Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Power of ISO Standards

This week in a rather ordinary facebook post, Animal Welfare Approved announced that it was accepted by the International Organization for Standards (ISO) as being in compliance of Standard 17065: Conformity assessment -- Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services.

This is huge. 

Here's why.

Transparency - If anyone has ever doubted AWA's certification process, such speculation should be calmed. ISO standards are golden in industry and while many standards are corporate in intent, Standard 17065 allows me an entire new conversation to new customers. Rather than explain the certification, my dropping (and potentially providing) the Standard to my customers could provide that proof that what I do for my animals, land and customers meets and/or exceeds the highest protocol. 

Global - ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade. While I do not envision global markets, Chicago and the Twin Cities are definitely in sight now. Couple this with USDA certified processing and the sky's the limit. 

Name Recognition - ASC, Consumer Reports, Motor Trend...these names invoke quality and ISO does as well. While my audit pitch has done well, the simply mention of ISO will provide a new level of accountability and a stickiness that I hope will stay with incumbent and new customers going forward. 

While 17065 is great, the stakes are higher. Each day is an ISO day and while many know how I feel about industrial farming, I must adhere to a new mindset of stretching farther to ensure that I exceed the standards set before me by AWA.

That's the view from the Mountain...

Thursday, March 7, 2013


We seen it now for what is going on 5 months. Its been heavy and sometimes light in mass. Its come up to a foot in depth or just a trace. Its been blown around or stayed still for the majority of the winter.

While I'm young enough to still chomp on the bit waiting for Old Man Winter to pass, this year in particular, I'm happy for the snow. 

The snow provides moisture and I'm surprised at how many have too soon forgotten that just seven months ago, we were complaining about a lack of moisture. I was one of them.

That's why I've been budgeting my time purchasing the variety of forages that will feed the soil providing for us this year and on into the future. 

As I was feeding cows last night, my sons bragged how they needed to become 'sponsored' shovelers. I found that funny, but it did make me bask in the piles they created and how, with the assistance of Mother Nature that those piles will slowly melt and with work their way down into the subsoil, the area where its most needed. 

So while visions of late nights rotary tilling and seeding go through my mind, its also with dreams of snow and rain.

That's the way I see it from the Mountain!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Last Friday I stared life in the eyes. I saw the many friends and family that joined us for our annual Knights of Columbus Fish Fry. By the end of the evening, I saw one pair of those eyes close for the last time.

My good friend Dennis Rosenbaum passed at the end of the Fish Fry. I was one of the first to notice Denny and contacted emergency personnel and some medical personnel in the audience before I stood aside and prayed, helped where I could and prayed some more. 

While my heart goes out to his 'momma' Rose and his three wonderful children Brandon, Allison and Jacob, I believe God wanted Dennis here with us for his last moments. 

Dennis began the Council Fish Fry fifteen years ago in a makeshift tent with four tiny cookers and in weather in which all four people cooking got pneumonia. Over the years, Dennis helped us modernize and grow, sometimes with him present and in other years thinking about him and where he might be...Kenosha at work, with Rose or with the hundreds of family and friends he knew. In other words, Dennis was the Fish Fry.

Dennis taught us all about charity giving countless hours to seeing the Fish Fry and the not so successful Chilirama got off the ground. In even the most stressful of moments, Dennis never flinched. He would often look at you with his beady eyes, give you a reassuring wink telling you that 'its all under control brother.'

He taught us fraternity. When he was here it was easy to see that he was admired by every member who knew him. As a charter member of our Council Dennis, like many of us, has seen the growth of our council family and like most, was excited what the future would hold. 

God made only one Dennis and it was his genuineness that appealed to everybody he ever came across.

I am proposing that we change the name of our Fish Fry to the Dennis Rosenbaum Memorial Fish Fry in honor of the man who got this day all started. While he was one man, it was easy to see from his aura, that one man can do great things. 

Dennis, I know that you're in a tree stand in the great forest watching over us. Please pray for us as today brother we pray for you. You will never be forgotten, but especially on the Fish Fry. May the Perpetual light shine upon you and you're soul rest in peace, Amen. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Drought Resistance

As I look at my seed purchases for 2013, I can hear a subliminal voice in the back of my head...drought.

Should I plant red clover or another legume for the 2014 soybeans?...drought, drought, drought, drought

Do I follow up with a green manure crop?...drought, drought, drought, drought

What will provide more calories or protein, canarygrass, sorghum sudangrass, grazing corn, drought, drought, drought, drought.

While I fear what might become, I'm certainly not mortified. Our permaculture approach for the past five years has built soil tilth which in turn means that our soils hold more water, nutrients and in essence when we start the season out behind in moisture, we will not be as far behind as neighbors. 

So do I think about the forecasts. Yes. With that said, I plan to purchase the variety of forages that will benefit our soils both this year and in the future. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wisconsin Rural Summit

Made the little drive up to Wausau this morning to learn more about Strategic Doing at the Wisconsin Rural Summit. Strategic Doing is a cousin to Appreciative Inquiry and takes conversations to determine what people are doing and how we can work together for real change. Anything that eliminates the lizard brain is well worth the day of attendance. There was a workbook that we completed on the priorities, partnerships and opportunities we saw coming here today to grow Rural Wisconsin. I really envision a fast day with some fruitful conversations in which to establish new partnerships and ideas to be of better service to CESA #3's schools.

While I wear my hat of CESA #3, I am fully invested in just how we use fewer resources, people and time to make real change take place. Its not a shock that there are fewer people in rural Wisconsin. The challenge is not to build up roadblocks but calculate ways to maximize what we have in order that we maintain and potentially grow our areas by maintaining quality of life while still providing big city amenities.

Its days like this when I do not have some expectations that are some of the best professional development for me. I will try to recap the day later on...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Overcoming my lizard brain

I know it has been months since I published anything. No excuses...I won't offer any and will not provide any here. As Seth Godin so kindly titled it, my 'lizard brain' got the best of me. No more. I want to comment throughout the winter on weather, the next growing year, basically on what I'm thinking with regards to the farm.

As I speak, I am awaiting a brief snow shower to pass through before I head out to check the animals, waterers and anything else before I head off for my next occupation.

As this migrates immediately to facebook, I would appreciate any feedback as you get to peep inside me to understand my thought process.

My cessation from the lizard brain begins now...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Winter wheat is complete

At approximately 7:30 cst last evening the 45 acres of soft red winter wheat were harvested. While it would have been time to celebrate, I still have 45 acres of straw to harvest and then 45 acres of sorghum sudangrass to drill. Never a dull moment.

If we can get some sun, we believe we can soon be harvesting the hard red spring wheat. We tested some more weedy coverage and found that it tested around 14%. Its close, but could use a couple more days. Our team sat at the truck last night and had a great deal of thought before we deferred to what might happen today.

In the meantime, I'll be heading back out to clip and rake the wheat straw while I also wait for what we should do on the combining situation.