Sharing our small farm stories and skills along our farming, gardening and homesteading journey. Visit the farm for an informative and sometimes irreverent tour through our garden, livestock pastures, chicken coop and greenhouse as we live - pasture to plate. Farming topics free range around pastured heritage pigs, broiler chickens and pastured eggs, heritage breed turkeys, an heirloom vegetable CSA and garden, high tunnel / hoop house / green houses, organic and traditional gardening, farm infrastructure, tractors, sustainable energy, permaculture, food preservation and even fence mending.

Farming stories and skills from our small farm, gardening and homesteading journey -

pasture to plate.

This is the last CoopCast of the year!  We expect to be back with another episode January 8th, 2014.  So on with the farming updates and the bitter cold and endless snow here on the farm. We talk a little about how the pigs and chickens are doing in this brutal cold. If you haven't checked it out - visit our Facebook page and see the story of the #elfonafarm... https://www.facebook.com/chickenthistlefarm

To celebrate the holidays we have a community segment where we talk about:

  • The recent FDA and antibiotic use ruling brought up by Daniel- http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378100.htm
  • We pick on Nancy (again) for calling Andy, Randy
  • Pam asked us about reusable canning lids that we discussed in episode 030
  • Tori has a question about electric fencing, goats, moose and bear
  • Kyle asked a good thinking question about predator control

In our last segment we discuss all the people and businesses who make what we do possiable.

A special thanks to Pine Creek Feeds, Joe's Meat Market, Welp Hatchery and of course Farmtek (if you listen to the episode you will get a coupon code good for $25 off $75 or more!)...  and of course we thank our customers!

Finally - it's that time of the year to nomiate your favorite podcasts - so please take moment to give us your vode on Sticher Radio here - http://stitcher.promotw.com/

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Direct download: CoopCast_097.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 1:12pm EST

The Farming Updates this week are few and far between.  We do celebrate the fact we got our 1st Easter egg just in time for Christmas.  We talk about Belle standing or not and the challenges of a new gilt in heat as well as Kelli's plans for the farm undergoing an agricultural assessment.  We also discuss some simple online accounting packages for managing our farm - from Quickbooks (bad) to Freshbooks (great).

In the Farmers Choice segment brought to you by FarmTek (check out the segment for a coupon code to save you $25 off any order of $75 or more!) - we talk a few Christmas gift ideas as well as recipies and how we approach getting things from the pasture onto the plate.

Direct download: CoopCast_096.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 10:16am EST

This weeks updates talke a bit about the winter weather and the snow we had here on the farm and the impact on thep igs.  We move them to the winter paddock - finally!  We talk about Tahnksgiving turkeys and why we love ours so much.  One farmer is getting tired of deer season so we give an update there and close with some thoughts on our pork sales.

This weeks Farmers Choice segment is sponsored by FarmTek.com.  Check out the segment for a coupon code to save $25 off orders over $75!!!

We also talk about farming and farmers use of social media. There's a lot to using social media correctly and we just scratch the surface and share some examples of how it has and has not worked for our farm and others.

Then we put our feet up and head to some Close Encounters with Free Ranging Farmers on the Front Porch to discuss - raw milk.  Mind you - these are our opinoons about raw milk...  because so many of you have asked. Take them or leave them will all the discussion out there on this hot topic.

Direct download: CoopCast_095.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:43pm EST

This weeks's CoopCast is a batch of updates and a bit of community.  We talk about getting ready to move the pigs to their winter area and the fencing preparations that gointo that move. We give an update on deer hunting and pork sales (whihc are unrelated). We also are looking forward already to spring farrowing...  and figuring out when our new gilt is in standing heat has been a challenge.

In the community we just answer a bunch of questiosn for our Facebook page!

Direct download: CoopCast_094.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:30am EST

This is a coopcast unlike any other... it's our first foray into an immersive multimedia experience.  We play the video "Modern Trends in Swine Production" from 1961 produced by US Steel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcqxI7a6wSM).  It's really cool to look back over 50 years to how pigs were produced and how we stack up today. So join us as we walk the fields with a true swine specialist!

From there we free range over to some more contemporary farming topics like "how do I get started" and "I know how to farm better than you". There's a lot of people out there who think they are the person to change the way the world grows food... meaning they think they are smarter than all the people in agriculture over the last 10,000 years. Beware of them!

Then we talk about deposit based farming. We explore the why's and how's of what we do. This was a great question by Tyler and we do our best to explain the risks and rewards of this approach.

Finally we respond to listeners that asked us about the legal world around small scale farming. Don't you think we all need some common sense laws around agriculture, food production and direct to consumer farms? Who doesn't think that some common sense controls around things like,  ohh, raw milk make us all safer?

Join in on the discussion on our Facebook page @ facebook.com/chickenthistlefarm or hit us up on Twitter @chickenthistle and let us know your thoughts!

Direct download: CoopCast_093.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:43pm EST

In the CoopCast Updates we talk about the big smoked pork pickup and the fact the second batch of pigs did not have the USDA inspectors reject their livers.

On a nice night out on the town at a super fancy resturant the farmers ordered a dish called "pork two ways" where they were served pork loin medailons and laquered pork belly.  While the meal was delicious somethign very interesting happened... Farmer Andy confirmed that he is deffinately sensitive to the "mythical" boar taint. There is no doubt that it exists and that it was in the pork belly... Farmer Kelli was grateful and ate it all!

On the Front Porch we talk about our listeners a LOT.  We talk a bit about our UK following with Trevor and Robert.  We share the "comment" from Tilda the Swede living in Argentina... she was astonished that anyone with our accent would have anything interesting to say... A rather awkward compliment, ya think?!  We also respond to the questions from Steve and others asking if we a preppers or not. And what exacly is a prepper? Farmer Kelli redefines it to us as "being a responsible adult".

Direct download: CoopCast_092.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:42pm EST

The updates this week include our last major on farm pork pickup by our customers. It's always nice to see customers and experience the coolness of local foods through their eyes. We share some of the challenges in delivering pork to customers as well. This week was also the consolidation of laying birds and the culling of the old flock.

In Questions, Conversations & Ruminations we talk openly and honestly about pigs and worms. We learned the hard way that we need to be more proactive in deworming the pigs as we had the first batch of livers rejected due to worms. We also saw a decrease in expected hanging weight... although there were no signs of worms in the pigs, we had them and share the experience.

In Farm U, Dr. Farmer Kelli talks about hand sanitizer here on the farm and how it's used in our day to day farming activites. Farmer Andy is generally full of bad humor and sci-fi puns.

Direct download: CoopCast_091.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:23pm EST

This weeks farm and garden updates include the farmer anniversary and dinner.  We talk about getting batch 2 of pigs to the processor and getting the fresh cuts back and to customers from the first batch. We have a new freezer to house the butcher cuts we will be selling from the farm starting in November (stay tuned for pricing and information). Finally we put the veggie patch to bed as we closed up the vegetable garden brining almost all of our gardening season to a close.

In the CoopCast Community we answer some listener questions about:

  • Why we choose seed vendors we do
  • How many people listen to podcast- trends dipping in Oct
  • Listener john- paying us $1 million for 80 more episodes... the check is in the mail...
  • Josh- chickens on pasture but no grazers

On the Close Encounters with Free Ranging Farmers on the Front Porch segment - here's the Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake #hashtag clip that's totatlly worth watching - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57dzaMaouXA.  We talk about the movie Gravity and it's a strong recomendation to go see. Finally we discuss the season premier of The Walking Dead and if sustainable famer types are drawn to that type of tv.

Direct download: CoopCast_090.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:36pm EST

This weeks updates are a bunch of "end of the farming season" things...  Turkey processing is complete! It always goes very slow but we had all of them sold.  We were very suprised by how small these heritage birds were this year.  We also took our first batch of pigs to the processor and have the second bacth scheduled for next week.  In taking the pigs we have chosen our new gilt as well!

This weeks Veggie patch segment is sponsored by farmtek.com - listen to the coopcast for the coupon code to sahev $25 on orders of $75 or more.

We talk about what we are harvesting in the gardens right now and from the green house.  The cold and wet spring that stunted the plants seems to have been a blessing for our late season harvest.  Tomatoes, zuchinni, and winter squash top the gardn and greenhouse lists.  Andy laments about how gross eggplant is and discusses a new use for them (hint - pistols are involved).  We also tak a little about the question we get asked a lot about the CSA or other farm enterprises - "is it worth it?"

Direct download: CoopCast_089.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:48pm EST

This weeks updates really sound a lot like the end of the season is upon us.

We have turkey processing this weekend and are planning the changeover of chickens in the chick wagon and the coop. We also talk about the pigs to processor:

  • trailer in place -1st batch Monday
  • 2nd batch- following Monday
  • receiving final cut sheets, etc
  • our cut sheet decisions

This week the CoopCast Community is sponsored by FarmTek - listen to get you FarmTek promotion code / coupon code today!

First off, thanks for get well wishes last week. Still, Farmer Andy is better this week and should be out hunting tonight!

Second, thanks for making your questions and comments public for otehrs to learn from.  Now on to the listener questions...

  1. Karen- asked have we tried free range Cornish yet?
  2. Christy- wanted to know if we have written what's in the row boat anywhere?
  3. Tim- grilled first of his own chickens - felt good to be part of the solution that we inspired him to take acton on!
  4. Rebekah- asked if we make enough $ w/ CSA to make it worth it...
  5. Chris - asks about "free help" on the farm

In a new Farm U segment - we talk 1/2 pig cut sheets

What is a pork cut sheet and how do we set ours up to help customers make decisions.

Visual element to this segment - (Cut sheet here)

Direct download: CoopCast_088.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:32pm EST

Updates this week are around the continued sale of pork butcher cuts and the decisions we are considering around actually carrying some inventory (something we have thus far not done).  We also got our first egg in the chick wagon as the current laying flock slows way down with molting and the change of seasons. Finally we review the status of our sold out turkeys and the questions we get all the time about the difference (or perception of difference) between fresh and frozen meat.
Check out the link about some science of frozen meat! http://blog.doingsciencetostuff.com/2013/03/22/frozen-vs-fresh-rib-eye-steak/

This episode of the CoopCast was sponsored by Farmtek.  Check out Farmtek.com for over 30,000 different products to make you home and farm run smoothly.  If you visit now and use the promotion code we give you in this episode you will save $25 on any purchase of $75 or more...  that's like a 33% savings!  So support this podcast by supporting farmtek.com.

This week in the Veggie Patch we talk about the end of the CSA and discuss the Rowboat of Goodness from this year in our Rowboat Roundup! (The Rowboat of Goodness is our far less snooty take on the Slow Food "Ark of Taste").  So tune in to hear how some of our favorites like Celebrity, Costata Romanesca, Sultan Green and Sultan Yellow did in the 2013 season!  Be inspired to add some of our favorites you your farm or garden next year!

Direct download: CoopCast_087.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:02pm EST

This weeks updates on the farm include our ongoing saga of selling pork sausage :)  Want some?  We als otalk pre-deposits and our business model as well as some of the lessons learned in appraoching farm sales with a deposit model. We have turkey orders coming up as well on the last day of the 2013 CSA! Ohh, and there was an areal predator strike on one of our chickens too...  but she's fine!

Hey - if you haven't visited FarmTek.com yet and shopped their great selection of items - now is the time.  By using the promoton code (listen to the episode for the code) when you check out you can save $25 on an order of $75 or more...  and to help you do that we spend some time in this episode talking baout some of the great FarmTek poultry products we use on our farm.

In the CoopCast Community we answer a pair of questions from Scott and Maggie about dual purpose chicken breeds and telling if a gilt is pregnant.

In the "In The News" segment we talk about the USDA decision to let US grown chicken leav the country, head to China, get processed and then sent back to the US as a food product.  Sounds like another well thought out government program to us!

Chicken from China reading includes:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/c3dab827-151d-4373-917f-139db6a2466d/China_2013_Poultry_Processing.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57601738/officials-say-okay-to-processed-chicken-from-china/

Direct download: CoopCast_086.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:06pm EST

With only a month left for the pigs on pasture we are still selling a bunch of sausage...  and now bacon too! We also discuss the options we are considering around keeping the mom's like we have before vs selling them after a single farrowing and keeping smaller gilts over winter to save on feed costs.

We welcome our new sponsor to the coopcast - FarmTek!  We have talked about their products several times over the years and think we have found a terrific partner with them.  As a listener you can visit the FARMTEK.COM website and save $25 on any order of $75 or more by checking out with the code mentioned in the episode.  This is your chance to support us by supporting our sponsors!

In the CoopCast Community we talk a bit about listener messages and questions and how YOU can help US help YOU!  We also answer a listener question about bartering bunny meat for pork on a neighboring farm. This broaches topics like determining value of your farm products and goods in a bater situation.

We officially launch our new segment called Close Encounters with Free Ranging Farmers on the Front Porch...  where talk a bit about the name, the new iPhone next week, the use of social media by farms and what our

Direct download: CoopCast_085.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:07pm EST

With a bit more relaxed schedule the CoopCast takes a bit more of a relaxed discussion of an injured pig and how amazing animals are with injury.  We talk about Hermione and piglets as well as a grower piglet with hemorrhoids!

We talk a bit about selling our sausage to folks and the process around that since we got over 240 pounds back from the USDA processor last week.

We then take a late season walk around the Veggie Patch and talk about what did well in this crazy growing season and what didn't.  Since it's late summer there are tomatoes galore now and we did a taste test of the best tomatores in your garden.  Kelli also talks about some of what she has been canning and freezing.

Direct download: CoopCast_084.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:03pm EST

This week we have been challenged for time so we share a week full of pig centric farm updates.  We moved out lone sow back to in with the piglets and it's been a little exciting - both the move and the post move drama.  We talk a bit about all the work that goes into settin up a new pasture space for the pigs and the challenges that came with it. We share a piglet injury and a decision to move thigns inside the padock around after it was set up. We also update on turkeys and chickens...  and mention something big is happening to the podcast in the near future!

Direct download: CoopCast_083.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 9:15pm EST

This weeks episode discusses our sleuthing around a dead turkey inside the fencing and what might have happened. We talk about bringing Katniss to the butcher and the plans for the rest of the pigs.

In the CoopCast Community we talk a little about Robert's post on Facebook about soy in food and spend more time talking about how science gets done as opposed to the paper on the subject - here.  Kelli updates folks on her hand treatments and we make a plea to try and move the needle over on Stitcher Radio - head on over and give our show a "thumbs up"! Our show on Stitcher!  Ohh - Go rate us on iTunes!!!

We are introducing a new segment that we need YOU (the listener) to give a name to.  It's kind of a near the farm, homesteading, farmsteading, rural living, country living segment.  A place to talk about all the OTHER questions we get about hunting, cooking, sweet tea and "what do you have in your barn" kinds of things.  You guys keep asking things that are not "farming" specific - so we figured we needed a segment to fit the bill...  but we need a name!  This episode we talk at a high level about hunting!

Direct download: CoopCast_082.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:18pm EST

We are getting things ready to move Katniss off the farm and into the freezer. Part of that process is getting the rest of the pigs ready to move to a new pasture space in the next week or so. We talk turkey about the pastured birds as well as a brief CSA update.  Kelli reviews some suggestions for her chapped hands and considers alternative to gloves.

Farmer Andy reports from the field in this weeks In The News segment sharing the trends he noted from Empire Farm Days.  We talk tractors, alternative heating on the farm and other trends.

Finally the Food on the Farm segment returns with rave reviews.  This week we talk about (and share recipes) for eggplant nuggets and the best smoked ribs you have ever had in your life!

Direct download: CoopCast_081.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:55pm EST

This week we share some updates about the pigs on pasture and how well the not so little guys are doing.  Katniss and Herm are in heat and lovin on Andy something awful. We talk a little about the new turkey shelter and the heritage turkeys - have we clipped their wings, find out! Finally we talk about how nice the chick wagon is!

In the Veggie Patch we talk about Fall planting and the staples of cooler weather late-season plantings like radishes, greens, bok choy, beans, and beets. In the greenhouse we are also testing an observation we have made about lettuce that sprouts in there. Farmer Kelli needs advice on some gloves.

Then we spend some time Cooking on the farm and share some of our favorite farm fresh recipes for eating seasonally.  Delicious recipes for Bruschetta, a grilled romaine BBQ bacon salad and gourmet pork based burgers. Delicious and simple summer concoctions to make your mouth water!

Direct download: CoopCast_080.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:57pm EST

This weeks farm updates are short and sweet so we can get to a bunch of our listeners questions.  We did more pig castrations - not on ours, but super small mini-pigs.  It's a great example of how going slow on a farm make a lot of sense.  We also got the turkeys out on pasture - finally - with a redesigned mobile turkey shelter that ROCKS!

In our CoopCast Community section we talk a bunch of listener questions like:

Are we planning for fall planting?

Erin wanted to know about her NC property as a blank slate for a new farm.  How would we set things up to start in terms of the barn, the green house, and the animals.

Adam asked about our feed mixture for Cornish x and turkeys on pasture

Brent (who brought us the phrase "worm worshipping hippies") Asked about chicken processing and how soon after processing do customers pick up?

In our Ruminations we share our thoughts on food safety article regarding farm market chickens and their bacteria. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/07/study-finds-raw-chicken-from-farmers-markets-more-likely-to-carry-pathogens-than-those-from-groceries/

Direct download: CoopCast_079.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 5:57pm EST

This week the rain has stopped and the farmers are much happier in their daily chores.  We also are finished with our pastured broilers this year and introduce a visual element in this episode for you to follow along in our discussion of chicken processing. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chickenthistlefarm/9300657106/).  We then talk about the day in general, the size of the chickens this year and the financials of pastured poultry.  We then have a quick update on the pigs and the vegetable garden and CSA.

We then have a Rumination continuing on with last weeks whine-cast and talk about the things we have done that made the swampy weather just slightly more managable. Things like our drainage ditch, hut placement, round bales, checking during rain and how we need to improve our soil!

A new segment called the Chicken Thistle Nugget

This segment is a chance to share something small, a nugget of wisdom, if you will.  And this week Kelli talks a bit about a farm blog post she found to be very interesting... http://www.thoughtfulfoodfarm.com/2/post/2013/07/money-money-money-money.html

Direct download: CoopCast_078.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 9:22pm EST

This is not our happiest coopcast...  we have been struggling with endless rains this year and it shows in this episode.  We talk about the weaning process of the piglets as well as catching some of them for selling as growers.  We do share some good "how to" ideas / lessons regarding moving and catching piglets.  But mostly - we use the coopcast as a chance to vent our frustrations with how difficult the weather has made things.  We avoid talk about the gardens as things are just not looking good.

In our Ruminations segment we talk about knowhing when to say when - when have you taken on too much and when does burn out kill the joy of farming.

WARNING: This episode may be a bit of a downer.

Direct download: CoopCast_077.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:06am EST

Last week we responded to a listener question with a little bit of good natured humor about a non-conventional mode of transportation - the tricycle.  We learned that 99.9% of trikers are funny people and, well, let's just say - if you are going to ask us a question and are looking for an answer...  you should expect the same humor and standards we apply to ourselves to also apply to you.

We talk about our decision regarding Katniss on the farm and why / how we got to that decision.  It's been hot and the pigs have been managing it as we head into weaning time. The broilers are enjoying the pasture more than Farmer Andy is and the chickens in the "chick wagon" are now enjoying foraging outside.  We talk a little about the electric netting use this year to "secure" the pens and how it's been working out so far. We also talk about our new tumbler composter.

In the Veggie Patch we talk about the tomato ICU we set up after the extraordinary rains caused a bunch of losses. 

Remember when we had our last farming "Remember When" segment? That's OK, we don't either. This week's remember when talks about the things listeners have asked and we keep forgetting to give updates about.  We talk about our concrete pig waterer, that chick wagon post to our blog that never got done and an update about Nugget the chicken.

Direct download: CoopCast_076.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:32pm EST

In our updates this week we lament about the nedless rain on the farm, the wet pastures and the sorggy gardens.  Our pigs have even taken to finding new places to walk and eat since thing sare so muddy. On the upside we have a lot of them sold with our pre-order process. We took advantage of a break i nthe rain to get the pastured broilers out and the pens are moving across fresh (but wet) ground. In the vegetable garden the tomatoes have not been so happy about the endless rains but the greens are gowing like weeds - absloute extremes in the garden for sure.

This week we also ruminate around a great question from one of our listeners about how you know you can / should trust the quality of a local farm based on things you see on the surface.  Does a dirty farm mean a bad farm? How do you know how a farm operates? Som really good questions posed and we we talk through the question at hand.

Direct download: CoopCast_075.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:58pm EST

This week on the farm has been marked by more rain than we need - over 2" above average for the month.  Becasue of that we have been trying to find a time to get those Cornish X chickens out to pasture.  We also discovered an old layer hen that the weather made blue - so she started eating eggs.  On the piglet front we have noticed a big differnce in sow nursing capacity Katniss vs Hermione nursing 6vs 11.

Part of farming is then selling the good you raised - so we talk a little about the pork ordering and our approach this year.  We also talk about the gardens and the rain... and the fact we have decided to start the vegetable CSA this year (remember to check out www.chickenthistlefarm.com every Tuesday on the Farm Blog for the latest fresh in-season vegetable recipes!)

In the CoopCast Community we field an indepth question about the decisions behind our greenhouse.  We answer the questions about why we chose a dirt floor vs cement. Extra heat vs. no heat. And home built vs manufactured.

Direct download: CoopCast_074.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 5:35pm EST

Updates this week include a discussion about the new piglets and the genetics / lineage in them and what decisions we migth be making in the comming months.  We talk about the Cornish X broilers and the efforts to line up chicken helpers for the July processing day.  The heritage turkeys are doing well in the brooder and Farmer Andy loves the chick wagon - dreaming of a farm of all mobile wagons.

In the Veggie Patch segment we wander all over the gardens - from the greenhosue to the pasture to our haying operations.  We also share some of Farmer Kelli's tips and tricks; like using a whiteboard for lists, using an iPhone for lists, using scraps of papers for lists and then making lists of lists of things to put on lists on the farm!  Things like using a pencil to write on old mini-blind tags, the usage of mulching and how we are going to try and maximize our broiler fertilizer this year.

This coopcast is a little crazy - just like life on the farm!

Direct download: CoopCast_073.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:19pm EST

With the farrowing behind us this week we can talk about the 17 piglets running around the pasture and the mayhem that ensues!  Mama pigs are doing great and we also share the final castration update for the season as we finish off that chore.  We also talk about the broiler chickens that are here.  Our Cornish X chicks arrived early and we're not ready!!

In the CoopCast Community we give a nice thank you to our listeners who helped us by sharing their experience and letting us know we were not alone.  It was a cool feeling!  We also mention a great comment from a US Veteran on our Memorial Day post on Facebook. Ohh, Andy shares a gun range story about some not so savvy pistol shooting (smack talk - the shooting was great!).

Finally we tour the veggie patch and talk about row covers and hoops.  Kelli shares some of the pros: Protect from cold sun and bugs, Better growth on some stuff and some of the cons: Hard to see in-Need to check in on plants, Blowing off, Getting torn

Direct download: CoopCast_072.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:49pm EST

This has been a week of extreme conditions on the farm physically as well as one of the most emotionally challenging weeks of farming yet.  The vegetables have had to deal with a freeze of 28F one day and 90+ a few days later... any way you look at that, it's a challenge.  On top of the wild weather we had to navigate piglet castration when the mama wants nothing to do with humans and icing on the cake was a proven sow who has issues while farrowing and needed help delivering 8 more piglets!

While we try and keep it clean it's been exhausting and the description of farrowing a castration topics made us thing the "use caution around small children" label was appropriate for the "more sensitive" listeners.
One resource we mention in this episode is the Perdue livestock "Difficult pig farrowing" guide here - http://www.extension.purdue.edu/pork/health/farr.html#exam
Anyone who ever said farming was easy should live a week like this then come back and see us :)
Direct download: CoopCast_071.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 10:48am EST

This was a busy week on the farm.  In fact, we don't even have time to talk about the vegetable gardening this week!  Our gilt, Katniss, farrowed her first litter of pigs and we take you through the experience from noticing her first signs of farrowing all the way through dealing with mom and piglets post-farrowing.  We reflect on this farrowing experience versus our first farrowing with our sow last year - and there's quite a difference!   Share in our joy and disappointment as we deal with an aggressively protective mom and how that behavior is affecting our ability to care for the animals.  We await the next farrowing coming later in the week.  We also briefly touch on the arrival of turkey poults and egg layer chicks this week as well.

Direct download: CoopCast_070.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 10:02pm EST

This week we talk about our new YouTube series we will be publishing over the next several months called "Five Minutes on the Farm".  We set up some new fencing for the pigs and Andy longs for more permanent fences on the farm. We are getting ready for piglet farrowing in the next week and we talk a little about the new pig waterer we built. We briefly stop by the veggie patch to talk gardening and asparagus and raspberry plants.

The CoopCast Community has a followup on the "Milk Rant" from CoopCast 067 and the listener response in CoopCast 068.  We also respond to a suggestion from a listener regarding farm tours and interns.

This weeks concludes with a Rumination about GMO's.  We challenge the listener to consider that the concept of a GMO is not categorically bad - there are some really good things that come from GMO's in the world and we touch on a few of them.

Direct download: CoopCast_069.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:11pm EST

Things around the farm have been getting busy as the vegetable gardening season is off to is start.  Finally we have the peas planted - sugar snap and snow so far.  We have also been picking from the asparagus patch and enjoying some fresh spring vegetables. We talk about a trip to the Amish greenhouse and Amish WalMart.  At the same time we have been fighting rats in the barn with increasing urgency as we are just a few weeks away from chicks and poults brooding in the barn.

Then in the CoopCast Community we tease a little bit about the fact we are building something that we hope will really help out on the farm...  to see what it is check out our Facebook page.  We talk about some "quiet criticism" our last CoopCast received and rant a little.  We also answer Luke's question about owning vs buying pigs for meat production.

Finally we conclude with a Farm U all about GMO's and the testing of food for the presence of genetically modified organisms.  This segment is not opinion or discussion based noise about GMO's rather a factual "from the lab" discussion of how Dr. Farmer Kelli is actually testing foods for GMO corn and soy.

Direct download: CoopCast_068.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:17pm EST

This weeks farming updates show that things are quickly picking up speed as spring marches on.  We started last week offering our pastured broilers up for sale and had them all accounted for in 2 days.  We also have been fixing some of our permanent fencing that winter was not kind to.  As part of the fencing work we opened a spring pasture for the pigs and will be moving them for farrowing in another week or so.  Updates include a quick stop in the vegetable garden section of the farm where we have been busy making soil blocks and starting seeds in the greenhouse.  Up next is actually getting peas planted in the garden!

The CoopCast Community this week is a rapid fire segment...  Where we discuss how "nice" it was that some of the Boston police brought a homeowner with children some milk...
http://m.cbsnews.com/storysynopsis.rbml?pageType=national&url=http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57580635/photograph-of-boston-police-officer-delivering-milk-to-family-during-lockdown-goes-viral/&feed_id=1&videoid=37&catid=57580635
We respond to a listener that asked about the new names the pork and beef producers are putting on meat.
#farmerandy riffs on customers who ask the question "is there soy in your feed".
Brent from CT is happy we aren't "worm worshipping hippies" and so are we.
And Jon pointed out that  taping farm cruelty is now a crime here in NY.

Our final segment is a Rumination on balancing transparency with privacy.  Where do you draw the line when you farm is also your home?  It's a more difficult question than you might think.

Direct download: CoopCast_067.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 5:29pm EST

This weeks farming updates include a lot of rain and finally a little warmth.  We were about to get the snow fence down and watch the pastures start to turn a little green.  We started allowing customers to pre-order pastured chickens this week and we are almost already sold out.  We found a dead chicken in the coop...  looks like a heart attack.  In the green house we have been potting up tomatoes and making soil blocks.

The Farmers Choice segment this week answers the question we posed in CoopCast 065 about how do manage a sick pig. In the segment we:
Follow up on pig illness
Share some of the thoughts our listeners had like call vet, ask Walter, check poop
Share what the farmers did which included emailed Walter, posted on boards, called who we bought from, talked to large animal vet
We found that the Pigsite and Merck vet manual were quite helpful
Penicillin and tetracycline - when antibiotics and the farm work together.

In a Farm U segment we talk about the notion out there that you can "breed resistance" to disease into your animals and how that's not really accurate.
Resistance to disease/ building a better herd has a role in breeding but genetics isn't the whole story.  The stauts of host- Nutrition, stress, normal flora, etc all impact the likelihood of an animal getting sick when exposed to the pathogen.  In most cases it's less about genetics and "resistance" and more about infectious dose of the organism.

Direct download: CoopCast_066.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:50pm EST

Our farming updates this week suggest that maybe just a little Spring is on the way here at Chicken Thistle Farm. We took some time to clean out the chick wagon. We have also spent some time cleaning up the asparagus patch and getting the greenhouse ready for some seedlings. Then there's an update on the pigs and their gestation progress.

We then move to the Veggie Patch and talk a little vegetable gardening as the seasons slowly turn. We talk seedlings, seed starting and soil blocks. Getting things ready in the greenhouse is a challenge as it seems to have been taken over by rodents following the cold winter. We also answer a few questions about starting peas in the springtime garden and discuss our seed starting worksheet in our project library on the chickenthistlefarm.com website.

Our last segment is The Farmers Choice where this week we share part of the story of when one of our pigs went down sick and ask you, the aspiring farmer, what would YOU do?

Direct download: CoopCast_065.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:46pm EST

Our farming updates this week include several things.  Like the new animal on the farm, our new Border Terrier puppy Cricket.  The Brother to Watson. (get it?).  Kelli shares her adventures from last week while Andy was away on business and the "while traveling" farm emergency she had to manage.  We complain about the fact it's early April and there's still snow on the ground.  We also have a discussion around pricing your products (pastured meats and other naturally farmed goods) and making sure you ask what you should be getting.  A little farm marketing advice about how discounting your brand isn't a good idea.

If you haven't check us out on Facebook, Twitter or our web site...  the fact is we are NOT raising Ostriches or Gators...  that was an April Fools joke.

The "In the News" segment we talk about the big uproar in the media about the fact that dairy producers want to add sweeteners to their milk and be held to the same labeling standards as the rest of the beverage industry (gasp).  Then we turn our attention to the "Monsanto Protection Act" and not so much about how it will impact food safety but rather from a bigger picture of how government behaving like this isn't necessarily in the best interest of it's citizens.

 "Monsanto Protection Act" primer - http://investorplace.com/investorpolitics/the-monsanto-protection-act-only-in-america/

Direct download: CoopCast_064.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:29pm EST

This week our farming podcast talks about how we (the farmers) manage to get away on a vaction while entrusting the farm to capable hands. Who says farming needs to be all work and no play. There's a set of steps we undergo to ensure the farm is ready to be watched and we share a bunch of those.

We share our story about a farmers market we visited while on vacation in sunny Florida.  It was interesting for us to deal with how the farmer becomes the consumer.

There's a new segment this week called "Remember When"... where we talk about how we start off little chicks to grow them into healthy birds.

Finally, our last segment this week is an "In the News" where we discuss how China, Russia and otehr countries have banned the import of a bunch of US raised meats because of the usage of a chemical called Ractopamine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ractopamine

Direct download: CoopCast_063.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:20pm EST

This weeks farming updates include our final decision on how we are managing our turkey order of midget white and Bourbon reds in the coming farming season.  We talk about moving a pig feeder to get it out of the swampy mud the spring has brought and finally we are starting some seeds for the vegetable garden.

In the CoopCast Community we answer a question about washing eggs.  We also followup on the geothermal system and how it's been working through the first real winter it's been online.

Finally we spend some time on the farm with a rumination pertaining to the questions we often get from new farmers.
We often are asked about advice and information with regards to getting into farming.  One thing that we have seen very often when talking with upstart farmers is sometimes they ask questions that they don't want the answer to.

Direct download: CoopCast_062.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 3:51pm EST

This week's farm update were kind of all over the place since we missed an episode last week with #farmerandy being down for the count with a nasty lung bug.  We talk about sickness on the farm when it's NOT an animial but a farmer, living through mud season on the farm and dealing with mud and pigs.  We hase how the chickens onf the farm are doing with the Spring thaw and chickens and the challenges with their coop and netting and muddy eggs.

In the Coopcast community this week we spend some time raging in general... must be the sickness and/or the drugs.  We respond about a post where some folks were worrying about the CoopCast podfading away...  We spend some time answering listener questions about a modibe pig tractor in Grit magazine and some other questions about chicken pasture pens.  Sorry all you iTunes reviewers - no drama like high speed chases this week!

Direct download: CoopCast061.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 6:17pm EST

Farming updates this week:

  • Our Facebook page hit 1000+ fans - thanks so much!
  • Chicken orders done for the 2013 farming season
  • Turkey decision still pending

In the CoopCast Community:

  • Mark sent us some seeds!
  • Josh helps a neighbor pig rescue in his farming adventures
  • Suggestions posted on FB - for pasture pen plans
  • Kelli's visit to CSA fair

Ruminations continue about farm finances:

  • Farm finances continued as we discuss some of the specifics of expenses and income on the small farm
  • Using QuickBooks and a farm credit card
Direct download: CoopCast_060.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:06pm EST

Farming updates for the week include:

  • Updates AI - no more updates needed, Due dates on calendar
  • Chick Wagon
  • Hay/straw delivery
  • CSA full

A new segment called "From the ground up" where we discuss the basics for any given project or enterprise on the farm and what we would do to do it again.  THis week we talk about how we would go about starting a CSA

  • Pictures posted of the shares
  • Surveys 
  • Reviews 
  • How to get people to invest that much
  • Make it a community with recipes, posts each week
  • Host events at the farm- potluck, etc. 
  • What to expect and communicate a lot

Questions, Conversations and Ruminations this week (and for a few weeks) are a in depth review and discussion around the farm finances.

  • Income
  • Expenses
Direct download: CoopCast_059.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:16am EST

Updates from around the farm:

  • AI update - no heat for Katniss
  • Checking Herm this week
  • Snow storm - closed off extended pasture; ran extra line
  • Round bales - more $ and hard to get
  • Farm census
  • Taxes and a financial look back at past year- upcoming discussions
  • A simple soil block question

This week we have a Farm U discussion around TRACTORS!

  • How much horsepower for diffrnt jobs
  • What is the right type of transmission
  • Confusion Solution for hydraulics
Direct download: CoopCast_058.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:01pm EST

Farm updates this week include:

  • More AI talk- gator sound needed
  • Katniss heat check this week
  • Day 12
  • Cold weather continues
  • Super Bowl = good food from the farm
  • Chicken sitting-new chick wagon & lil eggs

Veggie patch, our vegetable gardening segment we talk:

  • New varieties we're trying this year
  • Seed organization
  • CSA email out to old members- did raise price

Farmers choice segment talks abous our value (or lack there of) in the natural food movement:

  • Our role/value in the food movement
  • Not big, not trying to grow big, not trying to make a living solely from farming- so what value can we bring?
  • Advice on farming abounds and can be annoying.
Direct download: CoopCast057.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:45pm EST

Farm updates this week include:

  • Hermione AI
  • Seed order in
  • CSA - email to current customers
  • Chicken trailer update
  • Bogs boots update

In the "Extended" CoopCast Community"

  • Song used last episode
  • The Facebook discussion of the picture of Hermione w/ Andy and Katniss in back
  • Questions about fencing
  • Feeding pigs "bad" milk
  • Patti and others - how to know if AI worked
  • Heather and Danielle - couples listening



Direct download: CoopCast056.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17am EST

This week's coopcast has a weather update about a big windstom that caused some damage but spends most of it's time talking about the artifical insemination process we followed with our gilt Katiniss and what worked / dindn't as well as what we learned about doing AI on the farm.

Part 3 of the Farm Meeting discusses the general palns around infrastructure this year and why we made some decisions we did about growtih or processes in 2013.

Direct download: CoopCast055.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:10am EST

The updates in farming this week include:

  • A Big thaw
  • Planning for artificial insemination with the pigs
  • Finally raised egg prices to $4 / dozen
  • Kelli shares a listener requested update on her Bogs Boots
  • Freezer inventory fun


This is part 2 of the Annual Farm Meeting:

  • A pending plan for turkeys
  • The chicken succession plan
  • Purchase and project in support of the Chicken Plan
  • Breeds that we will be replacing the flock with and why
Direct download: CoopCast054.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:02am EST

Updates around the snowy and cold farm:

  • Snow and drifting on the farm and the implications to portable fencing
  • Pigs on the loose
  • Electric netting - upright again
  • Chickens in the wind
  • Greenhouse - salad for new years eve, peas, Swiss chard and a warm refuge


The Annual Farm Meeting Farm Meeting for 2013 - Part 1

  • We discussed if we will be doing a CSA this year and the size,
  • The Pig plan and AI,
  • Laying chickens (more on this one next week)
  • The plan for broiler chickens this summer
  • General "farming burnout" that we are trying to avoid
Direct download: CoopCast053.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:03am EST

1