I’ve been pondering for a while now about what I would like my goals to be, both personal and regarding the farm. I won’t take up your time with my personal goals, as the list is lengthy, but I figured I could make a little blog post about some of the farm goals we have for this year.
To start off, I have decided that I want to expand the laying flock to have at least 20 laying hens. Right now we have 19 chickens total, which includes Fluff & Pepper, our 2 roosters. I am thinking I will try to get about a half dozen more chicks this spring (hopefully in February). I would like to attempt to average about 7-10 eggs per day this summer, enough production for consistent sales. I am hopeful that the new English Orpington pullets will begin laying in March-May, and any new chicks we obtain by the end of February will hopefully lay mid to late summer. I also hope the muscovies will lay consistently enough that I can sell their eggs.
The second goal is to get the mini orchard planted. I placed the order with Willis Orchards for 2 apple trees, a peach tree, and a pear tree, as well as an elderberry bush, 2 sets each of raspberry and blackberry starts, and 2 well started cabernet sauvignon grape vines. I am primarily focused on the area inside of the former pig pen fence for now, however I am hoping that in the future we can replace some of the landscaping around the front of the house with more edible, useful plants.
The third goal is to double the meat chickens that we raise this spring. We would like to raise somewhere around 20-25 meat birds for butcher. The area that we keep them in should be sufficient, however I would like to go ahead and expand it further so that they have more space to ‘roam.’
The fourth goal I have made is to finish fencing the new wooded pig pen by March/April so that we can get the hogs earlier and hopefully butcher them earlier. In my head, it makes even MORE sense to be able to purchase weaners earlier in the spring (Jan/Feb/Mar), so that you’re feeding primarily hog feed during this time, but by the time natural sources of food appear in spring/summer, your hogs are larger. It will, in theory, save money on hog feed to allow more foraging when the hogs are larger and more able to sustain themselves at a time of year that is more productive of food. I am toying with the idea of keeping a gilt back for breeding, but in reality I don’t want to have to feed a fully grown hog through winter, so that likely won’t happen this year.
The final goal that I have made for the farm is my absolute favorite. While there are a MILLION other things I’d like to do (add turkeys, build a new quail pen and bring back quail), I try to limit myself due to time and money. One way I have decided I would like to make some money back from the farm is to set up a stand at our local farmer’s market in Canton. The market runs from May through October, and I am hoping to be able to commit to 1 market per month (6 total). I would like to sell sprouts, microgreens, chicken and duck eggs, rabbit fertilizer, fertilizer tea, and whole rabbits (as dog food). The option may also exist to sell our meat chickens, but I am looking into this further. My two main reasons for wanting to start up at the farmers market are for some extra income to help with feed bills, and to bring more exposure to the farm and what we do. This is all a work in progress. I am currently experimenting with the sprouts and microgreens, so far so good.
It’s a lot to think about and work on, but I think everything is within reach. I will make some more posts as the spring time passes by so that y’all can keep updated with what’s going on. 🙂