Former staff member
Livestock Consultant Margaret Chamas works with producers of all livestock species to develop and design research trials, analyze and report data. She joined the staff during the end of her time at Iowa State University as a Masters student in animal science, where she worked with mob stocking beef cattle and its effects on the environment and cattle. After getting married and moving to Missouri, she stepped down as livestock coordinator but continues to analyze ongoing research.
Originally from New York, Margaret grew up with 4-H dairy goats before falling in love with beef cattle during her undergrad years at Cornell University. Knowledge from classes was coupled with hands-on experiences at local farms and doing pasture research. Margaret managed sixty fall-calving cows over two years for her research, rotating them up to four times daily. In addition to her love of ruminants, Margaret has raised meat and egg chickens.
In a nutshell, there are few other individuals I would be willing to listen to for five days straight. Yet I thoroughly enjoyed the week of pasture walks and classroom instruction led by Dr. Jim Gerrish, hosted by farmers and sponsored by the Iowa Beef Center, ISU Extension, the Iowa Cattlemens’ Association, local SWCD and NRCS offices, SARE, and Practical Farmers of Iowa. Continue reading
Dodging rainstorms (I just wish all the farmers got as lucky with weather as I’ve been on my field days…) southwestern Iowans met up for an informative field tour at Noble Pastures, the farm of David and Leslie Carbaugh and family. The farm has been in the family for years, and David is working on turning it into a sustainable grass-based livestock venture, when not busy selling insurance in Omaha. This field day was as valuable for him as for the attendees, as experienced farmers Ron Dunphy and Paul Ackley offered insights and answered specific questions. Continue reading
Fred and Vicki Abels, of K&A Acres Inc, hosted their second wonderful field day in less than a year. Almost as a follow-up to last fall’s meeting and discussion on cover crops, soil health, and alternative grazing strategies, Fred invited experts on all topics to his farm for an afternoon of lectures and in-field learning. Fred serves as a commissioner on the Grundy County Soil and Water Conservation District board, which was a generous sponsor of the field day. Continue reading
Yes indeed, row crops, fences, cattle, cover crops, popcorn, and watermelons…what do they have in common? They all take up part of Glenwood Century Farm in Albion, and Wade Dooley and family shared some of their enterprises with a group of field day attendees on June 24. Participants learned about the challenges Wade has faced, his responses and adaptations, and current and future projects to improve his farm’s profitability and sustainability. Continue reading
The Griffieon Family Farm is diverse, encompassing multiple types of field crops and multiple types of livestock. Attendees at a recent field day got to meet a number of the animals (and sample some of the sweet corn!) while learning some animal maintenance tips, both for the show ring and the barn. Hosts LaVon and Craig Griffieon, Autumn and Laramie Ogden, and Julia and Phillip Griffieon showcased various skills on some of the family’s livestock. Continue reading
The third of its kind, this down-and-dirty, hands-on field day was a great learning session for anyone interested in small- to mid-scale poultry farming. Jason Grimm hosted just over 30 attendees at his family’s farm, sharing his experience and knowledge in raising and processing pasture-based chickens.
The Haney soil test seems to be the current rising trend in soil health and sustainability. Here I’ve tried to summarize basics of the test, including what it does, what it demonstrates, and possible uses. Continue reading
I’m jumping the gun a bit on the field day guide, but wanted to announce the final Holistic Management course of the spring! Continue reading
I’m trying to finally set aside some time to catch up on webinars. Thank goodness for the technology to archive these things! Some of the ones I’ve got on my “to listen to” list are from last October! The two I started out with were “The Biology of Soil Compaction” by (the) Ohio State University associate professor and Extension agent Jim Hoorman; and “Soil Health and Production Benefits of Mob Grazing” by Missouri State Extension agent Doug Peterson. Here I won’t tell what they told, but recount some interesting bits of info.
Winter is the (relatively) slow season in the agriculture world. Chores and work certainly never really stop, but there is somewhat of a lull. But it seems that no one’s brains go on vacation. With the colder weather come the conferences! Between PFI’s own Annual Conference and Cooperator’s Meeting, and other groups’ efforts like the Driftless Region and Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conferences, MOSES, and slews of cover crop conferences, there are plenty of ways to keep one’s mind active and get new ideas for the next year. This past “conference season,” some of the most impressive and striking events for me have been the three Holistic Management workshops I’ve been to. With three down and one to go, I wanted to reflect on them briefly. Continue reading