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vinegarquestionsOur farm has been a farm for eight years now, which I suppose means I have been a farmer for eight years as well. But, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m still not “The Beginning Farmer” … sometimes it seems the more I learn about this farming art the more I feel like a beginner! With that in mind I’ve always tried my best to share the ups and downs because I know that I learn from my mistakes, so hopefully someone else can learn from them as well. Along the way (over almost 10 years of blogging/podcasting) you all have come along side and shared your experiences as well! That is why I knew that I could turn the tables a little bit and ask you the questions …

:: Five Questions From a Beginning Farmer ::

  1. I want some concrete! Should I feel bad about that as a grass-based farmer?
  2. What can I plant this fall for my pig pastures next spring?
  3. Maybe it is finally time for turkey. How can I raise them without losing my mind?
  4. Should we invest in a walk-in freezer?
  5. What would you like to see from “The Beginning Farmer Show”?

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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flerdIn many ways our farm began before the farm even began. I was reading books, talking to farmers, dreaming dreams, and making plans. All of that lead to me thinking I had it all together before I even stepped foot onto what would eventually become Crooked Gap Farm. If you’ve heard me talk about the beginnings of the farm before you will know that in my mind the centerpiece was going to be Dexter Cattle raised for beef. It should be noted though that when I was thinking that I had never even tasted Dexter beef! What I have not talked a lot about before though is that when I was in that planning stage I thought the other main enterprise on the farm would be our Tamworth hogs.

Now, if you are familiar with the farm you will be thinking to yourself, “Tamworth hogs? What about the Herefords?” The reality is that in my reading and planning stages I had completely settled on Tamworths being the perfect breed for us. When I couldn’t find enough Tamworths I moved on to the Gloucestershire Old Spots, but I never found any of them either. So, I just got pigs and I learned how to raise those pigs. It was sometime after that first couple of batches of pigs that I ended up with the Herefords and now that is what we love and what we are known for.

That is why I say today, “Quit buying Hereford hogs!” It’s not that  I don’t think they are a great breed with lots of positive points, but rather I don’t think it is the only direction to go. In the end I think there are three pieces of advice I wish I would have followed when I was selecting livestock for my beginning farm:

  1. Do What Works on Your Farm!
  2. Start With What is Readily Available in Your Area!
  3. Raise Your Livestock with Care and Husbandry and in an Exceptional Way!

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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farmerknowledgeEarlier this month I was able to take a long drive to northwestern Iowa and visit Seven W Farm during their Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day. This was the second field day at the Wilson’s farm that I have been able to attend (along with watching their Niche Pork Webinar from 2009) and I am very thankful they are willing to open their farm, and share their experiences! Seven W Farm consists of 660 acres, seven Wilsons (plus kids), organic grains, hogs, organic dairy, pastured poultry, grassfed beef, and grassfed lamb. To say that there is a lot going on would be an understatement for sure. Behind the diversity of enterprises though is a great wealth of knowledge that comes from multi-generational family farm. In fact Dan has been pasture farrowing hogs for 50 years now!

What I’m trying to say with all of that background information is that I learned a lot. I mean I really learned A LOT!!! And, the great thing about some of the knowledge I picked up from their experiences is that it is stuff I think that I can still apply to this growing season. Here are four things that I hope to apply in the coming weeks and of course a bunch of links that I mention in the episode:

What I learned and will be (hopefully applying soon) …

  1. Burst Proof Water Line for Pastured Pigs
  2. A-Fram Farrowing Sheds are the Bomb
  3. Premier1 Pig Fence is Worth a Try
  4. Three Words … Apple. Cider. Vinegar.

The pile of links mentioned in this episode …

:: Practical Farmers of Iowa Recap of 2016 Field Day ::

If you are interested in having a grassfed Dexter Cattle Herd of your own shoot me an e-mail because we have cows, heifers, and cow/calf pairs available right now!

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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fielddayfollowupMore questions have rolled in from our Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day, and the folks at PFI have even put up a blog post that recaps the day. The great thing about the blog post is that it contains a lot of audio from the event, so if you weren’t able to make it to the field day you can at least listen (now that I mention that I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing). On today’s episode I’ll be fielding questions about recording video, using the vet, farm names/brands, beginning marketing, and even some of my thoughts on how we do our sheep. It is definitely a hodge-podge episode with plenty of rambling, but they are great questions so hopefully I’m up to the task with my answers!

:: Practical Farmers of Iowa Recap of 2016 Field Day ::

If you are interested in having a grassfed Dexter Cattle Herd of your own shoot me an e-mail because we have cows, heifers, and cow/calf pairs available right now!

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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farmtoursOver the past two weeks we have hosted well over 100 farmers and farm fans out to Crooked Gap Farm! That has meant a lot of time getting the farm ready, preparing food, and planning the tours and talks. In the end though we love the opportunity to share our farm with other farmers, and more importantly … learn from other farmers! Even though I love to talk and I love these types of events they do make me a bit nervous right before they start and for a little while after. It’s not talking in front of people that makes me nervous (I typically do that every Sunday), but rather it is that I’m worried about what people will think about our farm when they see it and hear what I have to say about it. I mean I’m just a beginning farmer! Hopefully over time that is something that I can grow out of, because there is a lot of benefit from having other farmers to the farm to share information and learn!

In other news … let’s attempt to answer some questions! Here are the topics for this week:

  1. Now that we’ve done chickens, what is next?
  2. How do you handle watering systems with far away pastures?
  3. When do you suggest starting your laying chicks?
  4. Are you applying holistic management practices on your farm?
  5. What about WOTUS? Does it matter for beginning farmers?

If you are interested in having a grassfed Dexter Cattle Herd of your own shoot me an e-mail because we have cows, heifers, and cow/calf pairs available right now!

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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Subscribe to “The Beginning Farmer” YouTube Channel!

Changes are often difficult to make, even if you love change and moving forward. I find it difficult not so much because I don’t notice that there are things to change, but rather because I become stuck in the rut or, even more often, I am overwhelmed by the steps of the needed change. As 2015 came to a close though and our family and farm embarked on 2016 it was painfully clear that there were changes that needed to be made on the farm if it was going to continue. If I wasn’t willing to make those changes then it was time to move on to the next thing … as in it would be time to end the farm. I’ve spent enough time talking about that in the past couple of episodes though, so today it is all about the practical steps that I’ve taken in 2016. Even if those steps haven’t been completely successful or enough.

Practical Applications for Moving Crooked Gap Farm Forward in 2016:

  1. Planned Farm Meetings
  2. Shifting the Focus of Our Farm
  3. Being Ruled Less by Fear and More by Truth
  4. Making Capital Improvements for Efficiencies Sake
  5. Raising the Level of Communication
  6. Selling More Whole/Half Hogs
  7. Not Quitting

If you are interested in having a grassfed Dexter Cattle Herd of your own shoot me an e-mail because we have cows, heifers, and cow/calf pairs available right now!

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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My career as a “beginning farmer” has always been as bi-vocational something or other. Along with trying to learn how to farm I’ve been a youth pastor, worked at a farm store, helped out at another farm, and currently I’m loving my job as pastor of Christ’s Church. But, wearing all of those hats as well as the hat of husband and father has made things less than ideal at times (or most times). For the most part I’ve tried to just push through things and act like nothing was amiss, but the reality was that I should have been doing a better job of everything … especially being a husband and father! Near the end of 2015 I finally admitted to myself that things needed to change and that may mean that they needed to change drastically … which led to the end of Crooked Gap Farm … almost! This episode is my attempt to vocalize what was going on in my mind and heart and through some of the discussions with my wife.

It’s not just all head stuff though, because our farm is a working farm with plenty going on still. Of course the biggest and coolest news is that we finally had the vet out to work the cattle and now I’m completely ready to sell some of our grassfed Dexter cattle. By some I actually mean something like 10 to 15 head, so shoot me an e-mail if you are interested in some cows or cow/calf pairs!

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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What happens when The Beginning Farmer disappears for months on end? Well, actually lots things happen! Just recently I’ve been to Arizona to talk farming and finances, we’ve been making small square bales of hay, a new building project is in the planning stages, and of course we’ve even made some time to take the boat out (yes, we are a boating family now … more about that in future episodes). Basically, what I’m trying is that it wasn’t for lack of things happening that I haven’t been podcasting, but rather there has just been a lot on the mind that has made it difficult to sit down and record something remotely coherent!

Honestly the farm is moving along just about like it was last time I released a podcast, but we are starting to make some shifts on the farm to better serve our markets and what our farm does best. The biggest changes have probably come in the form of mindsets and reality checks. I’ll be spending the next few episodes talking about some of the changes that are happening from a physical and emotional standpoint on our farm. In the meantime I do hope you can find the time to listen this episode as I ramble about my dream of professional fishing (that dream hasn’t completely died just yet)!

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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listenerquestionsI asked for questions and you listeners came back with some great questions! The only bummer thing about all of those great questions is that I’m not sure that I had equally great answers. So, take a listen to the episode, check out the question topics below, and then I’d love it if you’d chime in with your thoughts. I’m guessing with the vast array of knowledge in this group there will be some great thoughts!

Question Topics:

  1. Do you assist in your hogs’ farrowing?
  2. How is the family doing?
  3. What is your favorite part about chickens and how about having them in the winter?
  4. Improving efficiencies when raising pigs (both time and money).
  5. Am I getting ready for spring?
  6. Do you AI your livestock? Why or why not?
  7. Oats in the hog ration?
  8. Do you speak French?
  9. What about loans when it comes to farming?

Links mentioned in the episode:

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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pigheadedWhen it comes to raising pigs on pasture and in the woodlot one of the most frequently asked questions is about how you handle the pigs in that setting. If you’ve ever been around a more conventional hog operation you know that there are lots of pens, gates, panels, chutes, and concrete that all aid in the movement of pigs. On the pasture though it can sometime seem like getting the correct six hogs on the trailer is more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack! At least that has been my experience in the past.

Over my very few years of working with hogs in the pasture and woodlot setting I have learned that the number one tool is patience, and that is followed by sorting panels and some good planning! One thing that has worked best for me has been building a corral around my feeding area so that I can lock them in when they come to eat and then do the sorting or work that needs to be done. While I’ll admit there are better solutions this is what has worked best for me and for my scale.

If you’re looking for some information from the pro’s though I would suggest checking out the links below:

Check out The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook!

As always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I’m thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn.

If you do enjoy the show, don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five star rating and review (by clicking the link). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with “The Beginning Farmer” and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links …

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