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Now track egg sales and expenses in FlockPlenty for iOS

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Do you know how much you’re spending on feed for your chickens and how much you are making in sales? We listened to your feedback and FlockPlenty for iOS now makes it super simple to track how many eggs you get each day and how much you are spending on feed and other expenses. See your profits and costs per dozen eggs at a glance. See a summary of your sales and expenses at a glance. Easily record expenses and sales on the go. Attach notes and photos to capture all the details. In addition, you can now easily transfer your data between your applications. We added CSV import and export to FlockPlenty so you can import your old records and export your data to Quickbooks, Excel, or other spreadsheets. Try out the new FlockPlenty now. Sales and expense tracking is available for $4.99 under the Accounting tab. Let us know what you’d like to see next! George Founder, Farmplenty P.S. Yes I know that Scratch and Peck feed is expensive, but I love that it’s less processed and is grown sustainably. My chickens love it too! We all know it’s not just about the number of eggs. The health of your flock and quality of your eggs are just as...

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Can technology fix our food system?

Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

How can I use my skills in technology to help address the enormous problems with our food system today? I have been contemplating this question for more than a year, attending conferences, meeting farmers, and developing software. I have been humbled by the enormity of the problem and the unforgiving environment that farmers must work within. Not only do farmers have to contend with the vagaries of Mother Nature, they must also deal with the powerful external forces of government policy and consumer demand. To understand our current food system, we first need to understand the influence of government policy. As Scott describes in Seeing Like a State, historically governments relied on plentiful food to feed their projects, from better housing and sanitation to wars and military forces. Unfortunately, policies subsidizing cheap and unhealthy food are fueling an obesity epidemic. Michael Pollan and others recently proposed replacing our outdated U.S. farm policy with a food policy that promotes ecological stewardship, rural communities, and good nutrition. Technology cannot directly solve the policy problem, but information technology can help educate citizens about food. Online communities support those who want to learn to garden or raise chickens. Garden sensors such as Edyn help people get started gardening. People who know where their food comes from will demand better policies from their government. Much of agricultural technology has focused on increasing yield and decreasing costs of commodity crops with little regard to the health of the land and people. With half of Iowa’s topsoil lost in the last century and a surge in childhood obesity fed by cheap corn, we must look beyond short-term yield and price and focus on the broader long-term impact to society and the environment. Many farmers would like to use more sustainable agricultural practices, but feel consumers are unwilling to pay the premium for higher quality and more responsibly farmed food. Fortunately there is a growing body of consumers who are demanding more nutritious food and sustainable farming practices. Startups are popping up to helps farmers meet this demand and accelerate the growth of organic and sustainable agriculture. For example, CSA software such as Farmigo directly connects farmers with consumers who want fresh local produce. Goodeggs delivers farm fresh food directly to your home. Other companies are developing new technologies for producing biochar, which can increase yields at low cost while sequestering carbon to combat climate change. Better sensors and farm management tools reduce waste and help farmers make better decisions. To paraphrase Costa in The Watchman’s Rattle, we need to attack a complex problem from many different directions to have any hope of success. Technology alone cannot remake our food system but it must be part of the solution. By developing better software for farmers, gardeners, and those with backyard chickens, I hope to make a positive impact. I am encouraged by the tremendous growth in investment in agricultural technology. With global food demand predicted to increase 50% by 2050 and climate change underway, we will need all the help we can...

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How I saved hundreds of dollars by tracking my eggs and feed

Posted by on Jul 14, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

How I saved hundreds of dollars by tracking my eggs and feed

  Some of the first questions that you get when you raise chickens are, “How many eggs do you get?” and “How much does it cost you per egg?” You may know how many eggs you got yesterday, or the day before, but do you remember how many you got last week? Or last winter? And just how much did you spend on feed last month? Your flock changes all the time, eating and laying less in the winter and more in the summer. You may add new chicks or hens to your flock, or lose some to predators or disease. At the end of the day you may not be sure whether you have the right number of chickens for the number of eggs you want. Maybe you got a new feeder or let them free range more. Do you know how this is affecting the health and productivity of your flock? I started to wonder about these questions myself. I recently found Scratch and Peck organic feed at my local feed store. It’s expensive but my chickens love it and I’m happy that I’m supporting sustainable agricultural practices. Are my chickens laying more eggs? And how quickly do they go through a bag of feed? I started recording this information so I can answer such questions. Tracking egg production and feed consumption can also help you identify pest problems. A few months ago I poured about 15 pounds of feed into the feeder before going on vacation for a few days. I was alarmed when I came back to an empty feeder and hungry chickens! I had noticed some rat droppings around my chicken coop before but I hadn’t realized just how big a problem it was. I did some research on backyardchickens.com and decided to get a treadle feeder from The Carpenter Shop. It has successfully kept the rats out and now I notice a lot less wasted feed. When I did the math, I realized this adds up to hundreds of dollars of savings in reduced feed costs! Tracking eggs and feed can make a big difference in the health of your chickens and help you quickly identify problems with diseases and pests, but it also requires that you be diligent in your record keeping. It can be a pain to remember and keep track of exactly how many eggs you got and how much feed you gave your chickens. Many other chicken owners track information about their flock but all the apps and spreadsheets I found were cumbersome and not so convenient. I decided to develop a fun and easy way to track my chickens and make it available to everyone. You can find more information at FlockPlenty Chicken Egg Tracker App. I hope you find it as useful as I do. Wishing you happy and healthy...

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A new generation of young farmers is redefining farming

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Blog | 2 comments

What do you think of when you hear the word “farm”? Maybe you think of diversified family farms like those a hundred years ago, with red barns, dairy cows, and lush green grass. Or perhaps you imagine the large mechanized farms that dominate agriculture today, with enormous tractors harvesting vast fields of corn. Attending the Permaculture Voices conference earlier this month opened my eyes to a new kind of farm, the type of small scale farming attracting a new generation of educated and environmentally conscious young farmers. Many new farmers are drawn to an agricultural lifestyle as an alternative to white-collar urban society. If you work a desk job, you may have forgotten the satisfaction of engaging directly with nature and creating something of value with our own hands. Growing food reminds us that we are deeply connected to nature and that we must care for the land in order to survive. My neighbor baked bread made from wheat he grew in his own backyard and milled into flour himself. I collect eggs from chickens I raised myself in my backyard. These experiences help to literally ground us when so often we can’t see or touch the fruits of our labor. In addition, consumers are growing more aware of the problems with conventional agriculture. Our current agricultural system based largely on fossil fuels, chemicals, and monocropping damages our bodies, our society, and our environment. We are finally ready for an alternative and are eagerly buying food grown in a more sustainable and healthy manner, as demonstrated by the 76% growth in US farmers’ markets since 2008. This confluence of supply and demand has created an opportunity for a new kind of farmer who doesn’t fit the old stereotypes. Young farmers who want to create the future of agriculture, growing diverse crops with little capital on a small farm. These farmers embrace new techniques and unconventional approaches. Luke Callahan teaches how to profitably grow indoor microgreens in your own basement with less than $1000. Tim Boucher wrote a book on how to start a small farm with less than $1000. SPIN Farming shows how to make money intensively farming small urban and suburban lots. Curtis Stone’s urban farm grows vegetables profitably in suburban backyards. Jean-Martin Fortier profitably grows vegetables on a 1.5 acre farm. You can find other stories of successful small-scale sustainable farming in podcasts such as Permaculture Voices. The Greenhorns, the National Young Farmers Coalition, and other similar organizations are helping to nurture this new generation of farmers. We need these new farmers. The average age of American farmers today is 57 and many do not have children willing to take over the family farm. I am so glad to see a new generation of motivated young farmers step up to grow healthy farms and healthy...

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Introducing Crop Planner

Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I talked to many farmers at the Permaculture Voices conference two weeks ago and heard many of them complain about the poor quality of existing software tools for farm record keeping and management. Many existing tools are designed for large conventional farms with dedicated IT staff and are expensive, overly complicated, or make assumptions that are unrealistic for small farms. So we created Crop Planner, a simpler, smarter way to do crop planning. It’s just an Excel spreadsheet so there are no new apps to install or learn. It automates all the tedious calculations so you can quickly see how your crop plan affects your harvests and revenue. Watch the demo video, try it out, and let us know how we can make it even better for you! Learn more about Crop Planner...

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Start raising chickens today with a free personalized chicken plan

Posted by on Feb 6, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Many people are afraid to raise their own chickens because they are unsure about the time commitment and cost involved. Recently I wrote A Guide to Raising Urban Backyard Chickens for Busy People, which gives you a quick overview of what it takes to raise chickens in your backyard. To give you more detailed personalized guidance, we created a Chicken Planner to instantly give you a personalized summary and schedule of what to expect when raising chickens. Try it out and let us know what you think! Raising your own chickens is immensely rewarding. You gain a deeper connection to your food, you get a plentiful supply of eggs and fertilizer, and your chickens will provide you endless amusement! Create your chicken plan...

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