June is a “Dairy Delightful” Month  

 

By Ron Eichner 

Hi folks, June is a busy month in so many ways. First, the school year ends, and there are graduations at every level, which keeps family and friends on the move. 

               Interestingly, June 1 is National Milk Day, and June 3 is National Egg Day. Whole eggs are the No. 1 source of complete protein, and raw milk is the No. 2 source of protein. Flag Day is June 14, Father’s Day is June 19, and summer begins June 21. Summer Christmas is June 25. 

Most families take vacations in the summer and enjoy exploring our great country. Most farm families are focused on vocations, planting, sowing, nurturing and harvesting. After all the hard work to support our communities, the joys of most farms are our customers that support our family farms. 

National Dairy Month in June celebrates the many contributions of the dairy industry to our health and economy. An eight-ounce glass of whole milk has more nutrients than the same serving size of juices. In addition, good fats are essential for our health. A 2014 study of more than 1,300 people found that those who consumed the highest amount of full-fat dairy were less likely to be obese than those who consumed the lowest. They also have less belly fat. 

In the mid-1960s, we were encouraged to follow a low-fat, high-carb diet. A low- fat diet is supposed to shun whole, raw dairy, and high carbs means avoiding the incredible, edible eggs to make room for our over-processed cereals. However, in recent times, the experts who have misguided us for 60 plus years, now say we need good fats, proteins and fewer carbs. 

So, circle back to whole eggs and whole milk and focus on the top sources of complete proteins and good fats. It truly is a way to keep the laying hens and milk cows employed across our beautiful state of Pennsylvania.  

Currently, agriculture is one of the leading industries in Pennsylvania, with about 59,808 farms and about 5,430 dairy farms. But unfortunately, the numbers have declined each year, maybe because of the joys of vacations and not vocations. 

On April 29, 1982, dairy milk was designated and adopted as the official beverage of Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the average dairy herd is about 90 cows, with 99% of all dairy farms being family owned. Our farm market sells dairy from two local farms: Pasture Maid Creamery of New Castle and Marburger Dairy of Evans City. Feel free to look up Paul Harvey’s God Made a Farmer; it truly reflects a day, a week, and a month of a farmer. 

Summer begins on June 21, and it gives us three months to enjoy all the summer activities before we transition into fall. But, of course, we can’t forget Father’s Day, which is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. This year, it falls on June 19. So, take time to recognize the contributions of our fathers and father figures in our lives. For many dads, they consider being a father the most important job that they have. Take a minute or two and reach out to those extraordinary men, whether it’s a phone call, a visit, a card, or even just talking to your dad, who may have passed. If you want a great Father’s Day story, visit my August 2021, From the Farm, and see why I feel it’s essential to talk to my dad every day and God our Father, if nothing else, walk in our Father’s light and likeness and welcome our Father to walk with us each day. 

If you want to make a breakfast of champions, our high-energy eggs, bacon and lean pork sausages are a one-two hit. June 25 is Summer Christmas and just putting a few clusters of colorful flowers brings the yard to life. You are welcome to stop by Eichner’s Whole Farm & Greenhouse and let us be one of your year-round destinations. Bring a friend and be a friend at 235 Richard Road in Wexford and get the “rest of the story.” 

May Moments

Hi folks, There is a saying, “April showers will bring May flowers.” May is known as a month of transition. The hardy spring flowers are blooming, trees are staging for their leafing out, birds are chirping, and spring life is stepping towards more summer-like days. But, don’t be fooled because May can nip things with old boy Jack Frost. 

Mother’s Day is celebrated annually on the second Sunday in May. It is a time to reflect upon and recognize mothers, expectant mothers, and mother figures’ roles in our daily lives. 

Memorial Day comes on the last Monday in May each year, and it is a day when people should remember those who have died while serving our country in the armed forces. 

Another exciting part of Memorial Day weekend for Indy race-loving fans is the Indianapolis 500, and it is held every year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

My Grandpap Eichner was born and grew up on his Dad’s dairy farm and sternly talked about the “Three Iceman Days,” May 11, 12, and 13. They are the three feast days of Saint Mamertus, Saint Pancras and Saint Gervais. These three men are known as the “chilly saints” because these days are the coldest of May. German and Swiss lore refers to mid-May as “Iceman Days,” sensing these days do not pass without a frost or two. However, like my dad, Grandpap also instilled in me to keep in mind when the full moons of May are each year because if there are clear nights, it can be the coldest nights of the moon cycle. This year the full moon is on May 16. However, these days used to fall later in the astronomical year, from May 19 to 22. My family farming experiences lean to the later dates of May for a host of farming experiences. 

For anyone who cares about taking my experiences and calling myself a “gardening angel” for six weeks from mid-April thru May, I caution to resist falling to the temptation of buying and planting too early or you may experience setbacks that could hinder your gardening. Always keep in mind cold, damp soil temperatures brought on by cold rains can hinder flower and garden plants. Mother’s Day week traditionally starts hanging basket sales. Keep in mind that all baskets, containers, planters, and pots should be fertilized at least once a week to continue to help nurture and flourish with bountiful colors. 

For those who like history, what about discovering a 5,300-year-old glacier mummy called Otzi the Iceman? It is an exciting story. Otzi the Ice Man, is an ancient mummified human body found by German tourist Helmut Simon on the Similaun glacier in the Otztal Alps on the border of Italy and Austria on September 19, 1991. Scientists have discovered that Otzi has at least 19 living Austrian descendants by tracing a rare genetic mutation on the Y-chromosome down the male line. 

Avian influenza or virus or bird flu is always a concern for poultry farmers. Wild birds, ducks, geese, turkeys, eagles, hawks and owls are at risk. The 2022 Avian Flu outbreak in the U.S. has affected over 22.8 million birds who had to be put to death over the past two months. The disease has been reported to infect over 110 flocks of poultry, including 46 backyard and 72 commercial flocks of farms in 24 states. The farms with high populations of broiler chickens, layer chickens and turkeys generate the highest numbers. The migrations of the above wild birds are the spreaders of the bird flu.  

There have been confirmed cases in Pennsylvania with migrating wild birds, which had been the first confirmation in the state in the costly 1983-84 outbreak. As poultry farmers, raising chickens and turkeys, we have to remain alert. Most bird flu outbreaks are usually occur during the spring time with the wild bird migration period. 

As for poultry farmers, it’s a rule not to go to another poultry farm and risk bringing a disease home to your farm. In addition, the Pennsylvania Game Commission advises everyone to limit unnecessary contact with wildlife and use proper hygiene with any surfaces wild birds may have touched. 

In closing, our family farm members want to wish all moms a Happy Mother’s Day. We will have a great selection if you need a hanging basket or two or a farm gift certificate for mom. You are welcome to stop by Eichner’s Whole Farm & Greenhouses, and let us be one of your year-round destinations for your spring needs at 285 Richard Road in Wexford and get the “rest of the story.” 

By Ron Eichner 

April Showers Us With Some Awesome Observances 

By Ron Eichner  

Hi folks! At this time of the year, the days get longer, with March going into April. April 1 is April Fools’ Day, an annual custom of endless practical jokes and hoaxes, whether it’s pranks to play on your friends, parents, kids, or grandkids. The day isn’t a public holiday in any country except in Odesa, Ukraine, where April 1 is an official city holiday. So we all should keep the people of Ukraine in our thoughts and prayers. 

April 14 has had many historical events happen on it in the U.S. In 1865, President Lincoln was shot. In 1902, the first J.C. Penney store opened in Kemmerer, Wyoming. The Titanic struck an iceberg on that date in 1912. In 1935, what was known as Black Sunday, with the worst sandstorm in the Central Plains, turning a sunny afternoon into total darkness, occurred. Then in 1941, we saw the first massive German raid on World War II in Paris, France, where Jewish people were rounded up and interned in concentration camps. This year, on April 14, we celebrate Holy Thursday and “The Last Supper.” 

The true meaning of Good Friday has been lost in recent decades by the public’s hustle and bustle. Suppose we step back and reflect on what was done for all of us with Jesus’ crucifixion. He spent hours on the cross, giving up his life for all of us. We are unique as a family business; we close our farm market from noon to 3 p.m. every Good Friday. 

Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ resurrection and the area churches conducting their Masses and services. After church, hunting Easter eggs and baskets is fun for the kids and grandkids. A traditional Easter meal includes ham, side dishes, salads, and various desserts. 

Hams come in all kinds of types and sizes. You generally get what you pay for. We offer from our smokehouse hams that are semi-boneless, wholly trimmed, and fully cooked. I describe our hams as having three steps – heat, serve and eat. 

Easter chocolates, chicks, candies, cookies, and desserts come in many sizes and shapes. Diane is busy with her homemade Easter cutout cookies, nut rolls, and special paint-your-own cookies for kids and grandkids. 

Easter flowers are always a challenge for greenhouse growers since Mother Nature can give local growers fits. If it gets too warm, too quickly, the lilies, hyacinths, tulips may need a cool place. If it’s cloudy and cold, the growers may have to turn up the temperatures, which spike the heating charges. “April showers bring May flowers,” and the area box stores love to tempt customers by bringing out their annuals, vegetable plants, herbs, hanging baskets in mid-April if we have a few warm sunny days. 

Each year mid-April thru mid-May, my role is a “Gardening Angel,” where I try to help our customers with – when, where, and why. There have been reasons why a planting schedule for annual and vegetable plants had been followed for decades. Just a hint, it’s genuinely all about soil temperatures, cold, damp soils, and the chance of frosts anytime through May. 

April is a great time to clear and clean up what winter has left behind. The yards and gardens may need to be edged or trimmed, mulch or mushroom manure delivered, and spread throughout the yards. Lawns are greening up, and the lawn mowing season gets into gear. 

With spring in gear for 2022 and as Wexford’s “best-kept secret,” we wish all of your families and friends a Happy Easter! You are welcome to stop by Eichner’s Whole Farm & Greenhouses and let us be one of your year-round destinations for 2022 at 285 Richard Road in Wexford and get the “rest of the story.” 

 

Mother Nature Motivates March

Seasons aren’t like a traffic light when one car stops, and then the other goes. It is more like having some spring during winter and winter during spring. If you think that statement is true, hang on for some of the “rest of the story.” 

 March is an exciting month, with spring starting each year between March 19 and 21. A few interesting facts about March are: Women’s History Month shared with National Nutrition Month. March 4 is National Grammar Day, National Son’s Day, and Employee Appreciation Day. March 17 is Saint Patrick’s Day, and March 21 is National Teenager’s Day. 

 As the daylight increases each day, and the days get warmer; there is still a balance to focus on because our silent partner is Mother Nature and always gets her way. If the weather gets too warm too early, fruit trees get pushed and a seasonal or late frost can have a light crop or no crop for the year. It’s the same with vegetable and flower plants; it’s tempting to get a head-start for an earlier harvest of some crops, but the plants can be set back just by planting too early. We often get early warm weather for seven to 10 days, and the soil temperature is rising, which the soil temperature is the pulse of the plant. However, if you get a cold rain or two, all the soil temperature gains are lost; it stuns the plants. 

 For those who like pure maple syrup, March can be the month for maple sap flow. It starts to flow when daytime temperatures rise above freezing, and nighttime temperatures falling below freezing. The sap moves up into the tree during the warm day and then drops back down on the cold nights. The maple syrup producers have a short season, if it gets too warm, too quickly, and for too long and doesn’t drop below 32° at night. Farming would be easier if we could talk to Mother Nature, but as farmers, we accept that if we get a setback due to weather, we have to hope that the future will be better.  

 We started masking up because of the pandemic in March 2020. Finally, after two years, people are free to navigate their lives and are leaving their masks at home. Our farm market was never closed throughout that period. We welcomed and served our customers with or without masks; it was their choice. 

 Science has been a big part of agriculture. As a farmer, experience tells me that one should be cautious until all the facts are presented. I trust God and the free will to choose. Look at the beginning when Adam and Eve were and the Garden of Eden and were told to trust and see where it got us all. 

As farmers we have a long history of offering free advice; there are no billable minutes. So, whether it’s family, friends, or customers, you can always go back to the farm to get questions answered, solve a problem or share knowledge. 

 A nutritional tip from the farm is by God’s design, humans and livestock often lack minerals that cannot stimulate their vitamins. Lacking minerals doesn’t support wellness. Most of our modern agriculture for the last 60 years has exclusively used synthetic fertilizers, and the minerals have been depleted from the soils. Again, by God’s design, livestock utilizes about 65% of their feed’s nutritional value. Then it leaves 35% of the nutrition to nurture the fruit and vegetables as fertilizer to add nutritional values. This is the science that you can truly count on. 

 At our farm market, we have a recipe from a German doctor Dr. Barbara Hendel for an inexpensive way to get 84 minerals and trace elements every day. All you need is an empty pint mason jar and a trip to our farm market for a free recipe using Himalayan crystal salt. Another tip is look up the benefits of NAC/600 mg. It has been one of my go-to everyday tips for years. NAC truly is a golden nugget.  

 I hope you have a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, and since we are told, we are all Irish on that day, I will be known as Ron O’Reilly. Diane’s homemade Saint Patrick’s Day cut-out cookies are a hit and a treat to enjoy. 

 If you want nutritionally fortified eggs and seasonal vegetables, you are welcome to stop by Eichner’s Whole Farm and Greenhouses and let us be one of your year-round destinations for 2022 at 285 Richard Road in Wexford and get the “rest of the story.” 

By Ron Eichner 

Shelving the Food Supply Dilemma 

By Ron Eichner 

       Hi folks, the COVID era has exposed the fractures in our present global food supply network. Larger retailers have been comfortable in their extensive network of sourcing fruits, vegetables and processed products to supply the masses. However, even the large retailers and boxed stores can be vulnerable and have been vulnerable in the past. 

      COVID of 2020 gave many small businesses that where “essential” one of their best years for retail sales and even decades due to the public modifying their purchasing habits for countless reasons. The experts say this can be the “new normal” for the next couple of years. U.S. grocery stores typically have 5% to 10% of their retail items out of stock any given time. Right now, the unavailability rate is hovering around 15% to 20%.  

      Americans are eating at home more than they used to because more people have been working from home and students are being forced to attend school online for periods of time. The average U.S. household spent $144 per week for groceries in 2021, down from the peak of $161 in 2020. However, that is still far above the $113 a week households spent in 2019. 

      Our farm market and greenhouses experienced the 2020 retail spike, and I told my dad, “If we maintain the net gain of 10% to 15% for 2021, I would be pleased and surprised! However, I wasn’t surprised that our 2021 retail numbers fell back to our pre-Covid retail numbers of 2019. Most small businesses have a core group of customers who feel and know that supporting the local small businesses is keeping their hard-earned money in their communities for the true balance of what sustains the community network. 

Today, 43% of consumers are concerned about items they need not being in stock at their grocery store. That’s up from 40% in August 2021 and 35% in February 2021. Even though they are a few reasons why this is, including panic buying. The “retail joke” is that when a snowstorm is predicted, three items fly off the shelves – bread, milk and toilet paper. 

        Interestingly, I have seen in the past six months where local restaurants, delis and businesses have been stopping by our farm or calling our farm market wanting to purchase fresh products. The problem is, as a farmer, I grow for what our retail demands dictate. If there are extra vegetables, then you can wholesale. The issues the local businesses have with their regular local distributors have been the inconsistent availability of produce and products due to the broad transportation issues with lack of truck drivers and increased fuel costs. 

         Labor challenges have been one of the biggest hurdles for most businesses to navigate in the past couple of years. You see, “Now Hiring” signs at many local businesses. This shortage of workers has an affect all across system. 

         Folks, you can be sure, your local farmer will be doing their best to grow and supply customers with the best products available. 

          Don’t forget Groundhog Day on February 2. You are welcome to stop by Eichner’s Whole Farm and Greenhouses and let us be one of your year-round destinations for 2022 at 285 Richard Road in Wexford and get the “rest of the story.”