Announcing the 2014 Bootstrap Writer Series Winners!

We are excited to announce the start to the Bootstrap Writing Series of 2014!

This year we’ve selected four farmers from across the country who are in the early stages of starting their farms to share their season with the NYFC community.  Wild Ridge Farm - carrotsEach writer will be writing an piece once per month through the rest of this year, sharing the inside scoop of their operation. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Blue Sage Farm – Reflections on Policy and Regulation

Blue Sage Farm - In the barnI have to say I feel really lucky that I have a great dairy inspector.  I’ve heard horror stories about how an inspector can make your life miserable but I haven’t experienced that.  I think it helps that we built our facility new and didn’t try to retrofit an old barn.

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Bootstrap @ North Country Creamery – A Year in Review

North Country Creamery - catching up on paperwork 2 - smallNow I understand how Kristin Kimball filled her book The Dirty Life with stories from her first year farming. I’ve been working on farms for over a decade, but this was my first year running a business, and goodness gracious, I could fill a volume with this month’s blog topic “year in review”. I started this business because I predicted I would always love the bovine, and enjoy milking them like crazy. Luckily, I still do. Little could I imagine how much else would be involved in realizing that dream. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Chaseholm Farm – Reflections on My First Season

Chaseholm Farm - Chase in front of tractor - smallLast post!

Before I had started farming I used to think about writing in a notebook or generally documenting my first steps so that I could see back and know what I had done and how to make it better. But once I started I was so busy and so worried I was forgetting something else that I definitely didn’t remember to properly document my path.

I got lucky that Bootstrap stepped in to make me take notice, to help me summarize my experiments for better or worse, to formulate opinions about my progress. It was a great way to step back this year and feel like a small part of a whole farm and a whole bunch of farms (and lots of rad women!) (more…)

Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – Looking Back on our First Year

The Golden Yoke - Lots of Snow - smallIt is hard to believe that this is our last post as a Bootstrap Blogger. This year has flown by; it seems like it was just a few weeks ago that we were writing our first installment. When we wrote the first blog, we were looking forward to spring and now we are settling into winter. As I write this we are under a winter weather watch with forecasts for several inches of snow. And for followers of our farm, you might remember that out here in the west farmers look anxiously to the mountains for lots of snow, guaranteeing good irrigation water for next summer. (more…)

Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – State Policy Comes to the Farm in Montana

Policy is one of those subjects that people either seem to love or hate. Some farmers have no interest in getting involved with policy, even though it might directly affect them. And clearly, most policy makers at higher levels of government have little interest or relation to farming. Bridging this divide to create policy that is responsive to the needs of dairy farmers across the United States is something that we both are active with and is a frequent topic of discussion on the farm.

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Bootstrap @ North Country Creamery – A Dairy Farmer’s Perspective on Policy and Regulation

North Country Creamery - clean kitchen 2The most direct interaction I have with the government in the dairy business comes through the New York Sate Department of Agriculture and Markets. Every month, the inspector comes to collect product samples to be tested for bacteria counts, and runs through the checklist to ensure we’re following cleanliness standards.

This spring, we took over an existing facility that had been inspected for over a dozen years. Therefore, we did not experience the headaches that like some start-up producers: misunderstanding the regulations, which could have been a communication break between them and their inspector, or the producers earnest effort to interpret regulations that resemble a foreign language…mistakes in designing the facility that can cost thousands of dollars! (more…)

Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – How Regulation and Policy Affect the New Dairy Farmer

­The Golden Yoke - Laura with Diploma - smallPolicy is one of those su­bjects that people either seem to love or hate. Some farmers have no interest in getting involved with policy, even though it might directly affect them. And clearly, most policy makers at higher levels of government have little interest or relation to farming. Bridging this divide to create policy that is responsive to the needs of dairy farmers across the United States is something that we both are active with and is a frequent topic of discussion on the farm. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Chaseholm Farm – Reflections on Policy

Chaseholm Farm - Dayna and Chase smallHi All, it’s a rainy day in the Hudson Valley and the cows are inside, we made our rotation last until 10/27 in our first season.

Not bad…but room for improvement. Today’s post is about policy issues and regulations and how they affect my farm. One of the clearest ways is in my ability to sell raw milk. I went through some hurdles this year but in NYS you can be licensed to sell raw milk directly from the farm as long as you continue to meet certain quality standards. These were all easy for our farm to meet and so I wasn’t shelling out big money to alter my operation but I did have to spend a lot on pathogen testing (the first tests are the farmer’s to pay for and NYS does all the rest after you are licensed). (more…)

Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – Marketing & Sales

FThe Golden Yoke - standing with the cows - smallor marketing, like the rest of our farm venture, we are starting small with big visions for the future. We currently have a logo, a Facebook page, a domain name, and the makings of a Kickstarter campaign. We have visions of shirts, stickers, ice cream cartons, a scoop mobile, and much more.

When we lived in Vermont, with our farm business idea still in its infancy, we developed the logo that would identify us. One of our neighbors was a well-known regional artist, and was willing to barter for artwork. Connie went up to the their house one beautiful fall day and stacked three cords of firewood, though each time we tell the story it gets more and more animated. In New England, the sport of horse and oxen pulling is a big deal – it is the one event at the fair that always gets a huge crowd. The work and dedication it takes to get a team working together to accomplish something huge is deeply symbolic in our logo. The chickens in the logo always get the most questions. For anyone that has raised free-range hens, you know how industrious those girls can be. You let them out in the morning and they are busy all day searching for food, scratching in the dirt, laying eggs, and just being productive. They might be small and one chicken alone cannot accomplish a lot, but when they work together they can make a huge positive difference on the farm. And so two chickens yoked together became our logo, and with teamwork, dedication, and perseverance, our dreams will become reality. (more…)