Bindel Farms

  (Spencer, Ohio)
Life on our farm
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Winter in Ohio

What a difference a day makes in Northern Ohio in January!  Yesterday it was 60's and jacket weather and today we are in the mid 20's and I am pulling out the heavy coat, hat, and gloves!  I have to admit that we have been pretty lucky to not be buried in snow this year.

This is also the time of year where I am going through the seed catalogs that have bombarded our mail box last month and deciding what seeds I am going to buy for this year's garden. 

I also have my eye on some fruit trees to add to the ones we have already.  I have decided that I will be buying a Honey crisp apple tree, a pear tree, a peach tree, a plum tree, cherry tree, a quince tree, and a paw paw tree.

Paw Paw is a fruit tree native to Eastern North America.

I would also like to get a raspberry patch started also this year.  I will not need to buy those as I know people who already have some and would not mind giving us some plants.

I might also try grape vines again this year.  In past years, they never seem to do well but I think that it might have something to due with where I bought them.

We are also planning on planting a field in Essex Rape seed for our pigs to graze this late summer. 

I also am thinking about planting conventional non GMO field corn and soybeans this year and when the crop is ready, turning my pigs loose to harvest the grain and the plant.  This will save in the step of harvesting the grain which is a difficult for me as I can never find a farmer nearby who is willing to come down with their combine and harvest our grains.


Grass fed beef- a cut above the rest!

Earlier this month I picked up our beef that we had processed from the local butcher shop.  If you remember from one of our previous posting, we sent our 18 month old cow into them back in mid December and he weighed out at 750# live weight with a dressed weight of 388#.  We are quite happy with the results since he was grass fed versus grain fed.

It has been three weeks now since getting the meat back and we have try the porterhouse steaks, ground beef, hamburger patties, smokies, tenderized round steak, and the rib steaks. 

This beef is clearly the best beef that I ever eaten even though it is only a USDA Select grade of meat!  So tender are the steaks and they are absolutely delicious!  Even though the ground beef is at least 90%-10% mix or more, it is still moist when cook and not dried out!

I was surprised, the round steak was more tender than I though it would be.  Normally the round is a more tougher cut of meat from the cow. Granted, I had the butcher tenderize it before they packaged the round steaks. I made a stir-fry with it and it turned out quite well!

A lot of this I believe has to be due to the fact that we had it dry-aged for 14 days and of-course it was a Jersey steer so that made a difference. 

It also does not contain antibiotics and hormones, definately something I did not want in the beef since that is all that can be found in the grocery store's meat case today.

I can tell you that we were quite busy this past weekend selling our beef to customers who had been waiting for it.  I completely sold out of the ground beef, flank steaks, porterhouse steaks and chuck/english roast that I had available.  Someone also bought up the oxtail, the tongue, and most of the liver.  We have to keep some meat for ourselves too so I am limiting how much of the extras meat we are going to sell.

We are definately going to raise more cows this spring and offer it to our customers in bulk and in a CSA share in 2014!


Traded in my muck boots for organ shoes!

This weekend was just awesome for me, I was able trade my muck boots for organ shoes and get out of the field and off the farm for the day and onto an organ bench. 

Couple of weeks ago I was invited down to a city church about 50 mile away to play their historic 1956 Beckerath German made organ.  What makes this organ special is that it is completely mechanical and the only thing electric is the blower that provides air to the pipes. This organ is designed in a northern German baroque style.I was told that when this instrument was built, famous organist like E Power Biggs came to visit and play on this instrument.  This instrument also sparked an interested and an organ revival to build mechanical action organs instead of electric action.

Most modern organs rely on relays and magnets to open the valves to the pipes but this organ's keys are connected to wooden stick called trackers which are connected to the valves.

As I found out, there are not too many organs from this builder in the States so this is really a special. organ.  The organ has also just finished a 6 year long restoration to bring the instrument back to the condition it was in when it was first installed.

It has been about 6 years since I got a chance to play an organ so this was quite interesting to say the least.  I am quite please with my performance.

 This instrument can be heard at the following you tube links:

Hope you enjoy the videos!





Tax savings farmers enjoy!

Farmers in Ohio have been enjoying the tax saving benefits that the state provides to them to farm.  The two that come to mind is the CAUV program and the sales tax exemption.  We will look at both of these in closer detail.

CAUV or current agriculture use value is a program started in the mid-1970's and offered to farmers where they can greatly reduce their property tax bill.  Normally in Ohio, property tax is calculated based on 35% of fair market value.  CAUV calculates the property's land using an agricultural value based on soil type instead of fair market value. Agriculture land values are typically much lower than fair market values and can be a great savings to the farmer enrolled in the program. 

An example of this would be that if say the fair market value for the land is $8,000 an acre but the agriculture value which is based on a formula of an average of how much the land can produce may only be $3,000, so the property tax bill will be much lower.

As I have found out, this program is open to all farmer no matter how much land they own.  Typically farmers who own 10 acres and a one acre home site can enroll automatically in the program, provided that they farm the land.  However, if you are a farmer who owns less than 10 acres, you will still qualify provided that you are capable of producing $2,500 in gross sales.

The process is easy to do in Ohio and only requires filling out an application to enroll the farm.  If you own less than 10 acres, you will have to show that the last three year's gross sales were at least $2,500. After the application is filed and a one time $25.00 fee is paid, a county auditor assistant will come out and check out the property for approval.

After being approved, the farmer must fill out a renewal form every year but no fee is required to do so.

The only catch to this program is if the property is discontinued from farming and this program, a penalty of 3 years worth of tax savings must be paid back to the county.

The second savings is the sales tax exemption. Farmers are allowed by law to exempt sales tax from materials which are used in the production of a farm product.  This includes purchases of farm machinery such as tractors and implements, bedding, seed, fertilizers, sprays, building materials and feed to name a few.  A larger detailed list can be found at the county and state Extension office.

For most local farm stores in our state, it is quite easy, all is needed is a completely filled out Unit or Blanket Sales Tax exemption form but more recently stores I found out, especially big box stores such as Tractor Supply and Home Depot, are requiring that you get an EIN or Employer Identification Number which is available from the IRS website to apply for this status at their stores.

Either way, it is something that farmers should be looking into doing since they are normally require to buy large quantities of products to do business and hence the sales tax on that materials are also high especially when your state has a 6-8% sales tax rate.



Yes coffee, but please hold the chemicals!

Ever since owning a farm, I have had my eyes opened to the way thing are done in the real world in terms of food processing.  Sometimes shocking at first but now I have grown accustomed to all the stories so this one is no real shocker to me either.

This past weekend I was reading an article in a cool book I was given and it was talking about how decaffeinated coffee is made.  Until now I have never really given it any thought, though I do remember when I was a young kid my mother telling me not to drink the decaffeinated coffee my grandmother was making because it was processed with chemicals and their were health risk associated with it. 

Yes, when I was very young, I was given coffee to drink because being diagnose hyperactive which is today just called ADHD, coffee and it's caffeine, which is a stimulant, would work in reverse on me and would calm me down. 

Decaffeinated coffee is made through a process using steam and chemicals such as methylene chloride, dichlormethane, and ethyl acetate to soak the bean in and extract the natural caffeine from the bean.  All of these chemicals is on a FDA list of chemicals generally recognised as safe". It is well known that methylene chloride is also use as a commercial paint stripper and a degreaser, why in the world would I want my coffee beans soaking in this chemical. Some of these chemicals are known to cause cancer when exposed to them long term and in large quantities.  

You would not fry your french fries in motor oil at home then why is the FDA allowing use of  harmful chemicals to process food?

Granted, you have a choice now as they have found other ways to decaffeinate coffee and teas without the chemicals using water which is the Swiss water process or a C02 gas process. But the chemical way is a lot cheaper so you have to read the label to know for sure.  That is of course if it is even lised on the label.

I know some people might not want the caffeine but my opinion, coffee is a natural product which has natural caffeine in it, why is the world would you want to mess with nature! 

And while we are talking about coffee and what goes great with coffee is sugar, did you know that the artificial sugar Nutrasweet is owned by the chemical company Monstanto.







Farm Logo Contest winner!

As most of you know, we had a contest for a farm logo elast year and we had lots of great logo designs sent in to our farm but in the end, we decided on this logo for our farm after some minor modifications by us.  

Congratulations goes to Bill and Sharon Schaible!



Puzzled about Health Insurance and farming.

The start of the new year has brought a clean slate to our farm but it also brought  higher health insurance premiums for us which are as high as 25% more this year.  Ouch!

Even though both my wife and I currently work outside farm jobs, neither of us are lucky enough to get health insurance offered and paid through our current employers which of course completely sucks! (We are lucky to even have jobs!) This means that we are stuck with paying these high out of pocket expenses which can account for at least 20% of our pay that goes to paying these outrageous premiums so that when either one of us does get seriously ill where we will need to be hospitalized, we will not be up you know what creek without a paddle in debt. 

My personal experience with these health insurance companies and their premium has never been a good one and has left me think that unless you have a catastrophic event such as cancer, surgery, or a heart attack, you just get screwed by the insurance company in the end. 

Last month, I needed to go to the doctor's office for a bad internal hand infection that I could not clear up on my own at home without a prescription of antibiotics and needless to say that by the time I got done paying the co-pay and the rest of the cost that was not covered under the 80-20% plan I have, I would have been better off pocketing the premiums for all those years that I pay each month and paying the medical bill out of pocket.  It equaled the same cost as without insurance!  Go figure! 

Keep in mind that I am the type of person that only goes in to a doctor's office or the hospital when something is seriously wrong with me that I can't cure or fix myself.  I have been known to superglue and butterfly cuts with excellent results I might add when in fact  I should have gone to the hospital and had them professionally stitched by a plastic surgeon. 

This got me thinking that if we wanted to live solely on our farm business as a sole income like I have plans to in the future, we will have to work that much harder to come up with these premiums which can run $6,000-$12,000 a year depending on if you have a maternity plan or a family plan. That is a lot of money to come up with each month with our current jobs let alone have to raise it on just a farm income.  This means that I have to sell that much reach this threshold before I even start thinking about paying for other important bills like farm mortgage, utilities, other food costs, and of course gasoline for the tractor and cars which also seems to be going up just as fast.

Granted health insurance costs are tax deductible as write offs if the farm is run as a strict business and not as a hobby farm but still it is a lot of money to be forking over and a lot of product that must be sold to just cover health insurance premiums. 

I got thinking also about what other farmers who farm full time do about this situation.  Do they have health insurance premiums that they pay for out of pocket or are they currently doing without it. Maybe their spouse works and has the benefits the that off the farm job. 

Of course most of them are lucky enough to have land that was past down to them from past generation so they don't have to pay the ridiculous land prices of today to have the land to grow and raise their farm products.

What do you think? Have any opinions about this, please post them and let me know your thoughts.

I know other small farmers out there has to be in the same situation.


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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