Who We Are
We are a young family living and working on 100 acres in East Tennessee. We moved to the East TN area in 2015 and have been homesteading since. 2020 marks the start of our broadening of farming operations. In the future we want to grow just about everything we possibly can, but we’ve got to start somewhere. That somewhere is pastured poultry and grass fed lamb. Who’s to say what’s next!
How We Got Here
We love the work. We love being outside every day of the year, tending to animals and gardens and orchards. It makes our lives richer and fuller and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Before we were married we did a lot of hiking and backpacking and camping. While we still adore the meditative quality of a hike on the AT, we now meet this personal need walking our pastures and working our soil. Oh, also, the food that we make ourselves is delicious! We take great pleasure in eating it!
We all want what’s best for our kids, right? With the arrival of our children we started giving more thought to the food we were feeding ourselves and our precious littles. Honestly, it almost all started with making baby food and looking up which produce was on the dirty dozen list. One little dip into nutrition and food production started us on a winding path of learning all we could about how to get good clean simple food. Turns out it’s harder and more expensive than it seems. Our response? Well, we’ll just do it ourselves, as much as we’re able. Thus began the homesteading.
We feel a sense of responsibility to share our flavorful and nutritious food with our neighbors. We all deserve it, not just those of us fortunate enough to have access to farmland. We also feel a deep responsibility to steward the land we are on for our lifetime well. We want to use it wisely now and to build it up for future generations, protecting soil and water and air.
Our primary goal in growing food is to grow it in the most ecologically sustainable way possible.
Most current commercial agricultural relies heavily on importing fertility to the soil with chemicals, even if they are organic chemicals. Our objective is to use sustainable practices to create an environment that maintains fertility for generations without the use of chemical fertilizer.
Practically, this involves using our chickens and sheep as primary means to add nitrogen and other nutrients back to the soil. We do this by rotational farming: moving our sheep, with chickens behind, around our meadows. We use smaller paddocks to make sure every inch of the field is fertilized. This also minimizes tractor use so the soil is minimally disturbed, limiting erosion which is a big problem in sustainability for larger scale agriculture.
We try to mimic nature as much as possible, giving each species what they love in a way that provides optimum health and happiness. Here again comes a benefit of intensive grazing. By moving the grazing paddocks very often and allowing for ample pasture rest between, the animals have a balanced fresh diet free from parasites and pathogens found in heavily grazed areas. The soil also has an opportunity to rebound from the trampling and mowing. Root systems deepen. Pathogen and parasite life cycles are interrupted. This practice imitates large scale migration which is what most grazers would do if they were able.
These practices do require extra effort on our part but should pay off with fertile soil for decades to come.
The Permaculture Perspective
Permaculture is a method of growing that relies on permanent, or perennial, plants to allow for maximum soil, water, and energy retention. It strives for a closed loop system of growing. It is resilient and self-sustaining and it layers functions of all aspects of its parts. We are always looking at ways we can make our management practices more ecologically sustainable.
A great example of this in play at our farm is how we range our animals. Commercial poultry growers deal with animal wastes as a problem. If you’ve driven by the chicken house that’s just been scraped out you’ve breathed that problem. We, instead, utilize our poultry waste as an asset. By moving the birds daily we are stacking functions. The birds have fresh grazing every day for optimum health and enjoyment and we are capitalizing on their spreading of fresh fertilizer over our fields and scratching in it.