First and foremost, we want to keep Highlawn a working farm producing traditional farm products like cows, goats, vegetables, eggs and herbs. It has been a working farm since the early 1800’s when the Llewellyns built the house.
We’re happy to use modern technology in our farming practices, but we want to satisfy our own standards in the products we produce and the methods we use.
For instance, our pastures haven’t had herbicides on them since 2005 when we bought the place; and in all likelihood, they haven’t had herbicides on them since back in the 1950’s when part of the land was used for commercial crops. We don’t think herbicides are necessarily dangerous when used correctly, but we just don’t think we need them. We like the idea that those kinds of chemicals are not in the meat, and vegetables we produce.
We don’t feed antibiotics or use hormones on our animals. They are raised as naturally as possible and we don’t find antibiotics a necessary part of our day to day operation. That’s not to say we have never used antibiotics. We have on occasion. We would never withhold treatment of a sick or injured animal if an antibiotic is needed as a cure.
Really it is ALL about grass. Good mixed grass pastures are only as good as the soil they grow in. We continually struggle with trying to improve our pastures. We run soil tests for pH on a regular basis and apply lime as needed. We use rotational grazing with our cows and goats. The hay we buy for winter feeding ADDS organic matter to our farm; what the cows don’t eat effectively turns into compost in the pastures.
When we purchased the farm many years ago we fenced the cows out of the stream that runs across the front of our property. It meant we lost the use of several acres of land as pasture but it is much better for the cows and greatly improves water quality downstream.