by Troy Bishopp
HUBBARDSVILLE, NY — American poet, Maya Angelou once said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
On a beautiful night in the rolling hills of Southern Madison County, a dozen young ladies came together at Endless Trails Farm and Guesthouse to share their passions and unique styles in working with livestock in a pasture setting.
The evening led by farm manager Chrissy Claudio and the Madison County Cooperative Extension team of Tess Southern, Karin Bump and Nicole Tommell was another installment of the Women in Agriculture Discussion Group which seeks to showcase entrepreneurship opportunities and teach new ideas as well as create a network of like-minded women supporting each other in future endeavors.
The 200-acre grazing operation owned by O’Mara Family Farms in Canastota, NY and managed by Chrissy and husband Cory, with their daughter Addison are responsible for taking care of over 350 head of Angus cattle at several locations.
Over delectable burgers with all the fixings, Chrissy explained how they manage the herds, the pastures, the guesthouse and market meat and keep up with social media. “I’m a stickler for numbers and love dissecting information in creating scenarios to make the right decisions,” said Claudio. “Tools like financial spreadsheets, grazing charts and working with practical advisors have been invaluable in our journey to find balance within the operation.”
Agricultural Business Management Specialist on the Central New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops team, Nicole Tommell said, “Data collection among the grazing herd is an important component to the overall economic viability of the business. Collecting data on the cows and calves will assist in building a grazing herd that will add more pounds of weaned calf per cow with minimal inputs. This would have a direct effect on the net income at the farm level. Chrissy does a fantastic job in collecting data. By learning which data she needs, she has the ability to make decisions based on the economic viability of each animal on the farm. The end goal in this is to have a highly efficient group of grazing cattle that work for her farm.”
After dinner, the group was treated to a wagon-ride out into a pasture where 70 gorgeous cow-calf pairs were patiently waiting for a fresh break of pasture. Chrissy described how she measures the pasture using a NRCS pasture stick and determines the size of the paddock. The ladies watched how the herd grazed the 12” high diverse plants and what behavioral cues were noticed after the temporary fence was removed.
They talked about cow health practices, calf care, genetics, soil health, fencing, grazing strategies, dung beetles and believe or not, finding ways to grow awesome forage so a getaway weekend could be had. She indicated last year they grazed 160 days but wants to push that to over 200. “My potential savings from grazing longer exceeds $20,000 dollars,” said Claudio. “That’s definitively a worthwhile incentive to get better.”
Madison County CCE Ag Subject Educator, Tess Southern commented, “It’s always great to get this group of women together, the discussions that we have, the questions that are asked and the answers that are shared amaze me every time. We never expect anyone to have all the answers, but if we can learn from each other and make each of our businesses stronger, I think that is a great common goal.”
“Our Women in Ag (WIA) ladies appreciate this environment for learning because it is relaxed and comfortable while sharing a meal and discussing what works and what doesn’t among friends. We at Cornell Cooperative Extension can share studies that have been done through the college, and the ladies of Madison County can share what is happening in real time, out on their farms. Chrissy does an amazing job here at Endless Trails, she tries new techniques and works on improvements all the time, growing a stronger herd with every move she makes. We’re thankful to have such a leader in our community.”
Claudio added, “Our goal is to be productive and successful in our business, while cultivating a happy home life. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a successful, sustainable farm. We pick our battles and advocate for changes every year that streamline the efficiency of our farm. We feel the Women In Agriculture (WIA) meetings play an important role in empowering women farmers with information, tools and support to help develop plans and ideas to implement on their own farms. Being a farmer should be the opportunity to enjoy your work while also enjoying your life and feeling satisfied and accomplished at the end of the day.”
“O’Mara Family Farms is fortunate to have Chrissy and Cory Claudio as members of our team. Their attention to details and enthusiasm for the work they do for the farm are priceless. They treat our animals and our farm as if it were their own. We truly consider them both, as well as their daughter Addison, as members of our extended family,” said Paul R. O’Mara.
To learn more about the Endless Trails Farm and Guesthouse visit: Endlesstrailsguesthouse.com. To see what’s next for the Madison County Women in Agriculture Discussion Group go to madisoncountycce.org or contact Tess Southern at 315.684.3001 ext. 101.