New Year, New Farm Goals

2022 Farm Goals

We are so excited to start the new year. I was never one for resolutions or even making big goals. That is until we started a farm. Not having goals is literally “running around like a chicken with your head cut off.” In our first year, we didn’t have many goals, because we didn’t really know how far we wanted to take all of this. That year ended up with a whole lot of started projects and never quite feeling like we had completed anything. To this day I feel like we are playing catch up from that year. So this year we chose a “word” that sums up our plans, goals, and dreams; that word is FOCUS.

Our farm is finally prospering and has grown so much in just 3 years. We are limited on time and capacity at this point so we are focusing on these main projects. Some projects are going to disappear while others will continue to grow. We have to FOCUS on what is working and trim “the fat.”

Goal #1

Cows – This is actually a goal that was put into place last year, but was slightly postponed. It will be happening this year and this is what will put our farm at capacity. We are so excited to raise beef for our own freezer as well as our customers. We won’t have many so it will be a very limited product.

Goal #2

Chickens – We had so much success last year raising broiler chickens we will definitely be continuing that business for a long time. Last year our goal was to raise 300 chickens. That seemed overwhelming at the time, but we learned so much and now it is much less intimidating. We divided them into 4 batches, 75 birds each batch. We had some ups and downs which included a major loss in one day from smoke and heat, but we also sold our first chickens after receiving our permit. This has put us a step forward into making our dreams a reality. In 2022 we are raising 400 birds in 5 batches. We will always raise our broiler chickens in tractors on grass, rotated daily. These tractors require a lot of daily labor and limit how many we are able to raise.

Goal #3

Ducks – In 2020 we received our first little ducklings. We loved raising the little things. They grow so fast, require very little care, and make the biggest mess you could imagine. Unfortunately, all of my Silver Appleyards turned out to be white. They are still the great egg layers that they are promised to be but we were pretty disappointed in their coloring. This year we are going to try to grow that flock and find color to use as our flock’s reproduction base. We also will be processing our first ducks, and hopefully will be selling ducks to our customers.

Goal #4

Quail – This is actually our son’s goal. He has enjoyed raising the quail but has struggled a bit with selling eggs. So for this year, we are going to hit the egg sales hard and also sell chicks and grown-out quail. At the end of the year he rotated out his old flock and replaced them with new ones in hopes they will lay more consistently and he is planning to order eggs to incubate early this spring.

Goal #5

Pigs – Pigs were our first major project on the farm and are actually our biggest focus. We use other projects to help fund our pig operation. Raising pigs is not for the weak, requires a ton of time and attention, and we have had our fair share of struggles. We have our feeder pig operation really honed in right now. They are raised for six months in the woods being rotated regularly. We hand-mix all of their feed and monitor them constantly for a normal and consistent rate of growth. We never want our pigs overly fat or unbalanced. Our only wish is to raise them in the less rainy months. It is really rough raising them through December and January and managing their feed systems.

Last year we ramped up our breeding operation to 4 breeding gilts, after so many failed attempts at breeding we wanted to remove that risk. As of right now, our 1 sow is not bred, we are very disappointed once again, but we continue to learn. She will hopefully be bred in two weeks and bring us May piglets. Our other 3 gilts will be ready for breeding in February for June piglets and then will be on a breeding rotation for the elusive February piglets.

Goal #6

Turkeys – We began raising Narrangansett Turkeys in 2020 because we really enjoyed raising the broad-breasted turkeys in 2019. We quickly learned that heritage turkeys are not the same as broad-breasted. They are more susceptible to illness, not as smart, and really hate confinement. They taught the broad-breasted to plow over our electric net fence and I think ended up in every yard neighboring us including across a very busy road multiple times. We ended up having to lock them down which is just not how they are happy. We are looking for a new home for them now. Instead, we will be raising 30 broad-breasted turkeys in 2022, to hopefully fill many customers’ Thanksgiving tables.

Goal #7

Laying Hens – Hens are their own separate goal because they are an entirely separate operation. In 2021 we converted a horse stall and paddock into a chicken coop and fully enclosed pen. They have been doing well there except that at every opportunity they try to escape and forage all over the pastures and yard. We are happy to let them do that, but very quickly the predators discovered them. In 2022 we want to get them into a mobile egg tractor complete with electric net fencing and a goose protector. We have been using geese to protect our ducks for almost two years now and it has worked wonderfully against the eagles and hawks that fly overhead. We hope the same will happen with our chickens. The hens will still use the horse stall in the winter to give them shelter, rest, and us a rest.

The New Year Refresh

7 goals may seem like a lot but I promise this is a lot less and a lot more focused than what we had last year or especially the year before. We have learned that we do not have unlimited quantities of time, but we have also learned to let things go. We always evaluate and adjust throughout the year based on necessities. I am so excited to continue to share with all of you how our year progresses.

Setting farm goals is so important to maintaining growth and focusing on projects that matter. We truly believe this has helped us especially with budgets, time management, and feeling successful. What goals are you setting this year?



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