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