Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Farm T-Shirts

I often mention that we have such wonderful customers.  And that's the truth.  We have had several customers come up with some great suggestions.  Recently, it was suggested that we come up with some T-shirts with our farm name on them.  While I love the idea, I am not particularly fond of wearing "business T-shirts".  You know, the kind that are simply Hanes undershirts with a business logo on them.  You usually catch one at a parade and end up using it to paint or garden in.  The exception to this is if you visit a fun place like Hard Rock Cafe, Harley Davidson, or Disneyland.  The difference is that these T-shirts are somewhat stylish to wear.  When I received the suggestion I started trying to come up a design.  However, no matter what I tried, it ended up looking like a "free painting T-shirt".  I was explaining my dilemma to my friend Rich (same guy who mixes our pig feed for us).  He is much more creative than I am and suggested that I simplify the shirt and add some color.  I went back to the drawing board and things started to come together.  While I don't think I will ever cut it on a show like Project Runway, I do think we came up with something that I would feel comfortable wearing around in public.

What I would like to do is simply put out some feelers to see if there is any interest in these T-shirts.  After all, who would trust what a pig farmer thinks is cool?  Hollie and I ended up selecting shirts that are a little distressed.  Of course this added to the cost over simply using a "Hanes Beefy T".  Basically if enough people (20+) would like to buy a shirt, we can get the price down to $20/shirt.  That is our cost.  Our motivation for doing this is simply a little free advertising.  We would love to hear any feedback!

PS. For those who don't follow us on Facebook, we are planning our next farm day! This will be a great family outing with fun activities for all ages. Tentatively we are looking at the first Saturday in May. More details to follow!
Description of Men's T-shirt from the manufacturer: Olive shirt with harvest gold print
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Features: 3.8 oz. All colors are a poly/cotton blend. Features custom vintage wash and worn edges for a broken-in feel.
Comments: Runs Small. This shirt fits and feels like no other! This ultra-soft style feels like you've had this tee in your wardrobe forever.

Description of Women's T-shirt from the manufacturer: Dark Brown shirt with light pink print
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Features: 3.8 oz. All colors are a poly/cotton blend. Junior fit. Be sure to check sizing information. Features custom vintage wash and worn edges for a broken-in feel. Open neckline with capped sleeves and fitted body. This shirt is slightly sheer in the color white.
Comments: This ultra-soft style feels like you've had this tee in your wardrobe forever

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pork Milk?

We are a fairly modern farm in regards to our use of the internet and online presence.  So if somebody is searching for something online in terms of farming and Utah, we often come up in some of the top search results. This means when somebody has a wacky question such as, oh I don't know, something like, "Can I come and milk one of your pigs?", we would be the farm that they call to ask such a thing.  This really happened!  Turns out, there is a radio show in Pennsylvania called The Mediocre Show.  On their show, they have a segment called, "One meat to rule them all." where they have been posing the question, "If you could only eat one meat for the rest of your life, what would you choose?"  If a person were to choose beef, that means that they would also get milk, cheese, and other dairy products.  Choose poultry and you would get eggs etc... Obviously pigs don't lay eggs and we don't get milk from them...or do we, rather, could we?

While pork is delicious and offers all kinds of yummy products like bacon, pork chops, ham, sausage, salami etc... there isn't an extra byproduct like there is with beef and poultry placing pork at a seemingly disadvantage.  Eric Tomorrow, one of the shows hosts and avid pork fan has been trying to promote pork as "the meat to rule them all."  However as the leader of "Team Pork", Eric has struggled to convince others that pork is the way to go.  Time and time again, beef has beat out pork because of the dairy that is inherent to the beef choice.  So Eric posed the question, why can't/don't we have pork milk?  He decided that the only way to find out was to try some pork milk.

Apparently, The Mediocre Show has a strong following here in Utah.  Here, they found that there are several pig farms in Utah, our farm being one of them.  This past weekend they were in Utah for a special event for the Utahns that follow their show .  They decided that while here, they would try and milk a pig.  When they called me about it, I thought it sounded kind of funny and agreed to let them come to our farm.  They hired a camera man to film their adventure. On Sunday, they showed up ready to prove once and for all that pork milk was not only a possibility but a superior and delicious product good enough to convert Team Beef members to their cause.  Milking a pig proved more difficult than anticipated!  There were a lot of laughs and witty one liners.  Eric was determined however to try some pork milk.  After I repeatedly failed to draw milk from the pig, Eric nuzzled his way in between the nursing piglets and drank milk right from the pig!  He proclaimed that it was delicious with a hint of bacon.  Good as it may have tasted, we concluded that the reason we don't have pork milk is that logistically, it is too difficult to acquire.  We would like to thank our good friends and neighbors the Petersens for allowing us to try milking their Tamworth pigs since we didn't have any pigs that were lactating at the time. You can read more about their Tamworths here.

Eric, his lovely wife Hope (co-host), and the rest of their crew were a lot of fun.  We had a great time with them and hope they will stop by next time they are in Utah.  They will be posting a video of their adventures on their website.  I will post a link to it on this blog when it becomes available.  Meanwhile you can listen to an audio clip of their pork milk adventure that they shared the following morning on the X96 Radio From Hell morning show.  You can find their podcast from the 7am hour on 21 March 2011 by clicking here.  After a couple of minutes of talk about their burly beards, they talk about their visit to our farm and milking a pig.  It is quite comical as you can expect if you have ever listened to Kerry, Bill, and Gina on X96.  As owner of a family farm, I must warn that not all of the content is suitable for young listeners.  I do appreciate Bill Allred's complimentary plug for our farm.  (His family visited our farm last year.)

Every once in a while we get an unusual request, this one has topped them far.  Who knew being a farmer could offer such fun?  If we ever figure out a way to milk those pigs, we just might offer pork milk cheese! : )

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Modern Farmer

Modern technology has really changed the opportunities for farmers.  For example, prior to the mid 90's before most people had internet in their homes, our farm in Vernon, UT (remote location) would have struggled to find customers.  As we were getting started, we did lots of research and talked to many farms across the country.  In the past few years, we have have found and been able to get advice from farmers in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont.  Every one of these farms we found through online searches.  The information we were able to glean from our conversations with these farmers helped us get off to a good start.  Conversely, the vast majority of our customers have found us via the internet.  In addition, we have had many phone calls from other beginning farmers call and ask a slew of the same questions we had when we started.

We are grateful for organizations online like Utah's Own, CSA Utah,, American Berkshire Association, and APPPA.  These have really helped us get our name out and be easily accessible to our customers. 

It is fun to think about some of the modern technology that allows small, rurally located businesses to operate.  Think of the looks you would have received if you had mentioned some of our common marketing tools to a person 20 year ago.  Tools such as blogs, Facebook, PayPal, iPhone, email and so forth.  The iPhone is one of my favorites, from it I can send and receive texts, emails, post pics and video to facebook, update this blog, accept PayPal payments, transfer funds from one bank account to another, use GPS to find an address in a rural area, call customers and suppliers and so forth.  It is a wonderful tool that helps increase our efficiency.  When we run our errands, Hollie will often utilize the time while I am driving to reply to emails or call and place orders with vendors.

Our blog and website feature tools that allow us to see which pages are accessed most often.  We can even see the key words somebody searched to find our website/blog.  The other day I was reviewing this data when my eye caught the search words, "christian christiansen pig".  I couldn't help but wonder if they thought I was a pig and were searching to see if anybody else thought the same and happened to have a website about it or if they were simply trying to find out about our delicious Berkshire pork.  : ) Hopefully the latter.

Although we are a local operation, buy all of our inputs locally, and sell all of our products locally, it is all possible through our modern technology.  Without it, we would not exist or at least it would have taken years to reach the point we are at.  So if you happen to drive by and see a farmer perched up on his tractor out in the field with this thumbs busily hammering out an email, know that you are witnessing the Modern Farmer.