Bindel Farms

  (Spencer, Ohio)
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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?


 
 
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