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Colonel's Blog, Earthdate 7 Feb 2023...

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Happy Tuesday from Free Missouri! We woke up to a 54 degree misty morning with rain forecast for the next few days. We are forecast to get around 2 inches between now and Friday morning. We are already very muddy, I guess after 2 more inches, we will still be very muddy. The animals are good this morning, hogs are growing, sheep are still alive, cows are hungry, birds are noisy...pretty standard really. The top pic is Shelley and I this morning with the sheep in the background enjoying their fresh hay. We were able to work outside yesterday in the 62 degree sunny weather. We cleaned up three different areas of pasture. The bottom pic is one of the overgrown areas and the recently removed log on the tractor as I trimmed it from both ends with a chainsaw. We took the cut pieces of wood, mostly rotting, and put them into a couple of gullies running through the pastures. Our intention is to slow the water down and keep it from continuing to cut deeper and deeper into the ground. Shortly after that picture, I was able to bush hog that area and it now looks great and grass can grow. As we were working the third area, an area with a lot of saplings, we were pulling some up with a chain and just bush hogging the smaller ones. I got a little too overzealous with the bush hog and ended up running over a half-cut sapling that was in just the right spot pointing just the right direction to sever the cable that connects the forward/neutral/reverse lever on the steering column to the transmission. My standard fighter-pilot debrief quote fits perfectly here..."Try harder, suck less!" Shelley and I were able to diagnose the issue, disconnect the broken end from the transmission and shift it by hand with the tractor running. We got it back to the barn and ordered the replacement. We were disappointed in the damage to the tractor but impressed that we were able to diagnose it, get it home, and get a part ordered within a couple of hours. Now tractorless for a couple of days, it took a bit longer to get a bale of hay hooked up to the bale unroller this morning to feed the cows and sheep. The part should be in by Friday, fingers crossed. We also made some cheese yesterday. Today we will make yogurt, cheese, and make a trip to town to mail a large shipping container of pork to Florida. I will also work on the website and YouTube channel. We want to add milk and eggs to our local shop on the website and add a bit more information to the YouTube.

I previously mentioned this is a "first-generation" farm. That is an important distinction because it connotes starting from scratch or building from the ground up. There are some definite advantages to this situation. We can take things in exactly the direction we want them to go without concern over changing something that someone else built. We decided from the beginning to follow Joel Salatin's recommendation and make as much of the infrastructure as possible mobile. There are a few exceptions for us...our house/garage/barn is absolutely stationary, the frost-free waterers are permanently set on concrete slabs with trenched waterlines, and the milking barn has four 4x4s sunk into the ground making it more or less permanent. The rest of the infrastructure is very mobile. The poultry houses are on wheels, built following Justin Rhodes' plans for "Chickshaws." The broiler 'pen' is called a chicken tractor built using Joel Salatin's designs and allows the meat birds to move daily through the pastures. The pastures are subdivided into paddocks for the cows and sheep using electric netting and poly-wire with movable posts. The cow pens are portable--sort-of--(at least mobile), made of welded steel post panels that hook together with large pins and the squeeze chute can move using the tractor to lift it. The hog training and loading areas are T-posts with hog panels. The 'calming pen' where we bring animals onto the farm and teach them about electric wire is made of T-posts and cattle panels. Shelley posted YouTube Shorts yesterday evening and this morning showing the chickens with their chick shaw and the hog loading pen. All of this portable infrastructure allows us to pivot animals to the area of the farm that needs their specific impact. The woods need the hog impact to remove the briars. The pastures need the ruminants and the chickens. This mobile mentality is a bit different from traditional farming but we believe it allows us to best regenerate our farm!

Check out Shelley's most recent YouTube Short "October Berkshire Loadout Prep" at:

and yesterday's Short "The Justin Rhodes "Chickshaw" and EGG makers!" at:

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Local Farm Report:

17 Chicken eggs

7 Duck eggs

5 1/4 Gallons of milk




Rich & Shelley

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