Just a quick announcement: I'm ready for more entries in our farm tour series! Please read here for guidelines.
We're heading down home… to your farms! Urban, suburban, or rural — whatever you're growing and doing, we want to see it.
Welcome, Spellcast Farm!
Today, you get to meet Michelle Bernard and Wally McSwain of Spellcast Farm in Catawba County, North Carolina. They garden and raise goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, and rabbits. Many locals get to enjoy Spellcast farm “real food” through the farmer's market. Visit their website here.
What is your name and the names of your family members?
Michelle T. Bernard and Wally McSwain.
What is the name of your farm/homestead?
How long have you been farming/homesteading?
Share a brief description of your farm/homestead.
We have 25 acres in North Carolina.
What are you raising, growing, and doing?
We raise AGDA-registered dairy goats (Alpine, Oberhasli and Saanen), heritage-breed meat rabbits, heritage-breed chickens and ducks. In addition to the livestock, we maintain an organic garden using raised beds and French Intensive Methods.
At Spellcast Farm, we strive to be sustainable. We operate on a very limited budget and maintaining our animals and the garden requires a great deal of management, resourcefulness and creativity. We believe in keeping our animals in a manner that respects their natural behaviors and diet. The goats have continuous access to over 50 acres of browse and grass, high quality organic hay and minerals. They only receive grain when on the milk stand. Baby goats stay with their mothers until the bucks become sexually mature at which point they are processed for meat; doe kids stay with their mothers until they self-wean. The poultry range over the entire farm foraging for vegetation, insects and worms. We have our rabbits pastured in movable, bottomless pens or in colonies for most of their lives. If they are caged, they are in over-sized cages.
We do not raise the commercial breeds of chickens or rabbits. Instead we’ve chosen to raise dual-purpose, heritage breeds. Our rabbit breeds are American Chinchilla and Silver Fox. We keep several different breeds of chickens including Delaware, White Rock, Dark Cornish, Wyandottes, Black Australorp, etc. Beginning the second half of 2012, most of our replacement meat chickens and layers are hatched on the farm or sourced locally.
We mix most of our own grain rations using locally-grown ingredients, whenever we can source them. We do not feed any genetically modified corn, soy or grains. We feed organic dairy hay and alfalfa pellets. We made the decision to continue using locally-grown, non-GMO ingredients over 100 percent organic grains due to the difficulty and expense in obtaining the organic grains. Alfalfa is a very important component of both the dairy goats’ and rabbits’ diets and unfortunately, much of the alfalfa available via conventional sources is GMO, so we had to switch to organic.
We are Animal Welfare Approved, a publicly-funded organization which has the most rigorous standards for farm animal welfare currently in use by any United States organization. We are now certified for our goats (dairy and meat), chickens (eggs and meat), ducks (eggs) and rabbits. We were the first farm AWA certified for rabbits.
Wally and I are very happy to be able to be present at farmer’s markets to offer our products for sale and more importantly, to education the consumer about farming in a sustainable, humane manner. Unfortunately, the meat and other products that are purchased in the grocery store and sometimes even at farmer’s markets is a far cry from “real” food. At Spellcast Farm, we strive to grow “real” food.
How did you get into farming/homesteading?
A layoff from the corporate world.
Any future plans?
To slowly expand without losing quality.
Let's Tour Spellcast Farm!
(Wardee: In the captions below, you're hearing from Michelle as she tells you what is in each picture.)
Rabbits in a movable tractor.
Chicken tractors in a line.
Hen and chicks.
Sheep and goats. (Wardee: what a gorgeous setting!)
(Back to Wardee) Thank you for sharing with us! We hope you enjoy your free thank you video, our gift to you. Plus, feel free to display the following graphic on your site. (Right-click and save to your computer, then upload to your site and link to this farm tour post.)
Would you like to be featured?
Are you a homesteader or farmer at any level? You don't have to live in the country, you don't have to be doing everything.
Being on the journey is the only qualification. We want to see what you're doing, no matter how big or small.
Click here for submission guidelines for the Down Home Farm Tours series. We're excited to hear from you!
If you're selected, we will share your farm/homestead pictures and stories in a dedicated blog post, plus you can add the featured graphic to your blog or website. And, we'll give you a free thank you video of your choice!
Please give Spellcast Farm warm welcome in the comments! Be sure to visit their website here.
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