Thursday, August 8, 2013


I completed my internship paper and submitted it with 2-mins to spare before the deadline so my graduation is official and I have earned my diploma.  Other than things related to my family this is one of the coolest, most useful things I have accomplished.   It ranks right up there with earning my Professional Engineers License. I wish others could have the same opportunity.  However, the powers to be at M-State Fergus Falls have cancelled the program.  I will have more of my thoughts on that action in a couple of future clean-up posts on my final thoughts on the program.  Everyone who reads this blog and would like to learn more about the program, its status and to support reestablishment should go to

I graduated from college 29-yrs after the first time.  Only this time I did it with High Honors!
With a couple of my fellow SFP Grads.

The college even had a nice reception for us after the graduation ceremony
Just for the record the actual graduation ceremony was actually on May 9, 2013.  Since I was part of the way through my internship I had not actually earned my diploma until that was completed.  Also I thought it made a better story to end with graduation.

Remember always know your farmer and how your food is raised!

Thanks for following my blog.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Internship - Part III

This is the final posting of photos and comments on my internship at Seven Pines Farm and Fence and supplemental learning experiences.

Milking cows at Seven Pines.  The pit parlor is a back saver.

One of the advantages of working on a dairy farm
is you get to take home lots of milk for making butter and cheese
Notice how yellow the butter is from the grass fed cows
 In the Artisan Foods class we did cheese making.  I also did a follow up cheese making workshop in the summer and have since been working on my cheese making skills with fresh real milk brought home from Seven Pines.  In addition to the two cheeses shown below I have also made a pretty good feta cheese, as well as a clabber cheese that I finished as cottage cheese.
This is a Chevre cheese in my homemade molds.  The one on the left is
garlic and black-pepper and the one on the right is garlic and basil.
both where very tasty.  

This is a Fromage Blac cheese that I am draining off the whey.

As a learning supplement to my internship I attended some additional workshops this summer.  The one in the pictures below was on goats.
Agenda for goat workshop
Using electro netting for setting up the paddock into which the goats were rotated for their afternoon move.

These are a couple solar powered fence chargers.  I believe the large one
cranked out 2 joules.

This is the Milkstar Galactica, which is a portable goat milking parlor.

This Paradox Farm pasture pen contains ducks which are producing eggs.
The duck eggs are very good.
 Another workshop I went to this summer was on cover crops and grazing.  It was held in Wisconsin at one of Organic Valley's grass fed milk producers.
Some of the portable electric fencing  materials that were demonstrated.

I think this was the slaking demonstration that showed how well the healthy soils held together.
 On one of my supplemental internship activities I spent a couple of days at Paradox Farm to experience more of their permaculture based farm, as well as getting in some work milking goats and cow by hand.  Although the hand milking was more personal peaceful and was enjoyable the arthritis in my hands makes me appreciate the milking machine if I had to do more than a couple animals.  We also spent a day at their property in South Dakota bailing hay.
Here I am bailing hay at Paradox Farms SD property.  Actually driving the tractor
with the baler was a first for me.  The contraption following the baler is called a bale accumulator
and it is used to group the bales in small piles to make them easier to pick up later in the trailer.
 One of the things stressed in class was to start small, to gain experience while only making small mistakes.  The other point from Joel Salatin in his book "You Can Farm" is that if you want to farm you the best way to go about it is to just do it.  With those pieces of advice in mind we started with the gateway drug into the livestock business Broiler Chickens!

Here is a video of some mail order chicks.  Kind of like a mail order bride only fluffier!

Here are our 25 Cornish Cross Broilers in the make sift brooder we made.
They do not stay this cute for long!

Making baleage at Seven Pines

Here I am interseeding a multi-species cover crop into the recdently cut hay field.
Purpose is to improve soil health, increase diversity of the sword to increase production
of pasture.

Here is an example of a pasture that was previously planted with the diverse cover crop.
It was very lush.  In this picture I am trying to show how well the cattle did trampling
and grazing the pasture.

Pasture pen under construction

As you can see the chicks are no longer cute and they are about ready to move out on pasture.

Here they are out on pasture. 

Two days after this picture a nasty coon reached through the wire killing one chick
and severely wounding two others.  Thanks to our partners and neighbors Barb and
Dean the wounded chicks were nursed back to health by Barb and the pen
was reinforced with another wall of 1/2-inch hardware cloth.

Since we now raising broilers I felt I needed some experience in processing chickens.  Fortunately a prior graduate of the SFP Program Andy Hayner (and his wife Noel) now has a business where they teach people to process their own chickens right on their farm.  Andy supplies all the equipment needed, trailering it right to the persons farm.  He then teaches them how to process their chickens, and provides as much assistance as needed to get the job done in a timely manner.  So I spent a day with Andy and his assistant Mack processing 90 chickens at a farm outside of Parkers Prairie Minnesota.

Scalded chickens going into the chicken plucker.

These finished chickens are being vacuum packed using a standard shop-vac
and special bags.  They are then dunked in boiling water to shrink the bags tight.
So this is the end of the internship portion of my blog.  Not the end of my learning efforts.  Because one of the main things I learned is there is a lot more to learn and even an old dog like me is still capable of learning new tricks.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Internship - Part II

This post is a continuation of my previous post on my Internship and Seven Pines Farm and Fence.

New born calf named Bella by my daughter because it apparently means beautiful.
(I wanted to name her J-wow after the Jersey Shores TV Star)

The snow finally melted and the little pigs are having fun playing in the grass!

Another new born heifer calf

The feeder pigs where moved from their winter home into the calf shed where
they are pigeratring the bedding pack to help compost it.  We had spread some grain
into the bedding pack during the winter to encourage the pigs to root and turn over the bedding pack.

Picking dandelion leafs to make a salad for lunch 
The Great Chicken Escape Video

Learned ow to trap pocket gophers!

The laying hens have move out to pasture in rotation with the cows

Calves each have their own pen and are being bottle fed mothers milk.
Moving the mobile chicken coop to a new pasture.

Calves are also being rotated to new grass twice a day.

Baby chicks in the brooder.  These chicks will be laying hens.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Internship - Part I

Currently I am in the process of finishing up my internship.  I have actually put in the entire 180 hrs and then some.  But I am finding there is still a lot more that I want to learn so this might be a never ending internship, morphed into an apprenticeship, on farm or ranch job someplace and eventually our own farm or ranch.  We have already started our initial entrance into livestock with some Cornish cross broilers we are raising on pasture.  Broilers and chickens in general are the gateway drug into the livestock business.

The pasture pen I constructed with 25 Cornish Cross Broilers.  Actually
now only 24 due to a vicious attack of a coon that left one dead and
two maimed for life.  The  2x3 boards sticking up have wheels on them that
when you push them down it lifts up the pen for moving to a new patch of grass.
But back to the internship.  The requirements of the internship are that each student complete a minimum of 180-hrs of work on a farm, business or organization that practices some or all aspects of sustainable food production.  A journal has to be kept during the entire internship during which students are to record dates and hours worked.  Also documented in the journal are the unique things learned and observed.  At the completion of the internship students have to submit a paper that addresses the internship competencies. A word of advice to future students, adding sufficient detail to your journal will help you remember what all you did throughout your internship and will make writing the paper easier.  The seven competencies to be addressed in the paper are: 1) Apply natural science knowledge to the internship experience; 2) Apply social science knowledge to the internship experience; 3) Illustrate the sustainability principals displayed at the internship site; 4) Describe the sustainable food production methods used at the internship site; 5) Demonstrate the business management used at the internship site; 6) Demonstrate the marketing tools used at the internship site; 7) Outline the sustainable food production skills developed at the internship site.

Sows just after they were moved to their spring farrowing pasture.
We are praying for warm weather before they give birth
I was fortunate enough to obtain an internship at Seven Pines Farm and Fence.  7-Pines afforded me the opportunity to learn more about grassed based agriculture specifically dairy, rotational grazing (dairy, pastured pork, chickens), and cover cropping (including tractor fieldwork) as well as working on a big fence building job that included construction of a 5-strand barbwire fence.  There where also opportunities to learn additional animal husbandry skills with newborn calves, pigs and chicks. In addition to the time spent at 7-Pines I was able to supplement my internship experience with some additional learning experiences; by spending a couple of days at the permaculture based Paradox Farms (dairy goats, cows (both hand milked) hair sheep, experimental gardens, bailing small squares of hay; and spending a day working for Andy Hayner learning the art of processing chickens.  I also attended workshops on cheese making, small ruminants (goats and sheep), pastured pork, and cover crops for soil health.

The following are some pictures documenting the internship experience of the worlds oldest intern.
Hogs in their winter home

Baby lambs at Paradox Farm

This  Paradox Farm calves father is one of Gerald Frys bulls

Happy Pigs on pasture at Seven Pines Farm and Fence

Six nursing at once would give any mother a headache!

This sow buried her pigs in the straw to help keep them warm and safe

This picture documents the excellent manure distribution achieved with
winter bale grazing of this pasture.  Purpose was to increase organic matter
and nutrients to improve soil health of pasture.

Pasture Pork Workshop at Seven Pines Farm and Fence 
Pastured Pork video

Calf stays with mother for the first 24 to 48 hours and then is weaned

Weaning the calf

Weaned calf has to be taught how to drink from a bottle.
Calf is being fed milk from mother.  They are weaned and bottle fed because it makes
them tamer, better handling milk cows when the grow up.
I will post the rest of the photos from my internship in Part-II