Quickie Picks from the Farm

Piglets and Pork Chop’s

May 9th, 2010

The farm’s animal family has some new additions. Four, very adorable, Tamworth-Large Black-Old Spot cross piglets. They’re so settled into their spacious pen in the woods (yes, the farm has woods) that they have already eaten up everything green within reach. They have sorted out the electric fence but are still a little suspicious of us. We are all sneaking in pats and rubs when they’re eating, even if they protest. I find their squeals and antics to be completely amusing. Continue Reading »

Big Sacrifices are Made

May 4th, 2010

In an effort to put aside farm start up/down payment money we’ve been considering some very drastic measures. Cutting off the cable, cutting back on the beer, cutting up credit cards. Basically, cutting out all sorts of stuff. Unfortunately, on paper, all those cuts didn’t add up to much financially and for Thad, life without Top Chef and beer is almost not worth living.

Then it dawned on us. Instead of penny pinching and scrimping on relatively inexpensive quality of life things, we should go after a rally big ticket item and while we’re living in Brooklyn, that is our rent. Continue Reading »

First official day apprenticing at Queens County Farm

April 4th, 2010

No longer simply a volunteer, today I started a whole new gig at my favorite inner-borough farm, Queens County Farm. This season I’m very happy to say that I am an official apprentice with all the attendant responsibilities and expectations, many of which I’ve yet to begin to grasp.

Today, Leah (the farm manager) re-introduced me to animal chores, tried to show me how to water in the greenhouse correctly, slogged through the mud in the goat pen with 4×8 soggy plywood platforms and illuminated the fine art of washing eggs. Just a quick run down of the highlights of my day:

  • fed animals (twice): chickens in two hen houses – ducks, geese and a crazy turkey – the cow and her lady friends, the ewe’s – the two Big Black/Tamworth pigs, a passle of goats and the 2 big boy sheep
  • made a new chicken run on pasture with electric fencing
  • got introduced to the fine art of propagating in a green house, for which I only had to water the blocks and trays, and sucked at it! but I had plenty of opportunity to practice because we watered in there three different times
  • washed a bunch of trays, also in the greenhouse, which could have been boring except it was a slightly humid 75 degrees with a great little breeze and I had a great view of the cold frames and the goats
  • moved the aformentioned “wood” from the goats pen
  • collected 17 dozen eggs and washed them
  • cleaned the chicken poop out of the nesting box’s and replaced the wood shavings
  • put out new straw in the big hen house
  • distributed arugula to the animals who have  discriminating palates
  • clipped and sawed suckers off trees (which I can’t remember the name of…oops) which brought back horrible memories of my childhood and a particular mulberry tree – it wasn’t so bad today

At the end of the day, what I took away with me was that I had been in intimate proximity to a lot of chicken @*$* . Additionally, I brought home a significant amount of chicken-ness with me on my clothes that my cats were quite interested in. The day flew by, Leah was a terrific teacher (even if I asked every question under the sun and sucked at watering) and I was so happy to finally get started back at the farm.

Want to keep up with what’s what at QCFM, I suggest fanning them on Facebook because they always have great events and learning opportunities, plus it’s a great place to volunteer with some terrific farmers.

Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

March 6th, 2010

Like most things in life, there are many paths to getting started in farming. Living in Brooklyn, we have to navigate balancing a high cost of living with getting experience and gaining access to land, two things more easily accomplished outside the city. Trouble is, lucrative work in the city can help build a nest egg, although it’s hard to put money aside because even the basics are pretty expensive. And apprenticing can give you invaluable experience and access to a community, but you’d better have some financial support because student loans, storage fee’s, and even rents continue to accrue, even if you have your head in a wonderful dirt bubble. So we’re doing a little saving, a little learning, we get experience where we can and try to stay open to opportunities as they come. With that said, we’re perhaps overly eager to farm full-time and that enthusiasm can sometimes color the appropriateness of some of our options because, frankly, patience is sometimes difficult to muster.

It’s with that professed eagerness, that a few months ago, we donned some rose-colored glasses and jumped at a gift horse option that sent us into a little, temporary tailspin.

There is a family farm in Tennessee and the option to farm it presented itself. Leasing from the family was attractive because it would be financially reasonable and it would give us the opportunity to jump in with both feet, learn as we go and get started right away. It’s a beautiful 130 acre farm. Rolling pastures, ponds, woods. The land is perfect for the kind of farming we want to do. There was some general family support, so we began poking around and started a ‘feasibility study’. We got the NRCS surveys. We looked into ‘our’ markets. Researched regional varieties. Checked out the watershed. We came across some issues but nothing seemed prohibitive. Continue Reading »

Cornell’s upcoming on-line courses for Beginning Farmers

February 4th, 2010

The New York Beginning Farmer Project, a program of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, is offering two on-line courses this March.

BF 201: Marketing What You Produce – March 4th, 2010 – April 15th, 2010
Most of us go into farming with the thought of making some – or all – of our livelihood through the sale of what we make or grow. Successful farmers plan each aspect of their operation carefully, and marketing is no exception. Completion of this online program will enable you to create a marketing plan that will help you maximize your return on your investment.

BF 101: What Do I Need to Do to Start a Farm Business? – March 5th, 2010 – April 15th, 2010
New farmers often ask “How does my enterprise officially become recognized as a farm?” This question has many answers, all of which you’ll learn as a participant in this course. The course is for aspiring or beginning farmers seeking to learn about the commercial, legal and tax implications of farming.

For more information visit upcoming online courses and general info

Yankee’s at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference

January 31st, 2010

2008111794Over the last couple of years we’ve attended a number of conferences in the Northeast, meeting farmers, being introduced to practical skills and learning about regional developments and marketing. Shortly after the Young Farmers Conference in December, as we were signing up for NOFA-NY, we found out we might have a family farming opportunity in eastern Tennessee. So plans changed and we decided to head down to Chattanooga and check out what was going on in the southern region.

This year, Southern SAWG had just shy of 1,200 attendees from Oklahoma to South Florida, including a handful of folks from north of the Mason-Dixon. There were young urban farmers from Atlanta, middle-aged ranchers from Arkansas and older but wiser trailblazers from the Virginia Piedmont, making for a terrific mix of generations and ethnicities. Intrigued by our reason for being at SSAWG, southern hospitality was in full-effect with generous offers, east Tennessee anecdotes (which did include a couple of horror stories over beers) and personal encouragement from some of the regions most successful practitioners. All in all, despite our nametags saying New York, we felt right at home. Continue Reading »

Grassroots push for Student Loan forgiveness could remove barrier to new entry farmers

January 18th, 2010

youposterI recently contacted my U.S. elected officials to propose that farming become one of the areas of employment eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. I’m hoping that many young, beginning and new farmers struggling with student loan repayment will contact their representatives as well. The following are the nuts and bolts of the request but you can find a sample letter that can be tailored to your own personal circumstances here.

The centerpiece of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness option that allows individuals employed in certain public service areas to have any remaining loan debt discharged after 10 years of repayment. It also allows participants to utilize the Income Based Repayment schedule during those 10 years to inspire people to go into under-served and low earning, not-for-profit or community sustaining fields. Farming, with it’s aging participants, low on-farm income earning capacity and importance to local communities, regions and the country at large, is a perfect employment area to be added to the list of professions eligible for forgiveness. Continue Reading »

Hello world!

January 1st, 2010

Qualche programma da scaricare… Adobe Reader è un programma per leggere file PDF. DAEMON Tools è un programma per creare unità virtuali.