A Chat with Anna Cates Soil Health Specialist UM Extension

A Chat with Anna Cates Soil Health Specialist UM Extension
Farm Market News: What is your professional affiliation?  How long have you served in this position?
Anna Cates: I’ll be starting as the MN Soil Health Specialist full-time in January –– a brand-new position within the MN Office for Soil Health (MOSH) based on the St. Paul campus of UM. Until then I’m making phone calls and visits around the state to learn more about how farmers and other land managers are implementing soil health practices across the state. Minnesota has such diverse agricultural possibilities that it’s been a blast to hear how various groups are approaching soil health in different regions.

FMN: What is the primary objective of your organization?
AC: The Office for Soil Health was formed to protect and improve soil resources and water quality. We want to work with local experts at all levels to implement soil health practices like cover crops, livestock incorporation, and more perennials in rotation as appropriate to each farm business.

FMN: How does your organization benefit its members?
AC:  We’re not a member organization, but we work with partners in the NRCS, Extension, and BWSR to increase soil health literacy of conservation professionals. MOSH hopes to serve as a network for all the people working in this area, so if you’re interested in a new technique or need resources related to soil health we can connect you with the right people.

FMN: Where did you grow up?
AC: I was born on the family farm in southwest Wisconsin but grew up in Missoula, Mont., a university town in the Rocky Mountains.

FMN: Do you farm currently? If so where? Can you describe your business operation?
AC: I collect interesting varieties of dry beans and my family and friends and I grow about 1/4 acre of beans near Spring Green, Wis. This year they look beautiful –– got ahead of the weeds and flowering like mad now. This is a strictly profit-free enterprise, as we just eat, give away and save the beans.

FMN: Family?
AC: Husband, Dave, plus a two-year-old and a baby due next month.

FMN: Outside interests?
AC: I like experiencing the woods and lakes of the Midwest in a boat, on foot, or from a comfortable deck, and I love watching my kid get excited about bugs and plants and boats.

FMN: What advise would you give young people interested in pursuing a career in agriculture?
AC: Take advantage of the education offered by Extension, technical colleges, and farmer networks. There are so many people excited to help young farmers write business plans and avoid pitfalls! Look for ways to start farming that require less capital, so you can start small and be flexible as you’re learning without quite so much risk. Make friends in the neighborhood –– rural communities are still based on shared knowledge and helping out a neighbor in need.
 

A Chat with Shanna McCann, Soap Maker

A Chat with Shanna McCann, Soap Maker
Farm Market News: What is your professional affiliation? How long have you served in this position?
Shanna McCann: I’m the soap maker at Simple Soaps For Simple Folks. I’ve been making goat-milk soaps, solid hand lotions and lip butters for nine years now.

FMN: What are your organization’s primary objectives?
SM: My soaps were created because of a dream I had to milk goats. In 2007, I received two goats as a gift, and found they produced enough milk to satisfy my curiosity and build my dream. Shamrock, Willy and their friends — now numbering five total — have produced the milk I integrate into my bars of soaps. I have organic dairy farming experience, and believe in self-sustainability. My lifestyle is something some people would call simple. Simple Soaps For Simple Folks came to be the day I learned to make hand soap from a dear friend who is a very practical, yet fun-loving woman. I was hooked, and I had lots of goat milk with which to begin experimenting. I handcraft cold-process soap, which means the soap must cure for four to six weeks before it is ready. I believe good things take time and patience; I love the texture and quality of my soaps after the curing period passes.

FMN: What are your organization’s primary objectives?
SM: We create goat milk soaps in small, artisan batches for people to use, give and, above all, enjoy. Quality ingredients, like certified organic base oils, and unique molded shapes are part of our signature style. Every bar has our goats’ fresh milk in it, and we avoid using synthetic dyes/pigments and chemicals in our products.

FMN: How does your organization benefit its members?
SM: Most of those who use my soaps note the lather and the texture of the soap is superior to any other kind of soap they’ve used, handmade or commercial. Many will also comment on how silky, soft and different their skin feels even after one shower or experience with the goat-milk soaps.

FMN: Where did you grow up?
SM: I grew up on a dairy farm in near Platteville, Wis. I’m the eldest of four girls; we all worked like boys, fought like boys and are fiercely independent. My dad had five farms, so milking cows, tending hogs, doing fieldwork, hay and tending to young stock was everyday life.

FMN: Do you farm currently? If so where?
SM: I just moved to a beautiful 20-acre farmette near Byron. I have a barn to house my 11 goats, a few acres to hay and woods.

FMN: Can you describe your operation?
SM: I am a firm believer in organic farming; I did relief milking for an organic farmer near the Strum, Wis., area, and learned much from him. In a previous marriage, we were a certified organic dairy farm. My farmette could be certified organic, which is something I have to work toward. My goats are grain free — no corn, wheat, etc. — but I supplement with beet pulp, and feed grass hay to supplement their pasture lots. My goats breed seasonally, so August through January I leave the buck with the girls. Chickens have been a recent addition here. I’d love to free range them, but the neighbor’s dog has an affinity for chicken. Lastly, I plan on having several beehives next year to benefit my large garden and flower beds’ pollination. At some point, I’d like to have blueberries and hazelnuts too. It’s a far cry from what I grew up with, but nothing replaces green space, fresh air and tending animals.

FMN: Family?
SM: Right now I’m a single lady, no children, with a four-legged fur baby named Hans, a mini-Schnauzer. I teach piano lessons, so I get to call my students and my goat babies my “kids.”

FMN: Outside interests?
SM: I love to wander the woods, read, cook and bake new recipes and play piano.

FMN: What advice would you give young people looking at a career in agriculture?
SM: Follow your passion. Whatever it is that feeds your soul — tilling the land, tending animals, working the numbers to make the operation flow — do that. And what you aren’t the best at, acknowledge, and get someone who is competent and passionate about it to do it for you.

A Chat with: Shane Lingen American Dairy Association Board Member

A Chat with: Shane Lingen American Dairy Association Board Member
Farm Market News: What is your professional affiliation?  How long have you served in this position?
Shane Lingen: I am a dairy farmer and I serve on the board of the American Dairy Association (ADA). I have been a board member for six years.

FMN: What is the primary objective of your organization?
SL: The primary objective of the ADA is to promote the dairy industry. Dairy farmers have a full-time commitment to provide quality, nutritious, dairy products to their surrounding communities. Therefore, it is important that the ADA inform and bring awareness of the benefits and importance of the dairy industry to our communities.

FMN: How does your organization benefit its members?
SL: The ADA benefits its members by connecting us with one another to grow and learn from one another to improve the dairy industry. It also allows us to be active in our communities and spread awareness about the industry we are passionate about.
FMN: Where did you grow up?
SL: I grew up on a dairy farm outside of Ruthton, Minn. until I was 15 when my parents bought our current family dairy farm outside of Hatfield, Minn.

FMN: Do you farm currently? If so where?
SL: Yes, we operate a dairy farm just outside of Hatfield.

FMN: Can you describe your business operation?
SL: Our business operation is a dairy farm milking 300 Holstein cows twice a day. We have hired workers to do our milking so that we can focus all of our time on the other necessities of the dairy. We raise all our own young stock from new born calves to eventually lactating cows. We grow crops to feed and maintain the animals’ needs.

FMN: Family?
SL: I am the oldest of five children. I have one brother and three sisters. I am currently in a partnership with my mother and father, Trudy and Pat Lingen, on our family farm. Growing up the dairy was a family affair –– everyone helped milk, do chores, or anything that needed to be done. My sisters now live three hours away, but when they are home visiting it is just like old times, everyone working together to get the job done. My brother works full time off the farm but helps when we need extra help. I have two children, a son age 7, a daughter age 6 and a fiancée. My children love learning about farming and my fiancée loves learning and helping in any way she can.

FMN: Outside interests?
SL: My outside interests include anything involving my children and family members. I am pretty much content with life as long as I am outside staying active.

FMN: What advise would you give young people interested in pursuing a career in agriculture?
SL: Stick with it and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. It takes hard work and dedication to be in the agriculture industry but it is also very rewarding.
 

A Chat with David Hansen Member of the Cottonwood Cattle Producers

A Chat with David Hansen Member of the Cottonwood Cattle Producers
David Hansen: I am a member of the Cottonwood Cattle Producers and have been since 2010. I have served as a board member since 2011 and treasurer since 2013.

FMN: What are your organization’s primary objectives?
DH: To promote beef and inform consumers of the benefits of beef in their diets; also to support the youth involved in cattle production.

FMN: How does your organization benefit its members?
DH: We have an annual Beef Royale event, which is a live show, but also a carcass evaluation after the harvest of the animal. This event is open to our members and also non-members from all over the three-state area. The live show helps the producer evaluate cattle from different operations; it will also help the individual see how his cattle perform on the rail in the packing house.

FMN: Where did you grow up?
DH: I grew up in Windom on a cow/calf operation, farrow-to-finish operation and also a small trucking operation.

FMN: Do you farm currently? If so where?
DH: I currently do not farm as I pursued the trucking operation after a year of college for farm management. But my heart never left the farm.

FMN: Can you describe your operation?
DH: I stay involved with agriculture and the cattle industry through my job as a field representative for the Lamberton Stockyards.

FMN: Family?
DH: I have a 16-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.

FMN: Outside interests?
DH: I really enjoy going to the auction barns. But most of all, I enjoy going out to farms and feedlots, talking with the producers/customers and looking at the cattle — from baby calves to finished cattle ready for market.

FMN: What advice would you give young people looking at a career in agriculture?
DH: Have your goals set and strive to make your goals a reality. Never give up on your dreams through thick and thin.