Farmer Jake's Take: March
On the farm, I've been enjoying the sun's trek higher in the sky. Though the air is cold, the sunshine is warm, and I've been enjoying my shirtless time! Egg Update: Daily egg production is 195-215 (~17 dozen/day)!
I knew looking ahead to my calendar for March that this month was gonna be full of up's and down's. And I mean FULL. I'm not complaining, this is natural for a farmer. It comes with the territory, and I've learned to try to embrace the stress. Having said that, I'm far from immune from having negative reactions to increased stress, but I've noticed that each passing year I'm capable of accomplishing more and more in the face of increased responsibilities and stress. Reflecting on that is rewarding and makes me smile!
So why was March so full?? Combining tax season, application season for farmers markets and grants, conferences and a few trips makes for a jam packed schedule. I just got back from a 6-day trip-a luxury for anyone, especially a farmer (thank you Dad and Anastasia for keeping the farm in good shape while I'm gone)- in Kansas City, MO for my last session of my Beginning Farmers Institute (BFI) program through the National Farmers Union followed by the National Farmers Union Convention. The third and final session really brought everything together as I, more than anything, bonded with and felt more connected with my classmates from across the country, representing all types of agriculture production, and I learned about some essential legal, accounting, and business planning aspects to make the farm more successful.
A highlight was visiting Urbavore Farm, a 10-acre urban, off-grid fruit and veggie farm and homestead. This place was rad!! Check out their website, it's packed full of interest info about farming and their off-grid set-up. They were an absolute inspiration! For any beginning farmers out there, applications are now open for the next year of BFI, and you'll get to visit Washington D.C., Seattle, and one other TBD location. I can't recommend it enough, plus, they pay for your expenses!
The convention that followed, built upon the excitement of the programming of BFI. I spent the two and half days networking and making lots of connections with farmers from across the country. I'm really excited about the regenerative agriculture movement, especially Regeneration International. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the leaders of that organization, and I hope I can contribute to it coming to WI! Policy discussion takes up a full day of the convention, which might sound boring, but it's actually the highlight of the convention as delegates from across the country representing all sorts of views and agricultural practices discuss and vote on what stances the national organization, and its staff and lobbying resources, need to go to bat for! It's a great example of democracy and the power of grassroots collaboration! I'm really proud to be part of this organization, and I'm happy to put some of my time and energy into its mission "To advocate for the economic and social well-being, and quality of life of family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and consumers and their communities through education, cooperation and legislation. NFU advocates sustainable production of food, fiber, feed and fuel."
Ok, I need to wrap this up quick! We have applied for a few farmers markets already, and will be applying for more in the next few weeks. We hope to return to our markets from last year-Monroe and Oak Park, and add another weekday or Sunday market in the Chicago or Milwaukee areas.
Oh and look at this girl! We picked out a pup from Henry's litter to come back to Green Fire Farm and protect our laying hens. She's currently named Snowball, but we are taking suggestions for names (leave a comment).
Finally, I'm looking forward to the next week, before spring really hits and the season starts to pick up steam. I'm going on my annual brothers' trip with my three brothers to watch the opening weekend of March Madness. We all love basketball, and having the opportunity to hang out is much needed! We'll be heading to Detroit for 3 days and I'll head directly to Washington D.C. for a three day Agroforestry Workshop hosted by the USDA. I'm anxious and excited; I was invited to be a panelist to share my experiences as a beginning farmer trying to make the economics work of grazing livestock in a young tree planting!
Interesting Links and Articles that I've found the past month that you might be interested in:
Be A Man (about school shootings and the state of manhood in the US)