Local Family Farm: Welcome to Jersey Acres Farm! Meet my kids Jacob, Jocelyn, Jaime, my wife Jacque, and me. Back in 2007 we watched a video by Joel Salatin at Polyface farm, and learned how sickening our food and agriculture industry had become. We decided to take control of what we ate and purchased a cow, some chickens, and grew a garden. Unfortunately we were raised in town and all of this was new to us. Google and YouTube were used frequently during this learning curve. Simple tasks today were monumental then. How do you Actually milk a cow? How do you process a chicken? What kind of bug is that on my tomatoes and corn? Luckily, my Mom and Dad's family had a long history in dairy farming, with grandparents on both sides, uncles, aunts and cousins all producing milk in the northeast. We had a vast amount of experience to call on during our daily “learning curve”. We enjoyed the life we were creating and wanted to expand by starting to raise food for others. We started looking for a larger farm to buy and in November of 2011 we were introduced to Sean and Lori Bontrager, the previous owners of this farm. Lori was battling with some health issues and the daily chores on the farm were too much for her and their family. We agreed to purchase the farm from them and on March 15, 2012 we were the proud owners. We have been going full steam ahead since, improving the land, increasing our herd size, placing quality control measures and adding new customers. All the while raising kids, homeschooling, 4H and trying to find a second or two for ourselves!
Grass Based Farm: We are a grass "based" farm. Our cows are out on pasture 99% of the time. The other 1% is in the parlor getting milked. As you can see from the pictures, we have great grass. This is sudangrass, millet, and cow peas - summer annuals grown here on the farm. Unfortunately, our grass still doesn't have enough energy to supply the demands of a lacting cow. Without enough energy, she uses the fat storage on her body and becomes malnutritioned quickly (Think carbohydrates). There are metabolic disorders as well; like Ketosis and fatty liver. These are detrimental to her health. The health of our cows is of utmost importance to us. A healthy cow produces healthy milk. At this time, we follow the Weston A. Price Foundation recommendation and feed grain in the amount of 1% of their body weight. So, a 700lb cow gets 7lbs of grain. We are very passionate about grass-fed Raw Milk and eventually, we will be 100% grass based. This is a long process (7-10 years+) and can't be done overnight! You can't just decide one day to stop giving your cows grain without a field of fantastic forages. That is a train wreck waiting to happen. We are constantly improving our soil, adding new grasses and legumes, and perfecting our grazing skills before we make that full commitment. We are all looking forward to that day, and we get excited when we see improvements on our land which means another day closer to our goal.
(Trying to be) Self Sustaining. This is winter rye, triticale and clover - winter annuals grown here on the farm. Our native perennial grass is Bahia. Bahia grass is not conducive to a dairy cow's energy needs, so we are constantly trying to improve our pastures. Annuals are not good for a self sustaining farm, since you're purchasing and planting seeds all the time. We would like to eventually plant perennials for dairy cows that will reseed themselves each year. Doing this involves taking some of our paddocks out of the grazing cycle to prepare a seed bed and allow the new grass to grow, flower, and reseed before we allow cows back on. Once our annual grass is growing great everywhere, and we have enough forage ahead of them, we will start taking paddocks out of rotation. The last thing we need is to run out of grass for the cows!