From Your Farmer's Perspective
January 30th I announce that we are building an on-farm carcass cooler and fabrication room to complement our new freezer!
February 6th our farm newsletter was about the positive impact this will have on our animals especially at end of life as well as how it positively impacts the quality of their meat and our farm's long term viability.
Today, I will continue the discussion from "Your Farmer's Perspective".
As mentioned in our Announcement on January 30th our plant will be a private plant. Meaning we will only process animals raised and sold through Nature's Gourmet Farm. We have no intention to compete with companies that process animals for the public. We operate as farmers who process their animals and not processors that also farm! Hope that makes sense.
Mississippi as well as all other states have been loosing small community processing plants for decades as people change buying habits away from farms to the national brands found in the Wal-Mart's of the world.
We experienced first hand last Spring what happens when processing is "centralized" among the few national brands - their supply chain stops and very soon grocery store shelves are empty. And, it does not only take something like Covid-19 to disrupt supply chains. Ask Texans what happens with a major ice storm that disrupts distribution for days that cause food & water shortages.
Last Spring many people reacted by contacting a farmer friend to buy beef only to find the processing dates at the few plants we have were already extended out 18 months and more.
Several folks have expressed concerns about where will I find the time to do all this! Well, that certainly is a valid consideration. But, when I look at the 32 hours per month I spend on the road taking animals to the processor and then picking up the meat as well as dealing with all the drama associated with processors, and etc. I believe there will not be any increase in my time required. Simply stated - the time currently spent on the road will be swapped for time in our plant.
And, the time spent will be much more productive, better utilized and safer than being on the road.
Obviously, there will be a team of folks working on our cut & pack days. Initially it will be slower, but as we settle in, beef should take about two days per month and the same for pork for a total of four days per month. That is about 32 hours per month. Most of our team will also be folks who currently help with chicken processing.
Our oldest son Eric is very excited about the plant and has completed a lot of self-education on the skills needed (as well as hands on at one of our processors). From my experience with public processors and their workforce skill sets we will start off equal with them and quickly improve.
"The Bearded Butchers" in Ohio have provided a lot of the inspiration and butchering techniques for our plant operations through their online videos.
And, I believe our team of people will be more committed to our plant vs. public processors. What I have witnessed is employees at the public plants come and go regularly. New employees are trained "on the job".
Several advantages our plant will offer our customers over public processors is flexibility in what we offer and improved consistency in our cuts from animal to animal and month to month.
While expensive, it does not cost millions of dollars like public processor spend and our staff needs are part-time hours only. Refrigeration utility recurring cost is expensive - thus the reason for my heavy focus on R-Value and efficiency so as not to waste energy.
Rest assured, We are still a small family farm raising naturally grown pastured animals sustainably on pasture. Having our own on-farm process does not change how we farm nor our fundamental beliefs and core values.
Lastly, I want to mention accidents. A farm is full of opportunities for serious accidents. My worst accident came when loading several cows onto the cattle trailer back in 2014 or 2015. Two had been loaded into the front compartment and the center gate closed. I was bringing the third cow and when she got to the trailer she walked in except for her rear feet. So, I gently took the rear gate and bumped her hocks. When I did she kicked the gate driving it back into my face. The impact knocked me out.
When I woke up she was back in the corral pin (thankfully she did not step on me as she went pass me lying on the ground). The gate bloodied my nose and took a gap of skin, but was not near as serious as it could have been.
With our on-farm slaughter this step of loading cows onto the trailer to haul them to a processor goes away!
Consumers today are searching for food from sources they can trust. At Nature's Gourmet Farm you can expect us to be TRUTHFUL and TRANSPARENT to earn your TRUST.
Construction Update: this week our contractor had to let the closed cell foam cure before installing the OSB so they had a short week. However, by Friday they installed all the OSB on the Carcass Cooler, Fab Room and Freezer walls. Next week they will install the metal overlay onto the OSB. USDA requirements call for the walls to be washable so the surface material must restrict water. Here are a few pictures:
This is our Carcass Cooler Room after walls are framed. Note the large beam on the floor that will be the main support for the rail system attached to the ceiling. The rail system will hold the beef & pork carcasses for curing.
A few years ago I had closed cell foam sprayed on the walls of our Quonset Hut. What a difference that made inside the building. Before spraying you could not touch the metal without burning yourself. Afterwards, you could hold your hand on the metal and never fell uncomfortable. This will also greatly improve our cooler & freezer efficiency.
This is the Carcass Cooler after the ceiling & beams were installed and the closed cell foam completed last Saturday.
This picture shows a corner of the Fab Room. Where you see 2x6 in the wall next to the metal studs is also where the beams are in the ceiling. Note the floor drain for cleanup.
Join me next week as we consider our "Customers" perspective.
Feb 20 Customer Think about it - "If the animal is not raised right OR processed correctly it can't be delicious."Feb 27 Community