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Author: Ben Simmons

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Year In Review At The Farm

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of 2023!!! Where does time go. Beth suggested I share some of the highlights from our farm for this year - so, here goes. Infrastructure: - Installed 4,950 feet of high tensil net fence along the property line of one of our pastures - Built a pond on the Hamilton property for drainage and backup water option for livestock - Sprayed our first making of compost extract on 300 acres - Purchased a pasture aerator to improve oxygen in soil while also applying compost extract onto 250 acres - Completed Soil Food Web (SFW) Classes

Beef Cuts Update

This week was beef cut & pack week (actually 3 full days of intense work). For the first time on our farm we not only slaughtered beef under USDA inspection, but we also cut & packed under USDA inspection. This is something you have to do in order to sell into a retail outlet. We only sell into ONE retail ourlet and that is Vitamin's Plus in Hattiesburg. The Rayburns have been strong supporters of our farm from the beginning and faithfully stocked their store with our beef, chicken, and eggs. And now that we have our

Wintering Our Cows

There are a lot of books written about how to farm without feeding your cows hay in the winter. I can think of one person who advocates for "kicking the hay habit" who also hays his cows in the winter - he even designed a hay unroller (similar to what we use) to unroll his hay as well as sell to other farmers. I have learned the best approach is to graze your warm season grass as long as possible while planting cool season grass - AND to have enough hay available for at least 90 days. After all, the weather is unpredictable. Like this year, the hot and dry summer through fall period limited both the amount of

Small Farm Republic

Good Morning from your farmer, Hold on as you may find the ride a bit bumpy this morning.... Monday, Stephen, one of our long time customers sent me this podcast - stating that it is a very good listen. After listening to the podcast, I replied to Stephen, "Many thanks for sharing. I will do the same to include Andy Gipson...You may have sensed the urgency in my newsletters of late that folks need to be much less dependent on grocery stores and more dependent on themselves and local farms!" Stephen replied, "Gipson needs to listen and DO SOMETHING. I read Speaker White’s priorities and they are missing the boat, big time. I am sending this stuff to my policy friends. They are obsessed with school choice and lower taxes. Those are good, but not existentially important. Food is #1. Nothing else matters." Frankly, every politician should listen to this podcast and read John Klar's book. Here is what one person had to say about his work: “I have read at least 20 books a year for the past 25 years and Small Farm Republic is absolutely one of the very best that I have ever read. . . A must-read not only for those involved in all facets of agriculture but policymakers and consumers as well.”―Gabe Brown, regenerative rancher, author of Dirt to Soil From farmer, lawyer, and political activist, John Klar comes a bold, solutions-based plan for Conservatives that gets beyond the fatuous pipe dreams and social-justice platitudes of the dominant, Liberal “Green” agenda―offering a healthy way forward for everyone. Regardless of your political beliefs (does not matter) as humans we must eat regularly to sustain life! Here are my three farm/food priority issues: (note that most likely each of these were restricted long before current politicians were in office)  Pastured Poultry - Federal Law as well as Mississippi Law allows a single farm to grow, process, and sell into commerce up to 20,000 chickens per year (without a USDA plant). However, the MS Department of Ag has a regulation that restricts this number to only 1,000 per year. A strong influence is the president of MS Farm Bureau who I was told states he is against any uninspected meat entering commerce in MS. My question is WHY does his word carry more weight than you and me? Especially when 40 states allow the Federal limit of 20,000 per year.Raw Milk - currently 27 states allow the sale of raw dairy products. However, in MS the State Health Department hounds any small farmer who sells "Herd Shares" as a legal workaround to health department restrictions. WHY is it legal in 27 states and not in MS? And, WHY are MS politicians not interested in fixing this? Did you know that Oktibbeha County where MS State is located once had more than 800 small family dairies before regulations forced them out of business? Here is a good article titled, "Raw Milk Movement Goes Mainstream." Read it here. Sunn Hemp - is a high quality warm season legume known for soil building characteristics and ability to sequester more than 125 lbs. of nitrogen per acre. The USDA has studied Sunn Hemp since the 1930's and concurs the species offers no threat to our environment. And, 48 States concur! But, not Mississippi!!! Because, at MS State they have a professor named Dr. John Byrd, Jr. who is also the State weed specialist who continues to block the use of Sunn Hemp because he is concerned it will become the next Kudzu! I guess Byrd cannot read because the USDA has disproved this concern time and time again. Last Spring I tried to learn more facts regarding Sunn Hemp. First, I spoke to the Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry. She would not even disclose who the advisory members are. Then I contacted the Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund for legal assistance to file a Freedom of Information Request which one of their lawyers did for me. On July 10, 2023, I received a letter from MS Department of AG's General Counsel that two of my requests for documents resemble questions and legally they were not required to answer questions. The other request could not be filled due to lack of documents. Really!!! A few weeks ago I mentioned what I believe is the problem - WEF owns controlling interest of 94% of the S&P 500 PLUS Corporate Lobbyists PLUS Associations (like poultry, seed growers, etc.) which are responsible for many of the federal and state laws written to benefit their corporate best interest. And, that the LINK between this group and politicians must be broken. Politicians are supposed to work for We The People! First, I hope you will take the time to listen to the John Klar podcast. Second, if you agree then let Speaker White and Commissioner Andy Gipson know your thoughts. And last, share with your family and friends. Hopefully, we can be the light that ends some of the restrictions on our individual food freedom and open the way so more younger folks can farm and sell direct to consumers. At Nature's Gourmet Farm, our intent is to create a community that evolves around one of the most intrinsically important things of the ages, and that’s the provision of sustenance. That's our passion - to raise healthy food to nourish families and strengthen immune systems.

Farm Visitors

Since we started selling via our online store in 2016, the number of visitors to our farm increased. Then, building the on-farm USDA poultry plant in 2019 spurred a lot of interest from folks who were interested in raising pastured poultry and were looking for a way around the MS Department of Ag regulation limiting the number of chickens per farm to only 1,000 per year. Most of the folks visiting were potential customers looking for naturally raised meats to feed their families.

Farmer Musings!

Beth & I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving - and turkey if you purchased one our our pastured turkeys. For our family the turkey did not disappoint. I spatchcocked (removed the backbone) so the turkey would lay flat. Beth then brined it for a day before smoking. It turned out tasty and juicy. Before our Thanksgiving meal each of us shared something we were thankful for. Beth's sister Debra shared the following:

A Day Processing Ground Beef!

Overall rain this week on our farm was about ONE inch! Not a lot in the big scheme of things, but very appreciated. It was enough to make a difference for our winter grass as you can see from this picture. In some areas of other pastures it appears that the seedlings died after germinating back in October. An observation that the heavy dews was not enough to keep them alive.

Perdue Greenwashing "Pastured Chicken" Definition

First, our Whole Turkeys are sold out! Thank you for choosing a pasture-raised turkey for your family this year. And, in case you missed out we processed some larger chickens last Tuesday (6+ pound range) that you may want to consider. About February 2021 it was made public that Perdue was buying PastureBird. Perdue is one of the big three industrial chicken consolidators with headquarters in GA. PastureBird was started by a Marine Corp. veteran named Paul in CA. He worked really hard and had built a great brand based on American Pastured Poultry Producers Association definition of "pasture raised". This story actually began more than a year earlier.

Market Report News

First, an update on our Whole Turkeys. Last Saturday we offered 60 turkeys for sale via Pre-Order. More than 40 were spoken for by close of business Sunday afternoon. Today, there are only 7 left. The turkeys shipped Monday and arrived from MI at 8:30 Tuesday morning. I unloaded them with my pallet forks through the slaughter plant 12' roll up door and then used the floor jack to move the pallet straight into our freezer, less than 10 minutes from the time they arrived until they were tucked away in our freezer. Each turkey is individually boxed in a neat white box. Price is $8/ Lb. for 12 Lb. average. You may have noticed that our beef went up $0.20 to $0.25/lb. effective Nov 1st. These days we have a lot in our beef and the cost of replacements is increasing.

Turkey Pre-Orders

Our Whole Turkeys are being offered via Pre-Order. They will ship to us Oct 30 just in time for our Coast Route Delivery Nov 4th. Preorders are separate from your regular order. And because the receipt to our farm could be tight for our Coast Route, we have extended the deadline to Friday, Nov 3rd for preorders only. Price is $8/ Lb. for 12 Lb. average. We only have 60 turkeys available so don't delay - order today!

A Chinese Proverb

During my professional career as Director of Global Sourcing, I was fortunate to travel to many foreign countries. The first country visited was China in late 1993. Since my initial trip, I later travelled all over the country spending up to 3 weeks at a time and three to four times per year between 2000 and 2005. I have stood on the Northern end of the Great Wall where you can see over into N. Korea and the military gun placements along the river between the two countries. I've stayed in a hotel in Dandong where I was the only Westerner there - Dandong is also where

Turkeys, Eggs, and More

Well, a few folks read last week's newsletter that we were restocking turkey--ground, legs, thighs, and wings--Oct 10th and grabbed some before the order deadline date. Awesome!!! Speaking of TURKEYS - ours will not be ready for Thanksgiving this year due to the weather struggles. UGH! Then, I received an email from a farm in MI that had a large retail contract to cancel which left him with a lot of turkeys to sell. And, Joe's Farm was offering them at a good price plus shipping, adding $1 or so per pound when bought in a pallet quantity of 60 turkeys.