We are officially in full swing of summer, though most wouldn’t know any different as we have been in the 100+ degree days since April, with not a hint of significant rainfall. This makes sense being that the dry line seems to have moved closer to Dallas-Fort Worth, I still don’t have to like it though. Drought is an ever-present worry for farmers, yet very few take sensible steps to address the problem, namely less water intensive practices or simply moving somewhere water falls from the sky. We are actively working on the former as we don’t have a well to irrigate if we wanted to. The downside is that we can’t feed just grass this year, that’s a huge bummer. Not only does grain cost significantly more than grass and require more labor, but we also can’t regenerate burnt-out soils, sand in our case, without rain to grow something after we rotate the sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys over it. Don’t fret over grain, we are sourcing ours from Coyote Creek, an Organic producer near Austin and the sheep still have a primary diet of hay and what grass does grow.
All that being said, we are doing significantly better than the folks farther West pulling water from Lake Meade. That lake is nearly dry and their underground lake doesn’t have many years remaining. We are lucky enough to have several aquifers that do recharge from time to time, though I am unsure how that will look in another 20 years, after we get all the West Coasters here, sucking up all the water for lawns, only time will tell.
Enough about problems, the farm is still doing great! We have listed our 12 acres for sale as we hope to expand to more land in the county, outside city limits. That will take some time to sell this property, then move everything, move the animals to a temporary farm, which we are beyond thankful for, then move to our new land once we find it and build perimeter fencing. Driving the 15 min to the temp farm will be a huge challenge and stress as it’s never an easy sleep when you can’t check on the animals, that allows us two 20-acre parcels to graze on. That saves us a significant amount of money and we are beyond grateful to the friends for allowing us to use their property. While it sure would be nice to have a written lease, never look a gift horse in the mouth. While we’re in flex, we are cutting our sheep herd down quite a bit. This year’s lack of rain had decimated the sheep market, any of the sheep I don’t absolutely LOVE to deal with are headed to freezer camp. The biggest reason beyond prices being so low is the simple fact that mutton burgers and sausage sell for $12-15/lb and lamb goes for 15-25/lb. Even on a small lamb, that is far more than the competitive rate for even registered St Croix right now. The price drop this year has me seriously thinking about leaving the registered community and breeding in some black-headed Dorper. We’ll see how Joey B’s economy takes the farmer’s markets.
Pastured PIGS, PIGS, PIGS
The pigs are doing incredible and are such a joy to have on the farm. They have been transitioned out of their training pen and are now happily living inside a large pasture, galloping about and playing with one another, as pigs do. We just got out meat back from Dziuk’s in Castroville and we couldn’t be happier. We got nice, 1.5″ thick cuts so you can have a REAL pork chop and really taste the difference. This pork is nothing like you’ve ever had unless you frequently eat some of those rare breeds of pork. The pigs’ ability to have fun and live in an open environment really improves the meat quality more than words can explain.
Pasture Raised Turkey
We get our first batch of Turkeys in mid-July, and we are stoked, though Turkeys are notoriously difficult to raise due to heavy losses as babies. Once you get them to pasture, they are practically bulletproof, which is great because hawks are not playing around during the dry periods. We will let everyone know once we get them processed shortly before Thanksgiving.
If you want to learn more or just chat about the farm, starting a farm, or anything in between, catch us at DeCock Farm in Castroville for their 3rd Saturday market. Starting in August we will be at the Devine Farmer’s Market as well. You can find us by the logo as well as all the Bitcoin signs as we STRONGLY encourage business to be conducted in Bitcoin, over lIghtening to maximize privacy, speed, and reduce fees for everyone, also we love freedom.