Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Timber! The Tree Farm!

As the temperatures drops and snow starts to fly the sound of jingle bells rings out. The sent of pies, cakes and candies fill the air. There are three enduring images of the Christmas season, the manger, Santa Clause and the Christmas Tree. What a better way to partake in the festivities than to go to an ATSF tree farm and purchase a Scots Pine, Blue Spruce, Douglas-Fir or Fraser Fir tree for your families Christmas celebration. A Christmas tree farm is an important and solid small business opportunity. Its a business that supplies a worthy demand, it creates jobs and is good for the economy. The first Christmas tree farm was formed in 1901. If you wanted to start a Christmas tree farm it can be a challenge to get started but once you get it going it can have great pay outs. You can be a part time tree grower or a full time grower. It depends on what you think you can handle and what will be best for your time and energy. You just need relatively flat ground to grow on and to spray for pest. Pest can include but are not limited to the pine shoot Beatle, the gypsy moth and the Balsam woolly adelgid. Obviously there can be other pest such as deer, elk, gophers, ground squirrels and other such mammals.
 The growing of Christmas trees is a great way to bring in supplemental income for such things as retirement or for college funds.To the average citizen a tree farm may be just the place they go to in order to get that one of a kind tree for the Christmas season. But if we investigate a little further we can see tree farms are a very important part of Americas future. The starting, maintaining and growing of timber is important with the need for wood for paper, cardboard and other wood based material. Other profitable wood products include transplants, Christmas trees  boughs, sawlogs, post, poles, and firewood.The ATFS (American Tree Farm System)  is the oldest certification system in America. They currently certify over 26 million acres of private forest.  ATFS certifies private forests, primarily farmed by individuals. In short they make sure that this process is done right. You might be wondering how it is that someone would be able to get into the tree farm opportunity and the answer is that you can't just  get up one morning and decide to do. Its very involved and time consuming.To be eligible to be a member of the Forest Ag program, first off one must be a land owner. You have to have at least 40 acres to devote to your tree farm forest. Second you must submit to a Colorado State Forest Service-approved forest management plan. You must submit a request for inspection on an annual basis, then pay an inspection fee. Thirdly you must send in an accomplishment report, and fourthly send in a work plan for every year. Finally you must have the approved property for your tree farm to be inspected by a CSFS forester.Tree farming may not be for everyone. But you can’t deny the need for such a enterprise. We are running out of our natural resources for timber and paper so its as necessary as ever to consider a profitable career in tree farming.  

The Butterfly Farm

Butterflies don't live to long about a week and sometimes a little more. Whats the point in a life that short?  The answer is plenty! Butterflies like bees are an important part of the ecosystem and plant life. They are one of natures gardeners! They help pollinate flowers and other plants. They flit (butterfly version of flying) from one plant to another spreading pollination the life fuzz of plants. Pollen carries the plants male sperm cell. Once the pollen lands on the pistil the flower is fertilized. Butterflies are only active during the day time hours, unlike their moth cousins who primarily come out at night.

 Butterfly farming has a history of over 20 years and its increasing all the time Butterfly conservatories will pay good money for butterfly pupa. They may pay $5.00 a pupa and possibly even accept upwards of 500 a week. Thats phenomenal. The wedding industry is massive. People spend thousands of dollars on their wedding so why not get a piece of that pie? Its becoming ever more popular to release butterflies at the walk out of the bride and groom in a wedding. Butterfly farming can be as small as someones back yard or it can be large with the use of greenhouses and acres of land. Many people have started butterfly farms all over the country. You can visit butterfly farms in every state. They are great places to take your family especially if you have small children. Kids are fascinated by butterflies and I’m sure you will be to. For one of the premiere butterfly farms visit The Butterfly Farm. If your not in Aruba or one of their Caribbean facilities then visit and see a butterfly farm near you. 

For more information on how to start a butterfly farm please see my site: and my Hub Pages:

Urban Farming the Solution to Food Deserts

At the premiere of human civilization all peoples were hunters and gathers. This means that they hunted their food or gathered it by finding it on bushes and trees. Once the food ran out they moved on to a new location. But then someone got the brilliant idea to plant and harvest their own food. Thusly they planted the seeds of the foods they were eating and the farmer was born. Some of the early foods that were consumed consisted of grain, barley and wheat. After that farming communities sprung up. Instead of aimlessly moving just to survive early man learned to flourish. They learned to settle communities and build towns and cities. Today there is a much different and more disturbing story.
There are over 313,000,000 people living in the United States in which less than 1% claim farming as a full time jobs.  45% of farmers claimed farming as their principal occupation and a similar number of farmers claimed some other principal occupation as of 2007. In all the number of farms in the U.S. stands at about 2.2 million. ( That is a significantly reduced number. Most of this is due to more people living in suburbs and cities rather than on the farm combined with the recent economic hard times the availability of locally grown produce has  become scarce. In some areas even the availability of a grocery store is far and wide. This creates in urban areas a new problem called urban food deserts 
According to the USDA a food desert is identified by low-income communities“, based on having: a) a poverty rate of 20 percent or greater, OR b) a median family income at or below 80 percent of the area median family income;In short this is an area without access to fresh local produce. In addition to that they go on to say the other identifying factors are low-access communities“, based on the determination that at least 500 persons and/or at least 33% of the census tract’s population live more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (10 miles, in the case of non-metropolitan census tracts).- 
The solution is not really more supermarkets. It might be something more demanding and bold. The true solution lies in the philosophy of teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a fish. If you live in the suburbs or inner city you can start producing urban food. Most likely you don't have the land area to start a real farm and raise livestock. But can you use what you have? Do you own a backyard?  You can plant a garden. You can empower yourself to have fresh produce. If you live in a apartment complex check and see if they have a place to have a community garden. Maybe you could take the initiative to start a community garden in your complex? Check with your landlord and work something out. Get your neighbors in on it and it will be fun! Urban gardening could be the wave of the future?! Think how much better meals will be with your own urban food! You set down at the table and eat some green beans and corn on the cob from your own back yard. Support a local farmer and buy some fresh farm products. Maybe they’ve got milk, honey, produce, fruit or some other item? If you have a large enough freezer buy a side of beef, pork or some chickens. Yet another great resource is 
The long and short of it is that their is not enough fresh food available for all and especially for those in food deserts. The solution is urban food. The solution is an empowerment mindset that you yourself can create a positive change. Urban food can the answer that is very sorely needed.
For more information on this subject please see my article on my site: and my Hub Pages:

Llama Farming

The Lama glama  commonly known as the llama can live between 20 and 30 years and is used by the natives of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile like we would use a donkey; a beast of burden, a pack animal. They can be used for food, their wool for clothes, their hides for shelter, the tallow for candles, and dried dung for fuel. But the primary usage is for their wool otherwise known as fiber. There will be more on that in a little while. The Llama was first introduced to America in the 1900’s. They were introduced to the American West as a “guard dog” for sheep and goats in the 1980’s. Llama’s have heightened sight, smell and hearing to alert them of approaching predators such as coyotes and wild dogs. The llama can be an aggressive protector and will chase away predators. The llama is a bigger animal and can grow to be six feet tall at the head and weigh between 240-450 pounds They may spit, ram or kick their agitator. A llama will bond well with the livestock and take responsibility upon itself to protect the flock against predators. Beyond even the safety of the flock they may even become the “boss” for all intents and purposes. They can take full responsibility of the livestock and make sure they stay together and even lead them to food and water. 
 A single llama is suggested because if you place two male llamas together they will buddy up with each other and may ignore the flock to its detriment. It is possible to use a few female llamas in a small flock of sheep or goats but most results say that a male llama is more effective in this 'guard dog’ role. Its also noted that the farmer must use a llama older than 1 year as a guard. It is a good idea to first introduce the llama to the flock while they are corralled in, so the two animals can get accustomed to one another. This really assist in bonding between the animals. Another piece of advice is to use a gelded llama. Otherwise an unfixed male llama might attempt to breed with the ewes and can cause harm to the sheep or goats. Raising llamas as a guard for sheep and goats is one reason for starting a Llama farm.
Another reason and the primary reason for starting a llama farm is for the llama fiber. The llama should be sheared once a year. Llama fiber can be made into jackets, clothing, blankets or used as stuffing for stuffed animals. Llamas are beautiful animals and their fiber comes in a plethora of colors such as white, gray, black or brown and comes in a variety of patterns. Llama wool is a superior quality to sheep wool. Llama fiber was created for the animal to live in the Andes Mountains which means they need to be able to live in a large swing of temperatures. There can be a difference of 50 degrees of comfort in llama wool jacket. Even a single layered jacket can be comfortable in summer or in winter. Llama fiber is hallow making it warm yet light. Sheep wool is a solid so it is always hot and itchy. Yet another plus to llama fiber is that it is a natural rain and snow repellent, and also fairly wind resistant. As if there weren't enough good things to say you can add fire retardant to the list. It is naturally soft though a little more coarse than alpaca fiber. It has low static electricity so it does not collect dirt and lint as easily as sheep wool or other materials. Finally and maybe most importantly it shrinks much less than what sheep wool does when washing! If your going to start a llama farm, raising them for their fiber may possibly be your biggest and most financially rewarding venture.
For more on llamas and how to raise them and keep them on a farm please see my site: and my Hub Pages articles:

Alpaca Farming

An alpaca (Lama pacos) is an animal in the camel and llama family. They live naturally in the Andes Mountains in South America in such countries as Bolivia,Chile,Peru and Ecuador. The alpaca has a quiet, friendly, sociable personality. They enjoy the companionship of people and other animals. The noble alpaca has a long neck and legs and have rounded faces. The alpaca lives for 15-20 years and weighs in at 120 to 185 pounds.  Because of this lighter weight the alpaca is not bred for being a pack animal.  Instead they are primarily bred for their wool otherwise known as fiber.
Domesticated alpaca farming is in business due to the plentiful need and uses for alpaca fiber.  Alpaca fleece is truly dominant to sheep wool. In fact is belongs to a category known as "specialty fibers" which means that the fiber is rare and extremely fine. The fiber of the Suri breed of alpaca can be very glossy and fine to the touch. It mostly lacks the prickle and itch of other similar wools. The fiber of the Huacaya alpaca is shorter and more coarse in comparison. But both are immensely strong and the alpaca fiber is nearly
indestructible. Indestructible may seem like a strong world but an alpaca garment was found in a Peruvian ruin dating back almost 2,500 years! Alpaca fiber is naturally resistant to rain and snow, remember they live in the harsh environment of the Andes Mountains. There it can be freezing cold or searing hot. The alpaca coat can come in 22 natural colors which reduces the need for dying. Colors can include black, brown, a variety of grey, pale yellow and white. Not dyeing the fiber protects and enhances the resilience, softness and flexibility qualities of the wool. 

Alpaca fiber grows up to 12 inches and when sheared supplies upwards to10 pounds. Though more conservative estimates are 6 pounds a year. Depending on whom you listen to and your conditions the fiber needs to be harvested two times a year. As an alpaca farmer can sell your supply of fiber to the local private hand spinners or the national alpaca fiber coop.  If you can produce high clean fiber and sell it then you can get an average price of $3.00 to $5.00 an ounce. Thats a fantastic yield! An average alpaca fleece can make up to $500 every sheering.
For more information on alpaca farming please see my article at: and my Hub Pages at: