Whittenberg Farms | Blog
The 2013 Market Season
Some changes are in store for Whittenberg Farms' sixth season of farmers' markets. The biggest change, perhaps, is that after five seasons at the Red Bluff market at the River Park on Saturday mornings, we do not plan to be in any Red Bluff markets this summer; we're still willing to deliver to Red Bluff area customers, however, so please just shoot us an email if you're interested (and delivery will still be free, on any order of at least $50). If you're at one of the Red Bluff markets, though, you may still see Zach around now and again, at either the old market at the River Park or the new market at Frontier Village (or even the Wednesday night one, downtown).
Hannah will still be up at the Saturday morning market in Redding, next to the City Hall on Cypress Street, starting in early May. For our beef, this year, we now have Dexters - two for this year, two for next, and two to keep us in production beyond that. Dexters are a small, triple-purpose breed (meat, milk, and draft), and they have long been a preferred breed by many farmers with less land than would support a herd of larger-sized cattle. For our lamb, we now have some home-born lambs, which will be available in the late summer for market and custom orders. And for pork, we're starting to move toward having year-round availability, with custom orders being offered in the off-market season.
Also new for 2013: Whittenberg Farms will be hosting its first ever farm day, on Saturday, May 18, which will be an opportunity for customers to come out and tour the ranch, see the animals, meet the family, and even get some meat right from the source.
The 2012 Market Season
It's been a long while since I last updated this blog, in large part because in the past year, the Whitten family has started a new private elementary school - Whittenberg Country School (find it through the links, at the top of the home page). WCS has had a great first year, and this fall, it will move to the ranch. So, we'll be raising calves, pigs, lambs, and kids (of the two-legged variety), here on the family ranch, and the students will get a country school set in the middle of a farm!
Between the school moving out here and our family growing (yet again - this will be kid #5), we probably won't have as big of a market year as we were hoping; time, energy, and money are all finite, after all. We will have beef, lamb, and pork, along with a very limited quantity of chicken, but with us spread over three markets, we might not have as long of a season, so we encourage our faithful customers to buy early and stock up! We'll be at the Saturday morning Red Bluff Farmers' Market (for our fifth year), along with Saturday mornings in Redding (by the Civic Center) and Thursday mornings in Anderson (at the outlet mall). We likely will not continue with Wednesday nights in downtown Red Bluff, although we'll no doubt stop off now and again.
We look forward to serving you in 2012.
End of Spring, Beginning of Summer
June has been a rather busy month for the Whitten family, in part June means taking animals to the butcher's and getting ready for market. We used a different butcher this year, as our one from last year was overbooked with his more established customers. A significant issue, nationwide, in the development of a direct-to-consumer meat industry is the availability of USDA-inspected facilities. Currently, the closest one to Red Bluff is in Glenn County, although there has been at least some talk of one of the local custom butcher shops expanding and becoming USDA-inspected.
The loading and transporting of animals went well, but as we were returning, we received a call that one of our steers (who was being held back for custom orders later in the summer) had died. This was the first time we have had a grown animal die an untimely death (apparently, he got into some pig feed in another field and gorged himself to death), but it wasn't the last, as two days later our original sow, Penelope, was also found dead (apparently from an injury). Penelope had a litter of young pigs at the time, and so we were particularly concerned about their well-being without their mother, but they have done very well, and seemed to have adopted another sow as their new mother. Such are the realities of animal husbandry: while watching the birth and growth of critters is better than watching the corn grow, it's also harder to deal with the death of animals, but life does go on.
This year, at farmers' market, in addition to pasture-raised beef, lamb, and pork by the cut (as well as packages of pork and lamb), we will also have a limited supply of pasture-raised chicken available for pre-order. We will also be introducing "Whittenberg Bucks" - gift certificates that can be bought for your own use or to give to someone else. Our first market will be the Saturday morning of July 2nd, at the Red Bluff River Park, and we will start the Wednesday evening market season on July 6th.
And while visiting us at the market for meat from happy, healthy, humanely-raised animals, please also check out the information we'll have for Whittenberg Country School, which is a small, private school that will open in the fall of 2011.
End of Winter 2011
Once again, I turn around, and another season has passed. A rainy March is finally drawing to a close, and at least a bit of sunshine seems to be in the offing - and now that we're back up to the seasonal average, I suppose it's ok to wish for a bit of a dry spell (after all, the grass needs sunshine to grow, too, right?).
With the Bottom Field newly enclosed, we have a batch of gilts in there, both butchers and future breeders. We also have a young sow and her first litter: eight active piglets, which will be sold as feeders in another month or so. Two of the older sows will soon be sold off, as their replacements are already here: two stocky red Durocs. We plan to eventually have a purebred Duroc herd, and these two gilts are the beginning of that.
The beeves continue to grow, and they are now joined by a half-dozen lambs in the East Field, and so we look to be set for beef, lamb, and pork for this summer. To further expand our offerings, we're also planning to have a limited selection of chicken (and possibly rabbit) at this summer's markets. We hope to see y'all at the Saturday morning and Wednesday evening Red Bluff Farmers' Markets!
End of Fall 2010
Hello again. Somehow it's been three months since I last posted, but it's been fairly busy around here this fall.
Three sows had their litters all in one week in early November, and 30 plus pigs were soon tearing about the School Pond Field, where the herd is currently residing. We'll be selling most of those off in early January, minus a half-dozen or so that we'll keep back for summer butchers. We've also added two purebred Duroc gilts, who will hopefully be throwing beautiful red pigs next fall.
We have two beeves enjoying the new grass in the West Field - early and plentiful rains have brought about a better crop of grass than we usually see in mid-December. We've also started reseeding some of the fields, and new fences should make two more fields available this winter: the Bottom Field will expand somewhat, taking in more of the forest along the creek, and the Near Field will be divided out of the old Upper Field, in order to provide another option for our growing bunch of hogs.
Our friend at Nickler Acres have recently picked up three bull calves from a local dairy, two of which will become our steers for the 2012 market season. By the way, if you're looking for a good source of fresh-from-the-farm eggs in Tehama County, get in touch with Mindy at Nickler Acres.
And we are starting to look for lambs for the coming season; the grass is growing, the fences are going up, and soon the stock will all be in place. Then five or six months of rain and sunshine will get us ready for another season of selling pasture-raised meats at our local farmers' markets. We hope to see you there!
End of Summer 2010
Some months ago, Knightly Computing put together this site for us, and yet I've hardly made use of it - but I intend to do so more in the next year
This season at the Red Bluff Farmers' Market, we added pasture-raised beef and lamb to our pork, and the response was even better than expected. We sold out of most of the cuts quickly, we heard a lot of positive feedback from customers, and we plan to have even more available next year. We currently are raising two beeves for next season, our sows will soon farrow the litters from which we'll select our market hogs, and we're readying fields for another batch of lambs - so we're already working on the 2011 season, although we may not be setting up our canopy for another nine months.
Hannah (the better half of Whittenberg Farms) continues to twist my arm about getting meat chickens, and so I'd say there's a fair-to-middlin' chance that we will have chicken available next year. It will probably be rather limited, however, and pre-sold on a first-come, first-served basis. We've not made a decision on turkeys, yet, although I could point you toward my red-bearded friend at Barbarosa Ranchers, who will have pasture-raised turkey, starting this fall. We continue to be small enough with our egg operation that we're just selling to an existing group of egg customers, but if you're looking for a good source of fresh, free-ranged eggs, I'd suggest Nickler Acres (which also sells at the Red Bluff Farmers' Markets). As for emus, I found a few for sale the other day, but the wife put the kibosh on that (for now...).
Lastly, I would like to thank our customers, new and old, for their support of Whittenberg Farms - we certainly could not do this without you!