We love to talk to people about farming!  Call us with questions and conversation; better yet, come visit.  If what you want is several hours of our time, see the classes page for our consultation charges —

26 thoughts on “contact

  1. I got your info from a friend and am interested in purchasing raw milk and kefir grains if you have them. Please put me on the waiting list.
    Thanks and God bless

  2. Good morning Beth and Sean

    My new computer cannot find your address. Can you please email me bath at

    Actually you can just give me an answer to my question if you have time. We got two little pigs they are Idaho pastor pigs. Can we give them free choice buttermilk? Do you have any other counsel as far as their diet.

    I hope you’re having a very Merry merry Christmas!


  3. Hi,
    I read your cow down story it was good. We are hobby farmers in Estonia, we got also many chickens 2 bigs, 2 cows. We do moust work ourself in farm.
    Sorry my english is little glumsy.
    We have same probleem with our cow she is down and we have lifter and Vet also visited and suggested to lift in some regularity. We gave her also Ca what Vet suggested. Cow is in good spirit and condition only legs needs some how training.
    Is there possible to ask info how exactly You did cow lifting any special times? did you trained her legs muscles some how? any regularity or specific actions, if yes what should be noticed?


    1. Hi, Rory! We are so sorry we didn’t see this earlier — we are not very good at social media. The answer to your question is that, under different circumstances we have lifted with a hip lifter — that’s a sort of clamp on the the hipbones which you can attach to a come-along (a hand-winch) — or, for a small animal, we’ve used a blanket with one person on each side. Big animals require a lift, and none of it is very easy or very effective. If we had a big animal down for a week we’d probably slaughter, but we had a young heifer down for four weeks once. She had gotten herself under an electric fence and spent the night that way — every time she started to get up she’d get a shock — and when we put her in the barn for recovery, she just wouldnt’ get up. We’d have put her down (shot her), only she was so upbeat, somehow we just kept feeding her, cleaning up her stall — then spring came and she looked out the barn door at the green grass and decided she had a good reason to get up. In a couple of weeks she went back out with the yearling calves and had a fine summer. IN the fall, though, we put her in the freezer — we don’t breed problems.

  4. Hi! I heard your interview on Paleo Valley Podcasts and was super impressed! I am starting a wellness group in January and want include some field trips in my program. Is that something we can plan with you? My husband and I are looking to buy a family farm in March, located in Wayensburg PA. I am looking to do some of the things you are doing. I will definitely get your book! Please let m know if we can plan a visit in the spring/summer months. Thank you, Lisa

      1. Great Thanks! I just signed up for your newsletter, so I will be looking at the spring date for your Farm Day! that sounds perfect! Thank you : )

  5. Hi!

    I read your book recently and one thing that stood out was your use of submersible pumps in streams to pump water to stock tanks, gardens etc. I’d like to do the same with a stream on my property – can you recommend a particular pump?

    Thanks so much for your time. Your book was inspiring!

    Gettysburg, PA

    1. Hi, Chris! Thanks for the note. As it happens, since practically everything on the farm is second hand, repurposed, or jury-rigged, our sump pumps have all been garage sale finds, submersibles with the draw opening on the bottom. When we put them in the creek, we just make sure 1) that where we have them, the inflow into the pool is faster than the outflow created by the pump (so it doesn’t suck dry, obvioiusly); and 2) that we aren’t sucking sand or pebbles (usually we just set the pump on a rock). Of course, when we pump from a larger reservoir, like an IBC full of spring or rain water, we can alternatively use a jet pump, and if the pools in our creek were bigger, this might be an option for creek pumping as well. The present weather patterns inspire us to remind you, as we remind one another, to make sure to drain both pump and hose after use, so nothing freezes. Best of luck to you! s/b

  6. I loved your living web presentation so much that I have watched all six sessions about half a dozen times because I notice more little details each time. One of those was when you mentioned ag school research showing that weeds mine and add deficient minerals to soil. Could you point me in the direction of some of that research? When I go to ag school sites and search for weed research it is all about herbicides *rolls eyes*. I could really use a proper citing for such research in a presentation I am putting together.

    1. Hi, we’re so glad you enjoy the videos. There are lots of sites referencing the ability of weeds to mine minerals from the soil; fewer commenting on the subsequent bioavailability of the concentrated nutrients. For example, the third paragraph of this blog post at Hoeggers references the ability of some weeds to concentrate minerals in a defficient soil ; a little further down some primary research is cited. The high concentrations of minerals in some weeds is a fact widely known, as, for example, Zn in ragweed; the grazier, by using animals to harvest those weeds and spread them as manure, makes them bioavailable to other plants which are not as capable of accessing them before they are chelated. We hope this helps!

  7. Hi! I attended your classes at the Mother Earth News Fair in NC in the spring. I’m attempting to rotate 4 yearling heifers daily but if I cut the pen down to one days size they get to wrestling and knock the whole thing down. Then they walk right out. I had to go out of town and have them two days worth and noticed it didn’t happen then. Do you have any suggestions for this problem? Also I’m having trouble finding an automatic waterer that doesn’t leak. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help and I really enjoyed the classes!

    1. Hi, Amber,

      Good to hear from you.
      How long have these four heifers been together? Sounds like they are pretty competetive with one another. If they have been together for less than a month, I’d expect that the shenanigans will level off soon, when they’ve got their pecking order worked out; but if they’ve already had time to get sorted and they are still doing that much shoving, then I would guess that they need a slightly bigger paddock. Is there, maybe, one bad actor in there? One heifer who just likes throwing her weight around? We had a Dexter heifer with horns who was just a pain in the backside to all and sundry until we polled her, and not so sweet even then; she made the whole herd wish it could get away.

      What shape are you making your paddocks? The situation you describe — shoving in a narrow space leading to broached fences — is to be expected, but not as a regular thing; however, if your paddocks are long and narrow — as mine are right now, because I need the cows to do a lot of trampling to increase impact — then it’s much easier for a shove to send an animal into the fence. Narrow lanes back to water are notorious for this kind of problem.

      How many joules on your charger? and is it doing its job? You’ve probably already gotten the fence tester out there and made sure the charge is carrying all the way through the fence, but, if not, that would be a good thing to check. If I have a group that is testing fence, I put them on our most powerful charger — 3 joules — and make sure that I’m not wasting charge on parts of the fence with no animals in them; or , in other words, I just charge the paddock, not any uninvolved perimeter fence. When I’ve had cows that habitually took out fence, I’ve always been able to alter their mindset in this way, with some concentrated joules.

      And there’s always the question of contentment! When I have fidgety cows, I make sure they have plenty to eat, plus water, salt, minerals, maybe, and shade, all on their own side of the fence. How hard are you having them hit these paddocks? How much residual is left after one day? Is it possible that they get fractious out of boredom, once the grass is no longer interesting?

      And don’t think that that 2-day paddock thing isn’t a working solution, either. If that’s the most sensible way to keep them from taking out the fence, you can always switch to two-day paddocks. The impact will be a little less even, but you don’t have to worry that they’ll be grazing new growth, not in such a short period. If you do elect to go to 2-day paddocks, though, you want to keep a good eye on that impact and make sure they’re not just overgrazing the clover and walking around the fescue and thistles.

      As for automatic waterers, is yours leaking because it can’t handle the PSI in your hose, or is it just a connection that’s not tight enough? There’s one spot on the convent land where we occasionally hook up to city water, and the pressure is immense, much too high for our Little GIant stock valves. We have to fill our tanks and then close down the spigot almost completely, which doesn’t actually affect the pressure, but at least ensures that if something leaks, it leaks slowly! It helps when we have the water tank at a higher elevation than the spigot, so back pressure is partly offset by gravity. For the rest of the farm, we mostly use Hudson valves and Jobe floats, which work well with our low pressure captured water systems, and only leak if we don’t get them tightened down after each move (moving tanks often loosens our hose connections).

      We love hearing from folks who are using their acres so well, for food, for fertility, for ecology — bless you!

      Shawn and Beth

      1. Hi Shawn and Beth,

        Just wanted to thank you for your reply. It was much more thorough than I expected which was a real treat. Yes, it’s one heifer that actually gets shoved into the fence. They have all been together for over 6 months but something about her makes everybody want to shove her. I only started the rotation about two weeks ago and I had them grass the poorest area first so the weeds there would get trampled first. So there wasn’t quite as much grass but definitely plenty. Now that they are on waist high thick grass they seem much more content. No bawling or even eating close to the line I noticed. I made the pens roughly 60 x 60 right now. I feel like it’s too big because you can see they are mostly stomping or laying down the grass rather than eating it but if they doesn’t stay in the assigned area at all that seems worse than the animal impact not being concentrated to that area. The first that they kept knocking over was probably closer to 50 x 50. I agree that it has something to do with this one because they used to do this to her in the open field also. In about 30 days the two oldest will go out with the momma cows and bull so this should definitely settle down the two I would think.

        I have tightened the pieces on the waterer to point I’m afraid of breaking them. It is county water and the pressure definitely played a part. I move the tank everyday with the pen. It is connected by a hose to a spigot. Even now the hose looks swollen at the metal neck with the reduced pressure. I think I’m going to try taking the pressure down even more. I’m trying to get my ducks in a row before I bring my full grown cows and bull to the farm.

        Lastly the cows I have are all larger breeds. I was currently basing the pen size on a 25 x 25 foot per cow calf unit but I thought I better ask if that is for a cow of any size or in my case the average cow will weigh 1400 lbs. Some are bigger and some are smaller but I’d say that’s a good average. I remembered you mentioned that it would be different if you had a larger breed animal. Do you have a recommendation for the amount of space I should a lot for each unit?

        Thanks for all your help! I have been spreading your practices to anyone who will listen so maybe one day I can get more people on board.


  8. Oh, yes, the size of a paddock is going to change with breed/size of animal, also with sex, state of lactation or gestation, time of year, etc. In fact, it’s a moving target. Your paddocks sound like they might be on the small side, which may be just what you want, but don’t worry about LOTS of trampled forage, that’s your future soil. How many acres total are you grazing, and how many animals do you have/

    1. So total I will have roughly 40 but right now I only have about 5 fences that I’m getting my feet wet rotating these heifers. I’d say a little less than 4 acres is what I’m rotating them through right now because one acre was grazed to the ground while we fenced these approximately 4 acres. The grass was VERY thick and over waist high before I turned them in and the 50 x 50 section isn’t necessarily grazed flat it’s just laid down from them trampling and laying on it. I am concerned that new grass won’t grow back through this thick mat that’s laid down in the 30 days before they are moved back to the beginning. Does this sound like what you have going on also? Oh I’m in southern Indiana so you can get an idea of the climate and zone. Also they don’t bawl or even act like they are dying to get through but they seem hollowed out before I move them but I think that is me being paranoid because they spend more time laying down than anything so I figured if they were actually hungry they would be grazing since there is clearly a lot of grass left even if it’s laid down. Thanks for the advice!

  9. Hi
    When do you plant the mangel wurzel?
    Just received seed from baker creek. The packet said 3 to 4 weeks before last frost. Is that correct? Loved your book!

    1. Hi, Brian,
      Thanks for the contact. We’re glad you like the book! I
      Mangels are supposed to be sensitive to frost, so we generally put seed in the ground around mid-May, our average last frost date. However, they are just giant beets, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they did just fine with a few light frosts while they are seedlings;hence the date Baker Creek suggests. They seem to be pretty flexible. This year we’ve even started a second planting in late June, hoping to make up for some of the losses we’re experiencing with our very, very wet summer. We always harvest these before October, top them (leaving an inch or so of greens) and put them into old feed sacks. Any later and they might experience storage issues if they get burned with an early fall frost. Once they are harvested, we stack them in the root cellar until December or so. They are supposed to cause digestive issues in pigs and cows if they are offered before January, but I can’t say we’ve seen it. Mangels are crispy and sweet, and our livestock love them. They store beautifully, too; we just finished feeding out the mangels from last year, and we didn’t see significant spoilage until some time in May, I’m thinking. Boiling a chopped mangel in water is supposed to produce a super tonic for young calves; I wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful with piglets as well, when they are stressed by weaning, or being moved to a new pen.
      We hope this helps! May we include your question in a blog post? There may be other folks interested in growing mangels.
      Blessings, and good weather — Shawn and Beth

  10. Love your blog and can’t believe I did not see it sooner! I used to blog about our farm and family on and now, being more advanced in years, a friend who reads your blog suggested I contact you. We are selling our 30 acre farm in Northeast Kansas, if you know of anyone looking to begin an awesome adventure as you did! We raised dairy goats, dairy cows, horses, chickens, rabbits and of course, cats and dogs. I miss the animals, but as I said, time does not stop and we all get old some day!
    Thank you for reading. Would not trade the memories for the world. We were blessed.

    1. Wow! Hi, Suzy, so glad to hear from you. Where in KS? We’re from TX and OK, ourselves, just found ourselves in Appalachia by the grace of God and now we don’t ever mean to leave. It rains here! And the ground is full of springs. (I know you didn’t mean us, just rhapsodizing.) So, are you familiar with Kevin Ford? and the Prairie Troubadour folks? They are all KS folks, agrarian-minded, family types. I could ask around. And for how much are you listing your farm?
      Momoften, who are the plus? Grands, or adopteds, or just spiritual children?
      Thanks for the contact, we’d love to stay in touch.

  11. Aw, thank you for such a fast reply! We’re in Atchison, just north of Fort Leavenworth. There is one cool possibility–the men who built our house and started the farm in 1890 were the Benedictine monks, and the Benedictine Abbey may be interested in it once again. They sold it in the 1960’s. I like to think of the farm as their “Super-Walmart” of the early 20th century. They raised cattle for beef and milk, pigs, chickens, had a garden, a vineyard for wine and beehives for honey and wax! They were so self-sufficient. Recently, some officials from the Abbey toured our place with the thought of purchasing it back and using it for a conference center. A few people have flown in from around the US looking at it not only as a home, but a wedding venue. It is listed for $799,000 and as you know, we farm people put way more into it than we’d ever really recoup. But I like to feel that we were so blessed there, and now perhaps God has someone new in mind. It just would feel really special if the Abbey “got it back.” We still would love to see it bless another family, especially one that could use it like you do with your property!

    The ten are our children, the pluses are two sons-in-law, a granddaughter, two more grandbabies on the way, some boarders here and there who have become like family, and then foreign exchange students from Korea, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Columbia and Thailand! People would joke that we were so used to such a large family that as our older daughters grew up and moved out, we’d invite a new “child” in. One of our daughters has special needs, and she has blessed us in so many ways–one of which is by bringing in “helpers” who have become like family, as well.

    That’s just a bit.
    I’m not familiar with Kevin Ford and the Prairie Troubadour folks. But we know others around here who are like-minded.

    Thank you for keeping it in mind! I’d love to stay in touch by email, if possible? I may have missed a link to your email.

    1. shawnandbeth@att.netwhich Benedictines?  I guess I could look it up, they’re probably the only ones in Atchinson.  I just happen to be on the stupid computer today because my number four son is planning his wedding and we’re working out details.  Pray for me!  I want son number three to be there, and right now the plan is for a date he can’t make.  Mama can’t express her opinion, but she can pray, right? Kevin Ford is a young man who kept a blog called, I think, the new catholic land movement.  He had a farm in the southeastern corner of KS (I think) and found out just how hard it is to ‘make a living’ on the homestead.  I think he’s in KC, or maybe Topeka, now.  The Prairie Troubadour folks are somehow connected with a KS Catholic college, I think — friends of friends who have been to our farm.  Isn’t everyone, everywhere, who doesn’t have a farm already, looking for one? Blessings!  Shawn and Beth Dougherty The Sow’s Ear Check out our new farm Air B and B and come visit us

      Watch the first installment of our Youtube videos with Living Web Farms

      Check out our new book, The Independent Farmstead

      The Doughertys capture both the soaring majesty and the down-and-dirty reality of farm life…. This book encourages and inspires all of us, no matter if we’re just wannabes or if we’re old hands. —JOEL SALATIN, from the foreword. 

      Library Journal starred review.

      1. Shawn and Beth,
        Oh, I know wedding planning! But for boys it must certainly be different! The link to the farm is:,-KS,-66002_rb/122710217_zpid/?view=public
        Our farm was called the “College Farm” for years before us, because it was associated with the Benedictine College and the Benedictine Abbey in Atchison. Benedictine College is a gem! I taught in the Nursing Program for a few years and for reasons same as selling the farm am now an online instructor for Washburn University. Both nursing programs are top-notch. Benedictine College’s, of course, has a distinctly Catholic mission statement.
        I will certainly check out your book! I’d love to know about your publishing journey…is there a post about that?
        Thank you for the email!

  12. Oh, Benedictine College, of course, stupid of me! Lots of kids I know have gone there. I can imagine the price would be enhanced by that location.
    I’ve never written about the publishing thing — at least, I don’t think I have! The journey was short, which was not what we expected. Chelsea Green Publishing is the best in the country for our sort of book, and lots of the books on our shelves come from them, so they were a natural place to send our first proposal. We were pretty thrilled when they picked us up. So, we know almost nothing about sumitting MS, because we only had to do it once! DG.
    We’d love to meet you if you come out this way!

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