Tag Archives: Wolf-Beach Farms

Indiana Horticulture Congress

Recently I attended the 3 day Indiana Horticulture Congress put on by Purdue. It was a great experience with multiple sessions going on throughout the day, and a host of trade vendors to check out between educational sessions. I figured for anyone who missed out I would highlight some of my lessons learned, and vendors I spoke with. This in no way endorses the vendors, merely that I found some of it interesting. On the lessons  from the sessions it may be notes I took or points I found interesting not a summary of the presentation, or even the most relevant material the speaker wanted to convey. I was only able to attend one of the five sessions going on. There was a cider taste testing, and meals (had to pay separate but look great), and was for produce only.

Food Safety (Tuesday AM)

While I had intended to go to the Hemp series, it was postponed so I had to make another selection. Why not food safety? Glad I did vs walking the trade show.  A few years back Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act, and it is now going into effect in 2017. This is the first I have heard of it. But we haven’t been growing produce for sale yet, but it is something to pay attention to.  Prior to this law food recalls related to foodborne illnesses were a reaction event. This new law puts more emphasis on prevention. There is a whole series of trainings supervisors or persons in charge must take to comply, in addition to giving the correct level of training to employees. not everyone needs the whole list. Something else I learned that 90ish (I didn’t write down the number) percent of foodborne illness is transmitted fecal to oral…meaning eating poop. Not necessarily human,  and pickers aren’t pooping on your food. But it all went back to sanitation, cleaning, washing hands, washing produce, utensils etc. There are a bunch of new laws that came out including water testing. The level is is based on income from produce on your farm on what you need to follow. Since we are small at the moment I didn’t pay attention to the breakdown, but under $25,000 in averaged rolling 3 year sales and you are exempt from the legal obligation. Meaning in any given three concurrent years your annual sales needs to be less than $25,000 of produce only and you are exempt. What stuck out to me is that you may be exempt from the law, but you are NOT exempt from liability in a lawsuit. If you do not implement some sort of food safety initiatives then you could be liable for illnesses or death.

Hemp (Tuesday PM)

I got to attend the hemp session in the afternoon. It was educational and rather than write a bunch on it they have done much for me on their website. Purdue Hemp gave the talk and Indiana Hemp Association was there as well. For 60 years hemp has not been grown in Indiana. Hemp is different than marijuana in that Hemp is <0.3 % THC (The psychoactive drug in marijuana), and marijuana is >0.3%. They are doing some genetic investigation if they can be considered two different plants. Hemp is not as easy to grow as I once thought. I was always told throw the seeds anywhere and it will grow. This is not the case as their data showed. Soil depth, temperature, daylight hours all important. The focus for Purdue is growing two types of hemp. One plant that grows short (3-4 ft tall) but produces abundant and easily harvested seeds, and a taller (7-9 ft tall) plant that puts its energy into fiber. They did say, speaking of fiber, there is NOT a demand for hemp rope made from the fiber. I was surprised to learn there is no studies going on for hemp’s role in animal feed. I was told this is due that hemp is not on an approved animal feed list from the federal government. We also got to learn about CBD oil which has been talked about for lots of neurological issues from parkinson’s to seizures to pain and depression given by a representative of RealHemp.  All cannabis (Hemp and marijuana) and now CBD oil has been classified as Schedule 1 Narcotic by the DEA, which means it has NO medicinal value. Yet here is a patent from the US that claims it HAS medicinal value US6630507BL. I will let you form your own opinions.

Organics (Wednesday AM)

Wow, this was one of the most eye opening. Unfortunately I didn’t write down where the small farms were from or I would have included links. The first part of the session was about using biochar in organic gardens as a soil amendment. None of the data, to me, seemed to prove that it did anything. But they are having ongoing studies. What I found more interesting is the intensity and variety of pests that affect growers. This has made us revisit our biosecurity program here at the farm. From listening to the speakers discuss, I have come to the conclusion (my own opinion) there are three types of growing produce. Each is as unique as it is different.

Home grower- Back yard plot, produce food for your family, and maybe sell the overage at a road stand, or to friends and family.

Market grower – 1-5 acres (may be more may be less) intensively growing produce for sale at regular farmers markets, CSA, Small restaurants, and/or small groceries. Variety of crops, rotated, and varied harvest times.

Commercial grower – 1 maybe 2 crops growing at a time, uses commercial machinery,  5+ acres, hired labor possibly, sells to wholesaler, grocery chains, restaurant chains, national brands

Being that the topic was organic pest management how  each of these growers deals with a particular pest problem is different. And pests impact them differently. Additionally what is available to them to treat problems is different. I learned thes market growers work hard, harder than i thought. To be fair there wasn’t any commercial growers in the panel, but there were a few in the audience who gave feedback and they work hard, but seems the market growers have to hustle more and wear a wide variety of hats in their operation. Another lesson I took away that moving from one level to the next is just not scaling up. You just don’t grow a bigger garden. It is a different ball of wax.  Think bowling, hockey, and formula 1 racing are all sports. Bowling is an individual sport and really only depend on yourself. Hockey has lots of things going on all the time, and constantly changing, and you must be adaptive. Racing is expensive to get into, is not like nascar, or drag racing. You get sponsorship as well to share in costs.  Sorry, best analogy I could come up with.

Trade Show (Wednesday PM)

I met the guys from 3 Caps who are partners for mushroom growers. You can learn more about them from their website. They ship you pre inoculated bricks for mushroom growing. You soak the brick, place it in the correct conditions, and in 7 days you have a mushroom harvest. Eat them all? Let the brick dry, soak again, and boom, more mushrooms! Then, when you eat all those (or sell them, this is a commercial type operation) you have mushroom compost ready for your garden as a freebie. These guys are local here in Spencer Indiana. They can assist you in developing the correct room for growing conditions at your site.

Ecocert – One of the speakers at the Organic session. Originally we were not going to go the route of organic certified on our farm. We felt it was an undue expense to prove we were doing things right, we have tours, and planned to know our customers. After talking to a certification manager, and inspector we have reconsidered this. When you can have face to face connections with your customers you are the face of your company. You are the one conveying your passion for organic, clean, quality. Once you move to a point due to growth you can no longer have that face to face connection, it is the certification and certifiers stamp of approval that says you did everythign you could to ensure your product is of the utmost quality. With my background in quality and validation, this resonated with me. The end customer wants to know that you have met the standards, you are doing all you can. Without it you are a barn with closed doors and nobody knows what is going on behind those closed doors. So certification makes sense when we reach that level of success. Would if turn away potential customers who don’t know us yet? Maybe, but we are not there yet. This doesn’t mean we can’t look up the standards and follow them so that is is a way of life once we are ready to get certified. Curious what some of the standards are? Jeff Evard gave me this link for Livestock.

Random trivia

Did you know what the difference between apple wine and hard apple cider is? Both have alcohol, both made from apples.  A) Apple wine has added sugar, hard apple cider has no added sugar.

NRCS – is a division of the USDA. NRCS stands for Natural Resource Conservation Service. I have spoken about NRCS before and have tried working with them on 2 different times locally and that left me turned off to the organization. I do know other NRCS agents in Indiana and seems my experience is isolated here. I spoke with them again, and happen to sit next to a mentor NRCS agent in one of the sessions to encouraged me to try again and not give up. NRCS offers technical assistance and financial assistance to property owners to make improvement, preserve, and conserve the natural resources on their property. This can be from erosion control, to fencing, to high tunnel purchase, to solar panels installed. There is a process and since I haven’t gone through it yet, I will wait and write that up some other time. But notice I didn’t say “farms”. There is no minimum property size for applying for help.

High Tunnels (Thursday AM)

High tunnels are essentially greenhouses that use plastic. There are a variety of sizes and shapes. You can build them yourself, buy them, or have them built for you. NRCS does reimburse up to 95% of costs associated with high tunnels if you meet the requirements. Which is why we may be looking into them. One requirement that stands out, you must grow in the ground in your high tunnel for the first 1-3 years depending on your contract with NRCS. Growing in a high tunnel does allow you to grow for longer season and if you supplement with heat year round. You can use it as a heated greenhouse to grow tomatoes in winter, or a cool house (minimal heat) and grow greens in the winter. And for winters here, gothic roofs vs dome roofs seem to do better here in Indiana. You do not have to grow anything over winter. You can use them for annuals, perennials, canes, and even trees. High tunnels do have some drawbacks such as pollination, moisture, moisture related disease, heat etc. From the session, it appears that anyone who has started using high tunnels have increased production in almost every instance. Pollination can be solved by purchasing bumblebees and releasing into the tunnels which is what many of the speakers did. Something I found interesting is that NRCS supports using the high tunnel with the intent of soil improvements. Yet in every instance speakers encountered soil health actually decreased inside the high tunnel. This would be expected if you harvest constantly and do not replenish nutrients equal to or above what you are removing.

Social Media Marketing (Thursday PM)

The last session of the day was using social media for marketing. While it was mainly geared to winerys, I was informative. Many of the audience was older and do not use social media for their business. The biggest social media platform was Facebook, then Twitter, then others. They put Pinterest in marketing which I had not thought of as a marketing tool, up until then. Pinterest market is 85 or more percent women. The presenter was advocating 20 or more hours a week on social media. This just isn’t feasible for many farm owners. But I also think that is complete overkill and her job was marketing and social media so unless you have money to pay someone, or a marketing firm it may be overkill. Some important notes were if you do use social media be responsive to customers, delayed response will lose customers. Also, if you are a business have a business account on Facebook, and separate personal from business use. They touched very little on the use of a website as social media.

Summary 

All in all, it was eye opening. I ended up having to pay $120 for the 3 day conference, $100 if I had done early registration like my wife told me to do. I feel it was worth the money I spent. I learned a lot, and learned how much I don’t know. I would have liked to attend other sessions but had to make a choice and the above sessions won. Would I recommend it to others., definitely. But more if you are already selling produce, or are on the edge of selling. If you are just a home producer and not really moving to regular sales, it is informing,  go if you have the money, but there are other conference that may be more appropriate for time off or if cost may be an issue.

New additions and updates

Yes, yes, ye. It has been a while since we have done an update. We have been very busy since buying a farm. I would say I will go into more deation on some of these topics and builds, but, who has the time!

We are now at 115ish animals on the farm. Yes, that is roughly 100 new animals since March 2016. We may be around 150+ by spring 2017. We have had our first births on the farm. Seven American Guinea Hogs and two goats (only one lived). The AGH piglets are for sale if you are interested in your own grass fed pork, and we can partner with a family member who also has AGH if you are interested in an unrelated breeding pair.

We have planted hundreds of trees and bushes.

We have literally put in miles of fencing, and hand hammered hundreds of fence posts.

  • 8,615 ft of woven, chain link, & welded wire fence
  • 10,575 ft of electric fence
  • 630  hand hammered six-ft T posts
  • 3.6 MILES of hand installed fencing.

And this is only enclosing  8.75 acres of the 32 acre property.  We still have a bunch to do.

fence

We have two new livestock guardian dogs (LGD). Freyja and Sigyn. They will be training with Jack. Total dogs 5

7 new piglets

20160830_133930

20160923_101722

1 new goat kid “Bucky”. He will be a breeder.

20160809_165842

1 new breeding male goat The Todd

20160813_163140

4 new barn cats to keep mice away

20160816_174628
Marcy
20160810_095354
Belatrix
Puss
Puss

“Boots” refused to have his picture taken for posting.

8 new sheep, although some are just visiting.

The Girls
The Girls
Mocha
Mocha

We have added on a sunroom/greenhouse to protect some plants, start plants and seeds early this spring, and house any bottle babies that may need some help when it is cold outside.

20160825_200114 20160825_200133

400+ bales of hay put up, and still more to come

Still to come or works in progress

  • 10,000 gallon creek/pond through the orchard with koi, waterfalls, and bridge
  • Sugar shack for maple, black walnut, and sassafras syrups
  • Campground with a variety of style cabins and primitive campsites
  • Major barn addition with blacksmithing area
  • Spring house
  • Solar power
  • Wind power
  • Water power
  • Hoop house over garden

Whispering Woods Haunted Halloween Hike Fall 2017 along with hog roast, and party. 2nd weekend in October.

 

Follow us on Facebook for updates, as we don’t get too much time to update online. Interested in a tour, contact us for availability.

 

 

 

Two whole weeks

It has been two whole weeks since we added any new animals, and we just had to break the streak. This last weekend we got 4 new goats. They are all in the goat palace quarantine area for at least 30 days. We picked up four milking does; two were reported to be pregnant. If the girls were pregnant we will start milking them later this summer.

FB_IMG_1460554126955 FB_IMG_1460554140259 FB_IMG_1460554147603

Our trial period is over for Jack. Jack came to freedom from the communist state next door. He roamed and protected his animals and was loved. His family is downsizing and moving to the city. He is not a city dog. We were on a trial basis until he decided he liked it here. We think he does, and now a new member to the farm. Notice we didn’t say previous family? That is because he came from one of the Aunties and they come and visit. If you don’t follow Rick on Facebook the Aunties are a group of women we have adopted as part of our family. Some near to us geographically, some across the country.

IMG_1283 IMG_1284 IMG_1285

Lastly, I will be picking up some guinea keets this week. They will be truly free range and patrol the property for ticks. We may have some losses due to predators, but maybe not. We haven’t seen too many predator birds or other animals. With 2 farms dogs, kids, and us on the property we wanted an organic way to control ticks. This will be our first year ever having them. Before we start tours, we would like the tick population reduced.

Check out our “Our Animals” page for more information on all of our animals on the farm.

One feed, to feed them all

If you have been following us lately we have been adding numerous animals to our farm. Here is what we have to date. Most we want on pasture eating grass. But we do give them salt blocks and the treats to give additional nutrients not found in grass alone. This treats is a feed mix we make ourselves, but the same basic mix is put together and everyone can eat it. This is our first year doing this, so it is an experiment. After three months everyone seems to be doing well on it. We plan on experimenting with different mixes and combinations and as we learn more and refine the mix we will update everyone.

Why one mix? It lowers costs if animals cannot get out to pasture, or as a supplement to grass. If we didn’t give them the treats, they would me much harder to manage. We make sure, we show them the feed can, and shake it. We can get the llamas to come in from across the pasture, with just the can shaking. This is in no way the bulk of their diets. A coffee can 1/2 full to full for each species once a day if they get out on pasture, and twice a day if they are unable to forage.

It also reduces the risk of someone getting sick because they got the wrong feed mix. Since our youngest feeds animals regularly (5), and we have guests, and family help if they want to there are no accidents of giving an animal the wrong feed. Everyone can eat the base mix, and no additions can hurt anyone. Some species cannot tolerate certain feeds/supplements as easily as others.

What is in our feed mix?

Rather than give you all the nutritional details, I will like to a site which has them all for each component.  Feedipedia is a AWESOME site.

Base which is given to turkeys, ducks, chickens for meat, geese, and chickens for eggs.  It can also be given to the other animals as is, but they like a little extra in the mix. We purposely left soy out of the mix for now.  Yes it is a big source of protein if growing animals for meat, we know. The base also is easily spread using a hand broadcast seeder. This allows the birds space to eat, increases foraging skills, and there is no fighting over the feed bucket/pile.

1 part black oil sunflower seeds.  BOSS    16.6g protein   28.7 MJ/kg energy

2 parts cracked corn      9.4g protein    18.7  MJ/kg energy

2 parts oats   11.0g protein   19.5   MJ/kg energy

Averaging 11.5 g protein and 21.02 MJ/kg energy

Laying birds (ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese) get fee offering (as much as they want) crushed oyster shells.  They are also on open pasture/area daily so bugs, worms, grass, weeds whatever they find.

For the pigs, goats, sheep, and llamas they get

2 parts base mix 11.5 g protein  21.02 MJ/kg energy

1 part alfalfa pellets  18.2 g protein  18.2 MJ/kg energy

They also get salt blocks, llamas are on pasture daily, pigs get regular grass until pig area completed, and goats and sheep get free hay and pasture almost daily.

Rabbits are on pasture daily, and get supplement rabbit pellets. We are experimenting with different combinations for the rabbits.

  • Some things we learned, goats and sheep love rabbit pellets.
  • The pigs prefer grass to feed mix.
  • Rabbits who are raised on pasture from birth, eat far less pellets but take a bit longer to reach butcher weight.
  • Everyone eats mulberry leaves/young branches, all birds love the berries.

Some things we are hoping to experiment in the next year or years.

  • mulberry as an alternative feed
  • using mulberry to feed silkworms, harvest silk, worms are protein source
  • Black soldier fly larvae
  • Comfrey as a mineral replacement
  • locally sourced nuts as feeds
  • Different plant based proteins in the pastures such as cowpea, vetch,
  • rose of sharon
  • willow
  • More experimenting with the Fedipedia information
  • spent brewery grains

Six more new additions at Wolf-Beach Farms

Friday we got six more new additions to our farm. Six baby Saddleback Pomeranian geese. These are heritage breed that are on the critical list for the breed through The  Livestock Conservancy.  We would like to thank our new found friend Shannon for introducing them to us and keeping the breed active. These birds will be for breeding only as they are very low in numbers. They are already very friendly. This is what they will look like as adults.  This is mom. Baby pics soon.

12717991_10154010559454344_6062960328684031278_n

We are heading out to pick up two new guests today, a breeding pair of American Guinea Hogs. For a list of all our animals on farm check out our animals page.

 

Meet the newest members of the farm

We have grown so much in the last 60 days since moving to Greencastle, IN. Many people ask us what all we have on our farm. So why not introduce the more permanent residents?  This page will grow as more long term residents come to stay.  We will be having tours in the near future, or you can schedule one by appointment only. Use the Contact Us page of if you are friends you know how to reach us via-email, phone or text.

Click here for a list of our animals. 

Animal care-husbandry & Permaculture

Recently it came to my attention that some people believe our animal care and farm practices are dirty and unkept. 1st before making assumptions you might want to get facts straight, learn what you are talking about before opening your mouth, and lastly ask us, we would be glad to tell you all about it.

We will educate the uneducated and ignorant. Grass should not be cut 1/4 inch above the dirt. It is very unhealthy, longer grass survives drought better, and longer grass will hold more water in both roots and green tissue. The ability to hold water has been important lately.

What one person views as weeds is actually medicinal plants we grow for FREE , do not require a prescription, doesn’t have nasty side effects. It is also food for our animals. This is why we do not spray any chemicals on our property.

We let grasses grow longer because it has more nutrients for animals, reducing our dependence on buying processed feed. Ask any rancher using grass fed techniques.

We clean our combined rabbitry and coop every 3 months. We use deep litter bedding inside to absorb and hold wastes. After 3 months it moves out to the compost pile where it is turned into soil for future gardens. Properly managed neither have an odor. I have the training and experience on both. Due to the excess rain and poor stormwater drainage in our area, some of this bedding became wet. we immediately changed and dried it out once we were able.

We house our rabbits and poultry together to harness heat in the winter, and the chickens reduce any worms or parasites, as well as till the litter naturally and help it all break down faster.

We even installed fans this summer to keep both rabbits and poultry cool, and help keep air moving in the coop.

All of our animals have names. When the chicken went past their prime for laying, they remained and are still productive, just not as many eggs a week. We did not butcher them. They still eat bugs, they still turn the compost, they still have a name, and they still process food waste from our kitchen. When old age finally takes them, we will look at replacing them.

For more on chickens read my post on In defense of the back yard flock

We used to give tours, and will do it again soon. We are still working on many things, since moving in March, and because of Avian flu we do not want additional traffic if we can help it. We had to start a great many plants and systems all over, so we would like to showcase more than just concepts, but actual practice.

To make sure our rabbits had access to water all winter long we made a rabbit watering system that does not freeze. Our rabbits (4) have  access to 275 gallons of water 24/7. This is our system from Indy but we rebuilt here in Wingate

We have had Animal control on our property (for a neighbors issue, not ours) and were commended on how well we took care of our animals. We have had a vegans, and staff of animal control and also tell us how well we take care of our animals.

What one person sees as “unsightly” another sees it as a 40% reduction in a grocery bill of all natural all organic food. Some people see it as beautiful and natural. Being ignorant and failing to educate yourself is ignorant in itself. Singling one person or a group of people out because you dislike something is called discrimination. Using position of power to go after that group is called harassment. Both of which can land someone in court. Since some people are ignorant of what I mentioned above I just thought they may also need some education on the latter as well.

Bring new education to your church or organization and build community

I had a meeting yesterday with a good friend who is part of a church with an aging congregation and some have never gardened before. They have a large meeting room they barely ever use. We talked about having a class in the meeting room and have a class about organic gardening now that spring is around the corner to get people something to look forward to and start planning. The more I thought about it the more I thought this was a great idea so I have come up with a solution to both help not only church groups but other organizations as well. Both options are a way to get your organization more exposure, and possibly a way to generate additional income, and help get more people involved.

Option 1

Book 3 hrs of classes and get 1 hr FREE. This could be 1 hr free consulting for the church or other group on how to build a community garden on the property. It could be 1 hr of time given, raffled, or auctioned with the proceeds to benefit the church or other organization. It could be added with the classes for a total of 4 hrs of instruction. We have lots of great classes to choose from such as aquaponics, beginning gardening, container gardening, permaculture, practicing permaculture, back yard chicken, and more. For more detailed list check out the Classes page. This could be closed to only members of your organization, or open to the public. I can advertise to bring more people in to become familiar with your organization. We have a direct reach of about 6500, and then organic reach of significantly more through shares, likes and other social media sharing. We also have options to charge for each person attending if so desired. Need flyers to tell your organization about the event, we can do that too.

Option 2

Open up your facilities to classes. We will charge per person in attendance with either select number of free tickets for your organization based on size of space, classes being taught, and length of time on site, or a percentage of ticket sales to go to your event or organization. Lots of different options available to suit your needs.

Be Prepared Series

The Be Prepared Series is a group of classes to help organizations and groups come together as a community and in the event they need them, have skills to rely upon during an emergency. For more information on the Be Prepared Series click on the link.

 

We can schedule the classes, accept payments online, in person, or over the phone. We can produce flyers, or other promotional materials to announce your event. All materials are provided for you.

If you are interested in booking some classes or want to learn more please use the Contact Us page we would be happy to help.

Introduction Podcast

To better reach our audience we are putting together a podcast to talk about classes, activities we are involved in, education, and topics that we are interested in. This is the introduction to our new podcast where we talk about our homestead, our activities, and the general feel for the show.

Here are some sites that are mentioned in the podcast.

www.midwestsustainable.org

www.selfsufficientgardner.com

www.darbysimpson.com

www.simpsonfamilyfarm.com

www.2midwestguys.com

www.meetup.com/AlternativeGardeningHomesteading

www.geofflawton.com

www.thesurvivalposdast.com

www.preparemag.com

www.aquaponicssurvivalcommunities.com

www.brinkoffreedom.net

www.richsoil.com

www.permies.com

Be Prepared

Change in date for Medicinal Herb class

Sorry for the late notice. We have had some family in the hospital and the Medicinal Herb class will be postponed until August 23rd.  We can offer private classes or tours if that would accommodate schedules better. Please contact us for details.  If you plan on attending the Medicinal Herb class PLEASE RSVP at the link below so we can get accurate numbers of books to print out.

http://www.meetup.com/AlternativeGardeningHomesteading/events/187516622/