By Cassi Dutcher • Farm Skills 101 Student
We did so much fencing in Farm Skills 101 Week Two that for two nights I dreamed of nothing but fencing and high-tensile wire.
When creating systems for forage based livestock, appropriate fencing is critical. For the vast majority of the history of agriculture, ruminants were not confined by any fences while grazing, but rather grazed on common lands. One distinct advantage of this is that it allowed for the farmer to determine with great subtlety when to move the heard for optimal pasture and herd health.
Modern agriculture has struggled to find a way to graze ruminants on individual plots of land that allows for the same degree of control. Week two at Farm Skills 101 we learned how to put up a strong, electrified semi-permanent perimeter fence. Within the perimeter fence, moveable fencing can be placed to section off smaller bits of pasture as needed for the herd.
The most skill- and labor-intensive part of the fence was not in placing the majority of the fence posts (as I expected), or even the wire, but rather in the corner bracing systems, called H-braces. There the convergence of wires bordered on art form, and it was wonderful to have opportunity after opportunity to learn the techniques of working with the wire and the wood to ensure a stable structure.
By Cassi Dutcher • Farm Skills 101 Student
The first weekend of this fall’s semester of Deep Roots Farm Skills 101 was stacked with practical skills. We spent time building fences out of the most efficient materials for rotational and multi-species grazing as well as removed outdated fencing.
Our carpentry skills portion of the weekend was designed to be useful for those of us who have virtually no skills, and was still appropriate for students well-versed in woodworking. As a bonus we were able to build and take a home a sawhorse.
We extensively discussed and observed classes of animals, and learned how to choose animals to achieve our farming goals. The considerable time we spent handling the animals allowed us to become familiar with animal husbandry techniques such as hoof-trimming and temperature-taking, among others.
In addition to the list of tangible skillsets necessary for farming, we enjoyed outright encouragement to farm, which is an experience always relished by a beginning farmer. The socializing that takes place during all of the learning makes for a dynamic and fun environment that makes me very excited to return in a week!
SFA has formed a new networking group, the Upper Midwest Garlic Growers Group, to link garlic growers for networking, education, and fellowship. The nascent group will be led initially by Jerry Ford and Chris Kudrna, but anyone interested in a leadership position should email gro.n1448773775m-afs1448773775@yrre1448773775j1448773775.
The first action of the group is to publish on the group’s webpage which members still have garlic to sell. Farmers get lots of emails and calls leading up to planting time, and this could be a place to send folks who are looking to buy. If you still have garlic available, send an email to: Jerry Ford, gro.n1448773775m-afs1448773775@yrre1448773775j1448773775, stating that you still have garlic available, your contact information, and your website if you have one.
Like all SFA networking groups, the Garlic Growers will have the opportunity to present a session at the SFA Annual Conference on Feb. 13, 2016, in St. Joseph, Minn. If you have suggestions for topics or would be interested in participating, email Jerry at gro.n1448773775m-afs1448773775@yrre1448773775j1448773775.
For more information, visit the Upper Midwest Garlic Growers homepage.
SFA is happy to announce the recent addition of our first Multimedia Intern, Molly Flerlage.
Born and raised in northern Michigan, Molly is now a student at Macalester College in St. Paul, where she is studying Environmental Studies with a concentration in Communications and Media and Cultural Studies. Molly said working for SFA blended her passions for the outdoors, environmental advocacy, and visual communications.
For SFA, Molly has been working since June to manage and produce content for our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and this fall will continue with those duties as we enter year-end fundraising efforts. She will also be working with Communications & Membership Coordinator Jason Walker to produce multimedia content and promotional materials in advance of our Annual Conference and Midwest Soil Health Summit.