Black Dog Farms

  (Twin Falls, Idaho)
Eatin' Good, Livin' Good
[ Member listing ]

What do you want to eat?

Go to the grocery store and take a look at the produce. Lots of stuff that looks a day or two old at best. Now read the little signs that the store puts next to each vegetable or fruit. Product of Mexico. 

How long does it take to get a bunch of celery from Mexico to my town in Idaho? The stuff has to be picked, and then packaged or processed, and then delivered. I say a few days at best.

What kind of rules are there in Mexico that govern the growing of crops? I have a guess, and it is not good.

Buy local and know your farmer. Know how they grow the stuff. See the crops come out of the ground.

Join a CSA today!


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Growing For Beer

Does anyone out on this site do an custom growing for a local brewpub? I know that many micro breweries are always looking for organic or natural wheat and barley.

I just sent some emails out to a whole host of them in my area, introducing myself, my crops, and my style of growing. In addition, I asked for their feedback on both what they need and approximately what price they pay for it. 

While I am not sure if I have what it takes to grow for them, I sure would like to gain some information that will help my operation increase in size and scope.

If any of you have any ideas, feel free to email or call me. Thank you in advance.

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Increase Your Revenue

Last year I needed to increase my revenue a bit. My shares were maxed out and due to weather, there was not much to sell either direct or at a market. I started a local food guide.

The guide that I started was nothing fancy. Basically it is a compilation of local food growers, wineries, brew pubs, beekeepers, and a few other goodies thrown in.  The first one that I did was almost a spreadsheet with phone numbers and websites included. I passed it out at the farmers market and to my shareholders.

I followed that up with a more elaborate pamphlet style booklet. I wrote up a small article about a few of the producers and included a color photo of their place or their product. Obviously with their permission. I also added a spot for advertisements, even though I had only two. I made sure and asked anyone taking the publication to mention it when they purchased.

My third version was almost a magazine. I did color photos, and sold some advertising. Each grower was listed for free, but could buy a full or half page color ad. Of the sponsors, I did a full spread interview and photo session on them. I got 1500 of those out to the public.

I am working on my fourth version now. Besides growers, I have taken some ads from unrelated businesses that see a good advertising deal. Also I am including a classified section in the back. Nothing huge yet, but some extra revenue.

If any of you want to start something like this, please email me and I will help you to get started.


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Just Like The Queen

I read where some in the press are upset that the royals in England are going to be eating Quail eggs at the big upcoming wedding. The journalists are mad because eating quail eggs is kind of an upper crust thing to do I guess. Above the common person or something.

My family must be royalty or something because we eat quail eggs too. In fact, we even have our own quail. We must be special.

Quail eggs are supposed to be better for you than chicken eggs. Higher in antioxidants and omegas. I do not know if that is true, but they do taste really good.

For our CSA members, we have a quail egg add-on that will allow you to eat like a queen.

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Finally Sunshine

After all of the snow of the past few weeks, I though winter was coming back. Cold, gray, and dreary  have been the watchwords of the day lately. The thought of even being outside much was not very entertaining, at least to me.

Yesterday we woke up to some high clouds and a pretty good dose of sunshine. A little more motivating for someone who is going to spend the day outside.

Today is going to be even warmer and sunnier here in southern Idaho. I may even start turning some dirt this morning.

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Late Season Shares

Here it is April 11th, and my shares are all sold out. Now for the easy part, growing the stuff. While I am not sure how easy that will be this year, I do know that many more people called me than I could accommodate. Kind of a sign of the times I guess.

In that vein, I am opening up another section of my farm to what I am calling late season shares. It will probably be a 4 to 6 week share program that will include just the August-September stuff like Melons, Corn, Peppers, etc. Price point for a late share is going to be $125. The weekly shares will be smaller than a regular full season share.

I have already run the idea by many of those who called too late for a regular season share and they are all for it. 10 shares should do the trick. Kind of a neat way to introduce more folks to a CSA and hopefully, get them into the full program next year.

Next up: Starting a winter share program.

Any input would be appreciated.

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Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Lately I have been wondering if the tree needs to be put back up around here. For the last 4 mornings I have awakened to a pretty steady snowfall. Kinda hard to envision the fact that in a mere 6 weeks (42 days) I am planning to start making some deliveries. 

The good news though is that by mid afternoon everyday, the snow has melted and the ground is clearly visible. I am ready to turn the ground and start sowing the cool weather stuff in about 2 weeks. Come on sunshine.

How is your weather?

 
 

Fertilizer Cost: Nill

Quick, when you think of Idaho what comes to mind? 

My wife and I were just talking a day or two ago that we do not even know a potato farmer ( or a skinhead for all of you who went that direction). Here we are living in the middle of ag country in the state that is well known as a potato growing champion and I can't name even one potato grower. Kinda funny.

I do however know some farmers who grow other types of crops. And one of the topics they continually discuss is how much their fertilizer costs have increased this year. A few are reporting that they will be up around $150-$200 per acre for fertilizer. Interesting.

And perplexing to a guy like me. You see, I use no fertilizer on the food that I grow. OK, I  might mix up a little compost including some chicken manure early in the season.  Sure sometimes my stuff does not look as pretty as theirs.Often I fight a problem bug or two on my crop, but I still manage to grow lots of food.

And I will put mine up against theirs in a blind taste test any day of the week.

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I Farm Therefore I Am

I saw myself in the mirror so the fact that I exist is proven to me, at least. I digress.

Growing food for my kids or yours is serious business. Who wants their kids to eat some chemical that was designed in a lab to kill things. It does not make sense.

At Black Dog Farms we use no chemicals. Our motto is dirt, water, sun. Kind of like the Olympic motto only goofier. But it works for us.

Seriously though our food is nutritious, healthy, and tasty. The fact that we feed it to our kids should be a good sign for you.

To get a good deal on produce this year, call or email me ASAP. I have only one share left.

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Direct Sales

Last year I started a special section for direct sales only.  The area in which I grow this stuff is set off from the shareholder area, and although it contains a lot of the same stuff, also produces some unique crops.

To start I went to the grocery stores in my area and figured out what produce, besides fruit, was fairly expensive to buy. Then I took that list and decided of those which I could produce in semi abundance in my garden.

What is expensive in your area may be different than in mine, but you get the idea. Next figure out how much you can sell a set quantity of each particular vegetable for. You should be able to easily beat the store price. If not, then you may have to resort to more of a "gourmet" type version of the veggie.

Before you even plant a seed in the ground, make a list of who would buy produce in abundance. I found that  great niche in small cafes and, crazy as it may seem, seniors housing. Explain your product and your price. Leave a price quote. Tell them you will bring a sample as soon as you pull some out of the ground. Let them know that you can keep them in whatever it is for the entire summer. Finally, I usually offer a set price for the summer.

And then the biggest business builder of all:

Under promise and over deliver!

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Dependance On Foreign Beef?

Our kids had a few friends coming over on Saturday. I told them dinner was on me. My special beef enchiladas. The kids and their buddies always love them. Off to the store I went.

I digress a moment.

We always buy a side of beef from a friend who happens to grow organic beef for his living. Good stuff. The problem last Saturday was that we were out of ground beef and that is what I needed for the recipe. Sure I could grind up another cut but figured a quick trip to the store would be faster and easier.

To the store I went. In the meat department I find the ground beef, but something is amiss. On the label the meat is listed as coming from Mexico. I ask the butcher if he has any from the US. After all, I live in the US. I prefer my food to come from the US. More specifically, I prefer my food to come from my region. Geez. I live right in the middle of beef country. Why would I want to buy beef from Juarez Mexico?

After visiting 2 other grocery stores I gave up. They all buy their beef from either Mexico or Canada. No thanks.I went home to grind up a top sirloin roast from my buddies beef.

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Call To Growers

Co-op, cooperative, a group of people. No matter what you call the thing, it still boils down to a team effort. More than one person pointing towards the same goal.

Here in Twin Falls Idaho, we are putting together a small group of growers who want to get you the best meat, vegetables, fruits, and a whole list of other good things, on your table.

Everything that we sell is grown either naturally or organically, right in your neighborhood, not in some far away country or in some other state. I just read a report that showed when you buy a local product, 10% more of the money that if you bought a non-local product, stays in your area. It pays to buy locally. Besides helping your friends and neighbors, that same money will someday find its way back to you.

I am putting together a small marketing flyer/brochure for our area and would like to include good stuff in it. Any growers in the Magic Valley please call of email me this week.

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If you got it...

If you got it a truck brought it. I have seen that bumper sticker on many a big rig. True in most cases but not if all cases.

I prefer my food to be delivered in a farm box. A farm box can be made out of either wood or cardboard. Anything that will hold all of those delicious fresh vegetable will work. 

I make all of my farm boxes by hand from scrap lumber that I have sitting around. No need to waste the stuff. Each one measures in at one bushel and has strong rope handles on it. Black Dog Farms is engraved into the side so that everyone knows from whence it came.

How about you? What do you use for farm boxes?

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A Secret

Psst! Wanna know a secret? 

One of the best ways to save on your food bill and eat fresh, just out of the garden vegetables, without growing a garden yourself is to join what is called a CSA. Ever heard of one?

Here is how it works:

You buy a share of a farm. Thats right. You become an owner of whatever comes out of the ground at that farm for the season. Pretty cool huh? For an example lets use my farm. For 350 bucks you can buy one of 15 shares. So if for the week of July 1st I harvest 45 pounds of bush beans out of my "share" farm, each shareholder would get 3 pounds of beans for that week.

The best part of the whole thing, and there are many, is that most of us CSA farmers grow lots of different stuff. The July 1st week that I used would get you a whole lot more than just 3 pounds of beans. I try to plan my output for about a bushel of goodies per share per week.  It varies a bit but most of my shareholders say 1 full share will last 3-4 eaters a week.

Here on this site you can find a CSA in your area. Check a few of them out and then join one. I promise that one share of a CSA will be a lot more fun than a share of any stock on Wall Street.

There is no time like the present to start eating well and save a few bucks.

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Rookie Leek Guy

I have never grown leeks before. To be right up front, I was not even sure what you would do with them until a few weeks ago. One of my share holders from last year asked if I would grow them. After a bit of research I decided to give it a try.

On March 1st I started 100 of them in my greenhouse. Large American Flag leeks they are called. Kind of a patriotic name. Anyways, from what I have read these things take about 100 days from sowing to eating so I am hoping to have 100 ready to go around the end of May or start of June. Weather permitting of course.

Online there are lots of great recipes for leeks with the one that sticks out at me being leek and potato soup. That looks really good to this Idaho farm boy. I'll let you know around June 1st or so.

If any of you have any leek suggestions I would love to hear them.

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