Jim and Kelly’s Folly
Volume 1 October 1, 2016
Padden Family Farm Jim and Kelly’s Folly
Join us on our journey toward organic and sustainable living
Since June of 1990, when we moved to our little farm in Beecher, Illinois, we have been evolving toward a self sufficient homestead. Organic and sustainable has been our philosophy and driving motivation for every new venture. We are ready to bring that lifestyle to others and are excited to bring our farm to your table.
Pasture raised, heritage breed, pork, lamb, poultry and eggs
Garden and orchard fresh produce
Seasonal, sustainable and truly organic*
*We are not USDA certified and have no plans to become so. Our organic philosophy is far more exacting than our government’s regulations. We would love for you to visit our farm to see our beliefs in practice.
Padden Family Farm
31713 S Ashland Ave, Beecher, Illinois 60401
What’s new in the barn, pastures and gardens...
Happy piggies everywhere! In 2016 we’ve had 4 healthy litters of piglets. Carmelita and Miranda, our twin GOS (Gloucestershire Old Spot)/Red Wattle gilts had 17 just 2 days apart in late March and they have given us another 17 exactly 6 months later. Way to stay on schedule girls! They did a beautiful job co-nursing them till we weaned them at 7 weeks. We sold all but 3 as feeders/breeders to other pastured pig folks. They are all doing beautifully and our 3 from the March litters are already presold and will be going to customer freezer camp in late November.
But... we also had 2 litters in early June! MaryAnn (GOS/Berkshire) had 7 and Hildegard (GOS/Large black) had 10. 4 have sold as breeding stock but we will likely raise most of the rest so they will be available as Halves or Whole hogs in February. We are also looking into selling frozen packaged pork directly--more about that later!
Our Boar is a Landrace/Berkshire and we are extremely pleased with the conformation of all of these piglets. They are very long, well muscled and short legged. That translates to lots of bacon, long loins for pork chops and excellent marbling from their breed characteristics, as well as their healthy, pastured lifestyle. They get loads of sunshine and greens to go with their organic supplement of barley, wheat, oats, corn, beans, kelp, and flax meal. This Custom all organic mix is then soaked at least 24 hours in water, apple cider vinegar and molasses. The addition of my sweetheart dairy goat in September means the growing pigs are also supplemented with fresh goat milk. This is not the other white meat! You will find it looks more like a well marbled beef.
Looking ahead, we have more piglets due in October and December, so there will be lots of opportunities to try our pork. We are awfully proud of it and know you will love it too. There is something very satisfying about knowing that the meat you put on your table came from animals that lived out their lives in a world full of sunshine and rain, grass and belly rubs and the best feed and forage we could give them. We are committed to respectful and humane treatment of our animals for their whole lives .
Pastured Pigs are Happy Pigs and Happy Pigs are Tasty Pigs
New Lamb crops are starting with frisking in the Pasture. We have increased our flocks of sheep and goats this year. We have 8 ewes that should breed to produce between 8 and 16 lambs in the spring. For the first time we will be offering lamb starting in about September of 2017. We will keep you posted on their progress. We also have 2 meat goat does that should also kid in the early spring. Probably not enough to offer goat meat next year but we are moving in that direction.
We have a mixed flock including Polypay, Katahdin, Dorper and Painted Desert Sheep and Boki, Oberhasli and Bohr goats. They are also fed our custom organic fermented grain mix as a supplement to fresh air and all they can eat at the pasture salad bar. we have also added a beautiful Toggenberg doe in milk, Tea Biscuit (mentioned above) so Kelly will be back in the dairy business. No telling where that might lead… yogurt? Cheese? Soap?
So what the heck is a chicken tractor anyway?
This spring we added a new toy to the farm. After admiring many versions of this slick half coop/half vehicle Kelly convinced Jim that we could build one ourselves. A few weekends later we had put together a very nice (albeit a little over engineered) CHICKEN TRACTOR! In theory this gadget allows us to protect our free range chickens while giving them new forage every day. It works like a charm but it would have been better to make several! We currently have about 40 laying chickens and we frequently have up to 50 meat birds in process. We made our Poultry mobile home about 12’ x 8’ by 5’ high but it’s only big enough for about 12 at a time so we are working on getting it moved out to one of our fenced pasture areas with the hope that we can leave its chicken door open during the day and the chickens will roost ( and lay their eggs) inside the tractor but roam free within the hard fences of the pasture during the day. We used the tractor to range our meat birds this summer and were very pleased so we’re hoping this will also work this fall.
So speaking of chickens… We will be raising 50 cornish/rock cross broilers in the tractor starting in late october to be available in time for Christmas. We will be offering free ranged pastured eggs very soon. Stay tuned for more on this…
Meat Rabbits in the Outdoor Colony also known as the Bunny Palace!
Our newest addition is Meat Rabbits! But in keeping with our commitment to raising our animals as close to nature as possible we have built housing that is completely predator safe but allows our females to establish a colony on (and eventually under) ground. We have 7 females and 2 Males. The females (does) are living happily together in the bunny palace. The males (bucks) have a second story hutch overlooking their harem and receive conjugal visits at appropriate intervals. 2 of the does were likely bred in late august so they could have their kits any day now!
For now harvest time at the Padden Family Farm just means filling our root cellar and freezer for the winter but it is our hope that next year we will be trying our hand at the local farmers markets and developing a CSA product for a lucky few guinea pigs. These are subscription services to local farms that result in fresh meat and produce made available to consumers on a weekly or monthly basis. Picture us bringing you the bounty of our farm in a basket or cooler. We’re really excited about this. But for now we’ll just wet your whistles with pictures of some of the types of produce you might expect.
Spread the word… there is more to life than factory farmed, processed food!