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Showing posts from November, 2013


I think that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  Not only does it mark the beginning of my favorite season - for me, it's a day to consciously reflect on all the things (big and small) that I'm grateful for.  The food isn't too bad, either!

This year, I want to do a simple list of all that I'm thankful for.  It's not an all-inclusive list, but here it is:

I'm thankful for my family - immediate and extended.

I'm grateful that I get to do the work of farming with my girls and my wife.

I'm thankful for the community of farmers that I've had the privilege of joining.

I'm thankful for the older generation of farmers who have shared their wisdom, experience and humor with me.

I'm grateful that I get to work outside nearly every day.

I'm thankful for the sights, sounds, smells and experiences that come with working outside.

I"m grateful for the food that will be on our table tonight - and for the food that graces our table everyday.  I&#…

Farmer Amnesia

I have farmed "professionally" since 2002.  Eleven years ago this fall, we took our first crop - popcorn, pumpkins and Swiss chard - to the Auburn Farmers Market. That year, and every year since, I've reached a point in the year where I'm absolutely burnt out.  Some years, it's been the grind of 70-80 hour work weeks that wears me down.  Other years, it's drought or disease problems.  When I reach this point, a customer's innocuous comment about high prices at the farmers market, or an unexpected expense, is enough to make me REALLY grumpy - and I wonder if it's worth continuing to farm.  Thankfully, each autumn I suffer an extreme case of farmer amnesia - the anticipation of the coming year makes me forget the struggles of the 12 months I've just lived through!

When I grew vegetables, the onset of farmer amnesia usually coincided with the arrival of the Johnny's Seeds Commercial Growers Catalog in my mailbox.  My friend and fellow farmer, Jim…

Pasture Lambing on a Larger Scale

Managing my own sheep, I've always lambed on pasture rather than in a barn (for a full description of the system we've used, see Lambing on Pasture).  As I wrote last February, pasture lambing has several advantages (at least in our system):

Lower (or no) capital costs for barns and other structures.Healthier lambs and ewes - very few of the respiratory problems that often come with lambing in an enclosed area.The development of a ewe flock with tremendous mothering abilities - ewes that give birth without assistance, develop a mother-lamb bond quickly, and produce plenty of milk.Lower feed costs - little or no supplemental feed is required.
In my new job, I'm helping ranch manager Ellen Skillings develop and implement a pasture lambing system on a much larger scale.  We'll be lambing out 1700 ewes (including mine) between November 1 and the end of March (the fall lambing ewes will finish up before Christmas - we'll have month-long break before the spring lambing e…