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When a ewe (female sheep) has a lamb in spring and raises the lamb, all is normal as nature intended. But birthing doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes the mother rejects her offspring, and sometimes the mother doesn’t survive the first week. This is nature in action.
Most springs there is a hiccup in the system and we end up with bottle baby lambs. Somewhere in the process something has gone wrong, and we step in take care of the lamb, to give the lamb a fighting chance. Sometimes this process is successful and sometimes it isn’t successful. If we don’t step in the outcome will be obvious, so we give every lamb a fighting chance.
For those of you that visit the farm store on a regular basis; you know about last year’s bottle lambs. They are Shirley and Moe, Larry didn’t make it. To be honest they are a pain in the butt, because they bond with Ginny and I and not the sheep flock. They really believe that they are human.
Bottle lambs become special in their own way, but they are difficult manage. Generally it is much harder to make a culling or processing decision; that is easy to make with the rest of the flock. Additionally these guys never quite come up to size because they aren’t raised on mother’s milk. Generally bottle lambs become recognizable yard ornaments which are always under foot. Hence they are painful to manage.
Generally, bottle babies are a nuisance when you add up the pros and cons. In commercial flocks, rarely is a bottle lamb retained in the flock by the shepherd. These lambs are sent to town (livestock market) as quickly as possible. In fact when you factor in the cost of powdered lamb milk these lambs are an economic train wreck. Not to mention five trips to the barn each day to nurse the lamb. And generally you make an emotional rather than a proper farm management decision.
Occasionally a young female bottle lamb grows large enough that she gains the attention of the young men in the flock, and nature happens. This is what happened to Shirley, now she has to undergo a crash course in becoming a mother. This is a difficult time for us, because we don’t know if Shirley is capable of properly mothering her young lamb. Therefore, Shirley is in isolation, for a minimum of a week until we are sure she knows what is going on in her world. This is the delight I was referring to in the title. This little one will always be extra super special on the farm, but if Shirley is successful together they will become part of the flock. The lamb teaches the mother how to be a member of the flock, we then realize we did the right thing in raising another bottle baby to join the flock with the birth of their first lamb.
It is not cruel to isolate Shirley for this week, because Shirley hasn’t fully integrated herself into the flock, and she needs this time to bond with her baby and lean the ropes of being a mother. If you would like to visit with Shirley this weekend, just drop by the farm store, I’m sure Shirley would love to show you her lamb.
This is not our first time going through this process. The first time was years ago when we accepted some bottle lambs from Gunston Hall (home of George Mason, Virginia Patriot) one of the little lady’s was named Maeve. Maeve had a single ewe lamb that also had a lamb. Little Maeve later participated in a research project at SVF.
Feel free to check on Shirley’s progress.
Posted by Jeff
@ 08:27 AM EDT
So says the Governor of Nebraska, about “pink slime”, well Governor if it is beef let’s grind the hide, hoofs, bones, and some of the internals as well, and horns of selected breeds.
In most people’s eyes ground beef would mean the muscle of Bos taurus, not all the other parts as well. All I can say Governor is “come on man”. This is the agricultural factory farms at their best.
Look at it from the industries point of view, on a typical beef cow, the industry, like the rest of us might realize 150 to 200 pounds of ground beef per animal. (You don’t grind the T-bones of a beef cow.) But if you add in 20 pounds of “pink slim”, that is a 10% increase in the amount of ground beef per animal. Couple that fact, with the fact that the connective tissue doesn’t end up in a dumpster, and it is a win, win situation for the industry. Lower expenses and increased sales, what’s not to love?
But this is not what everyone does; “pink slime” was only available from a small select group of processors, at the extremely large packing houses. I small processor like we use can’t afford the equipment, must less the ding to their reputation for such a practice.
While the industry may grind parts from 10,000 to 20,000 animals per day and commingle all that beef; that is not the way family scale beef processing is done. At Walnut Hill Farm, we process two cows at a time, using Fauquier’s Finest; the ground beef you receive from us is the muscle from those two cows only. And if we requested, the ground beef would not be commingled. In fact if you purchase one-half beef from us all of the ground beef comes out of that half only.
The industry is always looking for items like “pink slim” to increase the bottom line. I have to increase the bottom line using quality, and sound management practices. But don’t worry, by and large “pink slim was mostly served in school cafeterias, not Ruth Crist Steakhouses.
With one or two exceptions (refrigeration) try to determine what agriculture practices were in place prior to factory agriculture, and seek out those that adhere to those old time practices.
Modern factory agriculture is more concerned about a healthy bottom line than it is concerned about your health and well being. You have the power to change the industry, exert that power with your shopping dollars.
Have you ever seen a box of premade hamburger patties, and then look at the ingredients only to discover that beef isn’t the first ingredient, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it.
No Governor it isn’t beef, and it never was what anyone unknowingly thought was beef. But if you are so proud of this product, why don’t you have some served at the next White House State Diner? Just like I thought.
Posted by Jeff
@ 11:17 AM EDT
Last night the final piece of the puzzle feel into place, and I now know my work schedule for the upcoming market season. This is a schedule that allows for so much free time, I don’t know how to handle the situation.
The Farmer’s Markets that Walnut Hill Farm will be attending this year are as follows: The week begins with the Dale City Farmer’s Market on Sunday from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. This is a market with 43 individual vendors, and a good market management team. This Markets starts April 1, 20012 and runs year round. The winter hours are adjusted once December arrives. Ginny will be on farm Sundays from noon until 4:00 p.m. So there is no change to Sundays.
Monday and Tuesday will be flex days on the farm. These flex days will be used to either conduct school field trips, or to process poultry. My preference is to process the poultry on Tuesday’s, but this may not fit a school teacher’s schedule. Spring is a great time for an elementary field trip to the farm. And not to worry, I can tie your grade SOL requirements into the field trip.
Wednesdays starting in May, I will be at a new Farmer’s Market in Massaponax at the hospital. This will be an afternoon market, and it is the first year for this market. I have great promise for this market. This market means that I have to find an individual to keep the farm store open on Wednesday afternoon. If you are looking for some part time, extremely part time work; just let me know. This is a change from last year, so please bear with us. This market doesn’t begin until May.
Thursdays, oh Thursday up before the sun, Manassas starts at 7:00 a.m. and runs to 1:00 p.m. This year opening day is April 12th. This market is held at the Harris Pavilion so don’t let those occasionally rainy days discourage you. After the market, it is rush like a madman to the post office to pick up 150 new baby chicks. Yes that is correct generally each week I have to go to the Post Office and pick up poultry. Next it is rush home, unpack, because Tee time is 4:00 p.m.
That’s correct; the one vice that I will admit to is Thursday afternoon golf. In fact I am looking for a partner in a men’s league, as my long time golf partner is having health issues and can’t play. If you love golf, and think you can put up with me, let me know. This is my chance to relax, scoring is not important, but good conversation is.
Friday, is apron day, a rubber apron. Friday is the main processing day of the week. This is an all day poultry processing extravaganza, and to increase the fun, you are invited to view, participate, do you own chickens, or bring the children by for an educational biology lesson. On a good day, there will be enough products to supply the market demands for the weekend.
Saturday Ginny and I are headed in different directions. I will continue to bring my charming personality to the Warrenton Farmer’s Market. This market begins April 14th from 7:00 a.m. until noon. Ginny will be attending the downtown Fredericksburg Market this season beginning April 28th. The market in Fredericksburg is a 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. market. Once hot weather arrives Ginny might have to leave earlier to protect our product. It has not been decided how we intend to work two markets and keep the farm store open, so keep checking the blog for details.
My first hope is to find help for Ginny on Saturday’s; the coolers we use are heavy once filled with meat, especially the chicken cooler which can weigh as much as 300 pounds. Should you be interested in a couple hours labor early on a Saturday let us know. This will be paid labor; I am not looking for a freebee.
On a final note, neither Ginny nor I will be attending markets on April 21st. Instead we are making a public appearance with Chip and Dale. In the event you haven’t seen their pictures these are our oxen. We will be in Warrenton from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. that day at an open house for the Warrenton CFC, if you are in the area you just have to bring the children. There are two special Warrenton boys that I hope to see at this (E & O) event. I know you mom might be worried but trust me, it will be worth the trip.
Hopefully this catches you up on how April is shaping up for us on the farm. I have to decide what to do if all my spare time, I guess feeding the animals daily might be one thing.
Hope to see you at a market near you,
Posted by Jeff
@ 11:15 AM EDT
Have you ever wondered how much exercise there can be in farming? He is a math challenge for you. The first correct answer will receive one pound of ground beef courteous of Walnut Hill Farm. (Sorry this has to be picked up at one of our winter sales location, we will not ship.)
This spring Jeff and Ginny working together will be using Chip and Dale to plow the market garden. Jeff will be behind the plow, and Ginny will be the teamster, Chip will be the nigh ox and Dale will be the off ox.
Working as a team, the four of us will be walking at approximately 1.0 to 1.5 miles per hour using a plow that will turn over 8 inches of soil per pass. Or in other words we will be using an 8 inch plow.
My question for you is how far will each of us have to walk in order to plow one acre? An acre is 43,560 square feet or approximately 208 feet long by 208 feet wide. As with all math problems there are several methods to derive the correct answer. Remember the prize one package of Walnut Hill Farm ground beef “Free of Charge.”
I am looking for the minimum footage, and it will not be an exact answer, because there is also footage in turning around and backing up.
I hope the answer surprises you. If you are looking for some exercise but you don’t like going to the gym, come to the farm instead, we can provide you with all sorts of exercise, and best yet the exercise classes are free.
There is a big difference in using a modern tractor and plowing with oxen. First as the math above show the amount of exercise the farm receives. Second the plow width per pass. Modern tractor can plow 10 or more feet wide per pass, and probably disc 30 feet wide or more at 5 to 6 miles per hour.
In modern farming an estimate as to how much can be accomplished in a 10 hour day, multiply the width of the machinery by the ground speed (in miles per hour). As an example a 30 foot combine head traveling and 5 miles per hour through corn can cover 15 acres per hour, or 150 acres in a ten hour day.
I hope you have enjoyed this first of what I hope is many math challenges to come.
Posted by Jeff
@ 11:08 AM EST
Saturday moring while feeding, Ginny and I discovered a new small litter of piglets. The first time sow had five little ones, two of which were still living when we fed.
Sunday moring there was a new single lamb. Mom and daughter are doing well.
If you get a chance this week or over the weekend give us a call and visit the new arrivals.
Posted by Jeff
@ 03:32 PM EST
Customer Appreciation & Referral Program For 2011
New for 2011 is Walnut Hill’s Customer Appreciation & Referral Plan. This is a voluntary program, with no fees, membership dues, or any other hidden costs. To be eligible for the program you must make a purchase from Walnut Hill Farm and then provide Walnut Hill Farm with your name, address, telephone number, and email address (this information is strictly for the use of Walnut Hill Farm and will not be sold or shared). At this point we will assign a member number to you.
Walnut Hill Farm will use your email address to send newsletters as appropriate to inform you of what is happening on the farm, or specials at the Farmers Market. Additionally we will use your member number to track total purchases.
Qualify for a free Walnut Hill Farm Turkey
- Spend a minimum of $500.00 between January 1 and November 15, 2011.
- Limit one turkey per household.
- CSA chicken and CSA egg plans do not qualify toward the $500.00
- Bulk purchases of whole or half animals do not qualify toward the $500.00
- The free turkey will be a “Free Range Heritage Turkey” at Thanksgiving.
The turkey will be raised by Walnut Hill Farm along with the other free range poultry. This program is limited by Walnut Hill Farm to a fifty (50) turkey give away. Walnut Hill Farm reserves the right to substitute a reward of equal or greater value should the number of qualified members exceed the available turkeys.
Qualify for free Walnut Hill Farm Gift Certificates
- Become a Customer Appreciation Member
- Refer at friend, co-worker, or family member using your Appreciation Membership number
- Person referred must make a minimum qualifying purchase ($17.50)
- For each new referral that makes a qualifying purchase, you receive a $5 gift certificate.
- Maximum of 20 gift certificates awarded per individual per year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------2011 Walnut Hill Farm Customer Appreciation Membership
To sign up please provide us the following information:
City, State, Zip
The above information is strictly for the use of Walnut Hill Farm and will not be sold or shared
Posted by Jeff
@ 03:29 PM EST
At Walnut Hill Farm we have decided to add duck, geese and turkey to our product line for the 2011 Farmer’s Market season. This decision is made in part to expand the use of the existing poultry processor, and secondly there have been many requests for free range heritage turkeys.
The turkeys we plan to raise are known as Bourbon Reds, to see a picture of this turkey, or to discover more about this turkey, visit www.albc-usa.org/cpl/bourbon.html. While the decision has been made to raise the turkeys we are attempting to gauge interest.
Much like the chickens we raise, the turkeys will be raised on pasture, in a free range environment. We have specifically chosen the Bourbon red, hoping to carry over a limited number of breeders for 2012. This is being done for several reasons. First we currently have a large variety of heritage livestock at Walnut Hill Farm. Secondly the modern commercial turkey can no longer naturally mate and reproduce. The modern turkey has to be artificially inseminated to produce the next generation, this is not sustainable. The Bourbon Red is not a modern commercial turkey; it is a heritage turkey which by definition means the turkeys mate naturally.
Christmas goose anyone? We have had geese on the farm in the past, but then they were yard ornaments. Over time foxes eliminated the geese. What I do remember is that Sir Squawk-a-lot was the longest survivor. I’m not sure but I believe these geese were brown Chinese. For our purposes this time we will be raising more of a meat type goose. The geese that we anticipate raising are Toulouse, this is a goose of French origin, the ganders (males) average about 20-25 pounds while the female (goose) averages 13-18 pounds. The Toulouse is on the ALBC watch list.
With the geese there will only be one batched raised, I plan to start these the first week of May so that they will be ready for Christmas.
The duck that we anticipate raising are the White Pekin duck. This is a duck that when mature will average about 10 pounds. We hope to raise three batches of these birds and have they available at three different times during the market season.
The turkeys will only be available fresh the week before Thanksgiving. It is anticipated that these turkeys will be priced at $4.50 per pound, but pricing is subject to change. At this time we are attempting to gauge interest in turkeys and not reserve turkeys. The turkeys will be started the first week of May.
Hopefully everyone will enjoy these additions; please let us know what you think.
Posted by Jeff
@ 09:23 AM EST
Walnut Hill Farm 2011 Chicken CSA
For the 2011 Farmer’s Market season, Walnut Hill Farm is offering a chicken CSA. CSA commonly stands for Community Supported Agriculture, where the farmer and consumer share the risk while providing the farmer some much needed start up cash. The Farm Market season is a 29 to 32 week season based on the Farmer’s Market you attend.
Generally speaking the Market season will be from May 1, 2011 until November 19, 2011. Of course this will vary with each market. The chicken CSA will be available at the farm, Warrenton Farmer’s Market, Manassas Thursday Farmer’s Market and hopefully three others local markets which have not been approved at this time.
As this is a new venture for Walnut Hill Farm the first year membership will be capped at 50 members. Members will be guaranteed ten chickens during the 30 week farmer’s market season. The cost of membership is $100.00 for a guarantee of 10 chickens. Multiple shares are available if you desire more that ten chickens. Unlike the 2010 year trial you can receive individual chickens as desired; you do not have to accept all 10 chickens at once. There is no weight guarantee on the chicken; you chose the one you want while at the market. Unlike the egg CSA, there is no guarantee of a chicken each week, we request you call ahead and reserve the number of chicken you wish to pick up that week. Your help is appreciated in making this a valuable planning tool for all of us!
Enrollment is taking place now and is only available to the first 50 paid members. Payment is needed to be considered enrolled.
As part of the CSA you are encouraged to notify us as to the number of chickens you want and the weeks you will want them. Walnut Hill will be using a punch card system to track the chickens, to determine when you reach your 10 chicken limit. There will not be a refund if you do not pick all the chickens in your CSA share.
To enroll please complete the application below and return to Walnut Hill Farm along with your payment. Please remember this is open to the first 50 paid members only. Deadline to sign up for the 2011 Chicken CSA is March 15, 2011. After this date chickens can be purchased individually at $3.00 per pound.
Walnut Hill Farm 2011 Chicken CSA
City, State, Zip
Posted by Jeff
@ 09:06 AM EST
The New Year weekend was full of activity here on the farm. First the American Milking Devon’s were moved from the leased farm to the home farm for the winter. Now would be a great time to come by the farm to see some truly unique and rare heritage breed cows. There are approximately 1200 of these cows in the United States.
Secondly, the weather had warmed up enough compared to December that we were able to process 33 spent Barred Plymouth Rock hens and the remainder of the Freedom Rangers. The next group of chickens will be processed starting in May.
Fear not the chicken that was not sold this weekend was placed in the freezer. These chickens will be available while they last.
Many of the Barred Rocks are spoken for. Twenty of the hens are to be donated to “Journey Through Hallowed Ground” for the Edna Lewis fund raising diner. Celebrity chef Carla Hall will be preparing the diner. The chicken will be used for chicken & dumplings. The diner will be held in Manassas in February. This event is tied into Black History Month. Ginny and I are looking forward to attending this event.
The final event for the weekend was to move many of the sheep to the home farm in preparation for lambing. It is much easier to lamb at home than to lamb 12 miles from home.
As a final note on January 15 we are scheduled to attend the North Carolina – Virginia Sheep Symposium in Verona, Virginia. Maybe we will see you there.
Posted by Jeff
@ 09:02 AM EST
Walnut Hill Farm Egg 2011 CSA
For the 2011 Farm Market season, Walnut Hill Farm is offering an egg CSA. CSA commonly stands for Community Supported Agriculture, where the farmer and consumer share the risk while providing the farmer some much needed start up cash. The Farm Market season is a 29 to 32 week season based on the Farmer’s Market you attend.
Generally speaking the Market season will be from May 1, 2011 until November 19, 2011. Of course this will vary with each market.
As this is a new venture for Walnut Hill Farm the first year membership will be capped at 25 members. Members will be guaranteed one dozen brown eggs per week during the farm market season. The cost of membership is $100.00 for a guarantee of 30 dozen eggs. This is a 16% savings off the regular Farmer’s Market price, more importantly you will be guaranteed to have eggs waiting for you at the market. Eggs will be held until the last hour of market, unless you let us know in advance you will be picking them up later. This is to keep us from carrying eggs to and from the market. Your help is appreciated in making this a valuable planning tool for all of us!
Enrollment is taking place now and is only available to the first 25 paid members. Payment is needed to be considered enrolled. Deadline for enrollment for the 2011 egg CSA is March 15, 2011.
As part of the CSA you are encouraged to recycle egg cartoons and to let us know weeks when you need more than one dozen of eggs. If you do not show up for a market because of vacation, etc. your eggs carry over to the next week. Walnut Hill will be using a punch card system to track the eggs, to determine when you reach your 30 dozen limit. They will not be a refund if you do not pick up your eggs on a regular basis.
To enroll please complete the application below and return to Walnut Hill Farm Walnut Hill
Walnut Hill Farm 2011 Egg CSA
| City, State, Zip
| Phone Number
| Email Address
| Market Location
Details to come on the 2011 Chicken CSA (10 chickens for $100.00) and a custower reward program where you can qualify for a free, free range turkey.
Posted by Jeff
@ 09:28 AM EST
The wind has not let up for several days, and the cows need new pasture. So I had to fight the wind this morning to move the cows to the opposite end of the farm for winter grazing.
The cold you can dress for but I have never found a cure for the wind. The wing seems to cut through all cothing. At least there is stockpiled fescue for the girls now. Only time will tell how long the grass will last.
Posted by Jeff
@ 09:42 AM EST
There was lots of heavy lifting today. Loading the truck to go to the processing plant. Todays mission was to bring back nine pigs from the processor. The mission was successful, now the freezers are restocked for winter. And by Friday I will need to return to the processor to pick up five lambs.
The hope is that this will last until the Farmer's Markets open in late April 2011. At the momment we have six flavors of sausage, plenty of no nitrate or nitrite bacon, and shoulder roasts for the pulled pork folks.
The wind today has been unbearable, the is the second day for these winds. I am hoping for some warm weather so that I can get the last group of chickens processed.
Posted by Jeff
@ 03:03 PM EST
I have just finished ordering chickens for the 2011 season. The first day olds should arrive on 25 February 2011, and will continue to arrive weekly until 17 August 2011.
This schedule will allow for me to process chicken from the first week of May until the middle of November. I have chosen these dates, because I know that I don't what to be processing chickens during the winter.
Chickens sell out fast at the market, because a truly fresh chicken is hard to find. Now might be the time to consider joining the fresh chicken CSA for 2011.
The grazing season is widing down and we have started feeding hay for the winter. This summer's drought was hard on the pastures making the early feeding of hay necessary.
Finally for this post come to the farm before Christmas and see several animals of the Navitiy. At the farm you will be able to see sheep, burros (donkeys) and oxen. Chip and Dale might even put on a Santa's hat and Swiss Cow bells for a quick postcard picture
Posted by Jeff
@ 10:49 AM EST
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