Thursday, July 31, 2014

Small farmer workshops planned Aug. 6 in SW Missouri

MT. VERNON, Mo. -- Lincoln University Cooperative Extension is hosting an animal production workshop for small farmers in southwest Missouri. This free workshop will look at the commercial production of rabbits, pastured poultry, swine, beef and goats.

“Commercial Animal Production for Small Farmers” will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Aug. 6 at the Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon.

Individuals planning to attend this workshop must complete a registration form that is available online at

A number of different speakers will cover a variety of topics following a free lunch. Robin Farmer will speak on the topic of rabbit production. Another guest speaker will address the topic of “Poultry Production.”

“Sheep and Goat Production” will be presented by Charlotte Clifford-Rathert, DVM. “Swine Production” will be presented by David Middleton. The “Beef Production” topic will be addressed by Randy Garrett and “Processing” will be covered by Robert Long of Golden City Meats.

For more information contact event organizer, Nahshon Bishop, a small farm specialist with Lincoln University Extension in southwest Missouri, by telephone at (417) 846-3948 or email at

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cooking goat meat requires water, time and love ...

You can't rush goat, says chef Kevin Onyona.
To make the meat tender, you need to cook it a long time — but not too long. 


As the host of the Goats and Soda blog, I wanted to learn a little bit more about goats.
At the top of my list: How do you cook goat meat?

That's the question I put to Kevin Onyona, who cooks goat at the Swahili Village restaurant in Beltsville, Md. The Kenyan-born chef was also in charge of preparing the goat stew served up at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival earlier this summer, as part of the Kenya exhibits.

"Goat, it is easy to mess up," he told me. "It's a very tough meat if you don't get it right. You gotta break down that meat, and you got to give it love."

And you've got to take your time. "If you rush goat, just forget it," Onyona said.

So throwing a hunk of goat on a grill is not enough. For soft, succulent goat, Onyona bakes the meat after grilling it, to break down the sinewy muscle even further. He also adds salt, pepper and meat tenderizer.

That goat meat had better be swimming in water for a nice, long simmer, says Kevin Onyona. Spices and vegetables will be tossed in later.

But at the Folklife Festival, Onyona was serving stewed goat. And for that, he devotes a couple of hours of cooking.

First, he boils chunks of goat meat for about an hour, with "a lot of water," he says. You don't want to keep adding water during the 2 1/2-hour cooking time, or that'll interfere with the seasoning of the meat. So fill that pot to the brim at the start. Onyona also puts chunks of goat bone in the mix, for added flavor. And garlic.

Should the pot be covered? "Covered, uncovered, whatever!" he says.

After about half an hour, Onyona adds his seasonings: cumin, curry, cardamon, the Indian spice combo known as garam masala. "There's a very strong Indian presence in Kenya," he says, "and a lot of exchange in seasonings."

After another 30 minutes of boiling, he adds lots of chopped vegetables: onions, tomatoes and peppers of all colors.

He does not add salt. "All the seasonings have a little bit of sodium," he explains (which may not technically be true, but who am I to argue with a master of goat?).After boiling the stew for about 45 more minutes, he turns the heat down to a simmer. "You don't want to break the meat down too much," he explains.

At the very end of the marathon boil, he adds lots more spices: coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic, fennel seeds, cumin, cinnamon, paprika. "A little bit of everything," Onyona says. The last thing you add is cilantro, after you finish cooking, "for color and aroma."

The end result should be meat that is tender but not completely broken down. "You can chew it a little bit," he says.

The stew is served with the bones on the plate as well. If there are no bones, he says, Kenyans will not believe it's a goat dish. "They love to pick up the bone, suck on the marrow."

And how does the goat stew taste?

I had never eaten goat before the festival. But I dug in. The meat was rich, mouth-wateringly tender. And it had a subtle heat from the spices.

The goat almost melted in my mouth, yet I could definitely sink my teeth into it.

I shared my rave review with one of Onyona's fellow cooks at the festival, Victor. Victor got a look of rapture in his eyes and said, "That is goat, now, that is goat!"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer issue of 'Wild & Woolly' available for viewing

The Summer 2014 issue of Wild & Woolly has been posted to the web. Wild & Woolly is a newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminants. It is published quarterly by University of Maryland Extension and the Western Maryland Research & Education Center. Here is an excerpt:

By Mary Bowen
Owner, Green Goats

It is easy to see that our roadsides, open fields, woodlands and backyards are becoming overrun with invasive species and other unwanted vegetation. Machines often can't get to problem areas, humans hands are very labor intensive, and herbicides are dangerous to our waterways, soil, and desired vegetation, not to mention animals and humans.

If left alone, invasive plants take over our woodlands, strangling valuable trees and threatening important diversity. Open grasslands and neighborhood backyards become overrun, creating a loss in farming productivity, habitat for birds and other wildlife, and enjoyment of outdoor space.

Green Goats
(L-R) Jorge Rodriquez, Nelson Escobar, Mary Bowen, and Jacqueline Bowen

When it comes to clearing unwanted vegetation, goats can provide an ideal alternative to machines and herbicides. They graze in places that mowers can't reach and humans don't want to go (yes, they love Poison Ivy). In fact, goats eat a wide range of unwanted vegetation, which on the East Coast include Kudzu, Oriental Bittersweet, Ailanthus, Multiflora Rose, Japanese Honeysuckle, Mile-A-Minute and much much more.

Goat Grazing Facts:

  • Goats have been used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service. State, county and city contractors (such as the city of Seattle) have also used goats for weed and invasive species control.
  • Goats love broad leafed material, which means brush and invading field vegetation are consumed. But they don't prefer grass, so it is left to flourish.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

USDA offers online hay and grazing locator tool

For many years, FSA's Hay Net website  has been the "go to" online resource for agricultural producers to list information concerning the need for hay or the availability of hay.
Now, in response to requests from livestock producers and landowners, FSA has expanded the site to include the option to list a need for grazing acres or to list acres available for grazing.
If, due to extenuating circumstances, producers are in need of hay and/or grazing acres to support livestock, please use Hay Net to post an advertisement seeking these resources. Likewise, landowners who have hay and/or grazing acres available for livestock producers should post a Hay Net advertisement as well.
A few things to remember when using the Hay Net website:
  • There is a one-time registration process that should be completed by all users who want to post an ad online.
  • Users who just want to browse ads DO NOT NEED to have an eAuthentication user id.
  • Hay and grazing acre ads will be automatically removed after a period of 13 months.
  • Please help your fellow farmer and rancher by keeping ads current and up to date and remove ads you no longer need or want advertised on Hay Net. Please, no corporate advertisements on this site.
Hay Net is brought to you by FSA as a public service. The sole purpose of this online resource is to provide a site for the exchange of information. FSA does not endorse, guarantee, or otherwise make representations of any kind regarding any user of this site and FSA is not responsible for defining the terms of grazing agreements or lease contracts.

For more information about Hay Net and other FSA services and programs, please contact your local FSA office.  For local FSA Service Center contact information, please visit:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Polyface Farm field day July 19 in Virginia

Time is running out. Register by June 25th for big savings!

You might have heard Joel Salatin speak, read of his farming practices in magazines or in The Omnivore's Dilemma, or seen Polyface Farm featured in the film Food, Inc. or a video, but there's nothing like a visit to the farm. On July 19 in Swope, Va., witness firsthand the layered farming operations, the intricate dance in the pastures, the simple elegance which is the backbone of the highly productive and profitable family farm.

Joel SalatinNot merely a farm tour, it's a complete open house with Joel, Daniel, family, staff and interns explaining and demonstrating everything about the Polyface system in production-level detail so that you can return home and immediately improve your farm. Visit with two dozen Polyface suppliers in the on-farm trade show. Taste farm-grown Polyface food at the giant barbecue. And take part in the many demos and the Q&A session with Joel.

Register by June 25 for earlybird savings. Adults, $100 / Ages 15-20, $60 / Under 15, free After June 25: Adults, $150 / Ages 15-20, $90 / Under 15, free All food is grown to order.  Registrations after July 10th on a space-available basis only.

Downloadable brochure (PDF) and complete details at

Attendees: Save 20% on all Joel Salatin books.Details and listing of Joel Salatin books online.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

'Toolbox' a cornucopia for small ruminant producers

Flash Drive or Free Download Now Available on ATTRA Website

Raising sheep and goats can be a fruitful way for small and limited-resource producers to diversify their operations. They just need the tools to make the enterprise successful. A new Small Ruminant Toolbox developed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) with the help of a number of collaborators fits that bill nicely.

The free toolbox, which was funded by USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), is a well-organized collection of some of the best information available on small ruminants.

The Tools
• Relevant ATTRA materials, including the comprehensive, 978-page “Small Ruminant Resource Manual”
• Several informative presentations shared by Susan Schoenian of University of Maryland Extension
• The entire course for the Tennessee Master Meat Goat Producer Program
• An extensive library of related Power Point Presentations
• A “Frequently Asked Questions” section on sheep and goat production
• A list of other resources

Not Just for Producers
The information in the Small Ruminant Toolbox is also a great resource for Extension agents and other educators. Most of the materials can be freely shared, and if there are restrictions, the toolbox lays out what they are. There is even a section specifically geared toward Extension agents.

Where to Find the Toolbox
The Small Ruminant Toolbox is available at no cost on the ATTRA website at

Grab Your Toolbox and Go
This collection is also available on a USB flash drive. It’s easily portable and all the content is readily available even when you don’t have Internet access. The flash drives are $5 each, and can be ordered from the website. Information about bulk orders is available by calling 800-346-9140.

ATTRA — National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service — was developed and is maintained through a cooperative agreement with the USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Butte, Montana. ATTRA has been the nation’s leading resource for information on sustainable agriculture since 1987, covering a wide range of topics, including reducing pesticide use on cropland, promoting food safety in sustainable production systems, reducing farm energy use and costs, enriching soils with the use of cover crops, and providing technical assistance in the growing areas of local farmers markets and urban gardening. In addition to hundreds of sustainable-agriculture publications, ATTRA’s other popular offerings include a free sustainable-agriculture telephone helpline and the “Ask an Ag Expert” feature on the home page.  It has an archive of webinars and videos generated by NCAT and partnering organizations. ATTRA also maintains numerous popular databases, including sustainable-agriculture internships and apprenticeships, and is a source for the day’s agriculture news, among other features.

Since 1976, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has been helping people by championing small-scale, local and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities and protect natural resources. In partnership with businesses, organizations, individuals and agricultural producers, NCAT is working to advance solutions that will ensure the next generation inherits a world that has clean air and water, energy production that is efficient and renewable, and healthy foods grown with sustainable practices. More information about its programs and services is available at or by calling 1-800-ASK-NCAT.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

79 bucks going to Western Maryland buck test

Seventy-nine bucks have been accepted into the 2014 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.  Originally, 101 bucks had been nominated, but the number was reduced to 79 in order to reduce pasture stocking rate and parasite burdens.

The 79 bucks were consigned by 23 producers from 13 states. There are nine new consignors and thirteen returning consignors.  The 79 bucks will share the pasture resource with 15 bucks from the pen vs. pasture study.

State# consignors# goats
New Jersey14
North Carolina28
West Virginia13
Totals (13)23 79

The bucks will start arriving to the test site next week.  The official delivery date is Friday, May 30. This year's adjustment period will be short. Starting weights will be determined on June 5-6.

For the first 42 days of the test, the bucks will graze cool season grass paddocks, pre-contaminated with worm larvae by grazing sheep. For the second 42 days of the test, the bucks will graze annual pastures (yet to be planted). Final weights will be determined on August 28-29.

Gold, Silver, and Bronze performing bucks will be sold at the Bluegrass Performance Invitational in Frankfort, Kentucky on September 6. Consignors to the buck test may consign does to the sale.  For more information about the sale, contact Jarred Dennison at (502) 875-8857 or

Bucks that do not qualify for the Kentucky sale may be purchased via private treaty.

Posted By Susan Schoenian to Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test at 5/20/2014 10:52:00 AM