Farm Happenings Archives · Ryder Family Farm- Southern Illinois Produce & More
We to a big leap of faith, quit our jobs are moved to the the heart of the Shawnee National Forest to follow our dreams of self sufficiency and to make a go of living off the land… Can we help you feed your family?
Southern Illinois produce, farm, CSA, Goat Milk, Soap, Eggs, meat, local food
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Farm Happenings

Changes for a more efficient chicken coop…

I'm really working to fine tune efficiency in the chicken coop right now. I've got about a month before it's time to start working in the CSA garden and I'm on a mission to get things working as efficiently as possible before our busy crop season starts.  We're several hatches in with our 2018 chicks and soon I'll be working on juvenile chicken living quarters but for now I wanted to take a fun concept to completion in the adult chicken coop: Chicken Powered Automatic Coop Door This concept doesn't require electricity or harnessing solar power. It doesn't use motors or gears...

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  Dusting Off The Incubator .  .  .   Our poultry flock really expanded back in 2013 just after we left our life in the big city and set out to be farmers full time. Each season we've been adding new blood to the poultry flock to keep the eggs coming and it's worked well for us so far. After relocating our farm last summer, egg production abruptly stopped. I feel it was largely due to the stress of the transition. First, everyone was moved to confinement in chicken tractors. It took us days to catch all the poultry! Imagine us herding poultry up a ramp so they could be loaded in a horse trailer for moving. It was total madness. I also think our drop in egg production can be attributed to the age of...

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The incubator, house cat and chicks

You are looking at the are the most resilient chicks ever to have hatched! There was a full moon and as usual, there was animal drama on top of our general family madness. After leaving the house for an early eye Dr. appointment our inside cat had some plans for our incubator. We'd been incubating our first clutch of spring chicks and they were one day away from hatch. One chick had begun cheeping and piping that morning.  While we were gone kitty knocked the incubator on the floor, majorly cracking all the about-to-hatch eggs. When we got home the incubator alarm was sounding loudly and all the eggs were seriously cracked and cold. This is never a good thing for hatching eggs. Amzingly all the membranes were intact and there was no...

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Planning for the new year

We are charting the course for our farm in 2018 which requires a good hard look back at 2017. It was sure a year of epic transitions for us but it was also pretty successful. Our home and farm operation changed in the spring of 2017. We severed ties with the farm mentor that was employing and housing us since 2014. We found our forever home/ farmland shortly after. During the summer of 2017 we moved our budding operation and family across the county to set off on our own agricultural path. We went to work for ourselves in a combination of full time farming and also working jobs off the farm. We continued offering our farm fresh eggs, handcrafted goat milk soaps and our CSA & farm market veggies- plus we...

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Press Release: Beginning farmers ​ want fresh, local food available to everyone

The Ryder Family Farm Can Accept SNAP Benefits     GOLCONDA – Eating fresh, local food is about to get easier for some families in Southern Illinois! Starting this Saturday, June 10th 2017 at the weekly Golconda Farmer’s Market, The Ryder Family Farm will be accepting SNAP EBT cards as form of payment for the foods they farm for the community.   The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program helps reduce food insecurity and hunger for low-income households. Households in the SNAP program can now use EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards to purchase fresh produce and other food items from The Ryder Family Farm of Southern Illinois.   The Ryder Family Farm sells homemade goat milk soaps, pasture raised eggs, seasonal market produce and also offers a summer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)...

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Newspaper coverage, moving day nears, baby goat birth video and a teaser…

We have less than a week before our great farm moving adventure happens. We are in the last stretches of packing things up. In the house it's come to just grabbing armfuls of unpacked things and throwing them into boxes. Last week all our mama goats had their babies, we were really worried they might have babies during moving week. All mamas and babies are doing wonderful though. We even had a surprise triplet from our Kinder doe that we unintentionally caught on camera: Our Jersey cow is still due to calf at the end of the month but she's staying at with our farmy friends over at Red Dutchess Farm until after we get settled at our new place. We are harvesting some early season crops for our Golconda Farm Market customers...

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The Farm is Moving to Golconda, IL!

I'm sure you've heard the news, we are setting off on our own farming adventure. We are excited to share, we have a summer moving date set and we are packing up the house right now. After a tumultuous week we have managed to get lots figured out and we are very excited for our new beginnings. We have a newer place lined up with 10 acres of land, just outside the Golconda city limits where we can continue to grow our dream farm. Our kids will be closer to their friends, we will be closer to many of our customers plus we get to remain in Pope county so the kids wont have to change schools. We will have plenty of land and time to bring our farm dreams to life! We are...

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The ducklings are coming…

The girls are officially enrolled in 4H this year. They've wanted to do it in the past but haven't because they were too young to show live animals, we thought they were old enough this year and got them signed up but it turns out the rule changed and they are still not old enough. Regardless, they've picked projects that I know will be right up their alley. Everly is doing embryology which goes hand and hand with our spring poultry incubation here on the farm. She selected two bantam hens and a rooster for her to breed and study, she choose a Mille Fleur hen and a Silkie hen to go with a Golden Seabright rooster. She's made some guesses about what types of chicks will result. I'm no pro at...

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Adaptability on the farm

"Be the water, not the rock" they say. This holds much value on the farm as practically nothing goes as planned. Ever. It's not because of mistakes or lack of skills, it's because when you are dealing with the weather, with animals, with mother nature...

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Beautifull Naturally Colored Eggs

I never intentionally set out to become a poultry farmer, it just sort of played out that way. It all began with a flock of three Americauna/ Easter Egger hens about 6 years ago in our suburban backyard. We wanted to raise our own eggs, taking a small step towards greater self sufficiency. We added more chickens gradually to get more eggs and once we moved out of the city and begun to free range our birds across several acres the flock really exploded. Partly because I got an incubator and partly because we had so many losses in the flock initially while transitioning from confinement to free ranging. A year later we've added heritage turkey, guinea and ducks to the operation. Between broody hen hatching, incubating, chick buying and predator losses, I honestly...

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2016 Goat Kids – A Bucky Year

It's relaxation be sick time here on the homestead now. Over the weekend we did a private test run for our Farm to Fork Dinners via our partnership farm, Tanglefoot Ranch. The test run dinner was a success. The day after the dinner our last goat kids of the year were born, two twin bucklings. With all the big stuff out of the way I've come down with a cold, of course. We just had a surprise snow storm that got the kids a snow day today and while we were out playing in the snow we got a few more pictures of the baby goats to share. We have three bucklings frolicking in our doe pen, much cuteness for sure! I'll start by showing you the two bucklings we will be...

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Counting down to goat kids…

Some of you might remember our saga last year when trying to breed our ADGA registered Alpine goats. We dove into breeding them sans first hand experience after owning them for just 3 months, we relied on lab testing to confirm early pregnancy and went forward with all I'd read about prenatal goat management. In hindsight, it really was just a live and learn experience for us like practically everything that is farm related. We were going back and forth about housing the goats, would the male and female live together? We'd never seen goats enter their seasonal breeding window and so on...

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What is a CSA all about? Do I want to join?

CSA is short for community supported agriculture. We joined our first CSA about ten years ago back in Flagstaff, AZ. We heard about it and were immediately intrigued. We had no idea what we were in for but it was an amazing experience. We loved knowing we were getting food raised right within the community and we enjoyed really getting to know the folks that grew our food. I made us more eager to try new vegetables and we found we became healthier eaters as a result.   Our CSA required upfront payment for our portion, commonly called a share. Later, when the growing season was underway and harvests were in we all met at our pickup location and were each given a basket of fresh food that was reserved for us, to last...

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Ch-ch-changes…

Some big things are in store for the site. Some of you feed subscribers got wind of some changes thanks to the automatic feed that went out with lots of dummy giberish text after we did a website makeover *facepalm* Many apologies for that. Its also been a while since I posted an update. The most notable happening is my little guy, Grayson, crawling! He has been in physical therapy for a while now and hes mastered sitting up, is working on transitions between positions and just yesterday took off crawling! After a couple months of therapy he learned to sit up and to use sign language to communicate. A few weeks ago he saw a chiropractor snd had some major neck work done. For over a year we've had an immobile...

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The island of orphaned farm animals & more…


The girls are both at school today (well they were, then one came home sick!) and I’ve amazingly had a few spare minutes so I figured I’d sit down and try to write a blog post! Terrible intro huh?! Lets try again…

There’s lots going on here at Homestead right now. One of the most exciting things that we have going on is that we’ve decided to take up Maple sugaring! 

Initially we had planned on maple sugaring to sell syrup, as one of our first family farm projects.