Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Visit to Bowen Creek Farm for Some Inspiration

We visited our friends Susan and Blenna at their farm not too far from us a couple weeks ago and  had a very enjoyable day looking at their operation, having a great lunch, and getting advice. Bowen Creek Farm (www.bowencreekfarm.com) is a 97 acre mixed beef and sheep operation with a large 300 tree orchard and Susan and Blenna are kindred spirits in their pursuit of a simple sustainable life.

As we progress in our own farm operations its really helpful to see how others are doing things which not only gives us inspiration it gives peace of mind that we aren't totally out in left field. We found plenty of inspiration and ideas at Bowen Creek and now if the weather would cooperate we are anxious to get going this spring. They are both a little older than us but they work around their challenges and Susan is even a published author so it kind of makes my frustration with my own physical limitations seem kind of selfish and there is no doubt about it I need to get back to writing. My writing in the past has centered mostly around grant writing, technical writing and the occasional magazine article but there is really no reason I am not more prolific other than I get lazy.

We are looking at getting some goats this year but seeing the sheep has made us rethink a little bit. Goats I know a little about and sheep not a bit but they sure were appealing. As you can see they weren't far removed from lambing and the lambs were just enjoyable to watch as they played and suckled their mothers.

This little guy had to be bottle fed as his mother doesn't produce enough milk and he followed Susan and Blenna around like a little puppy all the while his mother would bleat her dismay.

But this is a working farm and they do sell lamb and from what I remember the wool.

Their farm is similar to ours in that they build things themselves and reuse what might otherwise have been thrown away but its laid out nice and its a great little farm. You show up to their place and the dogs bark, the sheep are bleating and the cattle and horses (and donkeys) make their own distinctive sounds which all just feels right. One of the things we enjoy about our own farm is having the dogs come running and barking when we come home, the sounds of the chickens and our rooster Carmine, and the cows letting us know its time to feed. Its all part of what makes the place seem alive.

It was a cold blustery day when we were there...until we entered their 30'x80' Farm Tek green house. They were just beginning to prep the beds while we were there but with the cold winter wind whipping outside it was about 70 inside the greenhouse and the grass was already green. We helped plant some ginger root (and learned how to do it in the process which will be the subject of a future post) and got some good ideas for our own operation. One of the things we have already realized and confirmed with this visit is that we need more greenhouse capacity. Their operation is a lot larger than ours and we wont be getting such a large greenhouse but we have already figured out what we want based on this visit and will be ordering ours this week.

One of the things we enjoy seeing when we visit other farms is the unique structures people make out of what is available. This greenhouse was constructed with old windows and pieces of lumber that were laying around the farm from other projects and its full of Blenna's tropical plants. It was warm inside, very tropical and we plan on doing something similar with all of the windows we have from replacing our farmhouse windows.

Not content with making me jealous over the greenhouses Blenna had to take me into her shop to show me the 1972 Harley Davidson 175 dirt bike she is restoring. These are pretty rare and very rare in this condition. Everything was original and it had virtually no rust and it would just be a kick in the pants to ride on the farm....kind of gives me some ideas ...now just to figure out how to get these ideas past Holly.

I just thought this was a pleasing picture and I took it to help me design our own road that we need to define access to our own various pastures. They have nicely sectioned paddocks and to the right here is a nice pasture and wood lot, directly ahead is a large pasture where they are running cattle and to the left are a couple of other pastures where they hay and keep horses and a couple donkeys. You have to have access to feed and water your animals, you need to ensure you have good fences and gates, and it need to accommodate moving livestock between pastures for rotational grazing. It sounds easy but if you put the work into something and it isn't ideal you will regret it and can waste a lot of energy and money.

And finally, this time of year is the mud season. Snow, then rain, then periods of sunny weather, more snow, more rain and no matter what you do it gets muddy. It also doesn't help that our sewer project last fall left large patches of soil where we used to have grass and that wont be corrected until spring (the contractors will come back in a month or so and smooth out the dirt work and hydro seed).
We have been busy, we continue to progress and spring it just around the corner.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a great article. Had to laugh. I wish this place was as nice as you make it seem. Actually, one of the greatest things about our way of life is meeting like minded folks like you.
    Thanks for the wonderful review of our endeavors. We look forward to spending a lot more time with you guys. Namaste'