Bindel Farms

  (Spencer, Ohio)
Life on our farm
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New year! New Farm goals!

Happy New Year! I see this as a great opportunity to start fresh with new goals and new dreams for the farm.

Last year proved to be a difficult but wonderful year for us.  First the price of feed went up about 15% and then later in the year the price of straw doubled in price and the price of hay tripled.  We also had a butcher gouged us last year on processing charges.  With all that say asbout last year, here are the goals for our farm this year.

Our number one goal for the new year is grow the farm so that I don't have to work an off the farm job in the future.

The second goal is to expand our CSA shares from 30-50 shares this year.

The last goal is to publish a monthly newsletter.  I feel that it is important that people know what is happening on the farm.  The newsletter will also have a recipe section where I will post recipes that can be used with products we sell on the farm.

Now with my goals listed,  I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2013!

 

(This posting would have been much longer but for some reason the original one was lost while I tried to post it on this site.)

 

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Will the local family farms be Extinct?

I was reading the local newspaper this weekend and stumbled across an end of the year recap from a story that debute earlier in the year.  I must have be very busy this year because I totally missed it back in April. The story talked about how all the farms could be replace by residential houses in  my county by the year 2045. 

The thought of the remaining farms in the county to be lost to houses just makes me as a farmer sad to think we are losing land that I would love to own and farm.  I know that I am not alone on this thought as there are tons of young farmers or aspiring farmers in my same situation.

The article said that they expect the county to grow by about 80,000 more people in the next 30 some years.  As is, most of the central and eastern half of the county has already lost the majority of the farms to residential or commercial developing and it is slowly working its way towards us. There are just about 5 or 6 townships in the western section of this county out of a total of 17 that I actually still consider still "rural".

I believe that this is mostly due to the fact that the county spent the last 30 years installing waterlines on practically every road in the county.  The only thing that has slowed  them down some is that fact that the county is divided in half by a continental divide, a ridge that determines the flows of  water to Lake Erie or the Ohio River, and they have legal issues installing on the other side of the divide. 

I know for a fact that Lorain County directly west of us not only has waterlines installed but formed a members co-op wastewater sewer district which just last year finished installing sewers in parts of some of the county's townships in the northern section and their future goal is to have sewers in all of that county. Once that happens, it is just a matter of time for us. 

Our county in itself has 534 miles of sewers that runs though it, granted mostly in the cities but if you look at the county sewer map on line you will be surpised where else they are located.

I have experience this before in my lifetime.  I witness one town in Cuyahoga County just to the north of our county that went from 7,000 people to more than 48,000 people in just 25 years.  A quite little town that was just as rural as the town where my farm is located, is now a busy suburban city with very heavy congestive traffic with 5-7 lane roads and housing developments and big box stores and malls everywhere you look. That is not an isolated case because in my county, in just the last 20 years, there are several cities that have exploded in population but more particular, they have see a huge number of strip malls and big box stores built on land that use to be quite farms.

Granted, the people out where my farm is located do not want what happend to the northern counties and in the cities in our county in their backyards.  Most of the zoning codes require that houses be built on no less than 3 acres but I think that it should be raised to at least 10 or more to slow the growth. 

I know one town southeast of us supposively has a high commercial tax to prevent commercial development of big box stores/strip malls but that did not stop them from building an outlet mall and fast food restaurants and if I remember correctly, most of the farmland along that state route is up for sale as commercial land.  

Most people I speak to and read about in the newpaper editorial section are in an uproar when they hear about developing farmland but the local politicians don't care what others want.

A lot of this has to do to the fact that most young farmers just can't afford to buy land due to very high land prices and no way to finance it so the farmers sells to developer instead if the family does not want to continue to farm. I just read an article that said  land was at an all time high an dwas not expected to come down anytime soon.

Please click here if you want to read about the problem of unaffordable land in a previous posting.

This situation is not just in my backyard but going on all across this whole country.  If this continues to happen, we will be faced with the extinction of the small family farm that once built this great country economy and will be held captive to the giant factory farms which pollutes the environment, treats the animals in abusive ways and poisons the meat with chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, and radiation. 

I wish more local farmers start using the Ohio farm preservation program that we have.  It allows the farmer to put the land aside in this program so it can never be developed like lots of farms in the past, in essense saving the farm from developers so future generations can have the same thing you and I had in life- Local, Healthy, Sustainable food! 

Please support local farms!

  

 
 

Quince jelly!

 

A couple months ago, I received a whole plastic grocery bag full of fresh quince from a local orchard not too far from our farm.  After debating about what to do with them, I decided to make a fabulous quince jelly last month. 

 I was originally going to make a pineapple-quince butter but unfortunately it would have required more ingredients than what I hand in the cupboard at the time and of course be quite expensive to make since it required a lot of fresh pineapples. 

 I have never worked with a quince before even though I heard about them in the past.  The quince is a difficult fruit to work with as it has a high natural pectin content and is inedible raw but the the quince favorable for making jellies. 

I was told by the woman who owns the orchard where I got them that she really had not found a recipe for them that was completely successful so that took me on a journey to find something that would work and that people would love to buy and eat.

These quinces are a variety called pineapple and can I tell you that they smell wonderful.  The whole garage where I had them before I used them had a fragrance of pineapples in the air. 

After some trial and errors, the jellies proved to be successful as everyone who has sampled them thought that they were fantastic. We even gave one back to the orchard so that they could also sample it.

 

 
 

Winter is finally here!

Today is the Winter Solstice, the official start of winter and if you live in northeast Ohio it also mean dealing with cold weather and snow.  I have to admit that we have been pretty fortunate around here this year as it just started snowing today. I can remember some years that we had snow on the ground before Thanksgiving.  We have also been pretty busy on the farm balancing farm work with getting prepared for Christmas which is only 4 days away!  I still have some Christmas shopping to do especially for my wife and my father but I should be able to accomplish that after one of my last customers arrive Sunday to picking up her Christmas turkey.

We are quite please with what our 18 month old cow dressed out at, 388 pounds hanging weight!  It might not sound like a lot for a cow but he was just a Jersey steer which is a dairy variety of cow and since he was grass fed, he did not get as large as some other breeds of beef cows on grain.

I was disappointed with a new butcher that I used this year for some of our pigs because I was told by other farmers that he was the best of the best in the area.  This is not the same butcher I discussed about in the last posting on here. With the exception of no nitrite added hams and bacon that he offers, which is the reason we went to him this year, I found out that he seriously price gouges for his services and his costs can be twice as much as other butcher shops in our area which I was not prepared for. (I normally also include processing in my price per pound cost so this is a real problem.)  One pig cost me as much as $350.00 to be processed by him!!! I know most of you are saying that I should have check out his charges before hand.  I did!  They are on his website but it is quite difficult to see and I am still going over the invoices to see where all the charges are adding up.

Although I was happy with the way the meat was cut and packaged, I was very disappointed with the way he packaged my pork fat that that I requested back which will be used to make lard.  Most butchers I deal with pack this in plastic in small quantities, I found it instead thrown all in a box and frozen like spaghetti all entangled together.

He also did not label my boxes the way I wanted which caused a problem when I got the pork back to the farm and had to rummage through 20 boxes to get one CSA pork order together.  This left some of my customers waiting while I figured out what they did and carefully packaging their pork orders.  This is a butcher I had high hopes for but I guess not anymore unless my customers want to pay a premium charge for his processing.

We are wrapping up the CSA season this year on the farm and looking for a new and prosperous 2013 year!

Before I leave I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 
 

Christmas hams, the butcher, and more!

We are almost half way through this month and in 12 day it will be Christmas!  There is so much that has happened in this month to make it so busy on the farm. 

We have been in the process of sending our hogs off to the butchers to get processed so our customers will have hams for Christmas.  We are also wrapping up our CSA program for the year with the pork orders this month.  I know a lot of customers are very excited about this because they have never had heritage Tamworth pork before.

In my search to always find a butcher who will offer more variety of no MSG sausages, we stumbled onto a not so good butcher this year.  Not that his butchering skills were bad or his sausage was bad tasting as it wasn't!  He had very good tasting sausage but unfortunately he did not keep his word to have my pork ready before Christmas so hence he does not have four hog carcasses hanging in his freezer anymore. Luckly thanks to another butcher I know who also does a great job agreed in a minute notice to squeeze these four hogs in so that my customers can have their pork back before Christmas. What was also strange about him is that he sold his frozen pork in the shop in vacuum bags but was only going to use butcher paper for my customer's pork. I even offered to pay a little more for quality plastic but he insisted that the plastic is only for beef that he process and not pork.  I was not cool with that because my customers pay me for the vacuum bags so that they don't have to spend their weekend wrapping meat for the freezer.

In other news, we will also have a cow going to the butcher in a couple days.  I am very excited about this as it is my first grass fed cow I have ever raised and I haver been waiting over 18 months to try the beef as it will be dry-aged and the cow of course was grassfed.

We also managed to sell the three boars I was stuck with that did not get castrated earlier this year.  One boar was sold to a local farm for breeding with his Hampshire sows and the other two were sold to someone who wanted to buy them to make sausage.  I told him there probably would be boar taint but it did not stop him from buying.  So I am pretty happy about this since I did not have to take them to the sales barn which is about an hour drive away from the farm.

I have also been busy trying to get registered papers for pigs I bought this year.  This year I purchased a new registered Tamworth boar and a registered Large black gilt.  Now we will be able to offer registered breeding stock of Tamworth pigs and I will also be offering for the first time a Large Black-Tamworth cross pork this coming year.  Very excited about this!

 
 

Looking for our Christmas Tree

 

Today we went out looking for our Christmas tree. Traditionally we go out a week after Thanksgiving and usually it is cold and sometimes snowy but today was a balmy 60 degrees.

 I alway make a point to shop local farms for product and today was no exception.  We found a tree farm several years ago not too far from home with in about half drive.  Although it was raining on the way here, it seamed to let up just in time to go out and take a hike looking for a tree.

It is such a great experience to go out and look for a tree and once you find that special tree, personally cutting it down.  This guarantees that it is fresh and will last awhile in the house.

I got to say that this farm always is well taken care of and always has plenty of trees so it usually does not take long before we find one that we like.  It is a no frill kind of place but who needs frills.  You are there to pick out a tree.

Did you shop and support your local tree farm for a Christmas tree this year?

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My frustration with land prices!

Since I was a young kid, I always wanted to own land.  I even owned geese on a city lot when I was a kid.  As I got older, I grew a passion for farming and raising healthy and better tasting foods without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, hormones and antibiotic which were not available in the grocery store. 

I had a real passion for farming and that drove me to buy a farm!!! 

One thing that frustrates me and others around my age is the price of land! It seams to me that my generation is having a real hard time finding "affordable and reasonably" priced land to buy for farming.  Every piece of property around my area goes for at least $10,000-$20,000 per acre and makes it real hard if not impossible to farm full time without a second off the farm full time job to pay for the farm mortgage.

When I was shopping for a farm back in 2004-2005, I came across a lot of great properties that I would have loved to buy but unfortunately lack of money stood in my way.  It seamed to me that you needed to be a corporate executive  to even have any chance of owning a farm with 35-100 acres. Hence I had to settle for a smaller property which had great land but unfortunately did not have a barn on the property.  The way I looked at it, most people buy starter houses, I bought a starter farm!

My ideal farm would be about 35-50 acres or maybe 100 acres with a house that is in good condition and well taken care of and a large bank barn and other out building to go along with it. But unfortunately in my part of the country where I live, this is a dream! That property is at least $350,000 to $1,000,000 which is completely out of my affordable price range.  To even think of affording something like that would require multiple high paying jobs, a very large down payment, and a willing bank lender to give you a farm mortgage.

Suburban sprawl in my area has a lot to do with the problem of land prices.  Developers come in and offer older, going to be retiring conventional farmers money that they can't refuse since they did not have a retirement fund.  This in turn send the price of land through the roof because it is divided into smaller parcels and sold for housing development and commercial shopping malls which in turn makes land around there more expensive!

I am amazed at the lack of large properties that is available to purchase!

Don't get me wrong, where my farm is located is practically the middle of no where!!  The nearest grocery store and gas station is 10 miles one way!! But unfortunately most farmers in my area keep the land in the family or auction it off into smaller parcels of land.

Most of the properties that I see listed is for only about 5 acres or less!!!

Today even with the housing market crash, I still see the price of land has not come down.  In fact, it has gone up! A lot of this I believe has to do with growing corn for fuel.

Will there be a time in the future when young farmers won't be able to afford to buy land?


 
 

Thanksgiving, Pork and quince

Things have been pretty busy over here as usual at the farm. We managed to get through the Thanksgiving holiday without any problems and everyone is very happy with their turkeys.  I have been receiving a steady flow of good comments coming back as I normally do.

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner with family and enjoyed a 16# pastured turkey.

Our customers had a great selection of turkeys to chose from.  We had everything from a 12#-33# turkey available.

Last weekend, we loaded our first batch of pigs onto the trailer without any problems to take into the butcher and still have two more sets to go before mid December.  Our customers are getting excited about receiving their pork shares this month. This weekend we will be loading another set of pigs on our trailer to take to the butcher Tuesday .  Hopefully this will go well.

We also managed to round up one of our extra boars that we sold to a local farmer.  He has been sold since late October but I have been to busy to get him.  He was out on pasture running with the rest of the feeders. He also likes to jump fences so it was a chore to round him up onto the trailer.

I am trying to make some time in my busy schedule to make a quince jam from a recipe I found on line.  I received a bag of pineapple quince from a local orchard we know and have yet to have time to make anything with them.

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Turkey harvest on the farm

The Sunday before Thanksgiving is always an exiciting and extremely busy time on the farm! This is when all of our CSA members comes out to the farm and pick up their turkey for Thanksgiving.  They also come to tour the farm and see the animals, especially the new piglets which were just born a week ago.

Saturday started at 5 AM when I needed to get some turkey order out that morning to people who celebrate Thanksgiving early. Needless to say from the picture above that we had a heavy frost and temps in the mid 20's. So that sent me looking for an alternative garden hose since the one outside was frozen even though I drained it- must not have been good enough.  The propane tank from my scalder would not seal properly either and the plucker of course needed to be adjusted at that time.

After the turkeys, I had to finish up chicken orders for people who had not shown up for their CSA order previous weeks back.  By then half the day was already gone and don't forget to throw in farm tours for almost every person that arrived that day.

By that afternoon, I had already decided that instead of waking up at 3 in the morning I would start at 5 PM that evening and work until the 27 turkey orders were finish.  So with help from my brother, we started the processing of the rest CSA order which people would be picking up that next day.

 And don't forget, I also had a guy who wanted to buy my breeder boar stop by and drop off his trailer so I can load him whe I had the time. I guarantee that it certainly would not be that day.

The evening and night included walking 1/4 mile, well not really, about 300 fett to pick up our pizza since the delivery man would not come any farther since we were processing turkeys.  It even included a 3 AM trip to the gas station ten miles away for another tank of propane. You should have seen the look on the woman's face who was the clerk at the stastion when I came strolling in my soaking wet processing clothes and muck boots to purchase the replacement tank!

Needless to say that since temps were in the high 20's, scalding became a bear since we had trouble getting the birds to the right temps to get the feathers out. A lot of those bird were also toms and they were pushing the high 20's to 30 pound range also so it was hard to get them into the turkey fryer a.k.a.poultry scalder.

By the time I had finished, it was already 6 AM Sunday and once I took a shower and got into bed, I only had about 1/2 hour sleep before it was time to package 40 dozen eggs for our customers who would be arriving sometime between 8 AM and 3 PM that day. Needless to say that I was extremely tired and it felt like I had a hangover even though I did not drink the night before. Donald Duck could have showed up at our farm for a visit and would not have remember him as I was that tired. I'm just kidding but there are a few customers that I don't remember showing up but they said they were there when I called them the next day asking.

So after a wonderful turkey dinner at my mother's house it was time to check a few emails back at the farm and hit the sack at 9:30 PM ending my 40+ hour day.

I still have 15 or so turkeys to be done during the week before Thanksgiving but I should able to handle that by myself.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!!!

 

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Turkey Season!!!

  Here we are again near the end of the year and coming into one of the busiest weeks for our farm. Turkey Season!!!

This time of year is alway busy and hectic for us on the farm as our customers anticipated purchasing their centerpiece for their Thanksgiving table.  Our Pastured Turkey!!! 

Unlike most farms around our area, we chose to raise the Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys breed.  I know! I know! The picture above is our Bourbon Reds as I did not have a picture available at the time of this posting.

The broad breasted  bronze is an awesome breed to raise compare to the white. They are a beautiful majestic turkey! The colors of these turkeys are so beautiful! Metalic sheens of green and copper against black feathers. In my opinion, these birds can almost past as a wild turkey if it was not for their double breast.

So while we work to get these turkeys out to our customers, I would like to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving Day!!!!!

 

 
 

Piglets are born!!!

Sometime early this morning in the cold frosty air of November, our piglets from our one sow was born.

Our other sow is expected to give birth today so I will be posting more pictures of those too.

More pictures can be viewed on our facebook page.

www.facebook.com/bindelfarms

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Hectic week and our piglets soon to be born!

This week has been very hectic with the tropical storm!  Trying to get everything done that needs to be done before the sun goes down in the rain and the wind has not been very easy. (I mean daylight!  We haven't seen the sun itself in over a week!) Our farm received about 7 inches of rain and though it did not flood, it is still very swampy. We were lucky to not sustain damage from the 70 MPH wind gusts and were also lucky to still have electric power.  There are places around us that have been out for almost a week.

We are also eagerly awaiting the births of our new piglets!!!! 

If you would have asked me Thursday when the pigs would be born, I would have told you around November 13 but in all reality, we will be expecting them this coming week.  You ask how could this be?  Well, I did not mark the calendar correctly. So now that I notice my pigs udders are developing and other physical and behavior changes are taking place, we are desparately throwing up an acre of electric fencing and two hoop houses so I can separate them from our boar.

I also found out this weekend that the farmer that I normally go to at the corner of our street for straw decided to sell it out from under me.  This would not be a problem in a normal year but this year as I have just found out, straw has doubled in price and it might have well be gold!  Instead of paying $2.50 per bale like I had originally reserve earlier this year, we are now paying $5.00 a bale and I am excpected to go through at least 50-100 bales this winter. You will now ask why did we not pick it up it earlier this year?  One reason is that we have no place to keep it.  We do not own a barn as of yet so it would have just sat outside in the weather.  The other is that we know them and they said it would not be a problem keeping it there.  I guess we learned a lesson this weekend! 

I will leave you with a picture of a very pregnant Tamworth pig!

Fingers crossed that we will have a great number in the litters.

 
 

Sunset on our farm

 

Here is a sunset I would like share with you which was taken on the farm.

 

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So much to do in so little time!

Can you believe October is almost over and the snow will be here before you know it and we have so much that still needs to be done on the farm.  Some of our projects include a desperately needed expansion on our chick coop so that we may have a place for my expanded flock of chickens.  We will also need to get fencing up and our hoop houses built for the two sows which will be giving birth in about 3 weeks from now.  Also on the list is to repair the 8x8 mobile pig structure.  The breeder pigs were so rough with it this summer that it is at risk of falling over if repairs aren’t carried out soon.

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My life as a farmer!!

After several of my customers mentioned this, I got thinking about how hard I work on the farm and decided to give you an example of my typical day on the farm.

My week days normally starts off when the alarm clock goes off at 5:00 AM and I head out to feed the pigs and chickens their breakfast.  Sometimes it also includes watering if the water troughs are low from night time drinking. 

After feedings are done, I then get ready for work.  Luckily even though I work in an office setting, I am able to wear pretty much anything to work including jeans, tee-shirts, and shorts, so I can go dressed as I am from the farm with the exception of muck boots.  Though, I do end up wearing those to work in the winter. HAHAHA!

The mornings can be pretty hectic here and involves me usually running out the door without breakfast so I can get to work on time. I will normally eat breakfast once I am there at work.

During the day, my wife makes sure the animals have water, especially on hot days.  This usually includes watering 6 or more chicken tractors around her schedule.

Most people come home from work to relax but not me!  I usually come in one door and head out another so I can get busy collecting eggs, feeding, and watering the animals.  This usually takes about an hour or so depending on if I am rushing.  Late fall and winter-times are the worst because of the lack of sunlight and freezing conditions!

Depending on the time of year, and if we have CSA orders going out the next day, Friday nights might also include processing 20 or more chickens but that is normally reserved for Saturday mornings.

Weeding the gardens is also a chore that needs to be fitted in the day's time frame. There are of course other chore and things that need to be done which I don't mention here because they are not done all the time.

After all this is taken care of, usually it is time to make dinner. My wife would make something if she is home from work but that means coming out of a box which I am not cool with eating since we have all this good wholesome food available on the farm.  I am slowly changing her ways on this but it will take time and more persuasion from others.

After dinner, it is usually time to check and respond to emails that I did not get to earlier that day.  Then off to watch a few favorite TV shows before heading to bed around 11 PM to sleep and start the cycle all over again the next day.

It would be great to work on the farm full time but right now it is not possible until we expand our customer base.  That is one of my goals for the farm in the near future!!

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