Late spring greetings from Yellow Hutch Farm! As the production season ramps up to full tilt, I thought it time for an update. A lot has happened since our last chat. The winter seemed to hang on forever, keeping us indoors and away from many initial infrastructure projects. Chicken brooder, pasture shelters, watering systems, and fencing all needed to be built or readied; processing dates and animal arrivals had to be scheduled. All the while we had no way to know when the snow would melt and the temperatures would rise. We officially became farmers on April 4th, when we welcomed our first animals – two angus beef heifers – on to the farm. The first batch of chicks arrived on April 19. That ended up being our first bad day on the farm; more on that later.
By May 7th, things were finally humming along, and we were getting caught up until I had a bad accident. I was hurrying to finish a final task for the afternoon, and while unhooking the fence post auger from the tractor in order to attach the round bale spear, the implement flipped over and struck my lower right leg. Game over. I immediately knew I was hurt pretty badly. I hobbled up to the house and began to take stock of my injury. I could walk, barely, so I didn’t break a bone. My calf and ankle had doubled circumference in 10 minutes. To make a long story short, after 3 weeks of very little productivity, 4 doctors visits, x-rays, a mysterious infection, antibiotics, a lot of rest, and a lot of pain, I am finally – as of today – feeling back to 100% normal. My calf muscle will forever look a little different, but there was no long term damage to my mobility. As a result, we are still playing catch up, and are not yet up to full operational capacity.
2018 FOUNDERS CLUB UPDATE
The Founders’ Club has closed for the season. A huge THANK YOU to all who signed up. It’s great to know that we have you in our tribe, and I know everyone is excited for their free bonus YHF pastured meat.
It has been a rough start to the broiler enterprise. First, due to (what felt like) never-ending snow and cold we delayed our first order of 275 chicks by one week. Second, when the chicks finally did arrive on April 19, something horrible had happened. Somehow, some way, there was a handling mistake during shipping, and when we got the boxes of chicks to the farm, 255 out of 275 were dead in the shipping crate. We talked with the hatchery, and they diagnosed that the chicks had been suffocated. It was terrible. Apparently, all the hatchery’s orders to Minnesota that week suffered the same fate. It was not a good introduction to broiler farming, to be honest.
Due to our hatchery being exceedingly cautious, (who can blame them; they had never had this happen in over 50 years of being in business) we did not receive our replacements for two additional weeks. Luckily we were able to move back our processing date, segregate the first survivors (we’re calling them “Super Seniors”), and we are back on track!
The bad news is we are three weeks behind schedule with the birds. The good news is that the replacements are doing great. They were champs in the brooder, and things are going great out on pasture so far. The broilers are housed on open-air, floorless portable shelters called “Chicken Tractors” where they are free to graze and forage. These units are moved each morning to fresh grass, and have unlimited access to our NON-GMO, corn and soy FREE feed ration.
The first chicken processing day is June 28th. We are planning to host on-farm pick up hours on Friday, June 29th, where you came come out to visit and take home fresh chicken. After that, everything will be available frozen. Price for 2018 is $4.25 per pound. At 10 or more birds, the price drops to $4.05 per pound.
SALAD BAR BEEF
We have the beef! All of the cattle were turned out to fresh pasture on May 17th, and they seem to love the daily moves. They are mobbing, mowing, and moving. In my opinion, grass fed and finished beef is THE most regenerative protein source we have. A cow’s job is to convert sunshine into food by way of grass. Cattle managed in an intensive rotational system – moved every day to a fresh salad bar – does wonders to rebuild soil health and enhance animal health and welfare. This management system builds soil organic matter and produces a very diverse diet for the animals, hence the Salad Bar moniker; we never have to feed grain, shovel manure, or buy chemical fertilizers! Available in whole, half, and “split-half” volumes. Instead of the traditional front or hind quarter, you don’t have to choose between (or get stuck with) either one. A split-half of beef gives you the same variety in cuts as a half, (minus the ‘one offs’ like the flank, skirt, and brisket) but in the smaller “quarter” quantity.
We are now taking deposits for 2018. Beef will be in very limited quantity this year so reserve soon. Processing dates are November 2nd and 16th. A non-refundable deposit of $500 per half locks you in. First-come, first-served. If we’ve already sold out, you will be first on the waiting list for 2019.
Price for a whole beef is $9.00 per packaged pound. That is the average of all the cuts; from prime rib and filet mignon, to hamburger and stew meat. Plan for 300-400 pounds of freezer beef. Go in with a friend and split it up among yourselves. Halves and split-halves are $9.25/pound.
PASTURED AND FORESTED PORK
Time to be real. With the unexpected speed bumps we have had, there are no pigs on the farm. Yet. It’s getting late in the spring, and there is still work to be done to prepare for pigs. We have invested a considerable amount in portable pig fencing, a solar fence energizer, etc. so we are almost ready. I have a few more items to build or purchase, like a feeder, watering system, and shade solution. However, we have not sourced our feeder pigs yet, which at this point are going to have to be older and heavier than ideal if we hope to process before the cold weather arrives. Stay tuned for updates; this week is going to go a long way to determining the fate of this year’s pork.
With that, I want to thank you all again for coming along on this journey. You are our inspiration. Referrals are our lifeline, so please tell a friend and ask them to sign up on our email list. If you would like a paper version of this letter for yourself or a friend, let us know how we can get one to you.
It’s coming. We’ll all be eating clean, nutrient-dense, integrity food before we know it.
Cheers and good eating!