History of Spellcast Farm

Spellcast Farm really began the day I was laid off from my day job as a highly-paid commercial real estate paralegal. Prior to that time, I had been raising and training working Border Collies for the past three years and kept a small flock of hair sheep, but at that time, their purpose was for training the dogs. Because I was commuting 100 miles per day and was bringing home a large salary, I bought lots of processed food, ate out a lot and spent more than I made. It was nice knowing I had a big paycheck deposited into my bank account every other week.

That all changed on October 15, 2008.

For a long time, for reasons unknown to me, I wanted a dairy goat. The beginning of October, 2008 (I was still employed), I put a deposit on a dairy doe and was scheduled to pick her up on the day I was laid off. I almost did not pick her up, but I'm glad I did. Today, I have a good-sized herd of hardy dairy goats, most of my own breeding. We raise ADGA-registered American Alpine, Oberhasli and Saanen goats. To read more about our goats and how they are raised, please visit their page.

I think my internal healing voice was telling me to get a dairy goat to milk because I was developing arthritis in my hands. I do not know if it is the milk that has healed the arthritis or drinking goat milk, or a combination of both, but my hands are now supple and pain-free. The dairy goats are the core of Spellcast Farm. Their milk feeds so many of the other animals that live here. We do not separate goat kids from their mothers. In the evenings, we put the youngsters in an enclosure where their mothers can still see, smell and touch their babies. I milk in the morning and the babies have access to their mothers' milk during the day.

Raw milk!!!! It is one of nature's perfect foods. In addition to chevre (soft goat cheese), I make a wonderful, rich, creamy farmer's cheese out of Jersey cow and goat milk. I also make yogurt from the rich, creamy Jersey milk and when that is not available, I use goat milk. Because the animals that live here are fed so well, mainly on locally grown grain and hay and of course unlimited grass and browse, their milk has a sweet, clean taste. There is no "goaty" flavor to the milk or cheese. As in most states, it is illegal to sell raw milk or raw milk products in North Carolina for human consumption. I can, however, sell these products on the farm for animal consumption. I have been feeding my dogs and cats a home-prepared raw meat diet for over 20 years now and raw milk makes a wonderful addition to their diets. Goat milk is also good for raising orphaned animals. If you are interested in purchasing raw milk from me for animal consumption, please contact me for more information. To read more about the nutritional benefits of raw milk and the history of milk in general, visit the raw milk page.

On January 23, 2009, my sheep/goat/Border Collie friend and soul mate, Wally, moved in with me and became my full-time farming partner. I met Wally in 2006 when I bought seven Boer goat kids from him to use to train my Border Collie, Gel. The day I met him, this crazy city girl from Massachusetts with her lanky, herding-reject Border Collie, helped him band (castrate) those seven goat kids. This cemented our friendship and almost every weekend from that day on, we did some animal-related project together.

During our first year together, Wally and I raised a Jersey calf on goat milk and a Hampshire pig on goat milk, whey and garden scraps. Both animals were processed and filled our freezers with wonderful tasting, healthy meat. It was a banner garden year and I canned over 50 quarts of tomatoes as well as corn relish, peaches and pickles.

We decided to sell all of our sheep in the spring of 2010 and that turned out to be a very, very, very good thing. The summer of 2010 was one of the hottest and driest on record. We did not have permanent fencing for the sheep and were using temporary (ElectroNet) fencing. ElectroNet works, but it's a royal pain in the butt to move every week (or less). As hot and dry as it was this past summer, it would have been horrible, horrible, horrible to care for the sheep. Given that I was no longer doing Border Collie trials and we discovered that beef from Jersey cows was every bit as good as or better than lamb, there was really no reason to keep the sheep.

In May of 2010, we purchased a Jersey milk cow from a local dairy. She had fallen over the winter and was so lame she was having a hard time keeping up with the main herd. She was due to calf in August and if we did not buy her, she would have been sent to the processing plant. What a waste that would have been. This lovely cow, Gwen, has proven to be an extremely tolerant and patient creature. She contributing to the rearing of our second Jersey calf (Spot) and has since raised numerous other calves. We love to eat meat from Jersey cows. Once they are weaned off milk, they are raised on pasture until they are large enough to be processed for meat. Like with the dairy goats, we like to make use of what would normally be an almost valueless by-product of the dairy industry.

As I mentioned above, the summer of 2010 was brutally hot and dry. Unfortunately, farm work does not wait until it cools off and we spent the summer installing permanent fencing and constructing raised garden beds. Formerly, my garden was a no-till garden rich in compost contributed by our farm animals and lots of rabbit manure from local breeders. Because of how hot and dry it was, I researched other methods of gardening, visited local organic vegetable farms and decided to construct the raised beds using French Intensive Methods of gardening. By the end of the summer, we had four raised beds constructed. In 2011, we added eight more raised beds for a total of 12. Unfortunately, gardening always gets put to the back burner in favor of caring for the animals so to date, I have been unable to get to the point of having organic vegetables for sale. There's always next year.

In addition to the goats and cattle, we have a good-sized flock of chickens, ducks and guinea fowl. They provide us with fresh eggs and entertainment. The chickens keep the manure spread and the guinea fowl keep ticks and other bugs under control. The eggs from these chickens are delicious and available for $4.00/dozen. Please contact me for more information. In 2012, we started raising meat chickens. Our first batch of meat birds were Cornish X birds (the type of bird used by factory farms and many small farms raising pastured birds). After our experiences raising these Cornish X (we called them mutant chickens) we decided to do something difference. I did extensive research on alternatives to Cornish X meat birds and decided to work with Delaware, White Rock and Dark Cornish chickens. All of these breeds are heritage birds and considered dual purpose (eggs and meat). The goal for 2013 is to breed our own meat birds on the farm using these three breeds and crosses there from. To learn more about our chickens, please visit their page.

In 2011, we added meat rabbits to our farm. We raise two heritage breeds: American Chinchilla and Silver Fox. Both breeds are listed with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy as "critical" (American Chinchilla) and "threatened" (Silver Fox). Like the chickens, we prefer to raise heritage breeds of rabbits rather than the commercial meat breeds. We sell breeding stock on a very limited basis. Our rabbits are either pastured or pasture-fed. The fryers move into "tractors" (open-bottomed movable pens) when they are about six weeks old. Their mothers stay with them until they are about ten weeks old, then they move into a colony setting with a buck to be bred. They stay with the buck for about 28 days at which time they are moved back into the rabbit barn to have their kits in safety. Our does have no more than four litters a year. To learn more about our rabbits, please visit their page.

On June 1, 2012 Spellcast Farm became Animal Welfare Approved. We are extremely proud of this certification! Animal Welfare Approved is a privately funded organization that recognizes the highest standards of animal welfare and sustainability. We are certified for dairy and meat goats as well as laying hens and meat chickens.

Our products are available on the farm by appointment. We also make several Hickory deliveries.