Wednesday, October 29, 2014

TBF 087 :: Guinea Fowl & Rabbits on the Farm, Grain Bins, 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.**

This past week I posted a "fall farm" picture to the Crooked Gap Farm Facebook page and there was a great question about the style of our pasture pens for the rabbits. Of course this had me thinking about the best way to describe them (video of course ... maybe you have heard about a coming Kickstarter project), but beyond that it got me thinking about the role of the meat rabbits and guinea fowl on the farm. Right now they both are important pieces because the rabbits are they way our son gets involved in the business and the guinea fowl provide sales of course, but there is also the fact that they do a great job eating ticks and bugs! As I thought about it though, if I was starting my small scale farm with the focus of building a sustainable business that does more than just support a hobby I don't think either of those animals would be ones that I would start with. Of course if you are wanting to get a start in town the rabbits would be perfect, and if a family homestead was your goal then you might enjoy the guinea fowl (if they don't annoy you too much).

The facts are that with both the guinea fowl and the rabbits there is a huge benefit because your starting costs are rather low, your time to return (as in when you sell the meat) is fairly short, and the learning curve is less steep than cattle. It is also true that in many locations rabbit and guinea fowl meat is probably an untapped market. That can be both a blessing and point of concern. Not that you can't market them, but there will be more work in educating customers on the benefits, cooking methods, and great flavor. As a point of comparison ... even if you are raising pasture based poultry or pork there will always be people willing to take a chance on a whole chicken, bacon, or pork chops.

What I'm trying to say is that they have a place on the farm, but if I was starting my farm from scratch again they would be in the long range plans rather than year one or two. Of course all of that being said, if I would have started with meat rabbits in town instead of egg laying chickens the police never would have called asking me to remove my chickens! With that in mind maybe rabbits are the perfect thing to start with if your beginning farmer journey begins in town!

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, October 22, 2014

TBF 086 :: Farming Unfair Advantages, Non-GMO Switch, and a Hard Lesson

**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.**


TBFkickstarthogcart

If you've ever spent much time around children you have probably heard the phrase, "that's not fair!" In my eight years of researching my beginning farm and being a real life beginning farmer I have also heard that phrase from beginning farmers (myself included). In fact I've even heard it from politicians talking about agriculture when I visited them in Washington D.C. a few years back. What I'm trying to say is that it is very easy to fall into the trap of looking at my own farming situation and decide that it is unfair because others may have more land, more money, better markets, and a whole host of other things. I believe the reality is though that there is something about every beginning farmer (and experienced farmer) that is unfair ... the business world calls that an "unfair advantage".

On our farm we have the unfair advantage of buying a farm smack dab in the middle of an already successful Farm Crawl. Not every farm has something so great for marketing and not every farm can create an event like the one we are part of because you can't just pull 7 farms within 20 miles of each other doing a variety of forms of direct marketing. Another unfair advantage for our farm is my prolific love of talking about the farm. I'm not saying that I'm the world's best speaker or writer, but I do love to tell the story of our farm and I'm not afraid to share it with just about anyone who will listen.

My question for you is what is your "unfair farming advantage"? What are those things that set you apart from other farmers ... things that they just can't run to the closest farm store and buy? I would love to hear what your unfair advantage is ... what are you going to take advantage of on your 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 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, October 15, 2014

TBF 085 :: Farming Questions Answered, Updates from the Farm, and a Hard Lesson

**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.**



ScaredEthan.jpg

Over the past several weeks I have been teasing TBF Videos the next big thing for The Beginning Farmer, and last week as part of a "hidden track" after the closing music I mentioned an upcoming Kickstarter Project. We are getting closer to releasing our funding campaign, but I'm just so excited about the project that I had to share a few more details on the show today! There are some awesome rewards in the pipeline for being a backer of this campaign, we have a couple VERY cool "stretch rewards" if we can go above and beyond our goal, and of course if our project is funded successfully we will be producing The Beginning Farmer Videos! I can't wait to share the campaign with you, so stay tuned for more details coming soon. But, what really makes this episode cool are the four great questions that came in from listeners over on The Beginning Farmer Facebook Page.

On today's episode I answer questions about brooding chicks, learning about pork cuts, researching feed conversion ratios, and building farm websites. Of course great questions deserve equally well thought out responses so this episode runs a little longer than some of the previous ones. Along with my own thoughts I share quite a few links in my responses, so you will want to be sure to check out the links below.

Do you have thoughts on any of these subjects? Did I lead anyone astray? Join in the community below in the comments section!

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, October 08, 2014

TBF 084 :: Five Reasons for an On-Farm Event, Farm Crawl, and a Hard Lesson

**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.**



P1010054The Farm Crawl 2014 has come and gone and this years event was record setting! Overall we are estimating the event drew over 2,000 visitors and that our farm had over 1,800 people touring the farm in a short six hour span! Those are numbers that are hard to believe and humbling all at the same time ... plus, they are very exciting. Now that I'm a few days removed from the event and looking back there are a few experiences that I wanted to share with you. First of all it was amazing to meet so many podcast listeners face-to-face ... and some that had even traveled quite a distance to visit the farm. Unfortunately because it was so busy I didn't get a chance to spend as much time chatting as I would have liked, but know that I wanted to. Another great thing from the day was great encouragement we received from so many visitors complimenting our farm and the products that they have tried ... I can't tell you how great it is to hear someone say that our pork chops were the best they ever had!


Above all though the biggest thing that I'm taking away as I look back on this years Farm Crawl is just how important it is to have on farm events for a direct marketing farm. The connections that are made, the marketing opportunities that present themselves, and the ability of the farm to tell it's own story are priceless. On today's episode of "The Beginning Farmer Show" I want to share some of my most important highlights, the reasons why I think you should consider an on farm event, and of course the multiple hard lessons learned from this years Farm Crawl! 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, October 01, 2014

TBF 083 :: On Farm Learning, Quick Updates, and a Hard Lesson


**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.**
 

Danpigs
Last week I woke up much earlier than the sun and headed all the way to northwest Iowa to visit Seven W Farm and try to consume as much farming knowledge as possible in such a short time. It's not that the Wilson family didn't have much to teach, but rather that there was so much that I wanted to take in! In fact I'm not sure if I was even intelligent enough to soak in all the great farming experiences and knowledge that live on that farm. I first became aware of this farm back in 2009 when I watched the Niche Pork Webinar Series (you can find Dan Wilson's presentation in the link). The chance to visit the farm was a can't miss opportunity.

ChickenpresentationThere were quite a few things that I took away from the day, but some of the coolest things were checking out their laying chicken design, learning about their organic dairy, and of course seeing the pigs and their pasture farrowing set-up. Sometimes I get insulated in my own little "farming world" down here where the only things I think about are my farm and the farm that I work at from time to time. Being on another farm that had similar operations to mine, and even things I would be interested in looking at for the future, really helped open my eyes to what was possible for my farm.

ChickenwagonsideEven though their farm had similar operations and similar values and methods of raising their livestock there was still quite a few things that I took away and would like to add to my farm. I hope that you look for chances to get on other farms in your area for learning experiences, because honestly they can't be beat. And ... if you live in Iowa or the surrounding states you should probably check out Practical Farmers of Iowa.

ChickenwagoninsideAs 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, September 24, 2014

TBF 082 :: Future of The Beginning Farmer, Cleaning a Farm, and a Hard Lesson


**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.** 

Even farmers take a break. Ethan
Went and checked out the Central
Time Tour this weekend!
The Beginning Farmer Show was your first introduction to me, "The Beginning Farmer", then you may not know that what is now a podcast initially began as a blog about my farming journey (or hopeful beginning farming journey). My very first post was way back on September 23rd, 2006 (that's eight years ago!). Since that time there have been over 900 posts on this blog plus even more from my day's writing for Epicurious. What began with questions like: How much capital will it take to get started? How much cash-flow will be needed, and where will it come from as we start? How much can I expect to make with certain crops or livestock? And, how and to whom will I do all of my marketing? ... has morphed into discussions about breed selections, hog loading procedures, and so much more! 

What I really want to say though is that I've learned to love podcasting and the community that has grown up around "The Beginning Farmer Show". It's been exciting trying to answer as many questions as possible from all of the listeners, but to be completely honest I think I have probably learned more from everyone that has offered advice and help than I could ever hope to give! The most important thing to me has always been to share the "real life" stories and lessons and experiences from the farm.

I mention all of this to say that I think there are some exciting opportunities ahead for "The Beginning Farmer Show". Opportunities that I hope will continue to grow the community, share farming knowledge, and encourage beginners ... because I know as a beginner myself that encouragement is always welcome. I have two things in mind. One is video and the other is something that I'm still fleshing out at this point. There will be ways for you to get involved though ... so stay tuned for more details after the Farm Crawl.

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, September 17, 2014

TBF 081 :: Facing Farming Realities, Fence Work, and a Hard Lesson


**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.**

Lately I've been going through what I'm calling my "Farming Reality Check". It's not so much a mid-life crisis or even a "mid-farm crisis" as much as it is the fact that I am quickly (after slowly) coming to the realization that there needs to be more shifts and movement on the farm. A few weeks ago it became painfully clear that the balance in our life had gone from extremely shaky to absolutely falling off the ball out of balance. This shake-up (which I admit had been coming for sometime) has finally got me to the point where I need to honestly evaluate what is going on at the farm and what maybe needs to have big changes. There is good news though! The good news is that I'm taking the bull by the horns and attacking the balance issue as best as I can ... with the help of my family and all the great listeners of The Beginning Farmer Show I'm building a business plan and taking a close look at everything we do on the farm and why we do it.

Not everything about this episode is a downer though. Thanks to a growing group on the new Beginning Farmer Show Facebook Page I wanted to take some time to answer questions about two of my favorite topics ... chainsaws and pigs! Below you will find links to the resources I mentioned:
One more thing ... I mentioned in this weeks episode that I'm getting about 1,500 volts on the ground wires in my fence. Is this normal or do you have any thoughts on what I'm missing that would be causing this? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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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