April 27, 2018
Who’s New? When are they coming?
Winter in Wisconsin restricts the amount of time I am able to produce on the farm. We have a shortened season compared to those south of us, but some folks north like in North Dakota only have 96 days above freezing. This make our 153-day growing season look tropical.
This means that April and May is when all of the little ones come onto the farm. This week the little piglets and first batch of Freedom Rangers have shown up. There is also a Mama cat that is due any day. The Rabbits, Turkey and the Calves are not going to be far behind.
So, if there is any time to bring your family to the farm NOW is about the BEST Season!
April 20, 2018
Plant a tree, Love the earth.
Thank you everyone for sending so many great questions this last week. Many of them have stemmed from the Country Today article posted last week. So to answer a bulk of them, this week I will explain the trees I chose, how I picked them, why, how I planted them, and most importantly what I have learned.
How We Choose Trees.
When my back yard had four chickens along with a few fruit tree living in the city and dreams of bigger pastures were ahead of me, I came across a book called Regenerative Agriculture by Mark Shepard. He had been on The Survival Podcast and spoke about how to financially structure a farm and how to plan financially for a future while cash-flowing the upfront costs with annual production. Marks farm is only about 3 hours away from me so I felt like his methods would be easy to replicate. In his book he spoke of the utopia of a follow the leader system moving each animal in synchrony across the pasture.
But I digress. First I plant trees that are found in my biome naturally and I do my best to use nurseries that are at or close to my latitude. I began by purchasing large 6 foot apple whips. When I moved onto the farm I literally put my pillow into the house and planted the 45 first trees I had. It is important to remember that if you plant something on the other side of the farm from you and you never have the opportunity to see it, that you will not know when it is ripe and ready unless you afford yourself the time to visit that space regularly. I had planted a few of the trees right near the house to help determine when the apples are in their prime. My farm is about 10 miles from the wolf river and the wolf river apple is huge found originally right down the road in Fremont. It is reasonable to expect that these apples would grow here nicely and with their rather large size they are able to feed quite a few pigs chicken and turkey. I picked other variety too like the macintosh, honey crisp, red delicious and cortland. These were picked because they will ripen at separate times through the summer extending the season of apple production. A cow is not particularly interested in the apples the tree makes. However apple trees leaves are high in calcium. While my pastures are low in the nutrient overall, keeping my cows off of the apple trees is a new task.
Here is a list of nurseries and suppliers I’ve used:
Cold Stream Farm
Field and Forest
Forest Agriculture Nursery
New Forest Farm
When I began planning the types of trees it is not the animals that determined the tree, it was the type of natural biome this farm is part of. Choosing trees from that biome is best because they have survived and thrived in that area for thousands of years. I found a book called Vegetation of Wisconsin that had reviewed hundreds of surveys from the early settlement days of Wisconsin. I have focused on creating an Oak Savannah type biome. My tree and bush selection includes white oaks, chestnut, apple, plum, hazel nut, raspberry, black locust, cherry, lilac and black walnut. This is a mixture of what was available at a low cost and what I envision in the long term. This next year I will be adding both paw-paw, mulberry and pine nut to the mix. Most of the nuts are will be eaten by pigs, although cows and turkey will eat some as well. Cows are very good at self-regulating their diet. I have heard of cows that had crossed entire pastures to find a black walnut tree to digest its leaves to help elevate some stomach parricides. Black locus trees are nitrogen fixing trees that will help all of the plants around them. It is true that they do need to be cut down to release that nitrogen but some management is needed. The cows will take the leaves right off as soon as the tree falls and the grass around it will be as lush as any around.
The benefits are not limited to the direct feeding of animals the trees’ leaves or the tree crops. Protecting from wind and sun are a huge benefit. Having shade in a pasture reduces the calories a cow will burn in the summer. Grasses with a half of a day of sun will perform as well or better than grasses with a full day’s sun. So to afford the animals these benefits cost nothing to the current pastures production.
I have planted the perennial trees and bushes into rows that are 60 feet apart. They are oriented from north-east to south-west. I choose this orientation to help protect the cattle from the wind of winter. The preferred growth orientation would be east west, maximizing each trees sun exposure and potential growth. The tree row is protected by two strands of wire that are electrified while the cattle are rotated through each pasture row.
Each spring trees are shipped to the farm and are put into a small nursery. This is done to allow establishment of the barefoot tree for the season while giving them the necessary care and watering until the fall. The fall is the optimal time to plant trees. I never understood why so many nurseries and stores sell the trees in the spring. When the time comes I used a two bottom plow and dug two furrows where I would be planting each tree. I then grab a random mix of trees and bushes from the nursery and put them into the given furrow doing my best to keep like kind trees away from one another. Each tree is 3 to 5 feet away from the next. The furrow that I plant the tree into is turned right side up and covers the plants roots. The second furrow is left alone. The small ditch will collect runoff and help water the plants. Some farmers will practice putting these trees on contour with their land. This property is very sandy and has a relatively fast absorption rate and I felt that this was unnecessary. Sheet mulching or some mulching should be done to give the plant the ability to hold moisture is about as much care as I give them. After that they are pretty much at the will of Mother Nature. If a plant does not grow there, the conditions are not going to be fair enough for a tree to survive there until a fair amount of change is done to the property. So until then I will continue to build the soil and condition the space around it to help for the future.
This entire farm is a work in progress while planning for the future, if a cultivator is not working, it can be chopped down and replaced or even sold off to a neighbor if we were to rent a truck with a spade. Planting so many trees so densely allows for directions to change and more opportunity.
A forests most productive space is the edge, so why not create as much forrest edge as possible. The forrest has many dimensions or layers and to fill them all over time is maximizing the space I have to work with. Twenty seven acres can be a jungle and I expect as the farm matures the possibilities and calories produced will be overwhelming. I look forward to the future when I can appreciate the had work I’ve decided to put in up front.
These methods have worked for me but for as many farms as there are out there, there are as many different methods and appropriate designs. A method I’ve seen that may work better for planting the trees out is to use a Yeoman’s plow, breaking up the sub soils and then coming across the same space with a tiller. The ground is loose and easy to plant in and the compaction is reduced, where my plow creates a burier that will take the roots some time to break up. Although I do not have a Yeoman’s plow but do have a two bottom, so using the tools available to most effectively do part of the job is the main consideration.
Milling on the Farm
A Big Deal.
I have for the last two season purchased feed for the chicken, turkey, and pigs from a small farmer who milled his own grains. It’s a step up from buying from the mill, but I was unable to persuade them to meet my feed demands. This year I have found the farmers who grow the grains I’m looking for in order for me to have more control over what’s going into the product.
My commitment to progress in quality and cost are serious business. Last season I asked my farming Dad to grow corn for me and the animals on the farm. This is mutually beneficial as he is a conventional farmer and receives less value when he sells his commodity corn back to the coop. I don’t need that much overall and he was more than helpful in forgoing the conventional sprays that are generally added to the fields.
With the staple feed, corn, worked out, there have been several hurdles to overcome along with some big decisions. Where and how will I get the rest of the components needed? And what else exactly do I need?
With that said, this season I have decided to work with mills, farmers, and product that is going to have components that are “transitional”. This means that the grain is coming from a field that is in transition from conventional methods to organic methods. This helps farmers to share the cost-benefit in transitional while their yield may be lower than their conventional counterparts. I think that recognizing and supporting other farmers to make that move is a big step in the right direction. This does not mean that I am organic or transitional. Labels do not mean much in my world. You have the unique and privileged ability to see and follow how your food is being produced on a weekly basis. Working with the government to be certified organic is too much a headache for me and would not help me achieve my end goals.
Adding to the changes, I am going to address the problem that is SOY. Many food allergies stem from this plant, and to avoid it if I’m able is certainly a positive direction for me, you and the farm. Replacing it has a few obstacles. First soy is very high in protein and to use an alternative plant other higher protein substitutes would be necessary. So, for this year the replacement is going to be field peas and crab meal. The one question that remains is will we taste the difference? My hope is that the crab meal does not cause the meat to taste off. My guess is that we will not be disappointed. I fully expect that the management practices of pasture chickens will over-power whatever negatives crab meal would have.
These changes in my feed management have already taken place for the egg production chickens and this summer will see the changes being made to the meat chicken, turkey, and pigs. Each animal has its own unique recipe that I will be milling for them regularly also giving the added benefit of freshly made feed. Ground feed just like coffee loses its punch as it sits. Next season if things go well, my plan is to reduce my dependency on the middle man on the purchase of the field peas, wheat and oats and find the farmers that are producing these myself.
I hope that you are happy with the changes that we are making and are going to continue to support the farm and all its efforts. I look forward to seeing you out on the farm this summer as all our little critters will be arriving shortly.
April 6, 2018
With an eye to the Future!
We are excited to announce that this coming summer we will be vending at the Future Neenah Farmers Market. The fun begins June 16th. This does not mean that we will be slacking on our farm hours. Either Kim or I will be at each location every Saturday.
How and Why.
It is my full intention to become a full-time farmer, and I hope to achieve this in the next few years. This winter, while looking at the progress of the farm’s finances, it was no surprise to me to see that on-farm sales are a large portion total revenue. It may be because I market it more than the other streams. But it could also be because of the connection you have to your food, and when you are welcomed onto the farm, the ability to see, judge, measure and trust your farmer is much more real.
Many small farmers are unable to bring their customers to them due to the distance or time to market. It takes 20 minutes to make it to either Appleton or Oshkosh. We are close and visible. But, for most farmers, going to a farmers’ market is the only way to distribute their goods. Several successful farmers that I model the farm after and look up to do utilize their local farmers’ market. For this year and the next few years, I plan on meeting people where they congregate and calibrate local healthy foods.
The farm will still be open. Either Kim or I will be at the farm continuing to share the farm and its methods with you when you stop out to pick up your family’s proteins. Each time you come to the farm, the additional work that has been done is visible. The progress is sometimes surprising. I know that when I look back at the pictures of the farm over the almost 3 years of being here, it gets me excited for the next few years when I am able to leave the day job for good and reap the rewards of all of the hard work I’ve been putting in early on.
In order to reach my goals, this farm needs to continue to grow. This year the garden will be less consuming on my time, and I’ve decided to reallocate that time to this new market. The Future Neenah Farmers Market is the right choice for me because it’s not only the closest major Saturday market to the farm, it also values authentic farm-raised products. The market manager visits and inspects each farm ensuring that the products are in fact coming from the local area. Each participant is identifiable with a small sign that lets you know how far your food has traveled. For The G Farm, it is a slim 14 miles to market. That to me makes the difference.
Whether you are going to stop out at the farm or the farmers’ market, we look forward to serving you with wholesome food that not only is good for you, it’s tasty and is regenerating the land. See you soon.
March 30, 2018
My Neighbors Rock
About 14 years ago this property and the neighborhood had a lot of commotion. The State had bulldozers and dump trucks all over the area constructing highways 10 and 45 connecting Appleton, Oshkosh and Stevens Point.
Moving the rock.
To put in the roadways, there was plenty of coordination done to purchase fill. This farm and the neighbors also contributed fill to the project. Before the work began, the land just north of the house was a field for corn and other row crops. When they left there was a pond, hills and depleted subsoils and about two dozen large boulders at the crest of the hill between the pond and the highway.
After I first purchased the farm I called around to a few landscaping companies to see if someone might purchase one or all of the boulders. With no luck, due to the inability to move them easily, I gave up. That is, until this last fall when a neighbor stopped by and asked if I had considered selling any. Through our discussions, the neighbor left considering the deal on the table. He made a few calls and stopped back out the following week and said he would take three.
My neighbor has big plans for these big boulders. He is having an artist fly in and work on sculpting the rock this summer. From what I can put together, he is coming in from Italy and will stay around for the season to sculpt a rough statue of some kind. Follow-up pictures will come as the work is completed. Hopefully, he stops by for some good food to fill his belly from all the hard work.
It was no easy task in moving these boulders. The largest one was not able to be weighed due to the inability for a single truck to pick it up by itself. Two trucks had to work in tandem to move it to its new and final resting place. Now that they have moved these three boulders, the cows will have a little more grass and I will have fewer obstacles in the pasture.
March 16, 2018
The Neighborhood Pig.
Small farms are not as prevalent as they once were. In 1970 Earl Butz was the USDA Secretary and structured our agricultural system to become more centralized and systematized. This forced smaller farms out of the business and left many empty barns in its wake.
US EU Contrast
Some of my friends in agriculture have been traveling around in Europe this winter. They have made their way onto and around many small farms learning the practices of our neighbors across the pond. One reason I expect that they made the trip is because Europe has been more isolated from the big ag movement. When I am searching for implements or farm tools that would help me on my small farm, it common that I find something that was built in Italy, Germany, or Spain. I have been working to mill feed on the farm this year and the tool for the job I found is called an Ercolino Feed Grinder. It has a European 220v plug that I will have to change out before I can use it.
I have brought this up because over the last couple of weeks I have been watching a series on YouTube called Wartime Farm. Its a documentary on how farms from the 40’s would have survived the turmoil of WWII. One of the more interesting things I’ve picked up in this series is how an entire neighborhood or group of neighbors would share a pig and fatten them up on nothing but table scraps. What a way to recycle your kitchen waste. Scrapes out and bacon in return. The show is entertaining and free if you would like to take a peek, Here is a link The Wartime Farm.
I do not feed the pigs any kitchen scraps but the chicken are another story. They are the overall farm sterilization machines on the farm. They pick up bugs, fly larva, and even mice. I bring them scraps regularly from our kitchen and from a few of you. It can really save on their feed bill. What doesn’t go to the chickens goes on the compost pile. Giving pigs waste from the garden is ok but problems like foot and mouth disease can occur when feeding kitchen scraps.
Remember, by supporting our farm you’re doing so much more than eating healthy, delicious foods. You are healing the planet through regenerative agriculture, supporting local family farming, and ensuring that humane treatment of livestock will continue here in Wisconsin
March 8, 2018
How it came to be…
In 2005 when I completed my military obligation and headed home, I began school and working for my adopted Dad, Sam, doing tax preparation for his firm. We had set terms that I would prepare taxes for his clients. I learned my trade through the summer and began preparing in 2007 for the 2006 tax season. I had about 36 clients that were willing to give the waters a test. I learned so many valuable lessons that year. A year later I prepared about 70. The extra income was great, and I could see the opportunity for so much more. After several years I began to dread the Super Bowl, which meant the beginning of tax season. This was such a wave of work each year, work that I didn’t particularly enjoy. The people were great, I learned so much from the families that sat with me as I prepared their returns. In the 2015 tax season, I completed about 550 returns. This was madness. It was at this time that I decided that I was not going to prepare returns in this capacity any longer. I shared my inhibitions with Sam and to my relief, he made a business decision and said we had a year to figure out who would take on that responsibility.
Including the backstory
I took my season’s tax earnings, sold my house and moved in with my Mom. It took about 3 months until the farm I was eying became available. I jumped at the opportunity and was poised for a new adventure. After 9 months had passed and tax season was around the corner, it wasn’t me preparing for the long road ahead. Sam had found a replacement that would take on the tax clients I had accumulated. Looking back now it wasn’t the taxes that were making me uneasy about the job. It was just that, a Job. I had no passion for what I was doing, and life was flying by.
That year I prepared maybe a dozen returns for friends and family, but at this point, that was a breeze. It was also at this time that my attitude in the office reflected my unfulfillment. To my dismay, I was fired by Sam. My last day in the family office was April 30th, 2016 – just one short year after purchasing the farm. I don’t blame him, I would have done the same thing. The problem I had is that my income and expenses were reliant on the job as with most families. I felt that my skills and experience were finite. Taxes and retirement planning, neither of which I wanted anything to do with at that point. My Dad and I worked out a reasonable severance package and when that ran out in August I began taking unemployment.
It was during this time that I focused on the farm, aiming to fulfill my dream of producing an income to pay for the farm while on the farm. I put a plan together and went hard to work. It wasn’t too far into the season that I realized my dream and plan were going to fall short. I vastly overproduced what I would be able to sell. I’ll tell you what, I ate well and was lean and mean. Each lesson was priceless, and I put my pride in my pocket. In December of 2016, I found a job with a temp service that put me with Greenstone Farm Credit Service. What a great place for me to position that I was let go and the search began once again. The next spot I thought I found a home was with the FSA, Farm Service Agency. Not the government department I was aiming to work in, but an entry point non- the-less. My interview went great and a follow-up email that was sent affirmed me of this, however, it also said that they had moved forward with another individual. As soon as I got home I found a listing on Craigslist for a job at a local electronics recycling company. I called and set up my interview. Fortunately, this time I was selected. It was that same week that I found another opportunity to prepare taxes in Menasha in the evenings. As cash was tight, I jumped at that one too.
Knowing full well that I could handle preparation in the new office with years of experience, it didn’t take long before The E-File Center let me begin preparation on my own. That first day that I was given the ropes to prepare on my own I was also asked to stay late to take the one eager client that was very much looking forward to getting her taxes prepared and behind her. That evening as I was wrapping up the return I mentioned the farm and the garden. I do talk about the farm a lot, so no one should be surprised. When the supervisor came in to check the return I let her know that the client wasn’t going to pay for my terrible service. The supervisor and Kim both looked at me and realized that I had joked. Later that night while I was purchasing the season’s garden seeds and finalizing the season’s plan, Kim sent me a text letting me know that she was interested in helping with the garden if she could. It took this busy guy two days to get back to her, and it wasn’t much longer than that and we were out on our first date.
Now a year later, I am very thankful for the seas of change that I’ve encountered. This past weekend I fell to one knee and proclaimed my commitment to a life together. Hopefully on the farm, but with Kim in any way none the less. I do believe the farm. Thank you, Kim, for taking the initiative and texting me. I wouldn’t have broken the boundaries of a tax preparer in the office and reached out to you myself.
March, 2, 2018
Re-Energized and Rejuvenated.
This past weekend I attended MOSES, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service. It’s a weekend packed with education from instructors like Michael Philips, a fantastic orchardist from New Hampshire. The conversations with neighboring farmers helps us to learn from each other’s mistakes and learn of better suppliers and processors. To be honest I really go for the food. We are treated so well and are given the quantity and quality of food that Organic farmers need to keep going.
The keynote speakers were Lisa Kivirist, a podcaster and farmer wo has been doing great work for women in farming, and podcaster Chris Blanchard. Chris had a conversation in his keynote about the work-life balance of a farmer – something I can relate to. I would add that my balance has begun to find itself after two years of extremely dedicated work. I now find time for some relaxing in the evenings, some casual time with friends and plenty of conversations with my girlfriend and her daughter.
It was a few weeks ago that I took a step back from how things have been going and had a surreal feeling. The farm has legs of its own. You, the people I serve, the friends, family members and community share my story and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope to one day farm solely for my income, and the realization that it can happen with my current trajectory gives me hope. Because if I can do it, I believe others can too. I try to balance my farm social structure into thirds. The first third is for my friends in farming that are close to the same level of success and progress in their journeys. The next third is for those that I inspire to resemble as the farm continues to grow. These farmers have made a difference in the world we live in. Lastly is the third that shares the same inspiration from those successful farmers that are beginning to move towards making their own differences.
Last week I meet a newer farmer, Jonathan. He is doing all he can to move forward this season in agriculture. He bumped into me while we were grabbing our lunches one day at MOSES. I never know who is watching or paying attention to the farm, and I am humbled to know that others look to me as an example of someone doing it. If you or anyone you know ever needs to talk to a farmer, let them know Justin is willing to help. I won’t do the hard work for you, but I would love to share my blueprints with you. There are as many ways to farm as there are farmers, but if I can help you make one less mistake, it’s worth the conversation.
National CSA Day.
Friday, February 23 is National CSA Day (Community Supported Agriculture). This is a great time to find a local farm and sign up for their season’s vegetable produce. We are not going to be partaking in a vegetable CSA this season, but we do have a new Meat CSA that runs year-round. Sign up to support our ecologically positive efforts, giving you and your family a healthy choice for your protein needs.
Find other farms at: http://csaday.info/
Sign up with us at: www.theg.farm/meat-csa
How it works.
We have two size options available. First is an 8 pound a month option that runs 75 dollars per month, you can add 2 dozen eggs to it and make it 82. The second option is a 16-pound box that runs 140 dollars and 4 dozen eggs to give you a total of 154 a month. There is a major competitor on a national level called Butcher Box. They have two similar sized boxes that run 129 and 238 respectively. Their meat comes from Australia.
So how can I blow the sox off that price?
First, I am local, so close to the Fox Valley I can see your lights on the horizon at night. There is no one standing between you and me. I am Your Farmer! Truly Farm to Table! You can come out to the farm and see the animals, see their living conditions, and how they are helping to improve the local ecosystem. Cattle, Pork, Chicken, Turkey, and all. The selections for the boxes are made by the farmer, but you will receive a variety of cuts from a variety of animals. If your family has a preference to not have one particular variety, please let me know. We will work around that need.
To order, we use PayPal. Follow the link and make your selection from the drop-down menu. Click on Subscribe. At this point, you are brought to PayPal’s website and asked to log in. After you log in you will be agreeing to the monthly subscription. This binds us, each following month you will have an automatic deduction from the payment selection that you make.
At this point, I keep up on my end of the bargain. Each month, on the first Tuesday, I will make a delivery to your doorstep of your CSA Box. We leave the farm at 4 pm and run until about 8 pm. choice and making this farm and this farmer part of your family conversation.
February 16, 2018
Starting with a Winning Attitude.
In farming, there are many hard times. Some days I feel absolutely exhausted, and some days I feel crabby and like I’ve gotten nothing done. Keeping a positive attitude through the tribulations is important. This farm is a sheer reflection of myself as a person and my efforts.
And The Verdict…
As 2017 closed, we began to plan our next season’s farm outlay based on our growth, our goals, and our other obligations. With a basic outline in place and opportunities everywhere, we wrote a few grants. One of this seasons biggest was the Fund A Farmer Grant from FACT, a Chicago based 501(c)3 charitable organization focused on the safe and humane production of meat, milk, and eggs.
Here is a look back at the overall project.
The main objective in fencing off the rows of trees, bushes, flowers, herbs and other perennial plants is to protect them in order to grow a happy and healthy ecosystem. Cattle like to nibble at small plants and trample them into the ground. Giving the trees extra protection will ensure that they grow to give protection to future animals from wind, rain, sun, and anything else mother nature throws at them. An irrigation system is also integrated into the rows. This makes managing the animals seamless when they are moved around on the pasture during the warm months. It is imperative that these polyurethane pipes are cared for. Water management can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Taking care of the assets on the farm is critical to the success of the farm. At one end or the other of a fenced row is a gabion. It is used to store rocks as they are uncovered in the fields. On the other end of the fenced in a row are two wooden posts. On either side of the row are two strands of wire. Going forward 3 would be more efficient. In between each end are graphite posts with metal clips holding the wires. When the cattle are in between two rows of trees, I use a reel and poly wire to connect the hot perimeter fence to the islands of interior fencing where needed to move the animals.
The competition was extremely tough, and many difficult decisions were made in choosing those that would receive funds and those that would need to look for other options. Earlier this week FACT awarded over $66,000 to 28 farmers located in 19 states, With more than 210 applications to sift through I am enthused to inform you that this farm and the project were a winning combo. FACT is contributing 2,000 dollars to meet the 2018 fencing project. It is with the help of great organizations like FACT that small farmers can begin a journey to fill the bellies of foodies and families who equally care about their food and how it’s raised. Together we can all do our part in building a better planet.
February 9, 2018
Grass Fed Beef mean ONLY Grass.
This week I came across an article in Forbes Magazine. It brings to light some solutions that large producers are using to keep up with market demands. This is the topic of this week’s email because you really never know unless you know!
What you get on The G Farm
One of the last books I’d read was called “Grass the forgiveness of Nature”. In it, they discuss the benefits of grass being grazed by ruminants, how the soil benefits from the patterns of grazing and rest and the mutual benefits to the soil. If you’ve been following for any amount of time, you would recognize I fully subscribe to these practices. Our relationship is truly intimate. Farmer and Family with no one standing in-between. You get what we raise on this parcel in the exact way I preach.
Each animal has its own distinct management protocols. Some animals are farther ahead or closer to my optimal conditions, while some animals like the chickens and turkey are on their way. The animals are raised in humane conditions and I do everything I can to continue to improve the system.
Here is the full regiment on how the cattle are kept and handled. First, I raise Hereford cattle. These animals are raised on grass only. During the summer they are moved daily across the farm from one patch of grass to the next eating what’s in front of them. During the winter they eat hay, half of the time it’s round bales in the pasture, while the other half is small square bales in the barn. They do not get antibiotics. They do not get any hormones. They do not eat any grain. To help keep a good balance of nutrition the cows have regular access to a cart of 16 individual vitamins and minerals. They also get a half gallon of apple cider vinegar added to their water every other week, and once a month they get two cups of Shaklee Basic H added to their water. I breed the cows with a live bull. I have not had one on the farm full-time but have rented one for the past two seasons. We calve seasonally which allows for the calves to be bred in the spring without the need for a heating hut. They nurse on their mothers all season long. I do not ween the calves, nor do I help pull the calves when birthing. I am as natural as possible.
Remember, by supporting our farm you’re doing so much more than eating healthy, delicious foods. You are healing the planet through regenerative agriculture, supporting local family farming, and ensuring that humane treatment of livestock will continue here in Wisconsin.
February 2, 2018
Please let your friends know you are part of a great farm.
As a member and supporter of The G Farm, we receive weekly updates on how the farm is managed, how it is progressing and how the products are produced. We care about our food, our community and you. That is why I am sharing this with you.
A very touching story.
This last week I came across a Facebook post that shared an experience a new customer had when they came out to the farm this fall. Experiences like this give me the fortitude to continue on and fill my heart. Knowing and believing that the efforts that are put into the farm and the stories that are shared do not fall on deaf ears. Thank you for believing in me, and supporting a small farmer with big dreams.
January 26, 2018
The Busy Life Ahead.
While you may be waiting for the last W-2 to come in the mail, I have been holding my breath. For me, the Super Bowl means that the caotic schedule of a tax preparer has begun.
For the last 14 years I have prepared taxes to some extent. Last year was the first season I had worked for an employer to help make ends meat, while the previous seasons I had prepared as an independent preparer. Scheduling my appointments, sitting with the clients, preparing the return and reviewing it all before being paid for my work. In the off season, I would field tax questions from hundreds of people all year long helping make sound financial decisions. Well this year I’m going to take the easy street again. I am paid by the hour and am not responsible for the off season questions or liabilities. This makes it much easier on me and is worth my time to help pad the wallet.
All of the seasons of preparation have helped me in my financial planning of the farm. This year I am participating in another outstanding program with Angelic Organic Learning center. The program is called The Farm Asset Builder program. Each month I will be putting away 175 dollars into an account and at the end of the year I will have a total of 4000 dollars. With the help from donors and the self funding, the farm will select an asset that will be purchased. My first instincts are to install a concrete floor in part of the shed to give shelter from the heat, or from the cold while processing birds on farm. Another thought is to add some grain storage bins. Either way I am excited to work with a great organization and learn from an experienced farmer the intricacies of farm financial budgeting.
January 19, 1018
Local Honey Made By Mark!
With tax season quickly approaching, I’ve been getting in some good couch time. Have you seen Rotten? It is a new Netflix series that goes into aspects of agriculture that I feel could use more attention. I am not going to stand behind everything that they say, or what some of the farms represent, but so much of it brings a light to the topic and gets us all talking.
The first episode is about bees and the honey they produce. Some of the interesting facts that they laid out in the show discuss how the population of the world is eating more honey than what is being produced. That means that some honey is being made in factories without the help of bees. Some of the honey that is produced in countries like China and Malaysia are not even safe to eat. Some of the chemicals that the bee keepers are using are very harmful if consumed.
I am not the bee keeper here at The G Farm, Mark is. He started working with the farm just last summer. He is mentored by the bee keeper over at Heckrodt Nature Preserve in Menasha. He started with two full hives and grew them into two full hives flowing with honey by this fall. Unfortunately, one of the colonies died and we have now extracted the honey and have a second hive that has been healthy so far this winter. Mark’s plan is to split this one next year and fill the two hives next season.
With that being said, there is now honey available. We are not using any chemicals, maybe to the detriment of the terminated hive. Wisconsin lost 50 percent of their hives last year. So staying par with the other bee keepers in the state feels good. Colony collapse disorder has been causing problems for bees and bee keepers for over 10 years. One of the issues brought up in Rotten is how many of the bees are going to almond groves of California to help with the booming business. Any time you bring species together in one concentrated area diseases and health will be a concern.
January 12th 2018
A National Meat CSA
One of the most important sources of information and ideas for me and this farm is the Survival Podcast. The host, Jack, makes a living podcasting and living life on his terms. The motto is “helping you live a better life, if times get tough or even if they don’t”. The podcast has been around for about 10 years, and it has a long list of benefits when you subscribe to their Members Support Brigade. It is 50 dollars per year membership with discounts galore. Things like seeds, trees, knife kits, guns, ammo, burke water filtration systems, and the list goes on and on. This year he has just added a company called Butcher Box.
The Butcher Box
I have been following this company for a while now. I believe I first saw them on a kick starter campaign. It’s a great idea.
That may be a little biased, as The G Farm has a monthly meat CSA too, and I hope it continues to grow in membership. Thanks to each and every one of you that have made the step to participate.
This comes up because the Survival podcast community is a tight knit group as far as internet radio goes. One of my friends, who I met through the podcast, just signed up for the farm’s meat CSA. He is very conscious of his spending and I’m guessing he decided to purchase from our farm after comparing prices. The Butcher Box prices are very high in comparison.
The big question that I’m asking is who the heck is growing all this food? That was answered on their website, too. Butcher box is importing its meat from Australia. They explain why it’s good and there is some validity but are you going to see the farm yourself? Could you?
January 5th 2018
2017 Turning 2018.
Each January with the new year we can look back at what we accomplished and build on the successes and failures of that years plan. In planning for next year, we get to set new realized expectations and better prepare for the impending tsunami of problems, issues, and breakdowns that will surely come. 2017 was a great year as compared to 2016. Financially it doubled the previous years income. The land continued to improve with quantity of soil, plants and wildlife all benefiting one another. The reach of the farm has been steady since the beginning, reaching thousands in the valley with each Facebook post. And I believe this next year will have many more great things to come…
As for the garden, I need to plant what I eat…
I like to follow the old adage “plant what you eat”. This next gardening season is going to be all about canning. Preparedness is a huge reason I began putting seeds in the ground in the first place. So, unfortunately for the 2018 season we will not be preparing a CSA from the garden. We feel that we did well enough in the garden to continue gardening this way, but with full time jobs and the continuous maintenance, the garden requires more attention than we can deliver. We are going to cut back on the variety and focus on a few items that are amazing to can. Tomatoes are a definite, along with cucumbers, beans, cabbage, onions, and peppers. Also, a few winter storage items will be included like carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, parsnips and more.
Canning boxes will be picked and ready for delivery each week when they are ripe and ready for canning. The quantities will be large giving you a pantry of healthy winter foods to store for yourself.
Also, this next season perch will be on the menu. I have been studying what methods to use and how to add this to my overall farm plan. Just planing for it gets me excited! The pond is stocked and has a well established community of fish from when the DNR installed the pond 14 years ago. Managing the water along with the land will help maximize the income potential and close the loop on fulfilling a self sustainable system.
So here is the farm plan as we stand today. This is the list of animals that will be processed for consumption in 2018.
400 Pastured Poultry
50 Laying Hens
Things always change and a good plan has plenty of opportunities to make in season adjustments. I look forward to serving you in this new year. Thank you for following the farms progress.