Erin, Sawyer, Cora, and I enjoyed a wonderful weekend together at the Grassworks Conference 2016 in Wisconsin Dells. We were there to sit at the Weston A. Price Foundation booth and to pick up some insights and knowledge from people who are practicing and innovating grazing and pasture operations.
Sawyer and I went to a session on establishing silvopasture systems. Silvopasture is a pasture system in which trees provide shade but are sparse enough to allow sun through the canopy and grass to grow on the ground. It seems like a lot of work to establish trees without allowing rodents or cattle or goats to kill the trees, but it will be worth a try at some point in the future. For more Silvopasture systems, check out Grant Schultz in Iowa and Mark Shepard in Wisconsin.
Erin and I also went to several sessions on Saturday, including presentations about pastured pigs, pastured chickens, and raising rabbits. There was a lot of good information for a growing farm like us. During down time, we were able to chat with friends about growing families, raising geese and ducks, spring/summer/fall calving, and expanding small farms. We got to know new friends and hear about pastured turkeys, and I met a grazing specialist from NRCS that I may speak with more in the future. It was a great conference from both a learning standpoint and a social get-together. It's not often we are surrounded by hundreds of people raising animals on pasture!
In addition to the awesome conference, we were able to take some time out of our schedule to enjoy the water at Chula Vista Resort. Erin, Sawyer, Cora, and I all frolicked in the water park on Friday afternoon, and Erin and I were able to slip away (with the help of Erin's parents) Friday night for a brief but relaxing break in the outdoor hot tub. The water was nice and warm, but the outside air temperature was in the single digits! We're already looking forward to next year, but we have a busy farm season in between then and now, and we're even more excited for that!