Fresh Chicken 9/20/15

Link to Labor Day Chickens

Just a quick note that we will have fresh chicken available this Sunday between 9-11am. Please use the link above to reserve some birds. The online store has really worked well helping us keep things organized! Also, the $5 deposit is optional- the main thing is to reserve the number birds that you want and show up!
Thanks much and see you soon!

Birds left for 9/7 Only!

Thanks much folks- we are sold out for tomorrow, but still have birds available for Monday.  Granted the thought of having a farm day on the last day before school starts- may have not been the best idea….so it goes.

Also, all the pigs found freezers (thanks to Taryn’s classes)!  More will be ready before the end of the year so stay tuned!

Summer Hogs are ready and Larder Days over Labor Day

Summer Hogs are Ready

Ready to learn to butcher your own hog?  Or maybe just fill the freezer with some great tasting pork!  Our summer hogs are ready.  They have been hanging at 150 lbs and look great.  As always with the Egg- there are options.  Click the link above and you will have three options on a half hog:

  1. Select a half hog and have Butcher Boys cut, wrap and cure
  2. Select a half hog- take it home and process and cure like a boss
  3. Select a half hog and meet us at the farm for a butcher class.  We will have the hog chilled and skinned, USDA inspected, the knives sharp, and butcher paper ready.  As always, Taryn leads the class and helps you process your hog into recognizable retail cuts.  We have the following dates available (we can be a little flexible here):
    1. Thursday 8/27 – SOLD
    2. Friday 8/28 – SOLD
    3. Monday 8/31 – 1 Half
    4. Tuesday 9/1- 2 Halves
    5. Thursday  9/3-  2 Halves

Hogs are a on a first click basis, and we will adjust classes accordingly.

Link to Butcher Hogs

September Chicken Larder
Can you believe that the last chicks for the year arrived last week?  We really need to take a moment and thank folks that have taken part in the ‘larder days’ scheme.  We were a bit terrified about dropping farmer’s markets in lieu of larder days- but it has worked.  We have kept a good balance between fresh and frozen birds this year and things have really gone well.  We also need to thank Lillian and Hazel (our daughters)- who are finally of age to really help out.  Hazel is crating and bagging and Lillian has been the ‘cone loader’ all summer.  Also, if you can believe it- Taryn has been putting up with us for four years- yeah, I said it- four.  Although you haven’t seen her on pickup days- she was here during processing and we wouldn’t want to do it without her.  We really feel like we are hitting on all cylinders are really have a great team put together.

One last thing- there has been quite a shake up in Oregon poultry processing this year.  A couple of years ago there were 25 licensed processors in Oregon.  Then came, the mixed bag that was, HB2872 and things changed.  Right now, we are the only poultry processor east of the Cascades and the state is down to only 15.  So thanks again- for your patronage and support over the years.- we would not have survived this turmoil without you!

Now, before this turns into a chapter book.  We will be processing chicken twice over the Labor Day weekend- yes twice.  That means we will have the last of the summer larder available on both Saturday 9/5 and Monday 9/7. Therefore, there will be two dates on the store to choose from- pick either one, we will have plenty of birds.  Fear not- there will be a couple of farm days in the fall.

Link to Labor Day Chickens

The Experimental Acre

So the winner is- drip tape and sweet corn!

Drip systems have got to be the best way to deal with the drought and sweet corn might just be a good crop for us the get the hang of it.  The real test is filtration!  How do you keep those little tiny holes from clogging up with pond scum.  Well, our attempt is to use a swimming pool filter from Craigslist….which unfortunately turned out to be cracked.   There is some good news about this crack….although, it could fail at any minute- the height of the stream coming out of the crack tells us how clogged the sand is.  In other words- big geyser means it’s time to back-flush the filter….little geyser equals clean filter.  I cannot believe our germination rates (lots of thinning ahead).  More soon….right now- it is hay season!



Latest News

I know, I know, stop the spam- please

Sorry for the long delay in the newsletter…some times I don’t know what to say…and then time passes and I think I should have even more to say.  But there comes a time when I just need to sit down and let you know what is going on….that time comes around about every 18 months or so!?!?

Online Store-
We do have plenty of news- so let’s get to it.  First off, we are excited to enter the world of e-commerce and have started an online store.  We have done this for a couple of reasons….the main one is security.  We would like to shift our model from growing to processing then peddling to a new process of peddling first, growing the animals and then processing.  We kicked around the idea of a meat CSA or some sort of subscription system but never came up with something that had enough flexibility for the consumer  and security for the farm.  What ended up making the most sense was a larder system (we still need a better name).  A larder is basically a stock of items that you will use over time.  The thought here is let us know that you will need 20 chickens for your larder and we will have them ready for you.  For example, in a couple of weeks we will announce our first broilers of the season.  The store will list Memorial Day Chickens and you can put a deposit down for as many broilers as you would like.  This way we will know how many to grow, have the deposit money in hand to off set some costs and you will be sure to have the larder you need until the next butcher date.

In order to encourage the use of this system we will be offering much better pricing online.  One of the most disappointing things about farming is the cost of selling.  This is one of the reasons we just can’t make SSM work anymore.  Delivering orders is entirely different…we already know what has sold and bringing it to the Bend Downtown Market or the Salem Public Market will be a piece of cake.  Of course, we will still be stocking both markets with retail cuts- but really hope the online thing works out and becomes our primary outlet.

Right now we have a couple of hog half shares for sale on the site. You can check out the process of reserving a half or whole hog and several ways to have it processed. You can have the butcher do the work, you could take a class and learn the work, or we could deliver your hog whole and you could process it on your own!  Check it out!

Custom Butchering-
We have thought a lot about this.  This is a long, complicated story and I will try and make short work of it.  The Oregon Department of Agriculture has really flip-flopped on chicken processing.  When we were going through the licensing process the ODA had a firm line….to sell a single chicken, anywhere to anyone, you had to have a fully compliant and inspected slaughterhouse.  Recently, the ODA started allowing the folks to process 1000 birds without a slaughterhouse…but all birds had to be sold from the farm that processed them.  Sounds great!  But what about farms that wanted to sell at farmer’s markets but do not have an approved slaughterhouse.  Enter the co-processor.  As a consolation prize to farms like ours who put the time and money in to a slaughterhouse, our license was expanded to allow us to co-process birds for other farms.  Okay….except we don’t want to.  But others did.  Now things got confusing.  Now farms without a slaughterhouse could take their birds to a processor and then to farmers markets.  But the ODA never got around to writing labelling requirements for processing houses.  So regulating what could and couldn’t be sold at the farmer’s market was left to market managers.  So, when a farm applies at a market and plans to sell chicken they just have to say they are using a co-processor and then process at home and there would be no way to tell the difference.  A tough, difficult, and awkward position for the market manager.  And an uneven playing field for vendors.  This is part of the reason we are taking a break from the SSMarket.  So far, we have seen at least three other processors around the state close up shop this winter.  Like I said, messy situation.

In light of all this, we are seriously considering processing birds for other farms this year. While not overly excited about this, it may be the best option to keep the lights on. Let us know if you, or others, might benefit from this service.

Feed- Or what we like to call ‘Rational Rations’
Lots of folks, over the years, have asked about our chicken  and hog food. This year we thought we’d bring pre-ordered bags of feed to the farmers markets. You can order a 50-lb sack of Hog, Layer, or Grower from the website. Those in Bend can order as late as Tuesday to pick up at the Wednesday downtown Bend farmers market, while those in Salem will need to reserve feed a couple of weeks in advance.

The Experimental Acre
Those of you who travel past the farm may have noticed a neatly tilled acre along the highway. We have always had trouble irrigating this spot with its gentle elevations and distance from the source. With flood irrigation, we create ruts for the water to travel by which is beneficial and efficient when growing grass but detrimental when trying to raise plants from seeds. Thus the experimental acre will feature a drip line system that we hope will support a variety of row crops, some annuals and some perennials. Cross your fingers (toes and eyes, too) and if all goes well you may see produce added to the Great American Egg’s offerings. . . . .

Pork Progressions

We just sold a half a pig.  Not big news itself…but the short story behind it- makes our day.

We have a long term farmers market customer that bought lots of pork cuts from us at the booth over the years.   Unfortunately, we don’t carry all the possible cuts for a hog- we try and focus on the ones that sell best (carrying caul fat around for 6 weeks gets old).  This customer wanted more, so took the hog butchering class with Taryn last year.  Now, that half hog mentioned above, is heading straight to this customer’s house for a little home butchering!

Here is the progression- fall in love with pastured pork, learn the skills to butcher one, and then do it!  This is fantastic.  These pork chops went from $7.50 retail to $5.50 with the class to $4.00 at home.  The same chop!!  And guess what we make the same amount on that chop as well.  A happy day around here.

On-line Store?

Big plans ahead for the Great American Egg.  One of our goals this year is to better connect you with our products.  First step, set up a place where you can actually reserve a pig!

Still a work in process….more to come!

Farm Day

Finally! A farm day! Come out to the farm for fresh or frozen chicken, eggs and pork.  Tallulah, the latest dairy calf and lots of turkeys will greet you! Fresh chicken will be available on a first come first serve basis, but there’s also lots of frozen chicken and tasty parts as well:  breasts, leg/thign quarters, wings, soup stock! Bring a cooler and stock up for the winter! See you on Sunday 11/2….11 till 2pm….