The Coronavirus pandemic has not slowed down activity here at the farm. Our wonderful farming life continues unabated. We’re restricting visitors and carefully limiting our exposure to the general public when we’re in town for errands. Our goal is to keep all seven of us living at the farm healthy so that we can continue to work hard to produce organic nutrient-dense foods for our regional neighbors. We are mostly sheltering in place, although we do go out to some undisclosed wild open spaces for an escape every now and then.
Anne and the boys spearhead the organic garden and hoop houses, our apprentices are learning the ins and outs of pasture-raised broiler chickens and layer hens (soon to be joined by turkeys), and Barclay and Tony share in all-of-the-above and then-some!
We do have a few added responsibilities this season. We purchased a relatively gentle mama cow who is milked everyday for her grass-fed raw milk (thanks Anne!). Caladonia, as she’s been named, is helping keep our immune systems strong by feeding all of our respective micro-biome. She and her bull calf — Buckles, a rambunctious young ‘un — are rotated daily in our intensively rotated grass pasture.
As previously posted with some cutesy images, we took on the training and habituation of two livestock guardian pups, a Great Pyrennes/Anatolian mix. They are both growing fast, already close to 35 pounds at just four months of age! Lukin and Bee Girl, named after Pearl Jam songs (of course), will eventually protect our livestock from some of the larger wild animals that inhabit this place: foxes, coyotes, bears, and mountain lions. The two of them are definitely starting to alert to strange sounds and sights, just as they’re supposed to as guardians.
Our piglets arrived last week. They are currently housed in the barn but will be moved out to pasture to join the burgeoning herd of goats and Gurdy, the workhorse.
While the basic practice of incorporating grass-fed livestock into the farm’s overall operation hasn’t changed, the pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate our business plan for the growing season. The biggest news on this front is that we will not be attending the Telluride Farmers Market this season. This was a difficult decision. We’ve been a fixture at the market since its inception nearly 20 years ago. We were there on day one and have not missed a season since. We’ll definitely miss seeing all of our friends and loyal patrons at the market on a weekly basis.
Several weeks ago, when we began to devise our new business plan, there was so much uncertainty as to whether the farmers market would be operating at all. What form would it take: online shopping? Scaled-down shopping? Reduced hours? Limited customers? Overriding all of our internal discussions were concerns about exposing ourselves to the virus at the market, which is frequented by visitors from distant parts of the country. That’s when we took matters into our own hands. The result is we have expanded our CSA with additional delivery points for our chickens, eggs, bone broth, and pate. We also marketed heavily our Meat (Bulk) Order Form for our customers to reserve chickens and turkeys for the fall and winter. And, we’re supplying the local food hub and other regional distributors with more of our products.
This has proven very successful, as we’re essentially sold out of several products! This is the same report we’re getting from other CSAs across the country. Local Food Hubs are also seeing increased sales. We’re still taking orders for turkeys and a few other meats, but the CSA signup is now closed. Thank you to all community members who support the farm and put real value into purchasing locally grown foods. The CSA business model appears to be having a nationwide resurgence as a result of the pandemic. In addition to local food hubs, these “support your local farmer by purchasing local” initiatives are perhaps what will truly sustain rural communities going forward. We’re very appreciative!
Here are some recent photos of life on the farm, Springtime, 2020. Enjoy!
Our lower pond, also known as Virgin Pond (named after Barclay’s mother), is now home to a proud family of recently hatched goslings. The boys have named the male goose Bruce and the female Hannah.
One of our favorite springtime activities is burning organic matter out of our ditches to more effectively move precious irrigation water to thirsty pastures.
Lukin and Bee Girl (l-r) contemplating their next moves. These LGDs are now in with livestock but will remain housed in the barn at night until they get a bit older.
Mama goats Hazel and her daughter Jetta Bop each gave birth to triplets, about 45 minutes apart!
Some folks believe baby goats are the cutest farm animal.
Four little piglets have made a home here at the farm.
Anne milking Caladonia early in the morning. Nothin’ like fresh raw milk!
Our flocks of layer hens are on early spring pastures, living out of converted old stock trailers, equipped with nesting boxes and roosts …. and bear-proof at night!
Here a young flock of broiler chickens are nicely dispersed eating their morning breakfast while in the brooder. The brooder provides a comfortable, low-stress environment for these birds for their first four weeks of life before they’re put to pasture.
Just had to throw this image in! One of our favorite ways of preparing eggs: Eggs Benedict, with fresh ham from pork raised on the farm. Yes, as farmers, we eat well … as do our customers! Bon-appetit.
We’re mentors in the New Grower program at Quivira Coalition. Barclay is going over skill sheets with a budding young farmer, DeAnne Gabriel.
It’s not all work all the time at the farm (though sometimes it sure seems like it)! Wednesday evenings are reserved for campfire potlucks, where all of us gather for a meal together, regaling on the beauty that surrounds us and the essential work we’re performing.
Stay healthy everyone!