Monday, October 29, 2012

8th Week (October 15, 2012)

This week we had the opportunity to get caught up on any incomplete assignments.  We also finished reading "You Can Farm, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise" by Joel Salatin and watched a video of Mr. Salatin's 2011 talk given at M-State Fergus Falls.  Mr. Salatin is considered one of the leaders of the sustainable farming movement.  I think he is more just a guy who thinks (and has proven) you can make a nice living on a small family farm without having to buy a lot of equipment, land, fertilizer.  A lot of his ideas are based on the way farming was done prior to WWII.  The video is posted on YouTube in the following clips:


They should be watched in. order 1-7.
The video clips are good but the book is a lot more informative.  It is full of ideas for starting farming related businesses with little or now money and how to go about doing each.  His first criteria in the selection of the list is "low initial start-up costs relative to the ability to generate income.  Here is a list of his top 8 Best Centerpiece Agricultural Opportunities:
  1. Pastured Broilers,
  2. Pastured Eggs,
  3. Salad Bar Beef (basically grass fed and finished beef),
  4. Grass-Based Dairy,
  5. Market Garden,
  6. Home Bakery,
  7. Bandsaw Mill,
  8. Small Fruits with an Emphasis on U-Pick
Once we finished the reading and viewing videos we had to write a 3-page paper applying the 3-principals of sustainability to Salatin's operation.  In case you are wondering the 3-principals of  Sustainability are SOCIAL, ECOLOGICAL and ECONOMIC STABILITY.  This means for an operation to be sustainable it has to have a stable social component (family, friends and community), be stable from an economic sense (provide a decent rate of return for the effort you invest), and be ecologically stable (the closer the operation mimics the natural environment the better).

I did manage to have a little outdoor fun also this week at Seven Pines Farm.  We started the day milking and doing chores.  I believe this was the third time I had helped milking at Seven Pines and there are a lot of things to remember for something that is pretty straight forward and simple.  They are a Grade-A dairy so are meticulous about keeping everything clean and sanitary.  I will try to shoot some video of the milking process one of these days and post it in the blog.  After milking and finishing routine chores we headed out to check on the new pigs that were mentioned in last weeks blog post.  They were all out and running around.  The task today was to castrate the boar pigs.   Kent (owner/farmer/instructor) did the first batch while we caught pigs and held them.  After that Nichole (one of my classmates) and I each did several pigs.  It is pretty simple just a small incision, and couple cuts with a scapulae, and a spray of iodine (disinfectant) and the job was done.  The pigs seemed a little sore but were running around after the procedure not much the worse for wear.  I think there biggest stress and most squealing was when we grabbed them and turned them upside down for the procedure.  We are scheduled to be back at Seven Pines next week so I will report on the pigs are doing in next weeks blog.  

The next thing we did was have a good home made farm lunch (Linda by the way is a very good cook) made from stuff raised on the farm.  After lunch it was time to experience the other end of raising pigs, sale and butchering.  In this case Kent sold one of his hogs to a couple that was going to have a family pig roast as part of a celebration to renew their wedding vows.  They came to the farm with a local butcher friend who butchered the hog on-site.  It was pretty similar to butchering a deer although having the front-end loader to hoist up the hog really helped out.  Again I will post pictures once I get them.

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