Friday, December 28, 2007

The Contrary Farmer :: Chapter 10 Book Report

"Winter Wheat, Spring Oats, Summer Clover, Fall Pasture" ... that is the title of the final chapter in Gene Logsdon's book, "The Contrary Farmer". The main topic of this chapter is the role that small grains can play on the "cottage farm". As I have mentioned in other posts about Mr. Logsdon's book her runs a very diverse farm that includes livestock and a rotation of pastures and grains. Just as with the corn he isn't talking about large plots, but rather he plants smaller areas that he uses for hay and grains for his livestock.

Mr. Logsdon sees small grains as an important part of the contrary farm because they provide different sources of feed and bedding. If one crop doesn't work out then he likes to have back-ups ... that is the beauty of diversification. He spends extra time talking about wheat, oats, and hay in this chapter, but also touches on a few other small grains such as soybeans and rye. Each of these small grain crops has its benefits for the small cottage farmer that helps the farm ... if you have the right equipment (see last chapters report).

He likes the wheat because it can be planted in the fall which spreads out his work load and gives him the possibility of grazing for a short time in the fall on the new wheat field. While wheat is good Mr. Logsdon believes that oats is more important to the small farmer because it is higher in protein and other minerals and mixes well with corn for feeding. Also, the oats will provide you with straw that you can use as bedding. One interesting method for harvesting oats that he explains in this chapter comes Karl Kuerner, Jr. Mr. Kuerner lets his oat grains ripen just a little more than when you would regularly when making oat hay and then bales the oats. The result is bales that can be feed in the winter that includes oat grains ... either then animals eat the whole thing or they munch out the grains and the rest can be pushed in to their area for bedding (that sounds like something I would try for horses).

My Final Thoughts... All in all these last few of chapters on grain and farm equipment have really made me think about how I want to farm. While I'm not sure if I will be adding them all to my farming plan I believe it was good to look at things from the other side of the fence. Mr. Logsdon is really a "contrary farmer" ... he doesn't line up with the organics ... he leaves the pasture only stuff to the guys with more land ... and he is not anywhere near the conventional farmers. The reality of it is that if you are going to farm for a full-time living I think you need to think differently and this book has helped me do that. I would encourage you to check this "The Contrary Farmer," by Gene Logsdon ... especially if you are a "cottage farmer" who has other sources of income, but also is a farmer.


Steven said...

I think I'm going to have 4 acres planted in Oats sometime after Feb. 15th this year and then plant grass in with it. Either at the same time or after the last frost??

I hope to have hay made from the oats, but we may end up just grazing it. I'd never heard of baling the oats after it had grain on it.

I just started a facebook group for dexter cattle enthusiasts if anyone is interested. Just search facebook for "dexter cattle enthusiasts" and feel free to upload ANY dexter cattle or farm related photos.

farm mama said...

I see from your blog that you are an avid reader, and I have a book that is absolutely awesome from a small farm, do-it-yourself standpoint. It is "The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Do It" by John Seymour. He even provides diagrams of possible land plans ranging from a backyard city garden, a one-acre, 5 acre and 10 acre layouts. He gives how-to instuctions on everything from gardening to butchering.

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