by Tori O’Dell
“We have always raised cattle and pigs for our own consumption and I have a large garden, so it didn’t really affect us as a family when Kroger closed, but it hurt a lot of people who live in our area. community. Nokomis has a large number of elderly residents and it is not always convenient for them to drive to Hillsboro, Pana or Taylorville when they need to do their shopping, ”said Kimberley Carlock, co-owner of Carlock Livestock and Machine. Nokomis. going with supply chains and labor shortages right now is scary. I don’t want to have to worry about how I’m going to feed my family and I don’t want my neighbors to have to worry about it either. We are a small farm and limited in what we can provide, but hopefully we can make it easier for the people around us.
Kenny and Kimberley Carlock are the third generation to live and work on the farm her grandparents, Yewell and Irene Umberger, bought in 1945. While Kimberley Carlock grew up in the countryside, it was not until she met her husband whom she recognized as a vocation to agricultural life. He works off the farm during the week, and she manages the day-to-day operations with the help of their two young daughters, Kaylee and Kinzley; working the land was a way of life they were both exposed to as children. Him, by his grandfather on the farm he now owns and her, by her grandparents who kept a large garden and canned most of their fruits and vegetables.
The closure of Nokomis’ only grocery store earlier this year created a food desert, where residents found themselves with few convenient options for affordable and healthy food; a common problem in small rural areas. It also prompted the Carlocks to take action and apply for their meat broker’s license for the pigs and beef cattle they raise locally for the cut; however, they found themselves slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It wasn’t until I had my own family that I started to realize the value of growing / raising my own food. The items we sell from our retail freezer are the same things I feed my own family. When you buy from us, you are not only supporting the small family farm we work so hard on, but you know exactly where your food is coming from, ”Kimberley said emphatically. “Retailing has been something we’ve been discussing for some time, but closing our grocery store accelerated the decision. However, I don’t recommend ten out of ten to try to launch or start a business in the midst of a pandemic, especially when dealing with the state. “
She went on to explain that applying for a broker’s license is a long process that includes surprise inspections to ensure small retailers follow strict USDA protocols for selling meat to the public. Fortunately, the local processors the couple use for their own family needs are already USDA approved to handle retail. Once approved, the couple began the difficult task of bringing their products into the community.
Carlock Livestock has relied heavily on social media to market its products and has consistently built a customer base using Facebook. They have also set up during the farmers ‘markets organized in Nokomis during the last months of the summer and plan to set up in the farmers’ markets in the outlying towns next year, in order to expand their clientele.
Customers can purchase cuts by the pound and are free to purchase as many or as few cuts of farmed beef or pork as they wish. The couple are currently only offering a few different cuts of beef, while they learn what their local clientele prefers. They plan to restock their pork supplies in January.
Their cattle are fed organic corn, bean meal and oatmeal, and live outdoors where they have access to pastures sown with various grasses, clover and alfalfa. Carlock Livestock does not use hormones to accelerate the growth of its animals and only gives them antibiotics when absolutely necessary. The Carlocks are committed to operating on a small scale where they can focus on the quality of the products they sell. Small-scale farming allows them to really get to know each animal they raise and learn about their individual personalities so that nothing is overlooked and their cattle receive the best possible care.
“It’s even hard for small farms to stay ahead of the curve because we’re doing things on such a small scale. Raising a small number of animals at a time allows us to really get to know them and quickly be aware of any issues, which greatly improves the quality of the meat, but we cannot compete with the producers. commercials that produce hundreds of pigs at a time, ”Carlock said.
Although there is no physical location to purchase the fresh farm produce, customers are encouraged to message the Carlock Livestock and Machine business page on Facebook to place orders and set a time and location. meeting. They are currently focused on marketing their meats at retail, Carlock Livestock hopes to grow by offering locally grown produce in the future.
The continuation of the family farm is more than a business venture, it is the future of their daughters, both of whom take on practical roles in day-to-day operations. Carlock said they are also polar opposites. Kaylee is soft-hearted and loves taking care of animals, even bottle-fed calves that cannot feed on their mothers. Whereas Kinzley is fascinated by tractors and haymaking, preferring the manual aspects of farm life. Both girls have their own set of tasks, like feeding the chickens, collecting the eggs and watering the cattle.
“My daughters are going to be the fourth generation on this farm and they are a big part of the reason we keep doing all of this. I think they like it. They seem to like it, and I hope they do because they are the future of this farm. When my husband was a kid there were small, multi-generation farms all over Montgomery County, and I’m not sure it wasn’t a better way of life. Small farms need all the help we can get and I hope the pandemic and rising food prices cause us all to reconsider our purchases from local producers, ”Carlock concluded.