Pastured Chickens and Free Range Children

Greetings! I am Karen Geiser and our family lives on a farm just aDSCF2954a few stone throws down the road from Lehman’s in Kidron. We raise grass-fed Hereford cattle, pastured chickens, a handful of Jerseys, a couple goats along with a small herd of free range children and various other pet critters (including a neighborhood peacock). I also tend about an acre of garden that feeds our family plus supplies a ten-family CSA.

At our house, September is a full and abundant season with harvest in full swing. So right now there are pears in the dehydrator, tomatoes begging to be made into sauce, more fall spinach  waiting to be planted and a school bookshelf needing organized. In the midst of the busyness, I sometimes wish for a winter moment when I can curl up in a blanket and read a good book (or seed catalog!). But we’ll keep plugging away and be very thankful in January when we can rest and enjoy all the good things from the garden that we “put up.”  

On our farm we love to experiment with different growing techniques and varieties. So in my garden you can find yard-long beans, blue potatoes, purple carrots and  Green Zebra tomatoes growing among the more traditional veggie fare. In our kitchen we’ve tinkered with cheese making, lacto-fermentation, dehydrating and other food preservation techniques. Soil is our most valuable resource on the farm so we’ve added compost, cover crops, shredded leaves, ocean minerals, worms and more to keep it healthy. We’re constantly learning about things we can improve to make our plants and animals thrive. We take seriously our job as stewards of God’s amazing Creation and work at raising food that is nutrient-dense to keep our family and customers healthy and happy.

Even though we have plenty of space on our 78 acre farm to expand our gardens and increase our herd so we could feed even more folks, we feel a big part of our calling is to teach others to raise some of their own food. We live in uncertain times and it is wise for all of us to bring our food source closer to home, ideally your own backyard if possible. So our family delights in opportunities to encourage others to plant a tomato plant or few lettuces in a flowerbed, start a cold frame, add some backyard chickens or learn to make yogurt.

One outlet for offering this encouragement comes during my weekly demonstrations at Lehman’s store. Depending on the season, sometimes I’m churning butter, snapping beans, shelling peas or pitting cherries and I always take along a display of the veggies are coming out of the garden. I truly enjoy chatting with folks from all over.  Some are there as Amish Country tourists and others are die-hard homesteaders on a pilgrimage to purchase serious supplies.

My goal is to have everyone I talk with leave the store with a new tidbit of info they’ve gleaned or a new idea to try. For some that means being introduced to cool veggies like red noodle beans and Mexican sour gherkins while others have quizzed me on all the details of butter making so they can try it at home.

I look forward to sharing more tidbits from our farm life in future articles, and I hope you remember this: my goal is just not to amuse you with the latest Geiser farm antics, but to inspire you to try something new in your own backyard.

(If you want to keep up with other farm happenings, you can check out our website,  where I keep a weekly garden journal on what we are growing, eating, ….)

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Rene
12 years ago

I”d sure like to hear, in detail, how you set up and run your CSA! What a great way for those who love to grow to work together with those who can’t/don’t.

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