Spoon Full Pastures: Cattle, Chickens, and Microbes in Concert.
“Cows Save the Planet…”
The idea may seem impossible, given the heat that the cattle industry generates. You’ve probably heard of water waste and deforestation resulting from increasing beef production — and that’s true, in some places.
Yet in other places, such as Spoon Full Farm, cattle represent a benevolent, soil-building force of natural healing. When cattle move frequently from one paddock of fresh pasture to another, they increase grass growth and soil microbiology. More grass roots decomposing underground means more carbon being stored down below, in solid form!
Indeed, the cycle of ruminant herbivores grazing hard in one spot — then being chased to a new place by predators — is how grass evolved. Bison and wolves, together, built the deep rich soil of the great plains.
Not only does “rotational” or “management-intensive” grazing (this practice has many names and nuances) build soil, it also benefits the cattle! Fewer flies, better hygiene, fresher food — who wouldn’t want that?
We started raising cattle as a way to grow the life, fertility, and microbiology of our soils, which were depleted after 35 years of conventional hay-cutting. The beef is a delicious and nutritious side-benefit, for us and for you.
Happy Hens in the Poultry Palace
What do chickens truly want, in their hearts?
The truth is, they want to eat bugs. Every morning, we open up the doors of our flock’s mobile “Poultry Palace” coop, and the hens fly out into the sunshine. The first thing they do is begin pecking around in the fresh grass, looking for protein-rich insects. If they’re lucky, they’ll find some manure left behind by the cattle —whom the chickens tend to follow through our pastures— and feast on fly larvae. That’s good for the cattle, too.
Then the chickens turn to the grass, nibbling on fresh green, adding beta-carotene and omega-3s to their egg yolks. If there are weeds around, the chickens will eat the seeds. They’ll scratch cow manure around to fertilize the soil more evenly, and they deposit nitrogen-rich manure of their own.
On top of all of this fresh pasture food, most of the chickens’ calories come from a mixture of local, organically-grown (or transitionally-grown, meaning not-yet certified organic, but all-natural) grains and legumes, grown by our good friends at Hidden River Farm. No corn, no soy, no trace of anything genetically engineered. All in support of a thriving local ecosystem of cultures, fields, and pastures.
Each evening, we close up the doors to the poultry palace, to protect the birds from the many predators that live in the wild zones beside the pastures (including coyotes, cougars, eagles, skunks, marmots, ravens, hawks, owls, and bears). It seems to us like every day is a good day for the chickens and the soil on Spoon Full pastures.