Month: January 2016

On Work Well Done

They say a Border Collie can replace five farm hands, but thus far in Tripp’s life he’s been more like adding one. He helps, but his help has been in addition to our usual human team, not as a replacement for anyone. Was, I say, […]

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On Bred Ewes

If I’m not mistaken Louisa is due with (round about) tax day lambs. She and Ferdinand wasted absolutely no time when we introduced them back in November. Which wasn’t intended but was a nice bonus since we were running about a week later than I […]

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The Myth of Cheap Garden Hauls + Heirloom Favorites

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If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I’ll just grow my own, it’s cheaper!” I would have at least one large piggy bank full of nickels. I’ve heard it about fruits and vegetables, pigs, cows, sheep… basically, if it comes from a farm people seem to think they can do it better and cheaper themselves. And in certain cases, they’re right–or at least not wrong. A couple dozen square feet of raised beds or a handful of pots on your porch don’t require much tending and the super-containment reduces the risk of failure, at least at first.

Even with animals, breeding one or two of your own can work… until it doesn’t. The problem, as with gardens, is that when the plan fails it usually does so in epic fashion. More importantly though, you can’t predict when that failure will come about and the smaller your operation the more acutely the failure can be felt. It’s the old, “all your eggs in one basket” issue. When you’re breeding just a few animals or growing just a tiny garden you have a lot more riding on each plant or animal.

Of course, there’s also the issue of actual inputs and the DIY route doesn’t pencil out in at least as many cases as it does–and I’d contend many more–but most people either just don’t know or don’t care what it actually takes to bring into this world a ripe tomato or a feeder pig or a frolicky calf. (more…)

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9 Frequently Asked Questions About Pig Farming

Over the past couple of years hundreds of thousands of people have landed on this blog after searching for information about pigs, pork and farming practices. What the record of that traffic amounts to is something of a social pulse. The exact questions that bring […]

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State of the Farm: What Doesn’t Kill You

About three-quarters of the way through last year I considered, and even briefly decided to quit farming. That’s not a sentence I ever imagined would act as the hook of one of these addresses, but it’s the only sentence I can fathom using right now. […]

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New Year Goal: Purposeful Email

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I’m not really big on New Year Resolutions, I have learned–like most humans, the hard way–that sweeping changes are hard to come by and even harder to sustain. I won’t say slow and steady wins the race, because that’s too cliche, but little steps towards a goal do seem to be the best way of actually getting there.

That said, I do like how the New Year–like the beginning of a new school year and the changing of seasons–gives us a built in reason to reassess our goals, set new ones, and make sure we’re actually taking the steps we need to take in order to achieve them. This year one of my goals was to revive this blog, but not just as it was. That was something I struggled with when I started writing here again last year. After basically a full year away from here it felt impossible to jump back in. We were all in a different place–me, you, the online ag community, my farm, even just internet trends in general. So last fall I gave it a lot of thought, and ultimately ended up disabling the automatic delivery of blog posts to subscriber emails in preparing for what I wanted to do this year: which is to make the emails I do send those of you who have subscribed more purposeful. Last week I started that, and then this morning continued it. (more…)

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On Crinkle Cookies + Cold Days

I’m not much of a baker; it’s an artform that requires more precision than I can usually muster, but it’s cold–as in first day I had to wear my winter hat with the face mask so my lungs wouldn’t hurt cold–and there’s something about cookies […]

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To You and Yours: A Prosperous New Year

The Man took two long stretches off over the holidays. Well, long for us. It seems like it’s been an almost literal forever since we have just been here at home for more than a day at a time without anywhere to go. Usually, when […]

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