Archive for Product

Boring Operational Issues

Better pump up that sugar intake because our BOIs are extra boring this time:

  • We got Bird Baths. Yes, we just mentioned it but did you really read that whole section?
  • We now stock the PTF Bird Tweet
  • We now stock the Brome Legacy and Seed Catcher
  • We now stock C and S Suet Bluebird Nuggets, Hot Pepper Nuggets, Seed Treat, Peanut Treat, Berry Treat, Nutty Treat, Orange Treat, Hot Pepper Delight, Woodpecker Treat, Mealworm Delight, Pure Suet, Sweet Corn Log, Nut and Sweet Corn Log
  • We now stock a generic 20LB and 40LB Oil Sunflower in addition to the 50LB and 25LB Generic Oil Sunflower
  • We now stock a 10LB Bag of Cranberries and a 10LB Bag of Raisins (Warning: If Mahlon’s mom makes her raisin mumble for Christmas we may have to out of stock the raisins. But it would be totally worth it. Her raisin mumble is da bomb.)

Rob is Thinking About…2016

Here’s the deal – trying to get anything from Rob for a December newsletter is rough. The whole month is devoted to cookies. I don’t want to say he’s overindulging but the theme for this year’s Christmas party was sweatpants.

Here’s a quick update on what we have cooking at Lizzie Mae for 2016.

  • The new warehouse is complete and stocked (With room for new products.)
  • Look for new products from the farm in February and September. (Deets in the Jan. newsletter.)
  • We extended our routes to the south. LM trucks now deliver from Maine to Florida (Not the same truck on the same day.)
  • We also added a route heading west to St. Louis. (Still not the same truck.)
  • You should have received a flyer from us last week featuring the Evans Lawn Ornaments line of Bird Baths. Thank God the boys in the warehouse are ginormous. Those baths are heavy.

But We, Like, Don’t Do That

Sometimes we get phone calls from your customers saying, “Gotta bag here of your, um, like, um, your bird seed and stuff. I can’t remember where I, like, bought it from. Like, you know, I was wondering if you would, like, ship me a bag direct.” (Editor’s Note: Not all the callers sound like my teenage son.)

But we, like, don’t do that.

Instead, we politely refer them back to your store where they:

  • Talked to a knowledgeable person about seed
  • Found the right type and amount of seed they needed
  • Got the down-low on the local bird population
  • Received an offer to have the seed carried to their car

Just so you know… we’ll never compete with our customers on the internet. Never will.And let’s not mention that one time Mahlon posted on AmishDate.com.

Rob is Thinking About…Safflower

Safflower is a thistle-like plant that can grow to a height of about three feet. Small individual flowers grow in clusters called flower heads. Each flower is able to produce one seed.

Our safflower is grown all over Utah and Northern Idaho. The crop is generally planted in late April and ready to harvest by mid-September. It is generally planted after a crop of wheat or summer fallow. Our safflower is known for its super bright white appearance which is due to the drier growing conditions. It costs more but makes for a pretty bag of birdseed and isn’t that what life is all about?

Interesting Note: Safflower is one of humanity’s oldest crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the Twelfth dynasty identified dyes made from safflower, and garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Safflower flowers are used in cooking as a cheap substitute for saffron, and is referred to as “bastard saffron” which really made it hard for Safflower to find friends on the playground.

Rob is Thinking ‘Bout: New Crop

Tired of the same old crop? Rob’s here to tell you about new crop. (Ed’s Note: He said crop.)

New crop can either mean large swings in pricing or be a non-event as we shift into ingredients recently harvested. So far so good this year – the oil crop looks good. That is a good thing because it affects lots of the products we use in your mixes. (Yay!) But Nyjer is still problematic and we won’t see a new crop of Nyjer until the end of 1st quarter of next year.
New Crops525x480 Res

Rob is thinking about… Nyjer

Source countries – Ethiopia and India
Growing season – Sowing in Sept/Oct and harvested in Jan/Feb every year
Harvested how – By hand, using a sickle (Ed.’s Note: Just like the Grim Reaper!)
(Ed.’s Note to Self: Start making happier comparisons.)

Nyjer is cleaned, processed and heat treated at a plant in Ethiopia to USDA standards and then exported in either paper bags, totes or in bulk to these shores in ocean-going containers.

Some Nyjer is shipped to the USA and then heat treated to USDA standards in one of two facilities. The product is then packaged in either paper bags, totes

Summary of what happened this year. – crop was a lot smaller than expected due to unexpected rains close to the harvest period in December causing a damage to the crop.There was also good demand from oil crushers in Ethiopia causing further upward pressure on prices. Markets continue to be extremely tight due to illiquid supply (We’ll wait while you Google Illiquid too. We looked it up twice and still aren’t sure what it means.) as we approach the later part of the season. After a brief back off in cost from the peak, Nyjer pricing is back at a high for the year. We will all have to keep an eye on this one but if you have an expectation it will be coming down aggressively at any point over the next couple months we don’t see that happening.

PS: If you’re known as an Ethiopian Oil Crusher, you can make demands anytime you want. I’m going to start telling people that I’m a part-time Ethiopian Oil Crusher just to see where it gets me.

Rob Is STILL Thinking About: #2 Chips

Rob was watching the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest:

 

and was thinking… I could do that. Actually he was thinking about #2 Chips. The birds love them which means your customers want them which means you need to know all about them. We talked a little about them last issue, but that just created more questions.

It’s like all these store owners think we are just here to help you learn more so you can build your business. (Full Disclosure: That is exactly what we live for – and hot dogs.)

The main goal at sunflower hulling facilities is to create an edible Bakery Kernel for human consumption. During the process of creating an edible bakery kernel different types of bi-products are created and used in the bird food industry. One such product is #2 Chips. This product is produced while in the process of de-hulling sunflower seeds for edible consumption. Our #2 Chips is a product where the shell and full meats of sunflowers are combined together. The ratio of this product is 70% kernel and 30% in shell, but can vary to be more kernel in the product and less in-shell. The reason for a variance is the hulling ratio, which you can experience when the kernel is extracted from the shell during the de-hulling process. #2Chips 356x200Electric eyes will force compressed air into the sunflowers that will take out the product with shell still on, which produces the #2 Sunflower Blend. Many people prefer this product when feeding the birds since you receive a product that is less messy by the feeder than straight sunflower seed. From the de-hulling process you experience many types of bi-products used in the wild bird feeding such as Coarse Chips, Select Chips, Medium Chips, and Fine Chips. More meats for less money is the big attraction to #2 Chips.

Warehouse Addition – We Just Doubled the Closet Space on the Farm

We had a few friends over to the farm recently to build a new warehouse. Yes, Mahlon’s sneaker collection has gotten that large. The man does love his glow in the dark LeBron XII’s. Actually he’s more of a boot type of guy.

So why should you care that Lizzie Mae now has more closet space on the farm? You should care because we are filling it up with other products that we like from other people. Stuff like Squirrel Buster Feeders and bird seed storage containers that look a lot like galvanized trash cans. These are the products your customers will need and you should be the one to provide them. So when you order the products from us, we ship them to you free since our trucks are coming out your way anyhow. Easy peasy.

Lizzie Maels Bird seed Warehouse Construction
Lizzie Mae's Bird Seed Warehouse

Rob is Thinking About Sunflower Chips

Wow. Everybody is liking them Sunflower Chips. In upscale mixes or sold straight, lots of people are finding out how much birds are liking Sunflower Chips – mostly because of stores like yours. Here’s a short 411 on how the chips are made. (Like always, pretend you already knew this stuff when talking to customers. We’re down with it.)

The raw sunflower seeds are fed into dehuller machines. The shell is shattered off the seed by air that forces it against the inside of the bin. Screens then scalp off the shell while each sunflower chip goes through an electric eye. The shell-less seeds are graded into separate sizes. The primary use for the sunflower kernel is the human edible Bakery Kernel market. Kernels that don’t pass inspection for uses in baking get sent to Lizzie Mae.

One of the reasons there’s very little foreign material in the #1 Coarse Chips is the electric eye that the seed goes through. This video explains the process. You’ll love the soothing background music. I watch it each night before I fall asleep in my footy jammies.

The #1 Coarse and Medium Chips are the primary chips used in mixes. Fine Chips are used in Finch. Quality of the #1 Coarse Chips is very consistent. Mahlon and team get very vigilant watching our inbound fine chips further down the food trail because the chips can come through powdery. And who wants that?

#2 Chips have become more and more popular as the cost of straight Oil Seed appears to have settled in at a higher level than we saw a decade ago. #2 Chips are seconds from the bakery industry also. But while the other chips are completely shelled, #2 chips have about 70% sunflower kernels with 30% still in the shell.

So any store looking to compete with the “Um, my local big box is selling 50# Oil Seed for $10.00 a bag”, #2 Sunflower chips might be something for you to consider. One of our customers markets them as Nearly Naked Sunflower but he watches a lot of late night cable. Here’s a handy dandy downloadable photo spread of our Sunflower chips:

Lizzie Mae's Bird Seed - Sunflower Chips
Lizzie Mae's Bird Seed Sunflower Chips
Suitable for framing or you might use it when discussing with your customers. Need more cool images of ChiPs? Go here.