Rabbits in Colonies

March 31, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Cait Carpenter Raising rabbits in colonies is not a new concept, although it may seem new to the modern rabbit breeder. Monks began keeping rabbits in warrens as far back as the early medieval times, and the idea of caging didn’t take hold until the 1800’s. Propagating rabbits in a group setting isn’t for everyone – it is wrong in every way for exhibition rabbitries, and can make fiber production a complete bear – but for those seeking a more comfortable approach to meat production, colony raising is not a bad way to go. What exactly is a colony, anyways? A colony is simply a group of bonded animals that live together. A colony could be out on pasture or completely indoors in a barn. The term “colony” means nothing about their management or housing other than the fact that they have a different social structure than conventional rabbit raising. There are several factors to consider when deciding if you should start a colony. Keep in mind that any aspirations towards [...]

Bits and Tongues

March 28, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Jamie Cleary PH.D Bits and tongues, tiny yet potent. Both are devices used in an attempt to control another. Ironically, controlling these unruly little tools themselves is such an arduous task, we often find our use of either utterly inadequate to accomplish anything good. It is natural to want to be in control, yet it is one of the most problematic aspects encountered in horsemanship as well as human relationships. How can we gain control over these remarkable tools to get better results with horses and humans? Both struggles share a common foundation and therefore a single remedy. Now there is some good news to chew on. There are three elements to consider when seeking to become a mastermind in control: technique, motivation, and end results. Let’s get the conversation started. Technique It is not an oversimplification to say both a bit and a tongue can be used in one of two basic fashions, as a refinement tool or crude instrument. Use of a bit as a crude instrument involves [...]

Turn Your Job Into a Business

September 16, 2014 // 0 Comments

By Chris Downs The dream of owning your own business brings to mind time and financial freedom. Built properly, your business fulfills that dream. But your business could also become a nightmare of being “owned” by a self-purchased job. I know the nightmare. I have created a Just Over Broke (JOB) when I purchased an existing business. The results were not healthy for me or pretty for my finances. Working too many hours, getting into debt and living a stress-filled life. I will be sharing some of the major mistakes that I and others have made and how to avoid them. Now that I have learned over time what is important. Building a business can be stressful. With planning and knowing that what you are about to build is your passion. You dream about farming, gardening and creating the life you want. You wake up in the middle of the night with Great Solutions for the business you want to build. Reading, researching and talking to everyone who will listen about your business goals. [...]

A Guide to Livestock Feed and Forage

September 1, 2014 // 0 Comments

Find out how to choose the best livestock feed and forage for the winter months. By Callene Rapp Straw is rarely used for feed except when grass hay is in short supply, but a stockpile of it will keep your animals comfortable and warm in winter. Photo by AGPix/Terry Donnelly Livestock feed and forage In a perfect world, with the ideal climate and rainfall, the ideal growing season, and the ideal stocking density, we might never have to feed harvested grain or hay to our livestock. They could graze and forage as nature intended, and we could worry about other things. Most of us do not live in a perfect world. Many of us will need to plan to feed our livestock hay, processed grains, or some other type of harvested feed in the winter months. Additionally, some stockmen choose to supplement grass with grain to achieve a specific marbling, for instance, or give their meats certain other characteristics. But at the surface level, how do you know you are feeding the right forage to your [...]

Farm Fest A Commitment to Preserving our Agricultural Legacy

August 30, 2014 // 0 Comments

By Kathy Shea Mormino   The following photo ©Wendy Piermat Mitzel I live in Suffield,  Connecticut, a small, rural community with a rich, farming history dating back to the 1600s. Each year, the town  gathers to celebrate our past and commit to preserving the town’s agricultural legacy at “Farm Fest.”  This past Labor Day weekend, we participated in the 10th Annual Farm Fest at Hilltop Farm, the focus of which is clearly on entertaining and educating the children about the importance of respecting and caring for our farmland and community. Our children enjoyed activities from harvesting potatoes to shucking corn, milking cows to riding ponies, riding in a tractor parade and observing bees making honey. Next year, I think I’ll bring real chickens and eggs to give the town’s kids the full experience. The tractor parade is always a highlight for us. My friend, Lauren Hastings Kaplan, preparing for a milking demonstration. Digging for potatoes. Being a backyard [...]

Hurricane Preparedness for Backyard Chickens

August 27, 2014 // 0 Comments

The Chicken Chick By Kathy Shea Mormino   We’re not accustomed to hurricanes here in the Northeast part of the United States and neither are our backyard chickens. With the forecast calling for Hurricane Irene to pay us a visit, I took a crash-course in hurricane preparedness while we waited and thought I would share what I learned. Take care and stay safe. WHAT IS A HURRICANE AND WHAT ARE THE HAZARDS? A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, which is a generic term for a low pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. The cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms and, in the Northern Hemisphere, a counter-clockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface. The main hazards associated with hurricanes are storm surge, high winds, heavy rain, and flooding, as well as tornadoes. A storm surge is a large dome of water, 50 to 100 miles wide, that sweeps across the coastline near where a hurricane makes landfall. It can be more than 15 feet deep at its peak. The [...]

Field Guide to Farmers and Ranchers

August 26, 2014 // 0 Comments

Listen to their lingo and look in their trucks to be sure. Jerry Schleicher WorldWideImages You live in a rural area, surrounded by farmers or ranchers who earn their living from the land. You see them drive into town in their pickup trucks, or having lunch at the local coffee shop. But how can you tell ’em apart? Let’s start with definitions. Not everyone who raises crops is a farmer, and not everyone who raises livestock is a rancher. If you raise row crops, vegetables, dairy cows, pigs, chickens, catfish or Christmas trees, you’re a farmer. But if you produce tree fruit, you’re an orchardist, and if you grow ornamental plants, you’re a nurseryman. If you raise wine grapes, you’re a grape grower or a viticulturist, but if you also produce wine, you might call yourself a winemaker, a vintner or an oenologist. You’re a rancher if you mostly raise cattle, bison, elk or sheep. You may be a rancher if you raise horses, but if your horses sell for more than the cost of a new [...]

Sheep Herding Tips

August 20, 2014 // 0 Comments

Tough Grit Hints From Hank Will Sheep Herding Tips By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief In the early part of the last century, the job of shepherd was one of minimal status, but immense freedom. These often solitary souls would take a large flock from the winter ranch headquarters to the summer pastures — often at higher elevation — to spend the summer together. The shepherd’s job was to keep the sheep grouped, safe and to lead them to greener pastures as necessary. In many respects, the shepherd was the flock leader.     Sheep Herding Tips Today we’ve concentrated on handling sheep by playing the role of predator and taking advantage of the flock’s flight zone to get the animals to go. But there is another, more shepherd-like way. It involves bottle feeding a small portion of each year’s replacement lambs and/or rewarding them with pellets when they approach. Even if your bottle fed or treat trained animals that are low in the pecking-order, when you step into the [...]

Heritage Breed Livestock: Multipurpose Menagerie

August 18, 2014 // 0 Comments

Heritage Breed Livestock: Multipurpose Menagerie Heritage breeds serve in more than one capacity on the farm. Jennifer Kendall Gulf Coast Sheep are uniquely adapted to hot weather. courtesy American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Move over Barnum and Bailey, there’s a new collection of unusual animals in town – and this collection of rare, domesticated livestock breeds can reside in your own backyard. Many heritage breeds are in danger of extinction, and in order to keep them around for the next generation, they need their jobs back. Integrating multipurpose animals into your farm can yield productive results, both for the farm and for the animals. The following breeds historically served many roles on the family farm. Do you have room for part of this multipurpose menagerie? Gulf Coast Sheep Status: Critical For centuries, Gulf Coast Sheep were the only sheep found in the Deep South, providing meat and wool for home production. They are descendants of Spanish flocks brought to the [...]