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A Small Farm In Germany
Dietmar Ranft and his wife both work in town but a lot of their income comes from their small, but productive, 15-acre farm near Claussnitz, Germany. Diversification provides food and income all year long, according to FARM SHOW contributor Rex Gogerty, Hubbard, Iowa, whose family has gotten to know the Ranfts in recent years.
  "I think their farm is a good example of how productive a small farm can be," says Gogerty.
  Ranft grows corn, winter wheat, canola and hay. Some of it feeds his livestock; including three Charolais cows, which in turn provide milk, meat and calves.
  Garden crops, including potatoes, turnips and other vegetables, are stored in a cellar under the barn.
  The family sells excess meat and vegetables at local farmers' markets.
  Ranft's son, Klemens, feeds the rabbits turnips, alfalfa and wheat. The family later eats some of the rabbit meat but sells most of it.
  The farm's honeybees are housed in hives on a portable trailer so they can be moved around as needed. The honey is sold.
  Ranft and a local butcher usually slaughter one of the few sows Ranft has on the farm yearly. They process everything including pigs feet, a restaurant delicacy.
  The hens provide the family eggs and later meat.
  Fish are raised in a farm pond each summer, which is drained in the fall. Then, they're moved to a small 10 by 12-ft. backyard pond where they're easily caught for food during the winter months.
  To hold corn silage, he dug a 12 by 48- ft. pit that's four ft. deep and lined with 6- mil. plastic. He stores the farm's 1 1/2 acres of whole-plant silage in the horizontal silo.
  Ranft hires neighbors to help harvest silage and grain. Loose hay is blown into the barn loft.
  Manure is collected from the barn and other outbuildings that surround a walled, cobblestone barnyard.
  For primary tillage, Ranft pulls a 3-bottom, moldboard plow with an 80 hp Belarus tractor. The roll-over (two-way) plow eliminates dead furrows.
  Crop rotation, manure and minimal amounts of fertilizer keep Ranft's small fields producing good yields. By minimizing costs and using intensive management, the Ranfts are squeezing extra profit from every acre.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dietmar Ranft, Rollingshainer Str. 5, 09236 Claussnitz, Germany (ph 011-49-372-022937).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #2