Sustainability & biodiversity
Sustainability = Resilience
Healthy economies, ecosystems and communities need to be resilient so they can endure in good times and in bad. At Mosby's Secret Sidehill Farm, we applied that concept very literally. Our goal is to never be dependent upon industrial products (chemical fertilizers, weed control, pest control, seeds, dewormers or antibiotics). We focus on self-reliant, low-input production of healthier, traditional foods.
We believe in practicing stewardship of our land, our livestock and our community. Through reliance upon renewable energy, crop and pasture rotation, and local sourcing, we feel that we can diminish our negative impacts and provide healthier food options.
These aren't empty words to us. We try to minimize our reliance upon any materials or products we can't make ourselves (such as diesel or concrete). We even refused to buy a tractor! Instead, we use draft horses to cultivate our crops with renewable (animal) energy. Instead of the industrial crop treatments, we use a whole-farm process of cover crops and integrated livestock to create composted, nutrient-rich manure, allowing us to fertilize crops safely. We're committed to agriculture that protects the future.
Renewable Energy: Draft Horse Power
We have joined the many small farmers around America who are reintroducing draft animals as the more sustainable farming option.
Rather than globally imported, distantly-processed fuel, our draft horses consume local hay, cut by one of our neighbors. Instead of industrial exhaust, the horses produce fertilizing manure which we compost to return vital nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Unlike a heavy tractor, horse hooves cause little soil compaction, dust or disruption, which protects the soil health, deep underground.
With horses, we collect dead logs from our forest to heat our farm house all winter in a clean-burning, catalytic wood-stove, reducing our global footprint. We even use the horses to plow snow off our driveway.
As stewards of our land, we recognize the importance of the interactions between ALL of the ecosystems on our farm. That includes beneficial microbes and fungi in the soil, understory and canopy trees in our forests, meadow species in our pastures and, of course, our domesticated species.
Our livestock perform vital roles in a whole-farm system:
diverse Heritage Breeds: Crops and Livestock
Heritage breeds have been developed and nurtured for millennia. Humans selected crops that would thrive where we needed them, while providing us with better nutrients and more flavorful food. We developed animals that would coexist with us; breeds that produced more of what we needed while being gentler, easier to work with, and easier to raise.
Protecting the variety of these traditional (and now rare) breeds protects us, as humans, from the potential devastation of blights, invasive pests, natural disasters and energy crises.
The ag-industrial complex produces many valuable marvels; but, in neglecting to maintain our diversified seed bank and in mass-marketing only exclusive, highly specialized products of their selection, the mega-business forgets that the keys to success are freedom and preparedness for the future.
Homesteads need the hardy and efficient breeds, safe for children to interact with, requiring only minimal inputs to sustain them. Mosby's Secret Sidehill Farm tries to protect and promote endangered heritage breeds, such as Ancona ducks, and to register and preserve rare bloodlines like Finnsheep, Oberhasli Dairy Goats and American Guinea Hogs.
For more information on heritage livestock, please visit http://www.livestockconservancy.org/ and for more on heritage crops, http://www.southernexposure.com/
We support our local industry by buying locally and helping educate those who want to do more for their own families' sustainable goals. Scouts and schools are welcome to arrange small-group visits to learn about the history of agriculture and modern sustainability.
We are happy to provide farm-direct subscriptions and herd shares. Local farms and local consumers can promote better communication of needs, recipes, trends and good ideas if we work together in our community market. Please email us if you are interested in signing up for a consistent product, such as a weekly of fresh duck eggs.
Our farm is a small, two-person operation and we wish to remain at the level where two people, with just their hands and a few animal helpers, can manage every project we take on. We never wish to get drawn in to the common trap of expanding too far, or losing our roots. So, though we always appreciate input and ideas, please understand if we do not follow every suggestion for expansion or better markets, etc. Though we hope to inspire other start-ups and small farms to follow our lead, we will always be a small, limited-production, local business.