I’m going to start out by saying a huge THANK YOU to all of our loyal and wonderful customers. We couldn’t do what we do without you. We love being able to farm “our way” and have others support us and enjoy the products we create, from meat to maple syrup your purchasing our goodies is what keeps us going.
That being said…. I get frustrated with input from people who have never purchased nor ever will purchase our goods, but they want to give advice. The advice ranges from how we can raise hogs faster, how to produce more maple syrup, how to get more eggs, how to have more honey, how to grow bigger veggies, the list is really endless. Now I’m not so high and mighty that I think I know it all and no one else can teach me anything, far from it! I love going to conferences, when I can find the time, and learning how to do things better. But the key is that the conferences I go to are those of like-minded farmers. I’m not going to sit through a class that tells me to spray pesticides and herbicides all over the farm to “improve” things. Not gonna do it. I’m also not going to attend conferences with folks who are promoting feedlots or penning up animals in order to grow them faster and produce more.
Here’s the thing, we farm the way we do because we think it’s the BEST way for us to farm! Pure and simple. We do it our way, pitfalls and all, because that’s the way we agree with. Yes, I could grow and sell more pigs, and cut the prices on my pork if I produced pigs by keeping them indoors and cramming food and medicine down them 24/7. Why don’t I do that? Because I don’t think it’s the best way to grow a hog. I appreciate that there are others out there who think I’m completely and utterly insane. Trust me, I’ve been called worse.
I am one who will stick by her convictions, no matter the cost. I’ve always heard the old saying, “cut off your nose to spite your face.” Yep that’s me. Is that something to brag about, maybe, maybe not? But if you ask me a question, you are going to get my honest opinion. And let’s face it, opinions are just like buttholes, everybody’s got one….well I’ll leave the rest for another day.
So when I get an email from someone who is upset about not getting our maple syrup this harvest, I feel bad for them, because that stuff is GOOD! I hate it that everyone can’t experience it. But when I get the same style email and I am told that it’s “overpriced” and “not hard to come by,” I want to wring someone’s neck. I’m not going to tiptoe around this. First off, if you want maple syrup and you think mine is overpriced and easy to make, go tap a tree and cook your own. In doing this you will see the labor intensive work and dedication it requires. I never said I was the only person making syrup in Arkansas, I’m just the only one who sells it. So grab a drill, tap a tree and get to cooking.
My parents are 70 years old. They do the maple syrup on the farm. My mom gets up at midnight, out of her bed, goes down stairs and outside to stoke the fire and add more wood to hold the fire all night while the water is cooking down to syrup. They do it because they love it, because they’ve always done it. It’s what they do. Now they don’t get around in the woods very well, dad especially. This year I recommended running lines from the trees to one large container to gather the water. They both were appalled at this idea and quickly put me in my place.
So in closing I’m going to put a few folks in place. I’m even gonna use bullet points to make sure I don’t forget anything and to really hit this home for you- Mrs. email sender- who “has never purchased from us and probably never will.”
- I get all the input I need from those I respect, our real customers, similar producers and the almighty USDA.
- We produce only small batches of syrup because it’s hard work and the harvest is driven by the weather, something we can’t control.
- We produce slow-growing, pasture and forest raised pork because it tastes better than any other meat we’ve ever eaten, and if I won’t cave to my parents recommendations on how to grow hogs, I’m certainly not gonna listen to you.
- Our products may cost more, but I know every single thing it took to produce it. Whether it’s a bar of soap or a slab of bacon I know what’s in it. I am proud of what we produce and I don’t cut corners.
- We don’t have employees. We are the staff, my 70-year-old parents, who can outwork any kid I know, myself- who is no spring chicken and my husband who takes great pride in his cattle and hay. So when you recommend that we ramp up production, well all I can say is we enjoy what little sleep we get and we won’t be working a night shift for you.
I’m sure there’s more, but this is the gist of it. To the lady who sent me the email, go buy some store-bought pork and some good ole, corn syrup laden, Aunt Jemima syrup- you deserve it!
And once more to our customers, we love you and we thank you from the bottom of our tired little hearts!! We are busting our humps to produce the best for our family and your family too!