Richert/Phillips Farms

  (North Liberty, Indiana)
ventures of a small fresh pick farm
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Home again

   We came back from another series of seminars. I tell you seminars are good but so often they can drain energy right out of you--sitting for hours. The classes are filled with a lot of information and we learn, but when the lights are dimmed it can be hard to stay awake.

   Several of the companies in the trade show are our buddies, it is nice to talk with them out side of farm visits. A farm visit is strictly business and move on--the reps have to visit several farms a day and the farmer has to get his work done, so little time to have friendly conversations. At the shows we can have general pleasant talks with out being rushed.

   Don't get me wrong we do work at the shows, just different type. For instances--one of our buddies works for a large seed company from Europe and when we talk he gives me seeds that has not reached the U.S. yet...so I can test the seeds out to see how they do. Some of the seeds are distinct to closed regions of Europe and others are improved varieties. I do not get a lot of seeds, but if there is a variety pleasing to my green thumb he gets me more for a fee of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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intern

   A young man asked if he could help sell CSA membership for us, we worked out a deal and said yes. The deal is working out well, he is a real go getter--if there were other works like him around here I could take rest easier knowing that things and stuff was getting done right and proper. He treats the task at hand as if it was his own--a bit high strung we watch him so he does not burn himself out. We will look for another to help out with CSAs to like this young man, he is a real trooper.

   Leon, Dan, and I have been cutting fire wood these past several days(Leon is another organic farmer whom we work together with syrup) the trees was removed from the ditch that was re-dug. Those trees was pushed into one hug pile filled with limbs, grasses, and other debris that has to be worked out to get to the good wood--it is fun to work on a farm so many different things to do.

   A sad note I will not be trapping rats in the ditches and marsh this year. The rats are few(less than a 5Th then previous years) they are having kidney failure--dying off...chemicals but no one is saying that. Even though I trap I have a great respect for animals and they are part of the farms income, that is lost this year. We do not over trap, the loss of these little creatures is very sad. Lets hope someone is looking into this matter and cause.

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winter is not slow

I just got back from Kokomo selling Christmas trees. Christmas tree sales were very good this year--people said we had some real good trees. Our land lord makes wreathes and such that was also sold there...they do right good job of making those Christmas add ons.

   It is good to be home, I was gone for a month. We are thinking of offering CSAs in Kokomo, Indiana in 2012, maybe. The biggest purchase that we made this year was a new planter for greens and small seeds. Perhaps this seeder will help in increasing our production of these items.

   Trapping season is nearly over and there is not one trap set--tomorrow I will be setting as many as possible to make up for lost time. We do not set for grass wolves because they help control the coons, rabbits and ground hogs. Manly coons and rats. Between collecting and skinning we will be making new chicken huts for the pasture.

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a good year

Hello,

    This year was a good season. All the markets preformed well and the fields produced quiet a bit--we are happy.

   Chickens had some roosters mixed in with the hens and those roosters are very hansum ones in deed. I would like to find some one that would like to breed them for us. It would be a shame to butcher um for soup...we will look a while longer.

   The CSAs are doing well most of the clients have returned and some of those that did not have did recommend new ones to sign up. But I feel a few people signed up for the program not knowing what they were doing and/or not having a clue what a CSA was/is. To me dealing with that type of person is difficult.

   Farming is a joy, we dug out our ditch, added a culvert, and put some fencing up for hogs and cows. This mild weather has given us some more time to catch-up on projects not done right...but they will be soon.

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CSA and eggs

Hello everyone,

     After the season ended our new chickens started to lay eggs--O' dear are they laying eggs. If you are a CSA or another customer of ours you know almost all season I kept saying those chickens will be laying any week, but it did not happen until about a week ago...O' so many eggs!

   Don't know about the other farmers but this seasons heat came early and stayed for the most part. Me and the dog would once in a while climb down into the stream and rest under the culvert for a spell. Doing that was not bad until a big black snake swam across my legs making the dog jump and splash all over--he never did get the snake, but I am sure that snake had a good laugh.

   Daniel and I want to thank all the CSA member for being part of our farm and signing up again.

Jesus loves

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Season is nearly here

   We have already started planting out in the fields--peas, radishes, spinach, etc. and what a joy it has been. Germination was a bit slow but when them little plants first peeked out of the ground we felt an over whelming joy, O' to be farmers.

   CSA applications have been doing well and if gas prices stay high or go even higher that will drive up cost of everything. Making these CSA's' get an even better bargain for their baskets...that really pleases us.

   Feed cost has gone up in the last few weeks so we will trying plant some of our feed corn and see how that goes. Sapping season ended giving us over double of what we had last year. Cooking on a better boiler made the stuff look a lot nicer, taste the same just looks better. In a few days the new chicks will start to arrive--we order five or six different varieties of layers just because I like to look at the contrasting colors and sizes...having one type of breed is boring--it is not all about money making with us, it has to be appealing to.

 

Jesus loves you...let him in he cares about you

 
 

ramps "wild leeks"

   Our sap season is coming to an end, but a wonderful surprise has happened. Ramps are growing--these things are like little onions with spinach attached. We cook them in olive oil and butter till they are carmeled and then eat like a king. They are good in soup, as seasoning, or just a side dish. If frying cook them hot and fast--don't burn just caramelize.

   I used to sell them to a restaurant chain, but ownership changed hands and stopped buying them--started to use green onions, but that did not work, they lost a lot of customers over the change. There loss, these ramps are the start off spring and the flavor is very good.

   Ramps if eaten raw is very strong taste and an even stronger smell. Cooking them tames the pungent little fellow, yet I always eat a few raw while picking.

Jesus loves you,

  

 
 

Helping others farm

The other day a boy asked how Daniel and I became vegetable farmers.

 

   In 2001 Daniel came up from Arizona to live and work with his grandparents, he is my cousin. On the first day of his arrival I took him to my farm to see the pigs and at the end of the week he declared himself a partner on the farm. I have been farming for nearly twelve years prier as a hog man. We talked for a few hours and determined that produce farming is the way to go. On my farm there was always two to three acre gardens, but never for resale.

   Blindly we dove in, with no clue what to expect. The South Bend market was the first market we done--it was alright. But the larger cities was were we needed to be so to pebble our goods. No one helped us--we did not know anything about vegetable equipment, how to find markets, what the laws are about selling, etc....we were lost. It took me about six months to find markets in the suburbs of Chicago, Palatine was the first(still there) then others fell in to place. Over time we became experts in our industry and when someone ask how they can be produce farmers, how they can market their goods I tell them everything--sometimes even get them into my market to help 'em out for a season or two.

 

Jesus loves

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Sapping and chickens

The sap is running strong right now. I have taken a load of sap to Leon's nearly every day. For two days straight we had to check our buckets twice, so not to have them over flow. With the new pan the syrup looks much better...a nice golden brown.

   There are a lot more eggs this week we're needing to find another store to sell to. When of the simple joys of farming is watching the hens peck around the ground, scratching and cackling--what a joy. This year if we can afford it, I think the hen house will be put on wheels. That way they can be moved quicker and further if need be. Our hens are given pasture, we insist they go on pasture even if they fuss.

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oxen, animal power and memories

This winter has had some sad times in it. Both Rock and Scat our oxen were lost, died in January. There was a lot of ice on the ground and they both at different times slipped--breaking their hips. We used them often and looked forward to working them on the sapping line. Not having 'em this year will put a damper on many chores around here. Work animals are greatly appreciated, but when their gone it is like a friend has been lost.

   We had them for six years. The first few years was training and the last years was working them. They were purchased in late fall a few weeks old and we bedded them down with mounds of straw, but the two of them refused to go in. Dan and I tried nearly everything to make 'em go in. While trying to figure out what the problem was we heard a bark and alot of growling-- Old Bones, a very old beagle, had buried himself in the straw to the point his nose was the only part sticking out, he had to be picked up and carried out so the boys could go in to rest. Old Bones was a fine dog that lived with us for nearly ten years, never a problem. By the grace of God and our Lord Jesus Christ will we some day be rewarded with some more fine work animals...perhaps a mule.

Jesus loves

 

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our first run for the season

   Well, I took the first run of sap over to Leon's so to cook it down. He showed me the new pan(new to us) he bought--yipe,  it is something, that's for shur. Last year we used a huge flat pan this year we're cooking with an older syrup pan with bevels. It will evaporate the water much faster, give a better looking syrup, and allow for more trees to be tapped. But that pan is ugly, that is before he put a lot of work in fixing it up--filling the holes, sanding it down, and resoldering. The sap was running great until the snows came and ended the short run--it will start up again.

   The hens really been giving up the eggs this past week. They also have become more active. Their is two that are brooder hens and always have an attitude toward us when we go to get the eggs. I think for fun we'll give them fertile eggs after moving them to a pen of their own and let those two hatch a handful of little ones.

   The markets are starting to applications out. Palatine, IL app. just came in the mail. Carmel, IN sent us an invitation for their market--haven't heard from Geist, but it should be coming. Have been sending a lot of CSA apps out as well. It appears that this year is shaping up to be quit a busy one. Last year we had a drought, the year before that there was to much cold weather, and the year before that was very wet------can't wait to see what come around this time, not knowing is part of the fun of farming.

 

Jesus loves you

 
 

On the farm

Most of the winter was spent running around to seminars, trade shows, and auctions. But now that the snows are melting we are really hitting the work hard. Maple sap will start running soon and we got a woods were the sap has to be pumped out every day...this will be are first time of pumping such a long distance (1000+ feet)...we'll see. Last year was our first time back in a multitude of years sapping and it proven to be an asset on the farm with the customers. We sold out of maple juice(syrup) by June.

   The layers made it trough the hard winter, only lost one, and they managed to keep giving up them eggs. This year we plan to have the hens huts on wagons so to move them easier from one pasture to the next. These hens sure do make a lot of noise...cackling constantly and foraging as if at play. Our meat chickens done very well also--but it takes longer to cook them then other hens. Chicken dinners take longer to prepare then normal and the first few times of cooking these birds really gave us late meals until we got use to preparing them. 

   CSAs are doing well, most of our customers have been a joy to deal with. Some we never even met they had us drop and go--never seen them...that's fine a bit strange. Other customers grabbed and ran, while others stayed and talked. Every one was happy that we know off. But the two that complained called and signed up again...I just don't get people. We had fun

   Jesus loves

 
 

its been awhile

We are happy winter is nearly over and the growing season is near. The extra snow has slowed our work down quite a bit, but we still managed to get by. Staying in touch with other farmers that have become our friends has proven to be an enjoyment--talking with them about our industry and their ideas really helps each of us to become united as one. The customers are also nice to talk with but those conversations is usually explaining how things are and how they are done.

   Conventional farms and organizations are getting ready discredit organic farmers in order to promote their products. If you are for organic be-prepared for a big battle between the different types of farming out there. I find that people do not want the whole truth--only to keep what knowledge they have on a topic narrow and tight. Perhaps, consumers need to go though all legitimate research and then make a buyers opinion in how they purchase farm goods.

Jesus loves 

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field ready, almost

   We are almost at full swing for farming this season. Our markets are opening early--first week of May. The strawberries are blooming, but it is to early so we been knocking some of the flowers off. In all produce growing areas that I know there is always competition to be the first to have stuff at the buying station and to have the largest of some items for the year. We play that part very well--I have a secret garden hidden from the eyes of the other produce growers and that garden will produce the largest watermelon any of them have ever seen. As for earliness we will not play that part for seeds are to expensive to loss in the early unpredictable weather--that's not true we are going to smoke them on early beets and beans. But if by chance we do get a first then that product will take a journey to show off and let everyone know who has out done them. It is all in good fun. Have church tonight so God bless and read your Bible

 

       Jesus loves

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ordering chickens and prepping the berries

   It has been getting busy--just before the rain this week we disc-ed nearly the entire field and planted a few pounds of peas, beets and radishes. If the rains hold off for another week or so we can prep all the fields. Tomorrow an organic company will have a rep in the area...we're going to listen and there is going to be some donuts too. Maple trees are not giving much sap, so the taps will be polled, maybe next week--it has been a slow run this year. After meeting with the rep straw needs to be picked-up for the berries.

   Chicken order needs to be in tomorrow as well--maybe 100 turkeys, 100 layers(Rhode island reds, buff orphingtons, Plymouth barred rocks) and 300 butchers (butchers are ordered,on a normal year three times--900 birds for the season). they will be raised organically, but because the butcher plant is not certified organic we can only label them raised organically. I like the traditional breeds myself. Some time in the summer we hope to pick-up a few hogs also. I do not mind certified organics and know if there was not regulations some people would take advantage, but the fees with the added cost of organics is very costly. Although organic products seem to work better for the plants--the nutrients are more readily available to the plants then conventional. 

   Jesus loves, look-up for He will return

 
 
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