While farm operation is my “thing,” my husband Scott is just as invested in it as I am. While farming is hard work, and not to mention, a lot of work to start a farm operation, it’s something we truly enjoy doing. Here’s a little more on why we farm:
It's in our roots and a way of life that we know and love. We both have grown up in agriculture. I was raised in rural Northeastern Wisconsin loving the outdoors, developing a hands-on approach to life and actively participating in ag education and FFA. Scott grew up on a dairy farm in Northwestern Wisconsin. We both started our careers in agriculture working for organizations that provide supplies and services to farmers. Scott continues to do so today, while I now farm. While farming is hard work, both physical and brain power, it's a way of life we enjoy. We are thankful to be a part of agriculture and raise a family on the farm.
We love the outdoors and the land. As land owners, we're proud that we care for our land in a way that not only benefits our livestock and pasture, but also the soil and wildlife. It also the reason why we rotationally graze our goats and pasture poultry.
Making something our own. As a small business owner, there's not a better feeling of building something of our own. It's our farm and planning that's moving it forward. As we continue to grow, it's motivating to see our hard work and business plans pay off.
Doing our part to provide nutritious food to our greater community. This doesn't really need much more explanation. It is what it is and we're glad to play a part in our regional food and ag system.
If you're involved in agriculture, what’s your reason or why are you passionate about it?
One of my recent projects is a science experiment of sorts. I created a chlorine floater for the livestock tanks that are out on pasture. When it gets hot out the water in the tank can start to build up algae. With our recent rains and hot weather, the water in our stock tank was starting to show a little green.
To solve this problem water can be changed out, but that’s not realistic and can be wasteful if done daily. Many livestock farmers use different techniques to keep the water clean for their animals, making it more appealing and healthier to drink. Usually the practices are similar in nature to treated water that that people drink from municipal (city) water sources.
One technique is to create a chlorine floater. I learned about the simple device during Meg Grzeskiewicz’s (Rinestone Cattle Co.) presentation at the GrassWorks Grazing Conference last January. Here’s an article Meg wrote about easy grazing tips, including this floater.
My supplies: peanut butter container with holes drilled into it, water bottle, rope, small rocks and small chunk of a pool chlorine tab. The two plastic containers are tied together with the rope. The PB container holds the chlorine tab and rocks to weigh it down, while the water bottle serves as a float to keep the PB container in place (and easy to pull out of the tank). I’ll keep adding chlorine to the PB jar as it runs out. She could see improvements to the water after three days of use. And, animals started drinking more water because it was cleaner.
Meg’s instructions were based on large, cattle tanks. We use smaller tanks that are lower to the ground for easy access for both small and large goats. So here’s where my science experiment comes into play. I’m starting with a very small piece of chlorine tab to see how much chlorine that’s needed to keep the water clean. I’ll be monitoring the tank daily, observing the water quality and amount of chlorine still in the floater. After sometime, I’m hoping I find the right amount of chlorine to use based on our water tank size.
My other challenge may be keeping both the dogs and goats from playing with the floater. If they do, I’ll just have to make some adjustments to the string to pull the top floater down. Since our tanks are fairly short, I may just drop the PB jar in without a floater.
Today has been a productive day, which I’m thankful. Work on the farm doesn’t always go as planned or takes a lot longer than anticipated. Since we have company coming later today, I wanted to cross a few items off the to do list right away: Set up portable fence for a new paddock and move the turkey pen. Regardless of my productivity, I managed to learn a few lessons while working out in the pasture.
Here are a few things I might do a little differently next time:
And, these are few tasks I’ll keep doing:
The goats are finally out on pasture and love it. But, it has been a lot of work to get to this point.
Last fall our pasture perimeter fence was put up right before the first snow in November. We were able to do some late winter grazing, but didn’t rotate since our portable paddock fence can’t be used on frozen ground. We continued to outwinter (feeding out on pasture, either the plant matter or feed hay) throughout the winter months. The goats did great eating on the brush and grasses still standing, while naturally fertilizing the pasture. Once spring arrived the goats were back to feeding hay outside, while the pastures greened up.
Even though the fence was up, the goats weren’t ready to head out to pasture right away. There was quite a bit of prep work to do: fill gaps at the bottom of the fence to keep the guardian dogs in and predators out, troubleshooting a grounded electric fence (meaning it wasn’t working properly) and getting the seasonal pasture waterline ready for use. More importantly, the goats and dogs needed to be trained on the portable electric net that’s used to divide the paddocks. It took a few sessions over a few days, but the animals learned quickly to respect the fence.
Now it’s the fourth week of the grazing season. The goats moved into a new paddock on Sunday. I was amazed how easy it was to move the goats into the paddock. I wasn’t sure how the dogs would do. After I anchored the portable fence gate open, I turned around to look for them. I didn’t see them, because they had already cruised into the lush grass and were checking out the new fence line. The animals still have access to the barn, but after the next rotation they’ll be out on pasture full time with a movable shelter to protect them from the elements.
Here’s how the managed, rotational grazing process works on our farm:
Resources that have been helpful:
I own and manage Cylon Rolling Acres in northwestern Wisconsin. On my farm I raise Boer - Kiko meat goats on pasture.
Cylon (pronounced Si-lon) is the name of our township in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Sorry fans, our farm is not named after the robots of Battlestar Galactica.