Farmette: Also known as yokelet or a farmlet: “Small farm often including a garden and small scale livestock production for home consumption.”
We started farming for a variety of reasons that included health, country living, personal challenges, life experiences, culinary interests, small business investment and self-improvement and awareness. Initially we had the idea that we could and would create a wide variety of meats for diversification of product and livestock, and to support our core idea of bison production and marketing. In 1999 this idea appeared necessary and made sense to us, but over time we realized that it was exhausting, unsustainable and complicated. Now that bison meat demand exceeds supply, we realized the opportunity to evolve and renew our energy and interest in livestock farming. We now follow a business plan centered around bison and free-range hog production and meat sales.
Our farmette took shape as we downsized all other operations, in order to keep our kitchen supplied with great quality healthy meats, milk, produce and honey. The farmette consists of a variety of poultry, a garden, small scale berry production, honey bees, a dairy cow, a guardian dog, rabbits and hopefully a vineyard starting in 2014.
Up near the house, you will see the garden surrounded by an electric net, that runs on solar power, to keep out predators, loose poultry and the guardian dog. Buster, our Italian Marama sheepdog was the main drive for carving up pasture land for gardening. He keeps all garden pests far away and has solved 90% of our earlier pest issues. Hopefully the guineas will take care of the remaining pest problems.
Roaming around the field you will find Lilly, our loving raw milk dairy cow. She gives us about 2-3 gallons of milk each day that is deep yellow from the green grass that she converts for our benefit. Excess milk is turned into cream, yogurt, butter, ghee, crème fresh, cheese and the most amazing ice cream on the planet!
This will be our first year to tinker with greenhouse production, where we hope to use rabbits to help generate a little heat while also supplying the kitchen with fresh meat.
If walking down to the barn to see bison or hogs, you will notice the berry (black, blue, raspberry, grapes and kiwi) patch fenced in to the right with 2 types of Honey Bee box systems. We are experimenting with the Top Bar Hives as an alternative to the more productive Langstroth Hives. The Top Bar is said to be more humane (less stressful for the bees), and while less productive, it is far cheaper to construct, operate and maintain (about 1/5 of the cost). Aside from honey production, the bees are instrumental in pollinating the entire farm, which promotes greater garden and pasture production.