South African Boer Bok

Autumn Olive Farms is a family based operation in Augusta County. We have a dual focus model with a singular commitment to the health and wellness of the land, animal and the consumer. We raise the beautiful South African Boer Bok as an environmentally sound method to combat the invasive plant species problem while producing one of the finest and healthiest meats in the world right here in the Shenandoah Valley. The combination of the worlds premier, purpose bred and standardized meat goat with the fantastic forage base of invasive species here in the Valley provides a win-win situation for the land, its owner and the consumer.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home for the Holidays........

The girls moved back to Autumn Olive Farm on Saturday. They still had a few days of forage left at their last site at the Culture Museum, but Saturday was the best day to move them back home. There is a final site behind the 1850 farm, but its far too wet now to brush hog the fencing lanes to move them there. Instead, they will clean a 7 acre site here over Thanksgiving and then we will move them one final time to their winter location close to the house and stands of large pine trees that provide them natural protection from the elements.

Both areas used to be a pasture over 25 years ago. It is now filled with Autumn Olives, Morrow's Honeysuckle, Red Cedar and Poison Ivy. In the winter loafing times the Boer Bok will eat the thin bark off the Autumn Olives, killing many in the process. This will allow the native grasses and plants to start growing back that much sooner.

Like last year, we will feed them high quality alfalfa/orchard grass hay and free choice minerals. It is over 21% protein this year and they will have no need for commercial feed at all! We use large round bales and unwrap it is needed on plastic, saving every bit of the pure alfalfa powder to put into old cattle mineral tubs. They do seem to lose all civility when we serve up the green crumbles. We can't imagine wasting it. The hay has almost no seed so the manure produced is of a very high quality that we incorporate into our vegetable gardens.

In the meantime, I am in the process of getting everything set up for my meat business. You know, all of the fun stuff... liability insurance, LLC, inspections, etc. (I received my Meat Handlers License today.) I should have samples to the restaurants the first week in December. I hope you will see Autumn Olive Farms Boer Bok on several menus locally in December. We had our meat reviewed by an Executive Chef and will post his review on the blog next week.

We will also be featured in some upcoming publications. I will keep you posted on that as well.

Thanks for keeping up with us and we hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What a difference!

This picture shows where the brush hog went through thick honeysuckle and multi-flora rose to cut a path to run the fence. What a difference where the Boer Boks have been! You can now see what is under all of that thick growth of invasives. This allows for safe clearing of thick overgrown areas. They are now in the area on the right. This will be their last area to clean up before coming home for the holidays. :)

Before and After photos of the project areas

These are before and after pictures of site one. They cleaned up 18 acres in 19 days. As you can see they pretty much defoliated all of the invasives. When they defoliate a plant, the plant then puts its energy into sprouting new leaves where the leaves were plucked off by the Boer Boks. If the plant had been cut or mowed down, then it would put its energy into the root and sprout new shoots. After being defoliated several times the plant dies.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The girls made the paper again....

The Waynesboro News Virginian printed the news release from SRC&D about the goat project on page 7 of today's paper. We are glad they got the info about the project in the paper and hope to do a more thorough article with them at some point. They even have a picture of Clover browsing. The News Virginians website is limited and this article is not on the web. Below is a copy of the news release from SRC&D.

The Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council announces a new project taking place at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton: goats eating invasive species to help reclaim pastures.

In conjunction with partners the Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District and Autumn Olive Farms, this pilot land reclamation project involves South African Boer Bok goats browsing down Autumn Olive, vine and bush honeysuckle, multi-flora rose, oriental bittersweet and more. The goats must browse the invasive vegetation down several times in order to kill it.

Biological control of invasive species represents a viable alternative to the use of herbicides and their effects on streams and watersheds. While devouring the invasive plants, the goats are building soil and putting on weight to also create a healthy meat product.

The goats are fenced in with a special fence and protected by guardian dogs, specifically bred as working dogs to protect the goats from predators. The goats are moved from pasture to pasture and will come back next spring and summer to continue to browse down and ultimately eliminate invasive species from the grounds of the Frontier Culture Museum.