Off-Farm Income

nly in the FFA will you find students who will go out and purchase themselves a bulldozer or a track hoe rather than a pickup when they turn sixteen.  It is part of what I love about interviewing these students.  These young men and women are so forward thinking and responsible that it makes me look back on my time in high school and blush with embarrassment.

This is exactly the story of Kale Campbell, who now runs his own business, Campbell Excavation, and was a National Proficiency Finalist in 2021.  He made that decision.  Actually, he purchased the track hoe instead of the pickup, and about three months later he purchased the bulldozer. Then he started his own excavation business under the umbrella of his father's business because he was still sixteen years old.  As soon as he turned eighteen and could qualify for the insurance needed to bid government excavation jobs, he went out on his own.  There is no wonder that the judges who heard his story pushed him right up to the level of national finalist!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1319_Clae_Campbell-COMM_BREAK_6_43-012722.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

When you find a leg on the walking path, take a good look at the foot.

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

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Direct download: OFI_1318_Rural_Crime_Episode_-_22522_4.14_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

What is your definition of being a teacher, and how do you think it is possible to follow your passion for teaching?  This is an interesting profession as it seems to only have one definition and two outlets.  Definitionally teachers are in a classroom having one one one interactions with pupils and providing them with knowledge.  And the only two outlets seem to be in conventional public schools or in lesser paying roles as private school teachers.  Somehow, the education system has been able to really own that term of "teacher" and keep the definition narrow.

Where does that narrow definition leave the rest of us who want to impart wisdom and information but don't want to conform to the two outlets and definition described above?  What if we want a different lifestyle or a different income than is provided in those traditional roles?  How do we go about that?

The answer is to define what it means to be an educator on your own terms and then come up with a way to make that into your career.  This is exactly what our guest, Heather Cassill, has done with Kids Sonder Agriculture Unboxed.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1317-Heather_Cassell-COMM_19_25-022522.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today, Chris Dible, was a National Proficiency Finalist in 2021, and it is not hard to figure out why.  He understands all the inner workings of his families farm and has a passion for what he does there.  As he was telling me his story, there was an irony that really made me chuckle.  Chris was not allowed to drive tractor on his own until he about 13 years old.  His dad and uncles restrained him from that until they were certain that he was ready as they needed to protect the large, capital investments they had in their equipment.

About one year after Chris was finally allowed to start driving some of the smaller tractors on his own, his dad and uncles purchased a brand new tractor for around $200K, and it came with a ton of technology including full auto-steer and GPS.  Even after 8 hours with the dealership representative instructing them on how to use the technology they didn't get it.  Once he left, Chris climbed into the tractor and the owners manuals and started figuring out how to operate their very most expensive piece of equipment.  It wasn't long until the kid that was only recently allowed to operate the smaller tractors became the only one on the farm that could operate the newest tractor!  I found that comically ironic!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1315_Chris_Dible-REVISED-COMM_BREAK13_19-012522.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 11:15am MDT

The main theme in today's show is that in order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to put in time and work. You have to be dedicated to providing a good product and sometimes your expertise is your product. This interview is worth a replay.


The news broke last week.  Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, is coming to Kuna.  This news has serious implications for Autumm and my future as well as the future of our farming endeavors.  There are some pretty obvious implications as to what this will mean for the community of Kuna as well, and today's farm update is all about trying to farm on the rural/urban interface and in a rapidly developing area.

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Direct download: OFI_1314_Tuesday_Episode_-_22122_3.36_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Kylie was a National Proficiency Finalist in 2021 in the category of Fiber & Oil Crop Production.  There is no question why the judges thought she belonged in that top four after hearing her story.  Kylie has been riding around with her parents in the cab of tractors and combines since she was very little.  As she grew up she started getting responsibilities of her own like routine maintenance on equipment, sweeping up, etc.  This progressed to helping with planting, doing some field work and driving some equipment.

Kylie always had her eye on one goal though - driving the combine.  She has known this is where she belonged since she was that little kid riding in the cab with her parents.  As it turned out, when she was coming of age her parents purchased a second combine and needed a driver.  Her older brother was living and working in Oklahoma, so he was out.  That left Kylie's older sister, who had been pulling the grain cart for several years.  However, she enjoyed that particular tractor and that job, so she ceded the role of combine driver to Kylie, and she found her self in the cab by herself for the first time ever.

Today, Kylie is studying agricultural education and agronomy at Kansas State University.  She is still determining what her future career will be.  However, when you talk with her the love of farming comes shining through, and there is no doubt what the judges saw that led her to being a finalist.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1313-Kylie_March-COMM_BREAK_8_28_TO_8_30-012122.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Report anything suspicious you see in orchards or anywhere else that bees are going to work

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Crime Scene Training -

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above


Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

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Direct download: OFI_1312_Rural_Crime_-_21822_3.41_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There are a lot of different directions I could go with today's interview.  As a matter of fact, there are a lot of different directions that I did go with today's interview.  Gabrielle (Gabby) Crumley was originally booked on the show to talk about how she started an agricultural marketing company and how she uses that to support her agricultural lifestyle.  However, her story is even more compelling than that, and I found myself caught up in the entirety of it.

Gabby and her husband, Chad, actually did not grow up raising cattle.  However, they both were part of the horse world in small communities surrounding Portland, Oregon.  Gabby got exposed to cattle ranching and livestock by visiting relatives in the eastern part of her state as a kid, and this led her to choose to major in agriculture in college.  She chose to attend college in Eastern Oregon, away from the rainy climate that the western part of the state holds.  Ultimately, she and Chad met, dated for about three years and were married.  They leased some ground in the mountains outside of LaGrande, Oregon and started a cattle herd.

During this same time Gabby had developed her own marketing business.  This had never been her intention, but a college professor saw that she had a special talent for social media marketing and encouraged her to pursue that.  This led to Gabby developing her first, paid customers, and like it is for so many entrepreneurs, this got her hooked.

This business also allowed her to live wherever she wanted because the business is not geographically restricted.  When she and Chad decided that they wanted to pursue ranching as a lifelong pursuit, this meant purchasing their own place.  As they studied what was available throughout the country they decided on an area of Wyoming near Cody and started looking.  Ultimately, they found their spot, bought their very own ranch and made the big move about a year ago.

What Gabby has done is very inspirational, and it is a clear blueprint for so many of us that would like to follow in she and Chad's footsteps.  Her story also proves a lot of the concepts that we talk about on this show, and that was a thrill for me.

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Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1311-Gabrielle_Crumley-COMM_BREAK_21_01-012922.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

A replay today of a special lady that reached out to me using a social media resource. She is from Europe and has a unique story to tell on how she developed her marketing company while creating her own niche for selling farm goods. She talks about how she did and is doing in today's interview. 


National Proficiency Winner, Tad Nelson.  Tad's story began in the 6th grade, but it has a twist.  He started his lawn and landscape business with his best friend, and they stayed friends and business partners throughout the entire run of the business until they recently sold it.  And, they are not related but had the same last name.  So, it was easy to name the business, "Nelson Mow & Trim".

Tad and his buddy Brigham got really serious about this business in the 8th Grade, after they had had two years of experience under their belt.  They took out a loan, purchased a used but very high quality Walker Mower and started marketing their business more aggressively.  Soon, they were hiring employees, doing jobs in nearby cities that were much bigger than their hometown and really learning about business.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1309_Tad_Nelson-COMM_BREAK_11_50_TO_11_52-011922.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Last Tuesday I touched on today's topic just briefly.  I told you about a conversation that I had with a gentleman who asked me what I was seeing?  Were people clinging to the old ways or abandoning them all together.  I told him that the folks I had been talking to were doing a combination of the two, but that made sense because they tend to stand out and draw my attention.

I've been thinking more about that conversation and wanted to touch on some of the practices and mindsets of my elder mentors that I want to hold onto and that I want to give up.  I'll share those with you today.  Below is a list:

Hold On To Do Differently
Work Ethic Recharge Your Batteries
Frugality Scarcity Mindset
Self-Reliance Outsource
Perseverance Diversifying as a hedge
Focus Multiple streams of income
Create off-farm Income Use entrepreneurship
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Direct download: OFI_1308_Tuesday_Episode_-_21422_3.14_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Porter Hanson has grown up on a 50 acre hay farm in Rigby, Idaho.  He describes the farm as a hobby of his father's, but as we all know, these types of hobbies can take a lot of your time.  Porter's dad works at the Idaho National Laboratory.  That is a nuclear research facility located about 60 miles from their farm.  The lab has always been located way out in the Idaho desert because of the work they do.  This way, they are far from population centers, which serves a couple of purposes for the research. However, the employees don't want to live way out there, so they ride a bus to work every day and endure the long commute so their families can live in more populated communities.

During Porter's sophomore year of high school he saw the toll that the long days of work and commuting, followed by moving sprinkler pipe on the farm were taking on his dad.  So, he came up with a plan.  Porter offered to take over and run the farm so that his dad didn't have to go to work when he got home from work.  They came up with a 50/50 crop share agreement, and Porter got busy.  He took charge of every aspect from irrigation to swathing to fertilizing to marketing to delivery.  And, he grew their sales.

Today, getting all their hay sold is never a problem, and Porter has learned a ton.  It is no wonder that he made that final stage at the National Convention in 2021!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1307-Porter_Hanson-COMM_BREAK_8_51_TO_8_53-011922.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

A couple weeks ago during our rural crime episode I reported on the theft of saddles and other tack at a horse competition in the U.K.  Contained in that article was the story of the saddle owners, Ibi Whatley, who was angered enough by the theft to take action.  She had started a Facebook Group called "Stolen Saddles U.K." and it had gained a lot of attention in a short amount of time.  

I knew that there must be more to the story, so I reached out to Ibi and asked her to be a guest on the show.  Today she answers all of my questions about what happened, who she suspects took the tack and where it is now.  Plus, we find out some very useful information about locks and how what we think is secure might not be.  I think this will be an important episode for anyone, no matter which continent you find yourself on.

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Direct download: Ibi_Whatley_Episode_1306_-_21022_2.11_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is got a lot of energy, a very curious spirit and is getting absolutely everything out of life that she can.  Millie Musgrave married a rancher when she was 42 years old and got introduced to the agricultural way of life.  For the past 15 years she has been embracing this life wholeheartedly.  After speaking with her, this is no surprise.  Millie is the type of person what wants to do everything and who spends all of her time pursuing what she wants to do.  I love her philosophy about this.  She likes to combine that pursuit of life with her work, so she has purposefully chosen a career and multiple side hustles that are fun and bring her great satisfaction.

Millie currently works full-time, in town, as the recreation coordinator for a senior living home.  In addition to that she is involved in two, multi-level marketing companies, Senegence and Juice Plus.  She also makes her own soap from rendering the fat of their own livestock as well as from goat milk soap that she purchases.  She sells and exhibits her soaps at craft shows on weekends.

Millie is the type of person that really jumps into whatever task she is working.  She had no experience working with livestock before marrying her husband, and she said that prior to moving to the farm she was the type of person who didn't like to touch raw meat, even when cooking.  However, she quickly adapted, learned to drive farm equipment and work with livestock, and when they butchered a hog on the farm she learned how to process the animal.  It was this curiosity that led her into soap making.  She wanted to make full use of the entire hog, so she taught herself how to render the fat and make soap out of it.

She prides herself on the question "what would a pioneer woman do", whenever she is stumped.  And between this innovative spirit and the help of YouTube she has been able to figure things out, and is positioning herself to always have an activity to do and an income to support she and her family.

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Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1305-Millie_Musgraves_COMM_BREAK_15_55-012622.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's episode features a unique story of a previous show I did featuring an FFA member who not only immigrated to the United States, but had a family that saw his natural desire to want to be involved in the agriculture industry and purchased a farm just for him. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1304-Recap_Of_Episode_793-COMM_BREAK_11_56-020222.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is the 2021 National Proficiency Winner in Equine Entrepreneurship, and after listening to this interview it will be clear why she was selected.

Raley Downing has been riding horses since before she can remember and barrel racing since she was four years old.  Horses, cattle and agriculture have always been a part of her life. While she was in the 7th Grade, already showing great ability to train horses, her older brother had a horse he didn't like.  He gave that horse to Raley to see if she could make something of it, and she did.  She recognized that the horse did not have the cow ability that her brother was looking for, but that it could be a good horse for barrel racing.  She trained it, sold it, paid her brother back for his costs and made a profit.  A business was born.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1303-Raley_Downing_Revised_COMM_BREAK_9_29-011322.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

For the past several weeks I have been giving you updates on a welding class that I have been taking through our local community college.  I just completed the class this previous Saturday.  The class was just a basic, learn to weld course.  There was no grade and no college credits or certifications received.  I had been thinking about taking this course for a couple of years and finally resolved myself to do it this year.

I was reflecting on the course yesterday and something occurred to me.  I am 48 years old, and finally learned to weld.  Why it took me this long, I don't know.  I've talked about the fact that I grew up in the very small town of Valley Home, California several times.  All of the men in Valley Home were blue collar.  Probably 9 out of ten men where I grew up knew how to weld.

When I was about seven years old my father and one of his lifelong friends started a well drilling company, appropriately called "Valley Home Drilling".  It was during this time that I remember my father welding in his shop at our house, although I don't know if he was repairing parts for the drill rigs or doing something different.  I know that he was a stick welder and he was also a gas welder as I remember watching strike the yellow flame at the end of the nozzle and then dial up the oxygen to bring the flame down to a short, sharp and precise, blue flame.  I can remember sneaking into the shop and trying to use his welding helmet as some sort of toy, but it was always too dark to really use.

Our Valley Home neighbor, Fred, welded and farmed, and many of his creations still stand today.  He had a shop on his lot in town, and many an evening you could see the familiar flashes of the arc he was creating and hear the sound of "frying bacon" coming from within his shop.  My friend, Danny's, dad did auto body work in his shop on the north side of town, and he was always welding there when I would visit.  My step father welded, and my step brother, Rick, was a professional welder when he first became my step-brother.  There was always a welder in the shop on my step father's small farm, but I never asked to be taught.

Even with the environment I grew up in, and all the influences around me, I never learned.  When I went through high school I definitely could have learned to weld in shop classes, but I never took any.  My dad had moved into Modesto and the well drilling company had failed years before, but his welding equipment was in the garage at the new house.  However, I don't recall ever seeing him do any welding other than when we all lived together in Valley Home.  I certainly could have asked him to teach me himself, but I never did so.

I have no explanation for why I never asked anyone to teach me to weld.  I learned about working with wood and using power saws from my dad, and I asked him to show me.  I asked my step father to show me how to change the oil in my car, how to swap out the alternator and how to do many other things in my vehicle and I learned.  But for some reason I never pursued welding.

With all of that background, I always knew that I should learn to weld but just never seemed to make time for this until I was 48 years of age.  Autumm and I have owned our own farm for 10.5 years now, and during that time there definitely have been projects that I needed to complete that required welding or repairs that needed to be done that required welding.  Every time these came up I either hired this done or asked a friend with the equipment and know how for a favor.  That has always been a little bit embarrassing to me.  Not knowing how to weld is not a revocation of one's man card, but owning your own farm and equipment and not knowing how to repair it borders on the inefficient.

I tell you all of this to explain the title of today's show.  All of us have a metaphorical closet in our minds.  We have a set amount of space to contain the things that we know we need to do or that we want to do at some point in the future.  Anytime you or somebody else uses the phrase, "it has been in the back of my mind" think of this closet.  The "back of the mind" is the term for the closet where we have been storing the things that we need to get done.

The "back of the mind" is a confined space with only so much room.  So, the more that you put off or say that you will get done on some day in the future, the more you clutter it up.  The more you clutter it up, the less room there is for big goals like starting a farm or beginning a business.  And the more clutter there is, the less able you will be to map out the small steps you need to take to reach the really big goals.  There will just be too much stuff laying around to distract you.

When I finished that welding class on Saturday, I made a bunch of room in the "back of my mind".  It turns out that knowing that I should learn to weld had been taking up a lot of space in there, and for decades now, anytime something needed to be welded, I knew that it was sitting in there.

By being proactive and forcing myself to finally learn this skill, I accessed a new part of the brain.  It is the part where I store knowledge, not where I store ideas, things I need to do and abstract thoughts.  I was able to take all of those cubic feet that the welding was taking up and move it to the shelf of knowledge, allowing me to put new ideas in the closet to finally be pulled out when I am ready.  This is the key to being creative and achieving lifelong goals.  You've got to keep things tidy up there so you have the time and focus to accomplish large and complex goals.

What is cluttering up your closet, and when are you going to clean it out?

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Direct download: OFI_1302_Tuesday_Episode_-_2722_2.46_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There is no doubt that the most successful people are the most proactive people.  One way or another proactive people find a way to learn a new skill, start a new business or get connected to new people.  No matter how they exhibit their "proactivity" they all have one thing in common....they go get it and don't wait for it to come to them.  Every proactive person knows that if you wait for whatever it is to come to you, it is coming to everyone else at the same time, and that is not a way to get ahead.

Our guest today exhibits these proactive tendencies.  Casyn Larman is just a sophomore in high school, but he has already accomplished a lot.  I first noticed this when he emailed me, requesting to come on the show.  I soon found out that he is already serving as his chapter's reporter, and his coverage of chapter events and accomplishments of fellow members have resulted in him being published in multiple places, including the High Plains Journal.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1301_Casyn_Larman-COMM_BREAK_10_14_TO_10_16-011822.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Review of “Pig”

Be careful with social media:

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

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Direct download: OFI_1300_Rural_Crime_Episode_-_2422_4.27_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Jay and Amber Desimone own and operate 840Farm in Waxahacie, Texas.  They specialize in raising pastured, Mangalitsa pork for customers in the Dallas area.  They do quite a bit of value adding, such as producing salami, and they have a rapidly growing business.  As a matter of fact, during Covid, Jay's job was eliminated, but he hasn't looked back.  He has been full-time on their farm since late in 2020, and it has been an awakening.  He states that if he ever does go back to working for an employer it will be in the trades and not back into the corporate world that he came from.

For the bulk of Jay and Amber's lives together they have lived in the city and lived that corporate life.  However, as they were raising their two boys, River and Canyon, in the city and experiencing police activity and the hustle and bustle of the city they decided to look for something different.  Amber had grown up on a farm in the Panhandle of Texas, and that was definitely the direction she wanted to move. Find out how their timing was just right in as Covid lockdowns came shortly after their move. 

Baxter Black has amazing legacy of entertaining people while telling the story of agriculture and ranching life in his cowboy poetry. Today, I bring you a replay of an interview I did with Baxter a few years ago talking about his is business journey and his key to success.

My guest today loves farming.  As a matter of fact, even though he has only recently graduated from high school, he has loved farming for a long time already.  Connor Keithley grew up farming with his family in Missouri on a farm operation that began in the mid-1940's as a hog operation.  Sometimes in the 1990's they switched from hogs to row crops, and they have been expanding ever since with both purchased and leased ground.  Today, they are farming 10,000 acres, and Connor is an integral part of that.

Even with that size of an operation, something was tugging at Connor to start his own operation.  All the way back in middle school, he decided to pursue this and he invested the money he had saved by working for other farmers and leased 30 acres to start farming.  He still had money left over for inputs, and he began his own operation farming corn, wheat and soybeans.  He has continued to grow this ever since, and he even started raising some pigs as a fair project and liked it enough that he is continuing that to this day.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1297_Connor_Keithley-122621.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Welcome to February everyone.  A large percentage of our country will be getting started on the 2022 growing season this month.  Of course this varies from region to region and zone to zone.  Last Friday Hattie and I went out to Melba, Idaho for one of the best burgers you can find in Idaho at Cook's 2-Hole Bar.  We were driving Autumm's 1997 Jeep Wrangler, so we decided to off road a little bit.  There is a route you can take that takes you through the BLM land for a few miles.

On our route we were driving past the range cattle that eke out their living in the winter out on this barren, wind swept plateau that offers some dormant grass and forage from last summer.  Right as we were getting back to pavement we saw a cow near the water tanks with a calf that was just a day or two old.  It reminded me that the most legit of legit ranchers that we have here in Idaho run cattle on these rangelands all year round, and they start calving now in an effort to get those weaning weights up when they ship in the fall.

For us, here in Idaho, the next season begins with the earliest calves that come in January and February.  Soon to follow will be ground preparation, input purchases and before you know it, planting.  There are some parts of the U.S. that are way ahead of us, and there are other parts that will be a month behind us.

I think that true down time anymore is a myth, but if there is any downtime it certainly ends with the end of January.  Your plans for the next growing season should be made, and you should be getting things into place right now for the rush that is coming.  For me, I am marketing, contracting out cattle and pigs and procuring next winter's feed at this time of year.  Here in Southwest Idaho we are almost there.  Our high and low temperatures are about to get a little bit higher, our days are about to get noticeably longer and it won't be long until we have water in the canal out back.  We are just about to put this winter behind us.

Before I sign off for today's Tuesday episode I want to give you all an update on a very early guest on this show.  Baxter Black, the cowboy poet and veterinarian, was a very early guest on the Off-Farm Income Podcast.  He appeared on episode #16.  I thought it was really early in my podcasting career to request an interview with somebody like Baxter, but I did it anyway.  To my thrill and surprise he came on the show.  I am going to replay that episode on our Thursday episode this week.

I just read yesterday that Baxter is dealing with some health problems, and he has stopped writing his columns and doing the work that he loves to do so much.  I also read an article, quoting his son-in-law, stating that he was on a modified hospice treatment with a home health professional coming to check on on him a couple times per week at his home.

Baxter is a great cowboy, agricultural advocate, a true gentleman and a very generous celebrity.  I hope you will all keep him in your prayers and go watch some of his videos on Youtube or read some of his writings.  I've made it easy for you as I've put my favorite video of him up in the show notes on today's episode.  This was an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when he recited this poem.  It is true genius and hilarious, and I hope you will check it out.

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Direct download: OFI_1296_Tuesday_Episode_-_13122_5.49_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT