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.