We are in the process of building our herd with a combination of Charlais, South Poles, and Jersey cattle. We rotate our herd daily so they eat a diet of fresh grass. We offer full and half beefs to families who are looking for quality and value in their beef. By buying in bulk, the per pound price goes down significantly and it give us, the farmer, one customer instead of 100 for each cow sold.
Here at Meadow Wood Farm, we raise Katahdin sheep which are hair sheep, not wool sheep. They grow their coat and fully shed it each year with the seasons so there is no need to shear their wool and their meat is more tender and has less of a gamey taste.
Our flock of sheep is entirely grass fed and rotationally grazed. Our flock is trained to electric fencing which allows us to move their pasture every day while protecting them from coyotes. We also protect our sheep with our donkey Buster. A former petting zoo donkey, Buster is incredibly sweet to people but exceptionally protective of his sheep. He has a distinctive bray and powerful kick that keeps any predators from attacking our sheep.
Each year we trade rams with the other sheep farmers in the area so we can breed our ladies. The ram is put in with the flock for a month or so to make sure he has time to visit each of the gals and then is pulled and returned to his home farm. Our lambs usually drop in early spring just as the grass is coming back. My favorite chore on the farm is checking on the pregnant mamas when they are due. There isn't a better sight that a ewe birthing her lamb with ease. Partly because we do not have the man power to bottle feed 30-50 lambs for months and also because we believe it is more humane to keep mama and child together, our lambs nurse on their mother until they naturally wean. The newborn lambs quickly learn the intricacies of the electric fence from the rest of the flock and smoothly learn how to rotate across the farm.
Our sheep are given a joyful, healthy, and safe life on the farm. They are butchered around the 1 year mark to produce tender, flavorful meat for our customers.
Our Pekin cross ducks are raised in Salatin shelters on fresh pasture. They are moved daily and fed locally grown, non-GMO feed to augment their diet of bugs and grass.
Our ducklings come from a hatchery in California so by their 3rd day of life they have already traveled further than Shane ever has! It shocks many of our customers that our ducklings come in the mail. When we pick them up from the post office they are in cardboard boxes, full of holes, thirsty and ready to stretch their duck legs. They then live in our brooder for a few weeks before they get moved out into the big world, aka our pastures.
Once they are on pasture, it is a veritable ducks paradise; endless fresh grass, plentiful water, and room to quack around. Ducks love water so we often come out for chores to find that they have found a way to make a puddle to play in. Once our ducks have grown and reached the 7-8 week mark they are processed by us in an on farm, USDA certified processing station.
Duck processing is a little different than chickens because of their duck feathers. Duck feathers are more water resistant than chicken feathers so we have to dip them in wax after putting them in the kill cones. From there the ducks get a quick wax to pull every pin feather then are gutted and quality controlled.
Rainbow Trout makes a perfect winter project as the fish flourish in cold water temperatures. We purchase our trout fingerlings from Ingleside Trout Farm in Lexington, VA and raise them in large trout cages in our spring and river fed lake. Luckily, feeding trout is one of the easiest chores on the farm so we still have time to rest all winter while they grow.
We raise domesticated Red Wiggler worms on a diet of composted sheep bedding mixed with spent coffee grounds sourced from local coffee shops. Shane began raising worms about a year ago to produce vermicompost for our own gardens. It has been incredible watching the worms double in population every 60 days. We like think those coffee grounds keep them growing quickly.