organic turkey

We move mountains to make it to this class every week

You know what people tell us all the time? "Wow.....you guys work so hard!" 

There's a huge part of us that takes these words in as a compliment, of sorts. Turning a plot of overgrown fields full of brambles into an organic livestock farm without any employees has taken a lot. It has not been easy and I think that everyone around us including our families, friends, customers and neighbors know that we've been busting our buns these past few years. 

But putting the farm first and always saying YES to the needs of this farm, has meant that we've had to say NO to a lot of other things.  And to be honest, without us even realizing it was happening, we stopped doing some of the most important stuff for ourselves.

Before we started our farm, we loved going to yoga classes together.  We weren't skilled enough to do the really advanced poses where you contort your body into a pretzel, but we always enjoyed the experience of moving our bodies and building our strength.

But yoga essentially vanished from our lives when the farm came into the picture. And so too did a lot of other hobbies that filled up our cups. Meaning, our non-farmer cups of course. 

This past year, we both agreed to find more space in our lives for our our own fulfillment and we started working hard at NOT working so hard. We started saying NO to requests from others that we would've definitely said yes to in previous years and we started saying yes to the things that really matter to us...like going to a yoga class together every week. (If you can believe it, we are hitting our 4-month mark next week!)

We are farmers and yes, we do work really hard. But we're learning how to create a normal life for ourselves inside of this mighty work. A life where we have hobbies and take care of ourselves,  so that we can be happy farmers AND healthy people when we're old and gray. 

Your Farmers, 
Jenney and Greg

PS  It's spring which means I have to tell you that we will have a limited supply of hams this spring. They will be delicious and will only be available by pre-order. If you're interested in a fresh or smoked ham, please hit reply to this email and we will start to coordinate the ordering process with you.

That one time we bought a house that we actually didn't like

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I always thought the process of buying a house with Greg, the love of my life, would be so exciting. We'd think about all the qualities we wanted in a house and then we'd go house-hunting with our list of must-haves. We'd look at a few houses, find "the one" and put in an offer.

We'd live happily ever after for a while and then do what everyone else seems to do - save up some money and then move on to a new place some years later when we'd be ready to relocate or be itching for an upgrade. 

Well, you can't do this when you're farmers.  Or at least, you can't do it very easily. 

When we purchased this land and this house, we had the success of our farm top of mind. We knew this spot was right for Stonecrop, so we trusted that we could make our personal lives and our marriage and our home-life work here, too. 

And so while we've been tending to these fields and forests and growing the business for the last several years, we've also been working on this old house. Trying to turn a house that we would NEVER have otherwise purchased into the kind of home that we don't ever want to leave.

There's a peace we feel knowing that this is our forever home and that all the investments we're making (like this crazy living room renovation we just started this week!) are worth it.  And there's also this frustration that creeps in every now and then, especially when the roof is leaking or the basement is flooding, where you just wish you had the option to escape. 

But this land, this house, and our lives go hand-in-hand now, and there's so much beauty in that.  

Your Farmers,
Jenney and Greg

Big results from our tiny home office...

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We had a business planning meeting right before New Years Eve and it sorta rocked our world. We started with a deep dive into all of the numbers...

We learned that in 2018, we sold over 70 pigs and scaled up our pig breeding program. We sold 1000 chickens/turkeys and we sold 1,864 dozen eggs. We increased enrollment for our chicken and egg CSA programs, had 51 total people sign-up and received 4.9/5 star customer reviews. We developed new ways of harvesting ginger and turmeric which saved us lots of time and we sold our Thanksgiving turkeys in record speed. We built a barn addition, another high tunnel, and a new egg laying house. We hosted 7 farm tours, showed up right here in our newsletter to connect with you almost every week and managed to never miss a single Brighton Market all year.  Phew. 

Next, came the many hours of soul searching and enterprise budgeting. Boy was that fun!  As we were considering what we wanted to do more of in 2019 (as well as what we wanted to less of), we realized that the aspect of the farm that consistently brings us the most joy and fulfillment was our CSA programs. We just LOVE seeing our members every week and getting to know their families and providing them with the best of the best, week after week. For all of these reasons, we've decided to open the shares up to more people next year (sorry to all the folks who we've had to turn away in the past) and make the experience even more impactful with more bonuses which we will be sure to tell you about later this winter. 

To say YES to more CSA members, we had to say NO to something else. So, we decided to say NO to adding another farmer's market, NO to producing more eggs, and another NO to raising summer turkeys (don't worry, we're still doing T-giving turkeys). These are tough choices for us, since we know they are things that many of our customers enjoyed in the past or have asked us for . But they aren't right for us, at this time in our lives, and there is peace for us in setting these boundaries.  

Speaking of peace...remember when we shared that after 3 years of being in business, we hadn't paid ourselves yet? Well, we spent a lot of time number-crunching during this 8+ hour planning session and are happy to report that this year we will finally start paying Greg for all the incredible work that he does. It won't be tons of money (we're aiming for a teacher's salary) but it will be enough keep our passion going strong and the doors wide open so that we can continue to grow food for your family until we're old and gray.  

2019 is going to be another busy year on the farm, that is for sure. But now that we're done mapping everything out, one thing is crystal clear.  Our mission has always been  "to produce exceptional organic food, to improve the health of our community and to educate our community about sustainable farming" and in ways both big and small, we are doing all of these things. We can't wait to see what 2019 will bring! 

Your Farmers, 
Jenney and Greg

Best of 2018

It's a lot of work for us to write this newsletter on a weekly basis. But despite the time commitment, we love sharing stories and our thoughts from the week here. It's fun, it's cathartic and it's helping our business grow. 

But we had a realization a couple of months ago that another amazing thing about writing this newsletter every week (besides getting to let you in on what it's like to raise organic livestock), is that we're also creating a record of all of the happenings on our farm. These weekly emails are our little legacy and it's kind of amazing to think about what we'll get to remember when we look back at these words and photos 10, 20, 30+ years from now!  

Thinking about this prompted us to go back and look at newsletters from the past year, and there were some doozies.  There was the peculiar story about our pet goose that fell in love with Jenney, the one about the origin of our barn.  There was the time we really put it all out there to share the 3 things we're most embarrassed to admit. There was Jenney's favorite newsletter about how I followed my calling in Greg's Moment of Truth and my most meaningful newsletter of the year when we lost our boar (we said they're cathartic, right?).

I've never had a diary or kept a journal (unlike Jenney who has been journaling since she was 7) but I'm so thrilled that we're building a story book of the life of our farm! 

We would love to hear from you, if you have a few minutes to spare this week. What was the most memorable newsletter for you and why?  What would you like to hear more about and was there anything that you'd like to hear less about?

Here's to finishing up a great year, creating more time for reflection, and moving on to 2019!

Your Farmers, 
Greg & Jenney

Are your dogs barking, too?

The weeks around Thanksgiving are without a doubt, one of the busiest times on the farm.  All the planning and prepping for Thanksgiving turkey distribution feels sort of like coordinating a wedding...though we might not be the best people to make this analogy since we eloped :)

Our goals every year are to make sure everything and everyone is taken care of on the farm, that distributing turkeys to 125 families goes smoothly, and that our customers feel welcomed and appreciated.  

We are the first to admit that we haven't always achieved entirely "smooth" turkey distributions.  Sometimes it was our doing, like in 2015 when pickup was at Mud Creek Farm and we forgot to bring lights. This was the year that we had to distribute birds and take payments in the dark until someone realized about 1/2 way through that we could use our car head-lights for illumination. Then there was 2016, when the weather threw us for a loop and gave us a full-on blizzard midway through turkey distribution. Yeah, that was fun for....noooboooddyy. 

But this year, we are happy to report that despite the cooler temps and snow, turkey pickup went off without a hitch. For the first time EVER, we welcomed families into our 200-year old barn (the one we moved to our farm last year!).  There was hot apple cider, music, and twinkling strands of lights over-head. The birds were sorted by size, the numbers were just right, and the distribution area inside the barn looked beautiful.  Our customers looked happy and comfortable, which made these two tired farmers very happy.

Thank you to all of you who chose to purchase their food from us and other local farms for your Thanksgiving feast this year. It means the WORLD to us and our farmer friends.

Your farmers, 
Jenney and Greg

The Real Reason We Write This Blog Every Week

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I went for a walk with a friend this week, and after she mentioned how much she was enjoying reading our newsletters she paused and asked me what a lot of people ask us....Isn't it scary?  I sighed and thought OH MY GOD, YES! 

Her question made me realize that even though we might make this look easy, in reality, it's not.  It takes a lot of vulnerability to write these suckers. 

For example, it took us several months to finally summon the courage to send this newsletter called  "3 Things We Are Most Embarrassed to Admit. "  After we pressed send, we were so nervous to read all the responses that poured in that Greg and I went around and turned off every electronic device in the house (Thanks to all who reached out-your kindness and words of encouragement meant the world to us once our adrenaline finally came down!).

There was another time a that I got cold feet a few minutes before we sent this newsletter out. I called a good friend for reassurance and made her listen while I literally read the newsletter out loud to make sure that admitting that my family skinny dips didn't make me look too crazy (Thanks for listening Mariah!).

So, to answer the question you've probably been wondering: Yes, speaking our truth here can be scary for sure!  But, we do it anyways and here's why:

We show up because we have a hunch that the connections we're building through this newsletter are in service to YOU and OUR community. We want our stories - whether they're the ones that are entertaining, silly, embarrassing or messy - to help connect you to food, to farmers, and to farming.

To our detriment, these connections have become rare these days and have gone missing in most of our lives...and we feel called to do the work to build them back up again, even if it means we have the occasional Friday night freak-out. 

Since we are overcoming our fears, we have to think that you can overcome your fears, too. What is that conversation in your life you're scared of having? Or that next step that you're afraid of taking? We're a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit ourselves for. You might find, like we have, that taking that leap of faith and being vulnerable is SO worth it.

Your farmers, 
Greg and Jenney