Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TBF 100 :: Kickstarter, John Suscovich, and Lot’s of Hard Lessons Learned!

**As I transition to www.TheBeginningFarmer.com I am quickly realizing I'm not as web savvy as I had hoped! In the meantime I will be posting here as well for those of you subscribed through RSS ... and hopefully will have that fixed soon.**

"The Beginning Farmer Video" Kickstarter Campaign


We've done it! We've made it to Episode 100 of "The Beginning Farmer Show"! And yes, I do mean we because there is no way I wouldn't have made it this far without the encouragement of everyone who has listened, taught me, asked questions, and contributed to "The Beginning Farmer Show" community. Making it to episode 100 is a cause for celebration though, and I wanted to make this episode extra special. Of course there is the fact that the Kickstarter Campaign launches today, but on top of that I have an extra special (and longer) episode. Over the past 99 episodes it became evident that one of the more popular aspects of the show were the hard lessons learned that I share.

With that in mind I wanted to dedicate this episode to hard lessons learned. I didn't want to stop with just mine though, so I invited my great farming friend John Suscovich, of "The Growing Farms Podcast", to come on and share some of his hardest lessons learned. Over the course of nearly an hour John and I went back and forth sharing what some of our most difficult lessons have been and what we have learned from them. No matter where you are on your farming journey I know you'll find something in this chat that will save you a "hard lesson" in the future!

But wait, there's more ... Not only did John take time out of his busy farming schedule to chat with me, but he also threw out an offer for all of "The Beginning Farmer Show" listeners that is both humbling and awesome! From now until February 12th at noon you can get nearly 50% off of John's eBook, "Stress Free Chicken Tractor Plans" just by using the code "kickstart" when you check out. That is a great deal, but equally as cool is that John will also be backing "The Beginning Farmer Video" Kickstarter Campaign with the proceeds from the sales. Not only can you choose to support the campaign and receive some cool rewards, but for the next two weeks you can also get a cool eBook and support the campaign at the same time!

If you had to narrow down your top three farming hard lessons learned what would they be? Share yours in the comments below!

Links Mentioned in this Episode:
Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook! As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I'm thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn. 

If you do enjoy the show, don't forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with "The Beginning Farmer" and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links ...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

TBF 099 :: The Kickstarter Video Project, It's Fixed, and a Hard Lesson Learned

**As I transition to www.TheBeginningFarmer.com I am quickly realizing I'm not as web savvy as I had hoped! In the meantime I will be posting here as well for those of you subscribed through RSS ... and hopefully will have that fixed soon.**


It is pretty awesome to think that we've (you the listeners along with me) made it all the way from episode 1 of The Beginning Farmer Show up to episode 99 this week! In fact if you are really interested in digging deep you can find an episode 0, but I'm not going to give you the link because it's pretty bad. But, what I'm most excited about is heading into the next chapter of The Beginning Farmer Show heading into 2015. I'm excited to begin writing more blog posts, bringing more intelligence to the show in the form of listeners with farming/business knowledge to share, and of course the biggest news ... The Beginning Farmer Video Project Kickstarter Campaign!

You've heard me talking about it a lot over the past few months, but I'm finally ready to roll out the campaign, and if it is successful to begin producing Beginning Farmer Videos. I've been blessed to have a lot of help along my farming journey and I want to share what I've learned along the way as well as those hard lessons learned that I wish I could have avoided. There will be more details in Episode 100 of The Beginning Farmer Show, so stay tuned ...

What do you think The Beginning Farmer Show should cover in 2015? I'd love to hear your thoughts, or better yet ... hear you on the show raising the intelligence level! 

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook! 

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I'm thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don't forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with "The Beginning Farmer" and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links ...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

TBF 098 :: New Farm Goals, Broken Equipment, and a Hard Lesson Learned

**As I transition to www.TheBeginningFarmer.com I am quickly realizing I'm not as web savvy as I had hoped! In the meantime I will be posting here as well for those of you subscribed through RSS ... and hopefully will have that fixed soon.**


For the past six years my plans for farm growth could best be described as, "Whatever hits Ethan's mind we do"! There is a major problem with that though as I have talked about in past episodes about my business plan (like this one and this one), and even though I've said it before ... this year needs to be the year of progress on our farm. I've had a lot of fun learning, growing, and experimenting on the farm and now it is time to get to business. I'm not sure if that means our farm will grow a lot this year or if it means we will scale things back at the end of 2015, but I do know that we need to get moving. With that in mind I wanted to share some of my goals and vision for this coming year. Some of the things I want to share are 100% going to happen (the pig woodlot fences being expanded) and other things are pie in the sky sort of ideas (expanding to a new niche or product). Then there are the types of things that I really want to do, but I'm not yet sure how they are going to flesh out. On the top of that list is on farm classes and I'm willing to take ideas, suggestions, and thoughts on that one!

What do you have on your list for the coming year? What do you think ... should I expand the sheep ... are the on-farm classes in the future of The Beginning Farmer Show and Crooked Gap Farm? Join the discussion below! 

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook! 

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I'm thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don't forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show! I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail!

As always you can follow along with "The Beginning Farmer" and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links ...

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

TBF 097 :: Listener Questions, Winter Storm Preperation, and a Hard Lesson Learned

**As I transition to www.TheBeginningFarmer.com I am quickly realizing I'm not as web savvy as I had hoped! In the meantime I will be posting here as well for those of you subscribed through RSS ... and hopefully will have that fixed soon.**


If there is one thing that I've learned along the trail of my beginning farmer journey it is that I really don't know much when it comes to farmer. That was reinforced as I began recording today's episode and attempting to answer some listener questions! The good news though is that I'm not in this journey alone, so it is okay for me to say, "I don't know" from time to time and the turn to others that have more experience or at least more varied experiences than I do. In part that is why I shared the questions on today's episode ... because I didn't know the answer, but I'm sure someone listening will have some thoughts and I can't wait to here them!

So, if you have any thoughts on ...
  1. Fencing for pigs in the woodlot (I'm a firm believer in electric fence and shared some of my more in depth thoughts in Episode 56).
  2. How to improve the pasture after you move pigs off (Honestly this is not something I've done yet, but wanted to experiment this year. If you have any suggestions let us know ... in Episode 37 I shared some research I did on this topic).
  3. What the typical day looks like for a beginning farmer with an in-town job (I'm confident of this ... it is anything but typical. But, what do you do in that situation to accomplish as much as possible).
  4. The best "must have" farm outerwear choices for women (My advice ... layers ... lots of layers, and make sure you keep your fingers and head warm).
What do you think? Any tips, tricks, or suggestions ... let us know in the comments below! 

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook! 

Links Mentioned in This Episode:
As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I'm thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don't forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with "The Beginning Farmer" and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links ...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

TBF 096 :: Teresa Opheim of Practical Farmers of Iowa, Farm News, and a Hard Lesson Learned

**As I transition to www.TheBeginningFarmer.com I am quickly realizing I'm not as web savvy as I had hoped! In the meantime I will be posting here as well for those of you subscribed through RSS ... and hopefully will have that fixed soon.**


Did you know that well over 50% of Iowa farmland is owned by people over the age of 65? That means that in the coming years there will be a lot of farm land changing hands in one form or another. In some instances it may just transition to a son or daughter that continues the farm, in other cases it may be inherited by the next generation and the rented out to the highest bidder, and if you are a beginning farmer (or hope to be one soon) there may even be a possibility for you to build a relationship with a farmer. One thing is for sure though, and that is that many of these farmers over the age of 65 do not have a farm succession plan spelled out yet. That is one of the many things that I learned from my chat with Teresa Opheim, the Executive Director of Practical Farmers of Iowa, and why I am so excited to share this interview with you on this episode. Teresa and I talk about the mission and goals of PFI, the importance they place on farmer led research, and she even has some great encouragement for beginning farmers!

Are you a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa (come and see me at the conference if you are)? Have you thought about becoming a member? What organizations are you a part of, and how do they help make your farm a "practical farm"? 

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook! 

Links Mentioned in This Episode:
As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I'm thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don't forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with "The Beginning Farmer" and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

TBF 095 :: Christmas on the Farm, Christmas Hams, and a Hard Lesson Learned

**As I transition to www.TheBeginningFarmer.com I am quickly realizing I'm not as web savvy as I had hoped! In the meantime I will be posting here as well for those of you subscribed through RSS ... and hopefully will have that fixed soon.**


I love all seasons on the farm, but there is just something special about winter on the farm that really makes me thankful. In my mind it begins at Thanksgiving as we enjoy the bounty of the growing year, continues through the Christmas season, and then all the way to January and February as the kids (and parents) enjoy the fun that winter on the farm offers. Christmas on the farm is also the perfect time for telling stories and I love a good story ... especially when it is a farm story! Some stories make you thankful for what you have, other stories help remind you of what is truly important, and there are even stories that are just fun memories of times gone by. On today's episode I want to share three such stories. One comes from "Successful Farming" Magazine, another comes from the story of an Iowa farmer, and the last comes from my own childhood farm memory.

Do you have Christmas or winter memories from the farm? Stories that you love to share? I would love to hear your stories so don't be afraid to share!

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook! 

Links Mentioned in This Episode:
As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I'm thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don't forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with "The Beginning Farmer" and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links ...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TBF 094 :: Can I Break Even, The Grinder Mixer Grinds, and a Hard Lesson Learned

**As I transition to www.TheBeginningFarmer.com I am quickly realizing I'm not as web savvy as I had hoped! In the meantime I will be posting here as well for those of you subscribed through RSS ... and hopefully will have that fixed soon.**



Of all the farming related questions I receive I would say that the majority of them have to do with money. Questions like: Can I make a full-time living? How much will insurance cost? What is the profit margin per hog? Can I at least break even? All of those are great questions, but like many things in life the answer isn't always a yes or no, but rather it is usually "it depends". That was also the answer I had to give for a couple questions that I received over the past week. It's not that I didn't have thoughts on the subject, but sometimes a simple question like, "can I at least break even" just leads to so many more questions. Questions like: What price will you have to charge to break even? Do you have interested customers? How much marketing are you able to do? What about input costs (feed, pigs, water, structure, etc.)? All of those questions and their answers will make it possible to answer the, "can I break even" question.

Very rarely though do I lack an opinion on a farming subject, especially when that subject is pigs! That is why on today's episode I attempt to answer Doug's question about whether or not he could break even raising 3 to 6 American Guinea Hogs (or any pig for that matter) on his three acre property. The easy answer is yes. I mean if you have people willing to pay enough you can break even no matter what, but of course that is where the variables come into play. Once you take all of those into account I think the answer still may be yes, if you can come up with reasonable answers for questions about feed, purchasing feeder pigs, marketing, and so much more.

What do you think? What does it take to raise 3 to 6 pigs and break even or make a profit? Are you doing it now, or are you hoping/planning to do it in the future? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook! 

Links Mentioned in This Episode:
As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I'm thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don't forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with "The Beginning Farmer" and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links ...
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