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.

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

Our Post-Christmas, pre New Year 52nd, one year celebration episode.

This week's updates include:

  • Christmas on the farm - yum
  • Let it snow, we say, with over 2 feet and counting...
  • Preparing for the snow - round bales to the rescue
  • Dealing with the fence lines in snow
  • Placement of winter paddock fencing - room for improvement
  • Chickens and snow

In the Coopcast Community:

  • Listener Bill shares his bad experience with CSA's and trying again
  • One of our first listener Jeph talks about getting to eat an egg from Nugget!
  • Frank want's to know about any automation on the farm
Direct download: CoopCast052.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 3:37pm EDT

Updates this week include:

  • #elfonafarm - visit our Facebook Page to follow the adventures of one of Santa's Helpers on a farm.
  • Weather - is this December?
  • Haven't moved pigs to want area yet - fencing ready to go
  • Rats in barn
  • And a listener update from Adam about those VT college oxen

This week in the news we share some thoughts about the horrific tragedy in CT and try to provide some facts about the gun control debate

  • Guns - banning guns and they types of firearms
  • Gun control in New York State
  • Guns on a farm

This episodes Farm U talks about feed storage

  • Why rodents are bad
  • Best practices for small farm feed storage
  • What to do if a rodent gets into your feed
Direct download: CoopCast051.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 10:02am EDT

Updates from around the farm:

  • Chickens - they love the round bales in their area for winter
  • Lower egg production - no heat lamp
  • Pigs- not in winter paddock yet- no real snowfall
  • Cat in a hoop house
  • Snow fence is up- why do we hate doing that so much?

In the CoopCast Community

  • Gaertagang Farm- Bogs boots
  • Maple View Farm- Overalls
  • Nicole- favorite podcasts and online tools
  • Homemade gift idea- seeds or help starting a garden

This week's Farmers Choice is a discussion on different egg layer breeds

  • What we like and don't about: Barred Rock, Speckled Sussex, Buff Rock, California, Golden Comet, Rhode Island Red, and Tetra Tint
Direct download: CoopCast050.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:25am EDT

In this episode we share several of our favorite things from our farm.  From pasture to plate we talk about big and small farming items that we like and that make farming easier for us to manage things.

This episode is a departure from the typical farm updates and other discussions and we hope you enjoy it!

Direct download: CoopCast049.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 9:46am EDT

This "longer than usual" CoopCast includes...

Updates from around the farm:

  • Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving - yum!!!!
  • Losing a chicken and a farmers "instincts"
  • Prepping for winter by moving chicken fencing (poultry netting) and pig fencing

A trip to the cold Veggie Patch to discuss some HOT tomato choices:

  • Review of our top 2012 tomato varieties
  • A brief lesson on determinate and indeterminate tomato plants as well as heirloom and hybrid.

In the CoopCast Community

  • Josie asked about worming pigs?
  • Lots of people have been asking "when is sign up for X, Y or Z"?
Direct download: CoopCast048.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:39am EDT

This coopcast is a bit of Thanksgiving fun with the theme of "plate" (from pasture to plate) running through the segments.  So pull up a chair, have a seat on the farm and join us for a Thanksgiving discussion!

Farm updates:

  • Customer looking for pastured turkeys the week before Thanksgiving,
  • Pig fencing takes a hit from deer, 
  • General farm updates

CoopCast Community:

  • We just talk more about food... and answer a question from Josh about our breakfasts.

Farmers Choice:

  • We discuss food... In particular how we have noticed that eating good food from the store never seems to taste very good.  Can healthy food taste good?
Direct download: CoopCast047.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:01pm EDT

Updates this week on the farm include:

  • Winter prep continues - fencing for winter paddock and the trouble with fencing in the fall,
  • Tomatoes out of greenhouse after a really hard freeze,
  • Moved pig feeder out of the mud

In the CoopCast Community

  • Prop 37 - didn't pass - is it all about business!
  • Mackaenzie shares a tip to make your Facebook faned pages visible
  • Question on our recipes,
  • Robert asked about our recommendations on poultry netting.

Farm U

Was inspired by a question from Stuart:

  • What are the differences in processing chickens and turkeys?
Direct download: CoopCast046.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 3:35pm EDT

Farming Updates in what seems like a farming soap opera:

  • We were away from our farm when hurricane Sandy came through
  • Being prepared for disasters
  • Lessons from this event

In the CoopCast Community 

  • Response to a blog post about the cost of raising pigs 
  • GMO discussion feedback 
    • Ernest shared a link to a documentary on GMOs
  • Melanie shared her dream product - Andy's Boar in a Bottle

In this weeks Farmers Choice : People always talk about wanting to "eat healthy" but what does that really mean?  How do you really measure healthy?

  • Eating healthy and the definition
  • Nutrient dense food and the difference
Direct download: CoopCast045.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:06am EDT

Just a few Farmining Updates this week:

  • Garlic planting and our technique,
  • A root cellar full of goodies,
  • Our youngest gilt is in heat - Ollie traits!


In the news we discuss Proposition 37 and GMO's:

  • Opinions on Prop 37 and GMOs in general
  • Labeling requirement?
  • What is a GMO?
  • For or against GMOs?
  • Natural selection and pesticide use
Direct download: CoopCast044.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:00am EDT

Updates from around the farmstead:

  • #farmerandy shares his Big Buck story of dispair,
  • We put the veggie patch to bed with compost and the rototiller,
  • Pigs moved to a new section of pasture,
  • Pig pasture maintenance and seeding on the old pasture,
  • From the pasture to the plate we talk about canning chicken in the pressure cooker,
  • Final sales of year and the risk to cash flow

In the CoopCast community:

  • We talk about cooking a heritage turkey (http://www.localharvest.org/features/heritage-turkey-recipes.jsp),
  • A listener who didn't know he could raise his chickens on pasture,
  • Some general listener feedback items from Facebook, iTunes and Stitcher.

In the news:

  • We talk about a non-functioning pair of oxen in Vermont and what should happen with them:
    • http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/10/21/163257176/despite-protest-college-plans-to-slaughter-serve-farms-beloved-oxen
Direct download: CoopCast043.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:52am EDT

Updates around the farm include:

  • We were featured on Libsyn's Rockin New Podcasts! - http://imake.libsyn.com/rockin-new-libsyn-podcasts-chicken-thistle-farm-coopcast
  • The growing season is officially over with a hard freeze last week,
  • We finished turkeys by processing the last of the Midget White Turkeys,
  • We got our municipal water bill from over the drought months (WOW),
  • Winter preparations are ongoing including cleaning out the chicken coop and starting to put the vegetable garden to bed,
  • Farm stand review for the year.

This week we are having 2 related farmers choice segments about commitment:

  • From the farmers side, what levels of commitment are required to your livestock, land and customers?  We talk about this in relation to a listener email about his journey into becoming a farmer.
  • From the consumer side, what and why are you committed to a farm or farmer? And how do your actions speak louder than your words when it comes to demonstrating that commitment?

(This episode was recorded on the eve of our 13th wedding anniversary, hence the commitment theme!)

Direct download: CoopCast042.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:27am EDT

This weeks farm updates:

  • Special announcement is we are going to be a featured podcast on Libsyn's http://imake.libsyn.com/ blog of up-and-comers on October 15th!
  • Pork pickup - happy customers and farmers - yummy pork too!
  • Hermione and Katniss are getting along just smashingly
  • Turkey vs Fox story (a win for the good guys)
  • We eat good - soup - add greens - yum!

In the CoopCast Community:

  • Business info posting on Facebook - http://www.uvm.edu/newfarmer/?Page=webinars%2Fwebinar_recordings.php&SM=webinars%2Fsub-menu.html#management
  • Gift from listener - http://www.potterybymehg.com/
  • A "postivie" review, maybe, says she can't go to sleep without our voices - hmmmmm!? 
  • And National Lard Rendering Month, maybe?

In the News:

  • Pig farmer eaten by his pigs
  • Farm out of business http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/Fond-memories-of-Soul-Food-Farm-3923428.php
Direct download: CoopCast041.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:47am EDT

Even though it's early Autumn we have still been busy farming this week!

Updates from around the farm this week include:

  • Taking the last of the pastured pigs to processor and deciding who was going to stay with us!
  • We touch again on the difficulty of sending respected animals to the processor,
  • Getting ready for pork pickup with customers as the meat comes back from the processor,
  • Dealing with turkeys - everywhere.

We take a muddy stroll through the veggie patch:

  • CSA is done but still harvesting,
  • Late planting reviews and opinions: zucchini, beans, lettuce, bok choy,
  • Dried bean update,
  • Greenhouse plantings update.

In the CoopCast community:

  • Jennifer asked about feeding candy to cows,
  • Constance wanted an update on the poison ivy drops (Oral Ivy),
  • Chad was wondering what we do to winterize farm (waterer, shelter bedding) right now: coop, winter paddock for pigs
Direct download: CoopCast040.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:37am EDT

Updates from around the farm:

  • We got some of our pigs to processor and share our feelings on that.
  • Turkey processing of the first batch
  • Frost Warning!

In the Coopcast Community

  • Vivianne shares her experiences raising cornish cross and shares that on her blog.
  • Adalyn Farms shared with us as well and has Kelli wanting a dwarf goat.
  • Paul asked some specific business questions about  a farm corporation, LLC, insurance etc and we discuss why we don't answer those questions very well.
  • John was afraid we were deleting his Facebook post and had some questions about a sleepy rooster and some bad advice he was given.

This weeks Farm U (part 2 of Chicken Processing)

  • Poultry Processing
  • Our set up: what we have and our line set up
  • Some general comments about our HACCP procedures
Direct download: CoopCast039.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:48pm EDT

This weeks farm updates include:
  • A discussion about pork cut sheets and pig preparations
  • Turkey processing starting next weekend
  • Egg layers- who's laying? Dealing with  older chickens and refreshing our flock
  • Last week of CSA
  • Greenhouse - looking good

In the Veggie Patch:

  • Our potato results!
  • Do it yourself- note pesticide levels in store bought potatoes

Farm U: Chicken Processing

This is the first part in a series of Farm U's talking about chicken processing.
  • Equipment and set up, what do you need as the basics to start processing chickens
  • What to buy vs not buy in a basic setup
Direct download: CoopCast038.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:11pm EDT

We try out a new intro on this weeks show based on a listener iTunes review...


Farming Updates this week include:
  • Pigs on new pasture was an easy move,
  • Making a swale for their wallow,
  • New hog feeder feeder in use,
  • Update on O2's limp,
  • Selecting a gilt to keep - what is good conformation?
  • Pork cut sheet designed,
  • Turkey processing dates picked,
  • Turkey ordering form sent out,
  • CSA is ending in 2 weeks.
In the Veggie Patch:
  • We talk tomatoes and blight.  What is it, how do you identify it and what can you do about it?
In Farm U:
  • We discuss what we are doing to manage pasture spaces after moving pigs off of them.
Direct download: CoopCast037.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:49am EDT

This Labor Day week we have a shorter version full of fun filled farming listener feedback!

In the CoopCast Community:
  • A comment from a listener Susan P about her struggling small farm and challenges with regulations,
  • Lucinda asked many questions about chickens,
  • Laurie askes about food saftey and honey.
Then on the In the News Segement:
  • We discuss a recent scientific study about BPA
Direct download: CoopCast036.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 9:51pm EDT

Updates around the farm this week:

  • Our Daycation here in NY,
  • A new to us hog feeder,
  • O2 and his bum leg,
  • Turkey ordering,
  • prepping greenhouse for fall.


In the Veggie Patch:

  • Fall Succession planting update in the garden and in the greenhouse,
  • CSA spotlight - Edamame.


In the CoopCast Community:
We get mentioned on some blogs (thebeginningfarmer.blogspot.com and empressofdirt.net) where they say we are a good farming podcast - COOL!

And we bundle a bunch of reviews and questions together from the community to have a conversation...
We ruminate about going full time as a farmer and answer the following questions (from James and "farmer on hiatus", amongst others):
  • Is our aim to do this full time?
  • How much land do we have?
  • DO we want farming as primary occupation?
  • Are we "Big enough to sustain" our farm?
Direct download: CoopCast035.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:49pm EDT

A update light week on the farm with:

  • No poultry pens to move,
  • Normal weather for a change on the farm,
  • Turkeys and layers doing well,
  • Pigs have their first weigh in.

In the Veggie Patch we talk:

  • Greenhouse soil fertility and design,
  • Low tunnel greenhouses you can build,
  • End of garden season discounts.
In the Coopcast Community:
  • On a listeners suggestion Andy is trying Oral Ivy.
  • Sheree asked about growing grain for chickens and supplementing them with veggies/greens from the garden.
  • Brice suggested we invest in some livestock guardian dogs.
In this weeks Farm U we learn about the science behind preventing Botulism when canning vegetables.
The bacteria lives in all soils and we talk about terms relating to it and defeating it when canning:
  • Spores
  • Anaerobe
  • Soil
  • Pressure and temp
  • pH
Direct download: CoopCast034.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 8:31pm EDT

Updates this week on the farm:

  • We learned that Ollie is no more on the farm we took him to,
  • Hay and livestock trailer,
  • The seasons final chicken processing,
  • 5 gallon bucket waterer gauge,
  • And a question - what makes you happy when farming?

In the Veggie Patch:

  • Tomatoes and canning,
  • Succession planting,
  • We discuss the results of the above ground potato growing method (from coopcast 014)

Questions, Conversations and Ruminations:

  • We get asked all the time "Don't you get attached to your animals?"
  • Can you care about the animals you eat for meat? 
  • Is it better to not like them? 
  • Is that why we've gone to a system of mistreatment?

Direct download: CoopCast033.mp3
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 7:57am EDT

Meet the farmers Andy and Kelli and learn how we got HERE on our farming adventure.  We share our first thoughts on the point / audience / reason / format of these things.  There's also a discussion of what’s going on around our small farm and homestead.

This episode introduces our Farm U segment where we share some ruminations about a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model, discuss what a consumer should look for and expect and talk about what a farmer should consider when starting out with a CSA.  Since a CSA is such a popular (and growing) model to get fresh, local vegetables these conversations help both sides of the equation (farmer and consumer) understand what's involved.

So welcome to the Chicken Thistle Farm CoopCast...  it's our irreverant take on the "farmcast", gardening, livestock talking, homesteading podcast.

Direct download: CoopCast1.m4a
Category:farming podcast -- posted at: 1:56pm EDT