Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So There is Money in Farming...

Yesterday I was looking for a new magazine to subscribe to because my subscription to "The Stockman Grassfarmer" had expired (great magazine, but I can only do one at a time so I wanted to try them all out). I just wanted to get a glimpse of what some of the articles were like in the various magazines out there for small scale farmers when I ran across an interesting article from "Graze". The title of the April 2008 article was, "From zero to $300,000 in five years". That caught my attention because I was under the impression that there was no money in farming, especially if you were starting with nothing.

Well, I don't have time to pontificate on the article too much, so I will encourage you to go and check it out. But, before I go I will leave you with a few thoughts of mine after reading through the article one time.
  • Even though we bought land I do believe renting is one of the best ways to go if you can make it work for you. The reason we bought was because we were going to build our own house and spend about the same as a couple in our position would on a house in town.
  • Having someone to help you get started is a wonderful thing. I haven't had the chance to have a mentor like I would have loved having, but the connections I have made through this blog and field days that I have attended have really been a help in planning.
  • "Sweat-Equity" really does work. Just read the article to see what they were able to do.
  • Record keeping, record keeping, record keeping! I love how detailed the information is in the article.
I believe this was a very encouraging article. There are plenty of risks to be hand in such a venture, but I think there are risks no matter what you do these days so you might as well enjoy your risks. If the rest of the articles are like this one I think I'll enjoy a year's subscription to "Graze". Do you have any other magazine suggestions before I pull the trigger?

Monday, September 29, 2008


No, that isn't my blood pressure (although that would be pretty good on the systolic side, but slightly off on the diastolic side). Actually that is my download and upload speeds using the Verizon internet thingy that I'm trying out. Sitting in the church (about the same as at the farm) with the double USB port thing and an external antenna I manged 115 kbps download and 100 kbps upload. For comparison I did a test using the adsl internet we have here at the church and received 1,547 upload and 380 download.

So, what do you think of that (does anyone know how that compares to dial-up)? Unfortunately I'm not in the Verizon "Broadband" access area, just their "National" access area. When I was in the "Broadband" area I liked it a lot, but then I drove twenty-five minutes to my house and I wasn't as pleased...

I have continued researching the satellite options, but must admit that I am completely scared of those because of the MANY poor reviews all of the companies receive from users. I do run across some reviews from satisfied customers, but I just wonder how many satisfied people there are (I know the satisfied ones don't talk as loudly though).

That is the internet quandary that I am in right now. I am really beginning to see how important the internet could be to our farm through our blogging, communicating, networking, and sales. With all of that in mind I'm just not sure what to try. I may go and check out the Alltel store here in town, but from their coverage maps it appears that I can expect about the same as my Verizon I have now.

In other farm related news it seems that we will have a little over two more weeks to finish the house and move in. That should give us time to finish the entire floor and all of the electrical installations. Then the only things left to do while we are living there is some trim and stovepipe installation! Soon....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Goat Podcast

I'm off to begin laying the floor this morning ... one of the things that we will now get done with our extra time ... But, since I have posted about goats from time to time on this blog and because I have seen them listed a lot lately in our local advertisers I found this podcast from WHO Radio's, "The Big Show", very interesting. In this podcast from their daily radio show Ken Root interviews a couple that raises goats just about half-an-hour east of me. They seem to be very knowelegable when it comes to Boar goats.

Enjoy, and feel free to throw out all of your goat thoughts...


Friday, September 26, 2008

Quite a Pasture...

For various reasons (some of which you know about if you follow the blog) I haven't been able to do as much work on the farm as I would have liked so far, but today I was pondering one of the encouraging things. You may remember that I had planned to have the cattle on the farm by now grazing down the pasture and such, but building has taken the front row seat for the time being and the pastures will just have to wait. There is hope for our pastures that have been in the Conservation Reserve Program for the last 14 years though.

There are a very few areas that I have mowed this summer (I'm talking about a total of three times of mowing), but one of them is east of the garden next to the water hydrant. In that area there is a decent amount of red clover that has come up on it's own just because it has been able to compete with the other grasses when they were shorter. This does give me hope for the rest of the pastures and confirms something that I have read in Gene Logsdon's books that clover and bluegrass will grow if you keep an area clipped and they are able to compete.

Now, I think is a good time to start making plans for what my pastures will be like next year. Do you have any suggestions?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Week In Links and Bullet Points...

Okay, so to say this week (or last three) has been full is an understatement in the least. With that in mind (and the list of thing that I need to do in mind) here is a bullet point list of the week so far:
  • One flat tire on the truck while trying to go to Des Moines to get building supplies. I should also point out that we have no spare because it was stolen... We will get one soon!
  • One flat tire on the tractor (my Epi-Log post will be after noon today) which eventually led to me deciding to get new tires ... that eventually led to a tire tube exploding on the rusted out hole in the rim ... which in turn led to the tire guy taking it back to the shop ... and finally he just decided to take both rims ... I haven't heard back from them yet.
  • One power-steering belt (that is my educated guess at least) broken and gone from the tractor. So, even if we had tires we are out of commission for the moment.
  • One fuel system (tank on down) on the tractor that should be checked out after the other things are fixed.
  • Multiple trips to Des Moines for things we need to have.
  • I finally had time spent in the field raking hay ... until the tractor problems.
  • A sleep deprived and at times stressed out family, but we are still excited...
  • My blog shows up over a urinal (I think that is cool/funny).
  • Youth groups Sunday and Wednesday evenings.
  • And a big crazy "you're kidding me" with the whole moving out of the house thing. We'll see how I feel about this in a couple of weeks.
So, that is it in a nutshell (minus the things I have forgotten or have forgotten on purpose)... Thanks for hanging in with us!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Quick Tire Update...

Well, things are flying out at the house now as we are down to just a few more days (to be honest we aren't close to ready, but everything will happen anyways), so I just have time for a few words. I thought I would give you all an update on the tractor tires since you had so many good suggestions.

After writing the post about my tire problems I realized that I had a hole in the tube and while one of the tires could serve us alright the other was a cracking tearing mess. So, since I new the tube needed to be replaced I decided I might as well just do the tires at the same time and be done with it for a long time.

That is what I decided to do today and the local tire guy came out to the farm to switch them up for me. Just one problem arose ... at some point these tires had fluid in them (as many often did) and as usually happens the fluid causes rust around the valve stem when it leaks out. Well that rust led to a major hole in one of the rims so the tire guy ended up just taking both of the outer rims to the shop for repair. Hopefully I'll have tires tomorrow ... but the tractor story doesn't end there...

**No picture yet today ... I took one of the tractor without it's shoes, but I haven't had the time to load it yet. I'll get it up as soon as possible.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's a Blog'iversary on "The Beginning Farmer"

"I am going to use this web log as a journal of my journey into the world of farming. I hope that it can be a source of information for other people that have the same dream that I have (full-time farming). Since I do not have any immediate family that is currently involved in farming I am looking into the potential of alternative farming that does not take as much land as conventional Iowa row crop farming. Some of the ideas that I am researching are berries, cut flowers, pastured hogs, free range broiler chickens, organic eggs, sheep, and goats. I want to have a diverse group of farming endeavors in order to have things producing income at all times of the year. I am not looking for a hobby, rather I'm looking at farming as a full-time job.
That was the very first paragraph of the very first post I made on "The Beginning Farmer" blog two years ago today. Since then there are been 362 additional posts (including today's) and for about the past year I have been committed to posting Monday through Saturday. Along with all those posts there have been hundreds of comments (I'm actually not sure exactly how many, but I know there are a lot). These comments have given me a lot to think about as you all have asked questions, shared your experiences, questioned my ideas or thoughts, and encouraged me countless times!"Even though I am two years further along, what I wrote in that very first paragraph still holds true for me. I continue to post six times a week because I want to chronicle this journey of ours and hopefully share some knowledge, experiences, and information with others that have similar desires as those of my family.

What really makes this blog great though is not me. I think this is a great blog because there are people all over the country and the world who share, debate, joke, and encourage all of the people who choose to read these words. In fact that is what makes communities great ... people willing to share and encourage others with their own experiences.

If you have stuck around for a while and read many of these posts ... thank you! If you have stumbled across the blog and have just been following a long for a little while ... thank you! If you subscribe and find my ramblings in your e-mail inbox daily ... thank you! And, if you have encouraged me and others through your experiences or lessons from the farm (this is a reminder for everyone to become involved in the commenting) ... THANK YOU!

P.S. I've been saving that picture for a while waiting for the right time to really make fun of myself. Becca snapped that shot this past winter when we were trying to get a picture for the Epi-Log. I wasn't quite ready when she took the picture!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Internet is the Issue...

Well, with our move to the farm just a few days away (still lots of work to do, but I don't want to think about it at this moment) we are struggling with what to do for an internet solution. All along our plan has been to go with the local dial-up and their land-line plan and keep my cellphone that I have for work. But, recently I have by trying to look at other options such as satellite, a cellphone adapter, or a wireless internet service provider. And ... I'm not having much luck figuring anything out!

Here is what I know. You can get Wild Blue or Hughesnet in the area I believe, but the reviews of those satellite companies are touch and go. The price on the satellite internet runs between $50 and $60 for the base plan (is the base plan even worth it?). I find some people that love them and plenty of others that absolutely hate them. Next is the cell adapter route. It appears that maybe the only cell providers available are Alltel or Verizon and those both run about $60 a month, but i'm not completely sure that we would be within their coverage area for the internet thing. Finally, a wireless internet service provider sounds like it would be a cool option, but I have only found one for my area (maybe) and they are something like $70 per month!

Which brings me back to dial-up. It will be the least expensive by far, but it may also be the slowest by far. Do any of you have any experiences, thoughts, or suggestions? We are open to anything right now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In One Word...

No picture today ... no farming research ... no conventional farming debates ... no story about our experience ... none of the stuff that this blog regularly features. Today I just want to say one word:


Yesterday morning I ran around town (and a neighboring town) to get all of the primer we needed and in the afternoon (until late evening) we started spraying primer throughout the entire house. When I left the farm the priming was done and the fans were blowing.

Once I made it home I ate a quick meal, changed into somewhat clean clothes (I was still dirty) and ran out to find ceiling paint and hopefully wall paint. We finally made it home around 11:00 PM with the ceiling paint, but the wall paint had to wait.

Whew ... things are crazy on this final push, but we are enjoying it. If you are wondering what happened to the normal posts that I usually put up ... they will be back when I have more than 2 minutes to type. For now, I'll try and keep you updated on our continuing farm progress :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

"I Need New Boots" to "I Need New Tractor Tires"

I was out working on the tractor tonight (I had a chance to do that because we shot the texture today so I had a break while it is drying) and I noticed what pitiful shape my rear tires are in (front ones also I guess...). They are cracked, balding, and at the moment a little low on air. All of those things add up to very little traction and don't give me much hope for pushing a little snow this winter. So, I think I have decided that I need to break down and buy new tires.

And as I approach the two year anniversary of this blog this is a subtle reminder of just how far we have come ... My second post way back on September 28th, 2006 was about boots and my need for a new pair. Now almost two years later I'm still wearing the same boots I bought after that blog post, but I'm also looking at buying some stinking expensive tractor tires. Oh, and I thought that I should add that I didn't receive any comments on that second post ... of course I'm not exactly sure anyone ever read it either :)

That is just a taste of the progress we have had in two years. In the next few days as The Beginning Farmer reaches it's two year anniversary I'm going to try and take a look back at how far we have come, but above all I want to thank all of you readers how have encouraged, enlightened, and taught me for quite a while now!

Now, I'm off to look for tires...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Big Anthill: 1 ... Brand New Vermeer Mower: 0

That was the tally today out at the farm. I guess I should be totally honest and tell you that we did get the mower up and going (at least it was when I left), but that big anthill sure did take it out of commission for a while as we dug at the clay goop stuck up in the rollers of this new Vermeer Disc Mower/Conditioner. Oh, and while we were digging up in there we were also covered with ants! Luckily they didn't bite to bad, but they were kind of annoying.

Like I said I had to leave before it was finished because of youth group, but when I left our friend (doing the mowing/baling) had moved from the area where he clogged up and was trying to stick to the ridges on our place. If the anthill had been completely dry this big mower would have just blown it to bits, but after 7 inches of rain this past week that little (actually really big) anthill made of clay and mud was practically like concrete.

The good news is that we got some hay cut and should have bales next week ... plus I believe we have all the drywall work done and are ready for a light orange peal texture! That really is the best news because we are something like 8 days away from our first night there.

Keep praying if you would like...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

His Mother Was a Mudder...

"His mother was a mudder ... his father was a mudder." At least Kramer (from Seinfeld) said something like that. In my case I'm not sure that either my father or mother were mudders ... of course I'm talking about drywall mudding ... but, today I spent the majority of my day mudding! I won't say that I'm good at it or fast at it, but when I was done at least something was accomplished, and in the big scheme of things that is what matters most.

We are now one day away from finishing up the mudding and moving on to the texturing. The past couple of days we have received a shot in the arm from a church member who was a professional sheetrock guy (is there a title for that job) and he is just plain FAST with his mud and knife! But, we have also had TONS of others out helping get the job done and I think it is coming along very ... VERY well.

But, do keep praying because we are getting closer to our Sept. 26th deadline every minute. And, because of that this is about all I have time for...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Preparing to Bale Hay...

I think I am going to be limited in the amount of blogging that I can do for the next two weeks as we come down the homestretch of our big house building push. I really do help that you check out my wife's blog for all sorts of updates because it is pretty amazing how things are coming together. But, even more amazing than how quickly it is coming together is the how people are coming together to get things done. If I was left to my own devices we would be no where close to done, but when the body of Christ jumped up and threw their help my way things really took off. September, 26th is the deadline ... so, keep praying!

But, I will update you on a little farm news that I hope can take place this week. I have talked to a farmer from the church who will come and bale some hay for us on our land. He has a disc mower that will make easy work of all the shrubs and anthills that are growing up in our pastures that have been growing for around 14 years. If I was to go out there with my sickle mower haybine I think the only thing that would happen is my frustration. It would be clogging up so much that it would be unbearable.

The idea is that he will mow the hay, I will rake it, and then he will bale it up into (smaller) large round bales for me. Normally I would rather put up small squares, but with all that is going on now hay of any kind is all that matters!

I'll keep you updated as things move along in the hay field and in the house!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just Asking the Question...

First of all I am not really coming to a conclusion on this one, but I am asking the question. Now that I have that out of the way here is the question: Is Polyface Farm (and Joel Salatin) still the small family farm that was written about in You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise and Mr. Salatin's other books? I the September issue of "The Stockman Grassfarmer" Mr. Salatin writes about the abattoir that he along with a couple others recently purchased ... for something like one million dollars. If you add to that the interns and employees now working at Polyface is it still the samething that he wrote about?

On one hand they still only sell locally and the additon of the employees free up Mr. Salatin and his son for speaking engagements to encourage and teach others. On the other hand it does have the appeance of getting pretty pig. Then of course I can see their great reasoning and business planning behind buying the abattoir that they use so they wouldn't lose it, but it does seem like they are going against some of things he has written about (although there may not have been any other good option).

I guess I just wanted to throw the question out there because it was one of the first things that popped into my head when I read that Polyface had purchased this abattoir. I would love to hear what some of you think. Is it a good idea/following with the Polyface ideals to make such a large purchase? It is food for thought if nothing else...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Still Swamped...

As you may know I write a for the Epi-Log three times each week, but the blog isn't the only thing that Epicurious.com has to offer. They also have a lot of great recipes, cooking tips, reviews, and news. Sometimes when I have a chance I like to browse through the recipes looking for something tasty. Yesterday I found a good looking recipe that I plan on trying out in the near future ... especially with our pigs nearing finish weight!

Take the link to check out the recipe for the "Bacon-Wrapped Maple Pork Loin". To me it looks like a perfect storm ... pork ... covered with more pork ... and then you get to add in some maple syrup! Let me know if you have ever tried a similar recipe or what some of your favorite pork loin recipes are.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Early Mornings, Long Days, Late Nights...

That has been the story this week! But, that is good news for us because it means that work is getting done ... or at least that it should be getting done. I apologize for the lack of my normal posts this week. If you are looking for something along the lines of ordinary it is going to have to wait a little bit, but I will continue to share about the building and anything else we are doing when I get a chance.

Today's milestone was that all the ceiling sheetrock is up. Actually, there is one closet to do yet, but I don't count that because it isn't nearly as difficult as those 12 foot sheets of 5/8ths rock! I am so thankful for all the great minds and muscles that are out there helping us. I'm not sure how far we will get by the time we need to move in, but I know for sure that we will be a lot closer than we would have been if it had just been left up to me.

I wouldn't mind it if we got a break from the rain though ... it makes the farm a muddy mess because we don't have any grass around the house any more and I have someone that is supposed to cut and bale some grass hay on our place. There is always plenty to do, but we are enjoying it as much as possible.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Learning A Lot

I know one thing for sure, I am learning a lot while we are building this house! Even though we have some plumbers, electricians, and other "know-how" guys working on the job I am still learning plenty of good stuff. Hopefully this is stuff that will stick with me and I can use it to be helpful to other people.

As you can see from the picture above I spent most of the afternoon high up in the storage area above the closets. It was tight work and I will admit that my arm is a little sore from holding the screw drill at weird angles, but three of the four closets are done now. We have made some major progress this week and I think we will have a lot done by the time we need to move in.

That is all I have time for today ... I need to go pick up some pig feed and then get out to work. Hopefully I'll keep the updates coming, and thanks for all of your encouragement.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Small Farmer's Journal

I realize that often I am behind the times (sometimes I am really behind), but one of the cool things that has come out of the Des Moines Register article is all of the encouragement that have come from people all over the state. We have had neighbors stop by to chat, people have sent encouraging e-mails, and just recently we received a magazine in the mail (actually it came awhile ago, but we have neglected checking our farm mail) called the, "Small Farmer's Journal".

This was a publication that I had never heard of, but after flipping though just a few pages I knew it was one that I would like despite the fact that it is geared towards horse farming. The magazine has neat pictures, great articles about horses and faming with them, interesting stuff on crop rotations, and so much more.

I also thought it was cool that the particular issue that we received had a reprint of a 1934 bulletin from the, "Division of Farm Management and Costs, Bureau of Agricultural Economics". The article is titled, "Planning a Subsistence Homestead: or Growing a Better Life". It had interesting information on setting up a homestead, gardens, and livestock areas. I thought it was pretty cool that some of their 2 and 4 acre layouts were very similar to the layouts that we have come up with for our "homestead" area of the farm.

Check out the link above if you are interested in learning more about this magazine, or let me know if you already have enjoyed it (remember I'm probably a little behind on this one).

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Beginning Farmer Builds: An Update

Here is a neat picture that my wife took out at the farm today. If you frequent her blog you will notice it showed up there as well, but since I was a little to busy to be snapping pictures today we are going to have a duplicate. Anyways, I think this is a pretty cool picture because of the things going on in the picture ... and just out of the picture. Here is what was going on:
  • You can see Bobby supervising off on the left ... He and his wife stopped by just to check it out and see what was going on.
  • Cal is handing a piece of sheet rock up to Doug (he started this whole deal with the help) and Steve on the scaffolding.
  • There are various wires running up and down the walls thanks to Bob (and my wife).
  • You can see that we have some food on the platforms in the foreground so that everybody has enough energy.
  • The walls and the insulation are up thanks to my father-in-law along with a few others (Ken, Dave, etc.).
  • And, I'm over on the right trying to figure out what needs to be wired up for our doorbell (I skipped the fire alarms and am going to seek advice on those).
Now, what you don't see in the picture is this...
  • Tim helping with various prep work, including moving 100 pieces of sheetrock out of the way
  • Paul and Al are over working on putting up sheet rock on the walls.
  • Charlie and Dave are getting another piece ready to be put up.
  • And, the rain is coming down outside making the roads a muddy mess for guys that baby their vehicles! They really are sacrificing a ton to help us out.
It took us a little while to get going this morning (getting things set up, fixing an electrical problem, and remembering all of the steps), but once we got going I'm very excited about the progress we made in such a short time. It will be neat to see what we get done tomorrow!

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Farm of Tomorrow

I found this video yesterday and thought it was pretty humorous. Apparently it is from "Tex" Avery (Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, and more) and was created in 1954. Of course it is a comical look at what the farm of the future will look like, but I think it does prove a point. We still haven't been able to cross a chicken with an ostrich or a cow with a kangaroo, but we have done as much as we can to genetically modify our livestock and crops. The question then becomes what will that do for the "farm of the future" now?

Enjoy the video below and let me know your thoughts on the question I posed above.

P.S. For some reason the sound pops in and out on my computer, hopefully you have better luck

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Swamped and Loving It!

I'm not so much swamped with paper work as this cartoon image shows, although I do have plenty of "desk work" that needs to be done at the church. But, we are swamped with all of the building work that has been going on out at the farm ... which is a good thing! I feel like we have made some good progress the past couple of days and I'm really getting excited (and anxious to move out there). But, since we have been so swamped I am having less and less time to blog. With that in mind I really encourage you to check out my wife's blog today. She has a great building update post.

Also, if you want to see what else I'm blogging about don't forget to check me out at the Epi-Log. I put up a post three times a week over there on a wide-range of farming and semi-farming related topics.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Community Lives Here...

Four years ago Becca and I spent two years working at Cono Christian Boarding School in the corn fields north of Cedar Rapids, IA. Even though we were only there for two years and were completely ready to move on when we left it is an experience/occupation that I will never regret. We learned so much while we lived and worked on the campus of the boarding school (we had a boys dorm in our basement that I was in charge of), but I believe one of the biggest things that we were taught while living there was what real community looks like.

Frequently we long for the intense community that we were able to experience while we lived and worked with our friends in such close proximety (even though the thought of working at the school again doesn't thrill us). During the school year at Cono we at dinner and supper together with the students and staff most nights, spent time working together on work crews, enjoyed free time together on the soccer field or around the state, and supported each other through many ... many ... many difficult things! It really was community at it's finest, and possibly a glimpse of what life may have been like in some areas a hundred years ago or more.

But, I say all that only to say that recently we have experienced the wonders of community. Eariler this week while I was working in my office at the church a member stopped in and began asking about the progress of our house. I gave him a quick run down of the progress we had made and what we were hoping to accomplish in the coming days ... well, it didn't take him long to realize that we weren't going to have much done by the time we needed to move in (Sept. 26th).

To make a long story short ... yesterday he gathered up a crew of men from the church to go out to our place and checkout what needed to be done. Then they sort of made up a "Help Ethan, Becca, and the Kids Out" plan and are hoping to have way more done on the house by move in day than we could ever have imagined. Somebody mentioned that we can call it an old fashinoned barn raising (expect this barn is our house)!

This is a blessing beyond our belief and comprehession and we are so thankful for such a wonderful community. Hopefully I can share some updated building progress pictures soon with quite a bit more work done!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Harris on the Pig: A Partial Book Report

For the past couple of months I have been reading the book, "Harris on the Pig: Practical Hints for the Pig Farmer", by Joseph Harris. I have really enjoyed everything I have read, but the first eleven chapters or so didn't really lend themselves to the chapter reports that I have commonly done with other books. That is partially because they were really just historical perspective/informational chapters and partially because this book was originally published in 1883. Some (I'm not really sure who, but I'm sure they exist) would think that the age of this book disqualifies it as an important book to read for the beginning farmer, but I think the age of the book totally qualifies it and practically makes it a "must read".

One of the things I enjoy most about this book is the real opportunity to learn from the farmers who have come before us and succeeded. Much of the first eleven chapters deals with the historical aspects of where pigs came from, different breeds of the time, and what constituted a nicely formed pig at the time. Of course what consumers desire today is different that over a hundred years ago, but the basic principles still can apply ... and they probably should apply in many cases.

Also, I have really enjoyed reading about the various breeds of the time that Mr. Harris wrote the book and the origins of those breeds. Since he was a contemporary to many of the breeders building up some of the breeds we know today, or he at least was able to contact people that knew other people, he is able to provide an interesting perspective of what was popular and fashionable at the time. It is also really neat to read the words of a man who was very passionate about pigs and their breeding.

Event though the book may seem outdated and the writing style may be different than some are used to I think anyone interested in raising pigs, already raising pigs, or even with an interest in agricultural history should check out this book. Hopefully in the days to come I'll have time to highlight some of the other cool things from what I have read so far ... but, for now I'll just have to leave it at this short introduction.

I hope that I can soon update you on some building progress ... because we have so crazy and pretty cool stuff going on!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Frozen Tundra Farming

Well, it must not be frozen all of the time, because I just ran across an article about the growing number of direct marketing farms in Alaska. I encourage you to read the article titled, "Despite Alaska's Challenges, New Farmers Take Root," from the Christian Science Monitor (this is not an endorsement of them...). I don't have much time to blog about it today because youth group is starting and we have some interesting developments going on with our building project, but do read the article when you have a spare moment because it is pretty cool (pun intended).

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Chariton Farm Machinery Auction

Yesterday was Labor Day. That means a day for America's workers to take some time off from the daily grind and enjoy one last blast of summer. But, it also means that the annual Chariton Farm Machinery Auction is happening. That is where I spent part of my day along with my dad yesterday. Just imagine two auctioneer trucks across from each other, hundreds of people, and thousands of pieces of used and new machinery. That is what yesterday was like ... oh, and it was about 90ยบ! It was a pretty good day, but I could have done without the heat.

I would say that it was a pretty successful day for me at the auction. In fact I don't think I will need to go to many more auctions really looking for equipment ... now I can just go for recreational purposes and to pick up the deals. I'll give you a short run down of what I came home with...
  • One thing I wanted to get today was a 3-point brush cutter. Luckily they had about 20 plus to choose from. I was there at about 6:45 (15 minutes before the start time) and picked out the few that I was interested in. I ended up buying the second one that they sold (about five minutes in). It is just a small Howse mower similar to the one pictured above. I'm happy to have it and I'm happy with the price.
  • The next thing I bought wasn't actually for me. My dad wasn't able to make it bright and early because he had further to drive so he had me on the lookout for a heavy-duty post hole auger for the John Deere 4020. These were a bit more pricey, but then there was one that hadn't been repainted that I bid on and won. Hopefully it works...
  • After that I bid on a few disks (one thing on my list I didn't get) until I bought a $50 post hole auger for me. It is a pretty light duty piece of equipment, but if it works it should go well with the Farmall 450 (and save my back).
  • Finally, as they were getting to the end of the line (about 90 minutes into the sale) for the three-point equipment I bought the last two-bottom three-point plow there. It wasn't the bargin that I was hoping for, but it was one that I had picked out as my top two. This will come in handy with the garden from time to time and will be nice to have around if it is needed.
  • But, that is not all! After watching for about another 90 minutes and watching my dad buy a flarebox wagon I purchased something that I didn't intend on buying. There was a little single axle hog/sheep trailer sitting in the line. It appeared to have a decent axle and a stout oak slat floor so I thought I might bid on it. This piece of equipment would come in handy soon when I needed to take a few pigs to the processor. Luckily not to many people are looking for a glorifed hog panel/flatbed trailer to haul 5 or 6 hogs/sheep. It went for a nice price and now I can hold off on buying a stock trailer for a little while. In the mean time I can borrow my dad's trailer when I need to move cattle!
It is always a good idea to have a list of things you want/need instead of going to the auction and getting swept up in the moment. But, in the case of a LARGE machinery consignment auction like this it is always a little different. Usually when you go to a sale you know that there are a couple of particular things that you want, but at a big consignment sale like this one you may not know about all of the things until the day of the sale. Now, if I just can fix the flat tire I got on the truck on the way home I'm good to go!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Have a Great Labor Day...

Hopefully everyone is getting the chance to spend some time with family this Labor Day. As for me, I will be meeting my dad for the granddaddy of machinery auctions bright and early tomorrow morning.

I did find this great video on YouTube that I thought I would share with you in honor of Labor Day. As you may know the first national Labor Day was in 1884 and was to be a day off for the workers of the country. Of course there is never a complete "day off" for the farmer, although there are slower times. The video below (I'm thankful for the family that put it together) shows some of the farm progress from 1938 - 1958. I hope you enjoy it...

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