Life on a farm is always an adventure and at the end of each day I’m able to look back and see the almost instantaneous fruits of my labor. On October 2nd, I decided to scribble down what I was up to at certain times during the day. Hopefully its an interesting look into the world of a pastured based, grass-fed and finished beef farmer’s day here in Lynchburg, Virginia.
6:00 A.M. The rooster crows, actually that awful noise is coming out of my phone. Its not nearly as romantic but the little thing sure is useful.
6:15 A.M. A quick shower and its time to get ready for the day. Carhartt beats the heck out of wearing a suit and tie but the blessing is lost on me as I hunt for a relatively clean pair of socks and cinch up my work boots.
6:20 A.M. My favorite time of the day, as I try and see how much coffee I can consume in 15 minutes. The Disney’s Minnie Mouse themed mug might not scream farmer but hey, like most things in life, it’s what’s on the inside that matters more.
6:55 A.M. My email has been checked, I’ve surfed Facebook, took an addictingly useless BuzzFeed quiz titled “Which Harry Potter Character Are You” (I got Ron, dang it, I always get Ron!), and have glazed over while reading Reuter’s Cattle Futures Forecast for the month of October.
7:15 A.M. Time to take my sister to school. She’s in the 5th grade and insists we take the dog with us. I’m glad I spent an hour cleaning my truck out earlier in the week…
8:15 A.M. Finally back at the farm in-spite of all the mini-van driving mom’s best efforts to run me off the road (seriously, private school mom chauffeurs like to drive down the middle of the road).
8:45 A.M. Finished feeding the horses and Simon my pet cow (who lives with the horses). We’ve got 3 horses and a pony right now in the backyard but if anyone knows of a horse that would be good for Fox Hunting and trail rides, let me know. I’m hoping to get back in the saddle more often.
8:50 A.M. The best meal of the day is second breakfast, just ask Bilbo Baggins. This second breakfast consists of bacon, yep, just bacon! Naturally raised in Bedford county by IdleWIld, Lucy and Doug sell chicken and pork right across from us at the Forest Farmers’ Market. You can come on out on Saturday mornings and get grass fed beef, pasture raised pork, and free range chicken. That’s what they call a perfect start to your Saturday.
9:45 A.M Back at the house after checking on the cows. The girls seem to be doing fine, they’re out finishing up their morning grazing before taking a nap during the middle part of the day. We didn’t have any new calves during the night. I’m still waiting on 12 more on top of the 13 new ones we already have. Thankfully the fences made it through the night too. All farmers know that trees only come down at night, and when they do, the cows ALWAYS find the hole before I do.
11:00 A.M. Farming is a juggle between actually doing farm work, bringing in cash flow, and doing the administrative stuff that goes along with running a business. I’ve been on a roll, knocked out my sales taxes, updated some Quickbooks stuff, and scheduled some inspection appointments with the local meat processor for October, November, and December. Now its onto organizing beef, prepping beef bundles for the Forest Farmers’ Market on Saturday, and preparing beef for delivery to Health Nut Nutrition in Lynchburg.
12:00 P.M. Health Nut Nutrition in Wyndhurst has now been stocked up with 35# of our grass-fed and finished, no added hormones, and anti-biotic free beef. Knowing them, they’ll probably need more in a week! If you’re in the area, you should check them out OR if you live in Altavista check out Vital Edge Nutrition OR check out The Well in Bedford. All of these health food stores are great to work with. Each of them carry our beef, plus other local foods, they are locally owned, and just plain fun to shop with. Plus when you buy our beef from them you knock out two birds with one stone. Buy Local!
I’ve been awful about applying for different certifications. When you’ve got a mile of fencing that needs to be updated or a herd of cattle that need to be moved to fresh pasture, a certified logo to go on the website seems a bit like wasting time. Plus, I didn’t start this job just to sit in front of a computer sending out emails all day! Nevertheless, there are a lot of great organizations out there that give a lot of support to natural food farmers and especially to younger folks that are getting into farming. Programs like Virginia Grown, Virginia’s Finest, Bedford Grown, USDA Organic, American Grass Fed Association, USDA Free Range, and a million others I probably haven’t stumbled across yet. Honestly, if I was certified by all the one’s that are legit, I wouldn’t have enough room on the ground beef packages to show all our certifications! Just remember, as nice as those professional little logos look, nothing beats knowing your farmer and knowing exactly where your food is coming from. Shoot us a message if you’d like to come take a tour!
2:00 P.M. Just got off the phone with Campbell County’s Office of Economic Development. It looks like we’ll be meeting in a few weeks to discuss what the county is doing and more importantly, what it can do to support existing natural food producers, how it can attract young people into agriculture (avg. age of a Virginia farmer is 60), and how the county and producers can best work together to consistently provide county residents with natural, healthy, local food. Looks like I need to dust off my blazer and khakis…
2:05 P.M. I forgot to eat lunch…again. Does leftover bacon from breakfast count as lunch?
2:50 P.M. The hay mower and baler are hooked up and the tractors are fueled in expectation of cutting hay tomorrow. The weather looks decent, fingers crossed we can get it cut. We’ve got about 35 acres planted in a native warm season grass. Because August was unseasonable cold, the grass is ready to be cut a little later than usual. So much for the best laid plans.
3:45 P.M. Finally off the phone after chewing the fat with an older farming friend. The man is a wealth of knowledge but he could talk paint off the wall. My Dad has always told me to aim to be the dumbest person in the room. That way you’re always surrounded by people you can learn from. His advice has been helpful in all sorts of facets of my life but especially in business and farming. There are a lot of smart, older folks out there that just want someone to talk with. Gleaning from a lifetime worth of collected knowledge in 55 minutes doesn’t seem like such a bad tradeoff.
4:15 P.M. This seems to happen whenever I deliver. My first delivery is 10 minuets away and I haven’t packed the beef yet. Got. To. Push. Through. The. Cold. I. Can’t. Feel. My. Fingers. Working in the freezer can be tough work. Actually, that complaint can be filed under #1stWorldProblems
4:46 P.M. First delivery of the day and I’m only a minute late. Not too shabby! Delivering to my customers is the highlight of the day, always is. Not to get all touchy feel but its pretty special to raise beef 10 minutes down the road from where it’ll be eaten. It’s such a blessing to be able to invest myself in the community by providing my neighbors with grass fed and finished beef. Some people will say its just beef but it sure feel like its much more than that. There’s a popular saying that goes “Food is the best medicine” the other side of that coin is that raising good food is medicine for the farmers soul too.
6:25 Deliveries are done for the day! Time to head home, check on the cows, feed the horses, eat some dinner, and put together my to-do list for tomorrow.
8:30 Finally these old boots can come off! What a day. Now its time to read for an hour or two before lights out. Tonight the reading choice is the newest issue of The Progressive Farmer followed by an article or two in The Stockman Grass Farmer magazine. After days like today I’ll dream about cows.