Sat., Aug. 15, 9-9:30AM CT, Deep Roots Radio – the health & eco-benefits of bison

What: Deep Roots Radio chat with Mary Graese of North Star Bison about the environmental and human health benefits of bison.
When: Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, 9:00-9:30AM Central
Where: Broadcast and streamed live from the studios of WPCA Radio, 93.1FM, and www.wpcaradio.org
Why: Millions of bison roamed America, grazing as they moved. Their grass-only diet, combined with the weight and hoof action of the huge herds, helped create the deep and fertile top-soil that was, once upon a time, six feet deep across significant portions of our continent. Today, many ranchers are capitalizing on the best qualities of bison to restore grasslands while producing excellent meat products.
Join us tomorrow morning, as co-host Dave Corbett and I chat with Mary Graese about the Wisconsin-based bison ranch she runs with her husband Lee and family.
I hope you’ll tune in.
Sylvia
About-Us-Bison-History

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

How to find your local farmer – July 4, 9-9:30AM CT, Deep Roots Radio

What: Deep Roots Radio interview with Julien Roberge, co-founder of Agrilliance, a website that quickly helps consumers find their local, sustainable farmers.

When: Saturday, July 4th, 9:00-9:30AM Central Time

Where: WPCA Radio, 93.1FM and streamed live at www.wpcaradio.org

Why: The demand for high-quality, sustainably-grown foods continues to grow in the US and worldwide. Consumers are concerned about herbicides, pesticides, GMOs, sugar, salts, and processing chemicals in their foods. Food lovers are also increasingly interested in the systems behind their foods: the environmental impacts, use of energy, antibiotics used in industrial livestock operations, and fair wages on the farm.
Agrilliance also sees these local markets as strong and viable ways to meet the needs of a growing world population, the challenges of climate change, and the political pressures felt around the globe.
Agrilliance is a new effort, web-based, to make it easier for thoughtful farmers and consumers to find their local markets. The idea is to build local connections in every community – worldwide.
I hope you’ll tune in.
Sylvia

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how it's grown

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how it’s grown

Video

Video: moving cows to fresh pasture. Great beef starts with the soil and grass.

My husband Dave and I are committed to a handful of values: living in thanksgiving to God, nurturing our marriage and family, producing delicious and nutritious beef, using agricultural practices that regenerate soil and pastures, improving our financial sustainability, and contributing to a thriving local community.
These core principles matter to us, to our neighbors and to our customers.
Moving our cattle from paddock (small field) to paddock is one of the things we do to regenerate soil, reinvigorate our grasses, and promote the health and growth of our BueLingo beef cattle. This practice, called rotational grazing, accomplishes several things at the same time: it puts fresh, sweet grass under the noses of the cattle; their hoof action churns up the soil and exposes dormant seeds to sun and rain, thereby increasing the diversity of plants in the field; the herd deposits fertilizer as the move; and it avoid spending money and fuel to move feed to the cattle and to remove waste from a barn. At the same time, the cows move as a herd across open fields. This is important because cows are social creatures – they are most calm and healthiest when they are with their herd. Because they are on pasture, the herd is also in open sunshine and moving on springy grass and soil. This promotes strong bodies.
I hope you enjoy this very short video of moving the herd from one paddock to the next. Although it takes time and effort for me to set up the electric fences for the temporary paddocks, moving the herd is easy because they’re always eager for fresh grass.

Video

Siggy meets the chickens

An ongoing adventure story for children of all ages.

Today’s the day, thought Sylvia. Today, Siggy, her little Corgi puppy, would meet the chickens on Bull Brook Keep.

Chickens spend the night in their safe and snug coop.

Chickens spend the night in their safe and snug coop.

The chickens live in a chicken coop not far from the farm house. David, Sylvia’s husband, built the chicken coop so that the birds would stay safe from foxes and raccoon, weasels and snakes, and wandering dogs.
The chickens on the farm are now a year old. The hens weigh about eight pounds and the rooster weighs more than 12 pounds. He’s very big indeed. And to think, they started out as tiny little yellow chicks that could fit in your hand.

Taking a look before stepping out into the new day

Taking a look before stepping out into the new day

The rooster was not only big, he was very protective of the hens. He guarded them from anyone or any animal that might come near. He would do this by jumping up and trying to scratch with his back claws, or talons. He could also peck and hurt your hand. Despite this, the chickens were very useful on the farm. They provided eggs, and meat, and they ate insects that would bother people and cattle. They would eat ticks!
Next year, if he learned his lessons well, Siggy would be in charge of the chickens. Sylvia would give him a command – “Round them up, Siggy” – and Siggy would herd the chickens into their coop area. But right now, Siggy is a little puppy with a lot to learn.
So today, Siggy took a first step.

Siggy surveys the birds

Siggy surveys the birds


Sylvia stood close by as Siggy met the chickens for the first time. Sylvia stayed near because the rooster might want to peck at the little puppy.
When Siggy got near the chickens, he did not bark. That’s good because Sylvia and David don’t want their herding dog to scare the animals they have to work with.
It was a good first meeting.
Soon, Siggy will meet the biggest animals on the farm – the BueLingo beef cows.

For earlier Siggy stories, click here.

Saturday, March 28, 2015, 9:00-9:30AM Central – what does an farmer look like? How many acres add up to a real farm?

Tune in!
What: According to USDA stats: Who is farming, and how many acres equals a farm. Deep Roots Radio takes a look. Taking a look at the 2012 USDA’s Agricultural Census
When: Saturday, March 28, 2015, 9:00-9:30AM Central
Where: WPCA Radio, 93.1FM and stream live at www.wpcaradio.org

Deep Roots Radio, 91.3FM and www.wpcaradio.org

Deep Roots Radio, 91.3FM and www.wpcaradio.org

Multi-species grazing

Multi-species grazing

A dusting of snow

Like so many in Wisconsin and Minnesota, I woke to snow this morning and quickly bundled up for morning chores. I pulled up thermals and pulled on my purple balaclava, and braced myself for the cold. What a wonderful surprise it was to open the door to a gentle daybreak. It was calm and felt absolutely balmy.
There was barely a quarter inch of snow on the ground as I headed up the short hill to the tractor. The snow was already dripping down the windshield facing into the sun, and the diesel started right up. The dogs played tug-of-war with a stick as I speared bales and slowly moved them to a distant pasture, and i could hear the rooster crowing from within the coop. I’ve already fed and watered them, but I’ll wait until a few hens have laid eggs in the nest boxes before letting the small flock range the farm for the day.
Now to bake bread.

Chickens and apples. Not a recipe.

Our free-range chickens are built to forage for themselves

Our free-range chickens are built to forage for themselves

No, this isn’t a recipe for chickens stewed with sautéed apples. (Though that does sound like something I’ll try.) It’s a very short video demonstrating just how hardy free-range chickens can be. Because our chickens are breeds that forage for themselves, and are well suited to our cold winters, they happily leave their coop in the mornings and begin searching for any blade of grass or dried fruit that might be exposed in the snow. These happy hens get lots of natural sugars and fiber from apples I pull out of storage. These are wild apples grown without any type of chemical. (When just picked in the fall, I make cauldrons of applesauce and rich apple butter.)
Our small flock get sun and exercise every day (as well as fresh grain every morning). Dave and I enjoy their antics (I had no idea chickens could be so entertaining), and lots of nutrient-rich eggs.

Sylvia

A day in the life

6:00 AM – As always, MPR’s Cathy Wurzer’s bright voice from the bedside radio let’s me know the world has survived another night and Minnesota is involved in all kinds of activity. Although I now farm in Western Wisconsin, I pulled many of my Minnesota habits with me when I crossed the river. In an hour the radio will automatically switch to Wisconsin Public Radio – new alliances. 6:45 AM – Doing some laundry. In the heat of summer, and when you’re dealing with livestock, sweat, dirt and manure build up on everything. Dave and I often go through two … Continue reading

Update: Plowing with my keyboard

Grrr, and Happy Anniversary It’s part of farming – a part that cramps my neck and makes my eyes water from fatigue: computer work. I’ve been rebuilding this website – From the Bronx to the Barn – for several weeks now. Why so long? Because a website that includes podcasts, automated feeds to iTunes, videos to YouTube and photos to galleries isn’t the easiest thing to construct. At least not for this farmer. I’m migrating my website to a new service provider and I’m doing it with unfamiliar software. Yes, I’ve a few bald patches to show for the effort. … Continue reading

The reluctant lover

Spring 2014 Farm Update He called to say he’d be an hour late. A tiny inconvenience, but unavoidable. He’d had to drive to Eau Clare earlier in the day. Fortunately, the breeze was gentle. I didn’t mind standing in the bright sunshine. When he arrived, he pulled the long trailer up close to the milking parlor and disappeared inside the barn. Five minutes. Not a sound. Ten minutes. Birds sang over the alfalfa field. Fifteen minutes and nothing coming from the barn. What was going on? I paced, but made sure I stayed away from the barn windows. I didn’t … Continue reading