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.

Monday, August 1, 2011


So sorry not to write much again...

The winter wheat is coming out as we speak and from all indicators, things are going very well. The crop is a clean one and is easy for my brother in law and his partner to work on. The logistical portion to this is also been very seamless so far. Only one phone call was yielded yesterday.

My miller and I will be in the process of curing the wheat before it goes to the milling process. We have some very interested customers and its just a matter of contracting with them. While a nervous process, one which is very exciting and could prove to be beneficial to everyone.

I'm leaving for the field now in order to pick up my son to start baling the straw for feed and/or bedding.

The cattle will have to battle one more day. Aside a little bit of pink eye, the cattle have been relatively normal in the mass the stockers are gaining as well as the milk being provided to this year's calves.

All in all, a great way to start off the last month of the "traditional" summer here in Wisconsin.

Monday, July 11, 2011



Some dread it. Some detest it for cancelling events and some lose faith when flooding takes place. While I can sympathize, rain has always been a nurturing part of the equation that makes us do what we do.

The rain feeds the soil with the necessary moisture to break down the animal pods and urine to feed the microbes in the soil. Earthworms are better able to navigate through the soils creating new castings and routes which along with the pods create the necessary compost to build soil diversity. This in turn helps the grass regrow and completes the growth cycle.

The rain also provides a natural "shower" for our cattle which minimizes fly populations.

The rain today and every day is welcome and appreciated here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Crop Rotation

It won't be long and the winter wheat will be coming out. The plan after the wheat has been harvested is to no-till sorghum sudangrass. This is an inexpensive alternative to silage corn and when successfully harvested, is a tremendous source of caloric intake for the cattle. I've learned that what makes tremendous grass-fed beef are the calories, not protein. While protein is desirable, its comparable to eating dessert every day. While its good, the nutritional value is just not there. Sorghum sudangrass is my feed of choice, although I continue to explore my options.

What I've been kicking around is what to plant in that particular field for the next year? My thought is to go with winter rye and then rotate back to sorghum sudangrass. While this may be July, a farmer's thoughts have already committed to September, March and beyond.

Not much time to think about it today. I need to finish 2nd crop, prepare for a longer day at the Farmer's market tomorrow and then prepare for a week of fencing amidst meetings, work, family and life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


There's something about the siblings you grew up with. You spent nearly every waking moment with them for 18 years and then you part your separate ways.

In the case of my family, we really went in different directions. Except for yours truly, my siblings went to Europe and each American coast before settling down for the time being.

I was reminded of what made us so close by watching our kids grasp each other when they saw each other for the first time and then cry and hug when they parted ways.

It was so good to hear the laughter, the smores made around the campfire, the stories exchanged and the memories made.

It concluded a great 4th of July holiday and while normalcy is okay, I certainly do miss my family.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Just when I needed more meat for the 4th of July weekend, the processor has a two week lag period.


I have to remember that I must be patient, but it can certainly be difficult. I am comforted in that once I sell a majority of my summer sausages, that I will have a full freezer for which to fill. Its a learning process that I am getting used to and with a few new developments, I could be able to have more capacity.

Family will be home soon and with their arrival, summer weather. The winter wheat too is coming on very quickly. So many things going on and little time to get it all done. Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


The impact of the rain recently has forced me to move the cattle much faster than I had planned. Life is a series of planning and re-planning. While I have a vision of how long my growing season will be and how long the cattle will be on each paddock and in each pasture, Mother Nature ultimately dictates exactly when and how often I'll move the cattle.

Aside from some flash rains, I've done a decent job of rotating the cattle before the paddock experienced too much podding. Podding is my connotation of the action the cattle do to the soil with their hooves.

Well back to the national conference I'm at. The author from Harvard, you know, the one in Massachusetts, has been telling a story of why students are succeeding. He's preaching to the choir here, but I hope others, particularly employers will take interest and help.

I know

I know, promises made, but not kept.

Well, I am here, recommitted to talk about not only the farm, but a myriad of topics that are on mind.

It could be what I've read, what I've seen or heard. The point is that I want to let you get a sense of what my thought process is in order that you have a deeper appreciation of sustainable agriculture.

I will be back in a few moments. I promise

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Back into a routine

Routines can be so difficult to begin. Jack Lalanne reminded me of that. He remained a remarkable example of consistency. Nothing flashy, nothing press worthy, just working to maintain physical integrity right up until the moment of his death. At 96 no less.

That must be my approach here. To reflect, criticize, comment and report on everything relative to the farm, our cattle and philosophy. I must admit that it didn't take much to start here this morning and I suspect it wouldn't take much most of the 330+ days left in this year and in years to come.

So here's to Jack, breaking new ground, but essentially doing what we all can and should do. To all of my readers to be, this is where I begin anew. Here's to farming that holistic, scalable and downright healthy for all involved.