Explaining 2007

Hello Farm Friends,

How are you? Are you as amazed as I am that JUNE is already here? Guess we are in the throes of Summer already!
When I write to you each week I try to encourage you, to lift your spirits or make you laugh about something happening here on the farm. Today I would like to explain how the 2007 year is going for us. Our story is probably similar to many other farmers you will talk to around the area this year.

Jim and I look at farming as a business, we consider ourselves professionals in our trade of growing food for your families and really take what we do very seriously. We try to remain level headed about things and between our two personalities we think we balance life and circumstances pretty well without over-reacting to the many things that influence the farm business. As farmers we sit down and plan several years in advance, planning for growth, change etc just like any other business does. The funny thing about farming is that you can plan all you want to, but there are so many uncontrollable factors that you are always having to adjust and make the best decisions possible when the time comes (hmmm sounds pretty familiar to LIFE huh?)

What I am about to write is not intended to invoke sympathy…for we are not feeling sorry for ourselves or looking for a shoulder to cry on. We have and always will understand that what we are going through right now is a possibility…just a part of the risk of farming. We just want YOU as our friends and customers to understand what is happening on our farm in particular, but also most other farms in the area.

The 2007 farming year has been a challenge to say the least. It started off "oh so promising" with great early spring weather and everyone thinking that maybe just maybe we would get a jump on the growing season. Everything bloomed and then came three nights of freezing temperatures in the teens that for us stopped the growth on our pastures and killed the warm season grasses that had already begun to grow. We were very fortunate in that our potatoes had not sprouted yet so they were spared, but we lost some baby onion plants and the crowns were killed out of most of our broccoli. Our garlic crop was frozen and the plants thought it was spring all over again putting most of their energy into the stalks and leaves instead of bulbing up nicely when they were supposed to. All of that we were glad to give up in exchange for most of our tomatoes being spared in the hoophouses after we covered the plants and covered the covers. The great thing about farming seems to be the eternal optimism that you somehow have in the spring. Honestly, we were not discouraged by any crop losses…we just sort of made note about them and moved on with replanting what we could. Since the freeze in April, we have had little to no rain. By utilizing rotational grazing for our beef and sheep herd we normally can survive short periods of drought, but to be honest we are at a pretty critical point right now. We had intended to have lamb for sale this fall, but due to lack of pasture have had to sell our lambs (it is kind of hard to grass-finish a lamb if there is no grass!). We are fortunate that all of our custom freezer beef will be leaving the farm in the month of June. One load goes out this week and another in two more weeks. In addition, this morning we loaded up five one year old calves and took them to the sale barn in order to help make the pasture we have go further. The hay crop is producing much less than in years past and hay prices are sky high because there has basically been a shortage of hay since last fall when this dryness really began. This will mean less beef will be available for us to sell next year, but that is one of the decisions we felt we had to make considering all of the factors at hand right now. We have irrigated about 6 rows of vegetables in our garden…mostly tomatoes in the hopes that we can keep those already established and blooming plants productive enough to get a crop off of. Last week we planted again and so far most of our baby plants are still alive, but do turn crispy and wilt in the afternoon sun. The thing about drought too is that when there is nothing for the bugs to eat in the way of weeds and grasses they really pour the pressure on garden plants. So far we have noticed a much more intense population of bugs that we normally do not have a problem with for another month or so in a normal year. Guess they are hungry too?

We say all of that to say this…please be patient with us and if there is a shortage or lack at the market this summer hopefully you will understand a bit better about why after reading this. I know many of you need rain for your own business or personal reasons too…please know we are praying! We are still upbeat and positive about our farm and farming in general…it is just one of those years and we wanted you to know what to expect if the drought continues.

On Farm Pickup
This Thursday night, June 7th from 3-6pm will be open for On-Farm Pickup. To order, just visit our website at www.rockygladefarm.com/market.php and scroll down through the items available, click your choices and submit your order. Then all you have to do is pickup your order here at the farm on Thursday night. Once we receive your order, we will send you an order confirmation via email. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

Franklin Farmers' Market
Rocky Glade Farm will be at the market this coming Saturday, 9th. The hours of operation for the market are from 8-12. We will not be taking pre-orders for the market this year. We look forward to seeing you all there this Saturday!

Picture of the Week
Here is a shot of our beef calves not very happy with us. Normally we are able to move them to new lush pastures but this year we keep rotating them to different pastures with little new growth. Our farm, like many other farms in the area are at a critical point right now in need of rain.

To see this week's photo, please click on the following link. www.rockygladefarm.com/photos.php

Have a super week!

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