cows in field

From the NODPA Co-President

By Roman Stoltzfoos

Two kinds of farmers: the one who sticks to his/her guns, and is always at home working hard with his/her nose to the grindstone. The other one takes time off to pursue other interests and more especially pursue learning opportunities about his/her chosen vocation. Never was it more important to keep a learning edge than now.

Keep the knife sharp. That way it takes less energy to cut practices that should be cut. And divide the riff-raff that you cut through to decide if what you’re learning makes sense/cents for your operation. They say the worse compaction on our farms is between our ears. This I believe. So we should find better ways to un-compact our thinking ability.

I think it’s important to sit together as a group and think about how we can hone our markets and our marketing skills. But I think it’s much more important to hone our farming skills. This is what we all want to do--farm. And do it better.

Enter learning new ways to skin a cat. This is best done off the farm on someone else’s farm. NODPA Field Days are a good example of this opportunity to learn from other farmers. Go to grazing conferences through the winter and pasture walks through the summer. Read books like Gabe Brown’s Dirt to Soil. Get on several people’s farms. Take a day off and find a farmer to visit. Read Graze magazine. Read the NODPA News. Get in a farmers face and ask them why they do what they do, and try to discover what makes them tick. Take your shovel and maybe dig in their pasture or field. Consequently, you’ll learn what makes you tick and you’ll learn what skills you are good at. And that way you will make your farm into a profitable and fun place to work. Make 2024 the best year yet. Stay curious.

Roman Stoltzfoos farms with son Dwight and children, as a minority partner, in Lancaster PA. They milk 240 cows and farm and graze 700 acres. The farm has been organic and grazing since 1988, and 100% grass-fed since 2012.

Roman Stoltzfoos can be reached at 717-278-1070, and he prefers text messages. His email address is