Monday, September 28, 2009

Farm Auction and a Piece of My Past

Yesterday, I went to Corning, IA to go to a farm auction. This farm was called the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Farm or the Adam's County Research and Demonstration Farm. It was managed by a non-profit, the Southern Iowa Forage & Livestock Committee (SIFLC). I know, that was my last really long name followed by an acronym.

This farm was a series of three demonstration rotational grazing systems and the location where I conducted my master's research for two-and-a-half summers. I had some issues with how the farm was laid out and how it was run, but it was a good example of what is possible and I believe it will be missed. The land is going up for sale and will in all likelihood be converted into row-crop production. I dropped a bit of coin and came back with a truck load of useful supplies including one of the unique white mineral feeders that they used to have out there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

There is something about Autumn

It seems to me that Autumn is the time when stuff gets done. Turkeys are great for that as they require less work to grow as they get older. All of our turkeys are out ranging on pasture, all of our chickens are currently outside (picture included) in the movable shelters, and the sheep (picture included) are starting to learn to drill. Things are humming along. I started to wade into fencing and build my first brace. It is not a thing of beauty, but for a city kid's first try, it works. I have been mowing the yard, cutting out a line of crappy brush that is just north of the house, and trenching electricity out to our root seller, which will be the future home of the well pressure tank. Tomorrow, I will be giving a tour to several folks from Nigeria that our church is helping to host and give them a tour of local agriculture production. I will try to have most of the yard mowed before they come, but if Sully Pluming comes to do the well pump, mowing is not going to happen.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Slowly Chugging Along

Since I got back from Missouri, it has a very busy struggle to try to get ahead of things. I have been off the farm, far more then I would like to be with an INCA board meeting, acquiring a frost-free livestock waterer, and finishing getting caught-up on a little bit of dental work that I accumulated during that period of time when I was in grad school and had no dental coverage.

While I was in missouri, the well got drilled. It does not look like much, but it is an expensive 120 foot tube into the earth. The next step is to get the pump and pressure tank put in. All of my turkeys are out on pasture so I figured I would include a short video of them responding to me when I was out to feed them the other day. Tomorrow holds, more dental work, adding a trailer wiring harness to my grandfather's old pick-up, moving the last batch of broiler chickens outside, picking-up a shallow trencher to bury the electricity that needs to go to the well pump and pressure tank. If that all gets done, then I will be a happy guy. Wish me luck.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Powerflex Fence Customer Appreciation

As I write this, I am headed back from Powerflex Fence customer appreciation day after spending the night in Jefferson City. This company is located in the Ozark region of MIssouri. The are know for there fence posts, which is a fiberglass and wood composite that does not conduct electricity, is very flexible, can be driven by post whole driver and has a 15 year warranty. Let us just say I bought a few, and some water line, energizer, step in posts, reals and braided poly twine, and a few other things.

One of the highlights of the day was being around a handful of grazers with experience in mob grazing or high density short duration grazing. There are not many folks with this experience so to get a handful in one space was priceless. I really enjoyed sitting next to Greg Judy while everyone was asking questions and just taking notes. I have included a picture of Greg Judy giving a presentation at the end of the day. My world view did not radically change, but the new paradigm that is being built in my mind is firming up and I am gaining the practical skills and bits of information to actually think about implementing it. I am convinced that what we learned in college about forage management must be changed. We are doing it wrong. We are not allowing grass to regrow fully between grazing events, we are not building soil, and we are not even beginning to reach the potential charring capacity of our land. I will find a producer who has dry cows to graze next spring and we will begin to reawaken our soil on the places I have not yet been able to have animals.

Friday, September 4, 2009


This morning, the world lost a good and caring man with the passing of Harlan Witt Jr.
Grandpa served his country in World War II, was a small business owner, mechanic, father, and was the kind of person who would always look out for your best interest and would always have your back. He was not a story seller or much of a talker, but was genuine being and who had a calm heart. He was not the one who always garnered attention in a room, but he left his imprint on all of us.

I was his oldest grandson and to me he was an indelible father figure. When I was young, he was larger then life; Grandpa could fix almost anything, he had the strength of an ox, and encouraged me to be more adventurous. I maybe have never truly appreciated those moments as I should have, but appreciation is a trait learned from the passage of time. Even toward the end, I could see that twinkle in his eyes that always displayed the loving affection he had for his grandchildren. I value every moment I had with Grandpa as a unique treasure. His life serves as an example to me of how one can build themselves up in life, raise a good family, and be an solid member of society and a vibrant Iowa. Although Harlan is no longer with us, our joint memories of him remain. It is those memories that help to guide us, inspire us, and remember a good and decent human being.

I love you Grandpa.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cleaning out the building

I have been trying to clean out our farm buildings. This includes putting away heat lamps and unused poultry equipment, breaking-up and removing the sheep pack from last winter, and fixing the pens that damaged a bit with a skid loader in June (it was a very tight fit).

I now have all of the sheep pack removed and have begun to build new roosting areas for the group of laying hens out on the pasture that I am ready to bring inside and train to day ranging. The whole livestock space is being reworked for this winter. I kept the sheep inside much of last winter help heat the building for the poultry. This year, the sheep will spend much of their time outside and I am not going to feed the large amounts of supplemental corn I fed last year because it encourages hoof growth and creates more work for me.

The pasture chores take me about an hour and a half to two hours in the morning and around and hour in the evening. This is not an insignificant amount of time out of each day. Yesterday I failed to push things along because I split a tire on the truck when I clipped a trunk and had to change it out in the pasture. Needless to say, it is not difficult to derail an entire day. I just hope to continue to make progress and I will keep you posted and get some pictures up when it is all done.