A store added much to our farm sales efforts

Barn and farm store

By Cliff McConville and Anna Lipinska

Opening our on-farm store in May 2016 was one of the best things we have done to grow our farm business and stabilize our customer base.

After starting our grass-based farm in 2011, initially we were taking only online orders for grassfed beef and pasture-fed broilers, eggs and pork, with pickup appointments scheduled at our house in northwest suburban Chicago.

In spring 2012 we started offering raw milk through a herdshare program, with customers picking up their shares from the barn refrigerator on assigned days. Soon we began leaving eggs, yogurt, honey and meat orders in the barn fridge for herdshare customers on an honor system.

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Farming in the midst of humanity

All Grass Farms thrives in suburbia

By Joel McNair

Dundee, Illinois — Housing subdivisions. Strip malls. Stoplights. Traffic at volumes that can make leaving the driveway a harrowing adventure. Your farming nightmare is farm business nirvana for Cliff McConville and Anna Lipinska.

Asserts Cliff, “I would not put a farm anywhere besides an urban area. That’s where the people are.”

While most farmers probably don’t feel that way, Cliff does have a point in regard to the business that he and Anna are running. Where else but in the midst of a nine-million person metropolitan area could a grass farm ring up $1.7 million in annual direct sales out of a two-car garage with just $20,000 worth of upgrades?

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From apprenticeship to ownership

farmers with sign

Young farmers thrilled to be launching a business

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Leeds, Maine — A 350-acre former dairy farm will have cows again, thanks to Haden Gooch and Katie Gualtieri. Just owning the land is something they find hard to wrap their minds around.

“I never thought we could have our own farm,” Haden says.

The road to farm ownership and dairying has been a long one, with years of working on different farms and learning the many facets of raising livestock.

Neither of them grew up on a farm. Haden’s grandfather had a beef operation that he visited but never really worked on. Both Haden and Katie were interested in agriculture, though.

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Who will reap carbon market rewards?

By Joel McNair

Imagine if someone offered you $150 an acre just to keep doing what you’re already doing. No doubt some of you would turn away due to philosophical reasons, and at least initially quite a few of you would view the pitch as just another dose of snake oil.

But no doubt many of you would be intrigued.

Intriguing indeed is the concept of being paid for ecosystem services. And it’s happening. Specifically, private enterprise is offering payments to farmers who are either judged or proven to be reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Practical genetics: knock out the props

Allen Williams

By Allen Williams

Genetic selection is often complicated and confusing for many livestock producers. We try to decipher numerous trait measurements. We pour through and try to interpret breeding values and EPDs. We like to use weighted or adjusted values for various traits. In the past couple of decades we have added DNA marker technology to the mix.

We read breed promotion literature, look at the glossy pictures in breed association catalogs, and ask neighbors and friends what they are using. Some of us pay attention to sale barn owners and operators, feedlot managers, the packer or processor, the lender or whoever is selling us something.

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Why we built a baleage dryer

By Nathan Weaver
First in a series

The seed for a mechanical hay drier was planted in my mind by an article in the May 2010 issue of Graze. On a visit to northern France, Joel McNair had talked with Jean-Luc Gaugain about his system for drying loose hay.

Jean-Luc’s system captured solar energy from air heated inside the black, steel roof and walls of his barn. This heated air was forced through loose hay to finish the drying process of forages that had been harvested at 30-35% moisture.

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