Off-Farm Income

This is officially my birthday episode!  I recorded this on the morning of my 48th birthday, and what an appropriate time to do a solo episode where I am just conversing with all of you.

  • Today is a farm update, and we will be covering:
  • Purchasing four new heifers
  • Having good relationships with other farmers
  • Heat and smoke in our valley
  • The presence of so many predators on our farm

I hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Direct download: OFI_1122_Tuesday_Episode_-_71221_11.00_AM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today, I am happy to welcome the 2021 Illinois State Star Farmer, Shana Lueking, onto the show.  Shana comes from a rich history of FFA advisors in her family, with both her father and grandfather serving as FFA advisors, and a rich dairy farming tradition that goes four generations deep in her family.  In addition to legacy, Shana has passion and is an excellent speaker.  This combination plus some hard work led Shana to this prestigious award from her home state of Illinois.

Shana has many reasons to be proud, but she is also a natural helper and educator.  So, in today's episode she tells us how she, her father and her grandfather put together the winning record book that led to her becoming her state's star farmer.  She lays out methods and ideas that will help anyone reach the next level, if that is where they are trying to get to.

I am really excited to air this interview with Shana because of the positive impacts it can have for other FFA students.  I have not judged record books of FFA students, but I have judged applications for SAE grants.  When you are a judge you start to notice some applications that really jump out at you because of the effort that has been put into them.  It turns out that it is no different when putting together a record book for a prestigious award like star farmer.

In this interview, Shana tells us about how she put together her record book, with the help of her father and grandfather.  She gives descriptions of the words she used, how she incorporated photographs and what she was trying to accomplish when writing narratives for her record book.  She was essentially trying to make her record book "pop", but she had to be careful to not overdo it with too much content.  Therefore, writing a vivid story in a concise manner became very important.  And, Shana will explain it all in the episode!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1121_Shana_Lueking-062821.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Rural crime is a pervasive problem in the U.K., U.S., Canada and Australia.  Once per week we cover stories from all four of these countries regarding people in rural areas dealing with criminal behavior.  

Direct download: OFI_1120_Rural_Crime_-_7921_1.49_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

It wasn't long ago that people were saying that brick and mortar stores are dead and will never come back.  Those folks better watch out because David is swinging his sling shot and has figured out a new way to slay Goliath!

On today's episode I am speaking with an unbelievably innovative, rural entrepreneur, who is not afraid of brick and mortar.  Kayla Gabel is the owner of The Desert Rose Boutique in Wiggins, Colorado.  Located only 66 miles from Denver, she has customers that will drive 90 minutes to come spend the day in her shop rather than drive 20-30 minutes to shop in Denver.  Kayla has redefined brick and mortar, and she is only getting better.

Kayla likes to shop, and that passion ultimately led her to starting her own, online boutique which she named Desert Rose.  However, it was becoming too much for her family to handle in their home, so she found herself opening up an actual store front.  Kayla chose to open that store in the small, farming based town that she lives in rather than commuting into a city where she might get more drive by traffic.  Actually, she ignored convention knowledge about opening up a physical location altogether.  Rather, with the help of the internet and social media, Kayla created her own community of fans, and now they drive to her small town to shop with her!

Today the Desert Rose Boutique makes about 60% of its sales online with 40% of sales happening on location in Wiggins, Colorado.  However, Wiggins is very small and those 40% of sales are not exclusively from locals.  So, how does Kayla get people to drive to her small town to shop.....she created a community.

Kayla is very active on social media, Facebook specifically, and she even has a special, VIP group on Facebook where she shares her life and exclusive offers with her fans.  She has also created a mobile app to keep in touch with her fans outside the confines of Facebook at the touch of a button.

What Kayla really does is provides a unique experience, unique products and unbelievable customers service.  If a customer walks into her boutique, she knows who they are, what their story is and what they purchased last time.  She and her staff will visit all day with them, help them pick out outfits and provide the type of customer service that seemed to have died somewhere back about 1989.  Even though today many people will just buy from whomever and don't hold companies to any kind of standard when it comes to service, there are those who still demand to be treated well.  And, they are driving from the Denver Metro Area to a postage stamp, small town to get it.

Kayla thinks way outside the box when it comes to business.  She has brought a massage therapist into her store so now people who want a massage can come be part of her boutique's experience as well.  She just purchased her first tanning bed, and soon will have three that she will rent to people looking to get some intense UV rays.  And of course, when they are done there is conversation, friendly people and unique clothing and products waiting for them right outside the door.

Kayla is driving by a sense of community, and she is trying to bring customers to her community for a shopping experience that will extend beyond her boutique and into surrounding businesses.

If you have ever wondered if you could start a brick and mortar store in your small town and succeed, you need to hear this interview with Kayla Gabel!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1119_Kayla_Gabel-062521.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today we are revisiting episode #420.  When I wrote these show notes and made this episode I was reflecting on how my life had changed since I decided to become an entrepreneur.  I was living a lifestyle that I dared not dream of at one point in time.  This is the source of my inspiration.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1118-Recap_Episode_420-070621.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today it is my pleasure to be able to interview the newest state star farmer from Kansas, Wesley Denton.  Wes has just completed his freshman year of college at Kansas State University where he is studying animal science and also the meat industry. 

The story of Wes's herd of cattle and his star farmer award began when he was three and, as his family tradition calls for, his grandfather gave him his very first heifer.  However, the roots of this were actually much earlier in a dark time in our nation's history, particularly for people in the part of the Midwest where Wes lives.  Looking back on the dates, and doing some math it appears that Wes's great-grandfather purchased their family farm in about 1931, after emigrating from Germany.  This of course was in the heart of the Dust Bowl and two years into the Great Depression.  This was certainly a stressful and uncertain time for Americans, and especially those making their livings on a farm in the Mid-West.

The farm has persevered, and today Wesley is a shining example of what that commitment and hard work can lead to.  As the State Star Farmer for Kansas, Wesley will go on to compete to become the American Star Farmer at the FFA's National Convention.  And, if the farming tradition in Kansas were not enough, there is quite an FFA tradition in Wes's family as well.  At his former high school his grandfather's name still hangs on the wall, commemorating all of the committee members to start the Valley Height's FFA chapter way back then.

Wesley plans on completing high school and finding work at a company such as Cargill to work in the food production industry.  He has been told to go out and make his own way before he comes home to take his place on the family farm.  I have no doubt that he will do just that!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1117_Wesley_Denton-062221.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Isn't it the nature of farming that just when you think you are getting ahead, you aren't really getting anywhere at all?  Or, maybe you are losing ground?  This spring has been really dry for us in Southwestern Idaho, but you wouldn't think that would matter much because we had a good snow year and have water for irrigation.  However, lot's of people are having more trouble with weeds than normal, and it is impacting farming.  It is specifically impacting me right now as the entire hay crop I was counting on for this season is looking really bad, and I got told that the hay that was pledged to me was no longer going to be available.

In this farm update I'll discuss my hay problems and:

  • Losing a beef customer due to me feeding GMO hay
  • Increasing hay prices putting a crunch on my bottom line
  • Thistle after thistle that I have to spot treat in my pasture
  • Making some progress beating back fox tails
  • Buying four heifer to get ahead, but having to cull three mother cows
Direct download: OFI_1116_Tuesday_Episode_-_7_5_21_6.49_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On today's episode of the Off-Farm Income Podcast I am fortunate enough to speak with a very high achieving student who is involved in agriculture, sports, business education, her faith and so much more.  Olivia Odle is a standout, becoming her chapter's president, while being very active in many areas outside of the FFA.  She lives in Northeast Colorado, which is completely focused on agriculture and so much different than the vast majority of her state.

Olivia keeps up a rapid pace of activity, but it is apparent that she would not be able to do this if her community and school did not value agriculture and the FFA so much.  As an example, sports can sometimes interfere with other extracurricular activities, such as the FFA, but her community and school clearly support agriculture so it works out.  The mascot for Oliva's school is the "beet diggers", which is clearly indicative of the growth of sugar beets as a crop in her area and her area's history.

It is this type of support that has allowed Olivia to succeed in so many different areas of life and take on responsible positions, such as president of her chapter.  And it is this type of support that will push her to succeed at the next level when she begins college, just two months after this episode is published!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1115_Olivia_Odle-062221_2.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our weekly look into the world of rural crime and how to prevent rural crime.  Folks in rural communities are dealing with crime and delinquency too, but it gets almost no media coverage.  We aim to change that here. 

Direct download: OFI_1114__Even_On_4th_Of_July_Weekend_Rural_Crime_Does_Not_Stop.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

A very valid form of off-farm income that I really do not talk much about is creating products and selling them.  The businesses I tend to focus more on are those that serve other farmers in some way.  This is probably because I, in no way, am a creator of products and started out my entrepreneurial journey through farm service.  Therefore, in order to cover the world of innovation and invention we have an expert on the show today.  Allan Fetters, the owner of AGceleration Advisory Services is joining us on the show to discuss the world of bringing new products and technology to agriculture.

In today's episode we will be discussing:

  • Patents
  • Pricing
  • Timelines
  • Why farmers have a head start over innovation companies when it comes to creating agricultural products
  • Why non-agricultural people are creating agricultural products
  • And much, much more!

If you have had an idea of a product or invention that you would like to create because it would solve a problem for farmers, you will find a lot of great information in this episode!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1113_Allan_Fetters-062321.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


Today is a great day for Americans, farmers, and non-farmers alike.  As we celebrate the anniversary of American Independence we should think about the men and women who lived through this time.  With this in mind, let's look at how it impacted farmers in the colonies during the 18th Century.

Here are a few of the things that farmers went through during the Revolutionary War:

  • Trade routes to the market were cut off by war, either waterways or roads.
  • Farmers could not plant surpluses because they might not be able to sell the excess and it would just rot on their fields.
  • Herds of cattle and horses were depleted either by the plundering of the British or as provisions for the Continental Army.
  • Farmers were away from their farms for long periods of time and had to start over when they finally returned.
  • At this time, 90% of the population were engaged in farming so this really was a war fought by farmers.

I wanted to mention something that I read in Stephen Ambrose's book "Citizen Soldiers" about farm kids in World War II.  He said that the commanders loved the soldiers that grew up on farms because they had been hunting for their whole lives, knew how to handle a rifle, and could shoot straight.

I wanted to pay tribute to four of my ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary War in this episode as well:

  • Samuel Hubbard
  • James Wilcox
  • Jesse Richardson
  • Jesse Rowley
Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1112-Recap_Episode_470-062421.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

When people rise to the top all of the sudden they find themselves answering a lot of questions.  Other people want to know the secret to their success so that they can replicate what has been accomplished.  So, naturally, I asked today's guest what her secret to standing out was.

Madison Woods just completed her first year of college, and she is getting ready to head off to Oklahoma State University to pursue her agricultural aspirations.  Along the way, she has picked up a couple of very prestigious awards - National Proficiency Winner in Sheep Production and California State Star Farmer.  Awards like that don't just happen by accident, so I needed to know what made Madison stand out so much!

To begin, Madison grew up on a farm in the Central Valley of California with no livestock present!  Her family farms almonds and grows plants in a greenhouse for sale.  So, when she was nine years old and decided to go her own way by getting a lamb, there were some raised eyebrows in the house as to whether or not she was serious.

That first year wasn't easy either.  Madison got run over and dragged by that lamb, and there were plenty of times that she needed to find her resolve just to keep going, even at the age of 9.  However, by the age of 10 Madison had purchased a ewe and started breeding her own sheep.  Today, her flock is just over 50 ewes, and she has sold sheep all over the country.  She has been pushed, and she has pushed herself, and it has paid dividends.

So, what was Madison's answer to how did you do it?  She encouraged everyone to "face their fear" and try everything that interests them.  That way, you can find what you are truly passionate about.  Once you do that, devoting yourself and putting in the necessary work is no problem.

Direct download: OFI_1111_-_Madison_Woods__Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1110__Record_Heat_And_Crazy_Times__A_Late_Release_On_Tuesday.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:49pm MDT

Any of you who have shown animals at your county fair or jackpot shows, or who have kids who do have seen the families that seem to have repeated success, over and over, in the show ring.  Quite honestly, sometimes animosity can build when families have repeated success at a high level and the rest of the field seems to be perpetually in 2nd place.

In today's episode, I get to speak with a student with a family tradition of success in the show arena, exhibiting pigs.  Jaycie Jordan will be joining us to discuss this aspect of the pig business.

Jaycie's family farm began with her parents when she was about three years old.  Both of them enjoyed raising and showing pigs, so pigs have been the one, consistent livestock animal on their farm.  Jaycie has three older siblings, and all of them have preceded her in the FFA and in the show ring.  This family is all about raising, breeding, and showing pigs, and with five mentors ahead of her (2 parents and 3 siblings) Jaycie found herself winning her first grand champion ribbon his past year.  As she notes in the episode, this comes after a streak of 12 straight grand champion or reserve grand champion ribbons by somebody in her family.

Jaycie goes into detail about how they breed their pigs, how they feed, practices they are adopting, and practices that they are abandoning.  I have been that parent in the stand, watching a well know family to win over and over and over again.  And, I have heard the grumblings of other people wondering what is going on.  The truth is, some families have figured it out.  Jaycie's family certainly has.  With everyone putting their best foot forward with their pigs, great things are bound to happen!

Direct download: OFI_1109_-_Jaycie_Jordan_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On the Off-Farm Income Podcast, I interview at least 104 FFA students every year.  And about 10% of them have supervised agricultural experiences involving bees.  Bees are a wonderful way to get involved with agriculture.  They can be raised in a small space, eliminating the need for large amounts of land, and they do something wonderful for the surrounding environment.

What if your interest in bees goes beyond casual, you would like a career doing what you love and that thing is bees?  Where do you start?  Do you go to college?  Are there ways you can serve the bee industry with a side business?  Is this an industry in decline, or are there emerging opportunities? These are the questions I think of every time I profile a student that has an interest in bees.

In today's episode, I finally get to answer so many of those questions.  I am speaking with Alan Mikolich.  Alan became fascinated with bees and beekeeping at age 9 and got his first hive when he was 10.  All he has wanted to do ever since is work with bees, and he made a career out of this passion.  After five decades working with bees, Alan has experience working for others, managing thousands of acres of farmland that need bees for pollination, collecting and selling his own honey, creating side businesses to serve the bee industry, and consulting.

There is no way to replicate the knowledge and wisdom of somebody like Alan who has been in the industry for this long, and today we are lucky enough to be able to share his expertise with the world.  If you have an interest in bees and are wondering how to make that your full-time job, today's interview is tailor-made for you!

Direct download: OFI_1107_-_Alan_Mikolich_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today I get to interview another student who is in the business that I refer to as the "millionaire-maker".  Conner Watts is not only the founder and owner of "Conner's Lawn Care & Landscaping" but he is a finalist for the National Star in Agribusiness at this year's National FFA Convention.

Conner started his business as a way to make some extra money and then it started raining in West Texas.  It rained and rained, and it caused the lawns to grow...a lot.  Pretty soon he had a growing business with lots of referrals and an ever-increasing client list.

This lit a fire with Conner, and he realized what he wanted to do with his life.....operate his own landscaping business.  Conner continued to grow the business and hired employees.  He then branched out to other communities and started servicing clients in other cities.  He is now the main landscape company in two of those communities.  He has also partnered with a nursery that contracted with another company to provide lawn care services.  When that individual decided to retire, Conner gladly picked up where he left off.

Conner is studying agribusiness as well as plant and soil sciences at Texas Tech. University.  Everything he is doing in school is designed around building this business from learning more about business to becoming more of an expert in soils and plant health.

Good luck this October Conner!

Direct download: OFI_1106_-_Replay_Conner_Watts_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

In today's episode, I get to do a lot of reminiscing about where I grew up.  Our guest, Hartley Silva, just graduated from Modesto High School in Modesto, California.  She has already been taking classes in agriculture at Modesto Junior College, and she went to elementary school at a very small school that my elementary school used to play in sports.  Hartley and I grew up in the same county and I went to Modesto Junior College too, but Hartley is taking her love of agriculture to a level that I never even dreamed of.

The list of accomplishments for this young lady just does not stop.  Hartley is currently serving as the "Jersey Queen" for the State Of California.  She also just received a state proficiency award for dairy production.  And, she is raising, selling, and showing her own line of Jersey cattle under the business name "Flying Hart Registered Jerseys".  If this were not enough she has served as both a chapter and section officer in the FFA, will be seeking a national proficiency award and an American Degree.

I could stop right there, and that would make an incredible resume for 99% of people in our country, but Hartley did not stop there.  She has gone all around the U.S. showing dairy cattle and judging livestock.  And, this has even taken her "across the pond" to Scotland, where she placed in a worldwide competition for judging livestock.  As an individual in this international competition, Hartley was awarded 6th place.  On a team of two with her sister, they placed 3rd.  What an incredible accomplishment!

Hartley is studying a lot of different aspects of agriculture and livestock production in college.  She is planning on transferring to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to finish her bachelor's degree and get her teaching certificate so that she can bundle all of this knowledge into a package and deliver it to her own agriculture students.  She has a plan, and there is no question in my mind that she will execute it!

Direct download: OFI_1105_-_Hartley_Silva_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

As Darth Vader would say, "the desire to farm is strong with this one"....

I couldn't help it, but it is true.  Caitlyn Mack has a phenomenal story of being brought up in a farming family, developing the passion, and then taking the responsibility of starting her own operation.  Caitlyn just graduated from Drummond High School, but she is already farming 227 acres of cropland on her own.  She has been working for her father and uncle on the family farm for years, earning an hourly wage.  She has been using that money to lease her own ground, purchase her own inputs, and start her own enterprise the entire time.

There is a myriad of grain crops that Caitlyn is farming for herself as well as her family, and she has started her own cow/calf herd of beef cattle.  She is actively involved in embryo transfers, and she is growing better genetics in her herd.  All of this led her to be named the Star Farmer for the State Of Oklahoma in 2021.  This follows a national proficiency win in grain production, and three years serving as her chapter's president!

Caitlyn is off to Oklahoma State University this fall to pursue dual degrees in animal science and agricultural education.  She is planning on bringing all of this experience back to the classroom, but she is not done with her own accomplishments just yet.  Caitlyn will be seeking her American Degree during college, and she is planning to compete to become an American Star Farmer!

Direct download: OFI_1103_-Caitlyn_Mack_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1102__Staying_Calm_When_Something_Goes_Wrong___Rural_Crime_Edition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I have a lot of people to thank for today's episode.  First of all, Warren Clark, the CEO of AgNewsCenter, recommended today's guest and got me an interview with him on short notice.  And, our guest, Brock Taylor, the president and CEO of Brock Taylor Consulting, took time out of his unbelievably busy schedule in one of the busiest parts of the year for him to speak with us.

Brock is an independent crop and agriculture consultant working in the San Joaquin Valley of California.  More specifically, he is based in and does a large percentage of his work in Fresno County, which has an abundance of very valuable crops that are grown every year in addition to an abundance of permanent crops that grown continually.

Anywhere that crops this valuable are grown, it is going to attract a lot of support-type businesses such as fertilizer companies, irrigation suppliers, and of course, crop consultants.  An agronomist like Brock has a lot of challenges in his business because there are also crop advisors working for fertilizer companies offering their services as an added value to farmers when they purchase fertilizer from them.  Over the years Brock has seen the crop advisors with the fertilizer companies expand their services to offer some of the things he does as an independent consultant in an attempt to pull business from him.  At the same time as this has been happening, the competition from other independent crop advisors has been growing, resulting in price competition and a much more strenuous environment.

Specific to California are a number of challenges.  Perhaps the largest is water and what appears to be a rapidly increasing frequency of drought years. This takes acres out of production and farmers make less money.  Of course, as farmers make less, they have less to spend on important services like crop consultation.  And, as they leave more and more acres uncultivated, there are fewer and fewer acres for somebody like Brock to consult on, resulting in less work for the growing number of consultants.

In this interview, Brock will give you a very realistic look at this particular agricultural business, the challenges that are associated with it, and how he recommends getting the experience you need to be independent.

Direct download: OFI_1101_-_Brock_Taylor_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There are few businesses in which your reputation is as important as breeding, training and selling dogs that people are going to work with and have expectations of.  Our guest today, Laura Stimatze, has learned this over several years of doing this.

With those years of experience comes wisdom, and Laura is offering it to you today.  One of the key pieces of advice that she shares today is to be careful who you sell your animals to.  She guards her reputation very carefully and only sells to people who have the right idea about what they are going to be doing with these dogs. She does not sell pets, and she makes sure that her customers are going to put the work in so that the dog she sells them performs correctly.  She does not want somebody blaming her breeding or training when they did not put in the required work.

Along the way, Laura also noticed something about her industry.  She saw a need for training clinics that were specifically for women.  So, she started one.  She does not do as many as she once did, but she does train just for women.  That was how I found out about her, from one of my listeners, Garoleen Wilson, who went to one of her clinics.

Direct download: OFI_1100_-_Replay_with_Laura_Stimatze_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The other day an article popped up in my newsfeed about a young man who had won an FFA academic award upon graduation from high school.  As I read through the article, I saw that the same student had received an award from the Sons Of The American Revolution.  This piqued my interest because I am a member of the Sons Of The American Revolution.  I am thrilled to today bring this young man onto the show.

Victor Snook is definitely worth a SAR award as well as many other accolades.  In our interview, we uncovered many ways in which this young man is currently contributing to his community and will continue to do so in the future.  Victor is not afraid to be busy!  He plays football, played baseball, participates in the marching band, is in the school's jazz band, works outside of school, and obviously is involved in the FFA.

What really stood out to me in this interview with Victor is service.  For Victor's job, he works for a farm service business.  When I hear the term "farm service" I think about mechanics and technicians that repair equipment in the field or service equipment on people's property.  However, for Victor's job he helps people out on their farms in any way they need.  He fixes fences, does concrete work, and even repairs sheds if need be.

Of course, a service job is consistent with everything else I heard from this young man.  He has a deep love for music.  He has four brothers, and three of them play the saxophone right along with him.  That's right, there are four brothers playing saxophone together, two on alto and two on tenor.  During the interview, Victor mentioned playing for their church as well as entertaining people in senior living facilities and bringing them the joy of music.

Victor has his eyes set on service as a career.  He mentioned in our questionnaire that he was going to be studying law enforcement in college. In the interview, he talked about serving his community as a conservation officer.  Either way, it is service that he knows and service that he is going to provide in his career.  You are going to enjoy getting to know this young man!

Direct download: OFI_1099_-_Victor_Snook_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1098__Knock_Knock_Knock_-_Your_Cows_Are_On_The_Road.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

We talk a lot on this show about how to get started farming right now, even if you don't have the farm that you ultimately see in your dreams.  Usually when we speak of this we are talking about marketing some fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc. from a back yard operation or possibly something like aquaculture or hydroponics.  But, what if you want to raise livestock?  Is there anything that you can do on a small piece of ground that would be profitable?

Our guest today, Annie Johnson, is going to talk to us about doing exactly that with pigs.  Annie's has a very interesting story that has come full circle. Her grandfather used to raise pigs on their families farm about ten miles away from where she currently lives in Cambridge, Illinois.  However, nobody in the family raised a pig for about 20 years until she got started at the age of 14.

The family farm is still there, and that is where Annie raises her pigs.  However, the crop ground on the farm is in the CRP program, so it is not being farmed.  That means that Annie only had a small piece of ground to be able to begin her livestock enterprise.  Pigs were the answer for her, and direct marketing was the business model.  Annie has been able to pre-arrange the sale of her pigs to multiple customers, and because of her unique story and the way she is raising them she can charge a premium for her pork.

Through direct marketing, Annie has been able to increase what she receives for her pigs.  However, she is being just as innovative on the other end to keep expenses low.  Instead of feeding a boar all year long, she is using artificial insemination to breed her sows.  There is an old grain cart on the property that can safely hold a lot of pig feed.  So, Annie buys feed in bulk and has that cart filled to save money on feed costs, and it works!  Annie has also experimented with different breeds and is now raising Duroc's.  Her customers prefer the meat, and the Duroc's work be in her operation.  So, she is producing a very desirable product through the most efficient means she has at her disposal.

Annie has just graduated high school and has just been awarded a state proficiency for her efforts in pork production.  She is going to take all of this experience and knowledge with her to college where she will be studying to be an Ag teacher.  When she finishes college, she will bring it all with her to the classroom, and she will be inspiring Ag students for years to come!

Direct download: OFI_1097_-_Annie_Johnson__Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1096__Grandma_Is_On_Drugs_And_A_Stolen_ATV___Rural_Crime_Edition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On today's episode, we are profiling a product.  And like I do every time that we profile a product or company I want to give a disclaimer.  Today's guest is not a paid advertiser or sponsor of the Off-Farm Income Podcast, and there are no discussions taking place for that to happen.  This company was brought to my attention by a person I have met through agricultural podcasting, and after reading about their product I thought this might be something that could help you be more successful on your cattle or pig operation. That is why we are profiling it here today.

Our guest today, Joe Spicola, has been involved in the beef industry, raising stockers, for many years now.  Sometime around 2005, as they were weighing cattle, again, he decided that there must be a better way to get this done than rounding up all the cattle, stressing them out, and inputting all that labor.  Then, an idea was born.  What if the cattle could be scanned and their weight calculated each time they came to water?

This started the journey that Joe is still on today.  However, today he has an extremely accurate product that weighs cattle and pigs through 3-D imaging technology that he is selling.  This product is called CLICR Weight, and its implications are fantastic!

Instead of rounding up cattle, penning them up, and running them through a scale to calculate their weights and average daily gains, Joe's product relies on the cattle coming to water and technology.  Joe has been able to develop an algorithm that uses a 3-D image capture by a camera when a cow or pig comes to drink that provides the animal's weight with 96% accuracy.  The implications here are astounding.  A lot of labor and stress is saved by doing this when the cow or pig is doing something that is totally natural to them.  And, the computer can automatically mark the animal if they have reached their goal weight.  The computer can also automatically apply drenches so that cattle do not have to be run through corrals to get parasite protection, and I think Joe is just starting to figure out all the ways that this technology can help producers.

With a $3,500 price tag and a daily subscription fee of $.05-$.15 per animal, if this sounds like a technology that would help you to succeed in your operation it is definitely affordable.  I hope that the information provided today can help you to be more successful, and I hope that innovations in agriculture like this keep coming our way!

Direct download: OFI_1095_-_Joe_Spicola_-_ClicR_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There are a few key ways that businesses get started.  One of the most common is when somebody gets frustrated with the lack of something they need or the quality of what is available to them.  Our guest today has exactly this story.

Heather Kelly grew up in and still lives in Alaska.  She takes full advantage of the outdoor recreation opportunities afforded to her there.  In her time in the backcountry, she became frustrated with the freeze-dried food that was available to her.  So, she started making her own.

This ultimately led her to develop her company, Heather's Choice.  She is passionate about making freeze-dried food with quality and locally sourced food when available to her.  She is also passionate about living where she wants to live - Alaska.  And, she is passionate about creating jobs in her home state that are outside of what is traditionally available there.  So, she was a perfect fit for this show!


HONEST: You should always be honest in dealing with your customers....and you should be honest with yourself when it comes to what you can really handle.

JUMP: Heather believes that if you are passionate about an idea you should jump in with both feet and make it happen.  This will help you determine whether or not it is going to work.

MISTAKES: You are going to make them, so just accept that now and it won't be devastating when it happens.


At some point, somebody told Heather to read The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It.  This is a great book that I recommend as well.  It talks about no letting working in your business destroy the joy of having your own business.


JOURNAL: Heather is very good at journaling.  She does it daily, and it helps her to maintain her calm when things get crazy.

Direct download: OFI_1094__-_Heathers_Choice_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Ah, the energy, optimism, and strength of youth.  So many of us let that part of our lives pass by without taking full advantage of what we were capable of at that time.  Our guest today, Cody Keefer, is not one of those people.

Cody is farming with his brother, father, and grandfather on a farm in Ohio that has been in their family for almost 50 years.  Cody just graduated high school, and there is no question that his passion is outdoors, on a tractor, and in a field.  His family's farm is a traditional, production agriculture row crop farm with some cows on the side to keep them busy during the winter.  Now that Cody has graduated high school it almost like he has been unleashed to go out and get farming!

In addition to farming with his family, Cody got started growing and selling hay a few years back.  Since that initial launch, he has started obtaining more and more hay ground and selling more and more hay.  He is currently up to about 50 acres, which he says is plenty for him considering all of the other work that he has to do.

I asked Cody about his future plans now that he is done with high school, and he had an interesting answer.  He has already identified a couple of employers in his area that offers shift work, including overnights.  He has got his eyes set on working at one of those places so that he can put in his off-farm hours during the night and farm during the day!

Most people work overnight shifts because they are just starting with a company, and they do not have enough seniority to work during the day.  However, Cody is looking for that overnight work so that he has the daylight hours to work.  Sleep?  What about sleep?  Well, Cody figures he will find some time for sleep when the farming and the off-farm work is done for the day.  However, right now, sleep is a distant third on the priority list for Cody.

I am excited for this young man and where he is headed.  He knows exactly what he wants to do, and his energy and thinking are all geared towards getting there.  It is this drive and passion that is going to get him through on those days that he is short on sleep, and it is this same drive that is going to cause him to take full advantage of this time in his life when he is capable of hours like this.

Cody is literally and figuratively going to be making hay while the sun shines, and this is going to set him up well for the future that he is looking for!

Direct download: OFI_1093_-_Cody_Keefer__Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1092__An_Idaho_Farming_Update_For_The_Rest_Of_The_Country.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today has a passion for bees.  It is funny what a true passion will do.  It will push you to produce more, get better at what you do and most importantly, figure out how to sustain your business so you can keep doing it.

Alexis Crone started raising bees when she was ten years old.  Those first hives have now grown to a staggering number of 23, and that interested has blossomed into a business called ABC Pure Honey.  Even though Alexis now harvests and sells gallons and gallons of honey, she realizes that is not enough.  She has looked around at her competition, and she sees that there are a lot of people raising bees and selling honey.  What she has discovered is the need for a USP or "unique selling proposition".

Alexis started thinking about what she could do to make ABC Pure Honey stand out.  What she came up with was selling bi-products of honey production and creating value-added products.  So, as she transitions into her junior year of high school she is doing the research to start selling pollen to people who will consume it for help with allergies.  She is also experimenting with the creation of cosmetics from her beeswax and honey so that she can diversify her product line and stand out from the competition.

Alexis already has a great business going, but she obviously has more than that.  She has instincts for how to grow her business and make it exceptional.  She has already won a state proficiency award during just her sophomore year in high school.  Now, as she continues to grow and develop her business more recognition is sure to follow!

Direct download: OFI_1091_-_Alexis_Crone__Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1090__Drones_And_Dog_Attacks___Rural_Crime_Edition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Back in March of 2017, I had today's guest on the show for the very first time.  In episode #267, Ric Brewer, appeared and told us all about his snail farming, processing, and marketing business that he had started in the Seattle area of Washington State.  Over the past four years, Ric has evolved in his business.  He has also seen his business devastated by Covid 19 as all of his restaurant customers were forced to close their doors.

Those challenges did not stop Ric from pursuing his passion and continuing to raise snails, however. And, during the past four years, he has started consulting with other people who would like to start a snail farming enterprise.  There is a lot to enjoy in this interview.  I think the highlight for me is learning about the unintended opportunity that Ric found himself with as a consultant.  As he will explain in the interview the snail business is very complicated due to governmental regulations, the infrastructure needed to raise them, and regulations on distribution methods.  However, after figuring that all out, he has become one of the foremost experts in the U.S. on how to navigate the waters of this business.  And thus, another opportunity appeared!

Direct download: OFI_1089_-_Ric_Brewer_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today, Tatia Veltkamp, and her husband had an interest - butterflies. This interest turned into a hobby.  The hobby grew and eventually turned into a side-hustle.  Once the side-hustle started Tatia could see other opportunities.  Today, this has grown into a full-blown business called Wings Of Enchantment.

Tatia and her husband started breeding butterflies after they gained some exposure to the need and the process.  Over time they discovered the demand for these butterflies and saw several opportunities to turn this into a business.

Today they own "Wings Of Enchantment" in New Mexico.  They are spreading awareness about butterflies, habitats, and the plants that are needed to support the species.  They have also recognized several ways to generate revenue from this and put them into practice:

  • Classroom Presentations
  • Butterly Releases
  • Life Cycle Kits
  • Displays

The concept of butterfly releases was very interesting to me as I never even knew this existed.  For special events, memorial services, dedications, you name it, people like to release butterflies.  Wings Of Enchantment can provide the butterflies for you and even help you figure out how to make it work best.

From a business standpoint, there is a lot to be gained from this episode.  Tatia and her husband are surviving the transition of loving something enough that they did it for fun, to turn it into a business.  They have been able to do this and not lose the love or passion they had for butterflies in the first place. That is always the real question when turning a hobby into a business - will you continue to love it or will the business rob you of that.

Direct download: OFI_1088_-__Replay_with_Tatia_Veltkamp__Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

How many of us have racked our brains trying to figure out a business we could start that would set us on our path to independence?  I know that I am in that group, and I spent years trying to come up with the idea that would work.  This is why I love interviewing FFA students.  Sometimes they make it look so simple that it is an excellent lesson for the rest of us.

Elliot Scheaffer has a great business.  He cuts up firewood, splits it, sorts onto 1/2 chord pallets, sells and delivers it.  He has enough business that he has actually pulled down his Facebook ads because he doesn't want any more orders at this time.  And, all of the firewood that he sells is obtained for free.

Elliot's business is brilliant and simple all at the same time.  As he drives around the countryside in his area of Iowa he sees people who have trees down on their property.  He will contact them, offer to clean up the downed tree in exchange for the wood, and voila! he has a product to sell.  Then Elliot cuts and splits the wood stacks it onto pallets and delivers it to his customers where he will stack it for them.

While so many of us are driving around wondering what kind of business we could start, Elliot is driving around finding things to sell and starting.  There is so much that we could learn from his example.

Direct download: OFI_1087_-_Elliot_Scheaffer_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's guest, Tristan Miller, is the second FFA student who is a fifth-generation farmer to appear on the show in a row.  Tristan currently works and lives on his family's farm north of Sacramento, California that has been part of his legacy since just after the Civil War.  During that time, the farm has seen a lot of changes.  For example, they used to raise cattle in addition to crops until drought made that unprofitable.  Also, their farm and farms in their area used to be dominated by rice, but now almonds are taking over.

Tristan takes all of this in stride and loves the farm work and responsibility he has on the home place.  When I asked him what his day-to-day work looks like, his answer was simple and to the point - "whatever grandpa tells me to do!".

Tristan has plans to return to the farm at some point, but he has some other interests that are enticing to him right now.  He is heading off to college to study agricultural business next year.  He also wants to get certified to drive large equipment so that he can operate large earthmovers for Cal Fire during wildfire season.  If that weren't enough, he would like to start his own business cutting and bailing hay for farmers.

Tristan is definitely motivated, and it is going to be exciting to see where he takes this journey.

Direct download: OFI_1085_-_Tristan_Miller__Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

We talk about it all the time on this show - how can you get to the life in which all you have to do is farm or ranch?  What if you already had an enterprise that would allow you to quit that job in town and farm or ranch full-time, but you just didn't know it?

On today's show, we will speak with Dallas Mount.  Dallas has a history of advising and teaching folks in agriculture, and now he is the owner of Ranch Management Consultants and their key course, Ranching For Profit, in Wheatland, Wyoming.  Dallas will be talking with us about how he and his people help to identify areas within people's ranching and farming enterprises that are going underutilized or are acting as a drag on their profits.  He will talk about strategies for improving an operation, increasing productivity, and enhancing profits.  He will also talk about the challenges to implementing those strategies when there are other stakeholders involved in the operation.

Dallas accurately points out that formal, agricultural education really emphasizes production when it comes to teaching ag students.  Therefore, there are a lot of ranchers out there with a large amount of knowledge and skill when it comes to production, but who still need to learn how to look at their enterprise from the perspective of a business person.

Direct download: OFI_1083_-_Dallas_Mount_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

You may wonder why I have a video of the Oprah Winfrey Show with Jim Carrey at the top of a post about farming and entrepreneurship.  The reason that I did this is that today's guest, Tyler Hendrickson, said something that really made me think about this story from Jim Carrey.

If you watch the video clip you will see that Jim Carrey visualized himself as an actor long before he was successful.  He then wrote a check to himself for $10 million for "acting services rendered".  Ultimately what he visualized he was ultimately able to make happen.

Tyler does not yet have a farm.  However, he named his diesel tuning business "Hendrickson Farms LLC". Tyler knows what he wants to do, and he has visualized it.  He wants to farm, and he has chosen entrepreneurship as the pathway to achieving that.  So, even though he does not have the farm yet, he has the business.....Hendrickson Farms LLC.  He knows that someday in the future he will be selling crops and livestock under that name, and he has chosen entrepreneurship to make that happen.


LISTEN: Listen to everyone intently for information that will make it easier for you to succeed as you move forward.

RELATIONSHIPS: Find a way to continually be developing relationships with people as you grow.  These people will help you succeed in your chosen business either by being mentors or customers.


DON'T QUIT: Tyler doesn't do this.  He sees every job through to its completion, no matter what it takes to get it finished.


"If you shoot for the moon and fall short you will still be among the stars"...or something very close to that.  Tyler's grandfather, through his words and example, showed Tyler that you need to set your goals high.  That way even if you fall short you have still accomplished something significant.

Direct download: OFI_1082_-_Replay_Hendrickson_Farms_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is a 5th generation farmer from Tennessee.  Campbell Baker and his father are jointly raising cattle on land outside of Carthage, Tennessee, which has been in the family since the late 1800s.  Where they are located is just about 50 miles to the east of Nashville.  With all of the growth in and immigration to Tennessee and Nashville right now, Campbell sees many changes that he never expected.

As more and more beautiful farms are turned into subdivisions, Campbell has realized that when he takes over this farming enterprise, he will face challenges unlike any faced by his ancestors in the past.  The growth, loss of farms, and diminishing open spaces can certainly be considered negative.  However, Campbell chooses to put a positive spin on things.

Campbell and his father have recognized that the influx of people also means potential new markets and new customers for directly marketed beef.  Therefore, they have been learning about new grazing techniques, new breeds of cattle, and how to market to folks in the city.  They are prepping for the future and looking at how their farming operation can be sustainable through the future and possibly even more productive and profitable.

Campbell definitely has a passion for what he is doing.  He understands all the different forages available on their farm, grazing techniques, and why a smaller breed of cattle might serve them better.  He also is preparing to go to college to learn about agricultural business and marketing to put himself into a position to grow this operation in the future.

Direct download: OFI_1081_-_Campbell_Baker_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1080__Inspired_To_Farm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is a sophomore in high school, and she is already figuring out how to farm.  Lily Noel is the owner of Hilltop Pumpkins, and she is well on her way to developing a successful pumpkin farming business.

Growing up on her family's farm, Lily found an extra acre of ground where she could start growing pumpkins.  Then she started figuring out how to market her crop.  Then she started figuring out how to extend her sales and marketing season by adding in different varieties of pumpkins.  Soon, she found herself selling pumpkins at three different locations in her county.

What stood out to me about this interview with Lily was how she recognized that her pumpkins were not going to be the main priority on the family farm.  This meant that she had to work around the other farming operations.  They were not going to work around her.  So, when Lily is doing things such as planning out locations to grown more pumpkins in the future, she has to cognizant of their proximity to other crops, and if those crops might need to be sprayed with chemicals during the growing season that could harm her pumpkins.

It seems simple enough, "Just grow some pumpkins and sell them in the fall".  But nothing is ever as simple as you think it will be.  Lily is finding that out and doing an excellent job adapting to those complexities.

Direct download: OFI_1079_-_Lily_Noel__Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1078__A_Cattle_Related_Murder_Mystery_Solved___Rural_Crime_Edition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I have a lot of authors reach out to me, requesting that they be guests on the show.  I almost never say yes, but today that is very different.  Today, I am very excited to have Shannon Hayes on the show.  Shannon has a great story of shifting mindsets, pursuing a rural and agricultural lifestyle, and making it work.  And, she has written a fantastic book called Redefining Rich chronicling all of it and the lessons that she has learned along the way.

The title of this book really stood out to me when I first saw the proposal.  I talk about redefining retirement on the show all the time.  It seemed to be such a natural corollary to redefine what it means to be rich as well.  So much of Shannon has experienced and talks about in this book is exactly what I have gone through since the time that I chose lifestyle and fulfillment over dollars and cents.

The journey that you want to take, to the lifestyle that you want to have is going to force you to change your mindset in multiple different ways.  If you try to stay in the mindset of the full-time employee, ultra-consumption lifestyle while pursuing your dream, you will never make the sacrifices or adjust your priorities in a way that will lead to success.

Shannon's book is an excellent template for how to change that mindset and find true happiness.  I talk about how lucky those of us with rural values who want to live in rural areas are, all the time.  However, this makes no difference if you can't look around you and see yourself as rich because of the way in which you get to live.  Shannon's book will absolutely help you see it and make that change.  We will start you off with this great interview.

Direct download: OFI_1077_-_Shannon_Hayes_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today has a story that is very similar to mine in that he has a heart for service and this manifested itself first in the military, later in local law enforcement and finally in his very own service business, Leedy Farm and Property Services.

Chuck Leedy moved away from his home in Dryden, Virginia a couple of times during his life.  But ultimately, after having children, he decided he wanted to return home and farm.  The challenge for him in doing that was what would he do to produce the income he would need for household expenses not covered by farm revenue.

Chuck decided upon entrepreneurship, but his did not happen suddenly.  He was working as a maintenance technician for McDonald's at four different restaurants and building his business on the side.  As he continued to build his business he discovered that the reputation he had built for himself in the community from serving as a law enforcement officer was helping him to get business.  This was only natural as people inherently trusted him to be on their property.

Chuck went through the "crazy time" like so many entrepreneurs do when they are trying to transition from their full-time job to full-time self-employment.  Finally, after working many hours per week between the business and the job he was able to break away and become a full-time entrepreneur.  Once this happened he was able to focus more on his business and his farm.  Now he is on a great trajectory to live the life for himself and his family that he has envisioned.


COMMUNICATE: Chuck and I both learned through our careers in law enforcement that communication with customers is key.  When he gets busy, something goes wrong or the farm demands his attention he can maintain positive relationships with customers through good communication.

REPUTATION: Chuck has a great reputation in his community, and he does not take that lightly.  That is something that needs to be protected.

RELIABLE: Customers want somebody that they can depend on.  You need to be reliable for them to truly trust that they can rely on you.


ORGANIZED DRIVE: Chuck has a drive that helps him finish what needs to get done.  And he compliments his time in the military for making him organized to get all the different things finished that he has on his schedule.


This advice was given to Chuck by his grandfather: "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing it right the first time".


Chuck's Email Address:

Direct download: OFI_1076_-_Replay_Chuck_Leedy_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Have you ever heard the saying that "you will know it when you see it?"  If you were to ask me how I can tell who will make it as an entrepreneur, that is probably the answer that I would receive.  Sometimes you know what you know.

In the case of our guest today, Anna Collins, this is a young lady who will make it as an entrepreneur if she chooses to be one.  How do I know this?  It is all about looking at the actions that she has already taken and realizing that people who are not serious about an enterprise do not do what she has.

Anna loves horses, and she is determined to have her own business teaching others to ride and training.  That sentence is not unique to Anna.  You could make the same statement about many people who love horses and want to turn it into a full-time living.  However, you could find countless people who have given up on that dream because they didn't have a farm or facilities or because there was too much liability.  None of this has stopped Anna.

In high school, Anna is already teaching people to ride and training horses, and she is doing it on another family's farm and in their facilities.  I could not interview them about why they allow Anna to do this, but I think it is highly likely that they saw the same drive and dedication in Anna that I did, and they wanted to help her achieve her dream.  So, even though Anna did not have a proper facility, she did not allow that to stop her, and she is underway.

Putting other people's children on horseback and teaching them to ride is filled with potential liability.  This is the type of issue in which you would expect a parent to step in and slow a high school student down to keep them from getting themselves or the property owners into hot water in a business like this.  However, as I interviewed Anna, she had the correct answer to everything regarding civil liability.  She is knowledgeable about business structures, waivers, insurance, etc.  It is the fact that she has done the research, learned all about the business, and made the arrangements to shield everyone from liability that shows show clearly how devoted she is.

People who are just talking don't go to the headache of learning what an LLC is. They don't scour the internet, finding the correct liability waiver for their particular business, but Anna did.

Direct download: OFI_10975_-_Anna_Collins_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1074__Getting_Behind_On_The_Farm_Covid_Style.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today we get to profile a very interesting family business from the Central Valley of California.  Moreila Vieyra Santana lives on her families 20 acre horse property in Madera.  They have a large barn for boarding horses, and they put on equestrian events that draw people in from all over the Valley.  They are definitely helping to keep the horse culture of California alive.

Moreila and her brother and sister work in the family business.  On a daily basis, Moreila is cleaning out stalls, combing horses, and providing lessons.  When it is time to host an event she is busy doing whatever needs to be done to make sure that the customer and all of the spectators and contestants are having a great time and are satisfied.  In this manner, Moreila does not get to enjoy the event like everyone else, but she learns a lot about business.

Moreila speaks fondly of her family's business as well as the leadership skills she is gaining in the FFA.  It is obvious that she is not afraid to step up and lead.  One of the things that she cites about her family's business is that she sees areas for improvement.  From the perspective of a sophomore in high school, she sees other things and events that they could be providing that would be good for the community as well as the business.  And, she is not afraid to approach this with her parents.

This is one of the parts of interviewing FFA students that I enjoy so much.  They are encouraged to try their ideas and voice their opinions about how things can be improved.  In addition to preserving a rich culture in her part of California, Moreila is not shy about suggesting improvements, and this is going to serve her well going forward.

Direct download: OFI_1073_-_Moreila_Vieyra_Santana_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On today's rural crime episode, Matt talks to Captian Greg Whitehead with the Tennessee Ag Crime Investigation Unit about protecting farmers from being victims of rural crime. They discuss what kinds of crimes the unit investigates, how prolific is the theft of timber, and what can people do to protect themselves from this happening.

Is there a black market for stolen timber or is there just no way for legitimate sellers to know any difference?

Direct download: OFI_1072_-_Greg_Whitehead_TN_Ag_Crime_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Farmers typically have a reputation for being strong, stoic, silent types who can handle anything that comes their way. While I believe this is 100% true, I have to ask if this stigma prevents farmers and ranchers from asking for help regarding mental health?  In today's episode, Matt pulls himself out of bed while battling the coronavirus to talk to Dr. Tina Christine L. Chasek about the importance of mental health in agriculture.

Dr. Christine L. Chasek is a Mental Health Counselor in Kearney, NE, with special training and skill in working with individuals, groups, and communities to improve mental health dysfunctions by discussing emotions and experiences, then prescribing custom holistic solutions. As a Mental Health Counselor, Christine L. Chasek, LMHP, LPC performs assessments and diagnostics, psychotherapy, treatment planning, and crisis management. Mental Health Counseling is flexible, consumer-driven therapy that combines psychotherapy with practical, problem resolution strategies.

Direct download: OFI_1071__-_Dr._Christine_Chasek_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

To make money in the cattle industry, you need to be creative.  Today's guest, Cody Voss, has found his creative niche.  Along with his father, they have figured out how to buy bred cows that have missed calving season for one reason or another.  They take the cattle home and sell them back about a month after they calve.  The trick here is picking a cow that will act reasonably after having her calf.

Cody and his dad have a circuit of about five auctions they go to looking for these cows.  The auctioneers know them and know what they are looking for and can steer them in the right direction.  They have figured out who the breeders are that are selling the cows at auction, and they know whose cows are good but just missed a heat cycle and are being sold because they are outside of the calving season.  I really like this business model.

In addition to all of this Cody raises sheep and goats.  Plus he and his family custom raise hogs in Iowa.  This has led Cody to many proficiency applications and Stars Over Iowa.

Direct download: OFI_1070_-_Replay_with_Cody_Voss_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

It is always amazing to me what a student in high school is capable of when they get fired up about agriculture.  Our guest in today's episode is just beginning high school, and she already has so much going for her in addition to having her future well mapped out.

Cameron Shelton is a freshman at Monache High School in Porterville, California.  She has been involved in the 4H for six years and is just completing her first year of FFA.  She has been showing goats for several years, and currently keeps a herd of 15 wethers at her home about 20 minutes away from Porterville.

Cameron's sister preceded her in the FFA, and she is now living and working in Texas, still involved with goats.  This has exposed both Cameron and her sister to opportunities in the goat business, and they have taken full advantage.  Cameron and her sister are now co-owners in goats from sea to shining sea, including California, Texas, and Delaware!  It is really amazing how deep into the industry Cameron has got herself before she has even finished her freshman year of high school.

If that weren't enough, Cameron knows that she wants to be a veterinarian.  As such, she has already identified the top three schools that she would like to attend to propel her into this career: Texas A&M, Tarleton State University, and Colorado State University.  It is really exciting to see a student get this fired up about their future!

Direct download: OFI_1069_-_Cameron_Shelton_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1068__A_Farm_And_Health_Update.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

If you have been listening to the Off-Farm Income Podcast for long, you know the question I always asking young men and women who are paying rent to a relative to be able to farm some of their ground.  I always want to know why the relative has them pay rent if they want them to succeed.  And the answer is always some form of how that relative is passing down wisdom and teaching the student work ethic and how things work in the real world.

Today's interview is a great example of this exact thing.  Kidridge Griffin has been farming since he was twelve years old, and his father and his grandfather have always made him cover his own end.  This has turned out very well for Kidridge as he has just graduated from high school but he is already leasing over 100 acres of farm ground and has built up a herd of 70+ mother cows.

Kidridge has been given a lot of wisdom over the years, and it is obvious that he has listened.  One of the ways that I could tell was by the fact that he is able to defer pleasure.  He works full-time on his family's farm, but he doesn't receive any pay.  Instead, he receives feed in the winter for his calves, and he receives the use of the family's farming equipment.  This has allowed Kidridge to farm on his own and ever start doing paid farming jobs for other people in the community.

Most 18-year-olds, me included, would want to be paid right now for our work so I could go spend the money on something.  However, Kidridge is different.  He is completely willing to forgo the cash to reinvest back in his farming enterprise because he has his eyes on something bigger in the future!

Direct download: OFI_1067_-_Kidridge_Griffin_Mixdown_2.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On today's show, we have a special Friday edition for you.  Our guest is Elliot Prestwich, the producer of the Off-Farm Income Podcast.  The stars definitely aligned to bring Elliot to his role on the show.   Today we will introduce you to him, his role at Off-Farm Income, and talk about what is next to come! Elliot has an extensive background in audio production coming from the live entertainment and recording industry. He is an expert in brand management and marketing. Elliot is currently producing Off-Farm Income and the D&B Supply Show Podcasts.

He even wrote his own bumper music for his special episode, lets us know what you think!

Direct download: OFI_1065_-_Elliot_Prestwich_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

This was a very interesting interview.  I did not get to any of my normal business questions because I was so fascinated by learning about how Joseph Carter catches, trains, and hunts with mink to get to them.

One of our great listeners, Dave Lehman, recommended Joseph as a guest to me.  What is ironic about this and also demonstrates the power of social media is that Joseph and I live relatively close to each other.  However, Dave lives on the other side of the country.  But he was very familiar with Joseph while I was not.

What Joseph does with mink is awesome from a business standpoint.  He can find and flush rats and muskrats.  Based on my previous business of gopher extermination I am very curious to see if mink can hunt rock chucks (marmots).  In the area of Idaho that I live in, if an effective solution for rock chucks could be found, that could be a very good business.


TIME: You had better devote the time needed to train your mink.  If you don't you will assume, like so many before you, that they are untrainable.


I will have to get to these on a follow-up interview with Joseph as I took way too much time discussing how mink hunt and hearing his story to get to them in this episode.


YouTube Channel: LINK

Facebook Page: LINK


Direct download: OFI_1064_-_Replay_with_Joseph_Carter_Mixdown_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Each and every one of us has an obstacle that we will have to overcome if we are going to find success and happiness.  And, it is a natural tendency to believe that we are the only ones facing hardship when we are in the midst of going through something.  But the truth is, if you had access to every person's personal information, that you would realize that life is hard for everyone, and everybody is overcoming something.

Today's episode is a reminder of this and a beautiful example of what is possible when we are determined to now allow anything to stand in our way.  Our guest, Halle Miller, has both a before and after picture to this story.  Looking at this story today you are seeing the results of a lot of work and determination, and as most talented people do, Halle makes it look easy.  Halle is a talented public speaker and entrepreneur, and she is excelling in both categories through her work with Ohio Ag Net and her own business breeding and selling Bordoole puppies.

Her before pictures looks much different.  As a young girl, she was extremely shy.  She also had a traumatic incident involving a dog that took years of determination and therapy to overcome.  However, Halle refuses to let anything stand in her way.  So, over the years she has gone from shy and terrified of dogs to becoming a premier breeder of Bordooles and a reporter.

It is these transitions that make interviewing FFA students so special, and I am pleased to share this story with you today.

Direct download: OFI_1063_-_Halle_Miller_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1062__What_In_The_World_Is_A_Haboob_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

If you have something you want to do or a job you want to take, and you want to make sure that you wind up in a place that suits you very well, how do you find the right fit?  Let's take college as an example.  Let's say that you want to find a college atmosphere that will offer you what you are looking for academically and also be a place that will help you to thrive.  There are 5,300 colleges in the United States.  How in the world do you figure out which one of these places will do that?

Our guest today, Sydney Alsip, offers some good advice on this process.  Sydney is just getting ready to graduate high school, and her dream is to travel and judge sheep shows.  She knows that she wants to go to a college with an excellent livestock judging program, but she also wants the college to be a good fit for her personality type.

Most colleges with the best livestock judging programs are two-year schools.  However, the colleges you hear the most about are the higher profile, four-year universities.  So, if they are getting all the press, how do you find that school that fits you and isn't getting any press?

Sydney did this by putting herself around people who were having success in college judging livestock.  This is an important lesson.  She wanted to do this and to find the right place, so she gravitated to people who were doing what she wanted to do.  By listening to their conversations, asking good questions, and following their example she identified the right college for her.

What is so impressive about what Sydney did is that she found the right fit at the College of Northern Oklahoma, even though she is from Kentucky.  Talk about a diamond in the rough!  But, she did it, and this is possible for anyone else.  If you know what you want to do but don't know how to start, put yourself in the company of those people who are doing what you want to do.  The rest will take care of itself.

Direct download: OFI_1061_-_Sydney_Alsip__Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1060__Every_Type_Of_Rural_Crime_Is_Spreading_All_Over_The_World.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

This show is all about helping you find a way to achieve the farming or ranching dream that you have.  In today's episode, we are going to illustrate the single most important way to make this happen.

Cody Bumgarner is an enterprising young man who is building up a significant bison herd and bison meat business right in my backyard called "Idaho Bison".  Cody is raising his buffalo just about 40 miles away from my farm, near New Plymouth, Idaho.
Getting into the bison business is not easy.  Bison are expensive, and they take a long time for you to start generating revenue from them.  In addition to that, they require special handling facilities because of their size and their wild nature.  Plus, if you are looking for an operating loan you might not be able to get one because bankers don't like bison herds as collateral because they are too difficult to sell.
Cody was exposed to the bison business by one of his friends, and when he saw how valuable the cuts of meat were he decided that he wanted in.  His friend agreed to allow him to build his herd within his already existing herd and on the property that had the vital infrastructure in place already.  All that was left for Cody to do was to start buying buffalo.
Buffalo are expensive, and this expense could have killed the motivation of a lot of people.  However, Cody's motivation is strong and his priority is developing a profitable farm business.  So, he went to Alaska.
That may sound funny, but for two years Cody went and worked underground on a drill rig in a gold mine in Alaska.  This was as a high-paying job that he could get, and he took advantage of the opportunity to send money home and have it invested in his herd of buffalo.
Today, Cody has developed a significant herd, partnered with two other producers, and started marketing bison meat.  They are selling more and more all the time, and he is well on his way to achieving this goal.
Cody is a great example of how to get started farming today.  Networking, partnering with the right people, bringing value to those partnerships, prioritizing farming and hard work is what will get you there.  Cody is what we call "proof of concept".
Direct download: OFI_1059_-_Cody_Bumgarner_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


Are you looking for your niche in agriculture?  Do you wish you could farm but not have to work outside during the cold and windy winters?  Would you like to provide food directly to people but also for livestock?  If so, today's episode is for you.

On today's show, we discuss the emerging market of mealworms for human and animal consumption with Cheryl Powers of Jord Producers.  Cheryl knew she wanted to return to agriculture, but she defined a set of parameters before deciding what she would do.  Between defining how she wanted to farm and what she wanted her business to accomplish she discovered mealworm production.

Now Cheryl is identifying new markets, producing brood worms, and has team members helping her to grow this business.  If you are looking for your niche, this episode is for you!


SKILLS: Look for team members that have skills that you lack.  They need to compliment you in this way.

HELP: Find help in your community in developing businesses. Then take full advantage.

INTERVIEW: Interview potential customers as you are developing your idea.  This will help you know whether or not it is viable, and how to pivot your business.


DELIVER:  You better be able to deliver what you promise.  Don't be just another company that makes big claims but cannot follow through.


The Lean LaunchPad by Steve Blank


Facebook: LINK

Email: LINK

Telephone: 402-469-0038

Direct download: OFI_1058_-_Replay_Cheryl_Powers_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


I had an interesting transition from community college to a four-year university in 1993.  My first three semesters of college were spent in Modesto at Modesto Junior College studying animal science.  During that time I was living at home, working full-time, and then working as much as I could at my step-father's farm in my free time.  I was busy, but it was working.  I had a 3.5 GPA, and I was on the Dean's List.  I was performing at a high level.

Then I transferred to Montana State University, didn't have a job, joined the club baseball team, and lived in the dorm.  I had my first ever semester in which I did not achieve at least a 3.0, and my first ever semester achieving below a 2.0.  I was almost immediately placed on academic probation.  I continued to get poor grades for about a year.  Then I hit pause on college, got residency in Montana, and started paying for college myself.

Once I was back to more of a stressful lifestyle with harder classes, a heavier class load, full-time work, rent and tuition to pay, etc. I saw my grades creep back up.  It became clear to me that I was left to create my own structure because of free time I was not nearly as familiar as if I were forced to create structure due to being busy.  If I only had 90 minutes in a week to work on an assignment, I would concentrate intently on that assignment and do a better job.  If I had copious amounts of free time, I would wonder where all the time went, and I would do poorly.

For years I thought I was all alone, but today I interviewed Anna Webel.  Anna is just finishing up her sophomore year in high school, but she has already discovered this about herself.  She keeps herself incredibly busy playing sports in all three seasons, serving as an officer in the FFA chapter, raising cattle at home, and showing cattle at different shows around Illinois and beyond.  She is achieving at a high level in all of these areas, and she credits the need to have structure to be able to participate in everything that interests her.  Without it, she knows that she would have to give something up, and that drives her to maximize her performance in everything she does when she gets the opportunity to work on it.

Direct download: OFI_1057_-_Anna_Webel_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1056__Big_To_Small_-_My_Journey_In_The_FFA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

A word that is probably overused in entrepreneurial circles these days is "pivot".  However, like all overused words, it has a good meaning.  If you are not familiar, when somebody talks about pivoting in business it means being flexible enough to change direction as circumstances dictate so that you can find business success.  Our guest today did just that, and it has led her into a real opportunity for business success as she rounds out the latter half of her high school FFA experience.

Kailea Tilton is currently a sophomore at Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky.  During her freshman year of high school, when trying to come up with a supervised agricultural experience, she decided that she would get a rabbit and teach it how to do tricks as part of a livestock SAE.  She tried everything she could think of, month after month, and she could never get the rabbit to do what she wanted.  So, she had a decision to make - start completely over or rework what she had already begun.

Kailea decided to pivot.  She knew that she liked to bake, and she knew that she liked her rabbit and her other pets.  She decided to explore baking treats for her pets and the pets of other people.  She was sticking with a form of her original project, searching for success.

At this point "Hershel's Bakery" was born, and she started creating treats and testing how well they were received on pets around her neighborhood.  It wasn't long until she knew that she was onto something.  At that point, Kailea leveraged her mom's Facebook profile and posted a flyer announcing her business and treats.  In no time at all, she had over 100 orders and was well on her way.

Kailea got started with the help of a $500 grant from the Kentucky FFA Foundation.  This was pivotal in helping her to purchase ingredients.  She is now looking ahead to applying for more SAE grants and growing her business even larger.  She has determined that she likes working for herself and sees entrepreneurship as a part of her future.

Direct download: OFI_1055-_Kailea_Tilton_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Any of you who have been listening to this show for some time know how we find our guests for Friday episodes.  Generally, we comb through Craigslist ads looking for somebody with an agricultural business, and then we reach out to them to see if they will be on the show.

About two weeks ago my producer, Elliot, was doing this very thing when he came across an ad in Wyoming for grass hay, horse grazing, and horse boarding.  He sent an email to the author of that ad asking him if he would like to be a guest on the show.  The answer was yes, and it turned out that Elliot had opened up an oyster that contained a pearl.

Elliot had reached Reid Lance Rosenthal.  Not only was Reid the author of that Craigslist ad, but he is the author of many, many books, a rancher, a radio host, a real estate investor, and a broker as well as a public speaker.  Reid is the author of the "Threads West" series of books including notable titles such as Maps Of Fate and Moccasin Track.
So, what was going to be an interview about side businesses in agriculture turned into an interview about books, ranches, writing methods, and favorite writers.  I had a great conversation with Reid, and I think you are going to really enjoy hearing this discussion.  I know I enjoyed having it!
Connect with Reid Lance Rosenthal
Direct download: OFI_1053_-_Reid_Rosenthal_Mixdown_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



As an entrepreneur, I really appreciate people who go out and seize opportunities.  Actually, people who create their own opportunities are the ones that impress me most of all.

Our guest today, Anna Link, did just that, and that is how she wound up being on this show.  Anna reached out to me and another agricultural podcast host, Rob Sharkey, on Twitter and requested to be a podcast guest.  I had her send me an email and let me know what she has been doing in the FFA, and it was a no-brainer.  I booked her on the show right away.

Creating her own opportunities seems to be a character trait of Anna's, as requesting to be a guest on this show is certainly not the only time that she has done this.  Anna raises Hereford hogs, and she does so because they are so underrepresented in the show pig world.  But she did not stop there.  She started a Facebook group for people with Hereford hogs in Missouri.  That group has grown and now has spread across state lines.

Anna also took the initiative to be part of the 4H as well as the FFA, as her parents were not pushing her to go that direction, she lives in town and does not have a farm.  Those efforts have led her in a good direction though, and she found herself serving as her chapter's president as well as her area's reporter.

Enjoy this episode with this exciting young student.


It is always difficult to quantify what I love about interviewing FFA students the most.  Each time I try I do come back to a common theme, and that is that the projects these students take on are all vision and almost no mitigation due to real-world realities.

As adults when we start a project or business we have to do it within certain confines.  We still need to make the mortgage payment, we don't want to lose our life savings that are in the 401K, we have to keep enough time in our schedule to be a good spouse or parent, etc., etc.  These realities of adulthood can really scale back a project or even make it seem unworkable.

With FFA students they just aren't subject to these things, and they can let their imaginations run wild.  Normally, by the time I have found out about them and invited them to be on the show, these ideas have turned into something wonderful.

That is definitely the case with today's guest, Jayla Washington.  Jayla is in her third year of the FFA at Lowcountry Leadership Charter School in Hollywood, South Carolina.  Prior to entering the FFA Jayla had been observing her grandfather's efforts to serve their community by growing vegetables and donating them to people in need in the surrounding community.  Of course, one of the major aspects of the FFA is service, so when Jayla became a member this seemed like a natural fit for her.

Thus began "Produce For All", which is Jayla's non-profit operation to provide organic, fresh, and healthy food into a local food desert in her area.  This started out with her networking with food banks to get food into these areas, but it has grown.  As of our interview, Jayla has been awarded a $1,000 SAE grant two years in a row.  The first year from the CCOF in Santa Cruz, California, and Bob Evans Farms this year.  Both of these grants have enabled her to expand her operation with equipment so she can produce even more organic produce to donate into her local food desert.

Jayla definitely has a vision.  She is a junior in high school right now, and one of the things she wants to do with this project before she graduates is turned it into a placement SAE for another FFA student.  She is planning on going to college in Alabama to study horticulture, and she wants somebody to continue to run this non-profit while she is away.  So at the same time that she is keeping organic produce flowing into an area where it is really needed she will be creating an SAE opportunity for another student.  Brilliant!

Jayla has discovered a career path that will help her to aid other people in need through being a horticultural therapist.  This was the first time that I had ever heard of this profession, but she explained to me how it works.  She is completely dedicated to service, and it is wonderful to see where is going to take this.

Connect with Jayla's Local Farm on Instagram:


The tagline for the Off-Farm Income Podcast calls agriculture "the ultimate lifestyle business".  I have made the argument for why this is true many, many times.  One thing that we have never really done is delved deeply into why people are so attracted to this lifestyle.  What is it that will make people work twice the hours for half the money just to be part of this group?

One answer to that is community.  It is the community that we are so fortunate to be part of in agriculture that pulls people in.  People in agriculture have old-fashioned values, and one of those old values is helping each other out.  I think what keeps that ever-present in agriculture and farming is the fact that any of us can find ourselves in a situation that we cannot get out of ourselves at any moment.  The need to call on neighbors or even strangers is always there.

Today's interview profiles exactly why we love this community so much.  It all starts with Bethany Keller.  Bethany is a senior at Newberry High School in Newberry, Florida.  She has been in their FFA chapter since middle school.

About a year ago Bethany lost her grandfather to cancer.  About a month after that she began her 2021 fair project, which was a steer that she was going to show and then sell at her county fair in March of 2021.  Like any fair project, there is a lot of work involved, but with a steer, I think there is more.  You have to start sooner, your feed cost will be higher, your purchase cost will be higher, you have to halter break, you need bigger equipment to transport a steer - everything is magnified.

To get motivated for a project of this scope a student needs to see a reward on the other end.  Normally, that reward comes at the auction when you make money off of your steer.  This was Bethany's motivation, and this was totally appropriate.  But about halfway to the fair Bethany found out that one of her friends had been diagnosed with cancer, and he and his family were facing significant medical bills.

Her friend's diagnosis changed everything for Bethany.  She decided then and there to forgo what she was going to make from the steer and to donate all the proceeds to help him with the medical bills.  He resisted, but she insisted and it was done.

The fair arrived in March, and the night prior to the auction she was taken around the show ring, and a fair representative told her story and what she was doing.  The following day at the auction, the auctioneer told the story again.  Then the bidding for her steer began.  By the time it was all said and done, Bethany's community had bid her steer up to over $16,000.  She was able to provide a great donation to her friend and his family through her selflessness and the generosity of her community.

That is a community and lifestyle worth making sacrifices to be part of!


Direct download: OFI_1048__Tractor_Fraud_On_Ebay___Rural_Crime_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


Today's Friday episode is a little bit different than normal.  There are two major points of value in this episode.  First, is the lesson that when you take the step to reach out to others for help or advice you just never know where it will take you.  Second, are some practical tips about how to start your own podcast for your own form of off-farm income.

The way this all started is that a young lady named Ashley Elsbernd, who is currently a junior at South Winneshiek High School, reached out to Warren Clark of AgPR Media for advice about starting her own podcast to profile the projects and accomplishments of her fellow FFA members.  Warren then referred her to me to see if I could help her.

Instead of just trading some emails and answering some of her questions, I decided to have Ashley on the show and have her interview me.  This forced her to think up questions that she wanted answers to, and it took her way out of her comfort zone.  However, by the time it was all said and done, Ashley had completed her first-ever podcast interview, and she had the experience to take her deeper into her project.  Oh, and she and any of you who are interested had information that could help you to develop your own podcast as your form of off-farm income.

I hope this was both helpful and entertaining for all of you.


One of the mantras of this show is that if you want to farm and to farm successfully you need to be willing to relocate.  This has everything to do with land prices and land quality.  If you live in an area that has inflated land prices due to land buyers that are not ag-related, your chances of making it and farming full-time decrease because of this increased land payment.

I have never had a great answer, only a good one, for how to go about finding the right place outside of your area.  There are millions of farmable acres across the United States.  How can a person truly go find just the right spot?

Fortunately for me, I was connected to Steven Brockshus, the founder of Farm Finder, through the American Farm Bureau Federation.  In today's episode, I get to speak with Steven all about this great business and website that he started that is designed to allow anyone to find the perfect piece of farm ground for their interests.  This can be done by entering the exact parameters you are looking for, checking the soil types, viewing the sale prices of comparable farms, etc.

And, in addition to all of this, I get to profile a wonderful success story of a previous FFA national officer who has taken his time in the FFA to the next level.


PURPOSE: Know your purpose when you start a venture.  It is important to know where you are trying to go in order for you to get there.

LIVE: When looking at farm ground it is really important to know whether or not you want to live there.  This really influences the decision process and how good of a farm you purchase.

FINANCE: Have your financing in order and understand the numbers.  Without this, the best farm in the world might still fail.








Obviously, the reason that I started interviewing FFA students was their involvement in entrepreneurship.  The way that the FFA facilitates exposure and learning in entrepreneurship is second to none.  And, as the title of this episode suggests it really is an entrepreneurship incubator.

That is very apparent in our interview with today's guest, Jenna Spangler.  Jenna is a very competitive person, and upon joining the FFA she found that this organization served her competitive spirit very well.  Through a myriad of different contests and competitions, she found exactly what she was looking for.  Then the day came that she wanted to go on a mission trip and needed to raise $150 to make this happen.  Jenna decided that she would make ice cream and sell it to people for the fundraiser and actually pre-sold what she needed to raise.

This motivation is what led Jenna to be exposed to business and entrepreneurship.  She found herself really enjoying making and selling products to other people and wanting to explore this further.  Well, she just happened to be in the FFA already.  Of course, this organization not only promotes but rewards entrepreneurship, and she found just the backing and encouragement that she needed.  This led her to seek out opportunities outside of the FFA to learn even more about entrepreneurship, and Jenna Lou's Homemade Ice Cream was born.

Today Jenna is preparing to finish high school and go to college to study in pursuit of growing this business even more.  She has reinvested her profits and upgraded her equipment, allowing her to produce even more ice cream in less time.  Jenna has a vision, and she has figured out what she needs to do to make that vision a reality.  It will be very exciting to see where this all goes.

Visit Jenna Lou's Homemade Ice Cream online here:


Direct download: OFI_1044__When_You_Really_Know_That_Money_Isnt_Everything.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


I'll start this post by saying happy birthday to today's guest, Anna Ridenour, as her episode release date is on her 18th birthday!  And, that does not happen that often.

Anna is the epitome of what can happen to a student when they get involved in the FFA.  I have seen more than once that a student who joins the FFA has a passion develop, they develop skills to serve that passion, and they find themselves at a very advanced stage of life development by the time they graduate from high school.

In Anna's case, I have a hard time believing that there was ever a time that she did not have all the passion and enthusiasm that she currently has for agriculture, but those things grow over time.  Today, Anna is serving in multiple officer positions both at her chapter and regional levels, and she is pursuing a spot on the Minnesota State Officer Team.  She and her sister have been developing a sheep and goat business since they were seven years old, and they see great success with this, selling livestock into over half of the states.

Anna has her eye fixed on college next and veterinary school after that.  She has recognized that as a goat producer herself, her Minnesota region does not have many veterinarians with significant knowledge about goats.  Since this is her passion and wants to serve her community, she sees herself filling this void as a large animal vet.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned in this great interview.  One of the most important is how to find your passion.  It would be effortless to listen to Anna and believe that she has always known exactly what she wants to do, but that is not the case.  She is just so fired up about the FFA, farming, and life that she has tried many things since joining the FFA in sixth grade.  This has not only resulted in success, but it has failed in some cases.  Most importantly, Anna has been able to identify what she is not passionate about by trying things that were not the right fit.

This is an important lesson.  Sometimes we identify our passion not by figuring it out but by figuring out what is not our passion and looking at what options are left.


I know that the title of this episode might be a little bit misleading.  I mean, does anyone really get a full night's sleep during calving season?  However, we here at Off-Farm Income have uncovered an innovation that we would like to share with you.  And, if the innovation works as advertised, and you grow to trust it, I believe you will get a lot of sleep during calving season.

I want to give my disclaimer, the same way I always do when we profile a companies product or service.  These folks are not sponsors of our show, they have not paid us any money and we are not seeking them as a sponsor.  At the end of this interview, they did offer to send us some products to test, which we are going to do, but we reached out to them to profile this innovation because it sounds like it could be a game-changer for cattle farmers.

Today I am interviewing Stephen Fagan.  He is the head of operations and design for Moocall.  Moocall is a company based in Dublin, Ireland that was founded by cattle farmers.  They have developed a system for calving detection on cattle and another one for heat detection in cattle.

In the interview, Stephen explains how both devices work as much as he can without giving away trade secrets.  He also talks about the benefits and what you can do with these devices.  This is a very exciting innovation in agricultural technology for knowing when a cow or heifer is about to calve when your cow has been serviced and whether or not she was settled.  I am excited to bring this to you today!

Connect with MooCall:







Direct download: OFI_1041__Getting_Sleep_During_Calving_Season___Stephen_Fagan___Moocall.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Advice For The Beginning Cattle Farmer

I have had two situations/conversations recently that have really made me want to ask everyone to hit the pause button for just a second before putting cattle on their places.  And this has really made me think about this a little bit deeper.

Let me first start by saying that as a person who loves agriculture, wants to see agricultural land preserved, likes the diversity of people farming, and really enjoys cattle - I am all for people discovering this great animal and engaging in this industry.

However, cattle are not a species of livestock that you can just decide you want to raise and then begin.  You really need to know what you are doing here, both for reasons of being humane and because of the impact on your financials.

Small livestock like goats, sheep, and even pigs can be easy to start out with.  But cattle are just too big for you to start off with if you have no experience and you don't have the correct equipment.  The larger the animal, the less margin for error and less ability you will have to correct your mistakes.

Once you get a cow to shut off the thinking part of her brain and start running away from you with that thousand-yard stare, you are in big trouble.  My goal is for you to never hit that point.  But if you ever do, I want you to be able to handle it.

What I Have Been Seeing

This is what I have been seeing recently that has caused me to make this episode.  I have been seeing too many instances of folks with zero experience raising cattle but who have purchased a property putting some cows on it with no other planning.  I've also seen these folks get themselves in a bit of a bind when it comes time to doctor the cows, catch the cattle or separate the cows from the bull.

I think the mistake that so many people make is not seeing what is really going on around them.  As folks drive through the countryside you see cattle grazing peacefully on pastures or out on the range, and it is a pastoral scene that you would like to replicate on your own place.  But what you are not seeing is the time, experience, and planning that goes into achieving that scene.

There are a lot of very experienced cowboys and cowgirls out there who have loved cattle their entire lives and have been working with cattle their entire lives.  And if you get the chance to watch them work with cattle, they can make it look very easy.  But it is not.  This is one of those situations in which the person is so good at what they do, that they are making it look easy.

If you have never worked with cattle before, this like watching Stephen Curry hit a 3 point shot or Tiger Woods sink a 40 foot put and saying "I can do that".  They make it look easy because they are professionals.  You are not.  There is a lifetime of practice, desire, and intuition between the head of that putter and the hole that the ball eventually drops in.  You, as the new cow farmer, have a long way to go.

What Should You Do

  • Make Friends With Neighbors
  • Reinforce Your Fences
  • Be Picky About The Cattle You Buy
  • Get The Correct Equipment
  • Get Some Education
  • Learn About Flight Zones And Pressure
  • Teach Yourself To Walk Away
  • Get Some Experience
  • Start Slow
  • Spend Time With Your Cattle
  • Learn About Electric Fence
  • Know The Reasons That Cattle Will Push Fence
  • Rotate Your Pastures

You, Will, Get There

I am excited for you, and you are going to get there.  But let's not get in too big of a hurry.  You can get started pretty quickly with smaller livestock like goats, sheep, and even pigs.  But, if cattle are where you are headed, you need to really think about these things before you jump in.  If you don't, you might end up losing a lot of money.  Worse yet, you might wind up with a cow that needs help you cannot give it because you can't get it caught or can't control it.


I have a lot of favorite businesses that I profile on the Off-Farm Income Podcast, and the business we will profile today is quickly becoming my favorite for FFA students.

I have talked many times over the years about how I think the development of a lawn care business in the FFA can lead a student to unbelievable entrepreneurial success.  I have gone as far as to say that in the same way that the dry cleaning business was called the "future millionaire-maker" back in the 1980s and 1990s, I think the lawn care business takes its place as the "future millionaire-maker" of today.  Well, over time I have come to learn that there is an even more basic first step to this business, but it is a very important one.  That is the repair and maintenance of small engines.

In today's episode, I am interviewing Isaiah Hopkins.  Isaiah has a vision for a future of business endeavors.  He is a junior in high school, and he is just getting started recognizing the possibilities by fixing up broken-down motorcycles and lawn equipment and then reselling them at a profit.  This is a natural lead-in to the lawn care business because small engine repair and a mechanical aptitude are so important there.  Also, the ability to find old equipment, sometimes for free, fix it up, and use it to make money with the best definition of "bootstrapping" I have ever heard!

As Isaiah gets more experience with his business, record keeping, and insuring a profit he is expanding into lawn care.  He sees this as the conduit that can help him make the money that will allow him to go into other entrepreneurial ventures like rental houses and storage units.  I believe he has an excellent plan, and the only thing that can stop him will be if he changes his mind!

Direct download: OFI_1038__Up_All_Night_Work_All_Day.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


You may wonder how we can produce so much food in the United States on an ever-shrinking footprint of ground with fewer and fewer people being involved in production agriculture.  The answer is the natural curiosity of the American Farmer coupled with a passion for agriculture and an innovative mind.

These characteristics that have made the American Farmer great are evident throughout the spectrum, from the 80-year-old farmer who is trying hard not to retire to the 16-year-old who is dreaming of how they can become a farmer.

In today's interview, I am lucky enough to interview one of these farmers.  At age 18, Matthew Grab is already accomplishing amazing things in the FFA and in agriculture.  He lives on his family's grain farm in Freeburg, Illinois and one of the crops they grow is soybeans.  As part of Matthew's supervised agricultural experience, he and a friend decided to see how hail damage would impact the yield on soybeans.

The two of them set up a test plot of soybeans to experiment on, but the question was, how were they going to replicate hail?  A very fun and innovative solution was thought up.  They would shoot the soybean plants with a shotgun from a distance to simulate hail stones comes down and ripping the soybean leaves.

Their initial hypothesis was that hail damage would decrease yield.  This is a very natural hypothesis.  However, they ended up demonstrating that at the stage of development that they simulated the damage the yield wound up increasing.  This was very interesting, so the next year they replicated the experiment on a larger scale using a herbicide at a very low rate.  This also increased the yield.  They entered this experiment into the FFA's National Agriscience Fair, and they won!

It is this type of natural curiosity and love for what they do that has always led the American Farmer to produce more with less.  And it is this type of innovation and spirit in Matthew's generation that gives me the confidence to know that we will find a way to continue to feed the world as our world's population continues to grow.


Everybody knows that obtaining land is the single biggest obstacle to overcome for a new or beginning farmer.  And the current state of real estate all over the U.S. is pushing us towards the point that it seems almost impossible.  So, if a person wants to farm on a commercial scale, what are they to do.

In our society, innovation always seems to answer these difficult questions, and it may very well be true this time as well.  On today's show, I get to speak with Alex Albu of FarmBox Foods.  Alex and his colleagues have developed a system of vertical farming in storage containers that can be placed anywhere, in any climatic conditions, and get somebody farming.

It is really a very interesting concept.  A person on a small, residential lot could start farming in one of these containers and be producing the same farm revenue that could only be replicated on 30+ acres of ground.  And of course, the investment in this equipment, while significant, pales in comparison to the ground and is not subject to growing seasons or environmental difficulties like storms, freezes, or drought.

In our interview, Alex states that farmer is recovering their initial investment in their systems in about two years.  That is pretty good if all you need to do is purchase a 1/2 acre lot and one of these pieces of equipment to up and running.  And, in this system, Alex suggests growing the best of lettuces and mushrooms to tell at premium prices to restaurants, grocery stores, and individuals through farmers' markets.

This is really a very innovative idea, and I am very excited to see where it goes and how many people it can help to get started farming.

Connect with Alex Albu & FarmBox Foods:




Linked In:


Direct download: OFI_1035__Farm_In_A_Box_Instead_Of_On_Land___Alex_Albu___FarmBox_Foods.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


Our guest today has a very interesting story.  Shelby Smith grew up on her family's farm just outside Ames, Iowa but her passion never seemed to lie with farming.  Shelby is an exceptional athlete, and this is where she concentrated her time during high school, college, and later in graduate school.

As a standout point guard on her high school basketball team, Shelby was able to pay for her undergraduate degree on an athletic scholarship doing the same thing.  Then she was offered an opportunity to do it again for her master's degree at a college in Ireland.  One thing led to another, and Shelby found herself with a master's degree, no college debt, and a prestigious position as a commodity trader.

A whirlwind of sports, collegiate, and career success had taken place and now Shelby was settling into her career as a trader.  Only one problem, as the dust settled and she was working full-time she found out that somehow she had unwittingly found herself in somebody else's dream position.  Shelby states that for every trader that has her previous position, there are 10,000 people trying to get that job.  This created a lot of pressure for Shelby as she realized that this career was not the right fit for her.  That realization contrasted with how lucky she knew she should feel to have obtained this position at such a young age.

As Shelby searched for the solution to this dilemma, something came back to her.  It was memories of the 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans she grew up around on her family's farm.  This farm had been cobbled together by her father and mother over the past 30+ years, and her dad was farming it faithfully.  Her brother was a natural fit to take it over, but he was achieving his own career success as an F-16 pilot in the military.  So, the farm and the opportunity were sitting there, waiting for Shelby.

Everything happens for a reason.  When Shelby told her parents of her desire to return to Iowa and take up farming her dad imparted some hard-earned farming wisdom.  He told her that if this was the life that she wanted she needed to find some sort of niche that would create income for her, apart from rising and falling commodity prices.  Shelby gave this some thought and came up with the idea of cricket production for human consumption.  Within 9 days of research and planning "Gym-N-Eat Crickets" was born.

Shelby is off to a great start with this niche, selling out of her entire supply of crickets in 2018.  She is selling multiple products created from just a small fraction of the 2,000-acre farm to which she has returned.  She also has plans to increase production and build a commercial facility on the farm.

Cricket production was a bit more extreme than what her parents had in mind when they said to develop a niche.  However, Shelby has discovered an emerging market with lots of exciting possibilities.  The time it takes her to manage the crickets and the overhead required to start is minimal.  This leaves her a lot of time to farm successfully!


GO FOR IT: Shelby has had many interesting athletic, educational and career opportunities.  She has pursued all of them with enthusiasm and suggests that you do the same.  She is not one to hold herself back.

UNCOMFORTABLE: Shelby suggests making yourself uncomfortable.  If what you are doing doesn't bother or worry you a little it, you are not experiencing any growth and you are not getting any better.

BITE SIZE: Shelby says do not bit off more than you can chew.  Find an aspect of your business that you can really concentrate on and develop your skills within.  When you have mastered that part you can look at expanding into other areas.


"Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable" - this was advice that Shelby received from a professor and it has led her to a lifetime of growth and improvement thus far.


UNWAVERING CONFIDENCE: Shelby believes that she can succeed.  She states that she has fear, just like everyone else but she has found a way to not let that show.  Her successes in sports have probably contributed to this, but she believes she will win, and this has led her to a lot of success.


Facebook: LINK

Website: LINK


For years now the percentage of Americans working in agriculture has been shrinking.  As farms become more efficient and jobs in rural communities go away, more and more youth, move into urban areas for work.  But, could we be seeing a change in this trend?

In today's interview, we feature a guest who tells her story of coming into agriculture through the FFA.  This is a story that I am hearing more and more often.

Missy Hamilton grew up in a subdivision of Bardstown, Kentucky with no exposure to agriculture.  Her older brother found his way into the FFA when he was in high school and encouraged her to try out the group as well.  Missy gave it a try, and it has turned out to be an unbelievable success, with her now serving as her chapter's president.

In four short years, Missy has gone from no knowledge about agriculture to leading her chapter and pursuing a career teaching ag as an FFA advisor.  The FFA has given her the exposure and motivation, and agriculture is benefitting from this as we pull a student from an urban area into ag.  In this way, the FFA is acting as an incubator for future agricultural professionals, and this is a very good thing.

Missy is currently running her own candle and wax melt business called Missy's Makings.  In addition to learning about agriculture, she has learned about entrepreneurship.  She was also granted a $500 SAE grant from the Kentucky FFA in pursuit of her business.  Now she is well on her way to a career that will enable FFA students in multiple different ways that will allow them to live and work in agriculture and rural areas if that is their wish!

To purchase Missy's Candles and Wax Melts Visit:




Direct download: OFI_1033_-_Miss_Hamilton_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1032__People_Who_Dont_Take_Risks_Shouldnt_Judge_Those_Who_Do.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


What is a "traditional FFA student"?  I ask that question because I think the definition of a "traditional" FFA student is changing.  In decades past of course it was a student who grew up on a farm and was furthering the farm education and future career in farming through this program.  More recently it has been a student with exposure to farming who is very involved in aspects of what it takes to farm - soils, welding, mechanics, livestock production, etc.

In the not too distant future, I expect this definition to shift again.  Through my work conducting interviews with FFA students, and in my own exposure to our local FFA chapter through my daughter being a member and sitting on the advisory committee I see more and more students who are growing up without farming exposure that is joining the FFA.

There are a number of reasons for this.  The more students that I interview, the more I believe it is due to the developing knowledge that the FFA is an excellent pathway into a well-paying and very interesting career.  Our guest today, Shawn Jamison, epitomizes this.

Shawn is just beginning his FFA journey.  He is close to wrapping up his freshman year of high school and his first year in the FFA.  Shawn did not grow up on a farm, and his parents are not involved in agriculture.  However, Shawn had the insight to see something about himself very early on - he enjoys being outside.  And it was this enjoyment of being outside that led him into the FFA.

Even as a freshman Shawn realizes that there are career fields that he can work in that won't have him inside of a climate-controlled environment all day.  Shawn wants to feel the wind on his face, breathe fresh air and touch the soil.  The FFA is his pathway because he realizes that agriculture is a great industry to allow him to live this life.

What Shawn may not realize yet but soon will, is that when he finishes high school and four years of FFA he will have the skills that enable him to work outdoors but so much more.  Between public speaking, record keeping, marketing, entrepreneurship, and everything else that the FFA offers he has already taken a significant step to set himself up for a fantastic life.


On our rural crime episodes of the Off-Farm Income Podcast, we talk about livestock theft frequently.  It is significantly more pervasive than anyone would ever suspect.  And since the prices of puppies have skyrocketed during the pandemic we have covered a lot of stories about the theft of dogs and puppies.

There is a real difference between the theft of livestock and dogs.  One is basically, purely monetary, and one is very emotional because a dog is a member of the family.  Well, there is one species of livestock that reaches both parts of this divide, and that is horses.  Horses have commercial value, they are used for working and they also become part of the family just like a pet.  So, when a horse is stolen it can be devastating and have long-term impacts both financially and emotionally.

Two weeks ago I covered a story about the recovery of a mule in Texas.  In the story, I found out that a non-profit organization called Net Posse was responsible for the recovery.  I reached out to them, and in today's episode, we are lucky enough to have the founder, Debbi Metcalf, on the show.

Debbi is going to tell us all about how Net Posse works, what you can do to prevent horse theft, and about the seedy underworld dealing in stolen horses and other livestock.  She will also tell us her personal story about having her husband's horse stole in 1997, and how that led to a multi-year investigation, ramrodded by Debbi herself, the recovery of the horse, the recover of stolen property, and the recovery of lost financials. that led to the beginning of this great organization - Net Posse.


Connect with Debbi Metcalf & Net Posse:







The essence of what we are trying to do at the Off-Farm Income Podcast is to give you a way to be successful in creating and then sustaining your farming and agricultural lifestyle.  That really is a two-pronged attack.  We tend to focus on just one of those prongs, and that is how to produce your off-farm income.

Over 90% of farmers in the United States require some form of off-farm income, and we believe that in order to solve the paradox of becoming a new farmer in the United States that entrepreneurship is the best way to produce that off-farm income.

The other prong of the attack is forming a farming enterprise that makes you enough money that eventually if it is your desire, you can become a full-time farmer.  We love niches on Off-Farm Income, so anytime we see somebody who has found a niche and is really making a go of it, we like to profile them.  That is the case with today's guest, Jacob Ebbers.

Jacob and his wife, Sara, grew up showing livestock.  Sheep for Jacob and cattle for Sara.  In 2016 they started their first agricultural enterprise as a married couple, and it was with a form of livestock that they had never focused on before - goats.  They saw the opportunity that was available to them raising show goats, and they decided to pursue this.  So, they bought their first does from a breeder in Texas and trailered them back to South Dakota.

At that point, they started traveling to shows to sell their goats and market their brand.  And, they began using embryo transfer to develop their genetics ever faster.  Soon, they had customers all over the country and a week wrote an article about them.  That is how I found them and why I reached out to them.  And we are lucky to have Jacob on the show to talk about how they are building this operation that may one day be their only form of income.


Connect with Jacob Ebbers, Ebbers Twisted E Show Goats:



Phone: (605) 228-2682



I have had a lot of great business ideas (in my opinion).  So much so that one of the biggest challenges to being an entrepreneur for me is to not chase every "great" idea that comes into my head.  And thank goodness that I didn't because a great business idea is not necessarily a true business opportunity.

For the bulk of us listening to this show and considering entrepreneurship we have a lot at risk.  We cannot afford to chase every single business idea that comes to mind because they are unproven.  When I started my first business I figured that I had one shot.  One-shot to make something that would prove I was capable of doing this.  In my own mind, I could not justify putting my family through the expense and time away from me a second time.  So, I was careful.

Finding a true business opportunity is kind of like being careful.  Before we jump in with both feet we want to pay attention to some parameters.  We want to identify those ideas that give us the greatest chance for success.  Things that we already know something about.  We want to find something that we know something about that excites us as well.

Once we have done that we must go about figuring if it can make money, what the competition is, and whether or not we can improve upon what is available.  We also need to give serious thought to what the purpose of us starting our own business really is.  There will be turbulence along the way, and if your purpose is only to make money then you might jump off of the train the first time it slows down when what you should be doing is riding it until it picks momentum back up.

Consider this episode a lesson in developing a real business opportunity.  I hope that when you decide to start your own business you will follow this template and give yourself the best possible chance to succeed.


We all have something inside of us that drives us towards reaching our goals.  For some of us, it is a desire to complete worthy goals.  For others it the need to do everything correctly that gets us to the endpoint.  And for some of us, it is competitiveness.  Actually, there is probably a little bit of all of those in all of us, with one outshining the others. 

Our guest today is definitely competitive.  Madison Nolley describes herself that way.  She has an older brother that she loves very much but definitely does not want to be outdone by.  This drives her.  It got her started in the FFA as soon as her school district would allow - 6th Grade, and it has pushed her into every possible competitive FFA event that she was allowed to do prior to beginning high school.

As a freshman, Madison is already transitioning from a placement SAE to an entrepreneurship SAE, and she has already been able to obtain a $1,000 SAE grant from Farm Credit to help her begin her Dahlia production business.  Madison is still competing with her big brother, who is currently serving as the state president for the New York State FFA Officer Team.  However, this competition coupled with her natural drive is pushing her towards great achievements of her own.

Madison lovingly talks about being competitive with her brother, but there is a serious side there too.  She has some great goals for her flower business, and for the offices, she wants to achieve in the FFA.  It is going to be a lot of fun to watch where she goes over the next three + years of high school and FFA.


There are many pathways to finding success in small businesses and entrepreneurship.  If you are fortunate enough to live in the United States there are myriads of people who will help you to succeed.  When it comes to being an entrepreneur there are really two extremes.  There are those who it just comes naturally to, and there are those who have to develop the skills for success.  I count myself among that second group.

If you are interested in working for yourself, or if you need to work for yourself because of the situation that you find yourself in, it is incumbent upon you to find the tools and resources available to you to make it happen.  Our interview today features a young man who has done exactly that.  Dalton Dennis is joining us to talk about how he has been developing his own nursery business.

Dalton's journey started out with the mentorship of his older brother who encouraged him to take agriculture classes when he got into high school.  Soon, Dalton added to his list of mentors with his FFA advisors.  After that Dalton was able to get a job working at a nursery and added his supervisors to this list.  Not long after that, his advisors were recommending Dalton to people in the community who needed to hire somebody for yard projects, and he started getting exposed to entrepreneurship.

Today, Dalton has been able to obtain an SAE grant, sponsored by Caterpillar, and this has allowed him to purchase inventory for resale and to begin his nursery business.  Dalton has ordered a number of trees from a grower all the way in Salem, Oregon, and had them shipped to Alabama.  Now, he has located a buyer who will sell them at retail and believes that buyer is going to buy 100% of his inventory.

It is really amazing what can happen one surrounds themself with people who want to assist them and see them succeed.


All of us in agriculture, whether you are a full-time farmer, you have a job in town or you run an agricultural business have at least one additional job, and that is advocating for agriculture.  Perhaps when your industry becomes so efficient that it is only comprised of 1% of the population it is just easier to pick on, but agriculture definitely has a target on its back.  I have seen agriculture blamed for air pollution, global warming, animal cruelty, water pollution, high gas prices, you name it.  So, agriculture needs advocates.

Ag is not perfect, but it is also not the cause of all the woes in society.  By and large people in agriculture a hard-working, have strong values, and are content with the little things in life that are free.  We need to be telling our story constantly so somebody else does not tell it for us.  We also need to spread our values and our contentedness to other people.  I believe that it is contagious, and that is why we see so many people seeking this way of life.

Even if you do not have the time to be proactively advocating, you should know some fundamental facts about the good that agriculture does.  There are a couple of reasons for this, and they both are so you have good, educated responses when somebody questions your industry.  The more educated you are on the issues, the less threatened you will feel when faced with these questions.  The less threatened you feel, the more you will be able to answer with a smile and demonstrate why we are a group worth getting to know.  You should also be able to counter-statement with good, factual information that will shift the beliefs and perceptions of reasonable people.

From time to time we like to have agricultural advocates on the Off-Farm Income Podcast to demonstrate to us how it is possible to be proactive and do this in a very positive way.  Today, we are proud to feature Julia Nunes.  Julia is this year's "Alice In Dairyland" represented the State Of Wisconsin and all the agriculture that takes place in the state.

Julia is a ray of sunshine, and she is charged with touring the state, albeit digitally right now, and advocating for Wisconsin agriculture.  Of course, you cannot advocate for your state's agriculture without advocating for agriculture in general, and Julia does a wonderful job of this.

In today's episode, Julia will talk about her background, what "Scientific Holsteins" are, how she became "Alice In Dairyland" and where she is going from here.

Connect with Julia Nunes, Alice in Dairyland:



Twitter: @Alice_Dairyland

Instagram: @alicedairyland

Youtube: LINK