Category Archives: Farming

5 reasons to raise chickens

chicken-profile-pic

Chickens are often the first livestock to be added to a homestead and have been laughingly referred to as the gateway livestock. However the benefits of adding a flock of chickens to your backyard, homestead, or beginning farm, are no laughing matter. Chickens bring some serious good ju-ju with them and open the door to a number of opportunities for… Read more »

How to build a temporary chicken coop for a Maine winter; with free printable instructions

temporary-chicken-coop-for-winter

Housing for the chickens was a big concern during Runamuk’s Great Farm Move. It had taken a full year to rebuild the Runamuk flock following my divorce, and I was up to nearly 90 birds in varying stages of production when I made the difficult decision to let go of Jim’s property in Starks. As we build up our apiary… Read more »

2016 Year-End Review

runamuk-apiary-bees-on-a-hive

A full rotation of the Earth around the sun has brought us once again to the end of the calendar year. It’s been a busy year for Runamuk, with some ups and some downs too, and some life altering moments. Before we shift our focus to 2017 and all that the new year may bring our way I’d like to take… Read more »

Winter solstice & dawning realizations

winter-solstice-dawning-realizations

As the Wheel of the Year turns the seasons and we move deeper into the darkest half of the year I want to pause for a moment to reflect on the journey that has brought me to where I am today. I’ve spent a lot of time this fall looking inward, thinking about who I am─the experiences that have shaped… Read more »

Butchering Meat Rabbits

Butchering Meat Rabbits

**WARNING** This article discusses the slaughtering and butchering of livestock. The images below may not be appropriate for all audiences. On principle I firmly believe that as a homesteader and farmer I need to know how to manage my livestock from beginning to end. When my chickens reach the end of their egg-laying life it only makes sense to me that… Read more »

What do farmers at Johnny’s Seeds say are the biggest challenges facing farmers today?

challenges facing farmers

Though farmers in general are a dedicated lot, farming has never been easy and today’s beginning farmers face numerous obstacles. There’s a steep learning curve to growing produce and raising livestock for food production. A farmer has to wear many hats and have a broad spectrum of knowledge and skillsets. There are regulations and legalities to be adhered to and… Read more »

Resources recommended by Johnny’s Seeds farmers

recommended resources for beginning farmers

Beginning farmers face a myriad of challenges and obstacles along their chosen career path. Operating and owning a farm has become much more difficult since the advent of the industrialized agriculture system. New farmers today face a steep learning curve, expensive prices for farmland, and high start-up costs. Despite all that, statistics from the USDA’s Agricultural Census indicate that─especially here in… Read more »

Favorite things from the farmers and gardeners at Johnny’s Seeds

Favorite Things FIsm

How could any beginning farmer go into a company like Johnny’s Selected Seeds, find themselves surrounded by a spectrum of farmers and gardeners and not want to pick their brains for useful bits of information? I already knew what I wanted to ask when I finally bucked up the nerve to approach colleagues at work for this series of articles. And… Read more »

How do you know what to do to be a profitable farm?

small farm

Let me say first and foremost that Runamuk is not what I would yet consider a “profitable” farm, lol. Runamuk does contribute to the rent and to the purchasing of feed, equipment, supplies, and livestock─but a large part of our income is supplemented by my off-farm employment.  Our finances here are tight, and as I’ve mentioned previously, I make a… Read more »

Maine’s local food movement

maine local food movement

The Madison Farmers’ Market, held a meeting Saturday evening at the Old Point School in Madison, to finalize plans for our upcoming 2015 market season. I volunteer my time and efforts as the market manager, organizing, planning and promoting our young little market, and working to both serve local agriculture, farmers and farming in Madison and the surrounding areas. The… Read more »

SWOT analysis of Runamuk

runamuk's swot analysis

Business planning and annual reviews are an important aspect of any business–big or small–even agricultural businesses. Typically most farmers spend time during the quieter winter months planning and preparing for the next season, and I may be a little late getting to it this year due to the disarray my life currently faces, but I have been reviewing Runamuk’s farming… Read more »

Conducting a SWOT analysis of your farm

SWOT_FI

No one gets into farming because they want to get rich, lol. But at the same time a farm is still a business, and a business needs to at least break even–if not earn a profit. Conducting a SWOT analysis of your farm-business annually can help you to determine what’s working for you and what’s not.   What is SWOT?… Read more »

Winterizing the farm — with free printable checklist

winterizing the farm

Cold weather is once again on our doorstep. Farmers and homesteaders alike are racing to finish their winter preparations before the first snowflakes fly. We have gardens to put to bed, livestock to prepare and equipment to get ready for the long season ahead of us. If you’re new to farming or homesteading, the list of chores for winterization can… Read more »

Why support native bees on your farm?

farming for native bees

Until recently, native and feral bee populations met all of a farmers’ pollination needs.  Farms were smaller, and closer to natural areas where native bee populations could easily recolonize a farm should an insecticide application kill resident bees. But with the advent of the industrial farm, habitat for pollinators has been drastically reduced–today, many of our agricultural landscapes are vast… Read more »

Challenges new farmers face

overcoming the challenges of establishing a new farm

“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.”  –Denis Waitley. Farmers are a ruggedly determined lot.  The farmers whom I know personally, are full of vim and vigor, and while obstacles may sometimes get them down on occasion, typically these challenges do not hold them back for long. Even so, farming… Read more »

Establishing a new farm: Where to start & how to prioritize

establishing a new farm

These days nothing is more enticing than the concept of living a life sustained by the land and nature.  Folks from all walks are turning away from the mainstream and it’s commercialized lifestyle.  For some it is a mission to provide a healthy atmosphere for raising their family; for others a desire to live more lightly upon the Earth–to protect… Read more »

Establishing a new farm: tools & investments

first farm investments

This is part 2 in our Establishing a New Farm blog-series.  Click here to see part 1: Where to Start & How to Prioritize. When I first started keeping bees I didn’t have many of the tools that I have now.  Hell–I didn’t even have a veil!  Looking back on it now–I really have no idea why I thought I… Read more »

Innovation, resourcefulness & creativity in farming

Mulch at Snakeroot_FI

This is part 3 in our “Establishing a New Farm” series, you can view part 1 here, and part 2 by clicking here. Have you ever met a wealthy farmer?  Ever seen a farmer driving a flashy new sports car?  or any brand new vehicle for that matter?  Not likely.  People do not become farmers to get rich. Most farmers… Read more »

Sustainability through the family garden

I managed to set up 2 mini hoop-houses and planted a number of lettuce seedlings, yet April was a cold and windy start to the gardening season that left me longing for more.  So far May has made up for it in spades!  I’ve been out in the garden practically every day for the last week, working on preparing one… Read more »

Goat school!

With acreage to reclaim as farm-land and the goals for Runamuk’s future in mind, I’ve signed up for the June Goat School with Ken and Janice Spaulding at Stony Knolls Farm in St.Albans this June.  The Spauldings have been raising goats for 25 years and were even featured in this article in the Bangor Daily News back in 2010.

Clearing brush for the power lines

Last week I met with Jim Cornforth of Madison Electric to determine where exactly the lines for the electricity would run. It would be great to be able to start up our farm off the grid, but with a very limited budget we’re forced to stick with electricity for the time being.  The electric company will install up to 300… Read more »

Farming in Somerset County

Farming in Maine has a unique connection to the state’s history.  Many of Maine’s first settlers were farmers whose fields, farmhouses and barns shaped Maine’s historic landscape.  Today Maine is still considered a “family farm” state, with approximately 94% of it’s 8100 farms ranging between 1 to 500 acres in size.  The state’s agricultural producers contribute more than $1.2 billion… Read more »

Bootstrap farmers

Well folks it looks like Runamuk will continue to bootstrap it’s way into business.  20 years ago we could have easily gotten a loan for our start-up venture, but the game has changed and investors today want to see that you can start a business with nothing before they’ll give you money.  My business counselor suggests we take out a… Read more »

The next hurdle…finding funding

Well we’ve got the land, we’ve got our ideas and plans and goals, now all we need is the money to put things into action.  In order to even get started at the new site of Runamuk Acres, we’re going to have to establish a foundation at the new farm–that means all of the basics that make up a farm. … Read more »