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Well it’s official, after 100+ years, the Fletcher family will no longer be in the pork business.  This has been a long, hard decision.  Actually one that’s been about 4 years in the making.  Why are we getting out?  Short answer is we are tired of bleeding money and having to borrow 10’s of thousands of dollars every year to make up the income shortfall.  There was a time when the pork market followed a cycle.  You knew that after a couple of years of no profit things would turn around for a few years and everything evens out.   Colin and I have been married 10 years, not once during that decade have we had a profitable year -oh we’ve had break-even years but you can’t pay bills with just breaking even.  Also, Colin’s barns are really old and in need of a lot of repair.  It would be more economical to tear down the barns and build new, but that’s an easy $1 million.  Hard to make mortgage payments on a million dollars when you are only breaking even -on the good years.

We have been selling our pork locally for 7 years.  We have loved getting to know all our customers and have even made some new friends.  Although we DO make a profit  on our local sales, it’s only about 20% of Colin’s pork production.  Local market just isn’t big enough nor can it support higher prices.

Also, since Colin’s Mom died last December his Dad has really been slowing down and not doing so much around the farm.  This leaves Colin with so much more work.  We have 400 acres of cash crops too.  People don’t realize that pork farming is a full-time job.   On top of all that Colin’s mobile seed cleaner business has been growing by leaps and bounds.  If he doesn’t have to be tied down with the pigs, he will be able to go further afield with the cleaner.

So basically, things came to a head and something had to give.  It was pretty much a ‘no brainer’ for what had to go -the sector of our farm that requires the most work (hard, dirty, dangerous work) and loses the most money.

What are we going to do now??  Well, I will still have my laying hens (new ones are starting to lay).  Our 400 acres of corn, wheat, and soybeans will now be sold on the open market instead of being fed to the pigs.  And like I mentioned Colin hopes to expand his cleaner business into the counties south of Ottawa.

And you know what? Colin now has time to spend with us, his family!  Now that he isn’t overworked and frustrated he has more patience with Ella too.  Colin even had time to take Ella to Star Wars Identities when Belinda and Stefan were up last.  I look forward to this new chapter in our life.

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The End of an Era

Order week started at the Ottawa Valley Food Co-op yesterday and for the first time in 3 years we aren’t involved.  It all feels very strange.  We’ve been thinking about this for a long time and it wasn’t a decision that was made lightly.   We’ve had to make some changes that are the best for our farm and our family.

We’ve decided to stop selling our pork through the OVFC.  When we added up all the cost, i.e., the 10% fee (gross) that goes to the Co-op, costs to deliver to Pembroke, cost to raise the pork, it just didn’t make cents sense anymore.  For example take our bacon, price is $4.20 therefore OVFC gets $0.42 on every pound we sell, minus the cost of smoking the bacon, minus the cost of the pig and minus the extra packaging required for OVFC delivery.  When all was said and done we netted about $0.01 per pound and that’s not taking anything for my time.  On top of all that is the extra time that it takes to run a second supply of pork and all the extra weighing and sorting and labeling.  On OVFC delivery weeks poor Ella ends up basically ignored for two days while Grandma and I weigh and sort and label and try to keep everything organized.

We appreciate our customers who have said we should increase the price to cover the commission.  But this would require us to run 2 price lists and would cause even more work because we would have to have a separate freezer with pork labeled with OVFC prices.  Also, increasing the price would increase the amount paid to the OVFC.  It becomes a vicious circle.  I may continue to sell my preserves and hand work as they have a bigger profit margin than food stuffs.

But do not fear!!!  We are NOT going out of business.  We will still be selling our natural pork from both our farm locations.  We also will be returning to the Petawawa Farmers’ Market.  The folks in Deep River are talking about a special once a month Farmers’ Market where we would love to go as well.  Also, we’ll be at various Taste of the Valley events this summer/fall.

There is a bonus to coming to see us in person -same great quality meat but even more affordable as there is NO COMMISSION.  Our customers don’t have to pay the extra 5% as charged by OVFC.

So please, come out to the farm or see us at the Market, we love meeting our customers face to face.  We’re open daily 9-8 but don’t forget we are a working farm, so if you are making a special trip or coming from a distance please call and I’ll make sure someone is home for you.

Don’t forget that you can get natural, cage-free eggs from the farm stand location too.  Our chickens are fed home-grown corn.   If you’ve only ever bought store eggs, you won’t believe the taste difference in truly fresh eggs.

 

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