“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” ~Job 12:7-10
At Crowfoot Farm, crops and livestock are raised using holistic methods that mimic the patterns of nature. We have chosen not to pursue organic certification, but offer 100% transparency to our customers by making our products available for purchase directly on the farm. We always welcome your questions, comments and suggestions.
A truly sustainable farm must not only be environmentally sustainable, but also physically and emotionally sustainable for the farmers, and financially sustainable as a business. As part of our holistic management program, animal stocking rates are kept at a level that our land can sustain healthfully, and we maintain areas of natural habitat for wildlife. We keep the workload to a level that our family can handle day-in and day-out, and do well. Our prices are set as low as possible, but are calculated carefully and fairly based on our actual operating costs. We are constantly striving to do better, to improve the health and fertility of our land, and to increase productivity without sacrificing quality. Sometimes that means downsizing one aspect of the farm or increasing another. We strongly feel that if we can’t do something well, then it isn’t worth doing.
Our small flock of laying hens are supplemented only Certified Organic, non-gmo, soy-free feed, and free range over three acres of pasture for most of the year. In winter, they are sometimes kept in a spacious, open-air, deep-mulched yard to protect the soil structure of the dormant pasture. They are free to come and go from their 288 square foot open-air shelter, built almost entirely of recycled wood pallets.
Chickens raised for meat are grown in small batches and are allowed to roam the pastures freely. They are only confined in pens at night for their protection. Free roaming chickens consume more natural forage, grow slower and develop superb flavor over those that are confined to pens full time. They are fed only Certified Organic, non-gmo, soy-free grain feed in addition to the natural forage they consume on pasture.
The dairy cattle are managed through intensive rotational grazing patterns to promote increased fertility of the land. Chemical-free grass hay from our own fields or a trusted source, and alfalfa are supplemented in winter and as needed. Kelp and free-choice minerals are provided to promote health and vitality. Because the nutritional value of pasture forages change with the seasons, a small amount of grain is sometimes supplemented for a short period immediately after calving, when a cow’s nutritional needs are highest, to help her maintain healthy body condition and prevent metabolic disorders. We do not feed grain to push for higher milk production, and follow the recommendations outlined in Tim Wightman’s Raw Milk Production Handbook, promoted by the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Life on pasture results in healthy, productive animals rarely in need of veterinary attention. Problems that do arise are treated promptly and holistically using natural herbal remedies. To date, we have never had a case of full-blown mastitis and have never needed to use antibiotics. If we ever did feel the need to use drugs to save the life of a cow, that cow would be removed from the milking herd for the appropriate amount of withdrawal time.
Cows are dried off and rested for two months out of the year, but our calving schedule is staggered so that we do have a supply of milk for our share owners year-round. All calves born here are raised on real milk from their mothers for several months to a natural weaning age. Heifers are handled daily from birth and raised to be gentle, easy-going milk cows. After weaning, bull calves are moved to West Wind Farm in Castleton, Virginia where they are finished on lush, open pastures for 100% grassfed beef that we offer in our Farm Store.
All of the plants we sell are propagated or grown from seed on our farm, using organic methods. Our plants are never treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides so they are safe for pollinators and other beneficial insects.
Garden crops are raised in nutrient-dense living soil without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. We feed our soils with rich compost made on our farm. Mulches and cover crops are used to protect and build soil, conserve water, and suppress weeds. Row covers and companion plantings are used to discourage insect pests, and habitat is provided to attract beneficial insects.