The Open Gate Log Cain Livestock Farm Day was hosted by Ben and Denise Bartlett at their beautiful farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Saturday, September 21st 2013. Much like our Open Gate day at Creekside Meadows Farm , the day was cold and wet, but a number of people in the local community came long distances to participate in the event.
The day started with and introduction to HMI, after which Ben and Denise took over and explained the importance Holistic Management has had for them over the year. In particular, they have found great value in having some decision-making tools that have helped them balance the busy life of raising a family, holding full-time jobs, and managing a farm.
During a break in the rain, Ben took the group outdoors to evaluate soil health. We observed differences in soil texture and color based on management. We also discussed soil ecology and the complexity of the trophic levels in a healthy, well-managed soil.
The soils exercise was followed-up with lunch, generously provided by Rock River Farm. The hot-off-the-grill chicken was the perfect remedy to the cold weather outside. After lunch, the group learned how to assemble simple snap and fit watering systems, which really gave people some perspective about the ease with which a person can setup a new water system using some of the newer technology available.
We concluded the day with a forage assessment exercise, where small groups went out into the field and evaluated the amount of forage available in the pastures. This information then helped the groups to determine what a simple grazing plan might look like.
Evaluation results show that participants learned quite a lot about a number of critical farm management issues.
|Topic Covered||Percent Change in Knowledge/Confidence|
|The value of grazing planning||
|How to assess amount of forage||
|The value of monitoring soil fertility||
|How to monitor soil fertility||
|How to improve soil fertility||
|How to improve grazing practices||
|Ability to create a grazing plan||
|Ability to improve farm management decisions||
HMI would like to extend our gratitude to Ben and Denise Bartlett for sharing their home and their experiences with their local community. We would also like to thank the event sponsors, including Nevill Fence, Livestock and Grazing Supply, Alger County Conservation District, USDA NRCS, Michigan State University AgBio Research, MSU Extension, and Greenstone Farm Credit Services.