Did you recently recover from a house move and tell yourself: "never again"? "Try moving a livestock farm!" says Jon MacDonald of Premier Pastures Farm, who recently did just that.
Last month, Jon moved his entire operation from Meadowlands Farm, a historic homestead in Clinton Corners, where he was leasing land, to a similar size farm in Red Hook, where he is also leasing. The move took him about 6 weeks all told, and involved countless 30-minute trips a day to move dozens of cows, pigs and sheep, and a huge flock of chickens between farms. Not to mention all the infrastructure that had to be moved, like the fencing and custom irrigation systems he'd built himself.
The trickiest part was creating a corral paddle for the animals while the fencing was in transit. "We had to move very, very fast," says Jon, who admits there was a bit of "hodgepodge fencing" along the way.
The main impetus for moving was a lack of equipment and infrastructure on the old farm. Also, the decaying Christmas tree farm where his woodlot pigs were pastured was not ideal. In the new location, the pigs are enjoying 50-acres of a much healthier forest rife with mature oaks and mixed hardwoods.
On the new land, Jon has also partnered with Sam Rose, of Four Corners Community Farm a regenerative grain farm, growing cereal grain crops for feed (rye grass, Timothy grass, oats etc.). He says the relationship between both farms couldn't be more "symbiotic."
Jon gets free grain to feed his livestock, and in exchange, Jon's pastured livestock provides plenty of manure (and nutritional compost) to Rose's fallow fields. (Like Jon, Rose is also a regenerative farmer so he rotates his crops to allow the soil to recover). "It's a match made in heaven," he says. It doesn't hurt that Sam Rose is renowned in the community for wanting to stem food insecurity. This past summer he devoted five acres of his 200-acre farm to feeding the community by turning over a patch of land to anyone who wanted to grow their own food, and offering both tools and instructions in English and Spanish.
For the last couple of weeks Jon's been living in a trailer nearby as he waits for his custom yurt, with canvas walls and wood stove, to be delivered in a kit. "I should be able to install it in a day," says Jon, and then he can really start to enjoy his new locale.
How are the animals, and Scout, his Aussie shepherd sidekick, adapting to the new digs?
"So far so good," says Jon. "Scout was confused at first, but she's loving life now.
A reminder that Premier Pastures will be taking turkey orders through his website or at the market. He only has about 20 birds left so don't dawdle.
If he runs out, SOVA Farms is also selling turkeys this year!
See you at the market!