Featured

Mid-October Update

What a crazy month it’s been. We had super windy days, a new owl hanging out on the porch, and piglets, to name a few things.

Most of you interact with our farm through our egg sales, and things are changing there. Our girls are all the same age, meaning they molt together. When chickens molt, all of their extra energy goes to making new quills instead of eggs. In a way, this lower production is a good transition for winter, which is when egg production naturally drops. We are doing our best to keep production up by adding solar powered lights, providing extra food and bedding, and checking for eggs multiple times a day. However, delivery will have to change. There will be a follow up email this week letting you know the new system!

The piglets are simply adorable. When it gets windy, they get squinty, keeping the dust away. Every day, they’re growing stronger and more curious about the world around them. Momma Petunia is a voracious eater, and we’ve been giving her extra high-protein food to keep her happy and the milk available for the little ones. All of the pigs have been gorging on spent grain from Gunbarrel Brewery, bulking up for the winter!

As always, life and death are intertwined on a farm. We’ve built out our pig butchering system and have officially butchered our first one on property! (Because of COVID and circumstance, there is very limited ability to get to a USDA butcher this year.) We plan on butchering our other two big boys next weekend, with the intention of selling some to you! Some of you have expressed interest in buying meat before, and if you are still (or newly) interested, reach out and we can figure out available cuts! Our pigs run on the small side (120 lbs of meat and lard was our first pig weight), but there are plenty of delicious cuts we can provide nonetheless. Bluebird Sky Farmstead operates within our local ecosystem and we embrace all levels of the wild food chain. We recently had a great horned owl hanging out on our front porch – s/he even found an old chicken egg nest to snack on! Other than littered egg shells, s/he left us scat daily, reminding Annaliese of old biology labs when they had to dissect owl pellets.

And finally, as we turn towards winter, Danny and Annaliese are looking forward to a less demanding season where we can assess the past year, plan for next year, and keep the animals warm and happy during the cold months. More news to come on future plans, but you can bet on new chicken coops, more piglets, and general progress ahead!

Calwood Fire, October 17th, 2020, looking West from McCauley Family Farm, picture by Marcus McCauley.

October 19th Addition:
Wow. We are still catching our breath after the Calwood fire this weekend. Most of you know that a fire broke out a few miles west of the farm on Saturday at about 11am. By 4, it was threatening to cross the major highway protecting us, and in some places even crossed that barrier. We are okay, and all our animals are too, but at that time we were evacuating pigs (not an easy task to herd them on a time limit), herding chickens into their coop to evacuate, and catching ducks to do the same. We set water barrels to the west of the house to hopefully protect it, and grabbed necessities in preparation to leave. (Annaliese didn’t know what clothes Danny would want, so she grabbed everything in the dryer!) That night, we spent more time watching for new flare ups than we did sleeping. By morning, fog had set in, along with shifting winds and a little rain. That’s when we finally felt safe enough to bring the pigs back. Though we seem relatively safe now, we as a community are still processing the whole event. Many people near us lost their homes. The fire is not fully contained, but snow is in the near future and we hope that the winds stay low so firefighters can get the upper hand.

We want to thank everyone who offered help, lending hands and stock trailers so we could keep our livelihood safe. Needless to say, we’re taking it easier this week, cleaning up the mess we made grabbing things from the house, and reflecting on how we can better prepare in the future. 

Happy October everyone! Stay happy and healthy.

Featured

I remember why I wanted to become a farmer…

Attempting to set this website up quickly reminded me of one of the main reasons I wanted to become a full-time farmer and skilled tradesman; technology and I do not get along. It’s funny to think that 5 years ago I was dead set on going to college for computer engineering. I used to be great with technology. “Used” being the operative word in that sentence.

Even though technology and I may not get along quite as well as we used to, I’m determined to bring my customers and followers an interactive website focused on food, animals, gardens, and the process of learning how to produce food for you and your family. By no means am I an expert on these subjects, but I have learned quite a bit along the way and would love to share my knowledge with other interested parties. I’ve found the easiest way to learn about that which you don’t understand is to simply ask questions and participate in conversations surrounding those topics. The more you discuss, the more you absorb.

I won’t always be posting several times a week, but as I’m getting the ball rolling with the website I’ll have a lot to update people on. There’s quite a bit on my plate already and I just keep piling on more. I, for one, can’t wait for the adventure of updating the website and continuing my local food journey.

So please, come along on this journey. Check back in shortly, refer a friend, and continue living life well.

 

A Long Overdue Farmstead Update

As I’m sitting in the van on my way to Iowa to pick up 1,800 chicks with my boss, friend, and mentor, Marcus, I can’t help but realize just how poor of a job I’ve done in updating my farm journal. I’m sure you’re all just dying to know what we’ve been up to all winter and during the beginning of Spring. The new year has brought many changes to my life and the overall farm plan.

Many of you may know that I was the assistant winemaker for Bookcliff Vineyards in North Boulder for close to two years while researching, getting to know the land, and formulating our farm plan. Back in January I finally pulled the trigger on farming full-time. However, my full-time farming venture didn’t occur quite how I expected. I always thought that once I started farming full-time I’d no longer be working for someone else. However, life happened and I ended up finding a position working for my neighbor at McCauley Family Farm. Being a diversified livestock/produce operation and just a mile away from Bluebird Sky, I figured this would be the perfect place for me to continue my education while saving up for various projects floating around.

Marcus preparing seedling trays

📸: Marcus preparing seedling trays for peppers

My day to day is exactly as I’ve always hoped. I feed our sheep, pigs, and chickens in the morning and build sheds/dig holes in the afternoon. Obviously that’s an overly simplistic job description for what I actually do, but the point is: I’m officially a farmer and I couldn’t be happier. Marcus and York have been an incredible source of information and help these past 6 months and I can’t wait to see what all I can learn this season. Really happy we happened to run into each other while I was on a break and he was picking up his son from karate.

Another source of inspiration and education these past several months has been Phil Taylor of MadAgriculture. He’s been hosting farm forums each month at the Altona Grange in Longmont. What started as a few farmers learning about and discussing carbon farming has grown into over 100 people from the Boulder County community sharing food and conversation about the issues affecting farmers in our area and how to fix them. The conversation and fellowship enlivens me for weeks after them.

Phil Taylor, MadAgriculture

📸: Phil Taylor leading one of his MadAg Farm forums

I also have had the opportunity to work in conjunction with Marcus, Phil, and various city representatives to regenerate a degraded piece of land West of our farm. While we’re still in the beginning phases of our Carbon Farm Plan, we’re hoping for the opportunity to bring pasture back to this dirt patch in order to sequester carbon and heal the land and people with healthy and delicious food. Even if this plan never gets off the ground, I’ve already learned an immense amount from our property walks.

Thank you, Marcus and Phil for the opportunities you’ve given me so far.

One other amazing thing that’s happened recently was the season opener for Boulder County Farmers Market. Our favorite farms and vendors are back in Boulder and Longmont. Stop by on Saturdays starting at 8am and help keep the culture in agriculture! You might even see me working the stand for McCauley’s. 😉

There’s so much more to update you on in terms of our Farmstead and what we’re doing this season, but I’m afraid that will have to wait for the next post. I simply wanted to let y’all know where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to. I certainly wasn’t just kicking back and watching Netflix! Too much to do!

For now I’ll leave you with this:

We got ducks!

Thanks for reading and remember to thank your local farmer! (Preferably at the farmers market on Saturday morning)

Talk to you soon,

Danny Dunlap

Please follow our friends mentioned in this article through social media!

@McCauleyFamilyFarm

@PicaflorCulture

@MadAgriculture

@BCFM

@boulderfarmersmarket

@longmontfarmersmarket