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Writer reflects on what he has learned and applied from visiting farmsWriter reflects on what he has learned and applied from visiting farms

He gains ideas about building barns to practicing conservation.

May 4, 2016

2 Min Read

I love being an ag writer. One of many fringe benefits of my job is being able to bring some good ideas home to our own small farm. We have a few cows, and the grandkids have 4-H animals.

Brand’s Dairy Farm is a case in point. It will be featured this week in a story about the farm’s calf barn, and in a story about conservation. I was there in 2013, as one stop on that year’s Indiana Dairy Youth Academy tour.


Although I didn’t write about the Brands’ calf barn at the time, I was nevertheless taking careful notes. My wife and I were planning to build a new barn of our own, and we wanted one end of it to be “livestock-friendly,” for grandkid 4-H projects, etc. Their barn is definitely livestock-friendly, and is well-ventilated and bird-free.

As a result of being at Brand’s, our new barn, which we built later that year, is also “birdless.” Two cupolas on top are functional, to provide good ventilation. Brand’s barn also has cupolas. The barn is capable of providing sunlight or shade as needed.

And the barn’s not the only time I have brought ideas home. After I did a series on conservation practices in 2011, I became a convert to no-till and cover crops. I even purchased a tractor a few years ago after seeing a description of a similar model in Indiana Prairie Farmer. There are more good ideas now at our place than I have room here to describe.

Over the past dozen-plus years, it’s been my privilege to interview some of the best and most innovative farmers in Indiana. They’re good farmers, but even more importantly, they’re good people. They’ve made me feel right at home on their place or at their kitchen table. I’ve learned mightily from them.

I am blessed.

Boone writes from Wabash. He is currently taking time out to write a book about the amazing life of his disabled but determined son, Peter, who passed away last year. Boone will be back on some of your farms soon.

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