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TBF 131 :: Five Farm Successes in 2015 and a Hard Lesson Learned

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farmsuccessLast episode was all about the failures from 2015, but this time we are going to keep it positive and we are going to talk about the successes that we had on Crooked Gap Farm in 2015. I’m not going to lie, coming up with five successful things from the year was much more difficult than coming up with the failures. When I was compiling a list of failures the difficult part was picking the top five. As I was putting together the list of successes on the farm the difficult part was getting past number two! That is often how it is though, it is easy to think of the ways you have dropped the ball and more difficult to think of the things that are going well. In the life of a farmer though it is very important to grab hold of those successful things because there is so much that goes on that is out of your control.

Help me make a list! What were your success this year? I think it would be good to see a great big list and be encouraged by all that was accomplished in 2015! Comment below and let’s build the list …

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Dawn December 27, 2015, 5:56 pm

    Merry Christmas!
    Five successes:
    1. I’ve been raising a small number of broilers annually for a decade or so, and every year seems to bring it’s own problems and challenges. Each following year, I tweak and adjust, attempting to improve things. This was the first year when everything really seemed to come together, from brooding to delivering chicken to customers. Still a little tweaking, but I was really happy in particular with the way I raised the birds this year.
    2. Portable fence movement – I raise a couple of pigs each summer and use electric wire to section off parts of the 1/2 acre enclosed pig paddock for them. I’ve come a long way in three years in my ability to manage the rotation, specifically the actual moving of the fence. I now have enough posts, have a plan, at least a rough one, and have learned to have a new section already set up before I move the wire to let the pigs through. Took me long enough, but it’s definitely a success.
    3. Tools – I bought a small trailer for the lawn tractor last year (which I use like an ATV), to take sacks of feed down the field to the broiler pens, to haul manure when I’m cleaning out the hen house or the pigs shelter, etc. Can’t believe that for about 5 years, I used a wheelbarrow to go up and down the 10 acre field with all those things. Lesson learned, so this year’s investment was a Husqvarna 545 FX brushcutter. I took your advice on this one – I know you’re a Stihl guy, but you recommended a while back to anyone looking to buy a chainsaw to buy something that could be serviced in their area. Turns out my feed store owner is also the local Husqvarna dealer, and we’re on a first name basis, so ..Husqvarna it is. Love this machine. A patch of blackberries that used to take me two days to hack down with pruners is levelled in 30 minutes. I can trim the grass where electric fence has to go. I can cut back hawthorn that is taking over fencelines. I don’t know why I ever thought this tool would be an extravagence!
    4. Selling pork – The past couple of years, I sold our pork by the side, but for some reason this year, had trouble getting takers for that much meat, so I turned one hog into retail cuts, and they’re selling like hotcakes. I had resisted this till now because of risk and because of freezer space, but we recently acquired a new to us freezer, so that made it work quite easily. Since I would love someday to go to a model like your meat CSA, this is a first step in that direction, and much easier than I’d thought it might be.
    5. Accepting help. This has been a tough one. But yes, this year I accepted help. I ‘m stubborn, I’m possibly the tinsiest bit of a control freak, and I hate to impose on people. But I started full time hours at work this year after a decade of part time, and so some farm stuff simply has to be done by others, at least occasionally. No one walks in their own strength, and it is perhaps good for me to realize how much I need others on my team.

    Thanks for the great Christmas podcasts Ethan. Looking forward to learning from you throughout 2016.

  • Rich December 28, 2015, 12:46 pm

    I don’t know if I can come up with five successes, but at the end of summer, I finally reached the point where I have enough hay to easily get me through two winter’s worth of feeding (or enough to survive another drought).

    It took a combination of closely watching how much hay I fed last year, baling enough hay this summer, and fixing the drainage in my hay storage area to get to that point.

    I’ve been trying to reach this point since barely making it through the last droughts in 2011 and 2012, and if I can maintain this level of extra stored hay, I’m hoping the next drought won’t be quite as stressful.

  • Pat_h January 23, 2016, 8:32 am

    Success here this year would be found in the fact that cattle prices were great when we sold, and the price of oil resulted in reduced costs overall. A perfect sunny season for local agriculture in every sense. Good feed, good water, good prices, and low costs.

    This year, however, stands to be different. We’re not getting much moisture, prices are way down, and the whole state is worried about the collapse of the mineral economy.

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