Category Archives: FAMILY

Side Hustle to Dream Job

Whereas Mike Rowe encourages people to explore the trades as a permanent position or a jumping point to starting your own business, Joel Salatin regards that a backup job is necessary to transition into farming full time. Both are right, of course. If you have the interest and natural ability to be an electrician or other, you can make a lot of money! However, if your dream is to be a farmer or, for that matter, any startup self employed career, a good supply of cash on hand and steady income before starting makes the idea a dream rather than a nightmare.

Consider Joel’s latest musing on the subject – food for thought.

NEW FARMER BACK UP

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NEW FARMER BACK UP

            My post last week about whether or not farm aspirants should attend college stimulated some extremely thoughtful and heartfelt responses; thank you all for chiming in.  I was going to leave the discussion there but one young fellow asked if trade school would be beneficial to have a skill as a back up plan to the farm.

             I always loved Gene Logsdon’s books and writings and am disappointed I never met him personally.  His Contrary Farmer is iconic in sustainable ag writings.  About the only thing that stuck in my craw about him, though, was his adamant position that a small farm was not economically viable on its own.  He declared that you really needed an off-farm income to support the farm.  His writing filled that bill.

             I don’t disagree with Gene lightly, but when this question came out of the comments, I couldn’t help but think of Gene’s position.  While I do NOT agree that an off-farm income is necessary for success, I DO agree that it’s wise and can smooth some rough edges. 

             Almost no entrepreneurial venture starts pure.  Either it taps into an existing nest egg or it transitions using income from other sources to finance it until it scales to stand-alone viability.  I’ve always told folks who want to go from zero to full-time farming to have at least one year of living expenses before making the leap.  Scratch starting takes time to get things up and running.

             That nest egg would include being able to buy a property launch pad for cash.  Teresa and I were blessed with second-generation mortgage-free land, but didn’t jump until we had 1 year of living expenses in the bank.  I fully expected to go back to off farm income when that ran out; it never did.  But, during those first few years, I picked up some side jobs:  built a fence for a friend, helped another friend plant trees in the spring. 

             Teresa and I lived on $300 a month in the farmhouse attic, so these little side jobs of $1,000-$2,000 a year were huge in keeping us afloat as we struggled to get our production and sales income high enough to cover all our living expenses.  Fortunately, firewood sales were good at the time and I sold enough of that in the winter to keep gas in the car and utilities paid.

             Although I had not been to trade school, I had acquired skills just growing up on the farm:  building fence, planting trees, running a chain saw.  I’d say these were equivalent to saleable skills you might acquire at vocational school learning a trade like plumbing, electrical, small engine repair, welding, construction.

             While I wouldn’t say my bottom line disagreement with Gene Logsdon has changed, I would agree that at least starting out, a fall back option with a marketable trade is certainly wise, even if you never have to use it.  Chances are, if you have a marketable skill, opportunities will knock on your door to enable you to leverage that skill.  If you can synergize your willingness to help with some mastery, it makes your worth go way up.

             So yes, if you want to farm I would encourage knowing a trade, whether you do an apprenticeship or go to a vocational school.  In what I call the triumvirate of practical income strategies–building, growing, repairing–possessing a skill that complements growing (farming) offers another leg to your income stool.

             I appreciated the probing question and this chance to examine a bit more of the college/farm nuance.  It’s certainly not black and white.  Income redundancy never hurt anyone.  One more reminder:  achievability is easier the lower your living expenses .  Eliminating the mortgage, driving a $5,000 car, living in a camper, becoming a master of personal doctoring–these are all ingredients in the secret sauce of farming launch success.

             What are your favorite farm-complementary vocational skills?JOEL SALATIN

MARCH 3, 2021

Comments (10)

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Kevin Pennell 9 hours ago · 4 Likes  

Finally, something I can comment on.
I am a small farmer in Mississippi. I raise sheep and pastured poultry.
Before I pursued my farming dream, I was an electrician. I completed a five-year apprenticeship, and worked as a Journeyman for a few years before farming; and though it may seem like an unrelated trade, the skills, know-how, and work ethic I picked up during my apprenticeship was INVALUABLE in my farming venture.
Besides having practical knowledge of electrical theory, installation practices, and building codes, I also learned to calculate concrete, read blueprints and manufacturers schematics (which came in handy when I read Polyface Designs), and how to plan a project through. I learned the value of having a plan, and working hard to see it accomplished. I toughened my hands up. I learned that electrical tape makes a good bandage. Always lift with your legs. Do it right the first time. Have a positive attitude.
Watching the change in my attitude and work ethic during my apprenticeship really gave me a huge confidence boost. It was the greatest period of personal growth in my life, and I didn’t start until I was 22.
Also great to know that if farming doesn’t work, I have something to fall back on.
My apologies if this is hard to read, my written English skills need some work.

WILL 3 hours ago · 0 Likes  

It reads just fine. I’m a pipefitter making the transition soon. I agree 100 percent the skills you learn will never be wasted. Just the problem solving you are required to have being in the trades has helped me exponentially when it comes to thinking outside of the box with small scale farming.

Alex Sanderson 9 hours ago · 2 Likes  

A trade for income is valuable, yes. Any trade on a farm is absolutely invaluable. Whether it keeps purchase or repair costs down or helps with invention and innovation.

George 9 hours ago · 1 Like  

Tinkering still makes a lot of sense.

Sam 3 minutes ago · 0 Likes  

Thank you for answering my question and for the good advice. Also thanks to the people in the comments for sharing their stories. I do a lot of odd jobs already, cutting grass, landscape work, tilling gardens, etc. It might not be skilled work, but I’m building a reputation as someone who works hard. It seems like if your willing to work hard, jobs find you rather than you finding the jobs.

I thought about selling firewood, but it probably would not be worth it without a dump truck and front end loader. There’s so much good wood where I live that goes to waste.

I’ll think more about an apprenticeship or trade, and see where I am at the end of this season. What I would really like is a dependable winter job, during my off season.
Thank you again so much for the advice!

Permaculture Pimp Daddy 38 minutes ago · 0 Likes  

I’ve been an IBEW journeyman electrician for the last 24 years. While every tradesperson I know was out buying new trucks and houses my wife and I were saving, learning and doing. We were following your example.

I retired from the trade two years ago and now spend every single day joyfully working my farm.

Teresa Seed 4 hours ago · 0 Likes  

Just to say, Kevin Pennell, your English skills are well-nigh impeccable, you might have been self-deluding on that score!

Bonnie 7 hours ago · 0 Likes  

Absolutely agree that an apprenticeship of some sort would be an excellent “Plan B”, in the event that your farming endeavor hits an unexpected roadblock.
Another similar idea is to gain skills needed by a farmer, by using Paul Wheaton’s skill-building program (www.permies.com). This link shows the details:

https://permies.com/wiki/156601/Podcast

Plumby’s grandkid 7 hours ago · 0 Likes  

Not sure it complies as a trade school vocation – but my cousin married into a Northern Illinois big farm family. They are big farmers but are also known in their county for being the go to people for professional tax preparation. Their son even went from school to working for the IRS – before returning to the farm when the dad had health issues (and grain price reached 8 dollar corn) That always seemed to me to be a particularly smart play.

BJ 8 hours ago · 0 Likes  

Your advice to know a marketable trade is spot-on, and I don’t think it is at all in conflict with your disagreement with Logsdon about needing an outside income to support the farm. Having a back-up plan (along with the ability to implement it) is wise in just about any endeavor, whether it’s your life’s work or anything else. Not that one would pursue the trade to support the thing he or she really wants to do, but simply as a fall-back or temporary solution if and when it’s necessary. In a perfect world, we would all be able to simply pursue our passions and not worry about anything else. But in the real world, and especially in uncertain economic times, a backup plan not only is wise, it seems almost essential, even if the new farmer takes your wise advice and starts with at least a year’s worth of “nest egg” funds. The back-up skill will provide peace of mind, if nothing else, and I believe that having peace of mind will help facilitate the success of the farm.

NEXTAGRICULTURE COLLEGE:  TO GO OR NOT

© 2018. JOEL SALATIN. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Book A FarmStay!!

12 Stones Farm Guest House

As promised, more information is coming your way about my amazing friends and their outreach to better the lives of others.

First up, are my friends, Eric & Hope Bright, who owned and operated a profitable dairy on their farm with lovely Jersey cows grazing and gracing the green hills of north Missouri.

Enjoy following along families, children, duck, chicken, and cow adventures on Instagram or Facebook.

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Alas, once their children, who were homeschooled like ours, flew the coop, they moved to warmer clime in south Missouri, just a 30 minute easy drive to Branson. We miss them being our neighbors. 😦

12 Stones Farm Guest House is a unique farm stay with children enjoying bottle feeding dairy calves, rounding up the ducks into their pen each evening, feeding the chickens, collecting eggs (then fixing those fresh eggs for your own brekkie!), milking gentle Jersey cows (and enjoying the milk!), playing with the cats, watching the dog guard the fowl from aerial predators (he takes his job seriously!), helping with the garden if you like, or launching a kayak in the Swan Creek just outside your cabin door.

If active farm stay is not your cup of tea, enjoy the peace and tranquility of a rural setting as you relax into your private hot tub just off the master bedroom with sounds of a tom turkey gobbling occasionally and the splash and gurgle of nearby Swan Creek. Then you might be off to take in the sights and sounds of the ever popular shows and attractions in Branson, MO. Each evening, build an outdoor fire, roast marshmallows and enjoy brilliantly starlit skies.

Enjoy eggs and milk fresh from the farm during your stay and extend the memories and enjoyment by purchasing extras at the 12 Stones Mercantile located on the farm.

As the weather warms, availability may become an issue as families and couples seek to get away from the city and breathe fresh air and relish peacefulness. Start your enquiry at 12 Stones Farm Guest House (sleeps 5) on AirBnB, VRBO, Flipkey, through Eric and Hope’s website, or just give them a ring!. You won’t meet nicer hosts! Also, if you need a really private getaway, take a look at their 2 person cabin on the same property but just a bit away. Available through AirBnB. Eric and Hope have 5.0 star reviews and are Superhosts!

The master bedroom accommodates a queen size bed and a twin size bed.
French doors adorned with quilted window dressings lead to your private outdoor hot tub!
Forgive my terrible photo, but i include it anyway to give you an idea of the spaciousness of the open areas of the 5 person cabin. Behind the DeKalb sign is the loft with 2 twin beds for low ceiling sleeping. Cabins are fitted with all the comforts of home. Quick snapshot in between packing water to Eric who was laying tile in the fabulously upgraded yet still retaining its rustic feel shower and bathroom. Yup, i was helping!

Don’t even hesitate to book this 2 person cabin on the same property and enjoy the same amenities as the 5 person cabin. This trip was the first time i have seen it finished (it was in the infant stages when i visited before) and, as expected, Eric, with his amazing carpentry skills, and Hope with her eye to artistry and detail, have created another oasis.

Selecting Land

My good friend, Greg Judy, who actually has a Youtube channel to which you can subscribe for his interesting and informative videos about farming/ranching and a whole host of other topics related to profitable cattle and sheep farming, has offered up some key points for considering land purchases for your specific goals.

Greg’s check list when selecting a farm.

The check list really hasn’t changed in considerations for the purchase throughout history.

Cato’s list has more detail and although he uses the word ‘folly’ in what other people build (like barns for livestock), it can be used in your favor should you need a new or nice home or are considering a dairy operation or some such. Yet, the basic consideration is, does my operation actually require the use of a high maintenance, taxable building which sits empty most of the year.

Buying undeveloped land may seem less expensive, but bear in mind the high cost of making it livestock worthy (or whatever it is you will use your land for). Perimeter fencing is expensive made even more so if hiring a bulldozer to clear the fence rows first is necessary.

As we get older, land which may be more expensive yet closer to a hospital or at least a sealed road will likely become more important.

If you are so fortunate to find a reasonably price parcel in the location important you, with limited buildings, then don’t wait because someone else will buy it. Desirable parcels of property are snapped up very fast. My observations of looking for properties, indicates that poor properties are offered at ridiculous prices just hoping for someone to bite; quality, in-demand properties will sell immediately and land auctions are becoming more popular due to immediate sell and they are bringing a premium price.

If the neighbours aren’t interested in the property and it has been languishing on the market, that is a red flag that something is wrong – do in depth research. Oftentimes, it can be high taxes, poor production values, swampy land, no water, low rainfall, the lay of the land requires constant maintenance (i have a 160 like that, every little rain causes my deep watergaps to blow out, fighting encroaching brush is an annual and long days event)

My personal search requires:

  1. enough acreage in one block location with minimal perimeter (in other words more squarish, not nooks and crannies. one property online had 11 miles of perimeter to maintain yet enclosing only 1700 acres!)
  2. A nice home which has been built with finishes which stand the test of time. Too many homes from the 80s and 90s and so faddish inside, it needs to be completely gutted and redone. May be better to tear it down and start again. Not out of the range of possibility, just be sure you aren’t paying twice for a new home.
  3. Live water with no or little flood plain.
  4. Located on a sealed road with minimal traffic
  5. Near infrastructure to livestock auctions and other supportive ranch venues
  6. Warm winters, warm winters, warm winters – did i mention warm winters?!
  7. Minimal timber and very little brush.
  8. I would like to not be close enough to neighbors to hear or see them, but within 2 hours of a major airport.
  9. Price is critical – i’m not rich – the ranch i buy must find a way to pay for itself or at the least provide a good rate of return. This is nearly impossible in today’s environment where there is very little low risk good investment. Land is in too expensive for its productive value.

My Amazing Friends!

I am so blessed and thankful to have the most amazing and amazingly talented friends. Thankfully, they accept me as well having opened their doors to my extended stays these recent weeks- but oh my goodness, did we talk so fast to catch up with each others’ lives these past several years of being scattered around the Midwest and the process of becoming empty nesters and seeing our children well ensconced into lives as productive citizens, scripturally sound, biblically moral young people.

So, over the course of the next several weeks, i plan to unabashedly promote their websites, start up businesses, well established businesses, and almost there after 5 years businesses. All are meeting needs which benefit the lives of others.

The upcoming spotlights will include;

1) Barb Buchmayer – she and her husband, Kerry, recently retired from decades of owning and operating an organic grass-based dairy (we bought our raw milk from them for years) located here in north Missouri. She has now written a two volume, 300 page each, set of books designed to help you train your dog using positive encouragement. Positive Herding 101 & 102 To get a glimpse of her training methods as we are awaiting the arrival of her books, check out and subscribe to Barb’s Youtube Channel – Positive Herding Dog

2) Nadean Eudaly is a dear friend with whom our friendship is growing leaps and bounds actually since our children graduated from our respective home schooling endeavors. Although, we lived only about 45 minutes apart, our ‘circles’ didn’t overlap much during those years. However, now residing in Texas, Nadean, in addition to continuing to work alongside her husband at his established business White River Productions, has now embarked on providing quality Longhorn cattle to area landholders who want regal, easy care cattle gracing their vistas and offering a cabin for rental on their property. Well on her way to busting out with full service, check our her new businesses at Bell & Brook Ranch. She is located near Palestine, Texas.

Book this well appointed eco cabin which overlooks a gorgeous oxbow lake. Well, obviously, when i took the photo, i was focusing on the horses and pasture. Head on over to Nadean’s website for contact and booking information.

3) Kevin Eudaly, editor and owner of multiple train, railroad, diesel engine magazines and books has been living the dream of his 12 year old self when his love was of photographing trains. Although a stint as an environmental chemist was his career out of college (actually, he and Nadean met at work with them both being chemists! God works with amazing precision). All things train are well represented at White River Productions. I had the privilege of previewing the hard copy/finished Timber Titans book at their home during my visit and although i’m not familiar with trains and the massive amount of historical documentation this book records, i can recognise an enjoyable, yet important record of train and rail history well put together. The super old black and white photographs contained within are sharply improved as if they were taken using today’s camera capabilities. This book is more than a coffee table centerpiece – it’s an historical piece.

This book is a recent stunner published by White River Productions. Timber Titans: Baldwin’s Articulated Logging Locomotives

4) Eric & Hope Bright who now live outside Forsyth, Missouri also is a homeschooling family in our circle here in north Missouri and also a dairy family. Their children, too, are off changing the world for the better and now Eric and Hope have time to devote to their love of sharing rural living with as many as they can. Check out their hospitality at 12 Stones Farm. A real, hands on farm stay the Bright’s offer the opportunities of bottle feeding calves, feeding chickens, ducks, and geese, collecting eggs, gardening, and milking cows. Kayaking, roasting marshmallows over an outdoor fire, and, for those of you not used to a dark sky, be amazed at the night time stars displayed in all their glory. If you don’t want to do the farm stay – that’s okay, too. Enjoy beautiful, private accommodations with a private hot tub, then head to nearby Branson for evening entertainment. This is a small working farm with fresh eggs, fresh milk, and grassfinished beef available most of the time. Find them on AirBnB, Flipkey, and VRBO. Also, they have a new cabin available listed on AirBnb. But, honestly, don’t hesitate to contact them directly. Awesome hosts.

Contact Hope to book this well appointed studio sized cabin for your own use or as use for an overflow of family and friends renting the much larger cabin nearby.

Okay, that was a little teaser – hope you have time to follow along later as i explore each of their new endeavors more fully in upcoming blog entries!

Discrimination or Mostly Not

Discrimination!!!! it’s a word bandied about like we are all snowflakes and deserve a bed of roses atop a pedestal to which all others bow down and throw money at. Stop with the craziness!

Here’s an article i spotted on ewg.org – i was only looking for non toxic shampoo ideas, but get hammered with politics instead.

Now, i’m all for everyone getting a fair shot of the American dream, but when people groups are selected for unfair advantages, it gets a bit under my skin – the democrats are playing the ‘race’ card once again driving the wedge deeper and deeper amongst Americans. But that plays to their power, control, and self righteousness. Disgusting.

Several years ago, i was asked to participate in a survey – one on one interview – in regards to applying for and working through USDA-NRCS farming programs. I said ‘sure’. The lady asked her canned questions and time and again tried to get me to say that i felt discriminated against because i was a woman. I refused to comply for indeed, i felt (because it’s all about feelings, right?) that our Linn County, Missouri USDA-FSA-NRCS people helped me tremendously in providing all the information and tools needed to successfully navigate the red tape of applying for and completing the projects.

I have just lost a lot of respect for EWG now for jumping on the bandwagon of discriminating against those who are most qualified.

Oh my goodness! Now, i see EWG actually provides a filter to sort for products made by people with a certain skin color – can we say ‘discrimination’? I’m done with EWG.

Our country needs to get back to neighbor helping neighbor and kick the government back to its constitutional duties only. But i fear we are too far gone…….

From visiting student enrolled at University of Missouri in Ag Econ Master’s program to close fast friend with our common interest in agriculture. Daughter Jessica travelled to DRC and visited Clement’s mom’s farm.

Home > News > News Releases > National Black Farmers Association and EWG Applaud the Justice for Black Farmers Act

National Black Farmers Association and EWG Applaud the Justice for Black Farmers Act

Contact: Alex Formuzis(202) 667-6982alex@ewg.orgFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2021

WASHINGTON – The following is the statement of John Boyd, founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association, and Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs, on the reintroduction of the Justice for Black Farmers Act, by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The Justice for Black Farmers Act is the most ambitious legislative proposal ever developed to address historic and ongoing discrimination against Black farmers. As NBFA and EWG recently documented, Black farmers have been systemically denied access to land, subsidies, loans and other critical tools through government and private discrimination, and the institutional racism that has driven Black land loss is being reinforced through the USDA’s broken policies. 

By providing new access to land and credit and providing debt relief, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will help right these historic wrongs. By providing new oversight and accountability within the USDA, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will help address the roots of the USDA’s racist history. By making an unprecedented investment in training through historically Black colleges and universities and groups like the National Black Farmers Association, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will ensure that Black farmers have the tools they need to succeed.

These reforms are long overdue. We applaud the leadership of Sens. Booker, Warren, Gillibrand, Warnock, Smith and Leahy, and we urge Congress to act swiftly to address the USDA’s long history of discrimination against Black Farmers.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.KEY ISSUES: 

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Continued Wanderings

Nice place to stretch your legs at Wilderness Park in Pittsburg, Kansas – i spent the night here, but take a minute to stretch in the city park if passing through and needing a break. It’s in town, so not quiet from traffic, but not really noisy either.

Stumbled upon a strip of historic Route 66! Ribbon Road Route 66 Oklahoma, Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge, Kansas.

This place was actually closed the day i was passing through, but their website sort of indicated that the grounds were free to explore and learn which is very generous of the caretakers. Definitely worth a stop. Sort of off the beaten track, but just take the time learn about the Caddo Indians at Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center and Interpretive Trails near Spiro, Oklahoma.

Pass through Fort Coffee, OK on your way to Spiro Mounds!

If you have time, this is an interesting park in Heavener, OK to get out and stretch, check out the alleged ‘runes’ which are up for debate as to its authenticity. Heavener Runestone State Park.

Right along the road, you find a little side memorial for the Caddo Indians in the Caddo Indian Memorial in Norman, Arkansas.

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Arkansas. I didn’t stop in to dig for diamonds – probably would have required a mask and i don’t do masks – but i also think it may be more for the younger set and families with young children. But a few hiking trails are a nice stretch from driving.

First stop upon returning to Missouri is Table Rock State Park and hiking the red trail – i needed a bit of a hike, so selected the White River Red Loop trail.

Given my preference for outdoor activities and visiting friends, my 2 week sojourn avoided mask wearing entirely.

Cheers!

Hagerman Wildlife Refuge

After four nights and days staying with friends in Muse, OK, it was time to press on. I spent four hours meandering around looking at for sale ranch properties (not contacting a realtor) and seeing if there were any i thought i might like, but finding none. My anecdotal conclusion is that people who own good land are not selling, those who have marginal or poor land are trying to get out from under it. Prices are far too high from a production standpoint, so i’m not sure how serious they are about selling.

Anyway, the 2 1/2 hour drive to Durant, OK was enjoyable and it was fun to see an area i had never seen before.

After a great stay at the Best Western there, i decided to take in the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge located near Sherman, Texas, which i had not done a couple years ago when i went through because it was raining and cold. I highly recommend taking part in this drive through refuge if you have time. There are plenty of trails to take in if you have the time. The Harris Creek Trails were right at the entrance and were a perfect start to my morning.

As you can see these trails are relatively short and very easy. Some parts were a bit muddy, but were easily managed even with me in tennis shoes.

Map of the entire refuge. Definitely worth a stop and spending at least an hour. Even in the winter time it was a nice break – and there is no cost!
RR