Monday, December 2, 2013

Turkey Update

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Yes, we still have turkeys, though less than half are left.

As we mentioned in a previous post, we were able to find a USDA inspected processor that was also Animal Welfare Approved. Their name is Garner Abattoir Meat Processing and they are a family run business located in Van Buren, Arkansas.

On Wednesday, November 20th, Debbie, Danielle, and Elizabeth rounded up turkeys and got 3 Tom's and 5 Hen's into two cages (the 3 Tom's and 1 Hen in one, and 4 Hen's in the other). When Donald got home from working out-of-town, he and Adam loaded the cages up in the truck, and Donald and Debbie got up at 4:30 am Thursday morning to take them to the processor. They were picked up late Friday evening.

USDA Inspected
We processed 8 turkeys ranging in weight from 8 pounds to over 14 pounds. We originally dedicated three turkeys for the Heavener First United Methodist Church, and also gave a close friend that has helped with the farm one of them. On short notice, we sold two, and kept two.

As we generally get a 22 pound turkey from the market, we kept the 8 pounder and a 14 pound Tom. Debbie cooked the 8 pounder the day before Thanksgiving just in case we needed it, and cooked the 14 pounder Thanksgiving day.


The turkey definitely looked good, and initial taste tests indicated we were in for a treat.

Cut up Turkey, ready to eat
After cutting up the turkey, it did not look like much, but the dark meat was dark, making the dark meat on a store bought turkey look almost white.

The turkey was extremely favorable, rich and very tender. Part of the processing technique used included "air-drying", which eliminated any water weight. As a result, our 14 pound turkey provided essentially the same amount of actual meat that a 22 pound store bought turkey would have provided. Needless to say, we still have turkey left over.

Reviews from all of those that got some turkey (church, friends, customers) were very good, and we plan to sell 4 or 5 of the remaining 6 (yes, we had 15, but one is crippled and we will keep her for awhile) for Christmas. They will travel to their final destination (the processor) on Thursday, December 12th.

We have only good things to say about Garner Abattoir, everyone is very friendly and helpful (even their long-time customers), they are quick and efficient, and deliver a very high quality product. They are a blessing to the community.

We will most likely not be raising turkeys in 2014 (though this may change), but will probably revisit the subject for 2015. If we do raise them again, we will most likely not be able to call them free-range, as we will probably clip their wings to keep them under control.

In our area, non-organically raised heritage breed turkeys will bring over $4.40/pound. If you check Ebay, whole turkeys are bringing between $180 and $240 per bird, plus shipping and handling. This means that raising turkeys can be profitable (we sold our for $30 and $40 per bird, though we will most likely sell them for $40 - $45 per bird for Christmas).

In the meantime, the turkey operation has proven to be another success for our farm.

From farm,

to table,

to stomach,

Farm fresh, all natural, heritage breed turkeys from Baker Heritage Farms - the only way to go.

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

"You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what you're doing is work or play." Warren Beatty

Chicken Update

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

As promised, this is the first of two updates. This update is about our chickens.

Egg production is down. At our peak, we were getting upwards of 15 to 16 eggs per day, sometimes as many as two dozen. We are now (as of today) down to 12 hens, having lost the others (including Red, our rooster) to our local fox. The fox is getting more daring and has taken at least 3 hens in the last week (in the past, the fox was taking 1 hen about every 7-10 days) and is even coming into the yard to get the hens. In fact, he actually tried to take one when Donald, Debbie, and Danielle were in the front yard today (he came back and got one anyway). As a result of feeding the fox, as well as colder weather setting in, we are now getting between 6 to 8 eggs per day.

Because the eggs are so good, and in high demand, we will most likely keep raising chickens, but will not add more until we can make some changes. While our intent was to be cage-free and free-range, we will no longer be able to offer free range once we ramp up our chicken operation again.

We are currently considering converting our small barn (right by the chicken pen) into a hen house and putting a roof (netting) over the pen so that they cannot fly out. We will be limited to a smaller area (the area that is currently fenced with permanent fencing) so will raise fewer chickens (probably about 10 - 12 instead of 25 plus). We will also work on the breeder pen so that we can raise our own.

The major change will be that, while they will still be "cage-free", we will not be able to call them "free-range" as they will not be able to leave the pen. This will also require us to have an ample supply of hay and supplemental feed available on the hill, which we will supplement in the summer with small garden crops that can be moved into the pen to provide a natural food source.

In addition, we will have to get another rooster, which is always a gamble, but well worth it. The chicken operation is a fairly easy operation to maintain, but we will need to work on curtailing feed costs.

We hope to start working on converting the small barn into a hen house the first of the year. We will partition off one-half of the barn for the chickens and will include nesting boxes and an area that they can occupy in cold weather. The other half will be left for feed, supplies, and equipment (candling, scales, egg cartons, etc.). We also hope to be able to run electric to the barn to provide for heat in the winter. We will need to purchase strong netting and build a "roof" over the pen to prevent them from flying out (they cannot get out under the permanent fence, nor can a fox get in). We may also add electric fencing around the pen just in case.

This is the one operation we will continue during the next year.

Our next blog will provide an update on our turkey operations.

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms.

"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created b the individual who can labor in freedom." Albert Einstein

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Catching Up

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms:

It has been several weeks since we last updated our farm blog, but we have not been totally inactive.

Over the past two years we have planned, executed, and delivered some farm operations, and other farm operations have withered on the vine. We have learned a lot and have had both successes and failures.

Our first year was spent planning and included the planting of a test garden for produce. Overall, the test garden was a success and taught us that (1) we can grow produce, (2) we need to do better planning, (3) we need to include a total time plan into our lives and operations if we want to be a success, and (4) we can beat the weather if we have a good plan and follow the plan. Most of all, we have learned that farming is not for the weak hearted or the lazy.

Our second year was, in part, a failure, in that we did not learn about the need to include a total time plan into our lives and operations until it was too late. Family emergencies, full-time and part-time off-farm jobs, family needs, and weather will all join together to make farming a challenge. While we suspended crop operations after two failures (cabbage and tomatoes and peppers) due to time issues, we did continue our chicken and turkey operations. Both our chicken and turkey operations can be considered a success.

We have learned that it is very hard to meet the high standards that we set, and that those standards resulted in a lot more labor then originally anticipated. Our standards included growing heirloom crops and heritage chickens and turkeys. The need to maintain organic standards in the growing of our crops required much more up front labor then we anticipated and much better time planning as well as contingency planning. The standards required for raising free-range chickens and turkeys increased our daily chores as well as increasing our loss to predators (chickens). We felt that we would not really be offering "free-range" turkeys or chickens if we clipped their wings or enclosed their pens. This resulted in losing chickens to our local red fox and having to constantly put our turkeys back in their pen (they have a very large pen, but still tended to wander several times a day).

We know that, if we were to operate our farm using crop seed that has been genetically modified and processed with stacked insecticides and herbicides, we would have been very successful. We also learned that if we had caged our chickens and turkeys, they would have been much easier to raise and manage. Neither of these options were available when we started this project, and we do not feel that they should be used in future operations.

We plan to spend the next year re-evaluating both our crop and poultry operations to make them less labor intensive and more productive. We plan to put to use all of the lessons that we have learned and hopefully be able to begin 2015 with a more manageable and enjoyable farm operation.

Over the next several months we will be completing our evaluation of what went right, what went wrong, operational costs, potential income, and many other aspects and will report our results on this blog as promised.

The next several entries will bring you up-to-date with our chicken and turkey operations over the past few weeks.

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms.

"People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get." Frederick Douglass

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Update

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

We are still here.

We have had several "events" since the last posting in October, so we will try to bring everyone up-to-date.

First, as you know, we have been losing chickens on a regular basis. About 3 weeks ago we lost "Red", our beloved (yes, we loved to hear him crow, though we could do without his attacking us) rooster. Red was grabbed very quickly. Debbie had been outside and had just come back in when she heard a ruckus in the backyard. Sure enough, there were lots of red feathers but no Red. Donald went into the woods looking for the perpetrator, but found no sign of Red. He did, however, find two areas with piles of hen feathers (from our first two hens that were taken). No bones, no blood, nothing but a few feathers. We finally determined that our local red fox is grabbing them and taking them to his (or maybe her) den. Since then, we have lost several more hens. Adam saw a ruckus in the backyard about a week ago and scared off the perpetrator; however, since he is from the city he could not identify the suspect. He was sure that it was not a dog (or coyote). We lost another one this morning and Donald tried to track it into the woods, but he was in the wrong attire (he was on his way out to his other "work"). Our chickens are "free range" and "cage free" so we are going to have the problem until we determine how involved we will be in raising chickens.

We have actually been selling eggs wholesale (though we try to give most of them away to those in need). We even had an order that took all of our stock and we still were unable to meet their full request (no promises were made).

The turkeys are still being a problem - but not for long!!!!! We have finally located a processor that will do turkeys. They are a USDA processor (we are not getting USDA certification, though) and are Animal Welfare Approved. Unfortunately, they are located in Van Buren, Arkansas and only take turkeys on Thursday mornings - before 7 am. Donald will have to be up and on the road by 5:30 am or so, and, as he will not be here the day before, Debbie and Danielle will have to get the turkeys caged up by themselves, before they go to the trees to roost for the night.

The processor is Garner Abattoir Meat Processing and are great to work with. You can access their web site at http://www.garnerabattoir.com/. It took us forever to find someone that would do the turkeys, in fact, Donald was about to just let them loose in the woods.

We will be processing 8 turkeys this month and 6 next month. We are donating 3 or 4 turkeys to Heavener First United Methodist Church for the Thanksgiving dinner that they provide the community each year on Thanksgiving Day. Two have been sold to friends and business associates, and we will need at least one.

We are in the middle of some life changing events that may result on our putting the farm (at least the commercial aspects) on hold during 2014. However, we have learned a lot and hope to post the results of the various projects on this blog by the end of the year. We had a very productive crop year in 2012 and what is turning out to be a very productive poultry operation this year. We made a lot of mistakes, but hopefully have learned from them all.

We will continue to keep you updated as we wrap up 2013, though updates may be sporadic due to our schedules.

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms.

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls." Thomas Edison

Monday, October 14, 2013

13OCT13

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Farm operations are slow ... as we were not as active on the farm this year, we are slow right now. As not much is happening, we will only be posting every couple of weeks - at least until we get active again.

THE FARM HAS NOT DIED - just going through reorganization. We hope to be more active in the months to come as we start preparations for 2014.

This year has not been good for us. With personal emergencies taking up key time frames in any farms operations, we made a conscious decision to cut our losses in 2013 and backed down from farm operations. We are praying that 2014 will start off right and that we will once again be "farming".

Not only did we neglect the farm this year, but we were also negligent in keeping the property maintained. Our first step for the New Year is to get the property cleaned up and back into shape. This means that, once the leaves drop, we will start cutting brush, dead trees, and clearing rock. We also need to clean up trash that has gathered around the houses and barns, as well as get our roads back into shape. If we can get our schedules stabilized, we hope to have this work well under way by year-end.

We will also be working on cleaning out both barns, getting our tools and equipment properly maintained and/or repaired, and organizing our barns for better efficiency. It is amazing what a year of neglect can do.

We are actually looking forward to getting the farm back up and running. We are always amazed how, even with the hard labor involved, the farm relieves stress.

Our chickens are doing great, though we have lost another one (they seem to disappear on a regular basis), and are now down to a total of 21 chickens and a rooster. Donald went out into the woods this past week but did not find any sign of the missing chickens.

We are still averaging about 20 eggs per day. We have not been able to wholesale any recently as Debbie is starting to bake, and she uses quite a few due to their small size.

When Donald asked Debbie what was going to happen when we have to go back to store bought eggs, there was no hesitation in her answer - get more chickens. I guess we will be in the egg business next year. Ordered, and received 125 egg cartons so that we can legally sell our eggs. Now all we need to do is build a candling box and then we will be able to grade and sell them (we will have to apply to the State of Oklahoma for a permit, but do not feel that there will be any problems with that, as we are 100% organic).

Red, our rooster, has taken over the back yard. He is now a "watch rooster" and does not like anyone trespassing, including us. It makes it fun when we are feeding the chickens and turkeys, chasing turkeys, or trying to get chickens back into their pen. Red attacks out of nowhere when you least expect it. He only flies into you, he has not learned that his bite will hurt yet (and we hope he never does).

The turkeys are still being difficult, but that is not their fault. If you are going to raise turkeys, think about what you want to accomplish. In order to maintain organic, free-range, cage-free, turkeys, you will need a lot of property free of predators. If you do not cage them, you will most likely need to clip their wings. When you clip their wings, they will not be able to get into the trees to roost and will be open prey for predators. We chose not to clip wings and we do not have a fully enclosed pen, so they get out frequently. They have damaged our trucks and generally make a mess of things. In terms of our farming operations, we are calling this the experiment that failed, and have no intention of raising them again until we can safely raise them somewhere away from property they can damage.

All in all, we are still happy with the farm and anxious to start farming again. The break, while unexpected, probably was a good thing. We are better prepared, have a better outlook on what to reasonably expect, and know what pitfalls to be aware of.

It will be "back-to-nature" when we start back up. We will take our time, do what we can, and learn to live within our means.

For now, Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms. Keep checking back for updates.

"Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'. For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean".) Mark 7:18-19

Monday, September 30, 2013

13SEP30

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

No, we did not forget to post last week - nothing happened so we took a break.

Due to scheduling, nothing of substance happened on the farm last week with the exception of normal maintenance.

Normal maintenance consists of:
  • Letting the chickens out in the morning and feeding them;
  • Getting the turkeys back in the pen each morning and feeding them. They usually need to be put back in their pen about 5 times each morning, otherwise they climb on the trucks and make a general mess of things;
  • Each afternoon food and water containers are checked and filled if necessary, and all birds are fed once again (feeding consists of spreading feed on the ground, as the chickens seem to like this better then eating out of their containers, the turkeys are not so particular);
  • Rounding up the turkeys in the late afternoon. Again, they usually need to be put back in their pen about 5 times each afternoon;
  • Getting the chickens back into their houses and getting the turkeys back in their pens when they fall out of the trees trying to get settled in. If we do not get them back into their pen so they can get back into the trees, they will get on the carport and house roof and make a mess (or into the trees in the chicken breeder pen).
Special maintenance is done every couple of weeks and includes cleaning the pens and chicken coops, adding or replacing hay, cleaning waterers and/or feeders, and general maintenance.

A never ending task.

Donald cleaned under the chicken coop this past weekend and cleaned several of the waterers and feeders. All were filled.

We are averaging almost 2 dozen eggs daily, not counting those laid in the nests in the breeder pen. We ordered 125 egg cartons this morning and plan on building a candler in the next week or so. Once we have received the cartons and are candling the eggs, we will be able to grade them. We may also start including those in the breeder pen as we will be able to determine if they were fertilized. We have not yet determined if we will start selling them on the open market yet or not.

Red, our rooster, has now learned what is on the other side of the fence and is getting out of the breeder pen on  regular basis. This is a problem as we do not want him to socialize with the other hens.

We are looking forward to the holidays - we have decided that we will enjoy eating the turkeys whether we like the taste or not. We will eat them knowing that we will not have to mess with them every morning and evening - what a joy that will be.


The weather is finally changing and we are all looking forward to fall and winter. The trees just started changing this past weekend, and Donald noticed yesterday that one tree had already changed colors. By this morning the leaves were all brown, so it may be a quick season.

Until next time, blessings from Baker Heritage Farms.

"But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." John 4:32

Monday, September 16, 2013

13SEP16

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Other than adding hay to all of the chicken and turkey pens as well as to the hen house, very little was done on the farm this past week. Of course, feeding, opening and closing up the hen house, and rounding up turkeys at various times throughout the day are the normal course of business here on the farm.

The chicken eggs are getting bigger and we are starting to see a slight increase in production (the chickens are now 6-months old). We reached a milestone this past week - we are now selling eggs wholesale to Heavener Feed in Heavener, OK. While Donald was in picking up feed this weekend they asked how egg production was and told him they were out of eggs. They were looking for brown eggs (which ours are) and he took them 5-dozen to see how they sold. They suggested we bring more in when we had them (we have them on a regular basis) so this may be the beginning of a new business relationship (though not very profitable).

Our immediate goal is to get back on a schedule and start preparing for next year. Our intent for 2014 is to get the farm cleaned up, catch up on all of the work we have put aside due to schedules, and start over with the farm. We have decided that we will not be raising livestock in the immediate future, and will limit poultry to the chickens on hand. We will be restarting production crops, but will start with just one plot next year.

Our production plot will be either the test garden or Plot 3A (closest to the water source). Rather than try to do too much, we will be concentrating on establishing a kitchen garden in 2014, and expand from there. We need to ensure that we are fully utilizing the few resources we have before expanding and want to be sure nothing goes to waste. The first step will be to get everything in order this winter and see what we can get started for next spring.

We also will be preparing to purchase a limited number of fruit trees in early spring. This means digging the holes this winter and back filling them so we are prepared.

Until next time, blessings from Baker Heritage Farms.

"But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." 1 Timothy 6:8

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

13SEP08

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

A little late with the post, but better late then never.

The only day available to work on the farm this past weekend was Saturday. Donald spent the full day cutting hay in the pasture, raking it, and bringing up 5 loads. Then he cleaned out the turkey pen and laid down more hay.

The plan was to clean out the chicken pens and hen house as well, but the turkey pen took more time than anticipated. Hopefully the chicken pens and hen house will get cleaned out this week and new hay put in.

Still averaging about 20 eggs per day, but they are still small. We are beginning to realize that they may stay small.

Until next time, blessings from Baker Heritage Farms.

"He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment" Proverbs 12:11

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

13SEPP03

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms:

If you are considering raising turkeys, we have some advice - research them first. Raising turkeys is a lot more work then raising chickens, and involves a lot more time.

Turkeys like to perch at night, the higher the better (they go higher as they get older). Our turkeys are kept in a pen where there are numerous trees for them to perch in. Good for the turkeys, not so good for us. Due to the shape and size of the pen and the size of the trees, there is no way to keep them from flying down from the trees and landing outside the pen. In addition, they can fly onto the gate or their loafing shed and fly outside the pen. As a result, we have to conduct "turkey roundups" at least three or four times each morning and several times each evening, depending upon the weather. While they will normally follow us back to the pen, we get some that like to go the opposite direction, and then we get to chase them around in circles (usually when there are only one or two out). Turkeys also tend to be messier then chickens. Overall, they require more time and labor.

If we decide to continue raising turkeys, we would most likely be forced to confine them to a smaller area, which could affect our "cage-free, free-range" objectives.


They are, however, interesting and fun to watch, and will keep you amused with their antics.

Chickens are doing well. We are averaging about 20 eggs per day and the sizes, while still varying, are getting a little larger.

As soon as the weather cools a little, we are planning to clean out the pens and put in new hay. We have been having hot and humid weather with little wind (unusual for us) and are getting more flies as a result. Hopefully totally cleaning the pens will help.

Until next time, blessings from Baker Heritage Farms.

"The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops." 2 Timothy 2:6

Monday, August 26, 2013

13AUG26

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms:

Summer is back ... our nice weather is gone (for now).

We are still in the learning phase of our farming venture. We have now learned that turkey's are not easy animals to control, especially when you have chickens as well.

Our chickens are truly "free range" chickens. While they are in a pen, they are free to come and go, and come and go they do. They are now flying in and out of the pen and we essentially let them come and go as they please. This makes keeping turkeys a problem. They want to, and do, get out. Unfortunately, turkeys and chickens do not mix.

Every night we have several turkeys get out several times before they finally nest in the trees. And every morning, we have to conduct a turkey round-up, again, several times.

Chickens are doing great. We are getting over 20 eggs each day now. We are not selling them as we are not candling them so we cannot grade them. We have not decided if we will or not. We are comfortable knowing that they are not fertilized as they do not get near Red (he won't let them even if they wanted to, they are not his girls). Still waiting for the eggs to get to full sized, then we may start grading and selling them.

Sometime in the past several weeks we lost a chicken. We think she got down into the woods. We cannot count them at night as some are in the hen house and some are not. The one that got away probably did not get put to bed one night and was dinner for one of our wild neighbors, or a hawk or eagle got her.

We have a turkey in isolation. Tiny was either born with, or acquired a defect shortly after arrival, and her legs are deformed. She apparently injured a foot the other day and was being picked on by the other turkeys, so we have her isolated. She is in the pen but is in a separate cage where, hopefully, she will recover.

Donald brought more hay up for the chickens. Saturday he put two loads in the chicken pen and today we all went out and changed their nests. They are now keeping their nests clean so we probably will only add hay every couple of weeks rather than changing it out. He also gave the turkeys some of the old hay as well as some of the new hay. It is a distinct advantage being able to go down and cut hay when we need it (though it was still wet this time). Of course, the disadvantage is that it has to be manually raked, which is a chore.

We are still working on the future of the farm. It was suggested that we work on getting some fruit trees planted. This appears to be the next logical step. Donald has essentially decided that we will not be able to run a full farm operation next year due to a lack of manpower and work requirements; however, we will have a kitchen garden. This actually works well into our education process. It will give us an idea of what we can do with proper soil preparation and time planning, using time saving techniques as much as possible.

Still need to get the tiller repaired. We have not been able to bring it up from the production field due to the amount of water still on the field. Hopefully we can get the truck and trailer down there to get it picked up, otherwise we will strip it where it is and try to get the parts we need and repair it where it sits.

Nothing else new down on the farm. Things will be slow for the next month or so as Donald has several work deadlines he needs to meet.

Until next time, blessings from Baker Heritage Farms.

"A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops." Proverbs 28:3

Monday, August 19, 2013

13AUG19

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms,

Good morning to all of our friends and followers. It has been absolutely gorgeous here in eastern Oklahoma the past few days. Unusually cool weather has added to the vast differences in weather conditions we have experienced here this year.

Donald was down with a nasty cold this weekend so there was not much work done on the farm, other then daily and weekly maintenance of the chickens and turkeys. He did get the chance to get some mowing done. He mowed the property in town (the first time this year he was able to get to it before it got real bad) and finally got our yards mowed (they were beginning to look like hay fields). There were still some areas of both properties that he was unable to mow due to standing water from all of the rain.

As we continue our farm planning, we realize that we have actually learned a great deal since we started almost two years ago. Our first learning experience was with our test garden last year and our second, and most recent, learning experience was with our poultry operations this year. We are currently using what we have learned to establish revised short and long term farm plans. As we consider what we will do in 2014, it seems that the best idea is to use our original farm plan as a foundation, and rewrite our overall plan.

We have decided not to formally "sell" our eggs this year, though we will be asking for "donations" towards feed. We have calculated that production costs are approximately $3.50 to $4.00 per dozen eggs. We are currently generating between 18 and 20 eggs per day and going through a 50 pound bag of feed every three days. One 50-pound bag of feed runs approximately $16.00 (depending on where we buy it, which depends on their inventory). This does not include grit, water, or labor. It also does not account for the initial start-up capital.


Our turkeys are quickly growing up and the Tom's are starting to strut their stuff. They are quite enjoyable to watch, and will follow you around.


Every morning they are out of their pen, but are usually fairly easy to roundup.


Red, our rooster, is very good at keeping us informed of what his hens are doing (or even when the turkeys or other hens are not behaving).


And even the hens get out, but we generally let those that escape free range during the day.

All-in-all, the farm is doing well. Still a lot of catching up to do, but that is what winter is for.

Until next time, blessings from ...

Baker Heritage Farms

"Farm like you are going to live forever and live like you are going to die tomorrow." Unknown

Sunday, August 11, 2013

13AUG11

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Yes, as normal, we are running behind on our posts. Actually, we are just running behind. It has been a very busy two weeks around here, unfortunately, most of the busyness has been non-farm related.

Adam started working this past week. He is working at the OK Foods Heavener chicken processing plant. Not the most enjoyable job; however, he seems to enjoy it and we hope he can gain useful knowledge for the farm operation. He is working 10-hour days and is pretty worn out by the time he gets home.

Donald is currently working both a full-time job and a part-time job. He had originally set aside Friday's and Saturday's for farm work, however, he was offered an opportunity that he felt he had to take, and now he only has Saturday's for the farm.

School is starting back up so school shopping for the children took priority last weekend for everyone but Donald. The weather finally cooperated for a few days and Donald was able to finally get some of the work done that has been on hold due to weather.

A week ago this past Friday Donald was able to go into town in the afternoon and mow the grass on the property there. It was touch and go for the entire time, but he was able to get that job completed. Then Saturday the weather continued to hold and he was finally able to cut hay. He took the tractor down back and cut and raked hay. He was able to bring 5 full bucket loads up to the house for the chickens and turkeys, who were in need of some fresh hay.

After bringing up the hay, he spread it in the main chicken pen and the turkey pen. He also cleaned the hen house and put a combination of hay and pine chips in the nesting boxes and on the floor. The chickens like the hay a lot more than the pine chips so we will be converting them to all hay. That work took up most of the day.

This weekend was a loss due to other commitments; however, Donald did do some work in the office, though he is still way behind.

Debbie attended her last Beginning Farmers and Ranchers class and has now graduated.

Debbie's Graduation Certificate
It is an all-day affair to keep the Turkeys in their pen. They have moved up the trees to higher (and stronger) branches. Unfortunately, the branches stick out over the fence line and they fall out of the trees onto the wrong side of the fence. This past Saturday they were all out in the front yard, but sometimes they even get into one or both of the chicken pens. They are also flying out just to fly out. Rounding them up is fairly easy provided they feel like cooperating.

Look Ma - I am outside (and you guys are still inside)
The chickens continue to get out, but we generally allow them to roam the yard. We are not as concerned about them as we are the turkeys as they (the chickens) tend to stay close to the pen.

Hey guys, why are you in there?
We are now getting over 20 eggs per day (average) from the chickens. They are still small, but getting bigger.

Now all we need to do is get our yards mowed and start getting more hay for the chickens. With 20/20 hindsight, it is probably better that we stopped working on the production fields for awhile. Something would have to give.

Until next time, blessings to all from ...

Baker Heritage Farms

"He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son." Proverbs 10:5

Saturday, July 27, 2013

13JUL27

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms:

Well, it has been a wet week, with Friday delivering about 5 inches of rain throughout the day. We have still been unable to bring hay up for the chickens.

It seems that our Fire Ants thrive on rain. Last year we did not see many mounds around the farm, but earlier this year they started showing up again. Now, they are all over. We can only presume that they like the moisture the rains bring.

Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis Invicte)
Courtesy of OSU
Why are we concerned about Fire Ants? First, they hurt when they bite. They are small and tend to attack you in great numbers, and you do not need to be standing on their mound (of course, it is hard to stand anywhere on the farm right now without standing on one of their mounds). Second, the feeding on the young tender growth by fire ants occurs through the year, causing damage to soybean crops, citrus, corn, okra, bean, cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, potato, sweet potato, peanut, sorghum, and sunflower crops during critical times of growth. They can even move into your house if there is enough rain. Prior to the heavy rainfall Friday, we had isolated problems with them in our house, but Friday they started coming in droves.

A good percentage of the south is quarantined due to the Fire Ant population. The items quarantined include live plants, hay, soil, firewood, soil moving equipment, and unprocessed plant products. The southeast corner of Oklahoma is still in the quarantined area, and LeFlore county is the northern most portion of the state that is under the quarantine.

The problem at Baker Heritage Farms - we are following organic standards and most of the control methods require unapproved chemicals, so we are just living with them for now.

Due to the rain, not much work was done on the farm this week. The turkeys are proving to be a handful. As they grow, they fly higher into the trees at night to roost, and some of the higher branches spread to the outside of the fence line. We are finding the majority of the turkeys outside of their pen each morning. While they are fairly easy to roundup and get back in their pen, they are starting to fly into the chicken pens, which is not good.

We are currently trying to come up with a solution; however, with the size of the pen, its location in the trees, and the configuration of the fence line, we are facing an uphill battle.

The chickens still have their escape artists, but they are not so bad. While we are afraid the turkeys will get into the woods behind the house, the chickens tend to stay close to home. We are currently looking into enclosing the chicken pen with shade cloth, using PVC piping to frame the cloth.

With all the rain, we have wasted a lot of feed. Even though the feed is under cover, it still gets wet, either from blowing rain or wet birds. The chickens are very picky and will not eat wet feed (and it is not good for them as it starts to ferment quickly). The turkeys are not quite so bad. We are looking at ways we can build low cost feeders that will provide cover, keep the feeders further off the ground, and provide full-time access.

We are also looking at converting the little barn into a hen house. It is only a couple of feet away from the current hen house and it will allow us better control over the nesting area (as well as keeping it dryer). It will entail cleaning out the big barn and moving some of the stuff from the little barn to the big barn.

We are getting more eggs as each day passes. Debbie is now using them for baking so we will see how that goes. Once we have an ample supply, we will start sharing them with others before actually selling them (right now they are still to small to sell).

Donald and Debbie went out and picked up more chicken feed today (250 pounds) as well as poultry grit. The chickens are going through a 50-pound bag about every 4 days. Fortunately, the turkeys do not go through as much.

Until next time, Blessings to All from ...

Baker Heritage Farms

"We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." Will Rogers

Sunday, July 21, 2013

13JUL21

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Ahh ... The incredible, edible, farm fresh egg ...
Farm Fresh Eggs
By Saturday, we had 10 edible eggs from our chickens (one was not edible as it was broken), and Saturday evening Debbie and Donald celebrated by enjoying a dinner of fried potatoes and eggs ... farm fresh eggs.

After about 4 1/2 months, our chickens are finally producing. While it generally takes 5 - 6 months for them to start producing, many will start earlier. Our first batch of eggs were very small, requiring 4-5 eggs to meet the needs of what three eggs will usually meet.

Our Silver Laced Wyandotte's can produce up to 200 eggs a year. With 22 chickens, that could be a whole lot of eggs. The eggs are pale (or soft) brown or tan (tinted) and have a very full flavor.

The chickens and turkeys have been keeping us busy. Between feeding, watering (they eat a lot of feed and drink a lot of water, particularly in the summer heat), and keeping them in their respective pens, they are turning out to be a very busy part-time job. If you are not planning to sell eggs, fertilizer, meat, or chickens, 3 - 4 hens should suffice for the back-yard farmer.

While the chickens tend to stay around the pen when they escape, we cannot say the same is true for the turkeys. If you have woods nearby and inadequate roosting in the turkey pen, you will most likely find your turkeys abandoning the pen in favor of the woods. Ours love to roost in the trees. They also tend to fall out of the trees, and are apt to fall outside of the fence line. They also love to fly and several get out at a time. We are fortunate to have trees inside the pen, but we are concerned that they may find the woods more attractive, so we try to get them back in as soon as we know they are out.

This weekend was a loss. The chickens are in need of fresh hay, both in their yard and for their nesting boxes (they apparently rather lay their eggs in the soft grass under the copse of trees in their extended pen, then in the harsh pine shavings in their nesting boxes). Donald planned to go down to the pasture and cut hay Saturday to bring up, but as he was preparing equipment Friday afternoon we were hit with a severe thunderstorm that dropped over 1.5 inches of rain ... so much for getting hay up Saturday. On Sunday, he again prepared to go down and we started getting pop-up thundershowers. We do not want to take a chance putting wet hay in the chicken coop, so he decided to once again postpone cutting hay. Hopefully we will be able to get some cut early in the week.

As he could not cut hay, he spent Saturday morning in the barn working on cleaning it up and trying to get it more organized.

Brenda, Donald's sister, is interested in raising alpacas, so she is doing the research to determine the feasibility of raising them here in Oklahoma. We have looked into this in the past, but have concerns about how they will do in the humidity. If it is determined that they can do well with the humidity, we will look at them as part of our livestock operations.

Until next time,

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

"He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment." Proverbs 12:11

Sunday, July 14, 2013

13JUL14

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Finally, a (somewhat) normal week. For Donald it was back to work at his regular jobs and for Debbie it was time to run errands, and take care of the house. For the kids, it was essentially a normal, summer week.

Debbie attended her Beginning Farmers and Ranchers class at Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture Saturday. As always, she enjoyed the class, interacting with the other attendees and the great instructors. It was a long class, going from 9 am to 6 pm. She got some good ideas from the introductions, which is always a good sign. Class covered insecticides, insect pest management, plant diseases, and post harvest handling of crops, as well as business planning, learning that it is better to make mistakes on paper, though they will happen in real life (something Debbie is already very much aware of) and business management. They also learned to research and document assumptions, and that you need to include budgeting for education, as well as other items, when pricing products. They covered pesticide (organic, of course) safety handling and personal protective equipment (PPE). Pesticide is used as an umbrella term for such items as herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, as "cide" means "to kill". Also discussed were the new OSHA standards for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which will be called Safety Data Sheets in the future, and will include universal symbols. Debbie also learned that there are different characteristics between fruits and vegetables that need to be considered during the harvest period, being reminded that they are all alive during the process. It was interesting to learn that you do not mix fruits and vegetables in storage. After classroom instruction and discussion, demonstrations were conducted, including PPE, different types of sprayers and nozzles. She was tired and happy when she finally got home.

Also on Saturday, Donald expanded the chicken pen to give the chickens more room as well as more opportunity to graze growing grass. We are quickly running out of backyard. He also cleaned under the hen house, a chore that we try to do at least every other week. The droppings all go into a compost pile.

New Chicken Pen Expansion
For cost savings and ease of installation and relocation, Snow (or construction) fence material was used. The chickens will only be allowed to graze in this area certain times and/or days, and will not be in the area when there is no one to watch over them. We hope that this will stop some of the escapes and provide better living conditions.

We now have a new dilemma. Some of our hens are "pen-hopping". We have at least one hen that flies out of the main pen and, after grazing on the loose for a little while, flies into the breeding pen. She may end up getting stuck in the breeding pen as we may replace one of the ones in the breeding pen with her.

Our turkeys are becoming quite comfortable roosting in the trees. One night Danielle and Adam counted 10 turkeys in the trees.

How Many Turkeys in the Tree?
You will probably need to get your magnifying glass out, but can you count how many turkeys are in the tree? They have become like college students, trying to see how many people fit into a telephone booth, only they are trying to see how many turkeys can stay on one branch.

We are happy to report that our work on our ReThinking Baker Heritage Farms plan seems to be having a positive affect on our personal and farm lives. We now understand that we cannot do everything at once and have reduced our stress levels substantially. We are finally enjoying the farm and appreciating it much more. Our current goal is to revisit our time resources allocations due to Donald adding a new part-time career and our need to begin thinking about our long-term retirement plans (no, we are not thinking about retiring from the farm, the farm will be our retirement plan, as well as a new and hopefully productive church life).

Update: Posted this blog before we included some important news - one of our hens laid the first Baker Heritage Farm egg - the Incredible, Inedible, Egg. Yes, Danielle found the first egg in the hen house on Saturday. It was small and broken, but it was a good sign.

FIRST EGG
For now,

Blessings to all from:

Baker Heritage Farms

"The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever." Psalm 37:29

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Update - Week of 13JULY01

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

If you follow our blog on a weekly basis, you may have noticed that we did not provide an update last weekend. That is because it was such a nice week (and yes, a beautiful week for celebrating Independence Day) that we all worked on the farm. We finally had some time to dedicate to farm operations resulting in spending a lot of time getting the farm back in shape.

It turns out that the loss of our starting crops this year may have been a good thing. We have not had a lot of time to spend on anything but the chickens and the turkeys.

As it has been two weeks since we posted, the timeline may be a little off.

The weekend of June 29th we started working on the turkey pen in ernest. The turkeys were out-growing their brooder tubs and needed more room. The first thing we did was reinforce the fence around the turkey pen by adding additional T-posts and hog rings (to secure the bottom wire). After this job was completed, we moved rock from piles that were around the trees in the front yard to around the bottom of the turkey pen fence. This is quite a job and everyone pitched in, including the kids.

Sunday we moved 5 young turkeys into the turkey pen. This was a crucial point and we spent a lot of time discussing the pros and cons. Most of the information we studied on turkeys recommended waiting until they were at least eight weeks old before moving them (ours were six weeks old), but it was either lose some due to space restrictions, add another brooder tub and equipment (that would have only been used for two weeks), or let some out and take a calculated risk (we are good at that, unfortunately, the risks have not always been rewarded) and let at least some out. As the weather at that time was rather warm (in excess of 100 degrees F) and no severe weather was in the forecast (another risk we took, the weather folks have not been very accurate in this area over the past few years), we felt that the weather would not be an issue.

After letting Spunky (Debbie's little dog) do a security check of the fence (no, he could not penetrate the fence, which is good), we decided to let five turkeys out into the pen. This relieved the brooder tubs of overcrowding and limited our risk to 33% of our stock.

The young turkeys did very well, and we released another five Independence Day and cleaned and sterilized one brooder tub and equipment. On Saturday (July 6th) we released the final five turkeys and cleaned and sanitized the last brooder tub and equipment. All the turkeys seem to be enjoying their freedom, even flying (yes, turkeys do fly, very well) into the trees to roost. While they are not very soft, they are very friendly and like to follow people around. They will also talk to you and let you pet them.

Unfortunately, our planning failed us once again. We were not watching our feed closely and we were down to our last 50 pound bag of feed, and the balance of one bag that we were currently using. Debbie went by our feed supplier (Smart Mart) on Monday (July 1st) and they were out (even they were surprised), but had already placed an order that was expected to be in Tuesday. Debbie went by Tuesday, but she went in the late morning on her way back from Ft. Smith and their order was not in yet. On Wednesday afternoon both Debbie and Donald went to Smart Mart and learned that they had already sold out, telling us that they usually order one-ton and were surprised that it was going so quickly. They were going to place an order for two-tons right then, and the delivery date would be Friday. Debbie called several times Friday, but their order had not come in, so she finally called a local feed store (Heavener Feed) and they had ten bags available (just what we needed). Donald and Debbie stopped everything and went to Heavener Feed to pick up the feed. In discussing our operations with the feed store owner, it was determined that we really should be feeding the turkeys game bird feed, which is higher in protein. It is still organic qualified and is non-medicated (we do not medicate our birds other then the initial shots they get from the breeder). We ended up getting five bags of growing and laying feed for the chickens and five bags of game bird feed for the turkeys.

Again, we learned. We will be calculating how much a 50-pound bag of feed lasts and schedule our feed pick-ups accordingly. There is no reason why we should ever get that low on feed. While the price is higher at Heavener Feed and they require cash, which we try to avoid for accounting reasons, it is closer.

We may have mentioned Red before. He was our "free" exotic bird when we ordered our chickens. Red is a Golden Laced Wyandotte. As you know, we ordered pullets (a pullet is a hen). Donald had concerns that Red may not be a hen, as he had many characteristics of a rooster (the way he/she carried him/herself, strut, cackle, bearing, etc.). Sure enough, during the week of July 1st, Red announced to the world that HE was no chicken (literally), that HE was indeed a rooster. He started crowing.

To avoid having to candle eggs, we decided to expand our operation to include a breeder pen. As we were having major problems with possible overcrowding in the chicken pen (several have become escape artists, and they ate all the grass the first week they were in there), we thought it would be a good idea anyway to remove Red and move two hens in with him to keep him company.

We turned NaKiTa's old pen into a breeder pen and, due to time considerations, purchased a HenHouse Chicken Coop. It was on-sale at Atwood's for $188.00 (usually they are over $200.00, and this is the first time we ever saw them at Atwood's). The hen house is perfect for two hens.

Donald and Adam put the hen house together and it went together very easily and appears to be very well made. If you are raising chickens in your back yard, you may want to consider a HenHouse Chicken Coop from Precision Pet Products. Not only are they easy to assemble and appear to be well-built, they are very attractive.

Breeder Pen and Hen House
Red and two hens were moved into the breeder pen. It has not helped with our escape artists, even one from the breeder pen escapes occasionally.

Donald brought some hay up from the back for the chickens, and they were happy.

Throughout the week Donald also mowed our front and back yards as well as the property in town.

This brings you current through last weekend.

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Patrick Henry 1775

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

UPDATE

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

We are back and it is good to be back on the farm.

Actually, we have been back for over a week now, but have been trying to catch up on work and chores. Not only are we back on the farm, but we are back to work getting the farm up and running.

Just prior to leaving, we planted peppers and tomatoes. Donald went down to the production fields a week ago Monday (the day after we returned) and learned that all of our efforts were for naught. All of the plants were gone. GONE? Yes, gone. It appears that they were eaten, most likely by deer.

As we stated when we first started this blog, the farm would be a learning experience, and we wanted to share that learning experience with others, both the successes and the failures. While it would seem that we have had more failures this year then successes, it has still been a very beneficial year for learning.

What have we learned so far?
  • We spent a good portion of 2012 planning for crops in 2013. While we tried to consider all potential risks, and considered weather, we failed to consider how dramatically the weather could affect our efforts. When you read about large farms, you become comfortable in your abilities, forgetting we are not a large commercial farm that has been in existence for years. We are a brand new farm, preparing virgin soil, and following strict guidelines on what we can do and what we cannot do in order to keep our operation All Natural (organic).
  • Based on our planning, we set out to plant a number of crops during our first year of full operation, expecting to have a profitable farming enterprise based solely on our planning and our willingness to work hard. Unfortunately, we had not yet completed all aspects of our Farm Plan and were not prepared for the disruptions that occurred at the end of 2012 and the first part of 2013. These disruptions included family emergencies requiring us to be away from the farm for extended periods, loss of farm labor, severe weather, and lack of proper timing. On top of the disruptions, we quickly came to realize that we were overly optimistic about what we could accomplish, trying to accomplish too much in too short a period of time.
  • In anticipation of starting a fully operational farming enterprise from scratch the first full year into the enterprise, we went ahead and placed a full order for seed for the first planting (scheduled for February). While the thought process on placing this order was most likely correct (concern about availability, receiving the seed on time, etc.), the logistics were not realistic. It is hard to admit you made a mistake, but we did. We were ready - at the time we ordered the seed. But we were not ready when it came time to plant the seed. As a result, we lost all of our cabbage seeds as well as all of our tomato and pepper seedlings. But not all was lost. The rest of the seed we will refrigerate and hope that it will be good for next years planting.
  • As the pepper and tomato seedlings began to mature, we realized that the trays we were using were too small. Rather than spending the money to get new trays and taking the time to transplant them into the new trays, we let them languish in the trays that were obviously too small, inhibiting their growth and compromising their health. While it may not have helped them survive the predators, it may have helped them grow to a size that would given them a better chance of survival.
  • Rather than take our time and do things the right way, we got in a hurry and skipped steps that have proven to be disastrous, and expensive. In our zeal to get crops planted, we got careless and increased our risk of failure. Rather than admitting we made mistakes, we continued to try to meet our goals and save money, when in reality, we ended up losing more money then we would have by admitting our mistakes and taking corrective action, regardless of the setbacks this would have (and did anyway) caused.
Did we learn? Yes. We learned quite a bit, though we learned the hard way.

What will we change? We already started changing our operation with the implementation of ReThinking Baker Heritage Farms.

  • First, we stopped all seed purchases, as well as many related purchases, pending a new crop plan. This put a stopper on the outflow of cash. It also gave us time to take a breather.
  • Second, we decided to concentrate on poultry, as we were already committed to the purchase of 25 chickens and 15 turkeys. We needed to ensure that we did everything we could to protect the poultry once they arrived. Due to ongoing issues with the poultry operation, it is evident that, if we did not stop crop operations, we would be in trouble with the poultry, as the birds are taking more of our time then we anticipated (not helped by a shortage of labor).
  • We have been taking time to consider the next steps we will take to get the farm up and running. We now realize that we will not be able to begin crop operations this year. In addition, we also realize that our labor force is not going to grow back to it's anticipated levels. Our experiences have showed us that we cannot start too big, that we need to start smaller and work up, especially since we are starting with virgin soil that has not been worked before.
  • We also realize that putting seed in the ground is not the only consideration when starting a farm. While we realized that there was more to putting seed in the ground (tilling, irrigation, and other preparations), we did not realize what impact outside forces would have on our overall plans.
    • We now know that it will be beneficial to start working the land in advance. We need to do this carefully and think before we act. We will need to work the land as much as possible and then use cover crop to protect the land until we are ready to plant.
    • We will have to provide more protection, at least initially, from animals. We are already looking into using netting over younger plants to protect them from predators. This will require extra expense and labor, but without taking these steps, we will just be throwing our money away.
    • We will need to have the land ready for planting before we order the seed. Contingency plans will need to be in place before seed is ordered, so that different seed can be ordered if the original seed is not available.
  • We need to be willing to spend money to ensure the success of the crops rather than try to cut corners to save a few dollars just to lose an entire crop. We need to take our time and work steadily and efficiently rather than get in a hurry and rush things. This will safe money and, ultimately, save time.
So, it is back to the drawing board. ReThinking Baker Heritage Farms will require that we revisit our initial Farm Plan; however, it does not mean that we are abandoning the original plan, just revising it. This will result in the original Farm Plan becoming our long-term plan, and the revisions becoming our short-term plan.

The balance of this year will be spent on improving our poultry operations, working to get the homestead in order so that less labor is spent on maintaining the non-producing property and more labor can be dedicated to productive property, and starting to properly work the production fields so that they are ready to plant next year.

At this time, we are planning on starting crops on a much smaller basis then our original plan, keeping the rest of the production fields in beneficial cover crops until we are ready and able to plant. This will allow us to properly plant and maintain each plot as time and weather permits. This will prevent weather, labor availability, soil conditions, etc. from dictating what we do, when we do it, and how we do it.

Like a good Boy Scout, Baker Heritage Farms will be prepared.

Blessings to all from:

Baker Heritage Farms


"The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah." 2 Chronicles 36:21

Thursday, June 13, 2013

13JUN13

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Summer is already here - at 3.:45 pm the actual temperature was 101 degrees (F) and it has been reported that the heat index was 122 degrees (F), and we believe it! Usually we have at least a steady breeze on the top of our hill; however, for the past several days the best we could do was an occasional breeze, and then not much of one.

The entire family went down to the production fields this morning at about 9:00 am and planted two rows of tomatoes (approximately 35 plants in each row). We planted one row of Cherokee Purple and one row of Arkansas Traveler. The seedlings did not look good so we are not sure of their survival chances, given everything that is going against them.

Our planting crew consisted of Donald (pre-digging planting holes), Debbie and Adam (getting seedlings out of the planter and dropping them into the planting tool), Danielle (operating the planting tool), Elizabeth (ensuring the plants are set properly in the ground), and Logan (compacting the planting holes Donald dug and assisting Elizabeth). With the heat, it took almost two hours to get the two rows done.

Planting Crew
We are now leaving the peppers and the tomatoes in the hands of the Lord, though it will be entirely our fault if the crop fails, as we were (1) unable to prep the ground properly, and (2) our irrigation system is not set up.

During the balance of 2013 we will concentrate on:

1. Poultry (chickens and turkeys) - eggs (chickens), fertilizer (chickens and turkeys), and meat (turkeys);

2. Repairing equipment (tiller);

3. Preparing fields for 2014 (planting ground cover, tilling, etc.);

All-in-all, we feel we are back on track, and once we get settled back down farm operations will once again be fruitful.

This will be the last update to the blog for the next two weeks. We will resume updates the weekend of June 29th.

Blessings to all from:

Baker Heritage Farms

"But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace." Psalm 37:11

Monday, June 10, 2013

13JUN10

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

As many of you already know, we had severe weather the end of May, which put a damper on accomplishing much around the farm. We are way behind and do not have much hope for catching up in the near future; however, this may be the best thing that has happened to the farm.

Our farm crew keeps shrinking. David is no longer on the farm, Danielle is in a family way and her participation is limited and will be further limited as time goes on. And now, Donald has accepted a part-time position with the church. While all of this may seem limiting (it is), it also may be a blessing in disguise.

One of our goals with the farm is to build a farm business to supplement our retirement. With all of the changes, we have learned that time management skills are a high priority. We are currently working on an acceptable schedule that will allow all of us to participate, as a family, in the farming enterprise. This should improve both the operation of the farm and our piece of mind (we are hoping to have time to spend setting on our deck just enjoying the evening).

The children are now an active part of our farm crew. Elizabeth and Logan are working with the Turkey's and the Chicken's, which is a great help to Danielle.

Adam has been the primary caretaker of the seedlings, but we hope that he will have less to do with them in the near future. This past Friday evening, when Donald got home from church, we all went down to the production fields as a family, and planted just under 150 pepper plants. We got two partial rows of each variety planted, and plan to plant tomatoes Wednesday morning before it gets too hot (yes, summer appears to have arrived). We can only hope and pray that they survive the month as we do not yet have the irrigation turned on for the production fields.

With the exception of Adam and Logan, the entire family will be off the farm for 10-days. This will result in a very busy and hectic schedule from now until Thursday evening (we leave the farm early Friday morning). Some of the chores that need to be completed before we leave include cleaning out the chicken house (the first cleaning of the actual house), clearing out the chicken droppings under the house, hopefully getting them more hay, and cleaning the turkey tubs. We also hope to get at least the tomatoes planted as well.

Danielle will hopefully complete tying down the fence around the turkey pen (we use hog rings) so that we can get the rock down as soon as we get back. They are getting big and will be ready to go into the pen by mid-July. Donald is debating whether or not he should enclose their lean-to so that they have additional protection at night.

As soon as we return, we will need to get the irrigation system up and running (hopefully it will not be too late). An unusual request, but we will actually be praying for light rain while we are gone to help support the peppers and tomatoes that will be in the ground.

Donald took the little tractor to town to mow the property there. If he did not mow it, there was a very good chance the city would send the company a nasty letter and threaten to do it themselves, and charge the company. So it is done and should not need it again for two weeks.

Adam and Logan will be in charge of the farm while we are gone, but they have been taking an active part in the farm operations and should not have any problems.

Hopefully we will be able to update the blog before we leave.

Until next time,

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

"The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly." Joshua 14:9