Farm Reverie

Apr 19, 2016 by     No Comments    Posted under: Farming & Ranching, The Scrapbook
Sunbathing

The first kids of the year catching the morning sunlight.

Spring is a time of revelations, new beginnings and adventure, but it’s also a time of new life. Each spring hundreds of baby farm animals are born in the North Fork Valley, and they’re raised with immense thoughtfulness and care.

Over the last couple weeks, I visited some of the valley’s farms. I’m so incredibly fortunate to live in an area abundant with farmers who have devoted their lives to nourishing our community.

 

 

Gray Acres

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Jake used to work for James and Carol Schott at Lamborn Mountain Farmstead and has now taken on their small goat herd enterprise.

My first farm venture took me out to Old Crawford Road where I was warmly greeted by Jake and Sharon Gray of Gray Acres Farm. The couple is fairly new to farming but has taken the bull by the horns and has never looked back!  Recently, Jake and Sharon have expanded their quaint, lovely farm by welcoming a herd of goats and baby chicks!

As of now they are raising Nubian Saanen and Saanen Alpine goats (both dairy milking breeds) and pasture-raised chickens. The pair is working towards a sustainable lifestyle on the farm offering goat herd shares, as well as chicken and strawberry sales.

Female Saanen Alpine looking as cute as ever!

Female Saanen Alpine looking as cute as ever!

One of Jake and Sharon's baby goats sharing the love!

One of Jake and Sharon’s baby goats sharing the love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Jake and Sharon’s blog to learn more about them, their farming practices and their adorable baby animals!

 

The Living Farm

Lynn and Horatio

Lynn and Horatio

The next stop on my search for baby animals was The Living Farm, owned and operated by the Gillespie family since 1938. Not only does TLF have a rich history in the valley but it also has a rich diversity of little critters.

While I was visiting, Lynn Gillespie took me on a tour of the farm where I quickly fell smitten to all the newborn lambs, baby chicks and overall beauty. The best part however, was not just seeing the animals, but also cuddling with them too!

TLF raise hundreds of chickens each year; both meat birds and laying hens.

TLF raise hundreds of chickens each year; both meat birds and laying hens.

The Living Farm will soon be hosting self-guided interactive farm tours for people to experience the farming lifestyle firsthand, including petting and holding the baby animals. Take a look at their website and Facebook page for more details!

Lynn uses wool from the California Varegated Mutant Sheep to make down pillows and slippers.

Lynn uses wool from the California Varegated Mutant Sheep to make down pillows and slippers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Mountain Fiber

There are currently 15 lambs on the farm with more on the way!

There are currently 15 lambs on the farm with more on the way!

Next on my list of farms to visit was Fire Mountain Fiber, a family owned fiber mill outside of Hotchkiss that raises animals a little less common, such as Icelandic Sheep, Angora and Cashmere Goats, and alpacas. Owners Jim and Diane Firor raise these specific breeds because of the large amount of high quality wool they produce.

First time moms usually have one kid, while twins are common with experienced moms.

First time moms usually have one kid, while twins are common with experienced moms.

 

 

 

James, who is a farmer/felt artist, processes the wool from his animals to be sold to artists alike as raw fiber, felt, yarn and roving. The sheep actually have to be shorn twice a year because their wool can grow 18 inches thick! The spring shear is done with the intention of cleaning all the hay from the sheep’s dreadlocked winter wool. Once   they are shorn, the sheep only eat grass from the pasture keeping their wool immaculate for processing.

Visit their website to learn more about the farm and to view photos of the Icelandic sheep before they are shorn.

Charlie, the lamb in the front is known as a 'pirate' due to his free will to feed from any mom!

Charlie, the lamb in the front is known as a ‘pirate’ due to his free will to feed from any mom!

Mamas to be!

Mamas to be

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Princess Beef

Cynthia and Ira Houseweart of Princess Beef had a pretty memorable breeding season this year. Just last week, a calf was born who shares the same white blaze on her head as the farm’s namesake cow, Princess. Princess Beef began in 1999 with a cow named Princess which was given to Cynthia by Steve and Rachel Allen.  Princess was raised by Cynthia at the Allen Ranch, where she was a ranch hand for many years.  It was through Princess and the calves she had that the idea of selling 100 % grass-fed and finished beef was created. It wasn’t until this most recent calf, Little Princess, that any other calf has shared the same distinguished marking as the original Princess!

Little Princess and her Mom, Princess Leia

Little Princess and her Mom, Princess Leia

Mothers and calves stay at Princess Beef until they are healthy enough to integrate with the rest of the herd on Fruitland Mesa.

Mothers and calves stay at Princess Beef until they are healthy enough to integrate with the rest of the herd on Fruitland Mesa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Housewearts have deep roots in the valley.  Cynthia, Ira and their two girls, live and work on their fifth generation portion of the ranch and raise cattle that are certified by Animal Welfare Approved and the American Grassfed Association.   As stewards of the animals and the land, they practice holistic and sustainable methods: gently walking the animals from one grazing spot to the next every few days depending on the growing season. It’s good for the cows and it’s good for the ecosystem!

Learn more about the Houseweart’s intensive grazing practices and delicious beef shares by taking a peek at their website!

Cynthia and Princess

Cynthia and Princess

princess beef 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout my baby animal farm tour, it really struck me how each of these farmers has endless love for their farms, their animals and their lifestyles. This isn’t just a job (although it’s a lot of work!). Farming in the North Fork, with its clean air and pure water, is a passion for them. It’s this pristine landscape that keeps the farmers here. It’s what makes this place special. For many in the North Fork the passion that brought and keeps them here also makes them adamant advocates for its protections.

Newborn kid at Gray Acres

Newborn kid at Gray Acres

TLF sells their breedstock all over the U. S.!

TLF sells their breedstock all over the U. S.!

 

 

 

 

 

The Gillespie's also raise East Friesian Sheep used for milking and native to northern Germany.

The Gillespie’s also raise East Friesian Sheep used for milking and native to northern Germany.

Llamas are very alert, protective animals, and are the guardians of the lambs

Llamas are very alert, protective animals, and are the guardians of the lambs at Fire Mountain Fiber.

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