CJEJ Farm

Farm in Columbia, NH

Farm Facts

Type: Diversified Livestock

Years in operation: 16

Annual revenue: 50k-100k
(Average over last three years)

Overview

CJEJ Farm sits on 90 acres, 7 acres of pasture with 10 acres being converted to pasture and most of the rest in woods. We have 30 head of mostly Hereford beef cattle, 5 sows that we A.I. to farrow twice a year, 4 Percheron horses, 100 laying hens, while we raise 100 turkeys for Thanksgiving and 500 broilers throughout the summer. The farm rents close to 300 acres across the county for forage and grain crops along with two different barns to house the animals during the winter. If anyone knows us, they know that we are all about family – hence the farm name CJEJ, Chris, Joyce, Earl, and Jacob. Chris (AS in Dairy Management) and I (AS in Animal Science) have raised two sons on our family farm since we started it in 2000. They have always been an integral part of the farm and would like to contribute to the growth. Earl is currently working on his DVM focusing on large animals. He has an AS in Animal Science and a BS in Livestock Management, while his wife has a BS in Animal Science. Jacob has a BT in Agriculture Power and Machinery, while his fiancé has a BT in Agriculture Business. Both of the couples add to the farm by owning a few beef cattle and some goats. During the summer we hire 2 part-time employees. Community involvement is very important to us. We are involved with 4-H, FFA, Farm Bureau, school board, town conservation committee, and our church. The surrounding towns have us do horse drawn hay rides for different events throughout the year. The farm hosts the 5th grade county Conservation Day along with a spring Cabin Fever Reliever Day, where we have free events for kids and set up a farm animal petting area.

Inside the Farm

How is your approach to farming different than other farms in the same category?
We feel that our approach to farming is different than others due to our ability to be able to control the quality of product from the beginning to the end. Five years ago we started growing grain corn, soybeans, and oats so we could make our own grain. We purchased a 1970’s combine and two grain dryers to harvest and store the crops. This may not seem different to some, but for NH this is very different. I believe we are the only farmers in the state to be making a complete grain for all of our animals. We buy all of our chicks and poults directly from a hatchery as day olds. As for the rest of the livestock, we strongly believe in using artificial insemination to give us a wide range of quality genetics to choose from. Controlling the process of the end product can be difficult, so last year we built a state approved processing room where we are able to cut the fresh meat ourselves. While most of our meat is cut, packaged, and then frozen, we also offer customers the ability to have their orders cut fresh while they wait. This state approval also allows us to sell individual cuts of meat at our farm stand, at farmers markets, and to restaurants.

How does your different approach contribute to a long-term profitable growth strategy for your farm and other small farms like yours?
Producing our own grain was the first step in creating a truly sustainable long-term strategic plan. Rotating the grain crops has added to the soil health through nutrient sharing along with the residual being incorporated back into the soil as organic matter. Since we have been making our own feed we have noticed an increase in egg production and overall better health and growth of all the meat animals. One of the most important factors to the long-term strategy is the consumer. More people want to know where their food is coming from. When they purchase meat from CJEJ Farm they not only know that we are raising the animal, but that we are also raising the animals’ feed.

How would you specifically use a Mortgage Lifter Lift or Mini Lift?
Eight years ago Chris started teaching animal science at a regional high school, through the alt 4 program. This career move was to help provide for us personally so the farm didn’t have to. Three years ago, Chris changed to a school closer to our community. Here he started a diversified agriculture program, new to the school, and an FFA chapter. Due to the farm trying to expand and prepare for our children’s involvement as adults, Chris will only be teaching his two block diversified agriculture class next year as a transition out of the teaching world and back into the full-time farming world. If CJEJ Farm was to win the Mortgage Lifter, the money would be used towards the mortgage. This would take some much needed stress off the checkbook, especially during this time of transition. If we were to win the Mini Lift, the money would be put towards some equipment for the processing room. At this time we only cut meat; with a stove, some more table space, and cooking ware we would be able to do some value added products, such as soup stock and meat pies.

Please share why you are so passionate about your farm and/or farming in general.
I feel that God has given some of us a passion for something specific. In our case it’s farming. I can’t really explain it, but it’s deep rooted and flows throughout our veins. No matter how tough things get; physically, mentally, or financially, there is not a day that goes by that we are not thankful for what we have, what we do, and the lifestyle that we live. Now that our boys are grown we can’t wait for grandchildren, to be able to start all over sharing our passion with the next generation.

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