Thursday, July 30, 2015

TBF 123 :: Heritage Meat Chickens, Harvesting Oats, 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.**

Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel!



flippedchickenwagonThere have been a lot of "happenings" lately on the farm that I have been wanting to share on the podcast, but I just haven't made the time. On this weeks episode I'm making the time to talk about the heritage meat chickens, my first foray into grain farming, buckets of rain, and grinding feed. The most exciting thing though is that instead of just telling you about my "Hard Lesson Learned" this week, I actually am able to show it to you because I had the forethought to hit record as I worked my way through another lesson here on the farm! You really do need to watch the video to see and hear the whole story, but let me just sum it up for you :: Put everything way when you are done using it!


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 ...

Monday, July 27, 2015

TBF 122 :: Farming Exit Interview, Sheep Fencing, 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.**

Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel!


:: Warning :: There were some equipment issues while recording this episode and there is a very annoying audio hum during the opening and closing sections. I will try to remedy this issue as soon as possible.

For the past six weeks we were able to have an extern (it's sort of like an internship) on the farm working along side us. The extra set of hands, extra insight when problems pop up, and companionship was such a blessing. If you listened to TBF Show Episode 119 you heard from our extern Ryan as he shared some of his initial impressions and what he was hoping to accomplish through this experience. On this weeks episode I wanted to take the chance to do an "exit interview" with Ryan. As we talked about his time on the farm he shared some of the things he loved, what surprised him, the lessons that he would be taking back to the classroom, and even some great insight for beginning farmers!
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, July 22, 2015

TBF 121 :: Farm Questions, The County Fair , 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.**

Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel!



listener questionIf you're a beginning farmer like I am a beginning farmer then you have lots of questions! Sometimes what you need isn't always the "right" answer as much as it is an answer that helps get your mind wrapped around that issue, and then you can find a solution that fits best. Hopefully that is what I'll be able to provide today, thoughts that help you find the right direction, as I do my best to answer questions about electric fencing, sheep, profitable enterprises, and so much more!

In this episode I mentioned a lot of different products, books, links, and other resources. I've tried to include them all below, but if you hear of one that I missed please comment below and I'll update the list.

Resources 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 ...

Thursday, July 09, 2015

TBF 120 :: Farms are Work, The Right Product , 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.**

Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel!



There is a great line from one of my all time favorite movies ("Dances With Wolves") that goes something like this, "Somebody back east is saying, 'Now why don't he write?'" If you're a longtime reader of the blog or listener of the podcast maybe you have been wondering the same thing! And, to be completely honest with you it has just been a difficult year for me so far which has made it even more difficult for me to work up the courage and desire to sit down and talk about it. All of that is to say that if you are looking for an upbeat episode with lots of success and win stories then you may want to skip this episode. I do promise that it is genuine, carefully thought out, and even relevant to beginning farmers.

One more thing though. I don't share this as a "sob story", but rather for two main reasons that I care deeply about. Reason #1 is that I have always said that I will be as transparent as possible when it comes to sharing my beginning farmer journey, and that includes the not so good times. Reason #2 is that I do honestly feel like I need to apologize for not having much consistency this year and not quite yet pulling together all of the things for the Kickstarter Campaign. Thank you all so much for your continued support!

Resources 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 rev iew (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 ...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

TBF 119 :: An On-Farm Extern, The Garden Grows, 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.**


Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel!

Two sets of hard working hands are better than one, and two quick thinking brains will always trump one! Those are just a couple of reasons that we are enjoying having our summer "extern" Ryan on the farm for a few more weeks. He brings lots of great help, great questions, and a wonderful desire to work and learn. On top of all that he also is doing great things teaching high school students about sustainable agriculture and now he will have some crazy stories to go with those lessons. Ryan is able to give you an "outsiders" view on The Beginning Farmer's farm!

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 rev iew (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 ...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

TBF 117 :: How Many Acres, Help on the Farm, 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.**


Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel!

fulltimefarmOf the many challenges that beginning farmers face (access to land, lack of farming skills, need for capital) one that I often find myself thinking about is just "how many acres" I need to make my farm a "full-time" farm (if that is the goal that you have). That reminds me of something my uncle said to me when he first saw my new shed, "It's not big enough." To me it seemed huge (bigger than our house) and besides, I built it as big as the money would allow! But, as he explained that the reason he said that was because buildings are never "big enough" it made sense. Now that I've had that shed for a few years I have thought plenty of times, "I wish I had room for this thing or that thing."

Often times it is similar when it comes to farm land as well. I am very thankful for the 40 acres we were able to purchase, but sometimes a little more would be useful. If I just had a few more acres I could raise enough cattle or sheep to help the income. If there 20 more acres maybe I could really increase my hog numbers and not sacrifice the grazing animals. Or, if I really upped the acreage maybe I could even produce all the feed on my farm for my animals! Nevertheless the question stands, "How many acres do you feel you would need in order to increase your various livestock levels so you would be able to support your family with just your farm income and not have to work off farm?" When I think about that question I have a few thoughts and a couple of paths I think I could go (or any other farmer in my shoes). I wonder to myself what could I do instead of livestock that would require 10 or less acres? I wonder if I just plain need to raise my prices to support everything on the land we have? I wonder if instead of increasing livestock numbers there just needs to be some other source on "on-farm" income (as in work from home). But, that wasn't the question ... so I feel like I have two paths I could take if I wanted to land a full-time on farm income as far as the number of acres.

Path #1 :: 40 Acres Enough

Sometimes bigger isn't better, so with that in mind there might be value in not increasing the amount of land that I am farming, but rather "farm it better" (you can decide for yourself what is better). If I was to take a path like this one I wouldn't increase my land, but rather increase my livestock numbers and shift my ratios. With the land base we currently are farming I believe I could up my hog numbers into the 300 to 400 range (total number each year not all at once) and I could also increase my poultry numbers without causing a huge impact on the hog numbers. The rub would be in the ruminants though. With that many pigs they would have to move out onto more of the pasture (or all of the pasture) and I would not be able to graze the numbers of cattle and sheep that I currently raise. I would lose diversity on the farm, but possibly gain a full-time farm income.

Path #2 :: Let's Get Biggish

I have thought about this path more than just a few times, so I have quite a few thoughts! But, instead of rambling on those thoughts I decided to come up with a simple answer. If I was going to add acres to get to a size that would allow me to farm full-time on the farm making a respectable living (working hard), and possibly even supporting more than just my family, I would say 300 acres of central Iowa farm ground. I didn't just pull that number out of the air though, that is how many acres Dick Thompson (one of the founders of Practical Farmers of Iowa) farmed. Of course there could be ways to lower that number through direct marketing, even deeper niche markets, and any other creative things you can come up with. But, it is a good starting point if I wanted to produce as many of my feed inputs on farm as possible.

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 rev iew (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, June 10, 2015

TBF 118 :: Pastured Rabbit Talk, Muggy & Muddy, 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.**


Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel!

One of the newest ventures on our farm (although we've been at it for three years) is the pasture raised rabbit operation that was begun by our son when he was 8-years old. Over our three years of raising rabbits out on pasture we have had many ups and downs, but this year is beginning to feel like it can be a turning-point in the business. On today's episode though I have a very special guest on again to talk about raising rabbits. My oldest son and I sit down to talk about the good, the bad, and of course the hard lessons learned! If you have any rabbit raising questions or thoughts on the subject we'd love to have a discussion.

Resources 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 rev iew (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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