Tag Archives: farmer

David Rankin, Farmer, 1906

In a recent farm magazine, a young farmer was recognised in an article as one of  America’s (United States)  best.  Lo, and behold, he is from Tarkio, Missouri and the article made mention of David Rankin, Missouri Corn King, who died in 1910, but had amassed 30,000 acres, 12,000 head of cattle, and 25,000 hogs. It was reported that he raised a million bushels of corn in a single season, much of it from a 6,000 acre field.

David Rankin, Farmer: Modern Agricultural Methods Contrasted With Primitive Agricultural Methods By The Life History Of A Plain Farmer (1909)

So, i did a quick search online about Farmer Rankin and to my delight, discovered he wrote a small book about his life and how he managed his assets to obtain such wealth.  ALthough the writing is not fancy and sometimes seems disjointed, his simple outline is a great insight into basic business management.  Some of his early income would have been taxed at a 3%-5% rate, but that income tax was rescinded in 1872.  Full on income tax didn’t come about until 1913.

But the crux of his idea, is to invest in time saving modern implements and buy land.  For a time, he was paying 17%-18% interest on money he borrowed to buy land.  Granted, he had some good hits that were just plain lucky, but not always.

You can read his short book here for free online or it can be ordered for a modest amount on Amazon.

Egg Drop Soup for Liquid Diet

Home made egg drop soup:  (Tan Hua T’ang)

3 cups of chicken stock broth.

1/2 teaspoon salt (use Real salt or something that is 100% salt – check the label)

3 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon tapioca flour (cassava)* or cornstarch

2 eggs slightly beaten (farm fresh from pastured hens is best)

Heat broth and salt to boiling.  Mix cold water and tapioca flour; stir gradually into broth.  Boil and stir 1 minutes.  Slowly pour eggs into broth stirring constantly with fork, to form shreds of egg.  Remove from heat; stir slowly once or twice.

You can also make this without thickening it with the tapioca flour or cornstarch if it needs to be absolutely thin liquid.

For best medicine, you need to find a local farmer from whom you can purchase healthy pasture raised spent hens or broilers.  You may have to butcher them yourself.  Cook them down bones and all, pull off the meat bits, then throw the bones and cartilage back into the water and simmer another hour or so.  The goal is to get as much of the chondroitan out of the cartilage and minerals out of the bones and into your broth.  Once done, strain out the bones and let the broth cool.  Chicken fat is quite soft, so if you want to skim it off, you’ll eventually have to put it in the frig or other cool spot so that it will harden on the top of the broth so that you can remove it with a slotted spoon.

Buying chicken broth in the store is NOT the same product as what you are making here.

As always, find certified organic or organically raised ingredients.

This was a big hit with my father-in-law who is recovering from hernia surgery, is very weak, and really doesn’t have an appetite.

However, it’s quite good even if you aren’t sick or in recovery.

Cheers

tauna

*my friend Francoirse raises cassava in DRC!

Find a local producer near you using a handy website search, here are a few:

Localdirt.com

Eatwild.com

Localharvest.org

 

Looking Back – 2004

Here’s an old article and our operation has changed a little bit, but we still very much appreciate and use management-intensive grazing (MIG).  All our pastures are subdivided into 20 acres or less paddocks with hi-tensile electric wire.  With the focus on managing the grazing, our animals and soil benefit from good health.

MFGC/GLCI is hosting their 2015 annual conference this week (2-3 Nov) at the Resort at Port Arrowhead, Lake Ozark, Missouri.  

Allen & Tauna Powell Named 2004 “Grasslanders of the Year”
A Linn County farm family was named “grasslanders” at the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council annual meeting at the Lake of the Ozarks in November, 2004.

Allen and Tauna Powell, Laclede, Mo., were named Grasslanders of the Year. The Powells operate a 3000-acre farm stocked with 800 cows that use management-intensive grazing systems. Though the majority of their calves are marketed through traditional commodity channels, the last couple years, they have been finishing calves on grass only and marketing the beef locally and on the Internet.

The Powells learned grass management techniques at grazing schools at the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center near Linneus, Mo.

They now serve on the advisory board for the research farm and have been instructors at the grazing schools.

The award was accepted by the family, which includes Jessica, 12; Dallas, 11; and Nathan, 8. The children are home schooled and attended the educational meetings at the MFGC conference after doing their regular homework.

Tauna said, “I thought raising pasture-finished beef was a crazy idea when I first heard it from Fred Martz (former superintendent of MU FSRC.) Now, 12 years later, we are doing it.”

MFGC is an educational association made up of graziers, educators, agency representatives and businesses. It provides support for state and regional grazing schools.

They have also initiated and support a grassland evaluation contest for high school students and travel scholarships for college students attending national meetings.

The Powells were nominated by Fred Martz, retired MU professor and grassland farmer at Columbia, Mo.

Management-intensive grazing improves production and health of pastures, increases livestock gains per acre, and reduces soil erosion. The system is based on dividing large pastures into smaller grazing paddocks. Livestock are moved every few days to give forage time to rest and regrow. Livestock always has fresh pasture to graze.

For more information about the Missouri Forage and Grasslands Council go to their web site athttp://agebb.missouri.edu/mfgc/

Joel Salatin – Farm Marketer Extraordinaire!

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farmshttp://www.polyfacefarms.com/speaking-protocol/joels-bio/ is recognised around the world as a no nonsense, say it the way it is kind of farmer and marketer.  His ideas are proven to work in his area (highly populated with customers), but the ground rules can work anywhere and even in the commodity markets.  Some of his advice here needs more explanation, but most are just cut-to-the-chase, get ‘er done stuff.  GO!

Here’s a quick interview with a reporter from Modern Farmer

Five-Minute Mentor: Farming Advice from Joel Salatin

Buying Beef or Lamb From the Farmer

There are many articles out there addressing this and to be sure, each producer may do things just a bit different, so please don’t take this article as the end all for ‘how to purchase beef from a farmer.’  This is what we do.

Step by step.

  1. If it is important to you, ask questions or visit the producer’s website (if they have one – many don’t,  we are producers not techies or salesmen) about how the animals are handled and raised.

Sample Question:

  1. Are the beeves you sell fully grass finished or grain finished (feedlot) do they receive grain on pasture? If so, is the grain non-GMO?
  2. Do you vaccinate your animals?  Are the animals you sell to me treated with antibiotics, synthetic dewormers, hormonal implants,
  3. Is your farm and animals raised organically?  certified organic (3rd party certification)?, (Certified organic animals/meat must be processed in a certified organic abattoir, all this adds tremendously to the cost of certified organic but doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than your local producer.)  For example, many of us raise fully grass-fed and finished from conception to consumption, no implants, no synthetic dewormers, no antibiotics, etc, etc.  But, we might treat some brush in the next paddock with weed killer, so no way can that animal be certified organic.  Also, even if our farm and animals could be certified organic, if there isn’t a certified organic butcher shop, the meat cannot be certified organic.  I would have to make a 4 hour one way drive to a certified organic butcher.  Not going to happen.
  4. Why can’t i just ring up and you have a beef available?  Don’t you keep cattle year round?  Yes, we keep cattle year round, but most of us are cow/calf producers and will only finish enough animals to fill orders placed six months or more in advance.  Once an animal is finished, it needs to go to slaughter – every day that it is still on pasture, it is losing money.   Most of our animals are sold as calves through traditional markets, so if you haven’t ordered a beef well in advance, we won’t have saved back enough beeves to finish one for you.  Also, sometimes the weather plays havoc with finishing times as well.  If you want factory finished feedlot beef, you’ll have to go the store.

You may want to visit the farm before making a purchase, but remember, we are producers, not salesmen – if you aren’t serious about making a purchase, please don’t take up too much time.  Be prepared ahead of time with questions.  You may decide after you meet with the farmer and see how he operates, not to purchase, but don’t take up time just out of curiosity.

If you decide to purchase, already have it in your mind how much you want to buy.  For example, a typically grass-finished carcass will weigh 600-700 lbs.  Be sure to ask the producer, his might be bigger or smaller, but armed with that information, you can quickly determine whether you need a whole, half, or quarter carcass AND you can budget for it.  Be prepared that the carcass may be larger than the producer says – we cannot guarantee an exact hanging weight.  We are just not that good.  We can usually get within 50 lbs more or less.  Quarter carcasses are more likely sold as a split side rather than a hind or fore quarter, but ask; some producers sell both ways.  Half and quarter (split side) will be more expensive – Why?  because we have to find another buyer(s).

So, figure out  how much  meat your family will eat in a year or 6 months.  Most of us only offer beeves once or twice a year since it is time consuming to sell directly to the consumer, however, we are happy to do so if you are serious about quality meat for your family – we share that vision with you.

For a rough figuring, say your family eats 2 lbs of beef per day.  A whole beef of 600 lbs carcass will yield about 360 lbs of packaged meat.  If you want enough for a year – buy two beeves.  You must let the producer know at least 3-4 months in advance so he can keep the animal for you on pasture plus have it booked in at the butcher.  Many local butchers shut down for deer season, which means all domestic animals have to be butchered, hung, and out by 1 October.  They won’t take more in until the first of December, so it is critical to let the producer know well in advance if you want any.  Spring time purchases can be just as critical because so many people want to get animals in.

Once you’ve settled on a price (this will vary a LOT), then you may be expected to make a down payment to hold your beef.  This is reasonable.  Kind of like making a down payment on a vacation trip or anything else you’ve spoken for to do in the future.  Most of the time, you will pay the producer for the beef and the butcher for the processing.  Our processor charges 44 cents per pound hanging weight for basic processing and $30 as a kill fee.  But, i will tell you, that he charges less than most places and certainly less than a USDA inspected plant.  If you want extras like burger patties, extra tenderizing, excessive deboning, or other specialties, these will be an additional cost.  Work that out with the butcher.  Your producer will give you the contact information.

Retail Beef Cuts – most butchers are glad to help you with your custom order, but do a bit of study ahead to make best choices.  Also, remember, local butchers aren’t going to be into fancy, exotic cuts, so ask about special cuts, but you may not get exactly what you want.  You’ll also be asked how thick you want steaks cut and how many to a package, what size roasts and what kind.  Deboned or bone-in.  (i personally like a lot of bone – makes a ton of soup stock or treats for your dog, however, i always get my rump roasts deboned because i make corned beef with them).  How many lbs of burger in a package (1 or 2)?  Organ meats?, Suet?  These are just a sampling.

The butcher will tell you when the animal will be taken in to the butcher and it will likely be killed that day.  If you want organ meats, you MUST notify the butcher in advance!  Don’t forget this.  It is not the producers responsibility to tell the butcher how you want your animal custom processed.  If you don’t notify him, it will probably be thrown away, after which it cannot be salvaged.  If you wait until after the calf is delivered to call the butcher, do so as soon as possible.  Don’t make the butcher track you down and keep them waiting on how to process your calf.  This is not polite.

The producer will likely notify you within a day of the weight of the animal and what you own him.  The animal is yours now and has your name on it, pay him promptly!

Once the butcher calls you that the beef (or lamb) is ready for pickup, GO GET IT!  Some butchers may start charging storage if you leave it for long.  Just go get it and pay him for goodness sake.

How Much Freezer Space?  Allow 20 lb per cubic foot.  That’s packing it in there, though, and won’t be handy for sorting and finding what you need.  It will keep better in a chest type freezer kept near 0ºF versus your frig freezer or even a stand up freezer.  A stand up freezer certainly takes less floor space, but the chest type is typically more energy efficient as well.

What breed?  Some breeds are naturally more lean than others, but if it’s in the feedlot on a high grain diet, it’s gonna be fat regardless if it’s Corriente or Angus.  On grass, the genetics of the animal will be more expressed, but by and large, the producer will take the animal to a determined end point.  Grass finished will generally have less cover and internal fat that grain finished.

Hope this helps!  Do some online googling and research – there are loads of info out there.  Don’t assume the producer is producing in such manner that is important to you.  Don’t complain about the price or the lack of availability.  If you think a producer is too expensive, just shop elsewhere – don’t complain about it.

Scrabster-Thurso-Inverness

We arrived just before dark into Scrabster.  It felt like we had dragged our luggage a half a mile from the ship to the terminal – it honestly would be pretty close to that!  We called a cab and he took us to the Station Hotel located quite near the train station in Thurso.  Our young driver was very anxious to get out of such a small town and off to uni at Inverness to study to become a minister.

Other than the Castle of Mey and Dunnet Head, we found little else to do in this area.  Since no cars were available to hire, we struck out for the info store and museum.  The girl there was very helpful and gave us a bus timetable and told us how to navigate our way to the above mentioned venues.  Since we had gotten up late and a slow start – time was precious.  But with taking the bus, this meant a LOT of walking and quickly, too.

Our first stop out of Thurso was the Castle of Mey – our driver drove right on past the drop off, but as soon as he did, i asked him if that was where we needed off.  He apologised profusely for forgetting – no worries, he let us off and we walked back only maybe 100 ft to the entrance to the castle.

Former home of the Queen Mother (the mother of the current queen).  Prince of Wales still comes to stay for a break end of August for a week or so.  This is a working farm with prize winning Aberdeen-Angus cattle raised.
Former home of the Queen Mother (the mother of the current queen). Prince of Wales still comes to stay for a break end of August for a week or so. This is a working farm with prize winning Aberdeen-Angus cattle raised.

However, we still had a half mile to go to the castle.  We only had time for the castle tour, then we had to jog back to the end of the driveway and hopefully flag down the bus.  Hooray, he stopped to pick us up, then another half hour to the Brough bus stop.  This was as close as the bus gets to Dunnet Head.  Just before arrival at Brough, we had to shut down the bus and wait for a herd of cows to move down and across the road.

Glad that I sat in the front seat of the bus to capture this shot.  There was only one other person on the bus, so we were up front chatting with the driver.
Glad that I sat in the front seat of the bus to capture this shot. There was only one other person on the bus, so we were up front chatting with the driver.

Now we hoof it uphill for the next three miles on asphalt road.  We only had two hours before the next bus back to town, so we did hurry; even took a ‘shortcut’ through the heather and grass.  Good experience in learning why that sort of land is unproductive – wow!  it is incredibly boggy with deep washouts under the native grasses.  At least where the heather is, it will support your weight.  Even a short distance (albeit a steep hill) through the bog and I was severely short of wind.

After that, we met a shepherd training both sheep and dog, moving them in a serpentine pattern down the hill. Finally, at the top, the views were fabulous.  Making the trek to Dunnet Head is well worth the effort, but i do not recommend walking unless you can do so at a more leisurely rate.  Better yet, get a car!

View from Dunnet Head - most northerly point of Great Britain (excepting islands).  Here looking at Orkney Island over the Pentland Firth.
View from Dunnet Head – most northerly point of Great Britain (excepting islands). Here looking at Orkney Island over the Pentland Firth.
View from Dunnet Head towards the southeast.
View from Dunnet Head towards the southeast.
Nathan Powell
Nathan Powell

The return was easier since we were going downhill but we were still glad to reach the bus stop to sit and rest.  After a bit, the bus went flying by!  Thankfully, my frantic waving and running after it, the driver finally stopped and we jogged a bit down the road to board.  Whew!  Another two hours before the next bus!  We chatted all the way back to Thurso with this driver.  He’d been driving this route for ten years and NEVER had anyone been waiting at that stop for pickup!  He thought, at first, that we were just being friendly with waving!  Our driver had moved to this area to drive a bus and build a farm ten years ago.  He was only going to drive for four months; he was a former lecturer of mechanical engineering at a University, then he tried teaching high school and it was too stressful.  Currently, he is planting 24,000 trees on his 100 acres and all the cattle and sheep are sold.  Once his trees are fenced, he plans to raise deer.

Being escorted by Cheviot and Cheviot cross ewes down the track from Dunnet Head.
Being escorted by Cheviot and Cheviot cross ewes down the track from Dunnet Head.
Resident shepherd, packing a ewe with a uterine prolapse.
Resident shepherd, packing a ewe with a uterine prolapse.

After drop off in Thurso, we stopped for local ice cream, then walked back to our hotel.  Dallas and I went to find the train station in preparation for tomorrow’s departure, then we walked to the Co-op and bought enough food for supper.

Next morning, we enjoy another lovely breakfast at the hotel – well Dallas didn’t, he had a headache and not feeling well.  He drank a lot of water, then went to rest a bit whilst Nathan and i finished brecky.  He was already feeling better when we returned – probably dehydrated.   Went to catch our train at the appointed time, albeit without boarding passes because the station doesn’t open for two hours after our departure and there are no self-ticketing kiosks.  About 20 of us waiting and the train never shows.  A girl called the Scotrail customer service and come to find out, the train driver just didn’t show up for work!  Scotrail sent a bus to pick us all up. RIding a bus on a train route is quite scenic and tests the skills of the driver to be sure.  We arrived about 30 minutes late to the train depot in Inverness.  Picked up our car, a Toyoto Aygo from Focus Rental and I promptly tried to kill ourselves by going up a highway exit ramp.  Okay, got out of that, move on, don’t screw up again!  Staying at Open Views guest house.