Off-Farm Income

I have a list of businesses that I like to revisit and get different perspectives from different business owners on.  The business of manure spreading is on that list.  There is a wide range of complexity in this business.   Everywhere that anyone raises livestock there is the need to deal with manure.  If you live in the Northeast you might just be dealing with small farmyards.  A tractor with a bucket and a PTO driven manure spreader might be all the equipment you need for your business.

And then there is the Midwest and all of the cattle on feed plus the massive fields of crop ground that are there.  To run a manure spreading business in this region you need big equipment and a lot of it.

In today's interview I get to speak with Chadd Schmidt, one of the owners of 4 Bar S Inc.  4 Bar S is a manure spreading and pen cleaning business that Chadd's parents started in the 1980's.  Today they are running top of the line, triple axle, manure spreaders that can haul up to 48 ton.  And they have four of them!

Direct download: OFI_2093_Replay_Of_868_-_53024_5.26PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 5:38pm MDT

We celebrated Hattie's high school graduation starting last Wednesday with the ceremony on Thursday and party on Saturday.  That has been all encompassing and is the topic of today's Farm Update.


Direct download: OFI_2091_Tuesday_Episode_-_52824_4.21PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 4:40pm MDT

I don't know if you have noticed, but his show is about non-conformists and people who look at the world a different way.  All of us fit that definition a little bit by the mere fact that we want to farm and only 2% of our population is in that career field.  But what about that person that says "why do I have to do it that way"?

Today's guest, Ben Rykerd, is that person.  Ben is now 29 years old.  He describes himself as having a "travel bug" and he has known this since he was a kid.  So, as high school was coming to a close Ben didn't just take the next prescribed step in the journey, he stopped and asked himself what type of life he wanted to have.

Direct download: OFI_2086_Replay_Of_993_-_52324_12.16PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:44pm MDT

Today's Farm Update Episode includes a large announcement about the future of the Off-Farm Income Podcast.  I hope you will all tune in and share this moment with me.

Direct download: OFI_2084_Tuesday_Episode_-_52024_6.59PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Install a driveway alarm

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above


Chalk One Up For The Good Guys


Direct download: OFI_2081_Rural_Crime_-_51724_5.59PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Lynn & Jesse Frey are the owners of Life Root Farm in Stanley, Wisconsin.  These are two people who are definitely listening to and following their inner voices.  Lynn grew up with a mother who was passionate about gardening, and Lynn thought that she would never want to do that.  However, somewhere along the line it clicked and she found herself wanting grow fresh and healthy food for her family.  Jesse grew up on a dairy and was encouraged by his father to go get an education and do something different than farming.  He followed that path but eventually felt himself called back to agriculture.

Today they are in the midst of transitioning from a CSA based business model to one that is centered around growing and marketing heirloom seeds.  With four children to raise and mentor, they are showing them how rewarding a life on the land that connects with nature can be.

Direct download: Lynn_Frey_Episode_2080_-_5724_10.11AM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I am starting to think that plant breeders are born, not made.  At least every time I interview a young man or woman with this passion it appears that is correct.  In today's interview I am speaking with a junior in high school that has already obtained $10,000 in funding to begin an apple orchard on his high school's property.  Gabe Olson-Jensen is our featured guest, and look at this list of accomplishments:

  • Started working at a local orchard at age 12
  • Grafted his first trees at age 12
  • Obtained land at his school start a 1/4 acre apple orchard in 2020
  • Applied for and received a $1,000 SAE grant in 2020
  • Applied for and recieved $9,000 in funding from USDA SARE in 2020
  • Purchased 200 apple trees and trellising and began the orchard in 2020
  • Using integrated pest management to sustain and grow the fruit trees

Gabe really has an amazing story as so many of these seed breeders do.  Today, we will profile it all for you!

Direct download: OFI_2079_Replay_Of_1411_-_51624_5.23PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 6:26pm MDT

Olivia Vanderwalt is the reporter for the Lee County FFA Chapter, and is just finishing her junior year of high school.  She has a very interesting and unique story.  Part of the story I have heard before.  She grew up in a neighborhood and not on a farm.  So, when she wanted to join the FFA, with no agricultural background, in the 6th Grade her mom wasn't so sure.  So far, there is nothing unusual about this story as parents who aren't familiar with the FFA often wonder why their kids want to get involved in agriculture.

However, there is a twist.  Olivia's mom grew up in England, and her dad grew up in South Africa.  Both of them were exploring the world by taking positions in physical therapy when they met in Florida, and this led them to get married, start a family and settle down in Leesburg.  This has to be the most unique origin story in this town!

Luckily for the FFA, Olivia's mom consented, and Olivia has been significantly engaged in the FFA since 6th Grade.  She is hoping to become her chapter's president during her senior year, and she has been showing dairy heifers and working on a dairy for her SAE for several years.  She also works at her local zoo and gets to educate people about animals and reptiles, allowing them to touch and handle the animals from time to time.


Direct download: Olivia_Vanderwalt_Episode_2078_-_51524_4.20PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 4:37pm MDT

Today I have a farm update for you, and a discussion about the many benefits of direct marketing our beef that I never thought about.  This is not the farm business model that I dreamed of in my youth, but it has turned out to be a lucrative and rewarding model that I really enjoy....


Direct download: OFI_2077_Tuesday_Episode_-_51324_4.55PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

You have to lead vehicles when you throw oranges at them

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above


Chalk One Up For The Good Guys


Direct download: OFI_2074_Rural_Crime_-_5824_5.36PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Bryan Buerkle grew up on his families farm in Eastern Montana learning many valuable lessons about the struggle that farmers face trying create a sustainable business model in this world.  Working full-time on his families farm was not a viable option when he finished high school, and he had to look for other alternatives.  College and engineering was the path he chose, and it led him all around the world designing and building tractors for John Deere.

Today, Bryan is back in Montana and he is devoting himself to helping farmers to create a business model that will see them through.  He and his partners have started Farm Pro, which is an online business designed to help small to medium sized farmers find available revenue that would otherwise be hidden from them.  Farm Pro is currently focused on farmers who have one to a few trucks capable of hauling commodities, and connecting them with farmers and businesses who need those commodities hauled.

This is the beginning of this start up business, and it is moving towards a day that it connects farmers who can offer a wide array of services to people who need those services in their surrounding communities and regions.  If you are considering starting your own business as the method of creating your off-farm income, this is an interview that could prove very beneficial to you.

Direct download: Bryan_Buerkle_Episode_2073_-_5724_10.40AM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

In agriculture when we hear the word pivot we usually think of 120-400 acres of irrigated ground.  An automated sprinkler system that is self-driven, applying a precise amount of water to a crop or pasture.

If you are a small business owner that services agriculture you need to know about another pivot.  This is the catch phrase used by so many in the business “start up” community.  To “pivot” means to change direction in your business to adapt to changing market conditions, new technology or new information and ideas that you can only obtain after you have started your business and got in the game.

Those of us in agriculture are pretty practical people.  Most business information is written for those who work in the city, work online and don’t get their hands dirty.  The truth is farmers and those who serve farmers have been “pivoting” for years.  We just called it “common sense”.  When things changed it was pretty apparent that we needed to change with them.

Direct download: OFI_2072_Replay_Of_201_-_5824_3.42PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Peyton Gay is the sentinel for the Deane Bozeman FFA Chapter, and he is a remarkable young man.  A natural athlete, gifted student and very hard worker Peyton has managed to put together an FFA and high school experience that will be rivaled by few.

Peyton has grown up on his grandparent's farm in Northern Florida that they purchased because of their love for animals of all types.  Never having a profit motive, Peyton's grandmother has cared for and rescued multiple different species of wildlife and livestock on the farm since it first began.  This is how Peyton grew up as well, and it led to his supervised agricultural experience raising, incubating and giving away Sebastopol Geese, which are listed as a threatened species.

This influence has resulted in Peyton pursuing a career as a veterinarian.  He is also pursuing his dream of playing football for Texas A&M in College Station.  He has been awarded a "walk on scholarship" which means that all of his football activities will be paid for but not his academics.  However, Peyton believes that through his academics and pursuits in the FFA that he will be able to have a full-ride academic scholarship!  It is an amazing story and one that I am really looking forward to seeing develop from an academic as well as an athletic perspective.

Direct download: Peyton_Gay_Episode_2071_-_5824_11.37AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 11:47am MDT

On today's show I "accidentally" talked for thirty minutes about how we used real estate to create our current situation.  Basically, as I was starting the farm update show, something caused me to veer onto this tangent, and a half hour later I had given a blue print on how to purchase a farm in your late thirties by investing in real estate starting in your twenties.

More Places You Can Listen to Off-Farm Income And Matt Brechwald:




Direct download: OFI_2070_Tuesday_Episode_-_42924_11.31AM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Abigail Harrison loves to inspire others, and that is what has driven her to start her own business - Abigail Grace Woodworking.  In a business like this you might think it is the craft, the profit or the marketing that would be the driver.  However, in Abby's case she loves going to different SAE sales, setting up a booth and speaking with other FFA students who see what she has done and want to know how to do it themselves.

Abby has the rare ability to really listen to what is right for her.  During her 9th Grade year she had a journalism SAE, and she was creating a website.  However, something didn't feel right about that.  She really thought about what she wanted to do, and it occurred to her that she wanted to work with her hands and have a tangible creation to hold when she was done.  That is how she got started creating products, and that is what has opened the doors for her in her SAE.

Direct download: Abby_Harrison_Episode_2069_-_5124_11.09AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

For Information Like Degrees Offered, Annual Costs, Etc., Please Click The Banner Below:

The Agricultural College Episode is designed to profile agricultural trade schools, junior colleges, colleges and universities around the U.S.  This episode is an effort to replicate the conversation that prospective students, parents and ag teachers might have with agricultural schools at trade show like the National FFA Convention.

Chico State University is the agricultural college that I almost went to.  I have told the story on the show before, but in today's interview I finally get to verify!  As it turns out, CSU Chico would have been a fantastic place to study agriculture.  It is in a great part of California, has a great climate and has an outstanding school farm with the opportunity to learn multiple different aspects of livestock, permanent crop and row crop agriculture.  And, it is a very affordable university, especially by California standards.

More Places You Can Listen to Off-Farm Income And Matt Brechwald:



Direct download: Chico_State_Episode_2068_-_5324_4.26PM.mp3
Category:Agricultural Colleges -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Understanding what motivates thieves can help us stop rural crime

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above


Chalk One Up For The Good Guys



Direct download: OFI_2067_Rural_Crime_-_5324_4.34PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Kasey Neely and her husband, Kyle, live in Eastern Illinois on their 32 acre farm.  There they raise and sell grass fed beef, pastured poultry, eggs and they are considering raising and selling pastured pork.  Kasey is a strong advocate for buying local and supporting your local farmer.  On today's episode we will discuss their journey to becoming farm owners, how not growing up on a farm influences the manner in which you design your farming model and pacing yourself no matter how excited you get about what you could possibly do on your land.

Direct download: Kasey_Neely_Episode_2066_-_42324_3.12PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There is a lot of content in today's interview.  I was first drawn to this guest because of a referral by one of our listeners, Dave Lehman, because our guest was selling products to assist people with raising and processing chickens.  However, during the interview I found out a lot more about this guest.

Mike Badger has worked in corporate America, and he grew up believing that was the way that life worked.  However, he later decided that it did not have to be that way.  He and his wife decided to farm right then and there.


Direct download: OFI_2065_Replay_Of_294_-_5224_11.03AM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 11:29am MDT

Natalie Rider is the third generation of her family in the horse business on the Circle T Ranch in Celina, Ohio.  Her grandfather, who always had a passion for horses, purchased this property in 1995 in the midst of his truck driving career.  Then he started building a horse business.

Natalie was first put on horseback when she was 6 months old, and somewhere along the line she developed the same passion.  Today, if she is not at school or sleeping she at her grandparents ranch working in the horse business.  Today she trains client horses, gives riding lessons, feeds and cleans stalls for the boarding business and is coaching an equestrian Special Olympics team of eight competitors.  

Natalie knows that she wants to be around horses and her families ranch for her future.  So, she has already identified three universities that she can attend for a bachelor's degree in agriculture that will keep her close to home and working on the ranch!

Direct download: Natalie_Rider_Episode_2064_-_43024_10.38AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT