A staple of any sustainable farm, these girls definitely rule more than the roost. Currently housed on about two acres of green grass, the girls enjoy spending their days gossiping, laying eggs, exfoliating with a dust bath or two, foraging, and hanging out in the shade. Make no mistake though, these girls are working overtime. They actually stand and scratch on the pigs and goats to keep them bug free, sift through manure to speed the composting process, keep the bug numbers in check and clean up any and all kitchen scraps on top of laying that egg a day. What a bird.
Slow Food Farm started out with heritage breed meat chickens but at five months to raise, and a necessary price tag of $40/processed chicken, it simply was not feasible for a small farm. So, meet the new meat birds. These little nuggets start out hefty, are food energy to meat converting machines, and still enjoy fresh air, organic feed, and a more natural lifestyle. It’s nearly impossible to let these guys roam completely because of predators and their overall lack of desire to move too far from the feeder. Instead we raise them in an airy, well lit (with natural sunshine), and clean brooder until they’re feathered enough to handle the great outdoors. Then they’re moved to portable coops placed on fresh, green grass. Every day the coops are moved, water freshened and feed topped off. As an extra assurance of a good quality of life, these birds are fed a balanced local and organic supplemental feed that helps keep joint and leg problems minimal. Additionally, they are processed at six weeks or younger to ensure they’re still heart and joint healthy right up to the as humane as possible end.
The farm used to be home to five mama cows, their calves and a bull, Morty. Morty had a don’t-fence-me-in attitude though and 50 acres couldn’t hold him, so he had to move on. Even though Harry and Jennifer were rather attached to their cows, they decided to sell most of the beef cows to Harry’s cousin this past spring to make room for more dual-purpose animals. The girls are in great new home where they will never be sold at auction, even in their menopausal later years (they’ll come back to Slow Food Farm for retirement). Harry and Jennifer found they couldn’t part with all of the cows, so JJ, a favorite, and her granddaughter, Sha-nay-nay, stayed on the farm. JJ gave birth to Randy, a little bull calf, around April 4th. JJ and Sha-nay-nay enjoy grazing, lolling in the shade, skinny dipping in the tank and taunting the neighbors’ bulls with their sexy sashes. Randy likes to nap, nurse, and run full bore with his tail straight-up in the air. JJ has the best lope ever known to the cattle world, she breeds back with biologically impossible speed, holds her weight well, and consistently produces stout and tasty little calves with ease. JJ and all her offspring have wonderful, imaginative, personalties too and can often be seen playing make-believe out in the pasture (this usually involves attacking a tree or weed and acting as if it is a raging buffalo bull).
Oh, where to begin with these girls. They are personable, comical, imaginative, hungry, and about to produce some scrumptious little piglets. Currently they live on the same two acres as the goats and laying chickens (it’s the only adequately fenced spot at the moment), but they refer to their pasture as the “Sow Serengeti.” As creative as the cows, these two spend time nearly every day pretending the water trough is a predator. They rest and wallow in its spilled “blood” after dumping, flipping, pushing, crushing, and, in general, relentlessly attacking the trough until it bends in submission. Then they perform a chorus of snorts in Jennifer’s direction demanding the trough be refilled. Pigot and Lullabelle, the sow sisters, love to spend their mornings sleeping in, their afternoons wallowing in a skin enriching mud bath (usually at the water trough’s expense) and the evenings grazing in the back of the pasture. They look forward to the occasional bucket of corn (corn = chocolate in a pig’s world) their daily hard-boilded eggs, and, their favorite speciality: chicken processing remains. Also, they enjoy whatever kitchen scraps they can score from under the chicken beaks and goat noses. Both sows are due to farrow in May.
Goats are supposed to be easy keepers, but that’s not true. Boer goats are delicate and 2010 proved to be a hard year, so Slow Food Farm is down to Simone, a spanish meat/boer goat cross, and Patches, the reluctant dairy goat. Fortunately a dairy goat will be loaned to the farm soon. The goats are out on the pasture and browse is budding in the tree-line so soon they’ll be able to forage as goats were designed to do. Patches is the self-proclaimed goat leader and she loves to play practical jokes on Simone. Simone is quirky, sweet and fun. She loves to give tender little goat lip kisses and run and bounce of the side of her shelter. The goats enjoy begging shamelessly for food, plotting break-outs (rarely successful), playing games, eating alfalfa, and maiming cedar trees. If/when out in the yard, goats love the sound of their hooves on anything solid so they spend more time racing across the front porch than they do eating the succulent, under-grazed yard grass. Fortunately they have yet to discover the seductive sound of hooves on a car.
Currently four breeding-stock does and two stud-bunnies call Slow Food Farm home. Ten babies are “on the ground” right now and should be ready to eat around May 1st. The does are Dominique, Silvia, Cordelia, and Dellareese. These girls are pretty sweet with just a hint of fire to their personalities. They look forward to their evening feeding of Coyote Creek’s organic rabbit food, grass or coastal hay, and alfalfa; right now they get plenty of green grass and clover too. Dominique is especially fond of alfalfa and greets Jennifer each evening with the sweetest little expression and eyelash battings in an attempt to get fed first. Rabbits sleep during the day and one can only imagine what kind of a wild life they must lead after dark (farmers sleep at night, so neither Harry or Jennifer have any idea what goes on in the rabbitry when the sun goes down).
Currently the rabbits live in cages but plans to free them have been in the work for quite some time. Another farm was brave enough to experiment and have successfully kept two does and a buck on the ground for about six weeks now. The does bred back quickly and successfully kindled in this environment so a version of it should be implemented at Slow Food Farm soon.
~OTHER FARM ANIMALS~
Lady Bird is in charge of all farm security. She patrols the property a couple of times per day and keeps an eye out for chicken-eating predators. She also spends time beating up the cat, cleaning up spilled feed, and napping, though she is always on alert and sounds an alarm whenever anything is out of place or a wild creature decides to trespass, even if under the cover of dark. Milo Mingus the wiener dog has applied for the security team and he does alert Harry and Jennifer to any strangeness, however, Lady Bird has not officially approved him as a security team member. Milo prefers to spend his time indoors anyway. He enjoys extensive naps in any warm spot or lap that he can find, riding chickens (this is not acceptable and he is learning to leave them alone), eating the whole raw eggs he pilfers from the daily collection bucket and picking dewberries. All in all, Milo Mingus’ mission in life is to eat, sleep and hunt.
Phoebe has been the farm cat since before the inception of Slow Food Farm. She is an incredible hunter and a coyote dodger extraordinaire. She likes to spend her days stretched out sleeping in the yard or on the front porch, but she rarely misses an opportunity to “pounce” on Lady Bird. Phoebe also takes long walks (really!), climbs many trees, and enjoys hanging out with her people. Her favorite meal is fresh full-grown cotton tail, but she samples lizard, birds, mice, rats and oversized bugs on a regular basis too.
Oh, sure they’re fun and they are traditional farm animals, but the herd that lives at Slow Food Farm is far from useful. Reno, Ruby, Hillary, Chase, and their visiting guest, Glima, consume lots of grass, get into everything, and do no work. Regardless they are farm residents and quite enjoyable ones. Reno leads the group but Hillary tends to steal the show. She’s spunky, a tad mean, and very full of herself. She is always in the spotlight and prefers to be referred to as “Pony Princess.” The horses enjoy wading in the tank, napping in the shade, and grazing. Reno enjoys the occasional ride too.