Fast Forward....

Wow! I can't believe it's been 2.5 YEARS since I wrote anything here! I'm back and hoping to do much better at this blogging thing. Since my last post our farm has grown and changed quite a bit, so I thought maybe I'd better re-enter the world of blogging with a post on who exactly we are at Howard Family Farms. After that, well, I've made myself a list so that when I don't have a genius idea to blog about I can pull from some ideas I've already brainstormed in advance.

Who we are...
We are a family of three: Kevin, Katie, and John. John wasn't even a thought in our minds when I last wrote on the blog. He's 14 months old and LOVES farming. which certainly makes us (but his daddy in particular) happy. Kevin is a full-time school bus driver for Marshall County Schools which leaves the middle of his day free for farming (which benefits all of you, our customers)! I just recently resigned my position as a music teacher with Marshall County Schools and am staying home with John, managing the farm, making jam and soap, and doing a bit of substitute teaching. Needless to say, with all the things going on, we're busy! Kevin's parents are our "hired help" as we like to joke and we're ever grateful for all the help they give us, whether it be pitching in to do projects, load cows, re-vamp the chicken coop, feed so we can leave for a day, have us for supper on busy farming days, or just watch John so I can help Kevin sometimes. We'd be in a sorry state without them!

Our farm began in the spring of 2012, just a few months before Kevin and I got married. We knew we wanted to farm and with the help of Kevin's parents were able to purchase our first cattle to raise and butcher. From there things have grown... In 2013 we outgrew our  capabilities at the times and spread ourselves too thin by trying to breed pigs, raise and breed sheep, dairy goats, and meat goats, breed and raise cattle, raise chickens, and raise hogs for butcher, so at the end of the year we made some hard decisions and cut-backs occurred to ensure that the enterprises WELL that we chose to keep.

We're gradually adding things back in and currently are raising and breeding cattle, raising meat and layer chickens, raising and breeding dairy goats, raising pigs, and we're anticipating breeding chickens and pigs later this year along with adding sheep back in to our plan. Each year we feel a touch more prepared and as we continue to learn we feel that we can slowly and strategically add things to our farm to allow it to grow but not to the point that we're overextended.

Many of you may know us as the people with the meat. When we started in 2012 we weren't 100% sure of the direction our farm would take. We sold our first cattle to mostly family and close friends and were happy to have them all spoken for. When we initially began this business we wanted to do so because we were transitioning to eating organic foods and wanted to know where our meat was coming from. There are so many scary things in the news today about meat, whether it be labeling laws, what they've been fed/shot up with, contamination, awful feedlot conditions, etc. and we wanted clean food.... what better than to raise it ourselves?! That has evolved into selling our meat both in bulk and by the cut. It's also led to other products being offered as more and more people look to local farmers to provide food and products they can use. The transparency and knowledge of buying from a farmer with a face you recognize vs buying from a store where you don't know where the products came from is becoming increasingly important as people begin to place more value on what they feed themselves and the products they use in their homes.

We raise our cattle on grass - good, green grass. That's it! (A few end up having just a little bit of non-gmo grain before butcher to help them "finish" or put on fat.) Our pigs are raised in a deep bedded hoop house with access to as much hay as they want, fresh produce from the garden, excess milk from our goats, and non-gmo grains. Our chickens are free-range and love to eat all kinds of bugs, grubs, and weeds (sorry, Barb, that they also enjoy your flower beds when they get in the yard...). They return to a coop or chicken tractor each day to lay an egg and then again at night to be protected from predators. Otherwise they enjoy dust baths, running around, pecking at whatever suits their fancy, and preening their feathers in the sunshine. Our goats live a life of leisure as they eat grass, frolic up and down the hills, and are permitted to raise their own kids. We milk them by hand once  a day after weaning their kids.

We do things differently here than lots of places, but we raise our animals in a way that we believe is best for their well-being and in a way that we feel pleases God as we are stewards of His creation. We are constantly educating ourselves and seeking to better our practices as farmers and we spend every day thanking God that He's given us this life to live.

Stay tuned as I (try to) bring you along and show you what we do and share why we've chosen this life for our family!