Their journey into farmsteading started out romantic and then got real.
In their words…
“When we bought the Sow’s Ear in 1996 and began the process of turning it into a family smallholding we followed the usual path of the neophyte homesteaders: we put in a garden, bought chickens, and acquired goats. We picked up how to books on animal husbandry and organic vegetable growing. We ate a lot of tomatoes, collected a lot of eggs from our flock and drank goats milk. It was fun, and our diets underwent a significant improvement, but we began to be conscious of a vague unease. Was what we were doing really farming? Something told us, as we lugged sack after sack of laying mash and sweet feed from the station wagon to the barn, that this importation of concentrated nutrients, was not farming, not as we remember our grandparents doing it.”
Fast forward ahead and they found the answer, and it was grass.
“The puzzle was coming together, grass, the solar collector, ruminants, the convertors, joined by chickens and pigs as batteries, self-reproducing storage units of surplus solar energy. Here at last was the secret of Grandfather’s farm.”
Their story has evolved over the 20 years on the farmstead as their focus has shifted more and more towards rotational grazing…
As they say:
“Our goal is to rejuvenate a parcel of land while we produce food for our home and our farm, so the level of exactitude necessary is much lower than for operations whose success is measure by monetary profit. We are trying to manage our animals for the conversion of sunlight into forage, forage into milk, meat, and manure to build a homestead where energy cascades from organism to organism with a net gain for the ecosystem as a whole – and we want the system to feed us while we do it.”
In this episode we touch on a variety of topics from have a homestead milking cow, to rotational grazing and establishing a pasture, to what to look for when purchasing land.
Enjoy it – Beyond Homestead with farmers and authors of The Independent Farmstead Shawn and Beth Dougherty.
Connect with Shawn and Beth Dougherty:
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