Saturday, May 31, 2008

Planning My Summer Schedule

Even though I am going to be plenty busy on the farm this summer I am already beginning to plan my summer out around learning opportunities. When it comes to learning I am still reading as much as I can (not as much as in the winter), working with other farmers when I have a chance, and of course the discussion on this blog is a huge plus! But, because of the Practical Farmers of Iowa I will have quite a few opportunities this summer and fall to get out and see what other farmers are doing. Here are a few of the over 30 Field Days they will be a part of this year. Although I doubt I will be able to make it to every single one these are the top on my list.

  • Grass-Based Organic Dairy Systems (June 21): This will begin at Radiance Dairy which is a 236-acre, 80-cow, grass-based, and certified organic dairy. They process and sell on farm which is pretty cool. I would like to attend because they will be talking about different watering systems and fly control among other things.
  • Grass-Finishing, MOB Grazing, Next Generation (July 16): This one takes place up in Northeast Iowa so it may be more difficult to make it, but I would love to hear what they have to say about the topics of Holistic Management, MOB Grazing, and Generational Family Succession Planning. This event takes place at Herman's Heartland Farm.
  • Live Animal Evaluation (July 23): I cannot miss this one! It is only 10 or 15 miles away and will feature Gearld Fry talking about linear measuring and cattle genetics. This event will be at the DeCook ranch which also hosted a pasture walk last year that I attended. I'm really looking forward to this field day.
  • Grass-Fed Field Day (August 13): Water systems, grazing summer annuals, handling livestock, and more are some of the topics that will be covered at this PFI event. The farm where the event will take place sells finished beef to Thousand Hills Cattle Company and direct to customers. Should be a informational day.
  • Marketing Grass-Fed Beef (August 19): This is probably another one that I shouldn't miss, and it isn't too far away. A couple of interesting topics on this day will be a discussion of deworming with copper sulfate and sorghum-sudangrass for finishing cattle ... along with marketing of course.
  • CRP to Grazing (August 21): Since this is what I'm doing (even though I will be started by the time this day comes around) I would love to check out what they do. It is close by and will be covering some of the ins and outs using cost share to put in fencing and water systems.
  • Monitoring Cattle Performance (August 27): This one looks interesting because it covers a wide range of topics (not just cattle). They will be talking about grazing summer and winter annuals, multi-species grazing, sheep, and poultry. It would be a nice event to attend.
  • Farm Crawl (October 5): I attended this Farm Crawl last year and had a great time learning from farmers in my area. Someday I would love to be a part of this event ... we will just have to see.
You can find all of these events (and more) on the PFI link at the top of this post. I know that I won't be able to get to all of these, but these are the ones that look the most exciting.


Anonymous said...

I would sure be interested in attending the Live Animal Evaluation event by Gerald Fry. Where is that going to be held? I couldn't find the link you mentioned :)


Ethan Book said...

I forgot to put the link in ... whoops!! It is there now, and here is the link to the calendar.

The Fry thing will be between Knoxville and Lovilla.

Mellifera said...

You're around Decorah, right? For what it's worth, I'm going on a field trip that's stopping at Seed Savers (among other midwestern ag hot spots). If you've ever wanted to see a bunch of ag students from Florida, I guess this is your chance. ; )

Ethan Book said...

Mellifera - Unfortunately I don't live near Decorah, but rather in Southern Iowa. When are you coming and are you going anywhere else in Iowa? Maybe you will be up here during a PFI field day.

Mellifera said...

I'll let you know as soon as I find out- we've got a list of where we're going, but not exactly when. The whole trip itself will be going from June 19-29 and we're driving a loop from Florida to Minnesota and back, so that's a rough idea.... I'll let you know. (I'm trying to meet up with my family coming down from Wisconsin too, so the itinerary has become a hot topic around here.)

Mellifera said...

Alright everybody, the UF ag travel class now has an itinerary! Ethan, unfortunately my Iowa geography is not so great so I'm just going to slap down which days we'll be in which town, and if any of them look good for meeting up we can work on that. A possible plus: we have a class blog and I'm in charge. : )

Saturday 6/21: Loess Hills, Council Bluffs (I think you have something going on this day anyway).

6/22-24: Ames

6/25: Waterloo and Cresco

6/26-27: NE Iowa (Decorah etc).

6/28-29: Illinois and Indiana. Boooorrring.... : )

I have this thread on email alert now, so just let me know if any of these sound like they're not too out of your way.

Ethan Book said...

Mellifera - Sounds like a pretty good schedule. Please tell me you are going to take time to visit with someone from the Practical Farmers of Iowa when you are in Ames... They are about as good as it gets for smart farming in this state and even the country.

If you don't have anything scheduled there yet I can hook you up with someone that could help you.

Are you going to be visiting farms or colleges or what?

Mellifera said...


We don't have PFI on the schedule, but what we do have looks pretty flexible. I'm looking at the all-day visit with Monsanto's plant breeding director on Tuesday and thinking maybe we can get a van together to skip out early. I mean, I'm sure there's a lot to see and learn at Monsanto, but a whole day?

We're visiting university and USDA stuff about half the time, some agribusiness sites (Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred, the John Deere Tractor Works, ethanol plant), and some different stuff like Seed Savers, an Amish farm, a bee farm, the last unplowed prairie ever, etc.

If you could send me some contact info for PFI, that would be great- I'm sure some of the students would be interested in getting a side trip together. Luckily I'm signed up as one of the four or so certified van drivers on the whole trip, so if all else fails, this van's goin' where Mellifera wants it to go. ; ) (Just kidding... we'd hate to defame PFI, we'll get permission first.)

Mellifera said...

Ok, the word from our professor is if we could set something up that would be great. Last time they tried to come by there was fee, which a lot of the students didn't like, hence they didn't go visit. I suspect the fee/no fee factor would probably make a difference this time too. ...

He says early evening (6-9 pmish, since there's a lot of twilight this time of year) on the 23rd or 24th would probably work. Who should I get in touch with over at PFI?

Mellifera said...

If anybody's interested, you can follow the aforementioned field trip on our class blog. It has yet to be filled up with anything but should hopefully include a trip to PFI. : )

Mellifera said...

I think we have an appointment lined up tomorrow with PFI... it's still a little up in the air ("our schedule is a very fluid concept right now") but I think it's going to gel. Yay! PFI, here we come.

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