Richert/Phillips Farms

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


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


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


preparing for the season

   Well, we are cleaning the equipment for work in the fields and this week we will check on the bee hives. If the hives are lite they will get some sugar water as feed, but if their heavy they will be left alone. The hives are new to our farm(last year was the first year we've had them), Dan and I are learning bee work as we go.

   Maple sap is slowing down and changing color, maybe another week of flow then it will-be over for the year. Pricing is one of the hardest things to determine on our products. We like volume pricing so we can move a lot of product fast, so if that product is sold off the farm then we will not get the low pricing that the auction offers. Farmers markets applications have been coming in--two of the markets are pleasant to be in and two is nothing but a battle. A pleasant one is where the farmers all get along, sell their stuff, share ideas, and help one another. A bad market is where the supposed farmers complain about the farmers(complains about what their selling and pricing, etc.). Of the past nine years one particular person has always broken the rules of the market for his favor and complained when others shown the slightest bit of competition on his product. The best part in this whole story is he has lost customers to us and the other farmer year after year because of his attitude. CSAs applications are slowing down, but still coming in.

   A young potential farmer has asked if he could work for us this year to learn the business of farming our style--we look forward to having around

   Till next week Jesus loves


maple sap is running, chickens ordered and seeds planted

   We have had a busy week--our season has began. Maple trees are running(giving sap) and we have been setting new taps while collecting sap from already set trees. Most of the time sap is collected once a day but today we had to go out twice, that is perfectly fine. Leon will be cooking and bottling it for us, so everyday(except Sundays) I deliver to him. Leon is a good man and farmer(small produce and livestockman). With his young family he has hard times, yet smiles a lot with a good story from time to time.

   Daniel and I finally got the floor done in the greenhouse with other work like building a propagation chamber(an inclosed selving system well insulated with watertables to start seeds). Monday we will start seeds for the field.

   Finding straw for the berries and asparagus has been difficult--there is a lead that will be fallowed up on Tuesday. As long as the snows do not melt the strawberries will-be fine, but if it rains Saturday night(like the landlord says) all the snow will melt and the berries will need covered.

   Chickens have been ordered and will be coming soon. We are going to order a few ducks for some customers who like there eggs over chicken eggs--we will see if it works out.

   Well, I have to go and study my lesson for Sunday school I am the teacher for mens class for a few months--

   Jesus love


went to deliver eggs ended up with maple syrup

   Earlier this week I was driving a friend around on his egg delivery. On the way to the second stop we past a shop selling tools, so we pulled in. There was a gas powered drill the he was interested in but it was to much; instead Leon bought a regular electric drill and we were on our way. Before the next stop the conversation was about why a gas drill. Well, there are several people in his area that makes maple syrup and a drill like that comes in handy out in the woods for setting taps. Daniel and I use to do maple syrup on our farm--haven't in a long time, but Leon and I decided that if Daniel and I tap he will cook down the sap into syrup and split it fifty fifty.    So we left to deliver eggs stopped at a shop ended up making maple syrup...what a day!

   On other news our CSAs are selling well and once the snow melts we will be on the ground. We are almost done with the floor of the green house and once that is in we will start planting seeds.


CSA time

   We are starting to get CSA applications in. It feels good that most of last years members have already sent them in.

   On our produce farm there is only 12-18 weeks we are making money--the rest of the time is preparing for the season and waiting for the markets to open. Taking CSAs really helps us out by have funding early on, but the responsibility and concern for our customers can weigh heavy at times. Not knowing the weather is always a concern, yet there is no better life then a small farmer. The best part is the worst part--not knowing the future weather paterns, etc. keeps us on our toes. Pushing forward dispite uncertainty is a factor that makes the good times so much better(the good times makes one laugh at what it took to get there)


There are struggles

   Farming is not always easy, there are a lot of pit falls in this industry. We are going to raise livestock this year to help off set not having income during most of the year. In fresh pick produce there is only about 12 to 18 weeks of making cash sales the rest of the time is preparing for the season. This window of opportunity is not bad if not to many things go wrong. But if there is major set backs(weather, money, new regulations, etc.) then that window may close, not to open for another year. A person must be commited to farming if they plan to make it. In the type of agriculture we serve there is no set time when to begin and end the day--work till the work is will come sometime in November if it is a tough year. Sunday is the day of rest, Church is rewarding, yet on some days it is hard to get up early and make it on time. Don't get me wrong I love Christ and our life style and it isn't always back breaking work--there is a lot of fun to, but one must be commited or everything can be lost with one big mistake or bad season.

   Like right now I am enjoying the snow fall that is said by the news to be a snow storm.


snows melted

   The weather warmed up for a day and the rains fell then to melting the snow. Know we are hoping freezing weather will follow for at least 10 days to freeze the ground. Snow acts like an insulater and if the ground is not frozen when it is covered then it will not freeze until it is uncovered.

   Cleaning up is our main goal right now--that seems like a never ending event. Besides cleaning and ordering supplies for the coming season we go to church. We are members of a Menninite concervative church--by choice not birth. Of all the church groups we visited they are the most loving and biblically sound Christian Church. That is if it is in the New Testiment they fallow it as best they can with no excuse of there is another way--the only way to find God is the way He says!

   Farming keeps us respectful to the world and gives us peace of mind knowing we have most days there is work to be done.


Looking forward to the coming season

   We are waiting for the snows to melt so to get into the field to plow. But until then we will continue to run our trap lines and send our seed orders in. The temp. is warming up and soon the maple syrup will start to run--here in Northern Indiana that is sometime in mid February.

   Daniel and I work our farm together--I was tought the old ways of farming. That is if it is of the land then it is useful in some way. We trap during the season so to control problem animals and I like to. It is better to sell the fur on the market or use the pelt then to completely waste the animal for being a problem. After trapping is over the greenhouse is opened and we start to plant vegetable seeds for the garden. We are selling CSAs for the second time.

    Last year was our first season with CSAs and it worked allright. We like the fact that if enough sell then we do not have to try for a farm loan. Either way loan or CSAs the land is part of us.

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