Our Mission as Farmers, Ranchers, and Hosts
Three years ago we were beginning farmers and ranchers -- not quite "Green Acres", but close. Bev grew up here, on land that included this farm, but her Dad made sure all three of his daughters went to college and got non-farm jobs in cities.
For our part, we stayed as far as possible from farming and ranching well into our middle age.
We came here, out of both expediency and a desire to enrich our lives. Expediency,
because we feel an obligation to be good stewards of the land given us. The lifestyle part of the equation is probably not unique to us at all;
many people probably share our desire to get more connected to the land.
So what do we hope to accomplish? First, we hope to become more self-sufficient. We want to sell more food
than we buy. We want to raise our own vegetables, fruits, sheep, cattle, and ultimately other animals.
But, beyond self-sufficiency, what is it that we aspire to? A very good farming writer, Gene Logsd on, who is a hero of ours, calls himself a "contrary farmer." He calls himself that because
he does not buy into the industrial model as it applies to farming. He sees defects in the application of the model to agriculture
(and indeed to life and business in general), some of which we have set forth above -- although not nearly as well as does Gene.
We, as contrary farmers, believe is that family farming should not be a monoculture. That commodity crops should generally not be grown by the
family farmer. He or she should also not raise the sheep, cattle, or hogs that the corporate farmers, or their inadvertent
family farmer followers, raise. A contrary farmer should address the micro-market of folks who are hungry and thirsty for what he really has to offer
that the corporate farmers and their family farm followers do not -- something unique. In our opinion, family farmers should be growing
what is not readily available at a low price -- heirloom vegetables, specialty fruits and nuts, antique breeds of livestock not bred up during the past
century to be cartoon versions of what livestock used to look like.
We further believe that this farmer should know and sell directly to his customers -- through farm stands, farmer's markets, or
community sponsored agriculture ("CSA"). We believe the US government has co-opted the word "organic"
and has rendered it meaningless,
and organic certification should not be the goal for the family farmer, but that the farmer should, nonetheless, refrain from
the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers on anything that he expects a human being to eat.
We believe that the self-sufficient, diverse, family farmer of a century ago should be the model that we all strive for.
Neither forsaking technology or what we learned in the past century of farming, but forsaking the mechanistic model of farming
that family farmers bought into, until it became too late for many of them to buy into anything else.
We believe the family farm of today and tomorrow should minimize inputs other than labor, which will probably be increased.
We believe that one should minimize and deter purchases or equipment. We believe most equipment would
be more logically shared by several family farms. How many rusty combines sit in sheds on farms all over this land?
We believe in treating customers and animals alike with dignity. We believe the most
important role of the family farmer is probably reeducation -- of himself, of other family farmers, and of consumers. Everyone
has gotten to where they don't expect much, and that's what they get -- not much.
These are trying times. Farmers and farm operations will fail, probably on a large scale. Most small farmers will probably have to
keep, or get, day jobs -- providing additional money and subsidizing their farm "lifestyle." We have no illusions of quitting our
day jobs to focus exclusively on this labor of love. We may very well be crazy, but
we are committed.
We also believe that a farm enterprise should be a transparent one, and believe
our farm and ranch should be a learning place, where people can see both our
successes and our failures and learn from them. It is for this reason that we
have constructed, and will continue to construct, farm stay accommodations, so
that others can experience, even if for a short time, what we experience here at
our farm and ranch.
As we learn, the details of our vision change. We begin to learn what we do well,
and more importantly, what we enjoy.
As one example, growing vegetables on the scale we are able to do so did not work for us.
We are now looking at selling herbs and vegetables plants rather than vegetables.
The mission will evolve but the fundamental premise of a
sustainable farm and ranch raising heritage animals and heirloom vegetables in a
respectful manner will remain a constant.