Category Archives: agriculture

Maniac Monday

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Monday’s could be the easy day of the week…The day when you slowly transition back into the work week! It never works that way though, does it?
Uggg. Today has just been one of those days. We woke up this morning to more snow! I am starting to wonder just when it is going to stop…June maybe?!?! 🙂
All kidding aside, it has been one hell of a morning. The phone has been ringing off the hook and with each phone call, it breeds two or three more! I am tired and ready for a break!
This morning has been crammed with phone calls, one after another all morning long. I sit here now, taking my lunch break, typing on the computer to relax my brain for just a few minutes. I work on several different levels when it comes to work. Right now the top one is project manager for Broome Biomass. I have devoted my life over the past few years to developing the marketing strategy and the business model for the company. In the course of doing so, I have become a marketing agent for other companies that are looking to sell biomass products. It keeps me very busy and at times can become extremely frustrating.
I think the thing that makes it very difficult is trying to play the balancing act and do so many things at once…It is very much like farming! Very rewarding but it doesn’t pay very well! 🙂 I do love everything that I have done and look forward to everything that I will be able to do in the future to promote agriculture into the renewable energy world in a real world working environment.
I am off again to work on the farm. Time to mix up my own special blend of chicken feed and to muck the barns out. The fun never stops! Have a blessed day!

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Safety Sunday – Farmers and Cell Phones

Since I want to right posts on Sundays but I don’t want them to be tremedously long, I decided to write a bit about farm safety. I will be choosing different topics every week.

Since I have a funny story about me and my cell phone…I thought I might blog a little blog this morning about farmers and cell phones.

When I was younger and my gramps was still around, no one had cell phones. The closest thing out there to a cell phone in the world was a CB radio. Today, many farmers still don’t carry them for many different reasons. I have a different view, due to personal experience, on have one to carry with you…just in case. On small farms they are good to have just in case you get your tractor stuck in the mud or snow. Or even if you slip and fall, needing someone’s assistance. My personal favorite is so that you can call for a rescue when you get locked inside your chicken barn!!! (Yes, that really did happen to me)

Communication is crucial when it comes to being a small farm. Our neighboors are close but not close enough to hear me yell if I were ever really in trouble. So, I carry a cell phone with me all the time when I complete chores, clean barns, run tractors and move firewood. It isn’t for me to talk while working, it is for personal safety. Let me explain one step further. One day last summer, while cleaning barns and filling all of the poultry feeders my bloodhound decided to “knock” on the poultry barn door. When she did…It locked me inside. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my animals. Mr. farmer wasn’t due home for another THREE hours and I still needed to get a list about as long as my arm finished. Instead of being locked inside, I called my sister-in-law who lives nearby to come let me out. Within fifteen minutes, I was out and back to my list of chores.

Four years ago, when we had a hired man running the saw mill, we had a tractor roll over. He pulled a stupid stunt trying to get a log down off the pile with a chain, not paying attention to the angle at which he was pulling and boom, over the tractor when. Laying on its side, operator not in sight…I raced out the door, soon discovering the help was alright. The convience of a cell phone, well alright two, allowed me to get the commercial dairyman from up road. By that time, Mr. Farmer was home and we all managed to get the tractor back on all four wheels. Thank the Lord above with very little damage done to the operator or the equipment.

Cell phones do provide a safety net. Just because you carry them doesn’t mean you have them attached to your ear. I can also tell you that this is how the commercial dairyman I talked about earlier does all of his business. Whether a truck, a tractor or in his office…he communicates with his employees, parts store personnel, his marketing manager and even his family this way. It allows him flexibility enough so that he can multitask and get his work finished no matter where he is.

Modern technology and farming do have a place to coexist together.

Farm Sustainability

I am currently learning all about digesters. It is interesting to learn that no matter what size farm you operate they can function. The best units are one’s that are “cookie-cutter” packages for farms with over a 1,000 cows, but they can be done for smaller farms too.

From the information that I have read so far, they really aren’t that difficult to construct and build. I have not gotten into the cost for the retaining walls, but I did find out that you can build them with a flex-wall! That would save loads of money over the traditional concrete I have seen used.

I think it may even work for a small farm like us. I will be completing some calculations over the next week or so to determine if it is an option for an operation as small as we are. I will update with the news of my discoveries on the topic!

Budget Cuts

As a whole, I think that right now, farming is the only industry that is starting to see an upswing in payments. Grain prices are steadily raising, which is good. Some of that has to do with high demands and short supplies in reserves but for the most part, grain prices are staying bullish and looking good. Not so good if you are a beef, dairy or poultry producer and you have to buy them, but better in general.

Milk prices have been higher lately than I have seen them in a long time. Class III closed the other day over $19.00, much better than in 2008 when the milk prices bottomed out around $10.

Fuel prices are insane for all of us right now. Gas and diesel prices are hurting all of our pockets, especially farmers. Hopefully those prices will drop soon but, unfortunately, most of the farms in the corn belt are already preparing to plant their acres. These prices cut into their bottom dollar.

I just read a release from the USDA about the speech Mr. Vilsack gave before the senate about budget cuts. It sounds like they are going to be dropping a few programs that are co-covered with other agencies and slimming down on other ones.

“In total, the 2012 budget we are proposing before this subcommittee is $130 billion, a reduction of $3 billion below the 2011 annualized continuing resolution. For discretionary programs, our budget proposes $18.8 billion, a reduction of $1.3 billion below the 2011 level.”

Sounds to me like the USDA is in for some revisions, maybe not we can all be able to deal with the USDA and the paperwork involved for some of these programs a bit easier. I doubt it, but maybe….It’s like those lottery commercials where they say “Hey, you never know.” I think that if the USDA and the government would back off on a couple of regulations, it would be easier for us to make a little money and not have to spend extra time on paperwork or assessments.

I sincerely hope that we can turn this country around, without breaking everyone’s bank!

Marketing for the Farm

I work with a group here in NY called New York FarmNet. The assist with business planning, financial planning, estate planning and are there if you just get extremely frustrated and need someone to talk to. They are always searching for new papers, innovate marketing and more.

Today, they released a link to a Penn State paper that discussing farm marketing. For those of you that go to farmers markets and street fairs. This is a great and interesting read.

Marketing Presentation

Old Fashion Cheesecake

This is a 9 inch round cake. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pastry

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 pound butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Filling

  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, seperated
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Make the pastry first. Mix the flour and butter until well blended. Add the egg yolk and sugar, blend well. Take apart the 9-inch springform pan with a removable bottom and press about half of the pastry into the bottom. Bake for about 8 minutes and cool. Fit the rim of the pan onto the bottom, then press the remaining pastry all around the inside of the rim about half way up. Don’t worry if it is uneven.

Lower the oven to 350 degrees, set the pastry aside and proceed with the filling. In a mixing bowl, cream the cheese until soft. Add flour and sugar, mix well. Add yolks, heavy cream, sour cream and vanilla, beat well. Beat egg whites with salt until they hold stiff peaks but are not dry.  Folk into batter and pour into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

Cool and serve at room temperature. Top with canned cherries and serve!

Canned Cherries:

Stem and pit cherries, wash and pack tightly into a jar. Fill with boiling light syrup, 2 cups of sugar (I used 1/2 sugar and 1/2 honey) to 4 cups of water makes 5 cups of syrup, leave 1/2 inch of head space. Cover and process in a boiler water bath (20 minutes for pints or 25 minutes for quarts).

Snow, Ice and Cold

I will tell you right now…I may love winter but I hate dealing with frozen water! When buckets freeze it makes everything difficult. I have been having a difficult time lately with all of the water freezing for the animals…of course with zero degree temperatures, even the water heaters struggle to keep everything from freezing. It was horrible out there yesterday, when at 9 am, the temperature was actually a balmy negative four! I have no idea how the folks that live in Alaska do it. I mean, you walk out the door and your breath crystalizes right before your eyes. Your nose hairs freeze and what ever you do, don’t sneeze!

Other than struggling with frozen water…everything is going good. We do have one sickly calf, but he seems to be pepped back up again with just one dose of antibiotics. He was lathargic yesterday morning and most of the day yesterday, so I called the vet in to check him out. This cold is hard on everyone…animals included. I am very glad that we decided to put heat lamps in to keep the chickens and turkeys warm. It was about 50 degrees in with them yesterday. Not very warm but it sure was a whole lot warmer than what it could have been. The cows were doing alright until it snowed so hard last week and they went out into the pasture…can’t teach animals anything! 🙂 The cold just seemed to digs it’s ugly heels in yesterday. Thankfully it is warmer out this morning…but now we are going to be getting rain and freezing rain sometime this morning.
Mr. Farmer made the 30 mile trek to work this morning take almost 20 minutes longer than normal. All of the local schools are closed. Which in my opinion was a smart move, I wouldn’t want my kids on a bus bumping down back country roads covered in ice.
I have a bunch of things to prepare today for several upcoming meetings. I am also having an official business phone installed this morning! No more dealing with other people listening to messages and then not forwarding them along. No more late hour phone calls ringing in my ear when I am trying to relax. It means official business hours for the phone! I love it! I really can’t wait!
I have been working on our website for the business too. Trying to keep everyone updated on the new EPA rulings and such. If you want to read more, you can find it under my blogger profile under the biomass heading.