The Value of Diversity
A diversified small farm such as ours seeks to “stack” enterprises – that is, have complimentary processes and products that fit into a holistic undertaking. Each of our “enterprises” fills a niche, both economic, ecological and temporal. Each enterprise must fit our management capabilities and schedule as well as contribute to a cash flow “gap” or provide a buffer in case of the expected “unexpected” events. During the winter the excess grass that was harvested as hay, provides income in January, February and March. The chickens are a relatively low-risk, high turnaround enterprise, since they are ready to butcher and sell after 8 weeks. Whereas turkeys take 4 months and the pigs take about 6 months. You can read more about each of these topics below.
From April through October we raise several batches of 1-200 Cornish Cross broilers in moveable field houses out in the pastures. The houses allow birds free access inside or out, depending on the weather and their individual preferences. Houses are on skids and so can be moved to cleaner, greener pastures throughout the season. Birds are fed organic grains which they supplement with grass, clover, insects and various found objects. About once a month, birds are butchered and sold fresh the same day to our customers in the State College, PA area. We encourage those interested in fresh chickens to order ahead of time for the whole season if possible. In Spring, fill out our Fresh Poultry Order Form and pick up your fresh chickens at Tait Farm meat days. We sell our frozen chickens at our various venues. See the Calendar page for dates and times.
We raise several batches of pigs each year. During winter / mud season months, they are kept under roof in a bedded pack area of the hoop barn. This summer, we will be building more, better fence around our pastures to give the pigs more room outdoors than they have had in the past. Hopefully that will make sure they stay in while keeping them happy and result in less “rooting” which can rip pastures up and lead to erosion and weeds. We’ll keep you posted!
Turkeys are raised from mid summer on to be 16 weeks old around Thanksgiving. Birds are free-range during the day and fed non-GMO “natural feed” – no antibiotics or non-food additives. We finish off the birds on organic feed for 3 weeks prior to slaughter. Birds are available by pre-order only. Pick up date for fresh turkeys is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving from 2-6PM at Tait Farm on Rt 322 outside of Boalsburg.
Each year we produce at least 2 cutting of organic dry hay of mixed grasses and clover. First cutting yields about 100 or so 4×5 round bales weighing approx. 450# each. Second and third cuttings may yield up to 1,000 small square bales. This hay is typically sold to organic dairy farmers in our neighborhood.