INFORMATION FARM WORKSHOPS: CONSIDERING A DIFFERENT APPROACH.

The Old Ram-Australia

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Last week we attended one such event and it was in fact quite interesting all of the speakers were very knowledgeable and experienced in their field .They presented their subjects clearly although the focus was quite narrow. In the days following I submitted some comment to the organizers, but the experience got me to thinking”What do the people attending really need from an event like this?”

The first question was “who were the producers who attended”? .I suspect that they were small/medium livestock people .I think you could compare it to third world farmers that receive “aid programs” designed for large scale farmers and company farms in” first world situations. “It’s been my experience over the years that the “big boys” attend field days organized by large suppliers to the livestock industry’s and backed up by the local stores who stock their products.

If you think about the land and its production worth in your district the “very best” is “tightly held” and has been in one family for generations mostly, the knowledge gained over time is “passed” from one generation to the next on the performance of the land under different climate conditions, much the same as the herd/flock knowledge is passed from one generation to the next (that is if the farmer allows it).Although the change from a Winter rainfall to a Summer storm climate will require re-thinking on even the “best country” into the future.

At one stage a presenter asked “can you identify the production grasses on your farm”? I think at least half of the group could not.IMO the next question should have,” been can you identify the “weeds” on your farm”? (But it never came).

Hobby farmers as distinct from “the blockies” require information that they can base their farms decisions on going forward, most have off-farm income and are prepared to spend it if it delivers an outcome they are happy with.

The type of information which I feel would be valuable to the decision making process would be “an accurate picture of the lands “actual carrying capacity”, it’s potential to hold water in the landscape, retention of nutrient load and how to stop all the water “rushing” down the creek in a thunderstorm. Understanding the sequence of growth the grasses they have to best utilize them for example Kangaroo Grass /White Top (wallaby grass), Poa Tussock flowering, Red Leg Grass, Wild Sorghum and Microlaena. Along with the exotic sps which previous owners tried and “failed” to establish until we modified our management to allow their growth and re-seeding. Fencing is the most reliable way of protecting the different stands of the grasses and that way you can graze in the same sequence that the grasses perform.

This item caught my eye while writing this post. This new group of “young” farmers will be looking for help and education, so what are we going to teach them?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/busi...age:d_flagship3_feed;c2LX6q7UT6CxHhN4rGdMNA==

If we present the information in a way that is of value to the large farming groups ,you may find the new farmers are placed in the same position as the way foreign air is delivered and the same problems subsistence farmers face will be replicated in our groups of “hobby farmers” and the only “winners” will be the partners whose products are recommended.

It seems to me that what the new farmers need is information which relates to the scale and knowledge of the recipients.

As always I look forward to any “feedback” you may wish to offer on the subject.
 

Latestarter

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I think you've identified a problem with many symposiums, right on the spot. Here we have County extension agents, which are public employees who are paid a pittance and asked to do the job of a team of professionals. One person to handle all the farmers/producers in the county. My county doesn't have one at the moment... The last one quit and a replacement hasn't been hired/applied for the position. So we here have to rely on assistance from the CEA from a neighboring county, and he has his own folks to deal with... we don't rank high on his priority list. In addition, though many CEA's are top notch and go out of their way to do what they can to help, especially small farmers, there are some who don't have a clue, have no interest in actually helping and don't have the knowledge or experience to help even if they desired to do so.

Big agribusiness and their political lobbyists with their corporate dollars are conspiring against the small farmer as well. New legislation/taxes/fees/regulation is always being submitted/passed that put a severe strain on small family farms and even hobby farms for personal consumption. He who has control of the food supply has control of the population...
 

greybeard

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If you think about the land and its production worth in your district the “very best” is “tightly held” and has been in one family for generations mostly, the knowledge gained over time is “passed” from one generation to the next on the performance of the land under different climate conditions, much the same as the herd/flock knowledge is passed from one generation to the next (that is if the farmer allows it)......It seems to me that what the new farmers need is information which relates to the scale and knowledge of the recipients.
In this country, we are seeing that "tightly held" land inherited by a younger generation that has little or no interest in agriculture, the land subdivided and sold off as homesites for suburban dwellers...as many little tiny lots as can be squeezed into an area.

New farmers..old farmers, the process is the same, the process is just scaled down.

The preoccupation I see with re-inventing the wheel is depressing.
 

Bossroo

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All we have to do is look at most of the posts right here on this forum. Their attitude is not will my animals/ crops make me a profit so that I can make a comfortable / satisfying living now and into the future in this venture which translates to best stuardship to the land that produced the livelyhood. Instead they view their animals as pets and all of their efforts has to be "organic " or notheing, so they put all of their efforts toward a warm and fuzzy feeling, then they post their personal views as the way to go to any new commer that asks for help. Followed with if anything goes wrong, they wonder what happened and post their misfornune followed by don't beat yourself up, it's not your fault. The cycle continues so long as they have an outside income that is greater than their hobby expenses.
 

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Really GB, I believe it's a 2 pronged problem. We are seeing individual farmers with land holdings and children who WOULD want to take over the farm, being driven out by big agribusiness who want to own it all. In addition, many smaller family farms are being sold for development, in many cases because the owners were left with little choice. Urban sprawl has spread out and engulfed family farm properties and made it too expensive/non profitable to be kept as farm land. Taxing authorities have made it more valuable as something other than a farm. Contrary to that, many (me being one) are moving away from suburbia and trying to get back to a simpler (misleading term to say the least) way of life... "farming" for myself. Not necessarily for profit, but to become more self sufficient.

@Bossroo As is virtually always the case with you, the name and intent of this entire site/forum is completely disregarded and often lamented and denigrated by you. This site is titled "back yard herds", not "farming for profit". The key element of the title being BACK YARD, indicating small (virtually no) land holdings/suburbia and NOT farming for profit. I can think of half a dozen people on this forum that could be considered "professional farmers", you being one of them, and that was in the past, as you have stated that you are no longer in that employ. That does NOT make your knowledge and experience of lesser value, however, your constant belittling and putting down of folks who ARE hobby farmers for doing exactly what the title implies, gets old and really causes many anger, frustration, aggravation & in the end to just block you out or if you prefer, ignore you.

I have tagged you in the past when folks have asked questions that I thought you might be able to help with. I normally don't anymore because I'm concerned you'll respond as you did above. Things go wrong on professional farms just as they do on hobby farms. Just because you did it for a lifetime and had the initial experience 50 years ago, does not remove the fact that you too had problems when you were first starting. You too made mistakes. You too had to ask for help from those with more experience than you. Everyone has to start somewhere and nobody is born knowing everything they need to know. We all have to learn what we don't know. And we don't have to use everything we do know.

Just because we are hobby farmers and not professional farmers doesn't mean that we can't/won't/don't want to improve on what we're doing. It doesn't mean that we're NOT looking to be more cost effective. It doesn't mean that we don't want to learn better, faster, more effective and efficient ways of doing things. It doesn't mean that we can't seek out answers to things we don't know and want to or need to learn.

It DOES mean that we don't have to kill every sick or non conforming animal because it's "costing us profits". It does mean that we CAN keep our animals as pets, rather than a potential dinner, if we choose to do so. And yes, it even means we can do so "at a loss" rather than at a profit. We can do it, paying for it from other income sources specifically because what we have is a BACK YARD HERD, NOT a farm for profit. This is a forum, designed for folks to discuss and put stuff out there, including personal views and experiences. When something does go wrong, often times it's NOT the person's fault, and we CAN feel bad and lament the loss, and we don't NEED to beat ourselves up. But as stated above, we're TRYING to learn to prevent this from happening... major reason for most of us being here. I'm sure you've never lost an animal without a complete understanding of how and why it happened. And of course it would never have been a case of your personal mistake or lack of knowledge/experience.

Despite the fact that all of this has been pointed out to you repeatedly (and I'm doing so once again), your approach persists. Quite honestly, it's tiring. If you have information or teachings that address a specific question posed, please try to provide it if you wish to do so, without the disparaging, scornful, diatribes about profit being the single most important aspect of everything, and the insinuation that everyone who believes/operates differently than you or a professional farmer for profit, is a "lesser/flawed" person for doing so.
 

Bossroo

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Yes, the title is indeed "Back Yard Herds " and NOT a farm to operate at a loss. So, what is so wrong in making a PROFIT ? Our entire economy is based on PROFIT !!!
Yes , I had losses , but I listen to medical advice, bouble blind research at Universities, successfull farmers that depend on their farms of all sizes as their sole source of income, as well as the powers that be. Yes, I have retired from farming as we had a National recesseion, cost of lovestock feed as well as labor and property taxes hit hard and sale at the same time droped like a rock. At the same time my Doctors informed me to retire due to medical reasons or buy a plot of final occupancy. I make my posts on real life profitable expereinces that allowed me a lifetime of pleasure in raising livestock so that others can gain from it. No mallice intended.
 
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frustratedearthmother

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@Bossroo... did your animals bring you joy? My animals bring me joy. I also have had losses and challenges (as have most here) and there are times that the only thing that keeps me sane is being able to walk out and sit in the middle of my critters. They lay their head in my lap and my blood pressure goes down. The very best prescription is the stress relief they bring me. They have even seen me shed a tear and didn't laugh, or make fun, or need an explanation. They bring me joy, and especially at this time in my life, that joy is priceless.
 
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Mini Horses

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I raised, showed, sold miniature for many years AT A PROFIT. Now, my retired herd has been given all needed and are "pets". Have bought, sold and BURIED $50K horses...at my expense. Enjoyed my time in the limelight, now enjoy my time offering any help I can, for free. I am a BACK YARD FARMER and take NO offense in saying that.

Raised and made money with Boer goats. Now, enjoy my dairy herd and pay for what I need.

Would I like more farm income? Sure. Am I willing to learn? Sure. Do I want to be full time at it? Sure. LOL My goal is to live happily, earn enough to pay for expenses of animal upkeep, etc., and I pretty much do that now (except for the horses ) by selling eggs, chicks, goats, goat kids, etc. I am semi-retired and want to enjoy WHAT I do, provide for myself and be able to help others who may need it.

I like to attend forums, fairs, workshops and network with those there. As with ALL such events, they cannot cover every element and are meant to provide good information to the masses, often with a narrow focus. Apprenticeship is what they used to term a situation where one worked and learned a trade, skill, etc. We have less of that available now. Small farms are being dissolved for the reasons mentioned AND for the simple reason that many cannot operate under many of the City, County or State laws in a given area. Restaurants cannot buy from certain sources -- or only those that meet huge requirements -- individual farmers are often limited in what, where, how much can be sold either off farm or on the farm where raised. Often it is a health concern as not all locations are as careful with sanitation, etc. So, once again, a small farmer has 1,000 hoops to jump thru. Of course, it is the BIG CORP farm that has been providing the product which has been causing the recalls & illness. Go figure!

Recently an individual referred to my lifestyle as "primitive" since I had chickens for meat/eggs, pigs for meat, goats for milk, cheese, yogurt, soaps, etc., a garden for fresh veggies that I canned/froze & ate. Well, I suggested that they try to be more "primitive" as I was 15 years older, had NO health issues, take NO meds, work every day and THEY were sick, had issues walking a block, on 6 meds and failing more every day. :lol: :old Live simply.
 
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