Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Farm Fresh eggs that you pick up at the farm

Hello my friends!

I am writing you this morning to let you know, that I will have to go up on my egg prices. After running last years taxes, I found that I took a BIG loss. So, I ran the number on this years business. I've already spent almost $300 in chicken feed. Here is the negative. I've only made $203 in sales.

I enjoy my chickens enough that doing the daily morning and evening feeding, mucking out the chicken coop, clipping wings, breaking ice in the water bucket (thank goodness this doesn't happen too often), and daily collection of eggs doesn't bother me. However, I need to at least break even on the cost of the feed. I sure hope this doesn't run all of you off. Effective immediately, I'm going to need to sell the eggs for $4 / dozen.

FDA regulations say that in order to "claim" your chickens are pasture raised (ie. the ones in the grocery stores), the hen only needs to have a 12" space of pasture. Some large companies are placing the chickens in cages with 12" runs outside of the cage. At our place, you can see the chickens all over the pasture. They only go inside at night. The rest of the time they are free ranging.

Why do I bring this up? Check out the following link:
Here is what "Mother Earth News" research found:

Please help us spread the word — eggs from hens raised on pasture are far more nutritious than eggs from confined hens in factory farms.

LATEST RESULTS: New test results show that pastured egg producers are kicking the commercial industry's derriere when it comes to vitamin D! Eggs from hens raised on pasture show 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket eggs. Learn more: Eggciting News!!!

RESULTS FROM OUR PREVIOUS STUDY: Eggs from hens allowed to peck on pasture are a heck of a lot better than those from chickens raised in cages! Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. That’s the conclusion we have reached following completion of the 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project. Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:

• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

These amazing results come from 14 flocks around the country that range freely on pasture or are housed in moveable pens that are rotated frequently to maximize access to fresh pasture and protect the birds from predators. We had six eggs from each of the 14 pastured flocks tested by an accredited laboratory in Portland, Ore. The chart in Meet the Real Free-range Eggs (October/November 2007) shows the average nutrient content of the samples, compared with the official egg nutrient data from the USDA for “conventional” (i.e. from confined hens) eggs. The chart lists the individual results from each flock.

As always, thank you, thank you, thank you for being a customer of ours. You support our "habit" of raising chickens. We love our chickens so very much and wouldn't be able to afford them if it weren't for friends like you buying their eggs. So, THANK YOU!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Texas weather

Ok, Friday, I'm out at the JFK Museum with my family wearing a short sleeve shirt and pants. I could have worn shorts, it was so warm out. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! Saturday morning, it's business as usual in the process of doing the barn chores. However, by noon, you could feel the weather changing as the wind kicked up a notch and the coolness kicked in. By the time I left my lifegroup Saturday night around 9:00 pm, there was already a collection of snow on the car. Who was as surprised as I was to wake up to this on Sunday morning? Whew! Hard to believe, but that's Texas weather for you! LOL!

Here is a picture of our chickens when I arrived outside this morning. There was SNOW inside the coop! The wind must have really been blowing to do this!

Even just outside the chicken coop, underneath the eaves of the barn, there was snow everywhere. I had to empty out the feeders in order to fill them up with feed. Of course, the water was frozen. Drag! Most of the chickens didn't even want to venture out this morning. Nathan, our rescue dog, decided he would eat the feed if the chickens didn't want it. He's pretty good friends with the chickens and doesn't bother them at all. Praise the Lord for that!

I closed up the crias with their moms last night, to try and keep out some of the blustering wind. The babies were waiting at the door, wanting to know what in the world was going on. They were the only alpacas that didn't have snow all over themselves from last night. Alpacas generally love the cold and the snow, due to them having thick, warm coats on. However, I always err on the side of precaution when it comes to my babies...especially since it was in the seventies just days before!

You can still see the snow falling this morning when my old barrel horse, Squirt, was waiting for me by the gate. He was smart enough to stay in under the covering during most of the night.

Everyone decided they would stay under cover for their morning hay. I'm sure when it starts to warm up a little, they will be back out again, enjoying the freshly laid snow.

It's just amazing. The snow is so beautiful and so UNLIKE what we normally have for a Texas winter. This has just been one crazy winter for us, hasn't it? The high today is supposed to only get to 38 degrees. Monday, it's supposed to be back up to 61 degrees and by Tuesday, it should be in the 70's again! Crazy...

Enjoy your day!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Getting the vegetable garden ready

Yesterday, my dear daughter helped me load our tubs with compost from our animals. We went ahead and loaded every pot I could find, too. I'm getting started a little late this year, but am excited and ready to go!

A few days ago we filled egg cartons with some compost and planted many seeds. Some of the plants are already starting to peek their little heads through the soil. Then, we went to our local farm store and saw they already had some starter plants for sale. We purchased a strawberry plant and a butterleaf lettuce plant.
I am blessed to be a part of a fantastic neighborhood. I say neighborhood, even though everyone here lives on 2 - 5 acre lots. So, it's not your typical "neighborhood". Regardless, I live near a great bunch of people. Everyone knows each other and chips in to help with things whenever needed. My neighbors have already told me what they are putting in their gardens and I have told them, as well, what I've got going. This year, we intend to share our wealth. Each of us will grow some different things and share with one another. Last year, each of us had way too much of what we were growing and were able to share with friends. This year, we are being more intentional about helping each other. Don't worry! I'm sure there will still be extra for each of you! For instance, I am trying to grow some beets. I hate beets. Maybe I will like them this year and maybe not. If you like beets, let me know. I think I just might have some farm fresh ones for you!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Getting away for some fiber fun

Well, I finally got away for a break this past weekend to attend the Wildflower Fiber Retreat in Tyler, TX. I try to attend this event annually. I thoroughly enjoy it. The women who put this retreat on do a fantastic job. Pardon the poor photography, but the only camera I had was my phone. LOL!

This first picture was a class on creating a multi-media mailable piece of art. Heather Simpson taught this class and had literally hundreds of examples that she has collected from all over the world! Very fun...

Here is a picture of one of my very close friends, Joyce, and her inkle loom creation. I really wanted to take that class, but opted for the drop spindle class instead. Joyce created three different inspirations from her inkle loom, some of which "accidentally" got left in my truck from the return trip. Darn! Where did those things go???

As stated earlier, I took a wonderful class on the drop spindle, taught by Bev Madere. When I first learned to spin, I began on the drop spindle and hated it. I quickly moved over to the spinning wheel and have been spinning on the wheel ever since. So, I thought I'd give the drop spindle another chance...and loved it. Bev is a fantastic teacher and made the drop spindling FUN! Thanks, Bev!

Later, Ouijan Vinson, from Olde Oaks Farm, brought her llama, Bandit, for show and tell. Ouijan and I talked about the differences between all camelids... the camel, guanaco, vicuna, llama, and alpaca. We talked about their purposes, guardian versus fiber animal and about how easy they are to care for. We went over their fleece and a variety of other things. It was such a blessing to be able to do this. I thank the Wildflower committee for giving me the opportunity to speak at this retreat.

Another class offered at the retreat was backstrap weaving. Judy Pritchett taught us how to setup our loom and begin weaving. Everyone was very interested in this demo. See the beautiful work Judy has done in this picture?

One of the blessings of this retreat is the scenery. This retreat is located right in the middle of the piney woods at Camp Tyler. Marie and I took a walk down to the lake and through the woods. It was breath taking. Get out and enjoy nature today and enjoy the beauty God has created all around us! Sometimes, we just need to get away from the every day pace of life. Now, I'm ready to get back out and enjoy the beauty of my ranch. God has blessed me with the beauty of all the animals right here in my own backyard...

Blessings to you all!