Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dreams DO Come True


We have a current wonderful success story to share about small farming:

July ’07 Dad came HOME. Praise Jesus! A dream come true for us. Our six boys will be able to learn from their Dad how to be men of God.

How? A small organic layer flock and a few cherries and … pasture raised poultry! Yup, that did it. We’ve been working towards full-time farming for seven years now – starting with 25 layer hens in 1999 (one of our ds came down with Type I Diabetes & we wanted organic for our family then realized there were others wanting the same). It grew to 70 hens the next year, then 100 and in 2001 we built a bigger barn to house our regulation limit of 300 (with 2 sq.ft./bird).

In 2003, we were found lacking – we needed to grade/candle in a REGISTERED & Federally INSPECTED facility in order to sell in the stores we were selling in (a sad, jealous person reported us based on a 75 yr. old by-law … not that our Canadian Food Inspection Agency really minded our prior set-up, but they had to pursue the complaint…btw, this only served to secure our market as we took up the challenge and set-up the regulation facility … in a little storage shed we had on the yard).

We are NOT certified organic – the cert. officer suggested because of our small numbers we should remain “transitional organic” which is not a special certification just that we treat the birds/eggs like organic in all ways. We call our eggs, “All-Natural”.

Our market continues to grow and though we choose to stay within the 300 layer quota, we’ve found a way to circumvent the law – legally. We have off-farm growers contracted to produce eggs for us – they feed the same feed we do and treat their birds the same etc. We buy, clean, grade, pack & market all the eggs. We’re now selling 425 dz. to steady markets weekly.

Last summer our flock suffered at the same time our off-farm producer’s were in flock change – for three months we could not supply the local demand (we supply six Health-Food stores & three restaurants in our local urban center, Saskatoon, SK. – pop. 250,000). Through this time, the retailers brought in certified organic eggs from out of province and when we were ready with new supply, our market was ready, waiting & growing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Two years ago, we started with the pasture-raised poultry too. Last year we sold 550 birds and again the same this year (we tried more, but had many losses). Next year, we expect do have more with dh being home full-time – the demand is certainly out there! The profits this year went to our oldest three sons, ages 17, 14, 12.

We have also begun a Saskatchewan Cherry orchard – being one of the first local sour cherry orchards in production, we picked, pitted and sold 1500 lbs. this year @ $4.00/lb. I also used these cherries in baking which we sold alongside the frozen pitted cherries at our local farmer’s market as part of the “education/publicity” of our amazing “prairie cherries”.

This year dh was down-sized at work & offered a small severance. It was better than getting nothing & quitting to go full-time farming, so he decided to step-out in faith. With six sons to raise, his heart was at home already anyway. The boys all want to farm with their dad, the plan being for each of them to own/manage one venture while helping with the whole business. To date, in these four months, the farm has been our sole income since July – all bills up-to-date – the severance pay still socked away for emergencies … and we bought a $5000 farm truck (pd. Cash). I share these details to show it is possible to live THE LIFE.

We are just now reading through the Joel Salatin books: “Family Friendly Farming” (which affirmed our beliefs/convictions exactly) and currently reading the “Pastured-Poultry Profits”. Though we are already going the Salatin route, he offered many tips to stream-line the process and add to the whole picture.
(I read-aloud to dh & three oldest. The interest is common among us all and it sure benefits family unity … brainstorming, being on the same page etc.) With time, we hope to pursue passive income streams, but for now the farm is our home, our base, that which keeps our hands busy & provides the income.

We will buy the Salatin books, but we have been reading these books from the local library (brought in through inter-library loan) – saves $$ to begin.

Maybe our story will be an encouragement – follow your dreams!

In Christ,

Darlene Klassen & Family
...who are all enjoying living THE LIFE!

To GOD be the Glory!!


2 comments:

Randy and Alison said...

Congratulations! My husband and I have a little 1.13 acre homestead that we are slowly building. Your story is an encouragement to us. Thank you for sharing! We keep a blog at www.pinedalepalace.blogspot.com
We have chickens for eggs and meat, 2 new dairy goats, a newly planted orchard, a veggie garden (in beach sand), and we're planning fiber animals, tilapia, and more fruit trees once more land is cleared. Our success stories will be our first completely self-sufficient meal, first "homegrown" sweater, a grocery bill of only grains, etc. We won't be able to see "Dad come home" on such a small piece of land, but every story pushes us on to remember why we're doing this. Here's to the Good Life!

Darlene said...

Thank you, Alison. May I extend my encouragement to you in return? Keep on building towards your dream. It sounds like you're well on your way already.

Now I'm going to Google search: "tilapia". You've peeked my interest.

Darlene ... who loves learning something new.