Published Aug 18, 2010

The Beginning Farmer has a Field Day

By Luke Gran

A cool, wet afternoon on a southern Iowa livestock family farm was the scene of an intimate farm tour led by Ethan and Rebecca Book. Beginning with a complimentary meal of farm meats freshly grilled, the tour extended over 4 hours. Eager participants didn’t let a little rain get in the way of sharing practical farm knowledge. 6 farms represented by 27 people attended to walk the land and learn the realities of a beginning small family farm.

Crooked Gap Farm offers pastured pork, and grass-fed beef direct to Iowa consumers. 36 months ago, they purchased land and began farming in earnest after years of reading, planning, and dreaming. Their vision is to have many direct and meaningful relationships with their meat customers for stable income and a business that fits their family dreams.

The Book family are choosing to grow their farm slowly and steadily despite the low interest rates and loan opportunities that abound. Ethan works a full-time and a part-time job to supply the family income, and makes room for farm chores before and after work.

Ethan Book, who works as a youth pastor among other jobs, loves to share his family’s story with other farmers.


Hereford pigs, a listed breed on the conservancy group, are farrowed and finished on pasture with their 9 month turnaround from birth to slaughter is a great income source for Crooked Gap, and “wonderful entertainment” says Ethan.


CRP conversion to grazing

Chicken Service

Rare breeds

All in attendance returned home a little wiser, recharged, reinvigorated, and prepared to apply lessons learned to their own farm.