Ag classes forming now

January 13, 2009|By JEFF SEMLER

It is hard to believe it is 2009 already. While many have made New Year's resolutions and others have been wringing their hands about our current economic situation, take heart, this too shall pass, whether it is your failed resolution or our economic woes.

I did a little research and this contraction in our economy is nothing new. In my lifetime (since 1959), we have had no less than six of these recessions, and since our country was founded, there have been a total of 18. With three exceptions, these downturns lasted one to three years.

Many say we are looking more like 1929, when we experienced what was known as the Great Depression. Remember, gold is refined by fire and the tough times of the Great Depression molded what has been called the greatest generation, the one that brought us through World War II. I have no idea what we are being prepared to take on.


As I mentioned in my last article, victory gardens were grown during WWII. Prior to that, they were called kitchen gardens, or for many folks, where my next meal is coming from. In recent years, we have seen a back-to-the-land movement and maybe that was to help us ready ourselves for these lean times.

At any rate, the winter season is the time when Extension offers classes for those looking to enter into the world of agriculture. While the target is for novice, all are welcome to attend these sessions. Our first session is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 29, and is titled "Getting Started with Goats." On Feb. 12, "Sheep Basics" will be the order of the day. Back again this year by popular demand is Poultry 101 and 102 on Feb. 26 and March 12. Last year, this class filled up and we had a waiting list.

Last in the series will be Pasture Management 102 and Pasture Management in the Field on March 26. While Pasture 102 is not a prerequisite for the second session, they certainly build off one another. All of the sessions, except for Pasture Management in the Field, will be held at the Extension office and will run from 7 to 9:30 p.m. There is a nominal cost of $5 per class that can be paid at the door.

Pasture Management in the Field will be held April 23 at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center on Keedysville Road and will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. This is hands-on, in-the-field pasture training. We will look at plant identification as well as management practices in the "real world."

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about these classes. If you think that you might be interested in raising any of these animals or if you already have livestock and need to hone your pasture management skills, come on down. The sessions are interactive and all questions are welcome.

Registration for all sessions is now open and is recommended because we need a head count to ensure adequate numbers of handouts and seating. We do cap registration at 30 and compile a waiting list in the event of cancellations. So please register either by e-mailing me at or calling 301-791-1304. I hope to see you at one or more of these sessions.

Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached weekdays by telephone at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by e-mail at

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