Restock Dates: Please see our Farm Blog where we post our weekly newsletter for the latest updates

Farm Updates

written by

Ben Simmons

posted on

August 15, 2023

Many customers have asked how the animals are doing in this heat!

Really, I think they do better than humans. After all, they are outside in the elements regardless what the conditions happen to be. We work in the heat, but live in the air conditioning.... makes a difference.

That said, we certainly take the heat affects seriously. Some of the extra things we are doing include:

Broilers - we have set up extra water containers inside their pens and will refill them 3 to 4 times daily with cool well water
Hens - their shelter is in the afternoon shade from a large oak tree. Their water lines are also in the shade vs. direct sunshine so they have cool vs. hot water
Cows - our new ground pasture is ready to graze. However, there is very little shade for them to spend the day under. So, we are saving that grass and focusing on pastures with plenty of shade available.
Pigs - we make sure they have shade and a wallow'er for them.

Fortunately, we have not had any heat related death - even with the broiler chickens. As you may or may not know, a chicken must have suitable water to drink or they don't eat as much as they normally would. And, without the full intake of food they will be smaller at harvest time.

Not only has it been hot, but very dry. After several years of adequate rain I knew we were due a dry period. When you check the Climate Prediction Center's Drought Monitor our area does not show up on the scale for drought. My observation though is our grass is crunchy when you step on it and we have several large oak trees that are at least stressed if not near dying.

A friend of mind in East TX sent me a picture of his ranch and said, "the brown stuff on the ground is what we are grazing." So, we are counting our blessings as it could be much worse!

Beef Market Report Update: while I was waiting on a customer to pickup up feed Monday afternoon I listened to a podcast regarding Superior Auctions from August 4th. For the first time ever a herd of 135 steers weighing an average of 450 pounds each sold for $4.00 per pound LIVE WEIGHT. That is $1800 each. Several contributing factors for the high price was weaned and certified natural grown. There were two other factors that I did not catch.

The calves finished weight would be in the 12-1300 pound range or about 3-times the weaned weight on sale day.

Feeder calf futures are up 18.5% since April 21, 2023 (less than 4-months). Two take-aways are: 1) what goes up does come down. To me, there is a lot of risk along the supply chain meaning folks are spending big money for feeder calves now that will not be finished for sale until 12-15 months out. If the market drops (like it can do) then someone along the supply chain will go broke. 2) High beef prices will push consumers to other proteins like chicken as they try to stretch food dollars.

That reminds me what Ethan who owns Homestead Farm & Packing told me - his business is down because many of the smaller direct marketers were now opting to sell at the stockyard vs. taking care of their customers because of the higher prices and they did not have to worry about customer sales. Frankly, this seems short-sided and shows a lack of commitment from the farmer to service their customers.

After using a "used" chicken plucker the past 7 years it was time to replace it. So, I took delivery on a new Poultry Man 27" plucker just before our last chicken processing. It certainly does a good job tumbling the chickens so the fingers can remove the feathers and the fingers are placed so the chicken cannot get hung.

We also harvested beef & pork this week. Our team is Amazing - all seven beef were completed in 3-hours time from start to finish. They work very good together and make every move count. Yet, enjoying catching up with each other since last month.

Last Monday we worked our breeding herd. Every cow was preg-checked. If they did not have a calf and were open then they were culled. Unfortunately, we had 24 open cows that have a calf. The issue is the new bull we purchased in April has an injury that prevents him from breeding. And, our other two bulls have about breed their limit for the year. We are looking for a replacement bull now!

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.

** Product Availability Update **

Chicken - Restocked August 1st. Next process is August 15th with restock the following day. By mid August we should be fully stocked on chicken. Processing will continue for twice per month for the balance of the year.

Turkey - We have a few on pasture now and received a batch of 25 poults July 29th. They are doing great.

Eggs - Will add eggs each Wednesday at 6pm along with any other items processed (like chicken)

Beef - Restocked July 20th. Next restock will be about August 25th..

Pork - Restocked July 13th. We plan to restock fresh cuts August 16th and cured cuts about August 25th

Lamb - Restocked July 24th. We expect to have a few lamb in September and about 12 in November

More from the blog

Website Changes Coming

About two months ago Seven Sons announced they had SOLD Grazecart to POS Nation in Charlotte, NC. Our farm was in the top 5 to signup to use Grazecart back in December 2015. Back then it was very hard to set up... you had to work with the IT guy to program your site. Basically, flying by the seat of your pants. I had learned about Seven Sons and Grazecart during my time on the Board of the Grassfed Exchange Conference where Blaine was also on the Board. Additionally, you may remember that when we decided to add hens to our farm Beth & I visited Seven Sons to check out their operation. But, they (and we) perservered and today Grazecart is very functional and easy to "program" using widgets. So, the sale really saddened me because one of the compelling reasons we chose GC was that it was developed by farmers for farmers who market and sell direct to consumers. A little statistic - last year Grazecart supported about 450 farms. Our farm was in the top 25 largest users of Grazecart coming in around 22 or 23 if I remember correctly. There was no reason(s) given for the sale! The next communication came about a month ago stating POS Nation would transition Grazecart Stripe credit card process to POS Nation Stripe - again, no reason given. Farms were instructed to create an account on the new site and be ready for the migration to happen. All of this we have done. We are prepared, but have not yet been migrated. Then, this week several farms who had been migrated expressed disappointing results and lack of visibility on payments, payouts, reporting, etc. on the POS Nation site. I know when I checked my account status I could not log in. It took 4 email conversations over a 12-hour period AND then a couple of phone calls Friday morning before the issue was resolved. Late Friday afternoon the VP of Grazecart (POS Nation) emailed customers that the migration was put on hold until complaints were resolved. Additionally, this week - DRIP that powers our email marketing function communicated that Google & Yahoo email were cracking down on emails like our newsletters that are not delivered into inboxes. There are many reasons for this, but mostly folks are searching the internet and come across our website. They sign up to "check us out", and after awhile, decide to move on. Most never make a purchase. Some will make only one purchase and probably decide this is not what they are used to and fall away. Instead of using the "Unsubscribe" feature found at the bottom of our newsletter, they "Block" our email delivery. These are the ones that Google & Yahoo are after because these go into Spam folders and not inboxes. I am sure this is a big deal for email providers that cost them big money considering the shear volume of emails sent on a daily basis. That said, next week we will "Deactivate" about 288 DRIP accounts from ever receiving any of our emails. Well, enough of that for now! Remember, we showed pictures of the 23 registered Red Angus cows purchased from a ranch in WY? Well, they have started calving. Two of them this week. Here is a picture of the FIRST one. So glad we can celebrate this birth with our customers. 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. If you are new to our farm then maybe you have been looking for premium ALL NATURAL GOODNESS of beef, pork, chicken, and eggs raised on pasture as God intended - with emphasis on Regenerative Principles and NOT conventionally raised animals (with growth hormones, drugs, chemicals, and antibiotics) - and where animals are treated humanely - then you have come to the right farm. Our delivery schedule and product availability are listed below along with order buttons that will take you to our website where you can browse over 90 product choices and place your order from the convenience of your home. It's that simple! ** Product Availability Update ** NOTE: Restocks are made about 6 PM on the dates indicated below! Chicken - Restocked May 8th. next restock will be May 23rd. . Turkey - Only have ground turkey and turkey wings available. Eggs - Restocked each Wednesday. We are well stocked on eggs - especially large at this time. Beef - Restocked April 19th. Next restock will be May 17th. Pork - Restocked fresh cuts Wednesday, May 8th followed by cured items (bacon) about 12 days later. Lamb - April 17th lamb did not work out. They were only 50 lb live weight or about half the weight needed for slaughter.

Updates & Musings From Farmer Ben

Last week I announced that we continue to have strong demand for our half beef custom orders, and that we have scheduled a harvest date for 6 "custom" beef with Homestead Farm & Packing in Lucedale, MS. Here are the key dates: April 27th 6 beef (12 halves) added to our website for orders. First-come, First-served. Customer pays deposit to reserve order. June 1st Cut-sheet due not later than this date. Best practice is to complete within a week of placing order. Cut sheet can be found at this link - scroll to the bottom of the page June 3rd I will deliver the cows to the plant.

Do You Need A Half Beef? Must Read

Before I get into the main topic, let me share that our new mama cows are going great. They are settling in and now curious when we come around. For example, last Monday Jared picked up a load of chips for our chick brooder bedding and while unloading they eased up to see what we were doing. Very cool! Next, we want everyone to know that we are mostly FULLY STOCKED on beef, pork, eggs, and chicken. Its been a long time since we were last able to communicate that. Exceptions are filet, flank, and hanger steaks. Who bought all of those filets?