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The next iteration: CSA Garden Lease opportunity!

On the heels of a very successful growing season here at Indian Ridge Farm & Bakery, when we for the first time were able to employ four paid employees (two on the farm, two in the bakery), we’re going to offer yet another opportunity for some budding farmer.

We know you’re out there: the farmer who’s been through the training rigors of apprentice or internship programs; the farmer who’s been employed on a farm somewhere on this planet; the farmer who wants to seriously pursue organic farming but doesn’t have the means to either buy land or doesn’t have the opportunity to join forces with their families or other partners. The farmer, clearly, who wants more responsibility without the attendant capital risks.

To that end, we’re going to lease our CSA garden for this growing season. This is a 1.5 acre bio-intensive garden that’s been feeding as many 70 households for the past 14 years. We served 55 households last summer and about 21 this fall. The soils are rich and fertile, the infrastructure is in place, the business plan is intact, our customers are all very satisfied and the region is hungry for more agricultural economic stimulus.

Sound like something you might be interested in? Read on for more details.

A view of the garden in mid July. The garlic bed is in the forefront of the photo.

Right off the bat, let’s be clear that this is an opportunity for a farmer with experience. You will be paying your salary from farm revenues; this is not an apprentice or employee type arrangement! You’re your own boss. It’s your business plan (though we highly recommend continuing the successful CSA program) and it’s your budget. It’s your hiring decisions for fellow farmers and/or interns, it’s your work scheduling, it’s your garden plan (of course, we’d be happy to provide some assistance here). Your inherent risk is that you won’t make a dime by the end of the summer. We seriously doubt you won’t be successful if you know what you’re doing.

The other very important prerequisite is that you have experience growing in climates with short frost-free growing seasons. Because of our 7000′ altitude in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains, we have about 100 days when it’s highly unlikely (though not impossible) that there will be a killing freeze or frost. This implies that you have more than a few season extending tricks up your sleeves.

Read on if you’ve made the cut so far.

The vegetable production is part of a holistic, farmer­-owned enterprise that includes pastured poultry and a thriving bakery. The successful applicant will be working in concert with the other enterprises on the farm. The lease includes a fenced garden, two hoophouses, tools, a drip irrigation system, a BCS walking tractor with several implements, a walk­-in cooler and a distribution shed. The owners of the farm will also be available for consultation and advice (we will continue farming, focusing on pastured poultry, the layer hens, the bakery and all other enterprises!). Housing options exist on or off the farm. The nine­-month renewable lease runs from March through November.

The lease price is $1,200 per month. The lease runs from mid-March until mid-November.

If interested, please send a letter of interest, with a resume and two references to indianridgegranola@gmail.com

We are confident this turn­key operation is setup so the leaseholder enjoys success. Won’t you join us in stewarding a healthy relationship with the soil and the regional community?

Extreme/exceptional drought continues

Forecasts that painted a rosy picture for the prospects of a strong monsoon season never materialized this summer. That means the region continues with its “exceptional” drought conditions, the highest rating. One indicator of just how dry its been is the fact that Grand Junction is currently on track to record its driest summer ever, in over 100 years of record keeping. Between June 1 and the time of this writing (Aug. 20), the city has recorded a scant 0.22″ of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service. We’ve had more rain than that, of course, but if Grand Junction has had record dryness, one can safely assume that the near-desert-like conditions are no different here in the San Miguel Basin.

Finally, an article published this morning in The Guardian newspaper shed light on why conditions haven’t changed over the past year or so, when this severe drought actually began. The monsoonal flow is basically being steered away from N. America by a resilient high pressure airmass that is wobbling between the Ohio River Valley and the Great Basin. This is the same pheomenon we experienced all last winter. The jet stream is being shunted to our north and the normal air flows have been disrupted to the point that we’re seeing very little sub-tropical moisture in this neck of the woods. The reason for this is, believe it or not, due to the warmth and the ice melt clear up in the Arctic, which is resulting in mostly static conditions in the entire northern hemisphere. You can read more by clicking here.

The good news? The Predicition Center has just updated their forecast for the months of August/September/October, and again put us in the high likelihood that we’ll see wetter than normal conditions. At this point, I’ll believe it when I see it!

Nevertheless, the modus operandi here at the farm this summer has been “The Glass is Half-Full.” We’re still farming! We’re still producing amazingly nutritious food! We’re still healthy! Our customers are happy! The landscape is still beautiful! We haven’t run out of water! (You get the point. Gratuity for what we have, not wishing for what we don’t.)

Yes, the wildfires have been awful, affecting our air quality to the point where it’s unhealthy to breathe too deeply (i.e. exercising in this smoky haze); the pastures are mostly brown; the rain gauges are mostly empty, day after day; the national political scene continues on a self-mutilating downward spiral; and the prospects for the future — is this the new normal? — can appear bleak. But that’s not going to let us down! Remember, the glass is still half-full.

In that vein, we wanted to share a few photos of life on the farm during this epic drought.

 

First off, we’ve had the joy of working with our niece Lucia for the month. This hard-working and focused 16-year old lives on an island off the Portland, Me. coast.

 

This is the time of year when the harvest is in full swing: pasture raised chickens, turkeys, eggs, goat milk, produce from the garden, including tomatoes, Palisade peaches, Olathe sweet corn. Do I hear that the glass is half-full? You get it!

 

 

All the ingredients needed for a delicious roasted chicken dinner about to go into the oven. Voila! It’s a snap.

 

 

The hoop houses are full of ripening tomatoes, eggplant, basil and peppers.

Eggplant blossoms.

 

 

Anne has the garden fully planted, producing nutrient-dense veggies. In spite of the drought, we’ve amended our water schedule so that the garden, with its fertile soil and plentiful organic matter, only gets watered every three days for two hours at a time.

 

Beautiful garden in the foreground; a dry pasture in the background. This pasture is normally hayed in early July and then pastured off in the fall. Neighboring ranchers are not putting up hay this summer and winter feed supplies look scarce for the livestock that will soon be coming down from the high country.

 

Normally 2′ high in tall grasses, the intensive rotational grazing pasture is still showing some signs of green grass! You can thank the soil’s fertility for that, and little help from Mother Nature’s rains in July.

 

 

This is the regional fire — the so-called Bull Draw Faire — responsible for most of the smoke in the San Miguel Basin. The fire is located 12 miles from Nucla and gas grown to almost 30,000 acres in size.

 

The smoke cleared for a day last weekend, and the views were magnificent again! This is looking west at sunset time, toward the La Sal Mountains. The glass is definitely half full!

 

The clear skies provided a beautiful view of the Lone Cone from the house. Those are the bee colonies in the foreground.

 

 

Meanwhile, up in the high country, fall is knocking on the door already!

 

 

 

The severe drought isn’t slowing us down

Although drought conditions are as severe as anyone has seen in these parts, going back several generations, we’re looking at the glass as being half-full not half-empty. At least right now. Of course, we are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of the North American Monsoon, which the weather service says is supposed to be above-average for our region. The monsoon is the best chance we have to help break the drought.

Through hard work, a team effort, and all the planning and development we’ve instituted on the farm following the instructive drought of 2002, the farm is still able to produce nutrient-rich, healthy food for our neighbors in the region. The following images were taken recently, in part to share farm news with our devoted customers, but also to chronicle the extreme conditions by which we all find ourselves.

 

Virgin Pond, as we’ve named it, is full and ready to continue to provide irrigation water to the garden, the intensive rotational grazing pasture and the livestock. For this we are blessed!

 

A corner of our intensively rotated pasture is showing signs of great fertility after 16 years of livestock grazing. This grass is sequestering tons of carbon dioxide, helping reverse the ill-effects of global warming, one blade at a time!

 

The roughly acre-and-a-half garden is going strong, thanks to judicious use of water and the hard work of the leaseholder, Anne LeFevre, here weeding in the cool morning air. The produce is distributed through the Fresh Food Hub in Norwood and through a CSA in the Mountain Village created to help disadvantaged households.

 

As part of our serious water conservation efforts, we’ve always relied on a drip irrigation system in the garden, choosing this water delivery system over flood irrigating or sprinkling. It puts water right where you want it, one drop at a time. In this image, it’s the garlic’s turn to get watered!

 

Our pastured poultry is rotated onto fresh pasture every morning, where they devour every blade of grass presented to them. They leave behind their fertilizer, enhancing the health and sustainability of the pasture. Humans who consume grass-fed meats or by-products (e.g. eggs, dairy, etc.) are the ultimate beneficiaries, as is the health of the planet’s bio-deversity. It’s a perfect circle, we believe. You can order your pastured poultry online on this website, or see us at the Telluride Farmers Market on Fridays through the first week of October.

 

Doubt chickens eat grass? This image shows otherwise. The pen on the left is a few days ahead of the rotational grazing done by the chickens in the pen on the right bottom corner of this image. Notice the straight line of grazed versus unglazed pasture.

 

Can’t forget the eggs, another nutrient-dense food produced by our grass-fed layer hens!

 

Although 100% contained now, the Mailbox Fire provided a scare to mess residents only two weeks ago. Colorado is dry, dry, dry, with new fires seemingly being reported every day throughout the state.

 

The 416 Fire near Durango has flared up again in the past few days. This is a pyro-cumulus cloud formation sprung forth from the 35,000+ acre fire as viewed from the farm on Thursday, June 28, 2018. The smoke plume could be seen extending throughout the NW San Juans, including the Telluride valley.

 

The farm is the recent recipient of a full-scale weather station installed by Colorado State Univ. and sanctioned by the Bureau of Reclamation, which is studying the effects of evapotranspiration on irrigated and non-irrigated lands throughout the state. The site can be viewed on the CoAgMet website.

 

We’re at the Telluride Farmers Market every Friday, with our grass-fed eggs, pastured poultry, pork lard, chicken bone broth and chicken feet, necks and livers. Come support local agriculture from the many vendors who have committed their lives to providing regional residents with nutrient-dense foods, and artisans who love their crafts. It sure beats shopping online or driving down to Montrose!

 

We herded our turkeys out into pasture this week. What a happy bunch!

 

The turkeys made it, after about a 20-minute walk. They will now frolic for the rest of the summer in grasses, and eating lots of grasshoppers and other insects.

 

Jonah got in on the act of herding the turkeys and did a wonderful job!

 

Cattle rotate through some of our leased pastures on an almost year-round basis, here “mob grazing” below one of our ponds. When not used for grazing, the pastures are hayed in the summertime, providing feed for cattle on the mesa in the wintertime.

 

 

 

 

 

The bakery has a new owner!

As of the end of May, 2018, Julie and James Thorneycroft became the proud new owners of the bakery, situated in a beautiful  historic building in downtown Norwood. They acquired a profitable, turnkey operation and are off to a flying start. Don’t worry. Most of the products you’ve grown accustomed to since the bakery’s inception are still being produced — the granola, the breads, the pastries, the pizza dough. Julie has a background in the kitchen and is a long-time regional resident. Prior to owning the bakery she ran her own catering business and was responsible for starting the Happy Belly Deli in Norwood. She plans to introduce some of her own product ideas in the near future. She was able to continue to employ the same staff that had been working there prior to the change in ownership. You can find Julie vending in two Indian Ridge Bakery booths at the Telluride Farmers Market, every Friday during the summer season from 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Oak Street.

The bakery was moved to its downtown location two years ago, 15 years after its modest start  in our home at the farm. Barclay began baking commercially, primarily doing wedding cakes early on, about 30 years ago. The Thorneycrofts purchased the business only; the real estate continues to be owned by us.

Barclay explained her reasons for wanting to sell the bakery. “I wanted to focus more on the farm, on my home and on my family,” she said. “With all of the growth in our various enterprises, and the hands-on demands of everything we do, we were stretched too thin.  I get to farm with my hubby again. We’ll continue to provide the highest quality eggs and nutritious pastured poultry to regional residents. We’re also keeping our booth space at the farmers market. The other reason for my wanting to sell is that our oldest daughter, who was born with a rare chromosomal disorder (Smith-Magenic Syndrome) needs our continued care and nurturing. Her condition won’t change. I became her legal guardian several years ago, and there are some demands and responsibilities associated with that. We want the best for Ali! I’m also getting more involved with the international support group that exists to support those involved with SMS. This change will give me more time to focus on that.”

We wish Julie and the gang all the best! Congratulations!

Fill out your 2018 Meat Order form

For the best in grass-fed meats, please fill out your 2018 orders now! You can reserve winter storage chickens for your freezers after the growing season ends; you can order lamb by the side, raised by our neighboring ranchers on Wrights Mesa’s healthy grasslands; you can reserve a turkey for Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season; we even have a few sides of pork available this year. Need stew birds for making stock? They’re available too. Check it out!

Please click here for the 2018 form.

What’s going on at the farm? Lots … Take a look

Springtime is a busy time here at the farm, but the pace is  definitely mellower than the rigors of farming in the summertime, when we’re harvesting animals, going to farmers market, etc. But we thought we’d give you a peek at what going on right now. It’s a pretty amazing time of the year. We’re already nurturing lots of LIFE here: plants, animals, micro-organisms (i.e. the soil), each other, the wild, the grasses, the pastures.

 

We have brand new babies at the farm! There’s nothing cuter.  In fact our three mama goats — Dahlia (now a grandmother), Genepi (a maiden mother) and Hazel (belonging to gardener Anne and her boys) — all kidded in the past week. They’re happy moms! Even happier are the kids that get to hold them and feed them bottles when needed.

 

There’s even more babies!  These piglets were born about 6 weeks ago here on Wrights Mesa from a boar and sow belonging to Chad and Meredith, just down the road. Here they’re munching on last season’s kale which overwintered in the garden.

 

A wide-eye view of our world. Some of the farm’s irrigated pasture is in the foreground, with the farm house and then the northwest San Juan Mountains in the background. Current water supplies are currently dangerously low in this part of Colorado. Hopefully we will all fare well as the “dry season” approaches. One encouraging note is that there’s more snow in the mountains now than there was a month ago. That’s what’s needed for a good runoff and irrigation season. But mountain snows don’t help the ground water table, nor moisten the trees on neighboring mesas, forests and canyon country.

 

Anne is busy preparing the garden’s beds for spring and summer planting. Here a stand of cold season cover crop — rye and vetch — remains standing, next to a couple beds that have been plowed under already.

 

 

Already, we have two batches of birds out on grass. These pastured poultry pens, modeled after Joel Salatin’s designs, are roomy and and provide protection from weather and predators. They are moved every morning onto fresh pasture. The birds leave behind fertility, while ingesting an amazing amount of grass, which translates into great soil health and nutrition for those of us who enjoy healthy proteins.

 

The pastured poultry pens are equipped with gravity-flow drinkers and feeders.

 

Our farm has 52 solar panels to harvest energy from the sun, enough to power the farm. Here, grazing layer hens also enjoy the shade one of these solar arrays provide.

 

Vedder, our red healer, standing next to the farmer, in attention and obedient! Good girl!

 

While Anne, who is the garden leaseholder, doesn’t plan a CSA this year, there’s plenty going on in the garden. She will be providing fresh produce to the Fresh Food Hub this growing season. Here’s a bunch of starts in the hoop house that will eventually be transplanted.

 

We cover crop our dormant beds to keep them fertile, to add organic matter, and to compete against weeds.

 

School-aged kids visit the farm throughout the growing season, part of our effort to educate children about where their food comes from. Here, a kindergarten class from Norwood enjoys a tour of the garden.

 

If you’re in the ‘hood, come out for a visit sometime soon! We’ll try to put our work down and say “howdy.”

 

We’re accepting internship applications for the 2018 growing season!

The demand for nutrient dense foods of all types, including grass fed poultry meats and eggs, has never been greater. Americans, it seems, are getting it! Wholesomeness, good health, a healthy environment and a strong regional agricultural economy are all tied together. You can’t have one without the other.

With that said, we’re offering two internship positions again this summer to budding farmers interested in learning the ins and outs of pasturing livestock, processing chickens, managing grass pastures, marketing to farmers markets, restaurants, and so on. The opportunities for learning and developing skills here at Indian Ridge Farm, where we’re in our 16th season of production, are endless. What you put into the internship program is what you’ll take with you.

Have we whetted your appetite? If so, please click here for more information.

FALL 2017 CSA SIGNUPS NOW AVAILABLE!

We are happy to announce that Anne LeFevre will be gardening through the fall season, offering a delicious and nutritious weekly basket of Indian Ridge Farm organic produce for seven weeks. Your weekly box can also include eggs and/or pastured, organic chickens. You can decide to configure your box in whatever combination fits your households needs.

Friday deliveries are available to Telluride, or boxes will be available for pickup at the farm.

For more information, click here.

Thank you for your continued support of LOCAL AGRICULTURE!

Now is the time to order your delicious grass-fed turkey!

One of our many grass fed birds.

That’s right folks, these beautiful grass-fed, organically grown, non GMO birds are available right now here through our online meat order form or by calling us at 970-327-0336.  These birds are being processed now until October and will be ready for your freezer before October 7th.  Thats our season for raising grass-fed birds at 7000 feet.  If we waited until Thanksgiving they’d be trying to live and grow in snow covered pastures.

Be sure to give us your name and contact information as well as the size of bird you would like and we’ll call you back with a confirmation and plans to deliver your order.

 

Read our newsletters for up-to-date farm happenings

The CSA newsletters published on this website are available for you to read. They depict some of the happenings on the farm. This week we kick off with a post titled, “Busy Farm Life.” Click here to access this newsletter.

We thank you for your continued support!

We’ve Found a CSA Gardener!

We are pleased to announce that longtime farmer Anne LeFevre has come to Indian Ridge Farm to continue the CSA garden. After farming for many years in the mountains of Northern New Mexico she and her two boys, aged two and a half and five and a half, are moving to Colorado after a short stint in North Central Washington.  This year the CSA will start up with 25 members, but Anne hopes to double that next year as she integrates with the community and the other farm systems. Anne will be offering a summer share beginning June 2 and running for 19 weeks as well as a shorter fall share in October.

Please join her for this year’s vegetable CSA.  Members will also be able to add eggs, chicken, turkey and/or  baked goods from Indian Ridge Farm and Bakery to their vegetable share, if they wish.

For more information please contact Anne at (720)556-4121