Sunday, July 19, 2009


We have been raising Broad-Breasted Bronze turkeys. Our big tom, Suleymon the Magnificent, is a Standard Bronze turkey. They will mostly be for thanksgiving, but since Suleymon has been sort of a family pet since before the farm we are hoping to keep some females as his companions. He has mostly been hanging out with chickens and now ducks and there is no telling what kinds of bad habits he is learning.

Rainbow eggs

When we started our laying flock we selected mostly sturdy dual-purpose traditional breeds that lay a beautiful variety of colors. They include Barred Rocks, White Rocks, Americanas, Auracanas, Black Stars (a hybrid) and Cuckoo Marans. Over time some of the less-than-smart chickens have been weeded out—so gone are the Silver Spangled Hambergs and the Buff Orpingtons (some of the dumbest chickens ever in our opinion). Our rooster, a Silver-spangled Hamburg (see photo), is named Steve McQueen. Nobody can catch him.

We collect eggs daily and arrange them in beautiful rainbows. Some days there are only perfectly uniform brown eggs and we are disappointed.

We have just bought an incubator and hope to hatch our own eggs to add to our laying flock. We are excited because this lets us choose the chickens that have proven to thrive and survive in our specific conditions. We are also looking forward to having baby chicks again. They grow up into annoying adolescents too fast!

Sheep and Goats

We currently have four goats and two sheep. We have two milking goats, Ellie and Nougat, but only Ellie is milking now. They will be bred this fall and spring for next year. Our hair sheep are both young females that we bought this spring. We will breed them next spring to start our herd. They were very wild when we first got them but have become very docile and will do pretty much anything for a handful of oats.

Our goats get oats soaked with raw apple cider vinegar, flax seeds, diatomaceous earth, kelp and Sea-90 free choice. They are taken out to graze every day in a moveable electric fence. They are seldom in one spot for more than 2 days. The first day they eat the grass and the second day they browse the trees.


The pigs we are currently raising and have been very happy with are not a standard breed of pig. They don’t get as large as other pigs—only about 100 lbs. They are unusually colored and of all different varieties. Some are black, some red, some pink and grey, some spotted tan and brown. One has a white stripe on his nose and around his middle. They are “brush hogs,” almost like wild pigs and they are very hardy and love the free-range set up. They are fed the organic pig feed from Countryside Naturals, which is supplemented by the acorns, bugs and roots they are finding.

Our first pigs were raised on where our garden is now. We had hoped they would be very destructive and root the area up entirely. Instead they mostly lounged around and scratched on the gate, which ended up breaking and being replaced. After a disaster involving a moveable electric goat fence which the pigs immediately found they could get out of by lifting the unelectified bottom wire with their nose, we put the new piglets in a smaller pasture that we hoped they wouldn’t tear up too much, but they are anyways.

We currently have five new piglets. They are growing fast and are expected to be ready soon. They are available for a pre-arranged sale and will be cut how ever you like. If a whole pig seems like too much feel free to find a friend or neighbor to share it with you. They can be divided in half. Please email us for more details.

For our next batch of piglets we have two major concerns: Feed and erosion. The feed is expensive and is made of grains which are very energy intensive. If we can reduce feed costs, it reduces the price of the pig and makes it more affordable and better for the environment. We think good food ought to be good for the earth and priced reasonably. As far as erosion, we need to be able to move the pigs to minimize the damage they cause with their sharp hooves and by rooting.

The solution we’ve come up with is—seasonal production. Our land has lots of young live oak trees. Some of these trees bear acorns so sweet we were eating them like chestnuts last fall. With moveable electric fencing and a solar charger we can move the piglets from oak tree to oak tree in the fall and have them ready for slaughter during the coldest part of the year when they would be the fattest and best for eating and making lard. One thing we’ve really noticed with these summer piglets is that they just aren't getting fat. There’s not much reason to if it’s 90 degrees out and 100% humidity.

The only drawback is that we will only have pigs in the winter, but we think it will be well worth it. This fall we will be focusing on a perimeter fence and getting set up for next fall’s piglets, so these summer pigs will be all we’ve got for a while.

The Garden

This summer we grew many heirloom varieties of vegetables and enjoyed a lovely array of colors, textures and flavors. Our garden grew so well that we have decided to offer a limited number of CSA subscriptions for next summer (2010).
Our garden plan includes 117 varieties of colorful and unusual open-pollinated and heirloom vegetables and fruits—of squash, pumpkins, watermelons, muskmelons, tomatoes, string beans and lima beans, tomatillos, ground cherries, cucumbers, sweet peppers, spice peppers, eggplant, okra, roselle, sweet corn, and oriental baby corn. Some of these varieties we have already grown and loved and others we would like to try.

The CSA would begin May-ish and last for at least 16 weeks (August-ish). One large basket of varied produce would be provided weekly for 4 months. For variety our baskets will include ferments, fresh herbs, herbal vinegars, oils and seasonings, dried fruits and vegetables, fresh fruits (such as blackberries and blueberries) and flowers. We will also include a little newsletter with recipes and serving suggestions each week and interesting history about the varieties you’ve received.
The cost is $200 for the entire season, which comes out to be $12.50 per week. This is a lower price than other local CSA’s in this area.
Because we are inexperienced with gardening for a market, we are looking for customers who could tolerate mistakes on our part and who would be willing to take the time to give us constructive feedback. If we have a crop failure—or maybe an over-abundance of something like zucchini, we can substitute eggs, goat milk or meat. If everything is a complete disaster we would of course refund your money.

For those of you not familiar with our growing practices—we are not certified organic, but we do not use chemical fertilizers or sprays. We use natural means, such as soap, essential oils, companion planting, soil mineralization and mulching to correct problems, and we fertilize with kelp, fish and crab meal, sea-90, compost and cover crops. We let our animals graze over the garden when the season is over to increase the soil fertility

If you have any questions or are interested in joining our CSA, please contact us at We hope to hear from you!