A few weeks ago I went on a farm tour in Beverly, West Virginia with the WV Farm Bureau.
NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) paid for 80% of this huge barn. I think I heard it was going to be used to store cow manure to prevent run-off, but I couldn’t hear very well. The building must be used for its planned NRCS purpose for at least 5 years.
Guard llamas are great for protecting livestock. This one was definitely on the job. He politely told us to “Get out.” Selenium deficiencies, chlamydia, and abortion are major health problems when raising goats.
At the Charm Farm, fields of fescue, alfalfa, timothy, orchard grass are cut 3 times a year and grazed once. Alfalfa has problems with common leaf spot clover… I was very impressed by a machine they had that applies mulch, an irrigation line, and plastic ground cover all at the same time!
Fall crops like kale, cabbage, spinach, are damaged by the cabbage looper, army worm, and harlaquin bug. Collards are planted as a trap crop for these insects. Organic pesticides Bt, Entrust, Spinosad are applied.
Mowing fields around the vegetable gardens keeps deer traffic down to a minimum. They also use crop damage permits.
Blanching (or covering from light) gives celery a sweeter taster and more tender crunch. At the farm, celery is grown 2 months in sun and 2 months under net. It must be given 1.5 -2 inches of water a week, to prevent bitter flavor.
The Charm Farm raises about 1,400 broiler chickens a year, and sells them for $10 – $12 per bird. The first 200 one-day-old chicks arrive by mail in April. They are kept in the barn for 2 weeks, then moved outside to be grass finished (with some grain) for 10-12 weeks. 200 more chicks take the 2-week-olds place in the barn. By using processing machines, 4 people can butcher 200 chickens in a day. I now wish I had asked how they kill the birds.
The Charm Farm grows beets, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, eggplant, asparagus, celery, beans, cucumber, tomato, spinach, apples, peppers, rhubarb, and more. (Their apples tasted amazing, btw.) They also raise broiler and layer chicken, turkey, and beef cows. 60-70% of the farm’s produce and meat is moved through the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). They have 22 families that come directly to their farm to pick up their food. I can tell there is a community behind this farm; they even had one of those classic barn dances last year. It was a beautiful and impressive farm to visit, and it makes me happy to see success in small farms!
We ended the tour at The Big Timber Brewery, a new brewery owned by one of the son’s from the Charm Farm and a WVU grad! We tried all their different craft beers, which were good (I can’t remember which one my favorite was). Then we took a tour of the brewing room.
The barley grain is germinated first, to produce an enzyme that converts starches to sugars. Next the sprouts are dried or roasted. This process of germination and drying is called “malting. Different colors of malt indicate different flavors and enzymes. The mash is soaked in hot water (150-160 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30-90 minutes. Sugars are washed from the grain to produce a liquid called “sweet wort”. The leftover solid grain from the wort is fed to cattle as a sugary treat. Hops are added to the sweet wort, and boiled for 1-2 hours. Yeast is added about a week later. One batch of yeast can yield 40 generations, for 40 batches of beer.
Thanks to the WV Farm Bureau and The Charm Farm!
If you enjoyed, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!
Like, share, subscribe 🙂