Meet The AnimalsAnimal sciences based on the farm.
We share a working sheep & goat farm!
**Please note: Our livestock operations are temporarily on hold. Students will still learn animal husbandry and zoological sciences while visiting and working on other farms that offer learning opportunities, including the many programs offered by Virginia State University that we regularly attend. The following livestock will be re-established on the farm in the Spring of 2020. We currently have the rabbits, birds, and barn cats.
We will be growing a market goat herd of mixed breeds including Spanish, boer, and kiko, as well as a handful of dairy goats. Students will help with the care, management, and milking of the goats, as well as developing the value-added market products.
The farm operations include the recent introduction of a hair sheep (one that sheds its wool) called the Barbados Blackbelly. For both the goats and sheep, the spring or fall lambing/kidding event is quite the treat!
In the past, we managed a small herd of Jersey dairy cattle. Cows are used for milk. Steer are grass-fed for two years and bring much value to our farm to table operations. After considerable research, we have decided to incorporate the Scottish Highlander cow into our operations. We will be visiting farms over the 2019/20 winter and picking some out.
Our Yorkshire/Berkshire cross pigs added considerable value to the farm. Not only do they thrive on pasture, they aerate and turn them as well, mixing in the manure and plant wastes that add nitrogen and other essential elements back into the dirt. We maintain two breeding sows and allow them to retire and die naturally of old age as part of our farm family. Our last old girl past away last winter (2018). Each year we purchase a boar piglet and raise him with the girls. After he breeds them in the fall, he goes to market. Piglets are raised for market or sold to benefit other farms. In the upcoming year, we may consider a more heritage breed such as the Kunekune to restart our pork program.
Our horses are not “working” animals. They are more for pleasure. They cross graze with the other animals on the farm and provide a base for students who are interested in equine science. We love to ride! Equine events such as competitive trail events serve the farm as excellent fundraisers. Most of our events are overnighters with lots of fun activities and camaraderie. These weekends are always a blast!
We have chickens, ducks, peafowl and sometimes turkeys for egg production and food. We have to admit, that our ducks are so beloved, that they are egg layers and decoration! Pekin ducks have a big personality. They wander around the farm with Mother Goose and bring smiles to all who visit!
The farm also raises rabbits. Ours are a mix of California and Flemish/Holland. We have breeders and a nice buck that are part of the farm. Their offspring are sold live or as processed fresh food. Hides are tanned and used as well.
Baby the guard donkey runs with the goats and sheep. He does an amazing job of keeping the animals safe from coyote and other predators. Baby takes his job seriously. At the first sign of danger, he sounds the alarm and then gallops around his charge and herds them away from the danger. Once they are safe, he turns and puts himself between the herd and the predator.
Our neutered/spayed barn cats are an integral part of the farm. They offer companionship to anyone who will stop and pet them, but more importantly, they keep the rodent population down. This in turn, helps with overall animal/human health and gives the snakes a reason to hang out elsewhere on the property instead of in our barns!
The farm operated two hives and had plans to add more! Unfortunately, just before we moved, a tornado destroyed our bee hives. We will be re-installing hives in 2020. Bees are in a precarious state now due to the over-use of pesticides and herbicides. The more we can contribute to the community, the better! Not to mention the sweet benefits of the honey…