A Holistic Grass Farm- Our Version of Slow Money

December 23, 2017

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Well it only took 47 years, but somehow Lou Ann and I both stumbled into fulfillment.  The 21st century mantra to “find one’s passion” may be a little strong.  But somehow our interests, curiosity, love of the outdoors and mountains led us to where and who we are now.  Farmers.   Graziers.  Producers of clean food.   Food that springs from the mountain soil and grasses- with a lot of help from the sun. 

There are good days, bad days, and days you wished you had stayed in bed.  But as we look back over the 10 years of our farm build out, we take stock of our accomplishments and failures.  Learning all the way.  Through it all, it’s the customers that bring clarity and give us energy to move forward, to build and refine. 

When the snow is blowing sideways and your feeding bales in 18 inches of snow, or when a late summer drought turns your pastures to brown crispies, it’s the customers and their undying support, their love of grass fed protein, and the peace they find staying with us on the farm that warms us and replenishes our resolve.  Notes from our guests in our lodge journals, on Facebook, in letters of thanks, always bring emotion.  Some days these notes reduce us to tears.  And when we are feeling overwhelmed or incompetent- which are regular occurrences in the life of a farmer- we will sneak into our guest cabins and open those guest books- and read.  Chicken soup for the farmer’s soul! 

All this work in establishing Riven Rock Farm has come at a price.  Vacations- what are those?  Windblown wrinkles, sleepless nights.  Aches, pains, dirt, mud, shit laden (black gold) clothes and boots.  Coyote kills, stillborn calves, lambs dying in your arms, perfect piglets that don’t make it through their first week.  Farming is a tough emotional gig. But we strive to do it right, to give life, humane care and yes, love to all our animals. 

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Through it all we have found a purpose.  To provide healthy, humanely raised, meat to like-minded customers.  To give them a place of solace to come to and develop a relationship with the land, the animals, the farmers.  To have them share in the experience and accountability for their food.  To provide an always improving model of what a sustainable mountain farm is and can be.  It’s the most noble thing I have done in my life, and I’m grateful for all the ups and downs it has manifested.

And so to chronicle these ups and downs, I am finally going to blog about our goings on here on the farm.  Riven Rock Farm represents our own personal version of “slow money”.  We like to call it our 401Cow.

Hey- it’s a Back to the Future strategy and avocation.  In 1872, DGF McDonald of Great Britain wrote,

“Farming has held the highest place amongst the occupations of civilized men. And the cattle upon a thousand hills, will continue to be the symbol of wealth and honour.”

We may have to redefine wealth to include intrinsic treasures in our modern world.  But that’s ok.  Its slow money, but very rich in character building and purpose.  We do, as a culture need to elevate farming back to a noble occupation- the health of our food system and planet depend on it.

 

From the Top of Virginia- Bringing convenience to our customers

Dec 10th, 2017 Read more...