We have carefully designed our entire farm so that we can ensure the well-being of our flock as well as the environment on which we all depend. Thats what sustainable farming is all about: making choices to produce wholesome, healthy products that people can enjoy without sacrificing the welfare of animals or the health of the environment. Most modern farming practices focus only on reducing the costs of production and ignore the costs to the livestock, soil, air, water, and human health associated with these practices.
Karen out on pasture with our lambs
Using a pasture-based system is a key ingredient to running our sheep dairy in a sustainable way because most of the food that nourishes our flock is grown right on our land using very simple, low-impact, traditional methods. Our sheep and lambs are moved every day to new, lush pasture, so they keep the fields mowed and fertilized for us while they consume the food that is the best for them. Recent studies also show that intensively grazed pasture takes in more carbon dioxide and produces more oxygen than a forest of equal size. We dont use herbicides or pesticides to increase production, and our pastures are naturally fertilized with manure from our flock while they graze, so there is no need for chemical fertilizers. Rather than plowing and tilling, which disturbs the natural organisms that flourish in the soil and uses oil-dependent, heavy equipment, we replenish our pastures by sowing clover seeds into natural cracks that appear in the soil during the early spring thaw.
Although much of the hay we feed during the winter months is grown right on our fields, we purchase some hay and grain from neighboring and local farms. Buying locally helps us to support the farming community in our town as well as to control the quality of the feed we give our sheep.*
Sustainable farming requires more thoughtfulness, creativity, and old-fashioned labor than the type of farming taught in and promoted by modern agricultural colleges. We spend more time out in the field moving our sheep to new pasture than larger farms spend delivering food to animals kept in confinement barns. Providing our sheep with the best natural forage without adding tons of expensive chemicals means we have to monitor how the pasture is growing and find creative, low-impact solutions to help it produce higher quality food. This added labor translates to somewhat higher costs paid by the consumer for the meat, milk and products that result from this system. But the cost is NOT to your health, the health of the animals that we depend on to nourish us, or to the environment that will be here long after we are all gone.