Off-Farm Income



Today's episode is a profile of a 6th generation farmer.  Mark Kannmacher's farming roots go all the way back to a farm located on the French and German border.  After immigration to the United States, the tradition transferred to Illinois.  Today, Mark is keeping the legacy alive, and he has found a way to farm full-time and hopes to have his wife join him soon!

Mark, like so many farmers, has stories of long hours and little sleep.  His are quite incredible though.  When he was trying to transition to farming full-time but still working off the farm as a teacher he found himself getting 1-2 hours of sleep per day during certain times of the year.  And, he was getting this sleep on his lunch break or during his prep period at school!

In this episode Mark will discuss how he made the transition, and how he used a specialty form of livestock for his area, turkeys, to help him generate additional revenue on his farm.  Also, he discusses how he uses niches and diversification to be sustainable as a business.

Mark, his father, and his grandfather have all used various entrepreneurial ventures along the way to create income that would support the farm.  This has all led to Mark being the first of all of them to farm exclusively with no off-farm job.


PASSION: Mark believes you must really have a passion for farming to make it work.  This passion should naturally lead you to learn all the aspects of the farming business backward and forwards.

BACKUP: Mark suggests having a backup plan, perhaps several.  He cites his turkey barns.  If his contract for raising turkeys falls through, he has already considered other ways to make revenue with that infrastructure.

THE WORST: Mark also suggests that you decide that on the very worst day you ever have farming that you will still be convinced that this is the only job that you truly want.


"Always have a backup plan" which was given to him by Jim Bolin in the oil service industry.


Following God's word and guidance on a daily basis.


Facebook Page: LINK

Telephone Number: (217) 232-1052



Our guest today has so much passion, enthusiasm, and fire for the FFA that you would never guess that her first two years in the organization were spent being basically inactive.  Brooklin Drake came into the FFA simply by taking agriculture classes in high school in her small, agricultural community in central New York State.  She was kind of a member by default, and she never really pursued anything.  But, her first trip to the New York State FFA Convention changed all of that.

Brooklin cannot really put a finger on what it was about the convention that motivated her so much.  What is clear, is that she caught fire once the convention took place.  From that point, at the end of her sophomore year, she has been on a very rapid, upward trajectory.

As a senior in high school, Brooklin is now her district's president, and she is strongly considering a run for a state officer position.  She has started a supervised agricultural experience called "Drake's Pumpkin Patch" and she is selling pumpkins, gourds, and mums on the side of the road in a stand that she built.  She is also a recipient of two grants for a total of $1500 to develop her business even further.

Things don't necessarily come naturally to Brooklin however.  Her first year of growing her pumpkin patch was an utter failure, and she didn't sell any.  However, she didn't focus on the negative.  The next year she was determined to do better, and that led to the development of her roadside stand and a lot of sales of pumpkins.  And, the result of all of this?  A $1,000 donation to her very own FFA chapter.


In spite of growing up on a farm, Luke Millay did not join his high school's FFA chapter until his sophomore year.  During Luke's freshman year he was sure that he was going to be an engineer in the future, and he didn't see a reason to join.  However, towards the end of the year, he was more exposed to the things going on in his chapter, and he decided to give it a try.

That was all it took for Luke.  Today he is serving as his chapter's president as well as his region's.  He has his eyes on the next level as well.  And, during this time he took the cowherd that he had been growing on his family's farm and turned it into a great, direct marketed, livestock business.

At the time that we recorded this interview, Luke had already established "Millay Meats".  He had done this by being gifted a cow/calf pair and a heifer when he was younger and always retaining heifers to grow his herd even more.  As he got involved in the FFA, needed supervised agriculture experience, and became more sophisticated he developed this business.  He credits reinvesting his profits right back into the business for his success.

Today Luke has 20 cows giving him calves every year.  He is keeping those calves over the winter after weaning them, and then he is finishing him on his farm.  He is direct marketing beef to people in Louisville, Kentucky, and in Clarksville, Indiana.  He also started doing the exact same business model with pigs.  Currently, he has over 50 pigs on the ground that will be finished and direct marketed.

Luke is looking forward to college next year, but he wants to keep this business going.  So, true to form he is reinvesting his profits into the business.  He is purchasing larger feeders for the pigs and automatic waterers so that if he is gone for a period of a couple of days due to being at college the animals are still taken care of.

The FFA is absolutely an incubator for future entrepreneurs and great ideas.  Luke is the proof!


When Autumn and I first bought our farm, and well before I ever imagined having my own podcast, I was listening to whatever agricultural content I could get my hands on.  There were long days out on the tractor, disking and trying to get our land into some sort of shape that we could irrigate and grow pasture.

Technology has advanced pretty rapidly since then.  So, back in those days, I had to download podcasts onto my phone prior to listening to them, and I needed wifi to do it.  There was no using cellular data, and there were no streaming podcasts like on Spotify.  So, you had to be really serious about wanting to listen to something because you had to go get it in advance.

One of the shows that I listened to back then was the "Zimmcast", an agricultural show hosted and produced by Chuck and Cindy Zimmerman.  These folks were podcasting about agriculture way before it was cool, and they continue to do so today.

After we announced that we had published our 1,000th episode of the Off-Farm Income Podcast, I received a note of congratulations from Chuck.  It seems that there are only 2 or three agricultural podcasts to reach this number, and the Zimmcast is definitely one of them.

In corresponding with Chuck we decided that it would be a good idea to have a conversation about agricultural podcasting, record it and release it to our respective listeners.  Today's episode is the result of that conversation, and I hope you enjoy it.

Connect with Chuck Zimmerman:

Website: The Zimm Cast

Website: AgWired

Twitter: @Agriblogger 



There is a multitude of obstacles to entering farming, growing your farm, and becoming profitable.  And, there is an old model of making it work, that carries some pretty risks - debt.  Using debt to purchase your farm, purchase equipment, cover operating costs, or procure livestock is the norm in farming.  The problem with debt is that you have to service it, and it can control you as well as the decisions you make on your farm.

So, what are the alternatives?  That is what we strive to offer on this show, week after week.  We choose to interview guests who have small businesses that we believe might work for you and become a key component of your overall strategy to make it as a farmer.

Occasionally I run across an opportunity that is outside the parameters that we have defined on the Off-Farm Income Podcast.  When one of these opportunities looks like it could really help you to succeed in farming, we want to bring it to you, regardless of our focus on entrepreneurship.  Even greater than teaching you about the opportunities that entrepreneurship offers to you is our goal to see you be able to farm for a living.

Today's episode is one of those moments.  Our guest today, Austin Maness of Harvest Returns, talks with us about alternatives to debt and another funding source through investment.  Austin has a farming background and a really interesting path that has led him to become the chief operating officer of Harvest Returns.

In his current role, Austin looks for opportunities to match investors with farmers who need funding.  It is a very interesting concept both for the farmer as well as the investor.  While this interview was more focused on benefits and risks to farmers, we touch on the investor side of things as well.

There was a recurring theme in this interview, and that is that every project of this type is different.  In some cases, Austin deals with several investors with a few thousand dollars to invest, and they want to be involved in agriculture.  In others, he is dealing with investors with hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they have their eye on one segment of farming.

It was clear through the interview that the opportunities for farmers as well as investors are kind of limited only by their imagination with this model.  Harvest Returns is a one of its kind, first in the field company that has identified this strategy of funding farms.

Towards the end of our interview, Austin said something that really stuck with me.  To paraphrase he said, "perhaps there is a person that comes from farming but is stuck in a cubicle and wants to go back.  We can help that person get started".

If you are going to shift to this lifestyle, you need all the tools you can have in your financial tool belt.  It will be very worthwhile for you to learn about this one today.









They say that fortune favors the bold.  I believe that this is true, and this is one of the reasons that I love to profile the projects of FFA students.  As a group, I have not encountered one that is bolder.  These students are not just given permission to be creative through entrepreneurship, but they are encouraged to do so.  The ideas that come out of a group of students like this are really amazing.

Our guest today, Katherine Woodward, is a perfect example of this.  Katherine is in her junior year of high school.  When it came time to choose a supervised agricultural experience she looked around her community to see what other people were not doing. She identified bee and honey production as something that much less common than other agricultural practices in her area.  The fact that nobody else was doing this convinced her that this was the right choice.

There was a problem.  Katherine was extremely afraid of bees.  However, she was also bold.  So, which would win, fear or boldness?  Well, her SAE is titled "Black Lick Creek Apiary" so you tell me!

Katherine overcame this fear and dove into the bee business with four nukes to start her business.  Then she went about determining how she was going to build this business and identifying what her financial needs were going to be.  Once that was finished she figured out that she could possibly fund this business through grants, ultimately obtaining two for the paltry sum of $5,000 - which is the largest grant amount I have ever profiled on this show.

Now Katherine has the money to build a "honey house" and to develop and market her business.  She could have harvested honey after her first season but chose not to, to give her bees a better chance of winter survival.  It turned out to be a very wise decision considering the polar vortex that descended on much of the country this winter.  And, because she received the grants she was not pressured into harvesting honey too soon in the development of her hives.

Now Katherine is well on her way to a great honey harvest.  Her hives all survived the winter, and she is looking forward to the summer season.  She is also looking forward to getting creative with her direct marketing of honey.  Katherine has a number of ideas for marketing her products that she has not seen anybody else try.  Of course, doing things other people have not tried is pretty consistent with the way that Katherine does business.

Chief among these ideas is putting together a festival this summer at the same location where her honey house will eventually be located.  She wants to have her fellow FFA members participate and sell their products, bring their animals and educate the public about agriculture.  At the same time, she will be providing a public good she will also be marketing her honey.  Katherine also wants to locate her hives strategically around Kentucky.  She has family in four different zip codes, and she is considering marketing "honey by the zip code" because honey produced close to where you live offers you health benefits that honey produced elsewhere does not.

Katherine is off to a great start and has great ideas, and it is all because she looks at the world differently.  She has no desire to be just like everyone else.  She wants to be different, in a very, very good way.

Visit Black Lick Creek Apiary on Facebook:

Direct download: OFI_1014__Experiencing_Other_Cultures_Through_Direct_Marketing_Of_Goats.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


When I am interviewing a guest I am writing about them in my mind.  I am picking up on non-verbal cues about them, and eventually, the perfect adjective to describe them pops into my mind.  With today's guest, Madi Mcfarland, that adjective is "fearless".

Madi is currently a junior at her high school, and she has already served as her chapter's president.  You might be wondering how that is possible.  Well, the area that she lives in is growing rapidly due to a Toyota factory being located there.  So, as the population booms so do the needs for public services such as high schools.  Two years ago a new high school called Great Crossing, closer to her farm, was opened.

Madi was already enrolled in a different high school, was in their FFA chapter, and had just completed her freshman year.  But, she jumped at the chance to change schools and FFA chapters.  I asked her why, as a sophomore, she would want to do this.  She told me that she loved the idea of being the first president in a brand new FFA chapter, so she went for it.  Oh, and she accomplished it.

Madi lives in Thoroughbred Race Horse Country, but she is a rodeo girl.  At some point, she was exposed to barrel racing.  The speed, the control, the lack of control, and the charge forward with everything you've got attitude appealed to her.  So, she found a way to start barrel racing and competing in high school rodeo in a state known for a different type of horse racing, such as the Kentucky Derby.

Madi is fearless though.  She is going to ride her barrel horses right into her future.  When I asked her if she wanted to barrel race in college, and if she had identified where she would like to compete her answer came back without hesitancy.  She immediately listed off her top two schools for college rodeo.  #1 is Texas A&M (988 miles from home), and #2 is Oklahoma State University (785 miles from home).  There was no "if I'm good enough" in her answer.  She knows that she wants to be the best, and that is the direction she is taking, no matter how far from home it takes her.

Madi also told me about another project that she is involved with called Thoroughbred Makeover.  Madi purchased a retired racehorse named "Fireball John".  Even though people don't generally barrel race on Thoroughbreds, she is re-training Fireball John to do just this.  There is up to $100,000 available to the winners of this contest to re-purpose retired racehorses, and Madi will be competing against people twice and three times her age with that much more experience.

You guessed it....she isn't scared.


On the Off-Farm Income Podcast, I like to talk about how people in agriculture can use their problem-solving abilities, mechanical aptitude, and farm equipment to create a small business.  Ultimately, I think that too many farmers turn to the rigid, inflexible work schedule of an employer when they could be using everything they already have at their disposal to create a much more flexible and lucrative small business.

But, this is just one side of the coin.  This philosophy only looks at people who are already farming, who have already purchased equipment, and who have already developed certain skills and aptitudes that go with farming that can be used to serve others.  What about the person who wants to transform their life to farming, who has got a degree and several years of work experience in a field that doesn't obviously translate to an agriculturally related business?

Today's guest, Wil Crombie, answers that question.  Wil grew up around his family's farm in Minnesota, doing some farm work with his grandfather, like cutting hay.  But after high school, Wil decided to take his life in a different direction and pursued a career in film production.  He got a degree in this and went into this career focusing on the music industry.

Some years later, Wil had, shall we will say, a moment.  He realized that he wanted to return to his family's farm in Minnesota and create an awesome organic and regenerative farming operation.  However, all of his experience, education, and network contacts were in the film production and music industry.  Wil had this realization while he was in Hawaii.  Moving from a life in the music industry and working in Hawaii, to a life farming in Minnesota couldn't be a bigger change.

What was Wil to do with this hard-earned tool kit of skills and knowledge that he had put together through his film career?  Should he just abandon it, and start over from scratch?  You have probably already guessed, but that is not what he did.

Wil returned to the farm.  He and his wife started the operation that he had envisioned, and they, like 90% of all farmers, needed off-farm income.  Will used his skills to obtain, what he calls "W-2 Work" or a job, at a local non-profit.  At the same time, he was scanning for film-making opportunities in the world of agriculture.  Finally one came Africa.

Wil took this project and filmed an agricultural project on what was once referred to as "the Dark Continent".  The project was met with success, and his reputation in this space grew.  This propelled him and Man Alone Media to be a much more significant part of his off-farm income portfolio.

Since then Wil has been able to leverage his "tool kit" and his growing reputation into more and more work.  But, money is not the only form of payment that he is receiving.  Wil is frequently able to choose work that will not only pay him but will educate him on a concept of agriculture that will help him on his farm in Minnesota.

Many of you have a skill set that you don't quite know how to transition to farming right now.  But as you look deeper into that skill set, and you identify what it is you really do, not just what it says on paper, you can do the same as Wil!

Connect with Wil Crombie & Man Alone Media:







Today we get to profile a very innovative and hard-working farmer.  At the same time, we get to tell a story that we have told before, and we get to show you a great model for creating a sustainable farm as well as creating off-farm income.

Allen Deutz is the owner of a farm purchased by his great-grandfather in 1920 in southwestern Minnesota. In just one more year this will be a century farm.  Like so many generational farmers Allen was faced with creating a business model that would allow him to continue to farm the property and have it available for the next generation.

Allen first tried the dairy business, as his father had operated this farm as dairy.  However, even as he was excelling in his performance as a dairy farmer, the economics of the dairy industry pushed him right out at his small scale.  So, Allen transitioned to raising some commodities - corn and soybeans, raising grass-fed beef, raising all-natural pork, and raising free-range meat chickens.  It is in this diversity that Allen has been able to create a system that is regenerative and hedges against low prices in any one area.

Allen recently purchased a no-till drill for planting on his own property.  He realized two things.  First, when he was not planting that piece of equipment was just sitting there, not making any money.  Second, because of the wet spring, his region had been having many farmers who had not been able to plant and could use his help planting in cover crops for the rest of the season.  Thus, a form of off-farm income was born.


PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP: Allen suggests that you do not borrow money to buy equipment just so you can own it.  Research whether or not it makes you money to own the equipment vs. hiring the work done or renting the equipment.

EASY: Renting is easy, and if you do this for a season it can help you figure out whether or not purchasing the same equipment makes sense.


Allen is very good about penciling out expenses and whether or not he is making money on any given aspect of his farm.  This has led him to another form of off-farm income in the off-season where he does this for other farmers.



Website: LINK

Facebook: LINK



Have you ever heard the saying that you should have an "attitude of gratitude"?  Over the years I have come to value that small piece of advice more and more.  Our guest today is just a sophomore in high school and is already exuding this. It is my belief that this attitude is going to lead Abby Mitchell to a life that is happy and well-lived.

Abby is in the beginning stage of starting her very first business.  It is a really fun stage of entrepreneurship to profile, but I rarely get to do this because it is usually only after the establishment of a business that a person receives the recognition that allows me to find them.

In Abby's case, she and her FFA advisor, are very forward-thinking, and they applied for an SAE grant to help get Abby started in the business. She was awarded this grant, and a newspaper article was written about the winners.  That drew my attention to Abby and the business that she is started - goat milk soap.

Any value-added business always draws my attention, but this one is one of my favorites.  There is something about the development of a non-perishable consumer product that can be shipped, styled, scented, and customized in so many ways that I really appreciate.  Also, the communing with the dairy goats by milking them twice per day and relying on them to provide you the milk that you need to make your products is special as well.  So, it goes without saying that I was eager to speak with Abby about the business.

However, during our interview, something else caught my attention - gratitude.  Every time that I tried to ask Abby about it, well...Abby, she took the opportunity to talk about how somebody else helped her, contributed to her life, or inspired her to allow her to accomplish the thing I was asking about.  This became so pervasive that it developed into the theme of this interview.

Abby is the type of person that does not take people for granted.  Therefore, when they make a contribution to her life she recognizes them first, well before taking any credit herself.  This quality is going to benefit Abby her entire life.  The most content people in the world are those who are grateful.  Instead of wondering when it will be their time or what is next, they see the contributions people are making to them right now.  Abby has this special gift.

Direct download: OFI_1009_-_Abigail_Mitchell_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


Our guest today, Trevor Campbell, has a talent for working with small engines.  He is a genuinely nice person and very easy to talk to, and he has a great work ethic.  So, when he tells the story of developing his small engine repair business it is easy to let his personal attributes hide what is really important in this story - the simple manner in which he started what could be a lifelong business.

Prior to high school, Trevor enjoyed working on small engines with his father in their garage.  This free time activity was enjoyable enough that when Trevor was in his 8th-grade year of school he decided to take on his very own project.  Driving down the road one day Trevor saw an old, push lawnmower sitting on the side of the road adorned by a sign that simply said "Free".  Trevor saw a challenge and wanted to test himself.  He got permission, and help, and picked up the lawnmower, returning it to his house.

Over the next month or so Trevor worked on this mower and ended up rebuilding most of the engine.  He got it running and into good condition, and he had proven to himself that he could do it.  At that point, not knowing what to do with the mower now, he put it on Facebook Marketplace for sale.  A few days later the mower was gone and he had $50 in his pocket.

A light went on in Trevor's head.  If he could find an old mower that somebody just wanted to give away and turn that into $50 once, could he do it again and again and again?  Over the past four years, Trevor has done exactly that.  He purchases or just obtains old mowers, pressure washers, generators, etc. from people who don't know how to fix them and just want them out of their garages.  Then he fixes them, restores their value, and sells them at a profit.

The restoration and sale of equipment with small engines are the core of Trevor's business, but today it has morphed.  Now, Trevor, has people bring him their small equipment in the spring to get it ready for the season.  He has a garage full of other people's equipment that he services, fixes, and preps for the spring and summer months.  In the fall, he does some winterization of other people's equipment.  And, he has started his own lawn mowing company with very inexpensive and sometimes free equipment that he has the expertise to fix.

Small engine repair and landscaping businesses are two of the most viable ideas that FFA students create in high school with the potential for becoming lifelong businesses.  And both of these businesses have the potential to grow and expand exponentially.  A landscaping business can grow a significant client list, employ dozens to hundreds of employees, and eventually expand into many different areas related to the original idea of lawn mowing and beautification.  The sky really is the limit.  Small engine repair has this same potential, expanding all the way to having an equipment dealership.

The gold nugget hidden in this interview is just how simple and easy it was for Trevor to start this business.  It did not take venture capital.  It did not take a loan from the bank.  It simply took natural curiosity, a skill that had been developed at home, and the willingness to start.

Whether or not Trevor follows the path I have laid out is not the point of sharing this story with you.  You, the listeners of the Off-Farm Income Podcast are here because you are looking for a different and better lifestyle.  I am suggesting to you that entrepreneurship is likely the missing piece to the puzzle that can unlock that lifestyle for you.  The biggest obstacle to any person starting their own business is within their own mind.  It is fear, imposter syndrome, and overcomplicating the process among other things.

Let Trevor be your inspiration.  Start small, doing something that interests you.  Test the market to see if there is any value in it.  If there is value, replicate what you have done already to start growing revenue.  Then figure out how to replicate the service or product at a scale large enough to enable you to become self-employed!



If you have been listening to the Off-Farm Income Podcast for a while then you have heard a lot of stories about agricultural entrepreneurship, you have heard a lot of stories about FFA students and you have heard a lot of stories about where those two paths intersect.  Today, we are very lucky to be able to give you the "after picture".  We are able to bring things full circle and show you how it all comes back around.

Our guest today is Caleb Green, and he has a great story.  Caleb grew up in northern Wyoming around farmers and farming with his dad.  Caleb was also an FFA member, and when it came time to select a supervised agricultural experience he decided to start a custom hay business.  He named it "Evergreen Custom Haying".

When Caleb chose to start this business he looked around at what was offered in his community, and he found a niche haying on smaller properties and putting up small, square bales for horse owners and people who needed them.  Soon, he was growing his business, expanding his customer base, and purchasing more equipment.  Caleb's services even included irrigating for his customers when that was necessary.

After graduation, Caleb went on to college and started studying ag.  All through this time, he kept his haying business going.  But, like so many FFA students, Caleb had been inspired by his ag teachers and he was focused on getting his degree and returning to the ag classroom, this time as an FFA advisor.

Caleb is now 25 years old, and that "return to the classroom" moment came in July of 2020 when he was hired as the ag teacher at Burns High School, near Cheyenne.  He started on July 1, going out and meeting his students at their homes while checking in on their projects.  Soon, it was time for the county fair, followed immediately by the state fair and then right into the first day of school.

The writing is definitely on the wall for Evergreen Custom Haying, looking back on this summer schedule.  Caleb's FFA chapter needs him at the exact same time that most of the haying in his part of Wyoming gets done.  Caleb has tinges of emotion when he thinks about not running his custom haying business any longer.  He misses being out there in the open, cutting hay, and doing things on his own terms.  However, his excitement about being in the classroom is contagious.

Because of the requirement for supervised agricultural experience, Caleb started a business and learned about entrepreneurship.  Today, Caleb is the person at the head of the agricultural classroom, and he has the opportunity to take what he learned by running his own business and teach it to dozens of students.  And, as the years go by that number will turn into hundreds and eventually thousands.

Entrepreneurship is desperately needed in our rural communities for a number of reasons, and that is why I am so eager to profile entrepreneurship in the FFA.  Ten years ago Caleb got introduced to the concept by his then FFA advisor.  Today, he is introducing multitudes to the concept with the benefit of his experience.

Coming full circle, Caleb is giving students the inspiration, permission, and knowledge to be able to work in agriculture, create jobs in rural communities and avoid being forced to move to the city for work.  This is an FFA success story at its finest!


Connect with Caleb Green & Evergreen Custom Hayingat:



"The #1 reason that farms fail is that they fail to profit".  This statement by Ted Lebow seems simple and obvious, but when you dig deeper it is actually complex and difficult to understand.

Ted's company, Kitchen Table Consultants, looks at farming operations, especially those actively involved in marketing their produce, meat, and fruit, and see how business models can be a detriment to the success of the farm.

Ted grew up in agriculture in Nampa, Idaho.  He participated in the FFA and later studied agriculture at Cornell University.  He has also started several companies, including Kitchen Table Consultants.  He has seen how failing to properly assess profit can lead to not just the loss of a farm, but the loss of a lifestyle.

In this episode, Ted gives several tips to farmers on how to maximize profitability and sustainability.  One interesting point that he made was that farming operations that are involved in marketing should act as two different farming entities.  One entity is involved in farming and the other is involved in marketing.  This will help the farm to determine if they are profitable, and if not it will tell them in which aspect of their business they are failing to profit.

This episode is a bit different from normal as I was not interviewing Ted about forming his businesses.  I was asking him about what he teaches and consults on to help farmers succeed.  I know there will be something in here that can help you with your future success.

CONTACT Ted Lebow & Kitchen Table Consultants:






About 90% of the time when I interview an FFA student on this show they are junior or senior in high school or are already in high school.  Occasionally I get to speak with a student who is just starting their high school career and their journey in the FFA.  That is the case in today's interview with William Paxton.

William is a freshman at Stuart Public School in Stuart, Nebraska.  Even though he is just beginning high school he has already been learning about beekeeping and developing his own bee business, Paxton 5 Beehive, for just over four years.  Starting during his years in 4H, William started raising bees.  He has had multiple hives die over the winter, and he has replaced them multiple times.  He has persisted through all of this, learning more and more about raising bees.  This past summer he had his first successful honey harvest.

As an incoming freshman William had already gone through the difficult part of learning his trade.  He had failed many times, corrected his mistakes, and pushed forward.  Then, when it was time to begin his supervised agricultural experience he was at the stage of development that he was able to sell a product.  This is a head start.

What is amazing about this head start that William had is that when he finally did have a successful honey harvest he already had customers on a waiting list that wanted to purchase his honey.  And, this was the first time he had ever had honey to sell!  So, how did he do this?  William attributes this to the agricultural education that he received going through the 4H.  Specifically, the requirements for public speaking that came with being a 4H member.

Through the 4H William participated in multiple public speaking events, and he always chose to speak about bees and his goals in raising them.  Inadvertently, this became a marketing campaign for his honey and people lined up to purchase from him.  All he had left to do was actually produce the product.

The head start that William received through the 4H is just the start.  Obviously, this was a great head start for him upon entering the FFA.  An incoming freshman starting their first SAE in the FFA is not expected to have an up and running business already.  So, the 4H provided William a head start on the FFA.

Now, William has four years to develop his business through his SAE while he continues with public speaking through the FFA.  This is another head start for him, a head-start on life.  How many high school students do you know that will have been running a completely vertically integrated business with a waiting list of customers for 8 years at the time of high school graduation?  I would venture a guess that you probably don't know any unless they are involved in agricultural education.

Direct download: OFI_1002__To_Move_To_Montana_In_Winter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


Today's guest, Laney Jones, and I have a few things in common.  First, we are both fans of the Montana State Bobcats!  Second, we enjoy raising cattle.  And third, we direct market our beef to customers who are willing to pay a premium to purchase beef directly from the producer.

And, like me and every other beef producer who direct markets, Laney encountered an issue with the quantity, or lack of quantity, that some customers wanted to purchase.  To explain where I am coming from, butchers break beeves down into 1/2's, and they butcher half of the beef at a time.  That means that if a customer purchases either a whole or half beef they can tell the butcher exactly how they want it cut up because the butcher is able to apply their instructions to each half they are buying and make it how they like it.

When a customer asks to purchase just a 1/4 of beef, that means that they are purchasing a 1/2 of a 1/2.  When this happens, a producer like myself has to pair up the customer purchase 1/4 beef with another 1/4 beef, and those two customers have to agree on how the meat will be cut up.  Because they are splitting a half, all the cuts from that half will be done exactly the same way, so they have to come agreement on things like the thickness of steaks ahead of time.  This can be a real hassle for the producer and the butcher when it is time to cut the meat up and divvy it out.

Laney lives in Montana, which is a really traditional beef-producing state.  So, this is a problem that direct marketers have basically just accepted as something that will always be there, because what else can be done?  But Laney was different.  She saw this problem, even having customers that wanted to purchase quantities as small as 1/8 of beef, and she set out to solve it.  That is when Laney stumbled upon Miniature Angus Cattle.

Laney purchased some "mini's" to put her idea to the test, and she direct marketed them through her uncle in Bozeman.  When it came time to butcher the steers she found that their finished live weights were just above the hanging weight of a traditional steer.  This meant that her customers who used to want a 1/4 beef could now purchase a full 1/2 of one of her steers.  This took all the complications out of the butchering process.

The prospect of raising and direct marketing beef has really helped Laney discover a passion for entrepreneurship.  She has steadily grown her operation, and this year she is direct marketing 19 head (3 in May and 16 in the fall).  She told me that she plans on going to college when she finishes high school, but she is going to be looking for a way to come home and continue with her direct marketed beef operation.  If she can find a way to do this for her full-time living, that is exactly what she wants to do.

I originally had Jonathan Russo on Episode #334 of the Off-Farm Income Podcast in 2017.  At that time he had just finished high school and was preparing to study agriculture at the University Of Connecticut. So, where is Jonathan now?  And, what has he been up to?

In today's episode, we get to catch up with Jonathan and find out all the amazing things he has been doing for the past four years.  I'll give you a hint - he is about to move into graduate school, he is releasing a documentary soon and he is just about to publish a research paper.  Oh, and he is still consulting about aquaponics.

In short, Jonathan is on fire!  We will get all the details from him in this bonus episode of the Off-Farm Income Podcast.

Below are the show notes from our first interview with Jonathan.


Have you ever wondered how you become a consultant?  How about how long does it take to become one?

Our guest today just graduated high school and is getting ready to start college.  Over the last four years, he explored an interest he had in hydroponics.  He started out doing a research SAE, finding out how it works.  Then he started growing food for himself with his own system.  Soon he was selling equipment to other people who wanted to do the same.

Over the four years, Jonathan grew his reputation and started installing systems and repairing systems for people in his area.  As he became a more recognized expert people started to call him for consultation on how to build their own system and make it work.  That is how you become a consultant in just four years!  That is how he started Fairfield County Hydroponics.

Jonathan hopes to expand his business beyond his county, to his whole state.  Then all the way across the country.  Those plans are on temporary hold as he starts college.  But he is going to start developing that national reputation from his dorm room by writing all about hydroponics.

This is a great story!

Direct download: Bonus_Jonathan_Russo_Mixdown_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_1000__Thousands_Of_Memories_And_Thousands_More_To_Come.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


I love it when ideas spring from actual life experience and people have the courage and tenacity to follow through on making those ideas a reality.  That is absolutely the case on today's episode, featuring the founder and creator of Ag Butler, Kevin Johansen.

Kevin and his wife, Jamie, raise cattle in Lebanon, Missouri.  They both grew up ranching cattle in the "Show Me State", and they continue this way of life as a couple.  You may recognize Jamie's name, as she was the featured guest on episode #772 of the show when we profiled her business, Honey Creek Media, almost exactly one year ago today.

Kevin has always been involved in entrepreneurial ventures.  One of those was working as a freelancer, clipping cattle for people in preparation for shows and sales.  During his time doing this work, he noticed how antiquated and awkward the process was for finding help.  Kevin's particular skill is just one of the many different skill areas that farmers and ranchers need help with at certain times of the year.  And Kevin noticed that when people discovered that their workload rose to the level of needing additional help for a certain project or time of the year, that finding the correct people was ominous.

Kevin described how farmers and ranchers might have a name stored in a phone or on a piece of paper somewhere.  If they could find that name and give them a call the number might not be good any longer, the person may no longer be freelancing or they might have already agreed to work for somebody else because everyone tends to have the same needs at the same time when it comes to clipping and fitting for livestock shows.

For the farmer or rancher who needs help, this creates a real problem.  Their entire network of freelancers that could help them was limited to who they had used before.  If these people were unavailable they would have to start over from scratch on finding someone.  This would be done by calling around and asking for referrals.  And, these referrals might have first-hand knowledge of the person's skills and reliability, but possibly not.  So, it was a gamble as to whether or not this person was going to work out well for the farmer's needs.

Kevin decided to try and figure out a way to solve this problem.  After giving it deep thought, he came up with the idea of Ag Butler.  Ag Butler is both an app and a website that a farmer and a freelance laborer can sign up for.  With the information that they input, the right two people can get matched up.  Also, the farmers and ranchers that hire these individuals can rate them, so that farmers and ranchers in the future have less of a gamble when hiring.  There are real-world testimonials on the app to help farmers and ranchers determine who is correct for them.

Kevin launched Ag Butler in August of 2020, and it has been working well.  They have steadily had more and more people signing up for the service and it is already helping farmers and ranchers who need extra help as well as freelancers looking to work in agriculture.

I believe that there is a significant difference in the quality of a service or product that is determined by the experiences of the founder or those people brought in to help develop it as compared to somebody with an idea who has never worked in the field.  Kevin has seen this problem from both sides, and that has made him uniquely qualified to create this product and solve this problem.  And, I think he has done it!

Connect with Ag Butler, and  Kevin Johansen at:



Instagram: @agbutlerapp

Twitter: @AgButlerApp


Our guest today is more proof of an emerging trend in production agriculture.  Young farmers are recognizing both the need for off-farm income and that entrepreneurship is the best way for them to produce this.  

Mark Hewitt and his wife have their own small farm and are leasing more ground to build their lives in agriculture. However, they are not to the point that they are self-sufficient yet.  So, Mark needs to bring in money from off of the farm.  He has chosen entrepreneurship to do this because it allows him flexibility in his schedule to manage his own farm as effectively as possible.  Also, it offers an opportunity for greater earning potential than a job, which could speed up his pathway to full-time farming.  Last, but certainly not least, it allows Mark to arrange his schedule to maximize time with his family.

If you want to be a full-time farmer in production agriculture, this is a great episode for you to listen to.  It also is more proof of this emerging trend among young, production agriculture farmers.

START SMALL: Mark suggests that you don't go too big, too fast  He learned this from his own experience, and if he had to do it over again he would have taken smaller steps.

RESERVES: Mark definitely suggests prioritizing having some capital reserves.  You never know when an issue will come up in which you need money to run your business or an opportunity will arise that you can only take advantage of if you have the money.


CONVERSATION: Mark describes himself as a conversationalist.  He loves to talk about farming, and he went with his strength when it came to choosing a business.  Now he gets to talk farming and turn that into supplemental income.


"Don't Get Discouraged By The Word 'No'".  If you are going to work in any type of sales you will have to get used to hearing this.  And, you will have to keep trying until you hear "yes".


Mark's Email Address:

Hewitt Precision Insights Website: LINK

Facebook: Hewitt Precision Insights | Facebook

Twitter: Hewitt Precision (@hewittprecision) / Twitter

Instagram: Hewitt Precision Insights (@hewittprecision) • Instagram photos and videos


INTRODUCING Whitney Ten Napel:

When I was first starting my agricultural journey in college I was taking animal science classes at the Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California. My last semester there I took a dairy science class, and I can remember the instructor named Hal Carlton talking to us about career options.  He kept talking to the class about the dairy industry, which meant working in the factory side of the dairy business in creameries and the like.  There were a lot of jobs available, and good employees were really needed.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since I took that class, and since I have seen Hal.  Today's interview brought that all back to me.  I am interviewing Whitney Ten Napel on this episode.  She is currently a junior at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota.  She is majoring in dairy manufacturing, which she explains to me is the same thing as what Hal described as the dairy industry.

Whitney is able to articulate her choice of major and future career very well.  She knows why she loves agriculture, and why she wants to work on the industrial side of things.  Also, Whitney has really been exploring her options when it comes to her chosen career.  She has already completed two internships, working in plants and processing both milk and cheese.  And, she is going to complete another internship this summer, doing it all again.

Whitney sees the industry as a key component of agriculture.  Without this link in the supply chain, how would consumers receive any finished products after all?  She sees her future position in the industry as vital to agriculture and to the world's food supply.  She also sees this as a great way to advocate for agriculture.

You are going to love this interview with Whitney Ten Napel!

Direct download: OFI_996__What_Do_You_Do_In_The_Winter_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



Over the past six years, I have interviewed a lot of incredible guests on this show, and I have talked about a lot of different business concepts.  One of the things that I learned when I became an entrepreneur and one of the things I try to convince people of is how you see things differently once you start your first business.

There is a real keyword in the final sentence of that first paragraph, and that is "start".  So many people get caught in the loop of dreaming, researching, and then back to dreaming when it comes to their first business.  They have a vision, but they don't know how to make it come true.  They want to work for themselves, but they don't know what type of business to start.

Our guest today is a freshman in high school, but she has a lesson for all aspiring entrepreneurs, and that is to start.  Kenzie just started high school in September, but she was lucky enough to have a mom who had been an FFA advisor and could tell her some of the things she was going to be doing in high school.  So, instead of waiting for when her ag teacher assigned her to develop an SAE, she just started one.

Kenzie saw something on Pinterest that she thought would work as a side business, making dog treats.  So, she started researching and then starting making the treats and experimenting with her own dog back in September.  By Christmas, she already had a business name, Pepper's Pup Treats.  And, she had orders for 100 dozen dog treats!  Now, Kenzie is looking into the future and the next 3.5 years of being an FFA member, and she sees a growing business with an expanding array of products.

This is all happening so fast for Kenzie because she started.  She did not sit around and wait for the perfect moment or to be told by her advisor that it was time.  She just jumped right in.  This has done two things.  First, she is up and rolling and her business development is way ahead of most students, even FFA students, at this stage of high school.  Second, she has been exposed to a very legitimate way of making a living.  She will never again wonder if she can operate her own business.  Now, she will see the world through the lens of an entrepreneur.  The world looks differently this way because you see business opportunities and ways to serve other people around every corner.

If you have a dream of a different lifestyle or of self-employment, I want you to follow Kenzie's example.  I don't care if you start the same exact business.  It doesn't have to be anything huge or take a lot of money.  Just start creating a product or offering a service and try to make money from the idea.  Just like what Kenzie and I both experience, you will start to see opportunities that you did not know were there, and you will find energy reserves that you did not think were possible!

Follow Peppers Pup Treats Here:


Instagram: Pepper’s Pup Treats (@pepperspuptreats) 

Direct download: OFI_994__Better_Protect_Your_Catalytic_Convertors___Rural_Crime_Edition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

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

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

Ben also didn't look at things through the lens of an "either/or" mentality.  He looked at "and" solutions.  He knew that he wanted to travel, and he knew that he both had to and wanted to work.  But, he never made the statement "I want to travel, but I can't because I have to work".  Ben found a way to say "I want to travel, and I can because of my work".

Ben first looked into being a truck driver, because that would get him out on the road and allow him to see the U.S.  However, he was not going to be eligible for a license that would allow him to drive outside of his home state until he was 21.  So, he started looking at alternatives.  What he ended up finding was working on a custom harvesting crew.  He found an operation in Kansas that was hiring, and he knew that working there would take him all throughout the Grain Belt and allow him to see a lot of the United States.  After one email, he was hired!

That crew, which Ben worked with for four years, was the opening of an exciting adventure.  On this crew, he had coworkers from Australia and New Zealand, and they told him all about the farm work available to him down there.  Before he knew it, he was working on a dairy in New Zealand, learning something totally new about agriculture.  Soon, he found himself in the vast interior of Australia on a custom harvest crew.  He has also worked in Canada and continues to work in the U.S., now on a custom farming crew.  Ben has his eyes set on Ireland, Finland, and Germany as well.

In this episode, Ben talks about how he got started, the Visa he obtained to do this, how to extend your time in Australia, how much money you need to get yourself started, and much more!

Connect with Ben Rykard at:

Instagram: @Dirtbag_Ag



I love it when students in the FFA with their own businesses discover niches and turn them into businesses.  Our guest today, Bailey Morrell, did just that with farming.  She has been raising Hereford cattle for several years now and growing her herd.

Recently Bailey had an opportunity to do some dryland farming on some neighboring property.  Because it was going to be dry land, she had to figure out something that could work.  She realized that she could grow oats under those conditions but wanted to figure a way to make that as profitable as possible.  She decided to turn the operation into a certified organic operation to be able to market her oats to a niche market

Bailey shares equipment with her parents and really has an eye for agribusiness.  This led her to become the new California State Star Farmer.


You can't get more remote in the lower 48 states than the far, northeast corner of Montana or the northwest corner of North Dakota.  The towns are small, the winters are extreme and the people are fantastic!

Our guest today, Cole Taylor, comes from one of those such towns - Opheim, Montana.  He is the president of this FFA Chapter, and he is taking full advantage of state and national SAE grants to start and grow his bee and honey business, Cole's Honeybees and Blue Sky Honey.  Opheim High School and Junior High School are combined and together they have a total of 15 students.  That is small!

Cole was not born in raised in Opheim.  His father is originally from that area but spent a career in the military.  It was only after his father retired, and when Cole was in the 6th grade, that Cole and his family moved to Opheim.  Even though Cole was not coming from a large city or particularly a large high school, he still downsized in both town and school in a big way.

In today's episode, Cole and I will discuss what it was like to make that move and to learn the new social norms of such a small town.  We will also discuss how he got the idea to start a bee business, and how he has been able to fund the startup through SAE grants.

Cole has awesome goals for after high school that involve service and duty.  He will explain where he is headed.  You are going to be an even bigger fan of small-town America and the great citizens they produce after this interview!

Direct download: OFI_990__You_Better_Learn_To_Hear_Whats_Coming.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


I am an agricultural advocate, and most of the students that I interview on this show are as well.  And, what are we doing as advocates but providing information to people about our industry so that they can make a well-informed buying decision?  Considering the amounts of misinformation about agriculture that exist, I think it is all of our responsibility to participate as advocates in one way or another.

Our guest today, Connie Rogers, takes this to a whole new level.  Connie and her father raise and farrow about 200 sows in Southern Georgia.  Connie is intimately familiar with this business and has been showing pigs since she was in the 2nd grade.  When it came time to choose a supervised agricultural experience for the FFA, raising and showing pigs was a natural fit.

However, Connie recognized that there was more going on than just feeding, showing, and marketing pigs.  She realized that there were people who were afraid to consume pork because they had been told that pigs were fed high levels of antibiotics, and if they were to consume pork from these pigs they would be consuming bacteria that were resistant to antibiotics.  Therefore, if that same bacteria took root in their own body, it would not respond to the medicines that were available.

Connie saw it as a natural fit to add an agriscience research SAE to her workload to study this claim.  She decided to feed two separate batches of pigs - one with antibiotics and one without - and then measure the results.  She wanted to use her finding to provide accurate information to would-be pork consumers.

Connie's efforts in this project have earned her both state and national recognition.  It has also propelled her into college where she is studying agricultural education.  A lot of us are willing to talk about agriculture and the facts of our industry.  Connie went to the length of researching to get the first-hand information that she would share.  That is advocacy!


About two months ago I looked down at my phone and saw that there was a voice mail from my father in law on there.  I listened to the message, and to his attempt to live in my world of technology, even though that was so foreign to him.  He told me that he had just read an article about a guy from Florida that was "making a website" like me and that I should listen.  He said that the show was about cattle ranching in Florida and that he had never realized that the first cattle in America were brought to Florida in 1521.  He said that the show was named "Between The Beaches". 

I've got a small, Bluetooth speaker made by JBL called the JBL Clip that I use twice per day.  In the mornings and evenings when I am doing chores I listen to podcasts on it.  I clip it onto the gear shift of my Polaris Ranger, and while I am driving around the farm feeding cows and goats I can learn something.  So, the night that I received this voice mail I decided to give "Between The Beaches" a try.

I have been hooked on this show ever since.  I like to learn, but there is so much information out there that I will never be able to take it all in or even decide what to take in, in a lifetime.  Without "Between The Beaches" I would never have known or even tried to learn the cattle ranching history of Florida.  There is a lot of fascinating information in this show that has kept me coming back for another episode.

The host, Brad Phares, is our guest on today's show.  Brad has constructed a very unique podcast in that he does two things very well.  First, he educates people on the history of cattle ranching in Florida.  There is 500 years' worth of it after all.  Second, he talks about why cattle ranching is so important to the State Of Florida in modern times.  With 1,000 people moving to Florida every day, he makes a strong case for why cattle ranching is essential.

I am thrilled to bring Brad on as a guest today, and I hope you will all put him on your playlist.  You will really enjoy getting to know all about cattle ranching in Florida!

Follow Brad & Cow Hunters Unlimited Here:





Between The Beaches Podcast:



The Current Stage Of My Life And Business

Well, here we are, just a week away from Thanksgiving with 2019 bearing down on us soon.  What are your goals for the upcoming year?  What stage of business development or production will you be in during 2019?

Perhaps you are just starting your plan to become an entrepreneur.  Or maybe you have started your business and are growing it while you continue to work at your full-time, "day job".  Maybe you have even made the transition to full-time entrepreneurship and are looking for other revenue streams or are developing your farming operation.

I have been through all of these stages.  I want to share the stage I find myself in now.  This is probably the most difficult stage to share with you.  It is not because something bad has happened or because I am ashamed of where I am at.  I think it has to do with my raising.

Talking about this stage feels a bit like bragging.  And certainly, nobody in my family has ever done anything like what I now do for a living.  So, for me to talk about this stage I have to remind myself what this podcast is all about.  My purpose here is to be a cheerleader for you, to be the person who keeps moving forward on this path so you can follow behind, and to be the person who takes the risks and leaps of faith to show you that it is possible.  And of course, in the worst-case scenario to be the person who fails and warns you ahead of time so you don't make the same mistake that I already have.

My purpose is also to be an inspiration.  I know how much the people I listened to, read, and watched inspired me when I was first beginning my journey.  I remember hearing about how they lived their lives, and wondering if it could ever be possible for me to live that life someday.  Now I find myself doing that, and I have to force myself to think back to when I wondered if it would ever be possible so I can see the transition that has taken place.

So, the stage I am entering into now is the one that I dreamed about way back in 2009 when I first really started thinking about what I wanted my life to look like.  For those of you who have been listening for some time, you know that having a podcast was not part of that vision back then.  The podcast is one of the pivots I made along the way.

In 2009 I just had a seed of an idea.  I had a vision of a better way for me to live my life.  That little seed opened a pandora's box for me.  I had no idea how to get to that place, but I knew I wanted to be there.

This is what my life looks like today:

  • We have a farm with loyal customers who like to brag about the beef, pork, and chevon they purchase from us.  I would like to grow my farming operation, but I already have more farm than I ever imagined.
  • Crazy time is over: I have gone through two crazy transitional periods - police work to full-time entrepreneurship & moving from the gopher business to full-time broadcasting and intellectual property sales.
  • I have multiple revenue streams in place:
    • The D&B Radio Show
    • FFA Today
    • Advertisers on Off-Farm Income
    • Our online course - The Ag Entrepreneur
    • Public Speaking
    • Voice Over Work
    • Podcast consulting and production
    • Coaching
    • Farming
    • Rental Houses
    • Teaching

I have systems in place for all of these revenue sources which makes them very easy to manage and maintain.  What this means for my lifestyle is that it is extremely flexible, stress-free, and less demanding than anything else I have ever done.

Except for the farm, I do not have a significant hourly commitment each week to keep up with those streams of revenue.  I call agriculture "the ultimate lifestyle business" and I prove it every year.  By far, the farm provides me the lowest hourly wage of any of these streams of revenue.  However, I am able to be on my farm 100% of the time now, and being able to do that is the reason all the other streams of revenue exist.

When I look into the future, and I see the potential for growth in these revenue streams I am filled with optimism.  In the area that we live, real estate values and rent prices are appreciating rapidly, which has a direct impact on the value we receive from our two rental houses.  We continue to grow this show, and as a result, offer more value to our advertisers making that more and more valuable.  We had a great reception for the online course at the National FFA Convention this year, and the possibilities there are endless.  Production of the Bulkloads Podcast is going very well, and there is room to add more production clients.  D&B Supply is doing great, and the radio show I am hosting for them is working just like I had imagined it when I first proposed the idea.

My life today is all about cattle, pigs, goats, and hay.  And it is almost completely on my terms.  Without having a farm to inherit, we have been able to find a path to being on our farm full-time, not using debt, and being financially secure.  And I have a ton of time to focus on farming!

This is the life that I was dreaming about.  And when this dream first popped into my head it seemed impossible.  But I am standing here today ready and able to show all of you that it was not impossible.  It is very possible, and it is not lost on me that I get to live it.

I am going to do another solo episode next week to help you down this path even further.  We all need a lot of help along the way from mentors and coaches.  Most of us cannot afford to hire those people into our lives during those initial stages of growth.  What I did was listen to a lot of podcasts, read a lot of books and listen to a lot of audiobooks.

Next week I am going to give you my list of all the books that I try to either read or listen to (mostly listen to) every year for continuing motivation and


INTRODUCING Sierra Boggio! 

I speak with enough FFA students that it allows me to see trends emerge.  In today's interview with Sierra Boggio, she said something that I have heard before, and it is apparent that there is another trend emerging.

The FFA offers students the ability to access and learn a lot of things that students who are not in this program miss out on.  One of those things is the ability to see needed services that are not being fulfilled in their local, agricultural communities.  Sierra has grown up on a cattle and sheep ranch, and now she is breeding and raising goats of her own.  Growing up around all of that livestock has given her a good lesson in the things that ranchers go through.

Being in the FFA has exposed Sierra to different career fields in agriculture, and the one that is standing out to her is that of a large animal veterinarian.  Sierra's answer to why she was interested in becoming a large animal vet was interesting.  She cited her time in the FFA, and how that has helped her to recognize that there are needs for veterinarians in her agricultural community that is lacking.  She talked about the experience that their current veterinarian has with goats, and stated that all of that experience has come from her herd.

Between the career development events, leadership events, and emphasis on service the FFA is steering Sierra towards a career where she can serve her community by filling a much-needed role!

Direct download: OFI_984__Almost_Catching_A_Train_In_California.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



I have interviewed hundreds of extremely successful FFA students on the Off-Farm Income Podcast.  Almost all of these are students who are 17, 18, or 19 years of age who have achieved incredible things in business, livestock production, or farming.  And, almost all of these kids got started and developed their passion at a very young age.  Whenever I conduct these interviews I always wonder how the student has changed over time and how sophisticated and knowledgeable they were when they first began. 

In today's episode, I get to flip the script and speak with one of these students at the beginning of their journey.  I will be speaking with Wyatt Todd.  Wyatt is in the 8th Grade at St. Regis High School in St. Regis, Montana.  Wyatt's school is very small.  There are only 180 students total from Kindergarten to 12th Grade.  So, the FFA starts early there.  He began last year when he was in the 7th Grade.

Being in 4H and now the FFA lit a fire in Wyatt.  Just three months ago he bought his first two cow/calf pairs.  The cows are already bred back, and he is planning on having calves out of them this spring.  Wyatt's voice comes across as very young, but his level of knowledge and sophistication does not.  He obviously has a passion for what he is doing, and you can tell by speaking with him that his supervised agricultural experience is going to grow into something really significant.

Four years from now, when I interview Wyatt again, it will be obvious how much he has grown.  And, we will be able to look back on this interview and see the before and after pictures of a high achieving FFA student.


I have repeatedly said that you will see business opportunities all around you once you become an entrepreneur.  It is really true.  Once you start a business, you don't have trouble thinking of new business ideas; you have trouble staying focused on just one.  Something in our perspectives changes once we enter into the arena of entrepreneurship.

There is a good chance that if you listen to the Off-Farm Income Podcast, you could be surrounded by business opportunities in your everyday life and not even realize this.  Many of my listeners are parents who are taking their kids to stock shows several times per year to exhibit their animals.  So, if you are spending all of your time at livestock shows thinking that you can't start a side business or even a full-time business because of this commitment, are you correct?

Back in 2016, I featured an interview with Dolly Denson, "The Fit Stock Show Mom."  She was a person who found herself in this position and came up with a business idea that would serve the other parents at the stock shows.  In today's episode, I am proud to feature another group of people who have recognized the opportunities at stock shows and are making it happen for themselves.

In today's episode, I speak with the owner/operators of "The Stock Market Boutique."  I will be having the co-owners, Olivia Warren and Kyle Blaydes, on the show.  Olivia's daughter, Tori Warren, will also be joining us to talk about being their primary model for the clothing they sell and her role in social media marketing.

Along with a group of people, Olivia and Kyle recognized that there was a niche to be filled at stock shows, selling clothing to exhibitors that they would like to wear around the shows and in the arena.  That is when this business was born.  However, over time the other people involved in the business dropped off, and ultimately it became just Olivia and Kyle, with Tori playing a big supporting role.

Today "The Stock Market Boutique" is traveling to different livestock shows and larger events like the National Finals Rodeo, selling their fashions and meeting people in agriculture.  Tori brings the perspective of a lifelong exhibitor, Olivia has the perspective of a former 4H member and the parent of an exhibitor, and Kyle brings the perspective of a full-time farmer.  This combination is working very well for them.

Even though Covid, with the cancellation of so many shows, they have maintained their business.  They are looking and different revenue models in addition to clothing and are poised to really grown once Covid is over.  You are going to enjoy getting to know this great group of entrepreneurs.

Connect with The Stock Market Boutique:







However, you decided to get into business for yourself there is one constant; you must make the leap from your full-time job to your new business when the time is correct.  For most of this audience is especially true because so many of us have a lot at risk.  If you are in your mid to late '20s without a 401K, a family, a house, etc. then making a big leap is a lot less risky.  But for the rest of us, we really need to mitigate this risk.

Our guest today, Ray Miller, does not take this lightly.  Even as his microbe business grows and spreads across the nation, he continues with his previous career on a less frequent note.  He does not want to let his license expire, thus burning that bridge to an income if he were ever to need it.  So, he is content taking it slow and making the leap when the timing is right.

I normally follow Dan Miller's lead and suggest making the leap when your new enterprise is producing 50% of your full-time income as a side hustle.  However, if you have the ability to do what Ray is doing, it is a great idea.  That is, just shifting percentages of income generation gradually until the new enterprise takes over for the previous one.

Ray followed an interesting path to his own business, much as our guest in episode #468 did by becoming a distributor of Rogue Equipment.  Ray found a great product and realized that there was a need for it, but people around the country did not know about it.  He made it his mission to rectify this and became a distributor.  He has seen great results and cautions us that you had better believe in your product before you decide to deliver it to the rest of the nation.


SLOWLY: Make your transition from your full-time job slow and gradual.  Just because you have a great idea does not mean that you should slaughter the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

PERSON: As much as you can, meet people in person and shake their hand.  The internet and social media are great tools and need to be used, but they are not a substitute for eye contact.

NEEDS: When you are trying to find a business to start, identify what it is you want that business to do for you.  Then make sure whatever you pick is in line with that.


"If You Don't Believe In What You Are Doing, Nobody Else Is Going To"


PEOPLE: Ray loves to meet and get to know new people.  This helps him to succeed.




Interviewing FFA students for this show is an absolute privilege.  It constantly keeps me optimistic about the next generation, and I get exposed to multitudes of wonderful stories from around our nation.  Today's interview is a perfect example of this.

Savannah Pittman is a junior at Calloway County High School in Murray, Kentucky.  Her family has been farming in Kentucky for at least four generations.  And for many years all of her family has worked together in a very large, family garden.  Today, Savannah and all of her cousins work together in this large, 1-acre garden and their very large greenhouse.  Together they produce all the fruits and vegetables that they sell under the name, "Papa's Produce Barn".

They took their business name from the legacy left by their great-grandfather, whose barn they sell out of when they are not at the local produce market in Murray on Saturday's.  All the cousins have a different area of specialty in the garden.  For Savannah it is tomatoes.  Savannah is learning a lot about business through this experience.  So much so, that she is even signing up for business classes and activities outside of the FFA.

You are going to really enjoy hearing about Savannah's special family tradition, and getting to know this impressive young lady.

Direct download: OFI_978__What_Do_You_Really_Have_To_Offer_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


At what age can you start setting big goals?  I think that I have learned from almost 1,000 interviews on this show that there is no minimum or maximum age.  I have spoken with business owners who set their goals when they were young children, and I have spoken to business owners who never realized they had it in them until they retired.

Today's guest is one of those inspirational entrepreneurs starting at a young age.  Paige Haith is a sophomore in high school.  She is also the founder and owner of "Pastries By Paige".  She has a line of 10 desserts that she makes, markets, and sells.  Paige does all of her marketing on social media with Snap Chat and Instagram being her most widely viewed locations.  She is also in the process of starting a second business.

What stands out about this interview with Paige is her goals and her attitude.  Starting with her attitude, she has not been in a classroom since March of 2019 when lockdowns first began.  During that time she became the chaplain of her FFA chapter, but she has not really been able to do anything with the role.  This is frustrating.  However, Paige has not looked at this situation as a source of frustration.  She has looked at it as a source of opportunity.  It has been during this time that she started Pastries By Paige.

Paige also has big goals, and she is already using the SMART system of goal setting.  She knows how big she wants to grow her business, that she wants to have two storefronts in two different states, and by when she wants to accomplish this.  These are the keys to actually accomplishing these goals.  Paige is the kind of person who charges forward with an idea to see if it works.  She is already having great success, and it is exciting to see where she will take it.

Follow Paige on Instagram: @pastriesbypaige_


Direct download: OFI_976__When_Will_The_Sheep_Massacres_In_The_U.K._Stop_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


There is a debate that has been arising over the past decade or so about whether or not paying for a college education is a wise investment.  This debate has continued to grow as valuable skills are being taught more and moreover the internet.  As the advancement of technology moves forward at a more rapid pace, the people with the most up to date skill sets are not coming out of colleges but are coming offline.

When you throw out professions that require a college degree; such as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc. you really start to see a devaluation of a college degree.  If you focus specifically on entrepreneurship type skills, the value drops even lower.  Part of the reason for this is the rapid pace of increased tuition costs that have outpaced inflation for years now.

Today's guest, Kyle Stockdale, is a married, 25-year-old dairy farmer from Ontario, Canada.  At the beginning of our interview, Kyle told me that he had not attended college, and then he made the statement "might as well go to work and make money rather than go to school and spend money".  There is financial wisdom in this statement.  Of course, Kyle did not incur the expenses of college, and during the four years that he would have been making minimal income as a student, he was able to make significantly more money, giving him the opportunity to start investing and growing his net worth if he wished.

That was how we started the interview.  But by the end of the interview, I was recognizing something completely different about Kyle that was very compelling in light of him choosing to skip college.  Kyle knows marketing, and when he starts talking about marketing and growing his business he is clearly very educated.  So, without college, how did Kyle obtain all of this knowledge?

Kyle is one of the millions of people who have followed a relatively simple formula.  He found a niche that he was passionate about and that he could start a business within.  Then he found mentors and teachers online that would help him develop the skill sets he would need to create a successful business.

Kyle started a business called KYVision Sharpening & Repair in 2018.  He did this because he wanted to make extra money and because nobody else in Canada was doing this.  He had always sharpened his own blades and repaired his own clippers for fitting and showing dairy cattle, and he thought that he could turn this into a profitable business.  So, Kyle already had one important skill set to put towards his idea.

However, no matter how good you are at your core skill, your business will not flourish if nobody knows about you.  So, you must market.  This is where Kyle went to work finding online mentors who would help him grow, and this is how he became a marketing expert.  It is clear from listening to Kyle that as passionate he is about his core business, he is equally or more passionate about marketing.  I can say first hand that it is surprising what passions you expose in yourself when you start your own business.  Kyle discovered something about himself by building this business, and he can now talk about marketing like the most polished of college graduates.

Connect with Kyle Stockdale and KY Vision Sharpening & Clipper Repair:






Caitlin first appeared on our show way back in episode #142.  She has come a long way since then.  Now she is studying animal science and agricultural business at Michigan State University, she is the Michigan State FFA President and she went to the White House and met the United States' President.

Caitlin is still raising and selling her show quality lambs all over the country.  She wants to build this business even bigger, thus her choice to study Ag Business.  She has now won a proficiency award in sheep production, and she has been a regional star in agribusiness.  You are going to love getting this update on Caitlin Henne!



In six years of producing this show and conducting interviews, I have learned a lot about entrepreneurship.  For example, I know that I am not a natural-born entrepreneur and the only way I ever became one was to decide that was what I wanted to do and then teach myself how to do it. Of course, there are natural-born entrepreneurs who will never be able to work for somebody else and have no concerns about failure or risk.

Outside of those two categories, there are those people who find themselves entrepreneurs because some characteristic about themselves pushes them in that direction.  I am calling that characteristic, whatever it is, "The Entrepreneur's Attribute".

I believe that our guest today is one of those people with "the entrepreneur's attribute".  Dresen Ferschweiler is somebody who learns all the details about whatever she is doing.  For example, her father and grandfather farm hazelnuts in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Dresen has grown up around this industry, and she can answer every question from why can't you graze goats and sheep in the orchards, to whether or not irrigation is needed to how tariffs against China are impacting the price of hazelnuts. Dresen is still just midway through her junior year of high school, and her supervised agricultural experience is actually about livestock but she has that much knowledge about hazelnut farming.

Dresen is making and selling sheep halters from her home in Gervais, Oregon.  He has now sold halters to people in eleven states, and her business continues to grow.  She has done little to no marketing.  She haphazardly entered an entrepreneurship contest through the National FFA and ended up having her halters being featured at the National Convention, and she still has never gone to the national convention.  As her reputation grew from being noticed at the national convention she eventually started an Instagram page with photos of her halters under the very practical but not flashy name, "sheep_halters".  Today she is selling more than ever, has different pricing programs, and is doing custom orders.

All of this started when Dresen was in the seventh grade.  She was showing sheep for 4H, and she saw that somebody had a custom halter with a piece of fleece over the lamb's nose.  She was interested in the halter and started looking at it more closely.  She recognized that the material that had been used for the piece over the nose had some flaws.  First, it would stretch out pretty quickly and stop looking and feeling good for the lamb.  Second, it was of a material that would collect debris from the show arena and pen and would be next to impossible to remove.

In a situation where most seventh graders would look at a product and declare, "I want that", Dresen looked at the product and said, "this won't work, and here is why.  I can make it better".  This characteristic of examining something and really studying it before the emotion of wanting it overtakes you is Dresen's "entrepreneurial attribute".  This ability to look at something, and instead of becoming excited to determine its shortcomings and then build a better product is the way that so many entrepreneurs get started.  To be honest, I wish that I had this attribute.

Looking into her future, Dresen is applying this attribute to career planning already.  She is interested in becoming a veterinarian, but she is already looking at the way things have traditionally been done in the goat industry and thinking that it can be done better.  She is interested in getting involved in artificial insemination and embryo transfer in goat, which is a developing field.

This attribute that Dresen has, in combination with her great attitude and strong work ethic has her set up for success in whatever field or business she chooses.

Direct download: OFI_972__Everyone_Has_To_Get_Pulled_Out_Of_The_Ditch_Now_And_Then.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



In 1988 the Future Farmers Of America changed its name to the National FFA Organization because of Toby Winans.  Toby Winans was only born 18 years ago, and 1988 is 32 years ago, so how is this possible?  Well, Toby Winans is the perfect avatar for the person that the National FFA Organization was thinking of when they changed their name to reflect the growing diversity in agriculture.

What the FFA recognized in 1988 was that there were a lot of students in the United States that were devoted to agriculture but who did not have the aptitude or desire to do the ground level work of farming.  However, these students loved agriculture just the same and had something to contribute with their particular skill sets.  The name Future Farmers Of America could have the connotation of excluding these students because they already knew that they were not future farmers.

Capturing the talents and devotion of students like Toby is important.  If we can, we want to keep students with talent as he has in agriculture. We need people like him to stay around.  This is probably why Toby's FFA advisor refers to him as an "FFA member who 'saved the year'".  Here is a note that she sent me:

"Hi Matt,
This afternoon I set you up with an interview with an FFA member that "saved the year". Here are a few facts that might be good for your interview with Toby.

Toby Winans was a quiet freshman that has turned into a true leader for Taylorville FFA. Last year when Covid19 canceled the final 9 weeks of our school year, Toby knew that canceling our Annual FFA Banquet could not be an option. We have a large banquet every year with over 250 in attendance. (The banquet is Big Community Event).

When our school shut all extra activities down due to Covid19, Toby figured out a way to have our FFA banquet by using his technology expertise and was able to follow our county guidelines. Toby Winans was a master mind of the 2020 Taylorville FFA Drive In Movie Style Banquet. Toby used his grandfather's semi van trailer for the movie screen and his other grandfather's flat bed trailer for our stage. He asked his dad and some community friends to borrow some audio video equipment and the rest is history!

The 2020 Annual Taylorville FFA Banquet was the best in the history of the program because of Toby Winans! His work on the banquet was incredible and it was an amazing night that was very uplifting for our community. The 2020 banquet will be one I never forget! If you have any questions I would be glad to fill you in on this amazing kid.
Thanks for your time.
Sue Schafer
Taylorville FFA Advisor"

Toby loves agriculture, and it is this life that he has grown up around.  However, he has natural talent and a passion for technology.  So, his talents will direct him towards supporting farmers rather than being one himself.  His talent was recognized early on, and he has been fixing computers, printers, and everything else technology-wise at his school since his freshman year.  They even created a position for his particular talents, and he is the chapter's vice president in charge of chapter technology.

Toby now has his own drone business.  He is using his love of both hardware and software to help farmers be more successful.  He scouts fields for his customers with his drone and the use of the "Drone Deploy" software.  He sees a future for himself in agriculture with this being his role.

Toby is the epitome of the student that the National FFA was thinking of when they changed their name.  Amazing students like this are what drives everyone in every aspect of the FFA, and what drives me to conduct so many of these interviews every year.

Direct download: OFI_970__Captured_By_Cattle_The_Worlds_Worst_Criminal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


There are two fundamental issues that have always plagued me when it comes to farming.  First, what do we do about urban sprawl and disappearing farm ground?  Second, how can a person expect to start a successful farm and be a full-time farmer with land, input, and equipment costs being so high?  So, when I was contacted by The Conservation Fund asking to be on the show and talk about their answers to these questions, I jumped at the chance.

The folks at The Conservation Fund are pro-agriculture, and they are particularly fond of locally produced farm goods that follow their model of sustainability.  They also abhor disappearing farm ground.  So, they are working to increase locally produced goods while slowing urban sprawl.  Right now they are doing this in the 30 counties, metro area of Atlanta, Georgia as a pilot project.  But the prospects are very good for expansion.

In this episode, I speak with Stacy Funderburke, who is heading up the "Working Farms Fund" on behalf of The Conservation Fund in the Atlanta metro area.  This program aims to pay farmers the actual market cost for their farms.  Once purchased, they place the farms into an agricultural easement so that they will be farmed in perpetuity.  And this is when the fun really starts.

Once these two things have taken place they match up the particular farm with an experienced farmer, who has been leasing ground or working as an employee and is looking to start their own enterprise.  Because the land has been placed in an agricultural easement the price is not driven up by demand from developers.  This gives the new farmer a reasonable shot at purchasing the land.  To begin the new farmer enters into a lease on the farm ground with an option to buy.

The Conservation Fund helps the new farmer with obtaining resources, sharing equipment, and developing markets.  In exchange, the City Of Atlanta and its surrounding metro area have another local producer who can bring locally grown food to market in that area.  It is a win/win/win situation.  You don't need to be from Georgia to participate in this and be selected as one of the new farmers.  We will tell you all about this in today's episode.

Connect with Stacy Funderburke and The Conservation Fund:







Entrepreneurship is the only option

If you want to farm, the further away from a major city you can get the more the land prices will reflect on their production capability.  But, there will be fewer jobs available to you, likely with lower salaries.

How will you produce your off-farm income?  92% of farmers in the U.S. rely on it for household income, either created by themselves or their spouse.

If you are going to take a full-time job, what do you do when you need time for farm management activities?

  • calving
  • Irrigation
  • raking hay
  • swathing
  • harvest
  • etc.

If you are making a big transition from a city career to a rural & farming lifestyle you might have skills and/or education that is not applicable in your new hometown.  If that is the case, can you use these skills to create your own business?

  • Turn your previous employer into a client?
  • Work remotely?
  • Teach online?

If you are going to keep a full-time career job in the city, what is a reasonable commute?

  • 20 miles
  • 40 miles
  • 60 miles

Don’t look at entrepreneurship as your lifestyle choice.  Look at farming as your lifestyle choice and figure out a game plan that will allow you to make that happen.  In this model, the production of your off-farm income no longer defines your working life.  It is now the means to allow your working life.

This is why I call agriculture the “ultimate lifestyle business”.  Other than being an actor, artist, or musician this is the only profession where people will work a second job, just so they have a shot at doing the first.

We are choosing this business of agriculture because there is such a strong, intrinsic reward for us that we are willing to make these sacrifices just for the chance to do it for a living.  We are choosing this career for the lifestyle because as a brand new farmer who has to develop their operation we cannot do it for the earnings.

If our career decision was solely earnings-based this would not make any sense.  We could clearly make more money, in less time, with less risk and more benefits at a city job, in a subdivision house with city neighbors.


When you are choosing your business try to look at things with demand in the area and nobody filling it.  Or, look at a business in which you could do a better job?  Or, find a business that somebody wants out of with good potential.

I would refer you to episode #480 about finding a true business opportunity.

Don’t get hung up on the earning capability of your business idea in its first phases.  One thing I can say for sure is that as you start working for yourself you will start to see opportunities and ways to generate more revenue than you were unable to see prior to beginning.

In other words, after you get started you are going to find more money.


How are you going to farm well enough, that you can eventually become that full-time farmer (or most time farmer) that you want to be?

As you are starting out, whether it be with livestock or crops, you need every advantage you can get.

That might mean a 100% calf crop.

Or that might mean a couple of bushel yield bump.

One thing I learned in my two years of riding around with crop advisors was that the best farmers seemed to be the ones that were out there with their herds or crops.  They were able to detect subtle changes or illness early and do something about it before it hurt their bottom line.

How can you do this if you are at work all day?

How do you get the time to react if you discover a problem when you’ve driven home from a long day of work?


All you have to do is go onto social media to find lots of people who will tell you not to try farming.  They will say many things such as:

  • “How do you make $1,000,000 farming?  Start with $3,000,000”
  • Or, “you can’t make any money farming”
  • Or, “the only way to make enough to survive is to become really big because of the small margins”
  • Or, “only the big guys get enough funding from the government to make a difference”
  • Or, “the deck is stacked against you”
  • Or just…..” don’t do it”

These words, unfortunately, come from people who were just like you at one point.  They had a dream of farming, and for one reason or another it did not work out.

There are no guarantees here, and we could all suffer the same fate and have to give up our farm someday, I included.

Farming is a business, and it may not go our way.

But, we don’t want to end up discouraging others.  I think that discouragement comes from years of struggling to work full-time and farm on the side.  When you do that you can burn out, and pretty soon the dream fades away.  The farm becomes just another obligation, and you then look at it only from the mathematical perspective and decide it is not worth it.

I don’t want any of us to lose the passion for this lifestyle because of burnout.

Entrepreneurship solves so much of this for us.  It allows you to manage your farm better, to give you every advantage possible. And, it helps to keep us invigorated and avoid that dangerous burnout.

Will you use entrepreneurship to create your Off-Farm Income?



They say that fortune favors the bold, and after hearing this episode I think you will definitely agree.  In today's episode, I am interviewing Kayla Reed.  Kayla is a former chapter president at the Pulaski High School FFA Chapter, and she is currently a student at the University Of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

Something happened in Kayla's interview that has only happened to me once before.  One of her FFA advisors sent in a special note about her and her accomplishments.  Here is what he said,

"She is the epitome of what we would hope every FFA members would do in their SAE program!  She is a self-starter that has had a goal for many years to be a FIsheries Biologist or something related to this field and is now into her first year of college in this program. What is also fantastic is that this a non-traditional area and Kayla made partnerships with our Wisconsin DNR and College research programs to get as much out of her SAE program as possible. You will be totally impressed!  P.S.  Kayla has also won so many accolades through FFA , conservation groups and scholarships form her SAE --that I cant even attempt to list them all!  Be ready Matt to get your world Rocked!!
Sincerely, Terry Erdmann"
My interview with Kayla certainly lived up to what Mr. Erdmann said about her.  Just one small part of her story will illustrate this.  When Kayla was in the 8th Grade she learned that a fisheries biologist for the Wisconsin Department Of Natural Resources (DNR) was planning to release Muskie fish into a lake that she had grown up going to.  She knew that several people were against this move, and she found herself getting involved.
As an 8th grader, Kayla spent two weeks researching this issue and then wrote a position paper on why the fish should not be introduced.  She then went to a town hall meeting held by the fisheries biologist about this issue and presented the paper to him.  Ultimately, the fish were not introduced into the lake.  The biologist was so impressed with Kayla's efforts on this that he allowed her to job shadow him, and he became a mentor to her in the area of fisheries biology.
This is truly a David vs. Goliath story.  Here was the biologist with the state position, the degrees, the research, and the experience.  And here was Kayla who had not completed 8th grade yet, had no experience, was much younger, was not an adult, and who wrote a paper on her opposition to the biologist's plan.  That is the definition of courage and boldness.
One of the main points we stressed in this interview with Kayla is just how being bold and courageous can open doors for you that would never expect.  Most kids in Kayla's position might have feelings about the issue, but would never be so bold to take on somebody who is respected as an expert.  But, she did.  And by so doing, she found a friend and mentor and opportunity.  Oh, and she found her passion. This is a lesson for life that everyone can emulate.  Do and say what you believe and let the chips fall where they may. This is the pathway to finding your happiness.

Direct download: OFI_966__Are_You_Living_In_Your_Dream_And_Dont_Even_Know_It_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



I once heard luck defined as "when preparation meets opportunity".  I love this definition of luck because so many people on the sidelines think that people who achieve could easily be replaced by any other person off of the street if they just happened to have "luck" shine on them that day.

When I first started hosting a radio show and podcast for D&B Supply one of our family friends asked me about how that had occurred.  Before, I could explain she said "just fell into it?" or, to paraphrase, "just got lucky?"  There was a bit of luck involved in this happening.  I had actually called D&B Supply to inquire about creating a podcast for them, and I was lucky in the fact that they had decided to make a radio show and were trying to figure out how to find a host.  But, what my friend didn't see was that I had invested my own money in equipment for broadcasting about two years earlier.  And, for the past two years, I had been hosting a growing podcast called Off-Farm Income with no pay.  But during that time I had been developing my skills as an interviewer, learning to find guests, and becoming a consistent broadcaster.  It was this background, combined with the fact that D&B was looking for a host that led to me being chosen for this opportunity.

My interview with Megan Clark reminded me of this saying and this part of my life.  No youth organization in the entire world does what the FFA does.  The FFA does a great job of developing skills in students (preparation) and creating situations in which they can use those skills to accomplish great things (opportunity).  This is done through the efforts of the National FFA, State FFA Organizations, State FFA Foundations, Regional FFA Associations, and individual chapters.

Megan had a lot of things pulling her towards the FFA.  She lives on a farm and her parents and sister were all in the FFA.  But it was going to one of her sister's award banquets and seeing FFA members being rushed up onto the stage to receive awards and accolades that really lit Megan's fire.  By the time Megan was in the 8th Grade, she had joined the FFA.

Megan took this fire and started working hard, being very active, and achieving in her FFA chapter.  A few years prior to her even being eligible to become an FFA member some innovative leaders in her region of Iowa had started a media group comprised of FFA members called Current Ag Concerns.  This has now transformed into CAC Media Group.  So, while Megan was growing up and waiting to become eligible to be in the FFA, people were already creating opportunities that she could later take advantage of.

During Megan's sophomore year of high school, these two paths converged.  Megan's passion and preparation met the opportunity created by the CAC Media Group.  The National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado was coming up and the CAC was traveling there to cover the event.  Somebody on the team was unable to make the trip, and they needed to find a student to fill in.  Megan's FFA Coach recognized her talent and hard work based on how active Megan had been up to that point.  She invited Megan to come on the trip and fill in.

The trip went well, and Megan brought the same work ethic and enthusiasm that she had for the FFA to the CAC Media Group.  Soon, she became a regular fill-in on the team.  Then it was time to find new, full-time, team members to replace the graduating seniors, and Megan applied.  She was selected.  Now, she is a full-time team member, and she has traveled all over the United States covering events and conducting interviews.  She has been published in major publications on the radio and on cable television networks.

Megan is one of the "lucky" ones.  At least in the way that I define it.  She worked hard, demonstrated value and when the opportunity came, she was ready!


Today's episode is really special for two reasons.  First, it has the potential to be very impactful on the FFA.  Second, 80% of the world's hungry people are farmers.  But, unlike U.S. farmers, they are subsistence-based and less sophisticated.  But programs like Growing Hope Globally are taking farming expertise and productivity from the U.S. and exporting it to these struggling farmers.

On today's episode, Alex Morse will join us to explain what Growing Hope Globally's mission is.  He will talk about helping farmers in many poor countries throughout the world and how you can get involved.  He will also discuss how his organization developed a curriculum for FFA students to help them contribute to worldwide agriculture through their supervised agricultural experiences.

Alex specializes in helping farmers in Central America, and he has traveled to small holder's farms all throughout that region.  He has even taken FFA students with him to see who they were impacting with their efforts.  He has some amazing stories to share, and he describes people trying to farm in conditions that no American farmer would ever consider.


Follow Growing Hope Globally online here:







In 2011 when we purchased our farm we had a long, long way to go.  We bought 25 acres of weeds with a house on them.  There were no fences, no irrigation, and the land had not been cultivated in years.  I had a small, John Deer tractor with an 8' disk on the back, and I worked the ground with that.

Tons of rocks came up while I disked, and they all had to be removed and deposited elsewhere.  Progress was slow, and at times it seemed like this place would never resemble a farm.  During all of that time on the tractor, I listened to farming podcasts.  They inspired me, gave me the motivation to keep going, and helped me visualize what our place would be like someday.

One of those podcasts that I listened to was hosted and produced by today's guest, Tim Young.  Tim and his wife Liz were operating a farm in Georgia and selling cheese as their main product.  They had a variety of livestock, and I really enjoyed hearing about their day to day farming exploits.

Fast forward to today.  Tim and Liz have moved on from that farm, and Tim is now trying to help other people succeed in their farming endeavors through his website and podcast, Small Farm Nation.  The main thing that Tim learned about succeeding with his small farm was how to market products and sell directly to customers.

In this episode, Tim and I talk about marketing your farm products, and how to develop a following that will patronize your farm business.  Also, Tim discusses his Small Farm Nation Academy which he has built to help folks really perfect this process.  He also has offered 20% off of the coast of the academy to anyone listening to this podcast and entering the code "matt20" at checkout.

This is definitely worth checking out.


Website: Small Farm Nation




Introducing Cole Searle! 

I interview a lot of young men and women on this show who are devoted to agriculture.  These days you hear so much about kids not wanting to take over farms or continue that lifestyle that when a student who is passionate about agriculture comes on the show you wonder what their parents did to help them love this life?

Of course, on this show, I reach out to many of the highest achievers in the FFA.  Therefore, they are a self-selecting group.  Students who love farming and agriculture and are passionate about what they are doing, naturally find their way to the top levels of the FFA.  And, so I spend a lot of time talking to students who love this life and want to stay part of it.

Even though that is the case, I always wonder what was it that sparked the passion in these students, and how could we spread it to even more youth in the U.S.  It is probably a percentage thing, and even though it seems to me that all of them are this passionate, I am speaking to a very small percentage.

In today's interview, I get to speak with Cole Searle.  Cole is the 2020 Idaho State Star Farmer, an Idaho State Star winner, and was a National Proficiency finalist this year.  In his short-term vision, he is looking at an American Degree as well as becoming the National Star Farmer.  In his long-term vision, he is looking at a career in agriculture, especially working with cattle and horses.

Cole is another one of these students where I wonder what did his parents do, or what event took place in his life that made him fall in love with farming.  And, how do we spread that around?  Cole has grown up around farming with his father managing several farms from Washington State all the way over to Ashton, Idaho where they have been for the past ten years.

I know a little bit about where Cole lives and farms.  I used to drive through Ashton several times per year on my way to and from college in Bozeman, Montana.  And for the past five years, my daughter and I have taken a father/daughter trip every October and gone through Ashton on our way to Yellowstone National Park.

In Cole's case, I think I can solve a little bit of the mystery of what his parents did to inspire him to be so passionate about farming.  The answer is, they moved to Ashton.  I can visualize Cole out on the farm on a crisp, June morning, driving a tractor or irrigating.  And as the sun is coming up, there is something casting a long shadow over him.  That something is the peaks of the Grand Tetons.

Ashton sits in a fertile valley, to the west of the Grand Tetons and the Wyoming/Idaho border.  When you drive through Ashton you cannot help but pull over and take in the majesty of these unbelievable mountains.  These are the most identifiable peaks in the Rockies, and they are right outside Cole's back door.

I can absolutely see where Cole is coming from.  Growing up in a peaceful valley, working outside, and staring at his mountain range on a daily basis is definitely a recipe for contentment and passion!

Direct download: OFI_960__Are_You_Excited_For_2021.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



Having a business model on your farm that is sustainable is challenging.  Of course, if you are commodity-based there are so many factors that are outside of the control that you've got to get bigger and push harder.  If you are smaller you are almost forced into being niche so that you can increase the size of your profit margins.  And then of course, if you only offer one product you can get into really hot water if the price or demand for that product falls.

In a perfect world, we would all know what type of farm business we were going to be involved in, in the future, and we could plan out our skill sets accordingly.  Of course, there is no such thing as that perfect world.  However, the FFA offers a future farmer the best chance of coming as close to this perfect world as anything that I know.

This is illustrated very well by today's guest, Emma Victery.  Emma has grown up on her family's farm in Oklahoma.  She is hoping to take it over at some point in the future.  She and her father have been looking at different products they could sell, different markets they could be in, and different ways to grow the business so that it will last for Emma and for future generations.

Just recently they began marketing bulls as a compliment to their commercial herd.  Looking into the future, Emma sees the sale of embryos and using embryo transfers on their farm as a way to offer other products and to really speed up the rate at which they improve their genetics.  Right now, Emma is a senior in high school.  But that does not stop her from looking into the future and trying to figure out how she is going to make all of this happen.

Emma will start college at Oklahoma State University in the fall of 2021.  She is planning on double majoring in animal science and agricultural communications.  She wants to go to veterinary school, become a veterinarian, and specialize in reproduction so that she can use those skills for embryo transfers on their farm.  This would also give her a great form of off-farm income.  Right now she is taking over the marketing responsibilities on their farm, and she plans on using her studies in agricultural communications to strengthen her abilities in this part of the business.

All of her efforts have led Emma to be the 2020 National Proficiency Winner in Beef Production Placement.  She is looking at applying for several more proficiency awards going forward, and feels like her journey in the FFA has just begun.  She has also been accepted to the honors college at Oklahoma State already due to her academic performance.  Emma is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the cattle industry, and it is going to be fun to watch!

Direct download: OFI_958__Dogs_And_Rural_Crime_-_The_Good_And_The_Bad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_957__Happy_New_Year_From_The_Brechwald_Family.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


Jason Tatge describes the device that he has created as the "Fitbit for farm equipment".  I don't think there could be any more apt description.  Jason is the creator of Farmobile which is a device and data capture system that solves many problems that people practicing precision farming in the past faced, such as how to get the data out of their tractor and how to make it all work together so it becomes information.

Through the solving of these problems and the creation of this new interface, Jason has unearthed a revenue source for farmers that nobody ever knew existed - data.  With Farmobile, farmers are now able to collect data in real-time that they can combine with weather conditions, planting dates, etc. to make crucial decisions in the field.

This information has value to other professionals in the farming world as well, and Jason believes there is a market for it.  What Jason has done has created a way for farmers to sell another product that they were already harvesting but did not know there was a value for.

I wanted to bring you this episode because we are always looking for ways that farmers can enhance their revenues to make their business more sustainable.


Website: LINK

Facebook: LINK

Twitter: LINK

Linkedin: LINK


Cleary my favorite aspect of the FFA is that it exposes students to entrepreneurship.  I have a lot of favorite aspects, but it was entrepreneurship that introduced me to the FFA, and that is the aspect that I have been profiling for six years now.

I like this aspect so much because a lot of students may have never been exposed to the concept of working for themselves.  If they are like me, they knew entrepreneurs and understood that some people were self-employed, but nobody ever told them that was an option for them.  With that being the case, there are lots of potential entrepreneurs sitting in classrooms across America that will never try out that path because they are unaware of it as a viable option for them.

Today's episode highlights how the FFA can put another tool, the tool of entrepreneurship, in a student's arsenal.  Elyce Burzlaff is mid-way through her sophomore year of high school.  Last May a guest speaker came to her school and spoke with the FFA students.  During that discussion, Elyce and her classmates were challenged to come up with an entrepreneurial idea.  This led Elyce down a path of thinking of ways she could create revenue and determining what resources were at her disposal.  Then she remembered that her mom had some equipment that could be used for making shirts.

"Elyce B's Tees" was born at that moment.  Elyce started creating shirts and selling them at her local farmer's market.  She started seeing good results and kept doing this until the market closed for the season.  When the market closed she started developing her Facebook Page, Instagram Page, and her own website,

Elyce is certainly on the way with her business now and is learning all about entrepreneurship.  She has another two and a half years in high school to hone her craft and learn about business, and we will see where this takes her!

Direct download: OFI_954__The_Emphasis_On_Common_Sense_And_Trying_Until_You_Succeed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The FFA Creed talks about a faith born of deeds.  This amazing organization has found a way to coordinate thousands of chapters and hundreds of thousands of members throughout the United States into a cohesive unit that operates the same way, in the furtherance of agriculture.

One of the key aspects of what is done in the FFA is service to one's community.  Over the past six years of interviews, I have been lucky enough to profile multiple examples of service through the FFA.  Today's episode is another excellent example of that principle of service.

Jaidyen Wommack and Caitlyn Gloe respectively are the president and vice-president of their FFA chapter at Louisiana High School in Louisiana, Missouri.  This past fall they led an effort to help feed those in need, in their community.  There is always a need, in every community, for help in one form or another.  Of course, this year, in the midst of Covid 19 that has been exacerbated.

With the encouragement of their FFA advisor, Jaidyen and Caitlyn applied for and received a $300 grant to help their community this fall.  With the money they received, they and the rest of their chapter voted to purchase produce to donate to the local food bank.  But they did not stop there.  Then they started a canned food drive to acquire even more food for their community, and they even brought their newly formed middle school chapter into the competition.

Ultimately, through Jaidyen and Caitlyn's leadership, the Louisiana High School FFA Chapter was able to donate a significant amount of food to their local food bank and make a difference in their community during the holidays.  Both of them join me on the show today to tell the story of how this came about, and how they executed their plan.


SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Agriculture Education & Agricultural Communications

HIGH SCHOOL: Louisiana High School in Louisiana, Missouri

MASCOT: Bulldogs

FFA ADVISOR: Lindsey O'Hara


Click on the picture below to be taken to the Louisiana High School Website:

 FFA Advisor's Email Address:

Louisiana High School Telephone Number:  573-754-4261

Direct download: OFI_952__Cyber_Security_For_Farmers_-_For_The_First_Time_Ever.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: OFI_951__Merry_Christmas_From_Our_Farm_To_Yours.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Merry Christmas to all of you!  Thank you so much for making it possible for me to do this for the past three years (already)!  I have a favorite memory of my time growing up in Valley Home, California that happened 40 years ago on Christmas Eve.  I wanted to share this with you for my Christmas episode this year.

I could try and type out this story here for you to read, but I'm going to make you listen to it.  I grew up in a very special place; a town that was dying out.  We were there in what really were its last, best years and I've got a lot of fond memories from my childhood.  This story is just one of them.

Here are some photographs to help show you what I am talking about when I describe Valley Home and the alley where this took place.

This is what Wikipedia says about Valley Home today and the triangular shape of the town:

Here is a satellite image of Valley Home.  I lived in the bottom right of the triangle:

[caption id="attachment_4289" align="alignnone" width="510"] The purple pin is where the Valley Home Store is located.[/caption]

Here is a close up of where my house and the Rinna's are located:

[caption id="attachment_4290" align="alignnone" width="510"] Karen's house in the center and mine is the brown, "L" shaped roof. The "incident" took place in the alley between our houses.[/caption]

This is the front of my home, the window I was pressed against and the door that Santa left out of:

[caption id="attachment_4285" align="alignnone" width="508"] The kitchen door of the house I grew up in.[/caption]

Here is the fence that caused all the trouble:

[caption id="attachment_4287" align="alignnone" width="510"] The short fence that caused all the problems....the shop was not there then.[/caption]

A couple of photographs of the Valley Home Store:

[caption id="attachment_4281" align="alignnone" width="510"] The Valley Home Store today.[/caption][caption id="attachment_4282" align="alignnone" width="510"] The gas pumps are gone and the post office is not longer being used.[/caption]

Merry Christmas everyone!

I am a huge fan of two things relevant to agriculture: value-added products and wool.  And, that is why I was so excited for this interview, it combines both.

Kyra Uphoff has been working with "fiber arts" since she first started 4H, years ago.  She concentrated on two things through 4H - public speaking and fiber arts.  During this time she began learning to make felt, combine felt with silk, and create products and art projects with this skill.  She also honed her public speaking abilities and developed a passion for talking with people.

When it was time for high school Kyra joined the FFA because it would continue to give her the opportunity to speak publicly.  She has been pursuing this for the entire four years of high school so far.  For her supervised agricultural experience, she has continued to refine her craft with fiber arts.  Today she has her own business, "KS Uphoff Fiber Arts".  She makes felt and silk into products like scarves and she also uses these raw materials to make art.  Kyra likes to take pictures with felt, and she also makes "3D Creatures".

She clearly has a passion for working with these materials and an artistic eye for creation.  She has been showing her products at craft shows, selling products, and developing her reputation.  Now that Covid has hit she is developing a website and social media presence to help her do the same.

As a funny side note, both of her parents are huge fans of Kansas State University.  So both Kyra and her brother have the initials "KSU".  Luckily for her parents, their last name started with a "U".  It made it easy to pay homage to their university that way!

The FFA is all about opportunity.  From learning about different careers, learning vocational skills, public speaking to doing research the FFA offers abundant opportunities.

At what point do these opportunities end?  Is it during your senior year of high school, just after graduation, or sometime during your freshman year of college?  In today’s episode, we will be speaking with a student who is mid-way through his first year of college and is just seeing all the different FFA opportunities open up in front of him.

Creed Ammons is the 2020 National Proficiency winner in agricultural processing.  In addition to that, he is serving as the state president for the State Of West Virginia and studying agricultural education at West Virginia University. 

Even though Creed is already in college, his opportunities in the FFA are just getting started.  He still has the chance to become a national officer as well as an American Star winner, and he will be receiving his American Degree in the future. Creed is studying agricultural education and is looking at becoming an ag teacher like his parents, but he is also keeping the possibility open of working in agricultural policy either at the state or national level. 

I was very excited to learn during this interview that Creed had received a $1,000 scholarship from our great sponsor, Lacrosse Footwear, last spring.  The serendipity of having him on the show and him winning a scholarship from those great folks is almost too much to believe!

Interviews like Creed’s are very exciting to record because you can see all the possibilities for his future laid out in front of him. 

How To Contact Ammons' Farm Fresh Turkeys:

Facebook: LINK

Phone: (304) 771-9022


The Rural Crime Edition of the Off-Farm Income Podcast gives crime prevention tips on rural crime and updates you with the latest rural crime stories from the U.S. as well as the U.K., Canada and Australia. 



Do you dream of farming and being able to stay on your farm full time?  Do you love to share agriculture and what you love about it with other people?  Do you enjoy livestock and love to brag about the meat you produce in your own place?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then selling retail cuts of your own meat at a farmer's market or on your own place might just be the answer you are looking for.

Let's face it, my show is all about using entrepreneurship to support your farming endeavors.  Even though this is what I do and what I teach, it does not mean that it is the ultimate goal.  Ultimately, all of us would like to do nothing but farm.  We would like to be that person who wakes up with the chickens, beds down the cows, and only leaves the farm because we want to in between.

Our guest today, David Hancock, has a recipe for doing just that.  No two farms or farmers are alike, and you may have more or fewer challenges than David has had to overcome.  But one thing is for certain, he loves farming and needed to figure out a niche to achieve his dream of farming full time.  He did that by selling individual cuts of meat.

David shares a wealth of information in this interview.  It is practically a blue print for anyone who wants to find a way to farm full time.



Facebook: LINK

Website: LINK

Telephone: 301-752-2353


Direct download: OFI_942__The_World_Is_Changing_And_You_Had_Better_Take_Notice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT



Today's episode is very exciting.  I am interviewing Michael Bair, the 2020 National Proficiency Winner in poultry production.  Michael is also the 2020 state proficiency winner from Ohio in this very same category.

Michael's awards and recognition are exciting enough, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Michael lives and works on his family's organic dairy that has been in existence for generations.  They switched to organic production for better prices some years ago, but that has not made them immune from the ups and downs of milk and input prices.

When Michael began in the FFA and needed a project for his supervised agricultural experience he decided to try something that was unique to him.  So, he started raising and marketing pastured poultry.  Over the years this business has really grown into a substantial revenue source for him and his family's farm.

Michael plans on returning to and taking over the family farm in the future, and like any wise business person, he is looking for additional revenue sources to hedge against low commodity prices.  Michael believes that he has discovered this in the form of pastured poultry.  He plans to continue to raise and direct market pastured poultry in the future when he is managing the farm.

Michael is currently studying entrepreneurship at Edison State Community College.  When I asked him how he had chosen this major I saw where his wisdom came from.  Michael said that his parents wanted him to go to college to learn about business.  They know that he has a lot of knowledge about cattle and farming already, but the business of organic dairy farming is complex, so they want him to be prepared on that end as well.


As you all know from listening to the show, I have a very positive outlook on the world of farming and rural living.  I believe that those of us who value this way of life has a lot going for us, and we are very fortunate that our values lie in living this way.  With this in mind, I tend to look at this lifestyle through rose-colored glasses.

Alas, the episodes I produce about rural crime definitely demonstrate to me that not all farmers are looking out for other farmers. Interviews with folks like Jason Medows of the Ag State Of Mind Podcast show me that not everyone on farming operations is living in a state of bliss, overwhelmed by the grandeur of this lifestyle.

Since I have to admit that there are challenges in this lifestyle, the next logical question is what do we do when we need help with these unique questions?  Who out there has the knowledge and understanding to address the specific life and family challenges of farmers and people living in rural communities?

That question led me to today's guest, Elaine Froese.  Elaine is a "farm family coach".  She lives just inside of Canada, above the State Of North Dakota.  Elaine and her husband have been farming for over 40 years, and she has gone through the process of farm transition three separate times during their marriage.

Elaine is possibly the only expert in North America dealing with the familial issues involved in the rural and agricultural lifestyle.  And, she understands it from multiple different perspectives - the son who wants to farm, the daughter in law who married the farmer not the farm, the sibling who doesn't want to farm but feels entitled to part of the parent's legacy, and the retiring farmer.

Throughout the interview with Elaine, two things became apparent to me.  First, she is a considerable expert and extremely valuable to people in this lifestyle.  Second, there are myriad issues in farm families that never really get talked about publicly.  These need to be addressed.  With a rise in farm divorces and suicides, they really need to be discussed.

Thank goodness for Elaine, her expertise, and the books that she has written to help people enjoy this great lifestyle, in spite of the many challenges that can develop.



Website: LINK

Blog: LINK

Facebook: LINK

Twitter: LINK

LinkedIn: LINK

YouTube: LINK





Roy Jackson has the title "Master Hatter", but I would call him an artist.  About three years ago my brother-in-law returned from a work trip to Salmon, Idaho.  He told me that I needed to look into "this guy up there that makes hats".  That is how I got introduced to Roy Jackson.

About a year after that I was watching "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance".  At the very beginning of the show Jimmy Stewart gets off of the train in Shinbone wearing a large brimmed, straw hat.  I wanted that hat and called Roy.  He did not know the hat, and without seeing it he could not make it.  He did not own a copy of the movie either.

I searched the internet and found plenty of photos from that movie, but I could not find a photo of Jimmy Stewart wearing that hat.  I decided to go low-tech.  I sat down to watch the movie and paused it on the opening scene.  Then I took a photo of the hat from the screen of my television and emailed it to Roy.

About one week later a perfect replica of that hat showed up at my house.  Unbelievable!

I need a new straw hat for this summer.  I saw a picture of a hat I liked the other day and did the same thing.  Once again Roy had a perfect replica of what I was looking for at my house in about a week.  I knew I had to have Roy on the show right at that point!


Make Up Your Mind: When I asked Roy when he knew he was going to make it in this business his answer was "when I decided to be a hat maker."  He believes strongly in making a decision and then making sure you achieve that.

Right Person: If you are going to apprentice with someone to learn to make hats, take your time and find the right person to fit the vision you have in mind.

By Hand: In addition to the equipment you will learn to use, learn to make a hat by hand.  This way you can get started with almost no investment, and you will always be able to produce a hat.


Stick With Your Product: If you are going to be a hat maker, then be a hat maker.  Master your craft.  Don't get distracted by other product ideas until you have mastered what you started out to master.


Roy gets to his shop early, every day.  He loves what he does, and it drives him to succeed.


The Hatter's Guide, or Scientific Instructor; is the book that got Roy started.  When it comes to a hat making business, this is the book to get you going.



Facebook Page: LINK

Website: LINK

Telephone: 208.756.6444

Direct download: 12-10-20_Bonus_Episode_-_Roy_Jackson_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT


Today's episode features one of the most unique and interesting, and possibly most dangerous, supervised agricultural experiences we have ever profiled on the Off-Farm Income Podcast.

Andrew Mehus is the former chapter president of the Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter.  He is now studying wildlife ecology at the University Of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.  He is also the 2020 National Proficiency Winner in specialty animal production.  All of this stems from his SAE.

Andrew works at Neitzel's Village Elk Farm near him home in Fountain City, Wisconsin.  He started working there early in high school and has steadily gained more and more responsibility over time.  On the farm they raise elk for the harvesting of antlers.  I learned something very interesting in my interview with Andrew.  Elk do not have nerve endings in their antlers.  Andrew stated that sometimes when they are sawing them off the bull will just stand there as if nothing is happening.

They will leave the antlers on a few of their most impressive bulls to demonstrate the quality of their genetics to other people.  And, a few cull bulls and cows will be harvested for meat.  But, by in large, the elk herd represents a sustainable and renewable source of a rich mineral.

Andrew has not learned just about the husbandry of elk.  He also has learned more about the business side of elk production.  The antlers are used for the production of medicines and supplements all around the world, and it is a very niche market.  Because of the unique shape of elk horns the owner of the farm developed special machinery to help catch and secure the elk when they do have to remove horns or do other work with them.

This experience has really shaped Andrew and has motivated in the college major that he chose.  The State Of Wisconsin has reintroduced elk in the northern part of the state, and Andrew is shooting for a future in which he works for the state department of wildlife managing that herd.



One of things I love about hosting the Off-Farm Income Podcast is being up to date on the latest in technology and what people are doing to advance their businesses.  Never has that been more true than today’s Episode.

My guest today, Luke Falkenstien, just won the National Proficiency Award for Goat Production.  It is easy to see what made his application and interview stand out.  He and his family are breeding goats for the show world, and they are using embryo transfer technology to do this. 

I have profiled many students and farmers who are using embryo transfer technology with cattle, and I have even done it myself.  However, I never spoke with anyone who is using it for goat production. 

As Luke will talk about in the episode, there is still a lot to learn using this technology with goats.  And, this leads to a boom and bust cycle with some years working out great and others not working out at all. 

Luke is now studying Animal Science at Texas Tech. University, which is quite a way from his farm in Kansas.  His answer to why he chose to go to school at TTU was interesting.  The campus is just 2 hours away from two of the best goat breeders in the U.S.  Going to school there not only allows him to receive his education, but it allows him to network with the breeders that he strives to emulate!

Follow Luke and His Family Here:  WEBSITE or  FACEBOOK


It is always very interesting to interview students in the early part of the FFA journey.  So many students start out small on their projects or in their competitions, and then they grow into more sophisticated projects and supervised agricultural experiences.

Each of these students go through a transitional period as they progress in their FFA experience.  In today's episode I get to catch one of these students right in the midst of her transition.  Becca Lehman has started transitioning from simply showing market animals at her county's fair to breeding livestock and selling market animals to 4H and FFA students who want to show.

It is a very interesting conversation about what motivated her to do this, and how she is approaching this change.  Becca has raised market steers, hogs and goats throughout her experience already.  Now, she is starting her own herd of goats to breed them for other exhibitors.  In addition to this, Becca works at her families two feed stores as a cashier, and his learning the business of retail at the same time.


Direct download: OFI_935_-_Becca_Lehman_mixdown2.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 1:13am MDT

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

Direct download: OFI_934__America_And_Innovating_Through_Problems.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Direct download: Thanksgiving_Proclamation_3_October_1789___Thanksgiving_Episode_2020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On this day in 1936 Life Magazine released its first ever magazine.  The photo on the cover was of the spillway of the Fort Peck Dam in Fort Peck, Montana.  Some 58 years later I would find myself spending Thanksgiving on a ranch just 48 miles down the Missouri River from that historic spot, and I would find myself learning a lot about the realities of ranching and how agricultural binds communities together.

In today's episode we kick off Thanksgiving week, and I re-hash this experience with you.  It is amazing the things that stick with you and things that don't.  Let's remember some of them together in this episode!

Direct download: OFI_930_Tuesday_Edition_-_112320_4.13_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT