By Samantha Biggers
My husband Matt and I have a 15 acre farm in western North Carolina, about 20 minutes from Asheville. It is a work in progress. Before we moved here the land had previously been used by my family to graze a mixed herd of cattle but had been allowed to grow up for 8 years. When we moved there are intentions were to build a house first and begin acquiring some livestock. This was in February 2008. It took awhile to get the house going, we poured the footers for our house in June 2009. We also cleared some of the land. Most of this was done by hand. We could not walk through any of the pasture in the beginning. We then got some Speckled Sussex chicks in the mail to raise for laying hens. We started to fence the property in for livestock. Sometimes it went fast and sometimes it went slow since it is just the two of us. In the meantime we acquired several goats and raised a few baby goats to help us to clear up the massive tangle of honeysuckle, bittersweet, and multi-flora rose that covered the majority of the pasture. Clearing out pasture and fence lines also involved felling a large number of gnarled pine trees. In the beginning we used handsaws since we had not yet acquired a chainsaw.
Things have come a long way since then. Our house should be done by Winter 2010. We have two registered Dexter cows and a Dexter bull. We also are raising 4 pig and 100 broiler chickens throughout the summer. This year the farm census will include 7 cows, 100 broiler chickens ( 50 at a time), at least 8 ducks (2 Saxony and 6 Dark Rouens), 21 laying hens ( mostly Speckled Sussex, 1 rabbit, 2 Pilgrim Geese, 3 goats ( with two more on the way), 1 sheep ( A Corsican sheep that everyone thinks is a goat), 1 Bourbon Red turkey, 4 Warren Wilson College pigs and 2 Great Pyrenees dogs, and one farm cat. We sell pastured poultry, grass fed beef, laying hens, ducks, free range eggs, shitake and oyster mushroom logs and mushrooms, and pastured pork. In the future we would like to become a licensed Dexter dairy and produce honey. We try to be as self sufficient as possible and hope to one day soon only have to go to the store for flour, sugar, corn meal, brew supplies, and coffee.