What a year it has been!

written by

MoSo Farm

posted on

January 1, 2024

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Happy new year! The snow is softly falling outside my window on this first day of 2024 and I am snuggled up on my couch in my new pajamas, hoping you are finding warmth and coziness this time of year as well.

This morning I pulled out our business plan, which we update every winter with new goals for the short and long-term, to see how our farm has grown and changed. Here’s how we measured up to our goals last year…

Short-term goals for 2023:

✔️ Finish 9 healthy beef cattle and sell 8 direct to consumer

  • Accomplished! We successfully finished 9 beeves this year, 1 was held for family use and 8 were sold in a variety of ways: bulk, individual cuts, bundles, wholesale.

    ✔️ Implement silvopasture by planting and managing trees

    • Perhaps our biggest project of the year was planting 510 trees (7 different species) into one of our pastures in order to establish silvopasture.

    ✔️ Expand herd to 15 cattle in spring 2023

    • Indeed we expanded the herd this year to a total of 18 beef cattle.

    ✔️ Improve fencing & gates

    • We built many feet of fencing with help from a conservation grant. While we still have more to build, this has already improved our ability to move the cattle smoothly.

    ⏰ Establish permanent water system

    • This is one goal that we did not reach in 2023, but we are actively planning to complete in 2024. Most importantly, we got a conservation grant this year which will enable us to pay for this important infrastructure!

    ✔️ Seed into front pasture and create grazing plan to eliminate jointhead arthraxon

    • We dealt with an invasive grass (jointhead arthraxon) in our winter pasture by seeding a diverse mix of forages to compete with it. Part of our grant is to create a “feeding pad” or graveled area where we can take the cattle off of the pastures and feed hay when it’s too wet in the winter. This will greatly reduce the damage to pastures during muddy conditions.

    ⏰ Learn best practices for breeding and compare birth-to-butcher versus stocker models

    • We continue to look at the profitability of breeding on our farm versus buying in weaned calves (“stockers”) to raise for beef. We have always done the latter, which gives us flexibility in buying different breeds and reduces the complications of having newborns on the farm. However, it leaves us at the mercy of commodity price fluctuations and there are limited grass-fed cattle breeds in the area, so we are looking at what it would take to raise a breeding herd on the farm. Stay tuned!

    ✔️ Raise 5-10 pigs

    • Most excitingly, we added pastured pork as a new enterprise to our business this year. We successfully raised 7 pigs for friends, family, and our wedding. As I write this, we have 17 pigs romping around happily in the hay. We will have lots of pastured pork available this coming year.
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    It’s been a full year, to say the least. Not included on this list? Expanding our property by acquiring a farm just down the road, clearing out the giant bank barn on that farm, Molly going to Tanzania for two weeks to support an organization who works with farmers, adding different sales channels including wholesale to restaurants and monthly pickups. Oh! And getting married.

    Our cups are overflowing with gratitude for our community - whether it be the 15 individuals who helped us plant 510 trees, the first customers who bought from us in 2021 and have come back every year since, our neighbor Dave Perry who helps us fix broken equipment, our mentors Pete Shew and Dave Spindler who guide us first generation farmers, fellow friends and musicians who come to our farm shows, or our families who support us literally and figuratively every day.

    Thank you for being here.

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