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SlowMoneyFarm Solutions & Food Choices

September 14, 2012

I was asked a very good question today. Recently my friend Ryan had a post in CNN’s Eatocracy about communication between those who grow food and those who ‘just eat’. It can be frustrating sometimes to have clear communication over an imperfect medium.

Social media, including blogs, is awesome in many ways. It allows reaching many more people than we could do otherwise. Not everyone who reads will be a customer, nor are they expected to be! Yes we share what we’re doing, but it’s as part of our life not to guilt trip anyone in to buying. Hopefully we inspire you to make food choices wherever you are.

The down side is it’s hard to tell when we’re joking or being a little sarcastic when it’s in black and white on a page or screen. The voice inflection doesn’t come across on a page especially until a familiarity is established. Somehow, most of the time communication goes well.

So it was in checking back on interaction that I saw a comment from “Mark” directed to me: “What have you done (outside this op ed) to reach out, communicate, and hopefully distinguish your operation and others from being painted with the Mono-Corporate-MegaFarm culture that a lot of the PETA and HSUS have exposed. No doubt a video showing piglets being repeatedly slammed head first into a concrete floor does little to improve the overall image. How do you combat that for your own operation?”

It made me start thinking what *else* could we do? The blog, a Facebook page, Twitter, forums…and of course we need time to take care of our animals and plan, plant, harvest and whatever else needs done! We show photos, videos, whatever means I can think of to share what we do with you the reader and you our customers. One day – when we get a set up to do it – I’d like to have a critter cam on a pen so folks can tune in from anywhere and see pigs or chicks or other activities live from wherever you are.

Somehow I sense that there are more questions. Every time something makes the news about agriculture, it creates questions. With that in mind – here’s a few looking down the road and current.

1. Are your chickens free roaming? There is no ‘definition’ of what free roaming is so, not to be evasive but straight up where it’s at. Our Rhode Island Reds and Muscovy are in an area about 20’x20′ with a 4×8′ shelter. The black Australorps are outside with a covered area. Right now the Rhode Island Whites and Delawares are in the original hoop. The Dark Cornish have a pen to themselves, the Dominiques have a pen to themselves and there’s a few others in small groups. We have three roosters in smaller areas – cages, if you will. One because he’s started fights and to keep him from killing or being killed he’s in a smaller area. One we’re feeding up for the freezer, and one is the Maran who, honestly, we just don’t have a flock for right now. So yes, most are outside of cages, but are confined due to the area we’re at right now. When we get the land we’re seeking to get them on larger pens where they can have quite a big more room outside, as well as a layer flock on rotating pasture.

2. What do you think about gestation crates? I think each farm needs to do what is best for them, their hogs and their customers. Sows can seriously damage each other. Dominant sows can bully weaker members from the feed, which it not humane or stress free! However, due to the costs of construction, any sows we have won’t be in a large barn, but rather a dry lot situation of individual pens. This would allow for some movement but eliminate the fighting and bullying that can happen when sows are housed together. They can see their neighbors through the fence but not take her feed. We feel this is the best of both worlds – individual attention but room to move.

3. Will you offer pork for sale? Yes – by half or whole hog. The pigs will be raised in small groups in an outdoor setting with access to a barn for shelter. For those wishing to get on the list right now, our initial pigs will be $350 each not including processing, but delivered to the processor.

4. What medications, hormones and treatments do the animals get? No hormones are administered to any of our animals. There are seldom medications or other things given to them, but occasionally birds and rabbits need to be dewormed and/or treated for coccidiosis, a parasite that is naturally in the soil. Normally animals can handle it, but if it becomes overloaded, stunted growth, stress and death can result. This is easily prevented with a tablespoon of medicine in a 5 gallon bucket or water, provided for 3 or 5 days. We sometimes use apple cider vinegar or concentrated lemon juice in the water – both known for antibacterial properties. Very occasionally we might give powdered garlic to an animal for an immune system boost. Careful records are kept and we strive for the health of the animal over all considerations.

5. What pesticides and herbicides do you use? We use a minimal amount of pesticide or herbicide when we need to in order to keep a pest from bothering the crop. This may be diatomaceous earth, or may be a pesticide solution depending on the pest. Chemicals are a last resort, as with many organic operations. For customers with custom options who want strictly organic, of course we would not spray but the consequences could mean losing the crop. That is customer choice and consequences.

We’re open to questions. It makes for long days sometimes but we aim to do things right, according to our estimation. That doesn’t mean we’re better than other farmers, it’s just choices that’s right for us, and choices that we think there is a market to support. If you do, we appreciate a sign up or spreading the word. Thank you!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2013 7:20 PM

    Hey! This is my first comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely
    enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects?
    Many thanks!

    • April 27, 2013 8:28 AM

      Many – if you go over to the blog roll there are several, or click the little computer that says Farmer Bloggers. More variety and topics than most are ready for!

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