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Our small farm is tucked away in the hills of northwest Michigan. Our goal, with God’s help, is provide as much of our own food as possible. Dual purpose fiber animals supply us with warm garments to keep us cozy during the long winters.
Of particular interest is the ethical raising of meat for our table. We are aware of the horrors of factory and feedlot farming and believe that livestock should live free from pain and fear.
In these uncertain times, we hope to encourage others in growing food and frugal living. Much can be done on small acreage or even in a backyard. High-density gardening and small stock such as poultry and rabbits can produce high yields in small spaces. Herbs are very expensive in the store but not so hard to grow and dry. Sharing information with like-minded people is a joy, and on these pages are the practices that have worked well for us. Please tell us what works well for you through our blog, Farming in My Fifties/The Frugal Homestead.
We raise our animals as humanely as possible. They have room to roam and are not kept in small, dirty pens. Fly predators and proper manure management keep flies under control. We do not dock tails, castrate or vaccinate. Sheep are wormed five times/year using natural wormers. In six years, there has only been one ewe and one lamb that needed antibiotic treatment.
The animals end their lives here on the farm without the fear and trauma of being loaded up and transported 60 miles to a processor. T.C. Butchering in Traverse City expertly handles our custom processing needs.
For us, humane husbandry extends to the nutritional requirements of each animal under our care, and we strive to provide a species appropriate diet.
We have become increasingly alarmed by the overproduction and seemingly unrestricted use of Genetically Modified (GM) crops with little knowledge of what the consequences may be to the humans and animals consuming this Frankenfood. This has meant transitioning to specific, more primitive breeds that do not require heavy supplementation of grains (corn and soy in particular) to thrive and provide meat and fiber.
In order to avoid the GM corn and soy that serves as a base for most commercial feed, we are experimenting with alternative feeds. Since the unrestricted use of GM alfalfa has been approved, we are moved to the Shetland sheep breed that thrives on pasture and grass hay and doesn’t require grain supplements. Our Alpine dairy goats are also on a non GMO diet. Fresh fodder sprouted from barley, wheat, oats or rye are a mainstay of our animals’ diets and has freed us from the need for commercial feeds.
What would a farm be without a good farm dog? We rely on our English Shepherd dogs to help things run smoothly. Besides being our devoted and constant companions, they perform the myriad duties that have been the responsibilities of generations of their ancestors.