Another Farm Update
Whew, the last two months have been crazy busy here on the farm. We have not only been swamped with the usual “spring farming duties” but we have also experienced a major surge in meat sales. Both of these things have been amazing for us. First off, we are planting our fields! Yay! Those who follow our farm know that this is a major win! Last year we were completely rained out of the fields most of the spring. This caused a huge hardship for our farm personally, because we not only plant food for our animals but we also plant several hundred acres of crops that we sell. These cash crops are used to help us pay our bills and keep things running along smoothly. Last year, we weren’t able to plant any cash crops, which caused a huge financial strain. Thankfully, we were able to plant and harvest enough feed for our animals but that was about it. This year the weather is much more cooperative and it looks like we will be able to get our fields planted in time for a good harvest in the fall. Everything else on the home front is looking good in that regard. Calves are being born, baby chicks are coming in all the time, baby piglets are running around and all in all the farm life is sailing right along smoothly.
Having things going well on the farm is great, but that brings me to a John Henry’s Meats update. Things have been tough here at John Henry’s Meats. Our employees are working tons of overtime each week in order to get our meats shipped to our customers, and yet we are still slowly falling behind. We are doing our best and sometimes our best doesn’t feel like it’s good enough. We miss all of our customers at the markets and we miss all the face to face interactions we used to have each week. We miss our daily Facebook and Instagram posts. We miss sending out our weekly newsletters filled with fun recipes, blog posts, farm tour videos, new products, and sale items. Yes, you read that right, we miss being able to put things on sale! Many have asked what is going on with the pricing. That is a valid question and we are wondering the same thing. The meat industry has also gone crazy during this pandemic. We have never experienced anything like it. We really thought by this point our costs would have leveled out and we would be dropping the fee, and instead we have had to keep the fee and raise our prices and many customers are asking “Why?”. The reason for this increase is due to the meat shortage. Many don’t believe it is real but we have connections that can verify that yes, there is indeed a meat shortage. Not in the way that there is an animal shortage but there is a processing shortage. That means that many of these large plants that process animals from all over the country, and even other countries, are not able to process at capacity. Some have closed, others are open, but only have 50% of their employees working, some have even less. Some are used to running 24/7 and are now only open half that time. This backup at these major processing plants is what is causing the meat shortage. This problem does not really affect us like your average grocery store because we have animals on our farms and predominately deal with smaller processors. However, it is affecting the cost of meat/animals across the market. The prices have skyrocketed, doubled and tripled in price. It really is unprecedented, and we have never experienced anything like this. I will tell you that we are doing our best to keep our prices as low as possible, and although we have had to raise some item’s prices significantly, we are hoping this is very short-lived. Before this pandemic, we tried to keep our pricing extremely competitive with a small profit margin. An easy example of that being, we can not even raise a chicken for the price that you can buy one at the grocery store. It’s crazy that it is like that, but the costs are higher because we aren’t a factory. So, we have done our best to keep pricing competitive and keep our doors open. We are still doing that now. We are by no means price gouging and are heartbroken each time we have had to raise our prices. Please know that we are doing our very best and as soon as things change, we will be very quick to change things on our end as well. Unfortunately, the temporary fee must remain in place for the time being and we have had to raise our prices on our individual products as well. These changes have only been made because we want to stay in business and help provide you with the delicious meats you have grown to expect and love from us.
The last thing we wanted to touch on was the delay. Many customers are wondering why we have a delay and if we are taking care of our existing customers. We wanted to explain where we stand with the delay currently. Right now, we are scheduling orders about 3 weeks out, and it pains us to even type those words “3 weeks out”. The main reasons for this is lack of time and supply. Though our animals are on a rotation, we can only process so many each week. We are also limited on time because we have our own USDA inspected meat room and do most of our own cutting, grinding, and packaging. Our butchers can only do so much. We have a small but amazing team. Although we have brought on some extra help, our meat room is limited in size and we can only have so many people in there at one time. This means we can only prepare a limited number of orders each week. We are also trying to service not only our regular home delivery customers but all of our farmers market customers as well. This has led to a lot of orders in a short time. Again, we are doing our best to work as quickly and efficiently as possible while still providing you the quality you expect from us. We value each and every one of our customers and have done our best to process orders in the order they are received. We believe that is the fairest way of doing things. We are hoping that delay does not extend any further than 3 weeks and we are doing our best to minimize the time you have to wait for orders, just bear with us as we figure out this situation.
We truly appreciate all the love and support we have received over the last few months. During such a tough time for everyone, so many of you have reached out to us via phone, email, and even handwritten cards. We have been so touched by your sweet words of encouragement along with your thoughts and prayers. Please know that you are also in our thoughts and prayers as well as we all learn to navigate this new normal we have found ourselves in. We believe we are in this together, and we will get through this together.