The Organic conundrum

Our farm is proudly certified organic through the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association (OEFFA). We went the certification route consciously and on principle: we believe in the importance of distinguishing our produce based on organic, sustainable land management practices. 

For me, acting as a conscious and caring steward of the land is at the heart of farming. I love this piece of earth with my whole being. This land is my life, my blood, my sweat, and my tears. I work every day to protect and care for it and ultimately eek out a living off of its fruits. This is not a glamorous or lucrative business. This is a lifestyle; a choice to move through to world in a way that allows me to sleep well at night and wake up every morning proud of what I do and what we are building. This, to me, is what it means to be an organic farmer. 

I also believe (although perhaps a bit less strongly) in the importance of "organic" from a policy standpoint. I believe it is important for consumers to have a label to help them identify produce that has been grown in a healthy, sustainable way. For the most part I believe that produce labeled "organic" will be better for you than conventionally grown produce. However, if I had to choose between buying conventionally grown produce from a local farmer I knew and trusted or buying "organic" California produce from Kroger, I pick the local conventional produce. The organic label isn't perfect. It doesn't tell you everything about how your produce was grown and there are a lot of ways to "work the system". I worry about large producers who jump through the hoops of the USDA Organic Certification program but who are otherwise really just conventional Big Ag businesses. And yet, I still think the label is worth something and it is a step in the right direction. 

So, we carry on, filling out the paperwork, paying more for organically approved inputs and trying to toe the line with OEFFA to keep in good standing for our certification. But, I messed up. We were sent an official letter of notification that we are "out of compliance". Apparently I haven't been clear enough in our marketing and I may have left room for misinterpretation from our customers about the status of our land and therefore the status of some of our produce. Here's my formal apology for our apparent "commingling" of transitional and organic crops. 

Here's the deal: we currently grow on four vegetables fields. Two of them were eligible to be certified organic starting our first year of production. The other two fields fall in to the "transitioning" category. This is because some inputs deemed prohibited under USDA Organic code were used on the land prior to my management. One of the fields is what we call the "Main Field". Before I came home to farm, this field was a hay pasture. As a hay pasture my father annually put down a small amount of a very common chemical fertilizer. The amount of fertilizer he used was limited to that which was needed to replace the nitrogen taken out of the land in the form of hay. The other field that is "in transition" is an expanded incarnation of a garden that our friend and former farm-hand, Bobby, used to manage. Bobby is a great grower and I respect his use of the land, but he's kind of cranky and never believed in the Organic standards so I can't say for sure what kind of pesticides he may have used on some of his crops. Both chemical fertilizers and inorganic pesticides can be big problems for sustainable land management. If overused (which was never the case on this farm) the chemical fertilizer can run off into our water sources and cause significant damage to the wildlife and water ecosystems effected. Even more problematic, inorganic pesticides are bad for humans and bugs. In no way do I think a reliance on pesticides (even the organically approved ones) is a good management practice. Under my management all of our vegetables are produced strictly according to the USDA Organic standards and my own passion for healthy, sustainable food.

But, all of that is beside the point. Up to this moment, in order to deal with the confusing and (in my opinion) relatively inconsequential difference between crops coming out of the "transitional fields" and the crops coming out of the "organic" fields I have aired on the side of generalities. I don't directly advertise any of our crops as Organic and I don't have any signs up at our stand suggesting one way or the other. Instead, I focus on talking to people directly about our organic practices and the fact that some of our land is transitioning. Nonetheless, that isn't really appropriate protocol according to our certifiers and I can see why. It makes sense that farmers shouldn't be able to just automatically decide a bunch of land they've been managing conventionally can all the sudden be under the Organic umbrella. For big farmers selling large quantities to third party grocers and wholesalers I can see how "commingling" organic and "transitioning" crops would be a problem. But I chafe under the issue regardless. It reminds me of the reason I got out of public policy four years ago: you just can't write a federal policy that's going to work for everyone. I want certifiers to be policing Big Ag and helping maintain the "purity" of the organic standard. BUT as a tiny farm in nowhere'sville (sorry guys) Virginia I just don't believe I should be under the same onus of reporting as they are. And I'd chide myself for being lazy, but that's just not a trait you can really associate with farmers.

So anyway, after hemming and hawing over this for a few weeks, I've decided to put my big girl pants on and do what it takes to get the farm back in to compliance. That means, from now until March 2017 (when the Main Field will be out of "transition" and all of our produce will be eligible for certification) we will be labeling our "transitioning" crops at market and online. These crops include:

  • Broccoli and mini broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Kale (more than half of our kale is coming out of the hoop house which is Organic, but I can't bear to segregate the leaves in the wash station so we're just going to call it all "transitional")
  • Swiss Chard (same deal as the kale)

I hope and assume that none of you buying our produce will care at all about the scarlet "T" on your broccoli, but if I'm wrong, please come chat with me about it! As you can see I have lots of opinions about the Organic Certification process and always love to share :).  

It's that time of year again...

Ahh sweet fall! What a beautiful and relaxing time of year—at least in some moments :). In this moment I love it, I just had a huge farm-fresh bacon and egg breakfast, it's still warm enough to sit outside, and we just finished our last Saturday market of the summer season. Awesome! 

So, there's time for reflection. I've been pouring back through the notebooks and old blogs thinking about what I'd like to write down before I forget. Ironically, in reviewing the blog I found that I wrote almost exactly this same post on October 29th of last year... hmm must be something about this time of year :).

Taking advantage of my own efforts here's an annotated review of what I recorded last year with some new dates added to the mix:

  • April 15th, 2015 (part 1). Broccoli will not bring a good harvest in the southern heat if it is planted after the 15th (or maybe the 20th if I'm pushing it). Plantings in mid-April will give you a harvest by the first week in June. After that the heat and the sun will be such that the broccoli heads will turn yellow and bitter. Also at that point the cabbage moths will be in full flourish! Update 2016: our spring broccoli was awesome this year! We had a super warm and dry March-April that allowed us to make beds and plant them quickly and successfully. Both successions of Brassicas came to a full harvest this spring with no trouble. 
  • April 15th, 2015 (part 2). April 15th is also the earliest date to plant cucurbits. This is a risky planting because of frost. However, this we found that if the plants make it past the frost you will get a long beautiful first succession before the squash bugs and striped cucumber beetles show up. This year our first cucurbits succession bore fruit for 9 weeks, compared to the next three successions of cucurbits all of which only bore fruit for 3-5 weeks. Update 2016: perhaps because it was a warm spring and most certainly because we planted so many cucurbit successions in the Main Field in 2015 our first cucurbit crops of 2016 were a disaster. The cucumber beetles and squash bugs were on the plants immediately! They did finally grow through the damage and produce some fruit, but no with near the abundance of the first year—crop rotation is key for pest management!  
  • Redbuds, 2015. When the redbuds come into bloom so will the flea beetles. This will mark the beginning of the pest battle. Greens (and almost everything else) will have imperfections from this point until the 1st of October. Update 2016: the early spring brought the flea beetles even before the redbuds. Our precious greens had holes in them starting in April all the way until just this month. Ugh. 
  • April 20th, 2015. This is the time to start adding summer crisp lettuces to the lettuce successions. After this planting the lettuce will start growing much faster as the days warm up. If successions are kept tightly to 10 days or less you can still keep harvesting throughout the summer. However, oak leaf varieties will not grow to full size before bolting and butter heads will also begin showing signs of heat damage. Leaf lettuces and summer crisp varieties will do the best through the hot months. Update 2016: it was so hot this year! In July and August even some of the summer crisps were turning bitter. However, we found some new varieties that worked well and increasingly I think we can push non-summer crisp varieties through the heat by harvesting them small, watering constantly, and planting relentlessly. I love lettuce!  
  • May 1st-15th, 2015. The first two plantings of Spinach in May may or may not make it to harvest. It is worth planting Spinach all the way through May in case the weather is cool (especially the nights), but this is when they will start turning yellow and dying before full harvest size. Update 2016: May spinach plantings did not make it to harvest this year, it was just too hot. Increasingly it seems spinach is only a late fall/winter crop around here. But, we will continue to push for it during the spring and summer regardless 'cause it's just so dang delicious.  
  • August 31st, 2015. After this point the spinach should make it to harvest. However, it's probably worth starting successions in early to mid August just in case the weather shifts and the spinach makes it in early. This fall though, we lost our first few fall plantings to the heavy rains. It's worth noting for next year that the spinach needs good drainage especially at this time of year. Update 2016: Still true. We didn't get much out of our first late summer/fall planting but it seemed worth the try and very possible that some years with different weather conditions it might work.  
  • September 1st, 2015. This is about the time the light begins to change and we start seeing a real slow down in crop growth. It's worth starting to double up on lettuce plantings the last week or two of August and tightening up the successions into September. Update 2016: this fall light change is such an ambiguous and challenging thing to figure out. But, we did better this year. We started planting in the hoop houses much earlier and tightened up successions more successfully. However, we should have planted a much bigger succession of spinach when we first moved greens back in to the hoop houses in September.  
  • 2nd week in September, 2015. After this date cole crop plantings probably won't come in for a full harvest in time for the last markets. It's worth having two fall brassica plantings, but I wouldn't plant the first one much before the 1st of September (otherwise it will be too hot and buggy for good growth) but after the second week in September growth slows down and therefore the 50-70 day crops won't make it to harvest for the end of market season. Update 2016: True. Our first fall brassica succession was killed by late summer heat and harlequin bugs :(. Now our 2nd succession is barely producing for the end of market season and it's not at all clear if the third succession will produce any fruit before heavy frosts. 
  • October 1st, 2015. This is the latest date to plant greens in the hoop house in time for fall harvest. Spicy greens and Arugula planted October 1st were ready for harvest this year on the 29th of October. Lettuce planted at the same time will not be ready for another 2 weeks (which makes it very marginal for fall harvest). Better to plant the lettuce in the hoop house in early-mid September. Lettuce this time of year will hold much longer without bolting, so it seems better to get larger quantities in the hoop house early. Update 2016: Well, we made the winter farming leap, so this year I'm worried less about having everything ready before the "end" of market season... This year I'm proud to say we have two hoop house chock full of the most beautiful produce! Please be sure to come share it with us all winter long :) 

Well... I'm out of time for today. More dates coming soon! PS—I love my job! 

August blues

It's so hot and sticky. The humidity just hangs around the fields creating a bacteria and fungus cesspool. The bugs love it! It's a breeding and feeding bonanza. The weeds are happy too. They've steadily adapted to take advantage of these weather conditions. They grow so fast that they quickly get to seed before I can blink. Our plants grow super fast in this weather too—that is if they survive the soggy cesspool and the pest-breeding bonanza... 

This time last year I broke down and figured organic farming in the south was impossible. It's just so defeating to watch everything you've built begin to wilt and die. It's as if this tiny thread of control you've been hanging on to through July just snaps under the weight of overgrown weeds.

That's the thing about farming; control is an illusion. I never had it and I'm definitely not getting it back anytime soon. But, as long as I'm planting new, bright, healthy babies under a big blue sky full of sunshine it feels possible. Then, there's this thick, damp, heavy sky of August under which even the baby seedlings coming out of the greenhouse look sick and tired. It's like the weather and the burnout team up on my subconscious until I'm sure this rock will never make it up the hill. 

So, just for the sake of venting, here are the things that are the most frustrating:

  • I have no idea what to do about the bugs. Organic sprays suck. Rotation is good, but really hard to manage in terms of getting plants far enough away to make a real difference, particularly when you plant as many successions of crops as we do. Where can I put them to protect them?
  • Row cover is the devil. I can't win for losing with this stuff. Some moments I feel like it's magic—it definitely helps mitigate bug damage on small plants and I feel better under the illusion of protection. But then I pull it off and realize I'm just growing weeds. It also blocks light and traps in heat which seem to significantly increase loses from transplanting. Not to mention the labor costs of putting it up and taking it down constantly.. But maybe I'm just doing it wrong?? 
  • The disease factor seems impossible. I have no recourse against the spread of disease under these weather conditions. It's just a perfect petri dish for dastardly microbes. 

OK, now that I've got that out of my system, here's why I'm not giving up:

  •  I've built an awesome team. Nina and McCain are rockstars. Having them on the farm learning with me, struggling with me, and experiencing the woes and joys of farming with me is so gratifying. And Bobby is coming back too!
  • I'll never stop loving and appreciating the physical work of being outside everyday. The intense connection with the land, these plants, this dirt, and even these dreaded bugs is rewarding. We're building something great! 
  • I know I'm (slowly) becoming a better farmer. Every hurdle is a new lesson and even though there are definitely repeat mistakes, I can see progress. The fields look better now than they did this time last year and I can only trust that they'll be even stronger this time next year. 

So, I guess that's it, a little pep-talk to myself: keep it up, we're doing great, one way or the other this little farm is going to thrive! 

 

So... It turns out I'm Not really that tough

I've been experiencing some major blood-thirst. There are so many creatures plaguing this farm. The deer have come out of the woods with their oh-so-cute (and irritating!) little bambies and are trampling around the fields with complete disrespect for ALL of our fencing efforts. The groundhogs are fat, ugly, and hungry. Where are the coyotes?? And the Raccoons!! Ugh, don't even get me started on their smarmy little faces. Just chowing down on YOUR corn.   

So I've been hounding my father to teach me how to shoot a gun. I mean I'm supposed to be a farmer right? I should be able to shoot a gun. It's my Southern-born, Virginia-farm-girl, country-living duty to protect my crops from the local predators. Well, my father is of the opinion that I'm more likely to hurt myself, one of our buildings/cars/animals or god forbid, family members, than hit a groundhog with a shotgun. So, the hunting lessons haven't gone very far. Also (perhaps most importantly), even though he's loath to admit it, my father doesn't actually want to kill the creatures on our property. 

Alas, I've been watching all of these pests encroach upon my space... They've become a foil for any farming woe. I'll just shout "f**ing deer!" whenever a frustration hits me—never mind that really the floods/weather are currently wreaking far more havoc than the deer ever have.

So, yesterday (ironically) I had just finished ranting about my animal frustrations and my inability to kill when I found a snake in the hen house. It had its mouth wrapped around one of our eggs. Ah ha! Something I can finally kill. Here's the perfect opportunity and the perfect target. This jerk is just laughing at me, all smugly sitting in the box, expanding his crazy reptilian jaw around that otherwise perfectly delicious farm egg. I said to myself, I'm gonna do it. Here's my moment. I've been talking a big game about killing and this snake is all up in my business, he's going down! I grabbed him, pulled him out of the egg box by the tail, he starts swinging around hissing at me, trying to bite. The chickens are squawking wildly and flying everywhere. My heart is pounding—it's been a long time since I've picked up a snake and this one's mad. I get him outside and I'm looking at him and I freeze. He's actually really quite amazing and it turns out I really don't want to kill him. Also, I don't even know how. I'm just standing there in the middle of the road with this beautiful, big, teeming black snake in a total quandary. I can't let him go, he'll be right back in that hen house in a second. I'm all alone on foot with no means of getting him off the farm and plus, I've been talking a big game all summer about how farmers must kill predators. I had no choice, I just had to kill this snake. So... I did it. It was terrible. I killed him with a rock. It was gross and ugly and heartbreaking and not at all satisfying. I'm pretty sure I lost major karma points. I'm so sorry mister snake...please forgive me. 

So the moral of the story is: I'm really not that tough. I don't actually want to kill the irritating varmints that plague this place. I'm pretty sure this admission ruins my farmer street cred and I know it's a bad business decision, but alas, what can you do. I really need to get some cosmic karma points back asap. 

Farming is devastating!

Just when you think you have a handle on the moment...BOOM flash flood. Why?? Is this the universe's way of enforcing a sort of zen spirituality on farmers? 

I don't know, but what I do know is that I had a great week and a great weekend. All of the new big crops are starting to come in and our markets are strengthening, yay! Until...

Imagine: you go out to a lovely dinner with friends and come home to find the driveway washed into the pond—uh oh, an ominous foreboding. But, the rain is stopping and there's been bad washing on the road before, so... you figure everything is fine. Then, you wake up in the morning to survey the farm and realize that "oh s**t it was a really bad rain. Actually, a flood. WTF??"

So, you dig in, get down in the mud and start trying to replant all of the sweet potatoes who have been washed down to the roots. Then you get distracted by the huge potato plants that have been flattened by the rain, so you start scrounging to cover exposed baby potatoes before the sun turns them green and poisonous. Then you start struggling to repair all of the down fencing when you notice that the sugar snap trellising is concave and the peas are lying on the ground beginning to yellow. Then you see the rivers running through the baby beats and blurring the rows of just emerging carrots. Finally, you see the beans... oh the sweet baby bean plants... washed. Whole huge sections of two different successions of green, yellow, and purple french filet beans submerged and washed away.

So, then you just start crying. I mean what else is there to do? You're covered in mud, everything's a mess and the universe is definitely conspiring against you. I mean come on, the arm, then the puppy, now the plants??? 

OK. I'm exaggerating. It's not that bad, I think most of the crops are recoverable and for those that aren't, we will replant. But it just feels so unnecessary! Honestly, perhaps even more than the actual loss of crops due to farming weather disasters, I think it's the lack of control that is so devastating. You just can't do anything about the weather. No matter how hard you work, how smart you are, or how much you plan, there are so many things out of your control. So, yes, I think the world is conspiring to try to make me more a bit more zen—a blessing in a (very good) disguise perhaps?   

Data

I hate math, but I love data. Spreadsheets are SO cool.

This year, I am tracking all of our sales in each category (market, farm share, and wholesale) by item, date, and price. This means at the end of the year I will be able to analyze all of this data in a myriad of ways—I'll be able to see exactly which crops preformed best from both a profitability and popularity stand point. I'll be able to see which outlets/markets performed best at which time of the season. I'll know where to increase efforts and what just wasn't worth it. I'll be able to zoom in and out to see both macro level information—like how profitable wholesale is compared to direct retail—and micro information—like how many heads of lettuce we sold in April. 

Last year I collected some of this information. I had all of the data from the farm share members and the wholesale. But, it wasn't very well organized. Plus, I was not effective at collecting data from our farm stands. I initially tried to write it all down on pieces of paper with the hope of translating it in the winter....that did not happen. So, this year I was determined to go mobile and input the information online in real time—I bought a tablet :). It feels like a luxury, perhaps even an indulgence. But, I really do believe in the data. For me, having access to these numbers gives me confidence to make better decisions and take more calculated risks. I really want this business to work—I mean, I REALLY want this business to work. So, the more tools I have the better, and data really is an excellent tool. 

Plus, it's just so cool!

  

Experimenting!

Organic farming is a challenge. Or, euphemistically, an adventure! The latest and greatest emerging organic farming adventure for us in the muggy, buggy south, is pest management. 

Our worst pests are: flea beetles (responsible for the holes in your salad greens), harlequin bugs (sap sucking jerks!), and cucumber beetles (capable of killing all cucurbit crops—which includes melons, cucumbers, and squash primarily—in a hot minute). Row cover is the most common, and effective, organic control. Covering crops when they're young can keep the bugs off long enough for plants to get big enough to withstand the damage. There are also a few organic sprays that are moderately effective. But, we don't generally like to spray because even organic substances can be dangerous for our bee and pollinator populations. 

A third strategy that can be effective in organic pest management is crop rotation. But, it has to be a real rotation—i.e. move crops at least a half mile away every year. We weren't particularly prepared to start on a full crop rotation this year. It is only our second season in operation and I'm still trying to get our various field locations up and running. We don't have a lot of flat, workable land on our farm so it takes some time to bring a new space into production. But, I really wanted to grow melons and our main field (where the melons were supposed to go) is totally infested with cucumber beetles. So, at my father's brilliant suggestion, we decided to try an old horticulture method—plant right into sod with no working of the land. We chose a place below our pond, a field I'm hoping to work up more officially in the next couple of years. There was a part of the field where the cows were fed all winter. It was thick with mud, cow manure, and old partially composted hay—perfect fertilizer! We grabbed an old 50ft x 100 ft piece of silo plastic, spread it out over the muck pile and just planted the melons right through the plastic and into the gooey mess. It was dirty but delightful—guerrilla farming :). 

There is no irrigation in this field and no protection, so the melons will either make it or they won't, either way it was a good learning experience and I'm excited to see how they turn out! Also, I'm supposed to remind you—no matter where they were planted, I promise the melons will not taste like poo :).

 

What a week can do

A sleepy Beast on a beautiful day - April 23rd

A sleepy Beast on a beautiful day - April 23rd

Last week at exactly this time I sat in this exact same rickety lawn chair with the sun shining on my back looking at these glorious green hills and felt an easy satisfaction with my life. As you might recall, I wrote a whole blog post about it—the post was called "confidence". That is exactly what I felt, confident. 

Now, I feel like I jinxed myself. It is still sunny and beautiful—perhaps even more so as the rain this week is making the buttercups glisten and all of leaves pop out on the trees. But, there are two huge differences: (1) my left arm is paralyzed and (2) our sweet beast is no longer enjoying a puppy nap on my toes, but is instead permanently at rest. I have a deep ache in my shoulder and a longing in my heart. How quickly life can turn on us. 

The sweetest beast enjoying my fully functional arm - April 21st

The sweetest beast enjoying my fully functional arm - April 21st

On Tuesday I had an accident with the tractor and the transplanter. I am really lucky that it is only my arm that was damaged. It was a shock I think meant to remind me to be more careful and move more slowly. It turns out, I am not invincible, and it's probably best that I start acting accordingly. The event was traumatic and certainly a setback, but in some ways it feels valuable and important. It was the kind of accident that really makes you grateful for what you have. The doctors are optimistic about my recovery and so am I. The lack of motor function in my bicep is frustrating but not unworkable, and I am oh so grateful to my family and to my community for rallying so quickly to my side. I do think the farm will carry on even with my capacity so limited. This is a huge change from last year when I really didn't have any labor support built in. If I had had this accident last year I'm not sure the business would have made it, or at least certainly not as well. 

We miss you Sweet Beast...

We miss you Sweet Beast...

So if that had been the end of it this blog would probably be more up-lifting. But, very sadly, on Thursday our new baby puppy, Sweet Beast, was in a car accident. He was run over and we had to put him down. It is still very recent so I have yet to find the silver lining, but what I can say is that in his short time with us, he brought so much joy and he lived a very good little puppy life. So, we will move on and I'm sure there are other puppies in our future, but it is not without a heavy heart that I sit here in this chair and look at the spot where he slept so sweetly only a week ago. Perhaps that is the silver lining I'm looking for—life is ephemeral, so let's be sure and take our time to enjoy all of its precious moments, and try our best to be as sweet to each other as was our little Beast.  

Confidence

So far the biggest difference I feel as a farmer this year vs. last is all personal. I'm just not as terrified as I was last year. 

I don't feel that I am a much better farmer. In fact, we have had plenty of early disasters (both man-made and natural—from dead cucumbers and burnt tomatoes to spider infested seeders etc..) and they have definitely stressed me out. But my biggest learnings from last year are keeping me buoyant:

  1. the season is long
  2. plants want to grow
  3. not everything will fail

It doesn't sound like much, but living through the truth of these lessons one year makes them much easier to believe the second. This small shift makes for a better nights' sleep.

For instance, I'm currently quite worried that all of the produce ready now in the hoop house will not hold until the new crops are ready in the field. If it's too sunny and too warm then the hoop house crops will grow too fast and bolt before the outdoor crops are ready. However, if it's not sunny and warm enough then the outdoor crops won't grow fast enough. Hmmm.. stressful conundrum. There is nothing I can do about it. I have already made the planting choices I made (good, bad or otherwise) and now I have no choice but to live it out. This happened lsat year too. The difference? I just think it's going to work out. Somehow last year it worked and I'm in a better position this year. So, it stands to reason that everything should be fine, right? Well, last year I would have said no, it was bound to fail. But this year, I actually believe that it will work (at least most of the time :). 

I do have a nagging worry that I may be getting too cozy, too confident. I can't rest on my laurels—there are still a million things to do and a million things that could (will!) go wrong. BUT, should I deny myself the slight comfort and confidence that comes from a second year on the job? No. I think I'll hold on to it as long as possible! 

 

 

Sheep!

Womp womp..

Womp womp..

So, I was going to write another depressing blog about this past week of incredibly stressful weather. I mean, look at these sad, sad, tomatoes :( 

BUT not even frozen tomatoes can totally ruin spring. SO, in honor of the delightful aspects of running a farm, I wanted to record the incredible adventure mom and I had to SamNana last weekend. 

 I helped deliver twins!!!!

 I helped deliver twins!!!!

SamNana is a small farm in Sinks Grove, West Virginia. It is run by the amazing Tom and Debbie Gentry. They raise grass-fed St Croix heritage sheep, beef cattle and chickens. The Gentrys are very talented and compassionate farmers. If you have not had the chance to visit their farm stand at the Grandin Communtiy Market, please do so—I promise you will not be disappointed. 

Hanging out with Tom, Debbie, and their sheep I fell in love. St Croix are good-natured and calm sheep. They are also excellent mothers. And, I happen to know from much first-hand experience, they taste delicious :). St Croix are a small heritage breed, and therefore not very popular for most commercial farming. This also makes them unique and well suited for a small farm like ours. Their size and temperament make them easy to handle and they seem to lamb easily. St Croix is a hair sheep variety. This means they naturally shed in the spring and do not need to be sheered. 

So, call me crazy, but I went ahead and bought eight of them (pregnant :). They'll show up on the farm in the fall so we can care for them and get them settled into their new barn (yet to be built :) in time for lambing next spring!! Can you imagine how cute they are going to be? (and how delicious??). 

We have a lot of learning to do. 

A lot of learning. 

But, this is the thing that I love most about this farm—the possibilities are endless. Who knows what we'll come up with next :)