I laugh when I get asked what a standard day is like. There is no such thing, especially this time of the year when I'm trying to line up supply for the coming year. This past week was a prime example.
One of our challenges in doing pasture-raised pork and poultry is finding a good, reliable supply of non-gmo grains. Unlike beef and other ruminants, the pigs and chickens require grains to supplement the forage they find. Very few feed mills offer certified non-gmo grain, which is usually transitional organic. When you find it, the prices is considerably higher.
One of my growers is intending to grow and mill their own grain this year. Their neighbor has been growing non-gmo grains for years but getting paid conventional prices. By partnering with the neighbor for expertise, they will be able to successfully grow the grain and harvest it. The next challenge is storing it.
So the farmer went to an auction last week and bought some grain bins. The next challenge is moving them. So last Wednesday and Thursday, myself and two Amish guys went to move them. I stopped and picked up a trailer and threw my tools in my truck. Away we went to get the bin.
The bin in the picture below is the smallest of the three. We were able to transport it intact as it was 8 ft wide and 16 ft long. This holds 6 tons of grains and has a 100 ft flex auger to pump the grain out into feeding troughs. In this case, this bin was installed a confined feeding operation, so the flex auger was of use. For us, it will be spare parts in the barn.
With a little ingenuity, a grinder, and some wrenches, we lowered the bin onto the trailer without any power equipment. We wrapped a few ratchet straps around the bin like a belt and then using carabiners, chains, and come-alongs, we were able to pull the bin over gently while applying resistance from the back and sides to steady it. To keep it from rolling, we landed it on a few old tires and spread mud on the deck of the trailer to allow the tires to slide easily up onto the trailer. Within a few hours we had it loaded and back on the road.
And while my college education cost more than most homes and was intended to keep me from working with my back and knees, I do enjoy work like this, even if it is all day in the rain and mud. This is problem solving you can't learn in a textbook, and in the truck, I learn cultural things. On our many trips back and forth, Leon and David gave me an education on the Amish culture, including an interesting discussion about horses.
Did you know that buggy horses can range from $4,000 to $12,000? The horses are judged based on characteristics that seem trivial. Is the horse a trotter or a pacer? Does it have a shiny black coat? 2 or 3 white hooves add a few grand to the price tag. How about a majestic gait, tall stance, and some white on the face? It was interesting to learn that the most expensive horses aren't the strongest or fastest or most reliable - they are the prettiest. They are essentially luxury cars!
This Week's Bag
In this week's bag, we have some standout veggies. Also, this is (fingers crossed) the last week to feature frozen vegetables. The temperature are warming up, the rain is falling, and we're expecting some great Spring crops.
The carrots are interesting this week. Most of the carrots are what we are calling "survivor carrots." They overwintered under row-cover on an urban farm in Parma. They are petite but super sweet. The flavor is amazing.
The spinach is also similar. It was planted in November and slowly grew up until the end of the year. It has taken some hard frosts over the winter in Harvey's hoophouses. During the days, however, the sun heats up the hoop house and thawed it out. It doesn't really grow much in the very cold of winter and particularly with limited sun, but the sugars do develop and the flavor is excellent.