Frequently Asked Questions  & Information

1. What is the mission of Sand Hill Preservation Center?

  • Our mission is genetic preservation and education on such issues to promote the preservation of our genetic resources.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 prevalent 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.

10. What is Sand Hill Preservation Center's 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.

11.  Can orders be sent to Canada or other foreign countries?

  • 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.

12. Are the items grown at Sandhill Preservation Center Certified Organic?

  • 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.

13. Patience 

  • Please remember we are not a 24 hour fast food place where you can order and expect service immediately. We are doing this as a hobby business service and we work as fast and efficiently as the time allows. We cannot guarantee specific hatch dates as we cannot guarantee the hatch rate or laying rate of each of the many breeds that we have. We set up and process the orders in the order in which we receive them in the mail. If you are impatient and absolutely have to have something by a certain date, please do us and yourself a favor and order from somewhere else. We realize the above statement seems cold and harsh, but we are simply not able to deal with filling chick orders at the spur of the moment. We are at the mercy of the birds and there isn’t anything that we can do to change that. WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE FOR ANY REASON. 

IMPORTANT ITEMS TO TAKE NOTE OF

 

The Seed Postage Charge 

  We will continue to charge a $3.00 postage and handling fee to help defray the continued postage increases. Orders to Canada and Foreign orders will have substantially larger charges as the costs for postage to those areas continues to increase rapidly.

 

Order Cancellation 

   Any order (seed, poultry, or sweet potato) that is cancelled once we receive it in the mail will incur a $3.00 cancellation charge. Once we have taken time to process and set up an order, fees and charges occur that we must pass on to those who suddenly change their mind. 

 

 Insufficient Fund Checks 

   We will be forced to charge $30.00 for any bad check that we receive. We will notify you when we receive notice that your check was bad and then you will have one week to either send us a money order or a certified check. After that time, we will then contact the authorities for prosecution for theft. 

USPS Hours

   As we predicted, the heavy reliance by the general public on e-mail has hurt the USPS drastically.  This has forced the closing of many Post Offices and has cut the hours and services of many more.  We had a great local support and were able to get better hours at our local Post Office than many.  Most Post Offices in our area are now open from 7:00 to 11:00 AM.  That would have seriously hampered our chick shipments and made it very hard to get fresh sweet potato slips to you.  Our Post Office is now open from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, which is not ideal, but will allow us to continue.  This again reinforces our policy to require orders and order related changes to come via U.S. Mail.  If we cannot support them, then it will eventually become impossible for us to get our product to you.

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Sand Hill Preservation Center

Heirloom Seeds & Poultry

1878 230th Street

Calamus, IA 52729

563-246-2299

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