NEWS AND UPDATES
Sunday December 4, 2022
We have updated the poultry sections for 2023. Any order postmarked December 6, 2022 or later will be required to use the 2023 order blank and 2023 prices. Any orders received with 2022 prices will be set up and then billed for the difference. If you have sent in an order they will be set up in the book and confirmed around Christmas time once my school break begins. Orders that have come in have been worked into the sold out times as best I can at this point. I will start working on the seed sections next and am still shooting for a New Years day opening for seed orders. Lots of work to do, please be patient.
Tuesday November 28, 2022
We will not have the poultry part updated until December 5. I am sorry just too many things to do. and not enough hours.
Sunday November 20, 2022
We will be not sending out seed orders again until January 2. We need this time to get the seed all cleaned, tested and packaged. Sweet potato sections are updated and ready for 2023 orders. I will begin work on poultry section this week and will plan to release new prices and availability for 2023 on December 1. Still lots of poultry pen winterizing and sorting of breeders to do. Thanksgiving break will be packed with work. Our pre season sale was very popular it will mean some will be sold out as the site is updated for 2023.
Sunday November 6, 2022
We will be taking a break from sending out seed orders from November 10 until shortly after Christmas as we clear the shelves and package new seed for 2023. We are also waiting on seed packets as I guess there is a paper shortage. Nearly 100 % of crops are in now drying and processing. Hope to update sweet potato site by November 20 and poultry by November 27 then it will take some time to update seed part.
Tuesday October 11, 2022
We have had a killing frost. It as 26 Saturday morning, the first frost of the season. I guess it was pretty close to average of October 2, since I started keeping records in 1985. This means a rapid harvest to get all material in . I have started digging the sweet potatoes with great success so far. My earliest planting of them was June 25 and as is typical those did fabulous. We will see how it progresses with those planted later. The old saying when it rains it pours is so true as far as issues go this season. I have an intense work schedule at school with 10 classes in 8 class periods and have a rare free moment once in a great while. As a result it means less time at home for bookwork and emails so please be patient I will get to you ASAP. I have to prioritize my work, the poultry and seed harvest before questions and such. Add in to that Linda has had several bouts of illness and our big helper in the seed orders and helper with harvest broke a bone in her foot and is not able to do much. This all means I am spread a bit thinner. Being realistic the current plan is to have the poultry and sweet potato parts of the website updated after my Thanksgiving break, so hope for that Sunday after Thanksgiving. You can currently use this years prices for 2023 poultry orders from now until then with the idea that you can not cancel ,of course if we cannot fill it we will issue a full refund. Sweet potato orders please wait unless ordering assortments as amounts will greatly change, some unavailable this year will be increased to as much as 25 slips per type.
Please be patient as we progress through harvest the next 6 weeks.
Wednesday August 31, 2022
I am now into my second week of school and am rapidly learning how to be in multiple places at one time and things are running fairly smoothly. It is of course not ideal but dealing with 10 classes in an 8 hour day with 7 of them being different keeps my brain active and thinking and shifting gears frequently. I am running a bit behind on bookwork and emails here at home so please bear with me a few more days and I hope to get my system back into full function again. Just seemed like with the start of the school year and extra stuff there at work and the needs of the crops and poultry sometimes I do get tired. I have figured out I can dictate messages into my phone and send it to the computer and save time typing so hopefully will get caught up soon. Latest blog posts were worked on while I was waiting filling water buckets doing chores, trying to use time wisely.
We had to stop comments on the blogs as people were being inappropriate and attaching porn site references and other inappropriate links. I am sorry for those who were being proper.
We are done taking poultry orders for 2022. Here is how we will handle it from now on. Starting October 1 you can use the website and order for 2023 using 2022 prices until I release new material and prices on November 25. Only deal is no cancellations next Spring on orders placed during this time. After website opens for 2023 in late November new prices and amounts will be in effect.
I apologize to those who got confused by the July 20 update. We are not cutting back. It is just with my bad ankle for almost a month I did not get accomplished what I needed.
I encourage all to read the short passage that follows to help understand how we operate.
This July I volunteered my services to blood test all of the poultry entries for a county fair and it made me think of how when things are organized and have a system they work so much better and flow smoothly.This testing was not very efficient and lots of wasted time resulted. One of the first things that relatives who come to visit or those who take the time to completely read our website always ask is how in the world do you get all of this work done. The answer lies in what's called a system. I'm beginning my 39th year of teaching of which I taught just about every science class from grades 7 through 12 and some community college courses. In each of my science courses we talk about systems: in Anatomy and Physiology we talk about all the systems of the body and when they work in proper fashion everything is great when something happens to the one of the systems it tends to screw up all the other systems. Just ask someone who has had thyroid problems or other issues how all of the systems are related. In Earth Science we talk about solar systems, water systems and many other systems. No matter how hard you try you're not going to get water to run uphill on its own. When I have student helpers and I'm trying to teach them to dig drainage ditches away from the duck ponds it's interesting to watch how they proceed. They soon learn water will not run uphill. In Biology we talk about all kinds of systems and the importance of them, photosynthesis for example. In Environmental Science we bring all of it together talking about the relationship between systems and how when you take one part of a system out how it affects all the other parts: for example killing all the coyotes will cause the rabbit population to go berserk. Chemistry and Physics also both have their systems but what I'm trying to stress here is we have a system for how things work at Sandhill preservation Center. It may not be agreeable with you but it's the only way we can get things to work. We have limited resources and prefer to spend our time caring and maintaining the over 2,500 varieties of plants and animals that we have in our care. While you may think it's just me they ( Sandhill) can make an exception it just doesn't work that way. Our system is fairly simple. There is no insurance on day old birds anymore so anytime there are losses in shipment we have to cover for that. I understand that and take that as part of the problem of dealing with today's world but we desperately need people's cooperation to try to work with our system to make this a possible event. With every order we enclose a shipment report form. If you have losses we require that you send that form back to us by US mail by the date listed on the form, not text message, not phone call, not email but US mail. I'm sorry but if you can't take the time to use a stamp and an envelope then it really must not mean that much to you. Anything that comes in by email or phone totally screws up our system and takes valuable time that we then have to take away from other things such as caring for the animals, plants and dealing with other customer issues. The other situation is our system dictates that we send out a confirmation letter for all sweet potato and poultry shipments. We do this by US mail not by email for the simple fact we want to make sure your address is correct as we interpreted it or if you made some mistake in your address. If you don't get your confirmation letter then you're probably not going to get your sweet potato plants or your chicks. The USPS has returned both the items to us and they're not in good shape and when they come back we're out money and you don't have your product when you want it. Another part of our system is we are not able to take any cancellations for orders over the phone by text message or email they must come in by USPS mail. While that may seem cumbersome for you we have had cases in the past where one family member has tried to not let another family member get chicks or some other item. This way we have it in writing and we can show the person with the signature that it has been canceled. While I fully understand systems are not for everyone, it's the only way we can function here. If someone wanted to take me out by sniper fire on a typical morning ,I’m at the same place 7 days a week at just about every minute. I go out the door at approximately 4:40 a.m. I have an alarm on my watch that goes off at 6:00 that paces me to let me know I should be at a particular pen at a particular time and then the alarm on my phone goes off at 7:00 usually just as I'm getting in the truck to go back and get ready to go to work. In the summer I try to vary from that system and get sidetracked and instead of it taking 2 hours and 20 minutes to do chores in the morning it sometimes takes three or more. It has taught me how well a system works to be efficient.
Please understand we are not trying to be difficult but time is very short here and the loss of even 10 minutes here and there dealing with issues sets us behind in more and more areas.
In conclusion, please understand the following will be diligently followed.
If you have poultry losses you must return the form by USPS mail that is sent with the shipment postmarked by the date listed on the form or no credit or replacements will be sent. Phone calls, text messages or emails are not acceptable. Also no cancellations by email, text or phone they must be written and sent by USPS mail.
Thank you in advance for helping make our system work smoothly in return we are able to maintain that many more endangered breeds or varieties.
Tuesday July 20, 2022
Sweet potato shipping is done for 2022, I simply do not have enough hours in the day to keep it going. I was unable to find student help this summer and it has been a challenge to get everything done. I try to work a 14 hour day 6 days a week and 6 to 8 on Sunday. 6 hours a day is what it takes to do all of the poultry chores( feeding, watering and egg gathering) and 4 days a week I spend abut 6 hours a day doing the sweet potato plant orders. So most days in June there are 2 hours left to do other things. Sometime in mid June I hurt my ankle and life got slower. The step tracker on my phone( I have checked it and it is pretty accurate) says I walk slightly more than 5 miles a day doing poultry chores, most of that carrying either 2 buckets with feed or 2 buckets with water. It takes me about 2.5 hours in the morning to feed and water, well suddenly with all the pain and trouble it turned to 3.5 hours. I was wondering why I put so many buildings up the hill and when something takes me longer to do than planned I get crabby. By the time I got in at night around 9:30 I was in such discomfort I did not feel like working on the website updating or doing much of anything other than prop my foot up. It took about a month but I am slowly returning to normal but not without consequences, there just was not time in the day to get everything I hoped planted so there will be gaps in the offerings next year. I am sorry.
Prices will remain the same for poultry until I update for 2023. Also we will not be taking any more duck orders for 2022 and if you want specific breeds of chicks please email this address to check first ( firstname.lastname@example.org). I can use voice to text on my phone and that goes much better. I hate typing: my fingers are fat and my brain goes 5 times faster than my hands can move. I would rather have a tooth pulled with no anesthetic than type.
Garlic and onions will be shipped starting in late August.
Future updates: News and updates will be few and far between this Fall. There is a chronic shortage of teachers and my district is not exempt. We could not find another science teacher so I will be doubling up to save the students from going online. I am a firm believer science cannot be online and be real. I will have 8 different classes( Physical Science, Earth Science, Chemistry, Advanced Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Physics, College Biology, College Environmental Science ). Please be patient if email responses are slow I can guarantee it will be faster if you use the above gmail address. Hope to update both sweet potatoes and poultry by end of my Thanksgiving break.
Monday June 27, 2022
Sweet potato orders that have were received by Saturday June 25 have all been shipped out. We have an abundance of plants of many varieties left for the season closeout. We will ship out orders 4 more times Tuesday July 5, Friday July 8, Monday July 11 and the last ship date will be Friday July 15. Some specific varieties are not sprouting well but many are in abundance. You can use the following email address which goes to my phone and I can answer if some are available while I am in the area gathering slips for our own plots. I will be using voice to text so don't judge punctuation and grammar. email@example.com .
Hatches have slowed down some , we have had several very high heat index periods and ducks are behind but we hope to catch up.
Wednesday June 15, 2022
Sweet potato orders are progressing rapidly and there is an abundance of plants just not always what everyone wants. Some are still slow to sprout and some are sprouting with force. Please notice around July 1 we will be updating the poultry prices and the PDF prices will no longer be valid. Feed costs have increased by almost 25% and since we are in this to preserve and don't keep breeds based on their volume of sales we must adjust to protect those that no one wants today but will realize in 10 years that they are worthy. For example we kept Barred Hollands, Buckeyes and Delawares for many years when they were considered unwanted now their sales help pay the feed bill for some others that are not considered worthy by todays consumer. You can book orders with today's prices until July 1 and then after that you must use new pricing.
Saturday June 11, 2022
The sweet potatoes are sprouting much better now and this weeks projected 90 degree heat will bring them to full force. We are progressing rapidly through orders and hope to have a majority sent out by mid week. PLEASE REMEMBER SOME VARIETIES NEED HIGH HEAT TO BREAK DORMANCY AND WILL RUN BEHIND. Just because a variety is slow to sprout does not make it a late variety. 8633 for example will not break dormancy until it gets very warm but will grow rapidly after that. Buterbaugh Pink will sprout almost instantly but takes a very long season. Please be patient and know we are working as fast as we can. We will have lots of slips at season closeout time starting June 25 for those who realize they can be planted then in most places and still do fine. I never get mine planted until then and that is where all of the roots come from that start these slips.
May 30, 2022
The school year is over and I can finally take a breath again. What a wild and crazy spring weather wise which effects all parts of our operation from poultry to sweet potatoes. One of the coldest Aprils and then wild temperature swings from 70 one day to below freezing for a high temperature the next day. More wind and high wind than I have ever seen. Geese and ducks started laying a month late and guineas the true indicator when it finally settles down started to lay on May 15 a full month late. I typically start the sweet potato bed the last weekend in April but as we set up the frames with thick sweatshirts and gloves in icy cold soil it would have been a complete failure had we done it that day. Finally got them bedded on May 8 only to have the next 5 days go from cold to highs in the 90's with summer like humidity. I still had plastic over the poultry building windows and the first day when it shot up to 95 with high humidity lost a bunch of breeders to heat ( heat index was 110) when just two days before I was cold doing chores. The rapid change was too much for some, losses were minimal but still crazy for that time of year. 5 days of heat then back to early spring and cold. As of this day the sweet potatoes are breaking ground in good force and we will begin shipping June 6.
We will update poultry again on June 30 unfortunately we will have to increase prices. Feed prices have gone from around $20 per hundred pounds to right at $25. Postage costs go up constantly and since we include the cost in the bird price adjustments have to occur. It has always been our policy to try to make poultry affordable to as many as possible and not leave the rare material to be only available to some. Prices of individual breeds will increase but we will try to keep assortments as reasonable as possible.
March 21, 2022
There will be no March 22 hatch as I had guessed we only had at most 3 days two of which were very marginal when it was warm enough to gather eggs during the time for this hatch. Things are changing rather rapidly now. We had 3 days 2 weeks ago when it did not get above 20 even during the day and today it was 76. I think the birds will pickup and lay more and make up for lost ground. We have updated as of today the sold out items.
March 13, 2022
I have reached what I call the crazy season where we have changed time and there is a ton to do outside in the daylight with gathering eggs, preparing the garden etc.. This means computer time starts to disappear. We are at the point where seed orders are in about a 2-3 day turn around now. 3 degrees Saturday morning, 56 for a high today ( Sunday) . Eggs froze solid yesterday and today I used the hose to fill duck ponds.
February 27, 2022
I finally got the 2022 pdf catalog finished and uploaded and the proof off to the printer. Never enough hours to keep all caught up. Still been below zero though not a lot ( -4 or so) but cold enough to keep eggs frozen so the March 22 hatch will be slim. Weather looks promising now so April 5 looks better. Got up to 42 today after a morning low of 12 and the ducks and geese loved the melting ice and snow puddles. Seed orders are processed through February 22.
February 20, 2022
We made more progress on orders this week and all seed orders received through February 14 will go out Tuesday. All poultry and sweet potato orders received through February 19 are confirmed. We still do not have the PDF 2022 catalog ready yet. too many projects, not enough hours. Please make checks out to Sandhill Preservation Center not Heirloom Seeds.
February 13, 2022
We made more progress on orders this week and weather is constantly up and down making it a challenge to figure out when winter will end and the poultry will kick into production. Friday the high temp was 40 in the morning and by the time I got home from work it was in the low 20's and then Saturday and Sunday never got above 15. Spent some time battling technology and trying to be more independent on website stuff and finally figured out how to get the 2020 year in Review on the site and update books we are selling out of as well as updating our supporters and donors. My sincerest apologies if I forgot anyone, it wasn't intentional. We appreciate all who send us rare seed starts, donate their time and expertise and those who financially support our projects. Seed orders received through February 4 will go out tomorrow. We are still battling email issues as our service provider as done upgrades. Most of the "good emails" go to the junk box and all the nasty inappropriate stuff ends up in the mail to have to delete.
February 6, 2022
We made some progress this week and the weather improved a teeny bit with greater hope for warmer weather in the future. Today it reached 40 for a high and felt like mid summer. The ducks and geese so enjoyed the puddles that started to form. We will be mailing all seed orders received by January 28 tomorrow. Still setting up poultry and sweet confirmations. We are having unreal email issues so please respond when we answer so we know it has gone through.
It has been rough week and progress has been slowed. I came down with a fever on Monday morning and was sick and missed work through Wednesday. Still weak and with several days near -20 chores were a challenge for me. Sick or not the poultry, sheep, pigs, and cow need care a couple of hours each morning and evening. I am sure I could recover more quickly if I didn't have that at the start and end of each day. We had more lambs this week and it is a real pick me up to watch them play while moms are getting their tidbit of grain. The 16 little guys were playing king of the mountain on the hay bales as I put them in the pen even at -20. Just as I was ready to go back to school Linda came down with a bad sinus infection and then our main office helper Rhonda got sick on Friday so our seed order progress slowed . We will work hard to get back on track but this is the heaviest order time of the season so please be patient. Seed orders going out tomorrow will be everything received through January 18 which with the day after MLK day was a huge volume day.
I am continuing to set up poultry orders and will update the website this week, sweet potato confirmations are being processed as well.
Please refresh your browser once in awhile as we are getting lots of orders for items that are listed clearly on the website as being unavailable for 2022 and have been that way for close to a month. It really slows our progress when we have two stop and check to see what is going on.
We are having considerable problems with our email server and mail simply does not get to places and in some cases were are not getting messages either. Not sure yet how to deal with this. It is every helpful when we respond to a message if you will acknowledge receipt so we know you got it.
Hoping for a warmer and healthier week.
January 23, 2022
I finally have most all seed cleaned, and jarred , just a few more okras and it will be done. We had a few mice issues in the seed shed and even though we had a bumper crop of Sarnowski Polish Plum tomato the mice got all of it, same with Mandan Bride Corn. One of the hazards of having over 2000 varieties to try and keep track of. Orders are starting to move along. Tomorrow all orders received for seeds through January 14 will be mailed. I will update here each week on Sunday night where we are on shipping. Had a few delays this week as Linda had to go to the ER on Tuesday and the cold weather makes chores a longer experience each day. She is doing slightly better but still has a lot of back pain. We were thankful it was not a kidney infection or a reoccurence of the 2018 nightmare but the back pain is most likely a result of all of the issues from the botched surgery in 2018. Hoping for warmer weather to get here soon, those -30 windchills make morning chores at 5 am a less than fun experience.
January 16, 2022
I think all parts of the website are current for 2022 except specialty page which I will get to this week. I have decided it is more than a full-time job just to try to keep track of the website. I wondered why we sold so few books last year and realized the link to what people see and what is on the manage page are not the same so all last year it appears the book page was not visible to the world. We are phasing out of books other than the 2 I WROTE AS POSTAGE IS KILLING US so look on that page next week for specials on what we have left. As of mail on Tuesday Rhonda and I will have all orders up to those received January 7 processed and mailed. It took awhile to get through all of the ones people sent while we were not taking orders as so many ordered items that we were not going to offer in 2022 for seed shortage reasons. All poultry order confirmations through orders received by January 15 have been sent. Will start adding more photos as time allows.
Check back here next week for what I am hopeful will be a weekly Sunday night update on things.
January 2, 2022
I didn't quite accomplish the goal of getting all sections updated. For those anxious to get started ordering each section that is updated has updated for 2022 at the start. Tomatoes, cotton, peanuts, gourds and sorghum as well as flowers and herbs are not yet ready. Only ones with major changes will be tomatoes. Will work each night this week to get all sections done.
November 29, 2021
The sweet potato section is now updated. I will update seed sections as I am able and post updates every Sunday night. Finished seeding out the last of the peppers today. Lots of seed to clean and process yet.
November 22, 2021
The poultry section has been updated for 2022. Pictures will be added as I get them taken over the next few weeks. The order form on both the home page and the poultry page are fillable pdf's and are ready for 2022. Sweet potato sections should be ready within a week.
October 31, 2021
PLEASE READ TO PREVENT CONFUSION.
Reality check time for me. Harvest is abundant and taking many hours to deal with. I have yet to start sorting breeder birds for the poultry. With the upcoming time change and colder weather it will force me out of the seed harvesting and I will switch to moving birds in the earlier dark evenings. We have mounds of seed to clean, process and germ test so please give us some time and realize we will need from November 15 until the end of December to clean, process, germ test and package up seed to get get ready for 2022. We will not be filling seed orders during this time until we get all of those other tasks done. We will announce when we are ready on this page. It is my hope to have the sweet potato and poultry sections updated by the day after Thanksgiving. It will be pushing it but I need a deadline. I have baskets and buckets of peppers and eggplant to seed out and we are still fermenting and saving tomato seed. Sweet potatoes are all dug and in the basement with totes everywhere waiting for me to finish alphabetizing and determining how many of each we can offer. Never a dull moment and never enough hours. The piles of squash and watermelons are overwhealming, but the muskmelons are finally all seeded out. I have yet to pick the corn, sorghum and sunflowers. Beans are just about finished, Rhonda our worker has picked and shelled more beans than she cares to ever see another bean again. Please remember our operation is different as we grow over 80% of the seed we sell so it takes us more time to get it all ready than the places that just repackage the bulk seed they buy. We also have lots of questions about ordering this time of the year. Please remember you will get seed packaged for the current year. Fresh seed from this years crop does not make it into the packages until we start the new season on January 1. The packaging of fresh seed takes place in December.
Next update will be hopefully Thanksgiving Day publishing the new poultry and sweet potato sections
September 10, 2021
We are no longer taking poultry orders for 2021. Please wait until we get all poultry updates made in early November to place orders for poultry for 2022. You will see gradual changes to the poultry listings as I make announcements here and add new blogs. I really am trying to make an effort to start working on all of the blog ideas that I was sent. Our website is controlled in such a way I cannot update to the public just parts. Therefore you will be able to see a gradual change to the poultry listings as I add news and updates and other blogs. We will announce here and on the poultry page when 2022 poultry listings will be updated and orders can be sent.
August 28, 2021
My goal was to have all new poultry buildings done by this date and we came real close, but lumber prices and shortages and the proverbial shortage of time prevented total goal completion. I still keep hoping for a 26 hour day. I posted a blog today of our progress with our poultry building projects and as of this date we only have one more to go but it has no occupants for it , it is for expansion and extra pens for other breeds we already have. The turkey, guinea building will probably (hopefully) get started this fall and be ready to go by mid year next year and then I will be done and hopefully all birds will be in raccoon and opossum proof pens. Earlier this Summer a family of raccoons(herd) ripped some wire and got into my guinea pens and destroyed most all breeders in one night. Our Soil and Water Conservation Service has decided trees are bad and the small creek 1 mile south of us had tree lined banks and was a home for many forms of wildlife. Now they have removed all trees to create a large free flowing ditch that Heaven help us when we get a heavy rain as there will be no trees to absorb the water and no roots to stop the flow. All I can say having been an earth science teacher for 38 years and studied erosion and how to slow it down is " Louisiana enjoy our soil ,it will be there soon". The creek bank trees were home to many raccoons who now are homeless and many moved to my 2 acre woods and the neighboring cornfields for summer as fall approaches the carrying capacity of my small woods will be far exceeded with raccoons. Each and every night I see tracks everywhere around the new buildings trying to break in. They have become rather perturbed with me and have now decided to get even and are destroying all of our sweet corn seed patches. Another lesson learned: there is always something to try to keep ahead of when you are trying to maintain 200 breeds of poultry and 2000 plus varieties of seeds. Now that I am back to teaching everyday I don't get to see everything each and every day in the garden and things get away rather quickly. My teaching load is heavy this year as I have a class each and every period of the 8 period day. Free time this fall will be scarce. We are excited to be nearly done with our building venture and appreciate all who have helped in any fashion. Ethan will tear down the last of the old 1990 primitive structures on. Monday. I was going to leave one to remind of where we started but a picture is enough at this point. I still have enough bumps and bruises on my head to remind me to never ever again build a short building that I cannot walk upright in. Praise God they served their purpose and there are many breeds alive today and in many hands and much better populations than 30 years ago so the time had come to upgrade. We finally got some rain this week so are hopeful for a decent harvest on many things. Still very dry but the 1.35 inches total over 3 storms was greatly appreciated.
August 10, 2021
One year ago today we had the huge storm "Derecho" that fortunately spared all of our buildings and poultry but wrecked havoc with our sweet potato collection. It all started me thinking about the future.
Major changes for 2022 Poultry orders:
At the end of this month I will turn 60. I am usually not one for significant birthdays but for some reason this one has caused me to do some serious thinking about life and what I want out of it. I suppose it is a combination of things. This school year will be the start of year 38 of teaching and it will also be significant in that I will be the only teacher left from when our schools merged in1985 to form the current district. I have watched entire families and then is some cases their families graduate. I noticed at graduation last year that of 36 graduates I had had 26 of their parents in school. I have to face the facts I am not getting any younger. Last year when I started this poultry building project Gavin, the student helper I had really found his niche in building and I basically turned the project over to him with the condition that his buildings needed to last at least 20 years as I still hoped to be going strong at 80. Gavin finished a few of the buildings and started some more before he left early this summer to take on a job as a student apprentice at John Deere where he is training to be a welder. He has excellent talents in welding and has won competitions for FFA. Gavin turned his building projects over to Ethan who has worked for us almost 8 years now on an as needed basis. He started in eighth grade and was a tremendous help the summer Linda was in the hospital. Anyhow, this summer I have two student helpers Austin and Olivia. Austin has a real interest in learning about varieties and the poultry and Olivia is what call a deep thinker and helps to give me a different perspective on things. After her third day on the job in early July and we had set out plants of over 200 tomato varieties and 100 sweet potato varieties and it was hot, dry and muggy and mind you they only work from 8 to 12 ( I start before 5 so have 3 hours in when they get here), Olivia said “How can you do this year after year.” It made me think, how and why. First my teaching job supplies Linda and I with our needs and we do this just because I feel the need. Olivia sort of kept bugging me as to why, I do it , why it is important to me and all kinds of questions. Really made me start to think. Yikes, I have done it so long, why do I do it ? I may be turning 60 but really don’t feel over 35 at best and still work outside usually 14 hours a day all summer 6 days a week and about 8 hours on Sunday. It doesn’t matter what the weather is ( -40 windchill or 110 heat index or anywhere in between) the birds still need daily care. In fact they need more care in the extreme times, when no sane person wants to be outside. It isn’t fun getting out of bed at 4:30 in total darkness in the winter and see the temperature is -25 and you know you will be carrying 70 5 gallon buckets of water for the next 2.5 hours. I have things down to a system and with the new buildings it is much easier and more comfortable. The older buildings were all with outside doors so if it was raining I got soaked and they were all so short my now near totally bald head has many scars and bumps to prove they were just plain too short. In my defense when they were built in the early 1990’s it was the best I could do to keep ahead of the rapidly disappearing poultry populations. All of our vacations those early years were around poultry rescue operations and many times Linda would take off with the truck and cages and a friend for company and travel to get in many times the last of a breed. That was 30 years ago and now many of the people we are dealing with have no idea how it was then and I can ’t begin to tell you how many have no clue that some of the breeds available today from many sources are the result of those “ chicken rescues”. In many cases we fed and cared for breeds for years with no sales and only outflow of cash. I can’t tell you how many times we refinanced the farm to make sure we could keep breeds from vanishing. The farm is paid off now and it is time to kick back and enjoy life. Therefore starting with 2022 we will no longer have a postage chart. All poultry will be priced as postpaid except for our friends in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico where we must ship Express. There will be an additional charge for those folks( sorry!) Also the biggest change which will upset some is we will be changing to a policy where if you order specific breeds and say no sub you understand that our assumption is you are wanting to maintain the breed and therefore we will do our best to get you those birds but it will be understood by you that you will take them when we have them during our regular hatching season of March to August.
We will send you confirmation that will indicate the soonest date we can send but it is to be understood by you we will do what we can to get them to you and it may mean multiple shipments with extra free chicks. Let's say you order 5 chicks each of 5 breeds. Normally 25 chicks would be one shipment but not all breeds hatch and lay at the same time and we are sometimes booked on one breed for a long time. Our current policy would mean we would hold the order try to ship all 5 breeds together and that may in some cases never happen as sometimes the combinations never come together. The new way may mean you will get 2 to 3 shipments with some free chicks. I absolutely refuse to get to the point where we hatch way more than we have demand for and have to dispose of the extras. I cannot begin to tell you how many times we may have 40 chicks of a particular breed and need 50 that week and then next week have 50 chicks of the same breed and have need for none. Sad to say the breeds that needed the most support and adoption are usually the least ordered. This year for example our rarest chicken breed with what I can determine has the fewest breeder sources in the US had absolutely no orders. If we were a true business it is obvious they would end up off the list and the breeders end up in chicken soup. That is not our focus. We operate for preservation and education, which is why we cannot support a customer service department, be able to answer the phone and all emails in a timely fashion. We focus our time and energy and limited finances on preservation. I understand in todays world of order it today online and it is here the next day by a fast delivery service, but we are not able to provide those services for several reasons the first and most important is we are dealing with living beings not inanimate objects. I am well aware of how to make money and could easily pick the top 10-15 breeds of poultry and get large flocks and carry on with a customer service department and have someone answer the phone all of the time. The same could be said for our seed selection and our collection of sweet potatoes. We could easily narrow down to the big sellers, do a whiz bang flashy website and go for the bucks. The world has enough places like that, so we will continue to focus on preservation and education and attempt to leave this world when we do knowing that we did all we could to preserve as much genetic material as we could humanly do. As I told Gavin last year I hope to still be going strong for another 20 years and I have decided I want to enjoy it and when I am looking at the breeder pens of poultry appreciate them for their beauty, genetics and traits that make me keep them and not worry and fret if can fill that order this week because that is the only option the person gave. My hope is also if it takes several shipments maybe some of the true rare breeds that no one wants to order will end up being something a person adopts and takes on, because even though I don’t feel like I am much more than 35 now I probably won’t feel that way when I am 80 and I want all of the breeds to have multiple breeders by that time so when I can no longer maintain them they all have homes. We will soon be updating the website to reflect these new changes so when we start the 2022 season it will be all changed.
July 28, 2021:
Technology is great when it works and there are no issues. Friday morning July 9 I turned on one of the hatching incubators only to find it short out, blow the breaker and (as we found out later) almost start a fire. I thought no problems this time of the year I can get by with just one hatcher. So I turned the other one on and unplugged the first. Later that afternoon as I was candling eggs and moving them to the hatcher with the door open and power on we had a huge power surge, something blew a transformer in the area and it sounded like a cannon then the power came on with a huge surge. Never thought anything more until Sunday afternoon when I noticed the temperature was not right and so I changed the set thermometer as they can go bad on rare occasions. Later in the day it seemed ok then Monday it went crazy and would not stop heating. I quickly removed all the chicks that had hatched but unfortunately most of the ducks were just starting to pip and they got too warm and the duck hatch as very small. Took a while but found an electrician that would tackle the problems and machines. The one was built in 1929 the other 1949 but my fried Mark Fox changed the temperature controls in them to early 21st century stuff. the short in the one was caused by the original heater built in 1929 in a hatching compartment I do not use finally broke. Wouldn't it be great if stuff built today lasted that long!.
June 2, 2021: SWEET POTATO SLIPS START SHIPPING MONDAY JUNE 7
May was a trying month weatherwise and time wise. The first week in May was hot and summer like only to be followed by the next 2 weeks of 20-30 degrees below normal temperatures and frost nearly every night. Not the ideal weather for starting the sweet potatoes. The last Friday in May it only got to 46 for a high and then after an all day drizzle cleared off at sunset and temperatures plummeted, fortunately the moisture in the air kept the plants from freezing.The next night was just as cold and we slipped by again. The majority of varieties will be ready to go by next week if the weather stays as warm as is promised.
Hatches have been a little disappointing chiefly from my having to use backup incubators while we remodeled and moved to a new building the old Petersime incubator that my friend Mark Fox helped me restore back in the last 1990's. It had been in flood and we had to guess as to how to put it together and now 25 years later my student helper Gavin tackled the job. We took it apart piece by piece an moved and rebuilt it replacing some of the nearly 100 year old wood. It took a long time and it just became operational this week so unfortunately the June 1 hatch was a disaster from the eggs that were placed in an old Jamesway that I know remember why I quit using 25 years ago. The eggs placed in it hatched at about 20% totally goofing up combinations for orders.
The first of the seed crops gets planted tomorrow and it will be crazy to get everything planted by early July. It takes huge amount of coordination and planning to get all 2000+ varieties planted for pollination etc.
April 4, 2021
Knew it would happen that there would be so much to do that a weekly update would not be possible. Currently the seed order situation is we are on our regular policy of order is received one day, filled the next day and then checked by me and sent the following day. Poultry is now updated as of all orders received by April 3. There will be no waterfowl( ducks or geese on April 6 as it was so cold the birds either did not lay or eggs froze. April 20 is first waterfowl hatch and some breeds are just starting to lay as of April 3 (many runner ducks, Pomeranian geese to name a few. Some fertility issues in certain chicken breeds left over from the super cold so we will be a bit behind at first but we hope to get caught up by May. Hatches will be low at first but we hope to get back to normal by May.
It finally warmed up, enough to melt the snow down to about 6 inches deep . Our monthly average temperature thanks to the last 5 days being warm showed an average high of 22 and low of 0.8. If it hadn't been so warm last night we would have had monthly night time average below zero. We are caught up to what should be about a 3 day turn round on seed orders now. I will update poultry sold outs through orders received by 2/27. Just a couple of hold ups on seed we purchased or we would be totally on top of things. Rhonda and Phyllis have been filling packets like crazy. Tomorrow we start on seed orders received February 24. Lots of frozen combs and still very few eggs but the birds should bounce back soon. Still no duck eggs and I am glad I hate frozen eggs.
February 21, 2021
Another cold week but there is hope for a warmup but it will be slow. Still as of writing this we have not been above freezing this month and many nights well below zero. We are currently working on seed orders received February 12 and are making steady progress to get caught up.
FEBRUARY 14, 2021
Okay, I am tired of winter. The average temperature so far this month has been 5.5 ˚F for a day time high and - 9.4˚F for a night time low. It has been -24 one night and today after a morning low of -18˚F never got above -5˚F all day. The poultry are starting to tire of this and so am I. Windchills -30˚F are becoming the norm. We are so grateful for all of the better poultry buildings and the birds are fairing much better so far. This of course means eggs freeze on impact and there will be no March hatches. Tough for our seed order helpers to get here some days as roads drift shut on occasion. We have well over a foot of snow everywhere and many drifts very high. Our sheep have been lambing and all the babies are surviving. We have over 27 so far. Amazing they can be born at -20˚F and their mom cleans them off and they take off and go. We have no heat lamps and such our sheep are just super hardy.
Poultry orders are all in the schedule if they have been received by yesterday. Confirmations will be mailed this week.
We are filling orders for seed received as of February 1. Website is updated for all sold out items as of today and will be updated weekly .
February 7, 2021
A rough week weather wise as a major storm with snow, heavy wind and cold made it impossible for our workers to get to work on Thursday and Friday. Therefore we are currently working on seed orders received on January 25. We have confirmed sweet potato orders through February 5. I am currently holding on confirming poultry orders as with the long range forecast we are not supposed to have high temperatures above 5 or 10 degrees for at least 7 more days with night time lows -10 or colder. The low this morning was -24 with a high today of -1 so all eggs are freezing and this means no March 9 hatch and March 23 will be in jeopardy if the weather does not break by next week.
January 31, 2021
Two snowstorms, some ice and one of our office workers had a surgery so our progress this week was a little bet less than expected. Current seed orders that we received prior to and including January 21 are being mailed February 1.
All poultry orders received through January 30 are confirmed and the website is updated with sold outs.
January 24, 2021
We are making progress on returning to normal operations. Currently all seed orders received as of January 14 have been processed and will be mailed tomorrow. Poultry orders received by January 7 have been confirmed. Sweet potato confirmations for orders received through January 19 have been sent. We hope to pick up the pace this week as more seed was cleaned and processed and the back log of work that did not get completed over my winter break is getting done.
January 19, 2021
It has been crazy trying to get everything done. We received notice that our format for the website would no longer be able to be updated after December 1 so it took alot of time to change the format and still working on it.Trying to set everything up so as we get photos taken we can upload them instantly. I tore down too many old poultry buildings last Fall and had to make a made dash to finish up some new buildings before winter hit. We finished up the last of the critical buildings on December 28 at 12:30 and at 2 our first big snow of over 11 inches started. Talk about cutting it close. Last two breeder buildings need a roof and pens and we will finish when snow melts. Linda's mother passed away the week before Christmas and we had lots to do with cleaning up her apartment. Therefore I got a real late start on seed cleaning and Phyllis and Rhonda were anxiously waiting to start filling orders. So it is all my fault we did not get started on time. We should progress faster now. As of today we are processing seed orders received on January 7.
November 18, 2020
The sweet potato section is now updated with some new photos to be added soon. We are deeply grateful to Sue Heilig for all the time and work she took to try to find a new format that woks for our "bizarre and tough" website. The new order blank will up updated soon. Please bear with us as we make these transformations and the poultry section is up next for the redo. We may get it done as promised by November 30.
November 12, 2020
Please expect some delays as last night we discovered as we began to update the sweet potato pages that the format we were using with WIX ( our website host) will be discontinued as of December 1. This means parts of our website may become nonfunctioning ( temporarily) if we cannot find a new format and transfer all information by that date. This should only impact the sections where we have pictures. We will update you as things progress.
NOVEMBER 3, 2020
It has been a bit crazy trying to harvest all the seed crops, care for the fowl and get as much work done on the new poultry buildings as is possible before the snow flies. We are now at the point where all seed is harvested and in the drying stage and will soon be cleaned and germination tested and then we start to work on the seed sections of the website and update them. We are so different than the average place that buys all of the seed, as we grow over 80% of what we sell here on the farm. This is the reason we cannot update our site as quickly as others. Here is the current plan which I will work as hard as possible to stick to.
Sweet potato section to be updated by November 15.
Poultry section to be updated by November 30.
Seed section to be updated by December 30.
As we get the above three updated we will announce it here. As we go through the seed section we will indicate vegetable type by type as we updated each of those.
Thank you for your patience we will work as fast as we can.
AUGUST 14, 2020
Wow! what a difference a few days can make to change your whole plans and outlook. We had been in need of a good soaking rain and it was promised on Friday night, then Saturday night, then Sunday night and well when I watched the news at 4:30 am Monday morning it showed a small cluster of storms near Yankton, South Dakota. The weatherman indicated it would die out before it reached us and being a long time weather observer I agreed. I also told my student help when they arrived at 8 that we would probably have to make plans to fix and start up the irrigation system on Tuesday as our rain chances were slim. I had a chance to explain how when a front goes through in the mid morning it doesn't have enough power to deliver much rain and the prime time is about 2-3 pm after a sunny morning. We worked awhile and it was unbelievably humid and very hot and sunny. I checked the radar on my cellphone about 9:30 am was surprised to see the small storms that were in South Dakota at 4 AM had expanded and slowed down. Instead of coming through around 11 am like it was predicted it looked more favorable for rain now. When I checked again about 11:30 I told the workers to go home and not get too far from home as the storm was expanding and developing a distinct bow with the arch of the bow headed straight for us. I told them it could get ugly. I did not know at the time how ugly it could get. About 1:30 it got very dark and the wind went from calm to over 50 mph in a few seconds and then well over 70 mph and trees started crashing everywhere. We ran to the basement and things started shaking and I know we had to have gusts in excess of over 90 mph. The storm lasted for over an hour and when it slowed down some and I surfaced I could see trees in our yard in a mess. The garden areas near the house looked like a flat pancake. I was fearful to walk to the farm building end of the farm where our old home (now seed storage and office area) were as there are 3 huge soft maple trees to the west and north of the office. I feared they would be on top of the office and also feared the barn would be down and also all of our new poultry buildings. We had no power as I could see our neighbors down the road (who were building a new house ) and the house was wrapped around the power poles. A quick survey revealed all livestock: poultry, sheep, cow and pigs were fine and then I took a walk over the hill to see the backfield with the 5 one acre isolation plots. We have a driveway from the backfield to the top of the hill to get hay to the hay shed and it had multiple large trees across it. It will be days before that is cleared. After crawling over trees and such I reached the back field to see the best looking corn crop we ever had flat to the ground. It didn't even look like corn. Highest plants looked about 5 inches and some of the varieties were over 12 feet tall the day prior. Bush bean plants were nearly pulled out of the ground and squash and melons were in some cases nearly twisted out of the ground. The vine crops were in better shape as they were to the east of the corn rows and the storm came from the west so it gave some protection as the rows run south to north. It looked like there would be nothing on many things. I had several long rows of sorghum that in some cases the plants were already 8 feet tall and they were pounded to the ground. That was Monday about 5 pm. Austin ( my student helper) and I walked back there this morning only to discover that 90 % of the corn had resurrected itself with some bending and was looking decent. What appeared to be a total loss will be a reasonable crop. We hand pick each ear anyhow so the only problem now is we can not till between the rows and the weeds will take over some. Melons, squash, zinnias and okra all will recover. Bush beans will be a challenge but have some potential. In our front 10 acres it appears the strongest winds came diagonal across the property from the northwest corner over the hill skipping over the top of our house and diagonal across the front garden areas. We will be missing some sweet potatoes( ironically the most popular varieties ) for 2021 as they were ripped out of the ground and thrown everywhere. Many peppers and tomatoes were also ripped out and destroyed. The corn patches in the front field in many cases were not planted until July 4, 15 and 25 so they were small and as of today look great and will make a good crop if the season is long enough.
We will not have an August 25 hatch as we did not get power back until Wednesday at 3 pm so we were off for about 49 hours. It was a challenge to get enough water for the animals. In winter I need about 70 5 gallon buckets each day in summers heat with all of the young stock it was far in excess of 90 . The Calamus Volunteer Fire Department graciously brought out a tanker truck twice to let us fill containers to get things cared for. We are praising God for the protection we had and minimal damage and inconvenience. We are praying for so many in the area that lost so much. Many lost buildings, silos, and entire crops. Our hatch Tuesday was challenge first the chicks had to be packed by flashlight Monday night and then we had to pack the computer and printer up and we found a friend from church about 5 miles away that still had power and went there to print postage and paper work and then find a post office that had power and was open. It was an eventful day.
We will be filling seed orders on Monday as the post office should have power by then. We are working as fast as possible to get refunds to those who did not get poultry. I hope to get 2 to 3 blogs posted this week before I go back to teaching on August 18. I cannot imagine those who live in hurricane prone areas how they deal with storms like that. I hope this is a once in a lifetime experience for me.
AUGUST 11, 2020
An unprecedented, very large-scale storm moved through Iowa on Monday August 10th. Winds were probably in excess of 100 miles per hour and a great deal of damage was done. We were fortunate that none of our buildings were destroyed or damaged but we have many trees down and much of our corn seed crop will be lost. We are still hopeful for the beans and sweet potatoes and other crops. We will however be without power for an extended length of time which means we will have no phone or email service for some time. We will also not have an August 25th hatch as those eggs were lost to the storm. Once power is restored, a new update will be posted as to what we will be able to do and when things will reoccur on a normal basis. We cannot even process seed orders at this point in time because we cannot get postage on them. Please be patient during this very trying time. We are fortunate that Sue is able to post this for us as we have no access to the website phone or email at this time.