242. Raising Pigs | Kosloski Farms | Kara Kosloski | Rockstar Millennial and OGP Listener

Kara Koslowski and pig

Welcome to the Organic Gardener Podcast today it’s Friday, July 27, 2018! Kara is a listener and a farmer and a gardener and a ROCKSTAR MILLENNIAL! here to share her farming and gardening journey raising pigs and eating healthy.

Kara Kosloski Raspberries

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m from Michigan, that’s where I lived till now. I work in marketing

I worked at Fair State University in Marketing. It’s my full time day job

I have married for 10 years. My husband and I like doing anything outdoors.

  • hunting
  • farming

I’m big into holistic health, all in general

  • exercise
  • spirituality
  • gardening
  • anything I can eat!

So we connected in the Facebook group, and my big question is how did you find the Facebook Group, it never occurred to me that there are people in groups that don’t listen to the host’s podcast. So do you listen to the podcast?

So, I have an hour commute to work, 2 hours a day I’m driving.

I discovered podcasts, to just pass the time, and I said what am I into? 

I’m into gardening! That’s what I listen to, I started doing a search, I started listening and that’s how I found your Facebook group because you must have mentioned it on the podcast.

I just love podcasting because of that! And I’m so glad you’re here and you probably know how I start the show!

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Tell me about your first gardening experience?

So, my previous job I worked at the YMCA.  We had just started a community garden though a grant! I had always been interested in gardening. I never gardened as a kid so I joined the committee as a liaison through business hoping I could learn some more about

I started with a 10 x 20 plot. What they did for the gardeners is they split halfway organic/non-organic. So I thought how do you keep the organic side, the good from the other side?

RodaleCoverPhoto

That’s how the Rodale’s Farm Test Trial started about 40 years ago. I’ve been doing lots of experiments this year, I just started some fall brocolli plants, putting some seeds indoors and some outside.

Since it was my first experience

It went relatively well for a first garden

I had trouble keeping up with the weeds!

learning experience for me

  • how do I plant?
  • how do I maintain things?

so exciting to see things grow

the next year my husband and I

15 acres at home

scouted out our spot.

The best spot we had

We tilled up about a 40x 40 ‘ section

It’s more then enough for me

That’s what I’ve been using for years now

What makes you say it may have not been the best spot?

So, as things have been growing we realized there are a couple of sections that don’t grow real well and we realized we are right in between 4 giant walnut trees.

Is it because of shade or do walnut trees put off something?

Yes, it’s poisonous to any kind of plants that grow around it

can’t grow by the root, I think as the trees got bigger, the roots expanded in sections

We started to look for a new spot, the spot where we had the pigs last year, we are hoping would be a lot of nutrient rich soil in there, and we planted some rye as a cover crop so hopefully, it will be a good garden spot next year.

I love this, because so many people have talked about volunteering being essential to their success… Robin Kelson, Angel Garbarino, and Vicki Henderson, all listeners said they learned so much from working with others. 

How did you learn how to garden organically?

I did learn a little bit from the other gardeners there because it was a community plot there was maybe 20 plots available, so there were a lot of other gardeners so that was part of the fun

you weren’t alone

  • look at what was growing
  • how they set up trellises
  • what kind of watering system they have

the experience there

I’m a big research

read, research and then just go for it!

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

My style is to plant as much variety as possible, which may be overwhelming to some people. I would say I have at least 40 or 50 different things in my garden

  • 5 different peppers
  • tomatoes varieties
  • herbs

amaranth.jpg

Amaranth

I have a patch of amaranth, red that is so beautiful! Taller then me and it just produces these purple burst of fluff! 

It’s a beautiful dark purple, it adds a lot to the visual aspect of the space!

peppers are doing really well, I’m also doing some 

interplanting

  • dill
  • marigolds
  • tomatoes

So I haven’t had any horn worm problems.

Nice! I think that is why mike doesn’t have horn worm problems either he always plants lots of marigolds. Am I remembering right that amaranth makes a good cover crop? I think it was in my interview with Jes Pearce.

You could probably plant it as a cover crop. I just planted a little spot last year, I think, and then it came up again this year on it’s own. So I just left it and weeded it, but I have 6-8 big tall stalks, not a lot. I tried to harvest last year, but I think the birds go there. 

What do you do with amaranth? Is it a grain like quoina?

It’s a grain, most of the time. I’ll use it in baking breads or you can toast it in a salute pan.

Just one more question? I have never gotten it to grow, I have tried a few times now.

amaranth

I started them inside, when I first started them, inside under a florescent bulb, they sprout just fine, I guess they transplant well, I just through them in the garden.

I’ve spent more time this year in the garden. I planted my first cover crop this year, buckwheat and it’s finally growing and about to harvest, or kill, or whatever you do with it! 

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

So we have a whole bunch of manure that is from the pigs we want to spread

we kind of do it every year, but I’ve always been hesitant to add  a lot

We are going to do that this year and try to build the soil up

We have never done soil.

HowToGrowMoreVeg

How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You … (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains,)

Speaking of Jes Pearce. is I just took out John Jeavon’s book from the library and I thought how is it we have never bought this book, it has a great chart of soil test results or what grows best where. A lot of market farmer’s talk about that is just essential for production.

Farm on the Roof Tour Summer 2018 Anastasia Cole Plakias from Farm on the Roof also talked about their grad student talked about the importance of soil testing.

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

Not everything always grows like it’s supposed

the dry hot weather

there are a lot of farmer’s in our area who are suffering crop production is really low

where we are at, we have pretty soil is sandy where we are at, we are limited to what we can grow. 

Corn doesn’t grow really well, but we do a lot of christmas trees

hay farmers

don’t think they are gonna get a crop, not enough water this year!

Things haven’t grown. It’s been unusually hot, we’ve had a couple of months of 80-90º which is very uncommon in Northern Michigan.

I’m gonna talk to Patti Armbrister, who is doing a lot of research with dry irrigation and how they are mitigating a lack of water and doing resilliencing in farm land, even one farmer growing 

irrigation 

is get something set up in my tiny garden this year

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I visited a local CSA, is kind of my alternative to volunteering, just get to talk to other gardeners. This CSA is great!“`

land planted with vegetables

50some shares

they have a really cool irrigation system

soft flexible plastic hose

tried to find it online, but I wasn’t as successful as I thought, that is something I would like to do next year, because I would like to have that set up

I’ve spent so much time watering.

ME TOO!  

I also talked to Lee reich, who talked about using irrigation would save so much water is a great thing to do about saving our planet. And also Richard Wiswall talks about how tripling your water can help with your production.

Let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors and affiliate links

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Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?

I would say that probably maintaining the fence which is pretty much weeding. Weed whacking is my least favorite thing to do! That gets back to my goals, so I get some raised beds going.

less fence and weed maintenance

  • weeding
  • also
  • maintaining the fence

hardly ever weed whack of the fence

just fenced in the whole garden

I guess I am wondering what fence, around the garden or to keep the pigs out?

To keep the whole garden protected. Our garden is quite a ways from the house, we can’t see it

  • deer
  • rabbits

It sounds like a pretty big area, 40×40.

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?

My favorite activity i would say is planning the garden. I really enjoy just trying to figure out which plants grow well beside other plants and rotating my crops.

Reading about how to plant them and then designing things. 

I don’t have a lot of design aspect in my garden.

I have a teepee for my beans

plant stuff in small little sections and create visual shapes in the garden

I think that is my favorite part

planting! Putting those seeds in the ground and waiting to see them come up.

I don’t know if that is my least favorite because it takes forever! I think I like starts, transplanting plants, I got some black-eyed Susans and lavender that just put in and there was instant color. 

also, Mike and I created that journal, I’m much better about saying this is what we did do, not as much as what we should do. We put like 15 things on our list, and only completed maybe one of them. Last year, I wrote a list of accomplishments instead of creating new years resolutions.

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

So that was a stumper questions!

I couldn’t think of anything really specific

Some advice to say more general in farming in life

We learned to farm pigs from a friend of ours who had done it his whole life

He ‘s just lovable friendly, he’d give the shirt your back if you needed it, kind of guy!

anyway

his motto is if you treat them well, they’ll treat you well

That’s how I’ve always approached farming

  • applies to gardening
  • applies to life

treat your plants well,

Just like you have to give a baby healthy food you have to give your garden, healthy soil.

Do you want to talk about pigs at all? Why you got into it, or why you might be getting out or advice for someone thinking about it?

Yeah! So we got into it, probably 6-7 years ago

just kind of both grow up in the city, but we were bothmore attracted to farming out remote area outdoors. 

We had our pig mentor

It just happened there we had a couple people who wanted to get into it

That really helped us

  • we didn’t know much about pigs or breeding
  • did some breeding with them ~ the pigs
  • that was a fun unique experience

When we were talking about volunteering I would definitely recommend volunteering ~ helping with the birth of farm animals

  • these little tiny pigs
  • clean them up
  • take their first breath
  • watch them grow up

farming with another family

go off on our own

look at expanding

We contacted some

  • local restaurants
  • meat distrybutions

Got some more information and it sounded like we were right in the middle between raising things in your own need/friends and family and producing commercially. Which was quite a bit bigger the we wanted to do. 

So, we decided to take a chance to go in the middle and make it happen and see.

At one point we had 7-8 sows

3 boars  too many

We became known as the people who if there’s a pig that needs a home

  • they’re very smart animals
  • they all had their own personalities
  • smart
  • need company
  • need to be around other pigs
  • need attention
  • radio
  • feed them an talk to them and stuff
  • breeding stock had names on their personalities

A lot of fun! It’s a lot of work too!

We decided to change directions a little bit

stop breeding

time consumer

If you are not there when they have them you have a higher risk of them not making it

taking care of the little ones is a lot more work

  • if not outside
  • give them iron shots
  • casterate them

husband did that part

With pigs it’s basically like surgery. 

You have to make an incision

vaccinations

We didn’t really do it just what ever was needed

if pneumonia was going around to help them get healthy again.

The breeding was the most time consuming part, so the direction we are going  is to raise them up to butcher for meat.

I have to ask a question first, in the beginning you were saying they are needing attention. Pigs are surprisingly really clean animals right? If you give them the space etc.

they are very clean

if they have enough space and their pens are big enough they will defecate on one side

sleep on the other

The other thing? Someone else breeds them?

that’s the goal

we have some friends in the area that took 3-4 of our sows. They are more full time farmers so they are gonna be breeding.

Then we sold a couple of them.

find someone, probably the friends that we gave the sows too. Just grab a couple of piglets through the summer and butcher in the fall. 

We are set up through the summer.

Is it hard to butcher them if you are naming them and they have all these personalities.

I thought in the beginning I wasn’t sure how I would feel about that, but really the sows and the breeding stock are something that you don’t normally eat. We kept ours for 4 years ago and then we would rehome them.

We did end up butchering one but we didn’t eat it. 

I don’t think it would tough, I think I would have ate her.

I was wondering, Mike says he if we get a cow, we get a pig for the milk. Mike doesn’t want to be tied down to having to milk everyday, he did that as a kid. One of our cats had kittens, Mike keeps calling one the holstein cause it’s black and white… one’s Angus that’s all black.

we talked about getting some cattle

don’t know if we want to be tied down to that

thought

I know if you have one pig you should have 2

yeah they are, when they are by themselves, they get real upset when they can get depressed.

I know lyn Hendrix gave me some chickens finally so our rooster is happy to not be alone anymore.

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

My husband said, “That definitely won’t happen!”

we would never

he basically the answer to that

I do have a favorite tool! There’s a story behind it, I’ve been listening to your podcast for a while, and what do people say and what are their favorite tools

I want to control my weeds more because I don’t like my weeding! 

many people have mentioned the stirrip hoe

so far that is probably my favorite tool! 

had no idea where I bought it, I just bought one because your people said I should have one!

It’s true! Joyce Pinson was the first one, she said her husband wanted to buy one at a tool show and she was like what could be worth $125 but she said it was awesome it was like gliding across the weeds. I’m so excited that something from my show is helping you! I know my show is a success because of amazing guests like you!

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

My favorite recipe is to make from the garden is Salsa

Iver the years I have perfected the recipe

I have only done water bath canning

try not to explode

There’s two great podcasts out there. Theresa Loe Living Homegrown but then I found this other podcast, Melissa K. Norris with Pioneering Today has a great new show!

My grandma gave me the pressure cooker, and she put a little note inside of it that said

“be extremely careful using this!”

I thought wow ok! 

Got an secrets for a salsa recipe?!

I would say

  • the consistency of your tomatoes
  • the amount of liquids you put in there

I usually roast mine to get off the skins, then I really just make sure all the liquid is out. I save that liquid and just make tomato soup with it or put it into the stock! 

So it doesn’t go to waste for me! Because I’ve just done water bath canning, you have to follow specific recipes, because it can spoil if you don’t because it can spoil if its’ not heated up

salsa recipes

really similar

can’t really alter them

be creative

My husband always says I cook the weirdest things but they always turn out good!

I just got a spiralizer on my kitchen aid

salsa

pretty much recipes follow the proven recipes from an extension office, somewhere I know is credible source. 

I would probably be like you, when you say roast, you put them on a cookie sheet and then roast them and then put them through a blender?

I think Martha Stewart has a really good recipe for roasted tomatoes. Really not that hard, you cut an x in the bottom of the tomato. Not where the stem comes out, put it stem down and cut an x in the top. 

  • stem down
  • roast them
  • couldn’t tell what temp for how long
  • skin falls off a lot easier then blanching.

Does it make your salsa taste different that way?

I haven’t really notice any difference. I don’t think I roasted them long enough to brown so I don’t think they get that flavor all the way, maybe a little bit

  • sheet pan
  • dump out all the juice into a jar
  • freeze it like that

Then get it out and heat it up in a pan and there you go, tomato soup!

That’s awesome I love tomato soup, I never made homemade tomato soup like that. THat would be great! I eat a lot of salsa!

A favorite internet resource?

I like using the extension websites, one of your last interviews with the mosquito person.

Oh yeah! Brandi Stupica.

She was talking about the Michigan State Extension, I was like I use that too! IT’s probably my favorite because I know it’s credible resource

You can get a lot of really thorough documents

It’s a local school

It’s an agricultural school in Michigan

what goes well or how to grow something they’re referring to our

  • climate here. 
  • our soil
  • all the different factors of your location
  • actually

That’s my favorite resource for

  • gardening
  • farming
  • flowers
  • and for pork

They have a huge farm down there at the university! They grow and research pigs

They have a lot of resources for farmers through their website

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

Ten years ago or more

my husband went to

comes up with the best gifts

The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food

read it

just goes on the shelf

probably of all the books that I have used the most

The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food https://amzn.to/2KzXko5The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food

Tanya Denckla

  • general information
  • composting
  • mulching
  • feeding your soil
  • resource guide

has 100s of different varieities of fruits and vegetables

  • what type of temp the seeds germinate in
  • ph the plant needs
  • how to fertilize it
  • what type of water
  • how big the plant typically gets
  • when to plant if you’re transplanting
  • 7-21 days after the last frost date
  • pest info
  • typically susesptible to as far as pests and diseases
  • companions and incompatibles
  • what not or what to plant it by for the health of the plant
  • how to store the vegetables

is this vegetable

  • best canned
  • dried
  • shelf life

It’s just a plethora of information and I’m probably flipping through it every day!

Good to know if you are still flipping through it after 10 years of gardening.

hasn’t gone out of date

  • new things
  • each section
  • a lot of varieties
  • pole beans in general it tells you how to take care of pole beans in general

doesn’t matter as much what variety of bean

useful

  • fruits
  • nut trees

We have a huge walnut tree in our front yard and then whole bunch over by the garden. I’ve been trying to harvest those.

Someone posted a pic of a walnut and I was wondering what it was and they were like it’s a walnut. It looked like a small green lemon.

We’ll if you get a walnut don’t plant it near the garden!

If someone could wave a magic wand and solve your garden problems what would it do for you?

If the wand would stop time. The whole world would just freeze I could spend as much time in the garden and then wave the wand again and the world would start again.

little piggies at Koslowski Farms

If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?

So we did a lot more with our pork last year. We got a license to sell at the farmer’s market. We did one farmer’s market, just part of the summer, we did pretty well at that. It was really fun to just sit there and talk to people. But I guess my best best advice would be

look for a demand

you were saying, earlier, that they were going to farmers market and talking to everybody there, they said if you can sell asparagus, we could sell every stalk you can grow. So why not grow asparagus as long as that’s something you would like to do? It would depend on if you are going to make money or for fun. If you want to do both?

having a product and having it not sell is most frustrating.

So, looking for a demand first and getting some people interested before you jump in and before you put a bunch of money in something that doesn’t sell right away

We have gone in it slowly with the pigs. Started with just 

  • friends and family
  • license to sell at the market
  • sell but he package

That was interesting, just learning the laws, to go about it the right way

We found people really wanted brats!

That was the main thing they wanted was.

Like bratwurst? Is that what you mean?

Yes! Even thought that was one of the more expensive cuts. 

That’s what we found was the biggest demand.

So, instead of getting bulk sausage, having them keep porkchops and etc

We had them turn the entire pigs into bratwurst

  • jalepeno
  • sweet Italian
  • polish sausage

They sell like hot cakes

looking to start a business, when you are in the planning phase make sure you have something to sell.

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Premium Product Market Research

It was Sarah Harding who talked about selling asparagus and David Wolverton talked about selling tomatoes in Missoula because a Farmer’s Market is only successful if there are more farmers and choices. One farm does not make a market.

Even Young’s Farm is successful because they carry other people’s products.

Also, Ive been focusing this year on a premium product because there is only one winner in the race to the bottom and that’s gonna get won by Walmart or amazon or some giant company.

Final question-

If there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

Local Food

So I think there is a big movement right now to local food and supporting your local businesses.

I would definitely have to agree with that and I do my best to be self sustaining and to support local community.

I think one of the biggest problem right now is the next generation, and even our generation somewhat is not quite as interested in 

  • being self-reliant
  • gardening
  • holistic healthy
  • food quality

There’s a lot of terrible foods out there causing a lot of pain to us. It’s really aside form the feed the world concept. 

local and health

kind of how I think, take care of you and yours. 

I’m all about food quality!

One of the biggest problems I just really got into this new way of eating

based on your blood type

if you have ever heard of it, you’re body can digest different things based on your blood type. I have been learning a lot because a lot of the basis of his research, and this is true for every person. 

Most say eat foods that are less processed foods have become greatly reduced over the last 10 years. Growing up as a child my mom made hamburger helper all the time, now I wouldn’t eat that. All this stuff that I wouldn’t eat in there.

Mis-marketing

It’s part of the problem is that people are not educated about this because of the mass marketing that goes on, this is healthy! Fat is bad! 

Stopping the busyness of life that is

I saw this video the other day, people mocking this woman the other day who was overweight on SNAP benefits and saying she couldn’t afford to eat healthy food, and I’m sorry I go into my grocery store and I’m so thankful Mike grows our produce. It’s so expensive. I think they say SNAP benefits give $1.42 a meal, hamburger helper or mac an cheese for 42¢ if you have a lot of kids to feed, the mac and cheese is going to go further then a bag of grapes for $6. or 42¢ worth of grapes.

On the flip side, I have seen a lot of farmer’s markets will double snap benefits if possible.

Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

so it’s not necesarrily a quote

my words of wisdom

don’t let yourself get overwhelmed! 

don’t take on more then you can handle because then it’s not fun anymore

not everything is gonna be successful, 

we’ve had some family health issues but that’s taken away from my time in the garden, so what grows will grow

don’t let it not be fun

somethings not fun either hire out that part or don’t do that part if you can

My other tip is to get a blue tooth speaker and listen to music in the garden! My favorite thing is to turn on some tunes! And dance around with

When I first started I wanted to put a questions what do you listen to in the garden, and so many people were like I listen to birds, bees etc. I took it out, but my brother listes to music, I have certainly done more listening to podcasts!

Rockstar MIllennial

I think I am right on the cusp

say that I relate to some millennials

stereotypes

I’m right in between.

I’m trying to do the math in my head, 1980-1995 is my general rule of thumb, is that 84? I would say yes, definitely a millennial. You know I love Rockstar Millennials and I’m putting you there. 

How do we connect with you?

https://www.facebook.com/KosloskiFarms/

We use our Facebook page a lot it’s at koslowskifarms

OGP podcast group

we have an instagram @ koslowskiFarms

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