HOXIE GORGE FARM is a diversified farm* in upstate NY powered by draft horses and mules**, and young farmers.
We (Aubrey Schatz and Scott Hoffman) have been farming for a combined 8 seasons on a number of farms across the Northeast. We have found diversified, small-scale farming to be an incredibly rewarding lifestyle and are ready to start our own operation.
Scott is a former apprentice at the Northland Sheep Dairy in Marathon, NY, where owners Maryrose Livingston and Donn Hewes have run a 100% grass-fed sheep dairy and have trained horses and mules for farmwork for the last 15 years. They have been looking for a young couple to start a partner operation on their land, and we happen to fit their bill.
Our operation will have several aspects: Draft-powered vegetables, grains and beans; a small raw cow's milk dairy; and pasture- and woods- raised pigs, goats and chickens for meat and eggs (goat and pig eggs are difficult to come by so we are going to stick to chicken eggs).
We plan to sell all of our produce on-farm and to local markets. We believe strongly in the value of feeding your immediate community good, responsibly produced food.
Donn and Maryrose have much of the equipment and infrastructure we would need to start our operation, but we need additional capital to purchase the following animals and equipment:
- 2 bred dairy cows ($2500)
- 100 laying pullets ($900)
- equipment for raw milk bottling & storage ($1200)
- vegetable, grain and bean seed ($1300)
- vegetable cleaning and storage infrastructure ($1550)
- land rental ($700)
- hay and grain for dairy cows, pigs, goats, and broiler and layer chickens (until we start producing our own in year 2!) ($1850)
*diversified farm: a farm which produces a variety of agricultural products, usually in a manner whereby the different enterprises support each other in a beautifully complex web of activity, orchestrated by the farmers.
**draft horses and mules: horses and mules which have been bred and trained for farmwork, e.g plowing, making hay, etc. Think Amish farms. Or imagine the Budweiser clydesdales in a pastoral setting, doing productive agricultural work.
Risks and challenges
Agriculture is an inherently risky occupation, as we are constantly dealing with that concept least amenable to human control: the weather. Farmers across the globe face droughts, flooding, toxic rain, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning and extreme heat and cold (e.g. we have milked cows in -30F), not to mention pest infestations, excessive weed proliferation, fatal accidents involving machinery, equipment failure... Friends of ours in VT lost their whole farm when a river redirected its course through their vegetable fields during Hurricane Irene. Aubrey broke her ankle in 2011 playing soccer and couldn't farm for 6 months. Scott has been in several minor accidents involving horses, and there are plenty of stories of farmers getting gored by cattle, or eaten by pigs, or rolling over in their tractors. Working draft animals is also inherently risky- the horses and mules we work weigh close to 2000 lbs and they have minds and wills of their own.
We have been farmers long enough to understand these risks, and part of the value of diversified farming is that one's risk is spread out over several ventures- even if all of our squash died, we would still have our goats, pigs, wheat, etc.
This is more than a job for us- it is our life, and as such we are committed to giving it 110% of our effort and attention. We are interested in being excellent, efficient, thorough, responsible farmers and nothing less than that.
That said, if something were to occur, we would notify our kickstarter backers and do our best to provide those who were promised rewards an equivalent but different reward. In addition, most of our rewards are agricultural products which already exist- we will be able to deliver those rewards regardless of the success and failures of our farm.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)