Bindel Farms

  (Spencer, Ohio)
Life on our farm
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Could you live without it?

Today is Ash Wednesday, an important day in the church calendar.  It is the start of lent, a six week period for Christians to prepare for Easter, the most important Church holiday.  Since I am not here to debate religion, I will now get back to my point of this article.

For lent it is customary in the Catholic church to give up something during those six weeks and that has got me thinking about how good we really have it today in the world. 

A little over one hundred years ago, there was no electricity, phones, cell phones, automobiles, airlines, computers, internet, video games, microwave, dishwashers, modern washing machines, radios and television. Yes, some cities had electricity and phones or gas lamps but it was still dark at the farm house out in the countryside.  It would not be until the late-1930's -early 1940's that the farms actually started getting electricity.  This was accomplished by the area farmers working together in Cooperatives to wire the countryside that the private and public utility companies refused to bring electricity to, hence the rural electric cooperative was born. 

Yes automobiles were also around back then, but you had to be rich to be able to afford one!

My wife asked me last Sunday in the car what I would be giving up for lent this year and I joked to her that I will be giving up watching TV.  To be honest, I don't watch that much television but she thought that I was completely nuts. Especially when I told her that I was packing away the TV for 6 weeks. I am not really going to give up TV this year for lent, not that I don't think I could do it. It is just not practical.

Seven years ago when I moved to the farm, I came with very little personal belongings, basically a bedroom set, a recycled dining room table, and a used couch some one gave me.  I lived here by myself for over a month without a TV set, phone service, and internet service and I managed to survive without those items.  By the way, it was also mid-January which in the mid west means winter and snow. This would be inconceivable for most people including my wife who would be bored out of her mind without TV and phone service. By the way the reason I did not have a phone for over a month is because the phone company was  over logged with repair call that it took them that long to get my phone turned on and internet service back then came only over the phone lines.

But this got me thinking about what we have today and these following questions ran through my head.

What would happen if you woke up and today's technology had completely disappeared?  Would you be able to survive without those items?

Would you be able to grow the food needed to feed your family through the winter?

Without automobiles, we would be back to the horse and buggy! Would you been willing to trade your cars for buggies?

Without tractors, the horse would be used to plow the fields at an acre or two of land a day! It would mean no more industrial corporate farmer planting 20,000 acres with a tractor.

Without phone and internet service, we would have to write letters and send them through the post office or visit them in person.

Without electricity, you would be back to candles, gas and oil lamps.

The Amish down the street from us live this way to this day so I ask, would you be able to survive without today's technology?

 

 
 

A bird of a different color.

If you come out to our farm for a tour, the first thing that you will notice is that there is not one Cornish cross chicken anywhere on our farm.  This is the typical meat breed of chickens that you find in the grocery store and raised by most small time farmers. 

In the past, we also raised these chickens because there was nothing else desirable to raise for meat.  Yes there was the heritage roosters such as the Rhode Island Reds and the Delawares to name a few but these birds took at least 17 weeks and they were still not like what most customers are accustomed too.They were in my opinion boney and they did not have a nice size breast that most people want in a chicken. I have to admit that they were flavorful.

The Cornish cross is a hybrid engineered chicken that is developed through breeding certain traits in chickens until you get a bird that will produce a large amount of meat in a short period of time, usually 6-7 weeks at a 2:1 feed to meat ratio.

Since the Cornish cross grows so fast, the heart, the legs, and the wings do not develop like they are suppose too.  These birds are known to have heart attacks when they are stressed such as summertime temperatures. The legs and wings of these birds are weak and a lot of times the legs are so deformed that the chickens are not even able to move around.  I have noticed that if you are not careful, the weak ligaments in the wings will allow the wings to dislocated during the killing process and restraining cones are a must with these birds.

So I know that you  are now wondering what types of meat chickens we raise on our farm if we do not raise the Cornish Cross or the Layer roosters.

We raise the Freedom Rangers also known as Rainbow Rangers, Redbros or Tri Colors.  These chickens were developed back in the 1960's over in France through their Label Rouge program.  They made their way over to the States back in 2010 and we have been raising them on our farm since 2011.

I can tell you that after raising these chickens we will never go back to Cornish cross chickens . They are far superior to the so called Franken birds aka-Cornish Cross. Heck, they even look like a normal chicken!  These chickens do not have the leg problems associated with the Cornish Cross and I have yet to see them having heart attack when the temperature rises above 90*  which is typical in our part of the country in mid summer.  I have also notice that their wings are much stronger than than the Cornish and don't fall apart if they flap too hard or in the plucker.

Yes they do take longer to raise, usually about 9-12 week are normal for a 3-1/2-5 pound chicken but this in my opinion, raising them longer helps to develop a tastier chicken.

The freedom rangers are also much more active bird.  Unlike the Cornish cross chicken which just sits around in one place usually near the feed dish munching on grain all day, the freedom Rangers are very active and just loves to search for their food. They are also excellent foragers and will eat a lot of grass and insects if given the chance to do so. They also look so natural that it is almost impossible to tell them apart from a New Hampshire Red layer.

So I will ask you, what type of bird would you like to see on your dinner table?

 
 

A surprise on the farm!

I just love coming home to surprises on the farm!  Today was no exception. On the farm, we currently have three pastures full of pigs.  One pasture has our 12 week old piglets, the second pasture has our two newly separated breeder sows with a 2-1/2 year old breeder boar which I was hoping to breed back with and the third pastured has a 9 month old breeder boar with a large black gilt who will be going to the butcher next month due to a deformed back leg/hoof. 

So today when I came home, everything seemed normal from a distance, the right amount of pigs in each pastured, but upon closer inspection, I realized that my 9 month old boar is in the same pasture with the older boar and one of my sow.  My other sow was running around in the pasture where my 9 month old boar use to live. The two boars were having boar fights to compete with who would breed with the sow in that field.

Turns out, one of the boars and I am suspecting the younger one, ran through the electric fence gate I had dividing the pastures and made his way to this pasture with the other boar and sows I was hoping to breed back later this week when they return into heat.

I have heard of this happening when a sow is in standing heat but the funny thing is that none of them are in heat right now and I know he did not have a problem two months ago when some of my feeder meat gilts were entering heat in the pasture next to him before heading off to the butcher.

Since I only had a half hour of sunlight left today and it was snowing pretty heavy and I had a gate to repair and my sows will be coming into heat any day now, my solution was just to pair a boar with a sow.  At least I will know which boar bred with my sows.



 
 
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