Wednesday, April 1, 2020

New Year, New Direction, New Website

As many of you know I went back to work full-time last August.  Fortunately the farm is in good hands with Meredith, the kids, and Wes still helping out.  However, several areas have been put on hold to include: marketing, breeding program, land improvements, building improvements, fence & water expansion to name a few.  I'm very thankful for the ability and opportunity to earn a living, however the goal is to earn a living at full-time farming.

So as we close in on Spring, I'm reminded of the cycle of new beginnings, and I got back into the planning phase over the past several weeks.  I wanted to share some of the changes we are making and what can be expected from Bluerock Valley Farm this year. 

New website and newsletter service- We've kept our same domain name, but I've switched to a free website platform that I used with our appraisal business in KY.  We've also gotten away from the email hosting service since 60% of our subscribers never got our emails after months of hair pulling (which I don't have a lot to start with).  We will be using our gmail account to send updates to our existing subscribers, and the new website has a follow by email feature that everyone will need to opt into in order to receive notification of new content. 

Pastured chicken & pastured eggs- We will continue our pastured poultry program, however we won't be expanding at least for the 1st two cycles of the season.  Layers are going out onto pasture at the end of the month, and the 1st batch of broilers will be here the beginning of May.

Pastured lamb- We will continue our pastured lamb program, and hopefully increase our meager herd of 5 hair sheep and start the breeding program this fall.  We are also waiting to hear from our processor if they have been certified USDA for lamb. 

Farm Store- The farm store will continue to be open with self service, M-F 9-6pm.  We still have pastured chicken, eggs, and dried fruit from a neighbor.

Continued clean up- Hopefully this year we see less clutter, more paint, and some much needed building and tenant house improvements.  The tenant house is the more immediate need, so if you love working on old houses AND have the time, give me a call (because I don't have the time:).

Well that is about all for now, we will continue to update everyone on our stewarding of our animals and the land, so stay tuned.  NOTE- if you already subscribed to the old website, please opt in to the new one by entering your email in the Follow by Email box on the website. 

Promise to have a good day,

Lance Shore

Friday, March 27, 2020

Bluerock Valley Farm History

Hello everyone,
Welcome to Bluerock Valley Farm!  We are the 4th generation of Shores to farm here in Washington Boro, PA.  We are a small farm that is in the process of transitioning from row crops to a pasture-based model. Our vision is to manage our animals and land in a way that mimics nature. Our animals will be rotated onto fresh pasture and will not be feed antibiotics, growth hormones, or GMO feed. This will result in nutrient dense food and a diverse poly-culture on our farm. We encourage our customers to get to know us and where their food comes from!
So some background about the farm.  My Grandfather, Lewis Shore, was raised in NC and fought in WW2 as a refrigeration mechanic.  Shortly after the war he moved to PA looking for work, when he met my Grandmother, Arlene and had 3 kids: Joyce, Wes, and Bob (my Dad).  They started farming at our current location in Washington Boro in 1949.  What did they farm you ask?  How about...everything!  Dad tells stories of ducks, horses, tomatoes, tobacco, pumpkins, dairy, goats, sheep, corn, soybeans, chickens and the list goes on.  Pop was one of the early farmers in the area to embrace no-till farming, and grew the dairy heard out to around 300 head.  As my Dad; Wes; and Joyce grew up, Wes was the one who eventually took the reigns of the farm.  In the late 70s and early 80s, they got rid of the cows and built a confinement poultry laying house in addition to primarily planting corn every year.  This worked well for Wes (who is a bachelor) until he started to get close to retirement age, which is where we come in.
In 1996, Uncle Sam decided I needed to see Ft. Knox Kentucky after an all expense paid trip to Germany and Croatia.  While in Kentucky, I met my wife, Meredith, and we had 3 kids: Kendra, Derek, and Daphne.  We were content on settling down in the Bluegrass state, when Wes asked us if we'd be interested is taking over the family farm.  We were honored to say the least.  So we spent the next 3 years praying and planning on making the move which included shutting down a business, selling our home, finding a new church, and moving to PA.  Although I have not actively farmed prior to moving up here, I've always helped out around the farm whenever we would visit.  Over the years I've worked as a mechanic, truck driver, lumber yard manager, appraiser, and insurance adjuster while owning my own business most of that time, and Meredith has worked in warehousing, banking, law, teaching, and home-making.  While we were in Kentucky, we had dreams of starting a farm down there, so we started to ask around, and were eventually introduced to a publication called the Stockman Grass Farmer.  This would change my outlook on the Agricultural Industry forever.  I was introduced to the concepts of holistic management, management-intensive grazing, polyculture, permaculture, and land/animal stewardship to name a few.  I learned that a farm is not a bunch of buildings, but is a place that is changed by a farmer.  This foundation is what we hope to transition our farm into over the next 20 years (not a short-term goal).  
So, here we are in the beginning of 2019.  The farm is mostly rented out to a local dairy, and the barns are full of storage.  We plan on diversifying and increasing the income on the farm by slowly converting the cropland back into pasture that is a mixture of grasses, legumes, and forbs.  The new pasture will support sheep, pastured poultry (layers and broilers), beef, and other seasonal species (turkeys) that we plan on having processed at USDA inspected facilities to sell directly to consumers.  We also plan on using goats and pigs to recondition some heavily wooded areas by rotating them through the underbrush to promote new growth and shade for the summer months.  But this cannot take place until we: establish reliable clean water sources, employ Keyline water management principles, sow a variety of grasses and legumes to establish pasture, set up portable electric fencing, and deploy portable working facilities and shelters for the animals.  Hopefully what all this leads to is soil that is vibrant, teeming with biological activity, retains a high amount of moisture, and supports a number of highly nutritious grasses, legumes, and forbs.  This will lead to animals that are healthy, active, calm, and outperform their counterparts when compared to large-scale confinement operations or feedlots.  We can then offer these as viable alternatives for those who have misgivings about our current food industry, are tired of seeing another mass food recall, want healthy nutrient dense food, or want to know where their food comes from.  
Can we do this all ourselves? I don't think so.  We are going to need the support of others and partners, but more on that later.  Thank you for taking the time to read this, and do me a favor.  If any of this resonates with you, please sign up for our email subscription and newsletter on the home page, and go to our Facebook and Youtube sites and like and subscribe.  Yes, right now there is not a lot of content there, but it is on the way.