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Soil Health Academy Reflections

written by

Ben Simmons

posted on

June 8, 2024

What an honor it was for our farm to have been chosen to host a Soil Health Academy workshop May 21-23, 2024.

You can learn more about SHA here. To access a link to SHA's documentary "Destination Regeneration" click here.

The final count of attendees was 33. They came from CA, UT, NJ, TX, TN, AL, FL, LA, and MS.

Classroom time included learning the actual definition of Regenerative Agriculture which is farming and ranching in synchrony with nature to repair, rebuild, revitalize and restore ecosystem function starting with all life in the soil and moving to all life above the soil.

Additional classroom time was learning about the Six Principles of SOIL HEALTH, Three Rules of ADAPTIVE STEWARDSHIP, and Four Ecosystem PROCESSESS.

About half the time was spent on the farm out in our pastures with hands on learning how to:
1-use a shovel to evaluate soil conditions
2-measure soil water infiltration and steps to improve
3-use a BRIX meter and what the results tell you
4-use animal impact to improve soil health

I remember in Sep 2018 Beth & I attended an APPPA regional farm conference in AL where we first learned about a very small USDA processing plant. This was when we were trying to get our MS Department of Ag. to remove the 1,000 limit on meat chickens and to follow the Federal & State Law of 20,000 chickens per year.

So, I was very glad to be able to share our story with attendees as we walked through both our poultry and red meat USDA processing plants. Attendees actually were able to watch us harvest chickens Wed, May 22nd as part of their field exercises. Hopefully, many of them will catch the vision of on-farm processing and be able to implement processing so they can serve their communities with nutrient dense pasture raised proteins... and be profitable doing so.

Another pasture exercise was for attendees to determine the livestock nutritional needs and use their grazing sticks to calculate the amount of forage available (graze 50% leave 50%). Then set up paddock size accordingly using electric polywire & step-in post to set up various paddocks.

Then, the idea was to move our yearlings into this paddock and observe their behavior as well as soil impact.

Here is where I was concerned! Animal behavior - well, they are not use to having 30+ people in the pasture with them. Frankly, they have never been around more than 4 or 5 people at any one time. Now, we were expecting them to behave while attendees observed them grazing. You want to make a bet? hahaha

Well, I would have lost that bet!!! They moved into that paddock like they do and did not pay any attention to all the people standing around watching them. Kinda how your young kids (maybe older ones as well) would surprise you with what they come up with.

Here is a picture I took later with the yearlings enjoying their morning graze. Notice the "faint" white polywire just in front of them.

2024-0523-Yearlings.jpg


Lastly, I shared our marketing program to include the things that worked and the things that did not work.

Most of the attendees commented how great our farm looked and thanked me for being so transparent with our operations.

Here is one more picture and story before we go. When our WY cows started calving they would take the calves to the back 40 away from anyone coming into the pasture with them. So, I started going out there late in the afternoon and spending time around them. This picture was taken June 3rd. I stopped and kneeled in front of them grazing and moving in my direction. The cows and calves were very curious of me. In fact, one of the calves came up to me and smelled four times. This is time well spent and will make handling them much better later on. Also, notice the grass(es). Amazing....

2024-0603-WY-Cows-Calves.jpg

At Nature's Gourmet Farm, our intent is to create a community that evolves around one of the most intrinsically important things of the ages, and that’s the provision of sustenance. That's our passion - to raise healthy food to nourish families and strengthen immune systems.

If you are new to our farm then maybe you have been looking for premium ALL NATURAL GOODNESS of beef, pork, chicken, and eggs raised on pasture as God intended - with emphasis on Regenerative Principles and NOT conventionally raised animals (with growth hormones, drugs, chemicals, and antibiotics) - and where animals are treated humanely - then you have come to the right farm. Our delivery schedule and product availability are listed below along with order buttons that will take you to our website where you can browse over 90 product choices and place your order from the convenience of your home. It's that simple!

** Product Availability Update **

Reminder July 4th is Thurs prior to July deliveries. Be sure to order based on your holiday plans!

NOTE: Restocks are made about 6 PM on the dates indicated below!

Chicken -Restocked May 23rd. Next Restock is June 12th
.
Turkey - Sold Out! New poults arrived, but will be months before ready. Demand popped and I dropped the ball on this one.

Eggs - Restocked each Wednesday. We are well stocked on eggs - especially large at this time.

Beef - Next restock will be June 20th.

Pork - Next restock June 12th

Lamb - April 17th lamb did not work out. They were only 50 lb live weight or about half the weight needed for slaughter.

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