For the past few weeks we have been working hard to prepare our farm for growth. We started a 15 week master beef class, met with a few more farmers, had someone come out a check out the health of our pasture, and spent countless hours reading and researching. As new farmers this has all been a little overwhelming. There is always “something else to consider”, a phrase I have heard more in the past 6 months than I have in my entire life. No two farms are the same and trying to navigate through the differences can be difficult.
What has helped us the most is knowing that ultimately we have to do what is best for our farm and our animals even if that is a little different than our neighbors farm. I am a visual and tactile learner so what works best for me is visiting a farm, helping with farm chores and being there for vet visits. I encourage you to find a local farm and learn from them as they work with and care for their animals. Pay attention to the structures and setup of their land. Observe the tools and equipment needed for the farm. Most importantly, ask ALL the questions. A great question to ask is “What do you wish you would have known or done differently before you started?” Then look at your farm and decided how you can apply what you have learned. Invite one of those farmers to come out and give you some advice on your land. We have had several people visit our farm and give us ideas. Some of those we used and some we didn’t. We walk our property several times a week looking at different ways to set up rotating pasture, where to put the working chute, how to layout the barn, emergency preparedness plans, and so much more. Our local farmers have been tremendously helpful during this process and continue to give us something else to consider.
We want nothing more than to provide a safe and healthy environment for all our animals. Keeping this in mind helps us focus on the basic needs first and then work towards the rest. Food, water, safety, and shelter are vital to an animals well-being. Have a plan in place for that and you are off to a tremendous start. Start to build relationships with your neighbors and local farmers. You may not have farming neighbors but they can still be a great help.
I wanted to include a list of resources we have found to be very helpful:
1. Local Famers
Welcome to the Farm- hands down the book I go to most often! Saturated with great info and recipes!
The Encyclopedia of Country Living - large book that we feel every farmer should have!
Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals- in my humble opinion this is a great book that showcases the different animals and the care they need!
Keeping a Family Cow- I just purchased this book and I have heard such great things about it so I had to share it.
Farm Anatomy- I just love this book so much! It is so fun and cute, also great to have on hand for younger kids!
3. Local Ag/Farm Programs
Go to your states Department of Agriculture website, Tennessee has a great site with a ton of resources and information available!
Find local ag-based organizations and get connected to farmers in your area. Again, local farmers are your best resource!
5. YouTube Channels