East Wind’s ranch is composed of many different areas of work that all come together for a common goal: a sustainable food source for community. Though our ranch program is not completely sustainable at present, we are striving toward one hundred percent sustainability. Everything from fencing to haying, building projects to animal husbandry, daily chores to dairying, and bottle-feeding to butchering adds up to the health and happiness of our animals and an ample supply of meat and dairy for our community. Though our beliefs are varied, the refusal to purchase factory farmed meat and dairy is a commonly agreed upon ideal here at East Wind. What we cannot provide from our own ranch, we strive to purchase from small local vendors who treat their animals with care and respect and do not use growth hormones, antibiotics, or other unnaturally occurring chemical components to their products. Currently our program revolves around four different animals each for varying utility: chickens, pigs, cows, and goats.
We try to maintain about two hundred birds for the sole purpose of eggs for community. With the unforgiving Ozark environment, however, that number rises and falls with the danger of lurking predators. Hawks, coyotes, snakes, raccoons, feral cats and dogs are a constant threat. Though we have experimented with free ranging and would like it best for our chickens, we’ve settled for a large area fenced with moveable, solar powered electric. To keep the land in good shape and to offer as much wild forage as possible, we move the main coop and all its accoutrement every few days.
For the past couple of years, we’ve purchased chicks from local hatcheries and raised them to slaughter. This spring we’ll be implementing our new breeding / incubating program, so that we can raise our meat from start to finish and maintain an always producing cycle.
Our new pig paddock is large and wooded, and a nice place for pigs to grow. We respect them in life and they nourish us in death. Slaughters should always be a respectful affair, and we thank each life for their sacrifice to us.
Grass fed and with plenty of pasture to roam, we practice a rotational grazing system that respects both our land and our animals. Presently, we’re maintaining about thirty head of Irish Dexter cattle. A smaller breed, the animals are more manageable for our traditional means of slaughter and butchering. All but a few are intended for beef, not including our two dairy cows: Marmalade and Josephine, both Jerseys. The construction of our new dairy barn is nearly complete, and upon its completion, we will be milking Marmalade and Josephine in the spring, and hopefully will be supplying all of community’s milk from then on.
Our most recent addition to ranch, we raise mixed breed goats for meat and dairy. We currently have three milking does, each of whom we hand milk twice a day in our goat barn. We were blessed with two more future milking does, who are being bred this fall to be milked next spring. We use combination pasture and herding methods to assure our goats get the most wild forage possible, and supplement with hay. We are currently working on weaning them off of grain, so that they are one hundred percent sustainable through proper browsing and utilization of East Wind cut hay.
There’s always work to be done down on ranch, and though the work can be physically demanding, it is a labor of love. We strive to give the animals we keep the greatest quality of life possible while they are with us. Come rain or shine, snow or humid Ozark heat, ticks or chiggers, East Wind’s ranchers will be out there working for the love of our animals and the love of our communards.