Off-Farm Income

Every year I am so fortunate to interview the sixteen students who are finalists for American Star Awards.  This year we are kicking it off with Grady Johnson.  Grady previously appeared on the Off-Farm Income Podcast in episode #482 back in 2018.  It is always a significant thrill for me when a student who I have previously profiled comes back onto the show because they are accomplishing so much, like Grady is.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1169_Grady_Johnson-081021.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Consider tech like Smart Water CSI to protect your valuable equipment:

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys



Direct download: OFI_1168_Rural_Crime_-_9221_7.25_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After 1,100+ interviews and 800+ interviews with FFA students you would think that I have seen it all, or at least most of it.  So, when I am surprised I am thrilled.  That is exactly what happened to me in today's interview with Annie Boomsma.

Annie is just entering her senior year of high school as her chapter's president.  She, her brother and her father run their families 3rd generation cattle ranch in Wessington, South Dakota where they raise commercial cattle.

Annie has her own project though, and it is impressive.  Annie currently owns 18 dairy cows that she purchased as either culls or springers.  She purchased all of them for their milk production and so that they could be "nurse cows".  Annie also owns 75 calves that she purchased to be raised by these nurse cows.  Every morning before school and every evening after, she heads out to the barn, brings the cows in, puts between 4 and 7 calves on them to nurse, and then turns them all back out.

Annie has found a niche in the market with calves that are sold early and dairy cattle that are culled because they don't produce enough for the dairy but still produce plenty to raise several calves.  This is a brilliant method of making money with cattle, and I have never profiled it even once in seven years of conducting interviews with farmers and FFA students.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1165_Annie_Boomsma-082421.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

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

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

Here are my notes from this morning:

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

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

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

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

Today's interview is packed with interesting facts about our guest and tips from her.  There is almost too much to fit in to a just a couple of paragraphs of show notes, but as a professional podcaster I will get it done!

Way back in the 5th Grade, Kaylee Bosma discovered an interest in chickens and approached her parents with a request to obtain some to show through the 4H.  Although hesitant, 30 chickens were purchased, and a new project was begun.  Kaylee's parents had no way to know where it was going to be taking their aspirational daughter.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1163_Kaylee_Bosma-082321.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

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

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

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

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

More and more livestock owners are learning the value of massage therapy for their animals. Not only is the use of livestock massage therapy growing, but so is the number of people getting certified to practice. Today, I feature Gail Rose, a Livestock Message Therapist who talks more about her business and the growth of this industry in one of the first episodes of this podcast.


Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1160_Recap_Of_Episode_005-081421_2.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing a fantastic achiever in the FFA, Baylee Brown, the president of the Mulhall-Orlando FFA Chapter at Mulhall-Orlando High School in Orlando, Oklahoma.  Baylee has her hands in a lot of projects.  So many in fact that it was difficult to talk about all of them in the interview.  She is just starting her second term as her chapter's president, she won a state proficiency for her pig business last year, just was awarded gold status for her national proficiency application and is also doing an agriscience research project.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1159_Baylee_Brown-081921.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I owe all of you a huge "thank you" as I have recently surpassed one million downloads on Off-Farm Income!  When you start talking about seven figures, the scope of that number really hits you.  I hoped for but never allowed myself to imaging hitting a number of downloads like this when I first began.

In today's episode I wanted to make sure and talk about the milestone.  Since this is a business podcast all about teaching others how to create off-farm income through entrepreneurship, I thought I would take advantage of the occasion to tell you how I did it.  If you want to replicate this, you absolutely can.  And today, more than ever, this type of business is a realistic model for you to support your farming dreams.


Direct download: OFI_1158_Tuesday_Episode_-_82321_6.04_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The title of today's episode is probably the most serious title of an episode that I have ever written, but it is true.  Our guest, Austin Archer, started off the interview by declaring that he doesn't like school.  When I asked him why he joined the FFA, that was his answer.  Even as an incoming freshman he knew that if he did not have classes that allowed him to learn by doing, rather than reading, that he would fail.  So, he joined the FFA and never looked back.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1157_Austin_Archer-081721.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Consider using an alarm system with video incorporated to get a faster response from law enforcement.

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

Direct download: OFI_1156_Rural_Crime_-_82021_5.28_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

If you are seeking an agricultural/farming lifestyle, and you know it from a young age what is the best way to go about achieving it?  One school of thought would suggest that you take a job, save your money and buy your farm when it is economically feasible for you to do so.  This is what I did.  I knew that I wanted to have my own farm when I was about 18 years old, and twenty years later my wife and I finally bought one.

There is the other school of thought however, and that way of thinking about it says to get started right now and build slowly over time.  My guest today, Mara Fielder, and her husband Brandon are subscribing to that school of thought, and they are thinking outside of the box to get this done.

Mara and Brandon are currently leasing sixteen acres from Mara's grandparents where they had been raising bees, boarding horses and providing riding lessons.  However, a series of unexpected events derailed that process.  Mara's step-father is allergic to bees, and this led to some conflict in the family and the loss of the bee hives.  Then Covid struck, and Mara lost her clients who were concerned about their horses being infected because she was still working in the community as a teacher.  This kind of left Mara and Brandon back at square one, wondering how they would move to the next step.

They didn't allow this to get them down however.  They are young, have energy and ideas and they are pushing forward.  Currently they are living in town, looking for land that they can buy.  In the meantime they have come up with an idea of a series of books for children that highlights the careers that a traditionally dominated by men but that women have found success in.  The series is called "Girls Can Too" and they are in the process of being published right now.  This original idea inspired a follow up idea of a book series profiling career choices normally dominated by women that men can succeed in.

In this interview Mara and I speak about their goals, the setbacks they have already encountered and she and Brandon's vision for the future.  It is great to see the journey from this perspective and understand how they are planning to make this come true!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1155_Mara_Fielder-071721.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today I am proud to replay episode #071 which featured Audrey Levantino, who authored a book called Woman-Powered Farm: Manual for a Self-Sufficient Lifestyle from Homestead to Field.  This is a book that I was intrigued by when I first heard of it, and I knew that I would want to have Audrey on the show, and definitely worth a replay of the show. If you missed it the first time, you don't want to miss it this time!


Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1154-Recap_Of_Episode_071-081321.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I am very excited about today's guest.  Matt Klingele has already had an incredible entrepreneurial journey.  He has learned about working with steel and how to make knifes, started going custom work for customers and making products that he keeps in inventory for later sales.  This, by itself, led him to win an Illinois State Proficiency Award in 2021 and become a silver award winner at the national level.  But, he is not stopping there. Tune into learn more!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1153_Matt_Klingele-081621.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

In today's episode I tell the whole story about the path we took, the luck we encountered and the decisions we made that led us to the rural, farming lifestyle that we have today.  

Direct download: OFI_1152_Tuesday_Episode_-_81621_6.40_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

What is it in people that makes them look at something and say "I'd like to try that?"  I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that I don't have it!  Our guest today, Toby Barringer, does.  At a farm sale Toby and his father saw an old coal fired, blacksmithing furnace and decided to try it out.  Today, Toby has a blacksmithing business called Brother Bear Blacksmithing Shop, and he is selling products all over the United States as well as doing custom work for customers.  This all started with a natural curiosity, which Toby encourages you all to follow.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1151_Toby_Berringer-072621.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 4:30pm MDT

Tip Of The Week

Consider used storage containers as a means of rural crime prevention:

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

Direct download: OFI_1150_Rural_Crime_-_81321_12.18_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Whenever I am just about to begin an interview I ask the guest if they have any questions about what we are doing or how I do it.  Normally there aren't too many questions, but people frequently want to know what questions I am going to ask them.  I provide folks with a template, but I always tell them that I want the conversation to go in a natural direction, so I may stray from that template.  Well, in today's interview I definitely strayed!

Sharon Kauffman and her husband, Dan, have been farming in Morgan County, Colorado since the late 1970's.  They both grew up there, and Dan is a 3rd generation farmer on their land.  About ten years ago Dan got the idea to try making his own wine, and he sequestered a bathroom in the house to do so.  One thing led to another, and he and Sharon ended up planing vines in an unirrigated corner of one of their pivot fields in 2018.  In 2019 they got licensed to sell wine, and just one week prior to recording this interview they had their grand opening on their winery and tasting facility called Country Road Wines.

Sharon stated that this is a hobby, but is also a form of diversification to protect their farm and family tradition from the ups and downs of farming.  She and Dan were just getting their start in farming during the 1980's and managed to survive it, and that lesson has stayed in the forefront of their minds.  However, Sharon stated that their biggest motivation to put in the winery and create a tasting room was to provide people in their community a place to go and something to do.  They've lived there all their lives, and they are invested in the success of their community.  This was a way to keep it vibrant and attractive for 30 and 40 year olds that had previously left but who might consider moving back as they start families.  Sharon says that is happening.

As Sharon and I continued speaking our conversation really turned towards the issue of rural communities and how you attract people to live there without ruining what the community is all about in the first place.  Fort Morgan appears to have different dynamics than my community of Kuna, Idaho.  In Kuna we are seeing massive price increases on farm ground and farmers selling out to developers who are putting subdivisions on top of that ground.  There is housing pressure in Fort Morgan as well, but farmers are resisting development, causing companies like Cargill to bus in employees.

If you have an interest in seeing rural communities thrive while not losing their identities, this interview is for you

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1149_Sharon_Kauffman-071421.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today I am proud to replay episode #018 which featured Pake McNally, who was just going into blacksmithing at that point.  I found this to be a very inspirational interview, and watching what Pake has done with his life since this has also been interesting.  Enjoy!

Direct download: OFI_1148_Re-Cap_Episode_-_81221_1.47_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 1:52pm MDT

Today's guest is Hannah Auer from Weld Central High School in Colorado.  There was a lot to talk about with Hannah in her interview, but one theme kept repeating itself, and that was how Hannah is looking forward, setting goals for herself and planning her future.  They say that you cannot get anywhere if you don't know where you are going, and that is not a problem for Hannah.  Even having just finished her freshman year of high school, she has a firm grasp on creating a road map to her future.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1147-Hannah_Auar-072621_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Cattle producers are one of the targets of environmental groups that are concerned about global warming.  The contention is that cattle production is one of the most harmful practices in agriculture or in any industry for global warming because cattle expect methane which is 28 times more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Those of us who enjoy raising cattle or other ruminants need to be concerned about this contention for a couple of reasons.  First, if it is true then we need to innovate solutions to this problem very soon lest we have other people, from outside of our industry, legislate what they think will be appropriate solutions.  Second, if it is not true but groups continue to spread this information as true and create anti-cattle production sentiment it will harm our industry without merit.  If that is the case we need to educate ourselves to fight back against this.

Therefore, I have been concerned about this issue because it has looked like a no-win situation for cattle producers.  Today, as I record this episode there are articles out talking about the United Nation's "Code Red" warning for the world regarding global warming.  Seeing all these headlines got me researching this issue.  I came across an interesting article from November of 2020 dealing with methane emissions from cattle, and I wanted to share it with you on this episode to help arm you with the correct information.

Direct download: OFI_1146_Tuesday_Episode_-_8921_5.37_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Abby Mitchell first appeared on the Off-Farm Income Podcast in March of this year.  At that point in time she was just in the brainstorming phase of the business she was developing for her supervised agricultural experience - "Goat To Be Kidding".  Today she is back on the show with an update!  She put herself out there again, and has been recognized again.  And, her business is progressing forward quickly.  I'm excited to have her back on the show.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1145_Abigail_Mitchell-072221.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Guard your equipment that contains copper.  There is a copper shortage coming which will drive the price up, and this will lead to more theft:

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

Direct download: OFI_1144_Rural_Crime_-_8621_3.26_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

In today's episode I learned a new term - "compassion fatigue".  This is a term that I had never heard before, but the moment that I did I knew exactly what it meant.

Our guest, Doctor Erin Masur DVM, introduced me to this term when describing her short, but eventful journey in veterinary medicine so far.  After completing veterinary school and starting her own practice in New Jersey she felt herself experience "compassion fatigue", and that began a string of events that led to her selling her practice, moving to Connecticut, limiting her work hours and developing some side projects.  As a police officer I definitely experienced compassion fatigue, and I watched many other officers, social workers, nurses, etc. do the same.  So, I was right on the same page with Erin when it came to this.

One of Erin's side projects is a product that she is developing and selling called Early Bird, which is an herbal remedy for the parasite commonly known as the Barber Pole Worm.  Ever since Erin completed veterinary school and started working with livestock, she has been battling this parasite and the resistance it has to conventional parasite treatments.  Ultimately a colleague introduced her to an herbal remedy for this parasite, and she decided to try it.  The results she saw were enough for her to put her name behind it, seeing mortality in flocks and herds go from 10-20% from Barber Pole to 0%.

This led Erin to do research and trials with this remedy, and to start recommending it to other veterinarians with a lot of resistance so far.  She is about to have a peer reviewed paper about her findings released, and she is using this remedy in conjunction with pharmaceutical remedies for Barber Pole and other parasites.

In today's episode Erin will discuss her journey, her farm (Fork You Farms) and of course Early Bird Parasite Solutions.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1143_Erin_Masur-071621.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:00pm MDT

Some interviews leave you with a smile on your face for for the rest of the day.  This interview left me with a smile for the rest of the week.  The interview I did in episode #015 with A.W. Erwin was a lot of fun.  But, it was also the epitome of what I was trying to demonstrate with the podcast - there is a way to do what you love in agriculture and make a living with it!  A.W. demonstrates this better than anyone, and I am thrilled to feature his episode on the show again today in this re-cap episode.


Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1142_Recap_of_Episode_15-080321.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today just graduated high school, and she has accomplished a lot.  She lives and works on her families cattle ranch in Montana which gives her a lot of responsibilities.  She is already certified to artificially inseminate cattle, and she helps her parents get their females bred every year.  She also runs a "heifer improvement program" for the family which takes up a lot of her time.  In addition to all of this, she has been involved in the FFA for four years, serving as historian, secretary and finally, chapter president.

What is amazing about Reace Lannen's story is that right in the middle of her journey through the FFA she developed an unknown problem that kept her from walking, let alone working on the ranch and participating in the FFA.  After a trip to the Seattle Children's Hospital she found out what the problem was - juvenile arthritis.

After a diagnosis was reached, a treatment was prescribed - a shot of chemo therapy to be given to her once she got back to Montana.  However, the shot caused her to have a severe, anaphylactic allergic reaction, so that was no longer an option.  Then, through the FFA, she met an advisor at an FFA event, whose wife had rheumatoid arthritis.  Information was shared, and Reace found a medication that continues to work very well for her to this day.

Once Reace did not have to focus so much on treating her arthritis so much, and she returned to what life was like prior to her first inflammation, she started reflecting on what she had gone through.  One of the worst parts of the ordeal was the six months in which she could not live her normal life.  She was unable to help out on the ranch or be around the livestock that she loves so much.

This reflection inspired an idea.  So today, Reace has purchased to miniature horses and a small, Corriente calf that she is training to be therapy animals.  Reace is actually in the process of becoming certified to do this right now.  She now has a mission of helping people who feel disconnected from the farm life and livestock that they love because of a medical connection, to be able to be around livestock again.  She knows just what it is like to smell a horse or a cow after you haven't been able to for a long time.  For somebody who loves livestock she believes there is healing in that, and she wants to help other people heal.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1141_Reace_Lannen-071521.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On today's show I wanted to address a social media post that I saw that was castigating the 4H and FFA for selling livestock for slaughter at county and state fairs.  When something like this comes up it is all of our responsibility to address this, not only because it is our way of life but because it is untrue.  I like to be on the side of truth, and I won't allow someone to make a bunch of emotional statements that paint an untrue statement and just let that go.

Direct download: OFI_1140_Tuesday_Episode_-_8221_3.21_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Kirsten Wood grew up on her families cattle ranch in Weldona, Colorado.  As she described the ranch to me, she talked about a lot of different niches that her family has explored to diversify their operation and keep it sustainable for a future in ranching.  These new ways of doing business include selling boxed beef to folks living in the urban areas along the Rocky Mountain front from Denver up through Boulder and beyond in Central Colorado.  It also includes partnering with some other companies to sell spices, sea salt and other products that compliment the beef that they sell.

The operation involves raising cattle on pasture, finishing cattle in a feed lot and growing the crops needed to feed those cattle.  And, in the scope of the operation some calves become orphans for one reason or another.  Either their dam dies or possibly rejects the calf, and the calf then needs special care to survive.

This is where Kirsten found her niche, within her families niche ranch.  Kirsten started purchasing these orphan calves from her families ranch and bottle feeding them.  She would raise them on a bottle and introduce them to feed as they grew.  Then, when they were ready to be weaned she would transition them to the feedlot, and pay her family for the space and feed that was required to keep them.  Ultimately they were finished and sold, and this was Kirsten's business.

In addition to this Kirsten has a love of horses that was developed by growing up around them on the working ranch.  Throughout her FFA career she has been raising and showing horses, and this led her to a proficiency award in equine science.

All of this has inspired her to pursue a future in agricultural business.  When we conducted this interview she had just graduated with an associates degree in Ag Business, and she was just preparing to start her final two years of college at West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas.  Kirsten hopes to come home to the ranch one day, but she has been told to go out and make it on her own first.  Right now she is looking into an agriculture finance career with the hopes of coming back to the lifestyle that she loves in the future.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1139_Kristen_Wood-071521.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Get your brands registered…at least in Texas

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

Direct download: OFI_1138_Rural_Crime_-_72321_4.42_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I am fascinated with the idea of having a shop, heading out there in the morning, working at your own pace and having a new creation to hold at the end of the day.  I don't necessarily think that I have the aptitude for this type of business, but I wish that I did.  So, whenever I get the chance to interview somebody who creates their living in this manner, I soak it all in.

Tom Roark, the owner and creator of 5R Knives, is this person. Each day at his home in the farming town of Brush, Colorado he heads out to his shop and designs and creates some of the most beautiful knives and sheathes you have ever seen.  Each sheath is specific to each knfe, and there is a story to go with each one, like where the wood for the handle came from.

5R Knives is just Tom's latest foray into self-employment.  He has been self-employed all of his life, starting by purchasing his parent's sign business from them in Longmont, Colorado when he was in his early 20's.  He eventually sold that business and purchased another called "Western Sales", manufacturing four products for folks in the beef industry.  After about ten years he sold that business and started 5R Knives.

In this interview, Tom takes us through his history of entrepreneurship, and his philosophy on purchasing and selling a business.  This is an important interview for anyone who is considering entrepreneurship as their option for off-farm income.  And, we have the benefit of getting advice from a person with a lifetime of experience.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1137_Tom_Roark-071221.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

As I was searching for a re-cap episode for this week I came across this interview with Martje Plaggemeyer.  What a great business concept she had come up with!  I definitely wanted to air this episode again.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1136-Recap_Of_Episode_373-072021.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The other day an article about a young man with a trapping business popped up on my computer.  I took a look at it and thought, "this would be a good interview for the show".  Sam Terneus had just been awarded the Illinois State Proficiency Award for Agricultural Processing based on what he had been doing with trapping fur bearers and selling their hides as a business.  I thought that was going to be the whole story, but it was just the tip of the iceberg!

Sam has been trapping for years now, since he got exposed to the hobby/sport/business at an early age.  He has actually been living kind of a dream life really.  He and his parents live in town, and his grandfather has a farm out of town.  To get to the farm to help out grandpa and to go trap, Sam has been traveling through the backwoods of Illinois on his four wheeler for several years.  As Sam stated, "the farm is five minutes by car and twenty minutes by four wheeler".  Sam prefers the road less traveled.

Sam is constantly selling furs, and he is constantly reinvesting his money into more traps and expanding.  This is what led to him starting his own business called "Wilderness Design Company".  Among other things, Sam has created and sold Christmas wreathes made out of the furs that he has trapped.

Sam is very involved in working for himself.  He has been taking a course on entrepreneurship, and through that he has done some amazing things.  He came up with a business idea to become a nuisance wildlife trapper, which I wholeheartedly support, and began exploring that possibility.  It turns out that you need a special license to do that in Illinois, and you must be at least 18 years of age to obtain one.  Well, Sam is still 17, so he started trying to figure out what he could do to get around this law.  Ultimately, there was nothing that could be done.  However, thanks to Sam's efforts, there is now a bill before the Illinois State Legislature to lower the age of a person who wants to get this license!

If all of this were not a enough, Sam just received his state FFA degree, and he is getting ready to start college.  He plans to study forestry with an emphasis on fish and wildlife to increase his knowledge in the business that he has already started and loves.  In addition to that, he is planning to compete at the national level with his supervised agriculture experience and hopes to be a national proficiency winner very soon!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1135_Sam_Terneus-071121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

A friend of mine, and one of our previous guests, Jeff Titus, from episode #024 contacted me today and told me that the farm where I learned to love cattle and agriculture had been put up for sale.  The current owners purchased it from my step-father a few years back, and it has pretty much just been sitting.  However, now they have made some significant changes to it and put it up for sale.

If you are interested in purchasing it, please contact Jeff, and he would be happy to represent you.  Here is his contact information:

Here is the link to the listing: 1342 Hickman Road, Hickman, California

It's got a small, three bedroom, one bathroom house on it that is a legitimate farm house and several outbuildings.  However, the current owners have torn out all of the livestock handling facilities and planted almonds.  So, you would be buying into a turn key, 10 acre almond operation.  Or, you could rip them out, put fences and corrals back in, replant pasture and start over, but.....that would be crazy.

According to the listing, the house was built in 1935.  According to my family my step-grandfather, Boyd Womack, and my step-grandmother, Vada Womack, immigrated to California from Oklahoma around 1941 and lived in Pixley for about a year before buying this place for $5,000 in 1942.  Now it's listed for $795,000.  That's a 15,800% increase in just under 80 years!

Their trek to California was after the Dust Bowl and Depression had ended or were ending, but their journey was very much the same with everything loaded onto one truck and my step-father, Chuck, and his brother, Ray, riding the entire way on a mattress that sat on top of all of the family possessions.  Boyd and Vada rode in the cab of the truck with the little girl, Tommie.

When they first purchased the property and home there was 20 acres.  At some point Boyd sold off the ten acres on the eastern side of the farm.  When they first arrived, Chuck and Ray, slept in the well house because it was a one bedroom home.  Later, Boyd converted added on a bedroom and kitchen on the north side of the home and converted the previous kitchen to a bedroom.  The home became the three bedroom, one bath home that it is now and the boys were able to move in.

Boyd and Vada lived the rest of their lives in this house, and then Chuck and Tommie inherited it, Ray had already passed.  Chuck bought Tommie's half of the farm, and he lived almost the rest of his life there as well.  However, when he wasn't able to keep up with the demands any longer, he sold to the current owners and moved into nearby Waterford.

So, today's episode is about my memories from that place.

Direct download: OFI_1134_Tuesday_Episode_-_72321_7.20_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I really enjoy interviewing FFA students because I get to witness the transition they go through as they move to bigger projects.  In today's interview that statement is both literal and figurative.

Emily Spayd has just begun her FFA journey.  She is getting ready to begin her sophomore year of high school and her second year in the FFA.  She has been showing goats at her county's fair for several years, but just like she went big in the FFA, she decided to go big in the show ring.  So, Emily has now transitioned from goats to beef cattle for her fair projects.  This wasn't only a size increase in animal, but it was also a size increase in responsibility.  Emily began halter breaking her steer and heifer in the middle of Colorado.  Needless to say, this is cold and frustrating work, but it is necessary to show this large of an animal.

This seems to be Emily's style however.  In the interview she talks about being dragged to FFA events with her sister who is three years older than her, and being bored.  However, after deciding to give the FFA a try, Emily dove in 110%.  She participated in every competition that she could, and she has already been selected to be an officer.  She will begin serving as parliamentarian when school starts again this fall.

As this episode is published, Emily will be engrossed in one of the two county fairs in which she will be showing her beef projects this summer.  In her county you are only allowed to sell your project at the auction if you reach certain level of success while showing.  So, we've got our fingers crossed for Emily that she will be able to auction off both her steer and heifer this summer!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1133_Emily_Spayd-071121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

We are a very large country, geographically and numerically.  Don’t forget your fellow citizens who are dealing with issues that do not happen in your back yard.

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

Direct download: OFI_1132_Rural_Crime_-_72321_4.31_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There are a lot of farm types and agricultural businesses that I like to romanticize.  Perhaps there is none greater than the small farm in which you must milk a few animals on a small scale every day.  I realize that this is called "being romanticized" for a reason.  In reality, the need to milk controls your schedule, no matter what the weather is, whether or not you are sick, or if it is Christmas morning - it has to be done.

These demands on your time can also be a benefit when it comes to starting a farm business that has a chance of succeeding.  The demands of this type of farm weed a lot of people out.  And, on a small scale, it leaves you with time to get creative with your business model.  That is exactly what today's guest, Deb Gray, has done.  Deb milks about ten goats per day, and she spends the rest of her time adding value to that milk in the form of soaps, lotions, etc. on Harvest Hills Farm in Wooster, Ohio.

This translates into Deb's business, Harvest Hills Skin Care, which she has been growing steadily for decades now.  Deb has gone through the transitions that we talk about on the show, eventually growing the business to such a size that she had to leave her day job.  It was clear in the interview with Deb that she loves this business and what she is doing because she is looking to the future.  She has a short-term and long-term vision for how the business will grow and develop and offer other products and services.

In today's interview, Deb will talk about some of the challenges to getting started, the estimated start-up costs, and some of the essential pieces of equipment that were game-changers for developing her business, such as:

  • Professional Labels
  • A Soap Cutter
  • Soap Molds
  • A Bottle Filler

I hope you enjoy this very informative interview about a successful, value-added, farm business.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1131_Deb_Gray-070921.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

It was my pleasure to feature Vance Curtis on the Off-Farm Income Podcast again.  When I first interviewed him I remarked at how positive and upbeat he was, and these are definitely the types of episodes that I like to revisit.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1130-Recap_Of_Episode_371-072021.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is just getting ready to begin her senior year of high school, and she has discovered a profession that I did not know existed as her future career.

Jaycey Lambert serves on the executive committee of the Weld Central High School FFA Chapter.  She has been showing sheep for years, and now she has added showing steers into the mix.  Earlier this year Jaycey had a lamb that was not acting correctly, and in trying to diagnose what was wrong with it she turned to a person with the profession of "livestock chiropractor".

The livestock chiropractor came to her farm, looked over the lamb with special equipment and determined that its back was out.  Once he was diagnosed, she was able to move its back into proper position, and voila! he was good as new.  This inspired Jaycey, and she has her sights set on this career in the future.  Jaycey is planning on attending South Dakota State University to study agriculture.  She has visited the campus already and found the class sizes and campus size to be just right for her.

I'll be excited to have Jaycey back on the show in a few years to profile her ag business of livestock

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1129_Jaycey_Lambert-070521_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today I'm talking about being an ambassador for agriculture and why that is so important.  Also, we will discuss six ways that you can become that ambassador and how to get it done effectively.

We should all be ambassadors for our industries, but in agriculture this is probably more important than any other area.

Direct download: OFI_1128_Tuesday_Episode_-_71921_5.42_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Almost two years ago exactly I featured today's guest on episode #665 of the Off-Farm Income Podcast.  When I first interviewed Annamarie Stone she was just getting ready to start her sophomore year of high school, and she was raising meat chickens.  She had just approached to grocery stores and obtained contracts to sell her birds in both stores.

Since that time Annamarie has flourished in her FFA career. Today she is on the executive officer team in her chapter, and she is the Area IV President in the State Of Missouri.  Her business has also flourished and grown.  Now she is also selling turkeys, bacon, mums and poinsettias.  So, she had to change the business name to "Stoney Creek Meats & More".  While this caused a lot of work it was necessary and definitely worth it!

On today's episode we will catch up with Annamarie and update you on the incredible progress of this student.  Here are the show notes from her previous visit to the show:


Have you ever met somebody with no fear and a can-do attitude?  If not, you get to, today.

Annamarie Stone is just that type of person, and she is just getting ready to start her sophomore year of high school.  Why do I say this about this young lady?  In addition to starting her own herd of Charolais cattle, showing pigs and showing sheep she has another enterprise.

Annamarie started her own business called "Stoney Creek Country Fresh Chickens".  She raises pastured poultry and sells birds to customers who want their chicken raised that way.  Annamarie decided that she wanted to sell her chicken in grocery stores as well.  So, as a freshman in high school she got dressed nicely, walked into two separate grocery stores and requested to speak with the freezer case manager.

By the time Annamarie was done, she was selling her pastured poultry in two separate grocery stores!  When I asked Annamarie how she did this she had a very simple explanation.  The worst that they could tell you is "no", and if they don't like your idea the grocery store down the street probably will.

This is an enterprising entrepreneur in the making!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1127_Annamrie_Stone-070521.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Hire people slowly, and trust your gut when anything suspicious happens

Rural Crime In The U.S.


Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

Direct download: OFI_1126_Rural_Crime_-_71521_6.36_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today I am very fortunate to have Ryan Stevens on the show.  Ryan and his wife, Stephanie, are the owners of Full Armor Farm in Maine and the parents of three children with one on the way.  Ryan and Stephanie are also both medically retired from the Marine Corps and met in Afghanistan while on one of their many deployments.

When this couple medically retired out of the Marine Corps they needed a place to come home to in the U.S. that would offer them the atmosphere and environment to process what they had gone through and adjust back to life in the U.S.  Stephanie proposed buying a farm and living the lifestyle that she had grown up with in Northern Pennsylvania, and they found one in Maine, five minutes from where Ryan had grown up.  So, in 2018 they made the transition and Full Armor Farm was born.

Today Ryan and Stephanie are raising Scottish Highlander Cattle, they are tapping both maple and birch trees for sap, they are raising chickens and growing apples.  They are feeding themselves from their farm.  As an example, they do not sell chickens, but they had slaughtered 35 birds prior to our interview to feed themselves and local family. They are also creating and selling value added products such as maple syrup and apple cider.  In addition to this they are direct marketing beef from their farm.

A lot of initiative and hard work went into and is still going into this farm.  There were also grants received based on their veteran status that helped to get them started with their value added products even faster.  In addition to this, their religious faith plays a pivotal role in defining what their farm is about and how they live their lives.

Ryan has written a book about his portion of this journey from military and wartime service to this life of faith and farming.  He hopes that it is released at the end of 2021.  It is my honor to help tell a little of their story today!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1125_Ryan_Stevens-063021.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I have been lucky enough to interview PJ Jonas twice on the show.  She and her husband, Jim, have an amazing story of deciding to farm and raise their family agriculturally, and then finding a way to do it full time.  They are truly an inspiration, and I am thrilled to feature my second interview with PJ once again to inspire those of you who never heard it, and to re-inspire those of you who did!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1124-Recap_of_Episode_399.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I've been talking about entrepreneurship and the transition from being an employee to a full-time entrepreneur on this show for almost seven years now.  From personal experience, I knew that the process I was explaining was correct.  However, nothing really brings it home like somebody else talking about experiencing the exact thing I have been explaining.  That is exactly what happens in today's interview with Dawson Boys.

Dawson just won a proficiency award in the State Of Illinois for agricultural mechanics & repair entrepreneurship because of the car detailing business that he began while in the FFA.  He is now a full-time entrepreneur with no job other than his business.  However, it did not start out that way.

Dawson's business got started because his first customer noticed how clean and polished he kept his own car, told him that he should detail cars for a living and then hired him to details theirs!  After that seed of an idea was planted, Dawson took off with it.  Today, the word of mouth has spread and he has lots of business.  Dawson understands the competition in his area, and he understands what his competitive advantages are.  Therefore, he is knocking it out of the park with his business.

As Dawson tells the story of growing his business, he talks about the fact that he was working two jobs when he started this.  And, as his business grew he entered what I refer to as the "crazy time" in which he was not ready to leave either of his jobs but the demands of his new business became larger and larger.  Eventually, Dawson left his first job, then his second and he found himself as a full-time entrepreneur.  He had to go through the "crazy time" first, and then things gradually mellowed out.

Dawson also had to convince his parents that his business would really work and that leaving his steady jobs would not be a mistake.  He did it just as I prescribe.  He worked a ton of hours to demonstrate his commitment, and he made good money to demonstrate the viability of the business.  Once he did that, there was no need for words to convince his parents.  He had proved the concept, and they gave him their blessing.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1123_Dawson_Boys-062821.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

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

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

I hope you are having a wonderful summer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today's episode we will be discussing:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck this October Conner!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


Chuck's Email Address:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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