For the most part, people are creatures of habit. I have to admit that I am in that same boat. With that, change is hard on folks and our recent changes have shown to be no exception. I have taken a lot of heat for recent decisions to make the farm stronger and put us in a better place for the new year to come.
All I can hope is that you realize that we make changes with the best interest of the farm in mind. At the end of the day, this farm is my dream and my baby, I am not going to endanger it on willy nilly decisions. The new pricing structure had to happen.
But while picking buckshot out of my tushie, I gained a real sense of clarity on an important point that I do not want to lose sight of right now– we have had an amazing year. So on this week of Thanksgiving, I want to offer you a snapshot of what this year has looked like for our farm. And why I am extremely thankful this week.
Chickens. Last year in November we made the investment to once again bring you the healthiest eggs that we could. We ordered 700 baby chickens and raised them throughout the chilly months under TLC and heaters so that we would start egg production in the spring. I have to say that it has been wonderful to have the chicks back on the farm and to remove any regional eggs from our distribution.
Milk. 2014 will be the year that we removed all regional milk from our distribution as well. Scott Rasband and Mike De Smet now meet all of our members’ milk needs.
Beef. We have closed the borders on all beef outside of New Mexico. This has been a huge challenge for us in the past, but this year we overcame all of the obstacles.
Pork. We continue to expand our pasture-raised pork on the farm. What started out as a 4 pig trial in the North Valley has grown into over 120 pigs a year on the farm. All the piglets are born at a ranch in Ojo Caliente (not the spa!) and then we bring them down to the farm when they are 6 weeks old. On the farm they eat weeds from our fields and any compost that we give them. They never spend one day indoor and have acres to roam and do whatever pigs do. Which is sleep and root around the dirt if anyone asks you that question at a dinner party. So to meet this increased demand, we will bring more pigs to the farm this season. The pigs have become one of my favorite parts of the farm.
Prepared foods. Earlier this year we had some members asking for some healthy and easy prepared food options. We threw a toe in the water to see what the reception would be. Wow. The demand was and continues to be huge. I get it too. I use these new products a bunch. In between indoor soccer games and homework, a dude and his family have got to eat. And these new meals have given our members (and me) super high quality convenient foods less expensive than fast food prices.
Finally, I save the best and the dearest to my heart for last… our produce. There have been several times throughout the course of the farm that I find myself a firm believer that things happen for a reason. As a matter of fact, my fortune cookie from last night reminded me that “Failure is opportunity in disguise.” And that is where we found ourselves for the first time this fall.
We lost all of our fall crops to grasshoppers. First major failure in 11 years. We could have cursed the grasshoppers and chalk it up to bad luck. Or we could grow from it. Right now we have baby seedlings carefully protected from bugs and frost inside our hydroponic tables in a heated greenhouse. Seeing baby seedlings in November is the epitome of opportunity in disguise. Our failure has strengthened our farm. And for this, I am very thankful.
All in all, we have faced many challenges this season. And without exception we have overcome them and are stronger because of these hurdles. I can honestly say that we have never been in a more solid and sustainable spot than we are right now. So enjoy your thankful feast this week knowing that your support is an amazing part of this local food movement. Positive change is happening because of you.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, Farmer Monte