On November 13, 2009 This Old Farm went from being farm to being farm and meat processor with the purchase of a then custom exempt meat processing facility outside of Colfax, IN which was just 7 miles from our home farm. I remember that first day as all of a sudden I was in charge of paying people for their livelihood. While I recognized this responsibility, I really could not imagine the sheer force of this responsibility because the staff then was young. We started with 5 paychecks and we have grown to writing 45 paychecks biweekly. We support many families. We now offer full benefits due to your support as our customer base. I feel blessed to say 2 of those first employees are still with me carrying out our mission to support the family farm daily in their work. I wrote about Kendra in my last newsletter as she took on a new role. This week I want to introduce you to Francisco Salinas.
I have watched Francisco grow from a young single man into a husband with 2 children. Francisco was brought to the United States by his mother who wanted to give him and his brothers opportunities. I watched Francisco work hard to get an education and achieve legalization. I also watched him continue his career here as a butcher. Francisco now manages the slaughter side of our business. He ensures that our tracability plan, humane handling plan, and our food safety plans are followed at 100% perfection. Without Francisco, the rest of us might as well stay home. That was shown during his last vacation as I had 4 separate managers work to take his place and we still had to lower the livestock numbers we took care of that week. I prayed so hard that we would find a way to take care of our farmers, that I felt terribly guilty when Francisco called from Georgia saying they had had some car problems and had decided to come home early. He would be back the next day. Wow! What an answer to prayer but I certainly would not have wished for that particular answer.
Few team members survive through the years as a business grows. Pay rates early on were low. Facilities were not in good shape. In fact, Francisco was here when we had a fire. And he was here to rebuild and become electrician after the fire to get us back up and running. It is this fortitude and loyalty that make us who we are today. There are few people that I think as highly of as I do Francisco. The next time you wonder about who all is involved in getting food to the table, please do not forget to say a prayer for Francisco as I want his next family vacation to be great!