We’re going to give you some news from the farm, some listener feedback, and a phone interview recorded a few weeks ago with Tate Smith of Regenerative Stewardship up in Wyoming about an idea we have for testing out some grazing and homesteading strategies on Gray Area Farm to help others in what are called “brittle” environments… areas where due to climate, soil, whatever, you can seriously screw up the soil, the pasture quality or your yield if you’re not careful and deliberate about how you manage your animals or crops.
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News from the Farm this week:
Chicken Strike of 2018: Worst thing ever to have to go and BUY EGGS from the grocery store when you’ve got almost 60 freeloadin’ winter-strikin’ hens out in the pasture.
Added electric fence to Lolli: We took the time while Lolli is away to add electric fence lines to the inside of her hog panel fence to either 1) train her to electric fence so she and her eventual piglets can be more easily rotated around the pasture, or 2) at least get her to stop “working” the existing fence and breaking it open at the t-posts. I’d love to see #1 happen, but one can probably expect that #2 is all we can hope for.
Media project focus: Jason is trying to get more work done on the media projects he has taken on. The Steadcast, Regenerative Dads, and freelance writing / voice projects. Let’s get the Steadcast and Regen Dads up and running and make it worth Jason’s while to add things like a Regenerative / Organic / Sustainability version of RFD-TV on the interwebs by supporting the shows at patreon.com/grayareafarm!
Listener questions and comments
Initially uploaded 36-ish minutes of blank air as the last episode. Oops! And severe side-eye glare at the folks who responded to my request for feedback about how the episode sounded with “Sounds great! Best episode yet, Jason!” when it was just silence.
“Carnivores who won’t eat named / known animals are hypocrites,” says Tera Lynn. She has a decent point.
Tate Smith conversation
When you’re initially daydreaming about starting a homestead or small farm, most people binge all the kinds of media out there about homesteading, microfarming, whatever. Of course, you’re going to read all of Joel Salatin’s books. Of course, you’re going to binge podcasts like Steadcast, Chicken Thistle Farm Coopcast, farm Marketing Solutions, whatever. And of course, you’re going to watch all the youtube channels like Curtis Stone, JM Fortier, and Justin Rhodes.
This is all great content. The trick is that all these writers and YouTubers and podcasters are speaking from their…. Particular.. Context. Joel Salatin speaks from decades of experience in Virginia. Curtis Stone from British Columbia. Etcetera. Yeah, there’s a lot of content. And you could say that content is king. But it’s not. CONTEXT is king. What USDA hardiness zone are you in? What soil type do you have? How much rain do you get, and during what part of the year? What’s the altitude? What’s the legal context of your area? All these things are wildly important. Not just for when to plant, or what varieties to plant. But even the infrastructure. A Joel Salatin chicken tractor in a hot dry envrionment will bake your chickens better than any oven. A Justin Rhodes chickshaw in a very high wind environment like ours will have the roof rip off and fly a hundred feet away above 40 mph winds. If you live in a water scarce environment, following Curtis Stone exactly step by step will get you an enormous water bill. Context. Context is king.
An awful lot of inexpensive land can be found in areas a lot like ours: the high, dry, arid plains of Colorado, wyoming, utah, new mexico, Montana, Idaho, and the Dakotas. What works in Virginia, Ohio, British Columbia, the Carolinas… will not necessarily work here. Sure some of it will. And sure most of north america’s population lives in areas like the places this content comes from. But the cheap land isn’t. The cheap land is here.
So take a listen, Tate and I are talking about how to experiment with taking ideas from elsewhere, apply it to the high plains states, and come up with a new way to do multi-species rotational grazing and soil building in a way that someone can be more food self sufficient and maybe make a bit of an income in a crazier environment like this.
More from the conversation with Tate in an upcoming episode!