Current as of 2020-06-28 17:43:18 +0000

How to build a farm from scratch

2017farmBuildings

When we purchased the land in 2017 there wasn’t much there. There was no place to stay and no workshop. It was basically a piece of neglected land where cows and pigs could whatever they want. Because of the lack of management the land degraded and fertility got lost. The animals simply ate whatever they could find until nothing was left.

So over the course of 2018 we build a wooden house and moved in by February 2019.

What follows is an ongoing description of what we are doing or what we are planning to do. It should guide ourselves and it may also be entertaining for others. It might even help others to embark on a similar venture.

2019

The main topic has been to figure out how to keep cows on pasture alone and how to manage pigs.

2020

While we had lower temperatures during winter and spring we practiced good rotational grazing and finished our paddocks in zone A and B. The cows enjoyed an abundance of grass which was helped by a lot of good rain during spring.

We also turned the big paddock C01 (2 ha) into four smaller ones designated C01 to C04. When the soil got hard due to the harsh sun and lack of rain we could not continue to put in fence posts. This will have to wait until fall.

In our paddocks A15 and A14 we see a lot of Cynodon dactylon emerge. It’s a C4 plant and might be our naturlly ocurring summer grass unless we help a bit more by seeding.

Plan - Mid 2020 to mid 2021

Now we are starting to figure out how to build a business at this place. Transparency is important. So there isn’t any secret to keep and thus we can openly share what we are doing and planning to do. In the end our future customers can see how we produce their food.

Our current projects include:

Priority

Time and money is always a constraint. Although we wish to accomplish a lot we have to work within our means and then there are also dependencies on others who may not be available to deliver their services when we would like to receive them. So we are juggling projects and regular farm chores all the time.

The following three projects are interconnected and we working on them simultaneously. For example, the dog palace will have a pond. The excavated material will be used to fill up a path that leads to the market garden and the area for the market garden itself needs to be filled up as well.

Opportunity

Our farm is located in a forest but because of the treatment the land received in the past we don’t have the biomass that one would expect to find in a forest. We are looking to fix that in order to improve soil fertility in order to grow more forage for our animals and thus be able to have a broad range of products while regenerating the land in the process.

An opportunity has arisen and we want to take advantage of the benefits it offers for our regeneration effort:

Important

We want to get start with the following important projects as soon as possible. They may also become a priority when the season changes and there is a window of opportunity.

Once there is rainfall (by September or October) and the soil loosens up we can continue with:

In early spring we can then start:

Plan 2021 and beyond

Eggs

Instead of keeping chickens in a barn and feed them we want to keep them on pasture.

Once our seeding of cold season and warm season grasses is providing some yield, especially during the summer, we can start with chicken tractors and get into the poultry business. Due to local regulations it will have to be eggs first and after approval we can offer chicken meat later on.

Keeping chickens on pasture is way different from feeding chickens ecological food. Keeping chickens within the rules of “organic farming” is certainly better than keeping them cramped up in cages. However, there is a difference in taste at the end and - even more importantly - the negative environmental impact from destroying the soil where they roam is still there.

In accordance with the idea of regenerative agriculture our birds should contribute to soil fertility and the eggs should be best tasting.

Meat products

We want to raise our animals in the best possible way that is best suited to their natural way of living for their species. For the species Bos taurus (cows) that means they should be on a pasture only diet and not be fed any type of grain under no circumstances.

One of the biggest challenges is to figure out how to slaughter the animals legally. It’s not so much a challenge to do it well. The main problem is that for many reasons in Europe - and in Spain in particular - it came to be that animals have to be trucked for hours to big slaughterhouses. Much of that process creates stress for the animals and lowers the quality of the meat. Another issue is the often bad conditions for the humans involved. We want to work with the authorities to find a way to make it better.

Vegetables and fruits

Ornamental and essential oil products

Because it looks good and smells good and attracts bees and other pollinators we plan to plant a lot of lavender along all paths that run through the farm. We can then make ornamental products and turn the leafs into essential oil for additional products.

Tourism

There are several examples around the world how human activity has created striving ecosystems that are pretty, resilient and highly productive. One particular type of ecosystem that is more and more talked about - despite the fact it is a very, very old farming practice - is called a food forest. We are aiming at turning the whole farm into one big productive forest and thus honor the very idea behind the Dehesa.

As the farm becomes pretty we can welcome visitors. They can engage in various activities:


If you have a comment or a question, you may write to info@caimito.net