Category Archives: Farm Excitement

Marketing- The Local Farmer’s Market

We have been attending the local Farmer’s Market selling our cuts of Ossabaw Island pork and fresh brown eggs.  We have enjoyed meeting new people, and it gives our back a break from the farm work.( With a big thank you to my parents for their time spent helping set up and tear down.) Our time spent at the market is one way we are marketing and branding our farm in the local community.

There are hundreds of ways to market your farm. But our main goal is  to increase brand recognition, and produce some cash flow.  A Farmers Market in a small community can be a great place to sell your products, but use it to network and generate sales directly from the farm as well.

In our community it seems that meat vendors  have been very spotty at the Farmer’s Market.  And from customer reaction they are not use to the level of care we put into our animals. Customers are pleased to learn that our meat is raised with no antibiotic, no vaccines, and no added hormones, but are not educated on why it makes a difference. We spend time with our customers giving information on why our pork is better. Not every customer is in the market for pork at that time, but hopefully our information will bring them back to us when they are.

Tent at the Farmers Market
Burnin R Farms set up at the Monett Farmer’s Market

I am not the best at decorating, but I am very good at being unique. Our tent is very noticeable among the other vendors. I am also using computer cut vinyl letters wherever possible to make clear, readable signs. No one should have to decipher my handwriting. Our pricing board has vinyl letters on a whiteboard, so we can adjust prices without recreating the whole board.

Burinn R Farms Sign
Burnin R Farms Metal Sign

I made a farm sign out of an old metal sign I had made when I was taking motorcycles to bike shows. I cut the vinyl and applied it to the sign. Recognition is a great way to create credibility, the more someone sees your “look” in a positive atmosphere the more it is perceived as credible.

We are increasing sales every week. We are gaining repeat customers and we have even scheduled a sale of a whole hog in September.  I am surprised at how the egg sales have really taken off, I am needing to add more hens to the coop now.

Marketing is like a marathon, you may sprint occasionally, but a steady gain is the best.

 


 

 

 

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New Guard Dog for the Farm

Our old trusted farm dog, Chewey, who in his old age became blind and deaf wandered off a few weeks ago. He was very loved by our family, but I didn’t know how much his presence meant around the farm. Since he departed I have been seeing coyotes getting increasingly close to the main part of our farm. one sighting was less than 30 yards from our main barns. Even blind and deaf I now realize his presence and occasional bark kept the  sneaky night thieves at a comfortable distance.

Well we decided we needed another dog to protect our farm. since we have a lot of different livestock, we wanted to get a livestock guard dog. There are many different breeds to choose from. We took into account stories from friends and their experiences with dog breeds that they like. We became particularly interested in the Great Pyrenees breed.

I searched on Craigslist for a couple of weeks doing some research on the average cost of a new puppy. I looked at the local humane society and a local shelter just for the chance I could help a one in need. I realized that in our part of the country this breed was a working dog in demand. Litters sold out fast, and ranged from $50 to $300. There were a few pure bred litters available, and there were a few Great Pyrenees crossed with other breeds available. A Face Book group post caught our attention, they had a Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd mixed litter that they were going to sell.

Now it was time to contact the seller. Trish happened to be going to the area where the litter was for sale the very next day, Perfect! She  contacted the seller to find a time to meet and look at the puppies and the puppy’s parents. It is always a good idea to inspect the location and get a feel for the temperament of the parents. Since we wanted a livestock farm dog, this farm had pigs, chickens, goats, cows, and cats. This early introduction to animals on the farm allows the puppies to understand what animals are good and need protecting, and what animals should not be there.  Also,  seeing the temperament of the parents will give you an idea if the puppy could be a good fit on your farm.

Trish was impressed with the farm that had the puppies for sale, and the parents of the puppies seemed to be the type of dog that we would want our puppy to grow up to be. Now it was time to pick a puppy. The only request I had was for her to try to get the biggest puppy she could, and she could go from there. She had her eye on two male pups from the start, but eventually picked our new little guard dog,  Max.

LGD Max
Max the guard puppy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We haven’t had a puppy for quite a while and we have forgotten the mischief and fun the get themselves into. We are thoroughly enjoying our new addition to Burnin R Farms. And we are exited to see how “Max” grows and learns as the time passes.

Max Watching his Baby Pigs
Max Watching his Baby Pigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Hay and The Window of Opportunity

 

Spring Pasture
Loving green grass again

 

 

 

 

 

 

One farm task in the spring has more to do with winter than spring. Every small farm handles hay in some form or another. The current  popular method is baling large round bales to feed to livestock, but the method has changed considerably with the advances in technology. In order to have enough feed for the winter, hay must be put up starting in the spring.

We use hay to feed our horses, cows, and  on occasion our pigs. With the horses, the old standard small square bale is the easiest and best version of hay bale for us to use. This old standard is also the most time consuming and labor intensive bale to produce. Each 60 lb. plus bale is handled at least 7 times by hand. From the baler, to the trailer, to the hay loft, to the animal, this bale is mostly handled by hand.

Hay Handling
Hay Handling

When baling hay you have to find a window of opportunity, a span of several dry warm days to complete the process. There is no formula to follow or exact times to go by, the hay dries according to the weather. We have to plan according to past experience and hope the weather that is forecasted stays true.

 

 

 

 

Mowing with Old Tractor
Mowing with Old Tractor

Last night we started cutting our hay. We saw that we had 5 days with sun, not super hot but a span of dry days. The longer we wait the more the grass matures, if the grass forms a seed head then the protein content drops. Our goal is to be able to put up hay with the most protein as possible. That is not always easy to do when you have to find a window of opportunity with no rain, when the ground is not saturated from recent rain, and when there is sun to dry and cure the grass into hay.

Tonight we will continue to cut our pastures. We will also rake and turn the hay that has started to dry today. Since we only have evenings during the week to work, we will be both cutting and raking in stages over several days. We started cutting on Tuesday and plan to actually bale the hay on Saturday.

Raking Hay
Raking Hay

 

It is a lot of work, but completely satisfying to know you have food going into winter. Plus there is no better olfactory stimulation on the farm than the smell of fresh cut grass curing into hay.

Check back for updates on how our first hay cutting progresses.


 

Ossabaw Island Babies are Here!!

Our Ossabaw Island pigs are having some very nice looking babies this year. we have had some very nice colored litters. All the babies are healthy and plumping up well. They have started to eat with momma, and are running around all crazy at any noise they hear.

#12 Litter2016

 

 

 

Ossabaw Island Babies Starting to Explore

Ossabaw Island Piglets with Momma

Ossabaw Island Babies with Momma

Our spring babies are almost all spoken for this year. I may need to set up another breeding just for me so I can hold some back. I am toying with not selling any as breeding stock next year. We are moving in different directions with the farm, and I am not sure the added time required to sell as breeding stock will be available next year.  The last few years we have tried to sell as many pure bred babies as we could at weaning time.  Time will tell I guess.


 

 

 

 

New Tent for the Farmers Market

We have found a perfect new pop-up tent for the farmers market. not only was it priced affordably, it is styled to our liking. Burnin’ R Farms will be well represented this summer.

New Farmers Market Tent

 

I love the flames on the tent. It fits in well with our brand.

 

 

 

We had to add a new freezer and coolers to our equipment list to be able to properly hold the meat we will be selling.  We are also in the process of adding new T-shirts with logos and other branded farm items.

Look for us at the Monett, MO farmers markets on Saturdays this summer! We will have pasture raised Ossabaw Island pork by the cut, farm fresh eggs, lye soap, and any extra vegetables that we can bring. Plus, as soon as we can, we will have gourmet mushroom to add to the list. Shiitake, Lion’s mane, and several Oyster mushroom are in various stages of growth and will be available soon.

 


 

Spring Rains

I love the smell of a good spring rain. We are on target to get a fair amount of rain in the next couple of weeks. It is welcomed and needed.

The farm relies on rain to refresh, clean, and feed the soil. The rain carries needed nutrients into the soil from the droppings of the pasture animals and from the added chicken litter that comes from the coop. It also washes away minerals or waste that have may built up over the winter.

Afternoon Rainbow
Afternoon Rainbow

I don’t look forward to doing chores in the rain, especially in the pig pens. Pigs love to dig and make holes that fill up with a good rain. With 12 pens to feed I don’t take the time to look at every step I take, and inevitably end up with a boot full of water. It is also great when a sow knocks your feet out from under you and you end up on your butt in one of those holes.

Even if you can escape the holes and the pushy sows, pigs love mud and love to share it with you. They rub against you, they wipe their nose on you, and they love to run between your legs to get the first shot at the feed bowl. So, no matter how careful you are, when it rains you get muddy.

Lost a Farm Truck- But Could Have Been Worse

Last Thursday on my way to my day job, I was rear ended on the highway. The morning traffic was moving fast as usual, and was fairly heavy with everyone trying to get to work on time. I was stopped behind a vehicle waiting to make a left-hand turn. There were a few cars and trucks ahead of me and two behind. I saw in the rear view mirror a truck with a trailer coming in fast and not slowing down. The rest happened fast and is a blur.

The truck hit the two cars behind me throwing one of them into the back of my truck. I had enough time slam mine  into park so I did not roll into vehicles in front of me, but my truck took a hard hit. When the parts stopped flying, there were 4 vehicles totaled. Although no one was seriously hurt, the aftermath will be felt hard on our farm.

My Farm Truck After Being Hit
My Farm Truck After Being Hit

 

 

 

 

 

MyMy Farm Truck After Being Hit- Profile
My Farm Truck After Being Hit- Profile

Because of the accident we are now having to deal with insurance, being short a vehicle, scheduling how to pick up our feed for the farm, locating a replacement truck, and wondering if we will be able to afford a decent replacement. We have always kept full coverage on every vehicle, it is expensive but a necessary evil. Without full coverage we would have to fight an unknown insurance company and try to not get taken advantage of. Being involved in an accident never betters your situation.

A farm is in perpetual motion, it does not slow down or adjust itself for your hardship. You have to make quick adjustments and hope it goes smooth. Luckily the trunk of my little daily driver is able to handle a few bags of grain, and we are not needing to purchase straw or shavings for bedding until the weekend.

We are still negotiating with the insurance about the value of our truck. I am not looking to gain from this because accidents are a part of life, but I do not want to be left with uncovered expenses. I was taken to the hospital to be checked out, and we will have to get those charges covered as well. Our insurance office has been great, and got things going right away. I am sure this will take several months to work everything out.

We always say, things could have been worse. That definitely applies with this as well. No lasting injuries and only material things affected make this situation a hiccup in life. The farm has taught us to  adapt and persevere, keep moving and get things done.


 

 

Pens for Sows, Boars, and Feeders

This weekend we need to wrangle some pigs around. We have some sows that need to get in with some boars. We have been trying to schedule a couple litters per month. In order to do that, each month we need to rotate sows to be with our boars. I have 2 sows that need to get in with the boar this weekend. In order for that to happen, we need to take 3 sows out.

Feeder Pigs needing to be sorted
Feeder Pigs Needing to be Sorted

It is going to be a struggle this year, we are growing our herd and feeding out more than we have in the past. We currently have 5 pens being used just to grow out pigs. We have pigs that range from 25 lbs. up to 230 lbs. We try to keep pigs together and grouped by size. As some of our pigs grow at different rates, we have to keep an eye on the pens and keep moving up the pigs that are growing quicker. If there gets to be too great of a size difference, there will be bullying,  and the smaller pigs will not get their share to eat.

We have split up some of our bigger pens in order to divide the feeder pigs according to size. This weekend we are needing to divide another one of our larger pens to make a new pen. I have a size difference starting again and no good option to separate them. So a new pen must be built. As we have been adding new pens,we have been struggling to keep up with building new shelters and water barrels.  Soon I am also going to run out of pens that we can split and we will have to start expanding out to new areas. Splitting a pen is a lot cheaper than buying panels to make an entire new pen.

We have designated farrowing pens, boar pens, and grow out pens. Soon we will be getting our farrowing pens ready to have little babies, but for now we are using them to house our breeding groups. I am short one boar pen, which I will need to create before we switch over to farrowing, but I am still not certain how I where I want it to go.

 

 

 

Building a Homemade Hoop Shelter for Pigs

 

My daughter and I made this hoop shelter for our pigs 5 years ago and it is still in great shape. It is fairly easy to build with just a little elbow grease.

Pig Hoop Shelter without Covering
Pig Hoop Shelter without Covering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This shelter is built from common materials and goes together easily.

2- 16′ cattle panels cut down to 12′

2- 4’x8′ sheets of untreated plywood

4- 6″x4″x8′ treated posts

4- 1″x3″ untreated boards

1- 10’x12′ tarp

Misc: Screws, Lag bolts, metal plumbers strapping, and fence staples

We started by notching the ends of the treated posts. The notches enabled us to overlap the ends of the posts to be glued and nailed together while still giving us a flat surface all the way around. We notched the posts with a circular saw, we used multiple passes to create slices half way through the post. The slices were then chiseled out and smoothed. Update to our original build- We would at this point in the build add a sealed floor of some sort.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

In order to secure the cattle panels in a curved position, we put lag bolts on 2 alternate sides. The lag bolts were put in 2 inches from the outside edge of the posts. We used 6 bolts per side and spaced the bolts evenly along the post. The bolts were left out about 1.5 inches so that the wire panel had a good point of contact.

We wired the to cattle panels together along their length and put one end up against the bolts. The panel was then carefully pulled down so that the opposite end rested inside of the bolts on the other side. We have at that point a base and a hoop. The ends were secured in place with some large fencing staples, and all of the sharp edges of the panel and wires were removed to prevent injury.

The end panels were the next piece of the build to tackle. We held one plywood panel up to the end of the hoop and traced the outline onto the wood. We cut out the curved end piece and secured it to the wire with plumbing strap and screws. The entrance side will have a doorway cut out as well before it is attached. We cut two 1″x3″ boards that ran from top to bottom inside the end pieces. we attached them with screws to give the end pieces more stability. We double checked again for sharp points of screws and made sure to grind them down to prevent future injury.

Attaching the End Panel
Attaching the End Panel
Attaching the Interior Support
Attaching the Interior Support

We covered our hoop buildings with tarps secured with lathe around the bottom edges. This worked great right up to the point when the sows started their nest building phase. They tore huge sections of the tarp off to add to their nest even though they had plenty of straw. We have since corrected this by adding sheet metal strips to the bottom of each side, and we completely covered a few  huts and removed the tarp all together.

There is always improvements to be made, and the first version is just a starting point. These are great huts, but by all means not perfect for everyone. Like I mentioned earlier we would have added a floor to these, and when we build more we will add that option. We have had these huts for 5 years and have only needed to replace the tarps.  As are farm grows I will need to start building more.

http://burninr.com/portablepigshelter.html