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Franklin County Success Stories

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Cabes Turn Family Farm into Conservation Farm 

Chan Cabe had always wanted to return to his farming roots so when he married Lou, who had been raised on a farm, it was an ideal match. Like most families these days, the Cabe family is a two-career family. Chan works as an insurance agent and Lou runs the day-to-day farming operation.

The Cabes started their farm operation about 20 years ago when their first son was “on the way.” When you've got another generation following you, you start thinking about whether the generations before you left you in great shape or in a hole,” Lou said. They purchased 40 acres of land that used to be farmed by Chan’s grandfather. Like many family farms, the land had been divided and sold off into several different parcels–each which had been managed differently.

The land lacked nutrients and a comprehensive management approach that not only made the farm productive but maintained and improved the health of the land. Soil had eroded for years down the hill where old terraces had once kept the topsoil in place. None of the waterways were fenced. “We pretty much started from scratch,” Lou said.

The Cabes heard about conservation practices from Fred Dilbeck, a retired NRCS employee who used to work in the same building as Chan. “I read a lot of farm publications, too” Chan added. “We knew we had a problem–especially with soil erosion in our waterways. We had started some things–had fenced out all waterways and created watering ramps,” Chan said. "We started (conservation) because we felt it was the right thing to do–then we found out there was assistance available plus an advisory process comes with it." he added. "Conservation is one of those things you know about and you've just got to go to the trouble to do it.

Slowly, the Cabes have built their farm up to 250 acres and lease an additional 400 acres. With the assistance of NRCS District Conservationist Forrest Ferguson, and now Soil Conservationist Staci Henry, the Cabes have spent 20 years improving their land. They have installed watering facilities which are protected by heavy use areas so cattle will not create unstable areas around watering areas. The watering facilities are strategically placed out in the open so that cattle will not linger for long periods of time which would create eroded areas.

Rotating the cattle from paddock to paddock allows the grass to regenerate itself and keeps the environment--and the cattle healthier. They constructed a waste storage facility on an old poultry house pad therefore requiring a limited amount of grading. This facility allows for a safe way to store litter until it can be applied to the land according to the nutrient management plan.

In addition to the waste facility, a composting facility was also constructed so mortality from their poultry operation can be composted and disposed of in a proper manner. “We had goals that were the same as NRCS goals. We were able to work together and get them accomplished. I like the local personnel–the technical assistance and the financial assistance.

We try to promote agriculture and stewardship–host 3rd graders–400 to 500 of them– annually in May,” said Chan. We take a lot of pride in sharing–we feel like it’s our responsibility and privilege to teach children to appreciate food and fiber,” Lou said.

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North Broad Watershed Rehabilitation  

Since 1953, three hundred and fifty seven USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Assisted Project Dams have been constructed pursuant to Public Law 566 Federal funding. In Franklin County, there are seven watershed structures located in the North Fork of the Broad watershed which were built in the 60’s and 70’s.

The watershed structures were located at strategic points to provide flood prevention to flood plains, culverts, and bridges. Now, most of these dams provide flood protection benefits to communities downstream. And, of course, as man-made structures, these dams need regular maintenance.

After years of neglect, many local sponsors, with financial assistance from the state, have allocated approximately $200,000 for much needed maintenance. NRCS provides technical assistance with identification of maintenance needs for the much needed maintenance to these watershed structures.

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