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I have come to the realization that it is time to reboot the farm! Not that everything that we have been doing for the past twelve years has been bad, but rather there are some changes that I realize need to be made and in making them I think we are going to end up with Crooked Gap Farm v2.0. It's sort of like a Grand Re-Opening, or Church Re-Plant…
 
Crooked Gap Farm has come a long ways in the roughly 12 years of it's existence! Sometimes I forget how far we have come from an empty 40 acre parcel in the middle of Iowa, but when I stop and take a look at it all I am very thankful! That doesn't mean that I have everything where it needs to be or that I'm ready to sit back and watch the farm roll…
 
Let's talk about chickens! We've raised meat chickens off and on for about 10 years now, and it has never really been our strong suit. But, the demand is there and I would really like to increase our meat chicken production ... like really increase it! There is one problem though, well actually three problems. First of all we have settled on the Fr…
 
Hello Beginning Farmer Friends! We are back and better than ever. Well I'm not sure about better than ever, but we are back and I am getting pretty excited about being back (even though it is one episode)! I am excited to be able to "chat" about farming again, and share the happenings of Crooked Gap Farm and our plans for the future. In this episod…
 
In a time of unknown, I sit down and do what is needed: I have fun. Today I talk with my oldest son, Caleb, about his interests on the farm and where he goes and is wanting to go with them. He shares what his biggest interest on the farm is and what he does with it. With plenty of fun and laughter, tractors, a Hard Lesson Learned, and even rockets,…
 
I am going to ignore the elephant in the room (this episode is being released during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic) and attempt to pick-up where I left off about one year ago! On the last episode of The Beginning Farmer Show, that sounds like something you would hear at the beginning of a soap opera, I had outlined the equipment and infrastructure tha…
 
Now that you know the large collection of things that we have on the farm I want to share some of my thoughts on what needs to head down the road, what needs to be added, and where I am the most confused! It has become obvious to me that one of the tractors needs to go, and in a perfect world it needs to be replaced by a skid loader that would be a…
 
I'm just going to be completely honest here. I have forgotten most of what it takes to post a podcast episode since it has been such a long time since I have regularly released episodes! With that in mind these "show notes" are really just going to be a link to the show if you'd like to listen on-line or share your thoughts on the Crooked Gap Farm …
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Hey there! This is a BRAND NEW EPISODE of "The Beginning Farmer Show"!!! I'm not sure when the next one will be, but for now this one is here and I'm looking for direction when it comes to the show. If you have any good leads or ideas of farmers that you would like to hear on the show please let …
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! What can I say? It has been a day or two since the last episode of the podcast was released and there has been a thing or two that has happened. On the other hand there is very much on the farm that is the same as it was 12 months ago. But, since it is the first episode in what we will call, "qui…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! It is story time! Plans were made, forms were formed, rock was moved, compactors were used, rain came, snow came, everything became muddy, even more rock was moved, concrete was poured, and in the middle of the night the concrete was covered with plastic/tarps/straw. Actually it sounds pretty eas…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! With Christmas coming up before we know it (and possibly putting an end to my concrete dreams) I thought it would be good to share my Top Ten Gifts for the farmer or aspiring farmer on your list. I've tried to diversify the list a bit with some tools I use on the farm, some tools that are importa…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! This past week was "one of those weeks" on the farm! A hydraulic line exploded on the tractor, but thankfully my cousin was able to fix it. We dug in the water lines into the hoop building, but I am beginning to realize that the concrete is not going to happen this year (that is my fault). To top…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Do you know the greatest thing about The Beginning Farmer Podcast/Blog? It is YOU of course! Two episodes ago I flipped the tables, and instead of doing my typical "question and answer" show where I attempt to answer listener questions I asked the questions. The responses you sent in and shared o…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! We physically survived The Farm Crawl, but it was a bit mentally taxing. The day was beautiful, the farm was in great shape, we had a good selection of pork for sale, and the people were awesome! There was one down part though and it is what made me a bit mentally taxing ... the numbers were down…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Our farm has been a farm for eight years now, which I suppose means I have been a farmer for eight years as well. But, I don't want anyone to think that I'm still not "The Beginning Farmer" ... sometimes it seems the more I learn about this farming art the more I feel like a beginner! With that i…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! In many ways our farm began before the farm even began. I was reading books, talking to farmers, dreaming dreams, and making plans. All of that lead to me thinking I had it all together before I even stepped foot onto what would eventually become Crooked Gap Farm. If you've heard me talk about th…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Earlier this month I was able to take a long drive to northwestern Iowa and visit Seven W Farm during their Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day. This was the second field day at the Wilson's farm that I have been able to attend (along with watching their Niche Pork Webinar from 2009) and I am ver…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! More questions have rolled in from our Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day, and the folks at PFI have even put up a blog post that recaps the day. The great thing about the blog post is that it contains a lot of audio from the event, so if you weren't able to make it to the field day you can at l…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Over the past two weeks we have hosted well over 100 farmers and farm fans out to Crooked Gap Farm! That has meant a lot of time getting the farm ready, preparing food, and planning the tours and talks. In the end though we love the opportunity to share our farm with other farmers, and more impor…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Changes are often difficult to make, even if you love change and moving forward. I find it difficult not so much because I don't notice that there are things to change, but rather because I become stuck in the rut or, even more often, I am overwhelmed by the steps of the needed change. As 2015 ca…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! My career as a "beginning farmer" has always been as bi-vocational something or other. Along with trying to learn how to farm I've been a youth pastor, worked at a farm store, helped out at another farm, and currently I'm loving my job as pastor of Christ's Church. But, wearing all of those hats …
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! What happens when The Beginning Farmer disappears for months on end? Well, actually lots things happen! Just recently I've been to Arizona to talk farming and finances, we've been making small square bales of hay, a new building project is in the planning stages, and of course we've even made som…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! I asked for questions and you listeners came back with some great questions! The only bummer thing about all of those great questions is that I'm not sure that I had equally great answers. So, take a listen to the episode, check out the question topics below, and then I'd love it if you'd chime i…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! When it comes to raising pigs on pasture and in the woodlot one of the most frequently asked questions is about how you handle the pigs in that setting. If you've ever been around a more conventional hog operation you know that there are lots of pens, gates, panels, chutes, and concrete that all …
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! The Christmas season would not be complete with out some reflection on the season and a reading of one of the best Christmas stories I've ever had the chance to hear. My memories of Christmas (and winter in general) on the farm are something that I look back on with great joy and my encouragement…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Last episode was all about the failures from 2015, but this time we are going to keep it positive and we are going to talk about the successes that we had on Crooked Gap Farm in 2015. I'm not going to lie, coming up with five successful things from the year was much more difficult than coming up …
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Sometimes admitting that you have failed is difficult because you don't want to think about the fact that you haven't accomplished a goal or something that you are passionate about. Other times admitting a failure comes all too easy because you are just looking for a way to put yourself down. In …
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Thanksgiving :: Farm, Field, and Fireside :: Nov. 27, 1897 With corn so low how can I be thankful? So says an Illinoisan. With transportation so high what ground is there for me to do anything but grumble? So thinks the farmer of North Dakota. I have no wheat to sell at the high price, says the I…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! When we began looking for a place to start our farm we quickly realized that we could either have roughly 40 acres of land or a house and about 20 acres of land for the money we were able to scratch together. If you've been listening to the show for awhile or reading the blog from the beginning y…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Sometimes I say things that I forget about, sometimes I say things that should be forgotten, and then sometimes there are the things that I say that need a bit of clarification. The latter of those is the case this time in regards to me saying that the pigs are the most profitable enterprise on o…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! October 4th, 2015 was the 9th Annual Farm Crawl, and the 5th that our farm has been a part of. This is an amazing event that was begun by some farmer friends of ours in the area and we have been blessed to be a part of it's growing future! Each year after the Farm Crawl we try to decompress a lit…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Have you ever had a moment when someone asks you the exact question that you have been spending a lot of time thinking about? Well that is what this episode is all about because a while back Dan asked me a question via Facebook that I had been considering for quite some time. The question: If you…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! If you spend any amount of time at all as a farmer (full-time, part-time, or any amount of time) you are going to have crop failures. On our farm we've had failures with our livestock, garden, orchard, pastures, woodlots, and now I can add to that list ... commodity crops! The 20+ acres of oats I…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! There have been a lot of "happenings" lately on the farm that I have been wanting to share on the podcast, but I just haven't made the time. On this weeks episode I'm making the time to talk about the heritage meat chickens, my first foray into grain farming, buckets of rain, and grinding feed. T…
 
:: Warning :: There were some equipment issues while recording this episode and there is a very annoying audio hum during the opening and closing sections. I will try to remedy this issue as soon as possible. For the past six weeks we were able to have an extern (it's sort of like an internship) on the farm working along side us. The extra set of h…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! If you're a beginning farmer like I am a beginning farmer then you have lots of questions! Sometimes what you need isn't always the "right" answer as much as it is an answer that helps get your mind wrapped around that issue, and then you can find a solution that fits best. Hopefully that is what…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! There is a great line from one of my all time favorite movies ("Dances With Wolves") that goes something like this, "Somebody back east is saying, 'Now why don't he write?'" If you're a longtime reader of the blog or listener of the podcast maybe you have been wondering the same thing! And, to be…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Two sets of hard working hands are better than one, and two quick thinking brains will always trump one! Those are just a couple of reasons that we are enjoying having our summer "extern" Ryan on the farm for a few more weeks. He brings lots of great help, great questions, and a wonderful desire …
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! One of the newest ventures on our farm (although we've been at it for three years) is the pasture raised rabbit operation that was begun by our son when he was 8-years old. Over our three years of raising rabbits out on pasture we have had many ups and downs, but this year is beginning to feel li…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Of the many challenges that beginning farmers face (access to land, lack of farming skills, need for capital) one that I often find myself thinking about is just "how many acres" I need to make my farm a "full-time" farm (if that is the goal that you have). That reminds me of something my uncle s…
 
Subscribe to "The Beginning Farmer" YouTube Channel! Do you know what? You don't have to feel guilty about your prices for the products your raise and produce on your farm! It is perfectly acceptable for you to make a decent living on the farm selling your products to farm friends that appreciate the way you raise things and the values your farm ha…
 
If you've listened to my "Hard Lessons Learned" over the past two years of "The Beginning Farmer Show" it would be very much aware of the fact that I am a beginning farmer. As you watch the video below it will also be painfully obvious that I am very much more a beginning YouTube creator! I had problems with video equipment, issues with audio equip…
 
I am a small-scale diversified livestock farmer who doesn't use GPS guided tractors, robotic feed controllers, or large amounts of bio-tech seeds. But, I do very much depend on technology for my farming and marketing. The rotational grazing would not be possible without the use of my polywire electric fence and hi-tech energizers with remote contro…
 
"Despite What You've Heard, Small Farmers are Doing Just Fine". That is the title of a recent article by Brent Preston who runs an organic farm with his wife in Canada. What is so striking about this brief but compelling article is that it is completely opposite of the other articles about small-scale farming that have been making the rounds on soc…
 
Pigs! I love to talk about pigs, and that is exactly what this episode is all about thanks to the generous Kickstarter backer's Paul and Delanie of Oak Grove Valley Farm. More specifically though it is a discussion of my thoughts about raising pigs for what I guess can best be described is a "niche pork" buyer (think Niman Ranch, Berkwood Farms, Or…
 
As much as possible we try to do our planning in the winter season, but there are just some plans and goals that can't be made until spring comes and you can get a handle on the state of farm. Spring usually uncovers some repairs that need to be made, projects that need to be tackled, and of course all sorts of other problems that come once the new…
 
Do you remember those cartoons where a character starts rolling down a snowy mountain and eventually a snowball is formed with the cartoon character in the middle? And then, as they are rolling down, the snowball gets bigger and bigger collecting everything in its path. Finally, there is the fateful end ... usually in the form of some sort of cabin…
 
Just when I think everything is chugging along like a "sort of" well oiled machine something comes along and seemingly derails everything. This time the "something" was our Guinea Fowl. In the past you have heard me say all sorts of good things about them: they have a good profit margin, they are great foragers, they do a good job of tick control, …
 
Spring on the farm is often a rushed time because everything is coming to life all at once! On our farm that means projects that have been thought about all winter need to begin, new livestock are being born, work needs to begin in the garden, and so much more. To make matters worse it always seems like everything is a priority and there will never…
 
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