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A community based education opportunity: the Homesteader’s Guild class

garden vegetables: Homesteader's Guild

Guild: “an association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal.”

There are many ways to learn: a book, YouTube videos, weekend seminars, conferences, mentorships, college classes.  If you really want to know something there are two key components: experience, and community.  You need to use information in order to know it.  And when you learn something in a community of people with mutual aid, all pursuing a common goal, you’ll experience it in a whole new way.

This is the basic idea of the Homesteader’s Guild.  You’ll have lessons and opportunities to learn the skills needed to feed yourself from your own backyard (large as an 80 acre farm or small as a high rise patio).  You’ll also have a mentor who you can communicate with directly when you need help.  You’ll also have a community of like minded people for support, encouragement, and to bounce ideas and questions off of.  The goal of the Guild is to build a community of doers and learners who help each other achieve a common goal of being able to grow your own food to one degree or another.

The topics will all be farming related, with some topics set by the mentor, farmer Mark Baker, and some dictated by the needs of the group.

The format includes video instruction, live conference calls for Q&A, trouble shooting, and instruction, and a private facebook group forum for daily interaction and encouragement. All this means you can learn how to maximize the growing potential of your own piece of the earth without leaving your home.  You can learn and grow right where you are and discuss your particular situation in real time through this online community.

Join us today for this unique learning opportunity to begin getting back to your roots and growing your own sustenance.  Anyone Can Farm!  All you need is some elbow grease, a bit of guidance, and a community of support.  And you don’t even have to leave home!  PLUS, if you sign up for the class starting on September 1, 2018, you can save $200 simply by joining the class and giving us feedback at the end.  That simple.  Sign up today!

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Chicken Processing Demystified

You’ve raised a group of chickens, 2 or 3 or 30.  They were so cute at Tractor Supply this spring!  But, NOW WHAT??  They are small pterodactyls eating you out of house or home and ready to be harvested to feed you.  Chicken processing isn’t hard and you could do it yourself, but it takes time and is messy. 

We can help!  We can help you harvest your birds by processing them for you.  Or this video may give you ideas about how to do it yourself.  Either way, Mark gives a great tour of our facility and our process as we turn your pterodactyls into freezer meat.

If we can help you harvest your birds by processing them for you, here is more information on how that works and our 2018 pricing:    Poultry Processing.

Here’s another article with more information and a fun video the kids made in the shop: Fun in the shop.

 

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Fun in the shop: meet the chicken processing team

poultry processing day at bakers green acres

We have a day off in the shop today.  The chicken processing shop is usually humming on Fridays, which is when we do custom chicken processing.  The weekly routine is that people who have scheduled their birds (chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, guinea hens) or rabbits bring them in on Thursday evening.  Everyone fills out a tag with identifying that they brought a certain number of birds (roughly, because sometimes it really is hard to count chickens when they are running around) and how they want us to package them.  Friday is a busy day getting everyone’s birds through and into the cooler to be picked up in the evening.  A full day is 200 birds, and a minimum is about 30. 

The work of processing chickens is a family affair.  Everyone pitches in to their age appropriate level.  The older ones grow into the job of training and managing the younger ones.  This provides layers of skills for every age level. After all, if you can manage your younger brother, you can manage anyone, right? In addition to knowing how to butcher a chicken (which is valuable in itself), how to use the internal organs, and how to cut up a chicken any number of ways, the kids learn how to teach, mangement skills, how to calculate a bill, and customer service skills.  This year they get paid by percent, so they use their algebra and basic math skills to know how much they get for the day.  This is why, as parents, we have a custom chicken processing shop.

Here’s a video from last year where the kids share their motivation for working in the shop:

Needing your chickens, ducks, turkeys, or other birds or rabbits processed?  Growing them is one thing, finishing the process to get them on the table is another.  Anyone can farm, and we can help!  Find out more about our chicken processing here:

Poultry Processing at Baker’s Green Acres

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Business changes, Passion doesn’t

Baker's Green Acres Farm - Beyond Organic Michigan Farm

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

So the saying goes.  Did 2017 bring change for you?  Maybe 2018 is the year those changes are really felt.

This year is our year of change.  Our business model is changing.  But our passion is still the same.  You won’t be able to get a pork chop from the online store any more.  Or a couple pounds of bacon.  The powers frown on keeping a freezer of meat for sale without their permission.

HOWEVER, we still have pigs.  We are still ordering chicks.  We are happy to be your farmer!  We can still sell whole and half hogs for butcher.  You can get a whole pile of pork cut the way you want it!  In some cases you even get cuts and seasonings that we, as a commercial business, couldn’t offer. We can also custom raise chickens for you.  They are your chickens; we’ll be your farmer.  You can read details about the Chicken CSA here.

ANYONE CAN FARM: our passion for bringing you good food and good information has not changed.  We’ll continue to make videos, write the occassional blog, answer the phone.  We’re planning a Hog Harvest class this fall, the first weekend of November.  We’re still custom processing your chickens so you can raise your own birds even if the final step isn’t for you. (Check out this post about us doing custom processing, including the kids’ input on the job.)

Mark tells you a bit more about the whys of the change, and how we’re staying the same:

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Little’s Fate: even a used up boar is useful

mature boar, pasture raised heritage pork

What do you do with a mature boar pig?  (“Boar” meaning an intact, fully functional male as opposed to the breed of pig.) We have met people who claim they taste good, but our experience has been that they have a smell and taste that is…well…unappealing.  “Boar taint” is the term for that unsavory taste, and it comes from the testosterone in an intact male.  Cows, goats, and sheep don’t seem to have the same problem, but pigs do.

So, our options were:

  1. Sell him.  (We tried.  No one wanted him.)
  2. Take him to the sale barn.  (We would get less for him than the cost of the gas to haul him, and he’d likely go to slaughter anyway.)
  3. Castrate him, wait 2-4 months, then harvest him.  (We did that once.  One boar got infected and died.  The other one turned into a massive couch potato, lost the “taint,” and made fabulous steaks.  But the process was traumatic, and with only a 50% success rate, we didn’t feel it was a great option.)
  4. Shoot him and bury him.  (Not the best use of resources and a waste of his life in our farm system.)
  5. Make a heck of a lot of raw dog food.

We chose option 5.  The dogs don’t mind the taint, the raw food is good for them, and it gives purpose to the boar right to the end.  Plus, our son got a chance to learn some more about harvesting hogs.

Here is Mark’s commentary: