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Chris Chambers @CDChambers62
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Farming thread for my followers!
1) Farming is a broad topic, so I’ll narrow it down a bit by first comparing raising certain livestock on a pasture farm versus a factory farm. Then cover food sources, greenhouses and farming in general. Resources listed at the end.
2) I am currently working at Fort Knox, KY. In such a rural area many of the locals and a lot of the people that work on Fort Knox grow much of their own food, raise their own animals, and hunt in season. Kentucky is a great place for living off the land.
3) The folks that raise animals here generally raise pigs, goats, turkeys and chickens.
4) Cows and horses are just too expensive to raise unless you already have a large parcel of pasture land and the other resources of an existing farm.
5) Pigs take about 6 months to raise for slaughter, but since they are more difficult to manage in the winter most people buy little piglets (weaners) for about $25 each at the end of winter and grow them over the spring and summer. Farm auctions can get you $180-$200 per pig.
6) Goats are more often than not raised as dairy goats. Kentucky is not a big market for goat meat (tasty but a bit stringy). There are plenty of uses for goat milk, mentioned below.
7) The Caribbean islands are big for goat, as are communities with a large Middle Eastern immigrant population. Pigs and goats are smart, and can be hard to keep penned.
8) Turkeys are easy to breed, but need to be kept away from chickens or they may get “Blackhead” (Histomoniasis). Turkeys are susceptible, but chickens are usually carriers (at least around here). Best to raise only one or the other. Blackhead will wipe a turkey flock.
9) There are plenty of benefits to raising turkeys though. Turkey eggs R large and nutritious, and harvesting a big bird is easy. Takes about 20 minutes for prep before it's ready for the oven. After killing & gutting hold the carcass in 150 degree water, feathers come right out.
10) Chickens are fun and easy to raise, but don’t raise chickens expecting to make money. You can’t compete with a factory farm where thousands of chickens live to lay eggs, and do so for less than a nickel per egg. Not practical for a backyard operation.
11) Raise chickens to be self-sufficient. You can get chicks and supplies from many places. I like to visit mypetchicken.com . They ship live chicks cheap in 3 days or less. Not to worry. Baby chicks are still digesting the yolk for the first three days of life.
12) All these mentioned so far can be raised humanely as pasture animals. IMHO we are all God's creatures and even livestock deserves to be treated humanely while they are on the Earth. Pasture settings are peaceful.
13) There is a nice website for anyone interested in raising livestock for the sake of preserving the breed. LivestockConservancy.com lists livestock breeds for cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, donkeys and rabbits, as well as poultry breeds for chickens, turkeys, ducks & geese.
14) Livestock Conservancy also lists breeders, stud services and animals for sale. Note that rare breeds are expensive. You probably won't breed these for slaughter, so usually only large successful operations can afford to raise animals just for fun.
15) I don’t care for the organization PETA much (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). I support their cause generally (caring for animals), but they go overboard inciting farmer hatred, destroying property, and interfering with operations.
16) That said, they have brought some atrocious farming situations to light. The following video is a PETA film made at a Kentucky slaughterhouse showing the abuse of a cow that was left to suffer. After an entire day of abuse the cow was killed and sold to a butcher for $307.
This is NOT how animal farming and processing should be done.
18) This video shows maltreatment at a factory pig farm. . Factory farms are just that. They are designed to maximize output and minimize cost with NO regard for the welfare of the animal. 💥Graphic content.💥
19) It is, unfortunately, the common practice at all large meat, poultry and egg producers, and they get away with it because demand is high and rules are lax. If you want these awful practices to end contact your Congressman.
20) There are many other videos of animal cruelty, but I do not wish to belabor the point. Small pasture farms just don’t generate enough output to put these large farms out of business (think Smithfield, Hormel, Cargill, Tyson).
21) The big guys run slaughter houses that process close to 30,000 cattle per day. Tyson's chicken processing plants run far higher numbers. There are part of a system that feeds 320,000,000 people just in the US.
22) On a happier note, there are many farmers that run small farms that don’t kill anything. Lori Hall (pictured here) of Kentucky has a small herd (25 nannies) of Nigerian Dwarf Goats she uses for her goat milk based soaps and lotions (rusticcharmfarm.com/store/c1/Featu…), and …
23) Chelsea Schlosnagle runs her own pasture chicken farm selling 60,000 dozen eggs per year. Both young ladies are members of their local FFA chapter. See the inspiring video of Chelsea’s operation here: kentuckyliving.com/lifestyle/ffa-…
24) Of course, farming is not only raising animals. Anyone can grow a few plants at home to supplement their weekly grocery run. You can grow herbs, vegetables, some root plants, as well as fruit and other edible plant foods in your home or yard, or in a small greenhouse.
25) Many people have decided to turn their small city plots into working farms (city permits notwithstanding). One example is farming YouTuber Curtis Stone. His channel is “Urban Farmer Curtis Stone” at this link: youtube.com/channel/UC-BlD… . Great info! And he makes it look easy!
26) One inspiring writer about farming is Tamar Hasper who has a column in the Washington Post (I don’t care for the post, but will not turn away from a good article even there).
27) Her column is called “Unearthed”. Here is the link to her archive. Great reads too! washingtonpost.com/newssearch/?qu…
28) One of Tamar Hasper’s repeated concerns is the growing global population and how all these people will be fed. Local vegetable farms will not do the job. The four or five basic grains is where the bulk of the world’s food comes from: corn, wheat, rice, soybeans and oats.
29) According to various sources, none of which agree on the rankings, the top ten food crops for feeding the world are: sugarcane, wheat, rice, barley, corn (or maize), potatoes (various types), sorghum, yams, plantains, and cassava root.
30) Many of these are not common to North America, but serve other parts of the world well. Vegetables just do not provide enough nutrition to compete with the staples, but they are critical for providing other nutrients to a diet as well as adding variety.
31) Going back to some of the concerns writer and farmer Tamar Hasper repeatedly mentions is how to feed an ever-growing global population?
32) Bulk foods (the "big" grains) from large farms seems to be the “best answer”. But family farming is important, and elimination of small family farms would be a tragedy, and factory breeding farms have inherent problems as we have seen.
33) The largest farm in the world is the Mudanjiang City Mega Farm in Heilongjiang, China covering a mind-boggling 22,500,000 acres. When Russia cut off dairy exports to China, China kicked farming into overdrive with this 100,000 cow dairy farm. dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3…
34) China also has the second largest farm in the world. But Australia has the next eight, all well over 1,00,000 acres each. Nothing in the US even comes close.
35) One answer to the big farms is self-sufficiency. Personally I know I can’t feed the world, but I can take care of my little corner of it. I can raise a few crops, plant some vegetables and spices for variety and get milk and eggs without killing any animals.
36) As a retired US Army Soldier, I would rather not kill anything I don't have to. I do love eating meat, but I’ll buy it. If I am to take responsibility for an animal, I want it 2 live a good life while it is on the Earth. There is more than enough cruelty in the world already.
37) I was not a Rambo running around firing a machine gun in each hand, mowing down brigades of enemies. But being around death and destruction is quite enough to make you want to find a little peace...
38) ...raising goats, cows and chickens, and letting them provide food while you take care of them. It’s only fair.
39) On to alternative crops! Farming and agriculture is not only about growing food!
40) If you are interested in farming, but not growing crops per se, you can also run a fishery or aquaponics hatchery, an oyster farm, plant Christmas trees, grow trees to sell as timber or lumber, operate a greenhouse or hydroponic garden, grow bamboo,
41) grow flowers, or any number of other things that are all part of farming. More recently many growers are producing cannabis and hemp. Hemp is only in a strictly controlled experimental stage right now, but cannabis farming is really taking off. Hemp and cannabis farm photos.
42) The profits are large, but there are many potential problems yet to be addressed, not the least of which is competing state and federal laws.
43) Until the legal side of cannabis and hemp farming is clarified, caution is advised. Be careful farming either of these two crops. But, they will both thrive in the future, and look to be very profitable.
44) Greenhouses are general used to grow climatically sensitive plants indoors. Most greenhouses are fairly small, even on most farms. Disney World has a pretty amazing hydroponic greenhouse inside one of its rides, “Living with the Land” in Epcot: .
45) National Geographic recently did an online magazine layout for truly amazing greenhouses in The Netherlands. This tiny nation grows more tomatoes per acre than anywhere else in the world. Look at this article and you can see why! nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/…
46) Many growers use large greenhouses not only to control the environment for consistent growth. They protect from temperature changes, invasive pests and bugs that eat foliage, and against birds and critters that view your crop as lunch, AND....
47) ...allows yearlong growth for consistent product sales. Cottage Farms in Irvington, AL has most of its plants and flowers outside in huge open fields, but has some greenhouses for sensitive plants,
and needs consistency since it provide a large part of its inventory to QVC, especially in the spring. qvc.com/for-the-home/g…
49) Greenhouse growing can be done indoors, at night, in bad weather (don’t let the snow pile up on the roof or you’ll have a collapse!), but these all require extra lighting and some additional heating, and perhaps humidity.
50) Electricity providers look for consumption anomalies in case an illegal grow site is using too much power and they regularly alert police if they detect unusual usage patterns. Know your local laws and advise the power company if you are using indoor grow lights!
51) Here are a few resources!
52) If you are a veteran, there is a nationwide program called “Homegrown by Heroes”, operated by the “Farmer Veteran Coalition”. FarmVetCo provides free advice, mentoring, and has a grant program for eligible veterans to help startups.
53) Many states have their own subsidiary programs (in Kentucky it is called “Kentucky Proud”), and all they ask for the free help is to slap a sticker on your goods being shipping out showing your affiliation with the program. farmvetco.org
54) Future Farmers of America (ffa.org/home ) has high school programs for current and aspiring farmers, and supports students’ farming, educational and marketing efforts.
55) Both Lori Hall and Chelsea Schlosnagle mentioned above trained with FFA in their local Kentucky high school chapters.
56) NOTE: Strangley the Future Farmers of America has abandoned that name and rebranded as only “FFA”. If you didn’t know what it stood for it is hard to find it spelled out on their website.
57) States all have a “Department of Agriculture” that provide many free services (not really free, but no cost to the farmer, funded with taxpayer dollars) including publicly available research, some training programs and some limited services.
58) Counties also have a “County Extension Office” that offers classes (for a fee), tests water (usually free) and test soil for pH levels. They also publish numerous reports, research papers, and professional guides, usually in coordination with a local college or university.
My local county extension office is for Hardin County, KY, in cooperation with the University of Kentucky. hardin.ca.uky.edu
60) Next time you are home and are thinking about it, call your county extension office and ask how to get your water tested just to familiarize yourself with the process.
61) There are many programs offered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) which is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, agriculture, forestry, and food. usda.gov
62) The USDA offers financing for rural properties, farms, and agricultural enterprises, programs to educate and assist farmers and agricultural businesses, as well as a lobbying effort in the Federal government and every state house in the nation.
63) Take a look at these resources when you have time. Lots of good information on farming and agriculture included in these links. Also, suport your local businesses and farmers, especially young entrepreneurs, start-ups and family businesses.
Urban Farmer Curtis Stone: youtube.com/channel/UC-BlD…
Lori Hall's goat milk soaps and lotions:
rusticcharmfarm.com/store/c1/Featu…
Chelsea Schlosnagle's egg enterprise:
dutchcreekfarms.com/chelseys-eggs.…
/END
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