Women are at the cutting edge of American farming

Doing more with less, and doing it well!

 30% of all farm operators in the United States are women now, almost three times the number 30 years ago. Women are the fastest growing sector in farming, and are at the forefront of cutting-edge farming trends and technologies.

Studies have shown that female farmers:

Are more likely to be farming on a small amount of acreage - 82% of farms run by women are less than 180 acres.
Grow more diverse crops than their male counterparts.
Generally grow food crops more often than cash crops.
The next largest category is beef cattle ranching.
Heavily favor sustainable farming practices.

Women control 7 percent of U.S. farmland, and account for 3 percent of sales, but those numbers are rising fast. 

Because women tend to have less access to capital and resources, and fewer sales, they are more likely to go into organic farming in order to eke the maximum amount of value from the smallest amount of acreage. Women also tend to be early adopters of innovative strategies new technology, in order to farm more efficiently.

Women across the country are going back to the land, and doing more with less. Hats off to America's female farmers!

Proper food and nutrition for alpaca

Be choosy with alpaca food

Picking out your alpaca food should not be that difficult, if you do not care about your animals. However, people who care about their animals want to make sure they are getting the top quality food and fiber from the animals. Here are some reasons why you need to be selective when finding the perfect feed for your alpaca.

The first reason you should be selective in your alpaca food is it will determine how good your animals look. By knowing about the food quality being good and the animals enjoying it, you will find their health is going to improve as well. You will not have to be worried about the food not providing them with proper nutrition. 

The second reason to look at the food selection for your alpaca carefully is this can start to affect the quality of the fleece you have. Often when animals are deficient in a nutrient, they will try to pull it in from other sources. Some of those sources may include the fleece which you are trying to harvest the next spring and then you will not have as high of a quality of fiber to sell or make into yarn.

Enjoying your alpaca is a great thing to do. However, you need to make sure you look at the feed you are giving them to ensure they are getting the top quality of nutrition you want your animals to have. Not only for their health, but also for the health of the fiber they will provide you.

Caring for farm animals during winter

Consider cold weather and its repercussions.

Raising livestock is a great way to make money. However, when the winter months arrive, you should consider a few elements to make sure your animals are properly cared for. Here are two of the main considerations you should make when raising your farm animals during winter.

The first thing you should consider is the colder weather. This weather will often result in the need to provide some type of supplemental heat for your livestock. For example, a heat lamp is a great addition for your chicken coop or the larger animals may want to have some of the hay or other items built up around them.
Another thing you should consider is how the animals will be getting water. Normally the water would be in their trough, but with the colder weather, the chance of the water freezing is highly likely. So you need to consider what you can do to ensure the water will not freeze and how you can rectify the situation when this does happen. One way to avoid this is to get a water heater for your animals. 
Having farm animals is a great thing and a wonderful way to raise your own food or fleece. However, with the winter months arriving, you may need to know more about how to protect your animals from the cold weather to ensure they are going to be properly cared for. Without any preparation, you may not have the best animals around because they are not being cared for properly. 

Consider miniature farm animals

Less space, food and maintenance

Picking out small animals for your farm can be a great thing to do. The problem you may have is not knowing about how great miniature animals can be for your farm. Once you learn about these animals though, it is easy for you to find the proper animal and know it will work for your needs around your farm.

The first benefit of miniature animals is that they do not require as much space. With them not taking up as much space, you do not have to be concerned about not having enough grazing space for your animals or even be worried about how you can expand your herd. 
Another thing you can enjoy is that the feed cost will not be as high. With the food cost not being so high, you can easily afford to support more of the animals and know they are going to be properly fed. 
Miniature animals are also much easier to maintain. This point can be called into question at times, but you should make sure when you compare these animals, you will want to look at the weight and can see the animals are smaller which means you can start to control them better. 
Having the best experience around with your farm can be a great thing. However, you may want to make sure you know about miniature animals and why you should use these on your farm instead of the larger animals. 

Choosing a rooster

Three things to consider when selecting a rooster

Protecting your small flock of hens can be more challenging that you would anticipate. You have predators, disease and even a lack of food if they are free-ranging. This is when you may want to have some advice on qualities to look for in a good rooster to help your hens out in all of these aspects.

The first thing you need to look for in your rooster is how protective they will be for your hens. Typically when you are ordering your rooster from the hatchery, they will let you know how the rooster will interact with the other chickens. Hence, you will know if they will protect your hens or if they will be scared of them.

Another element to consider when you select your rooster is how they react with children. If you are like my little farm, you will most likely have visitors coming to the farm from time to time. When visitors come, it is usually to see the animals and you do not want to have your rooster chasing after the kids while they are running around and looking at your animals.

Something else you should look into is the weight of your rooster. Normally you want your rooster to be larger then the hens to protect them and not be bullied. However, you also want them to be larger so they will be able to fight off the predators who may be coming after your hens.

It is understandable that owners can get frustrated from having their birds snatched in the middle of the night. However, you need to know what qualities to look for in a great rooster. By looking for these qualities, you can easily locate the right rooster to protect your flock and even know they will not cause you a headache while they are doing the task they're meant to do.

Winter farmers' market

Select the right farmers' market to make a profit during winter

Selling at farmers' markets is always exciting in the summer months. However, you need to make sure you know about the winter farmers' markets and how you should be selecting these markets to attend. 

The first thing you need to look at in the winter farmers markets to sell your produce at is how long they have been around. By looking at how long they have been around, it is easy for you to know if they are established and draw a lot of customers or not. Without this, you may have trouble making a profit because of the lack of customer base. 

Another thing you need to consider in these winter farmers' markets is the amount of money it costs to join. Commonly you would expect to have a lower price, but you need to make sure you know about this cost to guarantee the price is within your budget and price range you can afford. 
Something else you should be looking for is the amount of produce you can have. Normally you would not have as much produce as you would in the middle of summer, but you need to realize with the winter farmers' markets, you still need to have some produce to sell at the market to make your money. 
Sustaining your income in the winter as a farmer can be harder than you would think. This is when you should know some information about the different ways to find the perfect winter farmers' market. Once you know about this information, it is easy for you to select the best market to sell your winter produce at. 

Are alpacas profitable farm animals?

Alpacas require little food and provide valuable fleece.

Alpaca may not seem like your typical farm animal, and in most cases they are far from typical. However, alpaca are some of the most profitable animals you can own on a farm. Here are some of the reasons why these animals are so profitable when compared to the other farm animals you might have. 

The first reason that alpaca are such a profitable animal to keep is the amount of food they eat is rather low. Normally when you are feeding cattle or hogs, they will eat a lot of food. With alpaca, if they have the proper grazing space, they only require hay down for them and a quarter cup of grain per day. So you do not have a lot of food overhead costs to care for your animals. 

Shelter for your alpaca is nothing that has to be outstanding. Now you do have to provide some protection from the weather and a barn is a great option, but some people use a lean to or other forms of protection. So you do not have to get a ton of barn space for your animals to be comfortable in. 
Another aspect you need to consider with the alpaca is the fleece you get from them is considered an exotic fiber. This fiber, with the softness and warmth present, allows you to have sell the fiber when spun into yarn or roving for close to ten dollars an ounce if not more, depending on the quality. So you can see this amount of money easily covers your cost for the year and leaves you with a nice profit. 
Buying farm animals can be a complex thing to do, but if you want to have a profitable animal, then you need to consider alpaca. Once you know how profitable these animals are because of the small amount of food they eat and the value of the fleece, you will not want to look any further for an animal. 

Selecting the best poultry fencing

Protect and contain your chickens

Finding poultry fencing to protect your chickens from predators can be hard to do. However, if you have the proper advice you can easily locate the best poultry fencing and know your chickens will be protected all the time. The problem is everyone has their own opinion on what to look for in the fencing they use, which can make it difficult to find the most appropriate fencing for your chickens.

The first thing I look for when I am selecting my poultry fencing is the different distances in the netting or fence. By knowing about this, I am able to know if my birds will get their head stuck inside of the fencing or not. Without this, I can easily make a mistake and select a fence that has holes so large my birds can get their heads stuck and this can easily lead to the bird dying. 

Another thing I evaluate is the types of predators in my area. Now you may have never thought about predators when you are looking at your poultry fencing, but this is important. If you do not have a ton of predators, you may get away with some type of plastic fencing. However, if you have some aggressive predators in your area you may want to have the metal poultry fencing. 
Raising chickens can be a great way to have eggs for free or meat for a low cost. However, you may want to make sure you know what to look for in poultry fencing. By knowing about what to look for in poultry fencing, you can easily locate the best fencing around and know it will suit your needs for protecting your chickens, but also keeping your chickens contained inside of the yard. 

No rainwater collecting in Oregon

Unless you want to be arrested.

During the summer months, I completely understand bans on rainwater remaining stagnant in our area. We live by the river, so mosquitoes can get really bad; stagnant water only encourages their breeding, so it makes sense that the city wants to discourage people from leaving water around.

That said, if you want to collect water in your own containers to be used over again, there’s nothing wrong with that—and the city doesn’t penalize you. The entire state of Oregon, however, is not like my town. They are penalizing a man with a month in jail for collecting rainwater on his own land.

Gary Harrington had applied for permits for his three reservoirs (which are silly in the first place—permits to reuse water?) and was granted them—until they were revoked. His town then charged him $1,500 and sentenced him to 30 days in jail just for collecting water. Seriously, folks? Is crime that low in Oregon, where law enforcement are cracking down on freaking water collection?

I get keeping water public—the privatization of water is a dangerous thing for our entire nation—but this was simple rain collection on private property, and absolutely ludicrous. Anytime people reuse and recycle resources, it should be celebrated—not penalized.

Another Great Use for Cattle Panels

Cattle panels really are one the most versatile fencing options for farms.  It seems there is no end to the things you can do with some cattle panels and bolt cutters.  In addition to making fences, hoop houses and arches, cattle panels also make fantastic cages for larger animals.

If you need to transport goats, sheep or other small animals in the back of your pickup, there are not many safe options available that will keep them confined without the risk of choking on a collar and leash setup.  With cattle panels, you can create a cage to fit in the bed of your pickup that will hold your animals comfortably, and most importantly, safely.

There are several ways to cut cattle panels, but we have found bolt cutters to be the easiest and most effective.  You may want a grinding wheel to grind down the sharp edges it leaves, but if you cut carefully, you can place those edges out of reach.

A cattle panel cage can be tied in to the back of your pickup, and the animals within allowed to roam inside the cage.  You can create a hinged door by cutting the horizontal rods long and folding them back over themselves, around a rod on an adjoining panel.  Simply tie the other side with a carabiner, and you have a sturdy, yet easy to open door.

Cattle panel cages can be used to transport animals to sales, to the breeder, and to the vet.  They are inexpensive, very sturdy, and about as easy to build as you can get.