Our animals are also “farm workers” they each play a vital role in the ecology of our farm. Through our rotational grazing system one type of animal follows another. For example, sheep may start on one piece of pasture, followed by pigs, followed by chickens, with rest period between each. In this way all of our animals get high quality forage, they never see the same piece of ground twice in one year which breaks the cycle of parasites. We get mowing, fertilization, pest and weed control. It’s win-win system but has taken time to figure out the minutiae involved to make it work. It’s an ever changing dynamic too. Since weather can change what type of forage is available in different places on the farm it can be kind of like a dance…hopefully a beautiful ballet!
While we USE many animals on our farm, we rarely have any to SELL.
We no longer raise any poultry or hogs. If you want to find some locally raised chicken you can try…
- The Food Farm, in Wrenshall MN <https://foodfarmcsa.wordpress.com>
- Terri & Mark Thell, contact them to pre-order….email: <4quartersholding
@gmail.com>, phone: 218-384-3878
- The Minnesota Grown statewide directory
Let them know we sent you!
Cornish Cross Broiler is the standard white meat chicken. If you order chicken at a restaurant, it’s a Cornish Cross. For a nice plumb, double breasted bird, this is the ticket. We think the pasture raised version of this industry standard has better flavor and produces healthier birds that actually move and forage!
“Freedom Ranger”- Red Broiler, is a red-feathered meat bird developed in France for the European pastured poultry industry. They are good foragers, eating more plants & bugs than the rather sedentary Cornish Cross. Their increased activity yields more richly flavored, dark meat compared to the Cornish. SORRY, we won’t have these available in 2015.
Broad-Breasted White Turkey is the standard meat turkey and they do very well on pasture. They are charming, a favorite of the summer interns, and help control pests and weeds in our orchards, which they share with Bluebirds! SORRY, no turkeys in 2015 either.
Stewing Hens (retired egg laying birds) Once hen has gone beyond her most productive laying period (1-2 years). She can be “retired” to live again as a luscious meal in the slow cooker. We select hen breeds to be both good egg layers and nice stew hens. Since we no longer have an egg operation we do not have stew hens for sale any longer.
We raise a few feeder hogs each year and use them in our farming operation. However we do not breed them ourselves nor do we sell piglets or hogs for meat. we don’t sell . Over the years we have raised several breeds of hogs. We purchase feeder pigs (~ 40 lb. piglets) from local breeders and raise them up until the end of October when they are processed.
The Tamworths are a red colored breed that does quite well on pasture and have a positively charming personality. The older hogs do a great job of rooting and turning up the soil. We have used them to do the “site prep” for both of our orchard plantings. The till and fertilize the soil with amazing ease…it would take us backbreaking work to do what they do so easily with just a little shove from their powerful neck.
The Berkshires, black & white colored hogs, are a premium pork breed and they are amazing to watch. They really “graze” much more than other breeds, especially when young. They grow quickly and have a nice stocky frame.
We added Lulu & Grass (mother & daughter, respectively) to our farm in fall of 2013. These two chocolate colored Shetland Cross Bred Sheep taught us a lot in this first year…like they really DO jump/hop like the cartoon sheep. They are a very hardy and smaller breed which was good for the winter of 2013 which was the snowiest and coldest on record.
In summer 2014 we added 5 more ewes; Willow is a purebred white Shetland; Abby & Maple (sisters) and Saint Paul are a “Clover Valley Cross” developed by a friend of our for lamb production as is our sweet ram lamb Babyface. All the ewes were bred on Dec 6th or shortly thereafter, Babyface was busy. The ewes are “showing well now and we expect April lambs!
Our herd will produce wool, which we have already begun to use to make beautiful felted soaps (see our Online Marketplace) and sculptural objects . Our herd is in the growth stage but we expect it to stabilize at 7 ewes in 2015, again for wool production, we do not sell lambs for meat. It is a work in progress, we will be sure to post updates as the flock grows.
Jeff started bee keeping in 2013. They went into the fall with a nice store of honey, but the terrible winter got the best of them. Even folks who are really good at overwintering bees in Minnesota lost them last winter! For 2015, Jeff will be starting up two new hives…very exciting!
The new colony arrived in March and they have been doing fabulously. We have greatly expanded our pollinator habitat using both native and cultivated flowers to support them through each part of the season. Right now they are LOVING the Borage, Sunflowers, and Milkweed.
We use our own honey in our vinegars and the beeswax in our soaps and salves (see our Online Marketplace).