Saturday, May 25, 2013

Week 24 (February 25, 2013)

Compatible Technologies International Grain Winnower
I did a quick review of my notes from this week and things did not slow down at all.
Grain Thresher
Grain Stripper
Monday I started with a breakfast meeting with Carl Schroeder of Schroeder Milk Company fame.  Now that the family milk business has been sold Carl has been spending some of his time working on global food and water issues.  One enterprise that he has been working with in this effort is Compatible Technologies International (CTI) for which he serves on the Board of Directors as Treasure.  CTI's mission is to create practical tools that help poor communities in developing countries overcome their most crucial food and water challenges.  Because they lack proper tools, it is not on common for farmers in developing countries to lose up to 50% of their harvested crops.  CTI works to help these farmers prevent crop losses with their inventive storage and preservation technologies, and they help families raise their incomes using CTI's efficient processing tools like grain threshers and grinders.  I think many of these human powered tools would also be of use to the small homestead farmer.  Additional information on CTI can be found on their website.

On Tuesday it was off to the Fergus Falls Livestock Auction to complete the fieldwork data collection and observation portion of the Sociology of Food and Agriculture "Fergus Falls Livestock Auction Project" assignment.  The objectives of this assignment are:

  • To gain experience doing sociological fieldwork.
  • To gain experience objectively observing and recording data.
  • To increase knowledge of the livestock industry in our community.
  • To write a sociological descriptive paper for an audience one can assume knows little of nothing about livestock auctions.
This 4 to 6 page descriptive paper is due on March 22, 2013 and is worth 100-pts (which is a significant portion of the class grade).

On Wednesday the morning was spent on homework, then went to the Sociology of Food and Agriculture study group to discuss reading assignments and study questions.  After that I did some more homework and then headed to Verndale to Seven Pines Farm and Fence to help out getting things ready for Thursday's class at the farm.

On Thursday the Grass Based Livestock class was back at Seven Pines Farm checking out the winter quarters for the animals and getting some first hand experience with handling animals.
Bringing the cows home for the evening milking Wednesday night.
Sows at their winter quarters.  Next summer this area will
be where the garden vine crops are grown.
Sows rooting through the remains of a bale of baleage.
The top wire of the fence is electric.

Laying hens heading out the door from their
winter quarters to get some fresh air and sunshine.
Cattle up in their winter pasture.  This pasture is surrounded on 3-sides
by pine trees (for a wind block) and is located on a south facing hill.
The farmer has unrolled hay and straw as well as moving the
round bale feeder to different areas of the pasture.  The purpose of
this is to add organic matter to the pasture and spread out manure.
All of which is to build soil health and fertility.

Round bale feeder
A sled is a handy piece of equipment in the winter for hauling things around the farm.
This hoop house is the winter home to the feeder pigs.
This spring they will be moved to the calf pen to pigerate the
bedding pack fro the calves

This gilt has a bum leg so she was separated from the rest of
the feeder pigs by putting her in the hospital pen in the hen hoop house.

Insulated waterer provides water year around.  The cows in
the winter pasture have access to this waterer anytime they want a drink

Manure Fork.  Keep it separate from the feed forks.

Silage Fork

Hay Fork

Cow aspirin and a tool for feeding pills to cattle

This is not an anchor for putting a big screw in drywall.
It is a Bloat Trocar.  If one of your cattle has bloat and
you can not get them up you screw this into their
ruman, remove the plug and it lets the gas out.

Here we are adding a little ear bling to make this heifer stand out
from the rest of the herd.
For the Friday seed quiz in Sociology of Ag we had two new seeds added to the pop quiz, Millet and Flax.  The rumor in class is that in order to pass the class you have to pass the final seed. quiz!  After the seed quiz we discussed our reading assignment Carolan - Chapter 5 "Community, Labor and Peasantries".  This chapter dealt with the effects that industrial farming has on the socio-economic and social fabric of a community. We then discussed our second reading assignment, Chapters 1 and 2 of "The Contrary Farmer" by Gene Logsdon.  For the remaining portion of class we had a guest speaker Rick Dreblo (sp?) who is a retired banker who now runs a grass based beef operation and raises replacement heifers.  Rick talked about Ag financing and farming.

The finance theme continued in our Farm Management and Marketing Class with a lecture on Whole Farm Planning: Financial Statements and the three main financial forms; Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement, and Balance Statement and how they are used to measure profitability, liquidity and solvency.  The discussion included direct and overhead farm expenses, assets vs. liabilities and net worth as well as cash flow projections.  We also worked through some worksheets applying these concepts to our individual farm business plans.  The class wrapped up with work on how to develop promotional materials for a farm enterprise.

1 comment:

  1. Dan,
    Interesting topics. Keep the progress updates coming. Hope all is well. Thanks
    Lance B