Hogs, Lambs, Land Improvements, Monthly Updates, Uncategorized

A Busy Week & Our First Press!

We just wanted to do a quick post to let you know of a couple articles about the farm and to update you on goings-on this week.  Thanks to Bryan Sullivan for writing us up for the Carolina-Virginia Farmer, and to Adam Hayes for hooking us up generally.  Adam, of Red Stag, got us in touch with Bryan for this article and for the lamb class we presented to AND he’s to thank for our excellent farm feature dinner last weekend!

An article about our farm and the increase in pastured meat producers:

http://magissues.farmprogress.com/SCV/CV01Jan13/scv010.pdf

At the end of this post is the text from an Asheville Citizen Times article about the Future Farmers of America (FFA) lamb class to which we presented.

This week has honestly been a bit crazy, and the three weeks of rain has made for quite a bit of mud to contend with these days! Here’s a synopsis:

Our ewes moved into the lambing barn

lambing barn move2

Lambing barn move

 

That was after Graham made the barn door, which we hung like this (good thing Graham has rock-climbing experience and gear!):

P1030570 P1030569 P1030566

We had more piglets on Saturday, December 30th! She had 13, lost 3 in the first few hours, but we still have ten piglets, which makes us very happy! She’s an excellent mother, and it’s been fun to watch how careful she is with the little ones.  Often, the piglets are bundled on one side of the farrowing stall, and momma will dig a little trench next to them, lay down on the opposite side of it, then push them into the trench where they can snuggle up to her and eat. Animal mothers are truly fascinating to watch.

Piglets nursing - Rd. 2

Pig pile! A good way to stay warm.
Pig pile! A good way to stay warm.

Piglets Round 2 - 2 Piglets Round 2

We also had baby rabbits! 21 of them this time. Our numbers are getting better on bits!

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We moved the growing hogs into a new field, where they seriously bounced for joy at all the new grass and the straw!

Moving the new home to the field.
Moving the new home to the field.
Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home
From mud dirt....
From mud dirt….
To fresh grass! (or new mud to make)

And turned the growing hogs’ old barn into a laying hen barn, with new doors and roosts. 400 new layers moved in on Saturday night… in the midst of some serious wintery weather. We got pullets this time, which are about 5 months old, so just starting to lay.  We let them outside for the first time yesterday… and they’re getting used to feeling outdoor grass and sunshine for the first time in their lives!

Framing things out
Framing things out
Doors completed, roosts and feed hangers added, and girls moved in!
Doors completed, roosts and feed hangers added, and girls moved in!

Hen feeder

Their first taste of the great outdoors!
Their first taste of the great outdoors!

New Layers

That about sums it up. Happy holidays and happy New Year to all!

Below is the article from the Asheville Citizen-Times – Author: Casey Blake; Date: Nov. 19th

North Buncombe learns about lamb from farm to table

Adam Hayes hearts lamb.

At least that’s what the sticker he was wearing Wednesday said, as he led a special lamb butchery lesson for the students of North Buncombe High School.

About 40 students from cooking and agriculture classes at the school heard from local farmers about the lamb production process. They also watched a cooking demonstration by Hayes, executive chef at the Red Stag Grill for the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Asheville, in a presentation detailing the lamb’s journey from farm to table.

Wendy and Graham Brugh, of the new Dry Ridge Farm in Mars Hill, told students how they raise the lamb, what kind of work goes into small family farms and about the direct marketing process to local chefs and farmers’ markets.

Hayes demonstrated how to prepare the different cuts of lamb meat, how chefs can be creative with the dishes and even served up samples of lamb entrees that go for $30 -$45 at the Red Stag Grill.

“A lot of these kids have never even tasted lamb before, so it’s great to be able to expose them to something new,” Hayes said. “It’s a different experience to be able to see things first-hand.”

Wendy Brugh told the classes about their decision to work with sheep and talked about the declining number of small family farms, especially among young people.

“For us this was really a lifestyle choice,” Brugh told the class. “We both like working outdoors and working with animals, and we really enjoy the relationship building that comes with direct marketing the products,” she said.

“Small family farms have really been declining in recent years,” she said, “especially with younger people. Eighty-three percent of farmers are older than 45 and the average age of a farmer these days is 57 years old. So we’re very interested in bringing younger farmers in and showing how you can really make a living at it.”

The presentation was organized by North Buncombe Future Farmers of America alumnus Bryan Sullivan, co-owner of Write Away Inc. editorial company, and a former chef himself.

Sullivan was writing an article for Carolina-Virginia Farmer on a local chapter of FFA, and learned that while kids in one class at North Buncombe were learning about the basics of lamb production, they had little idea of what happens to the product once it leaves their hands.

“The interest in helping these kids learn more about the overall business and marketing side of lamb farming was so well received by not only local groups, but regional and national participants as well,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan lobbied The American Lamb Board, based in Denver, to donate reading materials, lamb-cut charts, posters, cookbooks and the stickers modeled by Hayes and got the Virginia-based Border Springs Farm to donate lamb for the class demonstration.

“I think it’s just really interesting to know where my food comes from,” said senior Sydney Shrimplin, “and the lamb was pretty amazing. I’ve had lamb before but never like that.”

“Honestly, this is what happens when you have a great alumni association,” agricultural education teacher Justin Gillespie said.

“It makes a big difference for the kids to be able to learn about this stuff from people who do it every day, to see that application aspect,” he said. “If they know what the application will be, they pay a lot more attention and we saw that today.”

Home, Lambs, Land Improvements, Meet our animals, Monthly Updates

A donkey, a lambing barn, and pork! (Oh My!)

It’s been a busy few weeks here at the farm, and for once, I’m writing two posts in one month. Goodness!

As you might be able to guess from the title of this post, the most exciting new developments here are that we got a donkey, have started renovating a barn for our January lambing, AND (drumroll please) we’ve got pork!!

Our donkey is the last animal we expect to buy for the farm.  She’ll have the all important task of protecting our flock of sheep from any predators.  While we haven’t had any predator issues yet (knock on wood), it’s only a matter of time and having a guard animal for defenseless sheep is simply a good idea.  We chose to get a donkey rather than a guard dog, because they’re just as effective and we’re not as comfortable having a dog that has to be more socialized with our sheep than it is with humans.  We like having farm animals for the farm and dogs as companions.  We may very well get a dog to work our sheep in the future, but that one would live with us, not with the sheep.   Our donkey is also one of the most creative wedding presents we’ve received!  We got her from friends who have a donkey they breed.  Our little Donkey Hotey is our friends’ donkey’s baby. And man, is she CUTE!! (despite having a little briar problem) See for yourself!

Look at them ears!

Best Friends

For now, we’re keeping her close so she can get used to her new home and to us.  She’s keeping our ram company, while he waits for his next foray with his flock of ladies, and they seem to be fast friends. They rarely leave one another’s side!
We separated our ram from the flock a few weeks ago, and our ewes are about 6 weeks from giving birth to our next round of lambs!  A winter lambing means that we need to have a good plan for the little ones, so Graham’s been working on rehabing the barn above our garden.  The field around the barn will be split in half, with one half for pregnant ewes and the other for the ones that have given birth and their lambs.

Right after giving birth, moms and babies will move into jugs to make sure momma knows what to do with the little one and is okay with having it around!

First part of construction. Knock down half a wall. Wendy tends to forget about those important “before” pictures, but the wall on the right used to be six feet high like the one in the back on the right.
This is that last wall after Graham’s cut it off.
And then he stabilized it. Notice how much help Wendy is… taking pictures while Graham works!
Completed “jugs”, where mommas and babies bond. Note: Wendy did help here, and got very comfortable with a grinder, cutting all the hog panel!

After a day or two in a jug, the ewe and lamb move out to socialize with other new mothers and their lambs in a mixing pen, and after a few days, they’ll go out to the ewe/lamb pair field, where the lambs will also have access to a creep feeder, made just for them so they grow big and strong despite the cold!  We still have a couple large sliding doors to make and the fencing to complete, but as you can see from the photos, we’re well on our way to a lambing barn!  I did learn one thing: Building things with hog panel is a LOT cheaper and faster than using wood panels. Graham and I did all of this, besides the creep feeder, in a day.

The mixing pen
Where the ewes will eat a bit of grain to keep them strong and fit through the stressful lambing time.
The lambs’ creep feeder (notice the lamb sized holes in the wall that their moms can’t fit through.

On a completely different note, we also have our first pork!!  And in related news, we’ll be selling it at ASAP’s new Asheville City Winter Market, in the lobby of the Haywood Park Hotel downtown, so you’ll get to try both our pork AND our lamb (and we’ll still have chicken, eggs, and rabbit available) starting in January! The event we’ve all been waiting for (or at least what I’ve been waiting for!).  Our first pork is, however, a mixed blessing.  While we’re excited to have product, it isn’t from one of our first piglets; it’s from one of our sows.  I think I wrote about the fact that our second round of piglets was dismal. One of our sows had a nice litter of 8, but the other dropped hers early, and none of the five she had survived.  We gave her another chance, only because we didn’t have any replacement gilts (young female pig) at breeding age, but she miscarried her second litter a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, when you’re raising animals for meat, a sow that doesn’t produce becomes only good for sausage. So, that’s what we’ve got!  We sold our first pork shoulder and some fatback to Red Stag Grille to make their own sausages and charcuterie, and the rest of the pork is all wrapped up in sausage.  Breakfast, Italian, and Brats galore. It’ll be waiting for you in January! A small note on our sausage links… they look a little funny, as you can see in the picture below. They’re straight, and aren’t tied up on the ends, which is a little frustrating in that the casing doesn’t hold up as well to the heat of a pan, BUT they taste delicious AND no other sausage will ever fit quite as perfectly inside a sausage or hot dog bun!

Bratwurst!

We plan to work with our processor and see if there’s a better casing alternative that they can provide, but for the time being, trust us on this: Our sausages might look a little funny, but they certainly taste delightful!

For fear of being too long winded, I’ll leave it at that.  Thanks to everyone for your support through our first year.  We’re lucky to have such wonderful customers, family, and friends! When you’re done reading this post, go to our products and markets pages to check out our pork and lamb pricing and our winter markets and customers!

I almost forgot! We have a termite question, unfortunately. If anyone out there knows the answer, please help! We need to treat termites, but I’ve read that the product that’s been suggested to us, Termidor, with Fipronil, is highly toxic to bees.  So, here’s the question: Is it toxic to bees if you treat the termites by trenching around the structure and injecting Fipronil in that trench?  Is there a less toxic way to treat termites? Is borate an effective treatment?  We have some serious damage to one of our small structures, so the sooner we get an answer from someone, the better!

Looks reasonably in shape…
Until you look more closely. Argh! Termites!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  Graham and I have so much to be thankful for this year.  We look forward to nurturing those blessings in the years to come!