Sunday, February 10, 2013

conference going

We were able to spend a couple of days at the annual PASA conference in State College PA...only because we were able to get help here on the farm. Reports came back to us that all the livestock was fine, doing their regular thing, but the dog freaked out completely: refused to leave the house, when carried out (in her box, where she sat and sulked) she sat at the back door and shivered. The pigs, chickens and cows all fine and did not miss us one bit.

We stayed in a hotel. Which for us these days is an odd thing to do. Homer said the long halls put him in mind of the beginning of the tv show The Twilight Zone, and did a bit of a narrative that began with "picture if you will, farmers leave and head for a meeting"...

Ben Wenk, from 3 Springs Fruit Farm and I were speakers at a session on social media. He is a 6th generation grower: his family has 400+ acres in mostly fruit trees along with some vegetables. We are a 12+ acre farm with cattle, pigs, chicken, eggs, turkeys and vegetables. A good cross section of using the same tools in different ways, lots of great questions and ideas. It was great!

I learned more about organic grains, and how to set up a milking program/parlor/creamery/farm stand. About traditional methods of preserving pork, native bugs that are attacking the brown stink bug, and about sprouting grains to use the 7 days of growth to feed in lieu of grains.

It turns out that the dairy industry is suffering from the low nutritional value of grains available to feed to cattle. We all hear about yield per acre, and that the new design/patented grains typically are less nutritional than older grain varieties. The dairy farmer has to budget for supplements because the nutrition a cow used to get from eating is just not in their feed.

Homer spent time with folks grow in hoophouses, learning best practices.

The best part is time to catch up with people, to swap ideas, to laugh and encourage others to live their dreams, branch out, set roots, build a business, stay out of debt, think things through...such good stuff. Always glad we can make it.

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