Wednesday, March 04, 2015

TBF 105 :: Do Chickens Work for the Farm, Thanks so Much, 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.**

Raising poultry on a small-scale beginning farm is a pretty common thing, especially when the birds are egg laying hens! There is just something aesthetically pleasing about seeing a flock of hens foraging through the pasture and farm yard softly clucking or chasing bugs. Plus, they produce eggs with dark orange yolks that have a flavor that most people are used to when it comes to the simple egg. But, is there really a dark side to the small-scale farm egg-laying flock? Maybe "dark side" is a little much, but the truth is for most small-scale beginning farmers the profit margin is pretty slim when it comes to the eggs. Once you factor in the cost of the chicks, the cost of the feed just to get them to laying age, their housing, the water, the labor, the costs of marketing the eggs, and all the other incidentals each carton of one dozen eggs has a lot of money in them! When I think about all of that I often wonder, "Why in the world did I just order 150 laying chicks?"

That is a valid question because if we've learned anything from over 100 episodes it is that the beginning farming journey isn't always easy! I do think there are some good reasons for having laying hens and egg production as a part of your farming enterprise and I would love to hear why you think it is an important piece of the farming puzzle ... comment below! 

Links Mentioned in the 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, February 25, 2015

TBF 104 :: Farming Questions & Answers, Finding the Mix, 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.**

"The Beginning Farmer Video" Kickstarter Campaign

beginningfarmerquestions.jpgWhy in the world would you shave your beard in the middle of winter when snow is coming? What are a few of your farming tricks of the trade? How do you decide when you need to make price increases? Those are just a sampling of the questions that I'm going to attempt to address on this weeks episode. Notice that I was very clear there and I did not say I would "answer" them, but rather I'll just do my best to share my thoughts. Below you'll find a list of the questions that came in over on the Facebook page and the links that relate to those questions. One of my most favorite things about farming is the exchange of knowledge, so if you have any thoughts on these subjects please comment below!

Farming Questions From Listeners:

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, February 18, 2015

TBF 103 :: Let's Be Positive About Farming, No Chicks Yet, 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.**

"The Beginning Farmer Video" Kickstarter Campaign


It seems like lately there have been a rash of articles about farming and about how you just can't be a successful beginning farmer. Okay ... "a rash of articles" may be a little bit of an overstatement on my part, but there have been a couple over the last year or so. The first one that really grabbed my attention was, "Don't Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers" by Bren Smith and published in the New York Times. I really appreciated Joel Salatin's response in a "Letter to the Editor" (although I will admit not everyone agreed with Mr. Salatin). Most recently the article that is making the rounds is titled, "What nobody told me about small farming: I can't make a living" by Jaclyn Moyer. I have lots of thoughts on both of these articles, but in someways I don't feel qualified to respond because I'm not making my full-time living on the farm.

The biggest thing I took away after reading both of those articles though is that I just want to be positive about the possibilities of farming. The work and business of farming will always be difficult and the margins will always have the possibility of being tight because there are so many variables that you can't control. Nevertheless I want to be positive and encouraging when it comes to the beginning farming journey ... all while telling the whole story (including the hard lessons learned).

Three Encouraging Books for Your Farming Journey:

Other 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, February 11, 2015

TBF 102 :: Plans for Chickens, Non-GMO Feed is Happening, 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.**


"The Beginning Farmer Video" Kickstarter Campaign

chickenplansOur "farm" began with six egg-laying backyard chickens before moving out to the 40 acres that is now Crooked Gap Farm. Somewhere and somehow along this farming journey though the poultry operation was pushed to the back ... and eventually to the way back! Once we began adding pigs, cattle, and eventually sheep to the farm I became less focused on the plans and managing of our poultry flocks. It's not that I didn't keep upgrading infrastructure or that we quit having birds, but rather it was just a part of our farm that I didn't put much thought into. That is going to change this year though because I have a plan for both our meat chickens and our egg-laying flock!

The Ultimate Crooked Gap Farm Chicken Plan for 2015

Our Egg-Laying Chicken Plans (Ordered ASAP):
  • Buff Orpington (15-25) - brown eggs
  • Black Astralorp (15-25) - brown eggs
  • Delaware (15-25) - brown eggs
  • Barred Rock (50-75 including roosters) - brown eggs
  • Araucana (at least 25) - blue/green eggs
  • Pearl-White Leghorns (at least 25) - white eggs
Our Meat Chicken Plans (Chicks arrive at the end of February)
  • Dominiques (25 cockerels)
  • New Hampshire Reds (25 cockerels)
  • Nacked Necks (25 cockerels)
  • White Rocks (25 cockerels)
  • Pioneers (25 straight run)
  • Freedom Ranger Black Broiler (100 straight run)
All total that means there will be a bit over 300 chicks coming to the farm in the span of a few weeks which does cause some issues when it comes to brooder space, especially when keeping them warm will be more difficult with winter still hanging on. My plan is to brood the meat chicks in my two 4x8 brooders that have lids and 2 inch styrofoam insulation that I put on top to keep the heat in. That means that I will be building a quick hover to put in the laying chicken wagon I built last year. Something along the lines of this maybe.

What I can tell you is that I'm excited to have a plan! I'm sure there will be some bumps along the way still and I know there will be some "hard lessons learned" to share, but at least I have something to start with. Do you have chick plans for this spring? If you're ordering chicks what will you be ordering? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

One More Kickstarter Support Option!

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!

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, February 04, 2015

TBF 101 :: Our Meat CSA, Beginning Farmer Videos, 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.**


"The Beginning Farmer Video" Kickstarter Campaign

runningmeatcsaWe just need to get this out of the way ... I am super excited about the awesome and amazing kick-off to "The Beginning Farmer Show" Kickstarter Campaign! We have blown past the original goal and are well on our way to stretch goal number one. All of that means two things ... Thing number one: You all rock! Thing number two: My excitement is pretty much overflowing and that means what begins as discussion of our Meat CSA pretty much turns into a "Beginning Farmer" ramble session!

But, it also shows how excited I am about our Meat CSA. We began our Meat CSA in January 2014 as we transitioned out of doing a farmer's market for half of the year. The biggest reason for this was because of time, not that the Meat CSA takes less time than the market (although it does take slightly less), but rather because the time is spread out more evenly. After experiencing the ups and downs of this marketing avenue for a year though I have come to love it. Although that doesn't mean that it is the perfect fit for every farm.

One More Kickstarter Support Option!

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!

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 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 ...
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