Full Throttle Spring: Quick Update
It's full throttle Spring at Four Legs Farm. Because we're on new properties in Germantown this year there's a ton of new stuff to figure out like where does the grain go? How much hose do I need? How do I get the pigs trained to the electric fence without them barreling right through it?
I'm figuring out the answers the hard way, but I certainly won't forget them now. The grain goes as close to the pigs as possible. I have the right amount of hose, but need to buy different fittings. It certainly helps to have the pigs contained inside a permanent fence when training them to an electric fence.
It is also a wonderful feeling to know that I do have few things figured out from last year. I am better able to explain what a meat share looks like now and have a better handle on what to expect as far as meat share sign-ups. It's been so wonderful to have repeat customers. Thanks for all of the support!
I'm working on pacing myself and feel lucky to be alive the last few days with the spectacular weather we've been having. The cows and sheep have been so excited about the grass and the pigs are thrilled to rooting around in the dirt.
Put Happy Meat in Your Freezer
It's that time of year! Meat Share sign-ups are open.
Invest in your community.
Build the soil.
Put happy meat in your freezer.
Let's review the options - lamb, pork and beef. If you'd like to learn more about the farm check out the blog. Don't hesitate to email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845 616 9221 if you have any questions.
All Four Legs Farm distributions will happen in late October/early November 2016. The Pick-Up Site options are Poughkeepsie Farm Project, in the Village of New Paltz (1 Orchard Lane New Paltz, NY 12561) and at the Germantown Community Farm House (4782 Route 9G Germantown, NY 12526). Exact dates and times will be announced as they get closer. I'll confirm with everyone beforehand about when and where they are getting their shares.
Note: All meat will be frozen and sealed in plastic (except the bacon is wrapped in butcher paper).
You can pay online (I use paypal) or by check. Please make checks payable to Four Legs Farm and mail to PO Box 847 Hudson, NY 12534.
The Lamb Share and Pork Share are the best way to make sure you get the best variety of cuts. They both include every cut from that animal that Four Legs Farm offers. My Dad can fit a lamb share and a pork share in a standard freezer (the one on top of the refrigerator) no problem. He didn't even empty it completely. This is also an excellent excuse to eat all the ice cream in your freezer.
Lamb Share – 15 lbs for $195. Includes classic lamb sausage, merguez sausage, ground lamb, blade chops, rack of lamb, loin chops, lamb stew, sirloin roast, shanks, lamb bones, round bone chops.
Pork Share – 25 lbs for $300. Includes sweet Italian sausage, hot Italian Sausage, breakfast sausage, ground pork, bacon, bone-in pork chops, pork stew, loin roast, country style ribs, spare ribs, Boston butt roast, pork bones.
Just Trying it Out Shares
If you're not a big meat eater, have limited freezer space or just want to try it out. These are the shares for you. Your options are Combo Share, Small Pork Share, Small Lamb Share.
Combo Share – 7lbs for $100. Includes bacon, sausage, chops, ground lamb or pork, ground beef.
Small Pork Share - 7lbs for $100. Includes bacon, sausage, chops, slow cooking cuts.
Small Lamb Share – 7 lbs for $100. Includes sausage, chops, slow cooking cuts.
NEW 2016 Ground Beef
This year Four Legs Farm is excited to offer ground beef! This is from 100% grass fed British White cows. You have two choices Ground Beef Share or Small Ground Beef Share.
Ground Beef Share - 10lbs for $90. Comes in one pound packages.
Small Ground Beef Share - 5lbs for $50. Comes in one pound packages.
Four Legs Farm Moved to Germantown
Four Legs Farm has moved to Germantown, NY! It is about 50 minutes away from New Paltz in Columbia County south of Hudson. I'm living in a house with wonderful roommates about five miles from the farm.
I have a new lease on land with Turkana Farms. I'm so excited to be working with Mark and Peter. They have an existing livestock operation that they are scaling back and are leasing 20 acres that they're not using to me. I found them through the Columbia Land Conservancy listings. I highly recommend subscribing to their newsletter - it is full of fun farm stories.
Mark and Peter were kind enough to put me in contact with their next door neighbors - the Rider Family. Their property used to be a working orchard, but they are not managing it any more and would like to see the land farmed. I'll be leasing about another 25 acres of their land as well. I'm so excited to be grazing sheep and cows through an orchard. There will be so much shade in the summer! This is a permutation of silvopasture and if you're curious this article explores grazing sheep in orchards in depth.
The orchard still produces some apples and I'm having fun dreaming up ways to make use of the apples that don't involve a crazy amount of labor.
Leasing both of these properties gives me room to increase the number of animals in the next few years. It also puts me closer to my day job, grain supply, and my cold storage facility. While I miss being in New Paltz, I'm so excited by the possibilities here in Germantown. It is an honor to get to farm on this land.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Meat Shares Survey, your feedback is super valuable in figuring out how to make getting buying Four Legs Farm meat a better experience for everyone. Your support makes Four Legs Farm possible.
The results are:
I'm working on figuring out how to make the Meat Shares the best they can be. If you have more specific feedback - feel free to email me at email@example.com Thanks!
Four Legs Farm Year One - We Made It!
We made it! Thank you all for being a part of the ride. Your support and words of encouragement made it all possible. I've probably learned more in 2015 than I have in any other year of being alive. It was frequently scary, sometimes joyful, totally exhausting and completely worth it.
I'm working on learning more about the best ways to get meat into your hands - if you could fill out this quick survey that would be a huge help.
The flerd! I had never grazed sheep and cows together before and hadn't met anyone in the area who did. I wasn't entirely sure it would work and it turned out better than I thought it would. The cows actively protected the sheep and the sheep felt safer with the cows.
One lamb broke his leg and I cobbled together a treatment plan for him. And he was fine!
I had never worked with weaned feeder pigs before (just momma pigs and their litters). I had never worked with 23 pigs in one group before! One pig got a little fresh with me above and bit my calf. But damn they were cute.
Farming is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. I had to get better at asking for help this year. My parents are the greatest and I couldn't have done it without their support. It was such a big deal to have them around. People were never really supposed to farm by themselves.
First Meat Share Distributions
This month was the first round of Meat Share distributions! Thank you so much to everyone who bought shares. Thank you Phillies Bridge Farm and Poughkeepsie Farm Project for hosting distributions. Thanks Mom and Dad for being a huge help through all of it. I couldn't have done it without you.
The most exciting part is getting to share meat with all of you! Stay tuned for 2016 announcements. There are some big plans in the works!
My Mom is an Excellent Getaway Driver
In late May one of my lambs broke his right hind leg. I came home to do evening chores and saw him limping and his one leg was slack below the knee. He wasn't putting any weight on it and when I was able to grab him and get him sitting on his butt like in the photo below it hung at a ninety degree angle. I had seen my roommate pull out of the driveway earlier and knew I was home alone. I attempted to pick him up and throw him over my shoulder to carry him up to the barn, but I quickly realized that he was too big for that. I couldn't leave him in the pasture - he would be a target for coyotes.
My parents live ten minutes away from the farm so I called their house phone. I knew if someone picked up the phone they could be here fast. If no one picked up, I needed a new plan. My Mom did pick up the phone and she says she was halfway out the door and decided to pick up instead of letting it go to voicemail. She arrived ten minutes later in a sundress and flip flops with her game face on.
She got out of her car and carefully walked through the pasture to get to take my car keys from me. She pulled my car right up to the edge of the pasture and I dragged the lamb out to the road, trying to jostle his leg as little as possible. She shoved the passenger's seat back as far as it goes and I lifted the lamb on top of myself and slid into the car. My Mom drove the car up to the barn. I got him into the barn and grabbed a cardboard paper towel roll, a t-shirt and a piece of twine and tenderly wrapped his leg trying to hold it straight and not to constrict blood flow to his leg.
I looked at my Mom and told her we had to go back out to the pasture and do this all over again. He needed another lamb to keep him company. I knew he would be in the barn for a few weeks and would be stressed out to be there by himself. We had to go back out to the pasture and I grabbed the closest lamb and pulled him into the car on top of me and my mom drove us back to the barn. And that was all I could do until morning.
The next day I bought bandages and anti-inflammatory gel for his leg and carefully rewrapped it. I googled what other people did for small ruminants with broken legs and found somethings that seemed reasonable. I tried to remember what we did for a goat that broke his leg two years ago at Glynwood. I knew that bringing a vet would probably cost $150 and upwards and for an animal I was hoping to make $400 from it just didn't seem reasonable to make the call
He and his buddy ate hay and grain and had a little water trough in the barn. I was disappointed that they were going to be missing out on the June grass, but he was way too vulnerable to be out on pasture. Slowly, but surely I could see him start to put weight on his bad leg. They got used to me coming in and out of the pen twice a day for chores and got very friendly.
Getting them back out on pasture was tricky and ended up being a two person job. I rode in the back of the pick-up truck with them while Ben drove out to the flerd. Then I helped him put them on his shoulders and ran ahead of him to work the gate on the fence. If I had a herding dog this would have been much simpler.
It took them a day or two to get reacquainted with the flerd, but then they were happy campers. I was so worried about him running around and re-injuring his leg or not being able to keep up with the rest of the group. His leg was never quite the same and didn't heal straight.
Later in the season I saw the injured get up on his hind legs playing with his brother. He was fine!
Countdown to Meat!
Four Legs Farm meat is without a doubt more expensive than meat in the grocery store. And I feel like for the most part people have been very supportive of the farm and understanding of why I charge as much as I do.
It's also a lot to ask of people to buy a large quantity of expensive meat weeks or months before the product will be delivered. I cannot convey how thankful I am for how many of you have taken the leap of faith with me and already bought your shares. It's awesome.
I would like to share a little bit more about how my farm works as a business.
I have gotten very lucky in bunch of ways that help make my farm work:
There are still a lot of reasons why my meat is more expensive than the grocery store
I recently found another farmer online running a 12 Month Farm Finance Challenge. Eleven farms are writing blog posts every month about their finances and sharing how much money they spent and how much money they earned. Being this candid about farm finances is huge - I hope this helps customers better understand what their farmers are going through. It's pushing me to think about better ways to communicate about my business with all of you. Stay tuned.
Grazing With The Flerd
Flerd is a real word. Real in the sense that other people use it and I am not the person who made it up. A group of sheep is a flock and group of cows is a herd. I graze sheep and cows together. They are a flerd.
The cows are there to discourage coyotes from going after the smaller, more tempting lambs. The cows are seasoned momma cows and are pretty protective of the lambs. They're good babysitters.
The flerd is moved to new pasture every three or four days in the summer and every other day in the Spring. The grass is at its most lush in the Spring and I try to make sure the critters get as much of that grass in their bellies as possible. Moving them is pretty easy with the temporary electric fence I use. Its light weight so I can pick it up and reconfigure it by myself.
Leanna at Four Legs Farm