Great Farming Podcasts

While working on the farm I have a lot of time to listen to podcasts and this has been a great way for me to learn while getting work done.  I thought it would be a great idea to share these with everyone, hence this blog post.

ethan

First up is The Beginning Farmer Show.  Ethan Book hosts this show and is always entertaining and informative.  Although we do a few things differently than Ethan I really feel like he would feel right at home on our farm and vice versa.  He covers a wide range of topics and it never ceases to amaze me that he even has time/energy for this podcast because I know he has to be working 24/7.  His “Hard Lessons Learned” segments crack me up mainly because I know we could swap stories of all the less than brilliant things we have done on the farm, such as breaking equipment, etc.

Here is a link to the shows podcast on iTunes

Here is a link to the shows website

Here is a link to Ethan’s farm, Crooked Gap Farm

john

The second show I would like to include in this post is Growing Farms Podcast by John Suscovich, which is an amazing resource for the current farmer and those who wish to make the leap into farming.  This podcast has tons of great interviews and practical advice.  For anyone looking for marketing advice concerning their farm this is the place to go, in fact Farm Marketing Solutions is the podcasts website.  Listening to John while out in the fields is great because you feel like a fellow farmer is by your side.

Here is a link to the shows podcast on iTunes

Here is a link to the shows website

Here is a link to Camps Road Farm, the farm John manages

jack

The third and final show I want to include today is The Survival Podcast by Jack Spirko.  You might be asking yourself why this podcast would be on a list of farming podcasts, so I will tell you.  One reason TSP makes the list is that because of this podcast I first decided to head into the direction of raising goats, episode 910 bridged the gap for me of Joel Salatin’s ideas in a more affordable type of livestock.  I will tell the whole story of our journey into farming in another post.  Other reasons TSP makes the list, permaculture design as applied to ones life which is an easy fit for farming, philosophy which is thought provoking while shoveling manure, and the fact that sustainability and survival go hand in hand.  Jack and I differ greatly on several key things but this mans ideas are rock solid and based on logic.  If you do not enjoy this show chances are you and I will not be sitting down to enjoy a beverage anytime soon.

Here is a link to the shows podcast on iTunes

Here is a link to the shows website

 

I would love to see some conversation in the comments section on this post and I hope you enjoy all of these podcasts as much as I do.

 

 

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A Rainy Day

Like many areas in the nation we have been dry for a very long time after a very wet spring. It seems like storms have raced up to our doorstep and dissipated only to reform miles to the east of us. On many occasions we would watch the radar and see storms split around us.

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Well today we finally have gotten a long steady rain, thank you Jesus!
Of course the goats are hiding from the rain but the donkeys and ducks are in paradise.

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We are thankful for a replenishing rain for the pastures, not to mention some down time with the family.

 

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Guard Donkeys

When we first set out with our plan to raise livestock I became convinced that having guardian dogs was the only way to go.  I still think they are a viable oprtion but I want to explain why I have come around to the idea of guard donkeys. IMG_2918 Our property owner and my employer already had two guard donkeys on the farm and they have done an excellent job.  Like any animal they each have their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses.  After some discussion it was agreed that guardian dogs might be more of a risk than anyone was comfortable with here due to visitors and pets. IMG_3625 Pictured above are Hans and Mona the two newest donkeys at my employers farm.

Cyprus and our yearlings.

Cyprus and our yearlings.

The biggest reason I have come around to using guard donkeys is that they do the job without requiring any extra and expensive food.  We could have easily spent $500 a year feeding each guard dog which simply would not be cost effective or sustainable.

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Clearing Cedar Trees to Reclaim Pasture

Another project that has kept me busy for the last three days is clearing out cedar trees which grow like weeds in this part of Missouri.  From the information I have, combined with a best guess this area was pasture when this used to be a dairy farm 30 to 40 years ago.  What first caught my attention in this area was that on Google Earth you could see a straight line of deciduous tress running exactly west to east.

Farm map trees

tree line

Since we needed to rent a chipper anyway to take care of brush from a fence line project it made since to clear some cedars now and begin to reclaim this pasture land.

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Some of the bigger trees will be either used for fence posts or taken to the local mill in exchange for shavings the property owner uses for horses.

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The rest will be chipped and dispersed as mulch.

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For right now we do most of this with chainsaws.  The pole saw has been wonderful when working with cedar because you can reach in and remove the branches much easier than with the larger saw.  Perhaps someday we will have a mulcher attachment for the Bobcat, but until then I get to be a “lumberjack”.

 

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Composting

Handling animal manure and bedding is a big job on any farm.  While I am no expert in the realm of composting, this is how we handle ours.  Most of our manure at this time is from the horses followed up by the goats.  After winter we remove the deep bedding which means a lot of material to handle, so a Bobcat or tractor is a must.  Once we load up the material into a dump trailer we back it up to the initial composting pit and dump it in.

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Once this area fills up and the material has been sitting for awhile we turn it and move it further back in this bin (toward the left in the picture below).

IMG_3601This part of the process can get fragrant and attracts insects, lizards, etc. but since it is located a good 1000 feet away from the house it is not an issue for us.  At this stage the material will compost down to about half its size before we turn and move it again to another set of bins down the road (pictured below).

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We then turn and move each pile of material as needed, starting at the distant bin and progressively moving it down.  Our immediate plans for the compost are to cover some rocky areas in several of the hay fields.  So far we are pleased with the results.

 

 

 

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Getting Water to the Animals

We wanted to test the viability of using a low cost automatic water system on the farm, especially the distant pastures.  To test the Trough-O-Matic Automatic Float Valve we decided to use it on one of our goat bedding areas near the barn as “the lab”.

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In the future we hope to run 3/4″ black poly pipe down to the pastures and use these float valves to keep fresh water available to our livestock.  The best thing about this specific product was its price, only $9.99 at Tractor Supply!

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For our test we used a small water tub in the yearlings bedding area.  I am so happy with it we might get another for the larger water tub in the rotational paddock for the other goats.

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Installation is very simple and completed within a few minutes.

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There are various models of this float valve made by Little Giant, this particular model is rated at 245 gallons per minute.

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Duck Herding

Our ducks are one month old today! They have been spending their days in a “duck tractor”, a cage that we move daily across the yard.

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Up until today we had been putting them in a basket and carrying them back to their stall at night.

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Today since they have grown to be such good ducks we let them walk across the yard back to the barn and into their stall by “herding” them with a broom. Fairly soon these ducks will be out on pasture eating pesky insects.

 

Just for fun here is a video of thousands of ducks being herded overseas.

 

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Growing Up On The Farm

Growing up on a farm is such a supreme blessing from God.  It is my belief that our daughter Lorelai will grow up better prepared to excel because she is being raised on the farm.  Why do I think this?  Because on the farm you see a reality that is not available in town or in the city.  You have an intimate connection to your food, seeing it raised from birth.  Farm life also makes you a problem solver, you become the mechanic, fence mender, carpenter, etc when the need arises.  These situations give people a sense of accomplishment.

Lorelai and Daddy

Farms are a place to express your creativity and see real results.  Like anywhere else in life you can just follow conventional wisdom, play it safe, be dependent on the government or you can ask new questions, find new methods, take risks and be a source of abundance.

 

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I invite you to watch Lorelai grow up on this beautiful farm by joining our mailing list today.  It is my earnest prayer that this generation see more “gentlemen farmers” in the tradition of George Washington, where the best and the brightest actually find their place on the farm.

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Maintenance of Electric Fence

Electric fence works great to keep your animals in the pasture, but from time to time it takes maintenance to keep it in proper working order. Tall grasses and weeds will draw power from your fence, making your whole system weaker.

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A few minutes with the weedeater can keep your fence operating properly.

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Grass that touches the fence will dry out and die. This can be a hazard during dry seasons.

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As you can see from this photo we have not had enough animal pressure to keep the grass down so weed eating is a must.

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It’s also a good idea when walking your fence line to check for fallen branches after storms.

Just a little bit of preventive maintenance keeps your fence operating smoothly and your animals where you want them.

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Disadvantages of Feeding Grain to Goats

Many opinions can be found regarding the feeding of grain to goats and other ruminants.  This article is not meant to be judgemental of those who choose to feed grain to goats, it is simply meant to argue a case against it.  To be perfectly candid some of the goats which I manage for my employer receive grain daily while my own goats do not.  The following points are in no particular order.

grain

Aggression is one of the chief reasons I find myself in the anti-grain camp.  At feeding time it can get down right scary watching the goats ram each other, baby goats flying, etc.  Simply mayhem.  These goats which normally get along just fine, turn into ruthless bar brigands when the grain is brought out.  Obviously this is not something you want to see when you care about the animals nor does the prospect of damaged kids bode well for the profit line.

 

Economics is another key reason I choose to not feed grain to my goats.  Grain is an expensive input that directly affects the bottom line both in the obvious upfront cost and from the health implications discussed in the next paragraph.  As a side note we have seen great weight gains in goats this year who have been taken off of grain and provided good browse and grazing.  These same goats struggled last year while being fed grain.  A large part of our model depends on intensive rotational grazing to achieve these gains.  We sell Boer goats as meat goats so this is most likely not the case with dairy goats where the additional inputs can be covered by higher end value added products such as cheese.

 

Nutrition is an important part of my decision not to feed grain to our goats.  Nowhere in nature do we see ruminants eating such concentrated diets of grain.  Joel Salatin does a much better job of explaining this than I can in his book Salad Bar Beef.  Specifically concerning goats we see cases of acidosis occurring and disease spread when goats eat grain that falls to the ground.  Many cattle people might argue that grain provides their marbling and higher sale weights.  To that I would ask if fatter is better why don’t we look at 300 pound people as the model of health?  Beyond this what chemicals and GMO issues are being passed up the food chain to our customers.  It simply does not fit our model of wanting to provide the healthiest possible product to our customers.

 

I look forward to your feedback on this topic and please remember to sign up for our mailing list.

 

 

 

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