It's Hot, Dry, and Dangerous out there folks. I was eating dinner on Saturday evening when I got a call saying one of our fields was on fire. Knowing how dry everything is, I knew this had the potential to get bad in a hurry. I literally jumped from my seat at the dinner table and ran out the door. One of our employees, Ricky, was already using the front loader on the tractor to try to extinguish the fire. Unfortunately, he wasn't having much success. I called 911 as I was getting out of the truck, but another passerby had already called in, and fire dept had been dispatched. Wayne pulled in about the same time I did. Wayne is a neighbor, friend, and most importantly at this moment, a firefighter. He was able to communicate with the fire department via radio to make sure they were sending the right truck and let them know that no structures were in danger. They were able to fairly quickly extinguish the fire and total damage was probably less than an acre burned. It would have spread fast though in the super dry grass. Thanks to our firefighters, and firefighters everywhere for being ready to spring into action at a moments notice. Every day brings a different challenge on the farm. Be safe out there.
Monday, September 2, 2019
It's a little hard to say what my favorite part of farming is. It is a lifestyle that is deeply etched into the foundation of my soul. So much so that I can't imagine being happy doing anything else. I am a livestock guy, so when baby animals are born on the farm is one of my favorite things. I also like the smell of fresh tilled ground, and the way fresh cut hay has a specific fragrance that lingers in the air on a summer evening. Oh Yeah, the crisp air and pure quiet of the night as we make our way to the back pasture to bring the dairy cows in for the early morning milking. I guess all of these are some of my favorite things, and I could go on and on.
Somewhere near the top of the list, however, is an interesting favorite: Farm Projects. As a farmer, we are tasked with orchestrating the process of bringing food from its most infantile form to its finished destination (your kitchen table). In order to direct this orchestra, we move animals from place to place, organize a grazing system, ensure that food and water are efficiently delivered, monitor health, protect from predators, and create a comfortable environment. There is a highly efficient system in place for those that raised animals in total confinement. We raise all of our animals on pasture, so most times we need to orchestrate this process using much different means than what is commercially available. This is where my love of farm projects kicks in. My very favorite thing to do is watch what's going on in one of our systems, and use some creative thinking to design a tool or a process that improves the life of the livestock, while at the same time increases the effectiveness of the farmer. You can become more efficient and still maintain integrity in your food production system. It requires respect for the animal, respect for the chosen production method, and a healthy dose of creativity.
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Beef cattle are looking great. We have several to process throughout the late summer and fall, so stock up your freezers.
Chickens will be coming back from the processor early this week. We will get those posted as soon as they get back.
Laying hens have continued to lay through the summer surprisingly well. We have been able to keep spring pricing on the eggs throughout the whole summer.
The Dairy cows are holding up pretty well in the heat, but ready for some cooler weather, like we all are. When milk production decreases, as it does in hot weather, the richness and creaminess of the milk increases.
Fall Activities are just around the corner. The corn maze has been designed and cut out. Some new activities are already installed and will be ready for all the fall visitors. Yall come out to the farm this October.
Monday, August 12, 2019
There is always something special about placing a new flock out in the pasture. It just seems like they are so much more comfortable and satisfied when they can act like a chicken. I mean they are, after all, chickens. They need to be able to scratch in the dirt and eat some green grass. This is our third batch this year, and we are really getting in our groove.
Monday, August 5, 2019
When I made the decision to stop driving the delivery truck, I did so for several reasons. Some business, some personal. One of the business reasons was that I wanted to do a better job of connecting with customers. While I enjoyed delivering your orders with some personal interaction, I never really got to tell our story or answer your questions. The transactions were efficient, but short and sweet with little room for conversation. I wanted a way to bring you behind the scenes so to speak. A way to give you a glimpse of whats going on at the farm, and a place for you to ask questions.
My idea is a YouTube program called "From the Field, at Carlton Farms". The premise would be a weekly video show that gives a update of farm activities, answers questions, and gives a deep dive into one of our enterprises. It will be called "From the Field" because we will be set up remotely at the deep dive location. For instance, we may be in the pasture with the broiler chickens, or with the dairy cows, or in the apple orchard. That weeks objective will be to overview exactly how that product is produced, harvested, and brought to you.
I have invested in a little bit of equipment, but don't expect anything super fancy. I want the quality to be watchable at first, and if everyone likes it we will get better over time.
My goal is to launch the first episode next week, but again it will probably be rough. This will be a work in progress. If you have any pointers, about format, layout, or the equipment/technical stuff feel free to reach out. Also, if you have any questions that you want answered, send those over. Email is probably best right now, but later I want to have a call-in line. Let me know what you think.
Monday, July 22, 2019
Over the past couple of weeks, and the next week or two, vacations will be happening for some of our family members that work on the farm. I admit I am a little envious of the large family vacations I hear about other people taking. Owning a dairy is a great lifestyle, but you still need to get away and decompress every so often. We find a way to do that, but we must do so in shifts. One can leave while the others pull the extra weight in their absence. My grandfather always did that for my dad so we could have a family trip, and now we do the same for each other. It accomplishes the task of letting us get away, but it means that we never get to vacation together, and that sounds pretty fun. Anyway...first world farmer problems I guess.