As I alluded to on Facebook this weekend, big changes are in the works for Provenance Farm. No, we’re not expecting. Geez people! Asking such prying questions up in here!
I’m moving the farm and starting my venture into cattle ranching!
Starting this week, I’m packing up broiler pens and all my farm equipment and heading for the new location of Provenance Farm. Our friends Stu and Carol Hemphill have asked me to run broilers on some of their nutrient-deficient pastures of their 400+ acre cattle ranch just west of Philomath. I jumped at the chance because I’ve been an ardent admirer of Carol for a few years now. She has been raising high quality grass-fed Angus beef cattle for over 30 years. I’ve been privileged to buy stocker steers and heifers from her for the last few years, finishing them on my own pasture for the latter months of their lives. The excellent beef you have enjoyed from our farm is primarily due to the hard work and dedication of Carol Hemphill long before I came into the picture. I’ve often told Keith, “When I ‘grow up’, I want to be just like Carol.” There just aren’t many women ranchers out there, and even fewer with the intelligence, education, animal savvy and dedication to quality that Carol has. I’ve been eagerly following her for a while now, gleaning any knowledge I can from her wealth of experience. To say that I’m thrilled to be farming in collaboration with her would be a humongous understatement. Broilers and layers are awesome but cattle ranching is in my blood and it’s the reason I chose farming as my life’s work.
So, many things will be changing around here but at the same time it will mostly be the same. We will be growing and processing as many broilers as we did last year, if not more. They’ll be raised on the rolling hills of the Hemphill ranch, high above the Mary’s River and out of the mud (hallelujah! – can you hear the angels sing?!). The pastures we’ll start on will be the most needy ones – fields that can use a hearty dose of chicken fertilizer.
Our beef cattle will be finished in the same fields in which they were born. If you don’t know how rare and wonderful that statement is, you haven’t been paying much attention to the way the US beef industry works. It makes me unbelievably happy to know my cattle have had a good, stress-free life, so I’m really excited about this.
I’ll be raising lambs at the ranch as well. We’ve had such a great demand for our lamb in the last few years, that our flock was rapidly outgrowing the space available at our current acreage. Our sheep will have plenty of room to graze up at the Hemphill’s place.
Our laying hen flock will be staying at our Fern Road location for the current time. The hens are just beginning to lay consistently and moving them would cause them stress. Stress always affects production and so I’m keeping them in their current place for the rest of the year. We look forward to settling them in at the new ranch in the future, as their current location is subject to floods from the Mary’s River in the winter.
Local customers will be happy to know that they can still find our eggs and chicken at the Fern Road farm stand, and that’s not going to change!
There are lots of big things happening around here this year and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, overwhelmed and scared to death at times. But I also love the adventure and the chance to learn and grow and make this farm (and my life) something worth being proud of. There’s something so satisfying about hard work and new goals.
I look forward to sharing the adventure of this upcoming year with you all in person and on these pages.
Would you like to learn more about our new digs? Check out a few of my friend Camille’s blog posts about the Hemphill Ranch here: