Newsletter: January 7, 2024
As the years transition from one to the next, it is common to reflect on the previous year and plan for the next year. It’s also common to share these experiences, observations, and hopes with family, friends, and anyone who will listen (we’re looking at you Aunt Rachel and your 5 page Christmas card). So, without further ado, we present our 2023 year in review, along with our hopes and plans for 2024.
The year 2023 began with great hope and anticipation. We had a roof on the store, which meant we could have it open soon. Appalachian Abattoir had the potential, despite their initial teething problems, to be the processor we had been searching for since we started 15 years ago. With an altered business plan, this new processor at its core, we invested in things like a walk in freezer (see last year’s newsletter).
When it comes to processing we require three things: humane handling and slaughter, consistent and professional cutting and packaging, and honesty. The second requirement is the only one we are willing to be the least bit flexible on (lowered expectations). Without dwelling on details, let’s just say that Appalachian Abattoir failed on all three requirements. In May they finally flat out said they didn’t want our business. And we were happy to not have them touch our cattle. But this did leave us in a serious bind. By that time we had several customers waiting on their sides.
In a mad scramble, appointments were made with a couple of very generous processors. Both Monterey Meats and Mann’s have our undying gratitude for coming to our assistance. Monterey, despite not offering inspected services, were/are some of the most competent butchers we have had the pleasure of working with, we intend to send more business their way. Our search continues for a USDA inspected processor so we can ship beef out of state. Mann’s is WVDA inspected, which means that we are at least allowed to sell our beef directly from our farm/store.
The next big item for 2023 was the completion of our new farm store. Like most projects of this nature it came in over budget and way past deadline. Despite the headaches and delays (too many to list here), the Farm Store opened to the public the first Saturday of December. Granted, probably not the best time to open a new business, but that’s when Robert was able to finish it. Now, our goal of providing a pleasant experience for our customers while giving us (specifically Jewell) a permanent place to display our unique handcrafted products, as well as our Beef and Rose’ Veal is a reality.
With The Store now up and running, Robert can trade his contractor’s hat for his beef farmer’s hat. Ironically, both hats look like a beat up crusty old cowboy hat. Normal maintenance and repairs were given a back seat to building the store; only the most essential issues were addressed. The To Do list for 2024 is exceptionally lengthy and from this perspective quite overwhelming.
What does 2024 hold for Sarver Heritage Farm, besides a much needed bush hogging?
Considering the twists and turns of the previous year it is rather difficult to say what will happen in 2024. But there are some things we are pretty sure of…
While we would love to keep The Farm Store open 24/7, 365 days a year, it is not physically possible. The Farm Store will be open every Saturday, 10am to 6pm. The only exception might be if a major holiday, like Christmas, happens to land on a Saturday. The rest of the week The Store will open by arrangement. This is really no different than our previous policy of requesting a call to be sure we are available. Of course, if we are, we will gladly open the doors. The hope is that The Store becomes busy enough to warrant hiring help so we can be open additional days.
One of the first priorities is to look into finding a USDA inspected processor. Having been in business for over 15 years, we have tried pretty much every USDA plant in the area. A couple local butcher shops have gone out of business, with a few new ones opening up. Hopefully, there will be more opening than closing going forward. Since 2020, processing has been difficult to find. We will keep you posted as we go forward. It is our intention to use Monterey Meats for as many Sides and Whole Beef as we can. Their quality is worth the additional travel distance.
So, you have a new store, now what? The obvious answer is to tell you what’s inside but that keeps expanding. The two obnoxious hermits have skills and knowledge that go beyond producing the Grass Fed Beef and Rose’ Veal that folks have come to associate with the Sarver Heritage Farm name. Of course this means marketing. Expect future notifications of what we have in Store.
Right off the top, know that we still distribute New Country Organics feeds. And you can now place your orders through our online store. Reminder: New Country feed orders need to be place before the end of the month. We also have fresh eggs from free-ranged hens raised and maintained on their soy and corn free feeds.
One of the things we intend to improve this year is the refinement and use of our website to communicate with those interested in our farm. It goes without saying that we encourage you to visit The Farm and The Store.
The Store also provides us with the opportunity to showcase the products of other local farms we trust. Currently we carry pork products and handmade beeswax candles from Dogwood Hills Farm. Eventually, we would like to have other farms setup on Saturdays, creating our own farmers market. If you know anyone or farm whose products would fit well in our store, please have them contact us.
As we draw to a close here, we would especially like to thank all those who purchased our products over the last couple years. Your patronage helped us realize our dream of a building a farm store. It’s your continued patronage that allows us to maintain our farm and raise cattle in the manner we think best. It’s your patronage that frees us from the corporate agriculture so we might pursue our dreams and independent lifestyle. Thank you!
We wish everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year!
Jewell & Robert