Callister Family Farm

  (West Concord, Minnesota)
Thoughts from a chicken farmer

Fall chores

I guess I have to accept that summer is over now that we've received several inches of snow, 20 degree temps and howling winds out of the north! We're doing pretty good with winterizing and preparing the buildings and farm for winter conditions. There's just one group of broilers to process for the year, it'll be a good feeling when they're all processed and the freezer is full. Our biggest hurdle to finishing up is the turkey processing the few days before Thanksgiving. It's a marathon event for about a week with the grand finale taking place on Wednesday November 22nd at the St Paul Farmer's Market. About one third of our turkeys are picked up by customers on the Saturday before. We always hope for the weather to be cold enough to safely keep the fresh turkeys until they're picked up and not so cold that they begin to freeze. It's very satisfying to greet all of our customers and know that our family, thru the turkey is able to participate in their family celebration. There's still time to order your turkey. Check our listing for details and ordering information.   
 
 

Beautiful summer day

It's wonderful to see the sunshine after so many dark cloudy days. Our hearts go out to all those folks affected by hurricane Harvey, oh my it's hard to comprehend it all. 

Molly's young laying hens are producing at almost full capacity giving us hundreds of extra eggs every day. Sizes range from peewee up to super jumbo as it takes some time for the hens' system to figure out how to make things work!

The broilers that we processed today are beautiful at about 5 pounds each. We'll cut most of them for boneless split breast; boneless thighs; leg & thigh combos; legs; wings and bone in breast and thighs.

We're planning on a trip to the Minnesota State Fair this week, it's not easy to get away for an entire day at this time of year.  

 
 

Another processing day on the farm

It's a warm and humid (wet actually) day here on our farm just north of West Concord Minnesota. We're processing about 70 broilers and a few of our Minnesota's Poulet Rouge chickens today.

The chickens are doing better in the warm, humid conditions than we are!

The year old laying hens have been moved to their summer house that includes about an acre of woods for them to roam through. They love to scratch through the leaf litter and search for hidden gems such as grubs and worms. The main hen house has been cleaned and sanitized for the next group of 800 young (beginners) laying hens that should arrive by the first week of August. Everyone looks forward to the "peewee" size eggs that they give us for the first month or so of their egg laying career.

Sales have been brisk for us at the St. Paul Farmer's Market downtown on Saturdays. We look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new customers who eventually become friends too.  

 
 

Spring chicken

How swiftly time moves! June is such a lovely month when the fields turn green with the first flush of corn, beans, hay and small grains. The song birds are busy courting, building nests and raising their families. 

Our chickens have grown nicely and we've been harvesting plump birds that weigh around four pounds or better. Our operation is a family affair and since our family isn't very large we keep our production numbers smaller so we can do our best. Every Wednesday we process about 80 chickens beginning at 7:30 in the morning. We have them all in the chill tanks by 9:30 or so. After cleaning up from the morning activities and the chickens have chilled properly, we spend the afternoon cutting and packaging. We normally finish the day around 5:30 or 6:00.

On Fridays we package eggs for the farmer's market. Molly is on the road at 4:00 AM every Saturday in order to get to St. Paul and have her stall set up by the opening time of 6:00. She normally returns to the farm around 4:00 PM, a long day indeed.

 
 

Clean, safe to eat chicken

Good morning from the farm,

Want to be sure that you are eating good, clean chicken? Make sure the chicken you buy is CALLISTER FARM chicken. Our chickens are raised in clean, dry, humane conditions. We NEVER give them antibiotics or growth stimulants. It's been against federal law for decades to give chickens hormones. 

We process the chickens ourselves right here on the farm in our MN E-2 inspected processing plant. Every bird is hand processed and checked for cleanliness before passing inspection. Our capacity is about 600 chickens per day. Our slaughter rate is about 250 birds per hour. To put that into perspective the large processors move 150 birds per MINUTE through their lines.

Our chicken is delivered weekly to the stores FRESH less than 24 hours after processing. Our fresh chickens at the farmer's markets are only 2 - 3 days from processing. The frozen chicken is never more than a few weeks in the freezer - we sell a lot of chicken so we don't have "old" birds on the shelf.

To be 100% sure that there is not bacteria on any chicken that might be contaminated always cook to an internal temperature of 175 degrees and clean any surfaces that the raw chicken might have contacted.

So continue enjoying your summer and grilling that lovely chicken.

Thanks,

Lori 

Clean, safe to eat chicken

Good morning from the farm,

Want to be sure that you are eating good, clean chicken? Make sure the chicken you buy is CALLISTER FARM chicken. Our chickens are raised in clean, dry, humane conditions. We NEVER give them antibiotics or growth stimulants. It's been against federal law for decades to give chickens hormones. 

We process the chickens ourselves right here on the farm in our MN E-2 inspected processing plant. Every bird is hand processed and checked for cleanliness before passing inspection. Our capacity is about 600 chickens per day. Our slaughter rate is about 250 birds per hour. To put that into perspective the large processors move 150 birds per MINUTE through their lines.

Our chicken is delivered weekly to the stores FRESH less than 24 hours after processing. Our fresh chickens at the farmer's markets are only 2 - 3 days from processing. The frozen chicken is never more than a few weeks in the freezer - we sell a lot of chicken so we don't have "old" birds on the shelf.

To be 100% sure that there is not bacteria on any chicken that might be contaminated always cook to an internal temperature of 175 degrees and clean any surfaces that the raw chicken might have contacted.

So continue enjoying your summer and grilling that lovely chicken.

Thanks,

Lori 

 
 

Spring planting and baby chicks

Dear friends,

It seems that the weather has turned somewhat seasonal. I enjoy the warmer temps and bright sunshine but I know that the soil moisture is critically low and rain is desperately needed. 

All the surrounding fields are being tilled, turning them to rich dark black vistas broken only by brilliant green strips of alfalfa and hay ground. I love that contrast in colors. 

Our chicken barns are filling up with chicks! We're on our way to full summer time capacity, which is anywhere between 5,000 - 6,000. All of varying ages from day old up to harvest ages of 11/12 weeks. We'll receive chicks every week until October when that slows to once a month for winter. 

There's more progress on the processing plant. Alan and the guys have built the walls and insulated the lunch room.

Our processing calendar is beginning to fill as other farmers make reservations to have us process their chickens and turkeys. We enjoy visiting with other growers - sort of keeps us in the loop.

Have a great week!

Lori 

 
 

Is it spring or summer?

Hello from this wind swept farm in southern Minnesota!

I'm not sure what happened to spring - did it really only last for a couple of days?

The asparagus is up. I can't remember picking it fresh for our Easter dinner any time in previous years.   

My rhubarb isn't doing too well however. I think we over harvested last June to make pies for our "Chicken Wing Ding" dinner. Combined with laste year's excesive heat and lack of rain it never fully recovered.

The chickens are happier than ever - the bugs and the grass are plentiful already.

Our daughter Molly is back in the States after spending five months interning on the Italian farm - Spannocchia near Siena Italy. Molly will be joining the business here in several weeks.

Alan is busy working on finishing the processing plant expension. This week's project is the employee break room and a little final electrical wiring.

So long for today. 

 
 

Spring time

Good morning!

Things are getting busier around the farm. Who could have guessed that spring would arrive this early? The tulips are up with buds showing, there's leaves on the soft maple trees, the summer song birds are all here and the winter birds have moved on to their northern nesting grounds.

 The first of our poulet rouge chicks have arrived and will be ready to go into the pasture in about three weeks. We have two groups of our standard chicks in brooder rooms and receive another next week. 

The young laying hens that arrived last week are settling in nicely and giving us a few pullet eggs every day. The older "girls" are getting used to their new summer house.

We are very grateful to have received a good amount of rain over the past several days. We're seriously short of moisture as this growing season begins. 

 

 
 

waiting for the new "girls"

Hello!

We're waiting for Norman - our Amish farmer friend from Iowa to arrive with our fresh flock of laying hens - 800 for us. 1300 for others coming here to pick theirs up, take them home and get them tucked into new homes. Folks are arriving - milling about and visiting. The weather is perfect. 

 

 
 

Winter update

Greetings!

In years past we experienced winters that allowed us to relax and rest from the hectic pace of the growing season. Not so this year! Alan and I have been working on the expansion of our processing plant. We've added about 800 square feet plus a bathroom. For the first time in 25 years, Alan hired a cement contractor and a plumber! The work is nearly complete. All we have left is to apply the floor coating on the last of the new cement; do some reorganizing and a little clean up. It looks great. You'll be able to see it when we hold our "Chicken Wing Ding" in June.

Our daughter Molly has completed a winter internship at the farm Spannocchia near Sienna Italy and is on her way to County Kerry in Ireland. She will spend a few weeks there with her adopted family before returning to the east coast of the USA. We expect to see her sometime around Easter. We can't wait to hear the new stories of her experiences and see the photos.

 The first of our Minnesota's Poulet Rouge chicks arrive on March 14th. They should be available for you around the third week of June. Alan and the guys are busy preparing the chicken houses for the new arrivals. 

On Friday March 16th our new flock of young egg layers will arrive. The older hens will be moved to their summer quarters to make room for the new girls. We'll have a great supply of pullet eggs for about six weeks until they begin producing larger eggs.

I hope you are able to enjoy this great weather! I'm going to get out there this afternoon - can't do much because of the mud but it just feels good!

Sincerely,

Lori  

 

 
 
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