters between him and my grandmother as she was questioning the decision and they were both hoping they had made the right choice. He was a persistent man, and because of him Carlton Farms exists today. As I often do privately, here I publicly tip my cap to my grandpa in Heaven. Thanks for facing your fears to accomplish your mission. 
What is your calling??