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December 18, 2013


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Karen Aikman

We would love to introduce ourselves. We're www.homegrowncow.com and we are a nationwide farmer's market for meat, poultry, and cheese producers. We don't charge farmers to list with us, and we allow them to set their own prices. We make our money from a very small percentage mark-up. Please check us out to see if we can be of help in any way. Thank you.


It's not entirely clear how you would like responses to your questions handled. Email? In this little box? The biggest challenge I have is finding a suitable butcher. I don't really want to build my own processing facility, but I know of several who have done so. Others process their products in the less-than-reputable facilities available. Some decent butchers charge so much it's hard to justify. Soon the local food movement will discover what our ancestors did 100 years ago: the co-op. Wish I had more hours in the day.

Rebecca Thistlethwaite

Jennifer- that is interesting to hear about your experiences with Extension and 4H. I too have never lived anywhere in which Extension had any expertise on grassfed/pastured livestock or poultry experience. We have never done 4H because they are not interested in heritage breeds nor in organic/pasture-based production. Our little fat, black guinea hogs who live outside on an acorn diet would be laughed at by the 4H judges. I do love ATTRA as well. When we first started farming, ATTRA was all we had for information on sustainable agricultural practices (and Rodale Institute).


I know this is kind of a tangent to what you asked, but...
It used to be that small farmers would turn to their Extension office for information on how to raise animals, and kids learned about animal care through the Extension office 4H program. I know it varies by state and office, and there are some people in the extension system doing innovative and boundary pushing work but...
My husband and I attended two all day workshops on intro to raising sheep/goats and pigs. By the end, we decided not to raise pigs because of the expense of feeding them and the fact that the class led us to believe that the disease issues were HUGE. Sheep/goats was all about disease management and maximizing reproduction, complete with an IUD to bring the animal into estrus in the fall.
I also once had the opportunity to witness (on an organic farm, no less) a family who's kids were putting their cows in refrigerated coolers for part of each day to bring on the animal's thick winter coat, because that rated better with the 4H guidelines for animal fitness and they wanted to WIN. (Of course, they were being fed loads of grain for marbling and fast finish weight).
I'm a biologist by training. I get animals as commodity/$. Farmers need to be able to make a living or they stop farming. But for the small farm producer, the Extension system has all but abandoned us.
Thank goodness for ATTRA. I guess what I'm saying, without answering your questions, is that there is a serious need for your book! Thank you for taking this on!

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