e62. The Fallen Aspen Farm Journey with Jake Kristophel

In this episode, we delve into the fascinating journey of Jake Kristophel, who established Fallen Aspen Farm in Pennsylvania from scratch. Jake details his experiences in creating diverse farming practices, managing pigs, grass-fed lamb, and pasture eggs, and dealing with challenges like overgrazing and sheep management. We examine the operation of Fallen Aspen Farm, including sheep management, breeding challenges, and the strategies they employed, such as keeping ram lambs away from the ewes. We also discuss measures taken to combat overgrazing, the plantation of drought-tolerant trees, and the enchanting story of Jake’s native pastures. Jake provides insights into winter stockpiling, future farm planning and shares his marketing strategies for the farm’s products like lard soap and lard balms.

Books/Resources Mentioned:

  • Fertility Pastures by Newman Turner


These transcriptions are automatically generated. Please excuse any errors in the text.

0:00:00 – Cal Hardage
Welcome to the Grazing Grass Podcast, episode 62.

0:00:05 – Jake Kristophel
Try to establish a good community of people that can support you not just in the way of financially by selling their products to you, but people that can really help you and you can help them in the process.

0:00:19 – Cal Hardage
On today’s episode we have Jake Christopher from Fallon Aspen Farm in Pennsylvania talking about pigs, lambs and layers in his journey to get to where they are, how they’re utilizing leased land to do it. We also talk about implanting a thousand trees recently. I think it’s a wonderful episode and I think you’ll enjoy it. First, let’s do the 10 seconds about my farm. I think about the time you’re listening to this, we’re going to be in a heat dome. It’s going to be pretty warm here in Oklahoma as well as northern part of Texas, the way the map looks. but the weathermen are saying there’s some rain next week, so I’m always hopeful. Grass is holding up good for us, but it is getting hot and dry, so we can always use more rain and less heat.

This week’s review comes from YouTube. Yes, we have a YouTube channel. If you haven’t hopped over there and subscribed to us, we encourage you to do that. Also, if you’d like to click the like button on any of those videos, we appreciate it. It says I love the Grazing Grass podcast. Please keep making more. We are working on it. We have some great episodes planned for the future, as well as some changes coming to the website.

Podcasts will continue as is but some changes on some things around it are coming up and we will let you know in the coming weeks. But anyway, let’s talk to Jake. Jake, we want to welcome you to the Grazing Grass podcast. We’re excited you’re here today.

0:01:59 – Jake Kristophel
Hey, thanks for having me.

0:02:01 – Cal Hardage
Jake, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your operation?

0:02:05 – Jake Kristophel
My name is Jake Christofel. We have a farm here in western Pennsylvania. It’s a plain grove, pa. We’re about an hour north of Pittsburgh. We currently lease 57 acres on western PA Conservancy land non-profit. My partner and I run the farm. We’ve been here for 10 years now Pretty much done everything. What we have currently is a passion pigs, grass fed lamb and passion eggs at the moment Before we talk about some of that livestock.

0:02:37 – Cal Hardage
so you’re leasing 57 acres from Western PA Conservancy.

0:02:42 – Jake Kristophel
It’s a non-profit organization out of Pittsburgh that conserves green spaces So they just purchased the other two recently, but we’ve been here for about 10 years now. The whole property actually that we sit on is about 400 acres but we only lease 57 plus the two barns. It’s an amazing property I really never want to leave. We got a really nice creek running through the whole thing. We have a fen on the property which, if people are not aware, it’s more of a rare wetland area with really alkaline water. Pretty much all under our fields and everything it is limestone, so that’s where we’re getting the alkaline water from, which also gives us really amazing water. A little bit of history on the property Right back here behind our house they were quarrying a lot.

They also have a couple mines that they were pulling pig iron out from the top of the limestone and making cannonballs for the Civil War, shipping them out on the railroads. I think there was a couple hunting camps and stuff, but then for the last 60 years it has been in just a grass-fed beef operation. So our soil is a little sandy, a little bit rocky, but really nice top soil here. There was a woman who owned it for about 40 years that ran just cattle. And then there was another farmer who, once she willed this whole property to the Conservancy, went to him and he was a organic grass-fed beef operation for 23 years. He got into some discrepancies with the Conservancy and got kicked off And then it sat for about three years bacon. Then a buddy of mine was the land steward here. He should go after this And I was like, yeah, maybe we will.

And that’s kind of how we started into farming. We really don’t have any background in farming. My grandpa on my mom’s side had a farm and used to farm with horses and everything like that And I was a tractor, mainly because they were poor. Other than that, really no farming experience Always did a lot of canning and grew up gardening and having chickens and stuff like that. And my partner, desiree she’s actually from Providence, rhode Island. I grew up 20 minutes down the road from here. She’s lived all over the country up in Alaska, california. She’s worked in fisheries up in Alaska and then did a bunch of stuff out in California. But yeah, now we’re here. We’re here farming.

0:05:27 – Cal Hardage
So you got that land 10 years ago. What’d you start doing immediately with it?

0:05:34 – Jake Kristophel
When we got here, the first thing we were doing we were growing garlic and we were doing vegetables. We put in about a thousand crowns of asparagus and we were doing a pastured egg operation and had about 200 chickens. at that point We had no idea what we were doing like at all, made a lot of mistakes at the beginning. We planted our asparagus out in the middle of one of our fields, like not even close to the barns, not even anywhere where we even had irrigation. Same with the vegetables. I had, like this 30-foot camper trailer that I gutted and we had all the chickens in that. It looked horrendous, just trash, but it worked for what it was for a while.

After that, after two years of kind of not knowing what we’re doing and really not making any money, we started Meat Birds on pasture. That was a great idea. We started doing Meat Birds and we started doing meat rabbits also Got out of the rabbits and then we were in North Carolina at a Mother Earth news fair. because my parents and I do hand-carved cooking utensils. We travel around all over the country doing shows with that as well. Anyways, we’re in North Carolina. so then we went to see some pigs and we came home from North Carolina in a compact prius packed full of stuff and two piglets as well.

So that was our start into pigs. And then we went back the next year and got two more pigs. Those pigs kind of lived in the house for a little bit, the first two at least. From there we bought some breeding stock. We got an Idaho pasture pig, a breeding pair, and then we bought in some large blacks. We brought in some Ossobel Island hogs that were crossed with Mulefoot and Cooney, then a couple goats. We had a little dairy herd for a while and I hate goats and now we do not have goats anymore and that was a great choice. Then we got a few sheep and we really enjoyed the sheep.

At that point we had been breeding pigs for a little while and we were starting to sell pork. We started lambing that. following year We got some Icelandics and it was crossed with Black Welsh mom sheep. We mainly got those because I had dreams of sitting around the fire spinning yarn. But obviously life comes at you pretty quick with a farm and it’s like, well, there’s really no time to do that once over. Plus, they would always get out and get into the birdock, so their fleeces were pretty much shot.

Then we got some cows. We got belted Galloways. We had those for three or four years and I loved the cows. They were amazing, but they were a bit hard on stuff and we kind of like didn’t have the infrastructure at that point to be able to house or to be able to keep the cows where we wanted them when we wanted them. Blah, blah, blah. Now we’re just focusing on the grass-fed lamb. We’re at about I think there’s about 150 sheep out in the pasture right now, about 120 to 150 pigs Faro to finish and about 200 or 300 chickens in egg production.

0:08:43 – Cal Hardage
So let’s talk a little bit more about your pork operation, since that’s the oldest operation you currently have going. Tell us how you have that set up and your Faro, to finish correct.

0:08:54 – Jake Kristophel
We started out with like some smaller breeds We really really enjoyed, like Cooney Crosses and Oswald Island Hog Crosses. Then we got two large black sows and all those mixes ended up being a bit too much of a large breed. So we ended up getting rid of the Idaho Pashor Pig. Actually AIed for one of the boars, which was he was Hampshire Seaman that I AIed with and he was massive but he was my, he was my baby. I used to be able to ride him around. His back came up to like my chest. I’m not real tall but I could ride him around. My feet would be about a foot off the ground. So yeah, we had him for a few odd years and he just got so big He was probably I’d say he was about 900 pounds, eight or 900 pounds. He was starting to actually go a little bit lame and he was injuring sows when he was breeding them So we had to get rid of him.

We brought in a Burke from a friend of ours a bit too commercial for me and they’re squirrelly, never will do Berkshire again. And right now we just brought in a red wattle boar and we’re running about 12, 12 sows. We’ve got most of the breeding stock right now is Mangalita, durrock Crosses. Then we have a couple of our older large black crosses. They’ll never leave. They’re too much of our babies.

0:10:21 – Cal Hardage
Are you going to use that as a terminal cross?

0:10:24 – Jake Kristophel
Yeah, i don’t think that we’re going to go too much more into pigs as we are right now. I’d like to do less pigs in the future and more cheap in the future. But I think the biggest thing is right now that the pigs are. What’s bringing in money Right now. We put them in the barn for the winter, but we’re not going to feral in the winter anymore. We’ve had some issues with that. For some reason they always decide to go when it’s 10 degrees outside.

Usually our breeding stock will leave in an area for their duration of farrowing and then when we wean we usually let them naturally wean, but then they will go into our feeder area. Then the feeder operation is moved around the farm. I usually move them around every few weeks. I think we have about 90 feeders over there and then in the fall we usually run them around in our tree lines. We have a lot of oaks and hickories and if it’s a good year we barely even have to feed them, which is nice. We have a local cider press right down the road that I’ve got a 12-foot dump trailer. They press year-round, so I go and get cider pressings like about five or six ton usually imparts phenomenal flavor to that fat.

0:11:42 – Cal Hardage
On your pigs? what kind of fencing are you using?

0:11:45 – Jake Kristophel
We have them currently in high tensile. Usually I have them in one or two strand polywire. I tend to not use too much of the premier one with the pigs because they don’t back up when they get shocked. They tend to go forward and then.

0:12:00 – Cal Hardage
Oh yeah.

0:12:01 – Jake Kristophel
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a pig rip that entire fan. It’s like pop, pop, pop, pop. Single strand usually worked quite well, as long as I keep it weed-wacked.

0:12:10 – Cal Hardage
How high do you put that wire?

0:12:12 – Jake Kristophel
I just use step-in posts and then for all my corners I use round rod bar posts.

0:12:18 – Cal Hardage
And that wire’s running. How high off the ground.

0:12:20 – Jake Kristophel
Usually it’s about 10 inches, the bigger pigs I can get away with.

0:12:24 – Cal Hardage
Oh, okay.

0:12:25 – Jake Kristophel
About a foot, as long as it’s at about eye level.

0:12:28 – Cal Hardage
How are you processing your pork? I assume you’re taking it to a processor rather than doing it on the farm.

0:12:36 – Jake Kristophel
Yeah, currently we are taking it to a processor that’s about an hour and a half away. We have two USDA facilities in the area, because we sell direct to restaurants, we sell direct to customer and then we also sell to a local co-op, so all of our stuff has to be USDA on the packaging line as well. It’s very important to us how our animals are treated, especially for that one shit day that they have.

0:13:04 – Cal Hardage
And then you’re getting your cut to meat and you’re selling. You mentioned doing some restaurants. Are you selling farmers markets or do you have clientele built up and just selling from the farm?

0:13:16 – Jake Kristophel
In the wintertime. Usually we do home delivery. We still do a little bit of home delivery right now. Mainly we do two farmers markets, Saturday and Sunday in Pittsburgh, which is about an hour south of us, And then to the grocery store. They order once a month or every few weeks. We sell to them year round.

0:13:36 – Cal Hardage
Are you trying to finish pigs, i assume, year round. You mentioned earlier you’re not going to Farrell and the winter anymore, but how’s that affecting your finishing out?

0:13:45 – Jake Kristophel
Finishing out. It’s still about the same. We usually process it about between eight and ten months.

0:13:50 – Cal Hardage
Now you’re Farrell-ing on pasture.

0:13:52 – Jake Kristophel
Yeah, usually what we’re doing is I’ll throw either junk bails, junk round bails out into the pasture for them to make nests out of, and they’ll just make their nests out of those and usually no issues.

0:14:04 – Cal Hardage
And you keep them on the south till the south weans them. When do you find the south typically weans them?

0:14:11 – Jake Kristophel
I think we go a little bit longer than most people. I know a lot of people that sell feeders will wean them at five weeks. They’ll be getting grain, but they’ll still be getting that milk. If we wean them too fast, they’re just not nearly as healthy. Usually we’re going to hit about eight to ten weeks is when the moms will naturally wean them.

0:14:31 – Cal Hardage
In addition to your sheep, or sorry, in addition to your pigs, you have sheep. Tell us a little bit how you manage those.

0:14:39 – Jake Kristophel
Just started slowly growing our stock up. We had an Icelandic ram, so they were all, at the beginning, crossed with Icelandic. Two or three years in we got a Katadan ram and started crossing with him and really increased our size. I think as of this past year we were at about 70 years. This year we should be somewhere around 100. We had a lot of singles and a lot of triplets this year. It was weird. This past year, this past summer, we brought in a Texel ram. We introduced him for the first week of breeding season.

His lambs and our other ram’s lambs is it’s night and day. I mean they were we just sheared them and they were about three months old and live weight. Some of the ones I was picking up were almost 80 pounds, which amazed me because usually our sheep don’t even get that big until like 10 months. The only issue was with that. He brought in Barber Pole worm last year and pink eye, which I thought he had been worms. He had not been wormed and not have any symptoms of it And that ran through our flock last year like wildfire and we had never had Barber Pole on our property And once they went down they were dead. I mean you just couldn’t bring them back And since it was still COVID-ish time, the supplies of Prohibit, which seems to be the only thing that works for Barber Pole worm, were not available anywhere. We had to scour everywhere. You couldn’t find it. On the internet, you couldn’t find it. I mean, tract Splat doesn’t even carry it anyways. We found it in this little hole in the wall Agway. Finally, once we treated him with that, it was completely gone, but it was pretty devastating. We lost about nine sheep, most of them lambs. I think we lost two youths, two of our bottle babies, which was heartbreaking.

The way that we run our sheep at this point. This is the first year. So we have about 150 sheep on pasture. We lamb in the barn, usually depending. Last year we lambed all out on pasture. They were beautiful. This year, since we started lambing a little bit earlier, which was in the end of February, we started lambing in the barn with pasture access to a few acres and then just fed hay in the barn and out in the pasture.

I use Premiere One fencing, which I have a serious love-hate relationship with that stuff. It works really nice for training but I’ve had a lot of issues with it And if you’re ever trying to go around anything that has a little tiny branch or it’s. There’s a lot of swearing going on. When I’m using Premiere One fencing At this point we’re pretty much doing daily moves. I’ve got about 150 of them on half an acre two an acre. At this point of the year all of my pastures have pretty much gone to seed head, so I’m really trying to run them in smaller areas to really stomp that stuff down, or I’ll leave them in there for an extra day to get them to eat all those seed heads. I usually end up still going through with the brush hog just to clip all those pastures. Anyways, we’re just getting ready this week actually to split all of our ram lambs off because we do not cast rate.

0:18:05 – Cal Hardage
Jumping back just a little bit on the breed. You use that textile ram for a week. How wooly are those sheep out of the codelands. I don’t know if you have any straight codelands, but you use the codeland ram for a while.

0:18:20 – Jake Kristophel
What we actually found was the Cododon cross will actually grow wool, but shit it. So the ones that we crossed with the Icelandics originally and the ones that we crossed with they will grow a nice, really big coat of wool in the winter time Not hair, but wool and then they’re all shit. We have about 36 right now that what actually need shorn? The ones that are crossed with the textile right now. It’s such a crapshoot with them because it’s like four different breeds in there And some will come out looking just like a textile, some will come out just looking like an Icelandic but like a bulldog. All the wool is constantly different. Some of them have hair, some don’t.

0:19:06 – Cal Hardage
I’m kind of curious about that cross because I’ve got Cododons And I thought about using a different ram just to get a little bit of size, dopper or textile, but not sure yet. We’ll see how the coming year goes.

0:19:19 – Jake Kristophel
Crossing with a wool breed. Yes, it might be a pain in the ass to cheer them every year, but you’re going to get a way better. Size confirmation is what I found because you know, like with the Cododons are kind of just like long and lean and they don’t put a ton of weight on them And they’re kind of that slow growing. But mixing in that wool breed you get some chunk to them.

0:19:43 – Cal Hardage
Now you mentioned while ago you’re getting ready to wean ram lambs and you don’t cut them. How are you going to keep those ram lambs away from the use?

0:19:52 – Jake Kristophel
That does pose a problem sometimes. Actually, last year when we were loading all the ram lambs to butcher I had gotten all of them in the barn, everybody loaded onto the trailer We sent like 20 or 30 ram lambs and it was the last of them. I walked up just to check on the sheep and I’m like if there’s one ram lamb that got through three high tensile fences hot high tensile fences and got the whole way over to those, you land them like you know what, screw it, you can stay. I’m not even chasing you down. If you went through that much trouble to get to them, fine, so he’ll go to butcher this year, but so there might have been a little bit of inbreeding there, but whatever is what it is.

0:20:38 – Cal Hardage
It is, and I find I’m getting ready to rewean lambs pretty shortly to my ram lambs, and I’m already dreading that because that’s a battle every year that that I suffer with. I’ve thought about using Premier One netting to go around and keep them isolated a little bit better, but I haven’t done that yet, just because of the labor involved.

0:21:02 – Jake Kristophel
When we separate, we’ll take the one flock of use and put them at the opposite end of the farm, and then we’ll take the rams and put them at the other side. They really aren’t that interested until about October.

0:21:17 – Cal Hardage
Switching gears just a little bit to your staying on your lambs, but on the opposite end, on the processing, are you sound able? is your market good enough to handle that many lambs?

0:21:31 – Jake Kristophel
So within one week and three days we had 20, some lambs gone. I’d like to kind of hold back the new lambs from this year and breed them in the spring, because usually what we do and I mean I’m sure a lot of people will probably not agree with this, but I would breed whenever they were ready to breed We really never had any issues. I think the only issues that we’ve had were one time we had one that did not have milk, so I think that might have just been something genetic, and we only had, i think, three bottle babies this year. Last year we had two, so not terrible.

0:22:11 – Cal Hardage
Are you selling the lambs by cut or are you selling whole lambs?

0:22:14 – Jake Kristophel
We only sold one whole lamb last year. Everything else was by cuts. It’s weird, the cuts that sell, but it all moved quick.

0:22:22 – Cal Hardage
Very good. In addition to your sheep and pigs, you have your hens, your laying hens. Tell us a little bit about them before we get to the overgracing section.

0:22:33 – Jake Kristophel
We stopped doing eggs for a long time but we started again in 2021, i think it was. But basically we took old camper trailers a 30 footer and a 26 footer and I gutted those. We stripped it all down just to the frame I used two by threes actually, because it was again in the COVID times when it was so expensive And then put one inch hardware cloth on the top of that And then just basically built two walls and a slant roof. I put heavy duty rubber that I got from a buddy. I just moved that around with the tractor. All the manure falls right through fertilizes all the pastures. I moved them about once a week usually So they also, when it starts getting hot like this, they double. I can run them with the sheep and those double as shade structures because out in our pastures some of them are just completely useless in the summertime just because it gets so hot and I don’t have any shade.

I ended up putting about a thousand trees in last year, over the last two years, just of hybrid willow, hybrid poplar, mulberry, black locust, some more hazelnuts, some more chest nuts. What I actually found was I need to now start doing more drought tolerant trees because in the last two years we’ve been. We’ve basically been in a drought since last summer. So what I’m going a little bit more towards now is Osage Orange, which is really drought tolerant but still grows pretty fast. And I mean they’re expensive, but if you’re going to be doing something long term, i really think it is important to purchase those tree tubes.

0:24:17 – Cal Hardage
And that’s what I was going to ask is if you use the tree tubes on them and how your experience had been with those.

0:24:24 – Jake Kristophel
We used some plantra, i had used some older ones that we had laying around and I feel like they get slightly opaque and I feel like that they do not exactly let and light in and it’s not as great for the trees.

0:24:39 – Cal Hardage
Now on your Osay joins that you mentioned. Do you have a certain cultivar that you’re using, or variety, or were you able to source some locally?

0:24:49 – Jake Kristophel
I did use a local nursery.

Honestly, i went on Etsy and I found a really good deal on hybrid poplar cuttings and the Austria hybrid willow cuttings and I just bought them right through there because I think it was maybe 50 cents for a cutting And that was totally worth it.

I used Just where I run the animals for the most part that I can pretty much Get shade on either side of them. So I put a lot of them along my actual fence posts that are running out through the middle of the field And then some of our like our largest pasture is about 30 acres, so I put about five rows through there and those are just the fast-growing stuff that I put in there just to get some quick growth and I’m gonna be whatever dies, i’m gonna be replacing with probably Osay orange and then some other stuff. So it’s just really where I needed it for those fields to be viable, to be able to graze in, because you know, when it’s 90 degrees out, i can’t even put anything out there without, and even with the shade structure or anything like that, it’s a pain in the ass to move that thing around very true.

0:25:57 – Cal Hardage
And then, in addition to the shade, you get the potential for a little browse, depending on your animals, and then you get whatever fruit they drop, which that’s what the, the honey locust with the Bigger pods, are supposed to be really nice for. In addition to your trees, have you planted anything else? or you using the native for each there that you have?

0:26:22 – Jake Kristophel
I told you that we lease off of the Western PA Conservancy. They do a lot of conservation planting and what have you. So they plan a lot of trees on their properties and they also Do wildflower plantings. But this past year they bought a woods no-till drill cedar, two box, six foot things amazing, but I have access to use it. So We planted about, i think, 30, 30 acres this year with some native pasture mix big blue stem, little blue stem, indian grass which grass?

we are blah, blah, blah. And then also there’s this seed company right up the road from us. It’s called Ernst seeds. Their portfolio is amazing from what they actually have and I bought that through them. And then we also got this buzz and fuzz mix, which I was pretty excited about, which is a native mix and Stuff specifically for sheep. I think they’re mainly going after that solar farm Past your mix out here, because that’s really starting to blow up and there’s gonna be a lot of sheep Grazing under those solar farms around here.

0:27:35 – Cal Hardage
And did you put all those mixes in with that no-till drill?

0:27:38 – Jake Kristophel
Yeah, over the years I’ve tried, like when we had the cows, i used to go in and pre seed, just broadcast before I sent the cows in and have them kind of stomp everything in. I also don’t think that I had enough cows to really make it work as well. I mean I definitely seeded a ton of all of our pastures now are pretty much covered in clover, which I did. Quite a bit of legumes in there, so those ones definitely came up. I don’t know how much the grass seed really worked, but the legumes definitely took off.

0:28:09 – Cal Hardage
I feel the same way that when I broadcasted seeds in and let the cows Try and trample it in. At times with certain species I feel like I get a good result, and then other times I’m like I can’t even see I made a difference.

0:28:25 – Jake Kristophel
So I dream of having a no-till drill just to play with, but I’m not there if you have the right weather conditions and it’s Just wet enough that you can really get a hoof print in, then you’re gonna get a little bit more seed to soil contact with that. So a lot of golden rod was coming up in our pastures. We ran the pigs over a lot of those pastures and they pretty much eradicated the majority of the golden rod and some of the as weedy or species like birdock and Yellow dock and stuff like that, and they’ve all come back. Really nice Pashure, honestly. But there still is quite a diverse mix. There’s still a lot of weeds out there, what some people will call weeds, but the sheep that we mainly have I mean they like the forbs a lot better than they’d like the grass work pretty well for them.

0:29:15 – Cal Hardage
What do you do if you’re getting short on grass or if your grass is getting too mature?

0:29:22 – Jake Kristophel
We don’t really run out of grass. So, like I said, this is the first year that we’ve had a larger amount of sheep, so 150 sheep at this point. But when all of our grass goes to maturity, basically I just run them a little bit longer to get them to, because they will eat a lot of those seed heads off and trample quite a bit of it, and then I’ll just go and then clip everything that’s needs clipped.

0:29:50 – Cal Hardage
It’s always a judgment on my grazing ability. I gotta do a better job of it whenever I have to go out there and clip anything. But it’s just part of it. It seems like everything matured, like here this year. I was thinking, oh wow, we’re doing great. Everything is in a vegetative state growing, and then it just seeded out in no time. It was just a couple of weeks. Everything changed. But that’s the way it is every year. I just forget about it till it happens.

0:30:17 – Jake Kristophel
Another thing that I really like to do is I really like to let our pastures get mature to an extent because we have I’m super into birds. We have tons of bobble inks and we have red-winged blackbirds and tohees and a lot of different pastured species. I really don’t like to cut until I’ve gone through the pasture and I see that those birds have already fledged and I don’t have to worry about mowing over any nests. Another thing we do now with our sheep that we shear is we throw all of our fleeces up in the trees for the birds And within the last two years, we’ve really started seeing a lot of bird nests that were made of wool.

Actually, i just posted one on Instagram two days ago along with my. I pick up shit out in the field and pull it apart and let people see the dung beetles, and I don’t know how many people actually like that, but that was actually one of my most viewed videos. Reals on Instagram was me picking up a little piece of sheep shit and a big dung beetle coming out of it, and I got like 10,500 views on it. It was insane.

0:31:29 – Cal Hardage
Oh, that’s great.

0:31:31 – Jake Kristophel
So some people loving the other ones are like why are you playing with shit?

0:31:35 – Cal Hardage
Why are you doing that? You can’t please everyone. I haven’t started digging through their manure enough, other than kicking it with my boot. But I’m not seeing dung beetles yet. We’ve only recently quit using warmer on my cattle. I say recently. I’m two years into that. For my dad’s herd we still use poor old warmer. So we’re not going to have a much much of a population out there, but I keep looking for it.

0:32:02 – Jake Kristophel
We really try not to use any warmer. We did this year just because we had that barber pull warm last year. but it’s a fungus that actually goes into the gut. They shit it out and then in the soil the fungus colonizes and then eats the eggs of a lot of the parasites, so reduces the parasite load by I don’t know depending on what kind of rumenant you have up to like 60 to 90%. It’s not going to worm them, but it does decrease the population that they’re putting back into the pasture with their manure.

0:32:38 – Cal Hardage
So it’s part of a management program, but it’s not going to save your animal from worms.

0:32:45 – Jake Kristophel
Right, but it definitely will reduce the amount of parasites in your pasture for the following years. So if you are on a warming schedule and you can kind of knock that out, whatever new worms that they get that they’re going to shit out, then you can actually kind of mediate that.

0:33:01 – Cal Hardage
Oh yeah, i’m going to have to look that up. You mentioned earlier that you stockpiled forages for winter. Tell us a little bit. When do you start stockpiling? Do you have certain pastures you stockpiled because of their forage variety?

0:33:17 – Jake Kristophel
Like I said, i mean we have a pretty decent mix So between warm and cool season, grasses and species, but there’s about 30 ish acres that I try to keep stockpiled.

So this year I don’t know how it’s going to work again because we have, you know, a great deal more sheep than we had last year. But my two neighbors that are surrounding me usually I graze off their pastures. And then our other neighbor across the street, he has a hay field but he never runs his cows into it, and I started doing that about two years ago because he was always complaining. He’s like oh, it’s always junk over there. And I’m like well, why don’t you let me run my sheep over there, because all you’re doing is cutting hay off of it and you’re not putting much of anything back. But over the last two years it’s really improved his pastures. It’s coming back beautifully. So that’s a really nice stockpile for the winter. And then from there, usually about December, january, i get a month out of their pastures and then I can move all the stuff back to our pastures. And, like I said, we were we were somewhere around February when we needed to start feeding hay this year.

0:34:28 – Cal Hardage
Now, very good, that’s always wonderful to make it that far into winter without feeding hay. Jake, as you look towards the future, what are some of your plans for the next few years with your farm?

0:34:41 – Jake Kristophel
My parents actually have a building down in Harmony and it’s an old train station that we were talking about remodeling and taking our animals to be killed USDA and then being able to bring them down there and break them down and have that facility be also USDA on the packaging line. So then we can really control the process and not have so much variation and be able to do sausage flavors that we want, nitrite free bacon, etc. But other than that, i think, doing more lamb, as we said, i really like animals that eat grass. They’re a lot cheaper than animals that eat grain.

0:35:19 – Cal Hardage
Oh yes. Well, Jake, it’s time for our famous four questions. Same four questions we ask of all of our guests. Our first question What is your favorite grazing grass related A book or resource?

0:35:32 – Jake Kristophel
I mean resource is basically YouTube and everything on the Internet. It’s very helpful. I just recently read a book that. I thought was fantastic, called Fertility Passures. I’ve read a lot of different grazing books, greg Judy, on YouTube. I take stuff from everywhere. I can’t say any of them are my favorite. I just I’m constantly on headphones listening to audio books and everything else and podcasts. You guys listen to the grazing grass podcast and the working cows podcast is another good one that I enjoy. But yeah, very good.

0:36:09 – Cal Hardage
Our second question What tool could you not live without on your farm?

0:36:14 – Jake Kristophel
The side by side and my tractor and non tool wise, probably my partner, desiree. She’s pretty important piece to the farm. I can do a lot of the work, but she has that gentle finesse that she can actually see everything that’s going wrong, especially with animals, stuff that I don’t pick up on. So she’s she’s a pretty key part here.

0:36:39 – Cal Hardage
Our third, third question What would you tell someone just getting started?

0:36:42 – Jake Kristophel
I would tell people that they should really look at the community around them and have, you know, try to establish a good community of people that can support you, not just in the way of financially by selling their products to you, but people that can really help you and you can help them in the process. I’ve got a really great group of neighbors. I have really amazing customers, just friends that come and help out on the farm just because they love to do it. We’ve definitely formed a really nice community around this place and that is very important, because if you don’t have community, you have nothing.

0:37:17 – Cal Hardage
You know, just on the last episode with Clay, we were talking about community and how important that was. So yeah, i agree with that. now I have to admit I don’t have any friends that just want to come work on my farm. I’d like to get some, but most of them don’t volunteer. And Jake, lastly, where can others find out more about you?

0:37:38 – Jake Kristophel
Mainly, you can go to our website. Desiree actually makes really amazing soap with our lard 100% lard soap and lard bombs.

But yeah, on our website you can check us out, but mainly if you want to see everything that’s going on. I post constantly on Instagram. It’s just at Fallen Aspen Farm. I try to do something at least every day either on a store, usually just on my stories. I don’t do a whole lot of actual posting, but that has been the biggest key driver for marketing and people being able to see what’s going on here and us being able to be transparent as possible.

0:38:13 – Cal Hardage
I think that’s really good. First off, i need to get some of that lard soap and try it And secondly, just posting to those stories is something I have to work on. So I think that’s great. And, jake, i really appreciate you hopping on here today, kind of last minute, but I do appreciate it.

0:38:33 – Jake Kristophel
Hey, thanks for having me Take care.

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