What a whirlwind of week it was…last week saw over 700 orders come through our new website. That was both a marvelous thing to see and also pushed our system to full capacity, and then some. Poor Bruce was in the freezer for long and cold days. He comes with that old school grit though…never stops and never complains…ever. Makes me feel guilty when I do. I even made a late night visit to the packing room on Thursday night and packed until midnight and back in the frozen tundra at 6am (pat pat). We obviously had some programming bugs to deal with and coupon code bruises to bandage. We were rapidly responding to emails and voicemails when we weren’t in the truck, on the tractor or in the freezer. If anybody is reading this and you still need something addressed with your order or account in general, please let us know. We want to make sure everybody is happy and set up perfectly on the new website. This is where we take the most pride and why we think we outshine large corporations who really only pay lip service to your needs.

Some great news on the farm and dirt side of the operation. We got all of the organic corn in the ground Friday and sure enough, as the old man (aka Pops…aka my dad) got off the tractor, it rained the next night. I have no words…it’s astounding that he has that luck. Once again, his karma is glowing vibrantly here 4 miles south of Keystone, Iowa. Not only did he finish the corn, he hopped on the rotary hoe and spiked out some sub-soil weeds before they took root and created stress to both corn crop and farmer in July. The photo for this week is him drag racing the neighbor’s 4020 John Deere. When you hook up the rotary hoe you have to drive almost in road gear to get the wheels with spikes moving through the soil fast enough to flick up the soil…and hopefully white-threaded weeds with it. You may ask, why the neighbor’s 4020? Don’t we have a 4020? Yes we do, and currently it has a busted hydraulic hose. Old school farming comes at a cost, literally, and it’s the constant repair of old school equipment.

Calving continues to evolve at Kenny’s place. I didn’t get a full update this week from Julie but I think we are over the 100 calf mark with 1 month to go. We seem to have the colder weather behind us and I bet those newborn calves appreciate the lack of temperature change from womb to grass. Thanks again to Kenny for taking some of the calving chores away from us here at Keystone. With the new website and all of the other planting, we would be scrambling from dusk to dawn to get everything tended to. We did have one cow we held back because she had a sore foot when she was supposed to take the trip to Kenny’s. I had almost forgot she was with the fall bred heifers until we looked out over the weekend and saw her new calf by her side. It looked frisky and she was paying attention to it so we are 1 for 1 here at the home place.

The hogs continue to grow and seem super happy in the hoop house. I see their pattern is a pig pile in the early morning when the sun first breaks and warms their black-spotted and pink skin. Later in the day they seem to prefer where the rain ran through the bedding and created a damp layer of cool straw. I continue to be fascinated by them. I’m so used to herding animals and grazers who move together and usually have mouths to grass, tearing and chomping as they move. Pigs move in random pattern, sometimes together and sometimes aloof from any notion that they have company in their space. They do seem to always enjoy their pile ups and laying on each other as they nap. They also love the fermented clover hay when I scoop up a pile and sprinkle it into their pen. These are omnivores after all, and we think they deserve more than just high quality grain. It’s good for both their health and for flavor.

Before I hit send I wanted to clarify a few things moving forward on the new website. We actually still have order windows but we’ve made them open for much longer than they were on the old site. This means you can order more than a week ahead of time for your specific drop. Be sure to pay attention to your account settings, there is a “pick-up” option and a “shipping” option. For now, the price is a little different between the two but we are in the process of making all pricing the same and then adding a transparent shipping charge. We really want to be a full service local meat business. The flexibility to pick-up an order or to ship it to your house via our friends at FedEx.

We are still a little soggy today but the fog lifted and the sun is burning through. We just have one more field to plant to a sorghum sudan grass but that crop loves heat so we usually don’t hurry to put it in the ground. It’s feeling about right so we’ll put “Pops” on the tractor when it’s fit and tell him to drive straight!

Your Farmer,
Nick