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We Made The Paper!

Here’s the story from the Ashland City Times!

Field Day Picture From Times

Pictured are (from left) Phil Dawson, vice chairman; Janice Weiss, district secretary/technician; Edwin Hogan, member; Darwin Newton, member; David Shores, chairman; Wynne Luter, NRCS; Chase Coakley, NRCS; and Jonathan and Judith Smith. / Submitted photo

 

The Cheatham County Soil Conservation District hosted a pasture walk and awards day on May 3 at Happily Ever After Farm on Old Clarksville Pike in Joelton (owners Jonathan and Judith Smith).

About 65 landowners were welcomed by district chairman David Shores.

During the pasture walk, attendees were given information on a number of topics by special guests.

Following the pasture walk, the district supervisor’s grilled grass fed beef burgers that came from the Smith’s farm.

After lunch the district announced its “2012 Conservation Farmer of the Year” award winner — Jonathan D. Smith.

About six years ago divine circumstances led to the purchase of his existing farm, which under former ownership the property was used for horse pasture and livestock had unlimited access to the pond and creek, and pastures were overgrazed and compacted.

Smith attended Master Beef Producer classes and became a Master Beef Producer. In 2010, Smith began participating with the Cheatham County SCD and Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Since then they have partnered to produce a Forest Management Plan, which developed management strategies to meet his conservation and economic forest goals.

The district has worked extensively together in the development of infrastructure needed to facilitate a prescribed grazing system.

Practices have included permanent and temporary cross fencing, livestock water well and a solar powered pumping plant, livestock pipeline and watering facilities.

Smith has balanced his livestock stocking rate and rotates his cattle on a one to three day basis so to maximize forage growth. He has taken it upon himself to exclude his livestock from natural surface water sources. His pastures have been inter-seeded with legumes and pollination has been improved by keeping two hives of bees on the property.

A group of layer hens and multiple crops of broiler chickens are rotated behind cattle; a great method for cycling nutrients and producing some healthy chickens.

The culmination of the Smith’s efforts has allowed them to now offer grass-finished USDA certified beef, pastured poultry and free range organic eggs. None of the animals are given antibiotics or hormones. Farm management practices follow organic guidelines.

The Smiths believe firmly in the principle of growing healthy natural foods. Smith has recently applied for the USDA-NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program in an effort to further improve his farm.

The Cheatham County SCD also announces the election of Darwin Newton of Pleasant View to the district board.

Newton has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and biology and a master’s degree in plant physiology. He is currently employed by Western Kentucky University, working with the university and USDA Agriculture Research Service in animal waste management research and is the president and CEO of Soil Search of Tennessee Inc. (Enviromental Consulting Company).

The following sponsors made this day a great success: Cheatham County Farm Bureau, H & R Agri-Power, Reeves Septic Tank Service, King Automotive, Tennessee Ag Enhancement, Natural Resource Conservation Service, UT & TSU Cheatham County Extension and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Broilers, Spring 2013

As usual, the chicken process would not be possible without the help of neighbors and friends, so THANKS! to all those that helped this year!

This was not the most successful batch due to some pretty horrible weather conditions when the chicks were small, but these were the largest birds we’ve ever raised.  The average weight was 6.1lbs and the mean weight was 6.5lbs.  We had two that weighed in at 7.75lbs and several that were 7lbs or larger.  The ration was a bit different this year, with oats being substituted for wheat, but we’re not sure whether to attribute the large sizes to the ration or the genetics.  Some of the genetics were most certainly different this year with several of the birds having a band of dark feathers along the tops of their wings and others having some dark feathers on their heads.  This is the first batch that we’ve done start to finish at our farm and the forage available to them may have had something to do with it as well.  It will be interesting to see how the next batch turns out!

There is a new page coming!

I’ve fielded questions from several folks lately about some specifics of the equipment that we use here at the farm.  I’m working on constructing a new page that will list in all the painful detail all the equipment that I can think of and where we purchase(d) it.  It’s a rainy day today and I’m worn out after all the prep for the NRCS field day that we hosted yesterday, so playing on the computer seems to be in order.  I’ll see what I can get done today, but it should be pretty complete by the end of the week of May 5.  Here’s the link to the page: http://www.happilyeverafterfarm.com/equipment-we-use/

Bear with us…

Please bear with us as we re-work our website!  We were recently hacked and did not have a complete backup of the website.  All of the content is still here, but the visuals are not quite what they used to be and Jonathan is working through getting it back to where it’s easy to navigate and pretty.  We’ll be back up and normal in no time!!

Yeah! It worked!

The nest box modification on the chicken coop seems to have worked! This is a large step forward for us since now we’re getting 7-9 eggs a day from 9 hens, where before we were getting 2-3. Not only that, but the eggs are clean and not cracked! We’re really excited about it.

Beef, Did I mention…

Did I mention that our beef is USDA inspected and appropriately labeled for retail sale? If I didn’t I needed to, this represents significant cost and effort on our part, but we felt it was necessary to comply with the rules and it would give our customers more confidence in purchasing from us. Oh, our beef is also dry aged, not wet packed like the standard grocery store fare. This means that you are getting more meat per pound as compared to the grocery since our water content is much lower.

Chicken coop modification

Well, the ladies have been laying for a month or so now and we’ve transitioned from having them free around the house to being in electrified netting (from Premiere1 fencing). After a couple of weeks I realized that the construction of the nest boxes was not going to work long term. The nest box was too shallow and the chickens were scratching out the straw and sometimes the eggs into the coop. A lot of the eggs were cracked since they were laying directly onto the wood floor. Yesterday we were able to add about 4.5 inches to the bottom of the coop! We’ll see going forward how well this adjustment works.

New Layers

We now have Black Australorp chickens! We currently have 9 hens and a Barred Rock rooster (Rocky) and they have just started laying. The Black Australorps are beautiful with their feathers so black and they have a green tint to them when the sun shines off of them. We built a chicken shed that was originally planned to sit on a small trailer, but the small trailer was not stable enough, so we moved the shed to a regular wagon running gear. The setup has a slant roof that pours rainwater into a gutter that funnels it into a five gallon bucket that gravity feeds the waterer. It also has shade / hawk cover and a dog feeder attached to keep the pyrenees close by. The range feeder is on the ground behind the wagon. It can be moved by hand on relatively level ground, and the 4 wheeler helps out when it’s heading uphill. We got two little eggs yesterday!