Organic Veggies, Pastured Meat & Eggs in Charlotte, VT
ShakeyGround Farm welcomed Belted Galloways to the land and our rotational grazing system some years ago. This past season we made a transition to Beefalo! As our sheep move from pasture to pasture Hank - our remaining Beltie - and his new Beefalo friends - Coca, Wiki, and Frankie - follow and digest any hatched parasites the flock leaves behind. Our commitment to multi-species grazing ensures our pastures are more uniformly and consistently grazed as each species has a preference for certain grasses, legumes, and weeds. We’re also careful to make sure our cows are moved quickly enough that no area is overgrazed and the land can rebuild
In addition to improving the quality of our pastures, our cattle, chicken, and sheep aid in the fertilization of every garden on the property.
Our starter flock came to us in 2008 from Frelsi Farm in Limerick, Maine. Four of the original sheep are still with us today. Over the next few years, sheep from several other farms joined the flock to create diversity before becoming a closed flock.
Our closed flock of registered Icelandic Sheep spend the entire grazing season on pasture, with their diet of grass supplemented only by nutritional minerals and kelp. Every four days or fewer, the flock is rotated to fresh pasture in attempt to minimize their exposure to harmful parasites. Following the sheep in the pasture are our Belted Galloway cattle. Their role is crucial in controlling the parasites. As the cattle graze, they are able to digest any parasites that may be present, effectively cleaning the pasture. After that, our free-range chickens step in and expose any un-hatched parasite eggs to the sun by scratching the soil.
In addition to our intensive pasture management, we use the FAMACHA system to selectively de-worm our flock. Our goal is to use synthetic parasiticides as little as possible but never compromising our flock’s health.
Rue was born on the farm in 2012. Rue's wool is very unique. At birth she was almost orange, and each season her coat changes. Sometimes almost a creamy white, and others nearly moorit.
Hera is one of our original ewes. She is a hardy ewe that has brought many healthy lambs to the farm.
Iago is one of the original rams. He has very strong genetics, always throwing strong, healthy white lambs.
Isis is the granddaughter of Iago, our remaining original ram. She has great confirmation and is one of the dominant ewes in the flock.
During the winter months, the sheep are given quality 2nd cut hay and their dietary supplements. We shear twice a year, once at the end of grazing season and once right before lambing.
One of our lambs born in April 2016.
Grazing alongside our Icelandic Sheep are our three llamas, Gabriel, Huitaca, and Pachamama. Llamas are naturally curious, vigilant, and alert, making them natural guardians for the flock. Their vigilance is evident when a new visitor comes to the farm, especially if there is a new animal (predator or otherwise) nearby. We shear the llamas less frequently than the sheep and often blend their fiber with our Icelandic wool.
A crucial part of caring for the llamas is to protect against the deadly meningeal worm. The parasite is naturally carried by deer and can infect many species, including sheep and camelids. We only learned about meningeal worm once it was too late in 2012, but take it very seriously now. Our llamas are preventatively given monthly Dectomax injections to kill the parasite if present. Learn more about meningeal worm here.
Gabriel, named after the shepherd Gabriel Oak, is our oldest llama, joining us in June of 2010.
Pachamama came to the farm in July 2014.
Huitaca came to the farm with Pachamama in July 2014.
PASTURED POULTRY & EGGS
All the chickens on ShakeyGround Farm are heritage breeds. This year we plan to raise 200 Freedom Rangers meat chickens, with availability as long as the supply lasts starting in late July. We raise several breeds of laying hens including Barred Rocks, Welsummer, Araucana, Silver Laced Wyandotte, and Buff Orpinton. These hens produce a colorful mix of fresh eggs daily. All our chickens are rotated through our pastures, where they range all day. Their diet is Certified Organic grain from Morrison Feeds.
Additionally, the chickens play a role in our broader pasture and parasite management plan.
Fresh eggs from our Heritage Hens.
All of our chickens are free-range and fed organic non-GMO grain. They are regularly rotated to a new field every few days.
Our bees are founding contributors to ShakeyGround Farm. When the farm was established in 2008 we started with only a few hives and have continued to grow since.
On the farm we practice natural beekeeping. During the summer we check on each hive several times a week. We check for mites, the current condition of the queen, brood pattern, and how full the comb is making additions as needed. Before winter, we insulate each hive to ensure the warmth of our bees.
We offer raw liquid wildflower honey and wildflower comb honey from our hives. Our liquid honey is available in our store, and comb honey is available for pickup.
TOUR OUR GARDENS
We have several outdoor gardens where we produce all of our greens, vegetables, and fruits. Our three hoop houses allow us to extend the growing season well into the winter and early spring. We also have flower gardens producing beautiful flowers available at the farmer’s market seasonally. In 2017 our vegetables were certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOG) and we are working towards Vermont Community Accreditation for Produce Safety (CAPS).
You can read more about our gardens and their progress on our blog!
Inside one of our first hoop house with newly planted beds.
Tomatoes growing in one of the hoop houses, which allows us to grow further into the season. With three hoop houses, we are able to grow all of our tomatoes inside, and rotate the crop every year to minimize pest and disease susceptibility. Additionally, we are able to sow earlier crops of okra, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplant.
The main outdoor garden, Drew checking on his Kale!