Managing the Farm
We incorporate ideas from management intensive grazing, mob grazing, and holistic management to protect our environment and increase the yield of the plants and animals growing on our farm. We want the livestock to thrive but also the soil health, grasses, trees, legumes, wild animals, water resources and the rest of the natural world in which they live. This emphasis on ecology builds resiliency in our system to things like disease, drought, invasive plants, and the like. It also strengthens the health and vitality of all the wild flora and fauna on our farm. The cattle are rotated all year up to twice a day or every few days depending on the time of year and growth rate of the grass. Limiting their access to most of the farm allows the grasses to recover from grazing and the streams and ponds to have better water quality. When grasses are growing quickly during the spring, the cattle are moved across the farm to reduce their impact on birds nesting in tall grass and small shrubs. Birds are crucial because they do a wonderful job of keeping the pest population in balance. We have barn swallows flying all over our farm and we are planning to put up birdhouses to encourage other birds to stick around. Deer also have their fawns hide in tall grasses, cutting with machinery in the early season can be devastating to the young animals born naturally on the farm. Our flock of chickens have a different type of impact on the grasses and their rich manure is great fertilizer for the grasses. They are put on the pasture once the cold temperatures fade in late winter. They search for seeds on the ground and their scratching for bugs opens up the pasture for new seeds to get started as well. During the late summer they are rotated through our orchard to help with pest control and to get more shade. At the start of winter they are housed inside on deep litter, which consists of wood chips, grass clippings, shredded leaves, stems from the garden, old hay, straw and any other carbon-rich source of material we can find. Their manure would be mostly wasted during our cold winters since the nutrients would not be absorbed by the pasture and instead would likely runoff into our ponds and streams. The deep litter is harvested into the compost pile or used as a fertile mulch for our trees after winter.