Hey Everyone! I'm Jessie from Columbus, Ohio. I've just finished month 6 of my internship on DFF. I have just one month left on the farm before I head back to Ohio to start raising my own chickens.
Coming into this internship I was pretty sure I wanted to be a farmer. I did my undergraduate at Ohio State, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I floated around between majoring in international studies and biology. Fortunately I ended up in the animal science department. Then I took a class on management-intensive grazing. Everything just clicked. I loved that livestock can be raised in a way that not only doesn’t destroy the land but restores it. Then I went to Senegal, West Africa as a sustainable agriculture extension agent for Peace Corps. For two years I witnessed first-hand the misuse (and overuse) of fertilizer and chemical pesticides and how increased deforestation and overgrazing were leading to desertification. I worked with farmers on sustainable field management techniques for their field crops, on improving vegetable yields in their household gardens, on planting fruit and shade trees and growing forage bean hay as a cover crop and to increase milk production in their cows during the dry season. Coming back to America, I knew I wanted to learn how to farm here.
I've learned an amazing amount in my 6 short months on this farm. Everyday the interns do chores. We move and feed the pigs, feed the chickens and collect, wash and package their eggs. The dairy cows get milked twice a day every day. This is probably my favorite chore. I've enjoyed getting to know the dairy cow's individual personalities. Now I can recognize them just from looking at their teats! I've been fascinated by management-intensive grazing for the past couple of years so as an independent project I took on moving the dairy herd to a new paddock everyday and tracking how long they could stay on each field. We also sent grass samples into a lab for analysis to see just how good different pastures are and if the dairy cows needed anything extra to balance out their diet.
I'll be sad to leave the farm. On the other hand, I'm ready to start raising my own animals. Thank you DFF for making me part of the family, giving me my first taste of day-to-day farm life and inspiring me to pursue my own farming ventures.