We believe in farming the way that our grandfathers did with a little help from our tractor.
Let us first express that we don’t know everything. The number one rule in farming is that stuff happens. It is all good and well to sit around and talk about how we operate (which we do constantly), and it is quite another to be out in the heat or the rain actually making it happen. We are constantly changing and tweaking our systems to make them better for us, better for our livestock and better for our land. In the process of farming we talk about farming, and work every day to make those improvements that better serve everybody. We get up every day with a drive and a purpose to produce beautiful food.
We believe in the cyclical co-dependence of many projects on a small farm. Each project produces for the other, for our family and for you. We keep bees. The bees pollinate the fruit trees. The fallen fruit goes to the pigs. The pigs fertilize and dig up the garden space so that we can grow crops. The waste crops go to the goats. The goats give us fiber to spin, knit and wear so that we can get back outside to milk the cows. Their milk turns into cheese. The whey from cheesemaking in turns goes back to the chickens or the pigs. The chickens give us meat and eggs. The pigs eventually make it into the freezer. The rabbits eat from the garden tilled by the pigs and they produce fertilizer to go back into the garden, etc. In the process we get fruit, vegetables, honey, fiber, wine, vinegar, dairy products and meat.
We have a relationship with our animals. The cows each know their names and we know their personalities. After milking the cow, the I often then give her a pat or a scratch and thank her for the milk. She’s not just a number in a line being milked by a robot. I love and appreciate that she is willing to share her milk. We even love and adore the animals that we raise for meat around here. Yes, there is the problem of becoming attached to that life, but it is a life we love and respect. We have a relationship with our food, and no, it is not always easy.
Chemicals? Yuck, no thanks! We’d rather respect our land by composting, rotating our grazing, using cover crops, allowing a field to rest, using natural predators to pests, and hand weeding. We do not use pesticides or herbicides on our land. We also work closely with our neighbors to avoid over spray. Our weeding is done by hand or mechanically.
We WILL treat an animal however we see fit when it is sick. We have a relationship with a good vet who knows us, knows our animals and helps keep everyone healthy and happy. We do not routinely give antibiotics to our livestock, yet we do not hesitate to use them if an animal truly is in need of them. We strive to use natural methods of handling problems, but when necessary, we use antibiotics or other medications that we know will solve the problem. That is the reason Western medicine exists. Prevention is the best medicine, and in that vein, we routinely vaccinate our livestock and worm them.
We’re HUGE fans of technology. We appreciate how technology old and new, big and small has made improvements in my quality of life. That said, we don’t bow down at the alter of technology in farming. In the early 1900’s virtually every farm was a small farm. Farming was an overwhelming amount of work. There were no tractors, there was barely electricity, and the farmers had to rely on luck, hard work and tradition to accomplish their daily tasks. Back then, there were also a lot more farms. Each farmer had his production niche and a limit to what he was able to do with his land and his resources. Fast forward just over 100 years and our nation relies on pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, feed lots and factory farms. Whoah! How did we get here? All of these things started as simple aids to help ease the burden of farming, but we’ve gone way overboard. As a nation, we stopped looking at food as a nourishing, community endeavor, and all we saw were dollar signs. Farmers stopped selecting seed for tomatoes because of taste and started to focus more on selecting the varieties that ripened simultaneously and didn’t bruise easily. The production of large amounts of food for large amounts of people requires shortcuts. Sure, weeds and bugs happen in farming, and they can be devastating, but those that came before us had methods of dealing with these issues.
When possible, we strive to raise heritage breeds of livestock, even if they are smaller or take longer to reach maturity. Sure, it is cheaper to produce food with chemicals and factories, but does that food sustain our soil and ourselves? As farmers, we are trying to make a living also, not an extravagant living, just a living. And we are trying to produce food for our table and your table at the same time. The most important thing for us is the health and well-being of ourselves, our land, our animals and our community—YOU! You vote with every dollar you spend. Thank you for voting to support small farms and community.