Photo by Stephanie Staton
If you read the Hobby Farms editors’ resolutions for 2012, you might remember that mine was to learn more about composting, and not just from the interesting articles that cross my desk. Six months into the year, I’m proud to say I can consider that resolution fulfilled with the completion of a Master Composter certification (though I plan to continue expanding my knowledge and experience).
A Lexington, Ky., nonprofit gardening program, Seedleaf, provided me hands-on composting experience both big—visiting the county municipal waste site’s compost experiment—and small—turning Seedleaf’s community-garden compost in bins constructed from shipping pallets.
Programs like this are designed to not only teach you the what, why and how but also to arm you with the knowledge and expertise to share this information with others. As such, each participant in the program gave a presentation about a composting technique to the rest of the class. I researched, constructed and presented compost bins made from straw bales.
Working with the bales and researching the differences in the application of hay and straw bales for constructing compost bins, I was reminded of a fascination that I’ve always had with the seemingly simplistic design of these bales—thousands of strands held together with a couple of twine strings. Amazing!
Growing up, I was one of the youngest and smallest in the bunch and was often relegated to watching my older brother and cousins toss square hay bales onto the back of the pickup truck before we hauled them to the barn, where they’d be stacked and stored until they were needed to feed my uncle’s pastured cattle. Seeing the cut grass transformed into a hefty rectangle that could withstand being jostled in and out of the truck gave me an appreciation for the implements and attachments that help farmers get the job done more quickly and efficiently. If you’re in the market for some helpful haying equipment, turn to "Tools of the Trade” for some of the latest gadgets that will make your dreams of sustainable feed for your livestock a reality.
If, like my uncle, you’re considering a pasture-based operation for your farm, read "Beef It Up” to see how other producers are turning a profit while raising healthy, efficient beef cattle. You can even incite a mob—a mob of livestock, that is—to graze pasture in a rotational system that encourages better finish for the livestock and your pasture.
This issue of Hobby Farms is stocked with ideas to improve your farm, its bottom line and your overall sustainability.