Granted, my original stint was only for a summer, but that definitely counts.
During my senior year of high school, I visited with Gary Truitt, a long-time farm broadcaster who had just started a new company called Hoosier Ag Today. I had been interested in radio for a little while and used the news source while studying for FFA competitions. I asked Gary if I could job shadow him, and he said he’d need to make sure I could visit when he went out and about to interview people.
Yesterday afternoon, we discovered that our beloved ring sheep, Szarlota, was dead.
It was devastating. She was the first Shetland I bought, and she had won her class at a show in Colorado. Her genetics and conformation were good, and I planned to build a flock from her quality and beautiful personality.
Our farm is woven into a few hundred acres of woods. Fences wind across the creeks and up the sides of the hollers, and the livestock graze among the trees. I often walk along the fences in the woods to look for spots that need repairs. Sometimes, Jeff would join me while we were getting to know each other.
“This is a really nice patch of woods, Elise,” he would say. He’d tell stories from one of his college courses in which he learned how to gather sap from maple trees in the spring. “I’d really like to do that again.”
A couple of weeks ago, he scouted out four trees along the road, drilled holes in their sides, and secured spiles in the holes. He then pushed a short piece of plastic pipe over the spout of the spile. The end of the pipe dropped through the narrow opening of a milk jug, which he secured to the spile with twine.
Every time I attend an agricultural or writer’s meeting, I leave re-energized. I am surrounded by positive people who are interested in similar topics and who share ideas that I can implement in my own work.
It’s important to be part of these associations, whether it’s a group that meets to play tennis once a month or amateur geologists who meet at state parks to discuss the features along a creek.
Working as a farmer and writer, I am involved in two occupations that are currently known for the isolation that is seemingly written into the job description.
But it wasn’t always this way. Large crews used to gather hay by hand, and writers would congregate in the same cities or universities and bounce ideas off of each other. Continue reading “Associations”
Once the frame had been put together, we began to build from the ground up using mainly 1x3s.
I had laid out my specifications for the project in the beginning: a portable pen and coop with a ramp, hanging feeder, and suspended water bucket that would move with the structure. Toby’s Human (TH) researched how to make it all happen, finding chicken tractor designs via backyard chicken websites and university poultry research units. He melded elements from several blueprints.
The trick was customizing this chicken tractor to fit my flock. I had an idea regarding how many animals to put in the chicken tractor and texted it to TH.
Later that day, he showed me his notes and drew out a blueprint of how large and unwieldy a tractor with all of my specifications would need to be to accommodate 50 chickens comfortably. After discussion, I agreed to stick with 30 chickens (that didn’t happen, as my sister-in-law gave me 23 more chickens three months later [I keep them in my smaller chicken house]), and the official designs began. Continue reading “Building the Chicken Tractor”