Cannibalism in the Barn

Remember the tragedy of all the chickens dying? Well apparently we are living in an Alfred Hitchcock movie, because now they are all eating each other.

There are times when animals become so stressed or so bored that they begin to consume their fellow barn companions. But we live on planet sunshine and walk through a rose meadow each morning while drinking in the sweet honeydew…

Yeah… That’s not farming. And if you think it is, you may be in for a rude awakening.

This first batch of chickens just feel like a crap shoot in a hand basket. First they all died, now the replacements are eating each other.

We have tried what feels like everything!

We pulled the injured, got them cleaned up and then put them back.

We pulled the aggressive ones.

Then we separated the big ones from the little. Then the little from the “devils”. That’s what I have come to call the ones who eating the others, “devils”.

We even sprayed everyone down with vinegar!! An old trick to show them they all smell the same.

I believe I have them isolated enough where only the “devils” are cannibalizing. But that is still about 60 birds!

I’m starting to wonder how hard we need to think about euthanizing the group of “devils”. As much loss and pain as this farm has seen in the last 3 weeks I absolutely hate to have to think that.

But, what’s the alternative?! We just let them eat each other?! Then that group will be so stressed from fear of trauma or aggressive behavior.

From a welfare standpoint, I do not want our animals to be in a high stress environment. That is the main reason we raise them on pasture!!

And from a meat quality standpoint also, stress releases cortisol which causes the meat to be tough and low quality.

I’m still thinking about what we need to do.. if you have ever had this happen or have advise, please share you thoughts!! We will take all the help we can get!

What is Ground Beef?

Have you ever thought about what the “beef” is in your “ground beef”?

Disclaimer: I may ruin your love of processed meats for ever.

Commercial meat packing plants… yes that is what they are called, aka giant livestock processing facilities, “meat packers”… anyway, they like tight margins and efficiency. This means they are sure to use every single piece and part of an animal. So what do they do with extra trim cuts, or small pieces of meats that don’t have flavor, or parts like the tongue? They grind it up and make ground beef. Or bologna. Or hotdogs.

Yup! Then you wanna know what else they add to the ground beef? Red dye to make it look like it didn’t set in an open air container and oxidize. By the way, this is a totally normal process and does not effect the safety of the meat. It does however decrease some flavor.

They also add ice chips to the ground beef. Why? Because it makes it easier to grind and then adds some weight to the packages.

Lastly, preservatives. These giant commercial operations need to make sure that something with a raw shelf like of a few hours lasts for days. So, they add in a little sodium nitrite and a little extra potassium nitrite.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, because it doesn’t have to be this way!!

We use an Organic Processor that does not add any of that crap to our ground beef!

So, when people try it for the first time they always ask first, how much fat is in it?

Fat is a relative term here. We have a true 80/20 mix. But, without the extra crap, that 80/20 from the store has “fat” that needs drained off. But that “fat” isn’t fat at all!! It’s crap!

After people cook our ground beef they say, it’s so lean! Well, its not full of crap!

Lastly, our ground beef is comprised of MEAT!!! What a concept! It’s not leftovers, its not extra, its not organs. See that image below? The cuts we do not sell, is what is ground, that is it.

So next time you look at your processed meat products, ask yourself, what is really in this. CORRECTION: Ask your farmer!!!!!!

They are all dead..

*Sensor Warning-contains dead animals

I don’t think I could watch another chicken die this batch.

7:00 AM Thursday morning, the post office calls to tell me that my batch of 225 chickens have made their way to Shelbyville, IN, but “I think they are all dead” Linda says.

I rush to get the baby loaded up and race to pull into the small alley off Harrison Street. I ring the the bell and say “I’m here to pick up my chicks”. He leads me to the 3 cardboard boxes that should be booming with little peeps but all I hear is “peep…….peep………….peep”.

I get them home and start counting.

150.

Dead.

50.

Half dead.

25.

Barely alive.

24 hours later, I had a box full of 225 dead chickens.

I was crying. I was done. This is horrible. Who could do this? How did this even happen? They must have gotten too cold. Don’t people see that its going to get cold and these are LIVING THINGS?!

I could sit here and bash the postal service, as so many people have been. I could bash the hatchery, but really they were wonderful! There customer service was great, yes I got a full refund. It just got too cold for peepers. So we have decided that it just doesn’t make sense for our business to buy chicks if we can’t pick them up when they hatch.

We were able to piece together 30 here, 20 there, 90 more, and finally our saving grace. A women in southern Indiana hatches her own chicks, she had 100 chicks from an order that was never picked up.

We believe that everything happens for a reason. We met this lady out of pure happenstance. And here she is, saving our growing season. Needless to say, she will have our business as long as she wants! Thankfully, after a very long 36 hours of pure hell, we are all home, warm, and ready for our 2021 chicken season.

Have you every mail ordered chickens? Who is your go to supplier?

Big Farming Mistake! | A Problem With Our Hereford Cows

I feel like such a bad farmer…

Did you see our posts and videos about how soon will we have calves on the ground?? Well apparently we were all wrong…

You may be wondering what happened. Yeah… me too!

We decided to breed our cows through AI when we got them back on the farm from being bred by a bull. We thought that it would save us money in the long run. $20 per semen straw, breed the cows once, maybe twice if needed. Well… $200 later and they are still having a cycle.

I decided I was going to try one more time with a little bit of influence, we used a small dose of hormone supplements that will help the egg become fertilized and help that egg embed in the uterus. Think of it in the human form, it’s a naturally occurring hormone and sometimes we just need a little push. No, the hormones will not affect the meat production or what you eat.

Then, I thought I had it. I didn’t see any signs of heat. But just to be sure, I had the vet come out to check them. 2 pregnant, 1 open. UGH! Okay, 2 is better than none.

9 months later… still no calf…

We decided the next best thing was to buy a bull. He can get the job done way better than I can, and he is on the farm when I am not. He knows the best possible time to make sure the cows become pregnant. 

He has been on the farm for a total of 4 months now. We had him for 2 months and decided to send him to a friend’s farm to breed his cows. He was there for 2 months and we believe he got the job done! Yay, Go Blue! Back to Schoentrup Farms he goes, and 2 months has now gone by. We saw him “jump” a couple of the cows as soon as he came back. No activity since. 

I feel like such a bad farmer. 

What was I expecting?! Everything to always be sunshine and rainbows? Well… yeah actually, I was. 

Tough reality hit. Farming is not composed of what goes right, but what went wrong and how it was fixed. Although, I haven’t fixed it yet. 

My plan is to watch for a few more months and check them for pregnancy. If they are not pregnant, we have to get them off our farm… 

I am heart broken even writing that last sentence. But the harsh truth is that this is a business. And we cannot afford to feed animals that do not make us money. 

Here’s to hoping we have 4 pregnant cows!

Maybe It’s Trust Issues, Maybe It’s Something Else..

Convenience. It’s that the American dream? Who has time for anyone other than my own needs; I am the only one that matters; I need that product and I want it at my doorstep yesterday.

We already had 2 day express shipping, but when COVID hit, how else could you possibly survive? If you didn’t buy all the toilet paper and deep freezers you might as well have just crawled into your casket that very day!

Okay, I’m being very dramatic. It’s nothing new, ask my husband, ha. But I know you can see what I am saying here.

The problem is, the giant, world-wide push to have everything you could think of at only a moments notice has created some severe quality assurance issues.

2015 – glass in baby wipes

2016 – mold in applesause pouches

2017 – 456 food recalls

2018 – E. Coli coated “fresh” lettuce

2019 – 30,000 pounds of ground beef recalled due to “possible foreign matter contamination”

2020 – 128,000 pound of meat recalled because they “were produced without the benefit of federal inspection”

2021 – a guy finds shrimp tails in his cereal

Goliath sized companies are so worried about getting their product out the door, they don’t even care what it looks like anymore. They would rather send you a pile of dog crap before they let another company swoop in and steal their profits.

That happened to me, by the way. Not dog crap, ha. When all those big businesses had to shut down because of COVID I ordered laundry detergent from amazon, they sent me colored pencils… I’m not even joking!! But the funniest part, they didn’t want the colored pencils back and I never got my laundry detergent.

Okay, yes, I have a point. This isn’t just about me ranting about bad big business.

During the peak of COVID, we had orders out the wazoo. I was making 5 to 6 deliveries a day! Not to mention the pick up orders we had, and managing the farmers market. It was hard to keep everything organized. One time, it wasn’t so organized and I messed up.

A customer had ordered their usual. They ordered weekly and wanted to pick it up at the farmers market instead of their typical delivery. I plum forgot. They said they didn’t need it right away and to just bring it the following weekend. Ya’ll, I forgot again!!! I felt horrible!!

After the farmers market that day we went straight home, loaded up their order, and immediately took it to them. But it wasn’t just that, we made sure to throw in a couple extra goodies. They told us again that we didn’t need to, that they totally understood, we just had a baby, we were very busy. They did not care at all.

Okay, here’s my point.

I cared!! My small business that makes just enough to pay the bills, cared. My meat products that I don’t have in stock because we sell out so quickly, cared. My customer that orders every week like clockwork, tells all their friends about us, and greets us with a smile every time we see them, cares about me so yes I care about them!!

I talk a lot about buying local and why it’s good for your economy But, have you thought about how much trust goes to someone that couldn’t care any less about your small purchase, because there will be millions of purchases behind you?

You are entrusting your body to someone that should know what they are doing. You trust them to use the right ingredients, to mix it correctly, and to get it to you when you need it. What’s happens when you can’t trust them?

For big businesses, they just find more customers. But for small businesses, they make it right!

Maybe I just have trust issues, but maybe I’m on to something. Maybe, just maybe, I should be able to trust what I put in and on my body because the person that made it cares as much about me as I do them.

What do you buy local? How has it made a significant impact on your life?