News and blog
Today we're continuing on with our employee spotlight from 2016.
Ruth was our first full time, full season intern. She worked with us from May 1 through September 30. Ruth lives in Ida, Michigan, and during her time here she stayed in a camper we have about two miles from the farm. We had her on all sorts of different jobs: milking cows, feeding calves, feeding/moving chickens, gathering and packing eggs, hauling hay, packing orders, making cheese, and more! It was really inspiring for me to witness her blossom from her first day until her last day. I know we enjoyed and appreciated having her with us for the season, and hope that she learned a lot and enjoyed her time here as well!
Name: Ruth Magrum
Where are you in life (high school [grade], college, in between, not in school, etc): Not in school
Why did you apply to work at C/J: To work hard and learn.
What has been the most challenging job here: Feeding pigs.
What do you enjoy the most about working here, or most enjoyable job: Everyone is pleasant to work with and my most enjoyable job was bottle feeding the calves.
Your goals and aspirations (career, etc): I would like to get into the EMS field and also teach piano.
What motivates you: Imagining/knowing what the end results will be.
Describe yourself in three words: Cheerful, inquisitive, eager.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be: Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Motto or Personal Mantra: Get it done.
I'm happiest when: I have accomplished a hard or long task.
What do you fear the most: Big crowds when I am alone.
Favorite sports, pastimes, or hobbies: My favorite pastime is reading and my favorite hobby is preparing meals.
Favorite meal or food: Beef Nacho Casserole.
There are a lot of folks that work behind the scenes at Canal Junction that keep things running smoothly. Over the next few weeks I'm going to spotlight some of the stellar staff from Summer 2016.
First we have Andrew Smiley. Andrew has been with us since 2012 and has brought many skills to the table. He's a great mechanic and has a very good handle on operating machinery. When he first started here, his main focus was on feeding and watering the laying hens and packaging eggs. As time went on, he was involved in a multitude of projects from chores, building repairs and maintenance, tractor driver for many purposes, mechanic, truck driver, and so much more. We were all sad to see Andrew leave this fall, but are looking forward to having him here as his schedule allows during his travel breaks....and we're beginning a campaign to have him back at Canal Junction for summer 2017!!
Name: Andrew Smiley
Where are you in life (high school [grade], college, in between, not in school, etc): I graduated from Bob Jones University in 2016 with a degree in Christian Ministries. I currently travel around the country on an evangelistic team, performing music and hosting outreaches in churches.
Why did you apply to work at C/J: During my junior year of high school I needed money to pay for new golf clubs, and C/J was close to my house.
What has been the most challenging job here: After a bad storm in the summer of 2012, was the most challenging time that I have had on the farm. The days leading up to the storm the temperatures were in the 100’s. The storm went through and knocked out the power for around five days. So a combination of heat, no electricity, and cleaning up from the storm damage made it very challenging.
What do you enjoy the most about working here, or most enjoyable job here: The mission of the farm is something I am on board with. Providing natural goods to friends and families is a neat experience. Knowing the owners’ hearts for what they do, and working along side of them, makes it easier to come to work everyday.
Your goals and aspirations (career, etc.): I want to be involved in some sort of ministry spreading the Gospel to the lost world around us. One of my biggest interests is drag racing, and I have a burden for the people involved in this sport. Growing up around cars and mechanics, I want to use my experience to start a ministry to this crowd.
What motivates you: Knowing that my efforts are making a difference is a great motivation. Whether they are small mundane tasks or great accomplishments, seeing the end result keeps me going. Describe yourself in three words: Compassionate, determined, easygoing. If you could live anywhere, where would it be: I don’t have a specific location where I would like to live, though I would prefer it be a warm climate, as long as I am near family and friends.
Motto or Personal Mantra: “Anything in life that is worth doing is worth overdoing” I don’t remember who said this, but it is great motivation. If we find something in life that matters, we should pursue it with all our effort.
I’m happiest when: I am happiest when I am spending time with family and friends. Being around the people I love are some of my best memories.
What do you fear the most: I fear failure the most. No matter what I do, I always want to be the best at it.
Favorite sports, pastimes, or hobbies: One of my favorite things to do is to work on cars with my dad. Spending time with him and accomplishing a task at the same time brings me great joy. I also enjoy watching the Buckeyes, Indians, Cavaliers, and NHRA drag racing.
Favorite meal or food: My favorite food would have to be a good burger. All of the different combinations and toppings you can add make it a food that is never gets old.
On July 29 and 30 I had the opportunity to visit and experience Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA. I was taking part in the Polyface Intensive Discover Seminar (PIDS). They held three of these two day seminars in July. The two days were indeed intense days of discovering and learning all about what Polyface is. The sessions are limited in the amount of attendees that are able to be there so that the experience could be more personal.
Joel Salatin talking about their composting system
A common question I received while I was there after getting to know some of the other attendees was, "Why did you want to come to this?" I think after folks found out about my farming background and experience, they were curious as to what I wanted to gain from experiencing Polyface. I feel that no matter what our occupation is and how long we have been doing it, we can always learn from others who are in the same field. Our farm uses many similar farming practices as Polyface does, but their farm is much larger scale than ours. It was interesting to me to hear them talk about time and motion studies they have done for different tasks, ergonomics of doing tasks efficiently and safely, how they have scaled up their operation, and so much more. But what struck me most profoundly was their relationship that I witnessed between them (the Salatin family) and their team. I don't want to use the word staff because they are beyond employees. The way everyone on the team works together in a relationship to make the farm run smoothly and make the farm profitable is amazing. After talking some with Daniel Salatin, he assured me that building those relationships has not always come easy, but with much patience, grace, and prayer, going both directions, it works.
Daniel Salatin talking about his over 20 years of experience raising rabbits
Both days that I was there I was well fed! The days started at 7 AM with a hearty farm breakfast. Farm fresh eggs and sausage and all the fixings to go with it. The meals themselves (three full meals a day!) were worth my time there. Each meal the Polyface team was spread out among all of us attendees, so we got the opportunity to talk with different folks and learn their stories and hear about some of their goals. On both days it was after 9 PM that we were done with dinner and evening "sessions." At the end of the first day, one of the current Polyface interns said I could be back the next morning at 5:30 to help with morning chores. So on the second day I drove out to the farm in the dark and watched and help a couple of the interns move and feed a batch of broiler chickens. I've done that many times here on our farm, but to see how someone does it just a little differently was a great opportunity. One benefit of being out at the farm so early, was that I was able to witness the morning come to life. So, in Northwest Ohio, we really don't have mountains! To be in the Shenandoah valley and watch the morning come to life was a highlight of my trip. (Just check out the backgrounds of some of these photos...definitely not in Ohio any more!!)
Daniel and Andrew Salatin - Andrew speaking on his sheep raising enterprise
Both days we were taught mostly by Joel and Daniel Salatin. We also heard from Daniel's wife, Sheri a couple of times. Daniel and Sheri's sons talked to us about the enterprises they are starting. We also heard from Eric, the apprentice manager. Throughout the days I had the opportunity to talk to many of their current apprentices and interns and learned from them as well. I could go through each day and tell about what I specifically learned, but I don't want to go that route. Did I take some technical nuggets of information away that we could implement here? Sure. But more importantly I went away with this, Ohio and Virginia are not the same. What works for Polyface maybe will not work just the same here at Canal Junction. Some things have been tested and proven and will work anywhere and the wheel doesn't need reinvented. Some things I need to take the concept, the idea behind it and decide how to make it work here, with what we have.
Travis Salatin explaining raising Khaki Campbell Ducks for eggs
I am so grateful for the experience and the opportunity to be at Polyface and view it in such a close and personal way. I'm sure they were all tired when we all finally pulled out Saturday evening. Both days were eye-opening and rewarding. A big thank you to the Salatin family and their team for a great two days in Swoope, Virginia.
Joel Salatin teaching about mob grazing cattle... "Mobstocking, Herbivorous, Solar Conversion, Lignified Carbon, Sequestration, Fertilization."
I have a great offer that I am excited to share with you today. Our friends Laurie and Jamie of Foodwifery are offering a FREE 3 video class called: Processed Foods to Real Foods! This class is online and is able to be viewed at your convenience. All you have to do is click this link and enter your name and email address and you are enrolled. https://ea281.isrefer.com/go/8WP/Schlatters/
The Foodwifery gals make learning so much fun and meet you right where you are at. They have a great deal going on now as they are giving away one of their full Table Transformation Courses plus other bonuses equaling over $500 to someone just for signing up for the free course. If you sign up before March 12 your name will automatically be entered into the drawing.
Watch this short little clip of Laurie and Jamie Shaking Things Up!! https://vimeo.com/157872716/
The last time I wrote, I talked about how we were hoping to accept interns for our 2016 growing season, which is May 1-September 30. Since then we have decided to open up a few more spots for a shorter time. If you are a student, or know a student who would like the experience for a summer working on a sustainable, diversified livestock farm then this opportunity is for you!
This will be from May 16-August 19. Now, depending on your college or school schedule we can be a bit flexible on the starting and ending dates.
For this position, you must be at least 18 years old. (Unless you are close enough to drive to and from your home everyday.) We will provide housing, which is about 5 miles from the farm. We only have one housing location so we will either be accepting all males or all females, depending on the applications we get back. Since the housing is off farm, you will get a gas stipend each week for your mileage to and from the farm.
Canal Junction is a diversified livestock, pasture based farm and 100% raw milk dairy. On the dairy side we have an on farm creamery where we make raw milk cheese from our milk. We also have pastured broilers and layers, turkeys, sheep, pigs and beef cattle. Everything we raise and produce is direct marketed. We have an on farm store as well as a private buying club that we make bi-weekly deliveries to. We are a family based business and and are currently being operated by the fifth and sixth generations on the farm. You will be working with Ralph and Sheila, the owners, and their adult children Kyle and Renae.
We are looking for 2-3 interns for the 2016 growing season. You will have a wide range of experiences and no two days will be the same! Moving/feeding broilers and layers, gathering/packaging eggs, moving/feeding turkeys, moving portable fencing for beef and dairy cattle, moving beef cattle to different pastures, milking cows, butchering chickens, hauling animals to the butcher shop and frozen meat from the butcher shop to the farm, making hay, driving tractor, making and aging cheese, marketing cheese (sales, packaging, shipping), experience the retail side of the business, assembling buying club orders, buying club delivery, general farm maintenance. We work full time 5 days a week and do chores only on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Sunday is always only chores. Occasionally during our busy season (making hay) we will work a full day on Saturday. We will do some rotating and you will have some weekend time off each month.
Payment, Benefits, Compensation:
You will be provided with housing for the time you are here. We will also provide one prepared meal a day, which will be lunch. For your other meals, you are responsible for preparing your own food but you will have access to meat, cheese, milk, produce, and other items from our farm. Above this you will receive $100 stipend/month for incidentals, a gas stipend each week for transportation to the farm, and coverage under Workers Compensation.
You must be able to do physical labor, sometimes intense, in any weather condition. Most of the work is outside, so you will need to be able to work in rain, sun, heat, humidity, etc. You must be at least 18 years old (unless you are commuting from home), have a valid drivers license, and transportation. You must keep your personal appearance neat. We produce food that goes to the end consumer with minimal processing, so cleanliness and sanitation are super important. You are the face of our farm to our customers and the public in the surrounding community. We are an oddity in our small Midwest town, so our appearance to the public needs to be courteous and clean. You must be willing to learn and ask questions. We are ready to teach and work alongside you, but it's a two way relationship. You must be able to and willing to follow directions and be willing to learn from your mistakes. It's okay to make mistakes, we all do, but learn from it and move on. The next time you will know what to do differently. You must be able to work well with others and also at times by yourself.
How to Apply:
Please send an email to email@example.com with a brief description of yourself (are you in school, working, where you're from) and request an application. I will send you the application to fill out and you will need to return it within a week of receiving it. From there will will either ask for a further interview or say no thank you.
I am more than happy to answer any questions so do not hesitate to ask.
We're looking forward to the green grass and learning opportunities 2016 will bring us!
Here at Canal Junction we are super excited to announce a new adventure for 2016! We are accepting applications for interns for the 2016 growing season, May-September. It's a bit frightening to take this leap, but we are ready to jump in. We are looking to fill 2-3 positions with eager and willing workers and someone with a learning attitude. We will provide housing and this year it looks like it will be off the farm, but within 5 miles. Many more details are listed at www.eagerfarmer.com. Our farm's listing is here http://www.eagerfarmer.com/farming-jobs/view/a-pasture-based-diversified-livestock-farm-and-grassfed-dairy-looking-for-apprentice/. We have this listed on social media as well, so please share it with your friends. We are looking forward to filling these positions and getting ready for the growing season!
If you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just wanted to stop in a moment and wish everyone a Happy 2016! Yes, we are well underway in the year; in fact, we're all the way to February. Once again time seems to be flying by. There are some exciting things in the planning stages here at Canal Junction. This time of year, before we know how the growing season will go, is always full of anticipation and planning for the best. One of my goals this year is to be more active on social media, so follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
With warm wishes and blessings from the Schlatters' at C/J Natural Meats.
Oh, the wonderful world of eggs. Here at Canal Junction they are the most difficult product to produce that we offer. A laying hen goes through a natural cycle and it feels like we are working against that to keep them laying eggs. A laying hen is about 21 weeks old when she lays her first egg. So we either have to buy the chicks and raise them up, or we have the option of buying what are called started pullets. These birds are raised by someone else and they usually sell them for between $7-$8 per bird at anywhere from 16 weeks or older. This is the way we usually get our hens. Most of the time we get them from Meyer Hatchery in Polk, Ohio. The drawback is that we have to order them about six months in advance or else we can’t get as many as we need at one time. The birds are usually about 16 weeks old when we get them, so we have them for about a month before they start to lay. Another problem is that we have our hands tied as far as they breed of chickens we can get. Most of the time we are able to get Isa Brown, which is a breed that lays a nice big brown eggs. Occasionally the only option we have is to get Barred Rock, which is a black and white bird which lay brown eggs as well. But, we have found that the Barred Rock eggs never get as big as the Isa Brown eggs. The other option we have is to raise whatever breed of chicken we want from chicks up to laying age. We tried that once and did not have very good livability. I’ve been thinking on this all week trying to figure out how we could try it again, but we just do not have a good place to raise the hens from beyond the brooder up to 21 weeks old. Right now our options are to either rely on someone else to raise the birds for us or we have to put out some money to build a structure to raise the birds ourselves.
Another battle we have to fight is keeping production all year. We have come to the conclusion that we can’t keep the hens any more than one year. In the past we have tried to keep the hens until they are two years old, but after the first year they just don’t produce as many eggs and we are feeding them a lot of feed and not getting many eggs in return. What we have done now is to get a batch of hens in the Spring and a batch of hens in the Fall. We cycle them through and when we get some new birds we take the oldest ones out. We are also fighting against the weather and the amount of sunlight. During the Spring and Summer the hens are able to roam outside and get fresh air and sunshine, and eat bugs and grass. This works well because the temperatures are moderate and the daylight hours are long. During the Fall and Winter we have to keep the hens in our greenhouse. Here they are protected from the wind and the worst weather. It’s not temperature controlled, but keeping the wind out helps a lot. We also have lights on them about 14 hours a day. It’s not the same a natural daylight, but it does help some. If we didn’t do these things they would not lay at all during these cold, dark months. The other option we would have is to build a temperature controlled building and feed our chickens non-GMO feed, and this would give us a higher production during the winter months. This route would take us further away from the farming practices we want to follow than we would like. I was just reading an article this week about a brand called Vital eggs. These eggs that you might find at the store in the colorful carton look like wonderful eggs. But, the chickens are all raised in more temperate parts of the country where they are guaranteed a certain number of days outdoors all year. A little difficult to accomplish in Ohio.
Then there is the matter of the size of our eggs. We do not and have never advertised our eggs as any grade or class size. Generally with the eggs from the Isa Brown hens they are very large eggs. We have an antique egg scale and have gotten it out on occasion to weigh the eggs and they always tip the scale to Jumbo and above. When a hen first starts to lay, their first eggs are called pullet eggs. These eggs are generally smaller so for a short time we keep them separated and sell for less as pullet eggs. If we would start to sell our eggs by different size we would have to increase the price to compensate for the extra time it would take to weigh each egg while packaging them. The eggs from the Barred Rock chickens will never get as big as the eggs from the Isa Brown chickens, but I’m not sure what to do to remedy that. When we got our new hens this Spring all they had available for us were the Barred Rock, so it was either get those hens, or no hens and in turn we would have almost no eggs right now. We were kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. I can’t express to you how tempting it is to only keep a handful of hens over the winter months and not offer any eggs at all. We most certainly are not keeping our farm in business by selling eggs. The hens consume a lot of feed all year, whether or not they are laying eggs.
All this to say, yes, we do have eggs all year long, but be prepared to be limited on how many you can get during the winter.
As always, we welcome and questions or comments.
Bone broth. I'm sure you've heard of it. Right now it seems to be the star player in a lot of health and food circles. If you are in New York City, you can even buy a cup of it like you would coffee! And rightly so. It is an amazing super food full of beneficial collagen, a protein our bodies use. Not only is bone broth delicious and good for you, it can be used to enhance many dishes, from gravies, sauces, rice and beans, and so much more.
Broth is available in the supermarkets but it's just not the same as making it in your own kitchen. There is something healing about being in the same room where the broth is slowly simmering and smelling that wonderful aroma. And it's really not that hard. In fact, there's some bubbling happily right now in a crockpot in our kitchen!
They’re offering our members what they’re calling an “appetizer version” of this detailed, step-by-step class. Click on the link below to get it!