Monday, May 01, 2017

Good Farmers Have Happy Animals

It's always good for me to stop staring at the computer and head out into the real world, and for me the best place to go is to a farm, especially if it's that time of year when lambs and pigs and goats are popping out babies right and left. Michael and Linda Guebert of Terra Farma had been posting some adorable pictures of their latest litter of piglets on Instagram, and since I'd been talking with Mike about arranging a visit when the winter rains abated and their pastures dried out, I asked if they might have some time for a viewing.

Cinnamon and her piglets.

Yesterday was the appointed day for that long-awaited visit, and with the morning promising (mostly) blue skies and reasonable temperatures—woohoo!—I jumped in Chili and drove out to the farm. Even if you don't have a farm to visit, I can testify that the drive to Corbett via the Old Columbia River Highway is spectacular this time of year, lushly green from all the rains and with the Sandy River running thick with runoff from the many streams that feed into it.

Primarily a livestock-based operation, Linda and Mike raise pigs, chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl and rabbits for meat, and milk three cows and several goats twice a day. They also have laying hens, and sell raw milk and eggs out of a refrigerator on their porch to a regular clientele who come to the farm. Located on 10 acres of hilly terrain above Smith Creek, the couple run the farm on a rotational grazing system, moving the groups of animals to fresh pasture in a series of paddocks so that the health of the pastures is maintained and, hopefully, improved.


When I pulled up, Linda took me to the barn to meet their resident goat, Scooter, paralyzed as a kid when she got tangled in some of the electrified netting they use as movable fencing. Even though she can't stand or move her back legs much, she gets around the farm quite ably—it actually reminded me of Wyeth's "Christina's World"—though Linda mentioned they're looking for a set of wheels so she can be more comfortable and mobile. (If you know of anyone with a cart, give me a shout!)

Also in the barn was a set of several-week-old goat triplets staring down at us from their perch on bales of hay about eight feet off the ground. After a meet-and-greet, we went out to meet the new piglets and their mama, a sow named Cinnamon, who was busy showing them how to properly root in the grass.

Perching triplets.

The wonderful part about visiting farms and talking with farmers who care about their animals the way that Mike and Linda do, is seeing them pointing out the individual characteristics of each animal, laughing at their behaviors, telling stories and being genuinely engaged with them. It's heartening in a time when agriculture seems to be turning more and more toward an industrial model, when a living being—the animals and often the humans who work there—seem to be treated as no more important than a widget.

Thanks, Mike and Linda, for caring and for sharing your farm with me!


Unknown said...

Their farm, and their way of sharing and caring, has been a source of inspiration fot our family and many others fot years. We are glad to see them still thriving and showing the way of how it can and should be.

Kathleen Bauer said...

I have no doubt that they've been an inspiration for many. Thanks so much for your comment!