- Author: Hannah Meyer
That is a long name for a little job right? Nope! The UCCE Placer & Nevada Counties serves a growing number of small farmers and ranchers in these two counties. Over 75% of commercial farms and ranches are small scale(less than 50 acres). While the acreage of land in farms may be declining, the number of small farms is increasing. Over 500 local small-scale farmers and ranchers participate in our workshops and field meetings each year!
Why is UCCE Placer & Nevada Counties' work so important?
Increasing land values and development pressures make it difficult to start or expand a farm. The average age of our producers is over 50 years old. That means we need to train and mentor new farmers. It costs small farms and ranches more to produce a product than large-scale operations, so quality and marketing are critical. UCCE partners with farmers and ranchers for education and community-building activities. Training and mentorship in production, marketing, risk management, and business management are particularly important.
Where can I find out more about the agricultural programs available to me?
You are invited to an Open House for farmers and ranchers at the Auburn UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE)/Farm Advisor Office on December 13 from 4 to 7 PM. You can also find out more by visiting our Foothill Farming website and liking our Facebook page.
Open House information – https://ucanr.edu/sites/placernevadasmallfarms/?calitem=433612&g=22527
Foothill Farming website – https://ucanr.edu/sites/placernevadasmallfarms/
Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/FoothillFarming
The humming sound of busy honeybees filled the fall air, darting back and forth as I followed long-time beekeeper Randy Oliver around his bee yard. I was there to learn about a new issue for local beekeepers. Oliver explained that local honeybee colonies have been robbed of their honey in places they have been kept year-after-year for several decades. Robbed?? Yes, by other honeybees, from hives from other parts of California. In the last couple years, numerous out-of-area hives have been placed in close proximity to local hives. Oliver, along with local beekeepers, presented a draft proposal to the Nevada County Ag Advisory Commission, which recommended an emergency beekeeping ordinance to county supervisors.
Oliver explained that the proposal calls for a minimum of a 2-mile radius around each existing apiary location and a 45-hive maximum in each location. All bee hives in Nevada County must be registered by the Ag Commissioner in January each year. This ordinance is designed to provide the resources and “teeth” to protect local bees and their food sources. Put in rancher terms, imagine that you had your cattle on pasture, someone saw your cattle grazing and decided to dump off 100 cows in the same pasture because it looked like a good food source. “This is beekeepers regulating themselves” said Oliver. The ordinance would not cost taxpayers and is funded by beekeepers themselves. Hobby beekeepers would be exempt from the registration fees and existing hives would be grandfathered in. Another issue with having bee colonies in close proximity is the potential for infection and mite drift into hives. Oliver explained the dangers of reintroducing a bacterial disease called American foulbrood that is nearly eradicated in Nevada County. This issue may also be of concern in Placer County.
So what does this have to do with local farmers and ranchers? If someone asks permission to put honeybee hives on your land, or leaves a note on your gate, contact your Nevada County Beekeepers Association or search “Honey” on the Placer Grown website to find local beekeepers.
A report released in March by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) stated that California produced 13,735,000 pounds of honey in 2017, worth more than $28.5 million dollars. Beekeeping is an important agricultural activity in this area. Hive rentals to almond growers rather than honey provide the major income for beekeepers, but honey is an important product in the foothills.
Why are honey bees important to crops and farmers? – Bees Matter
Learn How to be a Bee-Friendly Farm - http://pollinator.org/bff
Cattle, Honey Bees Graze in Harmony on Wisconsin Farm - Find out how NRCS can help you increase pollinators on your farm or ranch. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/home/?cid=NRCSEPRD405218
Nevada County Bee Keepers Association – http://nevadacountybeekeepers.org/
Placer Grown - http://www.placergrown.org/
Randy Oliver - http://scientificbeekeeping.com/
- Author: Dan Macon
Once again, Flying Mule Farm (in collaboration with UC Cooperative Extension) is offering a series of workshops designed to help new and aspiring shepherds get started in the sheep business. These workshops will give students basic information on sheep husbandry, marketing and business management, lambing, shearing and wool handling, predator prevention and pasture management. Several workshops will be offered classroom style, while most will feature hands-on work with sheep.
- Predator Protection for Small Scale Livestock Producers (January 11): This workshop is part of the Nevada County Sustainable Food and Farm Conference in Grass Valley, CA. For more information (and to register) go to: http://foodandfarmconference.com.
- Introduction to Sheep Husbandry - Classroom Session (January 15): Basic information on managing a small flock of sheep, including management calendars, husbandry practices, economics of the sheep business, and marketing. For more information, and to register online, go to: http://ucanr.edu/sites/placernevadasmallfarms/?calitem=250009&g=22527. The workshop will be held at the UCCE office in Auburn.
- Introduction to Sheep Husbandry - Field Day (January 17): This hands-on field day will provide students with the opportunity to learn how to give vaccinations, trim feet, evaluate general health, and prepare a flock for lambing. For more information, and to register online, go to: http://ucanr.edu/sites/placernevadasmallfarms/?calitem=250011&g=22527. The workshop will be held at our leased pasture near Auburn.
- Lambing on Pasture Field Day (March 7): This field day will provide hands-on instruction on managing a lambing flock on pasture. Students will learn to dock, castrate and eartag lambs, manage ewe and lamb nutrition, evaluate health, and manage pastures during lambing. Stay tuned for registration information!
- Shearing and Wool Handling Field Day (early May): This field day will provide hands-on information regarding preparing sheep for shearing, shearing-site set-up and management, wool handling and preparation for marketing. The date will be determined by availability of our sheep shearer.
- California Multi-Species Grazing Academy (September 11-13): This multi-day workshop will provide students with hands-on experience in electric fencing, pasture management, forage evaluation and animal husbandry. Participants will work with sheep and goats. Stay tuned for more information!
For more information, go to http://ucanr.edu/sites/placernevadasmallfarms/ and click on the specific events on the calendar page - or contact Dan Macon directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530/305-3270!