Saturday, April 17, 2010

Comeback Farms :: Chapters 17-19 Book Report

Chapters 17, 18, and 19 of "Comeback Farms," by Greg Judy are three very encouraging chapters that each deal with topics that are very similar, yet different at the same time. In chapter 17 Mr. Judy writes about the money side of the hair sheep component on his farm. He sells his lambs both at the local livestock auction and direct to customers and believes that both can be profitable with no-input grassfed hair sheep ... although it is much more profitable when he sells directly to the customer. The figures he gives for the financial side of sheep in this chapter are pretty encouraging and make me feel like running out and getting some right away (even though I understand everything doesn't go by the book all the time). But, I think the profit possibilities are real and I love the comparatively quick turnaround that lamb offer. This is not a two-year proposition like grassfed beef, so your money won't be tied up quite as long.

Let me just add this on the topic of hair sheep ... there is so much that I'm learning now that I wish I would have learned before I got going! I believe if I was starting over now and using the experience and knowledge I have gained that I would have started with pigs and sheep and then added just a couple cows. The pigs and sheep offer such a quicker path to income and have a much lower starting cost! So, if you haven't started yet and livestock is your dream ... think about that.

In chapter 18 Mr. Judy talks about brush goats as a piece of the puzzle on his rented farms. I'm not adding goats (unless it's just a goat that I can make faint), but I can see how they would be a nice addition in his situations. He only keeps about 20 goats on his farms and he does not use them within his mob grazing system. They are allowed to take care of the brush clean up and the provide a little meat for sale each year. I would say that they are just another "tool" in his management system.

On the other hand though, chapter 19 is about Tamworth pigs and that topic does get me excited. I will admit that I do love the Herefords so far, but every time I read about Tamworths I get excited and want to find some! It's things like this quote that get me excited,
"It is a true treat to watch them graze in the pasture. They walk along at a steady pace with their heads bobbing just enough to take in the top 2-3" of clover or whatever their target may be. They graze at lightning speed, just taking the best tender part of the plant as their snout passes over it."
Yep, I need to find some Tamworths! I have really enjoyed having the pigs on the farm and think that they are a great addition to any pasture based system.


ShepherdToBe said...

I just found your blog, and love it! Our dream is to own a fiber farm (maybe dairy too) and I would love pastured pigs. Hopefully in a year we will be there. Meanwhile I will live vicariously through you and others!

Rooster Shamblin said... please read my chicken website filled with interesting facts and delicious recipes.

Amy said...

We love our Tamworths (we bought them after reading Greg's book). One of our sows is getting ready to farrow, the other will be soon. They are so gentle, even the boar (their names are Olive, Olivia and Oliver) has no problems with being petted. They do roam all over their enclosed area eating grass. They are no where near as hyper as some of the weaner pigs we have purchased to raise for meat in the past. On a different note, if you like goat's milk and goat cheese (or make goats milk soap as I do) goats aren't too difficult, but I am with Greg that a permanent fenced in area is better in the long run. They can be difficult to fence. We do incur a larger hay bill this way but lots less headaches..:-)

Rich said...

Slightly related to the idea of sheep on the farm, I have become interested in permaculture, and have thought that having a mixed herd of cattle and sheep along with a permaculture system might be an advantage (if not required).

As an example, instead of fighting an expensive losing battle with something like blackberries, I could add some sheep to the herd and a weed would turn into forage for the sheep. Expanding on the idea, planting and/or encouraging various trees to grow in either hedges or scattered groupings around the pastures could be used as shade for the livestock, winter shelter, livestock forage, wildlife habitat, and landscaping.

A good explanation of the idea is Rebecca Hosking's Farm for the Future documentary (the first third is devoted to some peak oil alarmists, but the second half talks about grazing and permaculture)

Since your farm was in CRP for a while, you could easily see how the trees and brush regenerated on portions of your farm without outside influence. Carefully grazing (browsing?) these areas and observing the forage preferences of livestock could reveal both the value of including trees on other areas of your pastures and which trees and shrubs are preferred.

It is an interesting concept to add value to trees and brush in pastures instead of constantly fighting to remove them from where they want to grow.

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