What Costs in Farming

The past Farmer’s Market season found me Sundays at the market in Rhinebeck. It’s a bustling market with customers from the local area but also entices weekend area visitors to peruse its wears. I sell lamb and goat meat as well as a variety of other farm produced fiber products including yarn and socks.

The animals raised for meat are pasture raised during the months pasture is able to nutritionally support animal health and growth. In leaner months they consume farm harvested hay and a small amount of locally produced grain.The grain mix, to date, has been whole grains – corn, wheat, oats – added to which is a dry molasses granule and some alfalfa pellets. The animals are not fed very much grain at all. Primarily the bred ewes and nannies receive the majority of the whatever grain is fed.

Recent months have seen the cost of grain rise at a brisk pace.   50 pounds of grain that cost $7.50 in the spring now costs $10.50 a bag. That’s close to a 42% increase in feed costs. In conversations with other sheep growers locally I find the same to be true.

What’s causing the increase in feed prices and what is the impact of those higher costs on our local agricultural community ? Increased price might be attributed to a myriad of causes but two that quickly come to mind are fuel costs and fuel costs — the cost to fuel the equipment that is used in the planting and harvesting of grains. Cost of fuel to transport. But also the high cost of fuel at the gas pump drives the price of grain based fuel additives to a level where it competes with the food market for the same grains consumed as food by humans and livestock. In the Northeast and other colder regions of our nation these same feed and food grains are also used as home heating fuels further adding to the competitive market and driving costs higher. Hay prices are on the rise as well and the cost of straw for bedding is upwards of $7.00 per small square bale.

The impact on our local agricultural community is a much more delicate measurement. I suspect that the consequence will ultimately be the decrease in livestock numbers growers are able to sustain on their farms. Once numbers decrease growers are reluctant to add more livestock back into production. Unless… they are able to market their farm product at a price that reflects the increasing costs of growing that product. At our recently held Bred Ewe Sale during the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck,  sale numbers of sheep were markedly down with almost 20% of the bred sheep having no bid placed on them at all. In reviewing these alarming statistics breeders participating in the sale attribute the outcome to the high costs of feed needed to support these animals in the Northeast. Farmers can not afford to feed them ! Fewer animals being carried over the winter will mean fewer animals in the spring, which will mean a decrease in the availability of locally sourced food. Instead of being able to expand the locally sourced market to include lesser served populations, the market will contract with only a small minority being able to obtain these products.

Here’s the connection of all this to the farmer’s market. Farmer’s Markets are the ideal place for us producers to educate the public – our customer – regarding the challenges and rewards of producing a quality consumable. WE farmers know our product is a healthy, nutritious food. WE farmers know how it was raised, what it ate, how it was cared for, what went in to making it. Those customers, in return, are in a better position to make an educated choice about where to spend their food dollars. They NEED to support their local agricultural food supply network with those dollars so their local food network will be able to remain intact supporting them.

That’s full circle and that’s important.

Happy Harvest season to all.
Happy Thanksgiving. Safe journeys.

Thanks for the Yarn Crawl

Just wanted to take a minute and post a thank you to all the folks who stopped by during this past weekend’s yarn crawl. It was terrific to see and talk with everyone. Thanks to Kirk and Arlene for making it happen this year !

Don’t forget that from now until Dec 20th our socks are 10% off in the on-line store. Use coupon code : 10SOCKS

Looking forward to the next time –

 

CRAWL Tomorrow !

Here’s a sneak peak of the newly ready shop space for all those on the yarn crawl. Fresh baked cookies and brownies await visitors to the farm. The mill will be open for those interested in seeing the equipment. An all important rest room is also available at this stop on the crawl.

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Racks of yarn and roving await visitors to the farm this weekend.

There’s lots of yarn, roving, and fleece to be had. And some interesting things to see.

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We’ll also have lamb and goat meat available for purchase as well as sheep and goat hides.

Bring along a friend – – ride share, car pool. So far the weather forecast is for a cool, crisp clear autumn day. Great for drive.

Safe travels to all and see you tomorrow !

Gettin’ Ready

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The blues, teals and purples of SOCK !

With Rhinebeck only a few short weeks away work at the mill has been centered on preparing for the frenzied weekend of all things fiber.
Meet SOCK !
The newest in our line of Complete Farm products, SOCK is a 3 ply yarn spun specifically for….. well sock knitting. And guess what — no nylon. That’s right 100% pure natural fiber that’s spun just right to withstand the wear and tear socks are accustomed to receiving. We’ve learned, however, that it is equally great for inkle loom weaving and other uses as well.

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Warm autumnal tones predominate in this batch of freshly dyed SOCK !!

Available in multi and solid color 420 yard skeins. See all our SOCK colors at the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival October 20 and 21 in Rhinebeck.

Free North Sea sock pattern with purchase of SOCK!

Dye’n to Get to Rhinebeck

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VSY - a special yarn of 50% Lamb's Wool and 50% First Clip Kid Mohair in sumptuous fall colors

A chill in the air, color on the trees, the clear skies of autumn signal one thing to fiber lovers – time is fast approaching for “Rhinebeck”.

The coolness of the season stirs the desire for warm woolens and other cozy garments made with nature’s finest offerings. A quick look to the outdoors is all the inspiration required for a full compliment of color sure to spark the creative genius in all of us. Farm-scapes abound with fading greens giving way to reds, golds, burnt orange.

The dye pot is steaming with all these colors providing a palate of autumn in an array of socks, yarns and roving. So many ideas to choose from to develop the perfect project for fall !