Off-Farm Income (farming)

Our guest today is highly educated about the world of agriculture, believes strongly in advocating for ag and knows that we need to reach out to children with the truth about farming and livestock before inaccurate information is told to them so many times that it becomes ingrained.  And it is these core beliefs that led Jackie Nix to strike out as a children's author and create her first book, Modern Farms and create her publishing company, Moo Maven Publishing.

Jackie really has an amazing story.  She grew up around other people's farms but not on her own.  This was enough for her to develop a passion for agriculture which led her to Virginia Tech. University to study animal science.  She followed this up with a master's degree in agriculture which led her to become an extension agent.  After several years in this field she went to work in private industry, selling feed, and then two big disruptions happened in her life.  Her father became terminally ill followed by Covid 19.

During this time period Jackie focused on family, and that meant leaving the corporate world for a while.  This time away from the busy business world gave her extra time to think, and that is when she was inspired to write her first book, Modern Farms.  Jackie has a vision of what she wants to produce, and how she wants to educate children about what farming really is.  She is so true to her vision that instead of contracting with a publishing company, she started her own.  This was all about creative control and making sure that the vision she has in her mind is the same one that gets to the children who read her books!

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Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1389_Jackie_Nix-COMM_9_57-041422.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

It is very difficult to know what is in the future on our farm this year, and I know this is true for so many of you out there.  From weather to input prices to unavailability of fertilizer there is a lot that we just don't know.  For me, this big unknown is water and hay prices.  I don't know how long I will be able to irrigate for this year.  If they stop delivering water at the end of July, that is 2 extra months of hay that I have to feed.  The end of August equals one month extra.

With an already existing hay shortage due to massive development in the area, the drought is just making a pre-existing problem worse.  I am not sure how much hay that I should buy, because I don't know when I will begin feeding.  I have no idea what the price will be because farmers won't set that until after the first cutting his complete.  I have even heard that some farmers aren't taking reservations for hay, and they are going to set a floor price and auction their hay off to the highest bidder.

I have already reserved all of my hay, and I have not heard anything back from that farmer indicating that he is canceling my reservation and conducting an auction.  I am hoping that is not what I am looking at.  However, I do expect to be paying much higher prices and purchasing more hay than usual at those prices.  So, the impact on my bottom line will be significant.

So, starting out the season I am trying to take advantage of every blade of grass grown on my place.  There are a few different patches of grass in areas that are not fenced that usually get mowed.  This year, I am using temporary fencing or even putting up some additional permanent fence in order to graze these areas.  Every single blade of grass is going to matter for me because how long I get to irrigate is out of my control, and when it is over, it is over.  The more grass I have standing at that moment, the longer I can wait to begin burning hay.

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Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's episode is a bit different than any normal, Off-Farm Income episode.  Today I am speaking with Kathleen Dowling.  Kathleen and I have a lot in common.  We both grew up in California, we both started our collegiate education at a community college, we both had a dream of moving to Montana, we both became Montana state residents and we both got ag degrees from Montana State University.

Recently I saw a post on the Facebook Group, My Job Depends On Ag, that Kathleen had put up.  She expressed a bit of frustration with finding a career in agriculture and was asking for recommendations from other people.  I reached out to her and offered to provide some career coaching if we could release the conversation as a podcast.  She agreed to that, and today's episode is that conversation.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1383_Kathleen_Dowling-COMM_21_47-031922.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On tomorrow's episode I am speaking with a young lady about her future career prospects and finding her way to the agricultural life that she is dreaming about.  So, for today's re-cap episode I thought that I would go back to a special coaching episode I did with a woman named Wendy from Ontario, Oregon.  I find it is helpful to hear people brainstorm through these ideas as they try to find a way to make it all work.  I hope this is true for you as well.  Below are the original show notes.



Today is our second episode devoted to coaching a listener for free.  I hope you see the consistency here. I tell you to work for free, and I am working for free to develop this part of my business.

Our guest today is Wendy from Ontario, Oregon.  Wendy and her husband both work full-time and have a farm dream.  They have purchased a 200 acre farm about 90 minutes away from her husband's work and recently purchased another 500 acres nearby.  Now they want to fix up an old farmhouse on the property and they need funds to make this happen.

They are leasing out a large portion of the farm and farming the rest.  However, there is 20 acres of pasture available and they have their eye on the cattle business as a way to generate revenue to help with the remodeling of this house.

This turns into more of a consulting session than a coaching session.  But there is good information in here on a couple different models of using direct marketing to make beef really pay.

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Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1382_Replay_Of_Episode_318-COMM_8_30-041022_.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

This morning I was out in one of our pastures moving our sprinkler line.  I was wet, my hands were muddy and wet and I was already behind the 8 Ball for the day.  As I normally do, I had a podcast playing while I worked, and the host of the show read a quote that has been attributed to Thomas Edison.  The quote stopped me in my tracks.

The quote says, "Opportunity is missed because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work".

This quote really struck me for a couple of reasons.  First, as I often say on the show, farming is a lifestyle business.  If it were not about the lifestyle than nobody would invest all the time, the heartache, the work, the money and the education into it.  You could invest all of that into other enterprises that would return you a lot more on that investment.

Those of us that farm cannot be afraid to work, and eventually that turns into opportunity.  Of course, those that do not farm see your later success as a snapshot of that moment, and they never see all of the risk and hard work that led up to that moment.  Talking about this always reminds me of a conversation with a friend when they found out that I had become the host of the D&B Supply Radio Show & Podcast.  They asked me how I was able to do that, and before I fully answered they replied with "you just kind of fell ass backwards into it?", answering their own question.

I let that one go, as I just did not have the energy or motivation to justify all of the work I had done to reach that moment.  We are still friends and there were no hard feelings, but this is a perfect illustration of people not seeing the hard work that is behind momentary success.

The other reason that this quote struck me so powerfully was that I was actually wearing overalls.  I'm not talking about Carhartt bibs that have become standard winter workwear.  I am talking about denim overalls that farmers in the 30's would have been wearing as standard work clothing.  I am talking about clothing that almost nobody wears any longer and will definitely garner you a second look from strangers if you wear them to town.

My step-grandfather wore overalls every day of his life, and every day that I knew him.  He only ever changed into pants if he was going to the sale or going to the doctor.  Other than that, he wore overalls.  I always wanted a pair, but I never allowed myself to get a pair until I actually had my own farm.  Now, Autumm and Hattie, tacitly accept my work wear choices with a smirk every now and then, but I tell you, there has never been a better piece of work clothing invented.  I am all about function and not about form, so if you want to see someone in denim overalls, just come on out to my farm.

Standing there on 33 acres of open ground in one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S. and the most rapidly appreciating real estate market in the U.S., I knew what was under my feet.  And, I also knew that many people would have cashed out long ago in order to move into a life of leisure because they don't see work as opportunity.  I thought of another statement that had been made to Autumm and I a few years earlier.  As real estate had been appreciating in our area for some time, this person was speculating what our farm was worth.  Then she said, "if this place is worth......, I'd sell it tomorrow and be done with all this work."  Obviously, we didn't purchase our place just to turn around and sell it.  Our farm is the culmination of a 20 year dream of farming, not land speculating.  But, looking at the statement from that person today proves that Edison was correct, if he did, in fact, say that.  Our place is probably worth twice as much as that person was speculating back then, and over the course of the past 3-4 years since she said that there has also been a lot of "opportunity" on our farm disguised as work dressed in overalls.

During the moment I heard that quote, I had a feeling of satisfaction, and I knew that at least I was following Thomas Edison's model of finding success, and couldn't be all bad.  And, I'd never been more proud to be wearing overalls.

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Direct download: OFI_1380_Tuesday_Episode_-_5222_3.56_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The ability of farmers to innovate and solve problems is probably on of the most remarkable things about the women and men that make up this profession.  In today's episode we are going to speak with one of those farmers.

Jeff Sberna farms his families land in Northern Ohio.  As he states they are not a big farm, which means that they don't have big equipment.  Even at the height of their farming of 300 acres of family ground, they still operated with smaller machines.  Their farm lies on an old riverbed, adjacent to the Great Lakes, and this creates a number of challenges for them, including many different soil types, gravel and drainage issues.

In about 2008 Jeff was trying to solve the problem of soil performance on their farm, and he believed that he needed to rip the soil to a depth of about 16-18 inches.  However, there were not implements that would work with their smaller equipment that would get this job done.  What is a farmer to do when this happens?  Invent what you need!  And Jeff did it. Tune into the show today to find out more. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1377_Jeff_Sberna-COMM_18_30-032022.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today, enjoy an interview an interview I did with a fellow who was frustrated by not having the tool he needed when working on auto engines and did something about it. Tune in as Shane Mulligan shares his story and how he created a NASCAR partnership to help him market his MAXX Leverage tool that he designed. 


Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1376_Replay_Of_Episode_435-_COMM_16_03-040922.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I talked about "finding the next Boise" on episode #1152 and have spoken about Rapid City, SD being one of these possibilities in the past.  This article demonstrates that was true.

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Direct download: OFI_1374_Tuesday_Episode_-_5222_3.49_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I am fascinated with the business of being a private crop consultant, and with that I have only interviewed two or three of these folks in my time hosting this show.  However, the concept is so interesting because of the talent and knowledge level that these folks have to have.  A private crop consultant is competing with crop advisors from fertilizer companies, where farmers are purchasing product already.  The advisement that the farmers receive at those companies comes as a value ad to them purchasing their fertilizer there.  So, when an individual gets paid to provide crop consulting services without being part of a value ad, you know that they are bringing significant value to their clients.

That is the case with today's guest, Brandon Vining.  Brandon has worked as a crop advisor for one of the big fertilizer and ag companies.  Eventually he thought that he could do more good for farmers as an independent, so he struck out on his own and started Pro Gro Consulting in his area of Eastern Idaho.  While that region has specific crops and specific issues, Brandon started seeing patterns and similarities in other parts of the country by communicating with people online about agronomy.  At the same time, friends from other parts of the country were sending him photos, soil test results and descriptions of problems and asking his advice on how to solve them.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1371_Brandon_Vining-COMM_16_08-031222.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's episode is a replay of an interview I did with Jonathan Meeker as he takes us through his journey of working for someone else so that he could end up working for himself. It is the story of someone seeking entrepreneurship and getting there by being patient and by being smart about how he got there. Today, learn more about Meeker and his re-development company.

Original Show Notes:


Today's guest has definitely got an entrepreneurial spirit.  So, it was wisdom that caused him to stop being an entrepreneur and go back to work for somebody else.  After Jonathan Meeker's first entrepreneurial venture he decided that he wanted to move in a different direction.  That direction was the re-development of permanent crop areas in the San Joaquin Valley of California where he is from.

In order to get trained up in doing this, Jonathan went to work for a company that specialized in doing this. After he had learned the business, or at least enough to go out on his own, he found a niche that his current company was not really serving.  He then started his own business, JMeeker Company, in that space and went back to work for himself.

Now Jonathan works for agricultural investors as well as absentee farmers in getting their vineyards, orchards and other crops up and going.


RESEARCH: You have to know what it is you are going to be selling.  You better do your research ahead of time.

PRICE: Figuring out price can be a very difficult thing to do in a market that has not established strict going rates.  Make sure you get a good feel for what the price can be when planning your business.

QUALITY: Do not stretch yourself too thin.  If you do, the quality of your service will suffer, leading to damage to your reputation and thus less and less work.


OVERTHINKING: Don't overthink things.  Keep moving forward and going in the correct direction.


PATIENCE: Jonathan describes himself as a very patient person.  This is important for anyone in agriculture, but when you are dealing with permanent crops it is even more important.

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Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1370_Replay_of_Episode_357_COMM_11_30-033122.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today, I have a farm update for you that is the result of some busy weeks and sleepless nights.  I've also got exciting information about how Hattie is progressing in the FFA, and I want to address an article I saw stating that locally produced food is the answer to inflation.

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Direct download: OFI_1368_Tuesday_Episode_-_42522_4.46_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Amber and Krystal Wilke are mother and daughter, and they are operating a very successful laser art and engraving business from their family farm in Kimball, Nebraska.  While this might seem like the main part of the story, as successful as it is, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Amber and her husband have been able to create an enterprise on their 4th generation, Nebraska farm, that has allowed their children to come back and work there.  Now, they are surrounded by multiple generations of family, living at the farm.  Krystal lives 12 miles away in town, but is back on the farm full-time.  This has been done through expansion as well as innovation.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1365_Amber_Wilke-COMM_13_15-031122.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Some time ago, I was studying a martial art called Kajukenbo.  My instructor was a very nice man with a lot of experience and training.  And on one of those nights the man who had instructed him came to our class, observed and offered some instruction to the students of his student.

On today's episode of the Off-Farm Income Podcast, I am lucky enough to offer you a similar experience.  Dan Miller, the famed author of 48 Days To The Work You Love and the host of the vastly popular podcast, the 48 Days Internet Radio Show, is our guest host.  And, he is interviewing me!

It was my huge honor to be invited by Dan to be his featured guest for a private group that he facilitates called the 48 Days Eagles Community.  On Monday's, Dan brings a guest on for their Monday Mentor Training, and on 4/11/22 it was me!  I discovered Dan Miller in 2009 when I was first dreaming about a different lifestyle...actually, the lifestyle that I have now.  If it had not been for Dan, I wouldn't be living the life I am living today.

Dan and I have got to know each other over the years, and he has kept informed about my progress as an entrepreneur and podcaster.  I can't tell you how special it is that he thinks my story and experience is valuable enough to share with his exclusive audience.  And today you get a special peek behind the curtain.

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Direct download: OFI_1362_Tuesday_Episode_-_41122_2.37_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

In today's interview we are lucky enough to take a fascinating journey into the mind of an inventor.  Not just any inventor though, a farmer who sees problems, visualizes ways to solve them and then follows through.....all the way through.

Monte Busser has a list of 8,100 ideas that can make life better for farmers and everyday people.  Looking at all the patents he already has filed, all of the work he does outside of inventing and the processes he has in place to make his inventions commercially available you might euphemistically say that he has been "struck by lighting".  However, when I asked him when he remembers first creating and improving things, he thinks back to a time when he was actually struck by lightning at ten years of age.  Fortunately the lighting bolt first hit a transformer, then arced and struck him while he was riding his bicycle on rubber tires.  His parents actually saw him be struck by the lighting, but he was not hurt, he just started riding faster.  And since that day, he has been inventing and improving.

In today's episode we focus on five of Monte's patents that are featured on Google Patents.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1359_Monty_BusserCOMM_14_10-031022.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's show is a replay of interview I did with a fellow podcaster. It is an interesting discussion on his discussions when it comes to hauling agriculture related freight. Check it out!

Orignial Show Notes:

As part of my journey in agricultural podcasting I have found myself as the editor and producer of the Bulkloads Podcast.  The Bulkloads Podcast is part of, which is a service for truck drivers hauling bulk freight.  Naturally this is related to agriculture with all of the hauling of bulk commodities around the country.

I was recently editing an episode for Bulkloads, and their guest was Mike Wade.  Mike grew up on a dairy farm in Northern California and eventually found his way into truck driving.  Along the way Mike saw a homemade tool another driver had, and he thought he would like to make one for himself.  However, when he designed it he added on other features that he always wanted in a tool that would help him in other ways.  Huckleberry's Hammers were born.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1358-Replay_of_Episode_920_COMM_17_52-033122.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Thoughts Inspired By The Book: "The Crucible Of War"

Immediately following the the French and Indian War in the U.S. a recession or even a depression began to sink in, in the colonies as the British military moved out of the colonies and focused their attention on matters in the Caribbean.  This left commercial farmers, the very first to ever emerge in North America, dealing with how to pay back debt with low commodity prices.  This caused smaller farmers to shift from growing extra and selling it at markets to return to a basic subsistence type of farming lifestyle.  This also led to more bartering with supplemental agricultural products.

I found something interesting about the view of farmers when looking at the story of Thomas Rich.  He was a merchant from Philadelphia.  He had significant amounts of inventory that he had purchased with debt during the war because the British military was purchasing everything and the war was fueling all sorts of commerce.  However, when the war ended and the economy slowed he was left with a lot of inventory that he could not sell and the debt that was going to be paid from the sale of those items.

He came up with a scheme to ship this merchandise to the French in their colony of Guiana, but this was illegal as he was a subject of the British Crown, and the British had just ended a war with the French and the terms of the end of the war prohibited him from trading with the French.

This plan did not work for Rich, and by 1770, when he finally paid all of his debts he was essentially bankrupt.  I am listening to this book, so the tone of the author can be felt by the inflection of the reader and what he emphasizes.  As the narrator finishes telling Thomas Rich’s story he say says, with some sort of disdain in his voice, that he “died raising sheep on a farm in New Jersey”.  The inflection is obvious as though the fact that Thomas Rich ended his life as a farmer was a form of disgrace or shame.

I found myself chuckling as I listened to this.  I did not find it disgraceful or shameful that he spent his final years in a beautiful place raising livestock.  I thought to myself, “he finally got it right!”.  I can’t help but wonder if after all the stress and high level dealings that Thomas Rich went through in the 1700’s if he found himself tending to sheep one day and asked himself, “why haven’t I been doing this all along”.

I do find it ironic that today, so many who live this high stress lifestyle in the cities are rejecting this life and opting for a simpler life in a rural environment raising livestock or growing food.  It seems to me that there is a secret to living a good life that exists, and only farmers have really been able to figure it out.  This has been going on since the 1700’s, and I wonder why it has taken almost 300 years for people to start realizing this.

There was another part of Thomas Rich’s story that I wanted to share with you.  I found myself thinking of the quip, from the book of Ecclesiastes, that states “there is nothing new under the sun” is really true when I heard this part.  Thomas Rich was a “go big or go home” type of guy.  He took on a lot of debt.  So much so, that he never found himself in a debtor’s prison.  His debtors had lent him so much money that they dared not have him arrested or foreclosed on.  Their only hope in recovering what they had lent to was keep him producing and earning so that he could repay, even if that were incremental and slow.

So much has not changed.  His philosophy was “If you owe your banker $1,000 and you have $500 to pay him, you have a problem.  If you owe your banker a million and you don’t have a nickel, he’s got a partner”.  I have heard many people talk about farmers, particularly dairy farmers, with admiration in their voice, who follow this principle.  This philosophy is alive and well in agriculture today, and some of the largest, and perceived to be most successful farmers, that I have heard stories about are those that owe the bank or banks so much money, that the banks would never dare to foreclose - debtors prison is no longer a thing.  If they foreclosed they would get pennies on the dollar for what they have lent.  They have no choice but to continue to work with the farmer and ride the cycles of agriculture in the hopes of recovering the money they have lent.

It is very interesting how if you are careless with debt it can wreck you financially, but if you absolutely reckless and build an empire on debt everything changes and it can sustain you!

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Direct download: OFI_1356_Tuesday_Episode_-_4622_11.08_AM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Would you allow a cell tower on your farm if it meant an extra $800-$2,000 per month of revenue to help sustain the farming lifestyle that you are in search of?  Have you read things on the internet or heard rumors about lawsuits, bad leases or health problems caused by cell signals being transmitted close to your home?  How long should a cell tower lease last?  Who should be responsible for liability insurance?  How much farm ground would you have to give up to have this revenue source?

In today's interview with Ryan Conklin, the owner of Wright & Moore Law Co. in Ohio we will talk about all of these questions.  This episode was inspired by an article written by Ryan's predecessor, Robert Moore, in 2019 discussing the expansion of need for cell towers with the advent of 5G technology.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1353_Ryan_Conklin-COMM_15_12-031922.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's episode takes us back to interview I did many shows ago. An oldie, but goodie, Adam Kline takes us through business and farm succession planning strategies. He also talks about how to obtain a farm and some challenges that might come up and how to work through them. 

Original Show Notes:

I would like to introduce you to Adam Kline this week.  Adam is a business succession attorney with Bose McKinney & Evans LLP in Indianapolis, Indiana.  He is from a farming family and is significantly invested in agriculture.

In this episode Adam helps us continue learning about obtaining our farms.  There are many obstacles to entry for new farmers.  Land, equipment and "know how" are just three of the potential obstacles.  Farm succession planning helps both the transitioning farmer and the new farmer overcome all of these obstacles.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1352-Replay_of_Episode_22-COMM_14_07-032422_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

A quick farm update for you today.  I believe that I have hit my metaphorical "10,000 hours" when it comes to raising cattle.  And, if you are not already raising goats, it is time.  Today, I offer my most compelling argument yet.

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Direct download: OFI_1350_Tuesday_Episode_-_4422_6.14_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

It is really amazing what you can accomplish if you are willing to listen to your inner voice and follow where it takes you.  The concept of this "inner voice" can take you down a number of rabbit holes.  For me personally, I feel as though that voice is there to direct you to the reason you were put on this Earth.  In my case, I believe that it comes from God, either spoken to me in real time or implanted at birth to speak to me when the time is right.

This "inner voice" is not magnificent in the sense that you are not going to become overwhelmed by a feeling or see something miraculous that leaves you with no doubt that the universe has a message for you.  It is much more subtle than that, and it can be difficult to hear.  It is one of those things that is always there, but you never notice it until you finally do.....and then it seems as obvious as the sunshine.  I don't know why it is not easier to detect, but I suspect it is that way so that you are compelled to make some effort to hear it.  What I know for sure, is that it is there for everyone.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1347_-Emily_Reuschel-COMM13_59_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The types of businesses that people are creating by talking about agriculture are amazing.  Today, I get to profile one of those influencers.  Michelle Miller goes by the name "The Farm Babe".  She has an interesting story of growing up in Wisconsin, finding herself on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, traveling the world, bartending on a beach in Florida and ultimately finding her way to a farm in Northern Iowa. Find out how she did in today's show. 

I just found out that irrigation will not begin for surface water users in my area until April 22nd this year.  Citing repeated drought, the Boise Project Board Of Control announced that canals would not begin filling until April 18th, and the earliest that anyone would be irrigating would be the 22nd.  Also, we are starting out the season with an allotment.  Normally, we do not begin the season with a restriction on how much water that we can use other than what we have in our accounts.  Usually, as water in the reservoirs starts dropping an allotment is declared.  This generally takes place sometime in June or maybe even July.  However, we are starting the season this way.

This means that all irrigators are going to be restricted to using no more than 1.20 acre feet of water per acre on their ground for this season.  This is a low allotment, and it is designed to get farmers all the way through the growing season.  However, these restrictions definitely impact the decisions that farmers will make for the year.

If you have been watching the news out of the Central Valley of California, you will see that a lot of acres, especially on the west side of the Central Valley in places like Fresno and Kings Counties, will go uncultivated this year.  Farmers there are dealing with greater hardships than us in Idaho, and they have to forgo planting seasonal crops so that they can save the water that would be needed on those fields for their permanent crops like almonds, grapes and fruit trees.

Here in Idaho, what I expect to see happen is less acres of water thirsty crops like corn being grown and more short season crops like wheat being planted.  I suspect that the farmers who can buy water from other people might not alter their rotations.  However, those that cannot may have to.  With that said, I expect the price of wheat to be up if the conflict in the Ukraine continues, maybe that will act as a hedge for farmers who are forced to plant more acres of wheat than they anticipated.

I consider myself to be in a good position.  If you've been listening to me since 2015 you will know that one of the ways that we put in the necessary infrastructure on our farm was to do a cost share with the NRCS through their EQIP program.  That has been nine years ago now, and it has only been a positive, we never endured any negative consequences from it.

One of things that came out of that program is that our entire place is irrigated by sprinklers now.  And over time we have progressed from rented sprinkler pipe, to wheel lines to irrigation pods.  We have become progressively more and more water efficient, which means that we have yet to use all of our allotted water in a season.  And, this allows us to "carry over" some water from one season to the next.  So, I am very grateful that we made that move.  Irrigation is now easier, and it allows us to really save water throughout the year to get us through.

However, if there is no water available it does us no good.  And, if irrigation water gets shut off very early this year, than it will not matter what manner of delivery that we use, we will be unable to irrigate either way.  So, as a hedge I am going to purchase some extra hay, early in the season, and hope that I don't have to start feeding in September.  However, I am fully prepared for that to be the reality that I am facing.

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Direct download: OFI_1344_Tuesday_Episode_-_32822_6.54_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I have never delved into the world of hemp farming or of value added products made from hemp plants and seed.  Today, I am finally going to break that pattern.  I will be speaking with Justin Harris of Wild Ass Soaps.

Justin and his wife have developed quite a family enterprise that operates with them and their children in Southwestern Nebraska.  They first began with a lawn and landscaping business which grew and became very time consuming.  Looking for other opportunities they began growing and selling sod from their 15 acre farm.  Eventually they started to look into making soaps, and then something major happened.  The production of hemp was legalized by the U.S. government.

Within two years of this announcement Justin and his family were producing hemp and incorporating it into their soaps, lotions and oils.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1341-Justin_Harris-COMM_18_38-021922.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today we are going deep into our archives to replay an episode about starting a goat milk soap business.  On tomorrow's ag business episode we are profiling a new type of soap business, and I thought this interview with Shanna McCann would tie in nicely to that show.  Goat milk soap is such a great, value added product that I really enjoy profiling and replaying these business interviews.  Below are the original show notes from episode #351.


So, I haven't had one set of plans work out like I wanted in the recent past, and that is just the way it is going for me on my farm.  First, I was supposed to start calving on February 25th, but we didn't have our first calf until 3/5/22.  Our cows are all showing that they are ready to calve, but they are coming along very slow and to date I only have four calves.

Next, I filled out the perfect bracket for the NCAA Basketball Tournament and put together a fun group of people to participate in the bracket.  After just one weekend, I am in last place with no prospect of turning things around.  And, my daughter is in second and absolutely destroying me.

Currently I am on a solo, staycation, during Autumm and Hattie's Spring Break.  The three of us have taken a trip together every Spring Break for years now, but this slow calving kept me at home.  So, they took off to go look at some colleges and see the ocean over on the Oregon Coast.  That was okay though.  I have a lot things to get done, and I figured that this would give me the perfect opportunity.  I figured I would get started with it today.

Simultaneously our pasture is just starting to green up, so I wanted to get our yearlings off of it and back in with our cows.  And, since our cows have started calving it was time to get the bull separated off.  So, I put the bull in the pen I had used for him earlier this year and moved the yearlings over.  However, with the yearlings cycling he promptly broke a rail in that pen and was in with them for an unknown amount of time.  So, I caught him and put him in a different pen, which he promptly broke out of last night, but luckily could not find his way back to the girls.

So, this morning, instead of starting my projects I wound up changing the configuration of that pen that I had built and adding lumber to it, to reinforce it.  I had to go purchase lumber, and that broke the budget because it costs around $1 million for a sixteen foot 2X6 these days.  And that is the life that I love!

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Direct download: OFI_1338_Tuesday_Episode_-_32122_5.01_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Pat Hanson is the owner and creator of "Memory Lane Crafting Retreat" in Northwest Illinois.  This is a business that was built out of necessity and a love of the farming lifestyle.  Pat's father had a lifelong dream of purchasing his own land farming it, which he made come true in his 50's.  Pat and her family loved the lifestyle so much that they eventually moved out to her father's farm and built their own home on five acres that he had deeded to them.  Then, Pat farmed with her father on a daily basis until he suddenly passed from a stroke at the age of 75.

Her father's sudden passing left Pat and her husband with the farm and the question of what to do, not only with the farm but her with her father's house.  A lot of ideas were considered, and ultimately Pat followed her instincts and started a crafting retreat for women.  Her farm is on a beautiful setting in a very rural area, and it draws repeat customers from all around.  Rarely does Pat have any vacancies available on weekends.  From my count she only has 25 nights available in all of 2022!

Today, Pat has turned her father's home into a great getaway for women who love crafts.  And, it is also a very viable form of off-farm income.  At the same time that she is operating this business, she is exposing people to farming and teaching them about rural and agricultural living.  It is truly an inspirational story!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1335-Pat_Hanson-COMM_25_24-021322.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I really respect all of you that keep very tight calving windows and cull cows that fall outside of it.  That is some serious business discipline, and it is well beyond what I have in my own farm business.  My first potential due date for a calf was February 25th.  The first calf born on our place was on March 5th.  As of today, we have three calves on the ground, a bunch of cows that look like they will calve any day and morning after morning of no new calves.

There is no question in my mind that they are all settled and close to calving.  All the physical signs are showing themselves, but I am always amazed at how for some cows they will start showing but still take weeks to calve.  So, day after day, middle of the night check after middle of the night check, I wait for calves.

It seems like this time of year involves a lot of waiting. I've been waiting for it to warm up.  Now I am waiting for it to green up.  I am also waiting for it to start raining, which it is supposed to do this week.  And, I am waiting for the canals to get filled.  In April we will start having kids, and I will be waiting again.

In all honesty, it is a fun time of year.  I like the surprise of going out to feed in the morning and finding a new calf, and the pressure that is relieved each time another cow calves, takes to her calf and gets it up and going. I am always hoping for a 100% calf crop and 100% weaned crop.  Getting all the calves out and nursing is phase #1 of that.

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Direct download: OFI_1332_Tuesday_Episode_-_31422_3.46_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Catherine Chmelka is an ag teacher and FFA advisor for the David City High School FFA Chapter in David City, Nebraska.  As part of her duties she teaches floriculture and agribusiness.  There was a time in her life that these courses were just necessary evils that she had to endure to move through the agricultural education that she was seeking, both in high school and college.  However, that eventually changed.

Catherine's exposure to floriculture awakened a passion in her, that she did not know existed.  She fell in love with both horticulture and floriculture and really got inspired to start putting together arrangements with her students that exceeded the bare minimums.  Eventually, people in her community noticed this and started hiring her to make arrangements for a couple of different funerals.  Catherine and her husband, Justin, also hired themselves by taking care of the flowers for their own wedding.

The attention they were getting and the exposure to entrepreneurship had both of them thinking about how they could continue to work this side business out of their home.  But then, the local flower/coffee shop in David City came for sale.  Catherine and Justin were thinking about purchasing it until they found out there was another buyer looking at it.  That changed everything, and they decided that they had to purchase it.  They wrapped up the purchase in June of 2020, changed the name to "402 Floral" and hit the ground running.

That was 18 months ago.  Today, when Catherine teaches her student both about floriculture and agribusiness, she is teaching the lessons that she learned in her own business, possibly just moments before coming to class.  She is also learning more and more about florists actually do, and she is bringing that real world experience into the classroom with her.  Enrollment in both her floriculture classes as well as her agribusiness classes has increased, but of course people know that she isn't just teaching these subjects, she is living them.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1329-Catherine_Chmelka-COMM_10_51-021022_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

In today's episode, I replay an interview I did with an extrodinary FFA student who started his own business and then went on to start another. Learn about Hadden Powell and his floral and landscape design business. 

Original Show Notes:


As you have heard me say many times, I really like it when things are efficient, they compliment each other and you see win/win situations.  In the case of today's guest and national star nominee in agribusiness, he has developed just such a business.

Hadden Powell started Powells And Company doing floral designs.  But this isn't the beginning of the story.  He first started out with his landscape design business.  As that business developed he realized that he had flowers growing that he should repurpose.  So, he started Powells and Company.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1328_Recap_Of_Episode_695-COMM_7_42-021422.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today is a farm update.  I wish it were a sunnier episode, but I found myself going down the rabbit hole of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the impending drought and shortened irrigation season in the West.

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Direct download: OFI_1326_Tuesday_Episode_-_3722_5.01_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

When I think of Virginia, so many things spring to mind - history, green pastures, beef, mountains, rivers, etc., etc.  I also think of thunderstorms, humidity and lazy evenings beating the heat on a front porch.  I realize that so many of the images that come to mind for me are concoctions of things I have read in books, seen on television or looked at in paintings, but for today's guest I think it is all true.

Lorrie Barron and her husband, David, have been farming in Southern Virginia since they got married in 1982.  They love the agricultural lifestyle, and they will do what is necessary to continue it.  This includes offering a wide variety of entrepreneurial services to people in their community ranging from cake baking to sheet rocking to barn building t0 painting.  They also are very innovative in looking for ways to improve their farm through grants and new methods.  And, they are not afraid to be involved in multiple different aspects of agriculture to find niche markets and keep revenue flowing to the farm.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1323_Lorrie_Barron-COMM_13_42-020522.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I was just looking at our month ending stats and am blown away by what all of you have done for us in helping to grow this show.  That got me thinking about how well this has been going, and that, of course, brought up thoughts about imposter syndrome and the upper limit challenge.  I want to revisit each of those obstacles to success in today's episode.  

Imposter Syndrome Explained: LINK

Upper Limit Challenge explained by Dan Miller: LINK

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Direct download: OFI_1320_Tuesday_Episode_-_22822_3.21_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- 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

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

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. 


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

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

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

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.

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

I really enjoy profiling photographers on this show.  Whether they are photographing landscapes, making stock images, shooting livestock photos or capturing people it is a fascinating business that can be done from anywhere.

Our guest today, Pam Shrewsbury, happens to be a photographer that specializes in capturing people.  Pam grew up in the city, coming out to the rural community that she now calls home as a teenager to visit cousin.  It was through these relatives that she met her now husband, Scott, who is a lifelong farmer growing corn and beans and doing some custom feeding of hogs and cattle.

One of the parts of Pam's story that really stood out to me was as she recalled her childhood taking trips to Canada with her family and going fishing with her father.  She said that she always had a camera in her hand.  I like that image.  That is the image of a person with a passion, a natural talent that is just sitting there, waiting to be turned into a business.  Not all of us, me included, have that kind of passion or natural talent, but when I get to speak with somebody who does it is always a thrill.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1293-Pam_Shrewsbury-COMM_BREAK_12_53_TO_12_54.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

If you need some tips on taking your photography skills and turning them into a business, then this show if for you. Learn about how to find your place in the industry and other tips to make you successful in starting and running a photography business in today's show replay with Todd Klassy

Today, I look back at Benjamin Franklin's Thirteen Virtues and talk about why not being able to perfect any one of them is alright.  Plus, how do they relate to farming and life choices?

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Direct download: OFI_1290_Tuesday_Episode_-_12422_5.06_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

How about sub-contracting as a corporate pilot as your form of off-farm income?  Seem impossible?  I would have thought it was unrealistic until I interviewed today's guest, Andrew Ambrose.

Andrew owns his own business, Fly Twins LLC, and he farms 750 acres in Southeast Missouri in addition to that.  If that is not enough, he also owns his own excavating company.  As Andrew put it, it would not be uncommon to see him flying a corporate customer across the country in the morning and driving a combine that evening.  This is an interesting way to producing off-farm income. Tune to hear more about Andrew's story. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1287_Andrew_Ambrose-011022_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I believe that self-sufficiency or independence is one of the main reasons that we love the agricultural lifestyle.  I was reminded of that this morning with something as simple and mundane as making my own candles.  In today's episode I want to discuss this with you and why in the world I am making my own candles!

Alex Wild's Youtube Channel About Bushcraft:

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Direct download: OFI_1284_Tuesday_Episode_-_11722_11.27_AM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is a 4th generation farmer, and he is trying to reclaim a farming operation that was lost in his family so that the operation can go into the 5th and 6th generations and beyond.

Corey Strothman has an interesting story of growing up on his families farm and then his father having to stop farming independently and lease out their ground when Corey was ten years of age.  For about 22 years Corey's father actually farmed the family ground for another farmer who was leasing it from them.  Then, around the time that Corey was in his early 30's the opportunity arose for he and father to partner and start farming independently again.

This was not as simple as it sounds.  The land was there, but the equipment was not.  So, a lot of outside income was going to be required to get things up and running and return the operation to the productivity that it once had.  This required Corey to produce off-farm income.  Today, Corey's wife works in town, he is a John Deere mechanic full-time, and he is an independent distributor of agricultural and automotive products for a company called Conklin Co.

Conklin sells products that people in agriculture can use, and that Corey uses himself.  This gives him the confidence to market these products and to stand behind them.  Conklin also operates as a multi-level marketing firm in their business model.  It has been this model that has allowed Corey to produce enough income to increase his percentage stake in the partnership with his father on the farm.  And it is this model that Corey states has saved other people in the U.S. from losing their farms.

In today's episode Corey will talk about the business model, how he got involved and we will even address some of the stigma associated with multi-level marketing.

Contact Information For Corey:

Telephone: (319) 931-6338

Facebook: LINK

Instagram: LINK

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Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1281_Cory_Strothman-010722.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 11:54am MDT

Tomorrow we are profiling an agricultural entrepreneur using multi-level marketing to leverage his knowledge of farming to create his off-farm income.  I thought that my interview with Megan Dwyer from 2018 when we talked about all the different entrepreneurial endeavors she and her husband were involved in to support their farm would be a great tie in.  The original show notes are below.



Our guest today is from a serious, farm family.  Megan Dwyer and her husband, Todd, are determined to make it in farming.  They both farm with their parents.  Her with hers, his with his and vice-versa.  They have their own farm as well and are striving to build a life in which farming is their primary occupation and it can be passed along to their children.

To support their farming endeavors, Megan and Todd have started a number of farming related businesses.  This brings in supplemental income from off the farm.  It also gives them multiple streams of revenue so they do not become overly reliant on the farm in the case that commodity prices sink or input prices skyrocket.

The services they provide through Ag Authority include:

  • Providing 360YieldCenter
  • SureFire Ag Systems
  • Precision Planting product lines
  • Wyffels Seed
  • VR recs
  • Tile repair and fabrication
They serve Northwest Illinois and are building great reputations in the agricultural community.  Megan is also a certified crop advisor, giving her the knowledge and credibility she needs to serve their clients well.


TRUST YOUR TEAM: You need somebody to partner with that you can trust.

STRENGTHS: Focus on your strengths.  Too often we give our attention to our weaknesses and only bring them up to mediocre.  Why not give attention to your strengths and make them even stronger.

SMALL: Start small and grow slowly.  It you go too fast or try to do it all at once, you increase risk the possibility of business failure.


MENTAL REHEARSAL: Megan does something that is very useful for all of us, in or out of agriculture.  Before talking to a customer she mentally rehearses how she will handle different situations if they come up.  This is something that I used to do as a police officer, and I was impressed that this is something that Megan does in her business as well.


BE THE EXPERT: "If you're not their #1, be their #2".  This was a profound statement.  You cannot win every time. When you don't, make sure you keep your position as #2 in the case that something ever changes with their #1.


Ag Authority's Facebook Page: LINK

Megan's Email:

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Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1280-Recap_of_Episode_402-011222.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 9:50am MDT

Hi everyone.  Today is a true farm update on what we are doing on our place in Kuna, Idaho;

  • Hauling Livestock
  • Outgrowing Our Trailer
  • Getting Deposits From Customers
  • Our Ongoing Fox Problem
  • Learning To Weld


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Direct download: OFI_1278_Tuesday_Episode_-_11022_2.36_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's show is a replay of a person who deserves our admiration. After the passing of her husband, she is not only running her farm alone, but is finding new and creative ways to diversify and offer quality, hand spun wool to her customers.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1274-Recap_Of_Episode_153-010322.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Let's talk 2022 goals, how to change your perspective on your job and all about the positive impacts of the wind!

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Direct download: OFI_1272_Tuesday_Episode_-_1322_4.19_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Happy New Year everyone!  And here is a to a great 2022!  Below are some of the most notable moments of 2021 as well as our most downloaded episodes of 2021!

Most Downloaded of 2021

Rural Crime 970    
FFA 973    
Friday Show 969    
Tuesday Episode 966    
Re-Cap Episode 1004    

Notable 2021 Moments

  • All of us having Covid
  • Hattie’s conduct team winning state
  • Hattie’s conduct team taking 5th in the nation
  • Meeting so many students who have been on the show in Indianapolis
  • Stopping in Kankakee, Illinois
  • Purchasing neighbor’s farm
  • Seeing Hattie in her FFA jacket for the first time
  • Adding Guardline
  • Keynote in Montana
  • MSU going to national championship
  • Hattie getting her permit
  • New record FFA auction
  • One millionth download
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Direct download: OFI_1270_Tuesday_Episode_-_123121_5.37_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tiffany and her husband, Matt, both grew up in a city environment, St. Louis, Missouri, and did not have exposure to rural living or agriculture.  They were entrepreneurs, running an electrical contracting business for which Matt was the electrician, and they were busy!  So busy in fact that work and hustle were all that they knew.

A simpler life was calling to them however.  They started out just like so many people in the U.S.  They had a 3,000 square foot home, even though it was just the two of them.  While they were still there in the city they downsized to a home that was under 1,000 square feet.  This seemed like a radical move to friends and family, but really, for two adults it was very appropriate.

This simple living had sparked something in both of them, and there was a mutual thought that someday they would move out somewhere rural, live much more simply and even forget what day of the week it was.  Then, Tiffany was diagnosed with breast cancer.  This opened up a whole new perspective.  The thought that the opportunity to carry out your dreams may not be there tomorrow can be a strong motivator, and it was for Tiffany and Matt.  So, they made this vision a reality in short order and Wilderland LLC Glamping Cabins was born!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1269_Tiffany_Ursch-121621.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's show is a replay of a special interview I did on how we view life and what you choose to do in situations that don't make you happy. Learn how to find purpose in your work and having faith in yourself. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1268-Recap_Of_Episode_558-120721.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you.  I've got a very chilly farm update for you in today's show.  Also, a true story about a strange Christmas Eve that sounds like (and should be) a commercial for our sponsor, Guardline Security!

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Direct download: OFI_1266_Tuesday_Episode_-_122721_6.10_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Merry Christmas everyone!  I always love creating and recording our Christmas episode for your each year.  However, this year is a little bit different.  This year I have a guest on the show for Christmas who is a person who has done something very compassionate for people who are unbelievably less fortunate than anyone born here in the United States Of America.

You may remember from our rural crime episode #1240 that the final story I covered was about a woman named Caroline Clarin in Fergus Falls, Minnesota who had been helping families to escape Afghanistan and come to the United States.  She has initially been introduced to these families through her work as an agricultural advisor, through the USDA, in Afghanistan.  And of course after being there, meeting these families and seeing the poverty, corruption and violence for herself she was compelled to help them leave.

After covering that first story, I decided to reach out to Caroline and see if she would do an interview to discuss the amazing humanitarian work she had done and was still doing as part of our Christmas episode.  It turned out that the original story I had read mis-represented what had actually happened a little bit.  Today, she is on our show to discuss some of what she learned in Afghanistan, how she helped to get families out, what it was like when she learned the U.S. was pulling out of Afghanistan in August of 2021 and what she is still striving to do.

I cannot imagine anything more Christmasy, regardless of your belief system, than what Caroline did between 2013 and 2021 in helping five families relocate to the U.S. from Afghanistan or what she is still striving to do.  So, Merry Christmas everyone, and her is a heart warming story to help you appreciate just how good we have it in the U.S.

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Direct download: Caroline_Clarin_Episode_1264_-_121521_2.52_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Hi everyone, Merry Christmas and welcome to our Tuesday episode for the week of Christmas, 2021.  In today's episode I'll be talking about some career validation from law enforcement, making a slight revision to our previous rural crime episode and getting pumped for Montana State University being in the national championship game for the first time since 1984!

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Direct download: OFI_1260_Tuesday_Episode_-_122021_3.28_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I just wrapped up my annual "creative retreat" where I get to focus on nothing but growing, improving and sustaining the Off-Farm Income Podcast.  This retreat traditionally happens in Ketchum, Idaho and this year there was no snow.  So, I spent a lot of time walking into and out of town.  These walks took me to parts of town that I do not normally travel in, including passing by the Post Office.  At the Post Office I noticed a big banner that said "Join Us" in an attempt to recruit new employees at the postal service, and it dawned on me how much times have changed.  For people starting their working careers in 2021-2022, jobs that used to be perceived as impossible to obtain are now ripe for the picking.  What a crazy turn around in our country.

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Direct download: OFI_1254_Tuesday_Episode_-_121321_7.40_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Carol Herden is an incredible agricultural sculptor, and this has led her to a full-time career doing what she loves - sculpting farm animals.  It is fascinating to me anytime I see an artist develop their craft into a career, and even more so when they do it creating art that resembles agriculture.  However, in Carol's case, her journey might be even more fascinating than that. Tune in for her story. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1251_Carol_Herden-112621.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Re purposing vintage and scrap items is a growing hobby for many people today. Not only is today's guest using old farm materials that might otherwise be burned or go to a landfill, she is creating unique artwork. This interview is a replay showcasing Monica's ag background and how that led her to creating artwork using farm scrap materials

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1250-Recap_Of_Episode_417-Monica_Wagner-120421.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Well, out here in the West we are in a familiar pattern, a pattern of less than optimal forecasts that offer a bit of precipitation and then fall part as they get closer to us.  Right now we are experiencing a "weird" La Niña and it is keeping everything dry and warm.

For those of us out here in the West we are the complete opposite of all of you who farm with rainfall.  We have to get all of our precipitation in the Winter, store it as snowpack, then store it in reservoirs as it runs off to be able to irrigate with it during the growing season.  If we don't get that Winter snowpack, some really hard decisions will have to be made for all of us.

I'm trying to stay optimistic, and certainly it is not time to ring the emergency bell yet, but I have seen this pattern before.  This really started for us last winter.  We started out really strong and had a good snowpack, but then the precipitation just shut off and we had one of our driest springs on record.  I didn't like the lack of weather activity in the spring, but I thought we were going to be okay because of the snowpack.  However, it turned out that the dry spring reduced our ability to store all of that spring runoff.  With the soil being so dry from a lack of spring precipitation a lot of that runoff went into the soil and not into the reservoirs.  So, we were forced to stop irrigating early this year.

I spent this weekend up in the Ketchum and Sun Valley area of Idaho with my family.  We traditionally go up to the Wood River Valley on this weekend to play in the snow and to elk hunt.  I am used to seeing a foot of snow on the valley floor up there in early December.  However, this year there is only snow on the tops of the very highest mountain peaks.  All of the hills and mountains around Ketchum are completely bare, and the world famous Sun Valley Ski Resort is operating on a very limited capacity with man made snow.  We can still catch up, but looking at this area that is normally buried in snow and seeing it bare starts to wear away at the optimism.

Last Spring when I bought my hay for this year, I offered to commit to the farmer to buy just as much from him this year.  However, he wouldn't do it. He just said, "we'll have to wait and see if we get any snow this winter".  In my area we are already dealing with a shortage of hay because so many hay fields have been taken out of production due to development.  If there is not enough water to get the maximum number of cuttings, that shortage is going to be even worse.  That is going to drive prices up, and in the long run there will be some people who just can't get hay.

I find myself trying to figure out how to mitigate what could be a crisis right now.  I have an idea that I am pursuing that might allow me to keep quite a bit of the hay that I purchased this spring.  With the warm temperatures we have been having and lack of snow, there are still some fields near by me with quite a bit of forage in them.  It makes sense for me to see if I can lease them and graze them off while I still have the chance rather than feed the hay I have out in my stack yard.  If that does not work, I am going to have to figure out how I am going to find hay for 2022.  And, I will be forced to raise prices on my customers as well.

So, this is farming.  Admittedly, because we irrigate from snow melt and generally have nothing but fair weather during our growing season we don't seem to deal with crisis caused by weather as much as the rest of you in other parts of the country do.  But, it does occasionally happen, and it looks like we will either have an incredible burst of precipitation in the beginning of 2022 to get us back to normal, or this will be one of those years for us.  Let's hope for the precipitation for everyone in the West!

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Direct download: OFI_1248_Tuesday_Episode_-_12621_7.16_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

One of my favorite things about hosting this show is catching entrepreneurs and families at the beginning stages of their journeys and being able to see their vision with them.  That is certainly true of my interview with Marrianne and Greg Russell, the owners of Rock Bridge Farmstead in Kentucky. Listen in for their whole story. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1245-Greg__Marrianne_Russel-112321.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

In today's interview I get to connect with a listener of the show and talk about how he and his wife are making their farm dream come true.  I will be speaking with Justin Farrish from West Virginia.  Justin has a really interesting farm story.  This farm was started by his great-grandfather in the first half of the 20th Century.  West Virginia is rocky, mountainous and filled with trees, so there was lots of work to do.  Justin talks about his great-grandfather digging out stumps by hand to clear land for grazing.  It is really amazing.

Today Justin and his wife have been able to move their family to the farm and start putting it back into production.  They had to start with remodeling the existing home and making it livable.  After that it there is fencing and more clearing to do.  They have done a lot of work already and have a lot ahead, but they want to carry this legacy forward and are prepared for this.

In the interview we talk about all the challenges that come with a multi-generational farm, including the pressures of keeping it in the family line.  We also discuss what Justin does for his off-farm income, and the culture of the area that he and his wife have moved their family into.

Here are the show notes from Justin's first appearance on the show:

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1244-Recap_Of_Episode_896-120121.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

How many of you find yourselves sitting in your home in the evening after being on your farm all day, tired from physical labor and thinking "this is exactly the life I want"?  I had that experience on Sunday night, and it came on the tail end of a lot of physical work.  This was just further proof to me that work is not the enemy, the wrong job is the enemy.

Sunday night was quite the opposite of the Sunday night's I used to experience.  I used to get what I referred to as the "Sunday Night Blues".  This was the depression and irritability that set in when I knew that once I went to bed, I would be waking up to go to a job that was the wrong fit.  That does not happen to me any longer, but sitting in my living room, looking at my family, feeling physically tired, watching the dog lay in front of the fire and having a feeling of elation come over me is a whole other level.  It is more than just the opposite of the "Sunday Night Blues", it is the next rung up the ladder.

When I first started this journey, I was just trying to get rid of the "Sunday Night Blues".  I never imagined it could reach this level.  Here is what my weekend looked like, and what led me to feeling so good on Sunday evening.

Friday - our kitchen sink had a catastrophic failure.  Outside of chores, plumbing was on the schedule for me this day.

Saturday - all day was spent cutting up downed trees in our creek area, splitting them and stacking the wood for heat.  Outside of our daily chores this took up our entire day.  However, when the day was done and every day since I have been able to look at those stacks of split wood and see the progress that we made.

Sunday - after chores Autumm, Hattie and I got busy removing nose guards from our calves and separating them from their mothers.  Then we started cleaning out a shed, purging things that we no longer need or use and storing some items in a storage shed on our new property.  We have been "slow to grow" on our farm since we bought it in 2011.  Instead of incurring debt for new outbuildings and storage to house our personal effects and the equipment we needed for our farm, we have dealt with the clutter of stuffing too many things into too little space.  This has included doing things like tarping our lawn equipment over the winter to protect it from the weather.

Our patience and frugality has paid off, and now we have expanded.  With the expansion came additional out buildings and a pre-existing pad that allowed us to put a shop up at minimal expense.  This has acted as a pressure release for the clutter and yesterday I was able to treat the gas in our lawn equipment, pull the batteries and put them to bed for the winter under a roof rather than a tarp.  It might seem like a small thing to say out loud, but for me it was a big step in the correct direction.

Just like nine years ago when started my very first business, I still have energy for days.  I realized then and still realize today that your body does not magically need to rest and reboot at the end of an 8 hour work day.  If you are doing something that you love, you can spend all your waking hours working and recharge on just your normal 7-8 hours of sleep.

Yesterday, even after the sun had gone down I was still working.  I had smaller, indoor projects that needed to get done and I was happy to do them.  By the time I put on my sweat pants, sat down in front of the fire and watched a little football we had cleaned out fallen timber in our creek, split cords  of wood, stacked split wood, finished weaning calves, purged clutter, put away equipment for the winter and repaired and replaced small equipment at our home.

As I sat there and looked at my family and my home I realized that this was all I needed for happiness.  I had not spent the weekend walking at a mall, entertaining Hattie at a theme park or taking in movie.  All of that is fine every now and then, but it was the accomplishment of worthwhile activities at home that I was getting my fulfillment from.  And it is this knowledge that gives me the peace and contentment that so many people cannot find.  If you can love your work, you will always have this state of mind available to you.

I hope that in some small way, we can help you get there by listening to this show!

Direct download: OFI_1242_Tuesday_Episode_-_112921_3.45_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

If there is an opposite of being artistic, then I am that person.  Therefore, hosting the Off-Farm Income Podcast has allowed me to meet and interview many artistic people that I would otherwise never encounter.  It is fascinating to me the way that an artistic person sees the world and is able to craft that vision into something beautiful and pleasing to their fans.

On today's episode I am featuring once such artist who has taken his love of agriculture, his artistic ability and his skills in jewelry making and combined them all into a unique and exceptional line of agricultural jewelry.  Talk about a value added product!

Chris Chaney is the creator of "Agrijewelry", a line of jewelry that began with the creation of a piece that looks astonishingly like a cotton boll.  This is was requested by a customer, and Chris went on a pilgrimage to make it happen.  One thing led to another and today Chris offers jewelry that looks exactly like a multitude of crops from corn, to soybeans, to peanuts to almonds.  And, he has expanded into livestock, wildlife and exotics as well.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1239-Chris_Chaney_REVISED-112021.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I have a lot to be thankful for, and it starts with you!  I hope you enjoy the episode.

Direct download: OFI_1238_Thanksgiving_Episode_-_112421_8.21_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Writing, whether it be as a fiction author, a novelist or a freelancer is one of my favorite methods of off-farm income creation that I cover.  Maybe it is because when I first started this show I interviewed an author and it gave so much credibility to the concept that I was pursuing, or maybe it is because I admire people who can write for a living, but I am a fan.

On today's show Rachel Gabel joins us to talk writing, raising cattle and raising goats.  Rachel lives and ranches in Northeast Colorado, and she has been in that general vicinity all of her life.  Growing up there and ranching there has given her special credibility with the people who read her words, and it has allowed her to write about some topics that only a few people would be accepted discussing.  She primarily writes for The Fence Post Magazine, and she has been doing so since she was a young teenager.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1233-Rachel_Gabel-111321_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Jerry Apps is one of my favorite, all time, agricultural authors.  Tomorrow we are featuring an agricultural author whom I have just met that creates her families off-farm income through writing.  I thought this would be a great time to replay my second interview with Jerry.  I especially enjoy reading and listening to him around the Thanksgiving Holiday as his stories evoke those warm, family memories.

Below are the original show notes from episode #668.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1232-Recap_Of_Episode_668-111521.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The purpose of this show has always been to help you find ways to create the revenue that you need so that you can sustain you farming or ranching lifestyle.  I have always picked entrepreneurship as the way to do that because of the many benefits that come with it such as making good money where few jobs exist and being able to be on your farm when your livestock or crops need you to be there.

In today's episode we are profiling another such opportunity that accomplishes both of these goals.  I will be speaking with John Hansen, the landowner profitability manager for Land Trust, a business based in Bozeman, Montana.  Land Trust thinks of itself as the "airbnb of hunting, fishing and agri-tourism".  This service works like Airbnb in that it allows a land owner to sign up and then market their land to potential customers for the purposes the landowner is willing to allow.  This could be hunting, fishing, agri-tourism, bird watching or whatever!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1227_John_Hansen-103121.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I am brining on a new advertiser on November 22nd of this month and am very excited about the new contacts in the industry, the affirmation of my show that they are giving me and the fact that the business is growing.  However, what has got me the most excited is the fact that I have stayed true to the advertising model that I committed to for this show, and it is working.

Today, I want to touch on my philosophy once more and get you all ready for what is coming.

Direct download: OFI_1224_Tuesday_Episode_-_11821_2.51_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

All of the concepts that I teach and much of what I went through as I was transforming into an entrepreneur is covered in today's episode.  It is amazing to me how often I interview an entrepreneur who has made the same transition that I have, and when they tell their story there are so many common themes.

Julia (Julie) Jacobsen went to work in her local county office when she was 19 years old.  During that time she married a rancher, started having a family, and devoted nearly two decades to that position.  However, her presence was being demanded on their ranch more and more over time in addition to the demands that were being placed on her by having a toddler running around the house.  She knew it was time for a change, and she left her county job to be on the ranch with the kids full time.

Julie and her husband had budgeted for this, but with the loss of her off-farm income, the margins were extremely slim.  So, they knew that at some point Julie would have to start bringing in an income again.  Julie knew one thing for sure.  She wasn't going back to work for an employer again.  She had creativity and "outside the box" thinking boiling over in her soul, and her experience in the workplace was not one that embraced that part of her spirit.  It was one that attempted to smother it out!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1221_Julie_Jacobsen-102321.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today is a special replay of a show featuring an interview I did with Andy Dyar, who followed his entrepreneurial dream and started a T-Shirt company. He did extensive research and learned that professionalism was key in building his business, Farm Heritage, Inc. 


Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1220-Recap_Of_Episode_028-102721.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's podcast is a replay of an earlier show I did on why social media is important, especially if you own or manage a business. Whether you don't have social media accounts, are new to the world of social media, or need some further insight, be sure to tune into today's podcast. 

Original Show Notes:

For years I have been jealous of those of you who never opened a social media account.  By the time I developed that opinion I was well invested in social media for my business, and there was no changing that.  Then, I put out an ad for a full-time, podcast producer and started interviewing candidates.

This hiring process has clearly shown me one thing, and that is that all of you who are seeking a certain lifestyle should be posting content on social media.  Hang with me on this.  I know it can be a toxic environment, but there is a really good reason.  I delve deep into this in this episode, and I hope you will join me!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1214-_Recap_Of_Episode_926-100521_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is Britin Wardlaw.  Britin grew up on a citrus farm and raising cattle and married another farmer.  One of the permanent crops that they grow are persimmons, which is a bit of a niche crop and they tend to be aesthetically pleasing and associated with the fall and winter.  Britin noticed that before all of the persimmons could be harvested, many, perfectly good fruit fell off of the trees, rendering them no longer suitable for human consumption.  This waste bothered her, and it also gave her an idea.

Britin has an eye for decorating and styling the front porches of people's homes.  What is better, is that she has a deep desire to do this in such a way that reflects the agricultural industry and heritage of the surrounding area.  So, she came up with an idea for a business, The Western Loom, in which she would get paid to decorate people's homes in her area of the San Joaquin Valley of California.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1209-Britin_Wardlaw-100121.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I ran across a very interesting story about pigs being used to solve a safety problem near an airport in Amsterdam.  After seeing the creative way that the pigs were used, it got me thinking about the way we view livestock in the United States.  There is a mantra in the West among those who support grazing cattle in national forest lands that goes "log it, graze it or watch it burn".  

As I thought about this it occurred to me that there is a group of very vocal Americans who are against grazing cattle in national forest lands.  However, they will support the use of goat and sheep for certain prescribed grazing in the name of fire suppression.  As I considered this I wondered if the way cattle were viewed by certain individuals could be shifted from a symbol of wealth and power to a defender of the beautiful forest lands if that would create on consensus on grazing national forest lands once again.

Direct download: OFI_1206_Tuesday_Episode_-_10_18_21_7.33_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Marie Canon and her husband, Mark, have been married and operating their dairy in Western Pennsylvania for 31 years.  However, the legacy of this farm goes back much further than that, all the way to the Revolutionary War.  Over time there have been different business models on the farm, and it has been some time since any direct marketing was done, such as the milk route that Mark's grandfather once had with the milk produced on the dairy.

About two years ago, Marie and Mark's daughter, Josie, told them that she wanted to come home and work on the farm, but she did not want to be involved in the day to day of milking and raising crops.  The dairy was already supporting Mark's parents, Mark and Marie, and their son, Trent's, family.  There simply was not enough pie left to cut out another slice.  So, what do we do?

It was decided that they would begin direct marketing and selling products directly from their farm.  They would also start creating value-added products to have something to sell.  Some capital was put aside to make all of this happen, and "Canon Creamery" was born.  There were a lot of unknowns going into this, such as how to market, would customers come to their farm, and when to be open.  However, those fears were overcome and the business was started.  This was not without difficulties, however.  Covid definitely slowed down the development and delayed the ability to start recapturing some of the capital that had been outlaid.  However, a spontaneous grand opening that was caused by the perishability of milk proved the concept, and now they are off and running!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1203_Marie_Cannon-100121.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today is a big day on our farm in Kuna, Idaho.  Our daughter, Hattie, has completed driver's training and been awarded her driving permit.  She is going to start driving with us and fulfilling the requisite hours to make her eligible for her full driver's license.  We are going to go through the motions and do everything we need to do to comply with the requirements of the state for this to happen.  However, she has been driving for years now.  She drove the pickup while I fed hay off the back, then she started driving up the driveway when we got home, then I let her drive out in the desert and finally we cheated and let her drive on the farm roads by our house.

This got me thinking about my own experience as a teenager.  I drove a lot before I ever even got my permit.  Sometimes this was with my parent's permission and sometimes this was not.  But growing up in a very rural area, I got behind the wheel a bunch to the extent that driver's training was really just a formality.  My question today, is should we return to a time in which farm kids are treated differently when it comes to licensing?

Direct download: OFI_1200_Rural_Crime_-_101121_5.16_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

90% of farmers in the U.S., large and small, rely on off-farm income to run their households because the farm revenue just won't.  In a larger percentage of these instances that revenue comes from a working spouse.  In today's episode, I get to interview Rosie Bosse, who is and was that working spouse and she has an amazing story of entrepreneurship, creativity, and hard work that spans 42 years.

Rosie and her husband farm and raise cattle in Northeast Kansas.  Over their 42 year marriage, they have raised four children, who are all out of the house.  They continue to farm and raise cattle to this day.  In our interview, Rosie stated that the farm paid for itself, but it didn't produce enough income to support the household. Therefore, her role, in addition to the parent, was to come up with a way to create that income to run the home.  Tune into this podcast to find out she did that. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1197_Rosie_Bosse-100121.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On tomorrow's Friday episode I am profiling a woman who supported her families farming lifestyle for 30 years selling Tupperware, driving all over Kansas and Nebraska and working six nights per week.  I like my re-cap episodes to flow into my Friday episodes, and I thought this previous interview with Elisabeth Watkins would be perfect.  Elisabeth turned something that we all have to do, cooking, into an art form and then into a regular television appearance in Sacramento, California.  And, she did this all while she was in the FFA at Central Catholic High School in Modesto, California.

Both of these women took tasks that had to be done everyday in their homes and saw the possibility to take it further.  This shows that entrepreneurship does not have to be inventing a new software program.  All it takes is a will to make it and a creative outlook.


Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1196-Recap_Of_Episode_452-100521.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

My agricultural life is kind of split into two phases by my law enforcement career.  The first phase is growing up rural and then getting introduced to working with cattle by my step-father and step-grandfather.  The next phase is meeting and becoming family with my father-in-law, Terry White, who showed me an even bigger vision with cattle than I had myself.  Terry and his wife, Wanda, also got Autumm and I started with our first four heifers and one bull when we first bought our farm.

As a serial entrepreneur, Terry was always a cheerleader for me with my different business ideas.  He was a person I would turn to that I always knew would shine a light on the positive things that I was achieving with my entrepreneurial endeavors.

Terry passed away last week, and in today's Tuesday episode I want to pay tribute to him.

Direct download: OFI_1194_Tuesday_Episode_-_10421_2.41_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Have you ever heard of a business and thought, "why didn't I think of that?"  Well, that is the case in today's episode.  I think the most brilliant people are those who can see what is right in front of all of us, when none of the rest of us cannot see it.

Today, Lisa Lupton and Martyn Jones, the founders of Seeds With Love Cards join me to talk about their greeting card business.  The two of them have a brilliant business that combines selling products with advocating for agriculture.  They are based in the U.K., so they have some unique perspectives on business challenges that we don't see in the U.S.

Seeds With Love Cards are greeting cards that come with a packet of seeds.  The idea is brilliant.  One card might come with a recipe for a cocktail, and that recipe includes the herbs that can be grown with the included seeds.  Another card, for Christmas as an example, will come with a packet of seeds that can be planted at Christmas time.  There are myriads of possibilities here, and Marty and Lisa are 18 months into tapping into this niche

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1191_Seeds_With_Love_Cards-092821.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Last night was our annual scholarship auction at the Kuna FFA Chapter.  It is always a very well attended and very successful event.  This year was a new record, as it seems to be every year.  

This year was the 10th year in a row at this auction for us.  A lot has changed in that time.  The first time we went Hattie was five years old. Now she is 15, in her second year of FFA and on her way to the National Convention to compete in Conduct Of Chapter Meetings in just a few weeks.  Instead of being the new person in town, hoping to meet people, now I host an agricultural podcast and interview FFA students every week.  And, I am one of the advisory board members for our chapter.  They are huge changes and differences, but every moment is thrilling.  

Direct download: OFI_1188_Tuesday_Episode_-_92721_4.48_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's ag business interview has it all for you.  As a matter of fact, I have never seen the concepts that we talk about on the Off-Farm Income Podcast come together quite so well as they have for today's guests.

Dexter and Kayla Dedora are cattle ranchers in Alberta, Canada.  They both grew up around cattle and agriculture and were determined to have this same life for themselves and their kids.  Of course, being determined and getting it done are two different things, and that is why this show exists.  At this point, the Dedora's are well on their way to the life that they have been seeking.  However, they have been "lucky".  When I say lucky, what I mean is that they have worked hard, hustled and they were ready when an opportunity presented itself.

Dexter and Kayla are purchasing the ranch and operation of a retiring ranch couple.  They are doing this through a gradual transition process, just the same way that we have talked about on the show so many times.  This began with them leasing land from the ranch owners and purchasing their Longhorn Cattle herd.  The relationship has built over time, and now they have an agreement and are slowly moving it into their possession.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1185_Longhorns__Leather-082821.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

If you are a loyal listener, then you will recall my guest Nick McCormack as he appeared on the show in Episode #327. During our discussion, he outlined how he started his ranch from the ground up, literally. It wasn't easy and he had to develop his leathercraft skills in order to generate some cash to make it work. Tune in and find out how Nick and his wife got their ranch started along with their off-farm income business. 

Big happenings (possibly) on our farm, and proof of concept during an interview!

Direct download: OFI_1182_Tuesday_Episode_-_92021_4.37_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Through the past seven years of hosting the Off-Farm Income Podcast I have made the claim on numerous occasions that you can find a niche in agriculture, become the expert in that niche and turn that into a business that will produce your off-farm income.  Today, I offer proof of this concept one more time, and oh my goodness, is this proof!

Lisa Steele, the creator of "Fresh Eggs Daily", the author of six books, television host and frequent television guest is joining us on the show to talk about the development of her brand and business that is all about raising chickens, geese and ducks!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1179_Lisa_Steele-082421.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today is an oldie but goodie in terms of podcast episodes. I reach back into the archives to bring you this interview featuring Freelance Writer and Agricultural Communications Specialist, Heather Smith Thomas. 

Here are the notes from the original Episode:

                                        KEY IDEAS


PERSISTENCE: Heather urges you not to give up, even after several editors have rejected your idea.  She states that just because an editor has rejected your idea does not mean that it is without value.

KNOW YOUR SUBJECT: Heather states that if you are going to write professionally about a topic you become more successful and credible if it is something you are familiar with.  So, pick something that you are interested in and know about.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1178_Recap_Of_Episode_009-090921.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

As it turned out, our good snow pack from last winter was largely diminished by the dry spring that we had.  The ground in the mountains was so dry from lack of rainfall in the spring that when the snow started to run off they absorbed a large percentage of the water that would normally end up in our reservoirs.  Therefore, my irrigation water shuts off tomorrow, about 30 days earlier than normal.  I am done with irrigation early this year, but it is not a happy surprise.  I will have less pasture than normal, which means I will be feeding livestock sooner than normal.  With hay at a premium, that causes its own problems.

My problems pale in comparison to those of the production agriculture farmers in our area whose yields are going to be reduced because their crops are going to stop or significantly slow down on growth when the last of their soil moisture disappears.  Out here in the West we are going to need a very wet winter followed by a wet spring to get us back to or towards normal and to help us avoid a crisis.  We hope you will keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Direct download: OFI_1176_Tuesday_Episode_-_91321_4.28_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

It's been 20 years since Autumm and I received a telephone call first thing in the morning telling us that the Twin Towers in New York City were on fire.  Different then our normal morning routine, we headed out to the living room and turned the television on to witness the towers falling just a short time later.  We were forever changed just as everyone else was on that day.

In today's episode I'd like to spend some time remember that day and discussing it from an agricultural perspective.

Here are links to three stories that I covered in the episode today:

Ohio Man Creates 9/11 Tribute Mural On Farmland

Farmers See 9/11 Impacts Each Day

John Ogonowski

Direct download: OFI_1174_Rural_Crime_-_91021_4.43_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today is my second time featuring Ally Spears on the Off-Farm Income Podcast.  She first appeared on the show in December of 2020 on episode #945.  She and her mother co-own a business called Junk & Disorderly, and it supports the farm and farming lifestyle in the Bay Area of California.  Ally does not live in California however.  She lives in Texas and works for Texas A&M as a program director.  She definitely has the entrepreneurial spirit, which is easily recognized by all of the different ventures she finds herself in.

On today's show Ally and I will be talking about her journey in agriculture and entrepreneurship.  We will also be discussing some of the issues faced and progress made by women in farming and ranching.  These are the kinds of topics that Ally discusses on her podcast, Ag Chicks, and we are lucky to have her first hand with us on the show today!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1173-Ally_Spears-081821.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On tomorrow's episode I am having Ally Spears back on the show to talk about some of her other entrepreneurial endeavors in agriculture.  It was a fun interview, talking about ag and life in general.  I thought recapping the episode she did with her mother, Robyn, from the National Finals Rodeo in 2020 would be a great choice for this week's re-cap episode to get us ready for Friday's agribusiness show with Ally.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1172-Recap_Of_Episode_945-090821.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Autumm, Hattie and I spent Labor Day Weekend in San Francisco.  In today's episode I'll tell you why you should plan a visit if you've always wanted to go there but the news about the homeless problem has scared you away.  Also, my cousin and his family are carrying on a great farming tradition in California, and I'm excited about it!

Direct download: OFI_1170_Tuesday_Episode_-_9621_10.06_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's episode is the epitome of the type of business that this show was designed to profile.  Our guest, Roc Rutledge, farms with his father and brother in northeast Colorado.  Long ago, Roc's father told them that they would need to create some sort of business to help support them if they were going to come home and farm.  Roc has done that a couple of times over, and on today's show we are talking all about his newest business, Ace Composting.

Roc has been unbelievably innovative and courageous in the creation of this business.  And, just like always happens, now that he has put himself out there, other business opportunities are emerging as a result of what he has done.  Roc is being paid to dispose of dead pigs by a large scale pork producer in his area, and this was the first problem he solved.  He came up with a way to dispose of these pigs in close proximity to where they were being produced while insuring biosecurity for his customer.  On the other end of his innovation he has compost that he is using to improve his pastures and farm ground.  And, he is now getting interest from others to consult for them as they develop the same type of system that he has created.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1167_Roc_Rutledge-REVISED-081921.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

oday's show is a reply of an interview featuring Aaron Juergons who had the idea to inject manure into the soil in an effort to mitigate Clean Air Act air emissions reporting requirements. In addition to his manure spreading business, he owns a hog feeder and finisher business with his brother and they are both employed by Juergens Produce and Feed Co., which was started by their grandfather, Vernis Juergens, in 1945.

Additionally, Juergens Produce and Feed Co. has partnered with researcher and inventor, Gary Rapp, to market a liquid manure emissions neutralizer system through a company called Juergens Environmental Control, based in Carroll County Iowa.

Finding ways to be innovative with ag bi-products and being mindful of the environment while also helping farmers build soil for crop production is also a goal for Roc Rutledge. He will be my guest tomorrow, talking about his swine mortality composting business in Northeast Colorado.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1166-Recap_Of_Episode_40-081621_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I woke up this morning and was immediately inspired by a YouTube clip profiling many of the motivational things that Joe Rogan has said on his podcast.  You can watch the clip here.

This took me down a path of thinking and really got me thinking about the deeper meaning of what we are trying to do by searching for this elusive, rural and agricultural lifestyle.  So, today I went down the philosophical path (as much as I am capable of doing that).

Here are my notes from this morning:

  • Thoreau - Walden
  • Hunting camp - save up vacation time to go live like native Americans did for a one week period
  • Clip from Joe Rogan (put link in post)
  • Easier to take chances when you are young
  • Harder when you are older with more responsibility.
  • Story about not being able to leave his job because of lifestyle
  • My story about taking one risk and having one shot because of my age and responsibility.
  • Do the math on investing early (use the investment calculator)
  • Joe Rogan quote about planting the seed of an idea and nurturing it until it turns into something.
  • The rut of traffic, followed by a soul sucking job followed by traffic followed by escaping into the television.  Followed by overbuying to self medicate and being pushed harder into the rut.
  • One of my favorite streams of revenue is selling eggs and I literally make no money.

Direct download: OFI_1164_Tuesday_Episode_-_83021_12.46_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I have been having a thought about a pathway to purchasing a farm for quite a while that involves four years of hard work, investing, starting young and being very motivated.  I finally decided to put these thoughts out and hopefully help somebody with them.  This is not a regular episode, so I decided to just release it as a bonus episode.  I hope it can help some young dreamer come up with a strategy that will get them to the life they are dreaming about sooner rather than later.

Direct download: Bonus_Episode_Early_Investing_-_83021_12.30_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:44pm MDT

A few weeks ago while reading articles for our rural crime episode I saw a quote from a police officer in the U.K. who was being interviewed about the thefts of sheep.  He was clearly frustrated with the fact that so many sheep are stolen in the U.K. and the cases go largely unsolved.  In the quote he recommended that sheep owners use some sort of marking technology on their lambs such as "TecTRACER".  I had never heard of such a thing so I looked up what it was and was intrigued as to how it works.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1162_John_Minary-082521.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

A few weeks ago I published an interview with an FFA student who told me that she was going to be seeking a career as a livestock chiropractor.  Until that very interview, that was a career that I had never heard of.  So, the team started trying to find somebody who did this for a living to come on the show and talk about the career field.  We were very fortunate to find Dr. Renold Bleem and Melanie Bleem from Havana, Illinois.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1161_Dr_Bleem-072821_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT