Home of delicious, nutritious pastured eggs and rare-breed, Heritage meats. How your food is supposed to taste, its what we do.
Of the Earth, by the Sun....for you. On our farm, we harvest the sun to improve our soil, clear the air and grow natural, healthy nutritious meats.
Helder~Herdwyck Farm is a Holistically Managed, sustainably operated, regenerative family farm in upstate New York, owned by myself, Beginning Woman Farmer, Erin Bradt and my husband, Ray. It is our desire to serve our community by not only providing local, naturally and humanely produced food alternatives to today's factory farm folly, but to improve our land, atmosphere and environment while doing so. In tune with the beautiful hilltown surroundings, we practice Holistic Management whole-farm planning in the operation of our farm. This basically means whenever there is a decision to be made, we take into consideration what affect the particular choices may have on our family, our livestock, our farm business, and the environment around us. We decided early on that we wanted to get the most benefit from our farm sustainably, nutritiously as well as financial security with the least impact on our environment, and a minimum of "farmer fussing" in flock or herd health management. It's a work in progress as we turned full focus on it during mid 2014. Our practices provide regenerative benefits to our land by improving the soil naturally, with our animals' natural behaviors.
Know your Farmer, Know your Food!
We do NOT use or feed hormones, steroids, nor routine antibiotics. We will medically treat an animal if needed, and we do vaccinate against common maladies for overall health. When we do need to supplement our forage with grain, we use organic feed from Cold Spring Organic. Our hens and broilers are supplemented with Southern States Layer or Meat Grower Pellets, respectively, from Agway. Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate affordable organic feed for our hens, however, they love and do great on Southern States. The desires and preferences of practice mentioned have led us to carefully select our livestock, choosing small, sustainable breeds which must ideally serve multiple purposes and/or meet certain criteria in order to fit our operation. Our animals must have a natural hardiness, with inherent resistance to parasites and disease. With their smaller size, and our being a small family - not factory - farm, they have minimal impact on the environment through habitation of pastures, water areas or enclosures. Our sheep are small and therefore do not disturb the earth's surface as much with their hooves - we also rotate them through our pastures, so they are never more than a few days in the same area. This leaves a plant cover over the soil to protect it and prevent erosion. Additionally, the animals do not congregate in one area for an extensive amount of time, which would otherwise leave bare dirt, susceptible to erosive actions.
Herdwick sheep are a primitive and unique breed, breeding for a naturally short time in fall, producing lambs in the warmth of spring, ready for grass. Mother Nature intended this. It also greatly reduces the overhead expense of labor and heating (energy consumption) to ensure lamb survival during subzero temps of mid winter, and the risk of loss of lambs, or worse, the risk of a barn fire from a heat lamp.
Our animals ideally serve multiple purposes. Each species serves at least two, if not more and/or produces at least two products of use in some way. Our ewes, the base species in our pasture reclamation and soil remediation program, each produce:
1. unique and beautiful natural-colored wool for rug making, outer-wear, felting or even insulation 2. lambs for exceptionally delicious, healthy and mild meat 3. possibly milk for soap-making 4. mutton
The lambs, in addition to their meat, produce beautiful, colorfully marked sheepskins for chair covers, rugs and more.
Our Tup (ram) produces fiber, and sires our lambs. When our ram is retired, he still produces fleece, and can eventually produce a hide, horn for buttons, etc, and mutton.
We are HOME to THE BEATRIX POTTER SHEEP, and American Herdwick Sheep breeding.
Our Guinea Fowl provide excellent tick patrol and an alarm to us of the uninvited hawk or other intruder. This year, we continue with a vast number of guinea fowl as we raise them for meat, 300 at this time. Ticks beware!
Our llamas produce a beautiful, soft fiber, act as guard animals and are wonderful hiking companions, as well as produce "black gold nuggets" -the best natural pellet fertilizer around! Their digestive system works in such a manner as to not pass on weed seeds.
Our hens produce the best eggs ever, and eventually become stew hens. Additionally, they also take part in our planned rotational grazing program, following behind the sheep and heavily fertilizing the soil where-ever their camp-out coop sits overnight, and, they aid in our natural attack on internal parasites our sheep may be susceptible to by eating them and interrupting their life-cycle.
Our Australian Shepherd, Missy, is a working herd-dog and the best pet/companion ever for our daughter and us.
The horses scrape by with our criteria because they produce manure (boy they do!) and provide family pleasure in riding. However, possibly in 2015, we will be pasturing out in our further fields, and will use our former cow-horses to check on the animals.
Helder~Herdwyck's "Puppy King Kafa" (L) and "Bella", Akbash LGDs
Our Akbash Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) - the "other white dog", serve a single, yet most important purpose. Though Puppy King Kafa (a.k.a. - "Coyote Killer") does not produce a product per-se, he protects our most valuable products and those who do produce them. Shown here on November 11, 2013 at only 10 months old and about 80 lbs, he will likely top out at the larger size for Akbash - about 140 lbs, when full grown. He was 100 lbs on his first birthday in February). Originating from Turkey, these dogs were developed to independently protect isolated flocks from wolves, bear and mountain lion. We have two of the three in our area, and the Eastern Coyote is nearly as big as a wolf! (An occasional wolf has been reported. Newer to the U.S. than Great Pyranese or Maremma, these dogs still maintain their strong instinct to guard. The have not been bred away from this as the former two breeds. Bella joined our team winter of 2014. She was working the very evening we brought her home, at only 3 months old! These dogs are very independent, VERY intelligent and are thinkers. They readily figure things out. I have to say that Bella appears to be the more serious, and quicker to think guardian than her older counterpart. This puppy never missed her litter-mates, never uttered a wimper and bonded within minutes to King. It was as if she'd always been here. I would never recommend this type of dog as a house pet, however. They are born for a particular job and their heart desires to do it. I share the opinion I have of Border Collies as well - trying to keep one as a house-pet would equate to buying a bulldozer to commute to work with because you think bulldozers are really neat and different. Doesn't work very well. We now can sleep, because they do not. We are comfortable with putting our sheep out on pastures thanks to the steady protection of these dogs.
Have YOU hugged a Herdwick today?
"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."
- Thomas Jefferson
Helder~Herdwyck's "Haylie" welcomes you! Pictured here as a lamb, she invites you to visit often as we continue to build our new website. If you have questions, please feel free to contact her in the pasture at email@example.com She hopes to hear from you soon!
Thank you to all of our visitors at the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival, Rhinbeck NY, and, Fiber Festival of New England, West Springfield, MA.
Helder~Herdwyck's Hershey, daughter of Hyacinthe
Helder~Herdwyck's "Hershey" says hello during an afternoon snack. This lamb has produced the rather drastic color change, unique to the Herdwick breed. At birth, she was a solid chocolate color (hence her name). Over the summer, her face and legs changed to this striking white. Usually lambs are born mainly black, or with mild marbling, and experience the same color metamorphosis. Hayley, above is a lighter marbling, but was otherwise solid black, which can be seen elsewhere in our site. Above she has begun the early stages of this transition. She was approximately 2 months old in that shot. Here, Hershey is about 5 months old.
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The Bradt Family
450 Long Road,
East Berne, NY 12059 (518) 872-9081
Helder~Herdwyck Farm, 450 Long Road, East Berne, NY 12059