Monday, October 15, 2018

Talking Turkey

Once again, the turkeys of 2018 have been such a pleasure to raise. We always enjoy the sights and sounds that they bring to the farm. They have grown really well this year with help from lots of early rain keeping the pastures lush. We pulled a few last week and weighed them, just to see where we were with the grow out. Wow, they were ahead of schedule. We will need to start processing in a week or so. We will process the turkeys over the next few weeks and store them in the freezer. Delivery will be the week before thanksgiving, unless you request otherwise. If you have not placed your pre-order for one of these birds for you thanksgiving table, you probably want to go ahead and do that now. We have a limited availability. I assure you, this will be the centerpiece of a special meal that your family will remember for a long time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

An Impromptu Remodel

I've been wanting to do this for a long time, but there is always something more pressing. This past week it rained and we finally had time for a shop project. You may have noticed over the summer that the mobile market trailer that I spend a lot of time in is very hot. Not to mention I've been using it for almost 6 years without a "refresh". My goal is to insulate the walls and refresh the interior look. As you can see from the pic, the insulation is in. Walls are going in this morning when I get finished writing this email. Hopefully it will be "mostly" done by the time I need to leave on Wednesday morning. I have a lot of ideas for this project and cant wait to see what we can pull together. Come out this week and take a look at the progress.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Getting off of the Farm

Normally, I'm perfectly content to spend most of my time here on the farm. Things that require me to leave the premises are usually considered a hindrance to whatever "progress" I was trying to make. Sometimes there is actual progress, sometimes it is me telling myself that. Either way, it winds up being frustrating. I would almost always like to be driving a tractor when I am actually driving my truck.
However, sometimes an opportunity presents itself that I'm glad to leave the farm for. I recently had the privilege of taking Jersey and her cousin Ty kayaking. We all had some limited experience, but we are not experts by any stretch. We paddled an easy 3 hour stretch of the Etowah River near Rome, even stopping to have lunch on the bank of the river. Jersey and Ty learned to stand in their boats and even spent a lot of time swimming. As for me, I enjoyed watching them and I don't think I thought about driving a tractor once. It was a really good day.

Monday, September 10, 2018

This Ole Bush

I find it hard to tell you what this little pomegranate bush means to me. It resides beside my parents house which is squarely in the middle of our farm. As a child this home was not yet where we lived. Back then it was the home of my great-grandmother (Muzzy). We would walk down to her house as kids when working/playing in the summer heat got to be too much. She would offer us vanilla ice cream, which we always accepted. However, we were way to dirty to actually come into her house. She would bring out a old tin bowl of water and soap for us to "wash up" before she brought out the ice cream. This woman was an avid gardener and was well known for her vast selection of Iris flowers that she grew, bred, and sold. I'm quite sure I was too young to fully appreciate the attention to detail she gave to all her beloved plants, but I can remember bits and pieces from my childhood. I'm sure she tended this pomegranate bush through the years because you see... it predated her. My grandfather (Louie) once told me a story about this bush. When his father bought the farm in 1919, they moved from a small farm in Floyd County. At the direction of Muzzy, my great grand-father dug up the pomegranate that they had on the Floyd county farm and brought it to the new farm in Rockmart. As we prepare for the farm to turn 100 years old next year, it's fun to reflect on how things have changed over the decades. Among the change though, there are veins of consistency that we hold tight to. For me, this Pomegranate is an example of consistency in an ever present state of change. For me, it represents the type of steadfast tenacity that is required to keep a farm operating in the same family for 100 years. I hope each of you will take part next year as we celebrate 100 years. This pomegranate bush has seen all 100 years, and even a few before that.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Use What You Have

You may have noticed that we seem to have a summer heat wave upon us. This summer, up until now, was pretty tolerable. Don't get me wrong, it was hot, but not unbearable so. We had an ample amount of rain throughout the summer. As well as cooling things down, with the rain comes with a number of overcast days that break the summer heat cycle. It has been a summer that all of our grazing animals have enjoyed. Cattle have gained weight better than normal. Pigs have enjoyed more mud wallows. Broiler chickens, laying Hens, and Turkeys have enjoyed more lush summer pasture. With all that said, here in the south we must be ready for the heat when it hits. In the picture you can see the turkeys lounging in the shade of a grain wagon. The grain wagons are not in use for hauling grain at the moment so we decided to place them in the pasture with the turkeys for added shade. As you can tell from the picture, they are using every bit of the shade. The great thing about this shade is its portability. As we rotate the turkeys to fresh pasture, the shade can be moved right along with them. Sometimes you just have to look around and use what you already have to solve a problem.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Challenge Accepted

Probably my favorite part of being a farmer is the small challenges we face everyday. I guess its not the challenges themselves that I like, but the need to use creativity and some improvisational thinking to solve these challenges. Some days the challenges are large and stressful, other days they are fun and menial. Either way, it is rewarding to quash these issues with a little brain power, some elbow grease, and whatever spare parts we might have had laying around.
Recently we needed to improve our turkey feeding system. we had been using some home-made range feeders that I threw together real quick a couple years ago using a 5 gallon bucket and a metal pan. These served their purpose, but we now want to scale up our turkey production and needed to develop a more robust feeding system that would be 1) more labor efficient, 2)accepted by the birds, and 3) weather proof. In our current system we load several buckets full of feed onto the pick-up truck, and then drive out to the turkey pasture and dump those buckets into the turkey feeders. That has worked okay, but it is a lot of manual feed handling. And on top of that, the feeders had no top, so during pretty weather they worked fine but after a rain we would have to empty out any leftover feed that was now wet and clean the feeders. We found available for purchase a range feeder that has a weather shield to keep rain off of the feed, so that accomplished one of our requirements. These feeders also hold 300 lbs so we could probably make less trips hauling feed to the pasture, making them more efficient. But we would still need to load those buckets onto the truck. I felt like there was a better way. I looked around the farm and found an old axle from a wind damaged poultry shelter. After a little modification, we constructed a deck on the axle and mounted the feeders on top. Now we can grab the feed buggy with the atv, back up under the feed auger, fill each with 300 lb of feed and pull it back out to pasture for the turkeys to enjoy.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Turkeys at Sunrise

I've said before on this platform that the Turkeys are some of the most enjoyable animals to have on the farm. They have a personality and a curiosity that is unmatched by any other birds that we raise. A few mornings ago, I walked over to the fence just after sunrise. The turkeys had already come off their roost, but were at the far back side of the pasture. When they saw me they went into a full-blown turkey stampede. They were running toward me and making all of their pleasant noises, all with a beautiful sunrise in the background. (I couldn't resist the photo op.) I'd like to say they were coming to tell me good morning, but i really think they just thought I was there to feed them. Either way, it was a cool moment and a small example of why I enjoy raising these birds so much.