The Pennsylvania Veteran Farming Project kicked off its series of field days June 4 with a tour of Pyma Love Farm, in Linesville, Pennsylvania.
Garret and Natalie Love are both veterans of the Ohio Air National Guard. Natalie has family near Columbus, and the couple lived near Mansfield, Ohio for a time.
The farm began with Garret’s grandfather in the 1950s. Garret and Natalie moved back to the area in 2013 and took over the operation. The farm straddles the Pennsylvania-Ohio state line.
The family worked with Natural Resources Conservation Service on a number of projects, including manure storage, a heavy use facility and pasture improvements. They made some adaptations to the heavy-use barn, like adding a feed alley and using sawdust as bedding.
A bale unroller is used to feed cattle baleage through the winter. Sawdust is delivered once a year and rototilled daily to help it compost and stay fresh. Before they were cleaning out the barn several times a year when they used straw bedding. Now it only needs to be cleaned out once a year.
Everything on the farm is designed to be handled by one person.
“When we started this, we were both still in the Guard,” Garret said. “So one person might be training or deployed.”
The Loves started rotationally grazing the herd when they returned to the farm. Though they have a herd of registered black Angus cattle, hay is the big money maker at the moment.
“We found people will pay more for hay than cows right now,” Garret said. “The hay market is really hot right now.”
Future field days
The field days are open to the public. They are free to veterans and their spouses. The cost is $10 for nonveterans.
July 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Jacobs Valley Farm, Hanover, York County
Forestry 101 talk with DCNR service forester Matt Kern, field walk of NRCS projects, registered Katahdin lambing operation, practical marketing talk with Giana VanNice of Blue Dog Farms.
Aug. 7, 9 a.m. to noon — Hope Hill Lavender Farm, Pottstown, Schuykill County
NRCS conservation cover for pollinators, composting facility, diversion, prescribed grazing system with animal walkway and watering system.
Aug. 21, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Shupp Hill Farms, Tunkhannock, Wyoming County
Field walk of conservation projects.
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