Farming Practices

 

 

The Longview Farming Approach By choosing the “long view” of farming, we look for ways to make nature and agriculture work together even when that means waiting longer for results.   The animals we raise will only be as healthy as the soil where they graze. At the same time, the animals on our farm are essential to improving the soil’s vitality and resilience. So, in our pastures you’ll see cows, pigs, chickens, and horses “fertilizing” the soil, aerating it with their hooves and beaks, and stimulating the growth of grasses and legumes.   In gratitude, the soil grows richer each year with higher organic content and gives the animals more delicious and nutritious pastures. 

The Essential Parts of the Process

Multispecies Rotational Grazing: Our pastures are divided into 4 acre paddocks, so the cows eat more of the grass and fertilize the area more completely. Then, after they have eaten the top third of the grass down (usually after a one or two days) they are moved to the next paddock of fresh grass.  Our goal is to keep the cows moving so they eat the most nutritious part of the grass and then the grass is given 20 to 30 days to recover.  In some of our pastures we have our chickens, both layers and broilers, follow the cows.  The chickens happily scratch through the cow patties, spreading the fertility and reducing the chances of parasites developing in the pasture. 

Compost, Cover Crops, and Poop: We don’t use any artificial fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.  Instead we build the soil with mushroom compost and compost we make on the farm with wood chips and fish or chicken waste.  We also plant legumes like peas and clover that pull nitrogen from the air into the ground. The rotating animals also make regular deposits to the soil fertility.  Instead of herbicides to control the weeds, we rely on our roving herbivores to eat and trample the weeds into submission.  As for pests, the chickens do their part in eliminating harmful worms and beyond that we rely on a healthy balanced soil for pest control.

The Right Diet: Cows aren’t equipped for processing a grain based diet. They do it of course, and they can sure pack on the pounds when they are confined to a feed lot and fed corn, but we believe they are much healthier and happier when they spend their days eating grasses and legumes in healthy pastures.  We follow the American Grass fed Association’s guidelines and do not supplement with any grain.  Our Devon and cross-bred cows are grass fed from start to finish.  Our chickens love eating insects and grass in the pasture, but most of their nutrition comes from a high quality, non-gmo feed from Kraut Creek Natural Feed.  We raise American Guinea Hogs in a wooded pasture where they root around for bugs, worms, roots, and native grasses.  They also eat nearly all of the leftovers from our kitchen, and we supplement their diet with non-gmo pig feed from Kraut Creek and with locally sourced grains.

Treating the Farm Like the Ecosystem It Is: Before we started raising animals, we focused on restoring the pine ecosystem that dominates our land. With selective thinning and controlled burns, our pine woods grew healthier trees, native grasses returned, and our wildlife population grew.  Those forests taught us about the importance of building on the vitality that already exists in nature.  Keeping trees in our pasture (silvopasture) to provide shade for the animals also helps hold moisture in the soil and reduces erosion.  Disturbing the soil as little as possible allows the unseen food web below the surface to continually build healthy soil. 

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