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Snow on the ground…must be time to think about Spring!

January 28, 2013

I hope you are enjoying your winter wonderland.  We relish the quick dash outside to take care of our small “winter stock” and then run back inside to sit next to the fire. However, it is getting along toward March: the official start of the farming season. So, I need to bring you up to date on the changes here at Haelen Farm.
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Most of you know that we are not full time farmers. We are managing the farm, a full-time job, four children, a home, a church, etc.  Although we have a deep desire to be full-time farmers, last fall we concluded that this season of our life is not right to spend the amazing amount of time and effort it would take to further develop our customer list, marketing materials, and “production” capability to be self-sustaining.  We have responsibilities as parents, church members, and employees to manage in addition to farming, so we need to be faithful in everything, at least as much as possible.
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To that end, we are curtailing our “ramp up” to commercial stardom and settling instead to just producing good food and making it available and accessible to others.  Essentially, we have the desire and means to raise chickens for meat and eggs, raise pastured hogs, and perhaps this spring, rabbits, and we will be doing all those things already for ourselves.  If you want us to raise some extra for you, we are happy to continue to do that.

What does this mean, practically? What it really boils down to is that we are going to be a little more relaxed about our sales efforts and we will be more risk averse. We may not be focused on fancy labels or marketing handouts, instead focusing on delicious chicken or pork, and quality of processing.  We will not be ordering lots of extra chicks in hopes that someone will buy them before we process them and end up trying to find freezer space (we had 50 extra chickens at one point last year).  We are focused on providing good food for those who know in advance what they want, have the space to store it, and just need someone to produce it.  We are happy for someone to order just one chicken per processing day, but we are really geared for people like our family, who eat probably 40+ chickens a year, along with a pig and some beef!

I want to let you know that this is going to be a huge relief for our family.  So far, the production is not the hardest part; the sales/marketing/risk management has been much, much harder to handle well.  A more relaxed, co-op style approach is going to enable us to keep our heads on straight.  We value the relationships we have developed with each of our patrons and want them to continue, just under a little different arrangement.

So, with that in mind, please consider the following:

  • We are aiming for early May to process the first batch of meat chickens.  We need approximately 14 weeks to order the chickens (The chickens have to lay the eggs, then they are incubated for 3 weeks before hatching, then shipped to us and raised for 8 weeks before processing).  If you would like some fresh chicken in May, please let us know how many you would like to have. Cut-off is February 9th.
  • We will be doing pastured pork again this year.  Although I have a strong desire to use heritage breeds, I do not have a confirmed source at this point.  Last year I had Birkshire/Duroc cross and mine at least is delicious (ask my wife for her Carnitas recipe!).  I sold quarter shares last year, but realized that it is fairly problematic since the cuts are very different from front to back on a hog.  This year we will just do halves.  If you would like to order a whole or half hog, please let me know. Cut-off is March 1st.
  • We are considering doing a project with the kids and raising rabbits for meat. You can find a lot of good things about rabbit meat with a quick web search.  High protein and low fat come up a lot.  If you have any interest in rabbit meat, let us know so we can contact you later.
  • We will have a spring rush of eggs and could temporarily add some additional families. Some of our patrons had to take a break this quarter while the chickens got over the winter laying blues, but we should have all the regulars back on in a month or so, so let us know if you would like to take advantage of any surplus.

Thanks for all your warm support, not only for Haelen Farm, but for good food-  local food.  We obviously think it is pretty important to put healthy food into your body to have good health and we are going out of our way to make sure our kids have the best building blocks for their growing bodies.  We are happy to have you walk beside us in this, as partners and friends.

Happy Sledding!

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Snowball fight!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 28, 2013 9:29 pm

    Such wise ‘children’ I have. Wish we were close enough to benefit from your love of all things natural and good 🙂
    <3, MOM

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