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

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week 29 (April 1, 2013)

It was hard to believe, but we were already at the last week of class for the semester and program.  Next week everybody will be starting their internships.  The main push this week was completing the final for the Grass Based Livestock Class which was writing a farm management plan for a hypothetical farm we out of the blue, inherited. Refer to last weeks post for additional details.  After handing in the final we headed outside for some farm skills work on putting together water pipes to provide water for livestock in pastures.

Nose pump allows cattle to pump their own drinking water

Cutting a PVC water line

Attaching a valve that necks the line down to 3/4-in so you
can use common  garden hose fixtures

Splicing two water lines together using a crimp.

Practice at using a water siphon
 Then it was back in the classroom to finish the lecture on "Management of Individual Species on Pasture".  This was basically a series of mini workshops on all of the various potential livestock enterprises a person might want to employ and how some might stack (or complement) with each other within a single farm operation.  The information presented included feed requirements, housing needs, care, breeding, safety, potential markets, complementary enterprises and were to find additional resources on each species .  They types of livestock covered were: Hogs, Grass Fed Beef Cattle, Grass Fed Dairy Cattle, Sheep, Meat Goats, Dairy Goats, Turkeys, Ducks and Geese.

After we handed in the assignments tied to the last two chapter reading assignments, the final Sociology of Agriculture Class was spent with a brief review of the topics covered and take away points "Start seeing things in the world from different angles / perspectives.  Observe and look for patterns.  Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  And finally, keep reading and learning.  We then took our final seed quiz (it was rumored that if you did not pass this you did not pass the class).  Just before we left class the instructor gave us our take home final assignment (Which I thought we were not having a final since we were done with class before finals week).  The assignment was to write a paper on "What is the use (if any) of the sociological perspective and explain how it applies to you as a Sustainable Farmer".  Assignment was due next week, submitted electronically.

The final class for Farm Management and Marketing was a pot luck at Instructor Ryan Pesch's Farm "Lida Farm".  While there, in addition to eating a very good meal, and being entertained by Mr. Pesch's children we discussed our Draft Farm Business Plans with the other students, getting their input and questions on the plan.  Then each student had a session with Mr. Pesch and received his input and thoughts on our draft business plans.  The final version of the business plan was due in approximately 3-weeks, submitted electronically.  Isn't the internet and e-mail a wonderful thing?

The Sustainable Food Production Program Class of 2013 with
Program director and Instructor Dr. Wika (on the right).  I am glad to have
 them all friends and part of my resource base.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Week 28 (March 25, 2013)

This week there were no Friday classes at M-State so we had a make-up Farm Marketing and Management Class on Thursday before our Livestock class.  We covered more of "Whole Farm Planning".  We went over profitability measures:  Break Even Analysis, to determine Break Even Volume and Break Even Value.  Break even volume is basically how much you have to produce and sell to cover all your costs and overhead expenses.  Where-as break even value is what price do you have to place on your product just to break even.  there was additional discussion on enterprise budget as part of your income statement.

Is that snow ever going to melt?

We then covered Contingency Planning which is a plan for what you are going to do when things do not work out as you anticipated they would.

In livestock class we started with the most important "Nutrient" on the farm WATER!  Discussion included how much water various animals need each day, providing access to water, redundant water sources (especially for dairy), and various water sources (pressured from well, hauling water, sand point, surface water sources, windmills, solar pumps) and the importance of using gravity whenever you can.  There was also discussion on winter water sources.

The next part of class was spent on "Silvopasture" which is the integration of trees with livestock production and timber production.  We then went over livestock feed consumption rates, outside of grazing, for various types of animals from hogs to turkeys.  We then went into common crop production yields/acre/year so you can estimate how many acres you have to plant to meet the feed rates previously discussed.  Class finished up with the beginning of the section on "Management of Individual Species on Pasture.  Last but not least we got our take home final for the class.  This assignment required us to develop a management for a  hypothetical farm consisting of 25-acres of owned crop land, 20-acres of a thin stand of alfalfa/smooth brome hay ground, 50-acres of KY bluegrass pasture (currently continuously grazed) and a 50-acre red pine plantation.  there was an additional adjacent 75-acres of rented property that consists of 45-acres of crop land and 30-acres of KY bluegrass / orchard grass pasture.

Since classes were canceled on Friday we had the opportunity to attend a bonus Horse Clinic workshop at Paradox Farm.  The workshop started with a discussion on determining if a horse fits into your farms future and included horse needs for fencing, feed, health, horse selection, training and safety requirements.  The workshop also included some hands on work with horses.

Hoof Maintenance and Handling


Checking and cleaning the front hoof with a pick

Friday, July 5, 2013

Week 27 (March 18, 2013)

Spring Break is over and we are back in class.  The semester is quickly coming to an end.  We only have two more weeks of class for the SFP program.  Our last week is the week of April 1, which is hard to believe with all the snow still on the ground.  We don't have formal finals as everyone will be starting their internships prior to the official finals week.  What we dohave are final papers, lots of reading assignments and reports in all classes.

Even though it is a long, cold, snowy winter the Winter Greenhouse at
Paradox Farm keeps producing plenty of salad greens for the supper table.
I believe those might even be some started tomato plants at the far end.
85 degrees in the
Winter Greenhouse

For the week of March 18, 2013 in Grass Based Livestock class we continued our pre-break lecture on Paddock Layout considerations: Similar soil type, similar topography, slope and aspect to sun, similar forages.  Also need to take into consideration sensitive areas like timber, native prairie remnants, steep slopes, wetlands, springs, rivers and flooded areas.  A good free resource book on pasture design is the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's (MDA) Publication "Improving and Sustaining Forage in Pastures" June 2010, by Howard Moechnig.  I believe this book is available electronically from MDA.  This lecture also revisited some of the cover- cropping from last semester's "Crops & Forage" class, with the addition of using animals to harvest the cover crops to increase generated revenue.  Following the cover crop discussion we had guest lecturer's Dr. Wika and Dr. Prive from Paradox Farm discussing small ruminants, how they might fit into farm and holistic goal.  Small ruminant livestock are basically sheep and goats.  Sheep like grass and eat down and goats like broad-leaves and tend to eat up (shoulders and above).  Both can be used for dairy and draft animal work although goats are much more commonly used for those purposes.

Goat and Sheep Terminology
A Buck is an intact male goat and a Ram is an intact male sheep.
A Wether is castrated male goat or sheep.  Typically butchered at 4 to 8 months of age.
A Doe is an female goat.  A Ewe is a female sheep.
A Kid is a baby goat.  A Lamb is a baby sheep.

New born lambs at Paradox Farm
The class then went into a discussion on livestock gestation (how long various animals take to carry a baby to full term) and using that knowledge to plan when to breed your animals so they have to young at the most opportune time of the year.  Typically spring in order to work with nature instead of against it..  Following that the class finished by covering the topics of "Pasture Fertility Management" and then Mulit-Species Grazing.  (The MDA book previously mentioned is a good reference for both of these subjects as are "The Stockman's Grass Farmer" and "Graze" publications.

On Friday in Sociology of Agriculture class we turned in our assignments, reviewed the reading questions, and had our seed quiz.  The most important of the assignments was the Livestock Auction Paper (discussed in a previous post).  This paper was worth 100-points or about 1/3 of the grade for the class.  If you ever get to do this program make sure you do this paper and do not put it off until the night before to finish it.  Also make sure you take very good notes during your visit to the livestock auction.

We then had a special guest lecture Duane Ninneman, Sr. Director and director of Climate and Energy with CURE.  Duane told us a little about what he does, some of the various efforts he has been involved in and some about is farm "Borrowed Farm".  On his farm he allows other people to come out and have "Allotment Gardens" where they can stay and camp and tend their gardens.  Sort of a commune/co-op type of farm.  Duane's primary topic of discussion was on making change.

After Duane's talk we jumped into Farm Marketing and Management talking about risk assessment, financial management and business structure.  From there we discussed the various forms of organizational structure:  Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), and a Cooperative.  The lecture also included how to register a business in Minnesota, and some options available for Finance Alternatives and Financial Assistance for beginning farmers.  After a brief break we got into specifics on Preparing our Business Plans, which is our final project for this class and comprises the majority of the grade for the class.  A typical outline for a business plan includes the following: Cover / Executive summary, Mission / Vision Statement, Goals and Personal History, Business Strategy, Performance and Market Assumptions (market research information), Risk Analysis / Contingency Plans to mitigate risk and Financial Statements.  The assignment for next Wednesday's make-up class is to complete a draft business plan or at least an outline.