My Name is Craig"Nip"Ness ,I want to give everyone a history on me ,my family and the farm. This is written by me not a english professor, sorry for mistakes.
I was born on a farm in northern Indiana by Laporte, I lived there until 5 then my dad got the call to ministry, I spent every entire summer at the family farm on my summer break from school, baling hay,taking care of livestock ,taking care of crops etc... my senior year I was pretty active in working on what I thought would be my career forever, the automotive industry. I started changing tires at sears and was going to school for automotive tech.I caught a break and got to work an apprentice program at a GM dealership in lafayette. After a while of busting my knuckles I decided to try my hand at service writing and loved it. I thought wow I have arrived.
Babys came, I was a proud papa of 2 of the cutest kids you have ever seen(only a dad thinks that way). Brandon and Annie. I divorced and was awarded custody of the kids at ages 3 and 18 months old . Wow I had to grow up then. I have a lot to be thankful to my parents for during those days!!!
I went from dealership to dealership climbing the ladder until I became service director over several stores, I had finally made it to the top of the heap and realized it wasn't all that . I still felt empty inside. I bought a little farm outside Lafayette and started truck farming out of it and loved it.It gave me a chance to get back to what I loved as a child growing up. But career change came and I became a rep for a automotive chemical company. Again I thought this is the challenge I needed, so I sold the farm to pursue that . Soon I climbed the ladder there and became General Manager of Indiana. Wow more headaches and travel training hiring ,firing I realized I was right back where I was in the dealerships.
Thats when I sat down and had a good look at my life and said," what really makes you happy, what pushes your buttons Nip"? it took me a year of searching to really figure out what is my dream and goals for life were.
In August of 2007 my dream came true! I bought the farm now known as DUBLIN. I had a house that was built in 1877, it had sat empty 2 years, man did we become plumbing experts. I purchased it off the daughters of Art and Ruby Dowell, a guy that had done gardening his entire life here. Things just seemed to fall into place like this was where I was meant to be. Mom and dad (Howie and Jean) retired now moved there camper down here to help me whip the place into shape to live in.Before long we had water (Yahoooooo), then walls, fixed floors, kitchen re-done etc... Everyone knows the routine to rebuild a old house. I was working my job through the day living in fishers and coming here helping dad at night until 2-3 oclock most nights.Iwas trying to beat the deadlines of leaving the condo life behind me. I'm not gonna lie here, dad and mom did most of the work! For that I can never do enough or would they expect me to do enough to repay yet another favor from them.Dad just calls it a labor of love. What awesome parents I am blessed to have.
I had the winter to sit and ponder and do some" bench farming" hahaha. I had 17.5 acres to work and a dream. That dream was to grow all natural produce (the way I was taught how to do it by my grandpa and my dad), also to have a place people could come and see where it's grown and how we do it, (not to sell it as local only to find a sticker on it from Michigan, or its packaged in a box from somewhere) . Provide it fresh daily. Wow what a challenge!How do we do this Dad Mom and I ? it seemed so overwhelming looking back now,working full time and getting this started.But God has a way of doing things great in our lives!
In 2008, I was blessed to have Aunt Judy move in (adopted Aunt), Vinny joined me with dad and mom. Then dad and mom left for florida to bask in the sun and enjoy life, it was Vinny Judy and I. We set up a tent to sell out of, walked the fields to pick daily, like I had imagined always doing, always with great cheer and happiness.After all it was a dream and I was living it. I would work my other job through the day and Vinny would watch the farm,pick and sell the produce, what a great addition to the farm he was. Then we got hit with ear worm, the corn was getting attacked and being "all natural" I was at a loss.Then it happened a thought, a vision I don't know how to explain it but it came,"shuck the corn" break off the bad pieces and sell whats left by the pound not by the ear so people still get the same amount by weight as a dozen. It saved our corn that first part of the year.Then another miracle happened, I had been working with a seed co to get me a corn that was as sweet as what I had plus easy to eat like the others around us. I received my corn in early summer. I decided what the heck and planted it. Later thats when things really went crazy for us the bi-colored triple sweet came in and it was a overwhelming success, although earworms were not a issue we were still selling shucked ears in the bag 8-1 over husked corn. Our tomatoes were going nuts and our name was getting out there. 2008 for the first year was a great learning year for us, and a very big success!
2009 came, I decided "we are getting into the chicken business". The overwhelming success we had in the produce for all natural had to also take place in the chickens as well, that was the premise. I started with 60 egg layers to get going, not knowing much except how to feed and gather eggs from my childhood. Then I thought "meat chickens"I want some for us, because of all the growth hormones,antibiotics,preservatives you find in chicken today, I wanted better chicken like I remember how it used to taste. So I bought 50 of the cornish cross knowing thats the best meat chicken in the world. One day I was advertising chickens to sell and I got a call from a guy who told me if I would raise cornish cross all natural he would buy (live) 75-100 per week after they get to 5 lbs or about 6 weeks, I thought Vinny "we made it" I got on it and ordered 500 chickens 100 a week for 5 weeks thinking we were real chicken growers. Well as you probably know it didn't happen the guy never returned calls and never came through, here I am with all these chickens and no where to go with them. (This is another one of those things that happened)I met a lady who has become a friend as well as a somewhat of a chicken profesional, Julie Parton "the chicken lady" heads up the poultry division of madison county 4-H (#1 in the state this year for poultry), she gave me tips and tought me alot about 4-H and chickens,what judges look for and how we get there,I was able to have some of my chickens represented by the kids in 4-H this year. We sponsored a couple of kids, even had a pair of chickens get reserve grand champion for county, we had a blast learning. We started getting inquiries about all natural chicken from our customers and we started talking to everyone about it at the stand,pretty soon we are butchering once to twice a week and moving chicken and getting rave reviews from our customers. Thats when another one of those things hit "make homemade noodles from our eggs and cook down chicken and put it together to make homemade chicken noodles ready to go". Thats what we did Aunt Judy was the largest part of this undertaking she would make the noodles cut all by hand and put them in freezer, I would cook down the chicken for a day and a half to get all the flavor (just how grandma used to do them) to get a great tasting chicken noodle dinner. It was so well received by our customers and we were approached to provide chix and noodles for a lunch at the "Festival of the trees" in Anderson. Annie and Terra cooked down chix and noodles in a kitchen while they proceeded to feed over 300 people our chicken and noodles with overwhelming response.
Then in July of 09 my boss gave me the call "business is down and we have to make scale down" I was suddenly unemployed,wow how do I make it? what do I do?" Dummy just do what you have always wanted and run this place"! 2009 Annie Joined Vinny,Judy and I to take care of the farm, Jeff my buddy built the stand and we were on our way again. This year we installed praying Mantids for bug control also putting beneficial nematodes in the plants to attack larvae to handle our bug problem, It worked.
Those of you that know Annie, She is an amazing girl I'm not just saying that cause I'm a proud papa, but that girl will pick corn in the rain(a real treat if youve never done it),runout and get customers green tomatoes fresh out of the garden at there request rain or shine as well as be my right hand in the butchering process, and always want to do more to help the customer and the farm. I can't say enough about her! Terra is Annies roomate and she is the one responsible for our sign on water street and helping out wherever we need her.Terra's daughter October is a joy to be around and I have kinda assumed the grandpa roll with her. I also have 2 gorgeous granddaughters Ryleigh and Jordyne who come help grandpa when they can.(Jordyne is pictured in the wagon eating corn) Aunt Judy also has Kaitlyn who comes here every chance she can to help with the chickens and especially getting the eggs. Vinny is no longer here on to pursue another career which is great for him. 2009 was a great year and we finished up over triple the business of the previous year, we started pulling people in from all areas from Fort Wayne to south side of Indianapolis,into Ohio etc... All from the Idea "take care of people and the people will take care of you" It always comes back to the golden rule!
New for 2010!!!
This year we are adding more chickens, layers over 175, other breeds also to start raising for customers and for 4-H kids,Cooking down our chicken pulling it apart and putting it in my grandmas recipe home made BBQ sauce for pulled bbq sandwiches. It really is hard to say what else we will come up with because the gears are always turning on how to be different and be the best.
But I gotta say the biggest thing thats happening this year is the chance to work side by side with my Mentor, my best friend ,the guy who has taught me all I am, My DAD. I am so looking forward to having him here to be a part of what he helped me set up and run with. Dads the Bee guy hopefully bringing us all natural Honey this year!, He is also an absolute fantastic cook , so don't be suprised to come by the farm and pops has got something for all to try, he indeed is a treat like the rest of us to be around!! My Mom Jean will be here doing her usual making us laugh and working her but off also, I'm so proud of both of them it's gonna be a great 2010.
Whats happening 2011;
This year we added a little male mate for Percy, it's Taz the little man potbelly pig so we can breed percy and have some snorting babys.In addition to that weve added Cows to the mix, Have 2 registered angus and the rest unregistered but going to have meat for sale soon, we will be making a bigger pasture and adding more cattle as we go , as of now we have 10. We will still be raising our sweet corn tomatoes and peppers etc... but cutting down the size of our sweet corn to accomadate pasture space, this won't hurt us due to the fact that last year we ended up chopping at least a third of the corn for the cows. times are tight and people cut where they could, I am forced to re-join the working class , Dad and Judy doing the lions share of the work this year. We may be doing a limited amount of meat chickens.
Our mission statement:
We are dedicated to bringing the best produce and poultry products to our customers. We are devoted to making sure our products are of the highest quality and our all natural practices give the organic quality at reasonable prices. We are a family owned and operated farm, and nothing gives us more joy than putting satisfied smiles on all our customers faces! We are also committed to giving back to the community that has so freely given to us.
Thank you all:
We are overwhelmed at the large amount of support you all have given us! This started as a dream and grew into a reality that surpassed all of our expectations! Thank you all for your support and contributions to making Dublin Farm a part of this great community!
With great gratitude,
Craig"NIP"Ness and the Dublin Farm Family