The voice of the blog has been decidedly that of AD for the last several months. And that makes me happy. AD's energy and enthusiasm is just what we need around here. The everyday poop and bluster that is wintertime farming gets me down sometimes. It is always refreshing when the first weekend in February comes along because that can only mean one thing...PASA!!!!
Thats right kids! PASA is here. The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture holds an annual conference at State College, PA on the campus of Penn State University. Around 2000 farmers, consumers, teachers, advocates, marketers, vendors and hippies descend upon poor, unsuspecting Penn State each February for a weekend full of information, workshops, classes and speeches and best of all, DINNERS!
The PASA weekend is where we got the inspiration and affirmation that we could actually do this farming thing. I learned how to process a chicken there 2 years ago. Last year I spent a day learning the grass-fed beef thing. Annette spent a day 2 years ago learning about small ruminants. Probably more than she ever wanted to learn about small ruminants. This year, Im going to spend a day learning as much as I can about starting a value added dairy. Regulations, equipment, dairy layout and design, cheesemaking, raw milk rules, marketing, and more. There are some really wonderful workshops and lectures this year and I cant decide which ones to attend. http://pasafarming.org has the information about the Farming for the Future Conference that begins Thursday. Take a look and tell me what you think. I cant wait. PASA always recharges my batteries.
So, we have lots of beef now. And lots of pork, lamb and chicken in the freezers. And um, eggs. Yes, the chickens are starting to lay again. And all at once! Today I found that production had doubled. If that keeps up, Im going to seriously need to find an egg market and quick! I collected about 80% of what we were getting at the height of the summer today. And I sold 6 dozen eggs today too. So...I think Id better get going on that front. If its not too snowy, tomorrow morning Ill take the kids out to breakfast and see if I cant get one of our local restaurants to buy into my sales pitch. Its actually very simple. I dont want them to necessarily stop buying their regular eggs, just buy some of mine and then offer them as an upgrade to their existing customers. Charge an extra dollar or two per breakfast to have their meal prepared with farm fresh eggs rather than the normal lifeless, stale, factory farmed eggs. This works nicely because the restaurant only has to then sell one upgrade per dozen and they pay for the difference in price right there. They are already getting their regular egg prices subsidized in the cost of their dish, its extra profit once they sell one breakfast upgrade per dozen. The rest is cash money in their pocket. Think you can find 6 customers per day to upgrade? There you go. Thats 6 dozen eggs sold per week at a dollar per egg. So, perhaps an extra 57 dollars per week in profits. Not bad. It doesnt sound like much but over a year thats a bit of change. And perhaps it pays for the waitresses salary for the morning shift.
Anyway, the ability to have the best eggs in town for breakfast will help separate the restaurant Im thinking of from everyone else.
So, yes, its a long post today, probably a bit scatological, but thats ok. Its my first post in a long time.
AD had a laugh yesterday as she was Googling grass-fed meats, one of her posts on this blog came up in the google search! She let out a huge guffaw and cracked us both up. Its pretty amazing when your own blog posts start showing up as possible matches to your own google searches. I guess that must mean something.
And go to the Sheppard Mansion in Hanover, PA for dinner. Chef Andy Little is doing fantastic things in his kitchen with local ingredients. Im going to keep plugging that for a while. At least until I eat there again. I want more damn carrot cake. :) Chef gave me the idea to do some video cookbooks for our CSA members and blog to help prepare our products. Hell, Id to that in a heart beat. Plus, I want another look at his hams.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.