News and Updates
Updated September 25, 2017
POULTRY(Updated September 25, 2017)
We have had a reduction in the number of breeds that we offer for 2018. We had what some have termed a "Predator Apocalypse". It started in the Fall of 2016 with a huge number of opossums and then, as Winter and early Spring turned into Summer, we had countless numbers of other poultry predators. We had a mink that refused to be caught despite a professional trapper's assistance and countless attempts. We learned that mink can get through an incredibly small hole and are very, very destructive. We also had skunks, fox, numerous raccoons and a badger, who did not get poultry but each night dug huge holes into the pens to allow everyone else in. There were some mornings that there were so many different animal tracks around the pens that it was impossible to identify all of them as to what was eating what. All in all we lost all members of over 29 breeds and numerous individuals of others as the mass of poultry eaters would make their rounds, finding each and every loose pen door, or weak spot in the fence, you name it. We eventually caught the adult raccoons and a pack of coyotes took care of the young raccoons. The early morning I saw the coyotes I nearly gave up hope that we would ever be able to raise poultry again as it seemed like yet another poultry eater was here for a feast. We did not expect the coyotes to be thre to help, but they did. We will update the breeds and numbers again after all breeders have been selected later in November, but this is how it looks at this point.
The breed availabilities for the 2018 hatching season have been updated as of September 22, 2017.
The Postage Chart and Poultry Order Form for 2018 will be updated soon and we will notify you here when it is updated.
SWEET POTATOES(Updated September 25, 2017)
The Sweet Potato online catalog for 2018 will be updated later this Fall.
We began shipping sweet potato slips on Monday, June 5, 2017. We are very sorry that this is a week later than we had hoped for, but May was cooler and cloudier than usual and without heat the sweet potatoes do not sprout or grow well. The recent heat wave has led to an abundance of varieties sprouting. We will have an abundance of slips. If your order has not yet shipped it is because all varieties do not sprout at the same time and the same rate. As of today (June 15) those who indicated that we could substitute will start getting very similar subs for those varieties that are running behind. It would appear that everyone should get their slips within our scheduled time frame. We will begin planting our slips here in Iowa on Saturday, June 24. We have discovered that planting at that time here produces the best roots for storage to produce the future crop of slips for the following year. Frequently, when slips are planted in cold ground from an early planting they pick up surface fungi that then leads to them not storing well when harvested in the Fall. We are constantly asked to only send varieties that store well. Nearly 100% of the varieties we offer will store well from our late planting or otherwise we would not have any roots to bed to make slips from. We try to send them in the order in which we received your order in the office. Please note, though, that you might have a low number, but if you ordered a variety that is slow to sprout or very popular your order may not be in the first mailings. Also, you may have a high number but there weren't many orders for the varieties you requested and you might get them early.
SEEDS AND BOOKS(Updated September 25, 2017)
Seed availabilities for 2018 will be updated later this year.
2017 PRINTED CATALOG REQUEST
We have decided to make a very limited number of printed catalogs available by First Class Mail for those people who do not have access to the internet. To obtain a copy of this printed catalog you must send a request by regular USPS mail along with $5.00. There will be a $5.00 coupon included in the catalog that you may use when you place your first order from us.
CATALOG POLICY FOR 2018
After much thought, prayer and discussion we have had to make a very tough decision. We will not be publishing a printed 2017 catalog that will be mailed out by Bulk Rate Mail this year. This is tough for us as I am a firm believer in printed materials and the historical documentation that results from them. I have a huge collection of seed catalogs dating back into the 1880's which has proven invaluable for research on varieties, their introduction, early history, etc. I have long been a critic of the lack of paper copies and now find myself somewhat of a hypocrite, preaching one thing and doing another. Our reasons for the change are multifold. Perhaps the biggest is the constant changes by the USPS and the restrictions they have put on small operations such as ours. We used to be able to sort and then mail our catalogs from our local Post Office. Now we have new sorting criteria which takes at least three times as long and they must be taken to a Post Office 15 miles away. We also are penalized since we are not bar coded and after the 2015 fiasco of being ready to go on January 2 and having to wait almost a week for a bulk mailing specialist to come review and then tell us we had to redo everything. We redid everything and it still took 3 weeks for most people to get their catalog. We keep having to pay extra fees because of our low volume, our labels, and other items. To mail the catalogs out has become a major event. The rules for sorting were changed for each of our subsequent mailings this year and each time it took Linda more time to sort the mailings. Unfortunately, it seems the rules are set up for huge "junk mailings" but requested items such as our catalog are penalized. What will happen for 2016 is that our website will remain pretty much the same as it is now. You will need to print the order form off and mail it to us by US mail. We will be updating the website much sooner, probably by late November or early December. What we will do for those that want to print it off is that we will be having a PDF of the catalog on the website so you can run off your own copy. Look for this PDF in late November. The chief advantage to this is that we will not have to be tied into the eight (8) page increments that our present printed catalog must fall into. Therefore, we can hopefully provide more detailed information and maybe finally get all of the poultry production information out there for our customers to use. We are kind of excited to be able to ramble on some of the special histories of our older varieties without fear of added costs from a thicker catalog.
Other reasons for the change include the proper usage of our resources, both financial and time. With changes in the seed world we are having more and more folks send us their family heirlooms for safe keeping. Seed Savers Exchange has changed its acquisitions policy and we have been receiving a lot of material for preservation. In addition, when our dear friend Tom Knoche passed away, we acquired his huge collection of seeds and with all of this we have to spend more time on such items. We feel the preservation of this material is important and a key part of our mission. The amount of money we spend on the catalog printing and postage will help us hire more help to insure more varieties are saved. I have had to realize that as much as I would like it is getting harder each year to plant and care for the 2000 plus varieties we grow each year. We also want to make sure more of our sweet potato varieties are carefully grown out and carefully backed up with a plant in the greenhouse. This itself has become very time consuming and maintaining the greenhouse (especially during our cold winters) has become rather expensive. Our top priorities in our mission have always been genetic preservation first and second the education on the importance of that issue. As it is very hard for some to understand we have to carefully control our growth to make sure we can still maintain our mission. Since we grow the seed we sell for over 80% of the varieties we offer, there is a limit to how much we can do. For the items that are unique to our operation, we cannot simply order more stock once we run out as we are the one and only source for many things. This frustrates many people but it is why we are not a profit/sales driven business but a preservation center. We feel the preservation of the genetic material is more important than how hot a seller it is. We will continue to purchase some common items that many people want to complete their gardens. The sales of these items also helps to fund the preservation items as well as helping to keep more of these more common, open pollinated non-GMO's in the mainstream.
The last reason is that we noticed that of the last 30 orders that came in by mail 28 of them were from the website and only 2 were from the last mailing of our printed catalog. This is another reason we feel we can provide more information if we focus our energies and resources in one area.
Again our apologies to those who love the paper catalog. We do understand that some people do not have access to the internet in their home. Hopefully, they will have a friend, grandchild, or the library where they can find access to our online catalog. We hope you can find the PDF file a usable alternative. This most certainly has not been an easy decision.
SAND HILL PRESERVATION CENTER MISSION, PHILOSOPHY AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
MISSION AND PHILOSOPHY
Our mission is genetic preservation and education on such issues to promote the preservation of our genetic resources.
1. Where does the name come from? The name is the result of the 40 acre farm being divided down the middle (East to West) by a 50 foot high sand hill left over from glacial outwash. The entire farm is very sandy soil. Many would consider it not soil at all but sand. Preservation Center comes from the goal and mission to preserve genetic resources of vegetables, fruits, and poultry.
2. What is preserved here? There are close to 2500 vegetable varieties of non-hybrid vegetables, fruits and some flowers and a handful of grains that are grown for seed production. In addition, over 200 poultry varieties are maintained.
3. Are we an official tax exempt non-profit? No, we are not officially a non-profit, tax exempt organization. We have decided to not establish a board of directors that may have different goals and ideas than we have and, therefore, we have not officially organized as a tax exempt non-profit. We do not take any money from the center. We use any funds generated to increase our ability to add additional material for preservation. All we take from the farm is extra produce to eat, eggs and extra poultry that we butcher for our consumption.
4. Why is my e-mail not answered promptly? We receive, on many days, over 100 e-mails. Linda attempts to answer the ones that she can and I must try to deal with the rest. A typical day here starts at 4:30 AM with poultry chores until 7:00 AM, then during the school year I am off to work until 4:00 PM. I do poultry chores from 4:00 PM until 6:30 PM, take a short dinner break, then either more poultry work or filling seed orders, cleaning or processing seed until 9:00 PM. I then work on school work until 10:00 PM and then off to bed. I try to work in e-mails when I get a moment here and there but long and lengthy questions require more time than is available most weeks. When I get a break I attempt to get caught up. The quickest way to get response to lengthy questions is to send questions via U.S. mail and leave space for me to write an answer between questions.
5. How soon can I expect my seed order to be delivered? We try to have about a one week turn around or less during off season, but during the peak season it can be up to 2 weeks.
6. When should I order sweet potato slips? It is never too early to order specific varieties as many book up by mid-January. Any orders placed after March 1 increases the likelihood we will run out of the popular varieties.
7. Why can't I get my sweet potato slips early in May? We grow all of the slips we sell here on the farm in Iowa where our last frost is the end of April (which is the soonest we can start the sweet potato starting beds). It takes 3-4 weeks for the roots to produce slips, therefore the very earliest is the end of May. Despite what you read online about planting dates for most everyone, especially the Northern states, that is still plenty early. Sweet potatoes are easily stunted by cold conditions.
8. How has the recent Avian Influenza outbreak impacted Sand Hill Preservation Center? The Avian Influenza outbreak had a devastating impact on the commercial poultry industry in many parts of the Midwest. It was especially prevelant in the commercial confinement egg-laying operations in northwest Iowa. We are on the opposite side of the state from the major outbreak and had no problems or changes in our day to day operations other than we have strengthened our requirement to not have visitors to our facility. As part of the NPIP requirement, we will continue to do our annual Avian Influenza testing. This testing came up with all negatives this year.
POULTRY BREEDING PHILOSOPHY
This year has been a challenging one for the poultry industry and many backyard poultry enthusiasts as they cope with the damage from Avian Influenza on industry and the backyard flocks. We feel this is a good time to explain our preeding philosophy to make sure each of our potential and returning customers understands our goals, philosophy and mission. It is not our intent to criticize or challenge any particular group for their practices. We simply want to explain our driving forces (reasons) behind our passion.
We respect the large scale operations for their purpose, though we feel there are more sustainable options. We appreciate their ability to produce large amounts of food at low cost regardless of season. We also respect the strict poultry fancier whose main goal is to create a show winner. We also understand the large scale hatchery which chooses to offer breeds with a steady chick supply. We are unique in what we are doing and do not fit into any of these categories. We want you to understand this prior to ordering. The following are the guidelines we use to maintain our flocks and breeding programs.
1. All breeds within the APA standard are selected to those standards. We do not, however, discard a bird from our breeding program for minor flaws, such as an extra point on a comb or a slightly off color eye, if the bird has other desirable traits. Our goal is to maintain genetic diversity and all defining characteristics.
2. We do not replace all of our breeders every year. We prefer to check the longevity and long productivity of a breed. We feel this is important to see how sustainable a breed is. Our goal is to produce long lived, productive birds.
3. We do not have climate controlled pens and, therefore, our birds are subjected to the true rigors of the environment. They are provided dry, fresh bedding and, of course, are always provided with fresh water and food. We firmly believe that the importance of survival of a breed is dependent upon its ability to survive and thrive in the outside world. Our goal is to produce birds that can withstand many different environments.
4. We believe our birds are healthier when they are subjected to real world conditions and not isolated from the outside environment. Therefore, our birds are exposed to the outside world, soil, fresh grass, rain, sunshine, and all that is out there. Our goal is to produce birds that will thrive for many generations to come.
5. We do not vaccinate day-old poultry. We do not have Marecks problem here and do not wish to bring the vaccine on the farm. Our goal is to produce birds that can withstand common environmental stresses.
6. We do annual tests on the breeders for pullorum-typhoid and avian influenza. Our goal is to send you the healthiest birds we can.
7. Our replacement breeders during their youth get to run free range in a large orchard and are gathered and selected as winter nears for the desired traits for their particular breed. We do not believe it is proper to raise them in a "plastic bubble" where they do not have access to fresh grass, insects and contact with the outside world. The Avian Influenza outbreak kept publishing more and more information that it is unsafe to raise your birds in contact with nature. I do not think it is realistic or proper to isolate poultry from the natural world. We cannot kill every wild bird to protect our poultry, nor should we. Instead we should select our breeders from the survivors of exposure to the outside world. Our goal is to let nature run its course and only use birds of superior genetics as our brood stock.
8. We always select to maintain the unique traits for the breeds such as broodiness, foraging ability, etc. We feel color patterns are not the only thing to consider. There are many other things to look at when selecting the ideal specimen for each breed. Our goal is to continue the genetic diversity that was established generations ago.
9. Many of the birds obtained from us can go on to win at shows and many will become excellent layers or producers of meat. However, we do not guarantee show quality as even the best parents can produce offspring with disqualifications. Our goal is that you would purchase enough birds to cull out the less desirable individuals.
10. We do not sell sexed chicks because we believe that to promote genetic conservation we want to encourage others to adopt a breed (if possible) and that requires both genders. It is also not fair to sex out extra females and leave another person with more males or be forced to "dispose of" the unwanted males. Our goal is that YOU would start to raise one of these wonderful breeds.
11. We do not sell hatching eggs as our experience (both sending and receiving) has not been favorable enough to warrant the loss of genetic material through damaged eggs. Our goal is that you would be pleased with your purchase.
12. We do not allow visitors to the farm both to comply with NPIP regulations and to prevent biosecurity issues. Our goal is to keep our birds safe from outside diseases that could close our facility.
KATIE'S ASSORTED NOTE CARDS
This is an assortment of 12 note cards (black and white) of the six (6) cover drawings Katie Weets has done for our Sand Hill Preservation Catalog. This includes up through the drawing for the 2015 catalog cover. You will get at least one (1) of each of the six (6) drawings with six (6) additional random assortment cards plus twelve (12) envelopes. 1 set of notecards - $11.00 (postpaid).
POULTRY ORDERS TO CANADA
PLEASE NOTE: We will still not be shipping any poultry orders to U.S. border towns for transport into Canada. We have had too many problems in the past with Canadian orders and just cannot handle the paperwork and extra time that it takes to fill these orders any more.
SEED ORDERS TO CANADA AND OTHER FOREIGN COUNTRIES
We have always requested that orders from Canada and other foreign countries be sent to us with payment in U.S. DOLLARS ONLY. We have continued to receive foreign orders in Canadian funds and in Euros. It has been very difficult for us to get these payments converted to U.S. dollars, sometimes receiving a 10% to 15% discount for the conversion. THIS MEANS THAT WE HAVE BEEN LOSING MONEY ON FOREIGN SEED ORDERS. We have been notified by our bank that as of March 1, 2009, the fees for converting foreign funds to U.S. dollars are increasing greatly (sometimes up to $100.00 US per request).
Therefore, WE WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT ANY FOREIGN ORDER FOR SEEDS WHICH IS ACCOMPANIED BY A PAYMENT IN FOREIGN FUNDS. If you send us a foreign order with payment in anything other than US dollars, your order will be returned to you immediately. We are very sorry for this situation and for any inconvenience that it may cause. We were informed by our bank that "US Dollars" must be pre-printed on the check or money order and that it may not be written in by hand. It is our understanding that most any foreign bank (or possibly your local postal facility) is capable of selling you an "International Money Order" made out in U.S. Dollars. We just can not continue to incur this loss any more.
ORGANIC CERTIFICATION UPDATE:
We are now listing everything that we grow here at our farm as Certified Organic. We have many varieties in this year's catalog which are being offered as CERTIFIED ORGANIC. If the item is being offered as CERTIFIED ORGANIC, it will have an OG after the price of the seeds. If it does not have an OG listed after the price of the seed, it is not CERTIFIED ORGANIC.