This past weekend, my husband and a few friends attended a festival in West Bend, WI. The festival is called The Mother Earth News Fair. It goes over all sorts of topics at the workshops like gardening, self sufficiency, eating real food, raising animals, making real food products at home, etc. I figure since we were lucky enough to attend the fair, that I should share some of the things we learned.
My first speaker I saw was Joel Salatin! He is never a let down when he speaks. His first talk was on Salad Bar Beef, based on his book. I don’t raise cattle, YET, but I wanted to gain the information for when we do eventually have cattle or milking cows. His main points of that talk were to rotate your cows EVERYDAY. This seems like a big task, but he made many great points on how cost effective it actually is to rotate them: the better pasture, which results in taller grass, which is essentially then free food. In order to rotate them every day you do need a few things: electric portable fence, portable water, and portable shade. He has some fencing that is stationary but then his energizer and the cross fencing are portable. His motto for water is we want high flow and low storage. He says only 2% of the herd needs to be able to get to the trough at a time but you need to move the water system, he really recommends piping to go through the pasture area. Lastly, shelter can be something as simple as shade cloth,but he makes portable loafing shelters. That is as brief as a summary as I could give on that talk, so if you want to know more…you could probably go and buy his book.
I also went to a few other speakers on Saturday: Toolbox for Woman Farmers (which was for more established farmers, unfortunately), pollinator friendly gardening and seed starting.
The Pollinator Friendly Gardening talked about pollinators and predators, etc. Some predators to pests that were mentioned were lady bugs (great for eating scales and aphids), paper wasps (kill cabbage moths), parasitoids (lay eggs inside hots and eat their way out…ALIEN the movie anyone?) To attract pollinators you need a few items: pollen and nectar from flowers, a shallow container for water, shelter, and sunning rocks. The biggest thing in attracting pollinators are the diversity in plants. To get this diversity look for a variety of species, different heights, different bloom times, different colors, etc. Just think diversity!
There was a seed starting talk that went over somethings I have previously covered in this blog. The talk covered when and where to sew seeds, timing with frost dates, how to thin plants, types of soil, lighting needed, temperatures, circulation for seed starting, and lastly fertilizers and hardening off.
On my last hour on Saturday I went back to Joel Salatin. He did a talk on the Benchmarks of Truth. It is amazing to hear people recognize that there is still truth today. Truth seems to be such a whatever you think is truth, but Joel made it very clear that is not true! Our church is very similar in there is A TRUTH, and so this made me feel right at home. Now his benchmarks of truth were a little different than church, as they were not about Christ and God’s Truth, but it was about farming principles. So quick list of the 10 truth’s: does it build carbon, is it child friendly, is it being honoring, equity is immaterial, when innovation is empowered there is a lot of “weirdness” going on around the edges, does it increase the commons, easy to enter and exit, the decision is consistent across all fields, it can scale up and down, and lastly the model is appropriate for developed and undeveloped countries.
Whew! That was a long and wonderful Saturday! I love all things this fair! This was our second year going and it was a blast again this year…wait for part two (aka SUNDAY) next week! PS if you head over to our Facebook page there is going to be a garlic harvesting video coming up!