|County Road 750 that runs in front of our farm in Livingston County, Illinois.|
Well, it has indeed been a long road this past year and yet, we're still here, upright and taking nourishment. Looking back though it is amazing we are in one piece, the changes have been dramatic; and although the events were not the ones we had planned, I believe they all served a purpose. So class...lets review.
RAW MILK: We are still in the raw milk business; with a herd of 12 crossbred cows, despite the antics of IDPH. We've had good success rallying the troops and in a public hearing in Springfield, back in November, IDPH had to face many angry raw milk producers and consumers. The proposed rules have had many setbacks (yeah!) and will eventually make their way to JCAR (Joint Commission on Administrative Rules) It is expected they will balk at the nonsensical approach IDPH has taken to create a problem where none exists and throw them back at IDPH for revision if they don't refuse them completely.
In the meantime we continue to sell raw milk to amazing customers who drive long distances to be able to purchase and consume a healthy product from healthy cows, all done WITHOUT the public health department's unnecessary interference.
THE POOR FARM: Purchased in September 2012 our 7 acre spread waits for us as our current farm, up for sale since June 2011, continues to support us. We visit the Poor Farm often, we don't want the outhouse to feel lonely, and we continue to plan for "one day" when we will indeed live there making our lives on a smaller farm with less animals, a lesser house, less income and far less stress. Yes, our new American Dream calls for less. Just call us backwards, you wouldn't be the first. We've shown South Pork Ranch to several couples but sadly financing continues to be an issue for all prospective buyers. In January we will list the house and 10 acres separately and then if that sells we will sell stock and inventory piece by piece. It is pathetically sad that is the US massive amounts of funding exists for new and used farmers who will follow the corn and soybean standards while virtually no assistance exists for the independently thinking entrepreneur.
|Pasture raised, organically fed but not certified organic Chicken |
produced by Ryan Steffen and Bailey Beyers of Two Mile Farm, Fairbury, Il
THE FARM STORE: We were recently inspected with no deficiencies. Still selling eggs and chicken from other farmers there plus our own beef and pork and soap; it is the source of income for us. All raw milk is sold direct from the tank, customers serve themselves. (I just put that in there for our officials who like to read my blog. Makes it easier if I put everything in order then they don't have to use the "search" button on my blog. I'm all about efficiency for those we pay with our hard earned tax money.)
We have an amazing group of customers, about 100 each month coming and going and serving themselves. The most honest group of folk we have ever known. We are open everyday except Sunday. Farm store income is the number one source of revenue on our farm, followed by: raw milk sales then pork carcasses, beef carcasses, Red wattle feeders, Red wattle breeders in that order. We are part of the 1% of all US farmers who mange their farm without any other outside non-farm related income but without our committed customers, it would not be possible.
ORGANIC CERTIFICATION: Two weeks ago we had our fifth organic inspection. Again no deficiencies which I take seriously because it is hard work to remain certified organic. This past year was especially hard due to my being so busy with school so I must give the majority of credit to my husband who kept up with the paperwork required by NOP (national Organic Program) while I gallivanted around with other co-eds. The NOP has gotten some very bad press lately about huge farms that were certified organic while not meeting the standards but I will address that in a future post. For us, and our small farm,we take the standards seriously.
THE RED WATTLES: Are alive and well on South Pork Ranch, even though we did say goodbye ( and good eating) to our boar Mad Max. He was one cool pig, friendly and easy going and a joy to be around but when he failed this past summer to get our RW girls pregnant we knew it was time to cull him. Large amounts of meat now available for our dogs and if the taint smell is not too strong...for us as well.
His progeny will continue on, as over the years we have sold several of his offspring as breeding stock continuing the trend of "The Gentle Giant" in Red Wattle circles. In his place our boar Wally will carry on with the 7 sows we have. Due to the great taste of this raw milk fed, pasture raised meat all our feeder pigs are sold up until April 2015. I'll be taking orders for that pork after Jan 2. Email us at email@example.com if interested.
SCHOOL: I completed my first semester at UIUC (the University of Illinois, Champaign) without falling down any of the English Building stairs. As the oldest undergraduate on campus I consider this a great accomplishment. I certainly struggled to keep up with the technology requirements and discovered a few of my writing implements to be outdated.
I honestly had a riot hanging out with so many, brilliant students who tolerated all my "in my day" stories. I taught them about wall phones, 8 track players and black and white TV's while they showed me how to put a Pusheen Sticker on my text messages and make movies on my PC.
I completed one poetry class, one narrative writing class, one course in American Novels prior to 1914 and one writing analysis course. All I did for hours and hours each week was read and write and read and write. I rediscovered my love of poetry, to read it, to write it, to eat it for dinner. I also spent a large amount of time on the road, 2.5 hours commuting each day. Lets hear it for Audio Books!! All in all the semester was intensely satisfying and exhausting and I can not wait to start classes again Jan 20.
Three more semesters to go for my BA in Creative Writing and just a few more years after that for my MFA. Oh well, going to be old and dead one day anyway; might as well be old, dead, and well read.
|view up our barn alley|