Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Small Farm Conference

Brian and I just returned from the National Small Farm Conference in Columbia, MO.

What a great event!! Even though folks told us it wasn't as big as in years past, it was a cornacopia of nifty tools, yummy treats, rare livestock and informative speakers. It was almost overwhelming. I can't imagine what it would be like if it was much bigger. We walked the whole show about a dozen times and I think we still missed some things.

The exhibition hall was full of vendors: books, tools, chicken pluckers, honey icecream, seeds, SARE information, Missouri Fruit Research Station publications, handmade soaps, rabbit meat, wood furnaces, Llama products, wool products, herbal animal products, flax seed, wooden utensils, and sorghum molasses to name a few. Around the arena were booths for stock trailers, fencing, BCS tillers and tools, more books, minitature carriages to be pulled by miniature horses and portable small farm buildings.

Inside the arena was my favorite place. One end had the herd dog demonstrations. The rest of the arena had rare livestock and poultry. We met folks who raised Highland cattle, Red Poll cattle, Dexter cattle, Fjord horses and Caspian horses. There were Katahdin and St Croix sheep. Guinea, Tamworth and Red Wattle hogs. And there were chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl and pigeons of more shapes and sizes than I have room to mention.

This was our first year to attend. We'd volunteered to create and work the Red Wattle Hog Association booth for the conference. It was a wonderful experience. Brian spent most of his time educating about our wonderful Red Wattle Hogs. More than once I heard someone say, " Go talk to the bald guy if you want to know about Red Wattle hogs." lol It was really nice to meet so many of the folks in the RW Association in person. On Saturday, I went to the RW Association meeting while Brian went to a class. He is now the VP and I am the Sec/tres of the RWA.

Some of the new tools we brought home included a really slick hand weeder blade, a brush cutter with a replaceable blade for my son, a sheperd's crook and we got anothe Rogue hoe. We have 2 rogue hoes already. They have become our favorite gardening tool. We had to get another one because Brian and I argue over the one we like the best. You just can't beat them for close precision weeding in our wide beds and they really stay sharp. That's the new hoe in the picture.

There were herd dog demonstrations, farmer forums, seminars and classes. We attended topics like adding honey bees to your farm, alternative feeds, elderberry propagation and marketing, intensive grazing of sheep, Marketing a CSA, but our favorite was Joel Salatin's intensive grazing class. Hearing Joel Salatin talk is like going to a tent revival for farming!

We're looking forward to hearing Joel Salatin speak again in January when he's here in Indiana at the Heart of America Conference in Columbus.

We're also looking into trying to start a Small Farm Conference here in Indiana. If you are interested in seeing an event like this here, please email me at: thefarmers@kissmygrassfarm.net

The more we can show support for creating the event the more organizations will be willing to support the event.

Thanks for reading!!
Take good care,

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