Off-Farm Income

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


YouTube Channel: LINK

Facebook Page: LINK


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


The Lean LaunchPad by Steve Blank


Facebook: LINK

Email: LINK

Telephone: 402-469-0038

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Enjoy this episode with this exciting young student.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Jayla's Local Farm on Instagram:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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








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

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

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

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

Visit Jenna Lou's Homemade Ice Cream online here:


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Connect with MooCall:







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

Advice For The Beginning Cattle Farmer

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

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

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

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

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

What I Have Been Seeing

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

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

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

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

What Should You Do

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

You, Will, Get There

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Alex Albu & FarmBox Foods:




Linked In:


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


Facebook: LINK

Website: LINK


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

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

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

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

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

To purchase Missy's Candles and Wax Melts Visit:




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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Connect with Debbi Metcalf & Net Posse:







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

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

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

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

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


Connect with Jacob Ebbers, Ebbers Twisted E Show Goats:



Phone: (605) 228-2682



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Julia Nunes, Alice in Dairyland:



Twitter: @Alice_Dairyland

Instagram: @alicedairyland

Youtube: LINK



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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


Facebook Page: LINK

Telephone Number: (217) 232-1052



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Chuck Zimmerman:

Website: The Zimm Cast

Website: AgWired

Twitter: @Agriblogger 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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









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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit Black Lick Creek Apiary on Facebook:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Wil Crombie & Man Alone Media:







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

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

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

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


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

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


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



Website: LINK

Facebook: LINK



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Connect with Caleb Green & Evergreen Custom Hayingat:



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

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

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

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

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

CONTACT Ted Lebow & Kitchen Table Consultants:






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

This is a great story!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Ag Butler, and  Kevin Johansen at:



Instagram: @agbutlerapp

Twitter: @AgButlerApp


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Mark's Email Address:

Hewitt Precision Insights Website: LINK

Facebook: Hewitt Precision Insights | Facebook

Twitter: Hewitt Precision (@hewittprecision) / Twitter

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


INTRODUCING Whitney Ten Napel:

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Peppers Pup Treats Here:


Instagram: Pepper’s Pup Treats (@pepperspuptreats) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Ben Rykard at:

Instagram: @Dirtbag_Ag



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Follow Brad & Cow Hunters Unlimited Here:





Between The Beaches Podcast:



The Current Stage Of My Life And Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what my life looks like today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


INTRODUCING Sierra Boggio! 

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with The Stock Market Boutique:







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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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




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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Follow Paige on Instagram: @pastriesbypaige_


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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