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1dr Acres Farm

“We selected the livestock species and farm management approaches for their abilities to convert problems into profit; they optimize our context to the benefit of our animals, us, the environment, wildlife and people who purchase what we produce or learn from what we teach.”

Cherrie Nolden and Allen Philo

About the Farm:

 

Cherrie and Allen own 130 acres and operate 183 acres between Dodgeville and Ridgeway, WI. Their focus is rotationally-grazed meat goats and sheep, and draft horses. They have a forage-based, low-input meat goat and sheep production system (no grain, no deworming, no kidding assistance, metabolically-efficient, naturally healthy on what grows there, and essentially organic). They have 150 goats and intend to grow the herd to 400-600 does. Sale of meat goats and draft horses provides income from the operation, and grazing/browsing management of the herds improves the value of the land that is currently brush-invaded. Cherrie and Allen keep enough sheep for lawn mowing and winter sacrifice paddock vegetation management in summer, raise lambs for the freezer, occasionally raise a few pigs, and have rotationally grazed neighbor’s cattle to finish some on grass and to help manage breeding stock between the farms. They host pasture walks each year to teach people about multi-species grazing, horse management on pasture, soil health, dung beetles, forage quality, parasite management, livestock guardian dog use, organic fertility management, and low-input production systems.

On May 28, 2022, Cherrie and Allen hosted a field day with the Uplands Watershed Group, Wisconsin Meat Goat Association, and several cosponsors. Read about it here.

 

Farm Conservation Practices:

 

• Prescribed grazing (Holistic Planned Grazing) 130 acres

• Planting anthelmintic forbs in our pastures to prevent the need for chemical deworming (35 acres)

• Managing for dung beetles, rove beetles and golden dung flies, which allows us to not use chemical fly and pest control on the livestock (80 acres)

• Selecting livestock for breeding based on their genetic ability to thrive on forage-only diets, not need deworming, not need hoof trimming, and not need assistance in birthing (resilient and sustainable livestock to match the forage and climate conditions in this region of the country) 80 acres

• Producing small grain-free draft horses for sale to other farmers for regenerative logging and farm work without fossil fuels (45 acres)

• Hay and baleage harvest timing to match the nutritional needs of the various classes of livestock that we feed over winter, which prevents the need for grain feeding and thus saves the environmental challenges created by growing and harvesting grains to feed livestock (50 ac)

• Graveling a heavy use area that serves a 30 acre pasture

• Providing cafeteria-style minerals, so the livestock eat and distribute the soil- and forage-deficient minerals across the pastures (35 acres improved pasture, 30 acres of fenced silvopasture)

• Thinning degraded forests to allow light to the ground to encourage soil-holding herbaceous growth (15 acres)

• Using goats to control woody invasive brush (45 acres)

• Delaying hay harvest until late July for songbird nesting (25 acres) (upland wildlife habitat), which produces the quality of hay needed for feeding easy-keeper horses

• Planting and encouraging native wildflowers and native plants for pollinator and insect habitat, and wildlife food (130 acres)

• Bale grazing in winter to improve pasture organic matter, fertility, and seed bank in needed areas of the pasture (5 acres)

• Wildlife escape structures in our water tanks

• Livestock management that minimizes areas of bare soil on the farm for soil holding (dust control) and water infiltration (80 acres)

• Multi-species grazing to more efficiently use the diversity of forages on the farm (80 acres)

• Using sheep to mow the lawn around the farmstead instead of fossil fuel-powered lawn mowing (5 acres)

• Conducting fecal egg counts (FEC) before any dewormer is given, and fecal egg count reduction tests to assess parasite resistance to any of the dewormers we choose to use, which reduces the production of chemical-resistant parasites, and ensures that the chemicals that we currently have will continue to be effective in the future (80 ac)

• Moving chemically-dewormed livestock to a drylot to be finished and sent to auction for meat, to avoid contaminating the pasture with dewormer-resistant GI parasites (80 ac)

• Using a 6 Point Check system to assess whether an animal actually needs to be dewormed (not deciding simply on FEC) (80 ac)

• Keeping livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) with our pastured livestock, which prevents the need to trap/shoot predators and promotes stable predator populations around the farm, which is safer for all surrounding farms than a growing or unstable predator population (80 ac)

• Keeping LGDs that are effective at controlling rodent populations with our poultry, pigs and around the feed storage areas (80 ac)

• Leaving standing dead trees as raptor habitat (95 ac)

• Woody residue treatment of the stumps and tops of trees thinned in the silvopasture; left in place for wildlife habitat and to not disturb the soil (80 acres)

• Placing more bluebird, wren, swallow and bat houses for habitat (130 ac)

• Spreading winter bedding pack immediately after livestock have rotated off of a section of pasture, so the plants and soil microbes can incorporate the nutrients during the rest/regrowth period and minimize losses of nutrients. (30 ac)

• Composting animal mortalities, or freezing them to feed to the working dogs on the farm if the mortalities were healthy animals (0.15 ac)

• Forage testing for harvested hay and baleage (50 acres)

 

Planned Conservation Activities:

• Grading and graveling our silvopasture logging trails to prevent erosion and improve water quality (80 ac)

• Burying water and electric for distributed livestock watering in winter, to allow better nutrient distribution and pasture improvement via bale grazing in winter (45 acres)

• Woven wire perimeter fence around another 50 acres of our silvopasture, for containment of goats for converting the invasive brush into soil-stabilizing graminoids and forbs

• 2-3 more permanent livestock shelters in sacrifice paddock areas (5 acres)

• Fertility application to hay ground based on nutrients removed via forage test (50 acres)

• Soil testing of pasture and hay ground (95 acres)

• Stream crossing into the silvopasture (80 acres)

• Spring development and protection from livestock in the silvopasture (80 acres)

• Livestock watering well drilled in the silvopasture (80 acres)

• Solar and wind-powered well pump for the silvopasture (80 acres)

• Solar powered fence energizers and oak seedling protectors for the silvopasture (80 acres)

 

Formal Conservation Programs used on 1dr Acres Farm:

 

Environmental Qualities Incentives Program

Administered by the USDA-NRCS, this program prioritizes funding for practices that address resource concerns related to soil, water, air and wildlife habitat. On this farm, it cost-shared on converting cropland to perennial pasture with a rotational grazing plan, a livestock lane for heavy use, and water distribution to the pasture.

 

Farm Purchase Loan

Administered by the USDA-FSA, this program prioritizes beginning farmers in loans for the purchase of a farm, with an approved business plan and demonstrated ability to pay the mortgage. Although Cherrie has filed Schedule Fs since 2001, Allen qualified as a beginning farmer and the farm was purchased through this program.

 

North-Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

Administered by the USDA-NRCS, this program solicits research proposals to investigate novel ideas that can improve farm sustainability and profitability. Cherrie investigated a couple of research questions about portable inexpensive winter shelters for goats. They are a hoop house of stock panels, covered in silage plastic (cheap and durable), over a plywood floor on a used boat trailer. They can be pulled down the highway and parked wherever goats need shelter. Shelter options: https://cdn.sare.org/wp-content/uploads/20171204130933/996260rvsd-for-mysare-nolden-2014-goat-shelter-annual-prg-rpt2.pdf  Density per shelter: https://cdn.sare.org/wp-content/uploads/20171204130933/10074632015-progress-report.pdf  These shelters are still being used on their farm currently.