How long have you been preserving the time-honored traditional craft of making jam? I’ve been…
What is the name of your Farm, Ranch, or Homestead?
Mountain Woods Farm
We are nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at just under 10,000 feet in beautiful Colorado, about an hour west of Denver.
How and/or when did life as a farmer, rancher or homesteader begin for you?
Born and raised on the East Coast, I’ve always loved animals and knew I wanted to dedicate my life to caring for them in some capacity.
My first job out of college was at a reproduction veterinary clinic. That’s right, my job was to make puppies! And I loved it! Little did I know all my reproduction knowledge would sure come in handy today.
After a few years in reproduction, I transitioned into general mixed animal medicine where I worked at a top AAHA Accredited Veterinary Hospital. There, I gained invaluable experience on how to care for, triage, treat, and work with both large and small animals.
Goats and cattle were my absolute favorite patients! And I knew, one day, I would have my own pasture full!
It wasn’t until a few years later that an opportunity took us all the way to Colorado where I made my dream of starting a farm a reality.
We bought our property, got it ready for livestock by clearing pasture, building barns and coops, and putting up fencing. I started with a few chickens, built up the farm from there, and I haven’t looked back since!
What do you grow and/or raise?
I raise Highland Cattle, Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Jacob Sheep, and various poultry (chickens, ducks, turkeys, and peafowl).
I also raise livestock guardian dogs, who are the single most important part of my Farm! I simply could not farm without them here with our predator load. They are invaluable and truly the best part of my days.
I do grow produce seasonally and have both fuji and delicious red apple trees.
What traditional methods do you use on your farm to grow your crops and/or raise your animals?
One traditional method I use on my farm is I hand milk my goats!
When I first started milking, I did use a machine. This was really two part. Most every seasoned goat person warned me that hand milking was challenging, especially in Nigerians, where they have smaller teats.
Secondly, I was brand new to farming and dairy goats and purchased a top producing doe in milk and I was afraid to fail. I didn’t think I would be able to learn how to hand milk and I didn’t want to let myself down.
One day my brand new machine decided to quit on me and I had one very full udder in front of me and a doe looking back at me like “do something lady!”
It certainly wasn’t pretty at first, but I got the job done that day. And every single day after! I now milk all my does by hand twice a day and I truly do love it. And, I love teaching others how to hand milk.
My initial panic over the broken machine ended up being a true blessing in disguise. I am not sure I would have ever tried to hand milk if I wasn’t forced to.
What is one of your favorite farm-infused recipes you wish to share?
Everyone knows I am a (self proclaimed!) taco expert!
I either brown up homegrown ground chicken or beef, seasoning with salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. I do add green chili’s from my garden and brown them a bit, which adds crunch and texture.
Any taco shell will do, but have you tasted Old El Paso Nacho Cheese shells? If not, you are missing out!
For fixin’s I slice homegrown grape tomatoes in half, lightly salting and peppering, chop homegrown green lettuce, dice canned black olives, and sprinkle homemade goat cheese (compliments of my does!)
What is at least one farm tradition you uphold?
Since I am a first generation farmer I came into this life completely tradition free!
What inspires you to continue a farm lifestyle?
I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else
I wake up each day before sunrise excited to tend to the animals and the farm and I go to bed exhausted and fulfilled every single evening.
While many people would be intimidated by the amount of work, it motivates me. Every day I want to do better, every day I want to be better. I am constantly learning, growing and adjusting.
The days are long, some days are heartbreaking, there’s a lot of manure (haha!), but I have truly found my purpose in this life.
What words of inspiration or uplifting wisdom to you hope to impart on the future generation of farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, and homesteaders?
My best recommendations would be first and foremost to believe in yourself and trust yourself. We all started somewhere and we all make mistakes (heck, I still do!) and that’s how you learn.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help, and don’t hesitate to ask us fellow farmers questions! We are a tight knit community and support one another!
My second recommendation would be to start small and build your operation gradually. There is no rush. I know what it feels like to be excited and to add all your dream animals ASAP, however, you won’t be doing yourself or those animals any favors.
Poultry are truly the gateway to livestock, so they are an excellent starting point. Learn as much as you can about them, raise them, become confident in their care and their needs and, once you feel like you have a good grip on feathered friends, add your next stock. Again, learn as much as you can, become confident in their care and needs, and then keep building. Slowly.
So many people rush into building this big operation, get overwhelmed, and you see their passion start to tarnish.
Where can people find you/your products online?