Although not organically certified, we practice organic farming methods (organic fertilizers and amendments, compost, crop rotation, cover crops, herbal and homeopathic treatments for the animals.) We do not spray. For pest control, we use hens in the barn, ducks around the gardens, and sheep in the orchard, while also providing habitat for natural predators. In addition to forage obtained in our pastures and woods, our chickens and pigs get certified organic feed and our sheep get non-GMO hay. To protect our animals from predators, we use guard animals, electric fencing, and keeping them enclosed or near the house at night.
Grazing, Pasture and Nutrient Management Practices
We have one 6 acre pasture where the chickens live their whole lives after the brooder house. Their fenced area is moved weekly in this pasture. The flock of sheep is also in this non-irrigated pasture in the spring and fall during the day and in the barn/corral and/or orchard at night. They are enclosed in a separate portable fence from the chickens and are moved every 4-7 days. The sheep eat what they want in the tall grass of their fenced area, then we move them ahead, mow the area where they were, and by the time the chickens get to it, the grass has grown back to just the right height for them. In the summer, the sheep forage in our small woodlot and our irrigated orchard. In the winter, we feed them hay.
We don’t finish our animals; they get the same feed all the way through.
For soil maintenance, we do soil testing and we have applied lime to the pastures once so far and plan to do it again soon.
The only chemicals we use are chemical wormers occasionally, and only after fecal testing shows a specific animal needs worming. For our crops, we plant flowers to bring in the beneficial insects, we retain, restore, and create habitat for bug-eating birds, frogs, and snakes, we keep ducks near the garden, we do soil testing and apply the needed minerals to grow healthy plants that can resist insects, we vacuum up large populations of pests, we keep sheep in the orchard to eat the windfall apples full of pests, and we use a little bit of Sluggo. We manage weed control with grazing (we have 2 goats to eat the blackberries), mowing, tilling, hoeing, solarizing, mulching, hand-removal, and other non-toxic methods.
The chickens and sheep are always being moved on pasture so their manure is spread that way. For the animals that spend some time inside, we use a compost bedding pack barn system based on sawdust. We tend it every 2-4 weeks depending on animal numbers and season.
We have put up birdhouses, removed invasive plants, planted native plants, put chicken wire around madrone tree trunks to stop the livestock from eating the bark, and kept our animals away from the pond so that riparian vegetation can survive and expand there. We have removed very few trees and put our crop areas in three separate places to avoid the need to remove trees. Our tiny tractor is used infrequently since we do most work by hand and traverse the farm by foot or bicycle. Rather than burning branches, we take them to a nearby composting facility. We recycle almost everything and produce less than 32 gallons of garbage per month. We have put up solar panels to power the farm and we deliver products in an electric vehicle.
To purchase our products, send us an email. Either you can join our CSA and get products regularly, or you can make an appointment to come out and buy at least $10 of products per visit, or you can reserve meat (whole chickens or half or whole lamb or pork.) We deliver weekly to two drop-sites in Eugene.