We love our new slogan. Simply Good.
When we started this journey a year ago, we had lots of dreams and plans that would describe our future vision for Forevermost Farms. We envisioned a beautiful wedding event area, rose gardens, a huge vegetable garden that would allow us to sell vegetables and fruit at local farmer’s markets, fainting goats running behind the house so we could sit on our porch every morning and drink coffee and blow a fog horn to make them faint so we could laugh. We wanted to create a giant park in the woods behind our house with hammocks and a perfectly designed fire pit and regulation horseshoe pits with lighting to play at night and a 9-hole mini golf course through the woods. Maybe there would be a go-cart track in the field for Gracie and all of her friends to have fun racing go-carts. We would have honey bee hives with honey flowing like water to sell and give away to family and friends. Kelly wanted a giant flower bed with beautiful anchor trees and roses and color coordinated perennials that we added to every year. We wanted to build a guest house to possibly host Air BnB clients that would like to experience life on a real homestead and have a place for our family and friends to stay when visiting. We dreamed of spending the farm off-season building woodworking works of art and hand-made signs to sell in shops around central Arkansas and on our website. We talked of hosting big events for friends and families to enjoy our beautiful corner of the world with us, in which we roasted whole hogs and had fireworks over the pond, or Sunday afternoon fried chicken where we invited friends from different walks of our lives, so they could get to know each other and new friendships could be born. Yes, we dreamed big.
Then the work started.
As many of you know, we literally gutted the farm house starting last July. Gutted doesn’t even really do the process justice. There was a 9” drop from our kitchen to the back wall of our living room and another 3” drop in Gracie’s room. If any of you are How I Met Your Mother fans, then you know the episode when Lily and Marshall bought their first apartment. They took turns riding a skateboard down the slope of their living room….. well, our floor was more sloped than that! We had to bring professionals in to lift the house and get it as level as possible, and that is when we discovered that there was NO concrete or concrete blocks supporting the wooden piers. Yes, they were sitting directly on the ground. Which made the fact that there was a water problem under the house a substantial problem. Almost all of the piers were rotten. I truly believe if this house would have sat for one more year without work, it would have completely fallen in. So…… we replaced all the piers, brought in two dump truck loads of cement blocks, built a U-shaped French drain on the high end of the house with a sump pump to pump any water out from under the house. That process took about two weeks and we were pretty antsy for them to finish, so we could start remodeling the house. We wanted to have a somewhat livable place before school started, so Gracie could start the school year at her new school.
Then we pulled the carpet. At this point, we realized that we had to replace ALL of the subfloor due to problems from water or warped from the substantial slope of the foundation. We pulled all of the subfloor up and you guessed it…. The beams supporting the subfloor had to be replaced. Luckily, we were doing this work ourselves and saved a ton of money. We hired a local handyman and his son to help and we got to work.
Remember that deadline we set to be moved in before school started? Well, when the day rolled around for school to start, we had no floors in the house and no plumbing. So for the first month of the school year, we made the trip to Rose Bud every morning to get Gracie to school while I worked on the house all day. She caught the bus to the house and then we drove back to North Little Rock every night and repeated this until there were subfloors and running water to the house. Not an ideal living condition, but living on subfloors is better for a 14 year old girl than getting up and leaving at 6:30 every morning to get to school on time.
Once the subfloors were replaced, we started removing and adding walls. There was also only one bathroom in the house and it was located off the kitchen. Yeah, we thought that was a weird place for a bathroom too. We closed up and extended that wall about three foot and knocked down the wall between the master and the bathroom and expanded that wall about four feet and created the space for a fairly large master bathroom. There was a closet between the living rooms and bedrooms, so we rearranged some wall space and ran plumbing (before we put the subfloor back down) and built a second bathroom.
Another issue with the house was lighting. The previous owners loved lamps. At least we assume they loved lamps because there were only 7 lights in the entire house, and that included two on the screened porch and one on the front porch. We just could not live with four interior lights, so an extensive electrical re-wiring of the house took place. We love lots of light. Like, 47 lights of love. When you count the lamps we have and the light over the stove and in the oven, there are now 57 light bulbs that will need to be regularly replaced. And we love it.
We ran a gas line under the house so we could have a gas stove, knocked down walls, built walls, built all new bedroom closets, hung sheetrock (Gracie learned all about measuring, cutting, hanging, floating and sanding sheet rock), hung all new doors, painted, laid hardwood floors throughout (except the tiled areas in the bathrooms and mudroom), brought in all new appliances, new quartz countertops. Uncle Dennis built us new kitchen doors and drawers; we took out the 1970 era peninsula and expanded the cabinet areas; we hung new stacked rock backsplash throughout our kitchen, put in new baseboards and crown molding throughout the house, put in a farm sink and a new mudroom sink, rescreened and painted the concrete on our porch, took the front off the pole barn outbuilding and poured concrete to create a studio/guesthouse and woodworking shop (Kelly learned how to run plumbing under concrete). We poured a slab on one end of our barn and built an enclosed hen house, poured a concrete pad behind the shop for our dog pen, reframed and built the studio and shop complete with new doors and beautiful windows gifted from our parents (thank you mom and dad), moved dirt and created a levy on the front side of our second pond to keep our barn and front yard from flooding every time it rained, dug a new ditch and ran a gray water line from the new bathroom, built a giant, beautiful flower bed, planted our first garden (and realized the whole thing was pure clay), built a rabbit hutch and pig pen (with the help of our nephew Colton), built a 360 linear foot goat fence (with the help of our nephew Logan and his friends), and planted blueberry bushes and raspberry bushes and elderberry trees and thorn-less blackberry vines and fig trees to start our future orchard. We have begun stocking our fishing pond and started our wildflower garden and honey bee yard (we now have three hives and hope to expand extensively in the future), we have hung swings and hammocks and dug our firepit and horse shoe pits (these will be finished before next spring). And we have started our livestock program. As of today, we have 37 rabbits, 117 chickens, three hives of honeybees, a mealworm farm, 12 guinea fowl, two dogs, a cat (that is great at catching mice), 5 hogs, and our first two fainting goats (though we love them and now hate to see them faint L. Turkeys should arrive in the next week or so and possibly a few more hogs. Baby chickens are born almost every day. Our goal is to raise high quality, heritage breed, show-quality livestock for others who may have similar goals.
Our Vision is now refined for the future.
After a year of building and growing and developing infrastructure, we thought it would be a good time to share with all of our friends, family and followers where Forevermost Farms is going from here. I am sure we will continue to shift and mold and change our vision based on what we need to do to sustain and grow, but we are working through our revised business plans and we want to share that with you. We are asked almost daily, “What is Forevermost Farms really about and how do you plan to sustain?”, “What can we do to help?”, “What do you have that we can buy?”, “Are your jellies or shirts or hats or eggs or pork or chickens for sale?” By sharing our vision and business plan, we hope a lot of those questions are answered.
Organic, Free-range, Grass-fed, No Anti-biotics, No steroids, Real Farm Raised Animals and Plants
We have (so far) been able to protect our livestock from outside disease (we are very particular about who we buy new animals from) and have not had to use any pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, steroids, hormones, antibiotics or anything else not completely natural. We have done extensive research into how the food you buy in the grocery store is produced and we are doing our best to move away from those products. If you have a few minutes, dig deep and see how commercial pork operations are run (it is hard to find, because they forbid outsiders from coming in to see the atrocities taking place). Check out the life that chickens live in order to provide eggs and meat for general consumption. Read a little about how Chinese honey is banned in most countries (including the US) because of all the nasty terrible chemicals that they package with their honey (and tons of this still enters the US through imports from countries in the middle east, and south Asia (via China). Research the hormones and steroids and antibiotics fed to animals to grow un-naturally large sizes and to combat terrible living conditions. Learn what pesticides are used on the fruits and vegetables and the crazy measures they go to in order to make these fruits and vegetables look nice weeks after they have been picked (yet still look fresh). Crack open an egg bought at the store and look at the color of the yolk. Most are a dull light yellow. Here is a hint, chickens that are allowed to live like chickens, free ranging, foraging, pecking at worms and bugs and grass have dark orange yolks. These yolks have higher protein, less yucky stuff and most importantly, they taste better.
Most feed given to cattle, chickens, pigs, lambs and other livestock we eat comes from Genetically Modified Organisms. Heck, a lot of the tomatoes, corn, potatoes and other stuff you eat has been genetically modified as well. It isn’t how God planned the food to be eaten. The long-term health effects of all of the GMO products are unknown. We are not completely GMO free in our feed right now, but we are working with local feed producers and will be growing feed for our own animals going forward. Very soon, we will also be able to say that Forevermost Farms is completely GMO-free!
All you have to do is turn on the news or read the news feed across your phone and you will see the millions of dollars awarded against pesticide and herbicide producers like Monsanto and others because of the cancer-causing effects of their chemicals and the foods you eat.
We want to do our small part to combat this for our family, friends and followers that want to have better food for their families.
Don’t get us wrong. We still go to the grocery store. We know this is the way of the world today. We’re not snobs about it. We are just trying to do our part to make the impact we can while we have this opportunity. We hope to help others do the same.
How we can partner with all of you
We are working to start production for as many people as we can partner with to get better food on your table. It will take us some time to provide everything you will need, but we are ready to start in some of the big areas.
We have our infrastructure in place for pork, chicken, eggs and turkey. Our plan is to build a greenhouse early fall to start producing some winter vegetables and have a head start on next Spring’s crops. We have begun an extensive composting program that should radically change our garden area to produce an abundance of vegetables next Spring and Summer. We will add livestock per demand.
The plan is to create weekly or bi-weekly “BOXES” for our customers. We will have a list of what we have available and you can pre-order what you want, based on what we have that week. A typical box may have 2 whole chickens, 2 dozen eggs, pork chops, three zucchini, a bottle of BBQ sauce and two pounds of tomatoes. Or four chicken breasts, a pound of catfish fillets, a pork shoulder, a package of dry rub and a dozen eggs. It will be totally customizable and as we grow our farm, there will be more and more items to choose from. We will pick specific days to deliver to locations, so we may be at the McDonalds at the end of Kiehl in Sherwood from 6-7 on Tuesday nights or in the Best Buy Parking lot in Conway from 7-8 on Wednesday night. We want to do your shopping from the farm for you and just meet you to pick it up.
We are doing our best to price products comparable to the “Organic” section of the grocery market chains. We won’t be the low-cost leader. Even though there are some major market issues with what is being allowed in grocery stores under the “organic” banner. That’s another hill to battle for another day; feel free to do some research and you will be amazed. We will offer comparable prices on every product we can. We will also price our items based on the level of work and initial cost. Therein, lies the balance.
We also will take pre-orders for people with freezer space. As we plan to order meat chickens or turkeys or pigs, we will let people know through email, facebook, our pre-order lists and any means possible so we can order your personal hog, chickens or turkey just for you (for us to raise for you). This is the most economical way to get great tasting, antibiotic and hormone free food. For example, we are currently taking orders for pork that will be processed in November and December (The processing plants in Arkansas shut down during deer season to process only deer meat. Gracie and I will be hunting in the Fall and we hope to have several deer in the freezer as an option for purchase as well). Hogs will be available in half hog or full hog options and live weight will be between 300-350 pounds. Our processor will cut and package the pork per individual specification and even make Italian sausage at no additional charge. We also are about to order turkeys that will be ready for Thanksgiving. We will need to know very quickly if you want a beautiful, farm raised, pasture fed, organic turkey for the holidays (you can even let us know what size turkey you want). Our second round of meat chickens will come right after the turkeys and they take 8-10 weeks to grow out. These are the same breed used by Tyson and other large producers, so they have amazingly large breasts but taste better because they are raised in our field, so they get to graze and peck and eat bugs like chickens were meant to be raised.
Many of you have seen our woodworking products and hand-made signs. As the summer winds down, we will begin taking orders for these products again. This is the perfect gift for a loved one or friend for which you have a hard time shopping. Examples of products will begin popping up on our website and facebook page toward the end of Summer and we can have them ready for gift-giving time. We would appreciate you thinking of us if you want something hand-made. We can do almost anything and will set reasonable prices so you can give the most meaningful gifts possible. We are excited to share some of the new stuff we will offer this year, in addition to our exotic wood cutting boards, signs, and hand-made wooden handle knives.
We also plan to get back into making our all organic beauty products. We have soaps and body scrubs and even perfume.
We also have lots of cool Forevermost Farms merchandise to sell or can even create your own merchandise. We can do graphic design to create logos and have access through our partnership with Acme Business Source to get incredible prices on shirts, hats, jackets, promotional items, or just about anything that can be screen printed or embroidered. Give us a shot and let us get you a quote.
We also have a full catering menu and can cater your next party or event. Our prices are very fair and everything is hand-made in our kitchen.
We do event planning and can help you plan your wedding or even host an event here at the farm. Several of you have been to one or more of our events and we think you might agree – it may be a little bit of a drive, but Forevermost Farms is a cool place to hold an event. This could include corporate training events as well. Kelly and I both come from an extensive sales training background. We can even help you customize curriculum and deliver meaningful training or teambuilding. Our mission is to provide a fun, relaxed environment for you and your family and friends.
If you need a DJ for an event, let us know. We have an incredible sound system and are building our selection of lighting.
How you can help us now
If you are interested in any of the items we have mentioned, please drop us a line. Let us know if you want to get weekly food boxes, if you will be interested in hand made gifts this fall, if you want a Thanksgiving turkey, or anything else we have to offer. Even if it is something you may want in the future. Get on our list. As we start production, we will offer people that have communicated they are interested before we open items up to the public. Be a part of the Farm to Table movement. Know where your food comes from and what goes into that food. Help us spread the word. Soon we will be launching our YouTube channel which is another avenue to share our brand. We would love for you to share this article, our website, our facebook page, subscribe to our YouTube channel when it launches, and all we have to offer with any of your friends and families that care about the quality of the food they eat or those who may need a caterer, DJ, wedding planner or a place to hold an event. Thank you all in advance and we love all of you for being faithful followers, friends and clients of this dream we are creating. We just want to be Simply Good.