Starting a farm, in these times are trying at best,
We want to help you realize your dream
We regularly come in contact with folks who have the deep desire to farm but have no means to purchase the land, livestock, and equipment to start up a farm. We work with people who own land, livestock, and equipment through our consultation services but do not have the intensive knowledge base and/or time to run a farm alone.
Here at Big Spring Farm, we want to help bring together trained farm managers and farm owners with 1 and 2-year apprenticeship programs. During your time at Big Spring Farm, your training will go beyond the basics of farming; you’ll learn, through hands-on experience, the essence of regenerative agriculture. You’ll learn how to fence, but you’ll also learn how to judge paddock size and time moves based on the grass and animal needs.
Daily work with cattle and sheep will acquaint you with all you need to learn to produce 100% grass-fed and finished beef, lamb, and goat. Our work in the forest with pigs will be an asset whether you start your own farm or join forces with partners to establish silvopasture. You’ll learn about the special needs of high production groups such as dairy cows and wool sheep and how to manage soil and pastures to produce the highest quality milk and wool. Integrating pastured chickens onto pastures with cattle, sheep, and goats can be tricky but the rewards are high if done right.
The benefit of Greg’s forty years of experience designing, planning, and repairing thousands of acres of land will be available to you if you are open to learning and willing to work.
How we get you there
Putting a farm together and running it smoothly usually comes from making many costly mistakes and learning at the school of Hard Knox. With our apprenticeship program, you’ll walk onto a farm humming along but never at a standstill. No two days alike, we work to reinstate a cycle of regeneration on the farm, working with nature to bring the healthiest products to market.
Livestock on the farm consists of 150 cattle, 100 hair sheep, 35 wool sheep, 100 chickens, 30 hogs, 19 goats, 12 dairy cows, 1200 broilers, and a growing number of beehives. We are constantly researching, experimenting, and tweaking new and old livestock management systems to find the best options for top performance and top profits. By utilizing molasses, apple cider vinegar, garlic, cinnamon, and oregano rather than conventional chemical options, you’ll learn, first hand, what works and why.
Marketing and business management must be part of a great apprenticeship program, and we’ve got you covered in this department. Our products are direct marketed through farmer’s markets in Franklin, TN, and Bowling Green, KY . Understanding the different marketing concepts and pairing them with your goals will save tremendous amounts of time, effort, and money.
FENCE AND CORAL SETUP AND PLACEMENT
At Big Spring Farm, we focus on livestock flow and pasture rotation, and the hub of the operation is crucial in ensuring ease of operation. Understanding how to analyze facilities for proper placement and ensuring that paddock and corral size coincides with the end goals is the beginning of good farm management. Mistakes in this area are costly and frustrating. Proper design and planning for the future keep you moving forward toward the goal. Here at the farm, we have five separate handling facilities, each one unique in its style, pitfalls, and abilities.
Pasture and Soil Health Management
Everything begins and ends with management and it’s all the steps in between such as seeding mixes, grazing height, timing, and nutrient management that ensures successful stewardship. Inventory of present plant communities determines whether fertility, soils, or management are limiting factors. Greg’s extensive knowledge of plant communities and the interactions between plants, nutrients, soil, and livestock management can reveal hidden root issues.
Full farm planning
Farms are built slowly over many years and few farmers have plans that include soil, water, plant, animal, buildings, fencing, gates, and a plan for the farm as an entity. Understanding the connectivity between all aspects of the farm is invaluable as you manage the farm as a whole. Greg’s knowledge of whole farm planning will help you to understand the needs of the farm and the manner in which investments should be allocated.
Plant and Animal interaction
Pasture management, with a focus on livestock nutrition and performance as well as plant vigor, will help you to understand the connections between stocking rate, stocking density, animal health, and plant physiology. The health of pastures and livestock depends on understanding these interactions. Walking through the herd, Greg will help you understand things like rumen fill, and there’s no substitute for getting your eyes on the manure in the pastures and your hands on the animals.
From training piglets to electric fence, to understanding their feed and water needs, to helping with farrowing, you will learn everything there is to know about raising pigs in silvopasture.
Greg’s grass-fed, grass-finished cattle are marketed through farmer’s markets in the TN and KY area. Greg will help you to identify finishing characteristics. Profits will be gained or lost without proper understanding of proper nutrition and timing.
Working in our cow/calf operation will bring you full-tilt into the world of animal behavior, nutrition, and selection of cattle that are well adapted to grazing.
The “flerd” is a specialty of Greg’s and he understands the neccesity of simple and practical management. Sheep have a higher nutritional requirement than cattle so learning how to combining groups is challenging yet rewarding.
Understanding hay quality is essential to proper nutrient management. Proper hay feeding techniques will be studied in depth as we feed the livestock utilizing bale grazing, unrolling, and fenceline feeding to protect and improve pastures.
Forests should be managed to utilize regenerative practices for this generation and generations to come for sustained income, managing for the best, culling the worst. Forest products can be improved creating multiple income streams.
Silvopasture can be planned beginning with pasture or forest. An understanding of light management is essential for proper forest management.
Adaptive management techniques can and should be used to improve and sustain soil, microbe, plant, and animal health. You’ll learn how to direct the change of plant communities, identify species, and manage plant and animals interactions.
Water is the most important nutrient for livestock. Proper planning and management of this sensitive resource can be managed for use and enhancement of your property. You’ll learn how to determine the different water needs of each livestock species on the farm.
In order to apply for the Big Spring Farm apprenticeship, you’ll need a good strong work ethic, a positive attitude, a deep desire to learn, and an understanding of regenerative agriculture. Our goal is to train you to be your own boss, to be a manager. You will need to be a self-starter, curious, and passionate about life.
We will require three references and a 1 year commitment to your training.
We will provide housing, milk, meat, eggs, and produce from the garden plus a monthly stipend.