Summertime for a livestock agent means early morning farm visits under shade trees and retreating to the air-conditioned office during the hot afternoon. Working on publications for the Land Grant Press and our blogs was an excellent way to escape the oppressive summer heat. The much-appreciated office time also allowed me to develop several rental kits to promote better use of resources for livestock and forage producers. I put together a rotational grazing toolbox containing all the necessary but uncommon components to begin better grazing methods. These kits have served as a gateway for farmers “on the fence” about using temporary electric fencing in a rotational grazing system. Other kits include a small legume spreader to promote the establishment of clovers, a GPS guidance system to promote the more accurate application of fertilizer, herbicides, seeds, and pesticides, and a plot sprayer for small, new farmers. Aside from providing a piece of equipment, the most significant benefit is developing a relationship with clients and a foothold for adding another improved practice to their farm. The necessity of these tools became apparent with the “zoom boom” or the influx of people moving into the area to escape the cities and try their hand at farming. Many of the necessary farming tools are cost-prohibitive for small or beginning farmers, and this was an excellent opportunity to meet their needs and offer an educational opportunity.
While I’m excited to see the summer heat fade away to fall, I’m even more excited about our upcoming livestock and forage programs. I look forward to seeing everyone at the Cattlemen Association meetings and anticipate good attendance for our hands-on fencing workshops. In addition, I’m offering a hay marketing workshop and a fescue fertility workshop. I’ve been working with other agents for several months to put together a course that outlines the fundamentals of beef cattle production. This course targeted beginners and those that have had cattle for a while. This is a direct response to requests from our new farmers, but I know many veteran cattle producers will find it helpful to evaluate some of the foundations of our beef industry.
Thank you so much for being so supportive, and please reach out to me with any feedback so that we can continue to develop a program to serve our county better.
Chris LeMaster, Cherokee-Spartanburg-York Counties Livestock & Forage Agent
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