Here at Hollow Hills Ranch & Homestead, various kinds of livestock have passed through our gates. Horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, geese, chickens, and many more. Our horses have gone down from 7 to 1. We no longer have cattle, pigs, goats, or geese. We plan to get chickens and maybe rabbits again at some point. Sheep have persisted through the years.
Back in the early days, when Connie’s Grandparents and then Uncle ran the farm, there were wool sheep: Suffolk mostly. When our immediate family took over the farm in the 1980’s the sheep were Suffolk and North Country Cheviot. In early 2000 we added our first St Croix ram to the flock to cross over the wool breeds. Not needing to crutch (shear around the udder and rear ends) for lambing season was fantastic! Wool prices had gone in the toilet so needing sheep that didn’t require as much shearing appealed to us.
We soon added Katahdins, more St Croix, and dabbled with other breeds such as Dorper, Barbados, and Black Hawaiian. We finally settled on predominantly St Croix and Katahdin flocks. The crossbreds will eventually be “bred up” to become Registered Katahdins.
We are planning a new chicken coop for the orchard/garden area so that we can sell both meat chickens and eggs. Rabbits and geese are easy to raise so we are determining if we want to again and the logistics of it.
Shane knows a thing or two about keeping honey bees and making honey so at some point we will be adding some hives to the orchard as well.
In the old days of Hollow Hills Ranch & Homestead, there was almost always a garden and a few random fruit trees here and there. In early 2000’s the family put in an actual orchard of 29 trees. Due to some irrigation problems though, many of the trees have died. We still have one apple tree, one pear tree, and one peach tree left. We are currently in the process of restructuring the orchard and scaling back some of the fruit tree plans. We are considering planting the orchard into a food forest. Basically landscaping with food plants, pollinators, nitrogen fixers, and things with deep roots to bring nutrients to the surface.
We will have apple trees, pear trees, peach trees, plum trees, sweet cherry trees, and pie cherry trees. We will be adding fruiting shrubs and vines such as Elderberry, Blueberry, Huckleberry, Grapes, Black Raspberry, and Thornless Boysenberry. Whatever we don’t use we will sell.
Another feature to the orchard will be the raised veggie garden beds, a few hoop houses and maybe a greenhouse. We will preserve what we want to keep and then sell off the excess.
We are toying with the idea of also growing mushrooms in a special mushroom shed or hoop house as well. Several varieties are fairly easy to grow.
There are also thoughts of selling cuttings, but we will see!