Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef[ Member listing ]
02 May · Mon 2011
I have identified three key elements that are critical to success if you plan to direct market your farm products. In talking to hundreds of farmers it became obvious to me that most of them do not have these three key elements in place to insure that they succeed. [Read More]
Posted by David @ 04:04 PM EDT
26 Apr · Tue 2011
Tamworth Pigs Plowing
Here at Spring Hill Farms we don't like buying $4 a gallon gas anymore than you do.
We don't like buying gasoline or diesel at any price as far as that goes. That's one of the main reasons we employed Tamworth pigs to renovate our 25 year old over grown land back in 2004.
I had been trying to figure out how we were going to bring the briar infested land back to producing something more than multi-flora rose, rabbits and deer.
Being raised on a farm I knew pigs had a bull dozer/industrial roto-tiller on the front and a manure spreader on the back. Of course in between is a whole bunch of good eatin'.
So why spend hundreds of dollars per hour to hire a dozer to clear the land? The only reason I could come up with was it would be faster and admittedly easier. Hire the dozer, go in afterwards and broadcast seed.
Tamworth Swine Dozer
But I wasn't in a hurry and it looked like there was a good bit of vegetation the pigs could utilize.
And finally, I've have never had bacon from a
Posted by David @ 08:48 AM EDT
19 Apr · Tue 2011
Pigs eat a lot of grass. Especially a bunch of
Tamworth pigs that get fed limited amounts of grain.
In order to keep our pastures full of good grass we sometimes over seed with different types of grasses.
I ascribe to the saying "manage fescue and encourage clover."
What that means is some grasses such as fescue, are pretty aggressive when it comes to taking over a stand of grass. Clover on the other hand will normally die out after several years due to the fescue and other grasses crowding it out. Even if that's not the case clover still dies out after several years and needs replanting.
This particular pasture we are working on is really what most people would call their back yard. I want to utilize all the land I own. So I ask myself "why mow all this every week when I could ease some pigs up in here for a few days of intensive grazing?"
I then posed the same question to my wife! After all, it's gonna take some talking to get pigs within twenty feet of the back of her house.
Which brings up another point...Do you think I'd have a chance if she thought she was gonna smell pig manure?
When you look at pictures of our farm you notice we have neighbors on top of us. Our property is narrow and deep. Minimum amount of road frontage and goes back forever. There have been something like 18 houses built within the last five years around us.
Most people who drive by our farm have no idea the number of pigs running around. Many don't know we even have pigs!
Compare that the old pre-1950's model of running pigs outside where
everyone knew it because they could smell them a mile away. People are
amazed when they come to visit at how they can't smell the pigs.
Watch a video of this while I ramble.
Posted by David @ 01:24 PM EDT
14 Apr · Thu 2011
My last post was about the push to get government to release farmers
from the CRP program so they could put acres set aside in the program
back into grain production.
Posted by David @ 10:15 AM EDT
12 Apr · Tue 2011
Posted by David @ 04:42 PM EDT
07 Apr · Thu 2011
What's the true cost per pound when buying a side of beef or whole
beef? For instance you see advertised grass fed beef for say $3.99 pound
Posted by David @ 09:52 PM EDT
02 Apr · Sat 2011
One of the justifications for the use of genetically engineered crops is that it can eradicate world hunger. Clearly, the production of adequate food supply is a noble goal, but the supposition that we can achieve this goal through the use of GM crops is seriously flawed.
"The largest study in the world that dealt with this, which included about 400 scientists, was assembled by the United Nations and the World Bank into something called the IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development). After a long set of studies that were peer-reviewed, portions were sent around and I received elements of the final report," Dr. Bereano says.
"The IAASTD found little evidence to support a conclusion that genetic engineering or modern biotech are well suited to meet the needs of small scale and subsistence farmers who were of course feeding huge numbers of people, especially in the Third World where hunger is so evident."
He also accurately points out that we have hunger right here in the US, despite our grain surpluses and despite the fact that we use genetic engineering more than any other country. Food production and hunger is not necessarily a simple one-to-one equation. There's also the issue of not having enough money to buy the food that is readily available!
Additionally, GM crops sure aren't less expensive than conventional!
On the contrary, GM seeds are getting increasingly expensive, as are the prerequisite pesticides—not to mention the fact that farmers are forced to buy new GM seeds every year, opposed to saving the best seeds for the next planting, which has been done since the beginning of agriculture. The increased expense of farming with GM seeds has likely already caused more than 180,000 Indian farmers to commit suicide when faced with insurmountable debt, failed crops, and no money to buy new seed.
Not surprisingly, Monsanto and the United States, along with a couple of other countries refused to sign off on the final report that was ultimately issued by the UN…
On the other hand, studies have repeatedly confirmed that farming methods that promote healthy soils and biodiversity can dramatically increase production and yield. For example, as recently as March 8, the United Nations issued a press release with the headline: Eco-Farming Can Double Food Production in 10 Years.
"Small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in critical regions by using ecological methods,a new U.N. report shows. Based on an extensive review of the recent scientific literature, the study calls for a fundamental shift towards agroecology as a way to boost food production and improve the situation of the poorest.
"To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available," says Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report. "Today's scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live -- especially in unfavorable environments."
Agroecology applies ecological science to the design of agricultural systems that can help put an end to food crises and address climate-change and poverty challenges. It enhances soils productivity and protects the crops against pests by relying on the natural environment such as beneficial trees, plants, animals and insects.
"To date, agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80% in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116% for all African projects," De Schutter says…
"We won't solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers' knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development."
Best of all, these agro-ecological approaches do not pose any danger to the environment or to human health whatsoever—quite the contrary!
So, wouldn't it make sense to focus on the safest, most beneficial, and most effective methods of food production instead of dabbling around with unproven high-risk technology that may or may not provide any benefit whatsoever to anyone besides the patent holders?
Unfortunately, the fact this isn't happening is a testament to the immense power of the biotech industry, led by Monsanto, whose corporate officials rotate in and out of the White House administration, the FDA and other regulatory agencies. Read the full article here.
Comments: Here at Spring Hill Farms we have never bought into the theory that genetically modified foods can be the answer to feeding the world. 400 scientists came to the same conclusion. A huge thanks to Dr Mercola for sharing this information.
Posted by David @ 11:10 AM EDT
20 Mar · Sun 2011
The mind set with which you approach your small farm sales is critical to your success. If you approach selling direct from the farm as a traditional retail operation it will require a completely different set of parameters to operate by than if you approach your business as a direct marketing endeavor.
I’ll confess right up front I am biased towards direct marketing. I posted a while back as to why I don’t sell at farmer’s markets.
To me they encapsulate the retail mindset of selling farm products. You set up and essentially wait for customers to show up to buy.
I realize that farmers can do very well at these type of venues, but I see a huge amount of risk and loss of control. Take for example the farmer’s market closes up shop. Where do all the customers go? How many of them do you have a way to contact? Do you have a relationship outside the market with them? If you answered “no” to any of those questions you will take a big hit if that ever happens. Risky and not much control over what happens I say!
Contrast that with direct marketing of your farm products. You have a large diverse group of people that you actively initiated a relationship with.
Wouldn’t you rather have a large group of customers that isn’t dependent on them getting out of bed and coming down to see you at the market?
I contend that in some ways we are training the customers who want to buy off the farm to remain in the retail mindset by how we market to them.
One of the most common questions I get is customers trying to figure out the system by which I sell products! They ask about my attendance at local farmer’s markets then about coming to the farm to purchase.
They are in the common retail mindset. I understand why. It’s the most common way to buy food. Once they experience how we market, they love it!
We encourage folks to come to the farm and visit, but discourage them from thinking it how we sell products. Farm gate sales are fine, but just as with the farmer’s market you are waiting on someone to come by and spend money.
I would have never grown my sales to level that they are so quickly by waiting on someone to stop by the farm or a farmer’s market!
That’s the retail mindset.
In speaking with farmers I think the main reason they gravitate to this type of marketing is because it’s what they know to do.
Let’s face it…the question on every bodies mind is:
Where can I find customers in significant numbers without using these venues?
Since I have never sold at traditional farm venues I can only tell you how I’ve built my business. These steps are simple, but not always easy.
Figure out what your U.S.P. is. That’s your unique selling proposition. Why should people buy from you? Do this first. It helps you focus your efforts where they make the most impact.
Connect with I call “people of influence” to try your products. This was the second step I took when I started selling direct.
Create a system to glean referrals from your current customers. A high percentage of my new customers are from word of mouth advertisers – the best, least expensive, kind of advertising.
Have a system in place to get testimonies from your current customers and incorporate them in your materials.
Consistently use a system to identify and obtain new customers. I adapted a method from another business I owned that works like magic.
Find ways to make it easy for your customers to pay you. I collect payments automatically which makes it much easier for me and the customer to do business with my farm.
Develop a website and learn to drive traffic to it. This took tons of time and learning, but I now have a significant amount of internet customers. (a whole subject in itself -more on that another day.)
These are some of things I have done to build my farm business. I’ve never used a farmer’s market or had a wholesale account because I haven’t needed to! I believe farmer’s markets are a viable way to market your products and some of these techniques would work for them. For me, I like spending time with my family on Saturday morning.
Until next time…
PS- I explain exactly how to do this and more (minus the website information) in my latest ebook “The Secrets of Selling Your Farm Products Revealed.” If you’re looking for increased sales and more customers click here to get your copy today.
Posted by David @ 04:15 PM EDT [ Comments  ]
18 Mar · Fri 2011
Electric Fence Energizer
of the most important pieces of equipment for the hog farmer who wants
to raise pigs on pasture is an electric fence charger. Sometimes called a
fencer or energizer.
Posted by David @ 08:27 AM EDT
12 Mar · Sat 2011
I posted back in January What does 2011 Hold and Five Steps You Should Take.
High Density GardeningI'm a big believer in intense gardening. I grew up with the typical huge garden that you see on most farms of that time.
We spent hours weeding, hoeing, having a roto-tiller beat us to death, hilling up potatoes, and generally working the garden.
With my schedule I don't have much time to spend in a garden. I bet your schedule is like mine. Ric, the author of High Density Gardening has got it figured out.
He covers everything from A to Z in this ebook.
And the best part- You can download it and be reading it within the next 5 minutes.
Posted by David @ 08:16 AM EST [ Comments  ]
11 Mar · Fri 2011
Posted by David @ 02:58 PM EST
04 Mar · Fri 2011
Tamworth Sow and Piglets
Tamworth pigs are the breed I decided to raise for several reasons. One, they have big litters.
They also are typically good mothers.
We farrow our sows outside in the warm months and many times the sow just goes into the brush and builds a nest.
In the winter we use huts or bring them into the barn and put them into a 12 x 12 stall. Contrary to what you may have heard or read, not all Tamworth swine are great mothers. Most of them are, but we breed for sows that will farrow outside with out assistance.
I've had a few since we started breeding Tamworth's that weren't very good mothers. I like a sow that takes her time laying down and "talks" to her pigs as she does to let them know "get out of the way."
If they hear a pig squeal they move or jump up whichever the situation calls for.
I need low maintenance hogs. The Tamworth sows we have are very capable of having their babies and caring for them just like nature intended!
Posted by David @ 07:04 PM EST
02 Mar · Wed 2011
Grass fed meat is leaner, denser, less watery, and far more flavorful than other meat.
Keep this in mind as you cook grass fed beef. Over cook it and you'll be disappointed.
So you’re ready to cook a steak.
cook a steak over medium rare. Rare is better. Anything over medium
rare is going to be dry and tough. Think jerky, it’s not very good
without some heavy spices. Which leads to another tip; do not salt a
steak until after it’s cooked and on your plate. Salt pulls moisture out
of the steak….not a good thing. You must have a meat
thermometer! You can’t really get it right if you’re trying to go by
what color the inside of the steak is. If you cut into it valuable juice
escapes and leads to a drier steak.
Posted by David @ 08:18 AM EST [ Comments  ]
26 Feb · Sat 2011
Posted by David @ 03:04 PM EST [ Comments  ]
19 Feb · Sat 2011
Posted by David @ 07:47 PM EST
18 Feb · Fri 2011
This means that people are actively seeking out this type product. Many “marketing type” farmers have been enjoying increasing sales every year.
According to Finding Dulcinea, In Indiana, the number of small farms increased by almost 80 percent from 2002–2007. Greg Preston, director of the Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service, told the Indy Star, “We are getting a lot of newer farmers coming in that are smaller—going into direct marketing, specialty products, organics, locally grown, this type of stuff.”
My farm has been struggling to meet the demand since shortly after we started selling direct. That is in part because I come from 25 plus years of sales and marketing experience.
But it’s also because the market for local farm food is growing and I’m enjoying the fact that people are actively looking for farms like mine.
But I’ve been around enough new and emerging markets to know that won’t always be the case.
Take for instance the big mortgage boom up to about 2008. I owned a company that used mortgage lending as a way to grow our business. We used many different mortgage companies and brokers all over the United States.
There was a mortgage broker on every corner. Many of them were so busy that they wouldn’t even talk to us about working with them. They had more business than they could handle! New mortgage companies were starting up daily.
Because it’s pretty easy to take a client who has an 8 percent mortgage and put them into a new one at say 5.5 percent. I mean how much sales and marketing does it really require?
The broker simply says “Mr. Jones we can reduce your mortgage payment by $200 a month and give you a rate that’s 2.5 percent lower than what you had.”
So for marketing all they had to do was let people know they were open for business and give some teaser rates on the radio or internet and people flocked in to refinance.
But ever so slowly I started getting phone calls from those brokers who didn’t want to work with me a couple of years before. They were seeing a slow down in the refinance craze. They didn’t necessarily say that to me but I knew what was happening.
The demand was slowing and the competition was getting fierce.
Fast forward another year and many of those shops were out of business and gone forever.
Who was left?
The companies that had focused on running a lean and mean mortgage shop and had focused on developing long term marketing strategies. They did honest business and had a long term mindset.
How does this relate to small farms?
Because sooner or later the demand is going to slow down and the competition is going to get fierce.
Take the previous quote from Dulcinia. There was a eighty percent increase in small farms in Indiana from 2002 – 2007. That means there were a whole lot more farmers supplying the market in Indiana than previous.
Now if several of those farms were near you…you noticed it!
Farmer’s markets are increasing by leaps and bounds. Farmers are seeing prices come down to be able to move their goods as they face the Wal-Mart shopping mentality.
So called “farmers” are bringing in produce from the wholesale house and selling it as local. In my area if you go to the farmer’s market to sell pork or beef, you will be competing with all the butcher shops in the area.
CSA’s are exploding all over the U.S…..
Folks – times are changing.
Don’t get me wrong competition is a good thing,
BUT IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU MARKET IF YOU’RE GOING TO STAY PROFITABLE AND KEEP THE DOORS OPEN.
Then add to that huge corporations are working night and day to fleece the consumer into believing that their food is really pretty much the same as what you can buy off a small farm.
Big agriculture is teaching their farmers how to relate to the public and present themselves as the only solution to the food shortage. They are talking about using Facebook and Twitter to reach out to their communities.
Grocery stores are featuring local farmers that supply them with produce.
Localharvest recently reported many CSA’s experience as high as a 40 percent turnover each year.
Losing that much business per year is unsustainable. If you have to replace that many customers per year you are swimming up stream on your way to broke.
I was talking to a farmer the other day who said he had a lady call him about grass-fed beef. By the time he got back to her (a couple of hours later) she had already found another farmer who had sold her a quarter of beef.
He got a rude awakening that he’s not the only guy in town with grass-fed beef!
In some ways small local farms supplying people with food is still in it’s infancy. But folks things are changing.
What’s your plan to stay on the cutting edge of this growth and rising competition?
Begin to find answers to these problems now before you end up losing out to the farm that does have it figured out!
Until Next time…
Small Farm Direct Marketing
Promote Your Page Too
Posted by David @ 03:01 PM EST
14 Feb · Mon 2011
Probably one of the most important skills you can develop in your farm business and actually in life, is the ability to see things from other people’s perspective.
This is the key to obtaining new clients, keeping present customers happy, and helping others get what they want out of your farm business. All the interactions you have with customers, or potential customers, can be improved by striving to put yourself in their shoes... [More]
Small Farm Direct Marketing
Promote Your Page Too
Posted by David @ 01:38 PM EST
Let's make sure we level the playing field for farmers in America. For too long the big players have danced around the laws to keep the smaller producers at a disadvantage. Here's our chance to stop it.
I just received this email from the Center for Rural Affairs.
Do you appreciate the hard work that our family farmers and ranchers do?
If so, please take a few moments of your day this Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday to call the White House and tell President Obama that you support the proposed Fair Livestock Competition rule [PDF] that helps independent farmers and ranchers get a fair price for their hard work. (It's also called the "GIPSA rule".)
On February 14, 15 and 16 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, hundreds will participate in “Love the American Farmer and Rancher” call in day because the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed Fair Livestock Competition rule would greatly benefit livestock producers across the country. However, the meatpackers and processors have pushed back against the rule, spreading false information to protect their own greedy bottom line.
You can help!
For more information on issues related to fair competition in livestock, go to www.cfra.org/competition. Thank you for supporting independent livestock farmers and ranchers!
Posted by David @ 07:57 AM EST [ Comments  ]
09 Feb · Wed 2011
Frequently I'm asked about the difference between local, sustainable food and Organic. Although you could find a small farm that is Organic and it be a great place to get your food, for the most part the Organic label is being adulterated at an alarming rate.
Two of the biggest offenders: USDA and the FDA. [more]
Posted by David @ 07:27 AM EST