Wednesday, April 23, 2014

TBF 060 :: A Major Farm Marketing Change, 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.**

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Life on the farm is always full of difficult decisions. Sometimes they have to do with livestock, sometimes they are about projects, and sometimes there are even difficult marketing decisions to be made. For the past few months we have been working through the process of making a difficult marketing decision, and we have finally come to the conclusion ...


We will not be doing the Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market this year.

 This is a huge change in our marketing plan for the farm, and honestly it is very scary because for the past two years the market has been by far our highest grossing sales opportunity. But, with a full-time job off-farm and another farming job working for the neighbors I have been finding myself spread too thin to accomplish the work that I feel needs to get done. The lack of time because of the demands from my other jobs, along with less product availability than expected and a desire to involve the family more, has led us to the point where the market just needed to go ... at least for this moment. In today's episode I wanted to share a little bit about the thoughts we had while making this big decision and then what big changes this means for our marketing going forward. Sometimes you just need to dive into something ... and we are diving in head first this time!

  Helpful Links from Today's 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 ...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TBF 059 :: Selecting Heritage Meat Chickens, 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.**


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I have to admit that this episode (and the following episode) is one that I was very excited about doing for purely selfish reasons. I am super excited to have Wesley Hunter of Providence Farm on the show to talk about heritage breed meat chickens. This is a topic that is on my mind a lot because I just haven't been able to find a replacement for the birds that I was able to raise a few years ago. Through the help of a SARE Grant Wes was able to do some great on-farm research comparing a variety of heritage meat chickens for things like feed efficiencies, dressed weight percentage, total feed consumption, and even an unscientific taste test. It would not be a stretch to say this is one of the best episodes to date! If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below and Wes or I will take time to answer them. Helpful Links from Today's 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, April 09, 2014

TBF 058 :: Raising Pastured Poultry, Farm News, and a Hard Lesson Learned


The podcast is up and I'm excited to say that it is about chickens! But, the show notes are not up yet ... they're coming ... I promise ...

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, April 02, 2014

TBF 057 :: The Listener Mailbag, Farm Updates, 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.**

sheep hay
I am always thankful for all of the questions, comments, and encouragement that come in via e-mail or comment or even from the good ol' post office! Lately there have been some very good questions coming in covering a whole host of topics that I want to cover on future episodes of the show. Today though I wanted to take some time to answer three questions that have come in over the past couple of weeks regarding hay, finding pigs, and the big bad Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus. All great questions that deserve great responses ... hopefully some rambling from a beginning farmer will at least shed a little light on the topics.


Helpful Links from Today's 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 ...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

TBF 056 :: Pigs in the Woodlot & Pasture, Farm News, and a Hard Lesson Learned

1397939_757593997601893_478550731_oOn our farm we try to keep the pigs in the woodlots and on the pasture as much of the year as possible. Generally that means we move them out to the woodlots in March or April and bring them back up to their cozy winter accommodations in December. Over the past five years we have really come to love having pigs out in the woods (and from the picture on the right you can see they love it too), but raising them out in the open like that does mean we have to do things a little differently than if we were raising them on lots up by the house. We use electric fence, portable waterers and feeders, creative loading solutions, and so much more. On today's episode I'm going to share some of the "nuts and bolts" of our woodlot/pasture pig infrastructure.

 When it comes to woodlot/pasture infrastructure for the pigs our main elements are fencing, access to water, feed, shelter, loading/sorting facilities, and of course the rotations that we do between paddocks.  We haven't quite reached the perfect set up yet, but what we have reached is a workable solution that is semi-portable ... adaptable to different areas of the farm ... and seems to keep the pigs healthy and happy. If you'd like to know more about our fencing projects and what products we use check out the links below ...
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, March 19, 2014

TBF 055 :: The Big Switch to Non-GMO, New Calves, 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.**

Hereford HogA little over a month ago in episode 50 of "The Beginning Farmer Show" I talked about a possible switch to using Non-GMO feed for our pigs and poultry. In that episode I talked about some of the research I did (a google search), and the fact that it seemed like you could find a "scientific" article to say whatever you wanted it to say. But, it was the beginning of the question for us and for the past five weeks or so I have been hashing things out in my mind, talking with customers, chatting with farmers who have recently made the switch, and just thinking about what my gut was telling me to do. To be honest this wasn't a decision that was a complete slam dunk for us one way or the other because there were a lot of factors to consider.

 In the end though we have decided that the best step for our farm is to begin making the transition to only using Non-GMO feeds for our pigs and for our poultry (both egg-layers and meat birds). This will not be a quick transition because not only is there the issue of having access to the Non-GMO grains, but there is also the somewhat daunting fact that in order to do this we will have to use only pigs born on our farm. The transition will take some time, but in the end we think it is the direction we need to go for quite a few reasons on our farm ... some of those reasons will be the main topic of today's show!

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, March 12, 2014

TBF 054 :: Should I Quit the Farm?, Farm Updates, and a Hard Lesson Learned


1743509_819855721375720_1180435224_nBy nature I am either totally optimistic or wholly pessimistic. That can be a lethal combination in that sometimes I find myself running headlong into something because I'm just really excited about it and then crashing and burning because it doesn't initially go as I had hoped. One of those pessimistic question that pops into my head from time to time on the farm is, "Should I quit the farm?" On the surface this is just one of those questions of doubt that are part of my flawed nature, but I do think there is value in sometimes pulling back and taking time to honestly examine the question. On today's episode I'm going to talk about some of the very practical reasons that I think I should quit farming, and then a few emotionally romantic reasons why I'm probably going to continue this farming journey.

Some of my very practical reasons for quitting the farm and chalking it up to a stressful life lessons include money, time, stress, and skill. These are all very important things to think about in any business, but that doesn't make them deal breakers ... I mean for the past five years we have made the farm go and it is definitely more than a hobby! So, instead of asking the question, "Should I quit farming?" ... I try to force myself to answer the question, "Why should we keep the farm going and growing?" The answers to those questions are often less about finances, but sometimes are equally as convincing. How do you keep your work going through the doubts?

Links Relevant to 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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