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By Animal Welfare Approved
| November 15, 2013
Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese has its origins in a 4-H project that Ana Cox’s daughter began more than 40 years ago in California’s Monterey County. By the time Ana married her husband, Gilbert Cox, in 1983, the project had grown into a small business, shipping goat milk to San Luis Obispo County at a low wholesale price for processing. Although Gilbert had no experience with goats or farming, he was a natural and the couple continued to grow the business. They soon came to the conclusion, however, that purchasing hay, producing milk, then selling it cheaply and shipping it away made little sense, and began looking for a place where they could control their entire operation and add value to their milk.
Mike and Elizabeth Lofrano run the 211-acre Circle Star Ranch, nestled in a secluded valley just south of Roseburg, Oregon. Elizabeth’s farming expertise originates from her childhood, when she raised sheep, pigs, beef and dairy cattle, chickens and rabbits on a 180-acre ranch in southern Oregon. Having lived through the Great Depression, Elizabeth’s grandparents taught her to be self-sufficient and she has carried on this tradition at Circle Star Ranch, where the Lofranos produce the majority of the products they consume.
Lone Fir Friesians Ranch has been in Inga Thompson’s family since 1918, making her son, Tyler Newberry, the fourth generation rancher to live and work on their land. The 160-acre ranch borders the Wallowa National Forest in northeast Oregon. Inga and Tyler’s small operation includes 15 Black Angus cross momma cows, which they raise according to AWA’s high welfare standards and Friesian horses, which they use both in harness and under saddle.
C. Jay Page likes to say that “it’s never too late to do the right thing.” Her husband, Doug, grew up on a raisin farm in California’s Central Valley and established a successful egg business before he left for military service in 1943, but never returned to the family farm. He always dreamt of returning to his farming roots, but it wasn’t until July 2009 that the timing was right to realize his dream. The couple bought a farm just five miles from the farm where Doug was born and raised, and named it Page River Bottom Farm after its position in the Sanger River Bottom.
Craig and Pam Knowles have been raising bison since 1995. The inspiration to raise bison came from their former work as wildlife consultants with the Fort Belknap Wildlife Department on bison and prairie dog management. They were fascinated with bison: at Fort Belknap it was possible to glimpse back to a time when bison were the dominant native ungulate roaming the Montana prairies. Wacheena, their first calf, came from Fort Belknap and she was soon joined by bison from two other Montana herds to form the original herd of five adult cows and one bull. Some 20 years later, the herd at Wild Echo Bison Ranch is now maintained at about 50 AWA-certified bison made up of the herd bull, Wooly Bully, about 20 cows, most of them named as well, and their calves and yearlings.
Sandra Higareda and her husband, Paco, began raising laying hens when they moved with their three children to Browns Valley, California, a small rural community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in 2002. At first, their intention was to raise fresh food for the immediate family, but then Sandra’s mother wanted some of the delicious farm-fresh eggs. Soon after, her brother asked for some eggs, and it wasn’t long until neighbors started asking, too. By 2010, the operation on their small acreage was growing as demand increased and they started taking the whole thing a lot more seriously.
Portland, Oregon, is a mecca for small urban farms of a half-acre or smaller, according to Augustus Gibson. She and her partner, Margo Liszka, were lucky to find a three-acre property in 2010 on the edge of the city. The couple had years of experience growing on a very small scale, in addition to Augustus’s experience being raised in central Oregon’s ranching country and two decades of veterinary experience. Their small farm, which they named Naked Acres, gave them just enough space to begin expansion. In their first year, Margo and Augustus spent a lot of time digging garden beds by hand and sold produce and eggs at local farmers’ markets.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| September 23, 2013
Shelly McMahon raises Animal Welfare Approved laying hens on pasture in Brentwood, California. Raising chickens on pasture allows her birds to roam and perform their natural behaviors—pecking and scratching for bugs and seeds and taking dust baths. Hens are given fresh water, nesting boxes, and perches, and they are rotated to new pastures regularly so they always have access to fresh grass. In addition to what the hens forage, Shelly’s Farm Fresh chickens receive a custom blend of grains, ensuring that there are no unnecessary fillers or antibiotics in the feed.
Rock Bottom Ranch is a site of Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), an Aspen-based non-profit organization whose mission is “to inspire a life-long commitment to the Earth by educating for environmental responsibility, conserving and restoring the balance of natural communities and advancing the ethic that the Earth must be respected and nurtured.”
David Anderson and Marie Chandoha are the first to admit the name of their farm—Quailbrook Farm at a Place of Hope and Beauty—might be a bit of a mouthful! But, as David explains, it serves a purpose: “The name helps us remember what we’re doing here, what it’s all about.”