5 Things Every Producer Needs To Know Before Selling Cattle Online

Marketing cattle online is becoming the next big thing in our industry, but with so many gadgets, services and technology available today it can be overwhelming where to even begin. So we talked to David Moss, co-founder of Agriclear, to help us hack into what buyers are actually looking for when purchasing your cattle online, and how to get yourself ready for successfully selling online.  Agriclear is a new platform for producers to securely purchase and sell cattle online, and we think it’s pretty cool because it’s one of the first platforms that has truly simplified the process and made it safe and secure for both buyer and seller, by adding a payment assurance backstop to every transaction. Agriclear is backed by the TMX Group (owners of the TSX among other companies), and this gives producers across North America that sense of security and peace of mind when marketing online.  Here are David’s top 5 tips that every cattle producer needs to know to help increase sales online.

 

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1.      High Quality Media Sells – take several high definition (HD) pictures from several angles and ensure the photos are representative of the entire lot being sold.  Take several short (10-30 second) HD videos of your cattle, and ensure the environment they are in (i.e. on grass or in a feedlot) is clearly shown in the media materials. Click here to learn how to take better photos with your iPhone.

 

Pupils you betray me

2.      Describe Your Cattle Accurately – ensure you accurately describe your cattle, including animal type and kind, condition (green, medium, fleshy), vaccination program, implant program, and current feeding program.  You want to ensure your description matches what buyers are seeing in the pictures and videos you have provided.  If you are describing your cattle as green, and yet the videos clearly show fleshy cattle, buyers will have concerns.  You want the reputation of always being fair and accurate in your description.  This includes fully disclosing any poor doers, late calvers, or “neighbours bull” events!

 

cattle scale

3.      Know Your Weights!! – this is absolutely critical!  Take representative test weights often.  Do not rely on last year’s results to predict this year’s weights.  Cattle that do not hit the sale weight is a big issue for buyers.  A missed in-weight will often result in their inability to hit specific finished target markets, and will “weigh heavily” on your online reputation.

 

consolidated sale lot

4.      Package and Prepare Your Sale Lot – where possible, package your selling lot(s) into uniform groups of cattle, including colour (breed), weights, sex, animal type, and program.  Sort off any sick or compromised cattle.  Take the perspective of a buyer.  Build sale lots that you would want to buy, avoid trying to “hide” off-type cattle in your sale lots.  Check out this great video with Brenda Schoepp on how to consolidate your cattle.

 

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5.      Be Flexible – listing and selling online is a relatively new phenomenon.  You will need to be flexible and fair with your counterparty to the transaction.  Shipping dates may need to adjust, cattle may get sick prior to the agreed to delivery date, your buyer may need a couple more days to clear pen space for your cattle, or weather may play a role in when both parties can complete the transaction.  Communicate openly and often with your buyer, build that trust, and demonstrate your integrity.  Creating an online market place takes patience and commitment from all parties.  Doing your part in making the online experience a positive one.  Selling online is truly a win-win opportunity for both the seller and the buyer, be a positive participant of this transformation in cattle marketing.

Increasing Your Brand Awareness Is Good Farm Marketing

Make A Stencil: Increasing Your Brand Awareness Is Good Farm Marketing

Article by John Suscovich from Farm Marketing Solutions

Your farm is your brand, and your brand is your farm. It is always good practice to increase your brand awareness. This is particularly true when you are starting a farm.

On my farm and off I am always putting my farm name anywhere I can. I leave business cards at cafes and book stores, I leave pamphlets at doctor’s offices, and I have shirts with my farm name on them that I wear anywhere I go. After all, I want my business to be a success, and in order for it to become a success more people have to know about it.

With visitors coming every week to my farm I wanted a way for my farm name to get into the pictures that they take, and for it to get into the pictures that I take and put online. A simple solution for me was to create a cardboard stencil so I can “tag” all of my stuff and increase brand awareness.

The process was very simple, and I will have the stencil as long as I can keep it in one piece. Here’s what I did:

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I chose a simple font and printed out the letters to my farm name in a very large font size. Obviously the whole name will not fit on one sheet so you will have to print out several sheets.

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Next I lined up all the letters and taped them onto a piece of cardboard. I actually doubled up on the cardboard and cut out two stencils at once. Always good to have a back-up.

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Choose a simple font that will be easy to read. It will also make it easier to cut out. I used Arial for this.

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Put it everywhere. I have it on my chicken tractors, my farm trailer, and I’ll even put it on my Vermont Cart. Just make sure the stencil doesn’t move when you are painting or it will look funny. Here I held it with bricks. I have also used a t-50 stapler to hold it while I spray.

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You can see my stencil on the end of my chicken tractor that I brought to an Earth Day event.

Return on Investment

My farm name is increasingly in my pictures that get shared all over the internet. Since it is clear that I take my business seriously and I want to be a success, others want to see me succeed as well. That leads to an increase of CSA members (4 since the event a couple days ago), and a bolstering of the community around my farm.


What can you be doing to increase brand awareness for you farm?

Link Photo courtesy of Farm Marketing Solutions

Article courtesy of Farm Marketing Solutions

For more information on how to brand your farm business check out a video by Ernest Barbaric on creating your brand online.

 

What Can Farmers & Small Towns Gain Through Using Social Media?

More than 100 million people are said to be using Twitter. With all the buzz around the service – challenges about how many followers people have, tweeted photos appearing on the big screen in major stadiums, and every business having a twitter icon on their homepage – one would have to wonder what would small town people to use the service. That was exactly what I was able to learn at the recent 140 Characters Small Town Conference in Hutchinson, KS.

If you haven’t heard of the 140 Conferences, you may be interested to hear founder Jeff Pulver’s thoughts on what the meeting can do depends entirely on the people who come. As he and event co-host Becky McCray opened the Small Town conference last week, Pulver said:

In America, 300 million people live here [in small towns] and only 65 million people live in the big town and everyone else lives in a small town and the technology we have that is touching our lives, that is effecting the way we work and live, effects everybody. It doesn’t discriminate. The same way that someone in education in Hutchinson is being effected by this is very similar to what’s happening in New York City. In fact, I think in some places, people in small towns are leading the way in being able to take a technology and run with it, to show and lead and use it. And I’ve found it fascinating to discover that.

We put a lens on small towns and put a lens on people who are affecting change and doing things. Either someone is touched by these technologies or they touching technology. That’s what the conference is really about. You will see lots of interesting voices coming forward and sharing their stories, sharing themselves.

McCray is one of the millions of Americans living in small towns or rural areas. Running a small business and living on a farm in northwestern Oklahoma where they raise cattle, she urged Pulver to bring 140 to small towns last year. This year as she took the microphone, she asked the crowd if they wanted to hear her “rant.” She drew the following picture in the audience’s mind:

Last week I opened a copy of the Chicago Tribune and saw a huge inside page dedicated to a story about the drought effecting Oklahoma and Texas and Kansas and New Mexico. And splashed across the middle of that story was a huge photo of a farmer from Oolagah, Oklahoma, in his overalls and his ball cap standing in the cracked and parched earth that is the remains of his farm pond. In short, they made him look like a hick. And he was surrounded by this story on the people who are fighting the drought, and their substandard housing, and how they are broke dirt farmers and it kind of made the rest of us look like a hick too.

See, there’s not room in the photo to tell the story of that farmer. To explain that he probably has between one and two million dollars in assets under management. There wasn’t room to explain that in his pocket is a Blackberry and that he is constantly connected with commodity prices, that he is probably a skilled commodities trader to protect his business. There wasn’t room in the photo to talk about his understanding of commercial lending, of cash flow management, of financial statements of all the disciplines of management that he has had to master to survive as a farmer.

There wasn’t room in that surrounding story to tell any broader of apicture of small town than just the broke dirt farmer. But there is room online and there is room here. We have room. We have room to tell a real story….

We can change some perceptions about who we are. Starting with our own. Because probably a lot of you were told the same thing I was told – ‘If you have any brains and any ambition, you will move out of the small town to the big city so that you can pursue opportunity.’ Which is wrong because today we can pursue opportunity from anywhere.

As she talked through this, the images of my small towns came into mind. Having lived in a Mississippi Delta town of 600 people for several years, I can point to students who were being told that the real promise was in big cities both overtly and in more subtle ways. But I can also point to individuals who “bucked the system” and decided to invest in their small towns, who got involved in the schools, helped bring the arts to their communities and many times, those people were farmers. I was busily walking down Memory Lane when Becky turned to a turn of phrase farmers know well.

Becky talked about the “hybrid vigor of ideas” that is achieved by getting a variety of people in the room, I knew that the day, that this conference had the potential to be incredible. I know I learned a lot while I was there and it was great to be in a room filled with people so passionate about America’s small towns.

In the coming days, we will share some more of the other presentations that were shared during the day as perceptions shattered. And we’ll show more perspectives on just how much small town residents have to gain through social media.

Originally published September 29, 2011 by Janice Person

Article courtesy of Beyond the Rows

Link Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk

 

 

How to Tell your Farm Story using Social Media

 

We Are Our Own Gatekeepers

Just a decade ago, the media was dominated by a few (very loud) voices. We watched the TV news at 5 p.m. and read the newspaper over coffee. If, as a farmer or a manufacturer or an inventor, we wanted to tell our story, we wrote up a press release and faxed it out – hoping someone would bite. Or, we sank thousands into advertising.

For the most part, farmers didn’t need to hire a big-city public relations firm to tell consumers that milk came from cows. Then came the social media revolution.

For the first time in history, the “gatekeepers” of media didn’t have the power to pick through a pile of press releases and decide which story to run or which consumer questions to answer (and which to ignore). Suddenly every individual had a public voice and a collective of individuals could create a revolution in a matter of days (literally, in some cases).


What happened next?

An overwhelming number of questions came pouring out of the consumer sector. Suddenly, people who previously thought to themselves “I wonder how many gallons of milk comes from a single cow each day?” could simply Google it. And if they couldn’t find out through Google, they could post the question on their Facebook page. Conversations got started and questions got answered.

The problems and uncertainty for farmers (and all industries) in this open information marketplace lies in the fact that the people who “answer” may have no idea what they are talking about. Misinformation becomes fact. Complicated answers become black-and-white. Conversation becomes argument.

This scenario of question/answer has played out in every industry in every sector in every marketplace. People want to know who is making, growing, shipping and selling the products they buy, eat and use. And they have the right to know. And we should be proud to share our stories with them. The more consumers understand the diverse, complex and fascinating world of food production, the more respect and understanding the industry will earn.


What do we do now?

It’s simple: we embrace transparency and tell our stories honestly with the people we work with, sell to, and learn from. It’s called public relations, agvocacy, conversation, or more simply, storytelling.

We are proud of what we do and are proud of our industry. We put food on the table of hundreds of millions of families each day in North America alone. And we stand together against bad actors and actions.

Of course we must listen to and acknowledge the concerns of those who trust us with their dinners, but with our voices, we must focus on our stories: our future, our technology, our commitment to safety, health, and social and environmental responsibility, our love of the land and our way of life, our dedication to our families. We admit our shortcomings and work to improve.

The more of us who choose to engage proactively and productively in conversation with the consumer audience, the more powerful our message will be. The tools we can use are Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google+ (to name just a few).

As an ag business newbie and self-proclaimed city slicker, I was honored to be invited to the second Agvocacy 2.0 conference in Nashville, Tennessee, last month. The AgChat Foundation, a social media advocacy organization established to “empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms” held the conference to connect and teach ag professionals like me (and you) how to effectively use online platforms to help us tell our stories.

As I sat in the room a hundred ag professionals who have embraced social media and are using these tools to share these messages, I began to think of all of the millions of others who have yet to engage. Yes, the conference was amazing and I learned a lot. Yes, I think you should try to go, if you can. But, yes, I also understand that many farmers and ag professionals don’t have the time or knowledge to jump into Facebook or Twitter and figure it out.

One of the key messages of Jeff Fowle, AgChat Foundation past board president, in his opening remarks at the Agvocacy 2.0 conference was “reach beyond the choir.”

In my attempt to reach beyond the choir, I am appealing to you — the farmer and industry professional who doesn’t know where to start — pick one place to start.

Set up a Twitter account (it’s simple) and follow @AgChat@agchatfound and me (@amyserves). I’ll help you figure out how to follow along during the weekly AgChat. You can start by just reading the conversation.

Make a Facebook page for your farm (ask around! Your local Chamber of Commerce can probably help, or your teenage kid, for sure!). Connect locally, regionally and through the industry and share your daily life. Start by connecting with others through AgChat Foundation’s page (https://www.facebook.com/AgChatFoundation).

Visit www.agchat.org and read a few of the blog posts highlighted to get an idea about what other people are writing.

If you have something to say, but aren’t sure which avenue to take, connect with the AgChat community or email me and I can try to help.

We’re all in this together. We’re our own gatekeepers and our own storytellers, and through agvocacy, we are our own public relations machine.

Let’s use the tools we have available and get our story out. It’s one we can all be proud to share.

Article courtesy of DCCWaterbeds via Progressive Dairyman

Link Photo courtesy of Paolo Del Signore


How do you use social media to connect with consumers?

Want to learn the meaning of good conversation? Check out Tim Wray in “Get the Conversation Going.”
 

Why Soil Testing is Important

 

To Test Or Not To Test

Article by Wayne Batten

If your car or boat has set around without being operated since last fall, would you get into either one and set out on a 90-day trip?  I don’t think you would.  Are you planting crops, gardens or other plants in the coming days?  Have you tested your soil?  If not, there is not much difference in planting your crops without a soil test and beginning that 90-day trip without checking your equipment.

I know by now you may be saying, “You Extension people are always harping about soil testing” and you would be correct.  Soil testing is that important.  How many of you are guilty of adding some fertilizer and or some lime and expecting the plants to grow?  Maybe they will grow as expected, maybe they will not.  A simple soil test can prevent many problems seen each year by Extension Agents and others.

How do I need to pull soil samples?  Begin by drawing a map of your farm, home lawn, garden or whatever areas you will be sampling.  Look over the terrain.  Do you notice any obvious changes in soil color, texture, any changes in weeds growing there now?  If so, you may need to make each of these “different” areas a new sample.  Be sure to label the map you have drawn with names, numbers or some means to be able to distinguish where each sample came from when you get the results in a few days.

Now you are ready to begin pulling soil samples.  You will need a soil probe or a shovel, a plastic bucket, soil sample boxes and a pencil.  If your soil probe or shovel is rusty, clean it first.  Never use a galvanized bucket for collecting samples.  If you do so, many of the micronutrient results will be incorrect.  From each area you plan to sample, dig down about 4 to 6 inches and collect some of the soil from throughout the area. Pull a sample like this from at least 10 places for each different area on your map.  Mix the subsamples well in the plastic bucket and pour the mixed soil into the soil sample box.  Be sure to label the box with the appropriate name or number so you will know where that sample came from when you get the results back.  Soil sample boxes are available at your local Cooperative Extension Center and at many farm and garden centers.  You can mail your samples to the lab in Raleigh or bring them to most Extension Centers and we will send them off for you.

By now, you may be saying to yourself, this sounds like too much work, I will just apply some lime and fertilizer and let it grow.  Would you add oil to that engine before beginning a trip without checking the level on the dipstick first?  I don’t think so.  Adding lime and fertilizer without a soil test is the same thing.  Many people think you cannot add too much lime to soil.  That is very wrong.  Micronutrient deficiencies are very common in many areas of North Carolina, especially on sandy soils in the southeast.  Too little lime results in a low pH whereas too much lime may lead to a very high pH.  Different crops have different pH requirements.  When soil pH levels get out of the desirable range, nutrients like iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc become less available to plants for uptake.  Often the symptoms exhibited by the crop may look similar with a pH that is too high or one that is too low.

By soil sampling, you can potentially save money that might otherwise be spent on unneeded lime and fertilizer.  Many of the soils in Sampson County have had routine phosphorus applications for many years.  Phosphorus does not leach out of the soil very quickly and many soils now have adequate levels in storage.  Most tobacco farmers have found they are able to save a lot of money by applying fertilizers without phosphorus.  You only know if you have adequate phosphorus levels by soil sampling.

Article courtesy of North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension

Link Photo courtesy of NRCS Soil Health

 

For more information about soil check out Susan Penstone’s excellent article The Real Dirt on Soil.

What’s your view on soil testing?

Guide to Companion Planting

Companion planting is based around the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted next to, or close to one another.

Companion planting exists to benefit certain plants by giving them pest control, naturally without the need to use chemicals, and in some cases they can give a higher crop yield .

Generally, companion planting is thought of as a small-scale gardening practice, but it can be applied on larger-scale operations. It has been proven that by having a beneficial crop in a nearby field that attracts certain insects away from a neighbouring field that has the main crop can prove very beneficial. This action is called trap cropping.

While companion planting has a long history, the benefits of companion planting have not always been understood. Traditional recommendations, for companion planting have been used by gardeners for a long time, but recent tests are proving scientifically, that they work.

Other ways that companion planting can be beneficial is to plant a crop like any Legumes, on an area where it will feed nitrogen into the soil, then it will not be necessary to use any chemical fertilizers for the next crop.

The African marigold, along with other plants, are  well known for companion planting, as they exude chemicals from their roots or aerial parts that suppress or repel pests and protect neighbouring plants.

Companion planting also exists in a physical way. For example, tall-growing, sun-loving plants may share space with lower-growing, shade-tolerant species, resulting in higher total yields from the land. This is called spatial interaction, and can also yield pest control benefits, for example, the presence of the prickly vines is said to discourage raccoons from ravaging sweet corn.

Another type of companion planting is called Nurse cropping, where tall or dense-canopied plants may protect more vulnerable plants through shading or by providing a windbreak. For example, oats have long been used to help establish alfalfa and other forages by supplanting the more competitive weeds that would otherwise grow in their place. In many instances, nurse cropping is simply another form of physical-spatial interaction.

Beneficial habitats-sometimes called refugia-are another type of companion planting that has received a lot of attention in recent years. The benefit is derived when companion plants provide a good environment for beneficial insects, and other arthropods, especially those predatory and parasitic species that help to keep pest populations in check.

Article written by Valerie Dancer, courtesy of Companion Planting

 

Now that you know about companion planting, learn how to keep your plants warm and extend the growing season: Cold Frames= Warm Plants
What plants do you like to grow together?

Making a Living on a Small Farm

Article by John Ikerd

In times past, forty acres, a mule, and a lot of hard work were all that it took to make a living on a farm. But those times are gone. A family could live well on a lot less money in those times, but hard work also was worth a lot more back then – regardless of whether it was done by a mule or by a man. The conventional wisdom was that anyone who was willing to work hard enough could make it on the farm. During the financial crisis of the 1980s, many farmers virtually “worked themselves to death” trying to save their farm. If they could just work hard enough, they could make it. But, they couldn’t  – they went broke.

Work simply isn’t worth as much as it once was – at least not on the farm.  Tractors took the place of horses and mules.  Other machinery and equipment took most of the work out of most jobs around the farm.   Physical labor isn’t worth any more than the cost of using a machine to do the same job – maybe even less because machines are less bothersome to fix or replace and far easier to manage than are humans.

Mechanization made farming easier.  Farmers became machine operators rather than laborers.  But a mechanized farmer could farm a lot more land or raise a lot more livestock than could a farmer doing everything by hand.  And farmers still had to expect to put in full-time on the job if they expected to make a full-time living.  So a full-time mechanized farmer had to have a lot more land and a lot more capital tied up in machinery and equipment just to make a living.  With mechanization, farms became larger and it became more difficult to make a living on a small farm.

Agricultural chemicals also made farming easier, taking some additional labor out of farming, but mostly, making a farm far easier to manage.  A farmer didn’t need to know nearly as much about maintaining the natural fertility of the soil  – they could take a soil test and apply the right fertilizers.  They could specialize in crops or livestock – they didn’t need manure to go back onto the fields to maintain fertility.  Farmers didn’t need to know how to till the fields to control weeds – they could spray with herbicides.  They didn’t need to understand how to use crop rotations to control weeds, insects and other pest – they could use commercial pesticides.  Livestock farmers didn’t need to know how to keep their animals healthy and growing, they had antibiotics and hormones to fill in the gaps in their knowledge.  Farmers now could farm by recipe.  As farms became easier to manage, each farmer was able to farm more land or raise more livestock.  However, a farmer still had to expect to put in full time on the job to earn a full time living.  So with increasing use of agricultural chemicals, farms grew still larger, and it became still more difficult to make a living on a small farm.

In economic terms, there are only four basic factors of production, or four basic ingredients in any production process – land, labor, capital, and management.  Over time, machines, agri-chemicals, and other technologies have resulted in substitution of capital and land for labor and management.  Consequently, a typical full-time farm today requires far more land and capital today than fifty years ago.  It takes far more money to buy and operate a farm today because of high land and equipment costs and expenses for fertilizers, pesticides and other commercial inputs.  But, in a typical farm today, labor and management are far less important than fifty years ago.  If a farmer has enough land and enough money to buy the latest equipment and technology, they don’t have to work much or even think much – except about how to manage their money.

In economic terms, each of the four factors earns something in return for its contribution to productivity.  Land earns rent, labor earns wages, capital earns interest, and management earns a salary.  Profit or loss is the reward or penalty for taking the risk associated with investing land, labor, capital, and management in an enterprise without knowing whether the net results will be positive or negative.  Profit is the reward for taking the risk of farming rather than renting the land, putting the money in an insured CD, and working for someone else. In general, each factor of production earns a return in relation to its contribution to the production process.

As the nature of farming has changed, the returns to land and capital have grown and the returns to labor and management have declined.  It isn’t necessary to quote statistics; it’s just plain common sense.   Returns to labor and management are returns to the farmer – to the human investment in a farming operation.  The land and capital can be owned by anyone – increasingly by someone other than the farmer.  Actual farming is about working and thinking – labor and management.  And in general, the return to farming can be no more than proportional to the working and thinking done by the farmer.  If there isn’t much working and thinking going into producing a crop or a batch of livestock, there isn’t going to be much in it for the farmer – and it will be tough to make a living without a lot more land and capital. Farmers who don’t do much working or thinking simply can’t expect to make a living on a small farm.

The ultimate low-return agriculture is contract production.   Farmers are being told that the only way they can remain competitive in agriculture is by signing a comprehensive production contract with one of the giant agribusiness corporations.  But, farmers need to stop and think – who can logically expect to benefit from contract production?  Under most contracts, the corporation arranges for capital – mostly loans to be repaid by the grower. The corporation provides all of the technology – genetics, equipment, feed, health care, etc.  And the corporation provides virtually all of the management – the grower’s mainly do what they are told to do.  The grower provides the labor, but the highly mechanized operations require little labor.  Contract livestock or poultry operations require little land, although the grower is expected to find some place to dispose of manure.  In summary, the grower provides a small amount of equity capital, a small amount of land, and some low-skilled labor.  The corporation provides everything else. The grower gets a fixed amount per animal produced, regardless of costs or price, so the contractor even takes most of the risk.  So who is going to benefit from a corporate contract operation?  Certainly not the grower – the grower doesn’t do anything that would justify making a living in such an operation.

So what does all this say about making a living on a small farms?  It says small farmers have to put a lot more of themselves into their operations – a lot more management and labor – than do most farmers today.  It says a farmer can’t expect to make a decent living if someone else makes all of the important decisions and they only contribute some low-skilled labor.   It says that farmers must rely on management and labor far more and rely on land and capital far less if they expect to make a living on a small farm.  It says that the way to turn a small farm into a full-time farming operation is to find ways to substitute management and labor for land and capital.

There is a limit to how hard anyone can work or, more important, would want to work on a farm.  Working harder is still not the secret to making a living on the farm – even though most of us would be better off if we did a bit more physical labor and a bit less sitting.  However, thinking is potentially far more productive and is far less limiting than is working. So the key to making a living on a small farm is more intensive management mixed with an appropriate amount of skilled labor.  A small farmer has less land and capital so they have to do more thinking and decision making per acre or dollar invested – and they have to be willing to work when working is the logical thing to do.  They have to put more of themselves into it if they expect to get more for themselves out of it.  The successful farmer of the future might quite accurately be labeled a thinking worker or a working thinker – the key is to do both together, simultaneously, in harmony.

It takes more thinking to work with nature to reduce costs of inputs and increase profits while taking care of the land  – more eyes per acre as Wes Jackson says.  It takes more thinking to find and keep customers who want, and are willing to pay for, the things a small farmer can produce in harmony with nature – relationship marketing as Joel Salatin calls it.  It takes more thinking to fit your unique talents and skills as a farmer to the needs of your land, to your particular customers and your community – linking people, purpose, and place.  Literally thousands of these thinking workers are on small farms today all across the land – putting more of themselves into their operations and are getting more for themselves in return.  Each is doing something different, but one by one they are finding ways to make a good living on a small farm.

Link Photo by Robert Moore

 

Take a peek at some of the Farm Masters content with this awesome video with Fred Mertz about a new way of farming.

Do you live on a small farm? Share your story!

 

 

Homesteading Tips

Alderman Farms is a small homestead focused on self-sufficiency and thriftiness. Located in Brookhaven, Mississippi their desire is to promote good old-fashioned methods of small farming, using traditional American skills and “know how”.

Their values are evident on their website, blog and social media where they share their homesteading tips, and everyday farm life with us. On their different online media you can follow along as they investigate inspirational techniques such as Back to Eden Gardening, creating a sustainable permaculture, raising critters humanely with loving care, and preserving the heritage of homesteading for future generations.

Below are just 2 of the great videos they have created to share their experience and knowledge with others. Check them out, because who hasn’t needed to stretch a fence at one time or another with only the pliers in your back pocket?

Happy Homesteading!

How to tighten fence with nothing but pliers

How to set a corner post without concrete

 

For more homesteading tips check outDIY Powdered Laundry Soap andDIY Wood Pallet Shelf

Do you have any homesteading tips?

DIY Wood Pallet Shelf

Learn how to make a DIY wood pallet shelf. It’s super easy, just follow the steps below.

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1 wood pallet Chainsaw or Skill Saw
Drill Screws
Paint or Wood Stain Sand Paper
Paint Brush or Rag Hammer
Scrap piece of wood (optional) Stencils, Acrylic Paint & Varnish (optional

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Lay your pallet on a flat surface
Cut the inner 2×4’s across the top of the second 1×6 from the bottom

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Now that you have the outline of the shelf we need to put a base on it. You can either use a piece of 1×6 pulled off the MIDDLE of the pallet (that way you still leave wood for a shelf from the opposite end of the pallet) or you can use any scrap of lumber that cover the gap at the bottom.

Stand the shelf so that the bottom of it is facing UP and lay the board you are using for the bottom on top of that. Hold securely and attach the bottom board with about 3 screws on each end, and 3 into the middle 2×4. Remember to make sure your board is flush with the wood on the side of the shelf that goes against the wall or it won’t hang right.

If your board is longer than the shelf now is the time to cut it off. If the board you used for the bottom is wider than the shelf you can either leave it as is or trim it off with your saw.

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Now, just like that we have our shelf. Round up a scrap of sand paper and give the rough edges a bit of a sanding. I am going for “rustic” (or lazy) here so I just cleaned up anything that would leave slivers!

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Using either left over wood stain or paint give your shelf some color using a paint brush or a rag depending on the product. Let it dry.

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After the paint/stain is dry if you want to spice it up a bit you can add just about anything you like to the front of the shelf. For my own shelf I chose to do a quote with a simple graphic done in acrylic paint.

To finish it off, I recommend giving it a coat of a varnish or clear acrylic sealer which is available at most craft or hardware stores. This way the paint doesn’t bleed and you can wipe the shelf down as needed.

The Principles of Organic Farming

Article by the Organic Farming Blog

Since the 90s, marketing organic produce has been growing so fast. It averages 20 to 25 percent each year, reaching $33 Billion (American) in 2005. The demand to manage farmlands is also increasing in percentage. Now, there is about 30.6 million hectares around the globe which are farmed organically—that’s 2% of all the farmland in the world. Why is this so? It is because of the many benefits a farmer can get from organic farming. Here are some of them:

  • Organic farming supports higher level of wildlife. Animals can freely roam around. Actually, it’s not only the wildlife that is being supported but also the whole ecosystems.
  • Organic farming methods can reduce production cost by more than 25%. It is because these methods shun the use of pesticides and fertilizers—these minimize soil erosion by over 50%.
  • Soils in organic farms are rich in micro nutrients which can last for decades and grow crops for a long time.
  • The products of organic farms are better than conventional foods because they are healthier and they taste so good.
  • Organic foods promote healthy living. These reduce the risk of having strokes, heart attacks or cancer.
  • More and more consumers are shifting to organic diets and year after year their numbers are growing. Thus, the profit in this business is huge.

However, to sustain these benefits, you need to follow some principles and ideas. Here are some of them:

  • Produce food of soaring nutritional quality in adequate quantity
  • Interact with natural systems in a constructive and developmental way
  • Encourage and develop biological cycles in the farm, always involve micro organisms, plants and animals, soil flora and fauna
  • Conserve the soil and water
  • Improve the soil quality and amplify soil fertility
  • Promote the proper care and the good use of water, water resources and everything in it
  • Use nutrient elements and organic matter
  • Work with substances and materials that can be recycled and reused
  • Let the livestock such the fishes, poultry, fishes, and other farm animals to perform the normal aspects of their natural behavior
  • Maintain genetic diversity of agricultural system which includes the protection and guarding of wildlife habitats and plant
  • Minimize forms of pollution which can lead to chaos
  • Promote the human rights of all involve in the organic production and processing
  • Foster ecological and indigenous production systems which will make sufficient, safe and healthy food for your local communities

 

Link photo by Suzie’s Farm

Now that you know the principles of organic, do you think organic farming can become mainstream? Read “Can Organic Farming Become Mainstream?” to find out more.

Do you have any other principles of organic farming that you think should be included in the above list?
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