Archives for October 2011

The HillBilly Acres Farm website is under construction

Just as the farm is still being built, it’s website is also in the works. Bear with us, we’ve only been farming a couple of years and web programming a couple of weeks…both with lots of help from kindly strangers (Polyface Farms, Nature’s Harmony Farm, AcresUSA magazine) and friends with no idea what we were about to ask of them! To all our helpers I offer a heartfelt “Thank You!” Too all, I ask you to bear with us as we try to bring our farm and it’s website to their full potential.

HillBilly Acres Farm is located about 30 miles north of Memphis only 1 mile west of Highway 51. It has 92 acres with 68 in pasture and 24 in young woods. We bought the first 72 acres in 2005, added 19 acres and a house in 2010, and another .67 acres in 2011 (site of the farm store and kitchen that is under construction). The owners are Billy and Sheri Hudson, off farm he’s an airline pilot (how’s that for a career change), she teaches at the local community college (Anatomy and Physiology…oy!).

Our foremost crop is grass – well grass and forbs, anything our critters will eat. Our goal is to be able to keep the livestock fed with just what the farm’s soil will produce, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. We knew that taking the petrochemicals off would help, but were surprised by how slow the flora and fauna were to come back on their own. In 2008 I began seeding clovers in the newly planted orchard with fantastic results by fall…even had rabbits showing up! Three years we’d owned the land and didn’t even know there were rabbits around. In 2009 I put down more clover and added chickens (10) in a small, portable coop and pen we call the White House. What happened to the soil that year was amazing! Crickets by the thousand! Worms! The most pathetic, anemic worms I’d ever seen, but they were here! In 2010 I disced up a few acres and planted more clovers plus chicory and anything else I could find cheap – deer plot seed on sale and such. We also added one hundred twenty chickens and seven turkeys that were moved into a modified cotton trailer called the Eggmobile. Plant growth after passage of the Eggmobile has been fantastic! Thick growth, dark green, with surprising water retention…really helped with the 2010 summer drought. This year, 2011, the clover has been thick and spreading, the cool season grass has been good, the bermuda is just getting going, and the other forbs have already flowered and are setting seed. I’ve put in a few acres of oats and spelt, with corn, buckwheat, millet, and wheat still to plant in the hopes of getting rid, or at least reducing, off-farm feed inputs.

On the product side of things, right now we have eggs from chickens raised on pasture with the help of a mobile chicken coop called an Eggmobile with electrified feather-netting to keep most hungry critters out. This allows us to move the birds to keep them on fresh grass and fertilize that grass without harming the pasture. This has worked out so well that our confidence is up and we are building the fences in preparation for cattle and sheep! Hopefully by spring we’ll have a couple of cows and ewes to help keep the grass cut and the soil improving.

There are a few acres a woods that have me thinking “PIGS!” Just a few as there are not enough oak trees to feed many pigs, but it’s a start. A nearby neighbor is raising Large Black Hogs, so I was thinking about Red Wattle Hogs, mmm…bacon!, but in April we got to try some Ossabaw Island pork at Nature’s Harmony Farm. Now I’m having an internal debate about flavor verses only slightly domesticated hog behavior. I don’t want Sheri to get hurt, but man that was some good eats!